Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Maps That Will Help You Make Sense of the World

Good morning all! Sorry for not posting Monday, I am coming back from fighting the flu....lets just say that Monday I lost....

Anyway, I found these maps not too long ago and wanted to share, I find them fun and interesting. I posted a few to my blog but click the link to see all 40 of them.

 {Countries That Do Not Use the Metric System, Source}

{Where Google Street View is Available, Source}

 {Paid Maternity Leave Around the World, Source}

{Driving Orientation by Country, Source}

Friday, October 25, 2013

Under Bite: The Tail of Two Bulldogs

Good morning all! TGIF!!!! Can you believe that next week is Halloween and then November is here!?!?! 2013 is flying by! And I need to buy some Halloween candy for the neighborhood kids!

... Anyway, here are some pictures of my little munchkins for you to enjoy today!

{Coco was sitting very pretty for us!}

{This is an old one of Lola but its one of my favorites!} 

Any plans for the weekend? What ever you're up to I hope you have a great one!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Extreme Travelers: The 23 Year Vacation

See full and original article here

After visiting more than 190 countries over the course of more than two decades, Mike Spencer Bown, the world traveler, is ready to come home. And he has some stories to tell!

The 44-year-old might just be the most extensively traveled person in history. The Calgary resident left his town 23 years ago with a backpack and a goal: to visit every country and region on Earth.

And we're not talking flyby. Bown made sure to get to know each and every place he visited. "Some of the least-traveled people I've ever met have been to 100 countries, or even as high as 170 countries — what they do is fly between major cities and especially capital cities, stop off in the airport or take a hotel for the night, and then say that they've 'done' such and such country," Bown told the Sun.

"To my view, such people are passengers, not travelers."

I do count my "flyby" landings as places I've been to...I mean I don't plan to go to places like Iowa and Ohio any time soon so why  not count it when I have a layover? 

Bown has had hair-raising experiences that include "taking local transport across Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and hitchhiking through Iraq during the U.S. invasion, including a visit to Saddam Hussein's hometown," according to the Sun.

He also made it to far-flung outposts like Antarctica, Greenland and Easter Island.

The intrepid adventurer made headlines when he became the first tourist to visit Mogadishu, Somalia, in more than 20 years. Puzzled officials at first tried to put him back on the plane, mistaking him for a spy. But eventually they let him stay for a few days.

"We have never seen people like this man," Omar Mohamed, an immigration official, told the blog Middle East Online at the time. "He said he was a tourist, we couldn't believe him. But later on we found he was serious."

When it comes to exploring new places, Bown is definitely serious. This kind of itinerary is not for the faint of heart. As a guest blogger for the website Backpackology, the traveler told the site he's been arrested "more times than he can count." He then shared the top 80 highlights of his extensive trip. They included:

- Standing in the graveyard of the blue whales, South Georgia Island, Antarctica (No. 79)
- Learning to drive a reindeer sleigh while drunk with the Yakuti tribe, Yakutsk, Russia (No. 74)
- Getting lost on the three interlocking subway systems in Tokyo (No. 71)
- Hitchhiking past bandits, Central African Republic (No. 43)
- Avoiding capture in the land of pirates, Puntland State of Somalia (No. 30)

According to NPR, Bown's idea for such a quest began all those years ago on a mountainside, when he "wondered if it was possible to visit the whole world ... (and) see everything of interest."

Bown told NPR that he was able to keep up his travels by living frugally and staying at cheap hotels, like one in Nicaragua that cost him the equivalent of just 3 cents a night.

As an importer-exporter out of Asia, Bown had plenty of free time to travel, but even then it still took him more than two decades to go everywhere. "I would never have thought it would take so long to see it all. It's enormous."

Do you want to follow in his footsteps? I kind of think that people that travel to Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq for fun are kind of nuts...but that's just me.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Airlines Return to Civility... for a Fee

When airlines decided to start charging for checked bags what did the average traveler start doing? Cramming everything he/she possibly could into a carry-on bag!

Airline fees bring in more than $15 billion a year and are the reason the airlines are profitable. But the amount of money coming in from older charges like baggage and reservation change fees has tapered off. So they need to find a way to charge us more! But will we mind this time?

Would you pay a small fee for extra legroom, early boarding, access to quiet lounges, renting Apple iPads preloaded with movies, a hot first class meals in coach, letting passengers pay to have an empty seat next to them, have your luggage delivered directly to your home or office? I have to say after experiencing the extra leg room I am all for paying the extra fee to get it!

Delta Air Lines recently gave its flight attendants wireless devices, allowing them to sell passengers last-second upgrades to seats with more legroom. Count me in for something like this!

"We want to get back to a point where people feel like travel isn't something to endure, but something they can enjoy," says Bob Kupbens, a former Target executive and Delta's current vice president of marketing and digital commerce. I like the sound of that!

Most fares today don't cover the cost of flying that’s why there is a need for airlines to “create” all these fees. While the average domestic roundtrip base fare has climbed 3 percent over the past decade to $361.95, when adjusted for inflation, the price of jet fuel has nearly tripled.

When oil prices spiked in 2008, airlines added checked baggage fees. Passengers still bought tickets on the base price and didn't think about the extra expense until the day of travel.

Now airlines are recasting fees as trip enhancements. Tricky, very tricky!

On one traveler’s recent late-night US Airways flight home landed past six-year-old son's bedtime and she had to work early the next morning. So, for $30 she bypassed the baggage carousel and had the suitcase delivered.

U.S. airlines collect more than $6 billion a year in baggage and reservation change fees. They also collect $9 billion more from selling extras like frequent flier miles, early boarding and seat upgrades. Together, the fees account for 10 percent U.S. airlines' revenue.

Airlines now alter fees based on demand. United Airlines used to sell its Economy Plus extra legroom seats for one price per route. Today, aisle seats cost more than middle seats; prices are higher on popular flights.

Airlines are also starting to bundle items. Passengers purchase items they might not necessarily buy alone; it also simplifies the dizzying array of offers.

American Airlines offers a package for $68 roundtrip that includes no change fees, one checked bag and early boarding. Delta is experimenting with a $199 subscription that includes a checked bag, early boarding, access to exit row seats and extra frequent flier miles on all flights a passenger takes between now and Jan. 5, 2014.

You can find the full, original article here

Have you ever paid for any of these new extras?

Sunday, October 20, 2013


So I figure I owe y'all a few posts since I missed some while I had company in town. Yesterday was my husbands birthday and his favorite dessert is rice crispy treats so I thought I would make them in cake form (getting my idea from Pinterest of course!)

Here was my inspiration:

And here is my version!

Happy birthday!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Top Places to Grow Old

I found this article on Yahoo! and wanted to share – I always day dream about one day living abroad. Whether it’s in the near future for work or it’s in the distant future for retirement, it’s always on my mind. In creating this list they used four factors: Income security, health, employment/education and environment.

15. Finland
14. Australia
13. The United Kingdom

12. Ireland
11. Austria

10. Japan
9. Iceland
8. The United States
7. New Zealand
6. Switzerland

5. Canada
4. The Netherlands
3. Germany

2. Norway

1. Sweden

Where do you want to live abroad? 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Houston to Destin and Back

Over the weekend I took my Norwegian friend for a road trip from Houston, TX to Destin, FL. On our way there we took a detour to New Orleans so she could see the city, we intended on getting some lunch but all the cafes around Jackson Square had a really long wait. So walked around the square and took pictures of St. Louis Cathedral and then we continued on our way. Before getting into NOLA we hit some pretty bad traffic from the LSU game and we didn't have time to stop at the USS Alabama before they closed. We rolled into Destin right was the sun was setting! Perfect timing!

The next day started with with us relaxing on the beach, we also took in some stand-up paddle-boarding (SUP). And neither of us fell which we were happy about! Around lunch we headed to the docks to board the boat that was going to take us parasailing (we used Sun Dogs next to AJ's Seafood). She had never been parasailing and this trip was all about doing new things! After that we headed back to the hotel for some more beach time before our sunset/dolphin cruise. We were able to get the dolphins to swim with the boat which was really cool!

{we like to wear safety gear!}

{thank you for the awesome pic GoPro!}

On the way back we made a pit-stop in Mississippi for a Swamp Tour at Gator Ranch. We held a baby alligator and enjoyed a ride in an air boat. They had plenty of gators for us to see and we saw two that were actually in the swamp (wild).

Our time in Destin was short but it was fun! There are actually quite a few stops you can make along I-10 to make your trip even more fun! You can stop at the Infinity Science Center and the stop to see the Blue Angels in Pensacola (we couldn't do this because of the government shutdown), there is even a little zoo along the way.

Have you ever taken a road trip? If so where to?

Friday, October 11, 2013

Florida is Calling

As excited I am about our trip to Europe in the spring I had to put that planning/research on hold because my Norwegian friend was coming into town and we needed to plan our weekend in Destin, FL. She is here for 2 weeks and although I have been able to keep her pretty busy here in Houston there really just isn't a lot to do. You can click here to check out what we did the first weekend she was here and we're going to be going to the Zoo today too!

Anyway, Saturday we begin our 9 1/2 hour drive to Destin. We plan on making a pit-stop for lunch in New Orleans and seeing the St. Louis Cathedral and having some beignets at a cafe. We are only going to be there for one full day and we plan on going parasailing and a sunset/dolphin cruise. We also hope to catch a gator tour on our way back into Texas!

Check out some of our pictures from the Houston Zoo!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Stay-cation in Houston, TX

Sorry for not blogging on Friday, I have a Norwegian friend in town and we have been all over town doing things. I thought this would make a good "Stay-cation" post. Here are some things we have done so far

1. Shopping - Shopping is very expensive in Norway so she has been supporting our economy by doing her Christmas shopping here.
2. BBQ - We went to Goode Co. BBQ for some of the Texas classic
3. Basketball game - We watched the Houston Rockets lose 115 - 116, good game!
4. Horseback riding - I thought this would be fun and I had a Groupon so it was 50% off, cant beat that!

We still plan on going to the Zoo and taking a road trip to Destin, FL. Very excited that she is here!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Travel RoundUp

Welcome October!!! 2013 is almost over! Here is your monthly Travel RoundUp

1 - The Concordia which crashed into a reef off Italy in early 2012 was finally turned right-side up.

3 – Buzzfeed has found 16 other things you could buy instead of a first class ticket on Singapore Airlines.

4 – The smog in Hong Kong has gotten so bad that they had to put up banners of their skyline so people could take pictures in front of it. Might not be the best time to visit. 

5 – Yay! You might be able to keep your shoes on through TSA check points!

6 – A Qantas flight was grounded because they found an 8 inch (20cm) snake in the passenger cabin!

 8 – Etihad Airways will be introducing “Flying Nannies” to help parents with their children during the flight. Talk about high rollers!

9 – Colorado has rebranded itself and so far it’s not that popular. What do you think?

10 – In early September the new San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge was opened.

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