6 Reasons Why you should Road Trip

6 Reasons Why you should Road Trip

Everything right now is about doing things faster, sometimes this includes travel. Everybody tries to find the fastest ways to get to a place and that can mean that you miss out on great experiences! Here is why you should talk the extra hours and drive to your destinations if it is at all possible:

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  1. Things to see and things to do! When you fly, you only see your destination. If you drive to your destination, you can stop in different places and see so many other sights. If you drive through the US, you can see multiple landmarks, instead of just the one you are heading towards. If you drive through different countries you can experiences many different cultures!IMG_5147 2
  2. Food! You have so many more opportunities to try different foods. If you drive through multiple countries on your road trip, you can try food that is native to this country. I found some of the best places when I just did a quick google search of what’s near me. Not to mention all the junk food you can enjoy, because everyone needs fun snacks! 
  3. Spending time with your friends. When you spend hours in the car you get much closer with your friends. You tend to look at your phone less and actually talk to each other. Not to mention all the adorable photos you can take together! Hopefully you won’t get into any fights, otherwise the journey will be really long.
  4. Music. When is the last time you truly listened to music without scrolling through your phone or reading the newest headlines? There is nothing like blasting music with your windows down while driving down an endless road. You can belt out the lyrics and no one will care what you sound like! So make sure to create a fire playlist before setting out on the journey!
  5. Bring more things with you! Whether this is a short trip or a long one, everyone hates weight limits when flying, when you drive there is no weight limit, just a space limit. If you are a good packer this means you can bring LOTS of stuff!
  6. Learn about more cultures. This is even true if you are road tripping through the same country. Each state in the USA has its own culture, you will definitely meet completely different people in California than in a cafe in Boston. If you are driving through different countries, then there is absolutely no doubt that you will come across many diverse cultures.IMG_3637.JPG

Hope this helps you slow down a little and enjoy your trip! There are many benefits to taking your time and driving around while you head to your destination.

 


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Brunch and dinner: California’s best

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Brunch and dinner: California and more

Brunch and dinner: California and more

During our time in Los Angeles we looked for good places to eat, obviously. We eventually found our favorites and kept returning to these places. Soon they knew who we were, which just made it heartbreaking when we came for the last time. Here are our favorite places to eat in the different places we visited:

Los Angeles

  • IMG_4490.JPGWood and Vine – great for tapas and drinks right on Hollywood Boulevard
  • Mel’s Drive-In – 50’s style diner with amazing milkshakes and late night menu!
  • Karl Strauss Brewing Company – really good share plates (try the chicken wings, carnitas chilaquiles or the Brussels sprouts)
  • The Saddle Ranch – steakhouse, with huge meals so plan accordingly. The s’mores or the cotton candy tower are a must for dessert.
  • The Griddle Cafe – massive pancakes that are perfect to share with three other people (maybe more)! If you don’t want pancakes try some of their savory dishes (“Some Like it Hot” scramble is one of my favorites)
  • The Waffle – waffles all day long!
  • The Cheesecake Factory The Grove – who doesn’t like cheesecake factory?

San Diego

San FranciscoIMG_6270

Santa Barbara

  • The Shop Cafe – great brunch place with amazing eggs benedict (we drove 2 hours for this place…multiple times)

Flagstaff, AZ

  • The Toasted Owl – very good brunch place with very eclectic, cute decorations

These were our absolute favorites, there are other places that we tried out, but we kept coming back to these. Definitely check them out if you are ever in one of those cities!

 


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Scandinavian Airline Review: ethernet cables, iPads and more

Scandinavian Airline Review: ethernet cables, iPads and more

img_1657I had two very different experiences with Scandinavian Airlines the two times I flew with them at the end of October. My flight from Boston to Europe was…ok. My flight back to the US, was actually pretty good. The first trip was from Boston to Copenhagen and on to Prague and my flight back was from Prague to Copenhagen to Chicago and ended in Boston. So, here’s why my flights were ok:

Pre-flight

I got my tickets very last minute, but everything still went pretty smoothly on the way there. I checked-in online 24 hours before the flight and printed my boarding pass without an issue. One thing I did have an issue with was ordering a special meal. It wasn’t really an issue, so much as a hassle, because you couldn’t order online while buying the ticket, you had to call and order it. Again, not an issue, just another step.

Pre-flight before my flight back to the US was worse. I couldn’t check-in online, which is something that has become the norm in the past couple of years, but I also didn’t get my boarding pass for the flights to Chicago and to Boston. So I knew I had a one hour layover and I had to stop by the transfer desk on my run across the airport. I wasn’t thrilled, but what could I do, just hope for the best and run fast.

Flight

The flight to Europe was on a very small plane with very small seats. There was only about 17 rows and 6 seats in each row. At least it was a very short flight, just somewhere between 6 and 6.5 hours, which isn’t that bad. It was a very full flight so there wasn’t room to spread out. In Copenhagen I had 5 hour layover, which is long, especially when most stores are closed for a solid amount of time.

My flight back to the US was better. It was a bigger, upgraded airplane which meant more comfort. I was also lucky because I had a free seat next to me, so I had enough space to lie down and just watch a movie. The flight from Copenhagen to Chicago was 9 hours, which is long, but since I had space, it was doable.

Food

Gluten-free meals are the same on all flights and all airlines. It’s usually some chicken or white fish with some vegetables. Not much to it. The snacks vary, and I didn’t have a good experience with the small meal on either of my long flights. On the first one I got just bread with a slice of tomato on it. Definitely not a filling or enjoyable snack, it was too dry and didn’t really have a taste to it. On the second flight they gave me the wrong snack at first, instead of gluten-free they gave me a special fish meal. That is an honest mistake, but it did make things more complicated.

One thing that I didn’t like about Scandinavian Airlines, is that not all beverages were for free. And at least to me, it wasn’t quite clear what was included in the price of the ticket, because sometimes it changed with what meal was being served. Maybe I just wasn’t paying attention, but it wasn’t clear what I could order. I did figure out that apple juice and coffee is always free though, so that’s a plus.

Iimg_1703n-flight Entertainment

On the first flight the entertainment system wasn’t working or they were upgrading. Either way, iPads were given out instead of us using the screens at the back of the seats. This sounds like a good idea in theory, but I really do prefer the screens, for two reasons: a) there is a limited selection of movies and TV shows on iPads and b) you have to hold the iPad to watch things. Really, it was having to hold it that annoyed me. There’s no way to sit the iPad up in a way so it doesn’t slide down or a way to hang it from something. Again, don’t know why the screens weren’t used but I definitely prefer not holding on to the iPad for 6 hours. Fun fact: there was an ethernet plug at each seat, so if you bring an ethernet cable you can have internet access during the flight.

On the second flight, they had the normal screens with more movie choices. There were some new movies and some older classics. There were some TV shows too, but alway only one random episode of each show, which for someone who really likes binge watching is quite little. But I found enough movies to entertain me throughout the whole flight.

Overall my experience with Scandinavian Airlines wasn’t bad, it was quite pleasant and it helped that service was really nice. I would definitely fly with them again, because none of the issues I had with them were serious. I suggest you look into them if you are looking for tickets.  


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Air Canada: the long, long flight

img_0997When I was looking for tickets to get back to Boston I looked at the price and dates, and Air Canada turned out fit my criteria the best. I have never traveled with them before, so I didn’t know what to expect. Well, I was certainly surprised. 

Pre-flight

One thing that surprised me was that I could not check-in online before the flight. I understand that it is probably because of increased security, and even though you usually can’t check into flights to America, it still surprised me. That’s because you couldn’t even choose your seat online. It was a little like stepping back about 10 years, before online check-in and seat selection was an option. At the airport everything was fine. Of course lines were longer at check-in, because everyone had to check-in at the counter, instead of just dropping off their luggage.

At the Prague airport I had my very first experience with the e-gate passport control. I heard horror stories about people getting stuck between the gates, the camera not recognizing their faces and all sorts of other great anecdotes. So, as I was nearing the e-gate, Alena told me she would stand right there and watch as I embarrass myself. So much faith in me… 😀 I managed, without getting stuck and on my first try!   

Flight

The flight itself was fine. It was a 9 hour long day flight, so boredom comes naturally with this. However, boredom hit earlier, faster and harder than usual, but I will talk about that later. There were a couple of turbulences, but nothing the airline can affect. Somehow, I became the translator and the short-flight-connection coordinator/expert, when Czechs all around me started asking me to either translate the safety briefing or customs forms.

The service was nice. Only one flight attendant made me feel like I was bothering her when I asked for the English version of the customs form instead of the French. Other than that, the flight attendants were very nice!

Foodimg_0993

Gluten-free food is always a bit of a problem. However, I actually had really good chicken on this flight, it wasn’t completely dry and tasteless! Shocking, I know! One thing I don’t understand is why I always get pretzels as a snack at the beginning of the flight. I wish I could get something else to nibble on. Oh well.

In-flight entertainment

Where do I begin. There were no screens. You could rent an iPad from the airline for $10 or download the app. However, if you are going to do something like this, there should be a sufficient amount of warning! Shoot us an email, saying something like “hey, there won’t be any in-flight entertainment, so bring a book or a magazine. Make sure you download the Air Canada app, so you can enjoy some in-flight entertainment. Thank you and goodbye.” But no, instead, halfway through boarding, they announce over the intercoms, hey so if you have internet on your phone or your tablet, download the app for in-flight entertainment. Except guess what, not everyone has internet in their phone, a lot of people are traveling internationally, so naturally they don’t want to pay the extra money on data. And if you are leaving the country, chances are you are out of data! So please, Air Canada, don’t assume, and warn your passengers that the flight isn’t flying in this century and that for the 9 hour flight you will only have your thoughts to distract you.

I wrote half of this article on the plane ride, when I was very bored and a little mad. I was quite happy with Air Canada, but I do wish that for the price of that ticket, I could have had free in-flight entertainment. That might just be me. It is a good airline and I did like this connection! Just make sure you bring things to do!


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Awaji Island

Ferris WheelAwaji Island is across the Akashi Bridge from Kobe and it was the last place I visited in Japan. It is a great day trip, but in a typical fashion, I only had a few hours before I had to pack and leave for the airport.

Just driving around the island was great. The island is made up of rolling hills and mountains, so just driving around is a lot of fun, because you can see a lot. When you first drive over the bridge, you can see the ferris wheel. As you drive on the highway, you pass different towns or just small settlements of the island. You can also see different beaches and even fishermen’s nets set up in the ocean.

 

We drove down to the southern part of the island until we reached the town Sumoto. There we got off the highway and stopped in park for a short walk. Or what we originally thought was going to be a short walk. It ended up being more of a hike that took about two hours. So my tip is bring comfortable shoes! You really never know when you will find yourself on a hike :D!Hiking

The hike was definitely worth it! There were a couple of stops along the way to the top with viewpoints, where we took lots and lots of pictures. When we finally made it to the top, we loved it! Whatever despair or regrets about our choices of shoes we may have felt, it was all worth it when we got to the top. The view was phenomenal! We could see Sumoto on one side and the ocean on the other side of the hill.

IMG_8336So, after taking copious amount of photos, we had to head back down. At this point very thirsty and craving coffee. Since we didn’t really expect a hike, we didn’t bring any water so, my second tip is bring water wherever you go! Again, you just never know when you will want to go on a hike!

Lockers for shoes in RestaurantWe got back down in about 45 minutes and we were starving! Luckily we passed a Yakiniku restaurant on our way there in Sumoto, so all we needed to do was find it. And I’m glad that we did, because we order lots and lots of delicious food, that I still have dreams about! The restaurant is called Tenzankaku, and I really recommend it, because you depending on which set you order, you can eat as much as you want, there is a time limit to what you can eat, rather than the amount of food. Bottomless drinks and ice cream are included! So if you are in that area, definitely go to this restaurant! This is a restaurant where you have to take your shoes off and leave them in little lockers by the door, so just keep that in mind.

On our way back we stopped by the ferris wheel. Obviously, if you are afraid of the heights, don’t go, because it goes very high. But if you aren’t and you love things like this, like I do, the view is so worth it! From the ferris wheel you can see the Akashi Bridge and Kobe/Osaka on the other side of the Akashi Strait. Even if you are afraid of heights, it is a good place to stop. You still get an amazing view of the cities and the bridge from the ground! Also there’s Starbucks right under the ferris wheel, so it is a great spot for a coffee break.Akashi Bridge

Awaji Island was the last place I visited. I wish I could’ve seen more of it, because there are a lot of things to see there, like various Shrines and Castles, beaches and gardens. Definitely go if you get the chance, and let me know what the places I didn’t get to visit are like!


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