24 September 2009

Save or Splurge? HAHA

I am leaving for vacation in approximately 1 week and 1 day (and 16 hours, give or take...not that I'm counting). So I am slowly starting to check out of work I need to do here and drift into the la-la-land of what I get to do when not at home.

In doing my research, I thought I hit the jackpot with the NY Times..."Save or Splurge, Amsterdam." Score! Or so I thought...

It bears repeating that I am a budget traveler. While I don't scrimp by any means -- I don't really give a rats to dumpster dive, sleep on a park bench, beg just to stay somewhere an extra day -- I do like to cut costs where possible so I can splurge on other things, like museums, nerdy tours, food, alcohol, etc. Largely this means cutting costs in a place to stay, but since I am not there too much, I am ok with that.

Ok, with that said, I was pretty excited to delve into this article. Yes, please tell me how to enjoy my trip without spending an arm and a leg!

I should have known better. I mean, the NYT's "frugal traveler" is anything but (unless you're a DINK, or independently wealthy), so I should have figured that "save" by their definition wasn't going to be anything close to mine.

Yes, I was naive...and hopeful. Imagine my surprise when the "Save" was 250$, and the "Splurge" was 1000$/day. WTF?! (please introduce me to the person who has 1000$/day to spend on vacation, just so I can convince them to let me live their vacation life for one day)

Most of my trips in the past few years have averaged about 100-120$/day, if that. This is with private rooms (some with shared baths)...our trip to Italy may have been a bit more, but not much.

The article actually comes in at a little less than 200$, but that still seems like a lot to me. It misses the fun experience of trying to figure out foreign grocery stores (what, fruit all wrapped up? no liquor? milk not refrigerated?), and experiencing a bit of the local environment. It misses just wandering around with no real purpose, which to me is always a highlight of my trip.

Everyone has their own way of traveling, and to some, this may be the perfect way. I was just rather disappointed that "Save" could have gone so much further (and got me thinking...250$ is like 3-5 days in many awesome places in Asia).

Back to daydreaming...

18 September 2009

Three More Weeks!!!

In just 3 weeks, I will be seeing my amigas muchas and celebrating with them in Copenhagen/Malmo. I am so excited...It still amazes me that we've been able to keep in touch all these years. The Internet was in an infant stage when we all met; I believe Yahoo! Messenger was introduced not too long before we were together in Spain, and we'd pick a time once a week or so and have a big group chat. That stopped working...then emails got a little more sporadic. We met again at Pernilla's wedding (she's the blondie), and then on Facebook, where we planned the reunion we had last year.

And I am lucky enough to get to see them again this year!! Hooray!

17 September 2009

May the Watermelons be Plenty

Amidst all the news of Kanye dissing Taylor Swift (which, yes, it was rude, it should not start WWIII...Kanye has been an idiot for a while, his music pretty much rocks so let's move on) came news that Patrick Swayze had lost his battle with cancer.

And, this may sound weird, but it kind of gave me hope.

My grandmama died of pancreatic cancer in 1995. It is an ugly cancer, and took her about 6 months after she was diagnosed. They tried a round of treatment, but it was worse than the cancer. Soon after, my Aunt Helen was also diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. She lived a year or so after diagnosis, and had a fairly decent quality of life. We even got to have a celebration of her life while she was still alive, which was a great tribute to her.

Swayze fought the good fight for 2 years. While the pictures show him having lost a lot of weight, he was still acting until not too long ago, which means his quality of life wasn't too bad. To me, this means that the medications have gotten better, that they have been able to tune the treatment in a way that the patients can live longer and feel better.

And this gives me hope, that while we may not cure cancer, treatments will continue to improve, and the quality of life for those fighting the disease. RIP Swayze.

15 September 2009

The Text Generation

Recently, a group of friends, representing the X and Y and possibly Millennium generations, were talking. When we (the X gen-ers) told one of them that she would be Y/Millennium...she got offended. She said she didn't want to be associated with those "texters" and stuff...

And I, as part of the Slacker Gen-X, wondered why.

I think texting, along with many other advancements that have happened in my lifetime (see: proliferation of the interwebs, MP3 players, TiVo), is the bees knees. Perhaps it is because it is so common to her generation that it is passe. And to me, it is still a novelty. I dunno.

But I love it.

I barely talk on the phone. I maybe get 3 calls a week, mostly from my brother or mom or maybe a friend who is driving in a car. I would rather text or talk in person . Since the latter isn't always possible, texting it is! (I will admit, though, sometimes a call is a nice surprise!)

I don't know why, it just seems so much easier to me. I feel like I can get so much more done, and then I can more easily remember what people are telling me.

Perhaps this is "typical" of Gen-X...according to everything we heard growing up, we like things the easy way;-).

11 September 2009

Kindness of Strangers

The anniversary of 9.11 always makes me a little introspective.

Yesterday my friend was talking about a friend of hers who was assaulted, and no one around helped. And this, plus Operation Find Don, got me thinking...I have been pretty lucky throughout my life, and greatly benefited from the kindness of strangers.

While I am sure there are more, the first one I remember is when I got mugged in Sevilla. As the person who grabbed my wrist from behind dragged me for a while ran away, two people, a couple, immediately ran to my aid. I don't think they ran after the guy, but they stayed with me to make sure I was ok, and walked me over to the police station, staying with me until I was settled. These folks took time out of their day to help me...

More recently, I was walking Luca and there was a pit bull tied up outside a shop. I trust that owners don't leave vicious dogs unattended, naive perhaps, but usually I am right. This particular dog didn't look to scary, but he was definitely eyeing Luca from the moment we came around the corner, and while I tried to steer clear, the dog broke free from where he was tied and rushed at me. I struggled with my dog, while this pitty was jumping on top of me. A man who had come out of the coffeeshop saw this occurring ran over to get the dog off of me, while a woman ran in to get the dog's owner. They could have just left me there, but didn't.

From a more broad perspective, there are men and women doing their job every day to keep me safe. And while I may not agree with the reasoning, the fact is they are doing their job as best they can. And for this, I thank them.

01 September 2009

Things I Learned this Weekend...

So, after trying several times, I figured it out...I cannot get through a Jane Austen book. I have started two in the past week, and with both, after about 5 pages, I had to put it down.

I love the movies I've seen of her books -- Emma, Pride & Prejudice -- and those based on her books -- Clueless, Bridget Jones' Diary...but can't get through the books. I've always felt it was something lacking in my book reading history, but now I am over it.

BTW...Jane Austen's Book Club and Becoming Jane should have warned me off...those movies were terrible.