ABC Travel

I love travelling, obviously, or I wouldn’t be in the industry that I am in.  I love travelling by sea, waking up in a new place every day.  But sometimes, you wake up in a place where you’d like to stay for a few more days.  And there are so many places that aren’t even accessible by sea.  The more places I visit, the more places I realize I want to visit.     [I think this must be some corollary to Socrates’ “The more I know, the more I realize I don’t know” theory.]

When I was younger, I wanted to be a travel agent for a while (of course, I also wanted to be a lawyer and a pop star).  As I got older, and with the advent of the internet and bargain travel sites like Expedia and Travelocity, I thought travel agents were becoming obsolete.  But I suppose there is always a niche somewhere for these things; you just have to find it.

I’ve considered all of the places I want to go, and the best ways to incorporate them into cohesive trips.  There has to be a common thread tying them together.  So I thought of some itineraries (packing can wait!)

 

Disneylands

The easiest (and cheesiest) itinerary would be to visit every Disneyland theme park in the world.  I know many people have done this gradually (I, myself, am slowly checking them off as well), but wouldn't it be neat to visit them all in one trip?  It could probably be done in about two weeks if one didn't make any side trips along the way.

Itinerary for visiting every Disneyland!

Itinerary for visiting every Disneyland!

Most travel companies make itineraries for a specific region.  Here are two itineraries that can actually be driven and could be done well in anywhere from two weeks to two months!

Eastern Europe

I have a lot of friends in this region that I would love to visit and have show me around some of the lesser known areas of Europe.  The entire trip can be driven in less than 2 days, so it really would depend on how much time you want to spend in each place.

Eastern European Road Trip!

Eastern European Road Trip!

Southern Africa

I also have a lot of friends in South Africa.  It is quite an up and coming tourist destination, and I think paired with a stereo-typical Africa safari and a trip to the iconic Victoria Falls, this would actually make quite a popular itinerary for those looking for some adventure.  Highlights could include the Safari, the Falls, surfing, and maybe a winery tour.

South African Road Trip!

South African Road Trip!

Northern Africa/ Southern Mediterranean

Another regional based itinerary, and probably one of the most unstable, would be a trip across Northern Africa.  I don’t recommend driving straight across though, as many of the areas are quite dangerous.  Stick to major tourist towns.  Maybe even take a cruise for some of it. The trip could also begin or end in Europe (like Portugal, Spain, or Gibraltar.)  Highlights here would include Moroccan markets, the Great Pyramids and Sphinx, Petra, and of course a camel ride or two.

Northern Africa Itinerary

Northern Africa Itinerary

My real thought though, was how to combine multiple destinations in varied climates/regions into one trip without making a plain old “around the world” trip?  Simple, travel by alphabet!  I originally thought of the idea when I realized that most of the places I most wanted to visit started with the letter “I”.  For anyone who has ever read Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert also visits 3 countries that start with “I”, as I guess most of the good countries do 😉

Travel by Alphabet!

 

I went to Traveler’s Century’s List of countries and territories to see how many start with “I”.  Luckily, there are not many.  I then ruled out Iraq and Iran as they are probably not safe for a young American woman.  I also took out the Ivory Coast as it was out of the way from any of the other places (and, technically, it would be a “C” for Cote d’Ivoire!)  This gave me the following itinerary…

 

The “I”s Have It!

I_Countries

“I” Countries Itinerary – my dream trip!

Iceland (to visit the Blue Lagoons), Ireland (to visit the Guinness Brewery and the Blarney Stone), Isle of Man (because it’s close enough), Italy (Tuscany is the prettiest region),  Istanbul (while not technically it’s own country, this iconic city is considered a completely different region), Israel (Wailing Wall and floating in the Dead Sea – and probably a night out in Tel Aviv for sure!), India (Taj Mahal), and finally, Indonesia.  I reckon this trip could be done in three legs (Northern Europe, Mediterranean, and the Inds).  One could probably do each segment in about two weeks, depending on what you wanted to see. 

So 6-8 weeks would be the perfect time for this trip (and preferably in early or late summer for ideal weather in all countries!)  This means I could actually do this on one of my breaks between contracts (it would just take me a few contracts to pay it off!)  This is really my dream trip.

I then also thought about some of the other countries I want to visit, and came up with what I like to call the “A-List”.  Another trip that could be done in 6-8 weeks visits countries which start with the letter “A”. 

The “A”-List

This would include Argentina, Antarctica, and then Australia (with NZ thrown in since I’m there).

"A" Countries Itinerary!

“A” Countries Itinerary!

 

So there you have it.  Maybe I could even create an itinerary that systematically visits one country starting with each letter of the alphabet! [*] Check back for that one.  If anyone wants to travel any of these with me, call ABC Travel (i.e. – me!)  

 

P.S.  For the Alphabetical list of countries, click here.  For the list of countries by region, click here.

 
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New and Improved Bucket List

It seems the more places you go, the more places you want to go.  There is so much to see and do in the world, it’s almost overwhelming!  I’ve updated my list (and categorized it by region!)  Who knows if I will ever be able to see it all!

Link

Bucket List Update

You may recall a post where I added things to my bucket list once I started working on ships (this one). I can now say, that after my last contract I have accomplished the following things on my bucket list…

Hike up a mountain – I’ve hiked a few all over the world, but I have yet to hike to the summit, so I can only halfway cross this off…
Swim with dolphins – Would like to try it in a natural setting, not a giant swimming pool
Horseback ride in water
Horseback ride bareback – have to to ride them in the water!
Stand under a waterfall – I visited/climbed 4 of them in 4 different countries!
Ride a camel – I did this in two countries: Jamaica and Tunisia!
See Mayan ruins
Pub Crawl (in a foreign city) – I went on an awesome one in London!
Visit the Ice Bar – Went to the original one in Stockholm, but apparently there are better ones elsewhere, perhaps this will stay on my list for now 😉

These two were done in my last contract….
-Lumberjack show
-Help in a beach cleanup

I have also now danced in other countries, stayed in a hostel, and had an understandable conversation with someone in another language (they understand my French in Tunisia!)

I also thought of a few new things to add to my list as my new itineraries open up more possibilities….

  • Attend a concert in a cave
  • Tour “Wine Country” in California
  • See wild kangaroos and koalas
  • Experience a “White Night”
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Visit all 7 continents
  • Go to a “swim-up” bar
  • Visit an Egyptian pyramid
  • Attend a Carnaval celebration
  • Visit all the Disneylands
  • Participate in a Flash Mob
  • Ride an elephant

I know I will get to cross a few of these off soon as my next journey takes me to the top of the world and then over to Asia!

My Life is Your Vacation

I’m writing this about 3 weeks into my current vacation from ships.  This time, I left the ship in Jolly England, so decided to delay my flight home a week and explore some of the country.  I spent a few days staying with friends down south followed by a couple days partying and sightseeing in London- it’s what I would call a proper vacation.  Since being home though I haven’t done much besides watch TV (I had to download all the updated episodes of my favorite shows once I finally got decent internet again!)  I also have spent way too many hours editing all of my photos and videos from my last 7 months on the ship.  This just made me more stir crazy.  So stir crazy in fact, that I decided to see if they needed some help in a different position for the summer.  Turns out they did.

So now I leave again in two weeks to go back to Jolly England and the ship I just left this month!   The funny part is, the day I left (somewhat begrudgingly), I told everyone I would be back some way at some point.  I guess sometimes the universe really does take your suggestions!  Definitely a different mentality from my last “vacation”.

When I leave the ship again, I’ll have three weeks home before I leave again for the other side of the world.  I guess when my work is your vacation, why would I want to be stuck back at your work?!?!?

Homeward Bound (A Case of Schadenfreude)

First of all, I would like to admit that I am writing this about three weeks late because my entire post was deleted from my computer (silly technology, tricks are for kids!)

Have you ever gotten the feeling that the world was preventing you from doing something?  That perhaps you were not meant to do something?  Or that in doing it you would face the trials of Job?  That has been my “vacation”.

My job entails making sure all of you enjoy your vacation as you sail around the world.  It’s a fantastic and exhausting job.  Naturally, my vacation is more akin to your everyday life- sitting at home and watching TV.  But when the world seems to be keeping you from getting home, consider it an omen of what is to come.

My omen started when I had to arrive at the airport in Seattle at 10 am for a 9:40pm flight.  I figured I could check my bags and take a train downtown for the day and see some sights, but no, the air line will not let you check-in until four hours before your flight.  So I instead spend ten hours sitting in the one little sandwich shop on the outside of security.  I finally go to check in, only to learn that the entire staff is on dinner break and will not be back for two hours.  So I am forced to wait some more, and just as the time is finally approaching, I receive an email notification saying my flight is delayed until 12:03am.  Now, I have to wait longer to check in, and I will have 10 minutes to make my connecting flight in Miami.  After an anxious call to my family warning them I may need them to drive to Miami and pick me up, I receive another message of a further delay.  Now I won’t make my connecting flight at all.  I go to the counter to see what they can do, and since the plane is going to keep being delayed, they book me on another flight on another airline.

I go to check in with the new airline so I can finally dump my bags, and they inform me that I was booked on a full flight.  Feeling generous since I share her birthday, the girl cuts me a lucky break and keeps me on the flight (although she doesn’t cut me a break on the baggage fees, even with my Seaman’s book!)

I finally make it through security, get some much needed hot food, and proceed to my gate.  I find a friend from the ship and also make friends with a nice airline employee.  We board the plane and they announce that the pilots are MIA but should hopefully be there soon and we should all applaud when they board the plane.  What the?!?!?!?  Thank goodness they are only fifteen minutes late or so, and we are finally on our way.

My connection in Atlanta goes off without a hitch, but upon arriving in Tampa, I discover they have forgotten one of my bags.  At least they know where it is – still in Atlanta.  They inform me it will arrive on the next flight and they will deliver it to my house.  I take a tracking number and head out to my ride, anxious to get home and sleep off my horrible 24 hours.  No such luck, I’m locked out.  After twenty minutes of trying to break into my own house, I finally get my brother to wake his roommate up and let me in.

There is to be no rest as immediately upon getting home, I learn that my car won’t start at all.  There is no food in the house and I am starving so I resolve to walk to the store.  Unfortunately, my missing bag is the one that has all my shoes in it save for the cowboy boots I was wearing (which are not acceptable for walking half a mile in 95 degree heat and humidity!)  So alas, I simply pass out on the crappy green couch that is to be my bed for the length of my vacation.

After a week of fruitlessly trying to get my car fixed, I give up and take a train to visit my parents for a week so I can put it out of sight and out of mind.  Unfortunately there is to be no rest for the weary as other anxieties pile on instead.  The icing on the cake?  I get an email begging me to go back a month early!  This would mean missing seeing most of my friends, my cousin’s wedding, and Thanksgiving with family I haven’t seen in years.  And if that were not enough, they want to change my ship to one with a much less exciting itinerary.  They have yet to confirm said dates, and so I sit here knowing that I could POSSIBLY be leaving in less than a week and knowing that it’s IMPOSSIBLE to take care of all of the things I needed to before leaving again.  Perhaps next time I should just skip vacation all together and go straight to another ship.

My life would make an excellent “comedy of errs” type film.  Schadenfreud!

 

 

New Bucket List for Cruising

Working on ships has opened up opportunities for me to do so much new things!  Here’s a few I hope to do on this contract and my next…

  • Dog Mushing
  • Spelunking
  • Hike up a mountain
  • Bike through a town
  • Swim with dolphins
  • Visit a Beer/Rum/Liquor factory
  • Horseback ride in water
  • Horseback ride bareback
  • Stand under a waterfall
  • Ride a camel
  • See Mayan ruins
  • Pub Crawl (in a foreign city- Key West counts!)
  • Kayak
  • Visit the Ice Bar
  • Lumberjack show
  • Help in a beach cleanup

     

    Sidenote:

    It’s hilarious to read Shore Excursions for Tampa- they go to UT and Ybor city- in other words- they do about $100 what it costs thousands of college kids thousands of dollars to do.

Christmas Eve Eve

As a kid, I always remember going to my grandma’s house or my aunt’s house on Christmas Eve for a big Italian dinner and opening presents form the family (we still waited til Christmas morning to open presents from Santa, of course!)  Then we’d go to “midnight mass” (which I put in quotes because it actually started at 11!)  and sing Christmas hymns by candlelight.  These were always the things that made Christmas Christmasy for me.  The things that defined that day from any other day.  Then Christmas day we’d have 40-60 of our closest friends and family come to our house to eat and drink all day and night.  I loved these Christmas Eves and Christmases.  As I got older, and my family moved away, our Christmases began to feel less Christmasy.  We’d go out to dinner on Christmas Eve, and we could never even stay up for mass.  My siblings and I had to set an alarm to wake up at five for “santa” as we were no longer excited enough to get up on our own.  We’d open presents and eat breakfast and by 10 or 11 am, Christmas was over.  Sometimes we’d go see a movie.  But it felt like it wasn’t even worth it anymore.

As I was on my way to work today, Christmas Eve Eve, it occurred to me that this is the day that has become the most festive and eventful for me in the past few years.  Five years ago, it was a bunch of coworkers and myself driving an hour north to help another restaurant that was so busy and whose employees were so over worked they hadn’t even had time to finish Christmas shopping yet!  Three or four years ago, it was making the most epic Christmas cookies with one of my best friends who I only get to see on holidays when we both go “back home”.  Last year, I was at Candy Cane Karaoke, singing and dancing and dressing goofy with all my friends (and doing delicious candy cane shots!)

While today was mostly uneventful (although I did brave the grocery store to get the ingredients to do some last-minute holiday baking) it still marks the first real touch of Christmas spirit in my otherwise downtrodden heart.   This will be the first Christmas ever that my family has been separated.  My mom will be here soon to spend the holiday with my brother and I, while my dad and sister and brother-in-law will all be back home and working on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.  I guess this is what growing up does, but I still always hoped that Christmas would be the one day we’d all get to enjoy together.  Hopefully, I manage to find the spirit soon.  If not though, I will be sure to find my birthday spirit in a few days!  And, this will be the first New Year’s I’ve had off in 6 or 7 years!

Where will YOU be in ten years?

Remember back in high school people would always ask you “Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?”  I’m pretty sure that question was on every college admissions application.  How did you answer?  Did you really know?  Did you have a goal or did you just put what you thought they wanted to hear?  Or were you honest and said you had no idea?

I honestly don’t remember what I would put for that.  I’m fairly certain I generally just left it blank or filled it with question marks.  I’ve always had a few random ideas for where my life could go, but I always figured there were so many variables that affected it to know for sure.  At one point I wanted to be either a profiler or linguist for the FBI.  At another point I wanted to be a computer programmer.  I also always thought that by ten years I’d have a husband and kids and a family and a house.

Today, I realized that it HAS been ten years.   Did you end up where you thought you would?  Did you accomplish any of your lofty adolescent goals?  I didn’t.  No fancy, important career.  No husband or kids.  I do have a house.  I suppose that’s something.  One out of four ain’t bad, I suppose.   Still, I ask myself what I have been doing for these past 10 years?!?  I’m no closer to any of these goals than when I graduated high school.  In fact, I feel like I’m further away from any of them.

Someone pointed out today that there are kids half my age that have accomplished way more in their short lives than I will ever hope to accomplish in mine.  It’s kind of a depressing thought.  I suppose it gives you something to work towards, but for most of those things I feel like the ship has sailed.  And let’s be honest, a 3o-year old doing the things that a 10 year old is doing isn’t nearly as impressive.

I suppose the only thing to do now is ask myself: Where do you hope to be in 10 years from NOW?  Funnily enough, the answers remain pretty much the same (except even less lofty):  husband, maybe kids, decent career (I don’t need anything too fancy, just something I don’t hate and can make a decent living at), and maybe have visited a couple more foreign countries.  Those don’t seem lofty do they?  I’m not asking to be a pop star or anything!  Just some basic, All-American goals.  And hopefully, my next 10 years will be more successful than the last 🙂

“I Pledge Allegiance…”

I recently thought of a little anecdote from my childhood that made me think about myself today.  I’m not sure why I thought of this instance recently, perhaps it is because I suddenly seem to have quite a few friends in the military (as a matter of fact, I’m leaving soon to go see one on home for leave!) or perhaps it is because of a heated discussion about equal rights that I just saw on Facebook, or perhaps it’s because it’s almost the Fourth of July.  Either way, I realized something interesting.  When I was little (three or four, I suppose) I got kicked out of preschool.  Yes, sweet little me, teacher’s pet, got told not to come back.  Why you ask?  It is because I refused to say the Pledge of Allegiance.  I refused, because they would not give me a logical explanation as to why I should.  Even toddler me had authority issues.

Adult me still has those issues as well.  People have told me if you want to travel and get paid for school, join the military.  The only problem is that I would not survive one week in the military.  Physical requirements aside (need I list my many disqualifying ailments?), my lack of ability to follow senseless orders would become a problem.  It’s not necessarily that I lack respect for authority, it’s just that I believe authority should be earned.  The people who do the best at their assigned tasks should be the ones who are promoted, not because of who they know, but because they are good enough at doing something to direct others in how to do it.  I take issues as well with people trying to boss me around when I’ve been doing my job longer than they have.  If I trained you in your job, who are you to turn around and tell me how to do said job?  Most importantly, I take issue with things that are illogical.  Damn intelligence won’t let me blindly follow people.  “Because I said so” is not an acceptable answer in my book.

All of that being said, I still do not say the Pledge of Allegiance, to this day.  Now before you start accusing me of being unpatriotic, or treacherous, or a terrorist- hear my logic against saying it.  At the same age when they teach you the Pledge, they also teach you things like not to lie.  I would be lying if I said I could always and forever provide my unwavering loyalty to a country I can’t necessarily predict the future of.  Think of all the little German children in the 1920s and 1930s pledging allegiance to their country- then being asked as adults to systematically murder millions of people.  What if I pledge allegiance now, and 20 years down the road some crazy president comes in and tells us we need to finish off all the Native Americans?  Would you hold true to your “pledge”?  Or would you turn your back on it, and fight against your country or simply flee to another one?  Either you hold true to your pledge and break your own morals, or you break your pledge to keep to your morals- which would then make the entire point of saying said pledge moot anyways.

At the end of the day, saying of few words makes you neither patriotic nor unpatriotic, it’s what’s in your heart that matters.  I still don’t see what the point of reciting it is.  Perhaps we need to spend those extra two minutes teaching kids math and reading so we do not breed a nation of imbeciles.  If someone can tell me a logical reason for how saying the Pledge of Allegiance makes you more productive/intelligent/etc.  then I will be willing to re-examine my opinion.  Until such a time, however, I choose to stick to my morals.  And I will love my country as long as it does not conflict with said morals.  And more importantly, I love all of you who continue to fight for our country so that I may continue to stick to my own morals and not those of some creepy guy thousands of miles away.

I Could Live in a Theme Park

I have two huge passions in life- dancing and theme parks.  The first has its own whole blog, the latter gets this post.

I go to a lot of theme parks.  I worked seasonally in one.  But I hadn’t been to my favorite theme park in 4 years, until yesterday.  And I finally figured out why it is I love theme parks.  I could live inside Epcot.

First off, theme parks are like their own little world.  Like going to a different country in your own backyard (Epcot especially so!).  They have their. Own inhabitants from all over the world.  They develop their own culture.  I have always loved studying world history and culture, and what better way than to go straight to the source!

I don’t even like roller coasters, but I spend a good chunk of my days off at various theme parks.  I realized yesterday that most of the time, I don’t even care about any of the rides.  I don’t have a set aganda for what I have to ride.  I don’t have to get fast passes to avoid waiting in lines all day.  Waiting in the queue is part of the theme park experience I feel, and sometimes its one of the best places to make new friends!

Most people go to Disney World for the Magic Kingdom.  Or for thrill rides or to dine with Mickey and friends.  I go for Epcot.  Some people don’t even know how I could spend a whole day there, but I could spend a week and still not see or try everything.  There’s of course the big name rides like Test Track, Mission Space, and Soarin’- thrill rides I can actually ride.  And after every ride there’s little interactive play areas to play and learn new things- you could actually spend the whole day just doing these probably!  Then there’s innoventions- the huge interactive arcade with all sorts of things to try.  There’s the Land and the Living Seas with all sorts of things to see and do and learn about nature.  And then there’s my favorite part- the world showcase.  I could spend a whole day just here!  There’s presentations and comedy shows in each country.  Plenty of shopping if you have the cash to burn.  For the kids and the kids are heart there’s a craft station in each country.  There’s at least two restaurants in each place to eat around the world. There’s my favorite pasttime of drinking around the world.  And my second favorite pasttime, finding cute foreign guys to flirt with.

I think I’d like to build a new theme park that is just like that part of Epcot.  It would be a little bit smaller, but hopefully a little bit cheaper, and include even a larger variety of countries.  And right in the center will be a hidden tower that I will live in.  Yep, that sounds like a nice dream to hold on to!

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