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Monday, April 24, 2017

PaGA: Day 30 Munich to DC

I noticed that my most popular article today is four years old:


Myself, I threw the bottles I had away because I read that this pill weakened chest muscles, or something like that.  But I've not been able to confirm this sense, so, maybe I dreamt this notion.

Also, general readership has dropped since I left the Orient.  I guess people are not interested in Europe.

Well, I leave Munich for DC Dulles today,  a distance of 4240 miles.  Hawaii to DC?  4772 miles.  I'm not sure when I'll be able to send my next posting, so this might have to do until I get settled in Alexandria much later today.  So in the next few minutes let me provide a comparative analysis of Pat's Global Adventure (PaGA) thus far:
  • First of all, there hasn't been much in terms of adventure.  Not going over a waterfall in a barrel, hiking the Himalayas or personally confronting Kim Jung-un.  Notice how the tenseness over North Korea has diminished the problems in Syria.  Reminded me I need a haircut.
  • I should have been more informative about the French presidential elections.  Effectively, compared to the U.S., the dominant Republican and Democratic Party candidates were defeated by two outliers.  Marine Le Pen is an extreme right-winged conservative, something we don't really have, although Donald Trump seems so.  Emmanuel Macron has never run for office before, and if he wins, he will have very little support in their Parliament.  Thus, no matter who prevails in the runoff on May 7, they will have no control over legislation, unlike Donald Trump.  However, Marcon, the centrist, at least will keep France in the EU, be sensible about immigration and retain the Euro.  So he will easily win.
  • My Westin TV set accessed 229 channels, with nearly 50 from the Middle East and Africa.  Libya, Algeria...and all in language I don't understand.  Even a bunch of stations from the former Soviet countries like Kyrgyzstan.  And Cuba.  There were 20 or so radio stations and four of them played classical music, while a half dozen regularly had older American hits (60's to 80's).  While in Japan, Thailand, Hong Kong and South Korea there must have been a dozen sports stations, in Germany, there was only one, with a paid channel for U.S. sports.
  • Speaking of sports, I've been managing my six ESPN fantasy baseball teams, and four are currently in first place, with two in third.  There was at least one, and sometimes two or three, major league baseball games every day in Japan and South Korea on television.
I've eaten modestly today awaiting a feast on United Polaris First Class to DC Dulles, so my breakfast and lounge meals:


No, that is not a raw egg yolk in the top photo.  It is half a peach.

Lufthansa is similar to Singapore Air.  They both want to be exceptionally superior, so their highest class demands a secured apartment in a Singapore Air flight, which is one step above first class, and Lufthansa has three kinds of lounges:  Business, Senator and First.  To get into the First, you need to purchase a first class fare.  Try being in Star Alliance First Class around the world and getting a seat in Lufthansa's and Singapore's highest class.

About United's Polaris, the reason for this change is that they are deleting first class and enhancing business class.  However, for now, apparently, being on Polaris First Class is supposed to be equivalent to most international first class flights.  I'll see, soon.  All USA airlines have pretty much terminated true first class service, and if they have it, it is really business class.  I'm curious where Polaris is headed.  But the basic point remains:


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PaGA 2017: Day 29 My Day in Downtown Munich

It was a beautiful day.  When I awoke:


Caught the U4-Bahn into Odeonplatz:


That was a mirror image.  Up the escalator, the typical buildings that tell you, yes, this must be Europe
:


A close-up of that middle lion:


And just about here, my Blue Bar Pigeon crossed the street.  With this type of store, it must be Germany:


Walked back through Hofgarten:


Took a photo of an almost black tulip:


They say you can now buy a black tulip, called Paul Sherer, developed by Geert Hageman.  However, on the online page is this tulip:


I would contend that the BLACK TULIP has not yet been developed.  The story is the same for the BLUE ROSE.  After a lot of hype, involving Australian company Florigene and Suntory, they proudly announced in 2004 a blue rose.  However, they, too, are stretching hue-ness.  Here is their blue rose:


Mauve, maybe, or lavenderish...but NOT BLUE!

A ten-minute walk brought me to Schuhbecks in den Sudtiroler Stuben, whose three restaurants share the square, or, really a rectangle, with Starbucks and Hard Rock Cafe:


Looking out, you can seeStarbucks and Orlando, a Schuhbecks bistro outside:


The decor is attractive:


This is an award-winning restaurant:


I started with beer, white wine and bread:


The first course was grilled octopus.  I thought the temperature could have been higher.  Plus, here is another chef who only prepares the flesh without drawing out the taste that makes seafood like scallops and octopus special.

Next came a terrific truffles linguini.  Nearly perfect.  However, if I return I will ask  them to top the dish with six basil leaves and a slice of onion.

The suckling pick was also excellent, with a truly crispy skin.  The restaurant is actually a fusion of German and Italian.  The only problem was that for a large establishment, for the entire lunch, there was a threesome and me.  Counting the $7 for the roundtrip U-Bahn (which was an all day pass), the total for everything came up to slightly less than $100.


The Sheraton is across the street from Rewe, a giant of a supermarket.  As I was getting tired of the free drinks and appetizers in four weeks of executive lounges, on the way back, I bought my dinner to eat in my room:


Tomorrow, back to the USA.

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Sunday, April 23, 2017

PaGA 2017: Day 28 Europe in Crisis

In case you did not know, the European Union now has 28 members, for the United Kingdom is still not officially out.  Nineteen countries use the Euro.  How does the EU compare with the USA?
  • Population:  EU 503 million     USA  327 million
  • Land area:   EU  1.7 million square miles     USA 3.8 million square miles
  • GDP (EU is larger than the USA or China):


They have reduced red tape on travel.  Boy is it easy to pass through customs in the European Union.  No form to fill out. Just showed my passport at the Munich Airport, and there was no line because the process was so quick.  Seven more countries are seeking a possible association, including Turkey.

So Europe has all that history and remains significant economically and politically.  But it is fraying.  Brexit might just be the beginning.

The French are in phase one of electing a new president today.  The odds are that  the centrist protege of Francois Hollande, Emmanuel Macron, will edge far-riche leader Marine Le Pen:


Macron is 39 years old and currently serves as Minister of the Economy.   Le Pen, 48, is a lawyer and daughter of Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen

However, communist candidate Jean-Kuc Melenchon is surging, and has caught up site Francois Fillon, and both are within four points of Macron.  At one time Filon was favorite to contend with Le Pen, but something called a "fake jobs" scandal did him in.  Chances are that no one will get at least 50%, so the top two will run off on May 7.


I've long followed betting odds...until Hillary and Brexit.  However, here are the chances:
  • Emmanual Macron, Independent: Evens
  • Marine Le Pen, Front National: 3/1
  • François Fillon, Les Republicains: 3/1
  • Jean-Luc Mélenchon, Unbowed France: 7/1
  • Benoît Hamon, Socialists: 200/1
WELL THE RESULTS ARE NOW IN.  MACRON AND PEN WILL FACE-OFF ON MAY 7:

Who does Donald Trump want as president?  Well, he did say that Le Penis the strongest candidate, perhaps because of her Islamophobic and xenophobic platform.  That should have read "Le Pen is the strongest candidate."

Okay, but I'm in Germany, and, while all seems well, maybe not.  READ THIS.

Angela Merkel first became Chancellor of Germany in 2005.  She is favored to gain another term in September, mostly because the German Greens, the environmentalists, are the weakest they've been since 2002.  She has a PhD in quantum chemistry and was a research scientist before entering politics from East Germany.  In case you're wondering, there is no term limit.  Helmut Kohl served for 16 years.  The meeting Trump had with Merkel last month was awkward.

Otherwise:

I've long intimated that Europe was a basket case.  Add the immigration/terrorism problem and what to do about Russia, and you wonder how things seem to be normal, if not vibrant, in Munich.  

Munich is exactly 12 hours ahead of Hawaii and 6 hours compared to New York City.  When I get to DC, I will have cut the time difference by half, then on my final stop, San Francisco, again in half.  On the other hand, after the seven time difference between Seoul and Munich, I feel normal already.

Oh well, back to what I did today.  Breakfast and art at the Westin Grand Munich:


If you look to the extreme left, you can barely see this:


These Zen rock gardens are everywhere in Japan, but Munich?

I moved to the Sheraton Munich.  My view:


I had lunch at


I went to the bathroom, and wondered which door to enter.  The answer is this:


My flower for the day:


You would think that a name such as the Westin Grand Munich would mean it must be a grander hotel than the mere Sheraton Munich.  Nope, the Sheraton is such higher tech and nicer.  My dinner at the Executive Club was modest:


The sunset was spectacular:


Tomorrow, fine dining at Schuhbeck's in den Sudtiroler Stuben.  Then, on Tuesday, back to the USA. It will be sunny tomorrow in Munich, but rain, with a high of 53 F, in DC.  However, from Wednesday into the weekend, Munich will experience snow again.  On Thursday, when I will be walking around our Nation's Capital, it will be mostly sunny with temperatures up to 86 F predicted.

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