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, December 31, 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Award Wallet and Frequent Flyer Miles

In the past year or so I've been making a concerted effort to accumlate Frequent Flyer miles.  The problem with accumulating FF miles is keeping track of them, which is where Award Wallet comes in.  Award Wallet is an online tool to help manage your FF miles, including miles for hotel reward programs, and more.

When you set up an account with Award Wallet you provide it with your FF program numbers and login information, from there is keeps track of your miles - whether they're going up or down.  You have the option of storing your FF account log in information on the Award Wallet website or on your own computer, whichever you prefer.   

Award Wallet sends out a weekly e-mail update with your activity.  This will only show programs where there is activity and provides a link to go into your programs website and review that activity.  This is very handy if you have unexpected activity or do not see activity that should have posted.  It's also a nice treat in your mailbox, especially if you have an increase in activity.

As an extra bonus when you have a trip planned it will add that information to your account.

Award Wallet does all this for free!  It's really handy and makes tracking miles very easy - whether you have a lot of activity or a little activitiy. 

Award Wallet also offers some premium/paid services.  Award Wallet will show the expiration date of miles for up to 3 accounts, I do find this really handy when trying to keep miles from expiring.  While I have not paid for this service yet, this is one feature that I have been considering upgrading my account for.  There are some other features that are handy, but are geared toward a more frequent traveler then I am.  But that's the nice thing, you decide how much you want to pay! or if you pay at all.

One downside - Southwest does not allow Award Wallet to access their system.  I think it's lame of Southwest, but it's their policy.  Sorry to all you Southwest people!

Even if you're not really into miles accumulation, it's still a good, useful website.  It will help you keep track of miles and keep them from expiring, that's worth the few minutes it takes to set up an account.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Christmas Photo

From the Bellagio's Christmas decorations.  I wish everyone a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What to do in 2011

Last Friday instead of writing a blog post, I was planning a trip.  Well, at least it sounds like a good excuse.  While I'm getting my life back in order, I'm still having some issues and thinking of taveling, instead of writing about it, is one of those issues.

So what am I planning?  Early last week I realized that I had a $50 credit with Jetblue, which I should have used for my mothers trip to Florida, but didn't.  Since it's expiring this summer I didn't think I would have an opportunity to use it.  The obvious solution to saving $50 is to spend more money and go on a trip.  Uhhh, who was that president who talked about "fuzzy math?" 

On Wednesday I got the briliant idea that I should go to Disneyland, saving $50 is kinda like winning the Super Bowl, so why not.  I've actually wanted to go, but since I've been to LA twice and don't love it, I don't see myself going there except on a stopover to somewhere cooler.  I figured I could go on a quick weekened trip and fly one way on Virgin America (obviously I need to fly one way on Jetblue for my $50 savings).  But since flying on Virgin America is on my list of things to do in tavel, it seemed like an obvious choice.  I figured I would wait and see if Jetblue or Virgin America came up with a discount on airfares - they were both listing fares at $150ish one way, so it seemed like I might be able to do this pretty cheaply especially if I could find an even cheaper fare. 

On Thursday I get an email from Jetblue, they're discounting airfares.  Decision time...  I decided to go (after much discussion and mulling over).  I booked the Jetblue Flight, contacted a travel agent for the Diseny part of the trip and then stressed about which flight home to take with Virgin America.  I didn't actually book the flight home until Friday. 

So now I have myself a quick little weekend trip to a warmer climate in the middle of winter, something I've never done before. 

Some other things  I have in the works for 2011 are Ireland and Walt Disney World.  I guess I should start working some OT!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

London's Churches

So do you like St. Paul's or Westminster Abey better, and why?

During my stay in London I visited both.  I will say that they both were similarly priced to visit and  both included audio tours.  They were both quite beauiful and have long great histories.

One thing that was frustrating was that you could not take photos in either.  I'm sure this is to maintain the integrity of the art and to sell coffee table books.  I have several coffee table books from many of the different places I have visited, but I rarely, if ever, look through them.  I didn't buy a book on either place; subsequently, my memory has faded and I can't always remember some of the details of what I saw in which.

St. Pauls at first, is more striking.  Westminster Abbey is more of a sleeper - as I went through it, it grew on me more and more.  It may not have been as large or as grand, but it had a lot more little nooks that enhanced it and made it special.  Poet's Corner, the Great Cloister, Lady Chapel. 

One thing though that did set St. Paul's apart was the views of the city.  If you're willing to climb a couple hundred steps you can visit the whispering gallery and get great views inside the cathedral, continue climbing and you can see the city.  I was not in shape when I visited and the stairs were a challenge, to say the least.  I didn't climb up the 3rd set of stairs for the highest view of the city, but the view at the top of the second flight was great and worth the workout.

Friday, December 10, 2010

A Day At the Hershey Spa

This summer I spent a day at the Hershey Spa with my friend, Tara. 

The Hershey Spa often offers promotions for, a day at the spa, using specific packages.  Packages vary, but Tara and I took advantage of a package that included lunch at the Oasis, a traditional massage and a 30 minute facial.  Becuase this was a day at the spa package we were also allowed to use the pool at the hotel.

Heaven, this was a fantastic day of relaxation. 

Check-in was easy, though you should arrive early since there is some paperwork you need to fill out.  The staff was friendly and professional. 

Our first stop was lunch at the Oasis.  It was a nice lunch, but I thought it was overpriced.  They offered all cold foods, mostly cold meats and salads.  They tasted very good and were high end, healthier foods.  But the best part was the desserts.  They also offered juices and teas to drink.

After that we had a good hour or so before our massages and decided to check out the indoor and outdoor pools.

The indoor pool was a smaller pool with hot tub next to it.  It was a nice quiet area with a couple other people who were visiting the spa there.  Otherwise it was unremarkable as far as hotel pools.

The outdoor pool was great though, one of the best I've visited.  There was a family pool with slides and sprinkler types of things.  It looked like it would be fun if you were traveling with children.  However, I was with adults and headed to the adult pool, which is an infinity pool.  The pool was the perfect temperature.  I've never been in a pool where you walked right in and never noticed a change in temperature, it was heaven!  There were ledges around the pool making it a nice place to sit in the pool and hang out with friends.   

When our massage appointments were due we headed back to the spa and hung out in the aroma room (since you can't talk in the quiet rooms).  I found the people who came and went through the room were fairly friendly.  The massage was great and after I was done I met with Tara in the aromatherapy room again and waited for my facial.  Tara and I had slightly different experiences with the facials.  It was nice, too short, and did not consist of a hard sell at the end, thankfully!  I've had massages and facials at many a spa over the years and in terms of the quality of the massage and facial I thought they were just as good, if not better, then other spas I have been to. 

Tara and I are already discussing when the next day at the spa will be, though I think we'll stay overnight at the hotel to make it an even more relaxing experience.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Credit Cards

On Tuesday I was reading John Heald's blog and got a lesson on Credit Cards, not really what I expected from John Heald, Cruise Director for the Carnival Splendor. 

For a while now I've been hearing about the europeans having these mythical credit cards with chips in them.  And I've also heard that in some places in Europe if you don't have one of these special cards then you can't use your credit card - the street bike rentals in Paris is one example.  I know many are bummed about this, especially since US credit card companies don't seem interested in this model. 

I am also aware that thieves, when they steal credit cards, will sometimes go to a gas station to check the credit card, it's an easy place to do it and not have to encounter a person incase it has been reported stolen.  I guess the credit cards and gas stations heard about this and many gas stations in the US now ask for your zip code before approving your credit card.  Sounds easy.  Except if you don't know your zip code (usually people with business cards), or you are from another country and don't have a zip code, as John found out.  ACK!

I guess we all have our issues with credit cards and it's not just a plot against non-european bike riders.  For those of you visiting the US, bring cash for gas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

North Dakota, the scary state

Right now I'm in training and at the facility I'm at there are a lot of people from different places around the country.  It makes things quite interesting.  The last time I was here I learned a bit about Wyoming, which if it wasn't so cold there might be a great place to visit.  This time I learned about North Dakota, the scary state!

The only thing I really knew about the Dakota's before tonight was that they are really separated by East and West culturally, not North and South.  I need to listen to fewer podcasts because they didn't know what I was talking about.  But it's a crazy ass place that I don't know if I ever want to visit.

Here is a briefing of the conversation, which did involve alcohol:

A 20 year old giving birth to her 5th child, in an ambulance.
The girl I was talking to lost her virginity in the backseat of a pick up truck on a windy night and got pregnant.
"Fixing" a dog at home, improperly, while the woman from Head Start stops by.  The men were not fans of that one.
Trying to commit suicide but measuring the rope wrong, everyone else's fault.
How to properly shoot up a barrel so it can be used for a fire.
Burning your trash at home, also burning yourself and having the medicine woman help clear up the burns.
Getting eaten by (at least 5) dogs, and living, but losing several limbs.

Individually each story was ok, when you put them all together you would rather drive through Canada to get where you're going.

If you're from North Dakota and normal, I'm sorry to offend you, but I'm a little freaked out.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Disney Restaurant Reviews:

My resturant reviews from my May trip to Disney World:

Big River Grille and Brewing Works
Located at the Boardwalk Resort.  I didn't really like this place.  My Mom and I waited at least 30 minutes, probably closer to an hour to eat here.  Then the food was just average.  I got a pasta dish and it didn't have much flavor. Even though it's a brewery type of place I do expect tomato sauce to have flavor to it.  The service was ok, but the best part of the place was that you could watch sports games at the bar.

I doubt I would ever go back here, maybe if I was at the Boardwalk and despirate, but I would go to the ESPN Zone or Flying Fish first.

Wolfgang Puck Cafe
This was better then the Big River Grille, though not a place I would add to my highly recommend list. 
I had the BBQ Pizza, which was spicier then I expected and made it not as good as it could have been.  But I found the menu to be a little too fancy for a restaurant at Downtown Disney.  I've been to Wolfgang Puck restaurants in Vegas with a more basic, but interesting menu.  When my sister tried to make a reservation for us she asked for 6:00 and was given 5:30, which is fine if they're busy since we were a bigger group with kids.  But, when we left at 6:45 the place wasn't that busy, at least 1/3 of the tables were empty.  That left a bit of a bad taste in the mouth. 

I liked Wolfgang Puck Cafe and would go back.  However, I would pick another resturant that I haven't been to at Downtown Disney first.