Saturday, June 5, 2010


It's taken a while since we took our trip to Prague before I got around to posting an update to my Blog. It was wonderful going back to such a beautiful city and sharing it with Lynn again. We haven't been back sine 1994 and were delighted to see so many changes.
The city still has all of the old world charm that we affectionally remembered but it now has all of the new world shopping, airport and conveniences of a modern city. The subways and buses are still some of the best transportation of any city. It is so easy to get around. Everything was in bloom and we especially enjoyed walking through the parks and exploring places where we never had time when we were there on business.
For a taste of home, we even made our daily stop into Starbucks on Wencelas Square (Vaclavske Namesti).

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Trips, Trips and more Trips (the end)

We had been hearing that our close friend Dave Story had a conference in London. His wife had never traveled to Europe before so we begged him to bring her with him. Once he finally convinced her (or was it she convinced him?) to bring her along, we decided to meet them for a long weekend. I think it was 1994 the last time that Lynn and I spent time in London but that time she was shepherding three kids around and I was tied up in meetings most of the time. It was good to be going back, meeting up with great friends and doing the tourist thing.

We all stayed at the Holiday Inn about a half block from "The Ritz" Hotel; not to be confused with the wannabe Ritz Carlton. Dave and I went in to check it out but were informed by the cordial concierge that we could look around the lobby but that we weren't properly attired to visit the dining room (at breakfast hour). I wonder if you have to bring along your pedigree and sleep in bow-tie and tails. Needless to say, we thanked them kindly for their hospitality and headed off for friendlier venues.

I'm trying to think of all the stuff we did, like the Albert and Victoria (can I call her Vicki?) Museum, Buckingham Palace, the Orangeree for tea. My most memorable experiences were Saint Martain-in-the-Field for lunch in the basement. We stopped before going down and listened the choir practicing for Evensong. It was a real tossup as to whether to return for the Evensong service or to go to the Evensong service at Westminster. It turned out that Westminster won. It was a wonderful service with beautiful voices soaring up to the rafters. They can play around
with all the electronics and balancing they want to but there is nothing quite like the sound of young male voices echoing through a cathedral. Dave and Maribeth stayed in London for another week but Lynn returned home to The Woodlands and I am back in Tripoli.

Were looking forward to our next trip in late April. Meet in London, then shoot off to beautiful Prague for a week. Back in 1994, we actually looked at apartments there thinking about living abroad.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Trips, Trips and more Trips (cont.)

After arriving back from our unexpected trip to NYC we had already planned on a few days off in Malta during the Prophet's birthday celebration. The island isn't quite the hopping place that it becomes with warm weather and tourists but it was a nice respite from the desert.

We had no set agenda other than to relax and enjoy the time together. We decided to explore a bit more than previous trips and took the bus out to Mdina, a medieval fortified town away from St. Juliens where we were staying. It was a lovely afternoon where we had a nice lunch along the ancient walls overlooking the beautiful countryside.

This was my 4th trip to the island and Lynn's second. It was a great way to spend a relaxing weekend. The next week we had a holiday (I can't remember for what) on Tuesday. A lot of our people took a long weekend but we decided to just take the day and go with friends back out to the Roman ruins at Leptis Magna. Joyce and Kurt have only been here for about 6 weeks so we John and Gloria joined us to give them the tour.

I'll let your imaginations create the cations for this but the Romans had better facilities than some of our contractors have on site today. We had a lot of fun making new friends and getting out of the city for a day.

(to be continued)

Monday, March 22, 2010


It's been a while since I published a post, so here goes.

Trip #1 - I arrived at the office and started reviewing my e-mails from the night before as usual. As I opened one after another, I came across one which merely said, "Rick can go to New York and BIll can go to LA". That peeked my interest and I replied, "Will someone tell me when I am going to New York and why?". After an opps, we haven't gotten around to telling you yet, I found out that due to several people either being on holiday or just returning from holiday, I had been "nominated" to escort a group of our client's employees on the first half of a training trip to the US. The next Friday, saw us boarding a plane for London, an over night experience there and then on to NYC. The prior group that had gone in January sent the clients guys back with a layover in London but forgot to tell them how to get an overnight visa and hotel vouchers. As the good tour guide that I am, I got them through passport control with their 1 day visa and upstairs to get their vouchers for the airport hotel. The only hitch was that someone forgot to ticket me for an overnight hotel voucher. Luckily, there was a room available at the same hotel (there goes the expense account).

The next day, we made it to NYC between cold fronts. That's not to say that it wasn't cold but there was a snow storm the week before and week after we were there that was crippling the east coast. The first order of business was purchasing required articles of clothing (hats, gloves, scarfs, etc.) to stay warm.

The week as spent in presentations, site visits and emersion in American culture; everything from valentine's day to Times Square to Wall Street, we explored it all. My guests have traveled and even lived outside of Libya but had never had the opportunity to visit the US. I think we all had a great time experiencing one of the world's greatest cities.

Apologies to all you Astros, Mets, Red Sox and various other team fans.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010


OK, I have to set the story on this one. As mentioned previously, three of us went on a working trip to Ghadames last weekend. Our guy from the south region was very impressed with the improvement in quality on our contractor, he requested the contractor to give him some steel rebar ties that they were using to hold the block walls to the columns. We packed them in the back of the car and brought them back to tripoli. He was getting up early Sunday morning to catch a plane back to Sabha in the south of Libya. I emailed him later in the day to send him some information and asked if he made it back with the rebar. What follows is his reply to me. . .

In the “hard to believe” category… Libyan Airlines looked at my rebar and kindly explained to me that it would rip the shit out of their conveyor belts if they let me check it, and that there was no way in hell that the security people would let me board a plane with these weapons…and that I should go sit down.

Five minutes later a big guy in a trench coat came over (non-english speaker) and pointed at the bars and then at me, and motioned me to follow him (I am thinking, does Libya have KGB, if so, this guy is it). He takes me to a room that has all kinds of warning in Arabic which loosely translated I believe said, “Enter and Die”. He takes the bars from me and I go to follow him in. He turns and looks at me and says (with body language) “what part of ‘enter’ or ‘die’ don’t you understand?”. I go back to my seat. Three hours later I am waiting for my bag to come off the conveyor line at Sabha, and the first things on the belt are my bars. What a country!!

I guess I could have just told you “got em”, but this was too much fun.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Sorry that it has been some time without a blog. Dad passed away and I made a trip home. After returning, getting a new visa and cleaning up from being gone, it was away again for Christmas. Anyway, I'm now back in Libya working. This last couple of days, we decided to visit a site on the western border where Libya, Tunisia and Algeria meet. It is a wonderful old town with much history named Ghadames. Toward the end of the day, we drove out to the dunes to watch the sun set. I am told that these are not as spectacular as the Sahara in the south, but it took my breath away.

This morning, we got up early as we had 5 different construction sites to visit as we drove back to Tripoli. One of our guys had been to an oasis near Ghadamas and on the way to our first site so we decided to take a quick side trip to explore. It was lovely being out in the middle of nowhere and seeing this beautiful pond bubbling up from the desert floor.

From the top of the oasis, we could see what appeared to be another oasis near by without any vegetation. We decided to explore it and as we drove along we thought that it had snowed. It was chilly out but not near freezing so we got out to investigate and found the desert floor covered with salt. In some places it looked just as if a dusting of snow had covered the area, in others the salt was in these polyps bursting up from the ground. We did find the other oasis but the amount of salt present explains why there was no vegetation.

I never cease to be amazed at what nature can show you.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Planes, Trains, Boats, Busses and Automobiles Ch 3

Ah - Rome!! We finally made it. I can't imagine what this place must be like during the summer. The tourists were enjoying a "late" vacation in August. We found that getting around on foot wasn't hard since our apartment was in a great location near the Spanish Steps (which I passed numerous times but never climbed. I'll save that for another trip). The subway system is rather two dimensional, nothing like Paris. We got a bus map and decided that if we wanted to get out of our area, we could always jump on since we had purchased three day passes to get us into attractions and was good for the subways and busses.

We had to make it to the Vatican. It was a pretty easy subway ride and walk in good weather. We followed all of the tours to get to the entrance and found that it was not too crowded. It is everything that has been said and more. The Sistine Chapel is unbelievable and St. Peter’s is way over the top. There is no way that pictures can do it justice (but I have many attempts to try and capture some of it)

After leaving, we decided we needed to try something completely different so we found a bus heading for Trastevere. We were crushed in and didn’t know where we were going to get off. I was digging for a map and Ryan and I were trying to look out the windows over people’s heads to see if we could find some landmark to alert us to where we were. I started counting bridges and looking for the Isola Tiberina (Island in the middle of the Tiber River). We finally decided on a stop and got off; it was close enough. To get back we decided to take the Metro “B” line back to the main station, transfer to the “A” line and walk back from the Spanish Steps. I think I know the way by heart, if it’s daylight.

I’m sure that Lynn and Anne have waxed eloquently about the trip so I won’t go into the sight seeing stuff. As we were leaving a day before the kids, I talked to the concierge at the Plaza Hotel across the street from our apartment and he acknowledged that he could call us a cab if one was not there when we got up the next morning. We were up and out the door by 6:30 and sure enough, we had the cab waiting for us. Let’s hear it for great concierges’, even when you aren’t staying at their hotel! One taxi ride, one more plane ride and we made it back to Tripoli.