Time to Pack

August 18, 2011

Travel on.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain

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Took the (Camera) Plunge!

January 24, 2011

It has been so long since I updated this blog – sad!   As Gilly would say….”sorry.”

I finally bought a new camera after months of research – a real, grown-up one beyond a point and shoot that is still compact enough to take on trips and carry around easily.  I decided on the new Canon G12 – it acts like a digital SLR without all the bulk.  It has some pretty neat features, which I tested out on a trip to Boston in November.

Boston Common in Vivid Color

College brochure material, no?

Fisheye fun

Life in Technicolor

"Old Fashioned" function gives images a dated treatment in 5 different grades

I’ve been having a lot of fun with the G12 and look forward to testing it in international waters…who knows when that will be??  No trips on the docket as of now, but stay tuned!

Paris…Sans “a Plan”

November 4, 2010

My trip to Paris last month had some unexpected additions: 1) my mom and aunt and 2) an elevated terror threat after several bomb scares evacuated the Eiffel Tower a few days before we arrived (sigh).  Other elements included daily fresh baguettes, stinky cheese (in a good way), buckets of sancerre, champagne, and several croque monsieurs.

This trip was unlike any other I have taken before, with no real “plans” to do anything in particular except enjoy the city and Parisian culture.  And I would say it was a success!

First purchase: fresh baguette and fromage

Rewinding just a bit – how did my mom and aunt get involved?  Well, I was telling my mom the details of my planned long weekend in Paris and she sounded wistful as I described plans to stroll the cobblestone streets, take photos in sepia, sit at cafes and peoplewatch, and just soak it all in.  She was lamenting about how she and my aunt got screwed (for lack of a better word) out of their trip to Europe this spring when the whole Iceland volcano situation happened. They never rescheduled their trip and she was pining for Paris (she’s been a few times). I was shocked when she initially invited herself onto the trip because she isn’t known for spontaneity or for spending $800+ on a plane ticket for – essentially – a 3-day trip. But, I was thrilled she was even remotely interested and immediately started looking for a bigger vacation apartment that would work for the four of us.

I searched several vacation rental sites for our Paris abode, and VRBO.com came to the rescue again.  We rented a massive 2-BR flat in St. Germain des Pres (6th arrondissement), which is known for two famous cafes, Les Deux Magots and Cafe de Flore, and fabulous shopping (our apartment was above Ferragamo and across from Prada).  It was the perfect home base, despite the 5 floor walk-up (and lugging my own, my mom’s, and my aunt’s suitcases up and down said staircase).  We were able to easily walk to the Eiffel Tower, Champs Elysees, Louvre – you name it, all the tourist attractions you could want that we weren’t actually planning on going into.

We were also lucky to have amazing, warm weather, so we walked the entire city for 3 days and explored some unexpected corners.  I’ll share some more tips on Paris soon, but here are some favorite shots of the city from this trip:

Eat Pray…Whatever

September 12, 2010

So there is this ongoing cultural obsession with Elizabeth Gilbert’s book, “Eat Pray Love,” a memoir about a woman who leaves her loveless marriage to go travel the world and “find herself.”  She spends four months each in Italy, India and Indonesia and everything turns out perfect in the end when she falls in love and lives happily ever after.  I gave the book a fair try and since I love to read travel memoirs*, put up with her narcissistic narration, but could only (barely) tolerate her through the “Eat” part of the book. When I heard the movie was coming out, I gave up entirely and thought I’d just see the movie so I could also enjoy the scenery of 3 places I would really like to visit someday.

I am not a movie critic, but I’m not the only one who feels the same way about this book/movie/author, and it’s really a shame because it’s such an interesting premise.  I have always dreamed of dropping everything and traveling the world with no real plan, but it’s not in my DNA.  The “not planning” part.

I really wanted to like this movie.

For travel scenery, the movie certainly delivers – and offers up an opportunity for tour operators to capitalize.  Overall, if you’re looking for travel eye candy (cobblestoned Roman alleys, untouched Balinese coastline, Javier Bardem), then I recommend this film (just cover your ears and ignore the main character).  🙂

*Some of my favorite travel memoirs include “Whatever You Do, Don’t Run” by Peter Allison and “In a Sunburned Country” by Bill Bryson.

Back in the Game

September 9, 2010

Just like that, I have two fun trips planned in the next month.  One domestic, one international. Both involving catching up with dear friends from college – I am very excited!  And it’s about time.

I’ll head to Washington D.C. in a couple of weeks for a long weekend, and then a couple of weeks later I will spend a slightly longer weekend in…PARIS!  It’s kind of funny to come full circle on my very first international trip – I can’t wait to see how my perspective – and the city – has changed since then!

One thing is for sure – I won’t be running up the Eiffel Tower this time.  I’ll save that “special memory” for my teenage endurance days.

1665 steps...maybe walk instead of run this time?

So far, I have a flight booked and need to find lodgings in Paris – I’ll be comparing private apartments for rent to hotels and their reviews on TripAdvisor.com, and hope to find something in a hip location that won’t break the bank.  Should I pick a boutique hotel like the chic Hotel St. Germain or a slice of Parisian heaven with a terrace overlooking the Eiffel Tower? Time will tell.

Some people dread this part of the planning, but I see it as shopping for (temporary) real estate!  What will my Paris home be like (for 4 days)?  Besides, if I have loud neighbors, I know I won’t be staying very long anyway, and if it’s amazing then I can always come back to amazing escape.  Maybe in another 16 years?