Tag Archives: travel

Impressions of Iceland

Iceland is hot these days – figuratively, of course. The weather is quite chilly, even in May. Here are some of my thoughts on the trendy destination.

  1. Iceland is beautiful. No question about it, Iceland is stunning, and we only got to see a small part of it. With more time (and money), I’d recommend renting a car and doing a loop around the entire country. The further in you go, the more stunning and unreal the scenery gets.
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  2. Iceland is an ethereal experience. From the ashy grey skies, to the insane winds, to the 11 p.m. sunsets, experiencing Iceland is unlike most other traveling experiences. Even walking down the street in Reykjavik, I felt the remoteness of the island. Of course, we experienced Iceland on the cusp of summer. I imagine the winter is a similar and altogether different experience at the same time.
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    Black sand beaches!

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    Geothermal activity

  3. Iceland is expensive. I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again. The cost of enjoying the country was definitely a downer, and would make me think twice about going again (unless I win the lottery). I’m all for splurging on vacation, but Iceland made me feel like I was emptying my bank account in one week. By the end of the trip, it would piss me off every time I had to pay $4.00 for a diet coke. And sure, I can forgo diet coke for five days, but why in the world would I want to???As I understand it, the cost is due to the inflated value of the Krona, the fact that Iceland is an isolated island, and extremely high taxes. While this is great for people working in the tourist industry, it’s not so great for the tourists (or the rather large percentage of Icelanders working in the export industry).
  4. Iceland is worth a trip – at least once. The relatively short flight and the proliferation of cheap airfare makes Iceland more accessible than ever before. Even with the high cost, it’s definitely worth experiencing at least once in a lifetime.
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Happy Birthday!

Crap, has it been a year already?

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Here’s the one nice part about getting older. It is the only way for things to change. For wounds to heal, for memories to fade, for new people and opportunities to present themselves. This year came along when I desperately needed something in my life to change. So I am happy to be older, happy to look back on the past year and remember all the amazing, new things.

I am happily in a new relationship with the wonderful M. Most importantly, my almost-four-year-old niece has given M her imprimatur of approval. I literally traveled around the world to Vietnam with one of my best friends and added two new national parks to my list (Arches and Canyonlands) with my sister. Finally, I have a bunch of exciting trips to look forward to, from Spain to Cleveland to a potential trip to Cuba (!!!!).

M and I - baseball game

Our first baseball game together. Cubs vs. Nats. Cubs win!

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Lisa and I laughing it up in Vietnam.

Life is far from perfect. There are stressful, difficult, blah-filled days. Like every human being, I worry about mundane things and big life things. There are things I should worry about, but stupidly push them to the space in my head where thoughts magically disappear. I struggle to remind myself that I can’t control everything and everyone (though the world would be a better place if I could). But….I am affirmatively happy. It is amazing how one person can change so much. I am thankful for that gift every single day. And I am looking forward to the many things M and I plan to share together. Especially the end of this oppressive heat wave. Until then, I am ensconced in my woman cave and have no intention of leaving.

Here’s to another year. And here’s to me.

 

 

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IS THERE SUCH A THING AS TOO MUCH TRAVEL?

I used to think no. But now I’m thinking yes. Yes, there is such a thing as too much travel and I have experienced it. Some of the trips were part of a long-planned vacation and some were for work, but put together, it was just a little too much. After a month of constant and cross-globe travel, I am so glad to be home.  

Travel Map - One Month

 My itinerary from November 21st – December 9th:

  • Washington, DC – Austin: A work trip with a stopover in Houston
  • Austin – Dallas: Road trip to check out the Bush presidential library which I did not see thanks to SNOW in Texas. Yes, snow.
  • Dallas – New York City: Flight to NYC for our Asia trip
  • New York City – San Francisco: First stopover of our Asia trip
  • San Francisco – Seoul: Second stopover of our Asia trip
  • Seoul – Siem Reap, Cambodia: We arrive at our first city of our Asia trip
  • Siem Reap – Bangkok: Our second city of our Asia trip
  • Bangkok – Hong Kong: Our third city of our Asia trip
  • Hong Kong – New York City: Our flight home from Asia with a stopover in Vancouver
  • New York City – DC: A train ride home for some meetings
  • DC – New York City: A train ride back to New York to see The Boyfriend and a work party
  • New York City – Pittsburgh: A work trip to Pittsburgh with a stopover in Philadelphia
  • Pittsburgh – DC: Home
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Updated Map: Where I’ve Been

It’s been a banner year for traveling to new states, and I realized it was time to update my “where I’ve been” map.

To date, I have been to 36 states and the District of Columbia. My new map:

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My Crazy Travel Week

It’s been a busy week travel wise. As much as I love traveling, it is nice to be home in my apartment with my television and my bed and my DVR, and most importantly, it is a pleasure not to be hauling a massive camping backpack around.

This is what my week and a half has looked like:

Travel Map 08-28-09-09

Baltimore – Charlotte, NC: Stopover en route to Arizona

Charlotte – Phoenix: Hiked the Grand Canyon! (more on that later)

Phoenix – Cleveland, OH: Stopover en route to Boston

Cleveland – Boston: Visited family for the Jewish holidays

Boston – Philadelphia: Stopover en route to New Orleans

Philadelphia – New Orleans: Last minute work trip

New Orleans – Charlotte: Stopover en route to Baltimore

Charlotte – Baltimore: Home!

More to come on all these travels!

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HAPPY JANUARY: THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO

Is there anything more depressing than returning from a great vacation to a cold and dreary January and the prospect of another two months of freezing tempuratures? Probably, but I’m having trouble getting past the two more months of winter and the lack of any big travel plans on the horizon. Have no fear! There are still a number of big (and small) things to look forward this month.

1. New job: I’ll be switching jobs later this month. Here’s to all the adventures and craziness that big life changes inevitably bring. I shall embrace thee.

2. Running: Yeah, I never thought I’d utter such a blasphemous statement, but the downside of vacation is that I always come back feeling like a female version of the Pillsberry Dough Boy. No matter how many times I vow to use the hotel gym on vacation, it never actually happens. It’ll be nice to start running again and feeling more like a person and less like a dough girl.

3. Charlotte: I’ll be going to Charlotte, NC for work later this month. Granted, it’s not the most exotic destination, but I like exploring new cities.

4. Planning new trips: I love planning trips almost as mich as I love taking them. I’m not sure what our next big trip will look like, but I’m hoping to plan some weekend hiking outings in the spring. Any suggestions for the Northeast?

5. TV shows return: No more being forced to watch dopey holiday movies on the ABC Family Channel.

6. Music: On a similar note, the end of Christmas music on every radio station.

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2012 TRAVEL REFLECTIONS

2012 has been a pretty good year for travel and points redemptions. We rung in 2012 in London nearly 12 months ago and kicked off 2012 with a weekend trip to Smokey Mountains National Park in Tennessee in May. In August, I abandoned The Boyfriend for a nine day trip to Croatia with my friend Lisa. Early September, we hopped over to Canada for a quick, last-minute trip to Niagara Falls, and capped off the year with a trip to Paris and Brussels. And, of course, there were the occasional trips to Boston and New York throughout the year to visit The Boyfriend and our families.

Here is my year in numbers:

  • 1: The number of national parks I’ve visited this year – Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
  • 2: The number of new states I’ve visited – Tennessee and North Carolina.
  • 4: The number of new countries I’ve visited – Croatia, Bermuda, France, and Belgium.
  • 6: The number of new credit cards I’ve applied for and received. It was a slow year for me.
  • 45: The number of Amtrak trips I’ve taken, all to New York, Pennsylvania and D.C.
  • 15,550: The number of Amtrak Rewards points I’ve earned this year.
  • 19,848: The approximate number of miles I’ve flown this year.
  • 498,000: The number of miles/points I’ve redeemed this year: Ten free Amtrak trips, one round-trip business class flight to Croatia, two round-trip business class flights to Paris and six hotel nights in Paris.

How was your travel year?

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BERMUDA PART 6: MY 10 FAVORITE PICTURES

The Boyfriend has little patience for stopping to take pictures, which makes getting someone to take a picture of the two of us together a little difficult. So I took a picture of our shadows.

The Boyfriend has little patience for stopping to take pictures, which makes getting someone to take a picture of the two of us together a little difficult. So I took a picture of our shadows.

Water

The water was so beautiful…

Pretty Cove

Pretty cove

The Royal Navy Dockyard

The Royal Navy Dockyard

The restaurant down the road, famous for its unique decor (and free internet!)

The restaurant down the road, famous for its unique decor (and free internet!)

I don’t think we’re in America anymore… Maybe that’s why everyone is driving on the wrong side of the road. Hmmm…

Awesome looking plant. I couldn’t resist take a picture.

Saw this on one of our walks. Real or not real? I have no idea.

Sunset in Hamilton. Pretty.

This is a sign in a small Bermuda cafe. We didn’t have the heart to tell them China is itself a country.

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DECEMBER: THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO

Okay, so winter doesn’t officially start until December 21st, but in my mind, winter starts on December first and ends as soon as February slips into March. I should add one important thing: I hate winter. Ooops, I mean, I HATE winter. I’m dreading the next three months. I long for sun, long summer days, running outside, hiking,  etc. But I’m still looking forward to somethings. Even winter’s impending doom can’t take that away from me.

1. Trip to Paris and Brussels with The Boyfriend: I booked The Boyfriend and I on business class seats to Paris and Brussels over Christmas and New Years, two new countries for the both of us. This will be our first extended vacation since our Christmas trip to London last year. Huzzah.

2. Lufthansa Lounge: Yeah, I’m a lame, points-obsessed traveler, but Lufthansa recently renovated its business class lounge at JFK airport and I’m excited to check it out.

3. Movies: The Hobbit for The Boyfriend and This is 40 for me. Confession: I have a minor crush on Paul Rudd.

4. Platinum Status: Did I mention I’m obsessed with points? The Boyfriend will achieve platinum status with Starwood Hotels this week due to his extensive work travels. Another huzzah.

5. Holiday Parties Galore: Friends, food, festiveness, enough said.

6. Last Credit Card Churn of the Year: I will be up for a final credit card churn for 2012. For those of you who have no idea what that means, it’s when I apply for a couple of credit cards with huge sign up bonuses to replenish my miles stash.

What are you looking forward to?

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News You Can Use… Or Can’t

I don’t know if you read The Everywhereist, but you should. She is a veritable riot. She also says that we bloggers should shamelessly steal other people’s good ideas, so I am stealing her idea of posting random, useful, sometimes useless, entertaining and interesting links every Friday. Thanks Geraldine. Remember, imitation is the sincerest form of something or other.

You think you’re an expert traveler. Please. This guy makes you look pathetic.

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Apparently, United Airlines is still struggling with internal technical problems, says the New York Times. I don’t care. They still have the best award availability of all the airlines.

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Sorry North Korea. Did we say the sexiest man alive? We meant the most gullible man alive. This story is not to be missed.

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What a shocker. Delta changes its mind. Again. At least, this time, it’s to the benefit of travelers. View from the Wing reports, Award Wallet supports Delta Skymiles again.

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Awesome volcano video. Enough said.

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How emotional are you? Well that depends on where you live. Here’s a color-coded map of the world’s most and least emotional countries.

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This is exciting news if you love the southwest U.S.  like I do. Jetblue now has nonstop flights from JFK to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I love Arizona and I think I would love New Mexico too, but getting there has always been a pain in the neck. Until now. (HT: Just Another Points Traveler)

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The worse hotel in the world, and proud of it. This story is funny, but I won’t be staying here anytime soon.

Have a super-awesome weekend. I plan on sleeping for most of it.

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