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Posts Tagged ‘Tourism’

The Big Apple Took A Bite Out of Me

May 16, 2012 3 comments

Never bite off more than you can chew, they say. ‘They’ are generally unnervingly conservative, however, so I tend to toss out those words of wisdom with the bathwater. Forget about the baby. Instead, I embrace the idiom ‘seize the day’. Spoiler alert: seizing the day is exhausting.

Being a tourist is hard work, and I made one key rookie mistake while visiting NYC. My plan to not sleep while visiting the city that never sleeps was more than a little daft. We arrived in Newark at 11 pm, and by midnight were seated comfortably in a bar in Soho. At 1 am we were seated for dinner. When 3 am rolled around, we rolled down the street to another bar. The story has it we arrived back at our hotel at 5 am, but I can’t verify that with any conviction.

The three-hour time change notwithstanding, this was a victory. This is the kind of stamina I haven’t seen since my university days. However, unlike those moments as a student when I would bounce back from those typical Tuesday nights, I spent the rest of our time in New York recovering from this initial binge; whereas that was supposedly only the beginning. Not the first time in my life my best laid plans have backfired like Lindsay Lohan’s attempts at rehab.

My nocturnal challenges aside, I feel like I grew because of this trip, and not just in waist size. Truthfully, big cities are not my thing; I am as uncool as I sound. Concrete jungles only make me long for the solitude of my North Shore mountains. However, eight million people live there for a reason, not just to check out the view from the Empire State Building. Amongst our fantastic dining experiences, we went to a rave and watched some incredible performance art that you didn’t need to be high on E to appreciate (just wine). We went to Cindy Sherman‘s exhibit at the Moma, a woman who has photographed herself in various forms of disarray over forty years and has the breadth of work to prove it – a brilliant satire of life as we know it, and more thought provoking than I can explain with mere words. We saw The Book of Mormon on Broadway – if I say uproariously funny will I sound like the pamphlet they handed me when I stepped into the theater? Truly hilarious, what else would you expect from the creators of South Park? The New York Public Library featured an exhibit on the letters and manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, whose real life played out like a soap opera well before its time. A little gallery of heaven right there.

If you haven’t seen Cindy Sherman’s work, you really should.

I tried not to drool, but looking at Shelley’s scribbled pages of genius made it difficult.

These experiences, easily, were the highlights. The things I will hold close to my heart and take with me past New York and beyond. The rest was tourist play. Why I can run easily run ten miles, but have great trouble walking a couple of miles worth of city blocks is one of life’s great mysteries.

I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a vacation, but visiting New York was invigorating in a different way. You might say the Big Apple took a bite out of me, instead of the reverse. But I chewed as much as I could in my attempt to seize the day, and I was happy with the contents of my Granny Smith.

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Home Exchange.com – Let the Games Begin

November 20, 2010 2 comments
The Eiffel Tower.

Image via Wikipedia

We want to bring some unique travel experiences to our childrens lives, expose them to new languages and countries rich in history, show them there is more to the world than our small enclave, preferably while eating good food and watching people who are much more fashionable than us.

In other words, we want to go to Europe.

Up until now, I have felt they were too young to travel long distances.  I thought they would get more out of a camping trip an hour from our house then dragging them to another continent.  But now they are eleven, nine and six; the older two in particular eager for new adventures.  Our youngest will go along with whatever her sisters want, so she is a moot point.

If we are schlepping them so far, it stands to reason we want to be there for a while, preferably a month.  The accommodation price tag alone of housing a family of five would quickly bankrupt us.  So yesterday, I joined HomeExchange.com.

Friends of ours have used this successfully to travel to France and Australia, meeting great families in the process.  We thought we would throw our ring into the hat, and see if we can pull out a rabbit.  Or a castle.

The other day, as sunlight filtered in through our windows – a rare sight in November – I was inspired to photograph our digs.  I ran around, stashing piles of crap in drawers, stuffing clothing underneath beds, and turning lights on even though it was daytime, and cursed myself once again for not taking a photography course.

I miraculously found my USB cord and loaded them onto my computer.  This must be a sign that good things, and surely castles, are coming my way.  Next, I cleverly searched the internet for a coupon for HomeExchange.com; and the first one I found actually worked.  A definite sign.  Call me Princess.  Am I actually becoming internet savvy or have they just dumbed it down?

I filled out the required information about our home, trying hard to not sound like a used car salesman, yet clever enough for our listing to scream “castles only need apply!” in a very discreet way, of course.  I finished the writing part, but then had to search their directory to figure out how to load photos.  It was the first Frequently Asked Question, so again I patted my internet-savvy self on the back, since I clearly was not the first person to inquire about this.

There were four places to list where you would like to travel, so along with France and Italy for this summer, I also added Maui and Naramata, for March break and August, respectively.  You can’t win if you don’t play.  How cool would it be if we could get a sweet place in Hawaii or the Okanagan on a lark?

Presto.  After two hours of work, and a grand total of $85 (the cost for a yearly membership, after my crafty coupon) chez nous is open for business.  Fingers crossed that this experience doesn’t resemble National Lampoon’s European Vacation.