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.  

Monday, February 28, 2011

Friday, February 25, 2011

Churchill's War Room

While in London I visited the Churchill War Rooms - a museum dedicated to the underground bunker that Churchill and the British government used during WWII.  This museum was recommended to me by family friends and I have to say it was a good fit.

Before and after going here I heard wonderful things about the museum and it was wall set up.  I will caution thought that I was by far the youngest person going through the museum, I think everyone else had lived through WWII. 

The set up of the museum gave an idea of what it would have been like to be down in the bunker for long periods of time (I work in an office without windows so I undertood that part of it already).  there was an authentic feel to the museum with the use of actually and period pieces.  The only thing I didn't like was that some of the maniquines made the museum feel a little cheesy. 

I would recommend this musuem to others visiting London, particularly if you are interested in history.  I'm not sure I would put it on a 1 day itinerary, but probably a 2 or 3 day + itinerary.  There was another part to the museum, about Churchill himself.  I opted to skip that part as I was getting hungry and he wasn't my primary interest in visiting.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Anaheim Fairfield Inn

On my trip to Disneyland I stayed at the Anaheim Fairfield Inn.  For those of you unaware of the layout of Disneyland it is not like Disneyworld.  The Disney property fills in a ginormous city block, within it is Disneyland Park, Disney's California Adventure, Downtown Disney and 1 hotel.  The other two Disney hotels are across the street from Downtown Disney.  All around the park are privately owned hotels.  Directly across from Downtown Disney is one of the park entrances and an area with several hotels, including the Fairfiled Inn.  I had a 5-10 minute walk to the entrance of the parks. 

The rooms at the Fairfield Inn were large, the sink is seperate from the toilet and shower, and the hotel is set back a little bit from the road, I never heard any street noise and my room did face the street.  The hotel also offered free internet, always a plus.  They did have a pool there, a restaurant inside the hotel (Pizza Hut) and a coffee shop.  Additionally, there was a restaurant called Millies right outside as well as a McDonalds - you're not going to starve here.  The biggest downside of the hotel?  They had cheap towels.  The best part - you can see the Matterhorn.  I highly recommend the hotel to anyone visiting Disneyland.

There are some other hotels in this area too, I walked past at least 3 on my way to the park.  I know they are all also moderately priced hotels and although some of them had cheesy exterior decorations, none of them screamed, "bad hotel."  After booking my hotel I found out the Best Western there is good, it is the closest to the park entrance too.  But other then considering that Best Western I would stay at the Fairfield Inn on a return trip in a heartbeat.

Friday, February 18, 2011

A rainy day at St. Andrews

On my Contiki tour we had a few hours to visit St. Andrews - the town, the school, the golf course.  You've probably heard of St. Andrews from one of two places - it's the birth place of golf and it's where Prince William and his future Princess Kate meet and went to school.  It's a great little town, even on a rainy day.

We visited St. Andrews in the morning.  It's a coastal town and it's the type of town that you envision when you think of old English and Scottish towns - small, quaint, old architecture.  There is a "Cathedral" there.  I use the quotes because at one time there was a Cathedral there, today there are just ruins of a Cathedral, but it must have been magnificent in its day.  

The golf course looks great too, and it's surrounded by lovely buildings, though they were still cleaning up after a tournament.

I'll admit I don't know if there is all that much to do there for the average tourist.  I would however recommend that anyone who is visiting Scotland stop at least for a day.  If you like golf, I believe you need to book early to get a t-time.  If you don't like golf, but want to honor the history of golf while you're there then you can visit the golf museum or better yet, play a round of miniature golf.  And don't forget to take a walk along the water, it's quite lovely there, but don't be like some girl on a previous tour and try to walk on the rocks during low tide - my Tour Manager had to swim out and save her.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Disneyland in review

I've just gotten back from my trip to Disneyland, that's the one in California.  It was my first time there, but I had heard it wasn't as good as Disney World, for many reasons.  It's smaller, it doesn't have that Disney bubble effect that you get in Florida, and it's just not as cool.  Of course I know there are people who disagree.  I think that for as similar as the two places are, they both offer something a little different.

I was there for 2 days, I spent the first day at Disneyland and the second at Disney's California Adventure (DCA). 

My first impression when I walked into Disneyland was, "that's the castle?  That's not a castle!"  There was a smaller feeling to everything, from the view of the train station when you first arrive, Main Street and the castle.  It was particularly weird since things also felt so familiar too, but was still different.  Overall the whole park felt a little smaller.  I'm not sure how much smaller the park is compared to the Magic Kingdom, but the walkways all felt smaller, and some of the lands felt smaller too.  I did like New Orleans Square.  As the day went on though the smaller feel of the park started to grow on me, the park felt more intimate then the Magic Kingdom.

As for DCA, it's one big giant construction project so I didn't get a real feel for it.  I do however think that DCA had MUCH better rides and attractions - Soarin, Tower of Terror, Toy Story, California Screamin and Aladdin.  As for the theming, it was good, but not as strong as the parks in Florida.  I thought the Hollywood section was well themed, but some of the rides were kind of hidden, rides that were closed weren't well marked.  A Bugs Land was well done, though the rides were really just for kids so I didn't spend much time there.  Paradise Peir was nice, the theme was well done, but it didn't feel as rich as many of the other themes I've seen in Disney parks.  As for Condor Flats and the Grizzley Recreation areas - while I noticed a difference in the areas, it didn't feel like the areas were that well themed and distinct.  World of Color is a fantastic show that I really enjoyed.

Overall I had a great time on this trip, I will talk more about it in future posts.  I felt like Disneyland was a bit underwhelming, though I could certainly see areas where Walt made noticeable improvements for the Magic Kingdom.  DCA provided great rides, but not so great of an experience, hopefully that will change once the expansion and upgrades are completed.  I do feel like the Disneyland vs Disney World is a worthy discussion, though no on will win it.  But I do think it makes a valid excuse to visit both.

Friday, February 11, 2011

British Weather in the Fall, bring a rain coat...

What they say about British weather is true!

While in England and Scotland the weather was fairly cool, it rained on and off, though rarely hard.  We didn't see much sun (but were excited when we did).  And you could get several diffferent types of weather in one day.

I will say that overall the weather was pretty good, as in - better then I expected (cold and rainy every day).  The weather was cool, at times cold, but more often on the warmer side - you know - fall weather.  There was quite a bit of wind, but that only affected me when I went to Hadrians Wall.  The rain we did have was usually pretty light, the type where if you don't have an umbrella and are outside for a while you'll get wet, but not enough to necessarily open an  umbrella if you had one.  The only place where I felt like the rain impacted the group was when we took a cruise of Loch Ness, I think even Nessie hid from the rain. 

The weather in the Fall makes England a little less hospitable, though I wouldn't forgoe a trip because it would be in the fall and the weather might not be great.  I did miss the summer crowds and that can be worse then a chilly, drizzly day.  But do bring a rain coat and some warmer clothes.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Lonely Planet Iphone Apps - London and Edinburgh

For my trip to England and Scotland I bought the Edinburgh and London (I got for free) Lonely Planet Iphone Apps.  I found both apps to be quite handy while traveling and have already gotten the Dublin app for my trip to Ireland.

I found having the apps on my phone super handy, much better then carrying a book around.  Along the same lines they were handy for planning my trip.  If I was stuck somewhere with a few minutes to kill, I could always research sites, hotels or anything else I could think of.  I felt like the app was easy to navigate.  Initially you are given the index, which allows you to go to any section of the book/app you would like.  Each section has basic information on an attraction and where applicable has a link to find out more information (only useful if you have wifi or 3G service).  You do not need internet service to run the app, only if you want additional information past what is contained in the app.  You can also save your favorites for easy access later on.  There was never an attraction that I couldn't find information for.

I did find the London app was weak in the area of dining.  It did have a few recommendations in it, but they were hard to find and not many.  Interestingly, the Edinburgh app had a well organized selection of restaurants in it.  I do think that this difference speaks to a lack of uniformity between different city guides, and how guide books are just starting to move to the world of apps.  But I did feel that both apps helped me plan my trip and also to make my stay in both cities easier. 

Lonely Planet used to charge $10 for each app.  During the volcano last year they offered some of their city apps for free.  It seems that apps started selling like hot cakes during that time and then Lonely Planet lowered the prices of all their apps.  I heard their apps were selling better since then, and Lonely Planet again offered some of their apps for free duruing the Christmas snow storm groundings in Europe.  While $10 for a up to date travel guide is a steal, I think the pricepoint was too high for the apps.  I believe the city guides are now running around $6 which I think makes them a great value.  I don't know if I would have bought the Edinburgh app had I not gotten the London app for free and seen its value.  If there is widespread travel issues check out the apps you're interested in, Lonely Planet might be having another sale...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Lines, the Iphone App

The Unofficial Guide and Touring Plans have created an app for the Iphone (and other platforms) called Lines.  I used the app when I went to Disney World last May when it was still fairly new.  I found that it was occasionally off (though not badly), I found that the addition of the self reporting option filled in the occasional incorrect data it was providing.  I hear that since then there have been improvements.  They also just released lines data for Disneyland too.

So for my trip to Disneyland I will be using the Lines app again, along with the touring plans for Disneyland that Touring Plans has created.

Can't wait for the trip to start!