Thursday, February 11, 2021
Tuesday, February 2, 2021
Something I hate in the US because no one really knows how to drive in them. Though...I did get used to them driving in Iceland.
Something no one really knows where they are. 😆
So here is a post about an underwater, roundabout in the Faroe Islands because it is simply that beautiful.
And, if you look at the links to the other article recommended at the bottom of the post about roundabouts on the BBC you will not be disappointed.....hashtag man living in a roundabout
Monday, February 1, 2021
Hello, can you hear me?
I'm in Pennsylvania dreaming about who we used to be
When we were younger and free
I've forgotten how it felt before the world fell at our feet
Hello from the other side.
...well, not quite the other side yet, but that Adele song is so appropriate.
I have been heartbroken. I lost my travel job back in March 2020. After over 13 passion filled years in the industry, and seeing what my peers in tourism are going through has me gutted beyond belief. Even though I am happy in my new career, there is still a little nagging twinge knowing that I am not returning to the industry.
My resolve to go back through and finally post all of my past adventures while having the opportunity to not be distracted by an upcoming trip didn't happen.
That being said, I'm finding ways for new adventures, local excursions and still travel thievin' on a much smaller scale. I've always been an advocate for people to get out and travel or explore on any scale and now it's time to practice what I preach - We don't all have to be nuts and spend less than a week in a country on the other side of the globe (like my trip to Myanmar: Over 50 hours total flight time in just 7 days).
Today, a year past my last plane trip, I start my new relationship with travel.
|The Remote Resort, Fiji|
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
As much as I travel, I have never, and plan to avoid, going on a sea cruise.
This post shows the dark side of cruising. NCL ran into bad weather that drastically changed their cruise routing. Their fault? No. Could they have handled it better? Possibly. But the real thing is being around hundreds of angry passengers working themselves into a mutinous mob. Trapped.
At least when things go wrong on land, there are more opportunities to escape, but I can't imagine being around all those people with no way off or to unwind.
Saturday, July 20, 2019
|My trusty 20 year old duffel <3|
Monday, May 27, 2019
Here is the summary of my time on the road:
9 Days in 5 cities
4 different airline carriers: United Airline, Jetstar Asia, Myanmar National Airlines and KBZ
7 different airports: Newark, San Francisco, Singapore, Yangon, Mandalay, Bagan, Heho
9 flights totaling 51.5 hours of flying. (OMG)
Longest flight San Francisco to Singapore: 17 hours
Meals eaten in a day: Breakfast, 2nd Breakfast, Snack, Lunch, dinner, Dinner, Sandwich, Brunch, Snack
Most expensive meal was buying snacks in Newark Airport pre-flight: $26
Highest temperature: 107 F with a "feels like" temp of 122 F. I was singing Midnight Oil's "Beds Are Burning" in my head a lot
It was an absolutely brutal trip, but worthwhile.
Monday, May 13, 2019
Always a treat when you see the exact plane/flight you were on 2 days prior had an "alternate" landing...
Ironically, I remember thinking that it was an unnecessarily bumpy landing on the runway when we did it considering it there were no weather issues to contend with. I rolled my eyes to myself and thought 3rd World country carrier on a short route...not the cream of the pilot crop.
Sunday, May 5, 2019
Bombings in Sri Lanka.
My entire day changed. The place I had visited only 4 months ago was subjected to a massive act of terror. Churches and major tourist hotels they targeted and I was set to leave on a business trip there in 2 weeks.
For the first time in my travel career, I was scared.
I get asked the question a lot: Aren't you worried about xyz? Whether it be the destination, the state of the world in general or something else, there's always a perception people have when it is something they are unfamiliar with. I normally laugh it off, explain safety statistics or that things can happen anywhere. I think the worst example of this when we were en route to Jordan from Germany and a passport control agent in Germany asked if we were worried to go to Jordan. I was dumbfounded because Jordan was unaffected by any conflict happening in neighboring countries and what a stupid question to ask someone who was clearly flying to Jordan at that moment!
In the case of Sri Lanka, I was that person. I spent the next 3 days trying to muster my courage to keep my commitment to go on this trip. It would be important to show support to the country and my contacts there. I didn't want to let the terrorists gain another point for their objective of terrifying the world. But I couldn't do it.
For three days, I got angry. Cried. Frequently, which is unusual since I typically do not cry. I didn't sleep. Eating was a chore and I didn't feel well. I didn't want to work out or do anything else I normally enjoy. I obsessively read articles on the latest updates. Curfews. Raids. Blocked roads and rippled pockets of clashes. Tensions between opposing sides. Government pointing fingers at each other. I researched what to do when traveling to places that had issues in order to prepare myself. Tried to think what if I was a journalist like Christiane Amanpour. I consulted people who knew travel and had the same type of guts I did when it came to going places.
At the end of the third day of this cycle, when the thought went through my head that I didn't want to purchase something expensive because I was afraid I would not make it back, I gave up. It was a difficult decision that I could not honor my obligation, but I was out of time to wait and see what would happen. And the only place I was set to go was straight into the capital, the main combat zone. I don't have the tools and network that journalists have either.
I didn't realize how much stress I had been bottling up. I was utterly drained, but the following night, my appetite returned and I slept. I knew I made the right decision. Over the weekend, there was more violence and the US State Department raised the travel warning to a 3.
Will I return to Sri Lanka someday? Absolutely. Would I go in a month or so if things are the level of stability they are now? Maybe. I would have been more comfortable letting the tension diffuse a few weeks and letting people forget their hurt and anger. I would have been more comfortable if I had been going somewhere other than Colombo, such as back to Yala or Weligama. I hope that memories of this soon fade, and that the "Resplendent Island" can return to its normal daily life.
Having never heard of it and having only just gone to Hong Kong 6 months ago I had to look it up. What I found is that it is a giant port that is part of Guangzhou China where a pilot free trade zone has been established. There really isn't anything there unique to speak of other than perhaps it's location near other heavy hitters (Hong Kong, Macau).
My serious question is: If the goal of the 'city of the future' (watch the ad!) is to attract businesses to register there and increase port traffic, why the heck are you advertising on Hallmark Channel during "A Royal Christmas" or whatever garbage I was watching? You would think that part of the marketing strategy would be to know your audience. It's not like anyone will plan a vacation there.
...unless of course their end game is to create a Nansha royal family? In that case, well played Nansha, well played indeed...
Thursday, April 25, 2019
I was at lunch at work and coworkers starting talking about it, and I honestly thought it was the college in the US and not the church in Paris. Strike one for my mental empathy sensors. I checked Facebook and saw my friend that was in Paris on her vacation and listed Notre Dame as one of her top sights to see had in fact seen it that morning. She posted a sad picture of the smoke plume from a distance and it felt bittersweet that she was able to see it but then watched it be destroyed.
Scrolling further through my Facebook feed, nearly everyone posted a link to an article, a live feed or their own personal pictures of Notre Dame. At that point, my sadness dulled and I felt confused. Did I not care about a building burning? Had I become so numb to tragedies that this was relatively nothing? Or more worrisome, was I now a person who judges the masses on what they chose to take interest in? Oh, you care about a building but not the humanitarian crisis in Libya, Yemen, Syria, etc etc etc?
Even though you really can't control how you feel, this bland feeling bothered me. And then it hit me. While tragic, it wasn't a death sentence for the cathedral. The support and popularity of the site meant that there would be support worldwide to repair and rebuild. There is solace in the fact that due to renovations, some of the statuary and other pieces from the inside were removed and therefore not damaged. I thought about a story of the National Museum of Brazil where thousands of irreplaceable artifacts were lost in a massive fire and I started to get upset. My empathy was not dead. In the case of Brazil, there wasn't that rallying support to get it rebuild or even any knowledge of
Happy news - the oldest human found in the Americas was not a total loss. You can see some of the details on the recovery efforts as well as links to other articles on what happened here.
With that, I will join the masses and share some pictures from my first visit to Notre Dame almost 10 years ago.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Anyone who had been to Aruba before thought we were crazy for staying at an all inclusive on the island. The food on the island is great quality and there are lots of choices. However, the value of this resort to keep the trip affordable because the one night we went out was expensive. Plus, with 6+ people, coordinating 3 meals a day plus drinks, snacks etc is too much hassle on a short trip. When we wanted lunch, we spent exactly 10 mins gathering together, brushing the sand off and getting seated at a restaurant. We all could do our own thing and not have to worry about
This was my first time at an adults only resort and I had mixed feelings. I thought it would be quieter without kids running around all the time, but instead it was some sort of midlife spring break. The resort actual has policies against spring breakers if I remember correctly from their website. It was LOUD - lots of music and lots of drunk adults. Granted, there wasn't anyone running through the hallways or making a ruckus in the middle of the night.
The hotel itself has older "bones". The building opened in the 70s as the Aruba Concorde Hotel. Riu took over maybe 10 years ago and I saw the last renovation listed as 2014. That would be the biggest downfall of the property, the age shows. It the lobby, the air conditioning system drips onto the floor and if you look at the ceiling, the wear and tear from this is evident. There doesn't seem to be a proper luggage room. Before check in time, the bags are all stacked in the middle of the lobby. It makes the lobby feel really closed in as well as the issue of not having a ton of security with only the staff watching the bags instead of an actual locked room. The front desk staff is friendly but inconsistent considering 3 couples got 3 different versions of information.
The lobby bar is small, but they make the best drinks on the resort. The food is actually great with lots of choices. For lunch and breakfast, it is buffet restaurants with some cook to order stations set up. We could also go over to the sister property next door to the buffet restaurants which was nice to mix it up. Dinner there is also a buffet, but there are 3 specialty restaurants for served dinners: Italian, Fine Dining/Fusion, and a steakhouse. They don't accept reservations, it's first come first served which had some people lining up. The great part about not taking reservations is that on a busy Saturday night, we could put our name on the waitlist and they gave us a buzzer for when our table was ready. This gave us the flexibility to go have a drink while waiting and the only caveat is that you had to be there within 15 minutes of the buzzer going off.
The rooms are a good size, but old. There was a popcorn ceiling. The bathroom felt dated. The beds were super saggy and the linens scratchy. The balcony with the ocean view was a huge plus, especially considering you could not see your neighbors from it. The hallways had musty carpet that was pulling in some areas. This being said, all of these areas were exceptionally clean. Especially considering the one day I dumped a gallon of sand out of my bathing suit onto the tile floor, the cleaning staff is fighting a constant battle. There are also little touches like the towel animal with chocolate in the room at check in and the nightly turndown service. I had an extra blanket on the bed that they made into it for the duration of our stay. We had one bottle of water in the fridge and one bottle out and as they refilled nightly, they followed this pattern.
The outdoor spaces were also clean. The pool was a little less so, but impressively, the beach was very clean. One thing I couldn't stand was the drinks in flimsy, non-reusable plastic cups. There were some stands to "recycle" the cups, but no one was really using them and I am skeptical as to where the cups went. The only other thing about the outdoor spaces was the inconsistency in the bartenders. Some made drinks really strong (too strong for me!) so made excellent drinks and some made margaritas with lemons and vodka (seriously).
Verdict: I think Aruba is new to the All Inclusive game as there are limited options. The Divi Phoenix next door did NOT look remotely as nice for a similar price. The Riu has great food and service next to beautiful beaches for a good price. I wouldn't hesitate to go back to this property.
|Double bed room|
|OK, so the only shot I got of the bathroom is me drunk...dancing...? I had been awake since 2:30AM the night before and drank a bunch after not drinking for 2 months. No clue.|
Saturday, April 6, 2019
And there is a real reason behind it! Regular coke is made with sugar which increases the surface tension and viscosity in the drink - and in real terms that means bigger bubbles are forming. If you ever played with bubbles as a kid, think about how the larger bubbles floating in the air would burst first and the tiny little bubbles would be the last to burst.
This tiny air travel science lesson was all to say that I was surprised that on my United flight this week napkins were advertising Diet Coke specifically. Not Coke, or Coke products, but Diet Coke, the bane of airline drink service. What's up with that United? It's not as if soda is a purchase item for passengers and choosing any other Coke product would be stealing profits. Very strange.
Friday, April 5, 2019
One of the things I was looking forward to in Hong Kong was some of this British imprint on Chinese culture. Even though the British officially departed 20 years ago, this tradition of afternoon tea has taken hold in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong definitely has a strong tea culture in general (I love milk tea! More on that at a later time) so it is no wonder that this remained.
Afternoon tea is credited to the Duchess of Bedford for beginning this trend. Dinner used to be late and large so getting there from breakfast was a challenge. The Duchess of course was having her dinner fashionably late as was the style of the 1800s, but we girls all know that you're going to get hangry waiting that long. Thus, afternoon tea was born! Though there seems to be other theories that it began before that time and even that it may have begun in FRANCE. I don't believe the English enjoy that last bit.
In Hong Kong, it has remained true to the British roots of it and is a refined experience. Refined unless you turn up to the Peninsula Hotel and see a queue through the back of the hotel.
My husband and I had been walking around all morning, it was a Saturday and the Peninsula does not take reservations unless you are a guest at the hotel so I did not have high hopes. It was however worse than I expected.
Walking into the lobby, you are greeted by the famous string quartet. Once you gawk around, you see about 30 people standing in front of the musicians taking pictures. Then you notice the noise of people talking. The lobby has incredibly high ceilings and the noise level was akin to being in New York Penn Station. No exaggeration. There are hundreds of people already seated in tables close to each other and servers are clearing and setting tables with lightning precision. Hmm, maybe we can try to get in here based on the sheer volume of tables available and the efficiency of the staff, but it's not exactly the classy experience that I was hoping for.
We then get into the line that we saw queuing on the one side of the lobby. It didn't look too bad but then we were located at the doorway with more people filling in behind us. Hotel staff then came to direct people in line in order to keep doorways clear. It was at this point that we heard something that sounded like "half hour" for the wait. Well, that's not bad at all, but we weren't sure if it was truly a half hour or one and a half hours.
Then the staff told someone again it would be a two hour wait.
Okay, and some snacks, but I'd be paying 350 HKD for the privilege after waiting in line for TWO HOURS. It's not Disneyland! I wouldn't wait 2 hours for a ride at Disney either to be perfectly honest, but that's a whole other ball game.
I quickly did a google map search of where afternoon tea could be had in Kowloon with the resignation that we could always go back to our own hotel and get pastries. Ritz Carlton was a bit too far with all the walking we had done in the morning and of course there were no guarantees that we would be able to get in there. I then saw the Langham come up on my map less than a half mile away though not as a tea venue. I've visited the Langham in London - actually, it's one of my favorite hotels in London - and I knew they absolutely had to have a tea service. The hotel's website informed me that they did indeed serve afternoon tea identical to what they serve in London in the Hong Kong property's Palm Court.
He apologized for the poor location of the table as it was against the wall and the harpist was directly behind my seat. I actually found the harpist's location to be a bonus and we were a little bedraggled from walking around all morning. Probably best that we were hidden from sight.
The menu was holiday themed, but it's based on the traditional Langham English tea that has been served at the London location for 150 years. It's served with Wedgwood and in fact, there is a special "Langham Rose" pattern of the tea ware.
I am an Earl Grey fanatic so I opted for the very normal Earl Grey. The Hubs did a fruity rosy blend. I said it was The tea came out followed later by a contraption that held all of the snacks (petit fours?) to enjoy with the tea.
THEN a basket of scones came out, which we instructed to eat warm. Perfect.
At the end of our meal (and it was truly a MEAL), we could have gotten more water for our tea and stayed longer. I would have planned much better if I knew the Hubs was going to also enjoy it. Must do in Hong Kong!!