I made it! 21 flights over 30 days covering 19,200 miles in 3 countries and 8 states!! 84 in-flight free snacks and drinks, 9 free checked bags, dozens of hours of Bravo TV entertainment and the Jet-A-Thon has come to an end. We will be running the final tally with BBBS of New York this week so if you would still like to make a donation to help sponsor a match, please go to the "Jet-A-Thon" link at www.AmazingTravelConcierge.com!!
Thanks for all of your support!!
As i walked up to my hotel at sunset on Ceasar Chavez street I noticed a crowd of people gathering on the South Congress Ave bridge next to the hotel. I had read something about this nightly gathering and was delighted to realize I had arrived at the perfect time to witness the "flying of the bats" which take flight every night at dusk from their sleeping quarters upside down under the bridge.
I pulled my suitcase up to spot along the railing- and sure enough as the sky grew dark, an unending stream of 1.5 million bats pourred out from under the bridge into the night sky for their dinner of insects and moths.
This was my greeting in Austin, where the best selling souvenir is a t shirt that declares "KEEP AUSTIN WEIRD"
As the capital of both Texas and live music, it is quite a unique little city where everywhere you walk you can hear live bands!
October is the perfect time to visit Texas because the weather has cooled down to a chilly 84 degrees with bright blue skies and no clouds anywhere. I'm here visiting my cousins who have temporarily relocated to the Lone Star State for a residency. Did you know that the enourmous medical center complex/mini-city in Houston has more office space than all of downtown LA?
Im staying just a few blocks from Rice University campus where they have great bars (Like the German Bread Man) where you can still find $3 beers on the menu. Last night we dined on delicious TexMex cuisine and today I'm going to hit up the pool and work on my tan for my sister's wedding this weekend. It's always a good conversation starter when you have a tan in October in NY.
Tonight I'll be heading to another new destination- but I won't be traveling too far...
If Nantucket and Barbados got together and had a baby, it would be Bermnuda. And this love-child kept the best traits from each of its parents: Small pristine island charm of Nantucket void of any bill boards, fast food, or highways. It's like the Tacky Police rule here with a tight fist (I wish i could send them to my parents' house). Then there is the strong British influence and tropical climate and fauna that one would expect in Barbados, as well as the abundant love for any drink that can be made with rum.
I set out today on a rented moped armed with my island map and list of Bermuda's Top 10 Beaches. I covered the entire 22 mile long island from St George's to Somerset and was able to hit up 5 amazing beaches: Tobacco Bay, Elbow Beach, Horseshoe Bay, Shelly Bay, and Grotto Bay- 3 of which are on the top 10. The snorkeling at the undiscovered rock-protected Tobacco Bay made it my favorite stop on the beach tour. There was a steady wind out of the south today making the beaches along the south coast (which are the most popular) rather rough, so the tiny protected coves along the north shore were perfect for today. Water was an ideal 82 degrees and i have plenty of the world famous Bermuda Pink Sand in my pockets as a souvenir. Driving on the left was not nearly as difficult to master as I was expecting, but then again the small 2 lane roads of Bermuda are way easier than the massive traffic circles and motorways of London.
Unfortunatly I have to leave tomorrow, but I should be able to get a full morning of beach time in before heading to the airport. I watched the British Airways 777 flight from London Gatwick land and take off today which was quite neat considering how large the aircraft is at the tiny airport on this miniscule island. That explains why so many of the guests at the hotel have European accents. Not much jersey twang here!
I can honestly say that it was love at first sight when I landed in Bermuda. The water is an astonishing turquoise blue and the pastel houses dot the hills and shoreline while cab drivers and locals sport bermuda shorts with high top black socks.
I spent the afternoon exploring the hotel beach and grounds and even took in a free cocktail and appetizer hour in the lounge which was a welcome surprise- especially since I snagged a room at almost 80% off the usual rate (just $99!!).
The flight took only 1 hour and 40 minutes which was barely enough time to finish Shrek (I love the free movies on jetBlue international flights) and 20 minutes after landing I was changing into my swim suit. Tomorrow I will be renting a moped all day to hit up the 10 best beaches of bermuda and find my favorite!
Top 10 Bermuda beaches Video
NYT Frugal Traveler in Bermuda on the jetBlue pass:
The trip home from Costa Rica was a bit long- 13 hours of travel time in total over 3 flights so I'm very happy to be back in NYC, even if just for 3 days. My connection in orlando was a nightmare- had to go through US immigration which had a massive line. Somehow they didn't seem to be prepared for a Virgin Atlantic A340, Lufthansa 747, and our jetBlue A320 to all be landing at the same time- even though I'm pretty sure they could have looked at any of the arrival screens and seen that! Then I had to grab my luggage and recheck it at an abandoned counter where a janitor told me "don't worry, someone will take care of it". So I said farewell to my luggage, not sure if I'd ever see it again and booked it back through security just in time to catch my flight. I may have cut ahead of a few people but in a crisis anything goes to make a flight ;)
So of course my bag didn't turn up at JFK. I went to the baggage office and the representative typed for 45 minutes frantically just like a scene from Meet The Parents and printed out a receipt and assured me they would find my bag and deliver it. I also scored a $30 voucher for the inconvenience which I will be putting to good use. Low and behold my bag was delivered to my apartment yesterday, just in time for me to unpack and repack for Monday.
Be sure to check out all of the Costa Rica pictures on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/New-York-NY/The-Amazing-Travel-Concierge/154340934580841?ref=ts
And if you can make a donation to BBBS of NYC they would love any and all support!
It took 3 flights to get here- JFK-Orlando, Orlando-San Jose, then a tiny puddle jumper from San Jose to Quepos- the launching pad to Manuel Antonio national park in Costa Rica and home to an impressive array of wildlife an pristine beaches.
I found a great deal for a king bed apartment with kitchen in a small resort of only 11 units for $77/night with breakfast. The infinity pool looks over the Pacific Ocean and i headed here first after checking in. I was very excited to see a small spider monkey at the far end of the pool, not realizing that the monkey had about 60 friends in the trees surrounding the pool deck who were eager to entertain with a tree jumping performance all afternoon. A giant Iguana came out to inspect the area as well followed by some lizard creature that actually ran across the surface of the pool water (or so one of the guests claimed). In the distance one can see the dorsel fins of the whales which have come into the bay to feed, and occasionally one breaches making a worthwhile spectacle. Parrots and Tucans are like pigeons here- it really is an impressive show of beautiful wildlife!
This will be my longest stay during the Jet-A-Thon but 4 days will barely be enough to scratch the surface of this beautiful country. It is the rainy season which means a storm tends to pass through in the late afternoon, and crowds are minimal (hence the great hotel deal). Im looking forward to exploring the beach and national park!
Some people think it’s not worth visiting someplace if you can only stay for a night or even just a day, but I disagree. In just 24 hours, I was able to take in many of Seattles great sites and experiences. I started with a late dinner upon arrival in Capitol Hill, the next morning I headed to the Museum of Flight to go on their Concorde and JFK's Air Force One. For lunch I meandered through the famous Pikes Place market and nibbled on the most delicious fresh wild salmon sandwich and a $2 smoothie (thanks for the recommendations Davette and Ashvini!). At this point I still had not gotten a glimpse of the Space Needle and was starting to wonder where it was hiding. I made my way down to the Pier 52 and hopped on a Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge island. As the ferry pulled out, suddenly the enormous Space Needle became visible from behind a huge office building and I began a rapid fire photo session. It really is a cool and iconic structure for the city! By the time I got to Bainbridge island, the weather was not cooperating at all so I was forced to buy a $10 umbrella. Note to self: it rains in Seattle. My hopes of renting a bike to explore the island did not seem realistic in the rain, so instead I opted for a mini wine tour of the island’s wineries’ tasting rooms in the town. I had some delicious Melbac at “Eleven” and learned a lot about Washington wine (thanks Kevin!) and found one of the best Cabernet Sauvignon’s I’ve ever tasted across the street at Eagle Harbor winery- which only produces 700 cases per year!
After an enjoyable red eye back to NYC (there was a Top Chef marathon), I’m finally home for the weekend to catch up on work. Monday I depart for an international destination which has me very excited!! Stay tuned…
Seattle is only a 3 hour drive north from Portland, but when you have a jetblue unlimited pass the easiest and cheapest way to get here is to fly south 2 hours to Long Beach, CA and then fly back up north 2.5 hours to Seattle. Of course this means my lunch consisted of blue potato chips, cashews, and animal crackers :)
I landed here at 5pm and it was (surprise surprise) raining! So i headed right to my hotel- Radisson king suite for only $80 a night special! The room is huge. I've had a bunch of work to catch up on but I'll be heading into downtown tonight and cannot wait for my first glimpse of the space needle! One of the first things on my to-do list is to sample some famous Seattle coffee and tomorrow I plan to visit the Boeing museum, which is paradise for a plane geek like myself!
Visiting new places is always exciting for me- so the jetBlue pass brought me from Portland, maine to Portland, Oregon so I could check out the Pacific Northwest for the frist time- and its beautiful! I had the chance to breeze through downtown Portland and enjoy a super cheap but super delicious street cart lunch from one of Portland's famous street-cart vendors. I then headed on the scenic route through the outskirts of wine country to Tillamook on the Oregon Coast. The giant rocks that protrude from Orgeon's scenic coast are amazing! Check out the photos on:
I settled in at the quaint Cannon Beach Hotel in the sleepy coastal town with a great deal- just $75/night for a beautiful double room with breakfast (reg. $185/night). They even had homemade choc chip cookies at check in and beach chairs available to take to the beach.
Im so glad I finally got to see this part of the country and highly recommend it for a relaxing escape from East Coast stress. Everyone is so laid back and nice here- its going to be hard to leave.
Luckily, I'm fairly certain my next destination is on par with laid-back chill-ness :)
BBBS of NYC has set up a special link so that we can help them raise enough money to sponsor a match! If you can make a contribution to this wonderful cause- please click on the link below to select a donation amount ($5 recommended but of course feel free to be as generous as possible) and be sure to select The Amazing Travel Concierge from the drop down menu under "How did you hear about us".
Thanks for your generosity!!
To Donate CLICK:
There is a reason that every Maine license plate says "vacationland" at the bottom- this place is a hoot! After hunting down a lobster roll (didn't have to look too hard) we hung out at the pool and watched the lobster boats return to the harbor then explored the town via kayak. After a great sunset, we headed down the road to Olgunquit which is a bit of a party town! Luckily the bars close at 1am so we had no problem waking up for the huge free hotel breakfast and our 10:30am lobster boat excursion. We pulled in a trap and helped measure the lobsters (most were too small to keep) and learned a ton about the lobster trade. I now can tell the difference between male and female lobsters, and did you know that they can regrow any part of their body except their eyes? (they often lose a claw when fighting with other lobsters).
At $119/night (regularly $350) this was an amazing steal! I love Maine and will definitely come back to Kennebunkport
I'm very excited to be partnering with BBBS of NYC to raise money for this wonderful organization during the Jet-A-Thon. They are working to set up a direct donation link for the ATC and it should be up and running by next week. So please stay tuned, they need as much of our support as possible and every little bit goes a long way!
In the mean time, to learn more go to http://www.bigsnyc.org/index.php
Another quick whirlwind trip, but great to visit Boston even if just for a night! Flight was great- very empty plane- and I enjoyed some cashews and chocolate chip cookies all washed down with a bottle of spring water. I spent some time in the Italian north end neighborhood of Boston-it was really bopping last night- and discovered a great inexpensive Italian restaurant named Panza- I highly recommend!
My trip back this morning began at 6:30am with a cab back to Logan. I was at the gate at 6:45am and treid to jump on the 7:05am flight to JFK- but the gate agents said they had "closed the flight" come on jetBlue! So that was annoying but instead I had a Vitamin Water zero and read a newspaper. My 7:47am flight was great- enjoyed 2 bags of choc chip cookies (the guy next to me was fast asleep so I snagged his :) see the photo on facebook- he was out cold! Also had a Dunkin Donute=s coffee to wake up and a water, so thats 14 snacks on 4 flights so far. 17 more flights to go- if I can enjoy just 499 snacks then the unlimited pass basically paid for itself!
On the plane there was breaking news that Tom Brady was in a car accident in Boston this morning, and of course with so many Giants fans on board you can imagine some of the comments. I swear I had nothing to do with it.
Any guesses on my next destination?