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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Looking forward to it ALL year!

The week has come to a close and I can honestly say that #DISNEMAW2 surpassed all my travel expectations. But I'm sure you're wondering what the heck I'm talking about. Well, #DISNEMAW2 is my 2nd annual trip where friends from K-State come to Walt Disney World for a visit. It's not always the same people and it's actually, unofficially the 3rd year; but it's always a good time.
So how does a good annual trip get started? Well it begins with people and places- shared interests, essentially! I live here in Orlando and one of my best friends, Ryan still attends K-State. We both share a love for all things Disney, so it makes sense that he would want to come for a visit. However, traveling alone is always more expensive then traveling in a group so he convinced some of his buddie to join him.
Now there's a formula to how many people you can take on an annual trip. I personally believe that any more than 8 people is just too many. That being said, it really depends on the type of travel you are doing. The number should correlate to the number of beds you have. If your room only sleeps 4 people, bringing 5 would be a bad choice! However, bringing 8 would still be wise since you can simply book 2 rooms.
Also, having an odd number isn't always a bad thing. You just need to know your travel partners enough to know who will want to be part of the group and who will need that "alone time".
Finally, you need to figure out tasks and events that will be the stable of the trip. Out example, we shared at least 1 sit-down meal a day. We made our reservations and made certain that everyone knew the when and where of ot all. If you wanted to go off and do your own thing- great! Go for it! Just make sure you're back here for "family time".
Oh and this might now seem like such an important thing- or maybe you think you're too cool for it- but create a matching tshirt! It really gives a sense of unity and team to you trip. We waited until the last day to wear ours but we got a lot of compliments on them and it was fun to explain the meaning of DISNEMAW- Disney+EMAW (every man a wildcat)
Needless to say, I'm really looking forward to next year! We're decide a Disney Cruise is where it's at. The title is going to be #DISNEMAW3 "A Pirate's Life for Me"!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Disneyland!

So the question on everyone's mind: How did I enjoy my first trip to Disneyland?! Answer: It was AMAZING!
What an experience?! And that right there is the difference between WDW and Dland. WDW is a destination, but Dland is an experience. That's why over 50% of guests at Dland are Annual Passholders. They are local and coming here is something they like to do as often as possible!
So you want to know my ratings? Well I'm not a Disney Blogger, but I will give you my top 5.
#5. The Monorail:
Due to a tragic accident in 2009, guests are no longer allowed to ride in the front cabin of WDW monorails. However, since Dland only has 1 track and no more than 2 trains at one time they still allow guests to the front. WHAT A VIEW?! The loop takes you from Tomorrowland over through California Adventure and The Grand Californian Resort to Downtown Disney and back again. Plus in the front you can have an amazing chat with the pilot.

#4. California Screamin':
This is not your average Disney coaster! Loops and barrel rolls have it living up to it's name and the soundtrack is killer too. We road it about half a dozen times and never waited more than 20minutes. It was a holiday weekend, so I found that to be amazing as well!

#3. FOOD!!!!:
All the food! It was so good. I didn't have a bad bite the whole trip. I wish WDW would get some of these restaurants over here. For Table Service we dined at Golden Vine Winery and Carnation Cafe. For quick service... Well I ate a lot, but my 2 favorites were Pizza Port (huge portions!) and The Cozy Cone Motel (everything is served in a cone!).
My chili CONE queso
My "not bad" face when trying a PB&J drink at Carnation Cafe.

#2. Street-mospher:
This is all the extra-magical shows you sometimes stumble upon at a Disney park. I've always loved these, but they can be hard to find at WDW. But not in Disneyland! We saw so many and I just loved them. In Fantasyland we saw The Pearl Button Band. At New Orlean's Square we stumbled upon The Bootstrap Band. On Main Street there was a Fire House band, and tons more we didn't get to see. Entertainment quality is high in these parks. I really recommend seeing as many shows as you can!

And finally-
#1. World of Color:
Wow, just wow. I cried, not even going to try and cover that up. The first time we saw it we got fast passes... Kinda a huge waste. I couldn't see anything behind these 6foot guys. The 2nd time we spent the best $30 of my life for a dining package. We bought lunch at Golden Vine Winery and it came with reserved viewing area. Guys, I was on the railing! By the time the show was over my hair looked like I'd just come out of the shower! My world was rocked. I can't say enough good things, but go and see it! It will change your life.

So did I have a good time? It's Disney, how could I not?! But it was an exceptional trip. I can't wait to go back again and experience the magic.
Honorable mentions to my list:
Disneyland Cast Members! They were phenomenal. Every interaction was one of the best I've had with a cast member to date. WDW could take some pointers from them!
Trader Sam's- it's a bar at The Disneyland Hotel. Something happens every time you order a signature drink from the menu. Go and enjoy the show!

Until next time, fellow travelers!
~Greet


Friday, January 24, 2014

Deals, DEALS, DEALS!!!!!

Ladies and Gents,
I got a little bored at work today and started hunting through my favorite travel sites. You need to know about some of these deals!!!!

MCO to DUB: fly to Dublin for just $590! Delta is selling a 4 night trip on 2/20-02/24. I know that's soon, but if you can do it- GO!! As found on Google Flights.

MCO to LIM: fly to Peru for only $495 the whole month of May... Basically! For a 5 night stay. Really great deal, found on Google Flights.

Athens: Groupon is running a10day trip with Airfare for just $1,999! They have lots of fine print so read it through. But that is an amazing rate on that trip!

Vietnam: Again, Grouping has an airfare and lodging package for 12days! Only $1,699. Great, SAFE opportunity to see this part of the world.

Cruising: From New Orleans you can hop a 7night cruise through the Bahamas for less than $69 a night! Royal Caribbean is offering this for $479 per person and for two separate sailing dates in Feb. Check it out!

More Cruising: From Miami to Barcelona Norwegian Cruise line is offering 11nights for only $509!!! Sure you have to buy a one way ticket back, but for only $47 a night I'm sure you can afford it!

Well that's all for now. It's the prefect season for vacationing. Around the world February is the least expensive month to travel. Keep it in mind and get out of town!
Happy Travels,
~Greet


Saturday, January 11, 2014

The ways of wanders.

There are few things in life that I love more than travel, but meeting a fellow Vagabond is definitely one of them. It's rare in this world that you find those few people who share your soul- desires, passions, ambitions. When it happens all that can remain is a bond of a lifetime. And for me, it happened this even as a Rocco's Tacos of all places!
I was attending a good friends birthday party. Unfortunately, this friend and I share very few friends so I had resigned myself to an evening of awkward small talk and pregnant pauses in conversation. When you're as much of a people person as I am you just know when you're going to be carrying a conversation and when it will just flow. Then out of the blue my friend introduces me to a colleague of his and says "oh you'll have loads to talk about with all the traveling you've both done." And that's how you get my attention!
We talked for well over an hour about where we've been, where we'd like to go,  her time living abroad, my time as an au pair- just on and on. If I didn't have plans for tomorrow, we would have stayed out for another hour at least!
Can I just say, when you really connect with someone it does 2 amazing things for you: rekindles your passion! I can't wait to get out there and see more, maybe with a new travel buddy. And it restores your faith in your fellow man- they may not love all the things I love, but there are a few people with a wandering soul out there. You just have to find them!
So to all my fellow wanders, Happy New Year and let's meet soon!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

3 New Must-Have apps for the Adventurer in You!

As the holidays approach, don't forget to get a little something for yourself! Here are a few new apps on my wish list for my wandering ways.
1. EveryTrail Pro ($3.99)- input your preferred activity, like hiking or mountain biking and  this app offers a list if local routes. Included are trail suggestions, maps, and in some cases, audio guides! How cool is the?! The Pro version works without a network connection! So you can get lost without loosing your way. ;)
2. National Parks by National Geographic ($1.99 per guide or $12.99 for complete set)- Time for an All-American Adventure! There are dozens U.S. National Parks, which my dad has taken me camping in most of them. They hold a very special place in my heart and without support from adventurers like you they may disappear! Go and experience them while you can- and use this app's gps-integrated maps with it's points of interest, photo ops, and lodging options.
3. SAS Survival Guide ($3.49)- John Wiseman, former British Special Forces officer wrote a 500+ page survival bible which is a wealth of knowledge. It is now completely available as an offline app! Expert tips that range from first aid to foraging! Super cool feature: a modern-day SOS alert tha concerts text messages into Morse code light signals.

So for all those Boy Scouts and adventures in your lives, here's an easy Christmas gift solution!

Friday, November 29, 2013

Stars and Diamonds

Recently I’ve been doing some research on hospitality ratings for a business plan I’m putting together. I ran across some terms I didn’t understand and of course, that urged me to dig deeper. Turns out these ratings are not an easy topic to come to grips with. So today I want to get you the basics on hospitality ratings. Hopefully this will help you sort through what’s a just frill and what means quality!

The Michelin Guide is a series of annual guide books published by the French company Michelin for more than one hundred years. The term normally refers to the Michelin Red Guide, the oldest and best-known European hotel and restaurant reference guide,   which awards Michelin stars for excellence to a select few establishments.

AAA Five Diamond Award is the highest level of the AAA Diamond Ratings System for restaurants and lodgings administered by AAA (formally known as the American Automobile Association). All properties must first meet AAA’s basic requirements before being evaluated by one of AAA’s inspectors. Once evaluated, a rating of One to Five Diamonds is assigned, based on lodging and restaurant published guidelines for facilities, amenities, and service.

AAA began in 1902 as a federation of independent motor clubs. In 1937, the first AAA representatives were hired to inspect lodgings and restaurants, and in 1963, AAA began assigning ratings from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’. In 1977 – AAA’s 75th (diamond) anniversary – the ratings became known as the AAA Diamond Ratings System for lodgings. Restaurants began earning Diamonds in 1989. The AAA Five Diamond award is similar to a Five Star rating on a hotel. However, AAA chose to use diamonds instead of stars. It is also similar to the business called the International Star Diamond Award that the American Academy of Hospitality Sciences sells to hotels, restaurants, and other industries.

The Automobile Association (The AA) is a British motoring association founded in 1905, which was to provide reliable car coverage and travel information. It is often used as a guide for reliable services across the UK.

Well hopefully this helped to shed a little light on the situation. I know I this cleared up a lot of my questions. At the very least I hope you now know that there is more than TravelAdvisor out there!

Safe Travels,

~Greet

Monday, November 25, 2013

'Tis The Season

Christmas is a time of the year that always leaves me longing for my German lifestyle. It brings back all those amazing experiences that you can only find in a small village during the holidays. So in honor of my bout of homesickness I bring you a list of the top Christmas Markets in Germany.

Nuremberg: With the majestic Alps to the south and the medieval Imperial Castle perched proudly at the top of the Old Town hill, Nuremberg is a spectacular back drop for one of Germany's oldest Christmas markets. The Kinderweihnacht, or Children's Market, provides plenty of family fun, featuring an old-fashioned carousel, Ferris wheel, steam train and Nativity scene trail. Over 180 traditional stalls, blanketed in red and white cloth, ensure that this extremely popular market remains authentic. Modern and mass-produced goods are strictly prohibited and officials police the stalls to ensure that the vendors are offering the visitors hand-crafted wares in keeping with the tradition of the market. Favourite food delights at the market include the Nuremberg “plum people” (small figures made from prunes), spicy gingerbread, sweets and Nuremberg sausages.

Rothenburg ob der Tauber

Home to the Christmas Museum, Rothenburg is a magical place to spend the festive season. Surrounded by imposing town walls, steep-roofed gable houses line narrow cobbled streets, creating a romantic and festive atmosphere. Although some dislike the Disney-esque nature of the city, its unspoiled beauty is irrefutable. The Reiterlesmarkt is held on a medieval stage and Rothenburg is illuminated by thousands of twinkling lights. Unlike cosmopolitan Berlin and Cologne, Rothenburg has an entirely different feel, with smaller markets and a more intimate setting. Christmas pastries, white mulled wine and bratwurst can all be bought. Rothenburg's Schneeball (snow ball) is a must-try for those with a sweet-tooth, made from strips of sweet fried dough covered in powdered chocolate or sugar. The market gets its unusual name from the legend of the Rothenburg rider. Once believed to float through the skies with the souls of the dead during winter, the wild horseman has evolved into a friendly messenger and a bringer of luck.

Munich

The gothic town hall that flanks the wooden huts of the Marienplatz creates a spectacular setting for the Christmas market. Selling predominantly Bavarian produce, unique Christmas gifts and delectable treats can be found here. Concerts are played daily and you can look down on the sights of the market, well away from the hustle and bustle of the crowd, from the balconies of the spectacular town hall. The Kripperlmarkt is just a short walk away and specialises in all things Nativity. For something completely different, the Tollwood Market is an urban cultural festival offering a diverse range of international music, drama and cuisine. With over 20 different markets in Munich, there is something for everyone; from a medieval market with gospel choir, to the gay-friendly Pink Christmas Market, where wares are sold from pink and purple pagodas with added cabarets and shows.

Berlin: The city's main market is held beneath the spectacularly poignant Ged├Ąchtniskirche (Memorial Church), making Berlin a great destination for a unique Christmas market experience. This historic and cosmopolitan city has something for everyone with over 60 markets scattered around the centre. The Gendarmenmarkt is hosted in one of the city's most beautiful squares and boasts culinary temptations from some of the country's top chefs as well as a festoon of entertainment including: jugglers, acrobats, fire artists, choirs, dance groups and music ensembles. A 30 minute walk away is Potsdamer Platz Market, which promises a more modern and adventurous event featuring Europe's largest mobile toboggan run. The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Market pledges that you can find a present for everyone among the traditional wooden huts; all while nursing your hot cocoa and nibbling on roasted almonds. The Spandau Market celebrates Advent with a Nativity scene featuring live animals. Across the city, the Lucia Christmas Market is Nordic-Scandinavian themed, offering a romantic and intimate atmosphere. If it's nostalgia and tradition that you're looking for, the Staatsoper and Opernpalais Market is for you. From here you can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage ride through the old centre of Berlin.

Stuttgart

Stuttgart is an excellent spot for those looking for a hint of nostalgia. Heralded as one of the most beautiful markets in Europe, the main Stuttgart market is held beneath the stunning Old Palace. Inside the palace the festivities continue as you meander through the stalls of the Renaissance inner courtyard, the aroma of cinnamon and vanilla filling the air. Stuttgart is a fantastic destination, providing easy access to other must-see markets. Only 20km away are the famous Ludwigsburg (north) and Esslingen (south-east) Christmas markets. In Esslingen you can see high-wire artists, fairytale stilt walkers, fire-eaters, minstrels, and acrobats tumbling around the streets in wheels of flame. This medieval market provides an unusual atmosphere with unmissable attractions including the Land of Dwarfs, archery and medieval arts and crafts.
Ludwigsburg is held in the baroque market square and promises visitors romance and history. The spectacular Ludwigsburg palace is the backdrop to this beautiful and spirited market.

Dresden

With accounts dating back to 1434, Dresden's Christmas Market, traditionally known as Striezelmarkt, is the oldest in Germany. With the backdrop of the River Elbe, Dresden is annually turned into a Winter Wonderland with thousands of twinkling lights: romantic, festive and charming. The Striezelmarkt boasts both the world's tallest Nutcracker, and the world's tallest Christmas pyramid. Smoking figures, Herrenhut Advent stars and Dresden's traditional Pflaumentoffel, a chimney-sweep crafted from dried prunes, can all be bought here. Peruse the stalls and watch the traditional glass-blowers, carvers and bakers practice their crafts.
The highlight of the market is the Stollen Festival on the second Saturday in Advent. Held on 8 December in 2012, a giant stollen cake will be processed through the streets, ceremoniously cut and distributed among the crowd for a small fee (the proceeds go to charity). There are numerous other markets of note to be found around the city including those held in the stable yards at Residenzschloss, the famous Frauenkirche Market and the intimate market held in Loschwitz.

This one is a little different: Schloss Guteneck 

Hosted in the grounds of the beautiful Castle Guteneck, this medieval market plays host to the Middle Ages. Fanfares, processions, minstrels, clowns and jugglers can all be seen roaming through the stalls. Although the fair is only held on weekends throughout December, it offers something different every day, from falconry to fire-dancing. The evening's events revolve around the various Advent celebrations, along with live Nativity scenes. A variety of music can be enjoyed throughout the festivities, including baroque flautists, choirs, brass bands and concerts in the barn. The aroma of mulled wine and flame roasted-almonds scents the air, while fried doughnuts and Langosch are the fair's more unique culinary choices.

Finally, my FAVORITE-

Cologne: Cologne is host to a number of Christmas markets throughout the run-up to Christmas. The most famous of these is held in the shadow of the Cologne Cathedral, the largest in Germany and a UNESCO World Heritage site. With the imposing Gothic backdrop and the largest Christmas tree in the Rhine, the 'Am Dom' Market offers over 160 stalls selling the traditional Yuletide wares and their famous Gl├╝hwein (mulled wine). Traditional music fills the air, providing the perfect atmosphere for Christmas shopping. For children, the Alter Markt is the place to go, with a Santa's grotto, puppet theatre and stands filled with toys. The Rudolfplatz will transport children both big and small to the world of the brothers Grimm, with fairytale figures and festive illuminations.