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I recently wrote a post as a guest blogger for the Brooklyn Nomad and it went up on his site today. Please check it out by clicking on the link below!
I occasionally need a short getaway to help get me through to the next big trip, so this past weekend I went to visit my friend Tim in Greensboro, NC. After a quick stop at Replacements, Ltd to sell four bowls ($16 – woohoo!) that were taking up space in my closet, we picked up Tim’s friend Kyle and drove to Winston for their annual Salute! NC Wine Celebration. For a $25 entry fee (I know, my china sale didn’t even cover the entry fee) we were given a wine glass and access to dozens of local wineries and probably hundreds of different wines. I am a wine novice, so I just tried whatever Tim and Kyle tried, as well as quite a few sweet wines they passed on but insisted I would like. They were usually right, although I did like quite a few of the drier wines as well.
A wine tasting festival is a tricky thing. We walked around trying a sip at a time of various wines, all the while thinking we were hardly drinking anything because we never had more than that one sip in our glasses. And then it hit me - I’m quite buzzed. Ok maybe a little drunk, but hey, we had been there for about three hours. We decided to take a break and wandered into Skippy’s where I enjoyed my first Chicago-style hot dog. It was delicious! The onions, the peppers, the pickle…..yum! I’ll be honest though, I HATE mustard, so I had them leave it off. After our energizing meal, we went back outside to try a few more wines before calling it a day. I even bought a bottle of wine, although I can’t remember what it’s called since Tim is mailing it to me. I had much more fun than I imagined I could in Winston, NC. Who knew NC had so many good wineries? It was definitely the widest variety of wine I have ever tasted, but I’m still not any closer to knowing what my favorite types of wines are. It’s all good, right?
Just a quick one today. I’ve booked the rest of my vacation days for the year, which is sort of a relief. I’m visiting my friend Tim in North Carolina at the end of May for a weekend. I’m going to the Florida keys in early July for my brother’s wedding, and I’m taking a 3 day weekend to San Francisco in late July with my friend Andrea. I have the trip to Quito in September for a Spanish class. And I booked my Thanksgiving trip to Prague with a stop in London first. I still need to book the flight from London to Prague but I think I’ll wait until my credit card recovers. I know it seems a bit extreme, even for a planner like me, to book a trip more than 6 months ahead of time, but it was a good price and I didn’t want to take the chance of it going up. Also, I’m currently in boring exciting Richmond, VA for work. It’s kind of nice to have the big picture decided, yet I still have enough details to plan out to keep me going while I’m in between trips. I think I’m about to spend some time reading everyone else’s blogs for ideas for these trips! I’m also spending two nights a week taking Spanish classes, and it’s really great to be diving back into something I’ve always loved but inexplicably abandoned. I will keep you updated with more interesting posts about these upcoming trips and my ongoing exploration into the Spanish language. Thanks for reading!
In my last post, I discussed several trips I was trying to plan. I don’t have it all worked out yet, but I’m getting closer. I decided I didn’t want to take the chance of getting altitude sickness in Peru, which would ruin my experience at Machu Picchu. Plus there are several other places I’d like to go to in Peru that I wouldn’t have time for, so I have decided not to take the Spanish class in Peru. I will just have to plan a Peru trip some other time. With that decision made, I have signed up for a Spanish class at Academia Latinoamericana de Espanol in Quito, Ecuador for a week in September, and I’ve booked my flight. I can’t wait! I’m also taking Spanish classes at the Atlanta International Language Institute, so hopefully that will help me catch up to where I was when I minored in Spanish in college. I’m also hoping it will help me feel more comfortable with living with a family in Ecuador since I’m sure they won’t know any English.
That leaves me with two vacation days. I definitely want to go to Prague over Thanksgiving, so I will most likely use one of the days there. I’m also thinking of flying into London and going to the British Museum before flying to Prague. I wanted to go to Stonehenge, but I looked at the flight schedules and I can’t work it out with my time constraints. I know flying to London just to go to a museum sounds a little nutty, but it’s all about timing. The flight to London-Gatwick lands at 7am, but if I were to fly to Prague, I wouldn’t get there until late in the afternoon, so it feels like a wasted day. Instead I can go to London, where I’ve already been, and see the museum before taking an evening flight to Prague. This will also cross off another item from the Hillman list I’ve mentioned before. So why not spend the day crossing off the museum instead wasting those extra hours on a plane and in a random airport on a layover?
That last vacation day will probably be used for a three-day weekend either to visit a friend in Seattle or to meet up with her for a trip to San Francisco. We haven’t quite worked out those details yet. In the meantime I will just watch my Skymiles accumulate and maybe start planning next year’s trips. Oh, if only I had more vacation time…..
Like most addictions, a travel addiction can be time-consuming. Where should I go next? What is the best plan of attack? How many places can I squeeze in and still get to see and do everything I want? How far will my money stretch? I recently decided I want to take a Spanish class in another country and live with a family for a week. A sort of mini study abroad. I loved Spain, where I went for study abroad in college, but I want to explore a country I haven’t been to yet. So I started looking into Ecuador and Peru. They’re both known for having good language schools, they’re inexpensive, beautiful countries, and they both have lots to see and do. I keep going back and forth on which is the better option for various reasons, but mostly based on whether I think I’ll have enough time to see Machu Picchu if I pick Peru. On paper it looks like I have enough time, but I have to take into consideration the strong possibility of altitude sickness. Since I will need to take things slowly to avoid or get over altitude sickness, I probably don’t have enough time to go to Machu Picchu before starting a class in Cusco, Peru. So for today anyway, I’m leaning towards Quito, Ecuador.
While trying to make that decision, I’m also trying to strategically plan out my remaining vacation days. I have 6 days to play with, so I’m planning on taking the Spanish class the week of Labor Day, that way I can save one vacation day. But I also want to take a trip to Europe at Thanksgiving. The long holiday weekend is just too tempting, it’s like free time, and it would be even better if I could tack on a vacation day or two. My top choice for the Thanksgiving trip is Prague, and if I have time for another destination, that would be great, but I haven’t worked it all out yet. I’m actually trying to plan this trip based on where I can get a direct flight since that means more time spent in Europe. If I fly to Prague first, which is not a direct flight, I won’t get there until late in the afternoon. If I fly to London first (to go to Stonehenge) I’ll get there first thing in the morning. This also means more bouncing around during an already short trip.
I will admit, I’m a bit of a list-ticker, which is why I’m even considering doing Stonehenge and Prague in one trip over Thanksgiving break. I love crossing off a new country, new city, new continent. I even have a big map on my wall with hundreds of color-coded pins to show where I’ve been, where I want to go, trips that are already planned, etc. My friend Amanda also introduced me to the Hillman Wonders of the World and we have sort of a competition going to cross off the gold medals, which are the places on his top 100 list. So far I’ve been to 24, in case you’re curious. While there are many places I want to go to that aren’t on the top 100, most of my travel planning does involve this list. As a result, I am constantly trying to figure out the best way to plan a trip based on crossing off gold medals winners and getting to new countries while still making sure I’m going to places I truly care about seeing. This is why trying to plan two trips with 6 vacation days and a few holidays can be even more frustrating, because I’m trying to maximize my time while still being able to enjoy my surroundings. It really feels like trying to fit pieces of a puzzle together, except that there are multiple ways to solve this particular puzzle. I just don’t know which way looks best yet, but maybe part of the fun for me is in the possibilities.