About Me

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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, August 27, 2010

Streetmospheres at Disney

In a past post I wrote about how Alex, my nephew, wasn't into characters at Disney World and how this saddened me.  But there was something he did enjoy and it was a bit unexpected for a child of only 4 years old. He liked the Streetmospheres!

I never actually got to see Alex and the sword swallower at the Boardwalk, but I was told they became friends earlier in the trip.  Alex did mention him several times though.  In light of that I would recommend Boardwalk to people/families that like streetmospheres.

Then one day when we were leaving the Hollywood Studios we ran into a group performing and Alex was mesmerized.  I was eating a mickey ice cream sandwich and trying to hide (didn't want to give him any ideas for junk food), but I could have been sitting next to him and he never would have noticed.  My sister and her husband tried to pry him away from the performers so we could leave, but we had to wait until they were done because Alex was not leaving until they were done.

I have to say I like the streetmospheres too, I seem to run into a good show every time I go to Disney World and I always get a good laugh.  It's one of the unique things about Disney too, I never saw streetmospheres when I was at Universal or Great Adventure.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

New Suitcase: Victorinox E-Motion 360

I've always used a traditional suitcase when I travel, but often think about changing to a backpack.  However, I tend to get really tight muscles, sometimes with pain, in my neck and shoulders so a backpack doesn't make the most sense to me.  But lately a new class of suitcase has come out, a hybrid.  A suitcase with both wheels and backpack straps.  Unfortunately, there are only about 5-10 on the market and not all come with a waist strap, a must if you're actually going to carry your suitcase on your back.  With my upcoming trip to the UK I decided it was time to buy one.  I decided on the Victorinox E-Motion 360 Trek Pack Plus 26 inch.  They do make a womens version in 24 inch, but I decided to go with the larger suitcase.  The pre-packed weight of this bag is just under 10 pounds.

The exterior of the suitcase.  The suitcase has a small detachable pack on the front.  It is small though large enough for a book, magazine, wallet and a few toiletries, more on that at the end of the post.  If you're going to be using the wheels of the suitcase the back zips up hiding the shoulder and waist straps.  The only issue with this is that the flap that covers these straps just hangs there when it is unzipped.  I'm sure they could have come up with a way of securing that flap.  The other issue I have found is that as a 5 foot, thin woman the waist strap is loose on me.  I'm not sure how that will work out for me if I have to actually put it on my back.

At the bottom of the suitcase there is a shoe compartment.  It's accessible from the outside and has a sleeve to protect the contents of the suitcase from the shoes.  I'm not sure how useful this will be as I usually bring more then 1 extra pair of shoes with me, but it seems nifty.  The inside is pretty bare, in the photo you can see the single post for the handle, I liked that the single post takes up less room then suitcases with 2 posts for the handle.  The walls of the suitcase look white, but that is actually cardboard that keeps the shape of the suitcase.  

This is the small backpack that attaches to the front.  This also has backpack straps that can be tucked away. This zips onto the suitcase at the top and on the bottom are clips that also help secure it to the main body.  There are two compartments to this pack 1 larger one that is open and the smaller one in the front as shown in the photo with some compartments in it.  There is also a compartment on the side that can hold a water/drink bottle.

I'm pretty excited about this suitcase and hope it's the answer to some of my luggage issues, especially since I already have a couple pieces of luggage.  I'm not sure if I'll be taking this to Las Vegas with me, but I will be taking it on my Contiki trip, I'm sure I will encounter at least one hotel without an elevator there and will be pulling those straps out.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Construction everywhere

I'm being overly dramatic here, but when I was in Disney in May I noticed "a lot" of construction.  Maybe I never really saw construction there in the past, but I felt like there was a lot of construction going on there.  In truth I only specifically remember one spot (maybe 2) with construction, but it was in a weird spot and very much in my way.

In World Showcase in front of Mexico there was a "giant" construction site shielded by a wooden wall.  When you walked out of the pavilion the wall was right there and went to your right for a fair distance (the left side of the park if you're looking at the map.)  I walked by this several times (maybe that's why it seemed like there was so much construction) but it was most in my way the night we were watching Illumniations and I had to get past it to find a spot. 

What is weird is I'm wondering what they heck they are doing there?  The wall is quite tall, maybe 10 feet and extends a fair distance and it's on the water side.  They're not building a new pavilion based on the location and other then a railing, some trees, or a kiosk I can't imagine why they would need such a tall wall. 

Do does anyone else know what is going on there?

I do remember seeing another spot in the Magic Kingdom, though as I'm writing this in August I don't remember exactly where.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

I can hear my heart beating

As I follow the nurse into the operating room my nerves from the past few months start to get to me.  I've been waiting months for this surgery, I know at the other side of this surgery I will finally be on the road to recovery and that my mouth can finish it's healing.  But now I'm just thinking of that strange sterile room called an operating room.  As I go through the doors it's as I remember it from the last surgery a few months ago.

There's a table with a sheet on it and an extension for the left arm to rest on, though my IV is in my right hand.  The walls are a 70's green tile, there are several machines in the room, even more doctors and nurses.  The nurse gets a step stool so I can climb onto the table and the doctors start to hook me up to stuff.  Now I can see the operating lights - 3 giant lights on hinges so they can move around to provide optimum light for wherever the surgery is going on.  I remember operating rooms from when I was a child, they had a center light with lights all around them.  The lights now are similar to those, but single bigger lights and more mobile.

Then I hear it, my heart beating.  It's fast, even I know it's really fast.  I'm nervous about the surgery, who wouldn't be, but the fast heart beat sounds worse then I feel.  I calm myself down, and the beeping of my heart rate that everyone in the room can hear slows to a near normal rate.  Wow, if I can calm myself down like that then how did it get so fast in the first place?  I make small talk with the doctors, they'll use my left leg to harvest the bone instead of my right leg, so I can drive - it's so simple.

Why are they waiting so long to give me the anesthesia?  Don't they know how stressful the waiting is?  I don't need the small talk that precedes the surgery, just let me sleep while you do the hard work.  Then blessedly they tell me that I will start getting drowsy.  At first I want to close my eyes and help it along, then I think they might think I'm asleep and I'm not.  I open my eyes, but quickly the fight ends.  The next thing I know, the surgery is over.

I had bone a cleft palate repair and graft surgery in late July.  While this post isn't about travel, the hyper sensitivity to my surrounding and the beating of my heart reminds me of how present you can be when you travel so I thought I would post this.  The surgery went well, some minor hiccups, but nothing keeping me from recovery.    

Friday, August 13, 2010

Do you judge your travel or other peoples travel?

A bit of a fight broke out yesterday in the travel blogosphere.  Nomadic Matt wrote an article for the Huffington Post where he (I think) unintentionally picked on the 9 to 5 set and the soccer moms out there who are working to make money and only travel 2 weeks a year.  In that post he was trying to encourage travel because of how it transformed his life.  Mike Barish over at Gadling proceeded to go on a bit of a rant about Nomadic Matt's article and all the encouragement (or snobbishness) of nomadic lifestyles that is present in the travel blogosphere.

I didn't feel like a bad person after reading Nomadic Matt's post, even though I sometimes do work overtime to help pay for my travel.  But after reading Mike's post I realized something that I was slowly realizing about myself and my relationship to blogs.  There are a lot of people writing about their round-the-world trips and how they gave up their normal lives and are now location independent.  But you'll find there are bloggers in every niche of blogging doing what Nomadic Matt did in his post - making their way of travel sound like the only and best way to travel.

If you go by the blogs I read you then we should all be traveling around the world in first class (paid for by your frequent flyer program miles that you spend your time amassing) and staying in hostels to save money.  No wonder I have so much trouble trying to pick which hotel to stay at in Edinburgh, I don't know who I am!  Seriously, with all these different bloggers coming at you with all this different styles and angles it can make you wonder if you're doing it right.

I started to wonder if I should be quitting my job and becoming a digital nomad.  But then I realized I like my job.  Sometimes I love it, sometimes I hate it, but right now I like it and it's allowing me to do other things that I enjoy doing too.  In a few years I want to take off for a few months and do a longer more extensive trip, the kind where you do get to unplug from life a bit and really evaluate what you want to be doing and how you want to do it.

But I've also been able to answer some of these questions about myself as I go about daily life. Location independent is not for me, I like having a home to come back to after a trip.  As much as I like to see new things and have new experiences I like coming home to my stuff and that place called home.  I'm not into hostels.  I like having the privacy of my own room and bathroom.  I know it's more expensive that way and when the time is right I can handle a hostel, but I couldn't travel extensively in them.  I like packaged tours.  I sometimes travel alone and it's lonely, especially if you're not staying in hostels (which are a good place to meet other travelers) or are in a place that is not conducive to meeting people.  With a packaged tour you get introduced to your new best friends for X number of weeks or days.  You don't have to like everyone or anyone, but while on the tour you're with a group of people having a shared experience, you're not lonely and maybe you'll make a lifelong friend.

But even more important about Mike's post on Gadling is not knowing who you are as a traveler (and you and I may evolve our styles and interests), but remembering to be respectful of other peoples style.  If someone wants to spend a week drinking pina colladas and getting a tan on a beach, that's ok.  Or if someone else wants to eat at a McDonalds in every country they visit, let them enjoy the hunt even if it grosses you out.  Even though Mike does pick on Matt and the nomadic travelers in his post, I think his post is about accepting different styles of traveling and not judging people who do it differently.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Fast Pass Fairies

On the Thursday of our trip to Disney World we visited  Hollywood Studios. My sister had previously given me the impression that they were running pretty close to opening times for the parks, so when we arrived at the park an hour after opening I was thrown off a bit from what I had originally planned.  If you arrive at park opening what you're supposed to do (to maximize your time and do as much as possible) is get fast passes for Toy Story, ride Toy Story and move on with your day. However, by the time we got to Toy Story there was already a 50 minute wait. I got fast passes, but they were for 2:00 to 3:00. As we were standing around discussing what we wanted to do a man came up to us and gave us 3 fast passes to Toy Story that were valid right then.  Heidi, Alex and I rode while everyone else waited for us. Heidi wasn't overly impressed with the ride, but I still think it's one of the best at Disney World.  Those fast passes were like a gift from god, or at least a fast pass fairy.  When our fast passes became valid Mike, Alex and I went and rode the ride again, but we ran out of time for Mom to ride because of Blockparty Bash.

We finsihed up our day at the Hollywood Studios by going on The Rockin Roller Coaster. We went on the single rider line (Mom stayed behind with the two kids) and it might have actually taken longer then the regular line, they just were not moving the singles well. I hadn't ridden the ride since my 2002 trip so it was great to see how much fun the ride actually is. After riding a cast member came up to us and we were all trying to avoid the woman who was bugging us, then I realized that we were in Disney and it's probably not a crazy person (NY does bad things to peoples psychee) - well she offered us 3 fast passes to Rockin Rollercoaster.  We didn't end up using them, but found another group of people to give them to.  As nice as it is to be on the receiving end of a fast pass, it's nice to be the fast pass fairy yourself.

Pay it forward...

Monday, August 9, 2010

See, you do have to put your seat in the upright position!

I was just reading a Gadling blog post this morning where Heather Poole reviews Betty in the Sky With a Suitcase - the book, and in the blog it is revealed why you must put your seat in the upright position.  Since I posted about that recently, I thought I would let you all find out for yourselves from the blog post.


I also feel the need to add that I have not read the book, but I do listen to Betty's podcast and if the book is anywhere as good as the podcast you should run out and buy it now!  Why haven't I read it if I say you should?  I've been terrible at reading books lately (they take me months to read), so I'm being extremely selective about what books I buy, let along read.

Photo of the Week: New York City

New York City, the top of the Empire State Building

Friday, August 6, 2010

British Airways, you just don't make sense...

I booked my flights to the UK for September with British Airways and am considering upgrading my ticket.  However, when I view my tickets on the website it says that I can't upgrade online that I have to call.  I called, they said that I purchased too cheap of a ticket to upgrade and that I can only upgrade to economy plus (or whatever BA calls it.)  I asked what the cost of upgrading the ticket to be upgradable, but from what he said I think he told me how much it was with the upgrade - $600 and change, but there were no upgrades available.  That would bring my ticket price to the range of $1500

Interesting...  I checked online and you can purchase economy plus on that route for $1600 or you could purchase the flexible economy ticket for $2000.

What I don't like about the BA.com website is that it doesn't tell you what fare bucket your ticket is, and doesn't give you the option when you book.  Basically, it doesn't let you make a choice between a cheap ticket and a slightly more flexible ticket.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I have bad timing

I sitting around pondering life while I recover from surgery and I had a thought - I have bad timing.  I'm going to England and Scotland in September and at one time I had a couple friends there, I think now I may still have 1 or 2.  Well I know I have one, but the rest of them might have moved on.  I haven't gotten overseas much in the past few years so that is my excuse as good or bad as it is.

But as I think about my "big" trip - probably late 2011 or early 2012 and the places on my short list I'm wondering how I should pick my destination.  Ideally, I will be gone at least 3 weeks.

The African Safari
SE Asia
New Zealand

I don't have any friends working an African Safari so my theory doesn't hold for that.  I don't have any friends in SE Asia, but I do think the area is going to change more quickly then the last 2 places on my list.  Oz and NZ - I know some people in both, though don't have any close friends.  I'm sure I could meet up for a dinner or drinks or something there with the people I know.  And well Contiki has an 18 day tour of NZ that sounds nice.  And well, I'm sure I'll make some new friends from down under on my next Contiki tour.  Maybe it will work out well to hit NZ or Oz first - SE Asia might start installing more "western" toilets by the time I make it there.  Ahhh, dreams.  But I do think I should give a little more consideration to where I know people when I plan this next trip, meeting up with locals/friends might make the place come to life.