Insanity rarely sleeps

Last night I stayed up until 4 AM because I’m obviously insane. And I was organizing my boards on Trello. Trello is an app that helps you to stay organized. It’s mostly boards with checklists, something I was in dire need of.

So, instead of sleeping like a normal person, I stayed up until 4 AM adding places I want to visit and things I want to see. When 4 AM rolled around I still didn’t want to go to sleep but I was about to crash. When I woke up it was somewhere around 8:30 AM – 9 AM. Mostly because it’s nearly impossible to get any sleep around here. One family member leaves for work at 3 AM, one comes home around 6 AM some days, one leaves for work at 7 AM, and one wakes up by 7 AM and starts making lots of noise in the house. C’est la vie.

But I digress. Trello. I still need to add a lot more places to it but I feel like I accomplished a lot and that this app will help me stay on track. The one thing I wish it had is a notecard. It doesn’t have that feature yet so I add any notes into the comments section on a blank card.

I saved some screenshots to help demonstrate what I’m talking about.

As you can see from the screenshot below, I currently have 3 boards.

Board screen

This is my Travel board. Each white section is a “card” that you can add a checklist to or make comments on. You can also add attachments.

Screenshot_2015-08-20-20-30-04

Here’s what one checklist looks like. Simple, yet effective.

Screenshot_2015-08-20-20-31-49

Here’s what a card with multiple checklists looks like when the checklists are minimized. This card is a list of one of the items on my bucket list: Visit every Latter-day Saint (LDS, aka: Mormon) temple in the world.

Screenshot_2015-08-20-20-34-58

Here’s what having multiple checklists open looks like.

Screenshot_2015-08-20-20-35-10

So you see, it’s a pretty handy app for someone like me who has a bucket list 10 miles long! Not only do I want to visit every LDS Temple in the world, I also want to visit every U.S. State’s Capital and every Nation’s Capital in the world.

And then there’s my “Dive Destinations” checklist, which I haven’t updated yet. Rest assured, it will also be 10 miles long!

Anyway, if you’re insane like me and love checklists, you’ll probably like this app. It’s quite handy! Currently it’s only fully functional on smartphones and tablets. You can open it up on your laptop, but you might only be able to see the lists and check them off. You might not be able to change, update or delete anything. I know I can’t from my laptop. You might have full features if you have a laptop that is a touchscreen. If anyone out there has a touchscreen laptop and has tried this app on it, let me know if it works!

For now, I’m going to hit the hay early!

Have a happy journey, my fellow travelers. Stay safe.

Advertisements

Monterey: Breakwater Cove

dive

Me, getting ready for Dive #1.
23 March 2013

I dove Breakwater for my open water certification and it was pretty cool! I didn’t have a GoPro or any other underwater camera so I wasn’t able to take any pictures. Now I really wish I had one at the time because there were thousands of baby crabs running across the ocean floor, all in the same direction, and I saw a sunflower star.

I did two dives here on day one of my certification. If you’re going to dive here, make sure you get there early because parking fills up pretty fast! Make sure you get a spot close to the water so you don’t have to walk a mile with your scuba gear on. For new divers, let me warn you: When you first come out of that water your gear will feel a hundred times heavier than when you went in! Maybe build up some muscle strength and endurance before you go… I really should have. It felt like I was carrying a sumo wrestler on my back!

One of the dive instructors told me his workout routine is designed to help with that. I never got a chance to ask him about it. Maybe he bench presses the tanks or uses them to do bicep curls. Who knows!

Sunflower Star Photo courtesy of CaliforniaDiver.com

Sunflower Star
Photo from CaliforniaDiver.com

Diving this place reminded me of the Submarine Voyage ride at Disneyland before it was unjustly turned into Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. Minus the mermaids, sharks, and man-eating octopi of course!

The Coast Guard station is on site and you’ll see a lot of sea lions hanging out by the wall. Also on site is Glenn’s Aquarius II Dive Shop and a fantastic eatery called Massaro & Santos Restaurant, which I highly recommend!

I haven’t been to Breakwater since I was certified, but I look forward to going again when I have more time to dive. And next time I’ll bring the GoPro! If you’re a fairly new diver and you want to get better acquainted with diving and your new skills then this is a great place for you.

Don’t forget your buddy!

Texas Station Gambling Hall & Hotel (Las Vegas)

I’ll start with the good things…

The outside of the hotel looks great. There is a gift shop that has some really nice items that are actually affordable. The buffet is fantastic! They have American style food, Italian, Chinese, Mexican and some others. Great desserts. The buffet staff is super friendly. There is also a gym, movie theatre, bowling alley, pool and some other great amenities that gives this place a lot of potential. There is also a massive parking garage so you never have to search for a place to park! Now for the not so good stuff…

This was my first time going to Vegas. Originally my cousin and I had reservations for Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Due to a storm in our area we weren’t able to leave until Friday. My cousin called Priceline (who we booked the reservation through) and had them change the reservation to Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We arrived around 2 AM and found out Texas Station had canceled our reservation because we were “No-Shows” on Thursday… They claimed Priceline never changed the reservation even though Priceline and my cousin both had confirmations that the reservation had been changed. They didn’t want to give us a room and claimed that they were all booked. My cousin told the staff worker that she wanted to speak to the manager and at first the girl refused. Finally the girl called the manager and my cousin spoke with her. Then they wanted to charge us a different price than Priceline. The manager finally agreed to the Priceline price that we had reserved and somehow they magically found an available room. You know, one of the rooms that were all booked just minutes before!

I got to the room and the shower was dirty. After giving it a quick cleaning I attempted to take a shower. The water pressure is horrible. Rain gets my hair wet faster than their shower! The water did warm up immediately, so that was a plus. The tub is an oval shape, but too narrow and when I tried to take a bath my shoulders were pushed forward so far it probably looked like I was trying to push my breasts together! Most of the water drained out from the “overflow drain” within a minute, leaving me taking a bath in a few inches of water.

The faux crown molding in the room was actually nice, except for the section where they didn’t even bother to line up or match the ends to make them meet. They just overlapped it. The beds were so horribly old that they sounded like they would break just from sitting on them. The mattresses were also horribly old. When I laid down on the bed I could feel that the side of the mattress closest to the nightstand was actually slanted from the amount of people who had slept in that spot in the past. Each bed had two pillows and one log pillow. The log pillows had massive tears on each end that clearly needed to be repaired. The ends/posts of the headboard also looked dirty, as if someone had spilled soda or something on them and it ran down the end/posts.

There is no soundproofing whatsoever in the rooms and I could hear people further down the hallway talking and yelling as if they were in my room. And this was even at 3 AM. I get that it’s Vegas and people are there to party and do whatever, but I would think that they would at least give the rooms some soundproofing for those who are there on business or there with children and aren’t partying at 3 AM.

Oh, and the T.V. didn’t work. I checked the remote, but that was working. Pushed the power button on the T.V. itself and nothing happened. I checked the power strip the T.V. was plugged into and got that to work, the lamp that was plugged into that started working. The T.V. still would not work. I plugged the T.V. into the wall outlet instead of the power strip and it still would not work! Pretty sure the T.V. either died or a previous roomer stripped the T.V. of components that it requires to work.

It’s as if this place takes no pride in their rooms looking and being decent.

Then when I came back from lunch at the buffet my key cards wouldn’t work. Turns out housekeeping locked me out even though my stuff was still in the room. I went to the front desk to have them reactivate my key cards and the girl told me they couldn’t do that. When I told her my stuff was still in the room she looked in the system and didn’t understand what was going on from our check in. I explained the situation to her and she called the manager who made her give me new key cards. It also sounded like she was arguing with the manager over the phone. I heard her say something like, “I’m not supposed to be dealing with this!”

You and me both, honey!

The last bizarre thing about this place is that the floors do not coincide with the elevator. In a normal building when you enter you are on the ground floor and to get to floors 1, 2, 3, etc. you go into the elevator and press the button coinciding with your floor. In this place the ground floor is actually the first floor. My room was 102 and to get to it I had to press G (ground floor button) and go down instead of pressing 1 and go up. Very strange.

Like I said, this place has a lot of potential with its amenities but either housekeeping or the management don’t care about the rooms being decent or the hotel owners are hindering the management from being able to make sure the rooms are updated and decent. Either way, something is not right here and I wouldn’t stay here again unless things are changed.

My Place Adelaide Backpackers Hostel

I booked this hostel through HostelWorld and stayed in February of 2009. I practically lived there for 2 weeks. The owner is a girl from Switzerland and she’s super nice and helpful. There were about 7 beds in the room. At the time I stayed there were co-ed rooms as well as all-female and all-male rooms. The area that the hostel is located is decent, the city center is within walking distance and I never had any trouble while I was there.

You get keys to your room so make sure you (and your roommates) lock the door at night. We forgot to lock our door one night and when we woke up there was some strange girl from another room sleeping on one of the beds. The owner wasn’t too happy to see her sleeping in a room she hadn’t been assigned and promptly woke her up and shooed her out of the room! We also got a brief lecture about locking the door. This place has a washer and dryer that work great, a kitchen with a stove, dishes, etc. and if I remember correctly, two fridges, so stock up! No, I’m kidding, be nice and at least leave one shelf for someone else, okay? 😉

I met some really great people during my stay here. Some of the backpackers would clean the bathrooms in exchange for their stay and they did a good job keeping them clean while I was staying there.

There’s a great balcony to hang out on and if you’re into saunas, this place has one! If you ever find yourself wandering through Adelaide, check this place out.

VIP Cafe Bistro Pizzeria

I found this place by accident while wandering around the city after checking into my hostel. This place is a nice and friendly! I decided to try something I’ve never had before so I ordered the Tuna Pizza. Tuna on pizza seems a bit weird but it was actually interesting, not bad at all. The waiter was very nice and spoke English. When asked what I wanted to drink I said, “Water” and I was brought out a small bottle of water, which I was charged for. I’ve noticed this seems to be standard at the restaurants in Croatia. Maybe it’s a Europe thing. In the USA we just do (free) chilled water from the tap!

The manager is friendly and goes around to the tables to see how everyone is doing. When I told him my family is from Brač he brought over figs and other foods from Brač for me to taste! I hadn’t been to Brač at that time so I enjoyed seeing foods from where my family hails from. He’s a funny guy. He speaks English but he told me I need to learn Croatian! =)

The manager also gave me complimentary pancakes. Croatia pancakes with cherries and cream 12102013Pancakes are a dessert in Croatia and are more like what Americans would refer to as crepes, which I just looked up and is the French word for pancakes… American pancakes are different from crepes though, much thicker and we eat them for breakfast instead of as a dessert. Leave it to America to turn dessert into breakfast! 😉

But I digress… The pancakes were filled with cherries, cream and topped with powdered sugar. It was delicious!

The point of all this is? I can’t wait to go there again!

Kamenita Vrata

This stone gate is more like a little alcove. It is simple yet nice and there is a shrine where people pray. There’s also a sort of open-air chapel inside where people worship. I’m Christian, but not Catholic so I haven’t prayed or worshipped there but it has a very reverent and peaceful presence.

There is a “thank you” wall where people have expressed their thanks and feelings on stones or plaques placed in/on the wall which are nice to read. I’ve walked through it on both of my trips to Croatia and have enjoyed it each time.

I’ll add photos soon.

Chillout Hostel (Zagreb)

Chillout Hostel street

Lovely little kiosks in the morning.

I stayed at the Chillout Hostel in December 2013. It has a great location and is very close to Ban Jelačić square as well as other squares. There are a lot of shops nearby. Old Town Zagreb (Gornji Grad) is above the hostel and the stairs to get to it is located at the end of the street next to the hostel. The street the hostel is on is narrow and was lined with food and drink kiosks on both sides.

Soundproofing inside the hostel isn’t all that great due to the fact that it’s in an old building but the noise from other visitors is tolerable. The rooms are very small, again, due to being an old building but not bad since the place is just for sleeping. The beds are pretty comfy and there’s a wall outlet for each one so you can plug your stuff in. Beneath the bunk beds are drawers for storing your items, quite handy! There’s a kitchen where you can order food or you can buy your own food and use the kitchenette. There’s a bar area as well but I can’t tell you much about that because I don’t drink! =)

The same street the night before!

The same street the night before!

The staff is fantastic! I was having problems with an inconsiderate drunk in the room and the staff (and owner) were kind enough to move me to another room! I would definitely stay here again.

P.S. – Remind me to tell you the story of the drunk… Or at least write about it!

My Arch Nemesis Is An Airline – Part I

Here’s a little story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down…

Okay, so I didn’t move to Bel-Air. This story is about a foe so vile it will make your blood boil. A villain so despicable that if they ever make a Despicable Me 3 this villain would be the villain of all villains…

This story is about United Airlines.

For this trip, my first flight with United Airlines was… expected. No legroom of course despite the fact that their new slogan is “Legroom friendly”. Apparently you have to pay for the legroom. I kid you not. Here’s the proof straight from one of their billboards inside the airport:

More like fly the cramped, stuffed like sardines in a tin can skies.

“Purchase more legroom in Economy Plus today, fly the friendly skies.”

I might purchase more legroom if the legroom was exactly as shown in the picture! Don’t get your hopes up. One of my Chicago-Munich flight mates told me he purchased more legroom once and it was the exact same!

They want you to “fly the friendly skies” but their idea of friendly is to be totally incompetent. I hate to say it, but it’s the truth.

My next United Airlines flight was going to Munich and boarded a little bit late but that’s no big deal. It boarded around 5:30 PM, the plane de-iced and then we started to taxi. And we taxi’d… And we taxi’d! The plane taxi’d around the airport for 5 1/2 hours with us trapped inside! Allegedly, they couldn’t let us off the plane because there were no gates available. Total BS of course. They easily could have had any plane at any gate temporarily move so that we could get off the plane. Then our plane could have moved to let them back at the gate.

Plus, I know it’s BS that they couldn’t have let us off the plane because I’m pretty sure every airport has those stairs they can attach to the plane, you know, just in case. They use them at the Zagreb Airport every time I get off one of their flights! It’s standard procedure there!

During this 5 1/2 hour ordeal, we had to have our seat belts on and stay seated because we were moving. The captain kept turning on and off the engine so we never got to finish watching movies since we had to restart them every time! Eventually they started to feed us. They brought out the kosher meals for those who had special meals and then the Captain put the kibosh to that pronto so the rest of us didn’t get to eat.

I hadn’t eaten since maybe 1 PM, they didn’t feed us on the plane and at the end of the 5 1/2 hours they told us the flight had been canceled. This was, of course, after they told us the plane simply had to go to a gate to be de-iced again. They promised us we would take off after that. By the time they let us off the plane all the food places were closed. It was now 11 PM or a little after and they told us that that we needed to rebook our flight and that the line in the main lobby (outside the TSA checkpoint) was much quicker.

A vast majority of us went out there to rebook our flight. We stood in line for ages as it took the United Airlines agents 15-20 minutes to help each person. Then the United Airlines ticketing counter manager comes out at 1 AM and tells us that his people are going home at 1:30 AM. And they did. With all of us still standing there in line waiting. One of their ticket agents was actually in the middle of helping someone when she just walked away and never came back!

Now we had to wait until 3:30 AM for the next United Airlines shift to come in. Finally, they came in and the only available flight to Munich was Wednesday. Every flight to Munich was either canceled or full. But by some miracle, seriously it was a miracle, the ticketing agent and her friend at the United Airlines customer service hotline were able to get some of us on a flight to Frankfurt that then flew to Zagreb! That flight was thankfully through Lufthansa and not United Airlines, except it left at 4:10 PM that afternoon. I didn’t care at this point. I was thankful it left before Wednesday!

Some people complained to the ticketing manager about how the Captain said the flight was canceled due to crew not being available. Which he did say. The ticketing manager told us United Airlines would reimburse people for hotels. THEN the manager came back out and told us the flight was canceled due to weather just so they wouldn’t have to reimburse 300 people. Ridiculous.

But I digress… It was now 4:30 AM or so and now that I had my flight rebooked I went to find something to eat. All the food places were past the TSA checkpoint and even though I had my flight rebooked I didn’t have the boarding pass yet. Lufthansa doesn’t open until 12:30 PM at the Chicago airport so I couldn’t get my boarding passes until then.

In case you were wondering, no, there aren’t any food places outside of the TSA checkpoints. I know, unheard of right? One of my Chicago-Munich flight mates told me there was a 7-11 type store over in terminal 5 but when I went to find it I found that it doesn’t exist. At least I couldn’t find it. I did find a McDonalds that didn’t open until after 6 AM. Of course I waited. I slept on my carry-on bag until the airport police woke me up to tell me that’s how bags get stolen… And then he mini-interrogated me about why I was there.

As I mentioned, my rebooked flight to Frankfurt was through Lufthansa and I must tell you it was fantastic! They left on time, they fed us, they gave us hot cloths for our face and best of all: they didn’t make excuses! We even arrived to Frankfurt early!

Sadly, my return home flight was not changed and it was still through United Airlines. This trip made me decide to NEVER fly with United Airlines ever again. Next time, I will pay extra just to avoid them if I have to!

It seems to me that if you own a business and you want to stay in business, you provide excellent customer service. You don’t walk away to go home when you are in the middle of helping someone. You and your colleagues stay and help every last person in that line because that’s what honorable businesses do. That’s what honorable people do. United Airlines has no customer loyalty and they are certainly not an honorable business.

Read a short post with pictures about what happened to my luggage during this ordeal in my post: My Arch Nemesis Is An Airline – Part II. It’s almost as ridiculous as this post.

Until next time! Travel safe, travel smart!


This incident happened on Decemer 8-9, 2013.

 

My Arch Nemesis Is An Airline – Part II

If you thought all the drama with United Airlines was far behind us, you’d be wrong.

I arrived in Zagreb and waited for my luggage at the carousel. It never appeared. I went to the Lost & Found office at the Zagreb Airport and sat down with a nice lady to report my missing luggage. She looked up the number from my luggage ticket and this is what we discovered:

The airport in Chicago didn’t bother to forward it!

I had asked numerous United Airlines agents at both the Chicago and Frankfurt airports if my luggage was going to be forwarded through and they assured me it would be. One even assured me that BY LAW my luggage had to be on the same flight I was on!

I arrived in Zagreb on Tuesday morning, a day late due to the cancellation and my luggage didn’t arrive until Wednesday night. We’re talking 9 or 10 PM.

When it arrived, it arrived damaged of course. It has damage that I don’t even understand how it could have possibly happened, for example: They broke the logo! How the heck do you break a logo on a suitcase???

Here are some pictures of the damage:

luggage 1

How did this happen? The logo is flat!

luggage 2

Major grease streaks all down the right side, bottom with a spot in the middle. Hard to see in a picture but it’s obvious when looking at it in person.

luggage 3

Broken zipper pull. Nothing major, just irritating…

Thank you, United Airlines. I understand that luggage will get a bit dirty during travel. I’m okay with that, but I’m not okay with my luggage coming back looking like trash. When it left my presence it was a nice piece of luggage and now it looks like it should be in a dump. This is how my luggage arrived in Zagreb.

Like I mentioned in Part I, this entire experience has made me decide to never fly with United Airlines ever again. Or to fly through the Chicago O’Hare airport either. I will gladly pay more to avoid both of them. United Airlines has got to be one of the worst travel companies in the world, if not THE worst!