Plan D & Other Diversions

I received a couple of calls from my travel agent last week, giving me updates about the trip.  Just so you know, the overall plan is for my sister and I to fly into Berlin and then travel south until we reach Munich, from there we’ll fly home.  There will be a minor expense of having “one-way” flights versus a round trip, but doing it this way will afford us more sight-seeing time without having to spend time traveling back to Berlin.  Since I prefer to do my own thing on these trips, I end up with my own tour guide/driver.  This way I can stop when I want to, like along the road out in the middle of the countryside, or at an overlook.  I’m not part of a large group that moves en masse from one thing to another and only spends a few minutes at a place before getting back on board the bus.  Neither am I a good enough planner to do all of this for myself.  I speak a little bit of German, am not interested in driving the autobahn and wouldn’t know how to get from point A to point B if you paid me.  So, well, I pay a little more for my vacations – thus I don’t go every year.

I was told by my agent that Germany, much like Peru, provides tourist guides that are licensed.  They go to school for it like any other career.  Since I am going through a travel agency, we would need to use a guide like this.  Which is fine except for the cost.  While my agent could get us into tour groups in Berlin and Munich to keep the cost down, it’s the nights in between where we’re traveling and staying at smaller towns/cities along the way that’s proving costly.  Apparently, there was much conversation about the quote, as in are they understanding exactly what I’m looking for because they’re coming back with a cost of $1500 a night.  Um, I really didn’t want to have to sell my house to make this trip.  So, after this update, my agent said she still had some tricks up her sleeve and wasn’t done yet.

In the second conversation, Plan D was thrown out there as a last resort.  What is “Plan D”?  Renting us a car, providing us with good road maps and we drive ourselves.  Yee-ikes!  For one, I get lost in Grand Rapids and this is a foreign country with road signs in a foreign language.  For another, I get stressed driving through Chicago, can you even imagine me trying to drive on the autobahn?  I’d be coming back with white hair and my nerves would be shot.  That’s not the kind of vacation I imagine.  The other option is having my sister drive and I navigate.  Um, no.  I get motion sickness easily – especially if I’m trying to read something while the vehicle is in motion.  Never a fun experience.  Perhaps the vehicle features a GPS in English.  That at least would help.  So, there’s that.

As for my training, I’m ahead by six tokens.  I forgot to stipulate that if my workout/hike exceeds an hour, say an hour and a half, that I get two tokens – being that the minimum amount of time is 45 minutes for one workout.  Because of that, or simply because I have some sort of incentive, I’ve gotten back into the “zone” of working out again.  As in, the more I do, the more I want to do and the more I do the more results I see.  I also started mentioning that I’m “in training” to coworkers – when turning down treats and other foods that seem to be everywhere in the office these days.  I’m finding that the more I talk about it, the easier it is to talk about and it’s perfectly understandable that I need to be in top shape given the nature of my trips.  Some people train for marathons, I train for my trips which actually last longer, so the training has to reflect the scope as well.

If all of this weren’t enough, I decided to refinance my mortgage.  I was at the bank last week Friday to cash some checks anyway and thought to just inquire about their rates.  I left a half an hour later having signed a bunch of forms, paid an upfront fee and with a list of documents I need to provide copies of.  All of the bank officials waved and said good-night to me as I left, as if I was their new favorite person.  Really?  The end result though was dropping my interest rate 2-1/4 points, shaving 2 years off of my mortgage and having a monthly payment that’s less than what I pay now.  Guess who was humming and smiling on the way out of the bank?  The only shadow on this otherwise sunny moment was hearing that my house, after 13 years of ownership and pouring thousands of dollars into upgrades and repairs, is only worth a little more than what I paid for it.  Sigh.

Meanwhile, the appraiser came by today to take measurements and pictures both outside and inside the house.  While I knew he’d be coming soon, it was a last minute appointment and well, I wish I had had time to clean it up just a bit more.  Seeing everything through his evaluating eyes made me wince a little bit.  Ooh, that needs to be touched up.  Shoot, I really need to recaulk the tub.  Wow, I didn’t realize it was that dusty in here …  Kinda reminded me of a physical exam in the doctor’s office.  It was so impersonal and yet at the same time I felt a little violated because a complete stranger was roaming through every room in my house.

And, last but not least, the sinus issue has yet to completely clear up.  I’m done with the antibiotics which seemed to have helped 50%, but I still bounce between being dry congested or having a runny nose.  The coughing hasn’t stopped either, which is annoying.  At my best I sound like I’m either getting a cold or getting over one.  I finally got a call from my ENT specialist.  I have an appointment with him, get this, in January … as in, next year!  And, at the end of the month at that.  I’ve got two more months like this?  It’s strange though, from the neck up I sound and act like I have a cold and yet from the neck down I’m perfectly healthy.  At least the drainage isn’t making me sick to my stomach … yet, like it did before for a number of months.  That’s the worst.

Anyway, I think that’s it.  That’s enough, right?.