Tag Archives: christmas

Why I’m traveling with my baby

This week, Vera and I came back from a few days in London to see friends and get a little dose of Christmas (it turns out, 3 days of pre-holiday shoppers and relentless Christmas music is plenty). The UK is country #6 for my baby who is not yet five months of age, and I’m already itching to plan another trip. On each flight, a fellow passenger or flight attendant will ask, “Is this her first flight?” and I respond proudly that it’s her 12th and counting. When I talk to people about traveling with the baby, I’m often met with reactions that indicate I must be insane, reckless, or just selfish. These are all valid points, but so far Vera is a very healthy and happy baby, and I hope to keep traveling as long as she remains so. I’m paranoid about ever being the mother-with-the-crying-baby on a plane so I watch her like a hawk for signs of distress and I’ve been lucky so far to have a nearly perfectly-behaved baby (it helps that all I can really do with her is feed and hold her, which are her favorite activities) on each flight. Occasionally, I doubt my own sanity and decision-making when I’m walking around a foreign city late at night with a crying baby, taking a cross-border bus with no adult help, or trying to  juggle a stroller and a suitcase while nursing and walking, but I have no real regrets.

So, in case you wondered, why the hell am I dragging my baby around the world?

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Expat lesson learned: there’s a Turk for that

The most striking thing I’ve found about living in Turkey is not so much the east-meets-west cliche, but the fact that the modern world and the old school of doing things coexist. While I can order food delivery online, you still see many Turks lowering baskets into the streets and getting passersby to go on a beer run (okay, more likely an Ayran run) for them. I can shop or eat at nearly any multi-national chain, though there are also tons of tea houses women haven’t entered in decades and shops that have probably have been running in the red for as many years. I’ve also learned that nearly any task or errand can and will be performed by a specialist with a job description that you may not find anywhere else. No matter what you need done, chances are, there’s a Turk for that. Continue reading

Where’s next?

It's not even Labor Day, but my trigger finger is anxiously poised over my mouse, ready to buy tickets for a Christmas-NYE holiday.  After much debate with H, I think we are ready to make a decision.  I've mentioned some of this debate before.  H has become a New York provincial (actually not even Manhattan, as he won't even leave Brooklyn on the weekends unless forced) and has argued against Paris, my original plan.  "Why go to Paris when you live in New York?" says he.  Them's fightin' words, you say.  Well, he has some points, and he has been there nearly a dozen times.  His argument is essentially that he can understand if you live in the rural South why you would want to go to Paris (or New York or London, for that matter), but when you already live in a huge, cosmopolitan, cultural city, why use your vacation time visiting another?  When there are all sorts of crazy places out there like India, Bolivia, Sri Lanka, etc that would offer something totally different?  We also try to visit a few new countries a year without revisiting anything, at least for the time being.  Not to mention, Paris is expensive right now and December is cold, maybe even colder than New York.  All this made sense to me, but I still whined, "Wanna go to Paris!" until we compromised and decided we'd go for my 30th birthday if I haven't gone there for work or some other reason before that day arrives.

So it looks like we'll be spending this Christmas in Nicaragua!  Whaaa?! you say.  It's one of those things, like Cobb salad*, that I had never heard of (well, at least I hadn't considered it) and then one day, it's everywhere. What really interested me was this L.A. Times article about the Corn Islands, but I've seen articles about it in nearly every travel publication and newspaper section since.  Turns out that American flies there, it's 2.5 hours from Miami, wicked cheap, and has great beaches but no creepy resorts.  Done and done! You can see the many articles and sites I have collected already on my Suitcase on Concierge.com (I love this feature, btw). It's apparently the new Costa Rica (which we've never been to either and haven't really been interested in, in the interest of full disclosure)!  H and I are big fans of the "b-side destinations:" Uruguay over Argentina, Northern Ireland over the Republic, etc.  I've been obsessively looking for tickets to Managua (the capital city, which is supposed to be sort of shitty and only warrants a stopover, but we ended up loving Santiago, Chile, so who knows?) ever since I "discovered" Nicaragua, and I think I have to buy them tonight if I want to have any half-way decent flights.  I'm massively underwhelmed with Yapta, btw, they have yet to register all of the fare changes in the past few days but maybe they are better post purchase?  Anyway, that's what's next if I ever get out of Ireland, figuratively speaking.

Unrelated interesting article of the day: Branding a country.

Oh! and my friend Kevin's Ireland article is finally out in this month's CNT and it is awesome!  So jealous that he met Marian Keyes, awesome!  Too bad the Green Gate and Temple House (coming soon to this blog!) are just in Places + Prices, but glad they are in the issue.

*17 years ago, when my parents moved to Arizona, my mother had lunch at a restaurant where they had Cobb salad.  She had never heard of it, then ever since, she sees it everywhere.  So now it's one of those things that you say when you see something everywhere that was previously unknown.

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Computer says no

*I spent much of the past weekend watching seasons 2 and 3 of Little Britain, so I must reference the bank/travel agent sketch.*

Husband and I are already looking forward to taking a vacation around Christmas, when our offices are closed.  We have $1000 in American Airlines vouchers, 160k Marriott points, and 40k Starwood points.  H wants to go somewhere warm, even though we are not resort people and I know we will get bored lying on the beach for a week, surrounded by other fat Americans, drinking watered down drinks, and being captive to the resort restaurant.  But, as H points out, it would be something different and thus sort of exotic for us.  Naturally, every other moron wants to go somewhere warm for Christmas, so airfares are sky high, hotel rates are exorbitant, and you have to pay double points at any warm-weather Marriott to override blackout dates.  I just don't want to clean out both hotel point accounts to go to Puerto Rico and be subjected to gaggles of children and resort entertainers.  I remember staying a few days in Miami a few years ago at a resort and trying to eat dinner while an overly enthusiastic fat man shimmied at me and sang "Hot! Hot! Hot!" on his headset microphone.  *Shudder*

I have advocated the opposite of warm, and want to go to Europe. I've never been to Paris, and fares are relatively cheap to Belgium.  I'm suggesting going to Brussels and taking the train to Paris, Antwerp, Ghent, and Bruges.  I've heard the Belgian cities (well, other than Brussels) are really cool and interesting, and we can use hotel points at the standard rate for most nights.  It'll be much less touristy, albeit cold, but sorta Christmassy and festive.  H is unmoved by the articles I send him about how cool Belgium is, as it will be seriously cold, but no colder than New York, as I point out.

I'm still not over my near coup for tickets to Istanbul.  Last week, Alitalia had an inexplicable fare sale *business class* (and I'm a total slut for business class) to Istanbul over Christmas for about $500 each!  It was only up for a few hours and by the time I tried to book it, it was gone, with no trace that it ever existed.  Damn, really should have gone for it, though Istanbul isn't exactly warm in December, I would have gone!  We are thinking we'd like to go to Turkey next year, but maybe in early summer when we can go to the beach there.

Stay tuned to this riveting drama to find out where we end up…

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