Next week my family is heading for Thailand for the Christmas holidays. We are all very excited to be heading to a destination that combines unique culture and great people with delicious food and tropical beaches. This will not be my first Thai experience however, but that does not make it any less exciting.
I first went to Thailand in 1989, on my way east from traveling for several months in Nepal and India. I was initially disappointed at how easy it was to get around. I could jump on a water-bus on the Chao Phraya River to get to most places that I wanted to go in Bangkok. Or catch on a cheap minibus on Khaosan Road to get to almost any place in the country that a backpacker would want to go – north, south, east, or west. There were no people aggressively asking me for money or competitive jostling in long lines to buy tickets. It took me several days to relax. Read more
There really are windmills in The Netherlands.
The whole third section of our book is devoted to reinforcing the memories of a trip well taken and exploring the cultural diversity offered in your own hometown. But what I neglected to include in those chapters is the memory boost offered by electronic blasts from the past. Every couple of months I get an e-mail message from Nederlands Openluchtmuseum. Even before I open it, it brings me a little smile.
Making paper at the Openluchtmuseum.
Back in 2007, when the kids were seven and four, we took the whole family to The Netherlands for a scientific conference. On an off day we took a train and a bus to a museum that was supposed to be fun for kids while documenting the everyday cultural heritage of the region. We had a great afternoon walking through the period buildings of the “Open Air Museum” and interacting with people in period costumes doing traditional labor like milling grain or smithing. Read more
Our affordable London hotel (lower left) was under the Eye!
It wasn’t that long ago when finding a hotel meant pulling out my Lonely Planet Guide and telling the taxi/rickshaw/tuk tuk driver to take me to whichever guesthouse was recommended. Many other travelers used the same method and inevitably places became too popular and overcrowded. Sometimes I found lodging by word-of-mouth and by getting advice from other travelers, but often these recommendations were based on the very same guidebooks. Sometimes lodging solicited me. I remember coming out of immigration at the Kathmandu airport and being accosted by a sea of people offering beds in their various guesthouses and feeling overwhelmed by it all; the sights, the sounds, the hustle, the bustle. But that was in the 80’s, when international phone calls were only for periodically checking in with worried relatives at home and incoming mail was so slow it had to be sent general delivery weeks in advance. Read more
From the top of Chair 1 at Alpental.
Snoqualmie pass is the major east/west migration route through the Cascade mountain range from Seattle. It is also the home of The Summit at Snoqualmie, an amalgam of four ski areas that each have a unique and distinctive vibe despite being commonly-owned. There is Summit West, a perfect place for families to learn to ski. Summit Central has the terrain park and is popular for night skiing. Summit East (a.k.a. Hyak) is my family’s low-key favorite. And finally there is Alpental, which has the steeper terrain and backcountry access that expert skiers love. I’ve been skiing at Snoqualmie pass for over 20 years and have had a season pass there for the last decade. I won’t tell you where my secret stashes of snow are located, but here are a few other things that I have learned:
Check out my post on We Said Go Travel!
The backstreets of České Budějovice.
In half a year of living in Vienna in 2008, we were able to take small European vacations in every direction – Ljubljana, Venice, Salzburg, Krakow, Bratislava, Budapest. But we never went to the Czech Republic. It was right next door and it had Prague! Ashley had been there in the early 90s so she always lobbied to go someplace that was new to her. Finally, four years later, she was ready for a revisit, partly because of my lobbying and partly to meet a colleague with common teaching interests. Ashley’s colleague was not actually in Prague. He was in České Budějovice, South Bohemia, part way between Vienna and Prague. A quick Internet search revealed a big and beautiful old town square. And the town’s name in German is Budweis, as in Budweiser beer. I needed little convincing to schedule a stop there on the way to Prague. Read more
I called the snowphone after lunch from work to check on the ski conditions. It had been ten days since I last skied and I was feeling anxious. TNT, the local snow reporter, told me that the eight inches of … Read more