About Me

My photo

I'm a 30 something who loves to travel.  I have a full time job and enjoy writing (or blogging) about my travels.  I've traveled through several countries in Europe as well as Russia and Egypt.  I also enjoy domestic travel in the United States, including Disney.  My long term travel goal is to do a round the world trip.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

Please place your seat in the upright position

I'm sure there is a reason you need to have your seat in the upright position for takeoff and landing, I'm guessing it's safety, so why can't people place their seat in the upright position?

It hasn't happened recently, but it has happened more then once - people reclining their seats for takeoff.  This really annoys me, not so much because it gives me less space- I'm small and fit ok in the seat, even with a seat reclined.  But, I can't imagine bashing my head into the seat in front of me during a failed takeoff would feel very good. 

Yet, on at least 2 flights I have had this happen, and while I do travel more then the average person, I don't travel THAT much.  The first time was on a Virgin Atlatic flight, and the seat back was mostly plastic, I think it would have hurt if I hit it with my head.  A flight attendant did not notice this and so it was not corrected.  Then it happened again last year.  The flight attendant did tell the person to put their seat in the upright position, they pretended and then didn't do it. 

In both cases I really should have said something to the person, but I was a wimp and I didn't.  I figured they would learn their lesson better if I sued them for my injuries.  Yes, I did actually think that in my head.  Going ahead I will say something - why should I risk bashing my head for someone elses comfort?

Sorry for the rant, but I had to get it off my chest.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Pennsylvania feels like home

Last Sunday and Monday I was out in Pennsylvania visiting a friend and the Hershey Spa (more on that another day), I miss Pennsylvania.  I went to college out there for 4 and a half years and for years after I was visiting friends there frequently.  Times change and 11 and a half years later I don't get out there too much, but this time I really felt a sense of missing it.

I was driving down a "typical" (and I use that term loosely) PA road and my heart just started to break.  The road was two lanes (one in each direction) and surrounded by grass, which wasn't too green since there hasn't been much rain lately.  I bet last year the grass was bright green.  In some areas there was corn lining the roads.  This is all very Souteastern PA to me.  As I drove down this road I thought, I could live here. 

I attended the Penn State Berks campus for 2 years and on two sides of the campus was corn fields.  With friends living all over Southeastern PA, or "outside Philly" as they all say - I wonder how so many people can live outside Philly but live nowhere near each other, but that's another story - I drove a lot of these two lane roads lined with grass and maybe a house in the distance.  Long Island is nothing like this, it has houses with little patches of grass in front and strip malls everywhere.
Two lane roads lined with grass, farms and maybe trees are primary roads, sure there are some wider roads where there is shopping and restaurants, and there are highways.  But the majority of roads seem to be these 2 lane roads. 

I don't find them to be as common in the Scranton area or the Pittsburg area, two other areas of PA I haven spent a good amount of time in.  It's like Southeaster PA is stuck in a rural time warp inspite of the urban sprall from Philly.  I miss that, you're close to Philly but it feels more countryish then suburban. 

Then there are my friends who live here, the place is so great that one of my friends from high school even moved there.  And as much as I love and miss my friends, times have changed since our days in college.  Most of my friends are married, many have kids adn houses.  While we're not as much "fun," it's nice to know when you wake up with a hangover you'll be in a bed instead of on the floor.  The memories I had on my drive home on Monday were great, I had a good laugh at those times together. 

I'll keep the memories to myself, it's not as funny if you weren't there.  Instead, think of your own memories of the fun times, the weird times and the goofy things you did somewhere and the people you were with.  In the meantime I'll keep wondering where the perfect place to live is.  Maybe it's PA, or maybe it's somewhere I haven't been yet.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Friday, July 23, 2010

Almost Fearless - 30 Day Ebook - Review

Not too long about I read the 30 Day Ebook by Christine at Almost Fearless and I'm not sure why it has taken me so long to write a review.  The book is great if you're looking to make a change in your life, this book is for you!  Even if you haven't considered a change, this book will make you.   While it's geared around travel, it's not only about travel and it has a lot of valuable information.  It's also very action oriented.

The book starts with changing your way of thinking - set a time frame.  Then asking the hard questions - you know, the ones with the easy excuses but hard answers.  But the answers are there, and this book will help you find them. 

I've read a lot and seen a lot about saving money but this book takes a different look at saving money then most others do - do you really need someone else to tell you to stop going to Starbucks?  This topic is covered in a couple different sections, so if you don't see any pearls of wisdom at the start, keep reading, it's there. 

Christine then goes into turning your job digital.  I have mixed feelings about this because my job is 90% being at work, but I know for a lot of people that's not the case.  For a lot of people working at home might seem like a stretch, but really isn't, they just have to figure out how to make it happen. 

What types of careers are out there for digital nomads?  The list is endless and only restricted by your own imagination.  But the book goes into much more detail on this.

The rest of the book is about travel - planning, accomodations, budgeting, homeschooling, airfare, paying bills on the road, health insurance, dealing with family and friends - it's all there.  The section on budgeting is another place where a lot of the same concepts are put out by everyone, but Christine uses a totally different method thats simple and easy.  And even though Christine only has a baby now she talks about educating children in great depth. 

I highly recommend this book to everyone, it's well written and full of great information.  And at $10 it's a steal!

And no, I'm not making any money from this book, I just think it's that good.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Hollywood and Vine - lunch with the Little Einsteins

One of the things I always liked at Disney World is the charaters.  I don't make a big effort to see characters, but I enjoy a sit down meal with them and if I see a short line for one I'll jump on and get my picture.  That might make me a Disney geek.  Aside from that I always like to see how kids react, and was curious how Alex as a 4 year old would react to them.  I was disappointed...

On our Hollywood Studios day we had lunch at Hollywood and Vine with charcters for Little Einsteins, a good meal and experience for those in the 2-5 year old range.  However, Alex didn't seem impressed.  If he was younger I would have thought that he didn't get it.  Matty at 9 months seemed baffled by these funny looking people with the big heads.  Alex didn't want to dance with them or get pictures with them or talk to them.  He actually refused to go into some of the pictures.  Meanwhile other kids in the restaurant around the same age were running up the characters excited to see them.

Later on we went to Block Party Bash and had the same experience.  He watched the parade, didn't seem to dislike it, but just kinda stared as Mr. Potato Head danced in front of him.  And when he got pulled up to dance, he just stood there.  I have seen the kid dance at parties, so I know it wasn't that.

After that day we didn't bother with any other character meals.  I have a couple theories on why he wasn't into them.  First, he doesn't like his picture taken and when characters show up, cameras come out.  The other thing is that he has a very vivid imagination (don't all kids) and sees a lot of real and fake animals and dinosaurs and the like.  I wonder if he knew they weren't real and wasn't sure why they were there or what to do with them.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Copenhagen and back home

Day 33: Copenhagen: Farewell to Copenhagen, as our tour ends after breakfast. (Breakfast included)

Today I fly out of Copenhagen to London on British Airways at 2pm, then out of London at 4:20pm for home, arriving at 6:45.
Breakfast: 7:30

I got up at 7:15, threw on some clothes and headed to breakfast. Everyone had a nice breakfast and then it was time to say goodbye to more people. Ash was doing 2 shuttles today to the airport, the first was after breakfast the other was in the afternoon, isn't that nice of him. Tania, my roommate from the Russian half of the trip was leaving and although we didn't spend a lot of time together we did have some nice chats at night in the room. James, who was a a really nice guy and was sometimes off the beaten track, was also leaving. Marie and Kearan, who I had spent a lot of time with during the trip, were leaving. They were continuing on there adventure around the world, I was jealous. Marie was like the mom of the trip, and also the trip nurse - she took care of everyone.

After breakfast I waited in line to use the internet, I wanted to do on-line check in, which would make my check-in at the airport easier. Last night I had made arrangements to take a Taxi with Jilly, AJ and Ben since our flights were all around the same time. While waiting I found out that AJ was actually on my flight, cool. After that I showered and packed up since we had to be out of our rooms by 10am. After 10am everyone just hung around the hostel spending our last bit of time together. At 11am our Taxi showed up and it was time to say goodbye to Lis, Renae, Caroline, Leah, Patrick, Eliza and the rest. I was going to miss Lis, who I had spent so many nights playing Uno with, days in cities, nights gossiping. She's a cool girl and now I have an excuse to go to the really big mall in Canada.

After checking in at the airport AJ, Ben, Jilly and I had lunch together. This was much nicer, having people to spend the time in the airport with. After lunch we did some shopping, we all seemed to have money left over. Ben was the first to leave our little group for his flight, bye Ben! We often sat together on the bus and he always put up with me and all my stuff, I think he deserves a medal. After that we ran into James, who had gotten bumped to a later flight and was looking for ways to spend the money the airline gave him.
Then they called Jilly's flight, bye Jilly! Shortly after that they called mine and AJ's flight. While waiting to board the flight we ran Corey (who had taken the early bus to the airport), apparently he was on our flight too. We had a little chat until we boarded. AJ and I had gotten seats together so I had a buddy for the flight. At flight connections I said my final goodbyes of the trip to AJ and Corey. I was sad, it meant that the trip was officially over for me, and I was on my own the rest of the way home.  This is the worst part of a trip, the first time you're alone, it's the lonliest feeling in the world.  Then I got on my last flight home, it was uneventful and eventually got me back to JFK. When I got off the plane I got my luggage and went through customs. With all the people who looked at my passport today no one noticed it was my birthday, hmmm, I guess they didn't look that closely. That's sad.  When I got though customs my Dad was waiting for me, Yea, I was home! But I knew I was also ready to go back and start all over again, tours always end like that.

The End

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The problem with hotel taxes

No, this is not a post about how I hate hotel fees and taxes.  This post is about the problem hotel fees and taxes are for the governments that enact them. 

I was listening to Peter Greenberg radio show/podcast from last week where he mentions that Alabama has assessed a tax to hotel rooms to fund their schools.  I wont go into the fact that Alabama's public school system is #43 in the country, other then to mention that it's not one of the best in the country.

It got me thinking about how governments often use hotel taxes to fund local projects.  On the surface it makes sense - you're not taxing your own constituents (keeping them happy) and as long as the taxes aren't too high it's unlikely to affect tourism, it's like free money!  Except the money might not always be there...

If you're New York Ctiy it takes a lot to really hurt tourism.  Short of the massive hurricane they say we're due to have hit the area or another terrorist attack people are still going to come to visit.  But even New York City has a potential to lose out on hotel taxes - people are now trying to rent hotel rooms for their stay instead of staying at hotels (obviously a problem if the government is trying to ban this practice.)

But what if you're a lesser known location and run into tourism problems?  The Gulf Coast now and after Hurricane Katrina, or if you have a lot of national parks and they are closed due to budget cuts.  What if your "free money" from hotels dries up?  What happens when the money to fund your schools and other essential services dries up?  It's a question that all governments and their residents should be asking before enacting these hotel taxes.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Photo of the Week: Norwegian Epic

Last week I had an opportunity to sneak a peak of the Norwegian Epic.  The quality isn't the best, but I did take it with my Iphone 3Gs - the best camera is the one you have with you!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Macy's 4th of July Fireworks

Thanks to work, I got to enjoy Macy's 4th of July Fireworks this year and I really enjoyed the show, as well as the front row seat I had.  I've become cynical about fireworks over the years, my Mom used to Ohhhh and Ahhhh over them and my sisters and I got into a habit of making for of her.  Well this year I stopped and really enjoyed the show. 

The show had some of the same things I've seen before - like smiley faces - but who doesn't like a smiley face?  And giant bursts of colors.  But there were also planet like fireworks, with rings around them.  Some looked like mushrooms, I'm not sure others would describe them that way, but that was my first thought.  I really liked the ones that looked like golden spaceships taking off into the sky - I had never seen those before and they were really cool.

In the end though the best part was that the vivid colors and the 3 dimensional aspect to them.  Some of them seemed like the little stars in bright reds, blues, greens, golds were flying towards us.  And the reds were so vibrant - like a freshly painted fire engine.  The golds as bright as a gold medal in the Olympics.

The finale was equally as wonderful.  The bright colors flying towards you in the sky in such intentisty.  The fireworks just kept coming for at least a minute or two.  It was the equivalent of pop rocks going off in your mouth - but to your eyes.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Prepping for your trip

Ok, I guess this is more about ME prepping for my trip to England and Scotland with Contiki in September.  I don't think I've mentioned this trip, but in June I finally booked this 12 day trip that starts in London and ends in Glasgow.  I plan to spend an extra day in London before the trip and am still pondering my post tour plans. 

I'm listening to one of Rick Steves' Audio tours of the British Museum - one of my must visits during my trip.  The reason I want to go is to see the Rosetta Stone.  I have to admit, other then the Rosetta Stone being there I didn't have a clue what else might be in this museum - but now I do.  I think I will need to budget a little more time then I originally thought.  Apparently there is lots of stuff in the Egypt section of the museum and since I love Egypt I'll have a lot of looking to do.

I was quite surprised by how much I picked up from an audio tour of a place I'm not actually at.  Rick gives great descriptions and tells interesting stories of the history of Egypt.  AND, he's amusing.  I wouldn't go so far as to say funny, but definitely has a couple corny and amusing spots in it.  I think this audio tour will be great when I'm actually at the museum, and will be great to listen to when I get home to remind me of my trip through the museum.

In the past I haven't spent a ton of time preparing for a trip - other then getting hotels, airfares and making a rough itinerary.  I thought it was time to get a better idea of the things that I actually plan to see while there.  This will give me an idea of the significance of the places, an idea of how long I need to spend there and what areas of it I want to concentrate.  I have no doubt that I could spend days at the British Museum, but I'll have to make choices about what I want to see on this trip so that I can see some of the other things London has to offer.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy Birthday America - Photo of The Week

In honor of the 4th of July I present our flag proudly displayed in front of the USS Missouri in Pearl Harbor.
Happy Birthday America!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Berlin to Copenhagen

Day 32: Berlin to Copenhagen: We travel across Germany and on a ferry to Denmark for our final night in Copenhagen. Why not join your crew for a last night farewell dinner?. (Breakfast included)

Hotel: Belaegnin Youth Hostel
Breakfast: open Bags to the bus/depart: 8:30

I was up a little early this morning and after my shower went and had breakfast before packing my bag. At breakfast I spoke to Warren who said Yvette had gone out the night before and seen the Reichstag while the rest of us were at the boring bars, hmmm, I think I missed out. Before leaving we had to say some goodbyes this morning. Skye and Ted, who although fought with each other, were both very nice and each brought something totally different to the tour, I would miss both of them. Michael was also getting off here, and well, he could never be replaced, he's such a nut. This was also Warren's last stop. Bye guys!!!!

We drove till 11:45 where we took a ferry to Denmark, but had to wait till 1:00 for the 2 hour ferry. The ferry was interesting... First everyone got lunch then a couple of us went to the shop, but brought our drinks, but not our receipts. After wandering the shop and spending some of my remaining money I left. But I came out at the end of an incident. When Renae left she had her drink in her hand and got stopped for shoplifting, someone went to get her a receipt while she argued with the guy. Then someone else came out who also had a drink and brushed the guy off and kept walking, and Renae followed. As this was happening I walked out with my drink. Well Renae pointed me out, thanks. But by then he'd lost control of all of us and no one got into trouble. But it was fun to tell the story, everyone got a good laugh at us all almost getting arrested on a boat.

At 5:00 we arrived where we began a month ago, the adventure of a lifetime was coming to an end. My first thought when I saw the tank in the parking lot was how when when we left a month ago I was mad I hadn't taken a picture of it. Now my opportunity was here and I really just wanted to go back into time to when I was mad I hadn't taken the picture.

For my last night of tour I was rooming with Leah and Tania, and the atmosphere was totally different now. We had 2 hours to get ready before going into Copenhagen for the night and there seemed to be something going on everywhere and no ones door was closed, it was nice. At 7:00 we left for town and in honor of my birthday the next day Maggy played a bunch of Happy Birthday songs, Yea for my birthday! My birthday present was that I got to be an honorary Aussie for the night. Which makes more sense when you consider the fact that we were going to watch the Aussie World Cup game tonight.

We were dropped off near Central Station to get dinner before meeting for the game. I was torn tonight, there were so many people that I wanted to spend time with since it was our last night but people were going in different directions. I ended up going with a bunch of people to Central Station before going to the all you can eat pizza place, which was convenient to Central Station and our after dinner meeting location. At Central Station I bought myself a new giraffe, I named him Rasputin, in honor of the tour. Just a note - he is the actual traveling giraffe as he always travels with me. At dinner I ate with Lis, Leah and Tom, a good group for my last night, too bad we couldn't get a bigger table, but but it was crowded at the restaurant.

After that we went to a Scottish Pub to watch the Aussie Vs Croatia game, which was a tie, moving the Aussies to the next round, Yea! So I was in Copenhagen in a Scottish bar watching a game involving Australia and Croatia that took place in Germany - how international! We got back to the hostel at 11:50 and pretty much everyone stood around till midnight to sing Happy Birthday to me, how sweet. Thanks guys! But since it was cold out and most people were getting up earlyish, everyone scattered after the singing.

Everyone said goodbye to Brittany, who was woken up for all her goodbyes, Tom, Kate and Andrew who were all leaving early in the morning. Although I had only gotten to know Brittany well the last few days I would miss her, she was a nice girl with a good head on her shoulders (wow, I sound like an old lady saying that, but it is true). And Tom, Kate and Andrew had been such good friends the whole tour, all those Uno games, gossip sessions, the night I flipped out on Corey, and touring cities together. They were leaving early in the morning, I hoped I would get up to say goodbye to them, but knew it probably wouldn't happen, so I had to make it count tonight.