Vienna, Austria-November 2017

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It’s Christmas Market time! My favorite time of year! Before moving to Australia, I would  take advantage of the airline fare sales. I would choose my destination based on wherever it was cheapest to fly to.  Well the airlines adjusted their business model and realized it would be better decrease capacity then offer fare sales. So this year I actually had to think about where I would like to go. Which actually harder then I thought it would be. SO many markets to choose from. In the end, the decision was made for me.  I was able to use my miles to book a direct flight in Austrian Airlines to Vienna and from there to Kraow, Poland.

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Another reason I chose Vienna, I was able to use my points to book in the Park Hyatt. It’s in an old bank building. In fact the pool is in the old vault. Funny enough I never did make it to the pool. Oh well next time!

I was settling into my room, when the phone rang. ” Good Morning, I just saw you check in and you looked so familiar, it’s me Kevin from the Grand Hyatt Berlin.” I met Kevin in lounge in November, 2014 and he actually checked me in during my birthday stay in July, 2016.  Got to love this “travel” world I live in.

I arrived early enough to catch breakfast in The Bank. It’s the old reception area for the bank. It worth checking out, even if you are not staying at the hotel. The coffee alone is worth the visit.

Then it was time to start exploring the town. Lucky for me it had stopped raining. A bit unlucky for me, the first thing I see when stepping out of the hotel?  A Christmas Market!
I went to check out St. Stephen’s Cathedral. Where musical great, Joseph Haydn once sang and Mozart was married.

It started to rain, so I headed over to the Jewish Museum. The history of the Jewish people in Vienna was quite fascinating.  I had not known what they had to go thru to be able to live openly in in their faith.

And then I did what anyone rational would have done on a cold rainy day in Vienna. I found a cafe for a Hot Toddy and some Strudel.

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And then I couldn’t put it off any longer, it was time to hit the markets. It seem like every time I turned a corner I found another one. Unfortunately, I was unable to partake in my normal gluhwein indulgence. I was worried about walking on the uneven surface.

I had grand plans of going to the Opera while I was in town, but in the end I did not get organized in time to secure tickets. So instead I opted for a tour of the Opera House. I also walked around quite a bit and took in the sights.

And of course I eat some really good food, and some bad… the Langos was bad. Like really bad.

As you can tell from the pure volume of photos, I really enjoyed my time in Vienna. Something that made my visit even more magical? The staff at the Park Hyatt. They were just so nice and engaging. Which is ideal for me being a solo traveler. On my last night I ordered room service. It was a rainy and I had a long day of walking around the city. I just could not be bothered to find food. When my food was delivered I said something about missing out on the Christmas market food due to the rain. The room service guy asked if I had any gluhwein and I explained how I had to limit myself because I was afraid of falling. (So sad).  Imagine my surprise about 15 minutes later, there was knock on my door. The room service delivery guy was back with glass of gluhwein from the market across the way.  UNBELIEVABLE.

I was sad to leave but it was time to head to Krakow. Until next time, Safe Travels!

Adventures in Australia-March 2017

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March found me back outside enjoying the beautiful skies of Brisbane.  After the hot summer days, it was refreshing to be able to be outside again and not feel like you were melting

March also brought Champagne Tuesday’s. Ok, who am I a kidding, it was champagne day for every day the ended in Y.  My friend Madison flew up from Sydney to join in the festivities. She enjoyed it so much, she flew up again the next week.  ( Truth I think she really wanted to try the Pomegrante Baba Ganoush on Virgin Australia)

The group favorite of the 3 pictured was the Ruinart Rose. Definitely worth checking out if you are into bubbles.

I also had the pleasure of taking a trip to Noosa. Its a beach town located just north of Brisbane on the Sunshine Coast. I really did enjoy it,  but it’s the quintessential beach town. Great place to visit, but I am not sure that I could live there full time.

With fall settling nicely in Brisbane, I was happy to have the opportunity to get out and discover some of the local markets again. One Saturday found me at the West End market with some friends. Fortunately I had just eaten a large breakfast, because imagine my surprise to see Langos, Empandas and Arepas. I guess all the good food is hiding from me at these markets I have not been visiting.

Stay tuned for more adventures. Until next time, safe travels!

New York, NY- February 2016

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Have you seen the a TV show, Younger? It’s about a 40 year old pretending to be 26 to get a job in publishing. I felt like I was re-enacting an episode of Younger with a weekend trip to New York with my friends Jana and Whitney.

l love visiting with my extended family. So when an invitation come for a baby shower in New York, I booked my ticket before sending in my RSVP. I then mentioned it to Jana and Whitney, and boom girl’s trip to New York.

Seeing the value in losing a vacation day, Jana booked a 6 am flight. I just laughed, silly gal, said I’ll see you about 6 pm, when my 3 pm flight lands.  Then Whitney booked a 6 am and well, not one to miss the party, I moved to a 6 am too… BAD IDEA.  Surprise surprise, there was weather in New York. United pushed my 6 am to 7 am the night before, so thankfully I did not have to show up early for no reason. Whitney’s original flight cancelled, her re-booked flight cancelled as well. She was put on a 1 pm flight from Norfolk. So much for our 6 am’s.

It’s funny no matter how many times I visit New York, I always discover something new that just surprises me. We took a walk down a walk down 5th Avenue and checked out the flagship New York Library. Its just beautiful inside. We watched the ice skaters in Rockefeller Plaza and awed at the beauty of St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

Whitney arrived with a broken foot, so we just kept our dinner plans simple. We were staying in Koreatown, so Korean BBQ was a no brainer choice. My friend Rebecca, who lives in Manhattan, was able to come join us.

The next day we headed off to Soho for Cronuts at Dominque Ansel’s.  It”s the only place in the world you can get a real cronut. Forget that crap you may have had at Dunkin Donut’s.  Lucky for Jana and I, Whitney really wanted to try a cronut, so she had placed an order a few weeks back to ensure we got some. There is only 1 flavor and you get what you get. I think it was blackberry? Whatever it was, it was messy, so don’t wear a pretty outfit if you are planning on eating some cronuts.

 After that filling feast, we headed over to the 9/11 memorial. It’s an sad part of US history. We then headed over to the Times Square, the gals were able to get tickets for the matinee of Chicago. I was heading to Brooklyn for my cousin’s baby shower.

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We met up with Rebecca again for dinner at the BarBacon. Who doesn’t love a bit of bacony goodness?

The next morning we headed off The Highline, a park built over old railroad lines. After which we head to the famous Katz’s Deli. Where I got see where a scene from one of my favorite movies, was filmed.

We then so unwisely walked back to the hotel. I underestimated the time and well I missed my flight.  Luckily there was a seat on the next one and it was leaving an hour later.

I had a great time visiting with my friends and family.  But as always the time was too short.  It was great to be able to squeeze in one last trip with my friends before the “Big Move”.

Happy Travels………….

 

London-April 2015

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One the travel bloggers I follow, Nomadic Matt, was recently in London. Reading about his trip, inspired me to book a trip. Which seem like a good idea at the time I booked it, but in theory the timing was off. The trip fell in the middle of a seriously crazy stretch of travel. Like I’ve been at the airport every single week in February, March and April…..

After returning from Paris, I picked up a nasty sinus infection. I am pretty sure falling asleep on the plane, with my mouth open and the vent blowing recycled air might have had something to do with it. I felt well enough to pop into Boston and down to Dallas, though. But then somehow I picked a nasty influenza B virus. So nasty, it was questionable if I should have gone to London.  As the departure date arrived, I feel better, not 100%, but well enough to fly, or so I thought. I survived, but my ears were killing me. Lesson learned, just stay home next time. Flying with clogged ears is not joke.

My friend, Laura, was flying over from Cologne, to hang out. We arrived within 30 minutes of each other, and lucky for me, United, has a arrival lounge in Heathrow, including showers. So I was able to refresh before hitting the town.

Lucky for me Laura, had lived in London, so she played tour guide for me. I’ve been before but it has been years!

We started are day with Brunch, followed by some street food.

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And a little sightseeing

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But the coolest thing we did? Dinner at Duck and Waffle, the highest restaurant in London. I would suggest some elastic waist pants, if you plan to eat here.

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The view…..

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bbq-spiced crispy pig ears

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spicy ox cheek doughnut

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roasted octopus

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duck& waffle

 

 

I was pleasantly surprised to see the food options were so much better then the last time I visited London. Food trucks and stalls everywhere we turned. In fact, I would put London on the list of places to wear your elastic waist pants.  I am pretty sure I gained 5 pounds on this trip.

As always it was quick trip, but it was nice to hang out with Laura. And lucky for me, my ears unclogged for my flight home. I am now getting ready for my next adventure, down under to Australia… Stay tuned.

 

 

Sometimes you just need a little pampering….. Denver September 2014

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I had business meeting in Denver, bright and early on Monday Morning at 8 am. So I needed to fly in on Sunday. But since I am short on nights for keeping my Hyatt Diamond status, I flew out on Saturday to Hyatt Hop.

Hotel Hopping or mattress running are terms near and dear to the frequent traveler trying to maintain their status in hotel programs. To maintain Hyatt Diamond, you have to have 25 stays or 50 nights. I am not about to make the status on nights, but I am coming close on the stays.  Well I was coming close due to hotel hopping. So Saturday night I stayed at the Hyatt Place Denver Airport and Sunday night I moved to the Grand Hyatt.  So 2 stays done. If I had wanted to stretch for a 3rd stay I could have over to the Hyatt Regency, but even I get lazy about packing up and moving every night.

The Hyatt Place was great! First time I’ve been given a rose and the cookie was pretty tasty too.

 

I originally had plans to spend the day with friends down in Colorado Springs, but those plans changed and I ended up at the spa.  It’s funny in all my travels, I think I can name all the places I have every done “spa” days. First time was in Bangkok, Thailand, with my friend Jon. They mistook us for a couple and we were put in the same room for massage.  I refused to take my clothes off. It was awkward.  If you’ve ever had a Thai massage, you know what I mean.  That put me off massages for a little while. The next one was on the beach in Cancun, thought it would be nicer then it was.  And the last one with in Bali, where I was covered in so much oil, that no amount of showering would rinse it off.  So my “spa” experiences up until this trip had not been memorable.

Enter the Oxford Hotel Spa, Club and Salon. I had unintentionally arrived early so Leo and Zero, at the hotel next door invited me to have a seat in the lobby, while I waited. What a beautiful hotel, too bad it’s not a Hilton or Hyatt, I would have liked to stay there. I booked The Perfect Day Package, that included a massage, facial, lunch, manicure and pedicure.  It was bliss…….

I have to wonder why I don’t do it more often. It was a experience that I will definitely plan on repeating again in the future! Possibly even at the Oxford Spa! I wish I had written down everyone’s name’s that had done my treatments, because they were just wonderful! I only remember Christine, who did my facial, because we bonded over our love of travel!  My face still feels amazing!

It was such relaxing day, I headed back to my hotel for my favorite pass time, drinking wine in the lounge, while pretending to work.

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I would like to say I did something awesome during the day on Monday, but well can’t be posting that on a public blog……… However Monday evening, that’s a different story. I love Bacon. . I found a place that had bacon appetizers, but probably should have looked closer at the address though …. Oh well thank goodness for Uber. I ended up at The Berkshire , for some swine and wine.

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After thoroughly enjoying the bacon, it was time for cheese. Yes my perfect night, wine, cheese and bacon……… So off to Cru Wine Bar, for wine flights and goat cheese beignets.

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And finally ended the night at Tom’s Urban for some pork belly tacos. Of which there are not pictures, because at that point, I inhaled them upon sight. It was a nice night, until the damn sidewalk jumped up on me, causing me to roll my ankle. YES, sigh, the same foot.

Lucky for me the Grand Hyatt had a nice gym, so the next morning I was able to work off the remaining effects from the night before. And then I had another seriously boring day at a work conference, that first speaker really should thought about serving coffee as part of their presentation…….

And finally time to head home. Of course the conference ended earlier then planned, and of course, I booked a later flight to be safe, and well I could have switched to the earlier flight but I was not about to trade my confirmed first class seat, for a middle seat in coach. I knew I could find wine at the airport. IMG_2002

Somehow I made it, 5 minutes late for boarding. I was not in a hurry because my carry on’s were small. BIG MISTAKE. I get to the gate and there is not line for boarding, odd. That’s because there was an insane line on the jet bridge and it was hot. IMG_2004

Given the prima donna traveler I have become, I started looking around for the special line for people like me. Yeah, there is not such line……….

And back to Chicago I go, but I have to wonder will I ever get tired of this view?

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Mumbai May 2014

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I first went to India, New Dehli, in August 2001. I loved it! I’ve always wanted to go back and I had to the chance this year to go to Mumbai.

I did the typical tourist things one does while in Mumbai.

Elephanta Caves, Gateway of India, Taj Hotel,  Gandi Residence, Dhobi Gant,  getting a glimpse of the Dabbawalla’s.
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But dare I say the best part of this trip? The MANGO’s, Alphonso mango’s to be precise.  I broke my first rule of international travel, which is to avoid fruit and vegetables that may have been washed in water that you are not supposed to drink. These mango’s were so worth breaking the rule

Did I mention that I loved the mango’s????

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While Mumbai was enjoyable, I am not sure that I would go back again, its possible if I were in transit but not for days of touring around.