What’s Going On: It’s been a slow month after 2 weeks off work over the holidays. I had some dental work after dealing with a bothersome tooth since Thanksgiving & it’s healing up nicely.
What I’m Buying: Nothing major except for a few travel items for an upcoming trip. More on that in the February update!
What I’m Eating: We visited Grindstone Public House for Devour Indy & had one of the best meals in a long time. Lightly battered & fried stuffed mushrooms, Fish & Chips, & Bread Pudding with Vanilla Ice Cream. It was VERY good & the portions were generous.
What I’m Reading: I’m making an effort to read more in 2024. It’s not that I don’t like to read it’s the fact that I have so many hobbies that reading always takes a back seat.
What Else: I’ve really been enjoying my new ham radio privileges & I’ve communicated with 105 countries since September. It’s something fun to do when the weather is gross. I’m looking forward to taking some equipment with me when I go camping!
And Finally… This is a long one, but well worth the time to read.
What’s Going On: I had the opportunity to join my lovely partner on a trip to the Austin TX area a few weeks ago. We went down to check out the Original Round Top Antiques Fair, in Round Top, TX. The entire place had a Texas-type Bohemian feel to it (hats, sun dresses, and cowboy boots) that we dubbed the “Bohemian Boobblehead” look.
Where I’ve Been: We rented a sporty little Audi A5 and stayed in an Air B&B that could not have been nicer. It was in the middle of nowhere, next to a Longhorn ranch, and a perfect place to relax and unwind.
What I’m Eating: We tried a local BBQ place, and it was just OK. But, the local bakery was delicious, and the local butcher had steaks and loaded baked potatoes so good we had them two nights in a row.
Round Top is a small town with a normal population of 90 people. The antique fair brings in around 200,000 people over a few weeks. One of the local food attractions is Royers Pie Haven, which deserves all the accolades. After waiting for 10-15 minutes, we each got our little slice of heaven to enjoy for dessert later that night.
It was raining when we flew out of Austin and back to Indy; we skipped the line at Franklin BBQ, visited Terry Black’s, and had some of the best BBQ we have ever had. I didn’t get any decent pictures because I was chowing down!
And Finally… I am heading down to Cincinnati in the next couple of weeks to visit the historic Voice of America Bethany Station.
What’s Going On: Leaving Paris was not bitter-sweet. I was ready for the next stop in my travel back to the U.S., London, England. I took another ridiculously long Uber ride to the train Station & boarded Eurostar #9027 for the 2-hour trip under the English Channel.
As I wrote last week, once I got to the station, it was time to wait. There was a (unusual?) delay because of a broken down train, so I was in a queue for about an hour while they got things back on track (pun intended), and I was off to London!
There was a little confusion because the station didn’t update the electronic board, so many people, myself included, thought we were in the wrong area. After numerous announcements in various languages (English was one, thankfully), we were all relieved to find we were right where we needed to be.
The train from Paris to London was not as nice as the Zurich to Paris train, but it was still nicer than most commercial flights, and there was plenty of legroom to stretch out and relax.
We hit 334.7 km/h (207.97 mph) at one point but slowed considerably once we got to the Chunnel. The 31.35 mi trip underground and water was a lot faster than I expected, and shortly after we entered the tunnel on the French side, we emerged in England.
I walked a short way from the train station and quickly obtained an Uber to take me to my hotel. I was getting a little hungry, so I opted for an early dinner at a pub on the Thames River.
What I’m Eating: I chose Captain Kidd mainly because of its location on the water and decent reviews online. The pub itself was what you would expect. Lots of wood and small groups of friends talking about their day and local events.
The food was disappointing. I ordered fish and chips (when in Rome), and I received their version (the dark nuggets in the bowl on the left are “Shrimp Scampi”). They tasted OK but definitely NOT what I was expecting.
The house brew, on the other hand, was deliciously light and hit the spot.
The next day, I set out to explore the city. I had a general idea of where I wanted to go but no agenda once I got there. I started my day at the Brick Lane Bakery and ordered a Salted Beef Bagle.
Salted beef (think corned beef) on a freshly made chewy bagel with mustard and pickles. I hit the jackpot with this dish. It was new but familiar at the same time and was a delicious way to start the day.
As I walked around London, I found many covered bazaars with vendors selling all kinds of items as well as food stalls scattered throughout.
After exploring 3 or 4 of these, I turned a corner and discovered London has an Eatly location!
After exploring Eatly, I settled in for a quick cup of espresso in the coffee shop downstairs to get my bearings & choose what to do next. I was now close to the Thames again, so I headed south to check out the London & Tower bridges.
All this walking was wearing me out, so I found a riverside restaurant to get a light lunch and a well-deserved glass of wine.
I spent another day in London before heading back to Indianapolis. I’ll admit I wasn’t in London long enough. There are a lot of things to explore, and I’m looking forward to another visit in the upcoming years to see and do more.
Because the City was participating in a Car Free Day the day I was leaving, the entire downtown area was gridlocked. A 14-mile direct drive to the airport turned into a 90-minute trip around the outskirts of the city to get to Heathrow.
Once inside and through security, I felt like I was in Vegas. This airport was over the top!
My seat was upgraded to business class, and I ended up in the front of the section behind the bulkhead. THIS is the seat to have on the 6-hour flight back to the U.S. LOTS of legroom, and very easy to get up and move around without disturbing the person next to you. I’m looking for these seats on my next international trip.
I returned to Indianapolis around Midnight and was wide awake when I got home. I managed to get some rest and didn’t have any jet lag effects the next day.
All in all, this was a great trip. Zurich is a place I would have never visited on my own, but I’m ready to return. I could have skipped Paris for another day in London, but I’m glad I at least passed through. The train travel in Europe is no joke. It’s cost-effective and fast. I wish we had 200+ mph trains in the US between major cities. I would use those whenever possible versus flying in all but the longest trips.
What Else: Since I returned from Europe, I passed my Amateur Radio General Exam (I only missed two questions on the 35-question test) and now have privileges to use radio frequencies that allow me to talk all over the world.
My simple setup with a wire antenna in the 2nd-floor attic has allowed me to make over 550 contacts in 94 countries. I should have done this a long time ago.
And Finally… The New Yorker had a fascinating article (with clever graphics) about the world’s seafood supply. It’s very eye-opening and I learned a lot by reading it
What’s Going On: Continuing from last week, when I spent a week in Zurich for work, it was now time to work my way back home with some side trips along the way.
I left Zurich HB (one of the coolest train stations I’ve ever been in), and in just over 4-hours, I stepped off the train in Paris.
I immediately discovered a restriction on Ubers for several blocks around the station & took a short stroll to find a cafe for a coffee. It was starting to drizzle, so I picked up the pace.
No English was spoken here, and the minimum purchase was about twice the price of my cup of coffee, so I had another (ha). After getting hopped up on caffeine, I found a local hotel, ordered an Uber, and waited under their awning.
What I’m Eating: After settling in at my hotel, I decided to walk around before it started raining again. I was next to a canal that ran through this part of the city and found a little brewery on the other side, where I ordered a pint and a snack (fries, of course!).
I failed to realize until I was almost finished with my fries that the yellow mustard bottle was actually mayo, which I love on fries.
I used my Tom Bihn Side Hustle a lot during my travels. It’s the perfect sized bag to carry just the essentials, which in my case is:
iPad Pro with Magic Keyboard and Apple Pencil
Sharpie S-Gel pens (Black/Blue/Red)
Airpod Pro Gen 2
Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
Assorted charging cables
I’ve carried this setup for several months prior to my trip when I head over to Sunking Brewery to blog, and plan for the upcoming week. It helps me to get out of the house when I need to tap into my creative side. It’s also the perfect setup for plane & train travel since it’s compact. It slides into my Tom Bihn Synik 30 for secure storage and transportation when not in use.
I looked around the area on Google Maps and found a Meister Berliner Kebap that serves a delicious Doner Kebab. I had been wanting to try one of these for a long time, and when I found one in Paris, my dinner plans were set! On the way back to the hotel, I stopped by a wine store and settled in for the night with a huge pita stuffed with all kinds of good stuff. The hotel was decorated with lots of world flags as the Rugby World Cup was happening in France while I was there.
The next morning, I packed up and headed to another station to catch my next train, this time to London. I can honestly say Paris just didn’t do it for me. The rainy weather didn’t help, but the place just felt dirty and depressing. There were homeless camps everywhere, and the traffic was awful. I was around the outskirts of the touristy area, and it was number to bumper.
Looking at Google Maps, it would have taken me over 2 hours to get anywhere near the Eiffel Tower, and it was only a couple of miles away. If the weather was better and I had another day in Paris, I would have walked, but this was just an overnight, and I was ready to move on.
Once I got to the station, it was time to wait. There was a (unusual?) delay because of a broken down train, so I was in a queue for about an hour while they got things back on track (pun intended), and I was off to London! More to come on that piece of the trip next week.
What’s Going On: We’re getting ready for this year’s Leadership Exchange in Zurich, Switzerland. We had delegates start arriving on Saturday and planned a cruise on Lake Zurich while waiting for the final attendees to arrive (and to help people stay awake).
We officially started things on Sunday with a Labor Market Overview and a deep dive into the Swiss Dual Education System. It might not sound interesting, but it really WAS! Kids in Switzerland have an alternate path from college and often pick and start their careers as young as 15.
What I’m Buying: Chocolate, LOTS of chocolate. My (checked) bag was 43.7 pounds when I left Indy, and after visiting the Lindt Factory, it feels a LOT heavier than the 50-pound bag of salt I used to bring home from Costco. I might need to purchase a bag to put all my dirty clothes in to lighten up the main bag (I actually did have to visit a sporting goods store in London to offload some dirty laundry into and lighten up my checked bag)…
What I’m Eating: Before all the delegates arrived, a few of us went to an Italian restaurant that was a favorite of the pre-trip team (they made 2 visits to Zurich before the main event). Restaurant Hirschberg Is a place you’re unlikely to find on your own. It’s tucked along a busy side street we took countless times to get to our various destinations throughout the week. It’s run by a husband and wife team, and one of their friends is the evening server. The wife is in the front of the house, and the husband is in the back, making whatever has been concocted with their guests. Our starter aperitif was a glass of Prosecco with a splash of Amaretto mixed in. Something I have never had and something I will be recreating once I get home.
The menu is handwritten and seems more like a suggestion than a set of courses. You can choose to make any of the selections an appetizer or a main dish. We ordered a little bit of everything for the table and enjoyed every bite. One interesting thing they do is use these small square pottery dishes with a roughed-up section in the middle. This allows you to rub a garlic clove in it and infuse your oil to dip your bread into. These are so popular with guests they have them available to purchase by their guests ( I bought several).
This meal was one of the top 5 meals I’ve ever eaten. It was spread out over 3+ hours, but didn’t feel like It at all. If I ever return to Zurich, it is the first place I will be going.
Where I’ve Been: We spent a morning at the FIFA Museum and an afternoon at the Lindt Chocolate Factory.
I saw this very odd building while traveling through town & was surprised to learn what it was.
The Swissmill Tower (or the “Kornhaus Zurich”) is the tallest operating grain elevator in the world. Standing at 118 meters (387 ft), it is the second-tallest building in the Swiss city of Zürich. This huge building is in the heart of the city & sits on the Limmat River that feeds into Lake Zurich.
What Else: I’m working my way back to Indy via Paris and London (taking a train to both locations) & will post updates once I get back stateside.
And Finally… Turning a Lego C-3PO into 18K C-3PGOLD
What’s Going On: I just flew into Zurich and, boy, are my arms tired! Sorry for the old joke but crossing the Atlantic is no joke! I’m visiting for work and part of the support staff for a Leadership Exchange trip bringing approximately 100 CEOs and elected officials to Zurich Switzerland to learn about the apprenticeship process that’s so popular there.
I had a 4pm departure from Indianapolis, and a short layover in Philadelphia (enough to smash a cheesesteak and beer) before flying overnight to Zurich. The flight was uneventful but I could not get more than a few minutes sleep at a time. The older couple sitting next to me were pleasant and after a long 8 hours we arrived.
Customs was a LONG wait as several big flights arrived around the same time and they were short staffed. Several of the passport stations were manned by people in training (as evident from the signed in the window). As soon as it was my turn the employee in training was replaced buy a guy who was not too happy to be at work that day.
Him: “Business or Pleasure”
Me: “Work Conference”
Him: “How many days in Europe?”
Him: *Thunk-Stamp* “Wellcome to Zurich”
Pretty simple process! It’s 9am and the plan is to stay up all day, have a nice meal and crash around 11pm to get acclimated to the time change.
What I’m Watching: I watched Murder Mystery 2 on the flight over, It wasn’t as good as the first one (sequels rarely are) but it helped pass the time.
I was impressed with the selection available for inflight entertainment, and they even had seat to seat chat so I messaged a couple co-workers that were also on the flight.
What I’m Reading: Still working on the Grocery book by Michael Ruhlman, and started reading Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. I want to finish that one before the AppleTV series comes out later this year.
What Else: This is my fourth Leadership Exchange trip and it usually consists of early mornings, late nights, and a lot of good food and group activities. This year we are spending time at the FIFA Museum, and Lindt Chocolate Factory. But first, I need to head down to the dock to hop on a pleasure cruise out on Lake Zurich with 100 tired travelers and coworkers. More to come soon!
What’s Going On: As I continue studying to upgrade my Amateur Radio license, I’ve added a couple of “stealth” antennas to the attics in my house. Unfortunately, because of my HOA, I can’t put anything on the outside of the house; I’m limited to using the attic space for the equipment. While not ideal, it’s been working better than expected. I hear stations from Europe and South America regularly in the evening. I look forward to being able to talk to them soon!
What I’m Eating: Last week, I stopped by the Easy Rider Diner in Fountain Square for lunch. It’s owned and operated by the Hi-Fi concert venue located next door. The food coming out of the kitchen looked really good, as did the Cobb Salad I ordered (there is lettuce under all the toppings), but the $6 upcharge for 4 chicken nuggets was a little steep, in my opinion. The Blue Cheese dressing was definitely out of a bottle, too (and not that good). I’d go back and try something else next time. The salad didn’t do it for me this time.
I also picked up a couple of new items from Trader Joe’s.
The Kalua Pork Spring Rolls smelled VERY good while they were cooking, but unfortunately, the taste was off. In my opinion, there was a very strong black pepper taste. The folks at the What’s Good at Trader Joe’s website seemed to like them better and mentioned a strong liquid smoke flavor (they still gave them 7.5 out of 10)
Unlike the Spring Rolls, the Shrimp Boom Bah had a much better taste and included a nice spicy sauce. The only issue I had was they could have been crispier. An air fryer might have done the trick (I don’t have one).
Where I’ve Been: Traveled down to New Richmond, Ohio, last weekend to check out the Annual International Cardboard Boat Regatta on the Ohio River. This is my first time checking it out, and it was a lot of fun. The town was having a River Days celebration, and the race was one of the weekend activities. All of the boats were made out of cardboard and paint. Some really creative designs! New Richmond is also the home of the world’s only Cardboard Boat Museum.
What I’m Watching: Poisoned: The Dirty Truth About Your Food (2023)
If you’re on Social Media, you might have seen the woman on a flight pointing to something off-camera and proclaiming it was “not real.” @Travispaints painted his interpretation, and it is amazing! Zoom in; it’s a who’s who of fictitious characters.
And Finally… Just in time for summer grilling… Juicy Grilled Burger – You Suck at Cooking
What’s Going On: I finally booked my flights for an upcoming business trip to Switzerland. Getting there wasn’t the challenge; it was trying to figure out what to do with the couple of days I had after the conference was over (too many options!). Right now, I’m planning on taking a train to Paris for an overnight visit, then off to London for a couple of days before returning home. Now that the travel is secured, I need to figure out lodging and activities (like where to eat!).
Where I’ve Been: I had lunch with my son last weekend, and while in the Lafayette area, I traveled a little ways north to check out a place that’s been on my list for a while. The Cairo Skywatch Tower (AKA the Delta Lima 3 Green Ground Observation Tower) is a long-lost piece of Korean War history. Before the United States had a national radar system, volunteers across the country would set up observation posts to scan the sky for enemy aircraft.
And Finally… This might go on the Paris must-do list…
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.