In which we see the world and all the wondrous creatures therein. And probably get lost a lot.

Watch this space for pictures, video, and updates!

The album was getting too big, so additional albums are posted at the bottom of the blog - hopefully I'll have everything labeled within a couple of months.

Click on the slideshow pictures to reach the album links for larger views.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Five and Counting...

I'm trying to give up procrastinating for Lent.

I know what you're thinking, but blogs don't count.  In fact, actually following my Lenten plan means I'm writing more, not less.  Anyway, we're just under five weeks out from a trip to one of the most Catholic countries in the world - we're actually going to be there Easter Week, which should be interesting.  The last time I was in Europe this time of year was Italy the year Steven Spielberg won the Oscar for Schindler's List.  That was back when the Academy used to hold the Oscars on a reasonable late-March date - now they just try to get through them as quickly as possible.  Anyway, I was a senior in high school, in Venice on Palm Sunday.  It's a beautiful city, but my overwhelming memories are of huge crowds and pigeons.  And huge crowds of pigeons. I imagine that Ireland during Easter Week will have a similar amount of hoopla, though maybe not quite so many birds.

One of the things the interwebs advised us of is to book an actual hotel with a restaurant on Good Friday - it's illegal to serve alcohol in Ireland that day.  Not just a certain city or a common practice, but actually illegal across the whole country.  Not that this trip is going to be a drunken spree, but no alcohol means most pubs and restaurants don't bother opening at all, especially in the smaller towns.  And so we booked a very nice hotel in Kilkenny with its own restaurant.

Aside from a few purchases to make over the next month and funds to acquire, we're all set - flights, car, and hotels are booked.  The Ireland route is sort of mapped...bring on the wrong turns and faulty GPS directions! I've now seen way too many videos of cars getting ambushed by sheep.

And now, announcing...

The SECOND half of the trip.  It was originally an afterthought, because, not being a lottery winner, I don't usually gallivant around Europe for weeks on end.  However, my big brother happens to be living in Austria at the moment, and it seemed like a good plan to go visit.  Here I have to pause and explain the extreme wanderlust that holds my family in an iron grip - we love to travel, anytime, anyplace.  At any given time, we're scattered across the globe.  Dad's been more places than all the rest put together, but of the younger generation, my brother is currently winning - grrrr....  How could I pass up the chance to add four new countries to my list?  This is a competition!  May the best Siri win!

Nine days in Ireland, eight days in Austria, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.  And then I come back to L.A. and spend the rest of the year dining on ramen and tuna blissfully paying off this trip.  But oh, will it be worth it.

Next up, travel essentials for the mildly spoiled tourist.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

So Accommodating!

The guys and I spent a couple of hours booking Ireland accommodations tonight.  It's an interesting mix of boutique hotels and tiny family-run places all over Ireland and Northern Ireland. I'm shocked at how easy it was to find places - Ireland is famous for its B&B hospitality, but it's always a little worrisome booking hotels in another country.  How did we survive before online reviews???

Anyway, we wanted clean and comfortable, not too pricey, and I wanted to be close to the center of town - unlike Los Angeles, which is a haphazard collection of neighborhoods, many of these small towns actually have a city center of some sort.  We also decided to stay away from hotel chains, with the exception of our last night in Dublin, when we just need someplace close to the airport.  Somehow it seems wrong to spend the days exploring eight-hundred-year-old churches and six-hundred foot cliffs and then spend the nights at a series of Holiday Inns.

I think we chose well - good reviews, good prices, and some of our hotels are downright picturesque.

Next on my list - finding a hotel for a night in Salzburg for later in the trip, and looking at train tickets.

Oh, planning is such fun.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Six Weeks!

In just under six weeks, we'll be taking off on our first adventure!  First destination?


I am beyond excited.

This time around, I'm traveling with my friends Jason, Jim, Greg, and hopefully Elisabeth, if she can find a way to hop across from the UK.  Right now we're in the crazed planning stages, where I try to figure out everything from waterproof rain gear to crucial electronics.  At least we all have plane tickets, and after this weekend, we'll have hotels and local transportation sorted out as well.  The route I've mapped out is ambitious, but it's got a little bit of everything - castles, neolithic passage tombs, five-hundred year old whiskey distilleries, high cliffs and strange rock formations, pubs and small towns and scenic routes.  And sheep.  Naturally.

The second half of the trip is completely different, but more on that later.