Posts Tagged With: Spring

Europe’s Best City Escapes for Spring

In about 2 months (not 1 month-stupid WordPress widgit) I will be heading to Europe to do my annual international vacation. We will be going to Amsterdam, Cologne, Brussels, Ghent, and possibly some other small cities. So when I saw the article below I was glad to see I was going to one of the cities on their list.

All rights belong to Yahoo! and you can view the original slideshow/article here.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Netherlands takes pride in its tulips, and for good reason: these flowers are big business. This spring, explore the countryside on bicycle to see vast fields carpeted with vibrant tulips in a dazzling array of colors. , located in nearby Lisse, is famed for rows upon rows of flowers that stretch as far as the eye can see. Take a day trip there when the gardens are open, from mid-March to mid-May, by direct bus (No. 858) from Schiphol Airport.

Insider Tip: In the city, opt for ‘s equally fabulous and historical floating on the Singel canal—the only one in the world, open daily—to view floating barges that burst in fragrant swathes of red, pink, orange, and yellow petals.

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal

In spring, Europe’s westernmost capital is bathed in warm climes, with picture-perfect hues that pervade twisting cobblestone alleyways. A spring trip to is a fairy-tale fling in a global city that’s undergoing something of a renaissance. Outside the city, neighboring castle-clad towns Sintra and Cascais both make for easy day trips.

Insider Tip: The hip, bohemian neighborhood of is filled with creatives. Explore the quarter’s abundance of artistic murals, three-table bars where elderly men smoking pipes flank traditional bars, and Capoeira schools and cafés that boast an eclectic edge.

Budapest, Hungary

Budapest, Hungary

The hip capital ranks as a popular budget-friendly destination. The city offers medicinal thermal baths, edgy “ruin pubs,” and a gritty, post-Communist exuberance. For exploring, the lower Pest side of the Danube River boasts opera, theaters, and the city’s historic Jewish quarter, while Buda on the upper side features the castle district’s posh residences.

Insider Tip: Spanning three floors, offers everything from local meats to baked sweets. Spring kicks off a roster of world-themed food days, including Chilean and Moroccan eats. The Easter market is one of the busiest times of year; expect throngs of hungry crowds counting their forints.

Riga, Latvia

Riga, Latvia

Deeply etched in European history, is synonymous with classical music, elegance, and historic architecture. Get lost in the quaint side streets on a spring morning and make sure to visit the city’s medieval center, which offers the widest collection of art nouveau buildings in the world. Here, the concentration of remarkably intact medieval architecture dates back to the 12th century, which contributed to Riga’s World Heritage status. The European Union also recently recognized the city as the European Capital of Culture for 2014.

Insider Tip: Foodies should head to for locally sourced Latvian tidbits ranging from pig snout and sauerkraut to hemp butter. End your day with a drink and a rooftop view from the ‘s 26th-floor Skyline Bar. The spot fills up fast, so get there early to enjoy spectacular panoramic vistas.

Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen, Denmark

Spring kick-starts a year of Danish design and architecture exhibitions. Start at the iconic , which first opened in 1755. The hotel is newly refurbished, overlooks famous square, and sits near the Nyhavn Canal, the Royal Danish Theatre, and shopping street Stroget. Spend another afternoon at , Northern Europe’s largest aquarium.

Insider Tip: For unforgettable organic fare, go to super-hip , the Meat District neighborhood, and try restaurant, which is housed within a 1920s Bosch warehouse, or the neighboring .

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Categories: Mish Mash, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland Trip Plan

My mom and I were debating about where to go for vacation this year. I had planned out a trip to Spain. We decided against it due to the expense and my health hasn’t been the best this year. We wanted to stay a bit more local. We decided on Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland. We flew to Vancouver, BC. Then we took Amtrak down to Seattle. From Seattle we took Amtrak to Portland. We flew back home from Portland. Below you will find my trip plan and links to my postcards from this trip:

Trip Plan

Postcards from Canada

Postcards from Washington

Postcards from Oregon

vancouverseattleportlandmap

Categories: Canada, Family Vacation, Food, History, Portland, Richmond, Seattle, Steveston, Travel, USA, Vancouver | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston, Lexington, and Concord Trip Plan

Please click below to view my trip plan for Boston, Lexington, and Concord. We were away from April 25th-April 29th 2013.

Trip Plan

To learn more about the sites I visited:

Boston Tea Party Museum

Park Street Church

Granary Burying Ground

Museum of Fine Arts

Hancock-Clarke House

Buckman Tavern

Old North Bridge

Old South Meeting House

Old State House

Faneuil Hall

Quincy Market

Bunker Hill

Old North Church

Paul Revere’s House

Boston Common

Make Way for Ducklings

 

Categories: Boston, Family Vacation, Food, History, Lexington and Concord, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Boston in College

During my freshman year of college I went to Boston with a tour bus full of people from my college. Our original plan was Boston and Salem. Salem didn’t work out because our bus broke down and we had to change buses in the middle of nowhere. My suitcase was broken in this process. When we finally got to Boston it was already dark. We were staying in the outskirts of Boston in Somerville. It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, which we found out is a big deal in Boston.

My friends drank, danced, and laughed for hours in the hotel room while I watched in amusement. We were warned that the subway shuts down at midnight which we thought was beyond stupid. A small group of us headed out to Quincy Market. On the platform my friends sang and danced on the benches, while I made sure they didn’t end up in the tracks. When we finally got out of the subway my friend Kathleen went into oncoming traffic and almost got hit by a car, but I pulled her back at the last second. The funny thing is that it happened right by the Boston Massacre site.

When we got to Quincy Market Michael left us to catch up with his friends. The girls and I checked out the Cheers gift shop and whatever else was open. We posed with some guys dressed as leprechauns. Molly’s friend joined us. Kathleen and I were standing in the middle of the market (it’s a round open area) when a guy came over to us and hugged us while saying beam me up Scotty. His wife wasn’t too happy with him. Once we left the market it was crazy. Everyone was drunk! One of my friends was running around looking for her glove while the other was making out with random guys. I eventually got us to a 7-11 to pump food into them. Then I dragged them back on the subway to our hotel. There was no way in hell I was missing the last train before midnight. Our friends wound up missing the last train and had a horrible expensive time getting back. Once back in our hotel room a group of drunk guys tried to get into our room, but I wouldn’t let them. They gave up once they realized I was sober.

The next day we all woke up early and went to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. It was fun and strange at the same time. Lots of weird floats. Afterwards we met up with Molly’s friends who dragged us around for what seemed like hours. Kathleen and I had enough. We were starving, freezing, and tired. We broke away and walked in search of food, comfort, and warmth. We found a Borders. The people at the Borders cafe felt so bad for us. They picked out the biggest m&m Rice Krispie treats and poured lots of whipped cream and chocolate sauce in our hot chocolates. We could have kissed them. We went back to the same 7-11 we were in the night before. We then met up with our group and did the Freedom Trail. We didn’t do Bunker Hill though. We ended at the Old North Church. We took Hanover St. Back down to Quincy Market. All the pastry places looked so good! A bunch of us decided to eat in a seafood place by Quincy Market. I got Mac n cheese. It wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t enough food. Back to our 7-11 and then we headed back to our hotel. Kathleen, Molly, and I rented the movie Bobby.

The next day Kathleen and I took the bus to Cambridge. We walked around for a while using my guidebook. My guidebook said we could go into this old building so we did. We wound up getting yelled at because it was the President’s office and is closed to the public. Stupid guide book. After that we opted for a Harvard history tour. We had a student show us around campus and tell us the history of all the buildings. She did the whole pahk yah cah at hahvad yahd bit. We met up with the whole group for dinner at Uno’s.

The bus ride home was a mixture of sleeping and karaoke. I think we also watched the Simpsons at one point. The trip was short, but fun.

Our karaoke videos (that’s not me singing):

Categories: Boston, Food, History, Travel, Trip with a Tour Group | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Boston for my Birthday

April 28 2013

Today is my birthday! So I decided I wanted to stay local and do a bunch of historical sites. I picked many of the sites on the Freedom Trail.

Our first stop was an army store where we bought my dad a Boston shirt. Then we took pictures outside the Old South Meeting House. We passed the location of the old Borders that has a soft spot in my heart because they revived my friend Kathleen and I years ago when we were beyond cold, tired, and hungry. We passed the 7-11 we frequented during my Boston trip with my college. We went into Potbelly Sandwiches looking for the chocolate brownie cookie a friend recommended to me, but they didn’t have it.

We continued on to the Old State House. I’ve always wanted to go inside. We caught a tour of the museum. The tour was informative and it was interesting to hear about the many uses of the building. We then caught the Boston Massacre tour. I learned a couple new things on the tour. I gave all the right answers to the tour guide’s questions so I couldn’t help but be proud of my memory. 🙂 My mom and I went into the gift shop. I bought some postcards. I really wanted to a join or die snake shirt, but didn’t feel like spending $16.

We left and then went to Quincy Market and Faneuil Hall. I went looking for the restaurant my college friends and I ate at. However, it was no longer there. I wanted to go to get the name. We walked through the food area. My mom and I got some free samples. The Greek food looked so good but it was expensive. I really wanted some Mac n cheese from the mac n cheese vendor. There was an entire store for One Direction, which I thought was hilarious. So many of the girls were walking around with life size one direction cut outs. I took a picture in the center of the market to commemorate the stranger that came up to Kathleen and I and said beam me up Scotty. We stopped at the gift shop, but I didn’t buy anything. We left the gift shop and caught the bus to Bunker Hill.

I was really excited to finally do the Bunker Hill Monument (even though it’s really Breed’s Hill). I’ve done the real Bunker Hill before. We got off the bus and walked through a cute quiet neighborhood. The monument looks exactly like the Washington Monument. Unfortunately, the bottom is graffitied. We decided not to walk up. We crossed the street and went to the museum. The museum is two floors and the better part is on the 2nd floor. They have artifacts from the Battle of Bunker Hill and from the Boston Massacre. There’s a button in the back that tells you about the Battle of Bunker Hill. We used the restroom in the basement, bought a postcard, and left.

We decided we were going to walk to Paul Revere’s House. We were going to make sure that on our way we passed the Old North Church. As we crossed the bridge you could see the church sticking out. If the modern buildings weren’t around you easily could have seen lanterns hanging in the church on that famous night. On our way to the sites we passed a bakery that’s open 24/7 everything looked absolutely amazing, but we didn’t have a fridge in our hotel. So we bought cookies. I got chocolate rugelach and it was incredible. We walked down the street to the church. There was a gift shop across the street that was cheap so we got some things in there. We took pictures of the outside of the church. I didn’t pay to go in because I’ve done it before. We went to the official gift shop where I got a pillbox to add to my collection.

We took what was supposed to be a connecting alleyway to Paul Revere’s House. It wasn’t direct. We passed a printer’s press shop. I took a free postcard from there. We finally found Revere’s house. We paid and went right in since there’s no official tour. You only see 4 rooms: the kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. You have to read the signs to feel like you are on a tour. It was just ok, but my mom liked it. The admission price was super cheap so it was worth seeing.

After that we headed back to the bakery we were at before. I got more rugelach but the woman gave me pieces without much chocolate and were very small. The bag wound up ripping outside of the bakery and they all fell all the floor. The bakery was nice enough to replace them free of charge. We walked down Hanover St. And saw all the famous bakeries with their lines out the door. We walked back to Quincy Market and I bought one oft bosses a pen. We continued on and walked to the Omni Parker Hotel.

The Omni Parker is beautiful and immediately transports you to another time. We went to Parker’s bar. We took a lovely table for two that faced Old City Hall. We ordered the plain pizza and shared it. It was enough for the two of us. It was pricey, but hey it was my birthday and it was good. However, the main reason we came here was for the famous Boston Cream Pie. It was small, but beautiful. It tasted great! The bathroom was huge!!!! 20 stalls. The floor with the bathroom felt haunted. Overall, it was a beautiful yummy historic birthday dinner.

I convince my mom to go with me to Make Way for Ducklings. I loved it when I was a little girl and wanted a picture there on my birthday. Someone had made hats for the ducks. They were so cute!!! We picked up some whoopie pies from 7-11 and went back to our hotel. I don’t want to leave!!!

Categories: Boston, Family Vacation, Food, History, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Modern Day Boston Tea Party

April 26 2013

My mom got me a 7-11 corn muffin to start my day in Boston. We checked out of the Courtyard Marriott and wheeled our suitcases through the streets of Boston to the Hyatt Regency. We had stayed here before so we knew what to expect. We were upgraded to a suite on the top floor because it was my birthday weekend and because we are members. The suite wasn’t ready yet so we had to leave our bags and start our day.

On our walk to the water we passed a bunch of food trunks. My mom stopped at the Cookie Monstah truck and got a red velvet cookie. She asked for one with a lot of chips and they gave her one without any. She asked for a different one. They gave her a different one, but it was burnt. 😦

We walked over to the water to do the Boston Tea Party Ships and Museum. I had read about the museum when they first opened and have been wanting to go ever since. The tickets are expensive, but they are worth it. I bought them online to save $5 total. We arrived right before the 1pm tour. Only one other couple was on our tour. There were several actors in costume that were there to guide us and help recreate the night of the Tea Party. They stayed in character the whole time and were quite funny. The tour starts with a town meeting and everyone gets a card with their identity and feather for their disguise. Then you go on the ship and dump the tea overboard. Afterwards, you explore the ship and can take pictures. After that we learned more about the night and boycott from holograms that looked real. We got to see one of the two remaining tea chests and hear from Sam Adams and King George III (think Hogwarts moving pictures). Then we watched a film about the battle of Lexington and Concord. The tour was about an hour and it was very well done. The tour ends at Abagail’s Tea Room. The tour guides saw me mouthing all the answers so they spoke to me after the tour about my love of history. The gift shop had a wide variety of items. I got several postcards, tea, and a t-shirt. They make you say haazah a lot, which is cute. I really wish I could take my students here.

We got a call from the hotel that our room was ready so we walked back to the hotel. We put our bags in the room and went back out. We stopped at the Old Granary Burying Ground where Samuel Adams, Franklin’s family, Paul Revere, John Hancock, and several others are buried. We took some pictures and left. We got on the train at Park St Station and got very lost inside the station. We eventually got on the right train to the Museum of Fine Arts.

We went to the MFA after 3pm so I could be free (I look like I’m under 18). We visited the Egyptian section first. I enjoyed explaining to my mom what everything was. She actually admired several pieces. The death and burial section also known as the Mummy Room is the best part of the exhibit. I also loved a rare statue of two women. One had her arm around the other. We saw the Greek and Roman statues. We also did a little bit of the Assyrian and Mesopotamian section. We looked at several of Monet’s paintings and saw the famous paintings of Sam Adams, John Hancock, the Washingtons, and Paul Revere. The special exhibit was on the Samurai warriors and we enjoyed that as well. However, we saw several similar artifacts in Les Invalides in Paris. The museum had many great items, but I still think the MET, Louvre, and National Archaeological Museum are better.

We debated about where to go for dinner. We finally settled on Max and Dylan’s. I got a turkey cranberry avocado sandwich with fries to go. My mom picked up a red velvet whoopie pie from 7-11. We took all out food back to the hotel. I had the sandwich and she ate my fries and pie. As we ate we watched a Law and Order SVU marathon. Overall, it was a great first day in Boston.

Courtyard Marriott Lobby

Masonic Temple

Park St Church

Categories: Boston, Family Vacation, Food, History, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Arriving in Boston

April 25 2013

I left work early to catch a 3:30pm train to Boston. In the train station I was approached by a crazy woman, but she walked away once my mom walked over. I wonder what that lady was up to. We used my free birthday Krispy Kreme coupon for my birthday so my mom could get a free doughnut and coffee. We tried to guess what track the train would pull in on so we could be first. That didn’t work, but we were in the first group to be let in.

The train was coming from DC so it was already packed. We got the only empty two seater left in the quiet car, but there was no window and it was smaller. We felt trapped. A woman got off at the next stop so we moved up to her two seater with a window. So much better!!! I listened to my iPod and watched the scenery. The train took forever to get through Connecticut. I was going crazy. The scenery was beautiful when we got to the Connecticut Rhode Island border. The bathroom absolutely stunk in our car so I went to the first class car to use the restroom.

We finally arrived and surprisingly it was on time despite it feeling like it took forever. We caught the bus to our hotel (Courtyard Marriott Downtown). Everyone outside our hotel looked like hookers and drug dealers. I had read that the neighborhood was considered club district. I was very worried about our hotel because most people hated it. We got it using Priceline’s name your own price tool. We only wanted to pay $100 for that night in Boston since that night was a last minute addition to our trip. The hotel was over $300 a night on their website for that night. People complained of paper thin walls, loud traffic noise, small rooms, and loud music. The lobby was nice and they sent us up to our room. We had requested a high floor, not facing Tremont St, and away from elevators, maids’ room, and the ice machine. They gave us a room next to the elevators, ice machine, and maids’ room. We asked for a different room. The next room was on a lower floor facing Tremont. The room was super small, but the bathroom was large. The shower didn’t have a tub. The TV was very small and only got a dozen channels. There was free wifi though.

We decided to go for a walk because we hadn’t eaten in 12 hrs. The neighborhood wasn’t the best. We found a Panera where my mom got a muffin and we found a 7-11 where I bought a water and corn muffin. We went back to our room and ate our food. We watched a Law and Order SVU marathon and settled in for bed. Tremont St was loud and we had noisy neighbors who didn’t go to bed. Yeah for paper thin walls. The reviews were right about this place.
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Categories: Boston, Family Vacation, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Baltimore

I’ve been to Baltimore many times. I decided to go back in 2011 for a refresher. I really wanted to go to Charm City Cakes and Blue Moon Cafe. If you go to Blue Moon Cafe, stick with the Captain Crunch French Toast. My mom ordered a cinnamon bun and our friend ordered pancakes. The pancakes were thrown out and the bun was picked at. My french toast was really good though. I did a couple of history museums, but I still want to go back and view the Egyptian Exhibit at the Walters Art Museum. I highly recommend Maryland Historical Society Museum. They have performances that are quite entertaining and educational. The Baltimore Civil War Museum was very quick and not what I was expecting. The Flag House and Museum was great. I just missed the group tour, but they gave me a private one. We took Amtrak to get here, which was a piece of cake and we used public transportation to get around. The best meal was at Cheesecake Factory. I got fried mac n cheese balls (see picture below), mac n cheese, and oreo cheesecake. YUM!  To view my trip plan please click here. To read my Charm City Cakes post click here.

Click to view the Diners Drive-Ins and Dives info on:

Blue Moon Cafe

Brick Oven Pizza

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Categories: Baltimore, Family Vacation, Food, History, Travel, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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