Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hotels in Dublin

Continuing my adventures in travel from the previous post, I have been thinking about a location that I haven't been to but desire to travel too - Dublin, Ireland.

During my time at non-descript airlines, I remember I was planning on visiting this lovely city but for some reason something came up. It could have been at the end of my tenure there, when I was traveling like mad and I decided I needed a break, one weekend at home or maybe flights were full - who knows, but I must get out to Ireland.

Visit Dublin, the official Dublin tourism website, has a plethora of information regarding the city - including the well known fact that Dublin is home to Guinness, which my friend who has visited Dublin, informs me is the cure to all ills (smile). Airfare to Dublin is relatively cheap as compared to other cities in Europe. Lots of hotels in Dublin to choose from as well!

When I go, I would like to tour Georgian Dublin, which was used in one of my favorite PBS movies, a remake of Jane Austen's Northhanger Abby! Going along with the literary theme, I would love to visit the home of the Book of Kells and the oldest library in Ireland! And of course, I couldn't go there without seeing the life of Bram Stoker, an Irishman who elevated Dracula to superstar status.

If you have visited Dublin, feel free to send me tips - though the trip is no time soon, its always good to plan!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

hotels in Edinburgh city centre

I was at a college fair today, representing my alma mater, Mary Baldwin College. One of the girls who came up to my table asked about the study abroad programs at the school. It got me thinking of my good friend Kate, who spent a semester in Japan. But its actually her current location that I love - Edinburgh, Scotland!

I have been to this lovely city once, for Kate's wedding. It was so much fun, I went with another friend from college, H and though we only had two full days there, we did try our best to see as much as we could of the city. As you can imagine, Edinburgh has a plethora of history, but it also has this vibrancy that makes me yearn to re-visit it! We toured the must-see Royal Mile and the Scottish history museum but we also saw the bookstore that JK Rowling is said to frequent and a haunted church yard. The touring was finished off with a delightful tea at the top floor cafe in one of the big fancy department stores right on the busy main street of Edinburgh, with a view of the whole city, as recommended by Kate.

Despite my having coming down with the flu mid-trip, I thoroughly enjoyed myself (that is the one thing make sure you dress warmly, it rains a lot in Edinburgh). This city has a charm that made me want to dress up in a Tudor gown and ride a horse drawn coach through the city.

If you have not traveled in a while or want a European trip without a lot of hassle, Edinburgh is the place for you (as an added bonus, everyone there speaks English!). You can get easy flights to the city via most major American cities. Hotels in Edinburgh city centre are swift to come by and wintertime in the city offers a surprising number of events and things to do, like a Christmas fair!

Lucky Kate to be living in such a great place!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Food Myths etc...

Working in a gourmet food store, I hear the whole gamut of health - food advice. I usually just smile and say something to the effect, "you don't say," but I get tired of hearing the same thing day in and day out about food/health (who wouldn't no?) and usually in the context of a person sampling our food but not buying a thing. Today, I was surfing the web and came upon this gem of a factoid that I'm now going to use when people annoy me. This comes from Eating Well Magazine (,

Myth: High-Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) is worse for you than sugar.
The Truth: The idea that high-fructose corn syrup is any more harmful to your health than sugar is “one of those urban myths that sounds right but is basically wrong,” according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, a health advocacy group. The composition of high-fructose corn syrup is almost identical to table sugar or sucrose (55 percent fructose, 45 percent glucose and 50:50, respectively). Calorie-wise, HFCS is a dead ringer for sucrose. Studies show that HFCS and sucrose have very similar effects on blood levels of insulin, glucose, triglycerides and satiety hormones. In short, it seems to be no worse—but also no better—than sucrose, or table sugar. This controversy, say researchers, is distracting us from the more important issue: we’re eating too much of all sorts of sugars, from HFCS and sucrose to honey and molasses. The American Heart Association recently recommended that women consume no more than 100 calories a day in added sugars [6 teaspoons]; men, 150 calories [9 teaspoons].

Ha ha, I can't wait to track this out : ) What food myths are you sick of hearing from people and wish to debunk??

I'm adding this clip from Youtube for a good Monday morning laugh. Its Stephen Colbert testifying on Capital Hill. I love it! He stays in character but delivers his message, too bad many congressman have no sense of humor and sense of fighting injustice against those most vulnerable.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Kiosk's are our friends

Having worked for nearly six months as a customer service agent for an airline, I have gleaned some valuable insight that I feel needs sharing for the flying public. Enjoy!

  • First rule, airline kiosks are our friends! They are faster and never surly, like often times customer service agents can be. Use the kiosk, embrace the kiosk, you DO NOT have to stand in line and see the customer service agent unless you have a problem, such problems include:
  1. wanting to change reservation/flight
  2. haven't paid for the ticket
  3. canceled flight
  4. transporting pets, unaccompanied minors, or traveling with a lap child

Trust me, the kiosk is going to take you much less time and headache. You don't even need your credit card to use the kiosks, simply carry your confirmation code (also referred to as airline record locator, airline record number, PNR). This confirmation code is always five or six letters/numbers combination. The only need for the credit card would be to pay for the suitcases.
  • This brings us to the second useful tip, factor in at least $40 for airline incidentals, that includes but is not limited to suitcase costs, in-flight entertainment, food, and seat upgrades. I know its not fair, but airlines are now nickel and dime'ing their customers. And for God's sake don't act surprised with having to pay for a suitcase, the ONLY domestic airlines that give free bags are Southwest and Jetblue. My rule of thumb is be prepared to pay and if you don't, than that is a good surprise!
  • Please don't complain to a customer service agent about the company's policies, we don't make the rules, we often agree with you but we must enforce said rules or we get in big trouble. Besides there is NOTHING we can do about it (see note above about getting in big trouble). If you have a problem, your best bet is to write a letter to the airline and copy in the FAA (they keep a track of all airline complaints, airlines hate to have high complaint numbers).
  • The final lesson in this particular post is about carry-on's. The size of the overhead bins vary by airline to airline and by plane. What you insist fit on the way going may well not fit on the way back because the plane size has changed. It might not look that way to you but believe me a Boeing 737 has different overhead bin configuration than an Airbus 330. Also, please don't try to pull a fast one or be cheap, by packing too much in your carry-on so it becomes fat and weighty but so you don't have to pay for a suitcase - nowadays you will be stopped by a customer service agent. It is our job to prevent these bags from making it to the gate and causing delays. Either pack light or plan to pay for a suitcase. And yes, we customer service agents will ask you to fit your carry-on into the sizer, your bag should be able to fit into that sizer, that approximates the overhead bin space. Remember, until you become a billionaire and own the entire plane, there will be others flying with you and they deserve overhead bin space as well and not be forced to gate check a perfectly acceptable carry-on at the last second because you packed everything including the kitchen sink into your bag.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


Castle and Gossip Girl - two reasons why Monday is bearable, thank God for the return of the new season of television!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Dear McDonald's

Dear McDonald's,

I would like you to bring back the fried apple pie. I am currently pregnant and my food cravings now include your delicious fried apple pie. The baked apple pie just does not do it for me! I do so love your fried apple pie, that scrumptious flaky dough that just crumbles with each bit, the warm filling and the best part - the intoxicating smell of fried dough and sweet baked apple!

I know this delectable recipe is still in the McDonald's aresonal because I had one of these mouth-watering pieces while touring in Germany, at a German rest stop.

May I ask why you discontinued this item from the menu? Was it all the clamour from the health food nuts? Honestly, if one is looking for healthy food to eat, I hardly imagine heading to McDonald's is a smart option in the first place, not to mention that eating healthy shouldn't include apple pie as desert, baked or fried.

Why are the German's getting our enjoyable treat and we are being forced to suffer the less palatable baked apple pie, blah?

Please, I implore you, as a woman pregnant with her first child and who has reached that stage in the pregnancy were I'm eating everything in site, to help her out.

Thank you,
Ms. Virginia Gal

Monday, September 13, 2010

Number Plates for Sale

Eid Mubarak! The month of fasting is over! Of course it wasn't taxing for me, since I wasn't fasting this month of Ramadan, with the baby and all (smile).

The husband and I went to California to celebrate the holiday with his family this past weekend, hence my delay in latest post. I'm catching up on my emails and watching that episode of Seinfeld were Elaine eats the wedding cake piece from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor wedding.

As an admirer of the English Royal I have never been a fan of the Duchess of Windsor. Recently, I decided to read up on her - boy she was a piece of work! Rude, racist and completely crass, I am glad that the English parliament denied her the title of Her Royal Highness. She was never kind to her royal in-laws, calling the late Queen Mum frumpy and stodgy (or something very equivalent) and yet that same family gave her a monthly allowance even after the Duke of Windsor died and gave her a funeral in Windsor castle, I bet they even gave her personal number plates on her car! Though she deserved none of those things, an interloper with no respect for the office of the English Royal family! I can't believe they even let her be buried in the royal cemetery, she doesn't deserve that! She was also a Nazi sympathizer and called the local people of the Bahamas some very racist comments.

I would like to think that in the end she got hers - she really wanted to be Queen and respected as a Princess, but never did - ha! I say.

All of this commentary because of Elaine's sweet tooth....that is one funny Seinfeld episode!

Monday, September 06, 2010

Car Registrations

Co-worker of mine, at the retail operation, applied for a job with a Lego Store in another Arizona mall. She was talking to me about the upcoming interview (everyone knows she is looking for another job because she is not getting enough hours at this one). Her talk of the store brought up my fond memories of living in Denmark and the amazing trip the school took us exchange students on (strictly voluntary), to Legoland Billund. Lego's are a Danish creation. I didn't think I would have so much fun on that trip, since Legoland is geared for little ones, but goodness, it was so much fun, so many amazing Lego exhibits, you could spend hours on each one. Just another fabulous memory in my Danish treasure chest.

The month of fasting is coming to an end. I haven't been as focused on it this year, as I am excused from fasting (pregnancy). Today is an especially special day in the holy month, Laylat al-Qadr, the night we Muslims believe the holy book, the Quran, was first revealed to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH). We are suppose to spend the evening in prayer. It is rather strange celebrating this time in Arizona, rather alone and separated from family, though I am trying to stay spiritually connected, since location should not affect one's level of faith, no?

This special night also, for some reason, has me missing my grandfather, my Nana, very much. I make this exception because anyone who knew my Nana knew he was not very fond of Islam, despite being a Muslim himself. Yet, today, I wish very much I could pick up my cell phone and call him and hear him talk to me, making fun of the days politics, asking how I am, telling me how he is, maybe giving me some gossip from Indian family members. Physical reminders of him are around, we have his two used cars, neither of which have cherished number plates, but still exude of him. Yet, its his voice that rings in my head, maybe that is why I so wish I could talk to him - to hear the voice that echos in my head, be in person. I miss you Nana.

For this special night, I send this Ramadan blessing to all - May God's blessings shine upon you, your friends, family and dear ones.

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Virginia Gal's comments on the News

November Elections in the USA - The political commentators are saying that the Democratic party will lose seats in both the House and the Senate this go around. I am disheartened by this news but not very surprised. I am sad to say I have been disappointed by the Democrats in the Congress, they have let the Republicans hi-jack the debate in America with pointless topics and slight of hand tricks (who created this deficit in the first place - REPUBLICANS did with their pointless wars!). Perhaps this is just the wake up call the Democrats need to get mean like their opponents.

Pakistan Flood - This is a tragedy and yet the world doesn't seem to me as affected as other natural tragedies, and that includes myself. Why is this, I think? I know in my case, its because I know the Pakistani's want help from America than the second they are better, it will be, "death to America." I can't reconcile with that idea - you can't be friends with the Taliban and extremists and than want help from us as well. Does that make sense? Also maybe because I have this intimate knowledge of Pakistani's (grew up with them in the Muslim community), and I know that they talk a big game, but there is no substance there and this goes to prove it, the complete ineffectiveness of the government.

Chinese Traffic Jam - seriously a traffic jam nine days long?! I would have killed someone in that time. That is crazy! I get mad at having to wait at the light for more than a minute (smile). I give props to those people, they have much more patience than me or maybe they just have to put up with it, they do live in a communist country.

Thanks to everyone for their kind words and thoughts on my previous post!