железная дорога (2002 – 2006)

Yes, I realize I’m fudging the alphabet a little here because this should technically be under the letter Z, but since the Cyrillic letter looks like an X, let’s just go with it. This post is the Railroad!

While You Are There: You can do everything on a train. A train is a world unto itself. You can Continue reading →

Vilnius, Lithuania and Europos Parkas (2005)

Europas Park (1) - Copy - CopyEuropas Park (1)Europas Park (2) - Copy

While You Are There: Why, observe the unusual art, of course. Bring a sketchpad or a notebook and plan to spend the day. The sculptures and installations will give you a lot to think about.

Why It’s On My List: When you need to leave Russia for a few days to get a new visa but don’t feel like hopping on a plane, where do you go? Why not the Baltics? That’s what I did for a week—Latvia and Lithuania—and more pleasant countries I could not have chosen. The capital cities are modern yet retain old world charm, the people are friendly and will speak Russian to you (even though they, understandably, despise the Russians) because they know it better than they know English, it’s easy to get around, and they are not jam-packed with people like Moscow is. I didn’t see much beyond Vilnius and Riga, but I imagine the smaller towns are also great places to visit.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Ukraine (December, 2005)

While You Are There: I went around the country for two weeks for Christmas and New Year’s. Can you say you’ve ever rung in the New Year in Lviv? Maybe not the most exotic or exciting place to do so, but certainly unexpected. Also seen in the photos above are AlushtaBakhchysaray, Kiev (oh man do I love chicken cutlets Kiev-style), Crimea, and Zhovka.

Why It’s On My List: Maybe I only liked it because I was getting sick of Russia and it wasn’t Russia, but I don’t think that’s the case. Ukraine is a lovely country, and not just in Crimea. The people are friendly, the food is delicious, it’s easy to get around, and there’s a lot of see and do.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Rhine River Cruises and Rheinfels Castle, Sankt Goar, Germany (July, 2001)

Tom Kelly Burg Rheinfels

While You Are There: Yeah, you could hike down the Rhine River, but a river cruise is really the way to go. There are so many castles and you get such a great view of them from the river while you are enjoying some German beer, so it seems foolish to exert the energy to hike. One plus for hiking: castle rules permit you to bring your hund but boat rules may not.

Why It’s On My List: It’s fun to imagine that I live in…what era were all these castles built in? Did anyone really live in them? They look cold to me. Magnificent, but cold. And isolated. If I could buy one now and live in it, I might. If I could also afford a private helicopter and some magical mechanism to keep those cavernous rooms warm. Really, there’s not a lot of appeal in this to me. But I did have a lot of fun getting separated from our tour guide and briefly lost in the dungeon beneath the Rheinfels Castle and having no light to find our way out (many people, especially broke college kids on a summer study abroad program in Germany, still didn’t have cell phones in 2002 and, besides, cell phones didn’t have flashlights). Also, being on a boat full of Japanese tourists had its own special appeal. The Japanese apparently loved the cruise so much that they bought one of the castles.

Me and Kelli

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Nenagh, Ireland and the Ashley Park House (September, 2014)

While You Are There: Be romantic. Roam the grounds and imagine you are in a Bronte novel. Or maybe you should pick an Irish writer. Either way, you get the image. Enjoy the lavish breakfast spread and find out what travels your fellow sojourners are on. Take the rowboat onto the lake and pretend you are the Lady of Shalott. The only activity I wouldn’t recommend is jogging on the narrow lane. There is no shoulder and cars come whipping around those turns are rapid rates of speed that will send you diving into hedges.

Why It’s On My List: It’s another lodging post of a place I didn’t take pictures of. But do check it out here and spend a night or two if you can.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Darmstadt and Waldspirale, a Hundertwasser House (July, 2001)

Hundertvasser House

While You Are There: Unfortunately, you can’t go inside. You can only admire and be jealous from the outside. But southern Germany has so much to offer and travel is easy, so if you’re in Heidelberg, Mannheim, Marburg, Cologne, or Frankfurt, you really should hop over to Darmstadt for a day.

Why It’s On My List: Because it’s just so cool! Read all about its tree tenants, mismatched windows, and lack of straight lines here and here. Here are some pics of a few other attractions Darmstadt and its suburbs have to offer.

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For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Bessastaðir, the Icelandic Presidential Residence (March, 2013)

Iceland10

While You Are There: Well, you didn’t come to Iceland just to see the presidential palace, did you? Here’s all the awesome stuff we crammed into a five day trip. Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights & seafood dinner tour, the penis museum, Seljalandsfoss, SkógafossReynisdrangar, Gullfoss, Geysir geothermal field, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara, Viking horses, elves, great food, and too many people trying to teach us to say Eyjafjallajökull. Continue reading →

Zulu

I spent 6 years living overseas. I lived for extended periods of time in 8 countries and visited 12 more. That impresses some people. At one time, it impressed me. But that was 10 years ago and there are 176 countries I’ve never set foot in. 176. And Antarctica. I’ve already been alive 37 years so it doesn’t seem to me like my countries-visited to traveling-years-passed ratio is very good.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia are very high on my list. The first is likely to happen soon but the second is not. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are not very easy to get to, and when I go, I’d like to go for a long time. Well, I’d either like to go for a long time, or I’d like to race through them on the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. Either way. Continue reading →

Papa

Well, I could tell a story about my father but I never called my father Papa, so I don’t think that’s appropriate. But when I was a child I read a lot of fairy tales and stories in which the father was called Papa, so I’ll write about one of those. My favorite storybook was The Nutcracker. Not just any edition, mind you, but the hardcover 1985 edition retold by Ronald Kidd and illustrated by Rick Reinert. No other version will do. I must have read that book hundreds of times as a child. Naturally, every time I did, I imagined I was Clara. The nutcracker that my mother had on her roll top desk every Christmas was my favorite holiday decoration, and I lay in bed every night during winter break waiting for it to come to life. The rats, well, those I could without. I didn’t need the nutcracker to save me from anything, just to come to life and dance with me.

That book was so special to me that I went to see the Nutcracker Ballet at the famous Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg my first Christmas in Russia. There was simply no question of taking a trip elsewhere or of not getting tickets. I had to see it and I had to see it there. I also have a lifelong dream of spending a Christmas in Vienna and seeing it there as well. That probably won’t happen this year, but soon. Continue reading →

Delta

My first international flight, which was also my first flight ever, cost $899 one way. It was scheduled to go from Buffalo to New York City to Manama to Melbourne. A snowstorm in Buffalo derailed that plan, so I ended up on a flight from Buffalo to Washington, DC to London to Singapore to Melbourne. This was back in the day when airlines took care of their passengers when things like this happened, no travel insurance needed, so my unexpected 14 hour layover in London came complete with a free stay in the Radisson Edwardian for the day, lunch, dinner, and transportation to and from the airport. Then I ended up in bulkhead seat (back in the day when you didn’t have to pay extra for those) on a double decker Quantas plane all the way from London to Melbourne. Not a bad outcome for a highly price conscious 19 year old.

I never played the airline mileage game until a few years ago, which was really a waste considering how much travel I did and how many miles I could have earned. I always looked for the cheapest flight possible. The best deal I scored was round trip on Air Transat from Toronto to Frankfurt, Germany for $425, all fees included, back in 2001 just before the TSA ruined airline travel for all of us. Sometimes I got lucky and landed deals on luxury Asian airlines, like Cathay Pacific from Melbourne to Bombay, with a free three day layover in Hong Kong. If you’ve never flown an Asian airline, you have to try it. Our first class is their economy. And I got an amazing package holiday deal to Iceland when Iceland Air opened direct flights from Denver to Reykjavik. Continue reading →