Happy New Year and welcome to 2015! 2014 was a great year and one that lead to a busy schedule for me that included some really amazing travel experiences and kept me busy. The year started out with a return to San Francisco for me but a first visit for my friend Jason when we decided to take our annual boys weekend to visit the bay area. We enjoyed the town and even got a chance to visit the vineyards in Napa, which was such a great time. Then, in March, followed a return trip to London for 10 days with my friend Sawyer where I showed him what it is like to travel abroad and what makes London the city I love. We had a great time and one of the highlights of that trip was a day trip to Cardiff in Wales to visit the Doctor Who Experience. This is something that I would highly recommend to anyone who is a Doctor Who Fan.
Continuing with travel for the year, Sawyer, Joey and I went on the seas for a 7-night voyage aboard the Disney Fantasy taking us to the Eastern Caribbean and then a second weekend with Zach, Josh and Dustin to London in October including a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. I’m still not quite over the fact that I went to London twice this year after not going back for several years. Not all travel was pleasure though. I get to visit Williamstown, MA for my cousin Stephanie’s wedding in the mountains and then Washington, DC for my cousin Lisa’s wedding. Both were great trips and a perfect complement to the year of travel for me.
Work wise, I am keeping busy with Disney and still really enjoying my job with Walt Disney Parks and Resorts. I’ve been involved with several high-profile projects and it’s great to see those come to completion. I’m looking forward to seeing what this year may bring.
As for looking forward, travel wise; there are two trips in the plans so far to Disneyland and again to London for me. I’m sure there will be more but I’m still looking for what the next be fun trip will be. I’m sure there will be several trips home later this year as Mom and Dad finish the new cabin on Lake Hubert though.
As you can see, 2014 was a busy year. Here is to 2015 in hopes that it will be just as exciting.
I just realized that I haven’t even touched the post button on here in a while. I guess that’s what happens when life gets busy. Several fun and exciting trips coming up soon that I will blog about later though. Recently though, I just got back from Lake Hubert, MN for the 105h Anniversary of Camp Lincoln. It was a great weekend up north at the cabin and catching up with some old friends and spending time with Mom and Dad. I also did a 5k while up there and my body is still recovering! Anyways, that’s it for now. Sorry it’s so short. Here are some photos from the last trip for your viewing pleasure. Until next time.
So I have come to the conclusion that I am in much need of a new post on my site. It’s been far to long but I do have a few excuses. Work is keeping me busy and I have been traveling again. This time, I started my holiday off with a short weekend trip to San Francisco with my friend Jason.
We had a brilliant time for our four day weekend and visited most of the staples for a weekend to San Francisco and also enjoyed the Walt Disney family Museum and a day trip to Napa Valley where we got to enjoy several vineyard tours around wine country. We had such a great weekend away and couldn’t have asked for any better weather to enjoy the city. Having a multi day transportation pass made the trip a breeze and is the only way to go if you are going to a major city with mass transit.
After a short stop at home for a week, it was time for me to hop on my first flight with Virgin Atlantic and on a 747-400 to fly back to London for an almost two week adventure back in the city and to Wales with my friend Sawyer who had never been out of the USA before. It’s always great to get back to London and visit friends but, it is also fun to take someone there for the first time and show them the ropes. We had a pretty active schedule leaving the hotel in the morning and not returning until late in the evening. We did almost all of the museums and even took in a concert with OneRepublic at The Roundhouse which was simply amazing. Another fun adventure involved Comedy Night on the Phil and Alice show with BBC Radio 1 which I was able to win tickets for in a random lottery draw which was a great time and a great way for me to see in the BBC Radio 1 Live Lounge. So our days were very packed full of activities.
Some other highlights were spending a day in Cardiff to see the Doctor Who Experience and then just catching up with good friends and enjoying the atmosphere of just being in London. We both also took advantage of getting some great European fashion to add to our wardrobes. Weather was really nice with only one evening with a slight mist though the temperatures did start to drop towards the end of the trip. but overall it was great and I know Sawyer had a great first visit to London and I am sure that he will be going back soon. I can’t wait to figure out my next trip to the United Kingdom as well.
Some things that I did learn or learned to appreciate more this trip:
Virgin Atlantic is simply amazing. I don’t know why I haven’t flown them until now but, I can’t see any other airline in my future for going to the United Kingdom ever again. Really great service an amazing product.
There is such a thing as too much Nando’s. Yes I know I love the place but I’m actually ok with the only three times we did go.
We need Costa Coffee Pret-A-Manger and Nando’s here in Orlando. Starbucks can’t even come close to Costa. That is all.
Between the Underground and the DLR, there is no need for taxi or a car. I wish we had more of this here in America.
VAT Refunds add up quick. If you are going to be making larger purchases beyond say a postcard or small gift, get the VAT refund form. You can claim it back when leaving and it adds up very quickly how much you can get back. This also makes the clothes or things you were going to be actually in some cases way cheaper than if you bought them in the United States.
Pre-Book museum or tour tickets if possible. I heard there was a new Bond in Motion exhibit opening our last day in London. I hoped online to book tickets in advice for opening day. Upon arrival to the museum, the line to get tickets if you didn’t pre-book went around 3 blocks. We simply walked in. If you can pre-plan and know you are going to do something, just get it out-of-the-way. It also makes it easier to spread the cost of the trip out as you will have already paid for your tickets before the trip depending on when you book.
Enter to win free tickets. The BBC offers free tickets to many of their shows and concerts. All you have to do is fill out a form to apply. Some of these shows include concerts with the Rolling Stones, Elton John and Rod Stewart. It’s free to apply and whats the worse that will happen, you will either get to see a free concert or you wont. Doesn’t hurt to apply.
Mobile Phones. T-Mobile is great in that if you are on the Simple Choice plans, you get free international roaming for data in certain countries. This is nice but, it is really slow. Like worse than dial-up. If you have a spare phone that’s unlocked, pickup a local pre-paid SIM card. The one I use is £15 for unlimited data, 3000 texts and 300 minutes. This gives me a local number for friends to reach me and high-speed data for posting photos or sending emails. Well worth it.
I’ll leave it there with my list for now, but I wanted to hit a few of the big ones on my mind. Now, here are the links to the photos from the trips. Until next time.
So as I sit here in the Delta Sky Club in Atlanta, I have a new respect for the business traveler. In the past month, I have been to London, New York, Minneapolis and now Atlanta while I sit waiting to go to El Paso to surprise a friend (Don’t worry, this won’t be posted until after I am there). Since January, I have been to Atlanta, Washington, DC and Los Angeles before the last couple flights this past month plus a few Caribbean cruises in there as well. I have hit Silver Medallion on Delta just based on flying for the first time this year which is a lot for me. It should also be a sign that I have traveled too much this year when the Delta agents at the gate and in the Sky Club know you by name.
As much as I love to travel, I simply don’t know how people can do this weekly or daily for their job. I am physically exhausted and look forward to this coming weekend when I can really just relax around the house and catch up on housework and all my shows on my DVR and iTunes. Flying is hard work and all of the jet lag can add up. Trust me, having gotten over a cold and then forcing myself back in to a gym routine is hard. The other side effect is the lack of a true sleep pattern or house work pattern. Laundry simply has gone from one bag to the next as it gets cleaned.
I know it sounds like I’m complaining about traveling, but, I’m not. I am fortunate enough to be able to do the travel I have and this post is just an observation and a reflection on my travel this year. Having said that, cheers and see you in the air!
Well, it has been almost a week since I touched back down here in the United States after what I can only describe as a much needed and much enjoying trip back to the United Kingdom and London specifically. To start off the week, it was simply some of the best weather I could have ever asked for. Temperatures was in the upper 70’s and 80’s and the sun was out for almost the entire time with only one morning of rain the entire trip. I honestly cannot complain about it at all considering the last time I was in London, it was the middle of winter in January 2004.
This trip was a much needed return to the city I had grown to love over three enjoyable Winter Terms at Eckerd College with some really great friends. For those that have been following my blog and website for a while, you will know about my previous London updates. My past visits and extended stays in London have allowed me to experience a lot of amazing and exciting museums around London and the United Kingdom. This trip though, I wanted to do something different. I made it a goal to visit some great friends that I have made over the years and to do some activities that I haven’t done before or something that might not be the usual must do in London.
Where do I start? Well, the first day I was pretty jet lagged having not been able to get much rest on the plane over. For those that don’t know, I have never been able to sleep well on a plane. I know I travel a lot but, I just can’t do it. So I basically stayed up for the entire day and just hit the ground running. First stop of the trip, visiting Startford Centre to get my SIM card for my mobile. One cannot be a local with out a local phone number right? Joking aside, this was actually fun to do while waiting for my hotel to open up. I got a chance for a quick peek at the Olympic Park and some of the local shops. Next was a quick stop at the hotel to clean up and then it was off to Spitalfields Market, Old Spitalfields Market Market and Brick Lane. I did this on recommendation of a friend as a chance to see what the typical East Ender does on a Sunday. All I can say is wow. Sensory overload! So much going on here but, it really was a neat experience and lots of little things to buy and experience. After this, it was near dinner time so I figured I would hit my all time favorite in London, Nando’s. I can’t say enough about how amazing this chain is. Mark this is stop 1 of 4 for the trip. By this point, I had been up for almost 36 hours so it was time to head back to crash before one of my most looked forward to tours of the trip.
So Monday arrived and I was up bright and early, armed with my Costa Coffee and off to the BBC to tour the BBC Broadcasting House. This is a newer tour as the BBC just moved the last of it’s operations out of Television Centre and in to Broadcasting House to complete the modernization of the networks. This was a pretty cool tour. I would actually go to say it was probably better than the CNN tour I did in February when I went to Atlanta. It was cool to see one of the world’s largest newsrooms in action and then to see where the BBC Radio teams broadcast across the world. Another bonus was seeing Lady Gaga in passing. The only thing I would have loved to do on the tour would be to tour Radio 1 which I listen to all the time but unfortunately, that isn’t offered at this time. Maybe next trip. The rest of the day was spent bouncing around the town and walking through some great high street shops where I managed to find some nice new outfits from Topman. Full day overall with lots of exploring including a nice surprise meet up with my friend Vitor from the Disney Magic.
Tuesday was equally as full as Monday with a morning tour of the Buckingham Palace State Rooms, the Churchill War Rooms, and more general exploring before meeting up with Dave and Kevin for drinks and dinner. Let’s start with Buckingham Palace. I feel like I’m about to make a Doctor Who comment but, it really is bigger on the inside. The view from outside really only gives your a glimpse at how massive this place is. This is the first time I had ever toured the State Rooms as in the past, HRH Queen Elizabeth has been in residence so it was not open to the public. The history inside the walls and the special displays on The Queen’s Coronation were actually really interesting to read and see. The amount of tradition that continues through the centuries is really something amazing. It’s really amazing to see that protocol is still followed after all these years. After the Palace, it was off to the Churchill War Rooms and British Museum again and then by the time I was able to relax, it was time for drinks and dinner with Kevin and Dave. I don’t think I could have packed more in to this day.
Wednesday marked the last of the pre-planned days I had this trip. I slept in a little bit and then headed north to Startford where I did a walking tour of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and the town itself. While the Olympic venues are still in the process of being converted from the 2012 Olympic Games, parts of the park were already open to the public. What was neat about the particular tour I did was that it really focused on the impact of the Olympic Games had on the transformation of London’s East End in to a new up and coming community. It was also really neat to walk along some of the canals that go to the Thames and to see some of the more unique living locations on canal boats and some really cool loft looking flats. The transformation will do a lot for the community and is really neat to see. After the tour, I headed over to Greenwich using the Emirates Air Line and then exploring the National Maritime Museum before having Nando’s again and then heading to walk along the Thames at sunset and enjoy the night life.
Thursday, my friend Ben came up from Brighton for the morning which was fun. We explored Hyde Park and then walked Oxford Street and looked at some tradition London High Street shops like Harrods’s and Selfridges. After Ben headed back to Brighton, I went to see the real MI6 and then headed to Westfield Stratford to see the One Direction movie, This is Us. I will be honest, this was actually much better than I expected it to be. Just some more exploring the town before heading to the hotel to crash.
Friday was the only day of rain I had the entire trip. And luckily for me, it only lasted for the morning. I took the time to explore Tate Modern and The London Transport Museum before heading back to Canary Wharf and visiting the Museum of London Docklands which is something new for me. By this point, the sun had come out and the clouds cleared so I took the advice of Kevin and headed to The Shard and took in the View from The Shard. The Shard is the tallest building in Western Europe and offers sweeping views of London from over 1,000 feet up. If you are visiting London and have a clear day, this is a must do. I spent a good hour up here just taking in the view.
At this point, I was in to the home stretch of my trip and decided to head back to the great Upper Deck SE1 that was suggested by Kevin for Tuesday night and enjoy another great night and a few pints along the Thames reflecting on the amazing week I had back in London. Once the sun finally set over the Thames, I headed back to Canary Wharf one last time and had a great Japanese dinner at Wagamama which has got to be my second top dine in chain in England behind Nando’s. This was the perfect evening to end the trip on with great temperatures and clear sky.
So as you can tell, it was a full trip packed in to 6 full days in London. I am so happy that I made the trip back and I am already planning my return for Spring 2014. Thanks again to all my good friends that made it a great trip. Sorry we couldn’t see each other more and for those that I missed, there will be time in the Spring. See you all again soon across the pond!
I figured it had been a while and that an update was due on here. I am between trips right now and just doing laundry after a nice and relaxing weekend home to Minnesota and weekend up north at Camp Lincoln for the 2nd annual Brownie “Lucky Me” Cote Run. First, let me just say that it felt so great to be back at Camp after this many years. Arriving and getting my cabin assignment just like when I was a camper is always fun. For this weekend, I had all of Gopher Cabin to myself. This was a nice perk but it was also a little shocking to think that that last time I was in that cabin was 1991. To add more to the insult to feeling old, several of the current staff talked about starting as campers in 2008. Now that’s a wake up call that life moved pretty fast.
After the shocking realization that I am getting older quicker than I thought, it was time for the 5k race and the 8-mile around Lake Hubert Run on Saturday morning. Now, not being a runner, I stuck with the 5k along with Mom and Dad but it was fun to see people excited to do both. This was my second 5k, my first being the Castaway Cay 5k in April, and I am pretty proud of how it went. After the race, it was a nice relaxing afternoon around camp with amazing weather that was perfect for just reading and enjoying a nice walk around memory lane.
Memories of nine amazing summers at Camp Lincoln. I guess looking back on it while walking around camp and coming across some of the sailing awards I helped win for camp, I did accomplish a lot at camp. One of the other unique things that I loved about this weekend and talking with fellow campers from several different generations is that the core values and ideals of camp haven’t changed. Camp is still the same amazing experience today as it was in 1909. Thanks to everyone who continues to carry on the tradition for all of the future campers that may come to the shore of Lake Hubert. It really is a special place. I will officially post this on here that if it was for Camp Lincoln, I would not be in the job or where I am today. Camp really is a special place.
For those camp friends that are reading this, let’s all plan to come back to the shores of Lake Hubert for the 105th reunion next year along with eh 3rd annual Brownie “Lucky Me” Cote Run! CFAB
First off, happy Independence Day to my fellow Americans! I figured I hadn’t posted in a while so a post was due. Things have been good for me since my last trip in May. I know I travel a lot but, it’s what I enjoy doing. In May I did Disneyland for a weekend and I am now home until the end of August when I go to Minnesota and then London for a week.
Having a great holiday so far today. Started the morning off with completing my first crossing on Lucky’s Lake Swim and then hitting the gym to finish my workout. After that, it was off to Starbucks and then a great lunch catching up with my friends Chris and Nicky from Washington, DC.
Now, it’s just doing some things around the house before relaxing the rest of the day. Back to the office tomorrow but then back to the normal schedule. Not a whole lot more to report. Had a great birthday week last week. Spreading out various nights with friends was a nice bonus instead of doing one big party. Well, back to work around the house. Until next time.
For those that doubt it, here’s proof that I completed the 1k swim at 7:45 this morning:
I am now officially back on dry land after an amazing week on board Disney’s newest vessel, the Disney Fantasy. For those that don’t know, the Disney Fantasy launched just over a year ago at the end of March and is the forth vessel in the fleet for Disney Cruise Line. While she is the same class and design as her sister ship, the Disney Dream, there are many things that have been updated and refined on her that make her what I feel is the very best of what Disney can offer.
I had the wonderful opportunity to sail on the Disney Fantasy with a good friend on a 7-Night Eastern Caribbean cruise that took us to St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands; San Juan, Puerto Rico and Castaway Cay in the The Bahamas. Along with the ports of call, I got three wonderful days at sea to explore this amazing ship!
Where to start, the simplest change which turned out to be one of my favorite changes was the addition of the Satellite Falls adult only area on the upper deck. This was the perfect spot to come and relax to read a book and soak up the sun on the deck. I couldn’t have been more pleased with this addition. The other update that I really loved was the whole Europa Adult Entertainment area. All of the night clubs are themed after various places in Europe complete with an authentic Irish Pub and a dance club themed after the London Underground, for those that know me and my travels, you will know that this just rocks my world! Everything else is nearly identical to the Disney Dream but just slightly updated to fit the theme of the ship which matches that of the Disney Wonder.
The ports of call on this voyage where familiar ones to me with the exception of San Juan which I haven’t been to since I was younger. St Thomas was simply beautiful the day we were in port. I couldn’t have had any better weather. I took the gondola to the top of the island and just enjoyed the view while having a nice cold beverage and catching up on emails. I felt very much like a crew member as I was looking for the available Wi-Fi to connect to. The blue in the water isn’t shown justice in any of my photos from the stop. It was just simply amazingly blue and so clear!
San Juan was another great stop and I spent the time to explore the old historic forts on the island and with it being National Park Week, there was not admission fees. Score! After walking all over Old San Juan, it was time to return to my new favorite spot on the ship at Satellite Falls to do some more email catch up and just enjoy reading. What a perfect way to cool off and relax for the afternoon!
In addition to the night life and the ports of call, the new shows on the Disney Fantasy are well worth the view. Aladdin and Wishes were simply amazing and I think really show what kind of entertainment Disney is known for and can put on even when you consider that you are on a ship in the middle of the ocean. I was also able to catch Oz-The Great and Powerful in 3D onboard which was a nice added bonus to the trip.
Even if you don’t have children, an adult can still have a blast on a Disney Cruise. This was the perfect and much needed get away that I needed for the spring where I could just step back and relax and let nothing get to me. I managed to survive with no added weight coming up from the ship as well, thank you Senses Spa and Gym. In addition to the gym, I also completed my first 5K on Disney’s Castaway Cay. You have no idea how fun a run in almost 100% humidity and the Caribbean heat!
I think the other part that made the vacation so wonderful was seeing some old friends that I haven’t had a chance to catch up with in a while since they are off at sea working on the ship. I want to thank all of you for everything you do and for giving me such a wonderful retreat for the week! Hope to see you all again soon!
Well, I am finally getting around to writing about my latest new destination for this year. A couple of weeks ago, I took a visit up to Atlanta for the weekend to visit my college mate Steve who I hadn’t seen in a few years. We last saw each other on a visit to Walt Disney World but, this was the first time I had the chance to get up to Atlanta, GA and visit him and see his place and to visit Atlanta for the first time. Sure, I have driven through it several times when gong back and forth between Florida and Minnesota over the years but, this was the first time I actually got to spend any amount of time in the city exploring. While only there for two nights and weekend, it was a great city to see and explore.
I flew up on Friday night right after work which actually worked out perfectly for me and arrived at a decent hour and headed straight to Steve’s place for a nice homemade curry made by his girlfriend which was just amazing. Saturday morning, we started off with a walk through Centennial Olympic Park and over to CNN for a VIP tour of the newsrooms and studios for CNN and HLN Networks. This was pretty cool to me and I enjoyed it as someone who loves looking at the technical side of things. So if you are a news junkie like me and enjoy the behind the scenes of things, it’s worth doing. Hopefully I will be able to do the same with the BBC later this year. After CNN, we headed to the Georgia Aquarium but it was closed so decided to do World of Coke instead. This is to me just a larger version of what we have at Epcot but was somewhat neat to see the bottling process and the history of the product. I would say though that the highlight of the World of Coke for me was seeing the Olympic torch from the torch relay. Those that know me know I am a huge fan of the Olympics and was addicted to watching London 2012 last summer so it was a fun treat to see and hold. Personally, it was about the best part of the tour for me. Unless you are a huge Coke fan, I think it’s safe to say you can skip it.
Sunday while I had a late flight, we still had the whole day to go to the Georgia Aquarium. First off, one needs a full day to see everything that is here and then more time to just sit and watch the massive main tank. This tank is HUGE and has three amazing whale sharks. It is the world’s largest indoor aquarium and I could have spent hours along just watching the sharks, fish and rays swimming around in here. Aside from the amazing ocean size tank, there are some fascinating other exhibits covering all the different other types of aquatic life out there. from the arctic to the bayou.
One of the fun exhibits in the arctic section was the penguins. You can either walk by or crawl through this tunnel and pop up literally in the middle of the flock. It’s pretty cool to see. This is definitely worth a visit if you can spare the time to truly explore all of the great things to see. Included in our tickets was for the aquarium was the dolphin show that used to cost extra I guess. The dolphin stunts were pretty cool considering it was all inside but the theatrical parts of the show were really corny and pretty lame in my opinion. If you have the time and want to really see the dolphins I guess it’s worth it but, I wouldn’t make time to see the show again in the future. If you really want a dolphin show, I would say you are better off going to Sea World.
That’s it for all of the tourist places we went too. The nice part about visiting a friend who lives in a city is you get to experience the local food places rather than sticking to the chains or other tourist locations. It was nice to try some new restaurants and even do a great lunch at a food truck park which I think was very well setup and really hit the spot. Overall, a great trip and a great weekend catching up with old friends. I need to make visit will have to be longer!