Three Travel Bites of the Week

•March 26, 2010 • 4 Comments

Happy Friday! I hope you enjoy these Three Travel Bites of the Week:

1. If you have been following my latest posts I like to write about food from around the world –  A LOT. It is one of my favorite aspects of travel so I was excited to see that Lonely Planet author and editor, Don George, is putting together an anthology of food-related travel stories titled A Moveable Feast: Life-Changing Food Encounters Around the World. The best part is whether you are a published author or have zero-experience you can submit your story to be considered for the book. Submissions must be received by April 19th so make your favorite dish from Barcelona or Tokyo and get writing!

2. Now you can read all of your favorite travel blogs in one place. Hostel Dog has launched Read Travel Blogs where you can find the most up-to-date posts from participating blogs right on the home page. If you are scrapped for time this is a great space to read all of the day’s travel stories. This is also a great opportunity for the travel blogger who would like some more exposure and all you have to do is submit your blog to Hostel Dog and they will add you to the feed. It’s another great link for the travel community.

3. I just discovered EcoArtsTours this week and want to share this unique travel opportunity with all of you. I met the founder at an eco-networking event (thanks to my Green-loving friend) and her organization leads tours through Peru, India, Cuba, Argentina, Bhutan, and even here in San Francisco, that focus on the arts and responsible travel. Whether you experience the dance, music, or cuisine of one of the above countries you will be doing it in a way that supports natural and cultural conservation efforts. These tours are very special and the artistic and environmental aspects ensure you will see a new side of a country that otherwise may not have been possible.


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Tales of a Day Tripper #4: Kew Gardens

•March 24, 2010 • 4 Comments

Big cities are fine and dandy, but my Tales of a Day Tripper series shares my experiences of day trips I have taken to smaller nearby towns in Europe. I enjoyed them all and if you haven’t been to some of these places, you may want to add them to your bucket list.

Ok, so technically Kew Gardens is in London but its on the outskirts so a few hours spent here makes you feel you are in the calmest corner of the world away from the chaos of the city. My friend Liz and I still had some time off from work around the holidays, (you know because European employers like to give their employees more than just a day or two off around Christmas) and I had heard wonderful things about Kew Gardens from my boss.

When we first walked in we noticed instantly how beautiful and expansive the grounds were with green everywhere and gardens and ponds spread for miles around us. What I loved the most was how quiet it was. It was early January and unbelievably cold and while we noticed other patrons, it was pretty much empty. We first went to the Palm House which is an indoor tropical environment housing plants from Asia, Australasia and the Pacific. The flowers smelled amazing and were so colorful and it was obviously warm inside so that was a big plus.

Palm House

We went back out into the cold for the short walk over to the Princess of Wales Conservatory that contains ten different climate zones from dry desert and wet tropical to the very frosty like the climate zone below. All of these zones exist to accommodate the plants and their particular needs and I just learned that it’s all computer-controlled. It seems like a maze in there with two different levels and rock and river paths to follow from one room to the next.

Princess of Wales Conservatory

I would definitely recommend spending an early morning or long afternoon here and if you really want to see everything Kew Gardens has to offer you could make a day of it. The gardens are easily accessible by London’s Underground and it was only about a half-hour train ride from Central London. For more information and hours, make sure to visit their website.

Tales of a Day Tripper #3: The Road Less Traveled

Tales of a Day Tripper #2: Sintra, Portugal

Tales of a Day Tripper #1: Brighton, England


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How Should I Feed My Wanderlust?

•March 22, 2010 • 2 Comments

It has been two years since my first big adventure and in those two years I have been working in San Francisco. I have been saving lots of money living at home all the while rediscovering this city that always has something new to offer. However, things don’t feel quite right and in the back of my mind I have a deep wanderlust to go back to Europe one way or another. Then I read Robyn Crispe’s article on the Matador Network titled “What Happens When We’re Not Traveling?” and my thoughts of going somewhere new have been pushed to the forefront of my  mind.

I have most of the same feelings expressed in this article. I enjoy my job because I am working in a field that I want to pursue – book publishing – and this blog has given me the opportunity to pursue my new passion of a travel writing career. Yet I can only write my stories from my first trip or take short jaunts to Southern California for so long. I want another long trip. So many possibilities are racing through my head from working abroad again and teaching English or volunteering to applying for a masters in publishing or creative writing in a foreign country. I just have a feeling that I am going to make a big decision this year somewhere along these lines.

For now, I know that I want to use my vacation time from work and go somewhere new for a week or two to smaller towns in France and Italy or somewhere completely different with a friend or just by my self. I am not sure of the specifics yet and will figure it out within the month but I need to recharge my batteries. Maybe this will be enough or maybe I will realize that I am getting to the point where I need a change and I know that I should make that change soon while I’m young enough to do it.

What do you do when you’re not traveling? How do you think I should feed my wanderlust?


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Three Travel Bites of the Week

•March 19, 2010 • 4 Comments

Happy Friday! I hope you all had a lucky St. Patrick’s Day and now Three Travel Bites of the Week.

1. So, What Did You Do Today? We can be pretty sure we will document our next big trip with photos but what about when you’re at home just having a regular day? There are bound to be people or things that are worthy of a Kodak moment. The Matador Network wants you to send in a photo from a day in your life, whether something grand or completely simple but wonderful  happened. There is no deadline  so just start sending in photos and read about the inspiration for all of this – Project 365 which challenges people to take one photo a day for a whole year.

2. WiFTy! It’s not a new word I made up but it stands for the The International Food Wine and Travel Writers Association Scholarship. For the second year, this organization wants to help aspiring writers start their careers in food, wine, and travel journalism. The lucky winner will receive a complimentary pass to their annual conference with full access to sessions, a membership to the organization, and the opportunity to be published in the organization’s online magazine. Read more about their rules and to download their application and make sure you enter by May 31st, 2010 for your chance to win.

3. If you’re broke and a college student, you may think you don’t have the means to travel but you do! I was so happy to be a part of Wolfram Magazine’s feature on “Travel Tips for Broke-Ass College Kids.” Along with Craig Zabransky from Stay Adventurous and Paul Cox and Melanie McClean from Wayward Winos, we talk about our own experiences abroad and how we made it possible. Most importantly, we stress how invaluable of an experience traveling abroad is – maybe just as important as a college education. Thank you to Wolfram Magazine and check out their site to read their recent issues.


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An Irish Boxty for the Belly is a Good Thing

•March 17, 2010 • 8 Comments

The boxty. I think it’s Ireland’s answer to the French crepe. A warm potato pancake filled with whatever your stomach desires – lamb, chicken, cabbage, corn beef, or bacon – all wrapped tight and ready for you to break into.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Huff

I had never even heard of a boxty until I was in Dublin the night before St. Patrick’s Day. I was staying in a 20-person hostel room and some of my roommates and I decided to all go out to dinner together. When I walked into Gallagher’s Boxty House I felt like I was walking into a home with the wooden floors, brick fire-place, and framed pictures on the walls. The place was packed and yet with such a large group we were given a table right away. The menu is a little pricey so for my friends and I it was a one-time splurge but the Bacon & Cabbage Boxty I ate was worth the price. It tasted like a home-cooked meal that I hadn’t had in months. Gallagher’s also serves hearty stews and the normal fare such as fish and chips and bangers and mash but they serve a boxty that you just can’t get anywhere else.

This restaurant is right in the thick of the Temple Bar district, which is filled with restaurants and bars, so it is easy to go find a pub for after dinner drinks with friends.

This post is a part of WanderFood Wednesday.

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Where Did All the Dublin-ers Go?

•March 15, 2010 • Leave a Comment

St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin kind of made me feel like I was back in an all-American high-school. My friends and I planned our Around Europe trip specifically so we could be in Dublin on the day and soak up the culture, festivities, and Guinness. I’m sure someone mentioned to me that all the Dublin-ers shoot out of town so that they can avoid all the tourists but I didn’t remember that fact until it hit me smack in the face.

We woke up early on St. Patrick’s Day for the parade on O’Connell St. and managed to get a good viewing spot up front. We stood out in the cold for a couple hours watching the crowds and the sky hoping that the forecast for rain wouldn’t be true. The good part was that it didn’t rain. The bad part was the parade. I was hoping to hear some Irish music and see Irish dancers but this did not happen. I saw marching bands from Arizona, California, Kentucky, Washington and what seemed one marching band for every American state. The theme of the parade was something weird that caused Cirque du Soleil-like floats and costumes to whiz past us. It was one big blur of hot pinks and oranges and purples and blues but no green. The best part was the group of seven year-old Irish kids standing next to us, swearing and cussing at each other about who would get to stand in the front.


Making our way through the post-parade traffic jam, my friends and I were searching for Irish music and found an outdoor concert in St. Stephen’s Park. Ok, this was actually fun. The musicians and Irish dancers were great and everyone in the crowd was dancing the jig. We danced with complete strangers, one of which liked to pour a jug of sangria down my friend’s throat. Sangria? On St. Patty’s Day? After an hour we realized that most of the crowd was filling up with teenagers who were probably too young to go to the pub which led us to the question of why we were still here with them and not at the pub.

Ready for the jig

So we went to The Temple Bar in the Temple Bar district and stayed there for the rest of the afternoon and into the night. The pub was packed with mostly Americans but we did make friends with two brothers from Philadelphia and we sat at a table smack dab in the middle of all the chaos that was perfect for people watching. This was the St. Patrick’s Day I envisioned – a pub, Guinness and good people. Except I didn’t envision the couple of American college kids making out to our left. They didn’t exactly have the Hollywood kiss nailed down but it made for an amusing picture that unfortunately didn’t last longer than their kiss.

At the Temple Bar

The Temple Bar more than made up for the earlier part of the day but in the following week as my friends and I drove through Kilkenny, Killarney, Dingle and Doolan I gathered that these places are where the Dublin-ers escaped to during all of the festivities. These small towns seemed to have a lot more Irish heart than a day in Dublin ever could – fresh air, lush green, friendly people and not an American in sight. If I am ever back in Ireland for St. Patty’s Day, I think I’ll escape Dublin too.

Three Travel Bites of the Week

•March 12, 2010 • 4 Comments

Happy Friday! I hope you have a great weekend. Here are my Three Travel Bites of the Week:

1. Why Aren’t Students Reading Travel Books? They are not reading much non-fiction to begin with and it’s kind of ridiculous. Jim Benning over at World Hum compiled some articles relaying the facts and has started a discussion about what is one travel book that would be good for students to read? Think about it and go on over and join the discussion because the bottom line is students need a real-world education and putting a good travel book in their hands would be the best learning tool.

2. For Alison, moving to Belgium with her husband was a difficult transition but her travel blog saved the day. Alison from wrote a guest post on AlmostFearless about How Blogging Saved my Expat Life. The response to this article was huge and my inbox filled up with comments all week once I joined the discussion so I had to share it with all of you. It is such a unique perspective about how Alison found an expat community through her blog and was able to make friends she could relate to and help her through her initial trials and tribulations. Such a good read!

3. Today is the 6-month anniversary of Be a TravelBee. I started this site to encourage others, especially young people, to start traveling. I have been learning so much about building my blog from the travel community so thank you to everyone that I have “met” through this blog. This space is a work in progress and I plan to develop it to the best that it can be. I am working on Travel Blog Success right now learning how to provide quality content in an appealing package so expect a redesign in April. If you have any suggestions of what would look good on my site or what would help make the redesign go smoothly, please leave a comment! I’d love to hear from you.


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