• “The smartest historical sci-fi adventure-romance story ever written by a science Ph.D. with a background in scripting 'Scrooge McDuck' comics.”—Salon.com
  • A time-hopping, continent-spanning salmagundi of genres.”
    —ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY
  • “These books have to be word-of-mouth books because they're too weird to describe to anybody.”
    —Jackie Cantor, Diana's first editor

Travelogue: Vilnius (Lithuania), Part I

Now, normally I travel Business Class only when someone else is paying for it [g], or when conditions seem to warrant the extra expense. In this case, it was the latter.

Vilnius is one of those places where you can’t get there from here–wherever “here” is. It takes a minimum of three flights (and 22 hours) to get there, and two weeks before I left, the nice person who was making my travel arrangements apologized for the delay, saying that it was -30 degrees F., and “too cold for anybody to do anything.” Nothing daunted, I put gloves and wooly hat in the pockets of my big down coat, loaded three new novels onto my Kindle (Deborah Crombie’s NO MARK ON HER, Kim Harrison’s PERFECT BLOOD, and Susan Elizabeth Phillips’s NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE–all really good books, btw), put three Russell Stover Coconut Cream Easter Eggs and a hairbrush into my book satchel, with an ARC of Louise Penny’s THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY for takeoffs and landings, and set off into the wild blue yonder.

The adventure started off in typical fashion–which is to say that the first flight of this carefully-arranged hegira was cancelled (thus ruining all the other connections). You don’t do a lot of this kind of travel without developing a certain philosophical outlook, though, so I merely ate an easter egg (with Diet Coke; you don’t get through this kind of thing without some source of caffeine, either) and spent a tranquil three and a half hours in the Phoenix airport (flying Biz Class helps the philosophical outlook, since you can go hang out in the airline’s lounge on these occasions; the bathrooms are better, and they usually provide daily papers, snacks, and alcohol), reading NO MARK ON HER, before flying off to Newark (rather than Washington Dulles, as originally scheduled). Began THE BEAUTIFUL MYSTERY, which is very good, though somewhat different from Penny’s usual, in that it involves Chief Inspector Gamache, but is not set in the magical town of Three Pines. Returned to NO MARK, though, as I didn’t want to finish the ARC too soon–a lot of takeoffs and landings still to come.

Well. The connection in Newark to the next leg—to Frankfurt—was only 40 minutes to start with—a long shot, considering that it takes about ten minutes to get to the gate and _off_ the bloody aircraft before even beginning the dash to the next gate (and Newark has roughly 175 gates). But the plane was put in a holding pattern, and by the time we finally landed and taxied _for miles_, my connection time had shrunk to nine minutes, and I was resigned to spending the night in Newark, rebooking _again_, and emailing Vilnius from my iPad to let them know I’d be a hair late.

BUT, what to my wondering eyes should appear, the instant I came out of the jetway, but a nice young gentleman in a suit and a German accent (I was technically on a Lufthansa flight, even though operated by Continental), who seized me, stuffed me into a waiting electric cart and—assuring me that my suitcase was being hastily excavated and would make it, too—dispatched us on a wild career down the terminal, the iron-lunged young lady at the wheel shouting, “BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!” at the oblivious walkers, several of whom avoided instant death only by an adroit leap sideways as we shot past.

I dived into the plane to find the whole German cabin crew standing in the doorway, impatiently glancing at their watches, and thirty seconds after I fell into my seat (leaping over the supine body of my seatmate, who had already put on her sleepmask and reclined at full-length under her blanket), we took off for Frankfurt. Another perk of flying Biz Class is that they offer more or less nonstop alcohol, and a good thing, too. White wine doesn’t really go with easter eggs, but you know, what the heck.

Lufthansa is really just about my favorite airline—insofar as it’s possible to contemplate the word “airline” without shuddering. The food was excellent, the service both amiable and efficient (beyond the alcohol and the warm nuts, one of the little amenities I like flying Biz is the napkins, which are cloth, dazzlingly white, and feature a buttonhole in one corner, so you can button it onto your shirt rather than laying it across your lap and dropping bits of arugula and glazed walnut into your décolletage, or tucking it into your collar and looking like you wuz born in a barn), and the seats really cool: each one was sort of sequestered in its own little cocoon of plastic, within which it adjusted everywhichway, so it doesn’t make any difference whether the person in front of you reclines or not.

I’m so accustomed to random sleeping that I don’t bother trying to readjust my metabolism when flying; I just take homeopathic No-Jet-Lag tablets and sleep when I’m tired. I wasn’t tired at this point, so went through the available movies—new to newish releases, but a pretty dismal looking crop—and watched Part I of “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” Boringly incoherent, with indifferent acting and good special effects. Let us just say I now have zero desire to see Part II. After all, I read the book; I know how it ends.

Astonishingly enough, we landed in time for me to make the connection with my _original_ Frankfort-to-Vilnius flight, in spite of having to go through Passport Kontrolle in Frankfort and make my way from one end of the place to the next—pausing _en route_ to purchase a small bottle of Cola Light (this is supposed to be Diet Coke, but it really isn’t; it’s Coke Zero. Still, it works, and I’m not inclined to be fussy after twenty hours on the road) for the extortionate price of three euros (one small benefit to constant travel is that I have small amounts of all kinds of odd currencies on hand, emptied out of my pockets after trips, and therefore usually have enough on landing to get me a snack and a cab-ride before I have to change money–_really_ useful, if landing at a small airport in the middle of the night. Frankfurt is _not_ a small airport, btw. It’s about like O’Hare in terms of size and complexity, but much, much better run. They were having a ground strike at the time—this is what caused my first flight to be canceled; the plane I was scheduled to be on couldn’t get _out_ of Frankfurt—but were moving people with great dispatch, little congestion, and no public riots. Or maybe they just don’t let members of the public abuse the staff).

And so I landed in Vilnius pretty much on time, to find that the temperature had risen, the snow was slushy, the skies gray—i.e., much like February in Flagstaff (where I grew up), as I kept reassuring my apologetic hosts—and the baggage claim area sported a large poster proudly informing all and sundry that Vilnius is “the Gender-Equality Capital of Europe!”

And the morning and the evening and the morning again and part of the afternoon were the First Day. _Now_ I was tired.

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108 Responses »

  1. OMG..what a trip! Just a comment about the last Harry Potter movie….it’s absolutely the best one yet!! I agree that part I was a bit boring – it was mostly set up for part II. Part II was AWESOME! Just my humble opinion. Good travels to you! Hope your home trip was (is) better!

  2. Hilarious. Diana, your adventures are always so interesting to read! Thank you.

    Can’t wait for part two!

    Judie

  3. Those easter eggs are divine and can go with just about any beverage out there. Yum! I can’t shake the mental visual of you leaping over your seatmate on the Lufthansa flight. :) Not to mention the nice young man stuffing you into the electric cart. So fun to read and can’t wait to hear more!

  4. Sounds like a crazy flight! I’m glad you had the same thoughts about Coke Light and Coke Zero. :) I had a whole debate over the fact that it was Coke Zero in Barcelona.

    Happy travels and a safe flight(s) home.

  5. That totally made me laugh! The glamour of the life of a famous author. :) But…HP and the Deathly Hallows 2 is the best one of the whole series. Alan Rickman deserves ALL of the Oscars. It totally blew my socks off, and the only other time a piece of fiction made me cry that much was when Claire went back through the stones. So…don’t give up on HP just yet, please! :)

  6. Fantastic account of your travel travails! Looking forward to learning more about the rest of your adventures.
    Kindest regards
    Jane

  7. I agree, Lufthansa is by far my favorite airline. They even gave out sandwiches in the airport in Berlin when they were running a bit late. Can’t complain about that. However, if you are in the poor seats (which I was) and you have a man with horrible dandruff sitting in front of you with his seat reclined and you have your tray down trying to enjoy a snack or a drink. Well, lets just say you have to throw the drink away and just try to go to sleep because Mr. Flaky is flaking all over your tray and um, it’s gross. So yea, business class sounds wonderful! oh and the airport in Frankfurt is HUGE!

  8. What is an “ARC?” I assume it is some sort of advanced copy. I am very jealous, I love Louise Penny, though I do so love the books set in Three Pines. Glad you are back and I look forward to hearing more about your trip.

    • Dear Aimee–

      “ARC” is “Advanced Reading Copy”–it’s essentially a (really) cheaply-bound copy of the uncorrected galleys of a book, sent out prior to publication to reviewers and potential sources of cover quotes.

      –Diana

  9. Thanks for sharing, I agree that nonstop alcohol is a nice way to travel- And “…like you wuz born in a barn” is still cracking me up LOL!!!

  10. Nothing like a DG travelogue! Thanks for the update… entertaining as always. :)

  11. Diana, Someday I hope before he retires, my husband will sit next to you on an airplane. He (and I when I fly with him all over this planet — which is not often, thank God) has experienced all of what you wrote above, sometimes in spades. He comes home with “wonderful”??? stories and makes me laugh and also makes me glad that I’m not always with him. He has been on planes (this happened shortly after 9/11) where suddenly two men got up and got off for no obvious reason at all. That meant that ALL of the passengers AND luggage had to get off the plane and go through security again. Nothing was found but that made him miss all of his connections.

    I’m glad to know that you are back home again and look forward to more adventure tales. You write kind of like you talk and I could read and listen to you anytime!!!

  12. Having flown back and forth from Rochester, NY to Dulles to Vienna to Pristina (Kosovo) several time to teach, I can sooooooooooooo relate. Actually, my favorite airline is Air Austria. Unlimited wine!

  13. Love reading your travelogue – will lo0k forward to the next installment! BTW, I am a big fan of Diet Coke also, and do not care for Coke Zero. But, like you, I would have dealt with it. :)

  14. Diana, I do not know where you get your energy girl, I will have to continue living these adventures thru you! Sounds like you had a wonderful time, I hope you will post some pics for us as well.

  15. Dear Diana,

    Funny you should mention NOBODY’S BABY BUT MINE, I literally finished it this afternoon. I devoured all of Susan Elizabeth Phillips books after reading somewhere (probably while lurking on Compuserve) that she was one of your favorite Romance Writers. I have never been much of a romance reader, but took the chance on her novels because of your praise of her work. I love her characters, her sense of humor and the fact that I teared up at some point in each book. I did not read them in order. As for NOBODY’S BABY, I love Annie, the old mountain-woman grandmother. I’m on the waiting list at the library for her book THE GREAT ESCAPE coming out this summer. You didn’t get a chance to review it did you? Welcome home!

    Amanda

  16. Diana,

    Has anyone ever told you that you are great at telling a story? I love reading your blog, as for me it is almost as good as reading one of your books. It IS your writing after all!

  17. Hello Diana – my husband was also blessed with traveling to Vilnius back in about 2007 or 2008. He was not quite as lucky as you with his luggage! He was hired to be part of a conference on how to decommission & demolish the Chernobyl Nuclear site with his sponsor being the respected I.A.E.A. They also bought him a ticket in business class which was wonderful! Unfortunately his luggage was NOT treated as well as yours:-) My poor husband did not get his luggage for six days! Lets just say that he came home, after shopping in the limited availability of stores there, with some very interesting underwear, socks, & also with strange looking sweaters! I believe he tried to stick with the same pants for at least 5 days!!

    I did not go with him on this trip because it was a very industrial location. Frankly, I am happy & sad at the same time. He loved some of the places they took him but did not enjoy the cold showers he was forced to take because the town forgot to pay their gas bill!

    That trip was my husband’s second trip for the same purpose but his last. He declined the next invitation from the I.A.E.A.!

    Traveling to an ex-Soviet Republic can certainly be a challenge!

    Love your writing!
    Beth

  18. I heard this was a fantastic post and of course they are right. My dear, dear lady you leave me in stitches. Please do make it to Dragon Con. That is one state away and I’ll make the small trip in a heartbeat if you’ll be there.

  19. You know I saw “warm nuts” and I thought, how much more they must be appreciated in Vilnius. *g* Glad you had a nice safe, if not hectic trip, and are home in your own bed!!!!!

    Oh, I just realized no Starbucks Hot Chocolate! :)

  20. Thanks for the giggles, enjoyed your post immensely and thanks also for the e-book suggestions, will have to quickly finish Elizabeth George’s latest so that I can try them out. (:

  21. Happy to be an ‘accidental tourist’ for this jaunt, I think!

  22. Diana, even if you’d had the most uneventful journey–all flights on time with no problems making connections–you’d still make the telling rich and interesting, infusing it with all the small details that make the reader feel as if he or she were right there along side you. I’m sure those uneventful flights must happen, but it seems as if you are blessed, or cursed, with deviations along the way somewhat frequently. Otherwise you’d not seem to take all that in the calm manner you’ve just described. Aside from being greatly entertained by your travelogue, I am impressed that you kept your cool and rolled with the punches. I’m looking forward to reading Part II.

  23. Since when did flying anywhere not have complications? So happy you are home safe!

  24. Hello,
    I just wanted to drop a note to sympathize-I’ve now traveled to Estonia three times and it’s about as difficult as this. It’s crazy getting to the Baltics but totally worth it. I was actually reading one of the Outlander books (I can’t remember which one, but it had a green cover) on my third trip to Estonia. It set off the security guards interests since it looked like one big white square on the x-ray, but they were very nice about it and astounded that I was reading such a thick book.

    I’m hoping when I fly to Estonia again I will fly in Business class, it sounds nicer.

    Love your books, btw!

  25. Hello Diana ! Thank you so much for sharing your travel experience !! Very funny and entertaining ! Looking forward to Part 2.. Thanks for the books suggestions as well. So nice to have the daily lines back ! a good day to you from Christiane-Paris-FR

  26. I noticed how you said you were switching between reading different things. I never used to do this, but since I got my Sony Reader (now, I just use my iPad), I have several books going simultaneously. I read more for what I feel like reading rather than just continuing what I was reading. I wonder if you’ve always read that way, or has your preference changed with the advent of ebooks?

    • Dear Shey–

      No, I’ve pretty much always read that way–except when I have a _really_ good book; then I devote myself to that one exclusively. [g]

      –Diana

      • A bit like me when one of your books is published.

      • Diana, if I had three or four books going at once I would be SO confused! I don’t even like to read a series out of sequence. BTW, am getting ready to start Outlander AGAIN (second time this year) in the hopes of getting to the end of the series about the time your next book is published.

  27. Thanks for the embedded book recommendations … you are most certainly one of my favorite authors so I trust your taste (also agree about HP Part 1, though none of the movies quite lived up to my imagination anyway.) Into Evernote they go, along with the rest of my To Reads, and my cheat-sheet on the order of the Lord John books.
    You should visit Boston, it’s much closer and Jetblue’s not a bad airline!

  28. There really is nothing better than a good piece of chocolate and, in my case, a Pepsi! I don’t mind coke, but prefer Pepsi.
    You’re right, you do need the little bit of caffeine to keep you going. Our trip to Scotland last September took us on three planes in three different airports so, like you, I kept sugar handy.

    Glad to see you made it in one piece. Let’s hope your future travels run slightly smoother.

  29. (ROTFL) Would love to know what the Magic Homeopathic No-Jet-Lag tablets are called.

    Jeanne

    • Dear Jeanne–

      That’s actually what they’re called: No-Jet-Lag. Really. [g]

      –Diana

      • They are New Zealand made and IIRC U.S. FDA approved. Took them travelling NZ-Europe and back – sure get through a lot that way!!! I’m sure I could find a link to post if thats allowed???

        • Dear Michelle–

          Sure–a link would be fine. I buy mine at the local health-food store.

          –Diana

          • The health food store? You’re lucky, although I have to admit my searches haven’t been extensive here, I have only noticed them in the airports themselves, rather last minute!

            Sorry to be so slow (was knocked over by a cold for a few weeks, hope this can still be of some use), but here is the link: http://www.nojetlag.com/

  30. LOL, what a trip! Eh, I saw the HP movies. I’m too busy re-reading Outlander series books (and sometimes a little Dean Koontz–I own several) while awaiting the release of each new one. Man oh man, I can’t wait to see who clobbers that jerk Bree works with, after he took Jem! I hope she and Jem both get a couple of good licks in, that …! Mmmphm! (To borrow a certain sound from the Outlander books. :) )

  31. I bet you could write a whole book on the adventures of the traveling author. Maybe you could put a mystery in there too.
    Glad you made it there safe.
    I read books like that too, my family doesn’t understand how I can have 2 or 3 novels going at a time. But if I get bored with one I can go to another and then come back if I need a little fix of a particular genre.

  32. Nice button on napkins to prevent unintentional food storage in cleavage-good idea. Warm nuts and salad are best eaten, not worn. Some amply endowed women occaisionally use their cups as holders for keys, cash, hankies, etc. A buxom friend reached into her bra for money she carried and gave it to one of the guys to pay for a drink. He complained it was sweaty. She looked smug and said, “You’re just jealous because the bank in my shirt is bigger than the one in your pants.”

  33. I’ve had several trips like that from Finland to Oregon, minus the business class. :) Glad to hear you made it on time in the end!

  34. Very entertaining. I hope you will keep it as a fond memory yourself–as soon as the jet lag wears off.

  35. Dear Diana,

    WOW! Where do you find the time to do all that you do…and do it so well? Please tell us your secrets. I am in awe of how busy you are…all_the_time. I am following you on Compuserv, been reading about J&C for close to 20 years, and I sometimes wonder how you keep it together.

    The travelogue is such a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    Chris from Baltimore

  36. Dear Diana,

    I’m so excited to hear that you are in Vilnius, my great-grandparents were married there and I have always wanted to learn more about it. I will look forward to your next travel log!
    Happy and safe travels!!

  37. Well, I truly hope you have a good time and the way back home will be easier. At least, there is currently no new ground strike announced for Frankfurt, so you might be lucky. However, they have promised to give notice about a new strike 24 hours in advance, so that one can make new arrangements and see which flights will be cancelled. But let me say how sad it is there’s no time for an official event in Germany – a reading in Frankfurt would have been great! Maybe next year?

    • Dear Diana,

      maybe to the bookfair? It will be Oct. 9.-13th 2013. I bet Frankfurt would love to have you. You got lots of fans here. Thanks for sharing your Travelogue. Hilarious and very entertaining. :) I would`ve never guessed you fly the “wooden class (as we call it)” and we the common people could actually sit next to you by accident. ;) Makes you even more likeable. Thanks for your brilliant books.

  38. Doug’s grandparents had a farm in the area where Louise Penny’s “Three Pines” is set. It’s every bit as beautiful as she describes in her books. I feel I’m bound to run into her one of these days since we haunt the same restaurants and events.

    I’m off to dig through your archives to look for your post on Jamaica. We just got back from a 10 day vacation there and loved it.

    Pam

  39. You were so smart to pack a regular book for take-off and landing. That’s a trick I’ll have to steal :)

  40. Thanks so much for the hilarious travel post. There’s nothing like a good laugh to start the day. It’s good for body, soul and spirit.

    Thanks also for the book list.

    Do you have any plans to travel to Texas? I’d love to meet you!

  41. Sounds like you needed more Easter eggs, I’m intrigued, are these as good as they sound and do they sell them in the UK?

    I agree with your view of HP film, a bit jaw cracking but the last one is an improvement but not a patch on the books.

    Enjoy the trip

  42. Another great blog post. So funny. Very jealous that I must wait until August 28 for my next rendezvous with Chief Inspector Gamache (have a terrible crush on him). Also, thank you so much for dropping author’s names in your blogs. I discovered the incredible Dana Stabenow from one of your posts and have read all of her books in the past year.

  43. OMG! What a crazy time! Glad you’re safe and sound!! Enjoy your trip! LOL, Kathi :)

  44. Solutions :
    1. Never go on such a trip between November and April
    2. You could go for example: Newark- Warsaw (and stay for couple of days, you also have some fans here, you know). From Warsaw you have flights to Vilnius almost every day.

    ;-)

  45. Very interesting.
    I have travelled a lot and do sympathise. in fact I count it as a bonus if any flight actually leaves ontime.

    I think you should rethink you should I fly Business Class idea. You can afford it so go for it. You deserve it.

  46. Your travels are almost as good to read as your books. Nahhhhh! Still fun to read.

  47. We have taken to calling it “Harry Potter and the Deathly Tent” – part II was much better. I will be heading to Slovakia in July for the Junior World Orienteering Championships with my son, thought we were traveling a long way, but you’ve got us beat. Will need to keep those No-Jet-Lag pills in mind and now have some great new book suggestions to load on my Kindle Fire.

  48. I think anything you write is interesting. Thanks for sharing your trip. I love SEP also. I will have to check out your other travel books. Maybe microsoft should hire you to make the server training guides for certification interesting. (g).

  49. It is so interesting to hear about your trip. Waiting for Part II.

  50. You, madam, are a true story teller. Thank you. You could make a trip to the loo adventurous, no doubt! (Adventures of the automatic flush…) BTW, I’m currently reading (just discovered) Alan Brennert’s Moloka’i if anyone is looking for an unusual story and compelling read with a delightful protagonist! Check the reviews.

    Thanks again for your blog post!

  51. Love that you are so flexible. Please share the name of the homeopathic No-Jet-Lag tablets.

    • Tamara, with Diana’s permission I have just (finally – sorry!!!) posted a link to the company’s website in response to Jeanne’s query above – hope it helps :)

  52. So that is what the button hole is for… SMH As usual a very enjoyable read. Thank you, looking forward to the next installment.

  53. Dear Diana,
    I had to smile reading your travel-log! I do the journey to Lithuania every 6 months (and back after 3-although I usually go steerage :-) ). When I go, I do the same… relax into the groove and accept any and all alchohol available :-D . When I saw you at the book fair, you looked wonderful-not jet-lagged at all! Adventure and 18th century remembrances are par for the course visiting this country. But so glad you came!!!!

  54. If I could have one wish, it would be to write like you. You turn every snapshot of a moment into an interesting adventure, the description, a chapter in a book.

  55. This takes me back to a 6 hour layover between flights in the Vancouver, BC airport. I was returning from a class reunion and my friend had just introduced me to Outlander. I hit the scene where Claire was learning how to stab someone and burst out laughing at the line about poison having its deficiencies as a weapon in close combat! Loved your travelogue!

  56. My aunt says Lufthansa is the best airline out there. They fly with a staunch German adherence to timeliness and safety. That they were looking at their watches tapping their feet… I can only think that a reader saw your name on the passenger list and requested some leeway for you. Or perhaps your travel agent is *that good*. Anyone who can make a Lufthansa flight wait is worth keeping around!

    • Dear Lizabeta–

      [g] I would have thought maybe that was the case–but these days I fly under my married name, because that’s what’s on my passport. I don’t know what caused the special treatment–but I was VERY grateful! (Didn’t really want to spend the night in Newark.)

      –Diana

  57. Ye gods, sounds like my trip from Seattle to OKC, but add a husband in a walking cast and a toddler with all the required accoutrements. Glad you got there without incident; now you need a good night’s sleep!

  58. Great story! I travel for business several times a year and can appreciate your experiences, especially the comment about O’Hare. To paraphrase Margaret Mitchell, as God is my witness, I will never go through O’Hare again! God willing!!

  59. Loved reading your blog! It sends me reminders of. My horrid travel experience from Detroit to Johannesburg. I found myself stuck in Heathrow for 12 hours due to fog. All flights cancelled. I had to fight my way through a mob of fellow travelers to receive a standby ticket. Best part was being physically pused out of the way by a nongentlemen who obviously had to get his ticket first. When I finally bordered my flight out (trying not to make eye contact with the passengers who were bumped from my their flight ) I found my self seated right next to the non english speaking , elbow pushing non gentleman. I squeezed myself into my window seat and promptly kicked of my shoes that had been on my feet for approx. 24 sweaty hours, and settled in for a 13 hour flight!

  60. My goodness, just reading what you went through made me tired! You should write a book! (Wait, you HAVE already! ;p) Here’s to smoother sailing (er… flying) on the rest of your travels this year!

  61. I’ve just booked a trip to Vilnius in May for the World Congress on Environmental Health, so I’m looking forward to installment 2. Getting there from Australia was a challenge- my partner and I are flying via Tokyo, Amsterdam and Prague. Sadly, I’m NOT travelling business class!

    • Oh, goodness, Lisa! That will surely be an amazing trip, and I send you all the best wishes! Plus, I’m only a little jealous! Prague is so special, I hope you can manage a few days there.
      No Jet Lag is a great homeopathic (little mint-tasting pills) from New Zealand. They are readily available at local health good stores, or eBay. I’ve used/dispensed them many times, and they really help – a lot. You get to your destination after 20++ hours of long flights, and you’re exhausted (should be!), but not wiped out, not sick, and still (generally!) maintain mental capability. Be well, be safe!
      Kitty, San Diego, California

  62. Dear Diana…

    Please go to sugar saturated pop… all those artificial sweeteners are nothing but chemicals that WILL kill you. Plus if you’re eating an Easter egg at the same time, what exactly is the point of the diet pop? It’s kind of like super sizing MacDonalds and ordering a super sized diet pop… doesn’t make any sense at all. Plus the sugar pops do taste a lot better. Really LOVE all your books and can’t wait for the next Jamie and Claire release.

    • Dear Anne—

      Mm. As the first Duke of Pardloe would say, “Not logical.”

      I do hear this line of reasoning—if you’re eating something with sugar, what’s the point of diet soda?—now and then, but….well, let’s look at it, shall we?

      1 Russell Stover Coconut Cream Easter Egg = 180 calories.
      1 can of Coke = 170 calories

      Total = 350 calories (or about what one would eat for a reasonable breakfast or lunch)

      1 Easter Egg = 180 calories
      1 Diet Coke = A big fat ZERO calories

      Total = 180 calories (a reasonable snack that will keep me from starving en route to someplace with food, but leave me the additional 170 calories for a small salad or a chicken thigh with a meal when I get where I’m going.)

      I.e., 170 calories are the point of drinking Diet Coke, no matter _what_ the heck you’re drinking it with. What on earth would be the point of guzzling sugary soda with something else sweet, anyway, calories quite aside? Cloying to the taste-buds, I mean—to say nothing of the effect of sugar Coke on dental enamel, or the effects of too much sugar in the diet overall.

      As for the chemicals in Diet Coke killing me…[g] well, I really _do_ appreciate your concern, but—fwiw—if you read the labels, most of the same chemicals are present in full-sugar sodas, bar the aspartame (and I assume that’s what you think is universally lethal). As one sensible doctor I know said, apropos cell phones giving people brain cancer: “Given the number of people using them, and the period of time over _which_ they’ve been using them, if there was a noticeable effect—we’d have noticed it by now.”

      (Don’t tell me the one about how if you leave Diet Coke in the sun you get wood alcohol and you’ll go BLIND (or insane) if you drink it—I’ve heard that one, too. I was a volunteer reader for Recording for the Blind for twenty-seven years, and never met one person who’d gone blind from drinking Diet Coke.)

      I have myself been drinking Diet Coke for more than twenty years and so have many, many millions of other people. Do you know anyone—just one—who is known—medically proven, _known_– to have died from drinking Diet Coke? No? Me neither. Don’t think I’m gonna be the first.

      Q.E.D. [g]

      –Diana

  63. Thank you for sharing your saga!

    What I wonder is whether or not you get any writing done on a trip like this one. You don’t mention writing so I assume you take a brief holiday from doing it.

    PS We’re glad to have you back!

    • Dear Jerry–

      Actually, I got a _lot_ of writing done in Vilnius. I didn’t have my husband with me [g], and didn’t have to do events that ran late into the evening–and most days, I had a reasonable amount of down-time between or after events, so I divided that between walking around the city and writing.

      London (where I did have my husband with me)…not so much. [g]

      –Diana

  64. Can’t wait for Part II! I would’ve taken the Russell Stover Marshmallow Eggs myself but I just can’t imagine chocolate and wine together; gives me heartburn just thinking about it!

    • I’ve tried 2 kinds of chocolate wine (bit of a chocoholic). Both were quite kind to the palate. Godiva liqueur is much more tasty and considerably more expensive. Dark chocolates filled with kirschwasser or one of the other high octane dessert beverages are hard to beat for a sweet treat.

  65. Dear Diana,

    Did the anti Jet-Lat pills work? I often make those long haul flights and nothing works. Going EAST is worse than west. I’ve even tried sleeping pills as a last resort – when the homeopathic remedies didn’t seem to help…and still stay wide awake, until the plane lands and starts taxing to the gate.

    - Eileen

    • Dear Eileen–

      Yes, they do work for me, luckily. I do also carry melatonin–two of those will put me to sleep in roughly ten minutes–though I use those more often after landing, to adjust my sleep to the local hours. (I stay awake ’til whatever normal bedtime would be, locally, and am usually so exhausted that sleeping is no problem, but you know how jet-lag works; you keep waking up at 3 AM and being unable to go back to sleep. Melatonin makes me go back to sleep.)

      –Diana

  66. Now, I am very disappointed that you didn’t visit Stockholm when you were that close!

  67. Envious of your travel! I used to be a flight attendant and haven’t really traveled since having my children (10 and 13)…your books are my travel! Thanks!
    BTW-I totally get the diet coke and chocolate :)

  68. Yes!, Where would we be without the adventures of life! Living the Merry Go Round to it’s fullest is the best life for those of us with the good sense to hold on and enjoy the full tilt ride.

  69. Thanks for the reminder to go take some melatonin, as I am sitting here in the middle of the night reading your entertaining blog! Unfortunately my reason for being awake is far less glamourous than jet lag, it has more to do with night sweats and a brain that won’t shut off!
    I love the list of snack items that you included on your flight, and thoroughly enjoyed your explanation as to why you chose those snacks—it all sounds perfectly reasonable and logical—something sweet needs to be balanced by something less sweet, with caffeine and bubbles (I NEED the bubbles of a cola).
    Now, where is that melatonin…

  70. I did the same kind of travel you did few days after your flights. Only difference was that it took 4 flights to reach my destination and I had coach tickets. Every flight with Delta is … an adventure, let me put it that way. Scramy kids and sweating ladies … they did not make the flight more enjoyable. My first 2 flights were with Delta, so I was kinda depressed after them. But from JFK, I continued my flight with Finnair. And I must say – I had a coach ticket and it didn’t feel like it. Okay, the snoring finnish guy sitting next to me was too close, but … the service, the attitude, foods & snacks – everything was sooo good! And arriving to Finland, typical northern mannor, my last flight was in COLD plane… Brrhh… But after 26 hours, I managed to get home safely to sleep for 6 hours and get on a bus to see you.

    I was lucky that ALL my flights were in order and NO delays. I don’t know where that miracle came, but whoever is behind it, THANK YOU :) But I think, delays and mishaps with your flights kind of added the flavour for your trip and made it more interesting. I hope you are posting something about the next parts of your trip to Europe too :)

  71. I do believe you could write about going to the toilet and make that entertaining too. Oh wait, you already did that !

    Have you read Fifty Shades of Gray ? It’s attracting attention, but I couldn’t get through the first 3 chapters of the Amazon preview. Too much blushing and stammering for me. Or maybe it gets better?

  72. Know what I think, Diana Gabaldon? I think you could jot down your grocery list and it’d be fascinating!
    Do you ever get to Ontario?

  73. I am looking forward to taking MHOB along for an even longer flight in December to Cape Town. In addition to the 30 hours of travel I’ll have my 2 1/2 year old and husband, Both will hopefully sleep while I dive into your novel. You have made many trips to South Africa with me, can’t wait for the next!

    PS Will definitely bring along a nice Christmas equivalent to the Easter Egg.

  74. Diana-

    I can’t believe you are a Susan Elizabeth Phillips fan, too!! She is one of my favorite romance writers. My husband, my sixteen year old daughter, and I are all NFL fans and I was drawn to her because of her football stories. I have read romances since my early teens but I love ALL

  75. (sorry-hit “submit” by accident!!)

    I love ALL types of literature. You, Diana, are one of the best in any genre of literature. You bring any subject to life…from Jamie and Claire to your travels. You never fail to amuse and entertain your readers. Thank you for all the time you spend making us laugh and cry…and everything in between!! Happy and safe travels. May you always return home with a spare coconut easter egg left over (to savor when you sit back down at your computer to take up your stories again!).

  76. Regular strikes aside, Lufthansa is a wonderful airline! The Mr and I fly Lufthansa when we visit my family in California. We live in Europe, and have tried Contintental and BA, but Lufthansa is by far the best. We fly in the cattle-car portion, and even in Economy the food is good and the customer service is excellent. Best part: The long haulers have the bathrooms located in the belly of the aircraft so there are six or seven stalls, plus a drink station where you can refill with water or soda without tracking down and waiting on a flight attendant. I’ve only flown Business International a few times with United and…oh, air travel done right! Hopefully we’ll have enough points for a double upgrade next year. ::fingers crossed::

  77. Please, why did no-one eat the fruit salad? Absolutely LOVE your Outlander series, am saving my centimes ( I liove in France ) for some of your other books. Long may it all last and thank you.

  78. I know this if off topic but I’m looking into starting my own blog and was wondering what all is required to get set up? I’m assuming
    having a blog like yours would cost a pretty penny? I’m not very internet smart so I’m not 100% certain. Any tips or advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

    • Dear…um…underwire–

      No, setting up a blog isn’t particularly expensive. Designing a whole website can be, but you can certainly start small, with just a blog. I’d google “WordPress,” “Livejournal,” or ‘starting a blog,” if I were you. Good luck!

      –Diana

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