Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Wow. Let's skip Paris and Chicago and Missouri and Arkansas-Here I am. I live in Austin. I've traveled a few places abroad, but the entire time I was traveling I had this miserable fear of going back to where I lived. . .
Where I constantly planned my escape-my way out--my next big adventure....and then, we decide to move to Austin and all of that anxiety and desperate need to get away dissipated. Thank god, it's gone. Richmond is gone for me, and now I'm finally happy.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
After a long week in London, we hopped a flight to Amsterdam. We used Easy-jet, which was very cheap, but it has a lot of hidden fees--so watch out! The flight took much less time than we spent waiting at the airport and waiting in line to board the plane. Once we landed, we took a train and a taxi to our hostel. Amsterdam is relatively small compared to the other cities we visited, so traveling was easy. We only took a couple cabs and managed to walk through most of the city in about 40 minutes.
Hotel Abba was a great hostel/hotel to stay at. The biggest hurdle in getting to this place was the treacherous stairs leading to the entrance and then up to our rooms. For a girl, it's pretty difficult to drag heavy luggage up the steps. I liked the safety that Abba provided as every separate hallway had a door that locked and rooms had private locks on them ( which is something Paris didn't have..).
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Go to Stonehenge. Make it happen. It's totally worth the travel time. Seeing this magnificent piece of history is breathtaking. When we visited, We were staying in London at our friend's dorm, near the Kings Cross station. We took that to the train depot and then took a train to Bath. I can't remember exactly how long it took us, but I'm thinking the travel time was something like 3 hours round trip. After we arrived in Bath, which is an awesome little city (and home of Jane Austen, we had another hour or two to kill before the bus took us to Stonehenge. Then, it was another hour ride on a tour bus through English countryside. We froze our asses off, but Stonehenge is something everyone should see.
Okay, London is a great city. It's huge and confusing and getting around takes patience and time, especially if you don't know what you're doing. We made a list of places we wanted to see and tried to get to as much as we could. We didn't make it to Abbey Road, but we did get to Bath, which I'll talk about later.
Anyway, the underground is a lot of fun and super easy once you learn a little bit about your location. I would avoid taking the double-decker buses, as fun as they sound, they aren't very safe for women. Also, keep an eye on your belongings all the time. A friend had her bag cut open on a bus and didn't even know until it was too late....
Alright. Places to see in London: Big Ben and the London Eye. I already talked about those. Also, West Minister Abbey is next door to Parliament so definitely check that out too.
The free museums in London are great but prepare to spend an entire day at them. You could really spend a few days at every museum, but if you're limited on time, stick to exhibits you want to see. We went to the British Museum and the National Gallery. The National gallery is great, but we didn't get to see all of the Van Gogh paintings because they close early...(around 6p.m.)
Check out this website for information on the National Gallery:
Other cool places to check out are the Tower of London, Harrods Department Store, Hyde Park and Buckingham Palace. Tower Bridge is pretty famous and it's a block or so from the Tower of London. Actually, You can see St. Paul's Cathedral, take a nice walk along the river, go up in Tower Bridge and tour the Tower of London all in one day. Just make sure you have about 3 hours free for the Tower tour because it takes a long time.
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
By some sort of luck (and having a friend in graduate school in London) Chris and I made it to Europe for winter break. We spent about 16 days traveling different countries and fighting the frigid cold. First stop on our list: London. We arrived in late December and I was battling the worst cold of my life.
We weren't prepared for the severe jet-lag our first few days in London. We woke up at around 3 or 4 in the afternoon and had to rush to get ready and see the sights. My biggest advice for European travelers is to allow an extra day to sleep a few hours. It will help tremendously, especially if you're on a long trip.
After a few days of nursing a cold and celebrating the New Year, we started to visit all the popular tourist sights. New Years day, we visited Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, and the London Eye. The eye is pretty cool if it isn't zero degrees outside. If you plan on going up in the eye, expect long lines and spending about 15 euro a person. We were unable to get up until 4:30 p.m and it was already dark, so our pictures weren't very good. It's definitely cool to get a view of the great city of London though!
Another problem we faced frequently was the lack of things open during the winter. We weren't able to go inside West Minister Abbey, Parliament, or Buckingham Palace. Parliament is actually closed to tourists all year round, but other places are typically open in the summer.
Part of our Belize trip included a week-long stay on an island called South Water Caye. It's located two hours from Belize city and the private island about 15 acres in size. It's the perfect place for a romantic getaway. During our stay, we had the whole island to ourselves.
The rooms at Pelican Resort are individual houses equipped with private bathrooms, hammocks and private decks. There's a common house where we had our meals and class. We also had access to Kayaks and volleyball.
We did a lot of snorkeling during our week on South Water. We visited mangroves, the coral reef and other interesting places. I was afraid of some of the snorkeling areas because there was strong currents sending us further and further from our boat. The mangroves were filled with jellyfish and nearly everyone swam through a prickly-stingy patch of jellyfish eggs. (It was awful!)