Posts categorized “Travel”.

The day we were left alone in the Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

If you’ve ever been to the Palace of Versailles, you know what a tourist attraction it is. If you’ve never been, take my word for it. Even on a cloudy, drizzly winter day like yesterday, when the park and gardens were closed and only the palace itself was open to the public, there were dozens of tour buses parked in front of the palace. Getting a photo without other people in it is nearly impossible. So it was somewhat remarkable that, for a few brief moments, Kathryn and I ended up in the Hall of Mirrors, the highlight of the tour, by ourselves. Here’s how it happened. Hall of Mirrors at Versailles

Regional words and fat Frenchmen

It turns out that Angelina, the venerable tea room on rue de Rivoli in Paris, has an outpost at the Palace of Versailles. Kathryn and I found ourselves there earlier today, enjoying a snack of chocolat chaud africain before finishing our tour of the museum. We were in the tea room all alone — more on why we were alone in a future post — and we had just ordered. As usual, Kathryn let me do the ordering. I think she likes to hear me speak French, even though my French sucks. More… »

Safe arrival in Paris

Kathryn and I have arrived safely in Paris. It was snowing at Charles de Gaulle Airport when we landed, and it’s still snowing in Paris as I write. More to follow later.

Latest adventure underway

Our latest adventure is now underway. The most stress-inducing part of any trip by air for me — the TSA gauntlet — is safely behind us. More… »

Hiking along Horton Creek Trail

Last weekend, Kathryn and I decided to take a break from our usual summer routine of doing absolutely nothing in the sweltering Phoenix heat. Instead, we made a day trip to the slightly cooler Payson area to do some hiking along Horton Creek, just under the Mogollon Rim in Tonto National Forest. Hiking at Horton Creek near Payson

Another Las Vegas road trip

Another road trip to Las Vegas gets underway in just a few hours. We’re going to try some new places to eat this weekend, and we’ll return to some old favorites too. As always, you’ll find updates and maybe even a few photos here.

Southwest go-around

I’ve never been on a commercial flight that’s had to make a go-around, so it was fun to watch a Southwest flight do one at Phoenix Sky Harbor airport a few minutes ago. I’m sure it was a lot less fun for those aboard. Go-around at Phoenix Sky Harbor

Mother’s Day recognition

I don’t often use my blog to pimp other blogs, but today is Mother’s Day here in the U.S., and we all make exceptions for our moms, right? Recognizing my mom's blog

Reflections from the friendly skies

Although I usually bring a computer with me when I travel, I generally don’t use it when I’m on an airplane. Since I can read what’s on everyone else’s laptop, I know they can read whatever’s on mine. I value my privacy. I prefer to pull out a paper notebook and a pen and write in cursive. Even someone sitting next to me would have to strain to decipher that. Reflections on flying

Rental car nightmare

Yesterday may have been my worst day of travel ever, at least in terms of what went wrong. Still, it wasn’t all that bad. Car rental gone bad

Observations from Sky Harbor

I recently uninstalled all the social networking apps from my mobile phone, so I’ll make my pithy observations here on the blog. The following are a few of my thoughts from Sky Harbor airport in Phoenix. Pithy observations from Sky Harbor

When a flight delay works in your favor

Flight delays are an inevitable part of air travel. Sometimes, though, they work out in your favor. Flight delay at Sky Harbor

Florida bound later this week

Kathryn and I are bound for Florida later this week. We’ll be spending four nights with Kathryn’s aunt in a beachside condo about halfway between Vero Beach and Fort Pierce. I’m hoping to spend the time relaxing, although it remains to be seen whether that will happen. Long weekend in Florida

Baby’s first bath

This was one of my favorite photos from our trip to Europe in 2007. It was taken at a rest area, just off the autobahn in Austria. View photo

My first sports wager

I placed my first-ever sports wager while I was in Las Vegas last Sunday. I was getting ready to watch the AFC Championship Game in a casino bar, conveniently located about a hundred feet from the sports book. It seemed like the thing to do. Sports betting in Las Vegas

Odd start to the day in Las Vegas

Our room has a view of the mountains to the west of Las Vegas. We arrived after dark last night, so we couldn’t see them then. Odd start in Las Vegas

Safe arrival in Las Vegas

It turns out people use this blog to check in on us when we travel. Kathryn and I hadn’t yet made it to Kingman when she received a text message from a concerned friend wondering if we were okay. Safely arrived in Las Vegas

Going places: January edition

Well, folks, I’ve had a good, long two-week rest from my blog. It’s time to sit down and catch you up on where I’m going and what I’m doing. For your reading pleasure, here’s the latest installment of my not-quite-monthly “going places” series. Going places, January 2012

Two easy ways to see the Pope in Rome

There are two easy ways to see the Pope when you’re in Rome. Kathryn and I were able to see him both ways during our visit to Rome earlier this year. As long as the Pope isn’t away from the city for his vacation or for an apostolic visit, you should be able to see him too. See the Pope in Rome

More photos from Shaw Butte

Not a lot of words in this blog post. Just some photos from a recent hike at Shaw Butte. The hike was later in the morning than usual. The sun was bright, which put me in a black-and-white mood. Late morning photos from Shaw Butte

Smog cloud over Phoenix

During a hike last weekend at Shaw Butte, I pointed my camera south and took a picture of downtown Phoenix under a thick layer of smog. I converted the photo to black-and-white to bring out the detail of the buildings. Brown cloud choking Phoenix

Last day in Las Vegas

It turns out I didn’t get the sunrise photos I wanted on our last day in Las Vegas. It was raining when the sun came up and still raining when we left the hotel, although the rain let up early in the morning. However, we did find a decent donut shop, found a beautiful Sunday Mass, and had lunch with our friend Kerrie, with whom we couldn’t seem to connect Friday evening. Leaving Las Vegas

Eating and relaxing in Las Vegas

Our weekend trips to Las Vegas tend to be busy. We usually cram everything we possibly can into the less-than-48 hours we’ll be here. Sleep comes only out of necessity. So it’s a little weird that I’m starting a new post at 6:20 am, after getting a full night’s sleep and then some. I think we were in bed by 9 pm. That’s pretty lame. Keeping it relaxed in Las Vegas

New day in Las Vegas

It’s just after dawn here in Las Vegas. I’ve been awake for an hour or so, and I’m working on my second cup of shitty in-room coffee. Our room at the Orleans has a view of the Strip. Since we’re west of the Strip, I’ve been watching the sun rise over Luxor, Mandalay Bay, and the McCarran airport. Fresh start in Las Vegas

Las Vegas road trip status update

The status of this weekend’s road trip to Las Vegas is now unambiguous. Kathryn’s doctor this morning ordered her to spend the weekend in Las Vegas. Sweet! I’ll submit a health insurance claim when we get home. Road trip to Las Vegas

Road trip to Las Vegas appears to be happening

It’s been touch and go this week.

Kathryn and I have a tradition of road tripping to Las Vegas the weekend before Christmas. We’ve been doing it since 2007.

However, since last weekend, the trip has been growing increasingly uncertain. A certain family health issue — I don’t want to elaborate right now — has been threatening to interfere with the trip. Road trip to Las Vegas

Kuba Kuba in Richmond

Kuba Kuba is a restaurant that left an impression on me when I lived in Richmond, despite having eaten there only a few times. It was high on my list of places to visit during our recent stay. Kuba Kuba in Richmond

Is my wife sexier now that she’s Silver Preferred?

When Kathryn boarded the Charlotte-to-Phoenix leg of our return trip from Richmond, she was already an attractive woman. By the time we landed, though, something had changed. She seemed even sexier. More radiant. Wife upgraded

Richmond, Virginia: Cathedral of the Sacred Heart

When I lived in Richmond, I wasn’t much of a church-goer. In the three years I lived there, I can count the number of times I attended Mass on one hand. Zero. Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Richmond

Richmond, Virginia: Splurge at the Jefferson Hotel

I don’t often splurge on hotels. It just seems like a poor use of my travel budget. As long as a room is reasonably clean, reasonably located, and reasonably priced, I’m happy. It’s rare that I spend more than $100 a night for a room in all but the world’s most expensive cities. In the United States, the major three-star chains are more than adequate. Jefferson Hotel in Richmond

I usually pack shoelaces

I like to travel light. The easiest way to travel light is to limit the amount of footwear I pack. I typically travel with at most two sets of footwear. More often than not, it’s just the one set I’m wearing when I leave the house. This one set of footwear is often a pair of well worn hiking shoes. If any part of such shoes is going to fail, it’s most likely the laces. I’ve found this out the hard way. Why you should pack shoelaces

Bottoms Up Pizza

When Kathryn and I arrived in Richmond last Saturday, we were hungry. Food on the plane is a ripoff nowadays, and our layover in Charlotte was too short to grab a meal. After we picked up our bag and rental car, we drove straight to Bottoms Up Pizza. Bottoms Up Pizza in Richmond

Seeing Virginia again for the first time

Kathryn and I recently returned from a long weekend in Virginia. I lived in several cities in Virginia for a total of about 13 years. Kathryn had never seen Virginia at all. We felt it was important to make sure the trip was new for both of us. In view of that, I’ve created the following list of things we did for the first time together. More… »

Going places: November edition

I’m writing this installment of Going places from home on a Sunday evening. That’s a bit unusual. More… »

Puerto Vallarta: Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe

The Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe is perhaps the most photographed building in Puerto Vallarta. It’s located in the heart of the city center. We decided to go there for Sunday Mass during our stay. Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta: Running the gauntlet at the airport

Prior to our recent trip to Puerto Vallarta, I hadn’t arrived in Mexico by air since a 1989 vacation to Ixtapa with my parents. So, in stark contrast to my previous experience, I was pleasantly surprised to see Puerto Vallarta has a clean, modern international airport terminal. Complete with air-conditioned jetways, no less. Timeshare gauntlet at the airport in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta: Getting around by bus

Kathryn and I recently spent seven days in Puerto Vallarta. Other than the rides between the airport and our resort, we did not use a taxi once. All our travel around Puerto Vallarta and the surrounding areas was on the local buses. Riding the bus in Puerto Vallarta

Safely home from Mexico

Kathryn and I arrived home safely from Mexico yesterday evening. I’ll continue posting updates until I’ve run out of stories from the trip. More photos are coming too.

Puerto Vallarta: Day trip to Sayulita

An update from Puerto Vallarta on Friday, morning in Mexico.

Kathryn and I decided to take a day trip yesterday to Sayulita, a village on a small bay some distance north of Puerto Vallarta. We traveled there by bus, one of the ones the locals use. I’m not sure how long the ride was, maybe a bit over an hour. The trip there and back only set us back 100 pesos for the two of us, so it was a cheap excursion, at least for the transportation. It was a different look at Mexico and an interesting change of pace from Puerto Vallarta. Day trip by bus to Sayulita

Puerto Vallarta: Much ado about nothing

An update from Puerto Vallarta on Wednesday, dinner time in Mexico.

Well, after all the preparations, Hurricane Juvo was a bust. Kathryn got some internet time today to track the storm. It has already passed us and has been downgraded to a tropical depression. The employees of the resort, who just this morning were bracing for the worst, have already brought back the chairs and umbrellas around the pool area, and it looks like dinner service will take place by the ocean as normal. Hurricane Juvo downgraded

Puerto Vallarta: Still awaiting Juvo

An update from Puerto Vallarta, Wednesday morning in Mexico.

We’ve been gearing up for Hurricane Juvo since Monday, but it’s taking its sweet time getting here. When we left the U.S. on Saturday, it was forecast to hit Puerto Vallarta directly Monday evening. Hurricanes are unpredictable though. The latest report is it’ll come ashore as a category-three hurricane much further south in the state of Jalisco, then follow the coast north toward us, probably having weakened to a tropical storm by then. That should happen this evening. Gearing up for Hurricane Juvo

Puerto Vallarta: Weathering the storm

An update from our vacation in Mexico, Monday noon.

We knew before we left the States that a hurricane was looming off the Pacific coast, and the forecasts at the end of last week were that the eye would pass over Puerto Vallarta this afternoon. We can’t seem to find a weather report on the television, but folks we’ve talked to seem to think the storm is now tracking south of here. More… »

Going places: October edition

Out of an abundance of caution, I’ve declined in years past to divulge the details of upcoming travels. Unfortunately, being too tight-lipped has caused me to miss some opportunities, like meeting up with friends traveling to the same places. So I’m going to open up a little and provide an overview of the plans Kathryn and I have for the next few months: More… »

Confession at St. Peter’s Basilica

During our trip to Rome earlier this year, Kathryn and I recognized how long it had been since we’d last received the Sacrament of Reconciliation, or Confession, or Penance, or whatever the Church is calling it this year. Far too long. The gift of the Holy Father’s blessing at the General Audience earlier in the week, and the possibility we would receive it again after praying the Angelus on Sunday, increased our desire to receive the sacrament as soon as possible. Confessing sins at St. Peter's Basilica

The opposite of a travel photo

What’s the opposite of a travel photo? A photo you take while sitting at home in front of your computer. I captured this sunrise over Phoenix this morning by rotating my swivel chair 90 degrees to the right. More… »

Incomparable sunrise at Shaw Butte

It was another beautiful morning in Phoenix. I arrived at the trailhead for the Loop at Shaw Butte at 5:48 am, and the temperature was 68 degrees. More… »

Favorite Phoenix urban hikes: The Loop at Shaw Butte

This summer was one of the hottest on record in Phoenix. When enduring the scorching heat of June, July, August, and even into early September in the Valley of the Sun, it can be easy to forget what’s here to enjoy the rest of the year. Fortunately, mid-September rolls around every year and reminds us we have eight to nine months of nearly endless outdoor possibilities in front of us. Hiking at Shaw Butte in Phoenix

Germany: Any reason to celebrate in Monheim am Rhein, Cologne, and Düsseldorf

I arrived in Paris six days ago and spent a couple nights there. I didn’t do much in Paris that I haven’t done before. Mostly, I just enjoyed being there, sitting in cafes, walking through parks, and so forth. The only new thing I really saw was the museum of the police prefecture, which actually I didn’t find very interesting, aside from an exhibit of some of the firearms used during the Liberation.

I left Friday morning by train for Cologne, Germany, where I planned to visit a friend of mine, Christian, who lives near there. I had planned to spend the morning in Paris, but after speaking to Christian by phone, it seemed like it would work out better with his schedule if I arrived in the mid-afternoon. The rail line between in Paris and Cologne is a mostly high-speed line called Thalys, so the trip took less than four hours, with only a few intermediate stops. More… »

Mission San Xavier del Bac: White Dove of the Desert, Tucson

During our recent weekend trip to Tucson, Kathryn and I took an opportunity to visit Mission San Xavier del Bac, just outside the city. As luck would have it, there was a Mass scheduled there Saturday morning. It was to celebrate the 366th birthday of Fr. Eusebio Kino, the Jesuit priest who founded the mission way back in 1692. So we made sure to schedule our visit to coincide. Mission San Xavier del Bac near Tucson

Sonoran hot dogs at El Guero Canelo in Tucson

A couple years ago on one of my other blogs, I wrote about my first experience eating Sonoran hot dogs in Phoenix. I had first read about Sonoran hot dogs in an in-flight magazine on US Airways, but the article was about Tucson, not Phoenix. Since then, I’ve been looking forward to an authentic Sonoran hot dog in Tucson. The time arrived on a recent weekend trip. El Guero Canelo, Sonoran hot dogs in Tucson