The Indie30 Art Project – Week 1 Catching Up

Everything starts with good intentions.  On the weekly Twitter #RTWchat I was intrigued by the Indie 30 Art Project when it was mentioned.  Initially, it seemed perfect for me, a daily prompt about travel – inspiration to produce a blog post, instagram photo, video or other artistic interpretation and share with the community.  But the word “daily” got in the way, it started to weigh me down, the expectations, the almost work feel to it, so I printed the prompts and let them pile up here on my desk.  So in the spirit of spring cleaning this weekend, I decided to group Week 1  Introduction prompts into one post and go from there (baby steps folks as I ignore that I should be on Week 3 with the rest of the group).  I would love you to participate with me, pick a prompt below and comment on your view/experience/opinion.

African sunrise

An African sunrise – a reward for getting up early

A Changing World View – How has your view of the world changed because of travel?

My view of the world was initally formed from what I saw on television, read in newspapers, views of family & friends and from books until I traveled. Travel opened my mind up to so many different experiences, views and made me challenge much of my beliefs.  Traveling allows me to watch news programs and read newspapers in other countries to get a different spin on the U.S. and the World.  Most of the world doesn’t dislike Americans as we are led to believe, in my opinion people dislike our politics (heck, I’m apt to agree with them at times, I’m not a fan of our politics either) and how it affects their lives thousands of miles away but the folks I’ve met along the way can separate out the people and the government.  What I’ve learned traveling is that we are all people first with the same wants and needs ideally – be successful, raise families, find happiness and be loved.  Attending film festivals has also been an eye opener – I’ve seen amazing films, including fascinating documentaries, met directors and actors from many countries.  No matter what language, the messages are the same – the people in all countries want to laugh, cry and share in the experiences of life, love and happiness.

Baby Elephant w/Mom

Baby Elephant in Chobe Safari Park

Travel Origin – When did you get the travel itch?

My first international trip to London was during a college fall break over Thanksgiving in the late 80′s.  I remember all of the “wow” moments and realizing how much I wanted to learn about new cultures firsthand. Being in London, the most important rule was “Look Left”.  The internet didn’t exist then so I didn’t have pictures, blogs or research to help me – I had a heavy guidebook that I poured over trying to breathe in all of the data.  I craved more knowledge of the world.

Tower Bridge, London

Tower Bridge, London

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Room 409: A Small Room with Style at 70 Park Avenue, a Kimpton Hotel in NYC

70 Park Avenue, a Kimpton HotelOn my first cruise, I would open up the door to my lower deck inside stateroom and just laugh.  You think you know how small rooms will be when you read the brochure or view online but you never know until you open that door.  With a cruise, the point is not to stay in the small room but to get out and explore the ship’s offerings and the ports.  This is the same premise with small and often tiny hotel rooms I have encountered throughout my travels – you are meant to escape the (generally bland) room and visit the city.  As a solo traveler, I’ve had my share of single bed rooms, rooms with odd layouts, rooms that made me sad and rooms that could double as a closet.  Many of these rooms have been, no surprise, in Europe but a few are in the U.S., specifically in New York City.   During my last visit to the city for the New York Times Travel Show, I would add a new small room to my collection – Room 409 at 70 Park Avenue – a Kimpton Hotel.

The Location

70 Park Avenue hotel is at 38th street, approximately a twenty minute walk from Penn Station or a quick cab.  Grand Central Station, Starbucks and CVS are two blocks away with many restaurants and attractions a short walking distance.  It was a quiet location without the stress of the clogged sidewalks or traffic other locations are subject to.


Immediately upon entering the lobby you sense the Kimpton-ess of it all.  As this is NYC, the lobby is compact – the concierge and lounge on the right, the front desk ahead of you up a few steps (there is also a ramp on the left).  The evening wine socials were, as always at Kimpton, full of energy and guests mingling. Good wine, new friends and fun conversations – what else do you need?

70 Park Avenue, a Kimpton hotel lobby

The lobby at 70 Park Avenue always crowded during wine social hour

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Categories: Hotels, New York, Travel, U.S. | 2 Comments

Planning an Award trip to Paris & London with my niece – Best Aunt or Insane Aunt?

My sister began reciting all the rules over dinner, thankfully, I had a large glass of wine as my niece started to sound like a gremlin and not the adorable kid who went to see Frozen with me a few weeks ago,  I didn’t know there would be rules for Paris & London:

  • Keep her fed at all times even if she says she isn’t hungry ( I added “but don’t feed her after midnight”? no one got the joke!)
  • She needs to sleep, make sure she gets good sleep (um, we are going to be in Europe, they eat late and stay up late!)
  • Your idea of “walking” and an a kids’ idea of “walking” is vastly different (I admit my walking will never equal anyone’s idea of walking as I was trained to “watch the tram car” on the Wildwood Boardwalk – I am a Pro Walker and it wasn’t until this year that I realized it was an Olympic Sport – I could have been an Olympian!)
  • She takes a long time in the shower to get ready (ok, so water good, unlike a gremlin).
  • She will say she “hates you” a lot – don’t worry it’s fleeting (um, great, look forward to this one, I thought this was a gem directed at parents only, not aunts/uncles?)

So I had to stop them with all the rules.  As the aunt, I usually get them for a small period of “good” time and return them when they hit the “bad” phase.  I have dabbled with the in-between and usually end up with a glass of wine and chocolate soon after to soothe my nerves. I was beginning to rethink my “awesome surprise” and my face must have given me away as my sister said “She is going to love it, you will have a great time!”

Love the view from the wing when flying

Love the view from the wing when flying

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Rainy Day London – Visiting The British Museum

Over the past twenty years visiting London, I am hesitant to admit I hadn’t visited The British Museum.  It’s free!  Great Art!  The Rosetta Stone (not the language classes)!  Classic museum!  There were so many reasons for a visit and with each block of free time, I chose to instead walk and explore the city (and a few pubs along the way).  It wasn’t until recently that I gave in to a visit as it had been raining the entire week of my business trip.  With my hotel a short walk away and a few hours of free time, The British Musuem was calling me.  With less than 3 hours to explore, I had to settle for a “drive by” of the museum, which frankly wasn’t even going to touch the surface of the collection (an astounding eight million items).

British Museum lions

Lions guarding the British Museum entrance

The British Museum is massive, no other word for the sheer size of the building and the collections.  It is free to visit so I entered from a back entrance street, walked past the guard and up the steps to explore the galleries. It was weird (but also quite nice) to just walk in – not buy a ticket, not get my hand stamped, not hand over a reserved timed ticket, etc.  I was expecting a bit of stuffiness (it is a museum after all) but I was pleasantly surprised to see the old and new co-exist.

Courtyard of the British Museum

The new and old buildings of the British Museum co-exist -the courtyard view

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Categories: Activities/Experiences, Art, London | Tags: , | 5 Comments

The South Coast of Dublin photo tour

Looking at the options for conference attendees, I was excited to sign up for the Dublin photo tour of the South Coast with Dawn 2 Dusk.  A photography tour would ensure that I didn’t need to run ahead of the group for my photo and I didn’t need to hurry up either to get back to the bus. We would all be able to get our shot. The small tour group would meet at 10am for our four hour excursion along the South Dublin Coast.  We would stop at a beach, a few harbours and climb a hill for the scenic view of Dublin Bay.

Dublin lighthouse and boat

The Dublin South Coast view

The group was met by David Cooke and his business partner Yvonne. David is a hybrid entreprenuer – taxi owner/operator, event photographer and now photo tour guide.  I’m not quite sure when the man sleeps but his smile and enthusiasm for Dublin is infectious.  Dawn 2 Dusk tours is for anyone with a camera and a yen to explore.  Unlike other photo tours which require a tripod or fancy camera and knowledge,  this tour had a down to earth approach. During the day David would point out some tips for a photo or framing which was welcomed. Our small group all cited taking photos of people to be a bit of a weakness.  We would have many opportunities to work on this type of photo during the day as well as looking at ordinary objects differently in our photos.

Along the pier on the South Coast Dublin tour

Along the pier on the South Coast Dublin tour

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