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British Pub Quiz Night – in Los Angeles

I’ve loved neighborhood pubs in England and Ireland when I lived or visited there. However, I wouldn’t typically have entered even a British style pub in Los Angeles.

But my British friend’s long-time friend from England told him about The Fox and Hounds, “a proper British pub” and it had a Quiz Night. That clinched our decision. On a Wednesday evening, we headed over Laurel Canyon…

Good, relaxed quiz, prizes, a new cider for me, great Steak n’ Ale Pie, Steak n’ Kidney Pie for my friend. I’ll definitely bring more people to The Fox and Hounds.


Best Burger Stand in San Diego – Angelo’s Burgers – Encinitas

I asked my long-time San Diego area friend if he had a recommendation for a good meal at a good price. A burger would be good, I suggested. Immediately he knew what to recommend:
Angelo’s Burgers in Encinitas
A very good burger for a very good, price — unlike many other eateries along California oceanfront towns, he added.

This is a quintessential Southern California Burger Joint — but with so much more.
It’s a beach town experience without today’s high beach area prices.
And the food’s really good.


How Vicki & her 10-year-old son decided to travel in Europe for 10 weeks

This is the first installment of Vicki B & her 10-year-old son Ben on the road.
While researching it I learned that we could take a four-hour scenic train ride to London. Llooking at the map, I saw that it was just a short ferry ride across the English channel and there’s France! And look – it’s just a short skip over to Italy! Our one-week itinerary slowly morphed into ten weeks.

Vicki and Ben: Tuscany gelato

Riding the tram in Bratislava Slovakia

When you’re new to public transportation in a new county it can be daunting so I’ve documented my tram ride in Bratislava, Slovakia. Your first tram or bus may be in any other country but it’s likely to have the same basic system. Not Bratislava bound? Just use this one as an example.

Each tram stop has a vending machine for you to purchase your ticket. You purchase a ticket that covers the amount of time it will take you to ride.

Then…


Side-trip from Bratislava to Prague

One of three popular destinations from Bratislava is Prague. It’s a relatively short train or bus ride. As I had not been to Prague or any of what was Czechoslovakia during my first travels, I decided that a couple of days in Prague, Czech Republic (as it is now called) would be a new experience and more worthwhile. So today, having relaxed and enjoyed much of Bratislava at my leisure, and knowing I needed to be back there for my friend Annaline to arrive and travel with me to Israel, it was the perfect time to take my side-trip.

I don’t always know where I’ll stay upon arrival to a new place but in this case, I had already selected and reserved my accommodations for the night. All that was left was to enjoy getting to Prague and making it my next home.

Deb in Prague train station

Our escorts took this photo of me with all my bags. My first photo in Venice for this trip.

From Riomaggiore (Cinque Terre) to Venice

A long day…
Today is the day my friend and I leave fabled Cinque Terre for storybook Venice. From one romantic area of Italy to another. I am still traveling with my friend A, ever since hitting mainland Italy after Sicily. Today we’re traveling on FlixBus. But before we can get to our bus, we need to leave Riomaggiore (our Cinque Terre home base) and get to La Spezia as that’s where FlixBus travels from.

Want to follow along with me for the full day’s adventure? Check-out, walk carrying luggage, short train ride, bus from one coast of Italy to another, walk through some of Venice carrying luggage, check-in, and then… explore a new city!


Catania to Palermo by train, finally going to start seeing Sicily

My first morning in Sicily wasn’t where I had planned it. I’d planned to arrive into Palermo, but due to circumstances had to end my into-Sicily travels in Catania instead. This morning I would continue onto Palermo with just enough time to start my first-ever organized tour — Sicily’s Beating Heart Tour with La RosaWorks.

I woke up at 10 — only because I’d set my alarm for the last possible minute that I could shower quickly and still make check-out. Still groggy and with my coordination not intact, I started my day.


Threatened with jail at Nicaragua border over exit stamp position

Each time someone tells me they want to go to Nicaragua I cringe. I hear the people are lovely, they say, and it’s so inexpensive. Yes, that might be true — but my experience wasn’t about nice people. I was locked in a room at the border and threatened with jail — because of an immigration agent on a sick power trip.

I have long debated telling this story, but I feel it’s important. I’ll never know if I really would have been sent to jail in this Dictatorship, but the Tourism agent at the border certainly believed I was about to land there.

Please read this — and take it seriously.


Redondo Beach get-away packing

I’m back to living in my adopted hometown for a while, so you might not call that traveling. But LA is a major travel destination — and I am traveling within it this weekend! From Friday – Tuesday, I’ll be a guest of a friend in Redondo Beach. I get to show her all the tricks of the iPhone, see friends, and enjoy the beach air and all that Redondo Beach and the Redondo Beach Marina and Pier have to offer.

Wondering how I packed?


Slovenia into Croatia by train

I am writing this as I sit, alone, in a six-person compartment on the 3:10 train from the Ljubljana (Slovenia) railway station to the Rijeka (Croatia) train station. As I entered the first available train car, the back-most car, I was at first taken aback and disappointed by the car full of 6-seat compartments. The separate compartments can be nice, but I was disappointed because I’d hoped to meet people on the train. I’d met my Ljubljana friends on a train.

I don’t want to be leaving. Slovenia is a beautiful area, I enjoy Ljubljana, and more importantly, I love my friends. However, I must leave. Today is my 89th day in the Schengen Area and 90 days is the limit.

As I stepped off the train there was one other woman with me, I asked about a hostel and she told me there was one just down the road five minutes, but that was all I had from her. I will never know if I found that hostel.

Traveling from Ljubljana into Croatia

Šiauliai Lithuania to Riga Latvia by mini-bus

As I headed to Lithuania, world-traveling friend Esther Snippe “Facebooked me” telling me that if I was going to be in Lithuania, I had to go to Riga (the capital of Latvia). Due to the Schengen Agreement, my time in Europe was limited to three months. In all of my years (3 + 1½) of traveling, I had never entered a country and only gone to one town. That just isn’t in line with how I travel.

But Riga and its many fine Art Nouveau buildings beaconed and the Schengen limitations make me crazy — so I made an exception and went to Riga.

Want to join me on my 2½-hour bus ride from Šiauliai (show-leh) Lithuania to Riga Latvia?


The cellular package I bought in Lithuania.

Cell phone & data SIM card in Lithuania

I arrived in Vilnius, Lithuania on a Thursday afternoon at 3pm. I’d needed to text my friend Pedro on Friday afternoon but was able to use the roaming feature on my Polish SIM card. (I’m pretty sure that data would have expired by the time I got back to Poland anyway.) When Pedro came with me to get a SIM the next afternoon, the nearest shop was closed. So I didn’t get a SIM unil my 3rd day in Vilnius.

However, it never occurred to me that a bus or train station was actually THE place to buy a SIM card and I had not learned that at this point in my travels. (It turns out that was the case, at least in the major cities, through the entire area.) Having known, I might have purchased my SIM and plan at the Vilnius Coach Station, which is right across from the train station.

For $1.35 I got:
150 phone minutes
1,000 text messages
100mb data


Castle ruins of Vilnius Lithuania

My second day in Vilnius, after visiting the Lithuanian Archives in search of my family history, I again met Pedro in the afternoon and he showed me around. We walked to the Gediminas Tower, or specifically, Gediminas Tower. It is the last standing part of the Upper Castle, which is what remains of Vilnius castle complex, hoping to get there while it was still open.

For speed, we opted to walk around to the front, the river side, and took the funicular, then walked down.

These are some of my photos of the castle remnants.


Traditional Lithuania food in Vilnius

For my first meal in Vilnius, Lithuania, I wanted something traditional. My Portuguese friend Pedro, having met me at the bus, was with me for the afternoon and evening. After we’d checked me into a great hostel, we kept an eye out for a good, but affordable place to eat.

The main street through the old city is really nice, but, as you’d expect, the restaurants are touristy and costly. I felt we did fairly well finding Forto Dvaras.