RDU Terminal 2

RDU Terminal 2

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Travel Update - Top Ten Sights in Duseldorf

Location: Dusseldorf, Germany

I have been to Dusseldorf several times, but never had any opportunity to do sightseeing. This time I had a full day and wanted to make the most of it. I found a list of the "10 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Düsseldorf" and used it as a guide. Here is the list:

1. Königsallee - Germany's Most Elegant Avenue
2. Schloss Benrath
3. North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection
4. Kaiserswerth
5. The Museum of Art: Kunstpalast
6. Old Town Düsseldorf
7. Neue Zollhof and the Gehry Buildings
8. Nordpark's Japanese Garden
9. The Hofgarten
10. The Magic of the Rhine: The Embankment Promenade

Schloss Benrath (#2) was a taxi/train ride away, so I removed that from my list. Also, I didn't think that I had time for museums, so I scratched North Rhine-Westphalia Art Collection (#3) and The Museum of Art: Kunstpalast (#4).  I divided the remaining 7 into two tours:
  • North: #4 and #8
  • South: #1, #6, #7, #8 and #10

North Tour

I was staying near the Dusseldorf airport, so the sites on the North Tour were nearby. I took the light rail up to Kaiserswerth. I then walked around to see the town including the Church of St. Suitbertus and the Kaiserpfalz.

 Map of Locations on North Tour

Me in Front of the Kaiserpfalz (#4)

In Kaiserswerth looking toward the Rhine (#4)

I then took the light rail down to the Nordpark, which includes the beautiful Japanese Garden.

Japanese Garden (#8)

Flowers in the Nordpark (#8)

South Tour

After finishing the Nordpark I went back to my hotel, collected my belongings, and rode the light rail down to the Swissotel in the Neuss neighborhood.  After dropping my bags I rode the tram into town were I resumed my walking on the southern part of the tour.

   Map of Locations on South Tour

View of Dusseldorf from across the Rhine at Swissotel in Neuss

Buildings at Neue Zollhof (#7)

Konigsallee (#1)

Sculpture and Buildings Near The Hofgarten (#9)

Sadly, my phone ran out of juice before I could get pictures of the Old Town (Aldstadt - #6) or the
Embankment Promenade (Rheinuferpromenade - #9). 

Here is a view of my steps for this tour:



Overall I very much enjoyed the 7 sites I visited.  Here is my prioritized list of my favorites.

1. Königsallee
8. Nordpark's Japanese Garden
6. Old Town Düsseldorf
10. The Embankment Promenade
4. Kaiserswerth7. Neue Zollhof and the Gehry Buildings
9. The Hofgarten

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Travel Story - A SIM the Easy Way

Location: Singapore

My mobile phone works internationally, but my international voice and data plan has confiscatory rates. I don't want to change carriers, so the answer is to get a local SIM card.

I previously had bad experiences trying to buy a SIM card in the UK and actually buying one in Italy and Aruba, so I was not optimistic when I decided to get one in Singapore. The experience could not be more different.

I went in to the Singtel store and came out 5 minutes later with a tourist SIM card (pictured below):
  • 100 Gb data
  • 500 minutes local calls
  • 30 minutes international calls
  • 100 texts
  • 5 day usage period
  • $15 Singapore dollars (about $10.50 USD)
What a great buying experience, and what a great deal!

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Travel Story - Another Up and Down Travel Day

Location: RDU, JFK and Hong Kong Airports

The more I travel, the more I understand that you need to be ready for anything, and that you never know how things will turn out.  Today was a good example.

I was on the first leg of my round-the-world trip, traveling to from Raleigh-Durham to Singapore via New York JFK and Hong Kong. I don’t like having two stops because of the opportunity for travel disruptions, but it’s hard to avoid when going from RDU to Asia.

Disaster, Part 1
I got to the RDU airport in good time for my 6:05 AM to JFK. As I was eating a light breakfast I got a text on my phone. My flight to JFK was delayed by 45 minutes, but that was OK.  I still had 90 minutes for my connection. Then the wheels fell off.  I got another text saying my flight to JFK was now delayed to 10:00 AM - past my departure from JFK. Time for Plan B.

Recovery, Part 1
I called the airline hotline and got myself rebooked through Dallas-Fort Worth. I had originally booked a premium economy ticket, which gives some extra legroom and seat width. Hey, it’s a 16 hour flight, so every little bit helps. The bad news is that now I would be in regular coach.  Also, I would get in to Singapore 4 hours later than planned, but I would get in. All seemed well until I went to the counter for the DFW flight to get my new boarding passes.

Disaster, Part 2
The online agent had mistakenly booked the second leg (DFW to Hong Kong) for the following day, which would mean spending the night in Dallas, and getting to Singapore a day late. Not Good.

Recovery, Part 2 - Maybe
However, my local gate agent pointed out that my original flight to New York was going out at 7:30 AM, not 10:00 AM as reported by phone and the gate.  She apologized for the misinformation and was able to rebook me on my flight to JFK. There was a question of whether I could get to the gate on time at JFK with the reduced connection time. Also, there was some question as to whether my seat on my original flight was reconfirmed, as reported by the airline partner program.  I would have to go to JFK and see.

A Close Call
We were further delayed getting out of RDU, so when I got off the plane at JFK they had already started boarding my Hong Kong flight.  Sadly, I had arrived in terminal 8, and my flight was departing from terminal 7. Transferring between those two terminals meant going out of security, catching the JFK AirTrain to terminal 8, and going back through security. I have TSA pre-check, but it didn’t apply to this flight.  I did get through security and to the gate before the door was closed, but then there was the problem of my seat. The gate agents were expecting, but it eventually took 3 gate agents to sort out the de-booking and re-booking.  

A Very Pleasant Surprise
The bad news was that the premium economy section was full. The good news was that they bumped me up to business class.  Newly printed boarding pass in hand, I was the last person to board the plane.

One Last Bonus
I arrived in Hong Kong in good time and was able to take an earlier flight to Singapore. That was really good because my original flight wound up being delayed by 2 hours due to the typhoon Mujigae.

Keep Calm and Carry On
I was pleased with the upgrade and with the service that I got from the airline folks. For my part, I didn’t panic, and I was very polite and respectful. Not sure that helped, but I am sure it didn’t hurt. Finally, this was on one of the times that having priority status on partner airlines helped make the process go better for me.

What started out looking like a disrupted travel day would up going better than planned. You just never know.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Travel Story - Around the World

Location: Home

Tomorrow I embark on my first trip around the world.  My itinerary:

Leg 1 / October 3-4: Raleigh-Durham -> New York JFK -> Hong Kong -> Singapore
Leg 2 / October 7: Singapore -> Bangalore, India
Leg 3 / October 10: Bangalore -> London Heathrow -> Dusseldorf, Germany
Leg 4 / October 16: Dusseldorf -> London Heathrow -> RDU

Below is a map showing my route.  Here are some posts related to this trip: