Adam's World, a Blog
Welcome to Adam's World, a Blog. These are my personal ramblings, and I make no guarantee to their cohesiveness. Enjoy reading my ramblings and if the mood strikes you feel free to leave a comment or two.
Ok so I’m sure everyone knows by now that my mother and I have been planning an African Safari for over a year now. This past Thursday was the start of our incredible journey. After almost 18 hours of flights, we made it to Kilimanjaro a little after 8pm local time. (That would be 1pm EST for you keeping score at home). Needless to say we were exhausted after all that flying and went straight to the first hotel, the Mount Meru Hotel in Arusha, Tanzania.
There we met with out awesome tour managers, Terri and Moses and met out guide for the next week, Nixon. The hotel was amazing, except for the odd fact that the bathroom had a huge glass window overlooking the beds. There was no shower curtain either, which means if you were anywhere in the hotel room you could see into the bathroom at all times. Very awkward when traveling with your mother. My solution was to make a fort-like wall over the window with pillows. Creeper Bathroom-0, Adam-1.
After a much needed nights rest, we took a jeep to our first safari spot, the Tarangire National Park. It was a few hours drive there and when we checked in, there were monkeys greeting us everywhere!
After checking in we went around to find some wildlife. Almost immediately we saw herds of gazelle and zebra. We also spotted a few giraffes walking around the campground.
Later we came upon a lion (which is rare in this park). There wasn’t much going on with him tho, as we only noticed him if he put his head up. A few mins later and he went back to sleep, making himself invisible in the brush.
A short time after that we came across a huge group of elephants. They surrounded our jeep and just kind of watched us for a bit. The bull elephant walked out from behind some trees with the tiniest little baby elephant! He was SO DAMN CUTE! I have photos and video on my SLR which I’ll upload at a later time. He wasn’t the mini giraffe I was looking for, but it came pretty close.
A few hours of pictures on the plains and we drove to our lodging for the night, the Tarangire Sopa Lodge. The hot water only runs for a few short hours a day so better get it while it’s….you know.
Tomorrow is another day driving through the park, except this time it starts at 6:30am. Eiek! I better get some rest and hopefully I’ll have Internet access to bring you some more blog entries of our trip!
So day 2 of Copenhagen was a bit better then the first. Thanks to TripAdvisor, I found this awesome tour of Copenhagen done on a Segway! It was ranked as the #1 “activity” in Copenhagen. I booked a 10am tour, but before the tour came breakfast.
Breakfast in Copenhagen, or more specifically, my hotel was much more reasonable at around 50DKK, which was around $10 US. Not too bad, and since I figured I would pay double anywhere else I made it happen. When I did, I learned something about breakfast in Denmark. Breakfast is really lunch. And by that I mean that Denmark breakfast consisted of 10 different types of cheeses, processed lunch meats (ham, turkey, salami, etc) along with several different types of bread. In other words- LUNCH. Sure there was a tiny section of bran flakes and milk in a corner, but come on. After lunch breakfast, I was off to the Segways!
Prior to today I had only rode a Segway once, and it was at Disney World where they let you ride it for 30 seconds and only just to say you’ve ridden one. This, however, was SO MUCH BETTER! I arrived to find I’d be sharing my tour with 2 other gentlemen, both from London. Our tour guide/owner of the company was Seamus, and he was awesome.
Here’s a pic of me when we first started the tour. Notice the river is frozen. Also notice the the creepy statue in the water. What the hell is that?!
We drove all around Copenhagen pointing out different areas and buildings. He even took a video of me being goofy on my Segway! For obvious reasons, I won’t be posting the goofy video of me but here’s another photo as a consolation. (I love the California license plate, by the way)
We stopped at a coffee shop along the way to warm up since it was below freezing. After our little break, Seamus took us to see the changing of the guard at the Amalienborg Palace, which is the winter home of the Denmark royal family. It was pretty neat to see something like that, as I’d never really seen anything related to royalty before.
Here’s a video I shot:
After that, we headed on over to Copenhagen’s “New Harbor” or as they call it “Nyhavn”. The buildings are colorfully painted and is supposedly the most photographed spot in Copenhagen. I find it funny that it’s called the ‘New’ harbor, but it was dug by Swedish prisoners in 1660. I guess the word “New” is up for interpretation.
Finally, we rounded out the tour at Copenhagen’s most famous landmark – The Little Mermaid. It’s small and boring and gives you that “this is it?” feeling. The statue was unveiled in 1913 and has sat in it’s very spot until the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai, China. It returned 6 months later, looking depressing as ever.
After the tour, I wandered around the city for a bit as I really had nowhere else to go. I checked out of the hotel, and my flight to London wasn’t for another few hours so I decided to take in some local food. The Danish aren’t known for their delicatessen, but one of the things I had to try was a “Danish sausage”. This is essentially a hot dog wrapped in bacon and shoved in a bun. It’s not a typical hot dog bun mind you, but a hoagie roll with a round hole cut in it. They squeeze some ketchup and shove the sausage in and voila!
After a while I headed back to the Copenhagen airport for my flight to London. Since I was arriving to the UK pretty late and the airport was an hour outside of the city, I decided to stay at a little Bed and Breakfast not far from the airport. Good thing too, since the flight was running late and the UK customs line was an hour wait. It was almost 1am when I got to the little town of Stansted. Just a few minutes walk from the train station was the B&B called Chimneys Guest House.
I’ve spent the night at a lot of hotels, and this was, by far, the most welcoming place I’ve ever been to. I felt like I was spending the night at a family member’s house, right down to the stuffed animal on the bed! They even had tea and fresh cold milk ready for my arrival. It was a welcome change from the other hotels I’ve been to.
Tomorrow morning, to London!
So I’m in London now, with a very unreliable connection. Because of that, I’m unable to make my usual posts. However, I am still writing them and will post them when services become more reliable. Right now, I’m posting this at a local McDonald’s that has free WiFi. McDonalds: “i’m lovin’ it!”
Stay tuned…I promise!
So if anyone wants to know where special text characters like Æ, å, é and ø hang out, well they hang out in Denmark, in case you wanted to know. (I’m sure you did).
Anywho, I made it to Copenhagen! I’m not quite sure what to think of the city just yet, but my stupidity has transcended nations as I left the battery to my camera sitting in the charger back home, so all of my photos here on out will come form my phone. They’re not bad, but could be much better. You’ve been warned.
I arrived at the Copenhagen airport and went through the easiest customs I’ve ever gone through. He literally looked at my photos for a second, and stamped it. No questions, no stories, nothing. When I landed I wasn’t really sure what to do. All I knew was that I booked a hotel in the middle of town, and that’s it. Luckily, most people speak English so I was able to hop a train bound for Copenhagen’s Central Station.
As luck would have it, my hotel was directly across the street from the trail station, so that worked out well. I was early, but hoped they had a room ready because I was exhausted from the flight and just wanted to nap for a few hours. Sure enough, they did! I was a little surprised at how small it was though…
Oh well, it’s just for one night. The facilities were shared by the entire floor, so in a way I felt like I was at sleep away camp. Now I understand why the hotel was so cheap! Looking back, however, everything was perfectly clean and I never saw another person using the facilities so it was money well saved.
After sleeping for a few hours, I went out to explore the city of Copenhagen, but after just a few minutes roaming around the city I came to a major realization:
EVERYTHING IS SO DAMN EXPENSIVE!
It’s true! A bottle of Coke was almost $4 USD. As a matter of fact, the Big Mac Index rates Denmark’s currency at almost double what the US is. The Big Mac Index is an annual report published by The Economist that takes an average price of a Big Mac in a certain country and compares it to other countries to get a fairly accurate picture of how strong/weak different economies are. For more info about that, read this: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_Mac_Index
After the initial expense shock wore off, I started browsing the local shops, like this one:
I didn’t really have many plans for the night so after walking around for a few hours, I came back to the hotel to change and go to dinner. The hotel recommended a great Vietnamese place right around the corner called Kiva. Check out this awesome beef salad I had for dinner:
The final tally for my meal was close to $45 USD just for that and an appetizer. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious but just a bit pricey. I guess it’s a good thing tipping isn’t customary in Denmark. After dinner, I did find one thing that’s priced normally: beer. I stepped into a local pub and has a glass of their local brew. Cost: $5. That’s more like it! If only I can just drink beer the entire time I’m here…
I digress. The beer was good and cheap, but I forgot one thing about bar culture: the smoking. I was in the pub for less then 15 minutes before I left, and still walked out smelling like an ash tray. Even my hair smelled gross, but I guess them’s the ropes.
Since I was still pretty exhausted from traveling, I decided to make it an early night for tomorrow I have panned something super cool: A Segway Tour of Copenhagen!
You read that correctly! I’m off to Europe for a few days. Now that the Oscars is over, it’s time for me to take my post-Oscars vacation. Usually I go somewhere familiar like Florida or Connecticut, but this time I decided to go to Europe.
“But Adam, why Europe?” I can hear you asking. Good question! It all came down to price. See, a few weeks ago Delta had a glitch on their website that priced certain Europe flights way below what they should be. Because of that, I was able to book a round trip flight to Copenhagen, Denmark for $277, cheaper then flying to Florida or Connecticut. I’ve never been to Europe, so I thought this would be a good chance to explore, if only for a few days.
But after looking in to accommodations in Copenhagen, I realized that Denmark was quite an expensive place to stay, so I booked a round trip flight from Copenhagen to London for only $65. I’ve always wanted to go to London! My return flight to Los Angeles includes a 1 night stay in beautiful Amsterdam.
So now my bags are packed and I’m ready for a solo trip to Europe. Like before, I plan to make periodic blog posts about my travels, starting with my first post of Copenhagen tomorrow morning.
Time to get some rest! Europe is a lot further away then I thought it was…
P.S. For those wondering how I found the cheap fare, I subscribe to a Twitter feed called AirfareWatchdog. They post when they find an unusually low airfare. Check them out: http://twitter.com/airfarewatchdog
I know this blog was initially setup for my travels, and I plan on writing things in it from time to time after the fact. I thought you guys might find this funny. I called Dell last December to complain about a dead pixel on my then-new Dell Mini 10v Netbook. Nothing really happened with it, since they would only replace it if there were 5 dead pixels, so nothing ever happened with my machine.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when I get an email from Dell asking me to take a survey on the support call I places on 12/11/2009. By this point, I don’t even remember calling Dell, let alone remembering the quality of service I was given.
The icing on the cake was when I clicked the link to take the survey, It had already been deactivated. Oh well. Guess they’ll never know.
So I’ve gotten quite a few requests for me to “finish” my blog. Well, it will never be finished since I hope to update it every now and then, but I do have one more stop on my All You Can Jet trip that I haven’t talked about: Canada.
Canada wasn’t a place I really knew much about, except for the fact that we make fun of them for saying “eh?” and “aboot”. JetBlue doesn’t fly into Canada per say, but they do flu to Buffalo, New York – a mere 30 minute drive to Niagara Falls, and Canada. The first thing I did when I arrived in Buffalo was to goto Anchor Bar, the birthplace of the buffalo wing.
The place was packed! The wait was over 2 hours just for a table, so I decided to get some buffalo wings to go, which was a bad decision. Cold chicken wings are always a bad decision, because they always taste awful. This was no exception. Not to worry though, because I would eventually come back to get lunch right before my outbound flight.
The first night I spent in Niagara Falls, Canada. Thanks to an overbooking error from a popular hotel website, I was bumped from a crappy, mediocre motel to an upscale hotel with a room overlooking Niagara Falls! Man, the falls sure are pretty at night.
The next day, I headed out to Canada’s largest city – Toronto. It was about 2 hours away, but I had heard some amazing things about Toronto that I had to check it out. I didn’t have a plan of places to see, but just to absorb the culture of the city. When I got there I decided to check out a little hole in the wall restaurant called New York Subway. I thought it was funny because it was an Indian/Mexican fusion restaurant, both of which have nothing to do with New York.
After lunch, I decided to check out a place I has heard about called Honest Ed’s. It’s supposedly the most popular and well-known store in Quebec, Canada so I wanted to see what it really was like.
Inside the place was….interesting. It has an atmosphere like a garage sale with the merchandice of a low end department store, like Walmart.
There was some pretty crazy things for sale. Anyone want an Elvis bust? They had ’em. Different colors too!
Maybe you really, really like Barak Obama and just have to have him on your tote bag. The only problem is which one to buy.
Ok, so after all that excitement I decided to head to Toronto’s signature attraction, the CN Tower.
If the photo looks familiar, it’s because I took a near-similar one when the trip started in Seattle. Check that out here. Unlike the Seattle Space Needle, the CN tower wanted $27 to go to the top! No thank you. and I know what you’re saying: “But Adam, that Canadian money!” and you’d be right, but the exchange rate was currently so close to the US dollar that they just did an even 1/1 ratio. Too expensive for my blood.
One of the interesting things about Canada that I noticed is that they love their national flag. When I say love, I mean really really love their flag. You see it everywhere: on bumper stickers, at car lots, on restaurant menu’s. Hell, I even saw a cardboard box with shipping tap of the Canadian flag:
The next morning, I woke up early because – well, it was my last day of my trip. I decided to make the best of it by going on the Maid of the Mist boat ride under Niagara Falls. Unfortunately, it was 38 degrees out and I did not want to get wet. So I did the second best thing, head to the Skylon tower that overlooks the falls!
At least the Skylon tower was only $10 as opposed to the CN Tower. Highway robbery, I tell ya. It’s said that the Canadian side of the falls has a much better view then the American side. I found that to be absolutely true, as most of the water falls from the American side, leaving the awesome views to the Canadian side.
I have several more photos of Niagara Falls that I’ll be posting at a later date, along with the rest of my photo collection.
It was almost time to leave, but before I did I had to go back and try fresh buffalo wings from Anchor Bar in Buffalo. The result: it was ok. I mean, don’t get me wrong, they were good but I’ve had buffalo wings just as good at many other places. But hey, at least I’ve tried them. I then headed to the airport to fly back to LA.
And so like that, the 30 days of travel was over. 24 separate flights totaling over 31,000 miles visiting 5 different countries. It was a life-changing journey that I’ll never forget. I’ve met amazing people, seen amazing places and had amazing experiences.
JetBlue, thank you.
So the trip is coming to an end very soon, but before it does I have a few more stops to make. The second to last stop if Ft. Myers, Florida to visit my father.
This is going to be a short entry because, well, I just hung out with my dad the whole time. No beach visits or night life, just some awesome father-son time.
There was one thing….
Every time I visit my father, I always have to go to Skyline Chili. It’s the best chili I’ve ever had, and goes great on a little hot dog or spaghetti! Its a Cincinnati, Ohio based chili company. It’s sweet, made with cinnamon and chocolate, but still slightly spicy. Theres only 4 location in Florida, while the rest are only in Ohio.
And just like that, my time was dad was over and it was off to another destination. Apologies for the short entry! My next and final stop is Niagara Falls!
So after my disastrous trip to Portland, Maine the next stop on my trip was to Washington DC. I got slightly derailed thanks to weather and canceled flights, but that just meant I had to cram what I wanted to do in a shorter amount of time.
I arrived at the hotel a little after noon and had some problems checking in. Since I didn’t check in the night before (flight was canceled) the hotel just deleted my reservation. A little while on the phone and it was fixed….eventually. I threw my stuff in the room and immediately took the Subway to the Smithsonian. Now, I’d never been to the Smithsonian but I was shocked at how big it was! I didn’t have a lot of time since everything closed at 5:30, so I spent most…all of my time at the National Air and Space Museum.
I occupied my time there quite a bit with their little movies and hands-on exhibits. I read a lot of about the airline industry, how it flourished in the 60’s and 70’s with premium service, and how that’s declined into a hated industry today. It was actually pretty interesting stuff. I wish I had much more time to hang out and see other buildings in the Smithsonian, like this one just called “The Castle”:
It was a pretty dreary day with all the rain and wind from the storm that was still hanging around the east coast. The Smithsonian closed at 5:30, but I had booked an evening tour that started at 6:30 that promised to see many Washington DC attractions at night, so back to the hotel to get ready for my next tour!
The bus picked me up right on time at 6:30 and I joined a bunch of other (older) people for an after dark look at some of the most popular tourist attractions around DC. First was the Capital building:
Next was the white house:
The Washington Monument:
I have a bunch more photos from Washington DC but you’re going to have to wait until I make my major photo post in a few weeks. I promise, I have hundreds from this trip thus far!
The next morning, I had breakfast with an old friend of high school, Jessica! It was great seeing her and catching up. One of the main reasons I did this trip was because it gave me a chance to see and catchup with friends who I haven’t had the chance to see in a while.
After breakfast it was off to my next destination: Ft. Myers, Florida! Why Ft. Myers? I guess you’ll have to read my next update!
Costa Rica was great, but it was now time for a little change of pace: a lobster lunch in Portland, Maine. Yes, I said lunch because I setup my flights to arrive at 11AM and leave at 3:30PM, just enough time for a nice lobster lunch. Mother nature, however, had a different plan for me.
While I was in Costa Rica, a small tropical storm has formed just south of Florida. It had made its way up the east coast and eventually to Portland, Maine, that’s the backstory.
When I landed in Maine, I got a phone call from JetBlue telling me my afternoon flight was cancelled.
They said that New York was expecting bad weather and it was a precaution. The earliest they could get me out was at 3:30PM the next day. This was unacceptable to me because I was set to go to Washington DC by the end of the night and I had already paid for my hotel room, so I started looking for a flight from another airline. I thought to myself, “all you need to go is get to New York, and you can make your connecting flight to DC” so I bought a flight from US Air that was scheduled to leave around the same time as my cancelled flight. All I can do was hope.
With my entire evening resting in the hands of fate, I took a taxi to the wharf district of Portland to get some fresh steamed lobster. I had done a lot of research on where to go, and I decided on a local’s hang out place called The Porthole.
I sat down and ordered their 1.5 pound steamer.
I finished every last bit of it, but I was still hungry. The server asked if I wanted anything else, so I said “Hell, bring me another lobster!” Hey, you only live once.
After lunch I took a taxi back to the airport where I saw my new US Air flight was delayed 15 minutes. Ok, I can deal with that. Well, over the next several hours the US Air flight kept getting progressively more delayed until it was ultimately cancelled. *sigh* My grand master plan of trying to make it to Washing DC by nightfall had failed.
Luckily the US Air flight was canceled due to a mechanical, which means the airline is forced to put me up in a hotel and give me food vouchers. What did I buy with the food vouchers?
Two more lobsters! That brings my grand total of lobsters to 4 for the day. Four lobsters is not too shabby if I do say so myself.
I left at 6:45AM the next morning to continue my journey. Sure I had a little bit of a hiccup in my schedule, but I realized that I hadn’t had a problem up until now, so I considered myself lucky. Next up, Washington DC!