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June 8, 2015

Food Porn Withdrawal?

food-porn

I travel a lot and when I travel I tend to post photos of the food I eat. So while some people might get annoyed by their social streams filling up with photos of my various gastronomic adventures, some of them miss them when I'm not on the road:

food-porn

I usually post to my Instagram account or Flickr

:)

 

 

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May 30, 2015

Overdosing On Jamón

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I've been in Spain this week at a couple of events.

One of the things I love about Spain is the food. No matter where you go it's always pretty good and in many cases it's out of this world.

Of the various things that you can eat in Spain my favourite is jamón. Ham. Jamón iberico. Yum!

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Ham, chorizo and cheese for breakfast

 

By the time I leave the country tomorrow morning I'll probably have had enough pig based products to last me the rest of the year! :)

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May 29, 2015

Thatcher Lives On .. In Madrid

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Streets, squares and other public venues get named after famous people and events all the time.

But it's a bit odd to discover that there's a square in the centre of Madrid bearing the name of Margaret Thatcher.

It's bizarre, but it's true:

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Apparently the square was named after Thatcher last year.

I've no idea why Madrid would do this, but apparently it's a weird reflection of their internal politics:

José María Aznar, a former prime minister and the man who chose Rajoy as his successor, a decision he has let it be known he now regrets. And Ana Botella, the mayor of Madrid who made the decision to honour Thatcher in the street map, just happens to be Aznar’s wife. Just to eradicate any doubt whether Plaza Margaret Thatcher might be a message, the square is situated only a few hundred metres down the street from the People’s party HQ, as if pointing in the direction the party should be heading (source)

Ironically the square is right beside Plaza de Colón (the Spanish for Columbus):

thatcher-madrid

 

 

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May 16, 2015

Jet Lag Visualised

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When you travel across multiple timezones your body is unhappy. You end up suffering from "jet lag". Essentially this is because your body hasn't had a chance to adjust to the new rhythm of the new timezone. So when you from Ireland to Seattle, for example, you end up 8 hours out of sync. Sure, after a few days your body's internal clock will adjust and you'll be able to get back to your normal sleep patterns, but it's painful.

I've been using melatonin for the last while to help my body adjust and while it does help, it's not a "silver bullet".

I use the Flying app on my iPhone to track some of the data about my travel. It's got some handy features, but my primary interest is the data visualisations including this one of my jet lag:

jet-lag-flying-app

I'm just back from Seattle, so my body is on Seattle time - or something close to it. I wasn't over there long enough to fully adjust, but I'm definitely NOT on Irish time!

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April 6, 2015

Pyramids By Night

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The pyramids. They feature in so much of popular culture. From books to films, to tv shows to popular music.

One of the seven wonders of the world, I'd always been interested in seeing them so I was delighted to finally make that dream come true last week.

I took a few photos, though since the photos were taken on an iPhone they probably don't look that great

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March 8, 2015

Enjoying Regional Cuisine in Jordan

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Last night I had dinner with a couple of friends in one of the hotel's restaurants. Although I'm in Jordan the restaurant was Lebanese, but it's still in the same region (more or less).

The food was excellent and most of what we had we simply shared "family style".

One of the things that really impressed me were the fresh almonds. I've always liked almonds, but the ones you get in Europe are usually quite dry. These were much tastier and I assume locally produced.

Here are a few shots to whet your appetite :)

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Sausages - I think the meat was beef

 

 

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A raw meat paste, olives from the locality and a garlic sauce

 

A spicy tomato sauce over grilled lamb kebabs

A spicy tomato sauce over grilled lamb kebabs

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March 7, 2015

Exploring Jerash

A line of columns inside the Roman city of Jerash in Jordan

I'm currently spending a couple of days in Amman, Jordan.
This afternoon I'd planned on going to see a couple of the sites in the city itself, but when I hopped in a taxi the driver suggested taking me to Jerash instead. (I had been told by a friend that it was worth visiting)

Jerash is about a 30 minute drive from Amman city. In Roman times the city was called Gerasa and it must have been pretty spectacular. What's left today is impressive, even if it is ruins.

When you come up towards the old part of the town you get a clear view of the gates into the Roman city. They look impressive, but it's not until you've walked around the ruins that you get a real idea of how impressive the city must have been in Roman times.

I took a few photos this afternoon which give some idea of what you can see

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The gates of Jerash, Jordan

 

A line of columns inside the Roman city of Jerash in Jordan

A line of columns inside the Roman city of Jerash in Jordan

 

Some details in one of the buildings inside the Roma city of Jerash, Jordan

Some details in one of the buildings inside the Roma city of Jerash, Jordan

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January 25, 2015

A Mixed Bag of Experiences With Delta & Air France Customer Service

Delta's mobile app includes baggage tracking

I spent the first two weeks of 2015 in Las Vegas attending CES and then NamesCon. After over two weeks I was looking forward to going home. I was "done".
I was meant to be flying Las Vegas - JFK - Dublin, leaving Vegas Friday morning and arriving into Dublin the following morning.

Unfortunately, as can happen, there were weather issues at JFK which led to flights destined for the airport being put on an "air traffic control restriction". Apparently there were heavy winds in JFK which meant that they had to close several of the runways. JFK is a busy airport, so any reduction in capacity will cause headaches and a nasty "domino effect". So my flight out of Vegas was delayed for about two hours. We were asked to disembark and wait in the boarding area. I was able to get to the American Express Centurion lounge, which was fairly close by. So the wait in Vegas wasn't particularly painful. But I knew that my delayed departure from Vegas meant that I'd miss my connecting flight.

I contacted Delta's Twitter account and they were very helpful and also made sure that I asked the right questions once I got to JFK.

JFK is a big airport and obviously the delays earlier in the day had impacted quite a few passengers. But Delta's staff were very easy to deal with and they gave me a few options and put me up in a hotel near the airport for the night. Oddly, while Delta did cover the hotel for the night they didn't actually cover breakfast or anything else. No matter.

So the next day I went back to the airport and spent most of the day in the Delta lounge. As I only had a light jacket and the clothes I was standing in hanging around New York wasn't an option, as it was -6 degrees outside!

I was being re-routed with Delta via Paris, so I'd now end up doing JFK - CDG - DUB which should have been fine. The flight to Paris was fine and also had wifi, which was nice (I wish they had it on their flights out of Dublin to the US!).

When I got to Paris, however, things went downhill.

The flight to Dublin was, as usual, with CityJet. They're very very small planes, so you either walk across the tarmac to board them or get bussed out to the planes and then walk across the tarmac to board. As I was boarding the flight to Dublin on Sunday morning I could see my three bags sitting on the tarmac beside the plane along with other people's bags.

I got to Dublin and went to collect my bags. I waited. I waited and eventually had to resign myself to the fact that only one of my bags had made it from Paris. The staff at the airport were very helpful and sympathetic, but there was nothing they could do as the bags had never been loaded onto the plane in Paris. So I filled out the baggage claim form.

That was Sunday.

Sunday.

Now this is where it just got weird.

From Sunday morning until Tuesday morning Air France apparently were unable to locate my bags. Delta confirmed that the bags had made it to Paris - I knew already, as I'd walked past them on the tarmac. But Air France didn't know where my bags were.

Delta's mobile app includes baggage tracking

Delta's mobile app includes baggage tracking

I was in communication with their agents in Dublin, in Paris and via Twitter with both Air France and Delta.

Eventually I was contacted on Tuesday morning to say that they'd located the bags and that they would be delivered probably at some point on Wednesday. The bags finally made it to me on Wednesday evening.

Air France customer service were in touch with me, but nobody has explained to me the gap between the bags not being put on the plane on Sunday and them finally making it to Dublin on Wednesday.

Here's their email to me from Friday - emphasis added:

Thank you for your message received on Twitter. Please accept our apologies for the inconvenience concerning the delayed luggage following your journey from New York JKF to Dublin on the 17th of January.
I am also very sorry to learn that your disappointment was further compounded by the fact that you saw you luggage on the loading ramp before the departure of your flight AF1716 (operated as DL8577). We consider the efficient handling of customers’ baggage to be of prime importance and every effort is made to provide an efficient and rapid baggage transfer and delivery service. Regrettably, in this occasion your bag failed to be loaded on your connecting flight. This could have been related to an issue with the luggage tag or luggage hold capacity on this particular flight.
In recognition of the inconveniences you were caused and as a token of our appreciation of your understandable disappointment, I am pleased to offer you 5000 miles that will be credit in your Flying blue card xxxxxxx.
We will always make our best efforts to alleviate any problem especially our most loyal customers might face.
We hope that our gesture can work towards restoring your faith in our company and would consider ourselves privileged if you would allow us to welcome you on board again soon.

While I appreciate the olive branch I'm still rather annoyed about the lack of explanation as to why it took them so long to locate the bags and send them on to me. Of course this isn't the first time I've had issues with Air France and bags..

Will I ever get an explanation? I'm not going to hold my breath!

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January 2, 2015

Jetlagged In Vegas

Signage at Vegas airport

Signage at Vegas airportI spent all day yesterday travelling. The flights and everything else were fine, but by about 9 PM local time last night I was completely confused. It was 9pm in Vegas, but 5am in Ireland!

So sitting down for a relatively light dinner around the time that some people might be thinking about getting up for work (or whatever) is rather odd.

The joys of jet lag!

Moving across multiple timezones is always "fun". You land on the east coast of the US and all your gizmos update their timezone, but by the time you get to the west coast of the US they're all out of sync again!

And of course this morning I woke up at 6am!

Having said that, getting up early in Vegas has its advantages. With the time difference I can do an hour or so of email etc., with our offices in Ireland and then head out for the day.

Staying in the Venetian also has some nice perks like being able to have breakfast in Bouchon.

Today's breakfast may not look spectacular, but it was excellent:

omelette from Bouchon at the Venetian Las Vegas

That's a three egg omelette with steak pieces, peppers and mozzarella. Washed down with some nice fresh coffee it was a great start to my day.

 

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December 20, 2014

Washington DC In December

The White House is the most famous house in the US. You can get pretty close to it from this side

For the past couple of years I've made a point of taking a few days off in November or December. It's an odd time of the year, but it works well for me. This year I'm in Washington DC and while it's pretty cold out there, it's not freezing, so I can move around quite comfortably.

There's a LOT to see and do in the Washington DC area. If anything the challenge is deciding what to do..

Here's a couple of shots I've taken on this trip so far:

The White House is the most famous house in the US. You can get pretty close to it from this side

The White House is the most famous house in the US. You can get pretty close to it from this side

The navy memorial. There's also a small museum right beside it which focuses on the US Coast Guard

The navy memorial. There's also a small museum right beside it which focuses on the US Coast Guard

The US Postal Museum which is part of the Smithsonian. A fascinating journey through the evolution of the postal service

The US Postal Museum which is part of the Smithsonian. A fascinating journey through the evolution of the postal service

 

Capitol Hill

Capitol Hill

 

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