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Roads-2-Roam.com | TRAVEL PORTAL: 'We came, We saw, We sent a postcard'


As Private Eye‘s  satirist poet, E. J. Thribb (17½)  would say, “So. Farewell then AA Gill” who passed away today.

Gill was the UK Sunday Times’ restaurant critic but was also a reviewer of travel, TV programs and such. He was extremely witty and controversial. Amongst the things he wrote [From the BBC news]:-

In October 2009, he described how he had shot a baboon while in Tanzania, prompting outrage from animal rights groups.

In 1998, he described the Welsh as “dark, ugly little trolls” – a comment that was referred to the Commission for Racial Equality – while he once described Rhyl as “a town only a man driving a crane with a demolition ball would visit with a smile”.

In a critical review of a Norfolk pub, he referred to the county as the “hernia on the end of England”, while in 2006 he upset residents of the Isle of Wight by saying it “smelled of boiled washing”.

In 2010, he was censured by the former press watchdog having written a review of Clare Balding’s 2010 Britain by Bike TV programme, in which he described her as a “dyke on a bike”.

He was also once thrown out of one of Gordon Ramsay’s restaurants, along with his dining partner, actress Joan Collins.

As someone who knows the Welsh very well, he has a point. There are a few trolls out there.

But let’s remember Gill for his travel writings. I recommend you read his 2012 review of London in the New York Times  “My London, and welcome to it”. It was  written by a Londer and aimed at American’s visiting prior to the Olympics.

I’m sorry, but they’re not here anymore. No city’s exported image lags so far behind its homegrown veracity than London’s, so let’s start with what you’re not going to find. We’re all out of cheeky cockneys, pearly kings and their queens, and costermongers. You’re not going to find ’60s psychedelia and the Beatles in Carnaby Street. There aren’t any punks under 50 on the King’s Road; there are no more tweedy, mustachioed, closeted gay writers in Bloomsbury, no Harry Potter at King’s Cross. There aren’t men in white tie, smoking cigars outside Pall Mall clubs and there isn’t any fog, but you can find The Sherlock Holmes Museum on Baker St.

A lot of London’s image never was. There never was a Dickensian London, or a Shakespearean London, or a swinging London. Literary London is best looked for in books, and in old bookshops like Sotheran’s on Sackville Street. One of the small joys that’s easy to miss in London is the blue plaques. These are put up to commemorate the famous on the houses they lived in. You won’t have heard of a lot of them, but some come as a surprise. There are quite a few Americans and some amusing neighbors. Jimi Hendrix lived next door to Handel.

London is a city of ghosts; you feel them here. Not just of people, but eras. The ghost of empire, or the blitz, the plague, the smoky ghost of the Great Fire that gave us Christopher Wren’s churches and ushered in the Georgian city. London can see the dead, and hugs them close. If New York is a wise guy, Paris a coquette, Rome a gigolo and Berlin a wicked uncle, then London is an old lady who mutters and has the second sight. She is slightly deaf, and doesn’t suffer fools gladly.

A bit like some folks at Roam.

While he could be a bit of a wanker, I liked AA’s style and can’t wait to hear what he thinks about his trip across the river Styx.


Some things brought up in the NYT article that I have not visited and look interesting.

Please De-Lease me, Let me go.

This car drove me around the Benz

The car that drove me around the Benz

It’s over. I finally got rid of our Mercedes CLA250 after it’s three year lease end. Multiple attempts by MB to get me into a new lease were rebuffed.

To be honest, I never loved the car. It was ok but it never wowed me and I thought it rather a noisy ride especially on the freeway.In some ways, it was my fault I got into this situation. I agreed to get it to keep Mrs Caesar happy who needed a car at that time and the CLA250 was the new offering to America.

Having had favorable experiences in leasing BMWs before, I thought this would be similar.

There were a few things bothered me at the time of leasing that I should have acted on before signing up.

  • The first was that no car matched the monthly price advertised. In fact, the monthly amount for the car we wanted was a few hundred dollars more. Funny how that goes isn’t it?
  • Second was finding out that the services were not included in the lease price. However, I could pre-pay and get a discount so took this route.
  • The third was their default low mileage offerings of 10K per year which at that time where we were living, we thought would be ok.

However, I was in time crunch to get Mrs Caesar mobile again before I left on a long business travel so emotion took the better side of me and I violated one of my own rules about car buying – Sort your finances out before you set foot in the dealership . To reduce the monthly payments, I put down a much larger down payment than what I had envisaged before visiting.

In the beginning, Mrs Ceasar loved the car and how she could go around the dealership at Boerne to get the car washed anytime where we only lived a few miles away. Of course, that had to be scheduled but it was still free and she could get coffee while she waited. However, in the back on my mind, there was a thought I was overpaying to be driving it.

Then the first problem happened with the tires. A nail in the tire required some action. MB service adviser said I’d need to replace it. Goodyear tires said it could be repaired once if the sidewall was not damaged. So I had it repaired.

Some time after we moved back to Houston area, I hit a particularly big pothole that took out a different tire. Within a minute it went from 35 PSI to 0. It did it’s job of running flat and I drove home at slower speed but the next day, I found how difficult it was to get a direct replacement. Even Goodyear didn’t have them in stock and would have to ship them that would take a few days. The dealer had them in stock but it would be 5 days before I could get into MB Sugarland. I was blown away : 5 days  just to get one tire changed.  After phoning around, I ended up buying it for over $300 and taking it to Discount Tire in Cinco Ranch to them to fit it. By the way, Discount Tire got future business from me on my other car in the positive manner they treated me after this initial very small business. 

At the time of leasing, I got the sell for tire insurance which I calculated at 2+ blown tires and on the BMW, I’d never had one so I figured I’d take the chances. Over the next year, we had another tire that went flat and needed to be replaced. Another was dangerous due to a bulge in sideball so that needed replacement also but not wanting to hunt down an expensive tire, I put on a regular tire as an interim fix.

The first service with MB Sugarland was an eye opener in that cost of maintenance and what they will try to slip in. When asked if I wanted them to rotate tires and some other minor inspection, I said sure. After printing out the pre-work contract, it would cost me $230. What for I asked as I had pre-paid maintenance.  These tire rotation and inspection was optional services I was told. If that was the case, then I opted not to get them. Over $200 to f’ing rotate the tires which most other manufacturers include for free and then to perform a mechanical inspection on something that would be covered by warranty anyhow. What the heck? No wonder why they are called stealerships. This must be how they pay for all the swanky waiting areas and coffee baristas.

It cost me another $3K to close out the lease where I had to replace all 4 tires (get a bulk discount compared to individual tires as if that made it easier) since the lifetime of the tires (20k miles) is much less that lease duration. The rims had to be reworked to polish out the scratches and finally there was the 4,000 over mileage fee which was expected.

Overall, I did not enjoy my ‘luxurious’ experience with MB and was glad for it to end. I was surprised to  find that 67% of Mercedes are leased [Source : Cartelligent] but it not for me. No more run flats either.



  1. I will add that MB has recently changed their service in that they now have a separate express area and conventional servicing area. Items like scheduled maintenance are addressed by the express area which my last service in easier to get in and out of. Regular maintenance seems be now included in the lease costs but it is too little, too late for me. My opinion of the star has been tarnished.

Wickedleaks #1 : Expedia expletives

Papyleaks : Our private discussion on Expedia customer service fiasco

Papyleaks: Our Mea culpa

We realized it would happen to us eventually. And so it is today fellow Roamans, that I must inform you that it has finally happened.

Like all important worldwide sites, we’ve been Wickedleaked and our intimate discussions are revealed to the world.

We strongly suspect the source of the leak are Parthian hackers who are trying to influence Roaman empire politics.

Nevertheless, I must fall on my own virtual sword and confess that what has been leaked is likely true : Our Emperor colleague, Caligula is a person of interest behind this story.

We have discussed it with Caligula and even though he denied it was him, he apologized profusely. He said he doesn’t remember anything and if it was him, it must have been a locker room typo that he has put behind him that even though it is only a few days ago, it no longer reflects who he is today.

We are pleased to accept his apologies and move on.

Princeps, Roads-2-Roam.com

Hat tip : http://iphonefaketext.com

Our Roaman holiday

beach-roamansQuite a few of have contacted us wondering where on earth we’ve been as we’ve not posted anything for a while.

When in Roam, do as the Roamans do and being in Roam, we did -we’ve been Roaming.

In the past few months, we’ve been to Europe : Germany and the UK. We’ve also traveled within the US to Alaska,  Austin and Dallas.

Some of the Emperors have had a staycation watching the world go by from the triclinium. It’s a tough life you know being fed oysters, dormice and grapes laughing at the modern world of today.

We did feel a small bit of guilt about not posting but only a small bit and to be honest, we were enjoying ourselves too much to tell you about it all. Emperor’s privilege and all that but to show how magnanimous we are at Roads-2-Roam.com, we will give all our online subscribers from 49BC, their money back.

Phwew – smells like someone died in there

Weekend at Hungy Jack's.

Weekend at Hungy Jack’s.

Oi, ‘ave you noticed when you go in the crapper and they have a sign off sheet showing when the last cleaned it?

Well someone in a Perth “Hungry Jacks” – a version of Burger King – obviously wasnt doing their job after someone died in the toilet from an overdose, and the body wasn’t discovered until 3 days later. From ABC website

Another customer, who gave his name as Rob, said he was concerned the toilets had apparently not been checked for three days.

“Three days is a long time for somebody to be locked in a toilet cubicle and for it not to be cleaned,” he said.

Just look at some local reviews on Zomato of the place. It got 2.6  from 5 ratings so forgetting to do a dead person inspection, doesn’t sound too amiss.


Brexit : We did it first !

roam boudicca

The original Teresa May?

In case you’ve been asleep for the past month, the people of Britannia voted to leave the European Union by a slim majority. All the polls predicted they would stay but nope, Plebs being Plebs didn’t listen and voted out.

The person who agreed to allow the vote and managed a poor campaign, David Cameron, has resigned. Since then some of the pro-leave advocates Farage, Boris and Gove have all left the political stage.

A new dawn beckons where Teresa May is going to be the new Prime Minister. She will be the second female PM after Thatcher.

It is not looking good to the Opposition either, where there is a Labour party backlash against the Uber-Lefty leader, Corbyn who may not survive.

It is now up in the air about what happens next : trade, work visas and others as there is no transition plan.

Also, ‘Leave’ means uncertainty about the long term survival of Great Britain as an political union with the Scots making noises about wanting a second referendum on independence. Scotland voted majority to stay and claim that the 2014 referendum was based around Britain being a member of the EU. Since Britain is now Brexiting, they are saying not so fast we want to stay in. This is not easy in the Spain, for example, doesn’t want to allow countries to split up like this as Catalonia may have similar ideas.

Over Wine, we emperors of Roam were tittering where we thought it funny to think that around 1600 years ago, it was Romans who had the original Brexit around 410 AD. Back then Emperor Honorius wore the purple.

The situation had parallel to today’s Brexit but in reverse. Back then we had:

  • Troubles on the continent– Rome was having a bit of bother with the Vigioths. So much so, it led to the sacking of Rome by the barbarian, Alaric.
  • Political Divorce with no plan– Our Brexit was the Romans moving our troops to the Continent. Adios Brits and thanks for the tin !
  • Immigration – Saxons, Angles and Jutes coming across without visas and taking the jobs Romans wouldn’t do like defend the country.
  • Troubles with Indiginent Celts – This is when Picts invaded England and Irish tribes invaded Wales. Now we have it the other way around.

Anyhow, back to today. We at Roam have no idea how this is going to turn out.

For the Traveler, this period of uncertainty has led to pound dropping from ~1.50 to the dollar to around 1.30 and probably going lower. This may put the great in Great Britain if you going there but it may also lead to price increases for items that are imported. Go visit soon while the Union Jack T-shirt means something.

Some official tourism links for you should you want to visit:  Great Britain Tourism Board   |  England  | Scotland  |  Wales | Northern Ireland

Beer are the champions

Munich Brewer’s day 2016

Sometimes, you act on a spur of the moment and you discover fate has a plan for your life.

And so it was then, that I made a spur of the moment decision to get off at  Odeanplatz U-Bahn station instead of my original intended destination of Karlplatz. There was no particular reason apart from a inkling to get out here when the train stopped.

As I walked up the steps, It was to my delight that I discovered a mini beer festival was going on: “München Brauertag 2016”. They had representatives from all the major Munich brewers – Paulaner, Lowenbrau, Augusteiner, Spaten etc with many of the locals all dressed up for the part.

Thinking to myself, “When in Roam, do as the Roamans do” so I must now now have a beer.

As I went to pay, the assistants waived me away saying “Nein” so I thought they were closed. However, I then understood what they were telling me – it was a FREE beer festival.  Yohooo !!!!! What an excellent welcome to Munich. Wunderbar! I found out that 4,000 litres of beer are given away free.

Oh, and if you are thinking of going for 2017. Don’t. It occurs every two years so next one is 2018.

A voluntary Upgrade to a No grade

When I checked in to United Flight to Munich, the machine asked me if I wanted to change seats. I took a look, knowing that this would give me visibility on how full the flight was.

I booked my flight a week ago and I’d selected the  rear rows which were empty for going  forward a few rows so I was confident of getting space. I looked now and saw the rows were pretty much full but there empty rows but only in Premier Economy.

Not wanting to sit next to anybody so I could spread out and sleep, I caved and forked out for an upgrade to a seat in an empty 2 seat row just in front of the exit/ wing seats . The twin seats in rows 21 and 22 behind me were similarly free as well as middle row/isle seats. I was checking in within 90 minutes on an International fight so I felt pretty good about getting a two seats for an overnight 10 hour flight.

As I boarded, I then found ALL the Premier Economy 2 seats filled and isle seats filled and there was a 8 year old kid in the seat next to me. His sister was in the adjacent middle isle seat and I recognized the two kids as they and mom, had checked in prior to me in the line. They therefore, had their tickets way before mine so obviously had not bought that seat upgrade.

Son of a bitch I said to myself : I’d spent money for nothing and United had upgraded quite a few passengers to fill these seats.

It turned out somewhat ok in that I asked the sister if she wanted to sit with her brother – she did- so I got an middle isle seat with nobody in between but I will not pay for this again just to try the free row lottery. The longer foot room was not my care about. Not only that but when I went to the toilets towards the end of the plane, the rows weren’t as full as original seating diagram suggested. I could have had a 2 seat option to myself if I had done nothing.

Beware the ides of the isle seat upgrades.

Car Rental vs Going Mental

An unclean machine is a money machine.I needed to get to IAH airport for a 2 week business trip. The business part meant I could expense it, within reason and the best option (which I too often forget about) was the 1 way rental with AVIS. It ended up at $42 with no surcharges.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed it but renting cars from their franchised office (instead of a airport rental or implant) is a hit of miss affair with respect to their service. One thing I have noticed, at least with AVIS franchises, is the specific warning that that they will charge you for additional cleaning if you return it back dirty – Just look at this one attached that I got the other day.

I remember similar warning from a franchise in San Antonio but their pet peeve above standard no smoking , was actually a peeve about pets – dog hair. I don’t recall this from airport rentals other than the standard warning about no smoking in the car.

But look at this notice where it included sand. Last year when the Imperial Family visited North Carolina, we returned the car rental with quite a bit of sand in it but no comment from the car rental company. Wow- This opens up how much is normal ‘dirtyness‘ is allowed here?

The Odors and Cigarette, I get. You smoke, the car will stink and it is common policy to surcharge even in hotels. So it is then with Pet hair which if all over, is going to be all over so will require additional cleaning especially if the vacuum will not pick it up. The same with spills which may have stained. ..but sand or Grass – Surely vacuuming should sucking this up anyhow? At what point do they detect a grain of sand versus having to professionally detail a car is not clear here when that $250 amount is invoked.



Long to rain over us

My great escape from Houston floodsI’m SO tired of the storms and floods we are are getting around the Houston area and so it was with pleasure, that I snagged a short notice business trip to Munich starting tomorrow.

Ah, Europe in the summertime. I can picture myself sitting in a beer garden with Hendl, a Maß of Helles while watching the sun go down around 9 pm.

It was with dismay that I look at the weather forecast and see the weather is as bad in Europe as it is in Texas.

They also have their floods where 5 died in Bavaria recently. Paris is also flooded which just adds to the misery of having to face all the strikes.

My second week I plan to go to UK where the weather there is being reported as being colder than christmas day.

Oh Bugger it. Perhaps I’ll be substituting that helles for glühwein.