After 6 weeks on the ground, I was super excited to get my jet fuel fix. Jenny and John were traveling around Asia and I mentioned that it was direct flight from Chicago to Japan. I should have clarified, it’s a direct flight to Tokyo, not Osaka. Oops. Oh well what’s a connection? What with low fares and free upgrades, why not!
My last trip to Japan was a disaster. Friends keep telling me they love it, but it just had not clicked with me yet. Kind of like Paris. I will say this Osaka is beautiful in the spring!
One of the benefits of being a modern city, it’s well planned out. Which makes being a tourist so easy. We just hung around and took in the sights.
I even convinced Jenny to go cloth shopping. Which any bigger then a US size 4 knows it’s normally a waste of time to shop in Asia. But one brand I really like is actually Japanese. So we hunted down a shop. In order to try on clothes they ask you to put on a face cover. WHY is this only in Japan??? This should be worldwide!
It always good fun to meet up with friends and explore different cities. I know my travels appear to be bit boring. In part because they are. I am less about exploring as much and more about absorbing the surroundings. Which means I may not see as much but I am enjoying it more.
Having been born and raised in the Chicagoland area, you would think I would consider that home. Nope. Brisbane is where my heart is. And apparently for good reason! It’s funny how my “family” can still surprise me. Jenny and John, my Australia parents, surprised me at the airport. Any frequent traveler will tell you it’s always a lovely surprise when you get airport meet and greet. The surprises continued when I arrived at the Hilton. It does freak me out just a bit, seeing my photo on the big screen. Ben, of course nailed it by having my favorite mocha from Noosa Chocolate Factory. And then arriving in my room to find this smorgasbard. Really makes me wonder why I left!
My dear friend Beau was getting married in Auckland, so I took advantage of escaping the brutal Chicago winter and booked in so need time in Brisbane. Days always seem to go by way to fast while in Brisbane. So Jenny and I headed out to Byron Bay with Adam from Koala Transfers for the day, to enjoy the beautiful summer weather.
Katherine and Evander flew up from Sydney to hang out and get out cake and chicken fix! Trust me, it’s the best way to spend an afternoon!
After a great few days in Brisbane, I headed to Fiji for some relaxation. My flight was delayed, so I set up shop in the lounge and attempted to get some work done. Imagine my shock, when I look up and see my dear friend Anthony from Melbourne! Turns out we both heading to Fiji! Lucky for me, I was headed to Marriott Momi Bay! What an amazing place. I know I sound like a travel ad, but there was honestly something so relaxing about this resort. The lagoon was full of fish, you could walk in and they were at your feet. It was soo peaceful. I rarely saw anyone walking out near my bure. I’ll be heading back for sure!
Next stop was Auckland for Beau and Anton’s wedding. SO beautiful to witness them exchange their vows while embracing their heritage.
I unfortunately confirmed on this trip, that I allergic to something in the air in Auckland. It only took like 10 trips to realise this. It won’t stop me from continuing to visit, but at least next time I’ll maybe will be better prepared.
I headed back to Brisbane to enjoy the sunnies days before returning to the Polar Vortex that was Chicago. I was almost a little sad to head back to Chicago, but then I remembered I was heading back in 3 weeks, so stay tuned!
February found me back in Chicago for just 3 weeks. During this time I closed on the home that I had purchased back in July, 2017. As anyone who has every built a home from scratch will explain, new construction never goes as planned. 2 days after I was given the keys, I was back on a plane.
A party invite in Dallas led me to go back to Australia for a week. Have I mentioned how much I love flying Qantas?
Even though it was a quick trip, I decided to pop down to Melbourne and catch up with my Anthony and Jackson. And we caught up proper, by having some chicken! Gloves and all.
I spent 3 years in Australia, I thought I knew heat. Melbourne got me that weekend. It was HOT! 40c+ or 100F+ it was BRUTAL. Since it was so hot, I thought about going to a museum. But I could not be bothered to walk. Somehow while I was googling what to do, I found a website selling local Australian art, Bluethumb And this my friends, is how most of the walls in my house become adorned my art from Australian artists.
Before heading home, I hit up my favorite shop in Sydney, Dux Collection. I picked up some lovely scents to fragrant my new home. If you happened to be in Sydney, you should pick some up as well. And make sure to say Hello to Arlene!
Oliver and Rowan were heading to London to celebrate NYE. So I decided to crash, especially when I heard my fellow flower girl and the ring bearer were going to be there!
After 7 days of solitude I was excited to head to London to ring in the New Year with friends. And basically this sums up the trip. Laughs, food, drinks and more laughs.
When I was in Thailand, I blew up my Australian blow dryer. Which would had been ok, but it’s the one I use when I am traveling internationally. I actually panicked about what to do with my hair while in London. And then I discovered the most genius idea every! Mobile Hair Stylist! I mean I have a heard about “blow outs” but never did I know they would come to you! A quick google led me to Blow and I was in business. It was perfect, because I was able to wash my hair with my own products and then the stylist showed up and blew it dry. Totally recommend this service!
Traveling with foodies meant I just had to show up and be prepared to eat. They managed to book us tables at Marcus, and Celeste. I was too busy eating to photos for all the courses. But here is a bit of a preview.
New Year’s Eve found us ringing in style. With the fireworks, 1/2 the streets were closed, so it was a bit of adventure getting around town. But in the end, taking the Tube at 3am was just part of the adventure.
So lucky go have gotten to ring in the New Year with this crew. Looking forward to more adventures.
Christmas found me in Zanzibar this year. I had been before but spent most of my time up in Nungwi, and very little time in Stone Town. So I decided to head back and spend some time in Stone Town. In hindsight, 6 nights was a bit too many, but there are worse places to be.
I spent most of my days just enjoying the sound of the ocean waves. I did walk around the maze of streets that make up Stone Town and admired the amazing doors.
I walked along the beach and basically just recharged my batteries. While I probably would not go again for 7 days, it worked out in the end. It’s not the easiest journey from the US. Next time I would probably do safari before heading to the beach. Next stop London for New Year’s. Stay Tuned.
I love a good points redemption, especially when it’s super easy to find flights to places I actually want to go on the day that I want to go. Since it was cold in Chicago, I decided to continue my trip to someplace warm. I was able to score a free ticket on a direct flight from Vienna to Bangkok. And free return ticket from Bangkok to Chicago via Paris. Sign me up.
Christmas in Thailand is NOT like Christmas in Austria…..
And with Rowan and Oliver now living in Bangkok, you know that lots of alcohol was involved. I had a night out in Bangkok. It was interesting. It involved Flo in a Tuktuk, at a bar that was on fire, beer and dancing.
The next night, was a bit more sedate. We went to Le Bua. and took are requisite instagram photos.
It was great to catch up with friends, but I sooo happy to head out to the coast for a few days of relaxation. A 3 hour ride from Bangkok found me in Hua Hin. It was just the right for relaxation. Interesting that the resort was full of Americans.
By the end of the trip, it was clear I was sick. And I had a LONG journey home. A 3 1/2 hour car ride back to the airport in Bangkok. Then flight to Paris, connecting on to Chicago. Which I had scored for free! I realized that I had not done any Christmas shopping, so I made the best of my time in the Paris airport and hit up duty free. The journey was not as bad as I thought it would be. The chest infection reared it’s ugly head the next day, so my timing was perfect in getting home.
To know me is to know I LOVE Christmas markets. Especially the ones in Europe. So after hearing me going for years about them, my friends Sheila and John were game to go to Vienna.
It was a little colder then I thought it would be for November but it was lovely all the same. I openly admit that I am a hotel snob. I love my points. So I tend to stay at places that will increase my point balance. We booked into the Hilton Stadtpark. I arrived literally seconds before a tour group pulled up. The tour leader was quite upset that I was being addressed before him and 100 of his closet friends. The lady at check-in was lovely, apologized for the rude tour leader and gave me some chocolates. That was the best part of my stay. The “upgraded” room smelled like it had been smoked in. I was tired so I didn’t think much of it. It was clear that they had used something to try to mask the smell, but it almost made worse. When I asked to be moved room, I was told it was not possible since housekeeping was gone for day. So I did what I had to do, I opened the window. Such a bad idea.
It was quite cold and windy, so the markets were not quite as enjoyable as previous visits. But it was nice all the same, to be able to visit them with friends.
Given that it was so cold, it’s a wonder that we went hat shopping. And well did you know Vienna is famous for furs? No shock there, did I mention how cold it was?? Well when in Rome……
Well it turns out that sleeping in smoking room, even the windows open was not a good idea. I managed to get a WICKED sinus/chest infection. Lesson learned, next time fight for a new room and move to another hotel….
I was actually looking forward to flying from Frankfurt to Sydney, because I was finally getting to try out Emirates First Class. I’ve heard and read such amazing things, that I guess I had an expectation. Well, as with most expectations, it was a let down. The most important part of long flights for me, is the seat. I did not find the seat comfortable. I am in the minority for saying this, but I won’t be going out of way to fly Emirates again.
The purpose of this trip was to witness my dear friends, Rowan and Oliver get married. I self appointed myself as the flower girl. The added bonus I got to visit with friends. The timing of my visit was interesting. The Invictus Game were starting and the Royals were in town. It was also spring time in Sydney and the weather was amazing.
I took a day trip up to Brisbane, to see friends and if I am honest, I was dying to try the new tea cake range at Dello Mano. I reluctantly went to Royal National Park with Katherine and Evander. Katherine’s sales pitch sounded like a a serial killer luring a victim to their death. It was really was nice and I survived, barely, she did take try take me for fish and chips…..
The next day I witnessed my “boyfriend” marry his love. I was the flower girl! I had to compete with the “actual” flower girl, but for the next ceremony, we are going to matching dresses.
It was a beautiful day and it was lovely to be able to witness it. And to finally met all the wonderful people who are part of their lives. Of course I made new friends, too.
But after 9 days in Sydney, I was happy to see the backside of it. Don’t get me wrong, I love Australia. But Sydney is just a place for a quick visit for me. I was NOT excited about flying for 2 days straight… but hey the things we do for love!
I flew back to Frankfurt via Dubai. I then collected all the loot I had purchased and realized that my suitcase would not close. First time, ever, I had to purchase a full on suitcase. The day I flew Frankfurt to Dallas to Houston to Las Vegas. Interesting fact, it’s about a 3 hour flight from Houston to Las Vegas. You would think it would be closer? It sounds and reads worse then the reality. I will say after 30 days of solid travel, it was nice go back “home” even if it was for a short time……
I used to be convinced that once I visited a city, that it would be better to go somewhere new, versus returning to places I have already been. Well cities evolve, so that is just dumb thinking on my part. I LOVE visiting Germany, especially for the Christmas Markets. Since I was attempting to learn the language, I thought what a better way to force myself to speak, then to spend a week immersed. So Hallo Deutschland!
First stop was Koln or Cologne. I had flown to Frankfurt and took the train to Cologne. Which sounded like a good idea when I booked it, but the reality I should have flown. I was traveling for 30 days, so I had 2 suitcases and a laptop bag. And they were heavy. Lifting them onto the train, was interesting. So yeah, trains are not the best idea if you have lots of bags! But Cologne was just beautiful in the fall.
This is the part where I should tell you all the great sightseeing that I did and culture I took in. Sorry nope. I walked a lot and just enjoyed the beautiful fall weather. I caught with a friend Laura, who lives close by. Apparently this my new way of traveling, just not making plans and going with things. Fun note, I saw Shania Twain in the hotel lounge.
We took a day trip to Dusseldorf. With the amazing weather, it was great to just stroll around. I would like to visit again in the summer, as the river front looks amazing.
After spending a week in Cologne, I attempted to head south to Frankfurt. There was a fire on the train line, so I was told to go main train station and take the regional train. And then the adventure began, I had to take a train to the other station, found the regional train that was chocked full, and it was going to Mainz, not Frankfurt. While the train ride was scenic, along the Rhine, it was not ideal to stand for 3 hours only to arrive in Mainz, and find that the trains to Frankfurt were still having issues. I gave up and took a taxi! By the time I arrived in Frankfurt, I was pleasantly surprised. I had been once before, but only vaguely remember walking over a bridge. I really enjoyed walking around and taking in the varied architecture.
I really only headed back to Frankfurt, because I was scheduled to fly out of there on Monday night. Rather then stay all weekend, I headed down to Heidelberg to meet up with some friends, Kevin and Lisa. I had met Kevin while living in Brisbane, so it was nice to meet up in his home country. I continued to be super lucky with the weather. Heidelberg is an idyllic college town. Perfect for a weekend visit.
Too soon, I was on the train, heading back to Frankfurt. In hindsight, I should have just gone straight from Cologne to Heidelberg. Or even better, try not to cram in some many cities into one trip. But it worked out in the end, lesson learned. It was worth getting to catch up with my friends.
I’ve normally try to visit Germany in late November because I love Christmas market. But now having visited in the Fall, I think I may need to make this an annual thing. It was just a magical!
Stay tuned…. next stop back to Australia! Until then Safe Travels!
When I first started traveling, I would take really short trips. Mainly due financial and time restrictions. But now I am older, I am just not in a rush. I really enjoyed my trip to Paris in June, in which I had no agenda other then to just enjoy. I recently started to learn to German, so I thought spending a week there would force me to actually speak. (It did not). Most people I interacted with preferred to practice their English. And honestly native English speakers will rarely corrected a non native speaker because we are used to a million different ways to say the same thing. However native non English speakers prefer their language spoken exactly the same way they say it. So while you may think you are saying it correctly, they will correct it. Go ahead test this theory out…….
My original plan was to fly to London, buy some boots and then head over to somewhere in Germany. I had found a free ticket to Gatwick, using Qantas points for only $8. Which was a surprised because Heathrow charges a hefty fee to arrive there. I was also able to find a free return on United from Frankfurt. Luckily I am frequent flyer and was able to cancel those flights with no fee. No sooner had I finished booking, did I get a text that Oliver and Rowan had finally set a wedding date. Great, since I was going to be in Germany. Oh the wedding is in Australia……
I do have a job and I had a conference to attend in Tucson, Arizona in the beginning of October and one in Las Vegas at the end of October. So Flo logic decided to spend the entire month on the road, as it did not make sense to keep changing time zones. Note I said “FLO Logic”. I was able to throw in a side trip to San Francisco to see my friend, Madison’s video premiere. So what was meant to be a week in Europe, morphed into a 30 day trip.
Chicago to San Francisco- 2 nights
San Francisco to Tucson -2 nights
Tuscon to Houston- 1 night
Houston to Dallas to Frankfurt to Cologne- 6 nights
Cologne to Frankfurt- 4 nights ( including one night in Heidelberg)
Frankfurt to Dubai to Sydney- 8 nights
Sydney to Dubai to Frankfurt- 1 night
Frankfurt to Dallas to Houston to Las Vegas- 4 nights
It sounds as awful as it reads. I tried to fly non-stops as much as possible.
But here are some fun facts:
I had too much sugar on the 1st flight. Which then made me make better choices the rest of the trip.
I only ordered room service 4 times in Tucson, Cologne and Las Vegas.
I DO NOT recommend Uber in Tucson. One of drivers were too busy texting to see oncoming traffic.
I had the best night of sleep at the Marriott Houston Airport. I actually complained about the quality of the bed, I mean who has the most ridiculously comfortable bed at an airport hotel?? Seriously I had to set an alarm to make sure I was awake for my 12pm flight!
I was in Sydney during the Invictus Games, and I stayed at the same hotel as the athletes.
The Bellagio in Vegas allows smoking in the casino. You have to walk thru the casino to get to your room. It was gross.
I have a lot of friends all over the world and was lucky to catch up with them in various cities, all over the world.
I fly thru Dubai airport, wear your joggers, I think it rivals Heathrow in terms of walking at least a mile to get anywhere.
I had a migraine in Tucson, which I think was allergy related, but other than the sugar debacle, I did not get sick.
I did have to buy a new suitcase in Frankfurt, to get the goodies I had accumulated home.
In the end it was not ideal to travel like that for 30 days, but it worked. Stay tuned, more details to follow!