Thursday, May 29, 2014

Chicago by train


I had looked at so many options of things to do or places to go during my vacation this summer. The train to Chicago seemed like the best option.  So I am going to Chicago in July!

Got train tickets. Leaving July 2 (arriving in Chicago the following morning). Will be there for a few days (staying with a local Boston friend as he so happens to have planned a trip to Chicago the same dates as me and got a lovely hotel room right near everything I want to visit!) over the 4th of July, then back to Boston July 5/6.

I've been on the train twice here in the States. Once to Portland ME, and once to NYC. Both were great adventures. I remember looking out the windows as we went through Maine, thinking to myself "Wow, I feel like I just got dropped into a Steven King novel!" I wonder what thoughts will cross my mind while on board the Lake Shore Limited (though both trips have overnight segments, so I won't have my nose glued to the window the WHOLE time). I've heard it's a beautiful trip. I can't wait. I also can't wait to add a third blue line to the giant map I have on the wall at home of all the places I've been to in the US (red are flights, black are roads, and blue are trains).

In general, I'm not planning a whole lot for while I'm there. I've got most of all day Thursday, all day Friday, and most of all day Saturday in the city. Definitely plan on going on an architecture boat tour, of course. Fireworks over Lake Michigan on the 4th itself. Going to the Navy Pier to ride the Ferris wheel. Bringing my camera and my sketchbook and journal. I sincerely dislike museums, so not interested in museuming (really, I went to Paris and did not go to a single museum, and had the time of my life there). I don't want to trek out to the boonies. Trying to keep to a minimum things that cost a lot of money (due to item in next paragraph). I may look into seeing the White Sox play on Saturday (the Cubs will be out of town) but it would depend on if I'd be able to haul my backpack into the stadium with me (just a normal backpack). But I'm mostly going to just explore. Hang out. Have some fun.

Anyway... one other thing I *do* want to do is go out for one AWESOME meal while I'm there. Four different people recommended I go to a Rick Bayless restaurant. Topolobampo looks amazing, but I looked at reservations and it appears both it and his other restaurant are both already solidly booked for the days I will be in Chicago. So... other thoughts?

Anyway. I'm excited. New city to explore. I love it.

Wheee!

(And hey - I just found out via Facebook that some other local Boston friends may also be in Chicago those dates! But they're not 100% sure yet. That'd be hilarious and awesome.)

Monday, April 28, 2014

Vacation plotting

I've got some time off in July from the 1st through 6th. I was told at work I needed to use some of my vacation days, and since I was already taking days surrounding the previous weekend off I figured I might as well extend my vacation. But what was I going to DO with these days off?

I started to plot.

Now see - my idea for the road trip in December isn't going to happen. I'm moving into a new apartment in a few days, and it's going to end up eating much of my income. Too much to spend thousands of dollars on a trip. But what if I only spent hundreds?

Since my best friend visited last October (and came by train) I have gotten it into my head that it could be a lot of fun to visit Chicago and take the train there from Boston. And when I looked into that as an option I also discovered that it was cheaper than flying! I'd also eliminate two nights of figuring out housing to boot and get to see pretty scenery along the way.

So my idea is to leave Boston on the 1st. I'd arrive in Chicago on the 2nd. Look into couch surfing for three nights. Spend those days before and during the holiday in Chicago checking out the fireworks over Lake Michigan from the Navy Pier. Maybe going on the architecture boat tour while I'm there. Laying on a beach and swimming in the lake. It will be summer, after all! Then take the train back on the 5th and get home on the 6th.

I will wait until I move into my new place and get my finances back in order after getting everything settled into place there. But this idea has gotten rather stuck in my mind, and I am more and more interested in following through with it.

We'll see what happens.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Remarkable places to travel solo

Today on Buzzfeed I saw an article on Remarkable Places For Solo Travel and it got me thinking about that again. I've done most of my travel solo. I've really only had a few non-solo trips (short, just overnights or weekends) that have worked out well, so I really do lean toward solo travel and that's why so many of my postings deal with that topic.

But anyway. Back to the Buzzfeed article.

I looked at the 26 places on the list, and my interest definitely got sparked for a few places I'd never really considered as places to visit before.

Portland, OR. I've been to Oregon. My family lived in Eugene for a year when I was a kid, and yet I've never been to Portland. I've got friends there, too, who I would love to visit. And I know my cousin Lesley told me once that she could easily see me living there. (Now that I am re-energized about Boston post breaking my leg, that isn't going to be happening, but I think visiting should definitely be considered!)

Iceland. I've had a lot of friends visit Iceland just in the last year. All of them have come back from the experience with nothing but positive things to say. I've got to say I'd definitely be more tempted by a summer trip than a winter, though. After growing up in Alaska, there is absolutely nothing that could tempt me to visit a Northern location in the winter.

Kenya. Africa is one of the three continents I haven't visited yet, that I want to visit before I turn 40. Most of my interest there has been to either Morocco or South Africa. But I have started becoming more interested in more of a safari-style trip. I'd been leaning toward Tanzania or Zambia... but the little blurb in this article about Nairobi, Kenya does make it sound rather appealing to my adventurous heart.

(I'm not including places from the Buzzfeed list that I already DO want to visit.)

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A bit of brainstorming - Idea #1 for big trip of 2014

I had an idea for what to do with my holiday break next/this year...

Road trip! (*)

I have wanted, ever since moving to Boston, to go on a good long road trip. See parts of the country I haven't seen before and maybe visit friends I haven't seen in a while/family I haven't in a while, and places I've just always wanted to see.

So here is my initial idea... take 2 days off (December 22/23) to give me a few extra days to play with before Christmas Day.

Day 1 (Friday after work) - Fly or take the bus to Washington, DC. Visit overnight with my cousin John and maybe on Saturday get the chance to see friends who have moved down there.

Day 2 - Pick up rental car and head south to Raleigh, NC area (4.5 hours)... visit additional friends.

Day 3 (Sunday 12/21) - head down to Savannah, Georgia (4.5 hours). Spend a couple of days.

Day 5 (Tuesday 12/23) - Drive to North Port, FL (6 hours). Visit my parents through Christmas Day.

Day 8 (Friday 12/26) - Drive to New Orleans, LA (10.5 hours). Spend  a long weekend in New Orleans.

Day 12 (Tuesday 12/30) - Drive to Nashville, TN (7.5 hours). Visit friends for New Year's Eve.

Day 14 (Thursday 1/1) - Drive back to Washington DC (10 hours). Fly home.

Take off January 2 to give me a three day weekend to recover.

Quick estimation of potential costs:

Flight: $200
Rental Car: ~ $500
Gas: ~ $500 (3150 miles roughly of driving.)
Food: $300
Lodging: $500 (just for Savannah and New Orleans, unless I choose to try couch surfing - which I may well do... I could stay with friends and family in DC, Raleigh, North Port, and Nashville)

TOTAL: $2000

That is significantly less than other trips I have been on. My last trip over the holidays cost nearly that much just for the plane ticket. And costs are pure guesses. I tried to pretend plan this over Thanksgiving to give me estimated costs over a major holiday because none of the websites will let me plan into late December yet.

* Keep in mind, this is still me just brainstorming. I may do something else entirely. This is just idea #1.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Places visited in 2013

I didn't get to do any serious traveling last year, due to my broken leg and general brokenness. But I did get out with some friends from time to time and got to explore a few new places closer to home.

Back in July, my friend Kirsten and I drove down to Connecticut and visited Mystic Seaport. We explored and had a grand time. We ate very yummy seafood. And enjoyed the day tremendously.

In October, my friend Ellen and I drove up to Burlington Vermont. "Purpose" was to check out the changing leaves. But really it was to go on an adventure together. And it was marvelous.

In 2014 I am renewing my hopes of slightly more extended travel.

Goal #1 is trip to New Orleans. - Possibly around the Christmas/New Years holiday I'll have off. I think that could be a lovely time of year to visit.

Goal #2 is a weekend in Montreal. I wouldn't even need a long weekend to really enjoy a trip here. Bus ride wouldn't be too long (7.5 hours), and less than $100.