We lived in Amstelvein, a suburb of Amsterdam (1989 & 1990). Most of these pictures (click to open) were taken by my son Trevor about 10 years after that. For more of his work see here.
Middle seats, unless of course you are traveling with friends or family
On 737s row 6 has no window
Bulkhead seats. They provide more leg room, but there is no place to stow stuff, so everything must be overhead at take-off and landing.
Exit rows. They definitely provide more leg room, but oftentimes offer no stowage under the seat in front of them. On wide-body jets these areas are wide enough that people will hang out in them, talking and stretching their legs. Plus, they tend to be close to the bathrooms.
Rear of the plane. Generally noisier and it takes longer to get off the plane. However, I’ll go there to avoid a middle seat.
I prefer window seats
You can look out the window
You don’t have to fight over one arm rest—you own the one by the window
You can lean against the window if you are trying to sleep
You won’t be disturbed if you are trying to sleep by someone needing to get up
Easier to stretch out (into the aisle)
Don’t have to bug anyone to get up
You don’t have to fight over at least one arm rest—you own the one by the aisle.
Get bumped by passengers and drink carts as they come down the aisle
When Booking. It is easy to forget, and sometimes not possible, but the best time to get seat assignment is when you book your ticket. All of the on-line reservation systems I use have the option to do this. Sometimes it is not obvious (e.g. a little seat icon you have to click).
On-line check-in. I highly recommend you do this anyway to avoid lines when checking in, but when you do on-line check in you usually have the option to set / change your seat assignment.
At the gate. Sometimes they will change your seats at the gate if you ask the people at the counter. If the flight is lightly loaded or you get there early your odds are better.
Please don’t recline your seat all the way back if there is someone behind you. In my opinion this is just common courtesy. How do you feel if someone does it to you? Also, recline it fairly slowly, I know people who’s laptop display has been broken by someone slamming the seat back.
If the person next to me is big, or likes to live large, I will concede the armrest to the—but that is the limit. Encroaching into my space between the armrests will result in gentle, but firm shoulder/arm pressure. This has always worked for me unless they are huge. In the case they are physically unable stay out of my space privately ask the stewardess/steward if there are other seats available. You should not have to put up with this is there is an open seat available.
Changing seats. With some restrictions, (e.g. you can’t move up to Business Class from Economy) you can move to another open seat on the plane. The trick is figuring out what seats are really open and which ones belong to late arrivers. Some people will just pick a seat and wait to see if they get kicked out. This is for gutsy people. Once the plane’s doors are closed then it is ok to move to an open seat—don’t ask, just jump up and move. If you ask a stewardess/steward beforehand you might get some priority on an open seat.
Blocking Recliners. If you know, or suspect the person in front of you wants to recline their seat all the way back you can brace your knees against it so it won’t go all the way back. This requires a good sense of timing and ability to convince them that their seat is broken.
Wine Tasting recommendations
Restaurant recommendations (from comments on Sandwalk )
The Chinese government has embraced a free market economy in the sense that advertising is pervasive and the selection of things to buy, and eat is huge—but the communist system is still there. Gas prices are mandated and neighborhoods are leveled to make room for new buildings. With some things deemed undesirable a hybrid approach is used; rather than ban things, the government makes it very expensive. For example, a dog license within the city limits is 2000 RMB (approx $270) annually—which is more than many people make in a month. Asking people if they have brothers or sisters is at best an awkward question because in 1979 China implemented a one child policy. In urban areas couples having more than one child can be heavily fined—so many of the younger professionals don't have siblings
I don't know how the Chinese government has managed to fuse a free market economy with communism, but it clearly works for business.
Guidebooks, Hotel, Nearby Restaurant's
Recommended Resturants & Bars
We lived in Germany near Stuttgart from 1999 until 2002. I wrote this towards the beginning of our stay there.
Well I’ve only been in Germany for a few months, it’s too early to tell, but right now the hardest thing to do is: deal with the trash.
I had some foreshadowing of this when I looked through the kitchen drawers in our new house and found 4 separate, color-coded trash compartments. This suggested more than the "toss it in the bag under the sink" approach to trash management would be required.
Step one: Getting the trash can (or rather cans).
It turns out that there are only two officially approved trashcans in this Kreis (district) of Germany; the black "Mulleimer" and the green "Grune Tonne"’ can. The Mulleimer comes in two sizes, 35 and 50 liters, and the Grune Tonne comes in 120 and 240 liter size. As luck would have it, these can’t be bought at the same place. The Grune Tonne is only sold at the central recycling center, and the Mulleimer only at the local Target equivalent –the "Multi-Center". Sensing I’m in trouble, I decide to buy the biggest damn Mulleimer made.
Unfortunately, although the Multi-Center has plenty of 35-liter containers, there isn’t a 50-liter to be found. When I asked the relocation specialist what other stores carried Mulleimers she was stumped and said she would have get back to me. Ok—the Grune Tonne it is. It was easy enough to find the recycling center, which looked reassuringly like something you would see in the USA—a bunch of labeled dumpsters (e.g. Dosen) with people parking their cars nearby, unloading junk. There was even a section with brand new Grune Tonnes apparently for sale. After wandering among the cans for a few minutes looking bewildered (something I’ve been practicing the last few months), an attendant walked up to me, pulls out his wallet (to make change), and helped me buy my first German garbage can.
Step two: Putting trash in the cans
I asked the relocation specialist what sort of trash could be put in the Mulleimer. She paused and said this was a difficult question—uh oh. It turns out it easier to say what sorts of trash shouldn’t be put in this particular can. Specifically you shouldn’t put in:
Realizing that it would be pretty silly if she couldn’t come up with some example of acceptable trash, she suggested that a piece of old cheese stuck to a paper wrapper could be tossed in. I started thinking that the 35-liter container might be big enough after all.
Acceptable contents for the Grune Tonne are easier to describe—biodegradable stuff. No plastic bags are allowed, my relocation specialist suggested the biodegradable stuff be wrapped up in newspapers. I now visualize German dump workers as professionals, dressed in spotless white overalls, stacking trash in neat piles. My USA dump experience is more along the lines of a bulldozer pushing an oozing refrigerator through piles of McDonalds wrappers with a kid’s bicycle caught in its tracks.
Step 3: Getting the trash picked up
This part was theoretical with the Grune Tonne for a long time—six weeks. My first concern was that the trash crew would find some reason to not empty my trash cans. My fear was that they will open the lid, immediately discover forbidden trash material, and walk off shaking their heads. However, before I actually put the trash out to be collected I had already avoided one trap. I had stickers. These stickers, when placed on your can, indicate that you have paid the appropriate fees to for having your trash collected. The part that gave me trouble was that trashcan types, green or black are collected on alternative weeks. If you happen to be gone on alternate weeks you can accumulate quite a trash problem.
Later I learned that the trash crew is far more sophisticated about rejecting trash than just taking a look. My neighbor’s Grune Tonne was rejected for pickup. When she complained they explained that their metal detector had found metal in her can. She had to dig out a piece of old metal that had gotten stuck in before they would take it.
Half-Moon Bay area, CA