Showing Posts From: travel

13 Oct, 2012

Chocolate!!

/ posted in: travel

Yeah, yeah, sugar free diet and all that….. But we had time to kill before the flight and they were advertising the Festival Of Chocolate right in front of me……

train cake

cupcakes

castle

Graveyard

Nightmare before Christmas

Actually, I only had a few pieces of chocolate. I just wasn’t interested in more. This diet is obviously affecting my brain.

08 Oct, 2012

A Trip to the Keys

/ posted in: travel

We have run away to Pompano Beach FL. Yesterday we decided to run even farther south. We did a day trip to the Florida Keys.

Once you leave the mainland you drive on US ! South. For most of the way it is a 2 lane road. Between the towns it looks like this.

US1S

Occasionally you can pull over and do this.

Florida Keys

We stopped for lunch at Lazy Days in Marathon. That’s about halfway down the Keys. We got to eat outside overlooking a marina.

We ended up going all the way to Key West. We checked out the Hemingway House because the husband is a fan. I think Hemingway was a jerk who was horrible to animals and women but he did have some cats.

Hemingway cat

The cats are still spoiled rotten here.

olivia's chair

I hope this is Olivia or this cat is going to get in trouble when Olivia finds out that she has been using her chair. The husband said that this is what our Powder would like like if she let herself go.

Cheating on Powder

Here is proof that the husband was cheating on his Powder girl by consorting with other cats. You can’t see that the cat is sleeping on his hand but I have better shots if I need them for blackmail.

After this we headed home. We stopped at a seafood buffet in Islamorada (yuck) and I got charged a child’s price because I promised not to eat any seafood!

It took about 11 hours to do the whole trip including the stops. It was a fun road trip.

17 Nov, 2010

Golega – National Horse Festival

/ posted in: travel

From 11/11 (St. Martin’s Day):

We did it! We managed to get to Golega and back. That’s GOAL-GA not GO-LEG-A like I thought. Since I tried for months to research this online and only found people asking the same question as I was, I’m now going to post the explanation I wish I had.

How do I get to Golega for the National Horse Fair from Lisbon on public transportation?

Take the metro to either Santa Apolonia (end of the blue line) or Oriente (end of the red line). There are train stations for the long distance trains at both of these. Find the timetable for the Lisbon to Tomar train. Buy a ticket from Lisbon to Riachos and back. Pick a time that you think you will return. You can change this later (just get on any train heading to Lisbon) but the ticket window at Riachos closes at 1:00 PM so it is best to have a return ticket in hand before you get there. It cost us 13.30 Euros per person round trip.

It takes about 1.5 hours to get to Riachos. We left Santa Apolonia at 9:48 and got there at 11:17. There was a taxi outside the station. It cost about 4.45 euros to get to Golega. You get dropped outside town because the whole town is closed for the street fair.

To leave – walk past the center square where the people are riding. Go until the road ends and then turn right. Walk until you get to a square with a church. There is a taxi stand near the church.

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It took a while to find the horses when we got there. We followed the crowd through streets full of food and cheap stuff to buy like knockoff purses and watches. There were lots of stuffed horses and battery operated horses that walked. These the vendors had tied to a stick to demonstrate so they were going in circles. They were longing. Maybe only horse people would find that funny but it was cracking me up.

There were also kids playing music. They had their Chihuahuas holding plastic buckets in their mouths for donations. Freckles wouldn’t hold anything in her mouth that wasn’t food. Nice to see dogs earning their keep. LOL

Finally we got to the main square. Imagine an arena in the center with a riding track on the outside of it. Anyone who has a horse there can ride around the track. It was mostly Lusitanos but there was an Appy pulling a cart, minis, a draft pony, and anything else.

I couldn’t swear to you that these little guys can walk. This man stayed in the corner and talked to everyone while they dozed. Even when their carriage got hit by another horse they didn’t flinch.

minis

I had to get the sidesaddle rider.

sidesaddle

You can ride up to the bars.

At the bar

This pretty boy was in the center ring.

dressage

Around the square are temporary stalls with displays of Lusitano farms. It is a lot like barn displays at big shows with fancy seating areas for the owners but these are all temporary.

making friends

If your horse isn’t in the big money section you are stabling in someone’s garage. All around there are makeshift stores in buildings. I wonder what is there when the fair is over?

temp stables

It started to get a bit wild around mid afternoon so we left. We would have stayed longer if there was some organized competition to see. I’ve seen a schedule that said dressage was scheduled for today but if it was happening we never found it. We wandered all over town.

We took an earlier train out than expected so that’s how I know it was ok. I think that this is a sign of the general lawbreaking we’ve been doing all over. It starts out by taking illegal pictures at museums and next thing you know you are jumping on trains you don’t have a reservation for.
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When we got back to Lisbon we wandered around some malls. Several of the subway stops are at large malls. They do some serious shopping around here. It is all high end stuff too. Way too rich for our blood especially with a weak dollar.

El Corte Inglais is where we saw a movie last night. We thought it was a mall with a cinema and a supermarket. It isn’t. It is all one store. It is 12 levels with everything from the market, to clothes (with a bar in men’s wear), to a travel agency. According to the SO there are also directions of how to buy sex from either men or women explained explicitly on the men’s room walls. Truly a full service place. I went to Haagen Daz because they are advertising a crepe cone. It is like a waffle cone but made out of crepes instead. “God bless Europe!” I thought. It was a horrible disappointment. The crepe was tasteless. So sad.

7.61 miles walked today

17 Nov, 2010

Lisbon – Day 5 – Wednesday

/ posted in: travel

From 11/10:

We started out this morning with a stroll through the Parque de Eduardo. Lisbon doesn’t have a lot of green space in the city but this is a large city park.

parque de Eduardo

Then we headed to Station Apolonia to check out the train schedules for tomorrow. I’m still trying to figure out if the trip to the National Horse Fair is possible. I know that in theory you can take the train but so far I hadn’t been able to find the station that this mythical train would leave from. I think I have it figured out now.

Just outside the station is a military museum. Or as the SO put it, “A boy museum!!” This wasn’t in the guidebooks because it isn’t set up for tourists. There aren’t English captions on most things. But really, do you need translations on how to use cannons? They are sort of point and shoot. It is in a huge and ornate building with real life Army guys. It also said no pictures. Now, I had taken a few pictures before I saw the sign. After that there were a few things that needed to be photographed so I had the SO stand lookout so the Army didn’t get me. There was a stature of some guy on a horse. The horse’s name was on the card. I thought that was sweet. He also happened to have the same name as the SO. I found that amusing so I took his picture. There was also a wagon used to haul pillars for an arch. The thing was massive. The wheels were about 10 feet tall. It needed photographed too. I’m not in jail so it is all ok.

From there we wandered around the Alfama some in search of some churches. We found one but they were charging to get in so we said no. The other was never found. We did end up having a fanta with some Dutch tourists in front of the Fado (Portuguese blues) Museum. We also found a small neighborhood church. It was very ornate inside but there was a man yelling, “No Pictures!” So we took a picture of the graffiti on the wall outside instead. I’m not posting because it was rather rude. It suggested that people become intimate with the Pope.

We jumped back on the metro to go to Port Wine store where they did tastings. We tried a white and a red. I’m not a huge wine fan but the SO liked it. It was Invictus brand.

Another train ride took us to Parque de Nacoes which was built for an Expo. Vasco de Gama mall is also there. Imagine that. You discover a sea route to India and gain control of the ocean for your people and they name a mall after you. Lunch was at an Italian restaurant in the mall. I had a pizza Margherita. The waiter kept saying “I’m sorry” every time he came over. He meant, “Excuse me” but we kept thinking he did something bad every time. We finally explained the difference to him.

We went out to the park and wandered around on the river. There is a sky tram and a huge oceanarium that we were too cheap to go into. The walls of the oceanarium have sea creatures made out of tile quilt blocks on them. Very awesome.

oceanarium

The SO has trouble with his back and feet from old Army injuries so he wasn’t feeling so good. We headed back to the hotel. There is a big movie theater and mall by the hotel so we saw a movie. You Again with Kristen Bell and Jamie Lee Curtis. It was in English with Portuguese subtitles.

I’ve decided that I am a homing pigeon. Show me where home is in a strange city and I can find it again. We tried again to find the restaurant from the first night. This time I didn’t get lost at all and was able to find the most direct route even though someone was whining that nothing looked familiar. That was because we never took the direct route before because we were previously lost. I had a warm goat cheese with figs appetizer and mushroom risotto with fresh mashed apples and chocolate mousse with orange cream. The dinner music was recordings of covers of popular songs. The best one was a song that had a swinging 1950s style. The man singing was a crooner like Frank Sinatra. So imagine my shock when I concentrated for a second and realized the chorus was, “I’m on a highway to Hell!” I’m sure AC/DC never imagined it like that. Then we took the direct route back which upset the SO because we only walked 9.72 miles and had we gotten lost even once we would have easily gone over 10 for the day.

16 Nov, 2010

Tuesday – Day 4 – Belem

/ posted in: travel

Another vacation post. This all happened on Nov. 9.

The goal today was Belem, a suburb 3 km west of downtown Lisbon. The books say to take tram 15 from downtown. But it seemed to me that taking the subway to Cais de Sodre and jumping on the train would be easier. The train ticket machines have outsmarted me every time I’ve tried to use them. Today was no exception. Apparently I’m not the only one. There was a worker at the ticket machine trying to help tourists. His idea of help was to tell us to go “up the rolley stairs” and outside and get on the tram. Right. So much for free thinking. But, I am banishing the word “escalator” from my vocabulary and replacing it with “rolley stairs.”

When you get on the tram you are supposed to swipe your metro card. Stupid tourists only figure this out after riding for several stops and therefore ride to Belem for free. Shame on us.

Our first stop was the Jerónimos Monastery. This place is huge. It took three pictures to get the whole length of the building.

Jerónimos

When you go in you start at a courtyard. There are rooms all around two levels.

Jerónimos courtyard

Everything is carved. Doesn’t this look like a quilt?

Jerónimos decoration

There are some refectories and tombs. There was a very nice display showing timelines. The top is the history of the world. The middle one is the history of the building. The bottom is the history of Portugal. It shows when the tram line started. The picture is of a horse drawn wagon with a big 15 on it. I guess they really are serious about getting the tourists on tram 15.

When you get upstairs there is a choir loft overlooking the main church. I wanted to then get down to the main church. Lots of people were on the main floor of the church. For the life of us we could not figure out how to get there. Hundreds of other people had figured it out but I went around the courtyard twice on both levels with no luck. I asked a guard and still couldn’t figure it out. I asked a ticket taker and he finally told me to go outside of the paid area and there was the entrance. Who’d have guessed? I guess everyone but us.

Jerónimos church

Vasco de Gama was even buried here.

Vasco de Gama's tomb

Then we wandered down to the Belem tower. There was a guy pretending to be a statue. I was staring at him and he doffed his hat and bowed to me. We didn’t go into the tower.

Belem tower

We had lunch at a cafeteria by the tower because it had my two favorite Dutch words – “Hagen Daz”. I had a vegetarian lasagna. In addition to food we got a voucher to go to the bathroom. That was sweet.

There was a tunnel under the main road and train tracks. I won’t mention that we didn’t find that until on the way back. Stupid tourists.

We went to the coach museum. It is located in a former royal riding school.

coach museum

There were lots of carriages including some very ornate ones that were gifts from Popes. Those ones tended to have scantily clad women. There were also sedan chairs. I decided that that is what has been missing in my life. A sedan chair. The SO had been asking what I wanted for my birthday so I asked for a sedan chair carried by two buff men who don’t like a wear a lot of clothes. He said no so I offered to share their labor by letting them paint the house. He still said no.

royal coach

Walking back we saw some guards and figured out that the President’s house was attached to the carriage museum.

We went to Pastis de Belem which is a bakery that invented a type of pastry. We had one each. It was ok but not the best thing ever. Starbucks was next door. We went there for a drink since we spek the international language of Starbucks. Macchiato and frappucino are the same everywhere. They couldn’t figure out my name though. When they wrote it down it turned out to be EDER. I could save so much time if I skipped all those extra letters.

starbucks

There is a park along to river that is very nice. We ate there. Then we caught the tram back to Lisbon. I paid this time but the SO didn’t have enough on the card so he stole another ride.

We went back on the subway to our normal stop downtown but came up the wrong stairs and ended up in another part of town. We wandered a bit and ended up at the Church of Sao Roque. It is very ornate inside. This is just one of the side chapels.

Sao Roque

Then we found the Port Wine Institute but it is closed for remodeling.

A quick ride down the funicular across the street from the Institute took use to the restaurant district. We jumped on the subway back to the hotel because the SO wanted to go to the restaurant we went to the first night. This was a challenge because we were lost when we found that restaurant but I found it again. Too bad it was closed. We wandered around and around and found an Italian restaurant. I had gnocchi with gorgonzola cream sauce.

We found a bakery on the way back. Now I’m eating this pink meringue thing that tastes like Frankenberries. Yummy!!

Yummy food

10.03 miles walked today

08 Nov, 2010

Monday Day 3 – Sintra

/ posted in: travel

Today we took the train northwest to Sintra. This was the summer escape of the kings of Portugal. There are three main tourist areas – the National Palace, the Moorish Castle, and the Pena Palace. From the train station we took the bus to the National Palace. When we got off the bus we couldn’t figure out where we were. We finally decided that we must be the stupidest tourists in Portugal because there was a huge palace behind us.

Ceiling of the Swan Room

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Look at the tile work on the walls.

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Wondering what that guy is photographing on the ceiling?

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Lunch was at a small cafe by the palace. I had a crepe with powdered sugar. It was super yummy.

Our next stop was the Moorish Castle. Here is the view of it from the National Palace. It is in the clouds on top of that hill.

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Again we were stupid tourists. There was another American couple trying to figure out what path to take to the top. We had a map. The four of us could not figure it out. The SO decided that the principal Moorish defense was confusing the invaders. Finally we figured it out and hiked up to the top. It is a 9th century fortress. I climbed up to the tippy top but it was so cold and windy that I was in danger of falling off.

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Moorish castle. Sintra Portugal

The Pena palace was built by a cousin of Bavaria’s King Ludwig. Obviously the crazy building gene was in the whole family. We had to seriously hike up the hill. There was a tram but of course we didn’t see it until we were already at the top. The SO was muttering about him taking me on vacation and trying to kill him during the whole hike. I called him a whiner. He muttered more names for me.

The outside of the Palace is a mishmash of styles and colors and whatever entered ol’ Ferdinand’s mind. We ended up having lunch there. I had a very nice brie, honey, and walnut sandwich on wheat bread.

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Then it was a hike down in the rain. We took the train back to Lisbon. Dinner was at an Italian restaurant. I had mushroom risotto. It was very good

8.3 miles walked, mostly uphill, today

07 Nov, 2010

Day 2 Lisbon – Sunday

/ posted in: travel

Today we headed downtown. Lisbon’s downtown was partially destroyed by an earthquake and fire in 1755. We took the metro to the Baixa-Chiado stop which is in the rebuilt area. It was only 0.85 Euros.

We found a coffee shop (for the bathrooms) that we ended up going back to three times today. Sometimes for the bathrooms and sometimes for drinks. It is American style but everything is much smaller than in America. The largest drinks are 16 oz. They have a tv advertising there other business – apartments for rent to tourists. They look very nice and the captions said that they were “surpriseling chic.” I love that word and am starting a campaign to get it officially added to the English language.

We visited the Commercial Plaza near the Rio Tejo. Then we decided to take the bus to the highest point in the city – the Castelo Sao George.

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Everybody has had possession of this castle at some point. The Moors, the Christians, and now the tourists. It is in the Alfama district which is a winding area built on a hill to the east of downtown. It survived the earthquake the spaces between the buildings are very tight like a medieval town.

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While waiting for the bus we met two British ladies who have retired to Spain. They were in Lisbon for the day on a cruise.

Before we went in the castle we followed a little sign to a small restaurant. It was two tables wide and had wonderful food. The SO had a salad and quiche and I had a vegetarian salad loaded with tomatoes, peaches, hard boiled eggs, a feta-like cheese, and a variety of lettuces. We also had two desserts that both tasted like solid creme brulee.

The castle cost 7 Euros. The structure itself is mainly a ruin but the views are wonderful. The houses in the area are built right up to the walls of the castle. No space is wasted. My favorites had terraced their backyards and put in hot tubs and playhouses right against the walls of the castle. It was very cool with the only downside being all the tourists who can look right down at you.

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The castle would never pass U.S. safety standards. There are some places that the wall is knee high and if you fall over you are dead. The interior was open to the sky. I climbed up on the walls while the SO sat and listened to a man playing classical guitar in the courtyard. The stairs were a little scary at times. He doesn’t like heights so he made a good choice to stay on the lower level. My legs hurt from the steepness of the stairs.

There are cats and peacocks in the castle. The cats seem to be very afraid of the peacocks. I think there have been fights before and the cats have not done well.

When we left the castle we decided that we couldn’t go wrong if we just kept walking downhill. That sounds like a recipe for getting seriously lost but we ended up being right and found the Se (cathedral). There is a lot of graffiti here. Someone had spray painted a slogan showing support for the comrades in Belgium and recommending setting fire to the detention center. I took a picture even though I don’t know exactly what it means. Two Korean ladies came and asked us because they didn’t understand either but we weren’t very helpful.

The Se was sort of disappointing. I’m used to very ornate cathedrals and this one was not. It is part 12th century and part 14th. There are some highly decorated side chapels.

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We also saw St. Dominick’s Church. I couldn’t figure out what was going on with this church. It was totally plain. When we left we saw a sign that explained that there was a fire in the 1950s that melted all the decoration. They left it undecorated as a reminder of the fire.

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Dinner was horrible! We got lured into a restaurant in Baixa. The SO ordered a sea food cream soup and got tomato soup. They swear it was sea food cream. I ordered potatoes and grilled vegetables. It came with a whole fish on top. That was most icky. So of course we had to make everything better with more pastries at a bakery.

Even with taking the subway to and from downtown and the bus to the castle I ended up walking 7.5 miles. The SO is having back and foot problems so we stop and sit a lot which is sort of nice. It lets us take in the atmosphere.

06 Nov, 2010

Day 1 Lisbon – Saturday

/ posted in: travel

We’re back from a week in Portugal. The wireless Internet didn’t work at the hotel so I ended going cold turkey. No Internet, no phone, no blogs, no Facebook. I did write a summary of each day in order to remember our trip.
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On our first day in Portugal we landed at 10:30 AM. We left home at 1:00 pm the day before so we were pretty tired. We flew to Philadelphia first and then Madrid and then LIsbon.

Our hotel is not in the main touristy part of town. It is near the Gulbenkian museum. This is a small museum that houses a great collection ranging from Egyptian art through Islamic art and European masters.

This is a detail of a Japanese tapestry.

Tapestry detail

They also have a lovely garden that we walked around. Lunch was at the cafeteria in the museum. I had a huge plate of pasta with tomato sauce.

By this time we were so tired that we were swaying on our feet. We had been up about 36 hours with just brief naps on the plane. We went back to the hotel for a nap. At 7:00 pm we wandered out in search of a restaurant. There aren’t a lot of restaurants around here and most of them were closed. There was another couple from our hotel looking for food too so we joined up with them. They are from Belgium and their names are Dominique and Christian. They are traveling with her mother and sister. We found a restaurant finally. Most restaurants here serve a lot of fish so I had another plate of pasta. It was fun having dinner with them.

We came back and watched TV. Most of the channels here are in English with Portuguese subtitles but we ended up watching the Portuguese channels. The SO got into the Portuguese version of IDOL. He’s never even seen it in the States but he was into it last night.

19 Sep, 2010

Semi-local tourism

/ posted in: travel

Well, you don’t see this every day.

100_0194

Knights and pirate ships. Yep, we hit the Renaissance Fair today.

It turns out that we aren’t RenFair people. The SO likes turkey legs and I wanted to buy some fake (hopefully) elf ears and he expressed a wish to see what I looked like in corsets but other than that, we aren’t RenFair people. We never did make it though a whole show without getting bored- even the jousting. I have no need of a magic wand or a walking stick with a skull on it. Now we know. Been there, done that, moving on. I ended up not even getting my ears.

Now for the really sad news of the day. We stopped at the outlet mall on the way home. A shoe store had a buy 1, get 2 free sale. They were almost completely sold out of my size! I couldn’t find three pairs that I wanted. It was SOOOOOOOOOO SAD!!! Even worse, the SO is all bubbly because he did find his three pairs. Total shoe shopping fail for me!

05 Aug, 2010

GA Aquarium

/ posted in: travel

On Tuesday I went to the Georgia Aquarium instead of going to get more learning. It is good to be a tourist.

I saw a loggerhead.

loggerhead

These jellyfish were pretty.

jellyfish

I didn’t make it to the whale shark class at the conference but I did go to one fish lecture just to see what they talk about. I learned that Weedy Sea Dragons like this one get a fungal disease that starts with black spots on the body and then goes systemic and they die. No treatment has been found yet. So sad but luckily this one isn’t spotty.

weedy sea dragon

The penguin exhibit was cool. You could crawl though a tunnel under the exhibit and pop up like a groundhog into a plexiglass tube in the middle of the penguins. They ignored people suddenly appearing in their midst.

penguin

I’m going to be showing my age here but remember friendship pins that girls made from safety pins and beads in the 80s? Look at his ID band on his wing. Every penquin had a different bead combination. I bet whoever designed the system was a middle schooler in the 80s.

04 Jun, 2010

GA tourist

/ posted in: travel

I writing this from the Atlanta airport where they don’t have free wi-fi. I think that should be one of the modern deadly sins now that I have a wi-fi device. Last time I was in this airport I was in a rage at my soon to be ex husband. I didn’t know he was a soon to be ex but it was the first time I started thinking the divorce word since he had decided to neglect my horses while I was out of town. Very bad thing.

Anyway, things are better today except for the whole No Wi-fi thing. I blew off the conference today to be a tourist. I went to the Georgia Aquarium which was very cool. I have pictures but I can’t post them yet since my camera attachment for the iPod is on backorder. (I’m totally thwarted by technology today.) I got to see the whale sharks. That makes up for not going to the care of whale sharks lecture the other day. It probably would have been more useful than the one I ended up going to instead.

After the aquarium I walked across the park to the World of Coca-Cola. I don’t recommend this one. It might have been ok if I was at all interested in Coke memorabilia but I went solely for the tasting. They have a room with dispensers of Coke products from all over the world. I taste tested them all. I think I’m going to die. They mostly taste nasty. I drank a sip of them one after the other so all the nasty got all mixed up. The worst one was from Italy. Aren’t they supposed to have good taste in food and beverages in Italy? The drink is called Beverly and it is vile. Imagine a glass of of pure vileness (close to the pure evil from Time Bandits) mixed in a mineral water base. Ugh. Of course everyone was telling people to make sure to try that one. Not a single person managed to take more than a sip without making this horrified face and looking close to vomiting. How do they sell this stuff?

I found a way to get four free wi-fi minutes (over and over). Take that technology. Now I am thwarting you!

26 Oct, 2009

Vacation Fitness

/ posted in: Photostravel

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Hey, I went on vacation! Here’s some photographic proof!

The picture above is a view of the beach at the Wyndham Resort on St. Thomas. The main thing that surprised me on St. Thomas was how expensive everything was. Food was especially pricey. We thought ahead and brought enough power bars to serve as breakfast for the entire time we were there. We also went to the grocery store and bought drinks to keep in the small fridge we had so we didn’t have to pay the resort prices. But we didn’t have any cooking equipment (not even a microwave) so we had to eat out for lunch and dinner.

I don’t think we were able to get any meal for two people for less than $30. That includes one vegetarian who is generally fairly cheap to feed. I always worry a bit about what there is going to be to eat for me on vacations. I’m not a person who is a fan of ordering a house salad for every meal. St. Thomas was a pleasant surprise. The salads were much fresher than anything you’d get in a restaurant in the states so I didn’t mind eating them. Almost every restaurant including roadside stands carried veggie burgers. I had a lot of meals of veggie burgers with a side of local fresh fruit.

Combine that with not having a lot of food stockpiled in the room so there was no snacking except for an occasional ice cream and with snorkeling a good bit and guess what? By the end of vacation my clothes were looser. I was torn between being happy about that and being slightly annoyed that with all the diet advice you get it may really only come down to “eat small, healthy meals and lay off the snacks.”

I decided to try this at home. I’m horrible about grazing. I walk through the kitchen and pick up a piece of string cheese. It is healthy, right? I may do it too many times a day though.

I was doing well and then I got nailed with the mystery virus that sucked away any desire to eat. I like that in an illness. No nausea. No vomiting. Just pleasantly happy not to eat. I would have about an hour in the afternoon when I would get hungry and then I would eat something with not enough calories in it to keep a flea alive and my body would say, “Ok, thanks, I’m done now.” I’ve been trying to keep my calorie count a bit elevated by drinking broths and soups but it is definitely force feeding. My body says, “No, thanks,” and my brain says, “You need to fuel this crazy immune response somehow. Drink your soup!”

I have a feeling that this phase is coming to an end too. I feel hungrier even though I have no interest in eating. In a day or two I’ll be back to chaining the refrigerator shut! But it is sort of nice while it lasts. This morning when I stared into the mirror at my sickly grey-green reflection my main thought was, “Oh, look! Cheekbones!”

I didn’t weigh myself before vacation mainly because I knew I was gaining weight but I didn’t want to really confirm that by weighing myself. I weighed myself today and saw a number slightly lower that the number this spring. Yes, lower than that number that refused to go anywhere but up in spite of diet, weight lifting, and taking up jogging. All it took was a vacation on an island with expensive food and a crazy virus to get it to move!

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ZombieBaby being menaced by sharks at Coral World!

18 Oct, 2009

Traveling While Forgettable

/ posted in: travel

I’ve talked before about the problems I have because I’m forgettable. People who I’ve met several times will introduce themselves all over every time. I would make a master criminal if I were so inclined. The trip home proved it.

The SO is not forgettable. He talks to everyone and has a big personality. He went into customs first. I went to my customs guy and had a little chat. I showed him my passport to prove I was American. (Yes, I was in the US and had to show a passport to get back to the mainland.) I left and the SO was still in customs. He didn’t get to leave for a while. It turns out that he hadn’t signed his passport. I looked at mine and realized that I hadn’t signed it either. My guy looked over it completely.

Later I realized that I was carrying needles and syringes in my carry on. I had checked them for the first flight but forgot on the way back. I carry them in case of bad food allergy reactions for the SO. Shouldn’t someone at least hand check the bag if they see that? They can’t tell what vial of drugs I’m carrying from the scanner. Amazing. I feel safe. But I guess looking sweet and innocent and totally forgettable has perks when you are too tired to travel correctly!

17 Oct, 2009

Jewelry Rant

/ posted in: Jewelrytravel

I’m back. I wrote a few posts that flat out refused to post while on vacation so I’ll post them over the next few days.

The big tourist thing to do here is buy jewelry. We did two days. of jewelry looking. I have a weird problem. I have a guy just dying to buy me jewelry. I can’t stand the kind of jewelry he wants to buy me. I’ve had to give him a blanket command of “Don’t you ever buy me jewelry!” He bought himself a necklace. It made me hyperventilate. I finally calmed down by reminding myself that I didn’t hesitate to buy saddles that cost more than that necklace. We just have different priorities.

I only saw one store on St Thomas that had something I could consider wearing. It was all made from black coral. It was not over the top gaudy. But it was outrageous. The earrings that I didn’t even like started at $1100. I must have snorted because she said she had some $125 earrings. She showed me these earrings that made me chuckle on the inside. I have a pair just like them at home except mine are pink instead of black. They were thrown in free when I bought a necklace at a street fair. I don’t even wear them because they are ugly. I could go downtown to the bead store and recreate them for about $1.50.

Everything else was just awful. The theme seemed to be “throw on diamonds until the gold is in danger of collapsing under the weight of the stones.” Subtlety is not in style.

On St John the other day I found stores that made stuff like I like. I keep trying to explain to the SO that I am simple. Here are the key phrases to look for in the store:

– Local
– Handcrafted
– Artisan
– Under $40

It is hard to go wrong with that. I like jewelry that has a story. I saw some ads for a style of jewelry they do in St Croix made out of broken pottery. It was very cool. I need to get more serious about making stuff again. I know in my head what I’d want to wear but I must be the only one who likes it because no one makes it.

13 Oct, 2009

Day 2 – Monday

/ posted in: travel

We started out this morning working out. Why, yes, we are freaks – why do you ask? The SO went to the gym but I can’t focus there so I went to the 1/3 mile fitness trail. I may have been the first person ever to use the trail from the reactions I got. You go about 100 yards on mulched trail and then you end up running around the parking lot. There was a guy leaf blowing the mulched part and he was not amused by my running on it. Taxis kept stopping for me because I was walking/running while North American again. I walked a lap, ran one, and then walked one before giving up due to a combination of weird looks and stifling humidity. I did find my way to exercise though. There is a long staircase from the pool to the rooms. I went stair running. I didn’t do it all. I started where it climbed pretty much without breaks. It went 11 steps, 2 strides, 13 steps, 2 strides, 15 steps, 2 strides, and 28 steps. I figured I could do it three times. When I went to start the third time I was feeling so good that I figured I should go for 5 laps. When I got to the top of rep 3 I was lightheaded and felt like I was going to vomit. I decided to quit there. My butt is sore tonight from that!

Then we went to Coral World which is an aquarium. It wasn’t great but we saw a sea lion demo. It also gave us access to the inside lockers for when we went to Coki Beach next door. It is a public beach that is said to have the best snorkling on the island. But it is not safe to leave your camera and stuff just laying around. The guy we rented our snorkling gear from gave us Milk Bones to feed the fish. I could start a feeding frenzy with a sliver of dog treat. I had an underwater camera so hopefully the pictures turn out.

We hung out there most of the afternoon. I’m getting really dark even though I have SPF 70+ spackled on me. There are a few areas where my suit moved today and exposed unprotected areas of skin. Note to self – sunblock goes on BEFORE the suit. The SO has darker skin than me and even he is burning in areas missed by sunscreen. He is dedicating himself to proper skin care of Albino Girl (as he is calling me) so I don’t burn up beyond recognition.

Dinner was in Red Hook at the East End Cafe. Despite the name it is an upscale Italian place that passed the high standards of my Italian SO. We almost died on the way. I think our taxi driver had been drinking. He passed another taxi on a hill on a narrow road with oncoming traffic. I’m not sure how we didn’t get hit. Our morning cab driver was playing horribly obnoxious preaching tapes. I thought my head was going to spin around if I had to listen to any more of it. Even the Christian SO thought it was awful. But at least the driver was sober!

08 Oct, 2009

Pre-vacation stress

/ posted in: FamilyGeneraltravel

When I am Queen of the Universe if you plan a vacation all by yourself because your consort is not taking an active interest and then 36 hours before you leave he calls you from work and questions EVERY SINGLE DECISION you’ve made, it will not be illegal to drown him on said vacation.

Just sayin’.

If in a moment of annoyance you tell him that beggars can’t be choosers (because you bought the plane tickets and your parents are letting you use their time share club for free) and he then wonders why you are getting such an attitude, it will be required by law that you must reach through the phone and slap him senseless.

I’m trying to be patient. He has travelled extensively but never without a machine gun. He thinks of foreign places as hostile and threatening. I’ve told him that it is amazing how much nicer people are when you aren’t trying to overthrow their government. (Since we are going to the US Virgin Islands trying to overthrow the government will get him in HUGE trouble anyway.) I’m going to make him practice saying, “We come in peace.” That way if anyone finds him threatening I can claim he’s an alien and that will liven things up. I’m practicing saying, “Dude, chill, we’re on vacation” in a surfer accent so if it doesn’t succeed in calming him down it will at least annoy him. LOL

My preferred style of travel is upscale backpacker. I like cheap hotels and going out and exploring. I hate staying in big expensive resorts surrounded by other Americans. That is precisely what we are doing here. Chant with me – Beggars Can’t Be Choosers! I am looking forward to alternating laying on the resort’s private beach and swimming in the ocean though. My main goal is to make my own Corona ads. Just my feet and the water and another prop or two. I don’t drink beer so I’ll have to get creative.

We aren’t able to rent a car because only one car rental agency will rent to people with debit cards and that is subject to approval when you get there. What they are looking for in order to approve you seems to be a great big secret though. Since we don’t have credit cards (damn our financial responsibility!) we will be taking taxis around the island unless we can figure out the bus system. The buses are $1. That appeals to his cheapness and my sense of real tourism. Apparently there is no set schedule. If the stars align you can find a bus. Sounds good to me! Brings back memories of being dumped off a bus in Costa Rica where no one was waiting to pick me up. Ah, good times.

I think I liked it better when he was “too stressed at work to think about vacation.” I’d hate to have to strangle him before we even get there !

09 Aug, 2009

Travel Channel

/ posted in: Photostravel

I just had to make a category listing for travel. How did y’all let me go this long talking about going to various sundry places without having a category for travel? Really, sometimes I don’t know what you’re thinking!

I’ve lived in this state for 11 years. (Wow). I’ve never been to Hocking Hills. I’ve heard of it mainly in the context of “Never ride the trails at Hocking Hills without someone who understands them or you’ll never be seen again.” I’ve searched for cabins with hot tubs in other states and been mad because I kept getting tricked into opening websites for cabins in Hocking Hills. But I’ve never been. I’m not alone in this. The SO has lived here just as long and had never been either.

We went yesterday. Basically, the place is a tourist industry built up around some very cool stream and rock formations with some waterfalls thrown in. For example:

Hockinghills1

You follow the paths with 17,000 other tourists and their dogs to see waterfalls and caves and streams and big rocks. I’m making that sound really bad but surprisingly it wasn’t. It was crowded but the air temp was about 15 degrees cooler than on the surface. There were herds of people but they were nice. The only thing that would have made it better was more water in the stream which would have made more dramatic waterfalls. I grew up heading to Niagara at the drop of the hat. You have to work to impress me with a tiny waterfall.

There are lots of stairs. The SO has a foot that is acting up lately so that was sort of a problem. We tried to take the direct route marked to the parking lot at one place. We ended up climbing over boulders. And yes, we were still on the established path. Serious workout at places. A person could be excused for wondering how many tourists have heart attacks while trying to get up to the surface. (Let it be known that I’ve been trail jogging. I climbed like a champ.)

Hocking Hills

We rented a cabin with a hot tub. It was very nice. We also had dinner at a surprisingly upscale restaurant. It was located at the top of a mountain. There was a long, vertical gravel drive to the restaurant. The staff suggested that drinking would make the drive back down the hill easier or shorter or something like that.

Hocking Hills 2

It was fun. I think we should back sometime in the fall or spring when either the leaves are changing or there is more water in the stream.

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