Day 187: Oktoberfest – Part One

Day 187 of the Nowhere To Be Project had us chanting “Prost” in the middle of Lionshead Village in Vail. This celebration was part one of Vail’s double duty Oktoberfest festivities. The Vail Village celebration is scheduled to take place next weekend. Three days of costume contests, stein holding competitions, bratwurst eating contests and live music gave Vail a very Bavarian feel. Add to that thousands of people (and dogs) downing German food and beer in the crisp almost-fall air and you’ve got yourself a street party. Can’t wait to do it again next weekend!

If you decide to visit Vail for Oktoberfest, be sure to stop at the ID and Token tent first. Once you’ve exchanged dollar for dollar in tokens, plan on spending about $7 per beer and $4-10 per dish to imbibe. Parking and all Oktoberfest-related entertainment is free.

Vegan German Potato Salad!

Day 175: The Four Hallmarks of a Great Airport

Local art adorns the ceiling at Love Field Airport in Dallas, Texas

Day 175 of the Nowhere To Be Project was passed in airports as so many of my days are. Flying is generally the bane of my existence, but is a necessary evil for a constant traveler like me. Frequenting airports has turned me in to a haphazard critic of sorts. So what characteristics make for great airports?

1- Effective Signage: There is no worse feeling than being lost. This horrible feeling is intensified in the face of a time crunch delivered in the form of a delayed flight. Effective signage in an airport is crucial for eliminating these hassles. The signs should be well-placed and easily understood by passengers. Signs that use images are the best because they do not require an understanding of the local language! Another plus is achieved when walking times and wait times are posted.

2- Clean and Plentiful Restrooms: If I had a nickel for every time the smell of an airport bathroom has stuck with (and on) me, I’d be a very wealthy woman. Clean restrooms with an adequate number of stalls to accommodate the traffic flow make long travel days so much more bearable. It is even better if restrooms include designated areas to shower, change clothes and nurse children! Another bonus in an airport bathroom are strong door hooks so that bags and purses can be hung rather than placed on the floor.

3- Quiet Corners with Comfortable Seating: Frequent travelers know that layovers are inevitable. Long layovers require space to stretch out and rest. Some airports have started profiting from this and offer clean and quiet pods for rent by the hour. These can make all the difference in long haul trips as they are great for napping, cleaning up and charging devices. At the very least, airports should have designated areas with charging stations for resting.

4- Local Flair: Airports provide the first and last impressions of a place. I’m not interested in purchasing a latte from a chain coffee shop that I can get at home and in pretty much every other town in the world. I’d much rather enjoy a coffee that is unique to where I am at the moment. Same goes for food, wine, beer, books, magazines, fashion and so on. That’s why I appreciate airports that house local vendors. If you’re stuck in an airport anyway, why not use the time to delve into the local culture a bit? For example, right now I am sitting at a cowboy bar at Dallas’ Love Field listening to a local sing with his Texas twang as he plays acoustic tunes. How great is that?

One of Orlando’s most loved restaurants has an outpost at MCO

Day 155: Wonderful Wales

Day 155 of the Nowhere To Be Project took place in Wales. We began in Holyhead, a scenic seaside port town, as that is where the Viking Sky docked (we’re nearly a week through their British Isles Explorer voyage). The center of town has a stunning medieval church (St. Cybi) and is full of the most wonderful people. The residents love to chat about their Welsh pride and are so very helpful! We felt as if we left with a whole new squad of BFFs after spending just one morning in Holyhead.

Our afternoon placed us in another scenic coastal area, Beaumaris. The charming unfinished castle may be the main draw here, but the ocean breeze and lively historic streets should be the primary focus. We walked along the pier, enjoyed a pint at Bulkeley Hotel’s bar and found some interesting items in the boutiques. Wales is a treasure not to be missed and we will definitely return!

Day 149: Getting There

Day 149 of the Nowhere To Be Project was a “getting there” day. Living in the mountains is great except when it’s time to get to the airport. We rely on a shuttle service, Colorado Mountain Express, to transport us on the two-plus hour trek to the airport. Today’s shuttle was jam-packed and smelled of wet dog due to the fact that everyone (and their luggage) had gotten soaked on the first rainy day we’ve had in Vail this summer. The good news is we’re heading to London. The bad news is the rain is following us from Vail to Denver so we may end up with delays. Oh well, just an opportunity for an extended pre-flight happy hour, I guess!

Packed like a pickle in the back of the bus!

Day 129: Tipsy Travel

On day 129 of the Nowhere To be Project we scheduled a tour of the original Jameson Whiskey Distillery in Dublin. We’ll be visiting Ireland in a few weeks and knew that it was an essential excursion. No matter where we are in the world, one of our favorite things to do is to seek out the local vintages, brews and spirits. We usually prefer to do it in local pubs because they usually provide an intimate connection to the culture of a place, but visiting distilleries, microbrews and vineyards offers unique opportunities for connecting more deeply with the libations of a locale as well. Some of our favorite tastes along the way have been the wines of France, the vodka of Russia, the Kölsch in Cologne, Germany Related Blog Post and the gluhwein of the European Christmas markets. We’re currently abstaining from alcohol as a sort of cleanse for the liver before the storm that will undoubtedly ensue on our upcoming British Isles Explorer voyage on the Viking Sky. If traveling tipsy is wrong, we certainly don’t want to be right.

I Gouda problem

Image of Amsterdam canal and bikes
Amsterdam, mijn vriend

If loving stroopwafels, Gouda cheese and wine is wrong, I don’t want to be right. I traipsed nearly twenty miles on foot through the streets of Amsterdam during my two days there, a monumental portion of this in flip flops. Not smart. Despite this ignorant oversight, I most definitely took more bites than steps, per usual. Gouda and stroopwafels, two delicacies native to the Netherlands, were my sustenance. These, of course, were washed down by wine and the occasional brew. However, the thing that struck me most as I was sampling my way through the city’s pubs and patisseries was the people.

Despite my glaring status as a gluttonous globetrotter, I was welcomed with kindness and grace around each corner. I kid you not. I did not encounter one putz or blowhard. The friendly tinkling of bike bells was used in place of profanity to warn me that I was in the way. Smiles and fond greetings were as abundant as Gouda and stroopwafels no matter where I wandered. Even when I cluelessly held up the line at the market as I fumbled to pay, not one eye rolled. To the contrary, the majority of those in the queue that I was inconveniencing offered to help! It was as if the residents of Amsterdam exist on a higher and more positive emotional plane. I know what you’re thinking… “it’s the drugs”. I beg you not to fall into the misguided trap of believing the negative stereotypes about this extraordinary spot. This sliver of the world boasts some of the most beautiful architecture and scenery, mind-blowing history, and is teeming with genuine and hospitable denizens. Alas, my time was too abrupt in Amsterdam. I’ll carry visions of sweet smiles, Gouda and stroopwafels with me until we meet again.