Happy Early Father’s Day — NYC Style!

Hey friends,

As I mentioned yesterday, my dad and stepmom came into the city this past Saturday for a little early Father’s Day celebration. We had an epic day. We started at our favorite local Upper East Side brunch place, Uptown,  then took them for a tour of pretty much all of Central Park. We started at Engineer’s Gate and hit up Delacorte Theater, Turtle Pond and the Belvedere Castle, as well as the Brambles, the Bethesda Fountain, the Boathouse, Conservation Waters, the Reservoir, the Great Lawn , Shakespeare Garden and the Alice In Wonderland statue.

Phew!

We topped off the tour with rooftop drinks at the Met, which has about the most amazing view of Manhattan I’ve seen yet. [Top of the Rock is pretty amazing as well ... but this was a close second.]

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^^ From the top of Belvedere Castle.

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^^ A birds-eye view of the Great Lawn.

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^^ That structure over to the right of this photo is Delacorte Theater,
where they put on Shakespeare in the Park productions.

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^^ Tiny Judy, down in the bottom right of the photo. I love this one ;)

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 ^^ Sweeping skyline views from the Met rooftop bar and cafe.

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^^ Happy Father’s  Day everyone!

 

Sorry for the Silence …

Hey guys,

Sorry it’s taken me a while to post about St. Augustine. I had about half of the post written, and when I went to go post more photos I was informed that I need to upgrade my account in order to be able to include any more pictures.

Bummer.

So that’s definitely on my to-do list. I might just go ahead and post the trip in two days, since it seems like I have enough room left to do just that.

Anyway, just wanted to give you that short update! Hope to upgrade soon and be back on here, especially since we have Australia coming up next week!

The Year 2012: A Review

Hey friends,

So I thought I’d start a new yearly tradition here at Weary Wanderer wherein I share my travels from the year before, along with some of my favorite photo memories from the place. January always makes people reminisce over the past year, and as I gathered together the photos I wanted to share from 2012, I realized how truly blessed I am to have been able to travel to the places I’ve been, and to have the people in my life that I do.

So without further ado…here’s to 2012–quite the year for travel!

January
January started with a bang when Chris proposed to me on New Year’s Eve, and kept going strong when my dad sent me and my two sister’s on a trip together to Key West, Florida. Believe it or not it was the first trip my sister’s and I had been on alone together, and it really did provide us with some great memories.

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June
In June, Chris and I flew out to Palm Springs, California, to plan what we thought was going to be our wedding for this upcoming October. And while that didn’t turn out to be the case (see December 2012 for reference!), we still had a blast while we were there!

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August
August was an absolutely amazing month for me, as I was able to fly out to the town in Italy where my grandfather was born–Rocella Jonica, in Calabria, Italy. (Also talked about here.) While there I met family I had never met before, visited the family farm where my grandfather and his siblings all worked and saw the house where my grandfather was born and raised. It honestly was the trip of a lifetime, and I was so blessed to have been able to go on it.

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September
In September I took a sneaky Labor Day trip to my mom’s house in upstate NY, and I forced Chris to take a stroll with me around our New York City neighborhood so I could snap some lovely shots. It was a quiet month, filled with simple pleasures, to be followed by a crazy beginning of October …

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October
The month of October was a wild and fantastic one. Chris and I jetted off to Europe to meet his parents for a multi-country trip which included Berlin to watch Chris run the Berlin marathon:

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Then Munich for some Oktoberfest shenanigans:

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Followed by a gorgeous (and crazy expensive!) drive through the Alps to Venice:

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And a quick trip to Rome for a couple days as well:

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Then, not too long after arriving back from Europe, we hopped in a rental car to head to Virginia to catch a JMU game and stay in an awesome cabin in the woods with my sister and her boyfriend, our cousin and her boyfriend, and another friend of Stephanie’s and her boyfriend as well:

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November
In November I was whisked away by my sisters and some amazing friends to a surprise bachelorette party in East Hampton. We had an awesome, amazing, gorgeous house right on the water, with a fire pit, hot tub and lots of booze and snacks. I mean really, what more could a gal ask for?

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December
December, my friends, was the month of all months in 2012. It started with a super fun trip to the MOMA to see The Scream, and picking out our Christmas tree at our 96th St. subway stop. My sister and her boyfriend came for a visit and we took a jaunt to the shops and ice skating rink at Bryant Park:

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And then, my friends, on December 31, 2012, I became Mrs. Christopher Vincent Connor at City Hall in Manhattan. My dad and stepmom got us a car for the day, and my lovely friend/witness/photographer, Faye, took a ride around the city with us, snapping different photos everywhere we went:

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Bis bald, friends! And here’s to an equally as amazing 2013!

Long Time, No Write!

Hi friends,

I’m amazed at how many people have continued to read this blog while I’ve been MIA—hello out there! Thank you for staying interested!

I do apologize for my long vacation (it has not been an actual vacation of the kind I would write about on here, trust me!). I recently started at a new job and I’ve been settling in, so things have been a bit hectic around here!

I’m feeling more settled now, though, so I do hope to start posting again more frequently. It was one of my many New Years resolutions to write on here at least three days a week.

I have failed miserably at that. Oops.

Okay, well moving on, here are some upcoming trips and/or events that I’m totally excited to blog about:

  1. This weekend, my dad and I will be running the ING Rock ‘n’ Roll Philadelphia 1/2 Marathon. I feel nowhere near as prepared for this race as I was for the one I ran last year, but I’m counting that as inspiration to try even harder :)
  2. Chris will be heading to Vegas this weekend for a bachelor party. If it’s not too debaucherous, I may trick him into doing a blog post about it.
  3. I will be heading to Chicago from October 6-12 with a BFF to watch Chris run the Chicago 1/2 marathon (lots of my trips revolve around running, apparently).
  4. We’ll be going to West Point on Oct. 1 to watch some Army football (a favorite pastime of my family!)
  5. We’ll be off to Jamaica from Nov. 9-13 for a cousin’s wedding—woot woot!

Some exciting stuff, my friends. Can’t wait to provide updates to all of you.

Bis bald!

 

A Prince Edward Island Trip—Part Deux

So Cath just sent us a text message to say that she’s on the plane now, headed back to Aus-Town.

Sad.

It’s only been two weeks, but MAN we packed it in in two weeks! We had gotten pretty used to having that bundle of Aussie energy around…it’ll take a bit to get back to normal, I think.

Anyway, in honor of Cath’s last day, here’s what happened on our last day of adventures at Prince Edward Island….

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A Trip To Prince Edward Island

Cath and I sat down last night so we could go over all her notes from our trip to Prince Edward Island (a trip she’s been wanting to take for quite a while now). So without further ado, now that I’m fairly certain all of my details are accurate, here’s a rundown of our trip to Canada….

After a two-hour delay out of JFK into Charlottetown (in which we flew in what is seriously the tiniest plane I have ever been on), we didn’t end up arriving at our bed and breakfast—The Sonata Inn on Grafton Street—until after 11 p.m. We were starving, but Charlottetown reminded me a bit of Salzburg in the fact that no restaurant would be open at such a late hour.

Luckily for us, though, Dale, the lovely owner of our B&B, took our delay and late arrival into account, and upon letting us in and giving us a tour, he also informed us that he had left a small basket of food in the room just in case we were hungry. This, my friends, is one of the benefits of staying in a friendly little B&B.

Thanks for the chips, fruit cups, and granola bars Dale!

Our cute little room, which happened to have a large, walk-in closet that was haunted by a light ghost. That's right, a ghost who kept turning the lights on and off.

After a restful night on the comfy beds at the B&B, we all headed down to the breakfast on Friday morning before we started our day. As this was my first B&B experience, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I knew some socializing would be on the agenda, and that we would most likely be sitting with other groups of people at the table.

Turns out it wasn’t half bad! That morning we ended up sitting with three couples—one of which happened to be the two most adventurous 80-year-old people I have ever met in my entire life (seriously, they’ve been skydiving and zip lining and para-sailing…they really live it up!)—while we chowed down on muffins, fruit, yogurt, and homemade eggs and ham (I skipped out on that brekkie, as you could probably have guessed). It was actually  kind of nice to get a chance to meet some other travelers, to hear about what they had already done on the island, and to get some pointers on things we should check out.

After breakfast, and after Chris had picked up our rental car…

We headed into town so that Cath could buy her tickets for Anne of Green Gables—The Musical, and to do a bit of shopping.

Then we hit the open road. We took a scenic drive along the coast, stopping to have lunch at a fantastic little place on Brackley Beach called The Dunes, overlooking the Green Gables Shore. The cafe sold food and drinks, sure, but it also was an artsy venue, as well as a flower garden and pottery studio.

It cost us $20 to get onto the beach, which is a bit much. But it definitely was pretty


Eclectic artwork at The Dunes Cafe

The gardens at the Cafe

Crab cakes....oh my!

My delicious Pho soup with the famous PEI muscles

There was awesome furniture in the outdoor area that had all been carved out of driftwood

 

After our fabulous lunch, we all loaded back into the car and drove up the coast to North Rustico, this adorable tiny little fishing village.

Then it was on to the famous Cavendish to partake in the history of Anne of Green Gables, which included seeing the house where L.M. Montgomery’s cousins lived, which is believed to have been the inspiration for her stories, as well as the site of where the home of her grandparents used to be, which is where L.M. herself grew up. We walked the trails surrounding the little green Anne house, read some of the history of the place, and took lots of photos.

Full disclaimer: I’ve never actually read the books. Oops. But don’t fret, friends. I purchased my very own copy of Anne of Green Gables directly from Prince Edward Island, so it will be the very next thing I read.

The famous green house of Anne of Green Gables

Anne's room

On the trails behind the Anne house

After we’d had our fill of Anne, we tried to check out Avonlea, as well, but there was a big music festival happening the same weekend, so unfortunately it was closed off. So instead, we headed over to Cows Ice Cream (seriously some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had) in Bay View for a treat and a bit of a rest before hitting up our final destination of the day—New Glasgow for The Toy Factory, where Cath picked up some cute things for the kids in her classroom and her granddaughter.

New Glasgow scenery

After a full day of driving and site seeing, we were definitely starved. So after New Glasgow we headed back to our hotel to freshen up for our dinner at Lobster on the Wharf, where Chris and I would eat our first of three lobster rolls on this trip (Lobster Roll Rating No. 1: 3.5 for good lobster, but not enough of it, and the roll was just a bit hard (hey, we wait a long time for lobster rolls, we deserve to rate them! The potato salad was homemade and delicious, though, as was my Bloody Caesar drink (the Canadian version of a Bloody Mary, made with clam juice, so says Chris).

We ate out on the deck, which was beautiful, until I got so cold I couldn’t feel my right hand anymore and I had to ask if we could please move this party inside. Cath and Chris happily obliged.

Sunset at Lobster on the Wharf

Calamari and scallop appetizers...yum!

Lobster roll No. 1

Enjoying a little lobster

So it was a busy day, my friends. But even so, when we arrived back at the hotel after dinner we borrowed London Suite from the B&B video library to watch.

And I promptly fell asleep.

I’m told I didn’t miss much.

Bis bald, friends! Stay tuned tomorrow for an update on Saturday’s adventures…

The Quickest Of Updates…

Here we are! Run, run, running to our next local!

Hi friends! It’s been a while since our last chat, and I’ll tell you why—Cath Connor is here visiting, and that woman can go, go, go! I joked to her the other night that I can’t keep up with her (although it was only a half-joke, half-true…) Anyway, we’ve been having a lot ‘of fun. Last weekend was the Jersey Shore, a Spirit Cruise around the NYC/Jersey harbor, barbecues, wineries, and tons of family time. We took the train back from my mom’s into the city so Cath could get a good view of the Hudson, and then we watched the fireworks over the Hudson on the 4th from the rooftop of the Saatchi & Saatchi building (where Chris has recently started a new job).

In the city, we’ve hit up Cafe Wha?, The Hummus Place, watched Chris at running practice last night, and a few other odd bits here and there.

And today, at 6 p.m., we’ll be boarding our flight for Prince Edward Island!

So yes, it’s been busy, but absolutely, fabulously fun. Stay tuned for a photo update of last weekend and a fuller post about the wonder of PEI.

Bis bald! Hope you’re all having as much fun this summer as we are :)

Cabo San Lucas and Grand Solmar

Welcome to Grand Solmar (still under construction!)

So as you may or may not remember, I was invited a while back to attend a press trip in Cabo San Lucas for the grand opening of the new luxury Grand Solmar Resort & Spa. Having never been on a press trip before, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Turns out I should have expected a pretty amazing time—because that’s exactly what we had. On top of the awesome hotel, the breathtaking views, the flowing drinks, and the tasty food, we also had a few days-worth of really fun off-site adventures, and the other people on the press trip were totally sweet and fun, as well.

Our Delta flight had us flying out of JFK at 6:20 a.m. on Thursday, which is obviously super early, but at least that meant that we would arrive by 12:30 Cabo San Lucas time, so that was the good part about it.

And here’s the thing about Grand Solmar—when they say luxury, they really mean luxury. Grand Solmar is not a hotel where I could ever afford to stay in the future (unless of course I become a wildly successful travel writer some day :) ), which means it was that much nicer to stay there this past weekend, and Steph and I could appreciate it so much more. The views were beautiful, and the rooms were spotless (complete with comfy robes, turn down service, and tasty treats left every night), with huge porches overlooking the ocean. As this was not an all-inclusive, meals and drinks were a bit pricey (I bought two bottles of Fiji water for almost $20, people. $20). But everything that was included by the press company—dinner at restaurant/tequila bar Hacienda El Coyote (which, by the way, is owned by the same family who owns Grand Solmar) in the town on Thursday night, the outback camel safari with Cabo Adventures including lunch and tequila tasting, appetizers and drinks on Friday night, swimming with the dolphins and a fancy, ocean side dinner on Saturday night, were all amazing. The food was quite tasty—and this time, no revenge (knock on wood!).

Our balcony

The beach—only a few feet from our hotel

The outdoor lobby area

Gotta love a pool bar! (and 2-for-1 Happy Hour!)

I've had some decent Mexican food in NYC, but no one does Mexican food like this here

So on Friday morning, Steph and I set out on our camel and safari ride with the group. We took a huge open-air truck through the jungle and hiked up along the mountains. Then we headed to the beach where we literally rode camels, and then it was off to a tortilla making class, a great lunch, and a tequila lesson (the best tequila will have bubbles that last for at least 30 seconds when you shake it. And also, there is a certain type of tequila that people take a shot of and then follow with a cooked cricket chaser. Yes, really. A cricket cooked with salt, pepper, and garlic. I abstained from experiencing cricket on my little Mexico adventure).

Camel riding in Cabo

Our fabulous camel—Slim. Thanks for the ride, Slim!

Our journey started here, in this Mercedes 4-wheel Jeep

Our desert trek brought us along some pretty high hills

Our tour guide explaining how they make corn tortillas in Mexico

Our delicious, homemade Mexican lunch on the safari

Tequila and crickets. No thanks!

Fancied up for appetizers and drinks by the ocean

Saturday we headed back over to Cabo Adventures for our session to swim with the dolphins. If you know anything about me, friends, you’ll know that I’m an animal lover. I wanted to be a veterinarian for a long time, have always volunteered with animals, and am a vegetarian. So heading into this little adventure, I was a bit apprehensive, to say the least. But still, it was something I’ve always wanted to try, and why not try it when it’s free, right? Who can blame me?

Unfortunately our little session only proved me right in terms of feeling apprehensive. Don’t get me wrong—the actual rides with the dolphins (which included a “belly” ride where you hold on to their fins as they swim upside down and a “dorsal fin” ride where you ride on top), and the kisses and the “dancing” you do with them, all of that was super fun. Dolphins are cute. And friendly. And apparently very patient.

Except for that Saturday. These dolphins seemed to have about had enough. It all started when the first dolphin that Steph was supposed to ride with absolutely refused to come over and be a part of our little show. He wasn’t feeling it. Maybe he had a fight with his girlfriend that morning—who knows. Then, a girl in the group next to us had her foot cut on the tooth of a dolphin who came up behind the one she was riding and she accidentally kicked into his mouth.

That was the first time we were ordered out of the water.

The second time we were ordered out of the water was when the same girl (poor girl!) and her friend were taking their photo with the dolphin. Another dolphin came up behind the one they were taking photos with and tried to start playing with him. Both dolphins got antsy and jumpy, the girls got knocked in the head, and we were yet again ordered out of the water, this time so they could “let the dolphins be dolphins for a while,” meaning let them swim around crazily and play and not perform.

This is where the dolphins live. Would you like living here if you were an over 600-lb wild animal?

All in all, a bit of a sobering experience. I say—let the dolphins, free people! It’s not that important to take photos with them, and they clearly aren’t all that happy being held in captivity. Just let the dolphins go!

After our morning with the antsy dolphins, Steph and I headed out to the marina where we found a restaurant on the water that had $1.50 fish tacos with a fixin’s bar that allowed you to throw on all the guacamole, salsa, cole slaw, and other goodies that you could ever want. Delish.

Fish tacos. Yum!

On our final night we attended a ribbon cutting in honor of the naming of their new check-in bar area—Infinity (a Grand Solmar Facebook fan had won the contest to name the bar, along with an all-expense paid trip to the hotel that same weekend. Oh the wonders of Facebook), then we all headed to the ocean-front dinner, complete with live music and “casual elegance” attire. We had five courses, along with different wines for each course and a tequila liquor to finish it off.

Cabo, my friends, is everything everyone says that it is, and I can certainly see why celebs love the place. The only sad thing, if it can be called that, is the fact that it’s hard to find a spot in Cabo where you can actually go in the ocean. The waves are monstrous—I mean really, monstrous. Much larger than anything I have seen in Hawaii or Australia.

Still, I plan to go back some time friends, and I would highly recommend a trip there for anyone who loves the sun, appreciates fabulous Mexican food, and enjoys tequila.

Bis bald, my friends!

In The News: Expedia summer sale starts tomorrow, boasts big savings

I'm hoping to make Brussels one of my vacation destinations this summer

According to this USA Today piece, Expedia will launch its annual summer sales tomorrow with a record number of available properties.

I know one person who will be checking out that sale—this girl! On the docket for the rest of the year are:

Cabo San Lucas, Mexico—IN THREE DAYS!

Jamaica—Mid-November

Chicago (potential)—early October

Brussels and Spain (potential)—some time in July/August with one of my favorite traveling buddies

Additionally, my lovely father wrote myself and my two sisters a few days ago to say that he doesn’t think he’ll be able to use up his miles this year, so if said sisters and I can get our acts together to pick a time and place, he may be happy to shoot us over there with them. Fabulous! Now we just need to work on that time and place….

Still, with all the plans, I feel like I could stick something else in there over the summer for a long weekend.

Bis bald friends! Hope your summer plans are shaping up nicely…..

A Weekend Trip to D.C.

As I already mentioned, I was in D.C. this past weekend, visiting my bff Lisa, as well as helping her plan and prepare for her sister’s baby shower.

Read about those details here.

The only other thing I have to add about that is that this bus had free WiFi, which was amazing, to say the least. And you get free water. $50 round trip. Not too shabby.

Bis bald, friends!

A Spa Day to Treasure: Bella Vista Holiday Spa

Thanks to Auntie M for a fabulous spa weekend

This past weekend I hopped a train upstate to join my Auntie M in a little R&R for my birthday (best birthday gift…EVER! Thanks Auntie!)

As excited as I was for the mani and pedi (trust me, both were desperately needed!) I was equally as nervous about the facial. I had never had one before, and my skin hasn’t always been the best, so needless to say I was a bit worried. As is my motto in life, though, if I never try it, how will I ever know? So I was all kinds of on-board.

Auntie M took me to her favorite relaxation haunt— the Bella Vista Holiday Spa. Located in Westtown, New York, this cute little place has fabulous views of the hills and valleys of Orange County, and a very home-ey feel from the second you walk in the door. Upon entering, we were immediately whisked away into the changing area so we could envelop ourselves in the fabulous comfy robes (this after our bottle of wine was put in the fridge to cool, of course).

Chillin in a robe with some wine on a rainy Saturday. Fabulous

For the first part of the day Auntie and I received manis and pedis while we chatted and drank our wine. Afterwards, the staff whisks you away into the hang out/dining area where we were served a scrumptious lunch. And wine, of course. And, even more cute, Auntie had mentioned to the staff that I was a vegetarian, so in lieu of the traditional chicken salad, I was served mine with a side of two hard-boiled eggs. Too cute!

pretty purple toes

my salad and eggs

After our lunch came the scary part (or what I thought would be the scary part…)—the facial. I had heard horror stories of the poking and prodding that can go on during facials (I’ll save those of you who haven’t experienced it from the exact deets!). So I was nervous, to say the least.

But let me tell you…this was nothing like that. The facials lasted for an hour, during which I was scrubbed, washed, moisturized, and massaged just the perfect amount. Who knew that they massage your neck, shoulders, arms, hands, and feet, as well? It was a fabulous little surprise.

As for the poking and picking—I kind of liked it. Is that weird? Maybe it was just the woman I had who did mine (and who was kind enough to answer the thousands of questions I had), but I would certainly do it all over again, and I plan to.

And to top it all off, a handful of people have even complimented my skin and complexion at work today. Score!

Bis bald, friends! And a special thanks again to my very special Auntie for treating me to such a wonderful birthday present!

I have travel envy…

I'm green, too.Lots of my friends are jetting off (or driving off) to fabulous vacations this weekend.

Chris will be at Mt. Snow.

My former roommate will be heading to Florida.

My co-worker (of New Brunswick fame) is heading to Firenze and Venice tomorrow.

Another friend (of former blogging fame) responded to an email of mine yesterday requesting some hang out time by saying that she is currently in Strasbourg and then Brussels for work.

Can you sense how green I am?

For my own part, I will be lying low in the city this weekend, and preparing to bug each and every one of these people upon their return for a super-special blog post. Wouldn’t we all just love that?

Bis bald, friends! Have a fabulous weekend, wherever you might be.

G4: Substance for the road

I have yet to try this product, but I was intrigued when the press release landed in my inbox. The Journey Bar was developed by Chris Kerslake when he realized that the typical nutrition bars on the market tended to fall apart or squish in his travel bags and backpacks, and that they always tended to taste like either candybars or cardboard.

So he developed the Journey Bar as a savory alternative (currently available in Parmesan Romano and coconut curry). Sounds like a good idea to me—I’ll let you know when I test drive them!

Bis bald, friends!

A Non “11” List for 2011

Melbourne, Australia made the list of 41 places for 2011. Been there, loved that.

I blogged the other day about the cliché of writers using the last two digits of a year to equal the number of suggestions they need to make—11 ways to cut on travel costs in 2011, etc. But here’s a number that appears to be completely arbitrary (and large!). The 41 Places to Go in 2011.

Of course, with locations like Chile, Thailand, Iceland (that’s one of my new travel goals, remember?!), and Milan making the top of the list, these suggestions may be for those of us who are fortunate enough to be able to spend thousands on travel (I, sadly, am not one of those).

Still, a few of the places seem attainable, and maybe even a few of the attainable places thrown in one lavish spot could be do-able? Park City, Utah, doesn’t seem all that out-of-reach. Neither does London or Olympic Park, Washington, or Durham, North Carolina.

Will you be visiting any of these 41 places this year?

Bis bald, friends!

 

2010 Travels: Part Duo

the Pantheon

the Piazza Navona

rooftop bar at Hotel Raphael

Rome by night

Trevi Fountain

Florence

Firenze countryside

Countryside from Rome to Florence

And then Europe Take 2

Munich town center

Lowenbrau tent at Oktoberfest

the hills of Salzburg

Mirabell Gardens

So bring on 2011, and all the adventures of the new year!

Happy New Years, my friends!

Here’s to a New Year and Fabulous New Travels

Hi friends,

So 2010 comes to a roaring close at midnight tonight. Last year for New Years Chris and I were watching the fireworks explode over the Sydney Harbor Bridge. Still, this year I’m happy to ring in a new year with dinner at a good restaurant and drinks with friends afterwards.

In honor of looking forward to a whole new year of traveling adventures, here’s a look back at some highlights from my 2010 year in travel:

Australia

Katoomba

 

Bathurst Vineyards

 

Mount Panorama racetrack in Bathurst

 

Racetrack and rainbows

 

Kangaroo viewing

Mount Ainslie

Beautiful Sydney beaches

 

Sydney Harbor bridge and Opera House view

 

Melbourne

 

Lovely Melbourne family

St. Kilda beach picnic

 

Petting kaolas at the Koala park in Sydney

 

and kangaroos

 

Sydney Harbor cruise

Walking the Sydney Harbour bridge

Forced craziness in front of the Opera House

And then there was Europe:

 

Trafalgar Square

Big ole' Ben

Westminster Abbey

 

Buckingham Palace

 

The theater district in London

London Bridge

Eiffel Tower

The Vatican

the Colosseum

 

Palatial ruins

in front of the Spanish Steps

G4: The Universal Packing List

If you’re like me, you have tons of lists scattered haphazardly about your apartment or house before you leave on any trip (seriously, any trip. Home for a weekend? I’ve got a list for that).

But even though I consider myself the queen of all things list-involved, I could still use a little help remembering all the different Gear, Gadgets, Gizmos, and Goodies I like to bring along with me. That’s why I’m loving the Universal Packing List. Just plunk in a few generic details about your trip (date, guestimated temps, where you’ll be staying, activities you may be partaking in), and the site generates a pretty thorough beginning list for you. Whatever you do, don’t forget where you put the list. That would just be a bummer.

In the News: Full body scans at the airport. How do you feel about it?

A security official demonstrates a full-body scan at an airport in Hamburg

It’s not a totally new story— there are now 385 full-body scanners at 70 U.S. airports, with another 1,000 scanners planned by the end of the next year. There has been an uproar. People are mad. They feel defiled. They feel like this is American and what happened to our civil liberties? I mean, you’re practically naked on those things!

I know how my dad feels. He sent the family a long email on his sentiments—and they weren’t happy.

Me, I’m not sure where I fall in this argument. I’m all for things that will make me and other people feel safe when traveling. But to be honest, I’ve been on many a plane since 9/11, and I haven’t once felt unsafe.

And that was before full-body scanners.

So what’s the impetus? What’s the point in taking such drastic measures? And now with all this backlash, the Transportation Security Administration said today that they would reconsider the policy on passenger screening, although no immediate changes will be made. So what message does that send, exactly? We think this policy is important enough to use in the first place, but now that some people are complaining about it, we take it back?

What are your thoughts on the full body scan? Will you be getting one this Wednesday, one of the busiest travel days of the year for the U.S.? Click here to read a discussion on the NY Times about it.

Bis bald, friends! I’m headed upstate for Thanksgiving day and then to Jersey the day after for second Thanksgiving. Have fun wherever you’re headed!

Photo via

G4: The Cutest Little Carry-On You Ever Did See

Carry-On in style

I covet this cute little carry on bag from Pan Am brands. According to the site, “When jet travel began in ’58, Pan Am gave this bag to all its first class passengers traveling to Europe. The perfect traveler with its grab ‘n’ go 15″ handle or its over the shoulder strap..”

It’s seriously cute. I just might need to get me one for my upcoming trip to Europe.

Big bald, friends!

Musings From a Bus Ride

Traveling via bus is not my cup of tea.

This past weekend I took a little trip to D.C. for my friend’s birthday. We were going to be staying at her sister’s place, which is actually in Alexandria, a town right outside of D.C.

Can I just say—I’m definitely no stranger to bus travel. When I was living at home and commuting into the city before I actually moved here, I took a bus each and every morning into good ole’ Port Authority, and then back home again at night.

I’ve taken buses to Boston that cost about $15 per ticket AND had free Wi-Fi, and comfy seats with tables and cup holders.

With that recent trip to Boston in my head, I was a little surprised when I discovered that the bus we would be taking to Virginia was in fact $30 per ticket. No biggie, though, for double the price, it’s got to be a decent bus, right?

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Back in the Borough: A Day for my Bucket List

Sally Meyerhoff lapped me in the park to win the race in 1:14:40

Okay, so this blog entry doesn’t have much to do with travel, and it’s more of a self-promotional blog than anything else. But still, the event took place in the city, so does that count?

Today I accomplished my first (of what I hope to be many) half marathons. Yes, my friends, I have made the leap over to the dark side of running. And trust me, at times it is very dark. Like this morning when I left my apartment at 7 a.m. in the middle of torrential downpour and headed to Central Park.

Had I not had the company of many a friend and co-worker who had all been gallantly training for months along with me, I might have given up and pulled the covers up over my head at 5 a.m. instead of drowsily getting up and making my oatmeal. With the thought of those friends and co-workers in my head (not to mention the family I had coaxed into driving into the city to cheer me on), I rallied and ran the entire 13.1 mile course of the More/Fitness half-marathon. Two full laps of Central Park, with an additional 1.3 miles tacked on to the end. And let me tell you, my friends, that last 1.3 miles will really get ya.

The last time I blogged about Central Park, I was having a blast with a friend of mine in the beautiful snow-covered scenery.

Today, not so much. If you are at all familiar with the terrain in Central Park, then you know about the two treacherous hills; one up in the Harlem section and the second, Cat Hill, right before you hit the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

However, neither wretched, stretching hills nor windy, soaking rain could keep me from completing the race today, and from running it every step of the way. I wasn’t alone though—the race, which is run by women only, set a new record of 6,360 finishers. Amazing.

Now it’s on to the Philly Distance run in September!

But first, I’m off to D.C. next weekend for a friend’s birthday shenanigans. Since we both went to college at James Madison—which is only a 2 hour car ride from good ole’ D.C.—we’ve spent a lot of time in the area. I’m sure I’ll have plenty to share about next week when I get back.

Until next time, bis bald friends!

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Note to self…

In the process of reading Grounded, author Seth Stevenson and his girlfriend, Rebecca, have so kindly done the research for me as to how I can circumnavigate the world, should I ever feel so inclined. Here’s the Crib Notes version:

1. Start and finish at the same place.

2. Cross all longitudinal meridians going in the same direction.

3. Cross the equator.

4. Cover at least 25,000 miles—the length of a great circle around the earth.

All good things to keep in mind, for a weary wanderer such as myself….

More on the book to come later. I’m on page 121, but I’m going as fast as I can!

Editor’s Note: The photo is purely for visual pleasure. For the sake of accuracy, I feel I should note that Seth and Rebecca are making their trek around the globe via all forms of transportation pertaining to the ground—hence the title ‘Grounded.’

Arigatu Mr. Roboto

Yup, that's a volcano.

Finally, Chris’s account of his Japanese adventures from a few weeks before. Buckle up, and beware of the snowboarding stories:

14 hours later and touch down,  g’day Tokyo, niced to meet ya!

Here I am, land of the rising sun, snowboard bag on my shoulder, ready to take down Japan.

Just a couple of Tokyo subway rides, a short walk and I arrive at hotel heaven…  K’s House Hostel in Tokyo is exactly what you want a hostel to be—super clean, super cheap, super friendly and super location (I really stretched my vocab in that description).  Seriously awesome diggs —if you’re ever in need of some great accommodation in Tokyo, I couldn’t recommend it higher!

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