Bali Memories Thursday, Jan 19 2012 

Almost a year ago, I arrived in Bali for what was to be a month of wonders.

It didn’t exactly turn out that way. My time in Bali ended up being restricted to the Kuta area and the Ubud area, and a disaster in Nusa Tenggara left me a mess, not wanting to move from my room, much less travel.

I know that I need to go back to Bali and do what I should have done the first time.

While all Bali flights arrive in Kuta, I don’t plan on spending time in that city this time around. Here is where I will be visiting instead:

Medewei Beach: I learned to surf in Bali and honed my skill in Mexico. This time around, I want to live in a surfing hangout where the others live and breathe surfing every moment of the day. Could I fit in with them? I doubt it, but I could try.

Lovina: I hear mixed reviews of Lovina — some love it; some say it’s good for nothing but sunsets. But the beaches look very beautiful, as do the cliffs heading straight down into the ocean. And it’s very sleepy — nothing remotely like Kuta.

Gunung Batur: How about something completely different? Batur is an active volcano! The Balinese friend I made on the flight to Bali told me that I had to climb Gunung Batur — it was like nowhere else in Bali, and a huge cultural experience (unlike Ubud, where the culture is largely anesthetized for tourists).

Amed: I’ll never forget the Balinese guy working in Kuta who invited me to join him and a group of his friends on a road trip to Amed. Believe me, it’s not as skeezy as it sounds — that’s just the kind of people the Balinese are. When you meet them, you become a friend. It’s instant. And anyway, Amed is supposed to have lots of amazing beaches, and diving (not my thing, though).

One thing is for sure: when I return to Bali, I’d like to explore by motorbike. I love traveling on two wheels, and it seems like a great way to explore the island and the places off the beaten path.

I hope I get back there soon.

Dreaming of Australia Thursday, Sep 15 2011 

Am I ever going to make it to Australia?  Absolutely.  Has it been a priority?  Well, not so much.

As amazing as Australia is, and as high as it ranks on my bucket list, it’s pricey and far — so I couldn’t plan a last-minute adventure on the fly; I would have to save up and plan ahead.

Then again…winter is right around the corner, and what better season to visit Australia?

Here are a few places I’d like to visit in Australia:

(Image: Rob Michalski)

Melbourne

The Sydney vs. Melbourne debate continues to rage, and I have friends living (temporarily or permanently) in both cities.  But today, I’m going to side with Melbourne.

Melbourne has so much cultural diversity — and with cultural diversity comes ETHNIC FOOD!  It’s on the beach, the weather is temperamental (sounds like home!), and it’s close to the highlights of Victoria, like the Great Ocean Road.

Image: Michael Dawes

 

Fraser Island

Fraser Island is a sand island off the coast of Queensland.  A lot of people put groups together and take a 4WD vehicle around the island, setting up camp at night (though I’ve since learned that there are also resorts there).  There are beaches, warm lakes, and plenty of dingoes!

Covering Fraser Island would definitely be an adventure, and it’s no wonder a trip of the island is included in so many Queensland holiday packages.  To be honest, I’d rather go here than dive the Great Barrier Reef (my fear of scuba rises again!).

Image: Evamaria N

Western Australia

I have had such a fascination with Western Australia for a long time, and meeting an Italian friend in Senggigi, Indonesia, who spent a year working in Western Australia (“It’s the BEST part,” he told me), made me want to visit it even more.

The city of Perth looks like it has a lot to offer.  But I’d love to see the countryside even more — the vineyards of Margaret River, the dolphins at Monkey Mia, and especially the beach town of Broome, pictured above.  I love how wild it is — it’s like it’s the edge of the end of the world.

When will I get to Australia?

We’ll have to wait and see.  But you know I’d never turn down a trip there!  🙂

Cheap and Nonstop Flights from Boston Thursday, Jul 14 2011 

It’s not easy for a jet-setter to live in Boston — we don’t have a lot of nonstop flights.  One reason for that is that our airport can’t accommodate certain kinds of large planes.

The big news in town is that starting next year, there will be nonstop flights from Boston to Tokyo, thanks to the introduction of 787s.  I think this will be fantastic for Boston and great for frequent travelers like me!

So where can we fly nonstop from Boston these days?  I thought I’d take a look.

Reykjavik, Iceland

I am dying to visit Iceland.  It looks like it has so much natural beauty, with mountains, geysers, waterfalls, volcanoes and hot springs!

I cross the Atlantic fairly often, and I’ve booked cheap international flights to Europe through Iceland a few times.  This route has saved me a lot of money.  But one of these days, I will actually stop in Iceland and see the country!

Dublin, Ireland

Boston is easily the most Irish city in America, and Massachusetts the most Irish state.  While most of our ancestors immigrated during the mid- and post-Famine years of the mid-19th century, plenty of Irish immigrants come over to Boston.

So whether you’re looking for your family roots or just going for the green hills, whiskey and friendliest people in Europe, you can get there with a nonstop flight from Boston to Dublin.

New Orleans, Louisiana

I still haven’t been to this rockin’ American city, and it seems like everyone I know wants me to visit there!  I know myself, and I know that I probably wouldn’t stop eating the whole time.  And it looks so beautiful, with great history and music.  Plus, there are no open container laws.  Drinks to go for everyone!

You can get cheap domestic flights to New Orleans from Boston without stopping in another city.  I need to take advantage of that already!

Cancun, Mexico

It’s not much further than Florida, but from Boston, you can get nonstop international flights to Cancun.  For us East Coasters, it’s definitely the #1 Mexico beach destination, especially since there’s easy access to Playa del Carmen and the Maya Riviera.

I’ve been to Cancun, and it’s a fun place — as big of a party scene as Las Vegas, but much more casual and beachy.  I particularly love Senor Frogs, one of the best bars in the world, as far as I’m concerned!

All of these destinations are great in their own right, but the fact that you can get nonstop flights there from Boston makes them all the more special.

Berlin Insider Tips Monday, May 23 2011 

This guest post was written by Yuli Linssen Kaminitz of EasyToBook.com.

Like any other European metropolis, Berlin is a destination full of landmarks to visit and things to do. Even though you probably won’t be able to see everything you initially planned, getting off track and visit some local places is not such a bad idea. The best thing about visiting a new location is to get some insider tips on where are the current hotspots. After all, no matter how many “Time Out” you will read or internet sites you will visit, a tip from a local person is the best. Luckily, we managed to “score” some great, (restaurants, clubs, food and public transport) tips about Berlin from nice natives that were more than happy to help. Check out what they had to say about the top places to see & do in this amazing city:

1.       How to save money on public transport:
Berlin’s public transport system is easy and relatively cheap however, if you want to explore the city like a real Berliner, it is better to either rent a bicycle or to take the 100 bus line:
Bus line 100- this bus will take you all over Berlin, in particularly through the main landmarks. The bus drives the same way the tourists bus does so you can be certain you will see everything you need to see only for a small fee!

Tour the city by bicycle- according to locals one of the nicest ways to explore Berlin is on wheels! In the past few years the city has created many bikes and bicycle paths all over town. When renting a bicycle not only you save a lot of money, but you also get the option to come cross small parks, hidden hot spots and unknown places. There are plenty of renting shops around the city, just ask around people or visit one of the tourist’s information points.

2.       Where to eat:
As you can imagine there are plenty of restaurants and eating places in such a big city like Berlin. However, our locals had some good tips about where they think are the best eating places in town and what kind of foods you should defiantly try:

Döner Kebab– Berlin has a huge Turkish community and not only that the Turkish people are very well settled in the city, the Turkish cuisine is even more popular than the German one! The famous Döner Kebab is basically a delicious dish made of lamb meat which is cooked on a vertical spit and then sliced off for serving. Add some extra garlic sauce on top and enjoy this delightful meal!

Sausages- as most of you probably know, Germany is famous for its tasty sausages. There are so many different kinds of sausages that it is impossible to try all of them in a short time period, let alone know which one is the best. Our helpful locals all answered together: Curry Wurst sausage is simply the best! This yummy sausage is made of pork meat, seasoned with curry ketchup and topped with a nice amount of curry power. You will be able to find this typical German dish on every street corner.

3.       Where are the good places to go out to?
Party hard with techno music- for those of you who like to party all night with smashing techno music and vibrant tempo, Berlin will be a pure heaven to you. It is not secret that in the last couple of years Berlin became the hub for the electronic and the techno scene. Tourists from all over Europe arrive there in order to party and go out to some very famous night clubs. “Tresor”, “Watergate”, “Bar25” and “Berghain” are just some of the legendary clubs you will be able to find there. Please note that Berlin’s nightlife starts rather late, so make sure to rest a little in advance!

Arena area- the Arena area in Berlin is full with fine restaurants, trendy clubs and some stylish cocktail bars. The Arena is good for people who prefer the more commercial and elegant side, rather than the rough and dark techno side. Here you will be able to have a nice dinner, watch the sunset with a huge cocktail and later on go out to some nice club that plays mainstream music.

4.       Where to shop:
Bergmannkiez this amazing district is perfectly suited for people who love vintage shops, second hand stores and one-of-a-kind treasures hunting. The nicest thing about this area is the fact that unlike other shopping districts, here you won’t see too many tourists and the offered shops are much more unique and totally not mainstream.  Aside from a cool shopping experience, there are also many small bars around so make sure to stop from time to time in order to refresh with some cold beer!

Galeries Lafayette- department stores are always fun for fashion lovers or people who love to have everything under one roof. Galeries Lafayette is a huge department store that originally started in France and thanks to its huge success it opened a branch in Berlin as well. The store offers everything from designer clothes, accessories, shoes, roof top restaurant, cafes and even a French library! The main reason this shop is so recommendable by locals is because the boutiques there are exclusive, unique and of course, they sell French goods.

We really hope that the insider tips above gave you some inspiration for your next holiday. Berliners are extremely nice people so whenever you visit their city, they will be helpful and willing to give you some more advices on the spot.
As this popular capital gets totally packed with tourists all year long, make sure to book your hotel in Berlin in advance.

Dreaming of Turkey Thursday, Feb 24 2011 

I’ve been thinking about traveling to Turkey lately.  With all the explosions, both literal and figurative, it’s easy to overlook the Middle East as a whole.

But Turkey isn’t Egypt, it isn’t Libya, and it sure as hell isn’t Iraq.  In fact, Turkey has a history of being far safer for tourism than its neighbors, making it a bit undiscovered by the masses!

Here are three places I’m dying to visit in Turkey:

Istanbul


It may not be the capital, but Istanbul is definitely the most beguiling city in Turkey.  In Istanbul, you’ll find incredible shopping in the Grand Bazaar, beautiful buildings like the Blue Mosque, warm people, and delicious food.

Istanbul is the only city in the world to span two continents — Europe and Asia!

Patara


Many holidays in Turkey take place along the Mediterranean coast.  Why not head to the best beach of all?  Many consider that to be Patara.

Imagine lying on that gorgeous beach at sunset, watching the sun sink into the horizon.  And the fact that it’s exotic Turkey makes it all the better!

Cappadocia


Cappadocia has one of the most haunting, surreal landscapes in the world — making it no surprise that it’s been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  This was caused by volcanic activity.

One of the most popular things to do in Cappadocia?  Hire a hot air balloon and float above the volcanic peaks!

Oh, Turkey…I don’t know when I’ll get there, but it will be an amazing time!  Of that I am sure.

Win an Australia Road Trip from HostelBookers! Monday, Nov 22 2010 

On my bucket list?  An Australia road trip.  I’d love to drive down the Great Ocean Road in Victoria, bum through the beach cities of Queensland, and, in a major challenge, cross the Nullarbor from Perth to Adelaide.

Sure, there are great cities in Oz – Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide come to mind – but Australia’s real treasure is the amazing countryside.  And there’s no better way to see it than a road trip.

Well, dream no longer – you could win a road trip through Australia from Oz Experience!  It’s simple to enter — tell a story about your favorite road trip in the comments on this page.  Seriously.  It’s that simple.

Entries must be under 100 words.  The deadline is 5:00 PM on Monday, December 20, 2010.  Check out the terms and conditions here.

The winner can choose between three trips:

  • Matey Pass, Sydney to Melbourne worth €397
  • Surf Pass, Sydney to Brisbane or Byron Bay* worth €325
  • Victa Pass, Melbourne to Adelaide* worth €385

Three runners-up will win a copy of Rough Guides Ultimate Adventures.

Once on the trip, travelers can choose between a vast range of Sydney backpackers or Melbourne backpackers. For more information about Oz Experience and how pass holders hop on and off buses along their chosen route, please visit www.ozexperience.com.

People, take it from me – this seems like quite an easy contest to enter.  So go for it!  I hope one of my readers wins!

This post was sponsored by HostelBookers and Oz Experience.

Win a £3,000 Plane Ticket from HostelBookers! Wednesday, Sep 29 2010 

Last year, 10,000 people entered to win a huge prize from HostelBookers in their annual travel survey.

One faithful fan won the grand prize — a RTW plane ticket.

This year, the stakes have risen.

The 2010 HostelBookers Travel Survey is filled with questions about your travel style — from travel planning to the types of destinations you prefer, as well as your number of travels per year and usual type of lodging.

And — yes, I’m getting there! — the prize, given to one of the respondents: a RTW plane ticket worth £3,000, plus £1,000 in spending money.

Seriously.

If I won, I would make sure I visit destinations that are both expensive to get to and expensive on the ground: Japan, Bhutan, Australia, New Zealand, Botswana.

But even more importantly, I’d party in hostels throughout Europe.  Many of the hostels London has include a fun bar, as you’ve read on this site before!  But nothing could top the parties in hostels Amsterdam is famous for.  I’ve never been to Spain, and I love sangria, so the youth hostels Barcelona is home to would definitely warrant a visit from me.  Either way, I know I’d get a great deal from HostelBookers, who kindly sponsored this post today.

What about you?

TAKE THE SURVEY! What do you have to lose?

And if you win, please let me hide in your suitcase!  I’m excellent at fitting into carry-on luggage…

Wanderlusting for the Canary Islands Wednesday, Sep 22 2010 

Image: marcp_dmoz

If you travel to the Canary Islands, good luck finding any Americans!  This paradise, just west of Africa, is most popular with European tourists.  But I bet that if more Americans knew how beautiful and exotic and relaxing the islands are, they would become fans as well.

As for Europeans, they’re well aware of the Canary Islands, and they’re one of Europe’s top holiday destinations.  Here are some of the most popular places in the Canary Islands:

Tenerife

Image: pasotraspaso

Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands, home to significant British and German expat populations. With affordable travel packages available across the board, Tenerife deals are easy to come by.  In fact, many Europeans find it cheaper to vacation in Tenerife than in their home country!

Tenerife is the most family-friendly of the Canaries, offering a wealth of activities like water parks, volcano tours and fishing exhibitions. The island’s biggest resort, Playa de las Americas, has been cleaned up since its days of unchecked excess and is now a thriving destination as well.

Gran Canaria

Image: aruitenberg

The most populous of the Canary Islands has much to offer, and you’ll find plenty of cheap holidays in Gran Canaria. Of course, the beach is the main attraction, so head to the beautiful three mile stretch of beach at the massive Playa del Ingles resort.  Surfers are fans of the waves, calling the island the Hawaii of the Atlantic.

The strangest attraction on Gran Canaria is unquestionably Sioux City, a mock Old West town built for a film in 1972.  Come on, would you miss the chance to witness a cowboy gunfight at high noon on an island off the coast of Africa?

Lanzarote

Image: Doblonaut

If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic and natural, Lanzarote holidays appeal to those prefer adventure, scenery and the great outdoors to the boozy, social scene of the other islands.  Lanzarote is home to the incredible Timanfaya National Park, a blasted landscape created by several volcanic eruptions on the island between 1730 and 1736.

Congratulations to the Canary Islands…they have officially earned a new place on my wanderlust list!

Image: marcp_dmoz

This post was sponsored by TravelSoon.

The Best of Cruises Friday, Sep 17 2010 

Image: Grufnik

For someone like me who has never been on a cruise, they hold quite a bit of curiosity!  Everyone raves about them, but why do cruisers keep returning again and again?

My mother recently returned from a cruise to the Bahamas, so I asked her about her favorite experiences.  Here’s what she had to say:

Unforgettable Service

Are you looking to be treated like royalty?  A cruise is the way to go.

“You walk into the dining room and see the most handsome bartender you’ve ever seen in your life.  And he’s personable, affable, cheerful, asks your name, and pours you a drink before you get to the food.”

And the service continues once you get your food, and it’s just as good as the bartender.  “The staff are there to please you and you know it, almost like it’s their pleasure to please you.”

Nightly Entertainment

“There was a big nightclub on one end of the ship and there were shows every night: singers, comedians, Cirque du Soleil-like acrobats.” And while there was entertainment for kids, there was always a point when they were told to leave and the show became adults-only.

Did she enjoy it more because she knew there were no kids there?

“Yes.  Once the comedian started getting bawdy, I think I laughed more because I knew there were no kids around to hear it!”

Learning to Gamble

If you’ve ever been to Vegas, you may have been too intimidated to gamble.  On a cruise, it’s so easy to learn how!

“The dealers were all so nice.  If there weren’t a lot of people around, they would teach you how to play.  I learned craps, poker, Blackjack.”

And if you have a swell night at the tables, you can celebrate: “They let you order a bottle of wine at the bar and have it sent to your room!”

It’s a Great Deal

Best of all, service like this can come to you at a very low price.  You can find plenty of discount cruises at places like DiscountCruises.com.  Getting service like this for such a low price – I challenge you to find a better deal in the world!

This post was sponsored by a third party.

Dream September Travel Escapes Thursday, Sep 9 2010 

Every now and then, I allow myself a delicious fantasy: I win the lottery and immediately go traveling in style, preferably bringing along a million of my friends!

Let’s say that I won 50 million dollars tomorrow.  Where would I go first?

Well, I’d want a destination with great weather in September.  That’s most important.  Next, I’d love to go luxury in an amazing hotel, something I rarely do.  And third, there has to be great nightlife!

So, where would I go?

Hvar image by Lena_Ni

It’s the tail end of the high season in Europe, so I’d visit a popular Mediterranean beach area: Santorini, Greece; Hvar, Croatia; or Ibiza, Spain.  The weather will still be glorious; the nightlife will still be hopping; the crowds will be GONE.  And that’s how I like it.

Vegas image by Evangeline

In Vegas – ALWAYS Vegas! – the pools are still open.  If I had the chance, I’d stay for at least a week – at the Wynn or the Encore.  God, I love those resorts.  Every day would be a new cabana at a new pool club: Tao Beach at the Venetian, Bare at the Mirage, Wet Republic at the MGM Grand, Moorea Beach Club at Mandalay Bay!

Maui image by David Winnie

Hawaii has always been a pipe dream of mine – being an East Coaster, Hawaii is just somewhere we don’t go.  I think this is a trip best split into two parts – half the time relaxing on the beach in Maui or Lanai, and the other half in Waikiki, partying with military men!

Any of these trips need to be planned well, so I’d probably arrange my reservations through a travel agency online like Liberty Travel. Having a trip that runs smoothly would be important in planning my dream trip!

So, if you were planning a dream trip this month, where would you go?

This post was sponsored by a third party.

How do you pack for Buenos Aires? Wednesday, Nov 26 2008 

Forget for a moment that I’m about to leave for my first solo trip ever.  Forget that I’m about to go to a continent where I’ve never been, a country whose language I speak badly.  Forget that I’m about to cross the fucking EQUATOR.

I’m terrified of one thing — of being in a city that’s home to such gorgeous people.

Portenos — as Buenos Aires residents are called — are notorious for their vanity.  Women and men alike are known to work out obsessively, and plastic surgery is RAMPANT, especially when it comes to breast implants and liposuction.  And everyone is beautiful and Italian on top of that.

As a result, most women larger than a size eight have trouble finding clothing in their size.

HOW AM I GOING TO SURVIVE IN THIS CITY?!?!?!

I’m going to be the fattest person in the city.  Morbidly obese.

Well, I just packed.  I filled my usual little red carry-on that has been useful for a weekend in Vegas or two weeks across Europe — then put it in the slightly larger suitcase that Beth lent me.  The shopping in Buenos Aires is supposed to be fantastic and cheap, so I plan on doing all my Christmas shopping there.

My Buenos Aires wardrobe: all of my best things.  LOTS of black pencil skirts and black minis.  Retro black dresses.  A few unique items, like my gold and leopard-print tank top and my black-and-red Asian winged top.  My black-and-white Native American-patterned strapless dress and my crazy Cavalli dress, of course!

And the Vegas items: fluttery halter tops, black satin hot pants.  Black leggings.  Four pairs of black heels and one pair of black flats.  EVERYTHING is nice, trendy and/or fancy, down to sleepwear.  The ONE casual item is my “Barack of Love” shirt.  I can dress it up.  And a pair of jeans for STRICTLY emergencies.

Have I mentioned that it’s going to be 92 degrees when I land?  😀

I’m excited.  And nervous.  And I have to say, I am SO glad that I’m doing this instead of a trip to Europe.  I love that I’m getting out of my comfort zone.  And it’s going to be great — I’ve already been invited to Thanksgiving dinner with several couchsurfers!

Wish me luck!  Follow me on Twitter.  I’ll have my iPhone and will be updating often.

RTW Itineraries for EVERY kind of traveler! Saturday, Oct 25 2008 

I’ve been playing with RTW (round the world) travel tickets at OneWorld.  I love putting together themed travel itineraries with fifteen destinations or less that span the whole world!

When I do go on my eventual trip around the world (it’s a few years away), I won’t book a RTW ticket — they lock you into an itinerary and force you to use it within a year, start to finish.  That’s a bit much for me.

That being said, here is the itinerary that I’ve been planning for years.  It’s fluctuated a bit, but it’s generally been the same layout.

Click the images to enlarge them.

Kate’s Future RTW Map

–Boston to Auckland
–(overland to Christchurch)
–Christchurch to Melbourne
–(overland to Cairns)
–Cairns to Denpasar, Bali
–Denpasar to Singapore
–(overland throughout Malaysia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia)
–Bangkok to Kathmandu
–(overland throughout India)
–Mumbai to Johannesburg
–(overland through Swaziland and Mozambique to Cape Town)
–Cape Town to Cairo
–(overland throughout Israel and Jordan)
–Amman to Istanbul
–(overland throughout Turkey and all over Europe)
–London to Boston

Now…for the crazy ones.

The Best of the Third World!

–start in Detroit (I couldn’t resist)
–Port-au-Prince, Haiti
–San Salvador, El Salvador
–Medellin, Colombia
–Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea
–Dhaka, Bangladesh
–Khartoum, Sudan
–Kigali, Rwanda
–Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
–Freetown, Sierra Leone
–Naples, Italy (trust me)
–Chisinau, Moldova
–Kiev, Ukraine
–back to Detroit!

Cosmopolitan Cities and VIP Life

–Start in New York, NY
–Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
–Sydney, Australia
–Tokyo, Japan
–Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
–Bangkok, Thailand
–Cape Town, South Africa
–Dakar, Senegal
–Dubai, United Arab Emirates
–Istanbul, Turkey
–Rome, Italy
–Paris, France
–Barcelona, Spain
–back to New York!

Gay Gay Gay Gay Gay

–Start in fabulous New York
–South Beach (Miami)
–Key West
–Palm Springs
–San Francisco
–Sydney
–Bangkok
–Mykonos (Athens)
–Berlin
–Ibiza
–Paris
–London

If only I could jump on a plane right now.  I can’t wait for Buenos Aires.

Buenos Aires Thursday, Oct 16 2008 

Yes.  I’ve decided on Buenos Aires for my Thanksgiving trip!  Some of you were dead-on, and some of you were VERY close with Rio — along with several other place where I’d eventually love to visit.

I am SO, SO, SO excited.

After monitoring the fares for a few days, the price suddenly went down $108 — so I booked it that night.  It’s a ridiculously low fare ($792 from Boston with one stop in Atlanta).  I fly out the day before Thanksgiving and I leave late the following Tuesday, returning Wednesday morning.

After much consideration, I have decided to stay in the Palermo neighborhood, hopefully Palermo Viejo.  I have a friend at work who studied in Buenos Aires and highly recommends that neighborhood.  It sounds awesome — filled with the hottest clubs, boutiques and restaurants.  I’ll be staying in a private room in a hostel, so I can have the benefits of my own room and the social benefits of a hostel.

And yes, I will temporarily give up the vegetarianism to sample the fine steaks of Argentina.  God, I used to love steak, especially the incredible steaks in Florence.  But I’ve gone without meat for so long (eight months!), I can’t imagine eating it again.

I have six weeks to learn Argentine tango.  I did ballroom dancing in college and I can do American tango, but Argentine tango is SO different.  I found a class in Cambridge that is six weeks long and starts on Tuesday!  PERFECT!!

I also need to brush up on my Spanish.  I speak it a bit — I took two years’ worth of Spanish in high school, but French is my main language and I also speak Italian from my time studying in Florence.  I can understand it, but I’m not so good at speaking it.

I will be doing a day trip to Uruguay as well — probably Colonia.  I’d love to go to Montevideo and Punta del Este, but that will probably be best reserved for another time.

And I haven’t told my parents yet.  We’ll see how that goes.

As for the mouse, it got REALLY BAD the past few nights.  On Monday and Tuesday night, I was up until 3:30 AM because as soon as I stopped moving, the mouse would start running all over my room and I’d get freaked out.  (Yes, we caught one, but this was another.)

It was terrible.  I went into Sars’ room to ask her if I could sleep with her, just so I could sleep, period.  She refused.

I sobbed as I filled yet another trap with peanut butter.  I just wanted to SLEEP, and that was the one thing I couldn’t do.

Well, it’s been strange.  My dad brought me a ton of glue traps (the extra inhumane kind), and even though we haven’t caught a mouse, I haven’t seen one in two days.  I was FINALLY able to sleep yesterday, and it was SUBLIME.

Oh, also, I dropped my computer right after booking my tickets last night, and the screen was scrambled, then it stopped working.  It won’t turn on now.  Thank God for my work laptop, which I will be bringing home each night until it’s fixed.

And that’s it!  I’m so excited for my Buenos Aires trip, and I grin just thinking about it.  🙂

My mystery adventure — here are the clues! Thursday, Oct 16 2008 

Holy fucking shit, I actually bought the tickets tonight.  For some reason, the fares went down over $100 since yesterday.  (Thank you, cheapflights.com!  Best flight deals, all in one place!)  Because of that, I bought the tickets tonight, before the price could increase again.

I am spending Thanksgiving on a continent on which I have never been.

I promised a clue.  Here are a few pictures of my destination:

I fly out on the day before Thanksgiving and I return the following Wednesday.

I AM SO EXCITED.  And scared.  And a bit terrified, frankly — but I AM SO EXCITED that I am finally having the kind of spontaneous adventure of which I’ve dreamed for so long!!

The Mystery Vacation Wednesday, Oct 15 2008 

I think I’ve decided on a destination for my vacation this Thanksgiving (if I choose to take one).  And if I pull this off, it will be my greatest and most daring adventure yet.

I find that I often get scared and settle (in quite a few ways).  But I’m always happier when I’m bucking tradition.  And this is a way to buck it.

The thing that freaks me out the most about it?  Upsetting my parents.

My dad would flip out.  Two reasons in particular: the dangerous, unknown and reckless aspect of it, and the fact that the economy is so bad right now and I should be saving my money.

I talked to my mom about it briefly after work.  She reacted the way I expected, though not as badly as I feared.  (She LOVES travel and has backpacked through Europe alone, but she worries about me.)

“I mean,” she said, “for a place like this, wouldn’t you go with someone?”

“I’ve been wanting to travel alone for awhile,” I told her.  “It’s about time.  Besides, nobody would want to go with me.”

“Okay.  But if you went alone, couldn’t you go to a resort in Mexico or something?”

“Mom, you know me better than that!  Beach vacation?!”

“They have clubs there.”

“I need a city.”

“I’ve heard that’s a dirty city.”

“You said that about Prague.”

“You should go to Club Med!  They’re great for single people!”

“Club Med?!  Ma!”

But she told me that ultimately, it’s my decision and she shouldn’t worry about what she or Dad say.  I know that.  And I have no trouble making decisions on my own — but I love my parents, and I’m good friends with both of them, and they’re both very intelligent and worldly — and it makes me upset to think that I’m upsetting them.

Before, as you can see below, I was thinking about Amsterdam or Iceland.

But you know what?  I always go to Europe.  I’m acquainted with it.  I know the rhythms.  It’s familiar to me.  I’m ready for something else.

So I have a city in mind.  It’s exotic.  It’s exciting.  It’s cheap.  And I found a FANTASTIC flight deal.

Fly out Wednesday.  Return either Monday or Tuesday.

I have no idea how I would get by in this destination.  I’ve never been even remotely CLOSE to this destination.  I don’t know how I’d mesh with the environment and culture.  I don’t know what kinds of safety measures I’d have to take — different safety measures than the ones I’d take in Europe.

But this city seems wonderful.  And it has this:

Music.

Dancing.

Art.

FANTASTIC, UNPARALLELED SHOPPING.

Gorgeous people.

And it’s cheap.

The unknown factor is what makes it most exciting to me.  I’m not simply checking off a new city (Amsterdam) or a new phenomenon (Aurora Borealis) that I’ve wanted to experience.  I’d be surrounded by entirely new things.

This destination, this trip, will wrap me up in passion.  I’ve always wanted to live a life defined by travel, and this trip is the epitome of the kind of travel in which I should take part!

Any guesses?

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