I’m often asked by readers how much planning I put into a place before I visit. The truth is, very little. Mostly I just show up and often I will show up with out a place to stay. As I write this I am sitting in Barcelona where I arrived two days ago. When I landed at the airport I had no room reserved.
The idea of showing up in foreign city with no place to stay terrifies some people. Some are just anal retentive and need to have everything they do planned out in advance. Others fret about the worst case scenario: what if I can’t find a place to say and I have to sleep on the street!
It is time once again to open up the mail bag and answer the deep, burning questions that will change the course of history. Future generations will make required reading of the answers I provide here today. Wise men will use these answers to solve the riddles which have vexed humanity for eons. Parents will name their children after those whose questions were answered. Internet memes will probably be stem from the words I type.
Ladies and gentleman, I give to you my November questions and answers!!
Terry Westerbeke asks: What is the most efficient way to travel with cell phones? Pay as you go, purchasing sim cards for each country you visit or some other method?
I visited Prague in 2011 as part of a trip I took through Central Europe. Having been spared much of the worst of WWII and put in a state of arrested development during the Cold War, Prague has one of the best preserved old cities in all of Europe. It has served as the backdrop for many period films such as Amadeus and Immortal Beloved. While no longer the low cost destination it was after the fall of communism, it is still one of my favorite cities and one of the most visited cities in Europe.
Truly a Fort Worth tradition since it was opened in 1959, generations of families have ridden the rails along the Trinity River and through Forest and Trinity Parks on the Forest Park Miniature Railroad.
I love when we head down to ride the train. One of my favorite places in Fort Worth is Trinity Park. You see, I live in a young subdivision in the north part of town. The developer cleared all the existing trees! It’s horrible! We have no shade and all of the recently planted trees are too small to climb.
But in the large Trinity Park, and the smaller Forest Park next door, the old large trees along the river are nurtured and cared for. And reading the history of the Forest Park Miniature Railroad, it seems they have been since at least the train was originally planned. There were already rides of some sort in Forest Park.
After World War 1, William Henry “Bill” Hames left farming to manage the outdoor amusement park. Maybe it was his farming background that made him value the trees in the park, maybe not. But whatever the reason they plotted the route of the railroad to minimize the loss of trees, which is why the train zigs and zags in several places. They amazingly had to remove only ONE tree, in the circular turn-around next to the duck pond.
Along and across the river, through the woods and turn around at the duck pond… doesn’t that sound like a great route? No wonder it has been popular for almost 45 years. There’s little fanfare, just a small sign on the road the zoo. They only take cash, no credit cards accepted. No video screens, no entertainment. Just you, on the train, through the park. Magical.
There is a stop about 2/3rds through the ride where you can stop and grab popcorn and drinks at reasonable prices. It’s unclear when it is open and when it is closed. In my experience, it seems that it is open more consistently during the summer hours.
Take water with you, especially in the summer. Even if you are catching the first train of the day, it can get pretty warm in August and you’ll appreciate that you planned to stay hydrated. Trust me!