Category Archives: Travel

2010 In Review – The Recap

What a crazy 2010!  We welcomed 2010 quietly, after a whirlwind December 2009 that involved three out-of-state trips between CB & I and our first married Christmas.  The house was still in a state, with CB & I still needing time to sort out all of the generous gifts from the wedding PLUS both of our stuff.

Thankfully, MLK weekend gave us a chance.  Over three days we moved out of and back in to the kitchen, emptying every cupboard, cabinet and drawer, picking and choosing what to keep and what we would find another home for.  We finally were able to get rid of the last set of boxes in the dining room and take back our house.

January also served as the jumping off point for my MBA application process, with a GMAT prep class at the end of the month at Drexel.  February brought the GMATs, a visit to Drexel, and Internet searches.  CB took a cake decorating class with her sister, ensuring a beautiful, yummy cake would show up right around my birthday.  The MBA apps wrapped up in March and the waiting began.

To celebrate the MBA apps finishing up, CB & I went off to DC for a long weekend.  Biking around the capital, they revisited the site of their engagement at the FDR memorial.  They also stopped in to see CB’s brother, and their family friend Didi.

In April, I took a new position in the company, landing in the R&D IT division.  The next three months were filled with work-transition items, the second Emerging Leaders residency, and a flurry of “new project” work.  Thankfully, though, Memorial Day weekend came, and with it a chance for some time away.

CB took off to Alaska for an adventure with her friend Janet, fulfilling a long-held promise once Janet finally finished her PhD program.  Myself, not wanting to be left home alone, found a nearly-deserted island off the coast of Panama to sneak away to for a few days for some remote R&R.

Returning home, we were now just days away from our one year anniversary.  Not wanting to let the occasion pass uncelebrated, we snuck off to NYC for the night.  After a great Cuban dinner, we went up the Empire State building, then saw Memphis the next afternoon.  And just like June 13th a year earlier, it poured rain in the afternoon.

June, July and August were hot in Philly as usual, so it was time to shift gears.  Instead of trying to “get things done” around the house, CB & I spent our time running around having fun.  From concerts to shows to dinners and dancing, we had plenty of fun.

The MBA acceptance letters also came back, and we knew it was just a matter of time before I would be tied up for two years getting my masters.  To celebrate, we quickly planned a two week trip to Australia for Labor Day weekend.  Despite some setbacks at work and having no time to plan, we did a whirlwind tour of Melbourne, Cairns, and Sydney.  We saw penguins, kangaroos, wallabies, and birds galore, along with the Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef, and wine country outside Melbourne.

Two weeks after we landed I was off to the week-long kickoff session at Babson in Boston!  From October until mid-December, I was in school and life was go-go-go!  Despite some sad moments in the Fall, we slid in to the end of the year, with Thanksgiving at Cioci Deb’s and Uncle Burt’s in Sparta, Christmas Eve with CB’s family, and Christmas Day with both sides.  Sure, we may have been decorating the tree again on Christmas Eve, but it was still a great holiday with our family.

Now, with 2010 in the books, we are thankful for all the great moments and we look forward to seeing what 2011 will bring us.

Happy New Year!

Continental Leaves Skyteam on October 24, 2009

With Continental’s year-end earnings forecast, they announced an update on their alliance realignment after several months in limbo.  Continental leaves Skyteam on October 24th, with entry in to Star Alliance coming soon thereafter.

I’m going to miss Northwest, but with the takeover by Delta, I’m happy to switch to a CO-UA based alliance.  Of course, the devil is in the details.

No Plat Status This Year

After taking a hard look at my budget, my remaining travel plans, and some of the changes I’m thinking about making, I realized I’m going to have to cut back on my largest single expense for the next long while. Yes, no more pursuing platinum status through making those “few extra” trips over the next few months.

I’m not sure I know what to do with myself, not going away every six – eight weeks.

Scary.

Ugh…Infotainment

Having watched CNN International’s broadcast channel while overseas, I’m even more appalled by the US version of the channel and the website. Just think of the total lack of “newsiness” there are with the following top stories on CNN.com right now:


  • Driver plows through street festival at high speed

  • Organizers G8 protest condemn violence

  • Officials: Terror plot targeted JFK airport

  • Castro stands, talks with Vietnamese official on TV

  • SI.com: Cavs finish off Pistons, make first finals

  • Report: Six militants killed in Somalia

  • Larry Birkhead sues attorney in baby fight

  • War front-and-center ahead of debates

  • Agent’s good looks help net butterfly smuggler

  • Only girl’s foot shows after oak falls on house

  • Democracy stuns Polish man 19 years in coma

  • Baseball manager rants, crawls, plays in dirt

Admittedly, when I imagine what is truly news-worthy, I rank stories by their potential impact from a regional, national and international level. A top story about a driver crashing in to a street festival is sad, but basically local news. What’s the impact, the larger importantance, of a car crash in D.C.?

The G8 protests, Castro’s TV appearance, a terror plot, the presidential debates, and militants killed in Somalia, all have a potential news-worthiness value, if the stories are given context and aren’t just the usual CNN dumbed-down smut product that is put out. Same thing is true for the Polish man who wakes from a coma, if the author of the article uses it to discuss the evolution of Eastern Europe from Communism to democracy and capitalism. Unfortunately, this kind of journalism seems to be far more than CNN, at least for their domestic audience, can handle.

Or take the G8 protests. What are these groups that became violent? What are their objectives, what goals do they have? What about the actual G8 summit? What discussions are taking place? What kind of outcomes are to be expected? What have been the objectives and participation in past summits? Have the desired results been realized from those summits? If so, why? If not, why not?

Unfortunately, the kind of news programming I’m looking for is becoming rarer, not more common. When John Stewart offers the most in-depth discussion on some of these topics, you know you’re SOL.

Like Fox and the Hound

I found myself sitting on the flight from Amsterdam to Toronto with about 5 to 6 hours to kill, so I started up the video on demand system and browsed through the choices. Night at the Museum was not as bad as I expected, and provided a fun diversion. Moving on, I watched Rough, a Japanese love triangle-ish movie with a whole lot of plot potential that ended in a pretty conventional way. I did appreciate, however, that a live-action movie still used some of the tricks in regular Japanese TV and anime. Go figure.

And then there’s Bridge to Terabithia. I watched this movie adaptation of the book that I read easily 15 or so years ago. I actually hesitated before I watched the movie, knowing that the book had left me in a funk of its own after I read it all those years ago. And, yes, the movie was a fairly straightforward adaptation that tugged the exact same emotional strings the book did.

Exactly, I’m willing to admit, like that old mainstay the Fox and the Hound.

When a Good Deal Isn’t a Good Deal

The tickets were a pain even before I left. Never, ever get paper tickets if you can avoid it. When I booked my trip back in October, at a phenomenal price of$255 round trip from YYZ-AMS-VIE-AMS-OTP-AMS-YYZ, I didn’t notice that I’d picked an Austrian Airlines flight that forced me to have a paper ticket. If I did, I might have reconsidered my flight choices.

In theory, this ticket was upgradeable with miles. In practice, paper tickets make simple things much harder. Like, three trips to the airport, a set of phone and e-mail conversations, and still having to again get the tickets reissued in Toronto right before the start of the trip complicated. But business class for an overnight flight does make everything better.

I’ll keep my thoughts on Vienna short. If you have an opportunity to spend a few days there, do it. It was a great, compact, historical city with architecture to die for and a certain charm and culture that easily matches Paris and London, only with lower prices. When the random street car conversations you overhear are discussions on the depth of various indie films playing at some theatre or other, you know what kind of place you’re in. And the Austrian countryside is pretty nice, as well, with some great biking opportunities.

Romania, on the other hand, was a whole other set of experiences that require some posting of their own.

Bay Bridge Closure Again this Labor Day

The Bay Bridge between San Francisco and Oakland will be closed again this coming Labor Day. Last year I was out in Califorinia over Labor Day weekend when it was closed, forcing me to spend over an hour in traffic attempting to go the six miles through San Francisco as I headed north of the city to a winery in Santa Rosa.