Friday, June 27, 2008
Thursday, June 26, 2008
Sunday, June 22, 2008
Here is a copy of the hotel review I mentioned in my previous post...
We stayed at this hotel twice, before and after a trip in the Galapagos. The price was great, and the hotel was simple and clean. The decor was all over the place--but they were trying, and it was nice (and a little tacky), somehow it reminded me of a European hotel.
The front desk staff was really nice and most spoke English. I felt they were also quite honest and even frank with us when we asked about places to eat or the area. One night when going just around the corner to eat (at Spaghetti's or Metro Cafe, I believe it was called) the front desk attendant told us that unless we were going in a large group, it may be best to take a cab. (If you've done your Quito research, you will find that most parts of Quito's New Town are not quite safe to walk alone at night). We ended up going in a group, and we were fine, and I felt safe. I felt quite safe at the hotel as well (The hotel has a front gate that locks, a security guard 24/7, and the hotel's front door was locked at night--when returning at night you had to ring the bell to get in).
When going out, the front desk would gladly hold your room key there so that you didn't have to bring it along--or risk losing it, which I thought was great.
We actually stayed in 2 different rooms, both on the 3rd floor. The first time we were there we had a simple room, bed, chair, large closet, TV (with cable, and some English stations). The shower was luke-warm and had a lot of pressure.
The next time we stayed there we were in another room, which was right next door to our previous room, but was nicer. It was bigger, with larger windows. The bathroom was also bigger, and warm, and was a shower only, no tub.
The noise from the street can be a bit much, I'm not sure they have rooms away from the street, but it could be worth asking for. Seriously.
The cafe/bar was nice, we ate breakfast (which was included for us) there, fruit, fresh juice, bread, etc. (We are vegetarians, so that it what we ate, others had eggs and meat). We were also able to get drinks/beer from the bar quite easily.
There was free internet also, though it was quite slow.
Overall, we enjoyed our stay.
- My ratings for this hotel are:
- Check in / front desk
Saturday, June 21, 2008
After all this internet searching and review reading I decided that perhaps my next getaway should be planned the way we planned trips in the "old days" by calling the hotel's 800 number or calling the hotel (or campground as the case may be) directly. (But, seriously, I'm not that old!)
I remember one roadtrip in 1998 me and 4 friends took a winterbreak roadtrip from Chicago to NYC then down the coast to Florida, over to New Orleans and back to Chicago...I definately didn't search online for hotels or reviews then. For our stay in New York City I used a borrowed travel guide and called a (dingy) hotel, (in *gasp* New Jersey--but we were 4 college kids with no money, so that had to do). We really knew nothing about the hotel until we got there. And, getting there was quite the adventure. No one had a GPS or google maps, we used a well-worn atlas to get around the east coast. It was fantastic.
Another time we drove from Columbia, Missouri to Atlanta, Georgia with the same old atlas and a vague destination (a campground outside Atlanta) ahead. We didn't plan our timing very well, and arrived there at about 3am, when the campground office was closed. So, there we slept, (for free!) in the car 3 feet from the office door. We awoke to the campground owner knocking on the window.
So, maybe the next trip I go on will be "old school," no TripAdvisor, no MapQuest, no Google. Just an atlas and a sense of adventure.
Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
From the Archive:
"Travel journals, what can’t you use them for? I am a big fan of little notebooks and have tried all kinds, spiral bound, waterproof, handmade, etc. I use them even when not traveling. When I am traveling I use my journal to jot down ideas or thoughts I don’t want to forget; I use it as a memory book or diary, sketch pad, address book, scrapbook, and photo album. They are perfect for slipping that beautiful postcard or bar napkin into. When you make new friends while traveling you can have them write their info into it and even show-off the pictures of your home, friends and family that you have tucked in there. Sometimes the best souvenirs or mementos I have from trips are the journals I kept. It’s amazing to go back years later and review your actual thoughts and feelings word for word rather than just through pictures.
(This tutorial is adapted from a post I found on Craftster a few years ago).
-thin cardboard (2 pieces large enough to be the front and back covers of your book)
-hair band/ponytail-holder/rubber band
-1 chopstick or kebab skewer
-utility scissors, small saw, or steak knife
-any collage materials or paints you chose to use to decorate the book’s cover (optional)
chopstick through one of the loops and string the (hole-punched) paper onto the other loop. I think it’s best to do this a few sheets at a time, then slip the chopstick out and into the loop with the paper, and slide the other hair-band loop through the other hole. Continue this until all the paper is on both loops.
-use ribbon, rope, or hemp to secure the binding rather than a ponytail holder.
-paint the chopstick, or use part of a pencil or twig instead
-paint the cover rather than collage
-seal your cover’s collage or paint job with Modge-Podge or a clear finishing
-glue an envelope into the front of back cover so that you have a place to store any papers or ticket stubs you’d like to keep from your travels
-buy a small set of watercolor paints (one of those cheap plastic sets for kids that usually have about 3 colors and a paintbrush that’s about 2” long) to paint any unforgettable moments. (You could also get a small pack of crayons).
-glue a small flat mirror (usually available at craft stores) and/or a nail file to the back cover of your journal, “just in case.” Your travel journal can become more of a “Swiss Army Journal.”
-reinforce the covers with clear contact paper
-if you come up with any other awesome ideas, please share them with me!
Sunday, June 15, 2008
Yes, I know the weekend is not over yet...
but I have had quite a productive few days. Aside from trying to find a beer that I don't like and standing in line for an hour at BWI Airport (long story, and I didn't even board a plane!) I made a heap of fun new bracelets with ribbon, gemstones, sequins, and thread. I even added new items (supplies) to my PinkBird Etsy Shop. I also found time to make a few new (one of a kind) pieces for my PinkBird Creations store.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
1. This is not so much a tip as a rant...I'm really sad that a number of airlines are now choosing to charge passengers for their first checked bag (and I thought charging for the second bag was crazy, yeah I know--the heavier the plane, the more fuel it uses, etc. etc) so I think, do whatever you can to carry on your luggage! I used to do this all the time, until the airlines started cracking down and then there's the whole "no liquids" thing. I doubt that charging people per bag will make airline ticket prices decrease, so head over to OneBag for great packing tips to get all your stuff into one bag, which hopefully you can carry on! (Edited to add: what if they gave you a discount for a light bag? Or only charged for the first bag if it was over a certain weight?)
2. I love carabiners (D-ring) and ball-chain key chains! i use them to secure the zippers my day pack or carry-on bags. Sometimes if I just throw all my stuff into my backpack the weight is off balance and the bag will begin to unzip, so I just clip the zippers together to avoid that. Plus, I figure that hopefully if someone is trying to sneak into my bag, I'd feel them fiddling with the ball-chain key chain or carabiner before they got too far. I also use them to hang random things that may not fit into my bag or that should not be in my bag--like muddy shoes, water bottles, jackets, etc. (Funny side note: an Australian women I met in Ecuador asked me about the carabiner on my bag, saying it's a good idea, then said that it "must be an American thing" because she'd never seen them before).
3. I always pack extra safety pins--in a variety of sizes. You just never know what things could break, rip, or just need to be held together. On a recent trip, one of the The Guy's backpack's zipper pulls was ripped off in transit (so sad) and a large safety pin helped.
4. I'm really not paranoid nor do I think people are all out to steal my stuff...but....Get a luggage lock for your bag--both regular and one with a stainless steel cable, (something like this). Seems simple enough, but these days with all the TSA stuff, a lot of people travel without locking their bags (as I do all the time, actually). But, if you're not sure about the security of a hotel or hostel, or are traveling with valuables that you want to leave in your room (or if you have to pay to rent the room's safe) lock them inside your bag. Sure, you could just use your luggage lock, but I like the added security of a small lock with steel cable that easily loops through zippers and the slats of a chair, table or other room fixture. No one can take your locked bag if it's securely tied down (of course, make sure it's not locked to something that can easily be removed!). Having a cable lock also helps for lockers too, since it's flexible. (Also, don't forget about bags that are slash-proof, with steel wire inside the fabric, or steel mesh backpack locks that cover your entire bag!)
5. I've said this before, but it's worth repeating....whether you're on a road trip, holiday, or international trip, please don't forget your sense of humor and kindness. Yes, gas prices are high, yes, immigration lines are long, yes, trains get delayed, but don't let it ruin your trip. While bearing in mind cultural differences, the Golden Rule may seem cliche but, "treating others as you'd like to be treated," can go along way while traveling.
For more PinkBird's Travel Pointers, click here.
Friday, June 13, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
The other day I got this really cute sundress. But, before the tags were even off, I was stitching on sequins and embroidering some vines onto it. (Since, I felt like it needed some green in it). It only took a few minutes too. Now this dress is a one-of-a-kind! (Sorry, no finished product pictures yet!)