We really like traveling in the winter

One of the things Paula and I have found is the off season is really nice.  The weather may be cooler but the prices are lower and (my favorite part) the crowds are lighter.

There is, however, one more thing I was noticing today: the lighting is dramatic for most of the day.  If you’re trying to take pictures during the summer, they really look best at sunset and sunrise.  During the winter, however, the sun is lower and the light is more dramatic.


Grenada has been a joy so far.  I was a bit stressed at the beginning since my grasp of Spanish is pretty much nil, but I’ve decided to relax and let Paula handle it all. :)  After spending most of the morning traveling yesterday we had an early dinner then walked around a bit near hotel.  We slept about 12 hours then spent today going up and down the hills that surround the Al Hambra palace.  Tomorrow we head up the hill to see the grand Moorish complex, we can’t wait.

A quick summary of our German trip

With work, out of town visitors and life all pouring heaps of activity into my life I fear I’m never going to have time to write a proper post about the trip we took to Germany with my parents so I’m just going to brain dump quickly so I can refer back to it later.

Here’s a quick summary of our German trip:

  1. Flew into Düsseldorf to visit our old house and haunts
  2. Drove to Ilsenburg in the Harz mountains to stay for a few days.  From Ilsenburg we took a day trip to Goslar (home to some of Paula’s ancestors) did some hiking and visited Wernigerode.
  3. Drove to Hamburg, toured the massive harbor and saw some of the town.
  4. Drove to Lübeck to stay a night and tour the old town
  5. Drove north to check out the Baltic Sea then south through Schwerin to stay in Berlin for a couple nights.

It was a fantastic trip and a great chance to spend some quality time with my parents.  About the only complaint we had was that there are no smoking restrictions in Germany, so no matter where you go you are going to be sucking in lots of second-hand smoke.  It’s not ideal, but you just gotta deal.

Oh, and Tami, you might be able to eat off the streets on weekdays but not on weekends.  They don’t sweep the streets on weekends.  When we were walking around Lübeck the local guide told us the streets were filthy because they don’t sweep on weekends (I just figured they were filthy because people couldn’t be bothered to use trash cans).

Germany… several days in

Paula and I have been having a great time in Germany over the past few days We flew into Duseldorf on Saturday morning and met my parents at our hotel.

When I was in elementary school (fourth, fifth and sixth grades) my family lived in Duseldorf for three years. It was fun to get a chance to revisit some of the places we used to frequent. We even went by our old house… it’s now an Italian restaurant. 🙂

After a brief time in Duseldorf we drove east into the Harz mountains to stay in Ilsenburg. From our hotel in Ilsenburg we took a short drive west to visit Goslar. Besides being a wonderfully preserved old German town, it’s also where Paula’s great-great grandfather lived and died (though we didn’t do any family history research this trip).

We just finished our second day in Hamburg and are off to Lubeck tomorrow. Here’s a quickie picture of the town hall in Hamburg (sorry for the cell-phone quality, better pictures when we’re back home).

Getting logged into Hotel Internet with Vista & IE 7

When Paula and I were trying to get logged into Courtyard’s Internet connection on Saturday we couldn’t get connected, the browser just spun it’s wheels then gave us a “page cannot be displayed” message.  The behavior was the same on both my laptop and Paula’s. 

The typical experience signing onto a commercial network is turn on your computer, open a web browser, request a page and you are magically redirected to a sign-in/sign-up page.  The redirect works in some cases (the Westin most recently) and not in others (Marriott).  For some reason some implementations work with Vista and some don’t.  I asked the hotel tech support to log me on from their end but then played with Paula’s computer to try to get hers logged in.

The solution ended up being fairly simple, I turned off protected mode in IE, logged into the hotel Internet, then turned protected mode back on again.

I suppose if you’re stuck in a hotel right now unable to log onto the hotel network you can’t read this.  Ah, the irony.

Ahhh…. Vacation

Our family takes an annual spring break to somewhere warm… but this is the first year we’ve really looked forward to the warmth as well as simply a vacation.  We look forward to our spring break every year, but when we used to live in California it was never quite as much of a contrast as it was this year (it snowed in Dublin the Sunday before we left).

We flew from Dublin to Cancun on Friday, stayed at a hotel not far from the airport, then headed to Akumal on Saturday.  We made a quick stop at Wal*Mart for groceries before making it to our rental house on Half-Moon Bay in Akumal.

I had a bit of jet lag the first day, but waking up early can be nice.  Since Akumal faces east the only way to get a colorful picture of the sun over the ocean is to get up at dawn.