London After Princess Diana’s Death

Prince Philip’s funeral today reminds me of being in London the week of Princess Diana’s funeral. My wife’s aunt was living in London and we had booked a trip over to see her. The weekend before we were scheduled to leave Princess Diana died. We arrived in London in the days leading up to her funeral. Here are a few of the pictures I took of the flowers around London sites that week.

The Day the Russian Disappeared

One of the pre-pandemic perks of my wife’s job was being the US representative at an international conference. Each year she gets to go to a different host country for a meeting on public debt. I have been fortunate to be able to travel with her on all but the first trip. I ranked the host locations here. During most of the trips, I have been invited to the welcoming cocktail party and the official dinner. All family members are invited to the social program at the end of the week. After several years of attending the conference we have developed a friendship(as much of one you can have with people you see once a year) with several of the attendees. The people we talk to the most are the representatives from Georgia and Russia. My last conversation at the conference in 201 was a discussion of Grey’s Anatomy with one of the Russian officials. Our current Russian friends are not the original representatives from the country. My first Russian friend vanished one day.

The first trip we took with her was to Helsinki. It was the only time both of our kids were able to travel with us. Finland was a great host. The city was nice and walkable. We had a great time. I felt very out of place when I attended the official dinner. It was my first time with the group and I was one of the only outsiders at the dinner. Luckily, I was seated next to a man from Russia who was close to me age and was very interested in the American presidential election that was happening at the time. He asked for my thoughts on the election . We talked about the debates. He was surprised when I said that the majority of voters decide who they will vote for before the debates and only a handful of undecideds are swayed by them, Maybe I shouldn’t admit that I discussed US elections with a Russian government official.

At the end of the conference there is always a social program. In Finland it was a bus trip out to several small towns outside of Helsinki. Each stop featured some sort of food and the last stop was at a mansion for more food and wine. It was a very good day. My Russian friend was seated on the bus in front of me. I remember noticing his phone was very cracked when he was texting on the bus. After one of the stops, he did not board the bus. He was absent for the rest of the trip. I never saw him get in another car or anything. He was just gone. My logical wife says he probably had an early flight and had to take a car back to the city to get to the airport. I read a lot of mysteries and thrillers. I decided he used the trip as a chance to defect and he disappeared to start a new life in Finland.

This trip was in September. The next conference was in May in Santiago, Chile. Most of the participants were the same. It was only 8 months since the last conference, Not a lot of time for turnover in who was representing the countries. The one big change I noticed? A new person representing Russia. My disappearing friend was not in attendance. I choose to believe that this is proof that his disappearance was not due to an early flight. He was no longer representing Russia because he was living his new life somewhere in Finland. So far, he is the only person who has mysteriously disappeared on one of the trips.

10 Days of Travel: Day 8 – Baku, Azerbaijan

Can’t find the words today, so I will do my travel photo this morning. The last location for my wife’s conference before the pandemic made it virtual. I had no idea what to expect. I ended up being on of my favorite cities we have visited. The people were very friendly, the city is safe and walkable, and it isn’t overrun with tourists.

10 Days of Travel: Day 7 – India

I will include a photo from India despite the fact that India tried to kill me. This is Charminar, one of the stops on the official tour with the government group. As we walked through the shopping area we were escorted by police and warned not to stop and shop. We eventually made it through the crowd and to the top of the tower in the photo.

10 Days of Travel: Day 6 – Elephants in Zambia

We got to go to Zambia for one of my wife’s work trips. Before her conference started they took us on safari. We were almost to the end and had not yet seen any elephants. We were starting to worry that we would miss out on seeing elephants in the wild when we saw this.

Elephants!

10 Days of Travel: Day 5 – Disneyworld

This does not seem as exciting as other places I’ve been, but it was just as special. Two years ago today we were in Orlando. It was the first trip in a while to somewhere besides Kentucky where my son was able to be with us. We went back to one of our favorite places. We had warmth in January. We had a week away from the real world. We had a week with both kids. We had a week when our grown kids could be kids again. I want to do it again.

10 Days of Travel Photos: Day 4 – Donner Lake Area

This one is from our family trip out west. My daughter loved the Daniel James Brown book The Indifferent Stars Above about the Donner Party so this was high on our list of places to go. It was a beautiful area.

10 Days of Travel Photos – Day 3 – Leeds Castle

We took both of our kids on trips after graduation, the Norway phot was from my son’s trip. This one was from the trip to England and France for my daughter’s graduation. We spent the night on the grounds of the castle so we got to wander around after it was closed to the public.

Leeds Castle