Tag Archives: travel writing

Travel tips from Stef!

14 Mar

Check out this interview with world traveler, Stef!

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What is your favorite place you have traveled to?

My favorite place to travel to was Santorini, Greece. I first saw it on a calendar and then on Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. I knew I wanted to go there. I found a picture online that I loved of Santorini and I put it as my wallpaper on my computer. It was so awesome to go to that exact place and take my own picture. It was so amazing to be where I had always dreamed of being. I have since chosen another number one, because it was such a great experience.

What is your favorite travel memory?

One of my favorite travel memories was in Instanbul, Turkey. We went on a boat with all the teams from my Folk Festival. Teams from Belgium, Taiwan, England, Portugal, etc. We rode down the Bosphorus Strait. On one side was Instanbul in Asia and on the other side was Instanbul in Europe. We had a dance party with music blasting and the most amazing view of Turkey and its big buildings and mosques.

What is your worst travel memory?

My worst travel memory ever was one I am glad I lived to tell the story. My team and I went to the Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain. However, we did it the totally wrong way, have learned from our mistake, and would advise friends to do it differently. We were dropped off at 8PM with nowhere to stay. The Running of the Bulls is a party all night with food, music, fireworks, carnival rides, dancing in the streets with everyone, but when you don’t drink, there is only so much you can do. At about 2:00/3:00ish we were sooooo tired. You could not enter the stadium until around 6:00 AM the next morning. (We were going to watch everyone run into the arena because we were not allowed to run with the bulls since we were on tour dancing). So, we literally found cardboard boxes and slept on them until 6:00 AM . We really felt homeless. It was awful. The worst was finding one of our directors, an older man in his 60s, curled up in a ball on some stairs. We all felt homeless and it was bad. It was so cool when the actual Running of the Bulls happened at 8:00 AM. We recommend people to go at night and do the fun activities and get a hotel room and then go at 6:00 to the arena.

What are some travel tips you would offer to other travelers?

Travel tips: some of my favorite moments are when I have stayed at hostels. In New York City, we had roommates from all countries. We even spent the day with our roommate from Germany. She was alone and spent the day with us, went to church with us, dinner with us, etc. It was a memorable day. She was living in DC at the time doing an internship. We were able to meet her there and she showed us around our own capital.  Our hostel in Lisbon, Portugal was a trek to get to. Up lots of hills, dragging our luggage, but when we entered our room it was the most BEAUTIFUL view!

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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Ever thought of checking out Belarus?

31 Jul

I recently wrote a post about Russia, but I would feel extremely guilty if I didn’t show some love to White Russia (aka Belarus). Belarus is a beautiful country, and if you’re headed to Russia, you may as well hit up Belarus too! After all, it’s another stamp in your passport, right? Here are some things to know/do.

1. You need a visa for Belarus. While it’s possible to buy a train ticket from Belarusskiy Vogzal in Moscow without showing your Belorussian visa, and it’s even possible to get into the country of Belarus (by train) without a visa, you won’t be able to relax in the event a Belorussian official asks you for your visa. So, unless you want to risk some old fashioned jail time (and remember Belarus is still a dictatorship), do yourself a favor and get a visa. Sneaky-sneaky is not the best idea in old Soviet countries.

2. Remember! Remembering is a great thing to do in the country of Belarus and the architecture will constantly remind you of historical events. Sadly, most of Belarus was obliterated in WWII, and all that stands as original buildings is a small section of Minsk. As a result, much of the country has been rebuilt and there are manymanymany memorials built in remembrance of  WWII.  Touring Belarus is a heartwarming way to learn about WWII and honor those who died in the war. I would recommend visiting the city of Brest (right next to Poland) and also Khatyn. Prepare yourself for a lot of respect and reverence as you experience the atrocities of WWII.

3. Go to Minsk. Minsk is the largest city in Belarus and it’s happening, especially during the summer city festival. There are a lot of awesome art and history museums, great places to eat (seriously), and cool churches and sites.  I would especially recommend any Marc Chagall exhibits. Belorussians are proud of Marc Chagall, and, as such, they have amazing collections. Also, eat at Cafe Fresci. It’s “Italian” food. Well, it’s not really Italian, but it’s freaking good. It’s located  just behind October Square (Ploschad Oktyabrskaya). Save room for an ice cream sunday, because they are delicious.

4. Speaking of Marc Chagall. If you are into art, there is a little Marc Chagall Museum in Vitibsk, the city in Belarus where Chagall is from. I love Chagall, so to me, this is the definition of uh-mazing.

Marc Chagall Museum in Vitebsk

5. Don’t be lame and eat some Belorussian cuisine. Try borsch, cold borsch, pelmeni, pirogi, vareniki, oliveye, etc. I realized this probably won’t make much sense, so just go to Cafe Bistro Lido, and try what looks good. You won’t be disappointed, and if you are, sue me!

Belarus is beautiful. There are gorgeous dachas and green hills everywhere. It’s calm and the country is filled with beautiful memorials, reminding everyone of history. Go there. Love it.

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.

Announcing “Pic and a Paragraph!”

17 Jul

I am starting a new section on my blog called “Pic and a Paragraph.” I love traveling and would love to hear about all the cool places you have been too. If you would like to submit a picture and a paragraph about somewhere rad you’ve been, I would love to post it on my blog. Also, don’t forget to include a 2-3 sentence bio about you, so readers can learn more about you!

Learn more here.