Quiet Frankfurt Airport in Late February 2021

Yesterday, we dropped off our son at the Frankfurt Airport. It felt a bit strange not having been there in a while, when we used to be regulars there.

Our son, who had been working here remotely for close to three months, was heading back to London, where he works, and pays dearly for his room.

My last flight, before the pandemic, had been to Bari, Italy in November 2019, so it was a bit eerie to see the airport this quiet. The only sound came from this Turkish-sounding singing get-together inside the terminal. In normal times with so many passengers, this kind of gathering might not have taken place.

Most of the aisles, such as this one, were empty. Some shops were closed. Marco Polo’s store window carried a sign which said, “Never Closed”… The shop was closed though.

This usually bustling airport has been hit hard.

At the other end of our son’s flight was the opposite situation with Heathrow Airport’s immigration queue manned by only two people. More about that in my next post.

This is what BBC News Business titled it: Heathrow Airport seven-hour queues ‘inhumane’, say passengers.

Strasbourg in late September

On our way to the village Dambach-la-ville in the Alsace, we stopped in Strasbourg for the flea market and a bite to eat.

Ill River Strasbourg
Organ grinder
Strasbourg Cathedral

A quiet corner belonging to some private property – amidst thousands of tourists streaming by.

We had a to-go lunch sitting on a bench by the river Ill, and watched swans and party boats drifting by.

Three Days in Riquewihr, Alsace

Again, here are a few more impressions of our visit to Riquewihr.

The last time, we had been here was in 1996. Back then we could only stay for one day, because suddenly we had a baby with a high fever on our hands. Being new parents, having just moved to Europe from Japan, with only mediocre French skills, we decided to head back to Germany to see a doctor.

This time around, we were on our own. That little boy is now a college student in England and our daughter was in Poland on a school trip. The only rise in temperature we expected to get was from having red wine. 🙂

The whole town is so neat and clean. There is something interesting to see around every little corner. While we were there though, there was often a sour smell wafting out of courtyards (wine making in process).

Store front Riquewihr

This is either a vegetable storage bin or the recycling of one’s no-longer-edible vegetables, serving as decor.

vegetable box



corn in window

Main street,  rue du GĂ©nĂ©ral-de-Gaulle, is very inviting with its many restaurants (30 of them, I’ve been told).

Rue du Général-de-Gaulle à Riquewihr

At the restaurant La Grappe d’Or , we were seated upstairs. That’s nothing unusual in itself, only the fact that the ceiling is extremely low. We had to walk in bent over, so did the waitress serving the food. With the help of some good red wine, we made it out of there OK. Slightly more bent over.

Nevertheless, I had the best salad ever there. Look for “Salade Automne” with figs, chestnusts, strips of zucchini, mint leaves, on a bed of lettuce, with a bread basked. My husband had the “Escargots Baeckaoffa” (some potato casserole specialty with snails). He was not raving about the food as much as I was, but he liked it.

La Grappe d'Or Ă  Riquewihr

La Grappe d’Or Ă  Riquewihr

We had a very pleasant time in Riquewihr.

What I Saw in Paris

There is nothing better than strong French coffee, a newspaper, and sunny weather.  We took it so easy on our first day in Paris. One of the things I wanted to do in Paris was to take an afternoon nap, which I did, but I spare you the photo. Napping in Paris is one of the best things to do.

DB and Parisien

We only took a walk around the neighborhood in Suresnes, where we stopped at a bakery, supermarket, and a little park. It’s great to eat croissants on a park bench in the early morning sunshine. When you’re done, you brush off the flakes, and you have instant bird feed.

We passed this little bistro with the biggest onion display I had ever seen. They were almost the size of cantaloupes.


I love French chairs and  usually buy one or two on every trip to France. That is when we go there by car. This time, we went by train, so I didn’t buy any. My husband was pleased.


Getting married in Paris must be any young bride’s dream. The wedding couple lucked out as well, since we had 14°C  – 18°C that weekend (at the end of February!).

Wedding in Paris

Wedding in Paris

These wooden store fronts look so much better than what we have in Germany. Of course, this is a personal taste, but I find this much more inviting.

Le Navigator, Paris

Le Navigator, Paris

Along the Seine River, there are hundreds of vendors. When you get past the first ten, you realize they all carry pretty much the same merchandise – books, posters, cards, some souvenirs.

book vendors along the Seine

old books by the Seine River

Ah, these lock locks are quite an attraction. The vendors, lined up on the road  leading to that bridge, have them for sale at euro 5.

love lockets in Paris

love lockets in Paris

This happens on the Pont de l’ArchevĂȘchĂ©, a bridge which crosses from Notre-Dame Cathedral to the Left Bank of the Seine. There are thousands of locks attached to its railings.  It looks very pretty in the sunshine – some come with colorful ribbons. One tourist asked me in broken English what they were for. I amazed myself by telling her what they were (common sense and being an experienced traveler) and where you could buy them (saw vendors selling them).

And no, my husband and I did not put one up – a strong bond does not need a lock.

Books, love locks, weddings, big onions, chairs – you can have it all in Paris.


Notes from Jerusalem and Tel Aviv

Nobuko is in Israel at the moment and has this to share with her readers.

Israel was cool. Perhaps because I have friends here, and can see the local way of living in what appears to be a mysterious country. I stayed with Tamar, a women I had met in Thailand 11 years ago and I’m usually good at keeping in touch.

I took a side trip to Jerusalem. I think I have been on the road a bit too long, because I did not feel any excitement when I reached the city. It’s Jerusalem! Yet my reaction was “Ah… Rajasthan was much more stunning architecturally, Cairo retained its authenticity and decadence of a crumbling down ancient city”. See the lack of appreciation? It was super annoying to have many shop keepers yelling out to me “Ni-hao, China?”. The interactions never passed beyond BS sales. It just made me miss and cherish my experience in Cairo. I am sure others would enjoy visiting Jerusalem for a religious/spiritual purpose and in appreciation for its biblical history.

Jerusalem, outside of its walled-in old part, is very modern with well a connected system of buses and light rail. Malls, boutiques, restaurants, cafes and fast food shops fill the somewhat European looking streets. Being there had a dĂ©jĂ  vu effect on me that I thought I was back in the U.S. The only reminder that I was indeed in Jerusalem was orthodox Jews walking around with winter suits and fur hats in 36 degree temperature…But wait, I see this in New York as well!

Back in Tel Aviv, I spent time resting the day and hanging out at night. Tamar invited her friends and we went out almost every night. I got to reunite with another Israeli whom I had met in Brazil in 2009. And he brought his friends, so I met even more Israelis. At one point, things take on a snowball effect. The number of people you meet keep multiplying by minutes. Luckily I was in a good state of mind and good physical health to enjoy such spontaneous situations, especially over beer and food munchies!!

Before coming to Israel, I was also in Aqaba, Jordan, by the red sea. The beach was beautiful, but local men were always approaching me since I’m alone. And since they are cowards and never have the nerve to do the same alone, they come in a pack, like dogs.  To avoid this, I found a woman sitting alone and went to talk to her. Turned out that she is an Argentinean from Buenos Aires – don’t know if I had mentioned it before – but I have second cousins there from my mother’s side, and I was there to meet them in 2010. So we hit it off. She is my mother’s age, but looks much younger. Her husband is also Argentinean and Jewish. They live near Tel Aviv. After spending a nice afternoon talking and her watching my bag, while I went snorkelling, we decided to meet once more in Tel Aviv.

So, she and her cynical but funny husband took me out today (my last day) to a very nice Italian restaurant by the beach. We shared a leisurely late lunch over white wine and talked, talked, and talked some more. They are the sophisticated kind of people who do not take themselves seriously, and have a great sense of humor. It makes me feel so good to connect with such people because it’s great fun, stimulating, and a big ego booster.

I feel a bit guilty that I didn’t enjoy being with Tamar as much as I expected. This is because I dropped in on her while she is unhappy with her life. The atmosphere was filled with tension (with her husband), her frustration that she lost her self in child rearing, so on and so on. She understandably prefers to hang out with male friends (it makes her feel attractive). One of them was a gentleman who paid for my beers when we went out a few times. But the tension followed because it was apparent to me that Tamar did not like his girlfriend. After the nights ended, each time she complained to me about the girlfriend. I didn’t like this since I saw it as waste of time to bash someone. in comparison, I had great time with Argentinean because they exude contentment, poise and sense of mature detachment.


One of the most amazing, yet challenging things during traveling is – meeting and dealing with people. Each one has his/her own preoccupation, issues, idiosyncrasies, and temperament. Many times I found myself in situations where I  and others had to endure each others’ company for reasons that were out of our control. And I think tolerance is the key to open the first door. If this works, then we have time to feel out the chemistry, then we decide how to behave toward each other. There have been more wonders than regrets, thus reinforcing my willingness to take chances – of course, except for obviously hopelessly stupid men.

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