Friday/ Koryo Tours’s offerings

This ‘homage’ to a hamburger (served up cold, from a refrigerator on the airplane) is served on Air Koryo flights.

So : no nuclear test blasts on Friday in North Korea (good), during the Day of the Sun military parade.  The Rachel Maddow Show (daily news and opinion TV show) reported that the three-times-a-week flights from Beijing on Air China into Pyongyang has been suspended, though.

That still leaves the option of going there with Air Koryo, on a Soviet-era airplane (no jeans, no talking to locals, no traveling solo).  As the Koryo Tours website notes : Travelling with us to Pyongyang, and beyond, is something you’ll remember forever.

Great colors in the graphics on the main page of the Koryo Tours website.

One of the pictures on the Koryo Tours website. Traveling solo is not allowed in North Korea – you will always have two tour guides with you.


Monday/ let us ‘re-accommodate’ you ..

United Airlines got extensive and extremely bad press today, for the brutal way they treated a passenger on a Chicago to Louisville flight on Sunday.  The passenger was a doctor that had already boarded, and refused to give up his seat voluntarily (for a United Airlines employee); the doctor said he had patients to see the next morning.

The Chicago Airport Police came on board, and soon violently dragged him off the airplane. The passenger suffered injuries to his face in the process.  The other passengers were just shocked. Some had recorded it and posted the incident on Facebook and Twitter.  Adding insult to injury, the United Airlines CEO issued a cold-blooded ‘apology’ on Monday : “I apologize for having to re-accommodate these customers”.   Right.  As a Twitter user noted : United made a business decision that that doctor’s humanity was worth less than $800. Make them pay for that.   Said another tweet : ‘After what your goons did to a passenger on #flight3411, I will never fly with United again. There is NO excuse’.   

(Tue 4/11/2017):  from Thatcher A. Stone writing on  Flying for vacation travel or work on a modern US carrier’s plane can be enjoyable and pleasant. Just do what you are told by the crew. And, to fulfill their part of the bargain, airlines need to follow the rules and treat passengers who get bumped fairly.
If United had taken a senior gate agent and brought him onto the airplane and said to the doctor, “here is our written policy about denied boarding. I know you are in a seat, but you are mistaken that we can’t remove you. But guess what? You will get refunded whatever you paid if we can get you to your destination within an hour and if it takes longer you could get up to 400 percent.”
He would likely have gotten up and gotten off the plane in a second.

Thursday/ souvenirs from Switzerland

I love to unpack my bags and dig out all the souvenirs, wedged in between my clothes.  On this trip, I just bought a few small things, resisted buying a Swiss watch or another Swiss army knife (I al-ready have one, anyway).   I eyed a beautiful mechanical music box called ‘1865’ made by Reuge, but at some US$3,000 it was out of the question.  

The St Bernard with the keg is hand-carved from sustainable Swiss limewood.  It was made in the village of Brienz that has a long wood-carving tradition.

The coffee mug is from Swiss porcelain manufacturer Langenthal, named after the town of Langenthal where its factory was established in 1906.

I also scanned in one of my train tickets, just to see what the turquoise and white patterned background would look like, enlarged : looks interesting, right?  I think the pattern would look great for bathroom tiles!


Wednesday night/ home

I’m home!  From Frankfurt we made a short stop at Keflavik airport after 3 hrs, then it was another 7½ hrs to get to Seattle.

This is the town of Selfoss on the banks of the Ölfusá river in the south of Iceland, as seen from my window seat during our approach in from Frankfurt. The Icelandic Ring Road No 1 runs through the town as well.

The view as we are boarding the Boeing 767-300 for the flight from Keflavik airport to Seattle.

Wednesday/ Zürich Hbf > Frankfurt Airport

I made it to Frankfurt airport by train and will soon board my Icelandair flight to Seattle, with a stop in Reykjavik.  I took the train from Zürich to Frankfurt airport.  My travel plan for Zürich Hbf > Frankfurt Airport called for a change of trains at Mannheim.  The second train departure, to take me from Mannheim to Frankfurt airport, was canceled due to maintenance issues, though.  ‘I know what your question is already’, said the conductor as I called him over to ask what my options were.   It turned out there was another train just 4 minutes behind us, which is the one that I got onto, to get me to Frankfurt airport.

Here’s our sleek Deutsche Bahn ICE (Intercity Express) train at Zürich main station.  The train driver is having a word with the conductor (I think that’s the conductor).  He will blow a sharp whistle to say ‘All Aboard!’ two minutes before the departure time.  It is 6 am in the morning, so there are not many people around, but the train filled up at the stops along the way to Mannheim. (I took a second train from Mannheim to Frankfurt airport).

This is the arrival hall for trains that stop at the Frankfurt Flughafen (airport) station.

Monday/ Lucerne

I wanted to just post these two pictures of the beautiful Church of St. Leodegar in Lucerne.  It was just after 6 o’clock when I took the pictures.

[From Wikipedia]. The church is the most important church, and a landmark in the city of Lucerne. It was built in parts from 1633 to 1639 on the foundation of the Roman basilica which had burnt in 1633. This church was one of the few built north of the Alps during the Thirty Years War and one of the largest and art history rich churches of the German late renaissance period.


Saturday/ rain

I changed hotels today (to the cheaper Zürich North Marriott Courtyard).  I thought I might fly to one more city, maybe two, but flying costs money, effort and time.  So I decided I will stay put in Zürich until I go home to Seattle on Wednesday.   I do plan to make day trips by train to Basel or Bern, or both.

Here’s the weather map for today (from the Tages-Anzeiger, Swiss daily national newspaper published in Zürich).  Temperatures are in °C (high 40s/ low 50s °F). These maps are a good way to brush up on one’s geography of where the cities are! It tells me Basel and Bern are within reach by an hour or two on the train. Gotthard (with its new base-tunnel for trains) and Logano in the south, alas, are a little too far – more than two hours one way.  So are Geneva and St Moritz.   St Moritz, famous for its ski slopes, made me look up the words to ‘Where do you go to (My lovely)?’ by British singer-songwriter Peter Sarstedt. I see Sarstedt passed away in January, age 75.

There was light rain all day, and into the evening. This is Bahnhof Oerlikon, close to my new hotel in Zurich North.  The station was remodeled in 2016. The neon yellow panels lit up by the roof lights are stand out nicely in the dark of night, especially for travelers like me, that are new to the area and the station.

Words for Where do you go to (My lovely)? -as recorded by Peter Sarstedt, 1969

You talk like Marlene Dietrich
And you dance like Zizi Jeanmaire
Your clothes are all made by Balmain
And there’s diamonds and pearls in your hair, yes there are

You live in a fancy apartment
Off the Boulevard St. Michel
Where you keep your Rolling Stones records
And a friend of Sacha Distel, yes you do

You go to the embassy parties
Where you talk in Russian and Greek
And the young men who move in your circles
They hang on every word you speak, yes they do

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I’ve seen all your qualifications
You got from the Sorbonne
And the painting you stole from Picasso
Your loveliness goes on and on, yes it does

When you go on your summer vacation
You go to Juan-les-Pins
With your carefully designed topless swimsuit
You get an even suntan on your back, and on your legs

And when the snow falls you’re found in St. Moritz
With the others of the jet set
And you sip your Napoleon brandy
But you never get your lips wet, no you don’t

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed?
Won’t you tell me the thoughts that surround you?
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

You’re in between twenty and thirty
That’s a very desirable age
Your body is firm and inviting
But you live on a glittering stage, yes you do, yes you do

Your name is heard in high places
You know the Aga Khan
He sent you a race horse for Christmas
And you keep it just for fun, for a laugh, ha-ha-ha

They say that when you get married
It’ll be to a millionaire
But they don’t realize where you came from
And I wonder if they really care, or give a damn

But where do you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed?
Tell me the thoughts that surround you
I want to look inside your head, yes I do

I remember the back streets of Naples:
Two children begging in rags
Both touched with a burning ambition
To shake off their lowly-born tags, they tried

So look into my face, Marie-Claire
And remember just who you are
Then go and forget me forever
But I know you still bear the scar, deep inside

I know where you go to my lovely
When you’re alone in your bed
I know the thoughts that surround you
Cause I can look inside your head