Germany-October 2018

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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!

Lisbon, Portugal- June 2018

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Something I had to consider when I was planning this trip was limiting the number of stops and connections I made because I was at maximum capacity with my bags.  Originally I had planned on going to Porto, but it required a connection so instead I opted to fly direct to Lisbon instead.  I was meeting up with friends and after 8 days in practical seclusion, I was looking forward to social interaction.

Ironically it was pouring rain the first few days, I ended up just giving up on site-seeing. , including skipping my trip to Porto.  I made the mistake of leaving the hotel and got into shopping trouble. More like I discovered Vista Alegre. Which would have been fine had I been heading straight home, but I had one stop. Oops. I could not resist.

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Luckily the sun finally came out and we were able to do a bit of sightseeing. But first we ate. We had asked the hotel for a recommendation and they suggested A Gina. I was intrigued by the Secret Black Pig. It was SO good. So much so that we went back for seconds the next night.

After a very filling lunch, we decided to walk around town  and burn it off.

It a little chilly for June in Lisbon.  And having walked too many of the 7 hills the day before, we decided to do a Tram Car Tour. It was hilarious. We had seats right behind the tram driver and it added to the enjoyment. First all the streets are narrow in Lisbon. They have to fight with pedestrians, cyclists, motorist and stupid people.  At one point a cyclist was riding in the middle of the street.  No amount of bell ringing was making the guy move. Finally at the red light, the tram driver told the guy you have to share the road. The guy started arguing “Why? It’s Saturday, I want to enjoy my bike ride”…even though this exchange was in Portuguese, it was obvious the guy was not going to give in. After a 2 minute exchange, the Tram driver just said enough and resumed our tour. We hit another snag, with a car blocking the the tram tracks.  The driver kept ringing the bell, which brought out some on lookers. They then proceeded to yell at the driver that he had plenty of room to clear and why wouldn’t he just try.  5 minutes later a harried van driver arrived and we were on our way.  45 minutes on the tram, who knew it would be so entertaining.

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We did so more walking around, more eating and just enjoyed our time in Lisbon. Frequently stopping for drinks and food.  If it only it had been a little warmer.

Its always fun to discover new places with friends.  Soon it was time to head off to my new and final stop, Paris.  But first I had to figure out how I was going to sneak my new purchases on the flight, since they clearly were NOT going to fit in my suitcases.

Travel tip- look for a friendly business man that has only one carry on. Ask him nicely if he wouldn’t mind carrying your 3rd carry-on because you are over the limit……..

Stay tuned for Paris!

Malta-June 2018

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After my long weekend in Bangkok, I started working my way back to the States, via Europe. First stop was Malta.  Which was interesting choice. I was meant to meet up with friends, but our dates got crossed and I forgot that I did not actually need to be in Malta.  It turned out well, because I actually needed to finish up my last assignments. The days were beautiful, but it was a bit chilly. So I spent most of my time looking at the ocean, while working. Not exactly the best way to see Malta.

IMG_1645What really surprised me about Malta, is that limestone and lack of color. The island itself has an interesting history.  It only finally became the Republic of Malta in 1974.

I did see the Blue Grotto but I did not go swimming, as it was a little chilly for me.  When I did manage to finally leave my room, I partook in the local cuisine, like the Maltese Sausage and the local beer, Cisk.

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I think I would have enjoyed my visit more, if I was not under a tight deadline.  I have to imagine that it keeps quite warm in the height of the summer. While it was a bit chilly, it was ideal for sightseeing.

When I booked this trip, it seemed like a good idea to spend 3 weeks in Europe. As I was packing up for my next stop, I realized I was successfully learned how to travel like an Australian. It’s not very American to take a 3 week holiday. So stay tuned, the next stop is Mallorca, Spain

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.

Fun Fact, Austrian Airlines has a chef in Business Class!IMG_2732

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.