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Celebrating 41 years of service to the military and their families.

Established 1968

An all-ranks, worldwide military travel newsletter published by Military Living® Publications © 2010

In This Issue . . .

The Tillinghasts' First Space-A Trip... Page 2

CHESAPEAKE, Va. - Lisa Looby, store manager of the new Coast Guard Exchange in Chesapeake, cuts the ribbon as Rear Adm. Daniel A. Neptun and Capt. Edward N. Eng hold it while Chesapeake mayor Alan P. Krasnoff and a crowd of onlookers observe, waiting to enter the store during a ribboncutting ceremony Friday, Oct. 30, 2009. This 43,000-square-foot exchange, the largest Coast Guard exchange in the United States, is now the Coast Guard Exchange System's flagship store. (U.S. Coast Guard Photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Mark Jones) See special note on page 1, column 3.

The Gardners' Mystery Trip ......... Page 7

EXCITING THINGS ARE HAPPENING IN HAMPTON ROADS, A GREAT PLACE TO RETIRE ANN & ROY'S HOMETOWN, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA, is booming with military "happenings" that improve the lifestyle of military families, active and retired, Guard and Reserve. We have now lived permanently in the area for almost two years, and I have still not discovered all of the military shopping locations! The bounty of helpful services and goods at military discounts in this area is due to the multitude of military installations and personnel located within the Hampton Roads area.

It reminds me a little bit of the popular military duty stations and retiree stomping grounds in the San Diego, CA area. One can hardly meet someone in either town that is not somehow associated with the U.S. military. That gives us a great feeling. In fact, in the Hampton Roads area, we have Navy pilots flying jets almost every day and night, practicing their skills. All around the area, you can see bumper stickers that say "WE LOVE JET NOISE." And, indeed we do!

The Connollys' Trip to Northern Italy and Tuscany ..........................................Page 8

See page 16 for information on our ALL-NEW edition of United States Military Road Atlas™ Compact Travel Edition. To see all of Ann's photos in color of the new flagship Coast Guard Exchange, please visit our website at

CGX, continued on page 3

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R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

HAROLD & MARY TILLINGHAST'S FIRST SPACE-A TRIP We decided to try for a “Space A” trip in the Fall to England, Sweden, Denmark and Germany so we started planning in January. We had read in the R&R Travel News® about others who did trips to different parts of the world. We used this and information from the Military Living® Space-A Air Travel Guide™ available at the BX to Mary and Harold in the main square in start setting up our trip. Settle, England in the Yorkshire Dales We found out when we called to the PAX terminal at Dover AFB, Delaware that the flights to Mildenhall, England had been discontinued so we opted for a flight to Ramstein, Germany instead. 15 September- Having our bags COPYRIGHT 2010 packed and weighed on our bathISSN 0740-5073 room scale, we started out from Military Marketing Services, Inc. Crossville, Tennessee in our ’96 Ford Ann, Roy & R.J. Crawford, Publishers. Ranger heading to Dover, Delaware All rights of reproduction and for our first try at “Space-A” travtranslation in any form are strictly el. (Ryan Air, which we used from reserved. Military Living’s® R&R Travel News® is confidential to its subscribers. England to Sweden, had checked Published six times yearly. Please visit bags limited to 15 kilo and carry-ons us online at for pricing or call 703-237-0203 ext. 1. No to 10 kilo for each passenger). part of this publication may be reproduced We had first signed up on 27 in whole or in part by any means including electronic transmission without July by e-mail to Dover AFB, DE for the expressed written permission of the travel listing England and Germany publisher and the copyright holders. The publisher reserves the right to as destinations. We heard that edit all submissions for content, length flights to Mildenhall were just about and grammar. non-existent, but thought we would No warranty, guarantee, or representation is made as to the certain put it in anyway. Otherwise if we correctness or sufficiency of any of the got to Ramstein we could get a flight contents. Opinions expressed by the publishers and the writers are their to England with Ryan Air. own and not to be considered an official After an overnight stay in expression of the DoD or any other government agency. Fredericksburg, Virginia, we arrived at Dover PAX at 12:00 hours 16 For more information write: Military Living® Publications, September, and signed in. They gave 333 Maple Ave East, # 3130 us a parking permit for the longVienna, VA 22180-4717 term parking so we left our truck Tel: 877-363-4677 ext 1, Fax: 888-486-1281, in the closest available space there Email: and walked back about one mile to Web site: Travel on less per day...the military way™ with R&R Travel News ®!


the terminal with our bags. We were hoping to get called for the C-005 that had a show time of 14:55 hours with 73 tentative seats. As the show time grew closer, more people started to arrive for this flight out. We were wondering if we would make it out or not. Since we had signed up the end of July we thought we would be OK. While sitting and waiting, we saw that the flight was cancelled. About half of the people left at that time but we sat around with nothing else to do but kill time. While we were sitting there we noticed that another flight was beginning to be listed for a KC-10 with a show time of 23:30 hours. We checked in at the desk and were updated for another 24 hours. Waiting… The C-017 with show time of 13:55 hours had 14 seats listed and we were numbers six & seven on call-up (numbers three and four of Cat VI). This was our 52nd day after our initial sign-up of 27 July. Some other people from the previous night did not arrive at the PAX terminal. One guy, who said he’d been there for five days, did show, but was too late after all the call-ups and didn’t get to go. Good reason to hang out in case of unscheduled flights. Also note that it is very important to talk with personnel at the PAX and not to just rely on the recorded message. 14:10 hours check-in begins—we made it! Got issued ear plugs and were waiting to board the C-017 to Ramstein (now 17 seats available). We had to sit sideways facing cargo pallets for the eight-hour flight, but the seats were better than I remember when I came back from DaNang. Lift-off at 17:25 hours. They handed out blankets and we used them to make the seats and back more comfortable. The huge box lunch Continued on page 12

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

prices. New families moving into Hampton Roads should We also enjoy shopping and not miss the big showroom of going to the beach areas located on appliances and computers at Dam Neck Annex of Oceana NAS, unbelievably low prices. They Master Jet Base. There is a private have made it easy to find many Navy beach at the northern end of leading brands at pocketbookthe tourist area, plus the new Cape friendly prices. Henry Inn and Beach Club Armed This Exchange does not carry Forces Recreation Center (AFRC) many grocery items found in at Fort Story (now part of Joint other Coast Guard Exchanges Expeditionary Base Little Creekwe have visited. It also does Fort Story). The Naval Amphibious not yet have a selection of miliBase, which also has a beach, is tary and civilian books, maps, very close to our home in the Town n The handsome exterior of the New Coast Guard Exchange in Chesapeake, VA atlases and popular magazines Center and offers many other shop-at a discount. It is really worth ping and recreational facilities. a visit, however, because of the A big bonus for us is the Naval Located just across from kind of goodies they stock and the Amphib Base Clinic where we can Greenbrier Mall, the Exchange is spacious store. obtain immunizations, including the located in what was a Circuit City latest ones available. The Shingles store. Its' address is 1589 Crossways immunization at Oceana's Clinic Blvd., and the telephone number is saved us a couple of hundred dollars 757-965-3880. We have now visited each when it became available! the store three times and discovered something new each time. As I write FABULOUS NEW COAST GUARD this, we are smack in the middle of EXCHANGE OPENS! the Christmas and Hanukkah shopRecently, the Coast Guard opened ping season, and believe me, this new an upscale military exchange in a pop- Coast Guard exchange was ready! ular shopping area in Chesapeake, While there were many reasonVirginia, just a hop, skip and a jump ably priced gifts, there were also all from Virginia Beach's new Town kinds of buys available at a discount. Center, We reached it opening day in In fact, the opening event would about fifteen to twenty minutes after excite any shopper hoping to buy a the morning rush hour was over. new upscale TV, camera, or women This was a tremendous treat for us and men's clothing with impressive and hundreds of other military fami- labels that mean quality. lies. The appearance of the famous We receive flyers in the mail quite Clydesdale horses was appreciated often that contain the latest goodies by so many, especially the children and sales. For instance, DKNY jeans at the event. were on sale at 20% off the Exchange's Shirley Roberts checks out the great deals already discounted prices. on designer clothing at the new Exchange. There must be a lot of love One thing they have that makes in the air, as couples were shopping easier is a huge parking lot! packed around the jewIf you have never visited a Coast elery counter where the Guard Exchange, check around your entire stock of gold wedarea to see if one is available. Or, ding bands were 25% off if on a trip, seek them out! While the Exchange's already disthis new Exchange in Hampton counted prices as well. Roads is the first world-class miliThe "beverage" or Class tary Coast Guard Exchange of its VI store is huge with many kind, others are located around the choices and even some U.S. and might have some special sales as well. The walk-in cooler for items you have been looking for that certain beverages is stocked are not available at other military with items you will need for Exchanges. Please visit their website the next family gathering at and click The new Exchange has a great selection or party and at affordable on locations. in the electronics department! CGX, continued from page 1

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R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

PRESS-TIME NEWS FROM ANN UPDATE 0N FORT LEE, VIRGINIA'S 1000-ROOM PROPOSED NEW TEMPORARY MILITARY LODGING FACILITY. The Greater Tri-Cities Hospitality Coalition of this area fears that the large new hotel will be damaging to their business because of its economic impact. Therefore, The House Armed Services Committee, which will review the Army's plan, has put the proposed new hotel on hold since our last issue of R&R Travel News®. Meanwhile, under base realignment, the new Army Ordnance School's facilities at Fort Lee are moving right along with its new home which is located on a 380acre parcel of land. Press reports indicate that about 500 ordnance soldiers arrived at the school in September for the start of their training. Eventually, this school will train over 25,000 students each year at Fort Lee. HAVE YOU EVER BEEN TO CAMP PARKS, CA? This is a historic California post and includes the California State Military Museum. It is located in the Northern California Bay Area about 40 miles from San Francisco. On our recent trip to California, Roy and I heard from a Coast Guard member about Camp Parks in Dublin, CA. Looks like great things are happening there, to include temporary military lodging facility. Unfortunately, we could not visit this location while we were in California. This lodging is listed in our Temporary Military Lodging Around the World™, however, since it was published, they no longer allow pets in the lodging. We would appreciate it if you have the opportunity while traveling in the area if you would take a look for us and send us a short trip report about your visit. Ann's email address is as follows:

SUBSCRIBERS' CLEARINGHOUSE CDR KNIGHT WRITES TO TELL US THAT CHARLESTON AIR FORCE BASE has a shuttle flight to Florida every first and third weekends (except holidays) to pickup and return reservists. The C-017, with airline-type seats added, leaves Charleston at approx 15:30 hours on Fridays. It goes to Dobbins AFB in Atlanta, GA, then to McDill AFB in Tampa, FL, to Homestead ARB in Miami, FL and then to NAS Jacksonville, FL before returning to Charleston. On Sundays, it stops at Dobbins, Homestead, McDill and Jax then returns to Charleston. There are plenty of seats available, as it leaves Charleston virtually empty and only fills up about half-way. I recently took a flight down and got off at Homestead to visit my son in West Palm. I called ahead and arranged for a car to be left at the terminal on Friday night. I arrived about 09:00 hours. The car company didn't leave the car so I spent the night in VOQ at Homestead, nice room for $37 and got the car the next morning. I left it at the passenger check in on Sunday night. The bus driver that met me at the plane was extremely helpful and looked for the car and called the VOQ to help get a room. The plane departed Homestead at 19:15 hours Sunday and I deplaned in Charleston at 21:45 hours. On my return flight a passenger who boarded with me told me that he had come down two weeks earlier and had travelled in the Keys, staying at bases in the Keys. Homestead also has campers, boats and other recreation gear that you can check out.

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Incidentally, I recently also stayed at NAS Oceana, VA. I had a suite for $66 per night. You can make reservations up to 30 days in advance. It was excellent. I also had two other visits. Earlier this spring, I spent a night at Quantico Marine Corps Base. A suite cost $37 and included breakfast. On a trip out west last year, I called Meridan Naval Air Station in Meridan, MS for a room. They would only take a reservation after 16:00 hours of the arrival date but when I arrived, they offered a suite and gave me the VIP suite for $51 per night. It consisted of a large sitting room with large screen TV, a fully equipped kitchen/ dining area and two bedrooms, each with queen sized bed, TV and private bath. They told me that I could have it again the next night or reserve it for my return trip. Cdr Robert H. Knight USN (Ret.) Charleston, SC e-mail: _____________________ CHAPLAIN DAN ARMSTRONG GIVES US TEN REASONS WHY MILITARY SPACE-A IS BETTER THAN COMMERCIAL TRAVEL 1. There's a generous baggage limit. (Editor's Note: Each passenger can carry two bags up to 70 pounds each, in most cases.) After all, you’re usually in a cargo plane. Most people just bring the usual one or two rolling suitcases, but we’ve seen heavy duffel bags, large boxes full of vacation purchases—even baby strollers.

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

2. In-flight meals are huge and cheap. For $3.50, a large box lunch contains a sandwich, fruit, chips, candy, and a drink, and you can eat anytime you want. You also get to pick your menu. OK—it’s not delicious, but neither is airline food. 3. You can easily walk around. Especially in cargo planes and tankers. My wife once did approximately four miles in two hours walking ovals in an empty C-017. Where else can you exercise while you fly? 4. You can usually lie down and sleep. In a C-005—three seats abreast. In KC-135s and C-017s— web side seats. Are they as comfortable as your Posturepedic? No, but you’re horizontal, stretched out, and asleep. If you’re superfortunate you might nab an unused crew bunk. 5. You can get a cockpit view. Not always, but usually—especially on long flights when not much is happening. Both my wife and I have had the privilege of sitting in the cockpit jump seat for landings. 6. You meet the nicest people. Passenger service personnel, crew members and SPATS (space-a travelers) are a “we’rein-this-together-so-let’s-makethe-best-of-it” bunch. From howcan-we-help attitudes to sharing travel tips and rental cars—you can’t find better travel mates. 7. It teaches you patience. Which is, after all, one of the fruits of the Spirit. Waiting becomes an art form. Space-a travel also teaches you humility. No, these people don’t know how important you are, just that the mission is important. 8. There are occasional unique experiences. If you are on a tanker and there is a mid-air refueling, you can watch it lying

prone right next to the Boomer. Or look out and see an F-15 at your wingtip. 9. You’ll always have amazing stories to tell. Whether of adventures or misadventures. Sure beats your neighbor who sat home and watched TV all week. Like Royal Caribbean says, “Get out there!” 10. It’s free! To not take advantage of Space-A travel is akin to owning fully matured savings bonds but not cashing them out because “It just takes too much time and effort to go the bank.” Chaplain Dan Armstrong (Col., USAF, Ret.) and his wife Jan take at least one space-a trip a year. A big fan of Military Living® and R&R Travel News®, Chaplain Armstrong drafted this article enroute back to the States from England. _____________________ SAGE ADVICE FROM BILL- In reading traveler's accounts of their trips I have noted a tendency to stay connected. By this I mean stay on or near bases or at fourand five-star hotels. This is a lifestyle and it's fine, but for those who want to experience another culture, you may have missed the real opportunities available to you almost completely. The first time I was in France I thought that the breakfast coffee would kill me but I drank it and learned to love it. I have had Turkish coffee (the powder is in the bottom—drink it carefully) and it is good. I love European breads, the Italians are the best bakers in the world. The litany goes on and on. I stay a lot in private homes with rooms to let. I get to meet a

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lot of wonderful people that way. I buy very little on these trips but have talked to many friendly shopkeepers. I show an interest in them and their business. They ask me questions about America. At times I feel that I have been the only American that has shown any interest in them. I have made a lot of friends around the world and I have helped enlighten them about what America really is. They need to know that there may be a vast difference in our cultures but very little difference in people. I have reach the point, age 75, that I find hills are steeper, steps are taller and in general I'll not be able to do some of the things I have done in the past. I am really glad I have done the things I have. I would really regret not having done many things that I cannot do in the future. Point to make—DO IT NOW while you can. I started travel to see things—I still do that but 90% of what I enjoy now are the people you meet and deal with! What to do? Simple, buy a good guide book, one you can understand best, of where you want to go, then go there. Read it and believe what they say. Be prepared to do the things that their customs demand, you will really enjoy it. I guarantee you if you show them respect you will get respect. This is your chance to improve the American image. Those of you that have been overseas lately, since 2000, know our image, which wasn't good to begin with, is at an all time low. Let's turn that around. If you're like me, you'll make many mistakes. They will become some of the funniest things in your memory.

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

If you want to go some place the military doesn't, get as close as you can by military air, then check with the ferries, planes, trains or buses. All of them work. You can usually get a good deal to go the rest of the way. You can also get information on the Internet. Use other people that have been there, they will be able to help you. Plan to spend one or two months on your trip. To go for less is a mistake. The luggage you need is the same for two months as it is for one week. I actually go light enough to get seats on C-21's (Editor's note: 30 pounds per person.)

Air Station, Maine is closing and their C-130 outfit has been relocated to Jacksonville. Their first Space-A offering was 70 seats on a flight to the Norfolk Naval Air Station. • A couple of times a month the Air Force flies its "shuttle run" which is a C-017 between Charleston AFB and Jacksonville NAS to pick up and return reservists for their weekend duty. • Of course, in addition to the above, their is always the random transient flight offered with the most frequent destination of Norfolk.

Bill (Been doing it since '93!) _____________________

Col. Marv Feldman, USAF (Ret.) & Carole Feldman Jacksonville, Florida

the Lackland AFB VOQ. The front desk supervisor and front desk customer service representative, in particular, were responsible for having my stay made so enjoyable. As for the facilities, they are the best I have seen in any Temporary Lodging Facility, both in CONUS and OCONUS, during my extensive travels. When considering the incredible number of students, symposium attendees and etc., one can easily see that the best of the practices in taking the best care of travelers have been adopted at your installation. Two further points: I have been a customer of AAFES before it was AAFES. That is, since 1949. The Managerial Group and the entire staff at the BX showed the best attitude and helpfulness I have found anywhere.




David E. Allfrey, SGM USA, (Ret.) Silverdale, WA

SPACE-A TIPS FROM MARV FELDMAN Question: Are there many flights out of the Jacksonville Naval Air Station, Florida? Answer: Yes, there are, and it is getting even better. • The Patriot Express (contracted flights) flies every Saturday (very early—with a Space-A roll call of about 04:00 hours!) from Baltimore (BWI) to NAS Jacksonville, then on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba (GTMO) and then returns the same day from GTMO to Jacksonville at 19:00 hours, then back to BWI. • The Navy has three C-40's (Boeing 737) stationed at Jacksonville and they randomly fly all over the world. We have had good luck catching flights on these to Sigonella NAS, Rota NAS, North Island NAS and Hawaii, etc. This is a very comfortable way to travel! • Due to BRAC, Brunswick Naval

Happy traveling,

Some time ago, I had a vacation in the San Antonio, TX area. During my week-long stay, I was fortunate enough to be provided with accommodations at the VOQ on Lackland AFB. I am a retired U.S. Army SGM and I travel frequently to destinations around the world, frequently joined by my spouse. Our preferred housing choice is at Air Force installations, since the welcoming hospitality and excellent customer service attitude prevalent among the Air Force Services Units is the highest and best we have encountered. I am a 100% Disabled Veteran and have certain uncommon needs because of limited mobility. These needs were met well beyond my expectations at

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Please send

Military Living® your helpful tips and information for possible publication in

Subscribers' Clearinghouse! E-mail:

(Please keep your tips as short as possible!)

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

The Gardners' Mystery Trip With only 11 other passengers wanting to go to Charleston AFB (seven were Cat VI), the selection process was quick. The easiest it’s been in all our many years of Space-A travel. Plus, everyone was excited about all the extra sleeping space that would be available. This mystery trip was starting off like sweet tea. We checked our bag—one 21” suitcase for the both of us. We had bathing suits, and then clothes that we could layer up for warmth, or down for cool. As it turned out the only time we needed warmth was on the C-005. After selection we called Charleston AFB ((843) 9633806, DSN: 6733806) and were lucky enough to secure VOQ housing John Gardner in front of the Gift Shop at the Citadel, for three nights at the Military College of South Carolina, in Charleston, SC. $46 per night. The easy flight landed at the little further,not knowing where we EST dinner bell, so after the 15 minwere going. We were shocked when we ute walk from the terminal to housarrived at Travis AFB at 06:30 ing, we took the short path back to hours on August 26 to discover an the Charleston Club for the dinner almost empty terminal. We were buffet. We actually arrived 20 minarmed with high hopes, our new utes after the dining hour, but we Temporary Military Lodging™ book experienced our first taste of southand our passports, but we were ern hospitality as the kitchen staff also fully aware of summer-time allowed the buffet dishes to stay in travel limitations. The first flight place so we could eat. We were so on the board had a show time of grateful for this delicious meal ($18 07:10 hours. We were travel-ready for the both of us, including most (parked and appropriately dressed) yummy peach cobbler.) A Hertz car rental was conveso we stood for selection. The first flight on the board was a C-005, 75 niently located in the base Exchange, seats, heading to Charleston, SC. an easy 10-minute walk from the That was exciting—we had never lodging. (Hertz (800) 227-4653) Now we were ready to start explorbeen to the south. Have you ever wanted to just get on a plane without planning your destination? A totally spontaneous trip? Get on the first plane going anywhere? Well, we had that desire. The sense of adventure was appealing, and what better way to implement that dream than with Space-A travel? Space-A travel is often an unknown for us Cat VI folks anyway, so we just extended that normal flight selection uncertainty a

Cindy at the Washington Light Infantry Monument in Washington Square in Charleston, SC. It was erected in July 1891 to honor of a Civil War regiment.

ing Charleston. We had our laptop with us, so Google helped us decide what sights to see, and base personnel gave us suggestions as to food off base. We were set. After exploring Charleston for three days, we called Beaufort MCAS for lodging (843-522-1663, DSN 312335-7676). Lucky again, we scored very a nice suite of rooms for $31 per night. We were at the BOQ, but they also have a hotel ( the de Treville House facility). Staying at Beaufort for three days positioned us for day trips to both Hilton Head, SC and Savannah, GA. The Exchange on base had anything and everything we needed, plus a small food court. We secured all meals off base, again with the help of base recommendations and Google. Near the end of our week in the south, we logged onto Dirk Pepperd’s excellent web site to check for flights ( Not finding anything going west from Charleston, we tried Dover, BWI, McGuire, and Andrews AFB. Then we started making phone calls, all to no avail. We couldn’t even put together a series of flights to transport us to the West Coast. We could get housing on base at Dover AFB Gardner, continued on page 11, column 3

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R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

The Connollys' Trip to Northern Italy and Tuscany

Laura and Tom Connolly at Sirmone, Lake Garda, Italy

Two couples (Tom and Laura, and Jim and Carolyn) traveled together on this trip. It’s always more fun to share experiences with your friends. Tom did the general planning. The detailed itinerary was developed through discussion with all four travelers. General tourist information is readily available from travel books, travel tour brochures, the Internet, discussions with other travelers, etc. During each city visited, we did quite of bit of walking throughout the tourist/historic areas. Needless to say, all of us were fatigued by the end of each day. We love Italy, and both couples have previously visited Rome, Florence, and the Naples area. It was time for Northern Italy, the Italian Riviera, and Tuscany.

Jim did the driving, about 1500 miles over 12 days. In Northern Italy, we found that the Italians

drive the same as US drivers. They use the same defensive driving techniques. We had no mishaps and no close calls. The car (diesel engine) averaged about 30 miles per gallon, and fuel was about $6.50 per gallon. The absolute key to this successful driving trip was taking Jim’s Garmin GPS equipped with the latest English language chip. We used maps and road signs to verify the GPS as the database for the latest chip was about two years old. We used the Internet from the lobby of each hotel to line up several alternative hotels in our next overnight destination. The Garmin GPS took us to the front door of each selected hotel without a problem. Due to the Euro, the cost of everything: food, hotels, clothes, etc. is about a third higher than the US. Europe is no longer a “shopping” destination, unless a specialized European item is sought. A four star hotel costs about 100 Euro, which includes breakfast. A fourstar hotel is about the same as a nice Holiday Inn in the U.S. The 100 Euro charge results as a $150 charge on the credit card bill. Three-star hotels usually cost around 70 Euro,

Laura and Tom at St. Mark's Square dancing a waltz.

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R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

Jim and Carolyn at the Rialto Bridge in Venice

including breakfast. We opted for breakfast at each hotel, the cost being usually reasonable, and the quality usually excellent. On Wednesday morning, we left Wilmington, NC and drove to the BWI long-term parking area. The shuttle took us to the AMC terminal. We departed BWI late Wednesday evening on the weekly Patriot Express contract flight. All Space-A passengers were accepted on this flight, which stops first in Ramstein. Following arrival at the Aviano Air Base about noon, local time, on Friday, we learned that the Mountain View Lodge was full and no rental cars were available from the base PX vendor. We were tired, and it was also raining, so Murphy’s Law was 100% correct that afternoon. Taxis cannot access the main base, so we rode the base shuttle to “Area Two”. Just outside the “Area Two” gate, we found a rental agency, rented a Fiat, and drove to Hotel Oliva (less than a mile away) for the night. The hotel staff recommended a local restaurant which was excellent.

On Saturday, we drove the Fiat to the Venice parking garage at Piazza Roma just across the causeway, took the waterway bus/boat south route through the cruise ship area via Giuecca Island to St. Mark’s Piazza. The Adriatic Sea east of Italy is beautiful. We toured the Piazza area, St. Mark’s Basilica, enjoyed a concert while having dinner on the Piazza, and danced a waltz to the concert music, giving much entertainment to the other tourists. We then walked the streets/alleyways of Venice to the Rialto Bridge, via the well-signed, tourist, walking route. From the Rialto, we took the waterborne bus/boat route through the Grand Canal back to the parking garage at Piazza Roma.

After driving back to the Aviano AB, we stayed at the Mountain View Lodge on base. On Sunday, we drove to Pordenone, and took the train to Venice (faster and less expensive then driving). We took the waterway bus/boat route which goes north of Venice via Murano Island, then changed boats to one that continued by rounding the east side of Venice to St. Mark’s Piazza on the south side. This resulted in our viewing the island from all sides. Upon arrival at St Mark’s Piazza, we found that it was high tide, so we had to circumvent some of the lower areas of the Piazza. Younger adults and children had fun getting their pictures made while standing in the water. We visited the Doge’s Palace, the Correr Museum, the Archeological Museum, and began a recommended scenic walk back via Academia Bridge to Tescalzi Bridge, opposite the train station. While walking, we visited a violin/string instrument museum, San Sebastino Church, viewed many local neighborhoods and their respective canals. Stopping for gelato while enroute, we noted that the restaurant prices away from the tourist area were about half that near the tourist area surrounding St Mark’s Piazza. Nothing new there. Venice

Carolyn and Jim in Tuscany

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R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

Jim and Carolyn at St. Mark's Square in Venice

is definitely an expensive tourist destination. We again stayed at the Mountain View Lodge on base. On Monday, we turned in our Fiat, and picked up a four-door rental Mercedes sedan at the Aviano AB PX. The car was larger, more comfortable, had automatic transmission, power steering, large trunk, diesel, etc. Cost was higher, but we judged that it was worth it. We drove west to Milan. Checked in at the Hotel Green House, and took the metro to the Ticinese District to view the extensive Ticinese and Navigli canal system, which were partially designed by Leonardo De Vinci, and operated for many centuries. We had dinner and returned to the hotel. On Tuesday, using the Internet, we found that tickets were not available until the following week to view the Last Supper fresco by Leonardo De Vinci. Using typical Space-A optimism, we took the metro to the Santa Maria Delle Grazze church, walked up to the box office, and purchased tickets to view the Last Supper fresco that early afternoon. Murphy’s Law in reverse. We then took the metro to the Duomo Piazza,

visited the Duomo Cathredral, the shopping Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II, and the La Scala Opera. During our Opera House tour, we enjoyed watching a rehearsal. We walked to the Castle Sforzesco, and then back to the Church for our appointment to view the Last Supper fresco. We

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drove around Milan for one last look at the canal system and then departed Milan for Saronno, staying overnight at the Saronno Alberto Pioppeto. On Wednesday, we drove north to Lake Como. We toured the Como lake waterfront, the historic area, the Cathedral, the funicular to the top of the mountain, and the Alessando Volta museum on the lake. The word “volt” was named after this genius who invented the battery among other things. We drove the inner lake shoreline to Bellagio, visited and lunched there, and then drove the other inner lake shoreline back toward Milan. The tourist books claim Bellagio is the most beautiful city in northern Italy. We think that both Como and Bellagio are exceptionally beautiful cities. Continuing south, we stayed overnight at the Petit Hotel Giannino at San Martino, just south of Pavia. We visited Pavia, but decided to eat at the hotel restaurant (one of our few mistakes). On Thursday, we drove south to the Italian Rivera on the Ligurian

Tom and Laura at Academia Bridge, Venice


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Sea. We saluted Christopher Columbus as we drove through the outskirts of Genoa. We drove the coastline through beautiful Santa Margherita Ligure, to the even more beautiful Portifino. We walked the tourist area of Portofino, and then drove to, and visited, Monterosso, the northernmost fishing village town of Cinque Terre. We stopped to watch the many hikers who hike the high, coast line, walking/goat trail that extends between these five villages. Otherwise, to get south of Monterosso to the other four villages, you take the train. It was very scenic, but mountain/coastline driving is stressful. Once back on the auto strata, we enjoyed viewing the Alpi Apuane Mountains from a distance. We drove south to Camp Darby, but that facility did not have any rooms available at the time of our visit. We visited Pisa and stayed overnight at the Holiday Inn hotel outside Pisa. On Friday, we drove to Lucca and visited that walled, medieval city. We continued east and drove to Florence, visited the tourist area, and toured the Uffizi museum. The internet showed a two day wait for tickets. But we walked up and purchased tickets for immediate entry. Thank goodness for Space-A optimism. We stayed overnight at the Novotel Hotel. On Saturday, we drove south from Florence along a recommended scenic route, S222, to Siena, another walled medieval city. At Siena, we visited the Piazzo Del Campo (famous for an annual horse race), the Museo Civico, and the Cathedral to view the wall frescos and marble floor designs. We took escalators down four flights to view the city’s walls from the bottom. We stayed overnight at the Hotel Vico Alto. The staff recommended a local family-type restaurant which was one of the best we sampled on our trip. It’s amazing how excellent

and reasonable that meals can be outside the tourist areas. On Sunday, we visited the Siena Fortress Medici, and then drove a recommended scenic route, S2, also known as the Roman Counselor highway: “Cassia”. We visited the Abbey of Monte Olive, the home of the Benedine Monks, founded by St Bernard. From there we visited the mountain town of Pienza for lunch, and then on to the highest of all the Tuscany mountain towns, Monte Pulciano (whew, the walking was strenuous). We then departed Tuscany, and drove north to Bologna, staying overnight at the Hotel Unaway. On Monday, we visited the Bologna historic/tourist district, and then drove north to Vicenza. At Vicenza, we visited the historic/ tourist area, and then stayed overnight at the Ederle Inn on Vicenza Unites States Army Garrison. On Tuesday, we drove west to Verona, touring the historic area to see Juliet’s home and balcony where Romeo romanced her per Shakespeare. We also visited the Verona Roman Coliseum, before driving west to Lake Garda. At Lake Garda, we visited the town of Sirmione which is at the point of a peninsula. We then drove east back to the Aviano Air Base, and stayed overnight at the Mountain View Lodge. On Wednesday, we flew back to BWI via Ramstein AB, shuttled back to the parking area, and drove to Andrews Air Force Base for overnight lodging, before driving back to Wilmington, NC on Thursday. Thomas Connolly USNR-Retired Wilmington, NC Please tell your friends about Military Living's® R&R Travel News® so that they can learn how to "travel on less per day . . . the Military way!"™

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Gardner, continued from page 7

and McGuire AFB, but terminal personal were kind enough to say they did not see any Travis AFB or McChord AFB flights in their near future. Andrews AFB had a MEDEVAC coming thru the next day, but we were told it rarely took passengers. There was absolutely no housing at Andrews, Bolling, or nearby. See me slapping my forehead? It was Labor Day weekend. Argh! Our perfect mystery trip was coming to a commercial ending. With the help of the Internet we were able to book flights out of Charleston on American Airlines for $341 one-way per person. Hertz allowed us to drop off the car at the Charleston airport without additional fees, so that was slick. It wasn’t our ideal way home, but hey, we couldn’t complain. We had utilized all of our resources ( Military Living®, Dirk Pepperd, Google search, the Internet, etc.) to have a wonderful mystery trip. After landing at San Francisco International Airport, we rented a car and drove back to San Rafael, CA. We had a good night's sleep at home, then drove the 75 minutes up to Travis the next day to retrieve our car in long-term parking. We were very pleased with ourselves. We didn’t have a plan, but we had enough help from our military family to have a very successful and happy adventure!

LCDR John Gardner, USN (Ret.) and Cindy Gardner San Rafael, CA

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Tillinghast, continued from page 2

which we shared was just what we had ordered. Mary put one of our backpacks on the floor so her feet wouldn’t be dangling and we passed the time doing Sudoku and reading. 18 September-We arrived at Ramstein 07:20 hours local time and called Central Billeting and got a room for two nights at the Ramstein Inn at Vogelweh. We had to wait at Ramstein PAX all day for the bus to take us to Vogelweh. (Note: bus runs once in the morning and once in the evening to and from Vogelweh and PAX). They have a great USO upstairs at the PAX with two Internet terminals in the USO itself with printer access. There are also six other web terminals against the wall past a large TV screen in a large waiting area. This is also a free “Hot Spot” for those who have “Wi-Fi” laptops so we plugged ours into an AC outlet to charge the battery and checked our e-mail. The backpack that I had bought had a special padded space in it just for laptops. At 09:00 hours we used the USO computer to book a flight on with from Hahn to Stanstead, England for Thursday, and got the print out right there (207 Euro, $303 for both of us, one way). This was a bit more expensive than we wanted, but we didn’t have much choice since we didn’t know when we would arrive in Germany. Otherwise we would have booked ahead. We visited the ATM on the first floor and got 100 Euro for taxi and bus fares in Germany. The exchange rate was about $1.45 for 1 Euro. Then we checked at the signin desk to ensure we were still on the list for the return flight (we initially signed up for the return flight on 3 September while visiting our son, his wife and our new grandson in California). We ate a meal at the Subway fast food place on the second floor near

the USO and spent two hours on the phone trying to call my wife’s brother in Colne, Lancashire, England, using the AT&T phone card we had just bought from the machine in the terminal. Followed instructions on the card and other instructions that were listed at the phone booth. Got all kinds of error messages. Called the help desk of AT&T four times and got different instructions each time. Gave up for now. Got the bus to Vogelweh and checked into our $30 per night room. Following instructions from the billeting desk we walked about three quarters of a mile on a paved path through the woods to a place called Costellos that had a small restaurant off the bar area and had pizza and cokes for $9.75. Then off to get some sleep. 19 September-Got directions from personnel at the desk on how to get to the BX/Commissary/Bowling/ Fast Food area so we could get some breakfast. Had to walk through the housing area, cross a bridge over the main road and go through a school complex to get there. About a half hour walk. This was fairly easy since we had obtained a map of the area to follow. We spotted a Burger King and had breakfast there. After breakfast we strolled around and met another couple that was on our flight over. They said they were going back to Ramstein PAX to use their Internet computers, as they needed a car rental and were off to a pre-planned tour of Turkey. We proceeded to the library to check for phones to try to call Mary’s brother Jack. They sent us to the Youth Center next door. We got some marvelous help there but could not get through. We checked back at the library and found out that they had about twelve free Internet computers (if we had only known this earlier we could have saved the other couple a trip back to the terminal. So we learned some-

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thing new, to check out libraries for Internet service.) We accessed (Googled) the U.K. white pages for the phone number of my wife’s brother and found out that we did have the correct number for him. We tried calling again at the Teen Center. Then we got the AT&T help desk. They said to drop the leading zero when calling – SUCCESS! We got to talk with her brother Jack and set up a meeting at Leeds in Yorkshire, England for the next day. We knew what the train schedules were as we had obtained them on the Internet before leaving the U.S. We wandered around the BX area looking at all that the outside vendors had to offer then had lunch at the food court for $11.50. Then back to our room to pack for the trip to England. One of the things we had learned prior to our trip was how to get to the airport at Hahn, Germany from Ramstein. We got the information and schedules from de/airportshuttle.php the German bus company and from others who had previously taken this trip online. We had booked a taxi for a 02:00 hours pick-up to ride to the Shell Station on the Autohof A6 where we would get the bus to Hahn. Pizza again at Costellos and some sleep before we have to get up and wait for the taxi to come. 20 September-The taxi ride seemed quick as we conversed with the driver who was practicing his English on us. Since we were staying at Vogelweh, we had to go past Ramstein to get to where we would wait for the bus. (30 Euro for taxi – about $45) We weren’t sure where the bus would come in and stop but as it got closer to time a group of about eight people had started to gather in an area behind the Burger King (which was closed) we had to wait about a half hour at the gas station for the bus to Hahn (22 Euro – about $33).

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The bus ride to Hahn took about one hour and dropped us off next to the airport. We walked to the airport with the other bus passengers and tried to find which line to stand in till they opened the baggage checkin counters. It was a bit chaotic with long lines and no information as to which line led to which airline. After a while, the signs went up and everyone juggled for position in the correct one. We finished checkingin with Ryan Air had a snack of two drinks and a roll for four Euro. We sat in a holding area for the 06:25 hours flight to Stanstead. When the announcement came that they were ready for loading, everyone there that had paid extra to be in the first group rushed to get to the front of the line (Stampede?). We had seats close to the gate so we were lucky to be able to get on the plane at the beginning of the second group. Very tight seating on the plane and they were trying to sell us various products and game chances. We arrived at Stanstead at 06:40 hours local and cleared customs. The train stop was readily available below the airport, but we had to rush to get there as we wanted to get on the early train to Leeds via Peterborough and we had yet to validate our Britrail passes at the ticket office that we obtained while at home (we had also booked the Eurail passes with that we will use in Sweden, Denmark and Germany on our return trip with, a great site if you’re planning on visiting Europe). We managed to get on the early train and it set off for Leeds just as we sat down. When we arrived in Leeds, Mary’s brother Jack was waiting for us and he took us to a different platform to board another train to Keighley, Yorkshire where he had parked his car and drove us to his house in Colne, Lancashire, which is near the border of Yorkshire. He

had rented the car for the next three weeks that we would be staying with him from a local garage which was cheaper than the regular car rental locations. We took care of gas (at £0.97 per liter - close to $8 per gallon.) and meals since he did the car rental and put us up (or put up with us) for the duration of our visit. We did do a lot of research at the local libraries about my wife’s ancestors in England. She had been researching as much as possible at home and really got involved in genealogy. She had already completed my ancestry line as far back as 1622 on my father’s side and we planned to do a bit more on my mother’s side, as she was born outside of Stockholm, Sweden. That would be our next country to visit. Meanwhile, we enjoyed being back in England. I was stationed at Bentwaters RAFB in Suffolk for three years and since Mary was born in Paddington, London, she was familiar with all the places we were to visit. We really enjoyed the quaint little towns and shops we went to on the narrow winding roads. It was nice to sample some of our favorite foods again. We did visit different cemeteries and got pictures of where some of her ancestors were buried in the mid 1800’s.

The "Tillys" did some genealogical research

We did some genealogical research in the Yorkshire Dales, Lincolnshire, and Lancashire and visited old friends in Hertfordshire in the south of England.

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With friends at Stevenage, England

So, we got to see a lot of the countryside and loved every minute of it. We discovered that we could plug in our computer using one of the adaptors that we had brought with us so Mary did updates of genealogy as they became available. We also kept track of all our expenses. The Colne Library had a “Hot Spot” for “WiFi” so we could catch up on e-mails and confirm reservations. Seems like just about all libraries have these “Hot Spots” or Internet computers that guests can use. Jack turned the car in and I paid £150 (pounds) for a scratch on the car put there by someone at one of the markets while we were parked. It seemed like it was from a white van. No note or any indication of who did it. Oh well, guess these things happen all over the world. We stayed another week in Colne and walked or took the bus wherever we went. We did take a train to Blackpool Pleasure Beach a popular seaside location on the west coast of Lancashire, England and had a good time even though it did drizzle a bit. England does have a great transportation system and there is no difficulty getting from bus to train to airport or to anywhere in country. 17 October-We rose early today and started our next leg by taxi to Leeds where we said our goodbyes to Jack and got the 06:31 hours train back to Stanstead Airport. We are off to Sweden (which we had booked in a Ryan Air sale for £1 each plus tax prior to leaving the

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

Blackpool Pleasure Beach, Lancashire, England

U.S.) While waiting for our flight we got 1000 Swedish Krona ($155) at the airport for use during our four-day stay in Sweden. The line to board the plane at Ryan Air was much less chaotic here. We landed at Norrköping (Nyköping, pronounced “Norshoping”), Sweden on a cool but beautiful, clear blue sunny afternoon (compared to cloudy, showery England) and checked at the information counter for where to get the bus that would take us close to the Ibis Hotel, (plain but clean and affordable). We had previously booked all the hotels where we stayed before leaving the U.S. (some recommended through the Rick Steves web site). We got on the bus and paid 40 SEK ($6.20) for the ride to the bus station where the person at the information counter said we could change to get a bus to the train station. Halfway to town the bus stopped at the train station where we wanted to go (maybe the route had changed) so we got off there and got our Eurail passes validated and the information we needed for our trip to Kalmar the following day. Kalmar is a town on the southeast coast of Sweden on the Baltic Sea where my grandfather

was born. The agent, who spoke English, as many do in Sweden, also gave us a map and directions to the bridge over the tracks and instructed us to follow the walking path to the hotel about a mile away. We settled into our pre-reserved room (500 SEK/$77.50) and then walked about five minutes to eat at a recommended “MAX” hamburger fast food place (114 SEK/$17.67). Back at the hotel we decided to prepay for breakfast (130 SEK/$20.15) as we would be leaving early and didn’t want to wander all over looking for a restaurant. McDonalds was next to the “Max” hamburger place but wasn’t open till about 07:00 hours and we had to get on our way earlier than that.

pass holders pass this way. Anyway, we went over to the platform in time to get the train to Kalmar. Things were going well till there was an announcement on the speaker on the train (in Swedish) and fortunately the conductor came along and explained in English. OOPS – a line was down so we had to be transferred to a bus that would take us to another train that would take us to Linkӧping so that we could get our connection to Kalmar. Well, the waiting and changing of trains took too long and we missed our connection. There was not another train for three hours so we withdrew 2000 SEK ($310) from an ATM, called the car rental in Kalmar to let them know we would be late picking it up,

Bicycle is a preferred mode of transportation in Linkӧping

18 October-Had a buffet breakfast of cereal, yogurt, fruit juice (hard to differentiate the names of apple & orange juice), a kind of Kaiser Roll (that one could load up with different types of sandwich meats, cheese, and pickled herring), coffee, fruit, and hard boiled egg. We then went to the train station early; properly validated our Eurail passes which we noticed he hadn’t done the day before. Probably not too many Eurail

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put our bags in a luggage storage unit for 45 SEK ($6.98) at the train station and went for a walk around the town of Linkӧping. We got a map and directions at the information kiosk and started out to find the restaurant recommended by the clerk. The weather was cool but sunny as we walked around the shops and visited a nice park. The restaurant recommendation was a bit more expensive than we want-

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

ed to pay so we went to eat at a McDonald’s (94 Kr - $14.50) that we had passed. This was on a corner of a beautiful cobblestoned town square. There were hundreds of bicycles there since this was a popular means of travel. After lunch we waited at the train station and learned that our train had been delayed (which was apparently the norm here in Sweden) and we would have to take their bus again to another train that would take us to our train. At 13:30 hours we got under way to Kalmar through a flat countryside with pine trees and beautiful scenery. We finally arrived at Kalmar late in the afternoon were we got a taxi ($15.50) to where we would pick up the Skoda Octavia rental car (that we had booked on line at www. before starting our trip - $179.84) at a gas station. Then we drove to Hotel Svanen, a Rick Steves recommendation, which we had also booked ahead, and checked in for a three day stay (1965 Krona - $304.58). This is a kind of Hotel/ Hostel, but we did get a nice, very clean room in the hotel portion with two single beds and a small bathroom (just enough room to shut the door and turn around) and a shared shower across the hall. The room did have a small TV, but since we couldn’t understand Swedish it wasn’t used much. Our computer plugged in here also, with a different adaptor, so we could still update as needed. We walked into the downtown area of Kalmar, about a half-hour walk, and had a lovely diner at an Italian restaurant for 322 Kr (about $50). Spent 95 Kr for postcard and stamp and another 55 Kr for a train reservation from Kalmar to Copenhagen, our next destination.

Harold & Mary near Kalmar Castle

We decided to get this as we were told this train can get filled up pretty quickly on a Sunday. 19 October We woke and looked out the window to see heavy frost on everything outside. We went in to the buffet breakfast and found it was the same as we had in Nyköping. Very tasty and filling. We drove west about 70 miles to Vaxjo and walked around the town, spent some time at the House of Emigrants, the reason for our visit. This museum shows the various conditions and stages of travel of Swedish immigrants as they headed to America via Hull, England on to Liverpool, England then on to Boston, Massachusetts. 19 October-We woke and looked out the window to see heavy frost on everything outside. We went in to the buffet breakfast and found it was the same as we had in Nyköping. Very tasty and filling. We drove west about 70 miles to Vaxjo and walked around the town, spent some time at the House of Emigrants, the reason for our visit. This museum shows the various conditions and stages of travel of Swedish immigrants as they headed to America via Hull, England on to Liverpool, England then on to

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Boston, Massachusetts. This is the route my mother had taken with her parents when she and her twin brother did their trip. We then picked up some groceries and returned to Kalmar. Back at the Hostel we had a meal of the rolls and cold cuts we had purchased in town. 20 October-After breakfast we drove northeast through some beautiful countryside for about 90 miles to the small village of Gladhammer to check the cemetery where my great grandparents were possibly buried. Mary got this information in an e-mail from Sweden, but unfortunately the dates on the headstones did not go back far enough. We asked a Swedish couple who were there about the headstones and names but they could not speak English and we didn’t know Swedish so we never did find out anything, but it was a lovely drive and we saw the area where my ancestors had lived. We had a picnic lunch with the hard rolls we bought that morning in town and the leftover sandwich fixings we brought along. That evening we had a pretty good pizza from around the corner from the Svanen Hostel, washed clothes at the hotel laundry room and got ready for the next part of our journey. The rest of the Tillinghasts' trip will be published in the March/ April issue of R&R Travel News®. TSgt Harold F Tillinghast, USAF (Ret.) & Mary Tillinghast Crossville, TN

R&R Travel News® Report 229 • Jan - Feb 2010 • Volume 40, No. 1

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