Monday, July 29, 2013

Moving On

There's a time and a place for everything, as taught to me through song by the Byrds. I believe my time with my current employment is coming to an end. With my education in Hospitality and my combined experience in the field I expect to be doing more. I would like to manage people and have the opportunity to help others grow in their career. Also I haven't learned anything NEW in over a year. NO GROWTH. 
In other, but slightly related news, I want to  start saving and investing for a future private business. It's all still very vague but I'll probably be posting more about it soon.
Hope your travels are taking you around the world!


Sunday, July 14, 2013

Try something new

A big part of traveling is eating. That's usually why, much to my mother's frustrations about 50% of my photos are of food. I am a firm believer that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach and the same is true for a country's heritage. So much of our customs and traditions are based around a family meal and that's why I encourage you to take risks- try the street vendors, and bar bum restaurants that are open until 6am! This is how you get to know the people of a country. These are the very reason that I like to go to the grocery store- it's a learning experience!
However, all that being said I know exactly how intimidation some foods can be if you've never had them. I want this new segement of the blog to be dedicated to your food education, in hopes that you walking into a little hole in the way dive and don't get treated like a tourist!

Lesson 1: Sushi
I have just the chart for this!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Planning for the NBA

With a title like that I'm not talking about basketball! Its all about the Next Big Adventure. I've got 2 lined up for next year. It's going to be a pricey year, but I'm watching the web and hoping to snag some good deals too.
The first NBA is coming my way next Febuary. I'm heading downunder, Mate! Flights from the US can cost anywhere from $1500 to $2300, so you have to keep a close eye on them. Also, since I'm visiting friends I should have free housing... althought I've been considering getting them both to just hop on a cruise with me. I love big cruising! The downside is that it really sets your flight dates to more expensive days. Unfortunately, I am somewhat resigned to the cost of this trip. There's just no way to travel all the way around the world and have it NOT cost you an arm and a leg. And while I'm excited to see my pals, it's the 2nd NBA that really exciteds me.
This trip is all for me! I'll be traveling back to Venice to catch a cruise that I've been dreaming about for the last 4 years:  7 Night Greek Isles & Turkey Cruise The itinerary is so perfect, you would think that I planned the whole thing ;) Just kidding, but it really is a dream cruise for me. Croatia, Turkey, and several ports in Greece?! Motherload doesn't even begin to describe it. Who knows, I might even splurge and pay for one of the ship's excursions... probably not! I love planning my own.
2014 is going to be the year of travel for me. I plan to change companies and move in the process, this will hopefully result in more financial stability! I'm hoping that will mean that I will have more time to dedicate to my passions.
Travel On, my friends!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Annual Campout Cancellation

It has been the tradition of the last 6... Holy cow, 7!!! years that my college buddies and I meet for our annual campout. Normally it's nothing special- Just driving down to Wilson Lake in the middle of Kansas and enjoy a weekend of grilling, fishing, roasting, and campfire talk. It's so relaxing even though it always rains. Once we decided to get fancy and drove to Santa Fe, where one of us was participating in an internship and we camped in the mountains.
Sadly, this year I have neither the funds or the time to get back to Kansas. We exhausted every option searching for a way to keep the magic going another year- I fly into Denver, we camp the Rockies. I fly into KC, we camp the Ozarks. I fly into Cheyanne, we camp... in a field. Some were more desirable than others. But try as we might, we just couldn't make it work- sorry Tim Gun!

So now you're asking yourself, why do I care? How could she possibly think this would be interesting to her readers?! STOP WASTING OUR TIME! Well calm down everybody! Geez, I'm getting there.

In all my research, I came across some pretty amazing camping locations! Today, I'm going to share my top 5 from my research. I had never even heard of a few of these.
1.  Lake McConaughy, Nebraska- From what I've read, I'd say that Eagle Canyon Hideaway is the best area to camp. It's tucked away on the south side of the lake. The place is the cleanest, friendliest, great food, and cute log cabins according to the reviews. But it was the pictures that won me over!
2. Dry Tortugas National Park, Florida- I had read an article on this place months ago and thought it sounded amazing. Now the more research I've done, the more I can't wait to see it for myself. Few visitors to Key West take the ferry 70 miles to the Dry Tortugas National Park. Even fewer camp under the stars next to historic Fort Jefferson. Those who do are rewarded with world-class snorkeling, kayaking, wildlife watching and an island almost all to themselves.

3. Limekiln State Park, New York-  The park features breataking views of the Big Sur Coast, the beauty of the redwoods, the rugged coast and the cultural history of limekilns. The park has 28 campsites. Hike half a mile through fragrant redwoods to four kiln towers, adjacent by a stream.
4. Ouray, Colorado- I've camped here before. The local KOA is a great option, but so are any of the area's campgrounds. If you're looking for action and adventure this is the area for you. Take a jeep off-roading on some of the coolest trails ever. If the season is right you can even cross right over the mountains and into Telluride. I did that once... scared the crap out of me! I actually made my dad let me out so I could walk part of the way- Did I mention I hate hights?
5. Jenny Lake Campground, Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming- The Grand Tetons are some of the most beautiful landscapes the Rockies ever shaped and Jenny Lake is the best place to see them! Pitch a tent near the lake at the base of the Teton Range and close to Yellowstone National Park. Take the short, shaded uphill hike to 200-foot Hidden Falls.

Yet after all this research I still can't go camping... I'll probably suffer some major withdrawl. Look out everyone!
Happy Travels

Monday, July 8, 2013

Italy: June 2013

Well I'm back, safe and sound! What an amazing experience this trip was?! It was so great to see Patricia, she actually screamed when she saw me and cried- of course. She is truly a great friend and I'm so glad I had this opportunity. And to see the wedding- WOW! So interesting and beautiful. Lari was everything the pictures promised and more. So here's how it all went:

The flights on Tuesday to Wednesday were smooth sailing and we landing only 15minutes behind schedule. We hopped a taxi and headed straight to the apartment, which turned out to be a real gem! The place wasn't glamorous or even very large, but it fit our needs just find and really forced us to become familiar with the bus system. That was great, we felt like locals by the 2nd day.
After settling, unpacking and taking a short nap we hit the town. The leaning tower is so... white and clean. The area around it was amazing as well. Holly bought some art and we wondered down some winding streets to find a little restaurant. It was a great day and on the way home we stop by the grocery store!
Now I know what you're thinking- "What's so exciting about a grocery store?" but that is one of my favorite things to see in a foreign country. It really let's you see how they live, what they eat. For example, they have huge butcher section since most people buy fresh cut meats- not frozen. And the deli section? So many types of Salami that I've never even heard of! It's really amazing to me.

The 2nd day was our trip to Rome and while the city may not have been built in one day, we did a pretty good job of conquoring it in that short amount of time! We stuck to the route I had already planned- see the previous post about planning excursions- but we ended up doing it in reverse. We had heard that the Colosseum would get busier as the day went on so we decided to hit that first. Then it was off to the Pantheon and Campo dei Fiori. Another traveler told us we couldn't miss the Forum and it was right next to the Pantheon so it wasn't like it was out of the way. Then the day ended with brief stops at the Vatican City and the Trevi Fountain. Here's my piece of art-

On Friday, the day before the wedding we went on this big adventure of Public Transit to visit Lari. The Bride and Groom had some tours planned for their guests and we didn't want to miss the experience! Still we were almost out 40Euros because we didn't know we needed to validate our train tickets.* Then we waited several minutes for our Bus connection and I thought Holly was going to have a heartattack on the bus from the narrow roads and Italian drivers! However, once we got there it was the most amazing day! The countryside views from the village are some of the most breathtaking we saw.
*Italy sells two types of train tickets- Instant and Commuter. This is an awesome option for its locals, however for travelers it can be confusing. An Instant ticket must be use for the exact train it was sold for or it is no longer vaild, where a Commuter ticket can be sold for a destination but can be used at any time within 30 days. Once you have decided to use that ticket it must be punched and validated... we did NOT know this last bit.
Once we were there, Patricia and Semir had 3 tours and a meal planned out for us. It was really considerate of them to plan these outings for their guests! We toured the local Butcher shop, Italy's smallest pasta factory, and an All-Orangic Vineyard- where they still cut every vine by hand!!!! It was really fantastic and it all tied back together with the wedding, because they were using items from each location.

Saturday was the day of the wedding and we rented a car. Italian driving is something I am familiar with from last summer so I was well prepared, poor Holly was not. Still our little Fiat 500 handled those little roads just fine! We reached the wedding and enjoyed a beautiful evening of Italian and German hospitality. It was the highlight of the trip.

Still with all the beauty of Lari, I think Florence turned out to be our hidden gem on this adventure! We could have easily spend another 3 days there. All the museums and piazzas! It was spectacular and the day flew by. My favorite part was the view from the lounge at the top of the Continental Hotel- a tip we received from a fellow traveler. It has a nearly 360 degree view of Florence! I also recommend the mojito. ;)

All in all it was a wonderful trip. I had the opportunity to travel with a good friend and the blessing to visit another. PLUS! The Vatican puts me one country closer to my goal: 30 before 30. Only 8 more to go! I'm thinking Greece, Croatia, and Turkey might be next. Then Australia and New Zealand, which would leave China, Japan, and Cambodia for my 30th birthday! I'm liking the sound of that.

Happy Travels my friends!