National Holiday Vacation

We are coming off Chinese National holiday where the government moves the weekends to allow for 7 days off in a row. This happens twice a year in October and during Chinese New Year which is determined by the lunar calendar.

George Michael has taken up touring in Europe and just happened to be in Paris over the National week. EEEEE!  Even though we recently saw George in 2009 I must see him again to make up for all the missed Wham concerts in the 1980s. It was hard growing up in Western Massachusetts. Boston was just too far away to go to a concert and who toured to Connecticut? Todd is a good sport putting up with my George obsession and traveled from Orlando to Shanghai then to Europe. I thinks he nearly circled the world.  Todd is also a little obsessed with airplanes so it is not hard to convince him to travel. He even was able to get a life list item checked off, to fly in the fancy seats that make into beds AND to go on an A380 with the bar in the back.

Of course we are not just going to Paris. That would be too simple. Oktoberfest was wrapping up a few days before George and we had such a good time there a few years back and Munich is close to Paris, all the European countries are close aren’t they?  We decided to go to Munich for 2 days to take in the fest. Emirates was also running a deal that would allow a stop over in Dubai free of charge, put you up in a hotel and provide transportation at all your departure and arrival cities. We have not been to Dubai before and it was a not costing us any more, although I would argue we paid for it, it would be silly not to go to Dubai. About our National Holiday Adventure.

Emirates
Anywhere you want to go from China is a long-ass haul. Even places in Asia can be hours away why is it all so far and why is the Concorde not being brought back? I have heard folks rave about flying Emirates. The service I found slow and comparable to other international carriers. What I will oh and ah about is the seat and how it makes into a bed. They even bring you a mattress to put on your seat that makes it even more comfy. It is pretty fancy and easy to sleep and does make traveling more enjoyable, you arrive rested it is amazing. I wish I could make it my new standard of travel but we are not made of money. Even though everyone does thinking the cost of living in China is cheaper to that I call BS. Taxes are high and foreigners are going to be getting a new special tax, housing is ridiculously expensive, Doritos cost $10 and a block of Land o Lakes cheese $7. You want a foot massage or laundry sure it is cheaper than other places but anything else, no way, including travel it is still costly.

Todd napping in his seat/bed 🙂

Dubai
It is like Las Vegas out in the desert, over the top things but no gambling, booze, or barely dressed ladies. I thought Hong Kong was one of the most humid places in the world, nope, Dubai is. Florida is like California compared to Dubai. We took a tour and my big take a way is lots of shopping. Oh and a ski slope in a mall!! I wanted to do one run (they give you all the gear for who in the desert has ski pants you just need to buy the hat and gloves) but the cost was in 2hr blocks with only 1 day that was a good chunk of time to commit.  Our hotel package included tickets to Wadi Water park so we had to go. This water park is bananas! You don’t carry a tube or yourself up to the top of the slide. You just sit in your tube and get pushed up to the top.  You pick the slide you want to do when you get the the top, the lifeguard will ask you and off you go and at the end it dumps into the lazy river where you can get pick up again by the lift or just around in the river. It is never ending. My kind of water park.

One day in Dubai was enough for me. Although if on another stop over I would like to go to the desert and sand surf, see a camel,  go back to the water park, and ski.  I don’t have a strong desire to return to the Middle East. I was told by co-workers who have been before that my enhanced light hair may draw attention to me. I responded like in China and was told no as in a Russian hooker and reminded about the views towards women even in the more “liberal” Dubai. If Dubai is liberal I really don’t want to go anywhere else in the Middle East. I don’t think I was thought of as a Russian hooker during my time there but it is a male dominated society that I could feel. Todd would be addressed and I was ignored and not really looked at. I would naturally say hello, smiled, and thanked people part of my personality, I am friendly and ignored. It was very strange and I didn’t like it. I have also not seen so much junk grabbing/rearranging in public before. I don’t know if it is from not wearing appropriate undergarments with their thawb or what is going on but there is a lot of it.  It made me a little uncomfortable.

More photos of Dubai.

Munich
If what we experienced at Oktoberfest this time we experienced our first visit I don’t think I would have been so anxious to return. In my mind Oktoberfest was a giant frat party, another life list thing for boys and some girls (never on mine but on Todd’s so we went). Our 1st time we had a blast! It was not as I expected and it didn’t feel like a frat party I really enjoyed it. Well the 1st time we went during the week and it may have been over family days. This time it was over the weekend, the last 2 days of Oktoberfest and it was the world’s giant frat party. Drunks everywhere, stumbling, broken glass, puke, people passed out and balls to the walls crowded.  It was a sight to see but not pleasant to be in the middle of. We went to the English Garden twice where there is a beer garden which was crowded and long lines for beer and food but never fearful to be trampled on. Much more enjoyable and there is a nudist sunbathing spot which is always fun to walk past.

Oh the Hofbrahaus and how it has fallen.  We went there a few times our last trip and have gone a handful of times to the one in Vegas. I love swine schnitzel! This time the Hof in Munich didn’t have it on the menu! To me that is like saying they don’t have pretzels or beer! We did get some other delicious food but I was still disappointed. I made up for it at another hall and the beer garden had it.

We did a day trip to see Dachau the model concentration camp all the others were built based upon. Why do I go to such things? Todd will confirm I was the one who wanted to go.  I go for it is history, learned about it in school.  This is history that should never repeat itself. It was awful, awful, awful and made me very sad but glad I went. Todd may disagree with that for the mood it put me in but a visit to the beer garden fixed that real quick.

Update: My brother-in-law Terry was reading this post and shared with me that Todd’s Dad, Silas his troop was one of the first American troops to go in and stop the craziness of Dachau and help the survivors of the camp. WOW. I knew his troop saved the Pope (yes, the Pope, it is in a book and the family has a letter from the Pope) during the war but no idea about Dachau. WOW. I miss you Dad Morgan I would have like to of had a discussion about this and of course talk about how many service men you can fit in an elevator….

More photos of Munich

We took a night train from Munich to Paris. The train station was full of Oktoberfesters and I appreciate the call Todd made to book a sleeping car with its own toilet versus the one with the shared toilet. If I would have been able to get in to use the shared toilet, who knows the condition would have been in. I saw the streets of the fairground and what they looked like, imagine a small confined space, no thank you. I am getting old and grumpy.

Paris
Being our 2nd trip to Paris and decided to have a unique experience, we stayed on a houseboat on the Seine. If only I was able to ride a camel I would have done it all planes, trains, cars, bus and boats. The notion of the houseboat is cool, it was cute. I liked the full kitchen, bath and space to spread out.  On the deck we watched the boats go by and was visited by some neighbor cats, which I named boat cats. The rocking of boat is nice when sleeping but be aware of the larger boats passing by for they will wake you in the night like a weeble. I  am proud to say we wobbled but didn’t fall down or out of bed.  The creaking of boat and the rubbing of the one next to you can be a little creepy and something to get use to. Like that Julie Roberts movie and the houseboat. It is also damp and musty I guess sitting in a river will do that. My luggage and everything in it came back to Shanghai smelling like the boat.  There are also a lot of stairs. Stairs to get to the bank, ramp and stairs to get on the boat and stairs to go inside the boat. We also had bonus stairs that led to the bathroom.  Glad we are not broke down but after all the stairs it felt like we were. The houseboat was lovely and would do it again but I was just not prepared or aware of all the charms that come with a houseboat so I share. It is not for those prone to motion sickness or trouble with stairs.

We were 1 mile from Notre Dame (bells, bells, bells,….of Notre Dame! That is from Disney’s the Hunchback of ND). One morning we even decided to be sporty and run there and back. Across from the big beautiful church is the Latin Quarter with all it’s restaurants and hustlers in the front trying to lure you in to eat with free drinks or desserts. I love this place! We had some great food and it is so lively.

Visited the Louvre to see the E ticket items again. Can you ever get enough Mona Lisa?  Hiked up the 300+ stairs (more stairs!) of the dome of Sacre Coeur of course we did. We have to climb up and down everything. Took a ride on a boat that goes places down the river and saw the Moulin Rouge, not impressive, reminded me of Old Town in Kissimmee, a tourist place.

Mona Lisa

Did all that and saw George Michael the purpose of the trip. George as always sounded wonderful and looks good! He sang a lot of covers (Rhianna, Winehouse, Bowie, Wonder) and some of his stuff with new arrangements, why is he messing with Praying for Time? I accept Glee and the mashups and covers, updated arrangements and all. I like change, I even liked New Coke but George needs to sing it like I remember it on pink my boom box. Overall pretty mellow concert until the end.. when one of his few encores (image that, he came back on stage as if encores are a surprise and not planned, so stupid) and did a few of his hits  I’m Your Man and Freedom and the place went crazy, lost their shit crazy. That is what he needs to be singing, forget the mellow stuff. Still love you George but need dancing George back you can sit on a stool and croon when you are old, you are not even 50 yet, get your tambourine from I’m You Man out ’cause if you going to do it do it right and get shaking it.

George Michael! (I'm like Perez)

Also heard the news the night of the George that George Michael Bluth and family is returning! Yeah to bringing back some Arrested Development. What a good George Michael night!

More photos of Paris

A great trip, Todd is back in Orlando (sad) and a 7 day work week me for the weekend being moved for the holiday.

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2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Barbara Skibiski
    Oct 13, 2011 @ 21:52:34

    Great trip, Rebecca and Todd! Enjoyed your commentary. Weren’t you surprised at the tiny size of the Mona Lisa painting? I’ll not be tempted any more by a houseboat accomodation for motion sickness always seeks to be with me. Aren’t some of the houseboat decorated beautifully with flowers? I’ll remain a photographer of houseboats, envious of those who live on them. Enjoyed your photos!
    Cousin Barbara

    Reply

    • Rebecca
      Oct 13, 2011 @ 21:54:29

      They are beautiful with the flowers so are so many of the balconies in Paris. Good thing we are going on a big boat, actually the biggest in January. We are looking forward to it!

      Reply

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