Tag Archives: Vacation
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Time for a vacation?

28 May

Time for a vacation?

You know it’s time for a vacation when a bird flies into your car and poops all over. Gross.

Why Russians aren’t smiling

29 Apr

A lot of Americans that come home from a quick trip to Russia ask me why Russians are so mean. I always respond that Russians aren’t mean at all, and, in fact, they are some of the kindest people that I know. What makes Russians seem mean is simply a cultural difference in what facial expressions are appropriate and when.

I came across this blog post about why Russians don’t smile like Americans do, and I couldn’t have said it better myself. Anyone who is planning a trip to Russia would be wise to read this blog post about why Russians don’t smile.

A Stalin era poster. "Be vigilant. Even walls are listening nowadays. Chat and gossip are not far from high treason. DO NOT CHAT!"

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Atlantis and hipness: Something I have in common with the Obamas

26 Mar

I learned a little something about logical reasoning back in the day, and I think this is the perfect conclusion, based on the premises. Here goes:

The Obamas are apparently vacationing at Atlantis in the Bahamas.

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I vacationed at the Atlantis in the Bahamas.

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The Obamas are hip.

Therefore, I am hip.

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New York, New York! Let it be a gamble!

4 Mar

New York is one of those places you can visit every year, and find something new and interesting to do every time you go. To me, it seems like I get more bang for my buck in New York than almost any other place, because the city is jam packed with fun.

Of course, if you’re headed to New York, you want to see the regular travel guide book stuff like the Empire State Building (preferably with your sweetie), Ellis Island, The Statue of Liberty, the Met, the Guggenheim, Ground Zero, and eat a New York Street Dog, but I think one of the best ways to experience New York is to let things in New York find you.

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My bro and I seeing the regular fun stuff in NYC.

My favorite way to travel to New York is on a short vacation, and not to make any actual plans beforehand. I know that sounds kinda nutty, but there is so much to do in New York, each time you go, you will experience something new and interesting.

There are so many great restaurants in NYC (both hole-in-the-wall, and fancy), so just stumble in one whenever you get hungry. Check the local guides for what art exhibits are happening where, and check it out whatever sounds interesting. Also, check out what is happening in Soho, Chelsea and other fun districts. Walk down the streets of Chinatown, Little Italy, or Russian-themed Brighton beach, and get some culture. Show up at the TXTS booth and get tickets to whatever show is on sale. Pick out what kind of dancing sounds fun, and then find any club that matches your groove for the night. Really, you can’t go wrong.

Mary Poppins on Broadway in NYC

TXTS brought us to Mary Poppins on this NYC visit.

The only thing I would say to plan on is a place to stay and transportation schedules. Hotels/hostels book up fast, and there are rats on the street at night, so sleeping on the streets is gonna bum you out if you don’t plan in advance. Also, figure out when the subway runs. The last thing you want to do is be stuck somewhere expecting to take the subway, only to find yourself gated out of the station. I’ve experienced that, and it’s not fun.

Fire Island

Once upon a long time ago, Zach and I thought we found an Octopus on Fire Island. Great place to visit on an NYC trip, btw. Just don’t waste your time chasing sea animals.

 

Visit the Homestead in Midway, Utah

20 Feb
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Homestead in Midway, Utah

Utah is full of surprises. One of Utah’s great surprises is a little city in the middle of the mountains called Midway. You’ll know you’ve run into Midway when you start feeling like you’ve stumbled upon an area that looks more like Switzerland than any place in the United States. Midway is quaint, beautiful, and there are a lot of fun adventures to be had here in this small town.

Last week, it being Valentine’s Day and all, my husband stole me away to a nice getaway at the Homestead in Midway. The Homestead is the perfect place to visit if you’re looking for a fun, romantic, and moderately priced staycation in Utah. Besides enjoying the gorgeous town of Midway, here are some fun things you can do at the Homestead.

Swim – Of course, they have the regular indoor pool and hot tub, but the fun doesn’t stop there. They also offer snorkeling and scuba diving in…get this…a natural cave, similar to a Mexican cenote. The water is warm, the dive is fun, and it’s a great way to enjoy a bit of scuba diving in the middle of nowhere.

Hiking/Snowshoeing – There are a lot of amazing places to hike, or snowshoe, depending on the season. You can either find an empty trail yourself, or ask the front desk what trail they recommend.

Other Activities – There are a few ski resorts that aren’t too far away, if you’re planning to make a weekend out of staying at the Homestead. If not, check out some of the cool ice sculptures around the area. If you’re visiting during the summer, consider golfing, or visiting the spa. Oh yeah.

The Homestead is the perfect little place for a fun getaway in Utah. 

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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Gem #1 from Nashville

9 Nov

I don’t know about you, but a huge part of going on a vacation is finding fun places to eat. By fun places to eat, I mean delicious food, great prices, and one of a kind. If you are thinking Applebee’s, or something, then we’re not on the same page here, and I call you to food loving repentance.

My husband and I spent the last week in Nashville and we stumbled on a few excellent food finds, but the best by far was Sam’s Sushi on the corner of Church and Printer’s Alley. Holy smokes, this place is awesome, and if you go to Nashville, you have to go there.

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It’s a small, dumpy little square building, but it’s run by a cute Japanese man that is down for a good conversation. We managed to talk football, politics, and he even told us the great places to park for free, which is great advice considering parking in Nashville is an expensive beast.

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Not only is the conversation great, but the prices are amazing. It’s anywhere from $2-$4 for a roll. Yes, you heard right. That’s $2-$4 for a whole roll, and they are GINORMOUS. My husband and I will usually order 4-5 rolls to share when we go to any of the popular sushi places in Utah. These rolls were so big that we shared 3 and were stuffed!

The rolls aren’t 100% the best sushi I have ever eaten in my entire life, but they are delicious and the value is amazing.

When you go to Nashville (and you should, because it’s rad), make sure to make the trek to Printer’s Alley and eat at this wonderful place.

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Also, they had this weird drink I’d never seen before, so, naturally, I had to try it.Image

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Hello Seattle!

29 Sep

For those of you who don’t know, I have a really rad husband. And, I’m talking rad. He cooks all the time. He’s really funny and sweet. And, he’s a drummer for a living. Straight up drummer. Like gets paid to drum. And it’s disgusting how good he is at drumming. That being said, sometimes we get to travel around for fun drum stuff. This weekend, we went to Seattle for a drum competition.

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This is Brandon setting up to rock!

Well, he pretty much rocked it and won this electronic drum pad something or other, and I was proud, and it was fun, and that brings me to the rest of Seattle.

The competition was in Belleview, so we meet up with some friends there, and they took us to this place called Din Tai Fung, and IT. WAS. SO. GOOD. It was the heaven of dim sum. They had a bunch of people working non-stop making dumplings from scratch. Basically, we were so in love with it, we almost went there 2 nights in a row. We didn’t end up doing that, though, because we were afraid that we would miss out on another Seattle treasure. But, the fact that we ALMOST went there was awesome.

Day 2 in Seattle was Sunday, so we spent the day walking around Pike’s Place Market and walking around the wharf. So much fun.

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Look how cute we are! Awww.

I don’t know what it is about Pike’s Place, but I love that place. It’s so peaceful and all the flowers are so pretty, and the food is delicious. Basically, we ate fish, shrimp cocktail, fresh fruit…um..we ate a lot of stuff, so I’m going to stop there, so as to not be embarrassing.

If you go to Pike’s Place Market, here are some MUSTS:

1. Washington Berries – Get some, eat them. It will change your life.

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Do you know how good these taste?

4. Fish throwing. Watching the famous fish throw is surprisingly entertaining. Eat some shrimp cocktail while you are there too. Nom Nom Nom.3. Flowers. Flowers are stupid cheap, and so beautiful. Need I say more?

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The fish throwers in Seattle!

5. Relax. Seattle is all about relaxing, even if there are a hundred bums asking you for money so they can go buy pot.

 

Okay, that ’bout sums it up for now.

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!

Need a place to stay for free on your trip? Try the awesomeness of couchsurfing.org.

9 Aug

I decided to backpack across Europe right after the movie “Taken” was released. As a result, everyone I knew chastised me and told me to be careful to not get kidnapped and sold into sex slavery. I promised them that I would be smart and safe and reassured them that even if I was captured, my father, who is a very talented and successful graphic designer, would come rescue me for sure. Thanks, Dad. Big card for you on Father’s Day! That being said, I utilized a service that may sound nuts, but happened to be the most awesome thing of life. I urge everyone who likes traveling to give it a whirl.

Instead of paying to stay in hotels and hostels in my favorite destinations, I used couchsurfing.org. Couchsurfing.org is an organization that connects other travels. Basically, you sign up and create a profile, and offer your couch for travelers.  In return, people in cool locations offer their couch to you. I cannot begin to tell you about the awesomeness of this service.

First, it is a great way to meet new friends who also love traveling. I met great people in France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and I also met people from other countries who were staying with us at the same time. It was fun to talk about travel and hear about the best places to go from other avid travelers.

Couchsurfing.org is also unique in that you are staying with people who live in the area. That means you have a primary source on where to go, what to do, and what to eat.  I saved a ton of time I would have wasted researching on the internet and looking at maps by just asking my kind host. I also had some great experiences with food, which is sort of my specialty. Get this. One of my Italian hosts invited his chef friend over, and he cooked the most amazing Italian meal. It was the best meal I’ve ever had in my life. Straight up delicious. I also attended a wonderful picnic in France on Bastille Day.  I saw fireworks erupt all over Paris—an experience, I wouldn’t have had if I’d been left to my own devices.

While couchsurfing.org is amazing, there are a few good things to know/do.

  1. Make sure to bring a cool treat for your host. They are offering their house, time and energy to host you, so bring something special and unique to share with them.
  2. Learn how to make something delicious. A great way to bond and to show your appreciation is to cook an amazing meal for them.
  3. Make sure to read recommendations on their profile. Staying with a stranger can be nerve wracking, but couchsurfing.org offers recommendations. This means, people who have stayed there before write a little review on the host. This way you can guarantee a personality fit and your safety. Don’t stay with anyone who has negative reviews, or no reviews. Simple as that.
  4. Travel with a friend if you can. Traveling with a friend is a lot more fun, and also safer.
  5. Make sure to open your house to travelers as well.

If you have plans to stay somewhere else, you can also use couchsurfing.org for recommendations and to just meet cool people. When I was in Berlin, I met up with a couple people from couchsurfing.org, and they showed me a bunch of cool outsider art, graffiti and an underground culture that only Berliner’s typically visit.

Next time you are traveling, consider using couchsurfing.org to met new friends and find a great place to stay.

If you have any cool travel tips, I would love to publish a post about them. Here’s how to submit. Also, feel free to follow me on Twitter and Facebook.