I’ve seen and experienced much of the amazing & varied United States. However, some areas have eluded me so far and remain on my wish list, aka bucket list. This is a quick listing of those places. Hopefully, in the next years, my visits and the things you can experience in these places will be detailed here.
Here’s a quick catch-up of where I’ve been since 2017 and what I’m considering.
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.
Independent travel can take you anywhere at any time, planned or unplanned. Ireland was not in my plans. But the StenaLine Ferry walk-on price from Liverpool to Belfast was intriguing so why not? Of course, I was happy for the opportunity, the experiences, and the fabulous Irish people I met as I traveled Ireland for the second time in my life.
[Written while in Ireland. Posted after I’ve left Ireland.] Today was a unique, successful, rewarding travel-in-Ireland day. Where did I go? Mostly I sat at a table in the common area of a hostel in Dublin. What did I do? Mostly I sat at my computer and read email, then wrote up or posted reviews for TripAdvisor and this blog. But that’s now what was special or notable. What sights, scenery, buildings or landmarks, did I see? None. I saw the kitchen, the dining, and sitting tables. When I went out to the supermarkets I didn’t veer right to admire the huge old train station. I didn’t take photos of the beautiful pub next door. I didn’t see any of Dublin’s cool Talking Sculptures. So what made this a great Irish experience or travel day? The answer to that is… a conversation with a security guard who wouldn’t even tell me […]
Sleep Eat Love hostel-hotel in Liverpool, England UK, provides a choice of dorm or private room — a great-priced place to stay that’s less costly than the other hotels in Liverpool and is well suited to grown-ups. This new-in-2018 Liverpool hotel-hostel has created a sweet spot for travelers (or travellers). It provides a cultured hostel environment and mood with the quality of a hotel and a great social opportunity for those who wish to meet fellow travelers. I absolutely loved my stay here and highly recommend it as the place to stay in Liverpool.
Terrific location. Less than 1/2 mile from The Cavern Club. Only .9 miles from Albert Dock and even less to the Ferry Cross the Mersey. Supermarkets and an entire mall is right nearby, as is the don’t miss Royal Court Theater.
Great staff. Comfortable.
In 1497, approximately 17 men led by Captain John Cabot sailed out of the Bristol Channel, Bristol, England under Henry VII. On June 24, 1497, they arrived in “New Founde Landes.” Today we call that Newfoundland, Canada.
Christopher Columbus, on the other hand never reached North America. Oh, the things you learn while climbing around on a ship as you travel. Especially on the replica of such a historic ship. It’s hard to imagine this tiny ship making such a voyage.
When he returned with a USB adapter I jumped from my seat. He told me there’s an outlet right beside my table. I was able to get to over 60% by the time I was done eating. I said I’ll bring it back in a moment and he said to keep it!
I will carry this charger with me daily. Around the house. When I go out. I will truly remember this kind man every day that I’m in his country. And long afterward.
You might travel well without phone service, but having it can greatly expand your experiences.
Are you traveling from the United States or another non-EU country and into the UK? Are planning to stay in the UK or perhaps in the UK plus EU for a few days? If so — yes, even for just a few days — it can easily pay to get yourself a local SIM card and local mobile service. It certainly does if you travel long-term.
But what service and what plan? A contract (aka post-pay) is out. Should you get pre-pay or pay-as-you-go? What happens if you run out of calling minutes, texts, or data?
This is the narration of my own experience getting cellular service (aka mobile service) as I travel in the UK.
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.
I’m visiting a friend in San Pedro, California so tonight… I got to see Shakespeare By The Sea, an excellent performance of The Winter’s Tale.
Fantastic. Minimal set. Beautiful costuming Old English but spoken so it was understandable. Drama, comedy, oh-no moments… I was engrossed.
Tonight was just the 2nd night of the season which runs through August 18, so if you’ll be in the area, you have time to plan.
“Bucket list” — a list of the things we want to do before we kick the bucket.
I never made one, but one day I got to thinking about the things — outside of the scope of family, formal education, and career — that I’ve already done in my life.
So I started my already-in-the-bucket-list, and frankly, I was amazed at it.
Some of these may have been on my bucket list had I ever made one. Others were simply interesting opportunities that have presented themselves during the adventures of my life so far, mostly during my various travels.
What would you do if you had unlimited time, money and resources?
What have you already done?
I bet you’ve done something that’s on someone else’s bucket list!
One day Simon Rodia, a single Italian immigrant living south of downtown LA started using discarded pieces of steel, wire mesh, mortar, glass, and tiles and by hand, without any power tools, created a set of structures that confounded his neighbors. They called him crazy and taunted him as he labored for years on his project. Today, these major feats, the “Watts Towers” as they are commonly known, are the National Historic Landmark Watts Towers of Simon Rodia State Historic Park and are being considered for UNESCO status.
You can see them from the streets around – for free. I happily paid the museum admission in order to support them and the great cultural events that take place in Sabato “Simon” Rodia’s former home.
Have a look. Do they stir your imagination as they do me?
If you ever get out to Joshua Tree National Park in California, you might want to stop at a unique little old western village called Pioneertown and a walk down its small Mane Street. (Yes, Mane Street, not Main Street.) There’s no admission fee. Just come, park your car for free, and walk around.
If you are thinking “Pioneertown is a strange name for people to have named their town” when they settled out in this open desert area, you’d be correct. You see, it wasn’t pioneers who came and developed this town.
And then there is Pappy & Harriet’s, a family restaurant famous for its concerts. Originally it was just a facade — the “cantina” set of the town that was used in many a western film you’ve likely seen.
If you’d like to stay the night either after a day in Joshua Tree National Park or after a meal or concert, you might check out the Pioneertown Motel which also dates back to the founding of this unique town.
You might also want to mail a letter home while you’re there.
I have been celebrating Chanukah all of my life, lighting candles since I was young. But with each place and home I visit, I learn more of not just other people’s cultures, but of my own religion and traditions. This year I was in Israel, for the third time for this festive holiday. In fact, it was not even my first time being in Tzfat (aka Safed) for Chanukah — but I still had new experiences and still learned more.
Can an independent traveler find happiness on an organized tour?
After well over 6 solid years of days traveling on my own, traveling solo, going where I wanted when I wanted, seeing whatever I wanted on my own schedule — I signed up, paid for, committed to, an official 9-day tour.
I have to admit, I have been a bit of a tour snob. I’d watch groups of look-alike people follow a red umbrella or an orange flag, sticking together in a mini-mob, looking at what the guide said to, taking photos even when they seemed not to know why, standing in front of some monument for a photo just to show they’ve been there. That wasn’t my idea of fun or of cultural enlightenment.
Yes, I was going on a group tour. I was committing to travel with a group of people I didn’t know. I was facing the potential to be stuck with people I didn’t know, like, or have anything in common with.
I knew this tour organizer so I knew it would be a worthwhile experience full of great places, people, and experiences…
People have asked me to share some of my how-I-get-places tips so here’s another. I’m flying from Israel to California for only $108.64 and 20,250 miles. Here’s how.
This isn’t about “travel hacking” or gaming a credit card company and it’s not playing games with airlines. It’s simply a matter of time, mile requirements, taxes, patience, and flexibility.
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.
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!
Starting and ending each of my days at the On the Way hostel in Palermo, I give Palermo a 5 out of 5 for friendliness. Fantastically located on Via Roma, owned by a true traveler and staffed by helpful, enjoyable volunteers such as the great Matt from Wales. This is my recommendation for a hostel to stay at while in Palermo, Sicily.
I was absolutely determined this time to carry a hairdryer and have hair that looks nice and polished each day. That was not meant to happen.
Be careful what you wish for. I am carrying only a 50-L carry-on duffel bag that converts to a small backpack and after logging in around the Miami airport for a day and walking 5 or 6 miles in one day just to find a plane out of Miami and another 5 miles the next day to get somewhere, I was feeling the load. I was wishing my backpack would be lighter.
Having finally escaped from Miami because of a sympathetic American Airlines staffer who fully understood the situation, I was in New York City JFK airport. But frankly, I smelled. I certainly did not feel good look decent. I had hoped American Airlines and their Ambassador lounge people would understand the errors made and in sympathy allow me to use their shower for five minutes but their rules didn’t allow for this. So instead I bathed in the public women’s room. And… I blew dry my hair. That was my downfall.
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.
Once released from Miami International Airport by my Hero Customer Service rep I was safely in NYC. From there I had 2 more planes, a train, an automobile in between, and my own blistered feet. That got me to Sicily. After an overnight stay in Catania I was able to take yet another train and finally arrive in Palermo.