2015/16

2015 – A Year in Review – with a dash of 2016

Hey everyone!

I’ve gotten a few emails from people with details about the things going on in their lives and I just wanted to post a little update of my own! (so feel free to ignore this message if you don’t want to read any of my sappy and sentimental thoughts on 2015…)

As usual, the highlights of my year have a great deal to do with travel. People talk about having “the travel bug” and I have to laugh… It’s not a travel bug with me, it’s more like a TRAVEL SALTWATER CROC or a TRAVEL GRIZZLY BEAR WITH A TASTE FOR HUMAN FLESH! After all, people with the travel bug don’t tear up at the mere mention of St. Peter’s Basilica, they don’t have dreams about dancing the night away at a club in Krakow, Poland, they don’t risk boring their friends and family to death with their stories of life on the road, and they certainly wouldn’t volunteer to give up actual body parts for the chance to relive that night at a certain dive bar in Vienna!

So this is my year in review (based entirely on the memory of the brain cells that I didn’t manage to kill this year…):

January 2015

Finished my 2013 Contiki European Encounter Travelogue and booked my Contiki Eastern Road tour for May-June. Heard from Lisa and Nhat who would tour Eastern Europe with me.

February 2015

Visited Dave and Andrea in Texas, saw their beautiful house, and had an excellent time.
Heard from Lina who would tour Eastern Europe with me.

March 2015

No travel this month… 🙁 , but I did hear from Melbourne Dave at the beginning of the month and Sarah at the end of the month. If you haven’t guessed yet, they would tour Eastern Europe with me.

April 2015

Once again, no travel this month, but after emailing Nhat we decide to be roommates on the Eastern Road tour and spend a few days in London before the tour starts.
Heard from Greg who would tour Eastern Europe with me.

May 2015

Heard from Nathan, Steve, and Tiffany who were the contact representatives for Mark, Ryan, Daniel, Nick, Jason, Micheline, Crissy, and Shanna.
Visited Seattle, WA for a Technical Writing conference.
Left for London on May 25th where I met up with Nhat on the 26th and got a chance to have a fabulous reunion with Ronnie, Hans, and Becky! This evening alone was enough justification for the cost of the entire trip!
Visited the Canterbury Cathedral and flew to Berlin.
Started my Contiki Eastern Road tour.

June 2015

Had an amazing time traveling around Eastern Europe with the entire cast and crew of my Eastern Road tour. Visited Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Slovakia, Krakow, and Warsaw.

Returned to Berlin where I fell in love with the city. Currently Berlin ranks #2 of my favorite cities in the world – London is #1, Rome is #3.  After returning to work for 7 grueling days, I decided I had enough of that so I headed off with Andy, Roger, and Steve for our annual camping trip to Canton, PA.

July 2015

Visited Chad and Sonal in Chicago, IL for the 5th consecutive year and had an excellent time. We caught a White Sox game, had a great dinner, and saw a Country Music concert in the park. How can ya beat that?

August 2015

After a great deal of anticipation, the day finally came for the first Contiki European Encounter reunion that I had an opportunity to attend. Ronnie and Hans visited NYC to celebrate Ronnie’s birthday and Kevin, KT, and I joined them for the weekend. I had an excellent time and can’t wait for the next chance I have to see my friends.

September 2015

Flew out to the West Coast to join up with a Contiki Eastern Road reunion. It was awesome to have a chance to once again hang out with the many members of the Bay Area crew (as well as Melbourne Dave who was the guest representative from the Australia division). Visited Alcatraz, saw an Oakland A’s game, and had a wonderful time with my tourmates.

When I got back from Oakland, I booked my 3rd Contiki Tour. This time, I’m heading to Australia to join the Reefs and Rainforests Tour and I’m going to spend a few days in Sydney and Melbourne at the end of the tour with some of my old travel buddies.

October 2015

Visited Salt Lake City with some office mates on a trip to meet our SLC co-workers.

November and December 2015

With a lack of vacation time, since I’m going to need to carry over 5 days to help cover my trip to Austria in 2017 where I have already arranged a ski lodge and a car hire Salzburg deal, unfortunately I didn’t have an opportunity to do any traveling in the preceding months.
Thanksgiving and Christmas were great and I’m real excited for what 2017 has in store for me.

2016 Highlights (at least the ones that I know of…)

April 1 to April 30th – Australia – I’ll arrive in Cairns on April 3rd and travel by Contiki coach all the way down to Sydney where my tour will end on April 21st. I’ll have a few days in Sydney and will even have an opportunity to catch the Dawn Service for ANZAC day on the 25th. On the 26th I’ll fly to Melbourne where I plan on catching a Footie match at the world famous MCG. All the while in both Sydney and Melbourne, I plan to meet up with as many friends as I can! On the 30th I’ll fly home and try to deal with the unavoidable PTD (Post-Tour Depression).

September – Denver – At the end of September (exact dates to be determined), I’ll fly with my buddy Rob and perhaps a few others to Denver, CO to attend the Great American Beer Festival. Unlike a normal convention that runs from 9 AM to 5 PM, this one runs from 5:30 PM until 10 PM. (also unlike a normal convention, this one involves sampling a large quantity of delicious beer…). Hopefully I’ll get a chance to meet up with some friends in the Denver area as well.

Other than that, my year is pretty much open. I’m definitely going to find a way to squeeze in a camping trip with the boys and will have to find a way to fit in my yearly trips to both Chicago and Dallas.

2015 was a great year in which I saw some things that I never thought I’d see. Who would have thought that the shy kid from Northeast Philly would have increased his visited list to 16 different European Countries and met people from all over the world who have helped shape the course of his life. Each place has a story associated with it, and each story involves people who I’ll never forget. And don’t worry about having to ask me to tell a story, no doubt I’ll go into an unprompted story any second now.

I hope your 2015 was full of fun, good times, and great travel and I hope that your 2006 is full of more of the same!

Australia

Under 250 Days!

Well, hopefully it’s under 250 days till I board a plane to Australia…

I had a bit of a crazy day today. I’ve got a big deadline on Wednesday and another one on Friday so I woke up at 4 AM and was at my desk by 5:10 AM. I got a ton of work done and it looks like the rest of my week is falling into place and it looks like it will be crazy but not too crazy. The reason I bring up work is to talk about my favorite part of every day. It’s when I update the countdown on my white board. I changed it to 249 days today and it was pretty exciting.

A lot of people don’t understand my love of travel, let alone my love of planning my travel. Travel planning is very liberating for me. The more knowledge I have about potential destinations, the more comfortable I feel and the better time I have.

I want to meet people. I want to add to my already long list of friends. I want to see the world from a different perspective. I want to get to know a whole new group of people and I even want to be tortured yet again with the thought of parting from them.

I’m just loving the thought of getting on that plane to LA and then another plane to Melbourne right now. I’m off to work on my Eastern Road Travelogue some more and hope to talk with KT and Kev tonight to set up our plans to meet up in NYC when Ronnie and Hans come over for Ronnie’s birthday in August.

But before I go, I thought I’d share one of my favorite travel quotes. I’ve got a ton of them, so stay tuned for more inspirational travel quotes to get you excited about traveling!

“Once you have traveled, the voyage never ends, but is played out over and over again in the quietest chambers. The mind can never break off from the journey.” ~Pat Conroy

Dublin

The Weekend

I didn’t do much travel planning this weekend. I did however pickup a few items for my trip. I’m a big fan of Streetwise Maps. Before my last trip, I purchased Streetwise maps of all of the major cities I’d be visiting. It turned out that they provide maps to everyone in each city so they weren’t really necessary, but I found that it was much easier to locate important landmarks on my Streetwise maps.

These maps are laminated and fold up nicely. On my day in Venice, my map really came in handy since it was raining. A normal paper map would have gotten soaked, but my Streetwise map handled it quite well.

I purchased maps of Dublin, Trieste and Prague. I got the Dublin map because I’ll be there for 2 days on my own. Even though I don’t need a map of Prague because my friend will give me one, I wanted to get it so I could plan some of my activities a little better. I plan on using a car hire Trieste Airport service in Italy so can just use sat nav.

I also purchased two books. I got Round Ireland with a Fridge by Tony Hawks and Notes from a Small Island by Bill Bryson. I’ve read Bryson before and really enjoyed his writing. And the Tony Hawks book came highly recommend by my friend Skippy.

London

Not That Long To Wait

Most people don’t understand the countdown that lives on my whiteboard at work. Currently it reads 67 days. That’s 67 days till I leave for London. Most people don’t count down like this based on the old saying “A watched pot never boils” which is defined by the Dictionary of Cultural Literacy as “Something we wait for with impatient attention seems to take forever.”

Well, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t take forever. Counting down is a great way to prepare for a trip. Yeah, it might seem like it’s taking forever to get here when you’re 187 days away from it, but that moment each morning when I subtract 1 from yesterday’s countdown is a great moment.

I didn’t do any trip planning for the past few days. Tonight I plan to spec out my final day in London (Day 3). That day is probably the one with the most chance to change completely. I hope to spend the day hanging out with my friend Ronnie and I’m prepared to audible on any plans that I’ve made in order to assure that I get a chance to tour London with her.