Tag Archives: destinations

30 Things I Love about Russia & Ukraine

3 Apr

Came across this gem in my travel journal. It’s a quick read that really does highlight some of the best (and the “best”) things about Russia & Ukraine. I truly love these places.

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1. Any of the following: borsch, pancakes with tvorog, syrok, Russian black bread, juice, Zhivchik.

2. Watching out for vomit piles.

3. Faberzhe eggs.

4. Tanning on the beaches of the Black Sea.

5. The Lavra and cool, dead, old bones.

6. Russian.

7. Puzata Khata, best restaurant ever, and way cheap.

8. Tula, Russia and Leo Tolstoy’s estate.

9. Having time to read whatever I want. Interestingly enough, it ended up being Brothers Karamazov.

10. Big Mamma in Kiev.

11. Showering/bathing in the Black Sea when you don’t have an actual shower.

12. The sweet smells including–cigarette smoke, alcohol, dill, dirt, sweat, incense, salami and rain..

13. Ladies with beards…(LADIES…PLURAL…AS IN MORE THAN ONE).

14. Golden smiles.

15. Getting stared at all the time…probably for being pretty?!?!

16. Read Square.

17. Shaurma’s on the street, oh baby, yum.

18. “Mexican food…” (ew).

19. Techno music playing everywhere (also, ew).

20. Close calls with death (aka Russian drivers).

21. Cheap Russian vodka (even though I don’t drink).

22. Listening to people talk quite openly about me, because they don’t think I understand Russian, and then politely informing them that some Americans can actually speak Russian quite fluently.

23. Enjoying the shock on their face after #22 happens.

24. Ice cream.

25. Worst internet access of life.

26. Protecting your place in line like you’re protecting your life.

27. Any sign that says smoking and drinking is prohibited. ha!

28. Grosses lifts/elevators of life.

29. Trying not to die while crossing the street.

30. Moscow & St. Pete’s prices vs. prices everywhere else in Russia and Ukraine.

Oh…the essence of one of my favorite places on earth!

 

Learn more about Ashley R. Cummings on Google+.

Hello Nashville! Hello Music City!

19 Nov

Some highlights of my recent trip to Nashville.

1. CMAs – Woo woo! Country music is a new thing for me, and I mean v. new. I’ve never been big into country music, but I figure if I’m looking to move to music city, and since my husband drums in a country band, I should probably check out the country music scene. Turns out, I like it. Carry Underwood. Miranda Lambert. Little Big Town. Taylor Swift. The Civil Wars. Oh yeah. I can do this.

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A pic of Little Big Town taken from our seats 100 miles away!

2. Country Music Hall of Fame – This was an awesome museum. If you’re into music, you gotta come check out the scene. If you’re poor, consider going after 4:00, because tickets are 1/2 off, and it’s easy to see the whole museum in an hour.

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Country Music Hall of Fame

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Gold and Platinum records. B’s record will be here someday soon!

3. Frist — Into art? Check out the exhibits at the Frist in downtown Nashville. Right now, they are featuring Carrie Mae Weems and Brian Aflred. Not only is the art great, but they have a great center to learn how to produce art. Take your kids, or enjoy it yourself. It’s fun. Brandon and I went crazy learning all about art.

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Frist Museum in Nashville

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Art workshop at the Frist!

4. Grand Ole Opry – So, we happened to go to the Grand Ole Opry on the day it was closed. Yeah, super bummer, but the good news is it’s not closed forever. Mark it down for future fun.

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Playing the guitar at the Grand Ole Opry.

5. Broadway! Check out Broadway for fun local music.

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Brandon playing with a band at the Honky Tonk on Broadway.

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Oh Berlin, I’ll see you again soon!

20 Aug

I can clearly remember my first urge to travel abroad. For whatever reason, I’ve been obsessed with Germany since I was a little kid. It may have to do with the fact that I had two German Au Pairs when I was a kid. Maybe it has to do with my candy obsession and a secret desire to be Gretel, and shove the witch in the oven and eat her delicious candy house all up. I’m not sure exactly why I was obsessed with Germany, but it prompted me to take German all throughout Junior high, high school and college (only to move to Russia and learn Russian instead), and to dream of going there some day.

Well, I finally got the chance to go on the European trip of a lifetime and to see the city I’d been waiting for so long to see–Berlin. Oh yeah. Berlin. My Au Pairs would be so proud. Frau Bills (Jr. High German teacher, and favorite teach of life, consequently) would be so proud. Ashley was living her perfect dream of seeing Berlin. And this is how it went.

First things first. I was really hoping to whip out my German skills and solidify years and years of book study with impressive dialogue. Basically, this is what happened.

Attempt One

Me: “Wo ist…wo ist…die Bushaltestelle?”

German Lady: Blank stare. “I speak English. If you get off at this stop and turn right, you’ll see the bus station.”

Attempt Two

Me (best German accent I can produce): Ich mochte Bratwurst, bitte.

Waiter: Great! I’ll bring it out to you, and what would your friend like to eat?

Friend: I’ll have one too.

Unfortunately, I realized that everyone pretty much speaks English, and that my attempts to speak German only prompted people to speak back to me in English. Well, except for the people who work at the hospital…

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By day .5 of being in Berlin, I got uber (high five self for using a German word) sick. I’m talking stuck in the hostel for 2 days straight sick, busy thinking of ways to put myself out of my misery sick, instead of waltzing around Berlin getting my passport stamped at Checkpoint Charlie, and taking pictures by the Berlin wall. Finally, my friend, Jeni, made me go to the hospital which is where I learned socialized medicine is actually kind of a bummer, especially when you’re a foreigner, and I also learned that my German isn’t all that good.

I went to the ER and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited and waited (insert the word waited for about 2 hours more of reading) for someone to help me. Once I FINALLY got someone to help me, I realized that unlike everyone I had encountered before, the hospital Germans didn’t speak English. Turns out that playing “Ich spreche Deutsch ” is not as fun when you’re bleeding out your ears (side note: that was a drastic over exaggeration…I do that when I’m sick, and I’ll continue to do it till I have the right blanket, the right amount of attention, and chicken noodle soup, okay? I’m a bit of a diva when I’m sick).

Anway, try two went like this:

Me: Ich bin krank…

Dr.: Germangerman german krank?

Me: Ich habe Halsschmerzen. Ich fühle mich nicht gut…Um, do you speak English? Does anyone speak English? I don’t know how to explain what is wrong with me, other than Ich bin krank.

Dr.: Germangermangerman Warten Sie hier, bitte. Germangermangerrmangerman…Wir haben einen Arzt, der Englisch spricht. Warten Sie hier. germangerman. blahhhhhh. ?!?!?!!?????????!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I paid 150 Euros and waited for 6 hours to finally get a doctor that spoke English, only to find out I had a viral infection that was only treatable by Root Beer medicine. Now I get why Germans don’t like Root Beer.

The unsweetened Root Beer they gave me made me feel good enough to go wander the streets for a day, or two and I got to see some amazing things including: The Berlin Wall, East Germany, Check Point Charlie, Potsdamer Platz, Brandenburg Gate, and I saw some really cool underground art. I’ll have to blog about that separately.

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I’m sick and happy. And, I don’t know what I’m wearing either.

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Berlin Wall, sick Ashley, nasty outfit, happy girl!

Needless to say, as sick as I was, Berlin was still a dream, especially because I was walking around in a daze most of the time. I’m excited to return and will drink all the Root Beer in the world to prepare immune system for German diseases, so I don’t get sick.

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Outfit was better and I was feeling better too.

For real, though, when you travel, make sure you bring some familiar medicine from home and make sure not to get in the way of anyone else’s germs!

Thaiglish

27 Jul

Not only is Thailand an adventure full of history and beauty, but it is also a complete hilarity for someone who studied language acquisition.

Exhibit A: Phonetics

Exhibit B: Morphology

Exhibit C: Syntax

I’d like to bear my testimony that my Master’s of Arts matters. Amen.

US Airways Gets an F-

19 Jul

I’ve done a lot of traveling in my day, which means I spend a lot of time on airplanes. I’ve flown a bunch of different Airlines and mostly have had great experiences.

The best experience I ever had was with a Bulgarian Airline on a flight from Moscow to Sophia. I got really sick right before boarding the flight and was throwing up the whole time. I was so sick, I could hardly stand. The flight attendants took me to the back made me a little bed and tended to me the entire time. I was so sick, but I felt loved, cared for, and their dedicated customer service meant a lot to me.

Conversely, the worst experience I’ve ever had was with US Airways. Being such an avid traveler, I had special plans for my honeymoon and wanted it to be the most perfect vacation ever. My husband and I flew to Cancun, and a few days into our honeymoon, we both got extremely sick. My poor husband couldn’t keep anything in his body and was extremely dehydrated, and I couldn’t stop throwing up (again). After a few days of this and even trying Mexican medication, it was time to get home to a doctor and get home as quickly as possible.

We called the Customer Service representatives at US Airways and they assured us that all we needed to do was pay $300 now and then send a doctor’s note to them and then they would refund the money. We kept our end of the deal, paid the money, flew on a miserable flight home, and promptly sent in the doctors note to US Airways. We heard nothing for a while. Then, we heard that we weren’t sick enough to get a refund. Then we heard that they had no such policy. Needless to say, we still haven’t seen a refund.

Get your story straight, US Airways!

I love to blog, and I blog about experiences both good and bad. All I know is that travelers should be treated with honesty and respect, especially when prices for flights are astronomical and there is loads of competition in the airline industry.

For my future flights, I will not be flying US Airways, and I hope you don’t ever have to deal with their horrendous customer service either.

Travel to any place, any time throughout history. Where would you go?

16 Jul

Lately, I’ve been having all sorts of crazy dreams. For example, I had a dream that my sister and I traveled to Antarctica together to ski and look at old boats. Apparently, that’s what my subconscious thinks people do in Antarctica. After our adventure there, we took these huge, and totally unreliable, trains. The trains were more like 100 degree angled up and down roller coasters with no seatbelts—but, don’t worry; everyone was attached to the seat with a bungee cord. Anyway, the train took us to our next destination was hang gliding with about 100,000 other hang gliders in Australia. The point of all this is…well, I don’t really know what the point of all this is…maybe it’s that I’m not getting enough adventure during my waking time, or maybe it’s that I need to think a little broader.

In an attempt to do that, I would like to pretend that the Back to the Future Delorean is in my possession. That being said, I would obviously use my Delorean to travel back in time to visit some of the greatest cities of all time.  Also, I reserve the right to take a modern day toothbrush, water filter, and Tampons back in time with me.  It’s only fair. Okay, I would probably want to go everywhere, but here are the top five places.

Jerusalem at the time of Christ – Well, I am a Christian. I love Jesus, so why not hang around for the real life New Testament miracles, instead of just reading about them in the Bible. Jesus is awesome. ‘Nuff said.

1600s England –Hook me up with some real life Shakespeare plays in the Globe Theater. I call I don’t have to sit by the stinky groundlings though. I also want a big fancy Elizabethan dress and a funky wig. Then, I want to throw cabbage at Iago, because he’s one mean sonuvagun. And, I want to leave with a personal Shakespearean sonnet written by the man himself to muse about and show my futuristic friends.

1960s-1970s New York City – I want to participate in The New York School of Art and go to Andy Warhol’s parties. People were exploring all sorts of crazy art that I dig. Give me a paintbrush, pump up the music and let me run loose.

Ancient Rome – This one should be obvious. Gladiator. All roads lead to Rome. See the ruins in full force. Yadda Yadda. Send me there now, please.

Ayutthaya 1700 AD – Think one night in the Bangkok is crazy, imagine what one night in the Ayutthaya would be like. I picture it as the most gorgeous city with the best old school karaoke around. I would like to go there before the Burmese attack though. That doesn’t sound fun.

Well, those are the first places I would go in my Delorean. Where would you go?

Grateful the Family Lives in Minnesota, Instead of Boringcity, Borestate!

10 Jul

My Summer of Action 2012 trip to Minnesota is officially complete, and I must say I have to give Minnesota 2 thumbs up.  While I was severely disappointed that not everyone speaks with the Minnesota accent that I always heard in movies (you know what I’m talking about), I was very impressed with everything else.

The primary reason for visiting Minnesota was to hang out with my darling nieces and nephews, so I did a lot of fun kid things. One of the best places we went to visit was the Minnesota State Zoo.  I am from Utah and haven’t been to the zoo in a 100 years, but last time I went, I don’t remember being that impressed.  The Minnesota State Zoo far exceeded my expectations.  They have a wide range of animals, but we spent most of our time checking out the section dedicated to Minnesota animals.

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Foxy Cummings Ladies!

This is what I learned.  If you go into the woods in Minnesota, you might get eaten by anyone of the following animals:

  • Puma (aka BYU Cougar)
  • Lynx
  • Wolf
  • Moose
  • Porcupine
  • Raccoon

And the rest don’t seem all that dangerous, so I naturally lost interest.  When it comes to going out in the wild in Minnesota, I will think twice.

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That brings me to the shiny metropolis of Minneapolis.  Minneapolis is home to great universities, lots of diversity and the MALL OF AMERICA!

Why did I put MALL OF AMERICA in all caps?  Well, because it’s as awesome as it sounds.  First of all, they have an amusement park in the middle of the mall, and they have 3 levels of all my favorite shops.  We spent 7 hours shopping at the mall.  Normal malls only get about 2 hours of my attention, so I officially applaud the MoA.

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Mall of America 2012

The rest of the time, I spent hanging out with the family in parks, at church and whatnot, which was awesome.  Can’t wait for my return to Minnesota.

Also, Minnesota is home to Target.  I love Target and so I love Minnesota.