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Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

USA

Home visiting family…

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Where am I?

Now that Italy is done (see below) where am I? On more adventures. I will update soon…

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Squirrel

A friend of mine from Flagstaff sent me some photos of his recent trip to Yosemite. I loved this photo of the squirrel scamming his fast food meal!

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Arizona

Just cactus here in Valencia that made me feel like I was in Arizona (not Flagstaff, more like Scottsdale or Tempe) for a second there. Or maybe Las Vegas which reminds me of a conversation I had with my mom on the phone once when driving down the strip that went like this, “What are you doing?” “I’m passing Paris on my right and Rome on my left on my way to Venice to watch the Super Bowl.” Crazy!

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NY Times Travel

This is a stellar article by the frugal traveler. The accomodation he mentions in Islington section of London is the one I booked a room in based on one of his past articles. The crazy lady running it had no recollection of who I was when I got there despite the fact we had at least ten email exchanges. She had double booked my room then found our emails confirming my stay and then she tried to charge me more money by, as she oddly put it, “honoring our agreement.” Turns out honoring an agreement doesn’t include upping the price so I walked out with no place to stay. That was my version of Seth’s 24 hour stress. Turned out great in the end though.

http://frugaltraveler.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/02/when-youve-got-those-first-24-hour-blues/?hpw

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Food

I like food. I don’t consider myself a foodie whatever that is. I don’t ever purposely pay a lot for meals. My goal is always to seek out good quality at a reasonable price but this can be very difficult. A lot of recommendations I get from people sound like this, “It’s great! They serve huge portions.” Next. In the US I use yelp.com, urbanspoon.com and the NY Times dining and travel reviews. Here are some methods I have come up with.

For online nonprofessional reviews like yelp.com I always look at the number of reviews, the rating and very importantly, where the reviewer is from. If they are local to the restaurant or from good food places in the US like NYC, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Chicago then I give the review more credibility. If they have written reviews for other restaurants that seem to be reasonable that’s a plus. If they write too much or give me a lot of narcissistic information I skip it. Likewise if they write, “It’s great! They serve huge portions.” If the reviews are either glowing or miserable I feel the truth is somewhere in the middle. If bad reviews are for buffets or service by a certain server I am still willing to give it a try for a sit down meal. If the place is described as dirty I pass. Always. I have also seen things that have made me not return. I am not a germophobe but hey try food poisoning a few times and you will get the picture.

Outside of the US it can be harder. I have found one thing that works well though. Ask people who work in wine shops for recommendations. Other than that just get out and explore. I try to see what most other people are ordering. For instance, yesterday I was at my usual hang out and noticed a British couple eating paella there while everyone else was eating tapas. There’s a reason for that. The paella is overpriced and not made traditionally (from scratch it takes at least 30 minutes but their’s comes out quickly so you know it is premade). I’m sure they were sated but they could have done better. Whatever. I’ve done the same thing many times. Lastly it can be worth it to ask the server. But check the prices first. If they suggest the most expensive item then you know why but then again it may really be the best thing. And don’t ever feel you can’t ask how fresh something is or when it was made. In fact, when I was in Mexico this was very common.

Ok if you have any suggestions that would help me that you use feel free to write some comments.

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Alaska

I am not in Alaska but I always tell people that in my opinion it is the most beautiful state in the U.S. I have been there twice and will some day go back again but in summer. Here is a great chronicle in pictures that a friend of mine sent me for the Alaska Marine Highway. I did this trip on the return from Skagway to Bellingham in April of 2008 except I spent most of my time in picture number 21! It’s amazing how fast you can make friends in that location.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/43691735/ns/travel-picture_stories/displaymode/1247/?beginSlide=1

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