England 2015 (EuroTour Leg 1)

The three of us arrived in London, Heathrow on a Wednesday morning and awaited our fourth party’s arrival flight.  Luckily after an hour we realized her flight was delayed several hours.  We went to our day room not too far from the airport and waited for her to arrive.

My Godbrother picked us up from the hotel and we went back to his house about 2-hours away not too far from Cambridge, UK.  Although the original plan was for us to stay with him, we ultimately got two rooms at nearby hotel (Worlington Hall Country House Hotel).

 
The room I stayed in was a suite, a 2-level apartment almost, looked as though it hadn’t been rented out in months, had a slight smell of mildew/mold and it was outside of the rest of the hotel.  It was sooo cold we slept in our clothes but because we were unsure of the cleanliness we slept on top of the sheets.  Man I almost froze that night. I woke up congested and irritated.

He came to get us after we ate the traditional English Breakfast at the hotel and we went back to his house to shower and get dressed. There was no way I could shower in a room that cold.


After 4 women got dressed we were off to Cambridge to sight see. We visited a museum had lunch at Revolution Bar and took a ton of selfies and usies. Here are some pictures of our afternoon.

The next day my bro grilled the best chicken wings and later we roasted marshmallows and s’mores on the fire pit at his house. We booked a different hotel for that night.  After chatting with the manager we thought that it was 2 double beds and because the price was so high we agreed to make it work (2 in each bed). But when we later got to the room, we realized it was actually two twin beds pushed together.  They had given us the keys earlier in the day but told us the room would not be ready until much later.   Four women in what is essentially a queen size bed was NOT fun!  I didn’t sleep much at all.On the third day we went to London and got another hotel.  We dropped off our bags at the hotel before heading out to sight see.  We saw Big Ben, London Bridge, and Buckingham Palace.  We followed that with dinner at an Irish Pub where most of us got the Fish and Chips, which was much better than the first time I had tried it years ago in another England Pub.


  

We had planned to go out to the club scene that night but were pretty tired by the end of the day so we just headed back to our hotel for the evening.

The next day we would be leaving for Paris but that didn’t go quite as planned…

 

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Europe on a Budget

A co-worker had mentioned that a holiday was approaching and that we’d have a day off from work that equaled a long weekend.  He had planned to go to Paris with the free time. Which got me to thinking maybe I should use the time to travel as well. I got the idea that maybe my mom could come for a visit and we could travel together.

After asking around about European cities others had been to and recommended, I was informed of United Airlines European cruises. Initially I had wanted to go to Italy since I had never been, luckily I found a cruise leaving from Venice and that’s when I went into planning mode. My mother was immediately on board to go wherever I chose.

I searched and put the trip together from beginning to end including getting my mom from the states to me in Germany on a budget.  I found a roundtrip-direct flight from BWI (Baltimore) to FRA (Frankfurt) for my mom on Condor Air for $781.00 USD. I booked this exactly one month before our trip to Venice.  My mom arrived on the 27th of August to Frankfurt. We left on the 29th of August to begin our vacation together.

On the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy
On the Grand Canal in Venice, Italy

RyanAir is a popular cheap airline that services many locations throughout Europe, but their flights usually leave out of the less popular airports. Since I was ballin’ on a budget this seemed like a great idea. For Germany that airport is HAHN, less than a 2-hour drive outside Frankfurt.

We took the Bohr Bus from the Main train station in downtown Frankfurt to HAHN for 14.00 euros ($18.76 USD) per person for a one-way trip. Our direct flight on RyanAir was from HAHN to Venice-TREVISO and I pre-paid for one checked bag for each of us and ground transportation from the airport in Venice to nearby our hotel.  The total was $211.45 USD for both of us. Not bad at all.

My mom picked our hotel, Casa Sant’andrea, was booked through Olotels for 29 through 31 August 2013 with a twin room and breakfast for $240.00 USD. Luckily the bus let us off about 3 blocks from our hotel that was right on the water. So it was very conveniently located.

Our Royal Caribbean cruise booked through United Cruises came to a total of $1,659.85 for the both of us and the itinerary is below. Even better was how close our hotel was from the departing port, walking distance or the next stop on the “People Mover” the elevated train system in Venice.

  Day  Arrival Departure
1 Venice, Italy 5:00 p.m.
2 Split, Croatia 7:00 a.m. 3:00 p.m.
3 At Sea
4 Kusadasi (Ephesus), Turkey 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m.
5 Mykonos, Greece 7:00 a.m. 5:00 p.m.
6 Argostoli, Kefalonia, Greece 12:00 p.m. 8:00 p.m.
7 At Sea
8 Venice, Italy

I used a total of 25,000 United Airlines Award miles (plus $52.60 in taxes) for our return flight from Venice to FRA, Frankfurt’s main airport.

So here’s the math not including the $781.00 for my mom’s roundtrip ticket from the US to Germany…

Cost Item
37.52 bus to HAHN
211.45 RyanAir flight
240 Venice hotel
1659.85 Cruise
52.6 United taxes
2201.42 Total

Maybe $2182.65 seems like a lot of money but for two people at close to only $1000 per person for a 7-day cruise and roundtrip airfare and 1.5 days in Venice, I don’t think it’s too bad. This was my first time putting together a trip like this and with less than a month prior. I was proud of myself. I now know I could have gotten the cruise for a lot less but it was -really my first cruise, now I know better.

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Does the Lack of Respect, Responsibility, and Recourse Correlate to Absentee Fathers?

Father’s Day recently passed and with that holiday usually comes comparisons of the roles of mothers and fathers. But particularly the overwhelming scrutiny of the absence of many men who have fathered children (at least in the biological sense).

Mothers in our society are very often celebrated, but fathers on the other hand don’t receive nearly as much praise or recognition on the same level. But when we observe a standup father doing a decent job, we tend to overcompensate as if him being a father is some amazing feat. And not something generally expected of him. I’m not saying that fathers should not be celebrated but just that we should uphold the fathers to a standard similar to that of mothers.

It’s no secret that America is plagued with a disproportionate number of families living without a “present” father than those who have a two-parent (male and female) household. I think that has a lot to do with our society in how women are portrayed in media. I’ve written on that topic previously.  While this isn’t the only reason for the imbalance, it certain is a contributing factor. But that’s not to wholly blame women for their actions but equally to share in the blame are the men who perpetuate it.

If we think about the Baby Boomers’ parents, we typically think of two-parent households and marriages that really meant “til death do you part” but somewhere in the last half-century or so, things changed.

Many of my friends close to my age have parents that never married. So somewhere between my grandparents’ generation and my parents’ generation, family values, family make-up, and family dynamic seem to have drastically changed.

After thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that 3 reasons or any combination of them are behind the increase in the number of absentee fathers. They are:

  • Lack of Respect
  • Lack of Responsibility
  • Lack of Recourse

Absent Fathers:

Create imbalance in the home
Impact the child’s self-esteem
Can promote the seeking of affection from outside sources.

In my humble opinion, I think that men who knowingly father children but choose not to participate and help raise their children, often feel no responsibility to the child or the mother. Which in some cases stemmed from a lack of respect for the woman/mother. And because there aren’t strong measures in place for any recourse for absent fathers this cycle continues.

This post is geared mostly towards parents that had a short-term relationship prior to the child’s conception. That’s not to say that the children of married folks don’t suffer from some of the same issues.

Respect

Respect is generally earned, so it’s rare to truly respect someone you’ve known for only a few hours. In cases of one-night-stands and relations with those you don’t know very well, you do yourself a huge disservice by not refraining from engaging in intimate acts at least until both parties are a bit invested.

Here’s where I put a bit of the blame on the woman since in most cases that’s where the respect issue begins.

People can only do what you allow them to. So in those intimate moments–if the woman had respected herself in that moment to refrain from engaging in that act, the man would have no choice but to do the same.

This is more of a combination of the media portraying women who put themselves on display in a disrespectful manner and women and men who condone and perpetuate that.

In the end, us women must do a better job of respecting ourselves if we expect for men to do the same. Because a man who respects a woman who bore his child would never want for that woman or the child to suffer or do without because of his lack of participation.

Responsibility

Responsibility means being accountable for your actions. Meaning every action causes a reaction. If your actions contributed to an unfavorable outcome, it is still attributable to you and therefore need to take ownership of it. It is cowardly to run and hide from things you are held responsible for. (Children, debt, taxes etc.)

Studies show that the non-existence of a committed relationship significantly increases the chances that the male will be less likely to be a contributing parent to the subsequent child.

If a man has no obligation to a woman (such is the case in any committed relationship) he is much less likely to be around once a child is born. He feels no responsibility or commitment to the mother and therefore no responsibility to the child.

Sometimes, if you can observe someone long enough from your interactions with them you can assess their “responsibleness”. Do they pay their bills on time, do they respect others, do they abide by rules and laws, are the respectful of time etc. These won’t be a 100% determining factor but you’ll get a sense of who they are. But in a lot of cases, if the person is generally a responsible person and they become “a ghost” after the pregnancy/birth of the child, then chances are the real reason he left was sheer fear. Perhaps fear of not being a good father, fear of not being able to financial support another individual, fear of all the changes that will surely come with a child and a million other fears. Expecting mothers have many of these same fears for themselves and their child. So this doesn’t excuse the father.

Recourse

Seemingly the only recourse that a mother has to tie the child to the father is financial child support. Child support can be a deterrent for fathers to be active parents for two main reasons. The first is that they feel that their obligation is met because of his financial contribution. The second is that they resent the mother so much for garnishing their wages or altering their lifestyle financially that they punish the mother (and ultimately–really, the child) by not spending time or actively engaging with the child. Additionally, they also may not feel any obligation to pay child support, knowing that there are many men who never pay and have commonly not been persecuted for it.

Therefore, if a man has no respect for the child’s mother, lack of responsibility for the child he created, and feels there is no real recourse that forces him to take an active role, then what motivation does he really have to do the right thing?

Most importantly I think that if men who knowingly father children would just be real MEN by adding value to their child’s life. Make that child a priority it’ll be so much more rewarding than imaginable. That fear that most expecting parents have should not deter anyone from doing what is right. For fathers who currently have children and are not participating, step up! You’d be surprise how being a father can positively affect your life and the child’s. Children are a blessing not a burden!

The bottom-line is that you will never really know if someone will stick around after a pregnancy. But you can do what is in your power to give yourself and your child the best possible chance to have a fulfilling relationship with both parents and the family live that he/she deserves.

 

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