Tuesday, October 27, 2009
Friday, October 23, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
When I heard from Travelzoo that JetBlue was offering all nonstop U.S. routes on Halloween for $31 each way, I thought it was too good to be true. So I clicked the link to see what the deal was.
Turns out, there are a couple technicalities:
1. You have to book the flight TODAY! That's right, the deal only lasts until 11:59 p.m. tonight, Oct. 20.How can anyone in one day figure out where they want to go--on Halloween of all days--and get it booked in time?
2. The price is only valid on flights that depart after noon on Oct. 31--so if you wanted to leave in the morning so you could get to your destination earlier and have more time to spend there, it's not an option.
3. It claims that the cost is $31 each way, but according to the website, the price is applied to a one-way ticket. How are you suppose to get back? And since the price only applies to the day of Halloween and ends at 11:59 p.m. on the 31st, you have to pay for a full price ticket for the return flight--unless you want to fly there and back in one day, but who wants to do that?
Personally, I'd rather save myself the money and the hassle and just stay home for Halloween. I appreciate a good travel deal as much as the next person, but this doesn't sound like much of one to me.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Neuschwanstein Castle in Bavaria, Germany, is literally a fairytale come true. Translated it means New Swan Stone Palace, which sounds pretty mythical. And if the name doesn't do it for you, how about the castle itself? An idyllic structure atop a mountain, the castle has become an extremely popular tourist attraction, drawing millions to its doors each year. Not only that, but it was also the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty Castle at Disneyland Park. And if Disney likes it, it must be good.
So I will now be adding this to my list of destinations to visit, and hopefully I'll have my own stunning picture of this medieval castle.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
"But it's 8 months away!" You might be thinking.
Well, unfortunately because it is such a big event and the destination can take two days to reach, we need to jump on flights right now. But every time we search on any combination of options--Chicago to London to Johannesburg, or New York to Paris to Johannesburg--we are looking at prices far exceeding $2000. That is just way outside our price range, especially me and my boyfriend who are struggling graduate students.
But it isn't just the expensive airfare that poses an issue. Once we get to Johannesburg, we then have to find a way to Durbin, the city where we have tickets for games. The easiest option is to fly because it gives us more time to get there before the first match, but that's more money--as you can imagine. The train takes the whole night and we would arrive just before the game and a day later than our hotel check-in date, and the bus takes even longer.
I am tempted at this point to reach out to anyone in the travel business who may be able to find us a good deal. If we can't find one soon, we may have to bite the bullet and book the expensive flights.
I'm gonna need to start saving.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
I had never been to beantown before, but I had expectations built up in my head. Historic buildings and architecture, classy neighborhoods, cold weather, good food, and, um, cultured people. And to my delight and dismay, most of those assumptions were correct.
On my first night in Boston, I was greeted by my best friend from high school, Emily, and she helped me hop the T--still not sure why it's called that--to my parent's hotel, the Taj. After dropping off my luggage, we headed out to meet everyone at a local seafood restaurant, Legal Seafood. My brother, his friends, and my parents were all a couple drinks in and still waiting for their food, so we joined the festivities. A couple samples from each person's dish, and I was convinced that Boston would have a promising food selection, and I would have to divulge in a full meal the next day. After dinner, Emily and I headed off with my brother and his entourage to a place called Foundation Lounge. Your pretty average loungy bar and hot night spot. We received bottle service--pretty classy right?--and relaxed on couches reserved for our group. After Emily left because she worked early the next morning, the bar continued to thrive with more and more people arriving. But what became clear was that this was not really my scene, and the people were not all that thrilled with our presence there either. My brother began dancing around tables and got a couple sharp glances from the local crowd. Apparently some behavior is just unacceptable in Boston.
After stumbling back to the hotel at 2 a.m.--so not my style on a Wednesday night--I crashed until about 9 a.m. or so. Once showered and a bottle of water in hand, my parents and I hit Newbury Street--the Michigan Avenue of Boston. Expensive clothing stores, cute boutiques, and fashionistas galore lined the street as we walked through the chilly fall air. Since it was almost noon when we finally started our day, we headed to a highly recommended restaurant on Newbury called Stephanie's. The warm setting, with a cozy fireplace and white linen table clothes, was welcoming for a group of tourists. After scanning the menu, which listed things from lobster salad rolls to citrus crusted salmon, I opted for an old classic which I have never had the opportunity to taste--New England Clam Chowder. Just a cup of this creamy mixture, and my entire body felt warm and satisfied. Definitely an item I will be eating again. The rest of the afternoon was spent scouring the shops for dresses--mostly for my mom--and I am happy to report that after four hours of searching, she finally found one she liked.
That night we all got dressed up for my brother's movie screening--the whole reason I went to Boston in the first place. Emily, her roommates, and I quickly dolled ourselves up in dresses and heels, while munching on cheese and crackers and sipping pinot grigio. Then we headed over to Cambridge--just across the river from Boston--to the theater where the movie was showing. We were greeted with free drinks and a spread of food. Once most guests had arrived, we moved into the theater, took our seats, and waited for the movie to begin. The Lonliest Road in America is the product of over a year of hard work and dedication from my brother, Colin Day, and his friend, Mardana Mayginnes (forgive the harmless plug). And it seems it was received with plenty of praise from the Boston crowd, and they aren't the easiest people to impress. The night ended with an after party at a local Irish pub with more drinks and food.
It's pretty clear I was well fed on this trip.
My last full day in Boston, I went sight seeing with my parents. We pretty much saw everything one should see while they're there: Trinity Church, Copley Square, Boston Common--to see the colors change,-- The Massachusetts State House, the Old State House, Faneuil Hall, and Quincy Market. At first, we had every intention of just making our way through Boston Common, and then we were not even sure what we would do next. But as it turns out, and this surprised me, Boston is not that big. Once we got through the Commons, there was the State House with its famous gold dome. Then we realized we were close to downtown, and it was an easy walk to the Old State House and Quincy Market. It was actually a very pleasant walk--minus the rain that seemed to follow us through the day. And while the city is not the easiest to navigate because the streets were not built on a grid system and there is no logical order to how they are set up, we were able to figure out--with help from street maps and my mom's GPS on her iphone--where we were and how to get to the next place. When we arrived at Quincy Market, we were starving. So we found a little cafe under the building called Salty Dog Grille and Cafe (sorry, couldn't find a website.) Now because of the location, it was pretty much known as a tourist spot. But we were hungry, it was raining, and we just needed some place to rest. We didn't want to wait for a table so we just sat at the bar, which turned out to be the best choice. It felt a lot more personal and comfortable, and the bartender was extremely friendly. My parents both got fish and chips and I opted for the crab cakes--another meal I was told I had to try while there. We each got a Sam Adams brew--them the Boston Lager, me the Oktoberfest--and they were very enjoyable.
After a long day of sightseeing, we headed back to the hotel, relaxed, showered and got ready to meet Emily for our last dinner in Boston. We went to a french restaurant that was recommended to us called Troquet. A quiant little place perfect for the theater crowd. A little fancier than I anticipated, but wonderful nontheless. My parents both ordered the lamb, Emily sampled the langoustines, and I nibbled on a rich pasta dish with mushrooms and truffle. If ever you're in Boston and you have a little extra money to spare, check this restaurant out, it is delicious.
Before my flight left on Saturday, there was still one more thing I had not done in Boston. I needed to go to the Omni Parker House and order a Boston Cream Pie--a round cake split and filled with custard and frosted with chocolate--the official desert of Massachusetts. The hotel apparently invented this sweet confection, though it is difficult to prove, so I figured why not go to the place where it all started. So after a large brunch with Emily and our friend Erik who came up to visit from New York, we headed over to the hotel. We ordered one piece to pie to share, and when it was placed on the table we all gazed in awe at its beauty. I almost didn't want to dig my fork into the perfect frosting...but I did! And heaven never tasted so good.
So maybe the people could have been nicer and the weather a little less dreary, but overall the trip to Boston was memorable. Add family, good friends, beautiful sights, strong drinks, and scrumptious food, and you've got yourself a darn good time in beantown.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
- In the morning, hit the gym at the hotel--they usually have them--and bring some documents to read while you plug away on the elliptical/bike/stairmaster. Kill two birds with one stone.
- Take the stairs throughout the day. You'd be surprised how many calories it can burn. And it gets your heart rate up.
- Walk to lunch instead of taking public transportation or a cab. (Do this only if time permits.)
For people who dread the cold:
- Sign up for fundraising walks or runs--it gives you more of an incentive to get out there because it is for a good cause. I just participated in the AIDS run/walk and even though it wasn't that cold, it was totally worth getting up early and running 3 miles.
- Walk to the next bus stop--of course the one right in front of your house is convenient, but walking a couple extra blocks a day can really make a difference.
- Get a gym membership--if you don't already have one. And if you don't want to go out in the cold to walk there, drive or take a bus. As long as you go, it doesn't matter how you get there.
I don't expect everyone to be like me and go out of their way to get a workout in, but it's all about the little things you do everyday. I know that when I go to Boston, I'll have to find ways to get physical activity because a gym will not be readily available. But I plan to go shopping tomorrow, and how else do you shop? You walk, a lot.
Monday, October 5, 2009
- Denver, Colorado--yes I hold a bias, but it is still beautiful in the fall, especially if you head to the mountains.
- Vancouver, British Columbia--Canada is known for it's gorgeous fall scenery.
- Redlands, California--come on, the Redwoods have to be worth seeing in the fall.
Anywhere you think would be a good destination to go during fall???