Rome if you want to…

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Rome is a polarizing place.  For some, it represents the peak of romance, beauty and charm. For others, it’s a crowded, tourist-laden nightmare.  I think its real appeal is that it’s both; it’s a city of contradictions.  There is a mix of ancient and modern, sometimes seamless in execution (turning on a busy street and seeing the Parthenon) and others not so much (the futile attempt of expanding the Metro due to delays in the name of archeology). It’s very urban, but yet has simple charms similar to those found in Italy’s most rural countryside villages.  There are so many relics and ruins; it’s often a little overwhelming! But, if you take a step back to enjoy the moment, it’s a city that can leave you breathless.  You will understand why it’s called the Eternal City.

Take a Roman holiday…

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know before you go: Edinburgh (EDI)

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not sure what the reverse man hole cover is

Great Scott!  There’s no flying Deloreans, but plenty of planes.  Edinburgh (EDI) is a pretty cool little airport.  I mean, it kind of looks like a weird face from above or at least a pair of goggles, so that’s something.

For being a smaller airport, it’s the largest in Scotland and the 6th largest in passenger volume in the UK.  Not too shabby.  With many low cost carriers like WOW and RyanAir offering flights, I’m sure it’ll only get more popular with time.

There’s only one terminal and about 25 gates, so it’s easy to manage.  The best thing about it is that the exit is just steps from the Edinburgh tram stop, the most convenient way to get into the city (takes about 30-35 minutes).  This was HUGE when I had a long layover here — I just bought a return ticket and got to see all of Edinburgh in a few hours.

Remember: ✈️ = duke of edinburgh the crown season 2 to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = duke of edinburgh season 1 (very specific example, I know)

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (the tram is a godsend)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (there’s only one)

Convenience of check in/security lines: ✈️✈️✈️ (was pretty quick)

Dining: ✈️✈️  (not much, there’s a Costa coffee and Starbucks before security and a Krispy Kreme and M&S after)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️  (could use a little updating)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available–tons of charging at Starbucks)

Amenities: ✈️✈️  (a few souvenir shops, Michael Kors, Aerospa, Superdrug)

 

 

Japan part Ni: kyoto, nara, osaka

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In honor of Sakura, the internationally renowned spring cherry blossom season, we continue our journey through Japan.  Next destination: Kyoto.  One of the most magical cities in Japan, it feels like you’re a character in a novel from eons ago when you’re here.  Literally, if this city does not make you feel like you’re in Memoirs of a Geisha or Shogun, then Sayonara, Felicia.

Kyoto has a dark magic feel to it, the city of geishas.  You just know there’s secrets hidden in the dark, wooded architecture.

If these rice paper walls could talk…

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know before you go: Ontario (ONT)

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No, not Canada.  To continue the Coachella prep, for out of town friends joining in on the party, consider Ontario, an Inland Empire airport into which you can fly.  There’s not much there, so enjoy the animal style above instead.  The best thing about this airport is that there’s an In-n-out across the street.  Otherwise, it’s a hard sell unless you’re flying Southwest.

But remember, #1 rule on this blog: avoid LAX at all costs.  PSP is ideal, but it’s probably going to be pricey for the average general admission holder.  SNA is further and more expensive. Ontario is about a 90 minute drive from Indio, and it’s a really efficient and gets you from point A to point B.

There are two terminals, numbered 2 and 4, and a separate international arrivals area for a total of about 28 gates.  It is an international airport, with flights to Guadalajara and Taipei — but mostly it’s Southwest locoregional flights on the west coast.

Remember: ✈ = ontario, CA to ✈✈✈✈✈ = ontario, CA (you can decide which is which)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈✈✈✈ — it’s pretty small

Convenience of security lines: ✈✈✈

Dining: ✈ (there is a Coffee Bean, but you should really consider eating elsewhere before — hence the In-n-Out)

Bathrooms: ✈✈ (there could be more)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈✈  (free wifi available, not many charging areas)

Amenities: ✈ (you’re not here to shop, you’re here to get in and out)

know before you go: London Heathrow (LHR)

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“Whenever I get gloomy with the state of the world, I think of the arrivals gate at Heathrow airport.” — Hugh Grant, Love Actually.

Thus is the beginning to the greatest romantic comedy -with major plot points played out in an airport- ever.  I know, really specific–but that scene with Thomas Sangster Brodie where he’s running through to catch the girl! Love it.

Even though there’s quite a liberal dusting of Hollywood magic in that movie (who would ever cheat on Colin Firth?!?), at least that first scene is accurate.  The excitement always reaches a climax when you walk through that hallway and emerge to see the throngs of people waiting for you. Love is actually all around!

Heathrow is the second busiest airport in the world, and has over 200 gates. You can fly just about anywhere, on any airline.  It’s about 14 miles from the city center, and can be reached via Heathrow Express train, the tube, and bus.  Express will get you to the city in 15 minutes; the tube will take 40 minutes, but it’s only ~3 pounds.

There are four terminals split by alliances.  Terminal 2 — the Queen’s terminal — is Star Alliance (United, Aer Lingus, Icelandair), 3 is OneWorld (Virgin, Delta, Emirates, Qantas, etc), 4 is Skyteam (except Delta), Etihad, Malaysia and Qatar, and 5 is British Airways.

Remember: ✈️ = joni mitchell’s blue to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = to me you are perfect

Convenience to city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (although only ✈️ for hotels, catching the Hoppa would be a lot easier if there were signs telling you which stop is designated for each hotel)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️

Convenience of security lines: N/A, but customs line was ✈️✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️ (Gordon Ramsay plane food, a few different coffee options, Wagamama, Fortnum & Mason –although more for souvenirs than eating, Pre-a-manger.  I gave it an extra for an M&S simply food, my fav grab and go London spot)

Bathrooms:✈️✈️✈️ (not too shabby for amount of passenger traffic)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️  (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (lots of airline lounges, a chaplain for every religion, the BEST shopping with Dior, Burberry, Bvlgari, Chanel, Gucci, Harrod’s, Jack Wills, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Ferragamo, Mulberry, Saint Laurent, Ted Baker, Stella McCartney, Rolex, Tiffany, Thomas Pink! It’s better than like every mall. Emoji heart eyes x trillion.)

 

weekender in Palm Springs (Coachella tips, y’all)

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In two weeks is a weekend that is one of my favorite of the year, first weekend of Coachella, the granddaddy of all music festivals.  Sure, Lolla is great, Governor’s Island is hip and Outside Lands is chill, but Coachella is the one they all aspire to be, for the star power and cool factor alone.  I mean, watching hundreds of musical acts in sunny California is ideal.

In my twenties, I looked forward to actually attending the festival, but now that I’m a little (read: a lot) older, I look forward to the mass exodus of festival goers from LA/OC (less traffic, reservations!).  But, I do have fond memories of attending the festival, so here are some tips to aid in your weekend of revelry.

Hopefully with no Beyonce biting…

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36 hours in San Antonio

In celebration of the start of the Final Four tomorrow, culminating in an undoubtably fantastic NCAA championship game Monday (hopefully featuring my school, I won’t say which, but if you read this blog, you can probably guess), here’s to planning your weekend in San Antonio!

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Inexplicably, I’ve been to San Antonio several times for work.  Texas’s second largest city, it’s one of the fastest growing cities in the country.  There’s a huge US armed forces contingent there and is probably best known for being home to the Alamo and previously, Tim Duncan.

Beyond that, the food and drink scene in San Antonio is fantastic.  Not only do you have spectacular Tex Mex regional cuisine, but every restaurant has it’s own unique look and feel.  The decor in some of these restaurants–especially the ones in repurposed spaces is something to behold.  It’s a multicultural city with so many identities, and that’s what makes it a great place to create some memories.

Remember the Alamo…

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3 days in Portland

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Portland is one of the great food cities in the country.  Add the lush backdrop of Mt. Hood and the proximity to natural beauties such as Columbia River Gorge, and you have a perfect destination to spend a few days.

There are so many distinct personalities of the city, as depicted on Portlandia.  While maybe a slight exaggeration, it certainly is an amalgam of cultures and types of people. So come with an open mind and an open stomach, grab a pair of Portland based Nikes and…

Just do it.

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know before you go: Dublin (DUB)

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Top of the morning to ya. Dublin (DUB) is an exceptionally beautiful airport that serves a lot of flights to and from the US to Europe.

There are two terminals connected via pedestrian bridge.  Terminal 1 serves: most european carriers including Air France, British Airways, Etihad, FinnAir, KLM, and Lufthansa.

Terminal two serves: Aer Lingus, Delta, American, Emirates and United.  This is the modern terminal that opened in 2010,  underscoring the lush Irish countryside with floor to ceiling glass.  This is also the terminal I flew into on Aer Lingus.

Because it is modern, there is good signage, a good amount of restrooms and charging areas.   As an aside, I will say that the people who work in this airport (especially for Aer Lingus) are unnervingly attractive.  Like really, did they do a casting call for good-looking young Irish folk or something?  Their emerald-hued uniforms are so striking, and all of the flight attendants look like the could be a member of the Corrs family.

This airport also features a special pre-clearance area for travelers going to the US.  It is the best thing ever.  You get all of your customs screening done here and when you return to the US, you’re treated like a domestic arrival because it’s all done. Apparently, there’s also a new executive lounge for pre-clearance customers available for a small free as well.

Remember: ✈️ = one pint of Guinness to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = many pints of Guinness

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️✈️

Convenience of security lines: N/A, but customs line was ✈️✈️

Dining: ✈️✈️ (some Irish offerings, grab and gos and Burger King)

Bathrooms:✈️✈️✈️✈️ (incredibly clean facilities)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️  (free wifi available—none of their chargers seemed to work and are very few in terminal 2)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️ (preclearance to the US, airline lounges, but duty free shopping could be better, there’s a chocolate lounge that serves sundaes and fondue though so…call it a draw?)

Consider yourself to have the luck of the Irish if you get to have a layover here.