Posts Tagged ‘ Travel

New York – Day 2

1. Depart the mansion with Jen, Mark & Shar and drive to Queens for dim sum.
2. Eat really good shrimp balls in shark fin soup, chicken sticky rice, and dumplings.
3. Walk around and find neat Chinese bakery and tea shop (black sesame milk tea, please!).
4. Drive Jen to LGA and sit in mandatory traffic jam on the way into Manhattan.
5. Spy the New York City skyline in the distance and become nostalgic.
6. Drop off rental car and hit the streets, lose wheel on baggage, rest back the hotel.
7. Begin hour long fiasco trying to get to Central Midtown during a rainstorm via foot/subway.
8. Meet Ryan at Gilt restaurant convinced we lost our reservation. Get seated anyway.
9. Pick best entree: bouchot mussels with uni, green garlic dry ice cream, and edible shells.
10. Walk around Times Square. Endure humidity and swarms of tourists before subway.
11. Meet DC friends Zoe, Aimee, Angie & Carl at Park Bar in Union Square. Stay awhile.
12. Take photos, point at sailors, bar hop, and get free drinks from a Foursquare special.
13. Take lovely walk in now not so humid and comfortably warm night.
14. Find reputed best falafel shop in city and eat said falafels outside. Pay $2.50.
15. Feel happy to see everyone, walk back to our hotel, and get in bed by 3am.

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New York – Day 1

I really enjoyed Jenn’s Retroactive To Do List, so I started to make my own while in New York last weekend. I tend to over-complicate the writing process and thought I’d give this a shot instead. Hope that’s cool, Jenn!

1. Sleep in until 11am, wake up in a mansion in Long Island.
2. Have lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant with Ryan, Shar and Mark. Order too much food.
3. Meet up with Jenilynn back at the mansion. Admire her nice bridesmaid hairdo.
4. Rent bikes and ride to the coast with Ryan and Mark. Feel the ocean breeze on our faces.
5. Bike back uphill, return to the mansion, and jump into pool outside our room.
6. Drive back into town and try out a local bakery. Get ready for big night.
7. Attend Cindy and Ken’s ceremony, get blown away by bride’s beauty, witness vows. Love.
8. Partake in a cocktail hour + buffet, including a pasta station, prime rib, and a roasted pig.
9. Discover there are 3 rooms of food, waiters handing out hors d’oeuvres, AND an open bar.
10. Feel like we’re in the Capitol of Panem.
11. Take part in greatest bridal party intro: dancing, stunner shades, and LED tambourines.
12. Celebrate with friends. Dance with Ryan. Eat three course (second) dinner.
13. Dance s’more. Visit the dessert bar one too many times. Chat with Jenilynn.
14. Hang in the billiards room, see the newly weds, return to our room at the mansion at 2am.
15. Agree with everyone to use phrase “at the mansion” whenever possible.

Read Day 2 >

Arrival to Tokyo

It was pretty delightful flying direct to Japan, especially since I had been able to purchase tickets for both Ryan and I using my airline miles. The 10+ hours went by quickly as I was largely engrossed in reading Hunger Games for the first time, followed by an attempted nap. The highlights: scoring an entire row to ourselves to spread out, surprisingly delicious airplane food, and complimentary wine in coach.

We landed around 4PM local time and my excitement finally set in, after weeks of being focused on work! We found the airport to be relatively calm and made our way to take the train in Tokyo via the Narita Express. Trying to stay awake, I ordered some green tea on the train, saying, “Kore kudasai,” for the first of many times. Soon enough we arrived to Shinjuku Station, the busiest train station in the world, where over 3.5 million travelers pass through it each day.

First look at Shunjuku

We began the trek to the hotel with our luggage, walking through the streets of Shinjuku and its bright lights and swarms of people. The walk is normally quite short (in fact, we later learned a there was another station right outside our hotel) but it being our first time it took us a little while to find our way, using Trevor’s phone as navigation to the Keio Plaza Hotel.

After an easy check-in with our English-speaking hotel staff, we dropped off our luggage and plunged outside. We didn’t need to walk far, the neon lights, restaurants and stores were right outside our doorstep and we wandered around the area, exploring. At some point we found a video game store that had over a dozen toy vending machines, and hoping to win the head of a brown bear doll I saw inside, I put in some coins and ended up with two very cute plush chick dolls.

It was getting late and it became tough deciding what to eat, but given that I was feeling famished and wasn’t ready to order completely in Japanese, I noticed a sushi restaurant with a conveyor belt and walked straight in. “Konbonwa. Sanin des,” I said, hoping she understood I needed seats for three people. She gestured to the bar and we all sat down. Success.

We sat there at the sushi restaurant then picking up small color-coded plates, just like you would at home, trying the different kinds of nigiri, many of which included shrimp. My favorite was a pink fish had a particularly glossy look to it, that melted in your mouth, and having never had it before I still have no idea what it was. We made our own green tea using the powder at our table, nibbling away until full, discussing, “So do we pay there at the cashier or request the check?” (We soon learned it’s always the former.) We paid and plopped back outside into the busy streets of Shinjuku, having had our first meal.

We continued to walk outside until the lack of sleep began to hit us. So did my stomach, as it said, “Hey I actually want to eat more! Five small plates of sushi were actually not enough!” and following the advice of friends before we left, we went to a 7-11. Despite their testimony and my doubt, I do concede that it is good. Ryan picked up some water and I found myself buying a tofu bowl with rice, not expecting much. After having it warmed, we sat on some poles in the eating area and I ate while Ryan and Trevor indulged my impulse. It was delicious. The steamed rice was perfectly cooked and it came with savory sauce with ground pork and hot oil that complimented the silky pieces of tofu. This was convenience store food? I ate every bite, sharing a little with Ryan, and we made our way back to the hotel where Trevor met up with a friend and Ryan and I went upstairs to crash after a long day of travel.

Travel Cities 2011

2011 was a record travel year; it’s hard to believe I flew over 80K miles! Here’s my annual recap of my travels by city that I started a 5 years ago:

January 25-28 Alexandria, VA
February 4-6 San Francisco, CA
February 10-12 Washington DC
February 13-19 Alexandria, VA
March 10-16 Austin, TX
March 22-25 Alexandria, VA

March 31 – April 4 Rome, Italy
April 5-8 Florence, Italy
April 7 Cinque Terre, Italy
April 9-10 Amsterdam, Netherlands
April 18-22 Alexandria, VA
April 27- May 1 Las Vegas, NV

May 26-30 Lahaina, HI
June 20-21 Queenstown, MD
June 22-24 Alexandria, VA
July 22-25 Eden Prairie, MN
July 30-August 10 Eden Prairie, MN

September 6-10 Alexandria, VA
September 22-26 Eden Prairie, MN
September 27 – October 4 Paris, France
November 1-4 Alexandria, VA
November 23-26 Eden Prairie, MN
December 29-30 Grand Canyon National Park
December 28 – January 1 Las Vegas, NV

Travel stats recap:

  • Spent 106 days away. Flew nearly 2x as much as last year, including two trips to Europe.
  • Visited 16 cities and fulfilled my new year’s resolution in 2011 to visit 3 new countries!
  •  Was most often found working in the DC area and spending time with family in Minnesota.
  • Did more personal travel this year with 58% for leisure, 42% for business (based on days).
  • My Dopplr Travel Profile with Flickr Photos

2012 Resolution - Visit 3 new international cities!

Arc de Triomphe, Paris, France. Photo by Ryan Prins.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve been on 117 trips. Feeling tremendously blessed to have had travel be a regular part of my life and for the people I’ve gotten to know better because of it!

 “To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time, to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”

– Bill Bryson

Past Travel Cities Posts: 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007

Paris: Sunday Mass in Notre Dame

The Sunday we were in Paris, we had the opportunity to attend mass in Notre Dame. On the way there, we experienced delays on the metro which made me worry that we’d miss the service entirely. So by the time we reached the exit of the St-Michel Notre Dame station, I found myself dashing across the square past the long queue of tourists waiting to enter. At the entrance there was man holding a sign that read “Messe”, and instinctively knowing this was meant for those who came to pray, I nodded my head at him as I walked straight inside.

Paris - Day 5

My eyes searched for the font of holy water as I entered, and after crossing myself, we found seats and a program which contained translations in multiple languages of the day’s readings. It was the 27th Sunday of Ordinary Time.

As the mass continued on in French, I couldn’t help but sit in awe that I was here. I thought I had been to beautiful churches before, but this seemed different. And while I may not understand French, what I do know is the mass. As the light from the stained glass windows and the sound of prayer washed over us, I came to further appreciate how this old tradition is my inheritance. With all its flaws, I love my Church.

Paris - Day 5

Washington DC: Gallery Pl-Chinatown Metro