Three Harry Potter Porto Sites to See

The Harry Potter book series is the best-selling of all time.  I know many people travel specifically to Harry Potter related spots in the United Kingdom, like the Warner Bros Studio Tour just north of London or the Harry Potter train in Scotland.  You can even see the play Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.  I didn’t even realize until I checked into the Grande Hotel Porto that there is a Harry Potter connection to Porto, Portugal.  Diogo, who works at the front desk, told me that JK Rowling actually was living in here teaching English when she starting writing the books and recommended that we check out some of the Harry Potter Porto points of interest.  Even if it is debatable about how much Porto influenced the Harry Potter books, it is interesting to visit the sites.

Harry Potter Porto Site #1: Majestic Cafe

The Majestic Café, where it is rumored that JK Rowling wrote the first Harry Potter book, is less than a block from our hotel.  The Grande Hotel Porto is the second oldest hotel in Porto and has a proud history.  This is apparent as soon as you step through the door. The lobby area feels very elegant with beautiful period furniture and this continues throughout the hotel. The dining area is beautiful and our room was very comfortable and nicely decorated with classic pieces.  The service at the hotel really stood out, everyone was so nice and helpful. (more…)

Neck Support Pillow and Other Travel Sleeping Tips

Believe me I know how important sleep is.  When I am tired, I am grouchy, impatient, and sometimes can’t even think straight.  I don’t want to be that person, so I always try to make sure I get enough sleep.  When your bed for the night is an airplane seat in economy, that is easier said than done.  After many sleepless flights, I now use a neck support pillow and have founds a few other things that have helped me sleep better.

Note: This post contains affiliate links. See disclosure for more information.

For many years, I would try to avoid overnight flights if possible because I knew I wouldn’t be able to sleep.  Sometimes you just don’t have a choice.  In many cases, the only flight option is an overnight one like many routes from the US to Europe.  I actually don’t mind redeye flights because that way I don’t waste valuable daytime hours traveling. When you get good sleep on the plane, you will arrive ready to make the most of your trip.  After countless long flights, I thought I should share some of the things I have learned the help me get better sleep on the plane.


Ambien For Jet Lag: Are the Side Effects Worth It?

One of the worst things about traveling for me is jet lag.  I have a very strong body clock and I have a hard time adjusting to time differences.  When I used to do a lot of international travel with work, I knew I needed to do something to make it easier.  I spoke with a doctor and he recommend I try Ambien CR, a prescription sleep medicine, to help me sleep.  Taking ambien for jet lag definitely helped, but it did also cause some issues.

Note: I am not a medical expert and this post is not based on medical research or meant to be medical advice.  I am not suggesting that you take Ambien for jet lag or don’t take it.  You should consult your doctor to make sure the decision is right for you.  I just wanted to share my experience and opinions.

I have spent a lot of time flying in and out of NY......-"Ambien For Jet Lag: Are the Side Effects Worth It?"- Two Traveling Texans
I have spent lots of time flying in & out of NYC.

When I travel I normally don’t have issues falling asleep, however, I would wake up in the middle of the night and not be able to go back to sleep.  So I took Ambien CR, which releases medicine to your body over about an eight hour period, to help you stay asleep.  (You could also just take Ambien, which helps you get to sleep but does not continue to release medicine throughout the night.)

The label instructs you to not drink alcohol and also to make sure you can devote at least eight hours to sleep before you take it.  I tried my best to make sure I followed those guidelines.  It is prescription, so not something you should take lightly.

The ambien would begin working fast.  Literally, a few minutes after I would swallow the pill my eyelids would feel so heavy it would be difficult for me to keep them open.  Then, I would sleep so deeply for a solid 7-8 hours.  I would wake up feeling really refreshed because I had slept so well.

It was not all good though.  Ambien did affect my mind and of course, I didn’t realize it at the time.  The best example of how it affected me was when I was in Australia.  The taxi picked us up at the hotel and we put our bags (with computers in them) in the back and headed to the office.  Well, when we arrived at the office I totally forgot that my computer was in the trunk and went to the office without it.  I quickly I realized I had forgotten it, but the taxi had already left. (more…)

Old Man of Storr: Hiking in the Clouds

The Old Man of Storr is not actually a person, it is a rock formation on Isle of Skye, Scotland.  You can spot it from a distance because it really looks like an old man on top of the mountain.  Of course, since it is so iconic, we really wanted to hike it during our short visit.

The views hiking the Old Man of Storr are spectacular! - "Old Man of Storr: Hiking in the Clouds" - Two Traveling Texans
The views hiking the Old Man of Storr are spectacular!

The Old Man of Storr is part of the Trotternish Ridge which is about a 10 minute drive north of Portree, the main town on the island.  The afternoon we went the weather looked like it might take a turn for the worse, as can happen in Scotland.  It was windy, drizzled at times, and the clouds were very low.  I am sure Old Man of Storr was much less crowded than it normally is.  We found parking in the lot on the main road.


EU Flight Compensation Rules Simplified

Having a flight unexpectedly cancelled can really be a nightmare especially if you have somewhere to be – like work!  But when you travel a lot these things are bound to happen.  Sometimes it’s outside the airline’s control, like when it snows, but there are also times when flights get cancelled because of aircraft maintenance.  That is what happened to me when I was supposed to fly back to NYC from London after the Christmas holidays.  Well what could have been a nightmare ended up not being so bad thanks to the EU flight compensation rules.

United planes through a rainy window. Unfortunately you cannot get compensation if the cause is weather. - "EU Flight Compensation Rules Simplified" - Two Traveling Texans
United planes through a rainy window. Unfortunately you cannot get compensation if the cause is weather.

EC Regulation 261 covers compensation for both cancellations and delays but it is complicated and the airlines don’t make it easy.  Some airlines try to offer miles in lieu of monetary compensation and if you accept it you can no longer make a claim.  Unfortunately, many passengers never get the compensation that is rightfully theirs because they don’t understand the EU flight compensation rules.  Please don’t let that happen to you.     If you have had a flight cancellation or significant delay in the last six years, you may still be able to claim the compensation.

Disclosure: I am not a legal expert, I am just passing along my experience in order to help readers better understand the EU flight compensation rules for cancellations.  If you are not sure how this applies to your specific situation, I would encourage you to speak to a lawyer.

The Story   

My lovely Christmas trip to England was coming to a close. I had booked a flight leaving Heathrow at 4pm, so we planned to have a relaxed morning before heading to London.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. (more…)