Monday, March 29, 2010

Should You Always Trust Locals' Recommendations?

I have lost count how many times I've heard that the best way to experience a place--especially a city--is to ask for the recommendations of the people who live there. And to an extent, I agree--but sometimes you simply have to take people's suggestions with a grain of salt and understand that they may or may not know what they are talking about.

Of course, the same goes for published guidebooks--probably even more so--but that's another story for another time, I suppose.

Some things to keep in mind when you are getting recommendations from locals:

-What is this person's budget when they go out to eat? A restaurant that costs $30 per person may be average to some, but expensive to you!

-Is this person someone who will try anything once, or an extremely picky eater? When you know someone at either end of the spectrum, you could end up in a very eclectic restaurant that doesn't serve anything you would eat, or a restaurant with five fried items on the menu that doesn't offer the choice that you may prefer.

-How often does this person go out to eat, and how many times do they end up at the same restaurant? Because if they go out to eat once a month and always eat at the same place, is their recommendation really going to be a solid one?

-Is this restaurant a chain (even a small chain) that you could visit somewhere else? If so, are you sure you want to eat at any sort of chain restaurant, even if it does come recommended? For instance, if I were traveling to Orlando with a friend from Connecticut, I would certainly suggest Bahama Breeze, knowing that the food and drinks are awesome and that there is no Bahama Breeze anywhere near Connecticut. I would not suggest Bahama Breeze to a friend from the Atlanta area, because there are numerous Bahama Breezes there. Likewise, if the same friend from Connecticut were to visit me here in Greenville, I would certainly try to take them to The Melting Pot--assuming this friend is from my hometown area--because the closest Melting Pot to Ellington is nearly two hours away. Unless this person is someone who travels to Myrtle Beach every year. There is a Melting Pot there, but not, for instance, a Blue Ridge Brewing Company. Unfortunately, many people who are giving "local" recommendations don't think about things like this!

Of course there are other things to keep in mind, namely your own preferences. Remember that when you are traveling, this is your vacation. Never feel bad about not taking someone's suggestion! Just remember that you may want to let them down easily when you admit that you didn't visit their favorite restaurant ;)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Drinking Around the World at EPCOT

It recently came to my attention that there are far too many people out there who do not know the Drinking Around the World basics--or even what Drinking Around the World is, for that matter.

My friends, Drinking Around the World--or DATW, as we affectionately call it--is a staple of every trip I take to Walt Disney World. My trip in September of last year marked my eleventh full completion of DATW, so yes, I think of myself as something of an expert on the subject.

First, the main thing to know is that there are two different ways to DATW--but this entry deals with only one of them! The second is a completely different experience and will take an entry all its own to describe.

Second, yes, there are rules about DATW. Personally, I believe that once someone has fully experienced DATW a couple of times, most of these rules are bendable, but for at least the first time you drink ATW, they must, must, must be followed. Now, these are my rules, based on eleven successful DATW trips. There are other rules out there, but I can only tell you what has worked for me and the many, many people I have introduced to DATW.

I suppose I should at least give a brief description of what Drinking Around the World is. For those of you who don't know, the EPCOT theme park at Walt Disney World has an area called The World Showcase. In The World Showcase are eleven countries--starting at the left, if you are facing the back of the park, and working around clockwise, they are Mexico, Norway, China, Germany, Italy, USA, Japan, Morocco, France, Great Britain, and Canada. Yes, there are some very notable world powers missing here, but you might as well push that thought off to the side because the eleven staple countries were "installed", if you will, in 1982 and haven't changed since. There has been a small addition of an African-styled area/corner on the bridge between China and Germany, but there really isn't enough there for it to count as a pavilion--not to mention, they don't carry any drinks or beers native to any African country, so why force yourself to drink another crappy mass-produced American beer? We simply act as if this little African area doesn't exist, and I suggest you do the same.

As for my rules...

My very first and to me, most important rule is that you must start in Mexico. I have many friends who swear by starting in Canada, but I will never understand why. Mainly because of the old adage, "liquor before beer, you're in the clear; beer before liquor, never been sicker". If you start in Canada, you will start with beer, and probably have beer in Great Britain, and from thence move to wine/champagne in France, a mixed drink in Morocco...and I can't imagine that ending with one of the amazing Mexican Margaritas would be pretty. As I said, I have completed eleven trips DATW, and I have never puked from it. (::knock on wood::)

The second rule, and what should be the most obvious one, is that you need to have at least one drink in each and every country. I am not so much of a stickler on exactly what you drink, so long as it isn't just Bud Light every single time. Personally, my day looks like this:
  1. Mexico-Margarita (my favorite drink of the day)
  2. Norway-Beer (nowadays it's Carlsberg, brewed in Denmark--I want to say they used to have a beer that was actually from Norway, but if so it hasn't been around since sometime in 2005 or 2006)
  3. China-Beer (Tsingtao)
  4. Germany-White Wine (they used to have a Riesling; the last time I went it was a Gewurztraminer; regardless, they were both amazing)
  5. Italy-Bellini
  6. America-Beer (I used to slum it with Miller Lite, but the past couple of times I've drank Sam Adams)
  7. Japan-Beer (Sake is probably the braver choice, but I don't like the stuff and so I drink Kirin Ichiban)
  8. Morocco-Tangerine Daquiri (my second favorite drink of the day)
  9. France-Champagne
  10. Great Britain-Beer (I used to get Tennant's, brewed in Scotland, but the past few times I've stuck with Stella Artois, brewed in Belgium, simply because I prefer it)
  11. Canada-Beer (Previously we always had to drink Labatt Blue, but when we went in September of last year they had Moosehead, which I was very excited about!)

This second rule is one that I feel can be broken after you've accomplished a few trips ATW. It's rare that I substitute, but it has happened, so if you are already an established DATW champ, it is a-okay in my book for you to, say, skip a drink in America and instead have sake and beer in Japan, or two glasses of champagne in France, or two beers in Great Britain.

My final true rule is that you need to take your time. Although I know people who have started at 5 or 6 PM and rushed their way around, this just leads to messy drunks and/or puking and/or the very good chance that you simply won't have time to make it all the way around the world before they stop serving at 8:40/8:45 PM. I have discovered, through trial and error, that the best time to start is right around 3 PM. This leaves you time to linger in a few countries (including eating, at some point) and also grab your last drink and a viewing spot for the 9 PM Illuminations--and of course, you'll be good and drunk but not quite to the point of making a fool out of yourself.

The rest of my "rules" are something like the Pirate Code of Parlay--they're more like guidelines ;o), or maybe, more aptly, hints at how to make your DATW experience more enjoyable.

Tip #1: Eat something. For whatever reasons, many of my friends insist upon the sushi in the Japan pavilion; personally, I feel it's best to get something heavy and/or greasy in your stomach during your trip ATW. A giant pretzel in Germany, a burger and fries in America, or fish and chips in Great Britain are my top picks.

Tip #2: The more people you are with, the better. The absolute best DATW experience I ever had was with a group of 17; however, I've also had amazing times with groups of 8-12. That's not to say that it wasn't fun the few times there were only 4 or 5 of us participating; it's just that in a bigger group, people tend to act sillier. Plus, bigger groups make better pictures, as well ;o)

Tip #3: Grab a Kidcot mask! This is basically a white mask made of posterboard, attached to a paint mixing stick from Home Depot. You pick it up when you start DATW, in Mexico (make sure to grab a marker as well!) and as you make your way ATW, you write the silly things your DATW-mates say on it, and hopefully get creative with decorating it as well. Each pavilion has a Kidcot stop, along with a little something that they will add to the mask for free, but we also usually buy a few cheap little souvenirs/trinkets and attach them ourselves. This makes for a great souvenir, although for some reason we are rarely ever able to keep track of who brings the mask home and what happens to it in the future.

Tip #4: Don't bother with cash or a debit/credit card. Grab a gift card at one of the stores in the park, before you start DATW, and load it with at least $80-90. If you only use it for drinks, as of September of last year that would get you all the way ATW, without having to worry about change, or signing something, or balancing your bank account the next day. My good friend Marty pushed this idea on me a couple of years ago, and all I can say is that I'm not sure why I never thought of it--and I definitely owe him one!

Tip #5: Explore the pavilions. This is another big plus when you take your time--you can ride the Gran Fiesta Tour in Mexico and make fun of it, and ride the Maelstrom attraction in Norway, which is sadly one of EPCOT's thrill rides. Make sure to do some shopping in China and Japan, keep an eye out for some great photo opportunities in the nooks and crannies of Morocco, hop in the fountain in France (okay, you may not want to do this...I think I'm just lucky that I have yet to get caught), and if British Invasion is playing in Great Britain, try to catch their show. These little opportunities are what make DATW so much better than just hanging out at some bar, whether it be in Orlando or another city.

And now that I've waxed reminiscent for nearly 1500 words, it's time that I left you with one last (and what should be obvious) tip: take plenty of pictures! In conclusion, here is a picture from what I still count as the best Drinking Around the World experience ever, July 2006 with a group of 17 (although not all 17 of us are pictured here) and a very infamous mask:
Rest stop in America, halfway through DATW

Monday, March 22, 2010

Know Where You Live

When I was growing up, I hated my hometown--and to be completely honest, not much has changed there, and I certainly wouldn't want to spend the rest of my life in Ellington, Connecticut. But as I got older, I realized that some of the things I'd scoffed at as a youngster were actually kind of different and fun. I never thought about someone going a lifetime and never seeing the quaint town and beautiful shore of Ogunquit, Maine, for instance--because I went there so many summers, it being just a few hours' drive from Ellington.

Therefore, when my boyfriend and I relocated (or rather, for me, re-relocated) to Greenville, South Carolina, we vowed to get out and appreciate the city and the surrounding areas. And so far, despite moving here just before the holiday season, and then having to deal with winter--yes, it does get cold here!--we are doing a pretty good job. And the more places we experience, the more I realize that I could invite a friend, even one from a big city, to visit for a long weekend, and have plenty to show that person. Because no, Greenville isn't Boston or New York City or Orlando or even Charleston--but it has a beauty and a charm all its own.

So please, keep an eye out for rants and raves about my adopted hometown--because eventually, I'll have to re-live one of the many Red Sox farm team ballgames I've attended here, or discuss the joys of spending an afternoon in Falls Park, or rant about the crappy pizza while raving about the few and far between great pizza places we've discovered. I'm hoping that I can convince more than a few people why this really is the place that folks from Atlanta and Charlotte and even Asheville visit for their long weekends.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Nearly Ten Years Later: My First Cruise

As I'm planning on taking my boyfriend on his first cruise in just over two months, and because we are also seriously considering a cruise in Europe for next year, I thought it would be a good idea to remember the first cruise I ever took. Mind you, I sailed on this cruise nearly ten years ago--August 13, 2000, to be exact--so my memories are a bit clouded with the passage of time.

I was 17 years old the first time I cruised, and of course it was my parents who planned the trip. I've never really asked them why they chose the way they did--they had never been on a cruise either, and the cruise we took was not one that many cruise newbies would attempt. It was a week-long, port-heavy Southern Caribbean schedule that sailed round trip from San Juan, Puerto Rico--which meant long flights there and back, with three children (ages 17, 15, and 12).

Myself and Christy with our awesome waiter. I wish I could remember his name!
My grandparents also joined us on this cruise, which visited St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Antigua, St. Lucia, and Barbados, and rounded out the itinerary with a single day at sea. Thankfully, we weren't stuck in inside cabins, and we had three rooms total--my sisters and I in one, my parents in another, my grandparents in a third--but things were still tight. Our rooms were on the lowest deck available to the public, and our window was a tiny porthole that served one purpose--seeing whether or not it was light or dark, sunny or cloudy. The ship wasn't new in 2000 and the window had aged past its prime of us being able to see any sort of scenery from it.

Of course I don't mean to sound as if I'm complaining. Although the window and the room itself were small and a bit crowded, this cruise on Royal Caribbean's Monarch of the Seas was still one of the best vacations I've ever taken, mainly in terms of service and food. There were also some great ports (including many that you would not get to visit on a regular old Eastern or Western Caribbean cruise leaving from a Florida port), namely St. Thomas (for the shopping), Antigua (for the beaches/snorkeling) and St. Lucia (for the scenery).

On the catamaran for our amazing Antigua excursion
Being 17, I also got to take place in the youth activities, which were plentiful and fun. I was still somewhat shy at the time of this cruise, but the youth activities director made participation in the activities and meeting other teens easy. My 15-year-old sister and I met some great people, some of whom I still keep in touch with (albeit sporadically). Now, this being such a different itinerary, I have a feeling that the number of teens on board was far less than Royal Caribbean would usually have for a cruise departing from a US port, and I'm sure that had a lot to do with how close our group became. Still, based on my experience, I can't say enough wonderful things about Royal Caribbean's youth program.

I previously mentioned the high quality of both the food and the service on this ship. Although ten years has gone by, I still remember the name of our waiter (Jamal) and how awesome he was. He knew all of our names, always commented on the fact that my father and I often ordered two desserts each, and was a very entertaining person in general. And the food that he served us was absolutely divine. To this day, I have not had a piece of cheesecake as light, fluffy, and delicious as the marble cheesecake we had for dessert one night, and the baked Alaska was far superior to the baked Alaska on my Princess Cruise (which was in Alaska!).

Sailing away from St. Lucia
Other than the minuscule size of our stateroom and its porthole window, the only other complaint I had about this cruise is some of the ports--or rather, some of the excursions at those ports. In St. Thomas, we did our own thing and just shopped--that was fine. In Antigua, we took a tour through the cruise line that involved a nice long catamaran ride and snorkeling off a tiny private island--that was nothing short of amazing. In St. Lucia, we grabbed a minivan cab and had the local driver show us the island sights--that was interesting, but certainly not bad. The aforementioned ports/excursions that were sub-par were St. Maarten and the shopping/beach tour we booked through Royal Caribbean, and Barbados and the Atlantis submarine excursion.

(Just a note: You know something was bad when I remember specific details of it nearly ten years after I experienced it!)

With some of the awesome girls that I met through the teen group on the cruise
The problem with St. Maarten was that it was dirty. Oh, I'm sure the beaches and the edge of Philipsburg are just lovely, but the tour we took drove us through the outskirts of the city to a disgusting pier. We then boarded a two-decker "party boat" that took us across a murky lagoon to Marigot on the French side of the island. Supposedly Marigot has some amazing shopping--I wouldn't know, because the cruise line forgot to inform us that we were visiting St. Maarten during some obscure French holiday, and all but one or two stores in Marigot were closed that day. Which meant that we spent most of the time we had there (I want to say it was about an hour and a half) sitting around doing, you guessed it, nothing. Very poor planning, especially as this was back before the times when there were a million message boards to tell you that you would be in St. Maarten over a holiday.

After our failed shopping trip, the party boat took us to a "private island"--which was smack in the middle of the murky lagoon that we had crossed to get to Marigot. The water was dirty and smelly. We tried to snorkel, but we couldn't see anything--and beyond that, we felt disgusting even swimming or wading in it. After about ten minutes, my sisters and I--the only ones who had been brave enough to get off the party boat and attempt to enjoy ourselves--boarded it again and merely sat around waiting for this awful excursion to end.

We stayed up all night and watched the sun rise over the Caribbean.
Barbados was the last port of call on our cruise, and unfortunately, it was pouring rain for most of the day. I completely understand that the people running the submarine don't control the weather, but there are no amazing reefs or anything just off the coast of Barbados, so not only was the water very cloudy, but there really weren't many interesting fish to be seen, anyway. This was really just a boring experience, and because we chose this excursion we missed seeing any part of the island other than the port.

In conclusion, after years of travel and now three cruises under my belt, I still remember Royal Caribbean as having the best service and food, and when we started discussing a European cruise for 2011, I knew that it had to be with Royal Caribbean. Not that I had a bad time on my Carnival or Princess cruises--I would go with either of those lines again, as well. I think only a second cruise on Royal Caribbean will solidify my opinion that they are the best out there for that price range and cause me to be a true Royal Caribbean aficionado.  So here's hoping for that chance in just over a year ::fingers crossed::

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Worst hotel far.

In the end, I've decided to mix up my posts on this here blog. Reality is the spice of life, eh?

So for the beginning, I thought I tell the amusing tale of my worst hotel experience far, at least ;)

We begin on a cool, rainy day in Switzerland...July 2007. My sister and I were just about smack in the middle of a Contiki Tour of Europe--13 days, starting in Amsterdam and ending in Barcelona (hence the tour name, "Amsterdam to Barcelona"). After something like 10 hours on a bus, due to a breakdown somewhere in France, we arrived in Luzerne, Switzerland and practically jumped off the coach. At that point, we thought that anything had to be better than sitting in those rock-hard seats any longer.

We were wrong.

Now, we had heard some pretty questionable things about our hotel--the Jailhotel Loewengraben. Yes, you read that right: Jailhotel. And it's exactly what it sounds like--an old minor-security prison (supposedly) turned into a hotel (why???).

Beyond the fact that this hotel was a former jail, there were other concerns.

1) The bus could not access the streets around the hotel, which meant we had had to pack overnight bags when we left Paris that morning and upon arrival in Luzerne, had to lug them across a road, through a covered bridge, and a couple more blocks to get to the hotel.

2) There were no elevators. Not a big deal for us, as we all only had overnight bags, but imagine if you were staying here for more than one night?

3) There is no way their lock system for the individual rooms is safe. They give you a (very worn, mind you) piece of paper upon check-in that has a four digit "code" on it. You punch this code into a keypad next to the door of your room. The hotel charges you if you do not hand the piece of paper in at the end of your stay. Now, they claim that they change the codes on the rooms after everyone checks out; but if that's the case, why are they such sticklers about you returning a piece of paper with a number on it?

4) There is no heater or temperature control in the rooms. We were there in July, but as I mentioned before, it was cool and rainy--which meant that the room was freezing when we woke up in the morning. I can't imagine staying there during a colder time of year!

5) The bathrooms were very makeshift--basically a cubicle-type area that was obviously added to the rooms when they turned the jail into the hotel.

6) Upon moving the duvet, I noticed that the comforter was stained in a seemingly disgusting manner; there were some sort of black spots on the sheet as well. I can't tell you how happy I was to have my dream sack (travel sheet) with me that night!

7) The general creepiness of the room was just another factor in making this the worst hotel I've ever experienced. The ultra-thick door, the bars on the windows, no phone, no television...I did not get a good night's sleep that night.

8 ) Finally, the food. As part of our tour, we were scheduled for a dinner here, and not only was it the worst included meal of the trip, it was downright gross by normal standards--a giant, rubbery, tasteless sausage and some badly cooked croquettes. In the morning, we admittedly arrived a little late for the breakfast, but for them to have only one kind of cereal and a few rock-hard pieces of bread was a far cry from any of the many breakfasts I've had in Europe throughout the years.

And there you have it, folks. I've had a few really great hotel stays, dozens of good ones, an average experience here or there, and a handful of really bad ordeals...but this jail-turned-hotel is by far my up-to-date winner for the worst hotel I've visited.

Monday, March 15, 2010

The Waiting Game

I hope I'm not the only one who has this problem.

Whenever I have a few vacations looming in front of me (which is more often than not, nowadays), I always seem to be more anxious for the vacations that are farthest away. For instance, I am going to Chicago next month. My boyfriend Steve and I have been trying to make it out there to visit some friends of mine since late last summer...I have never been to Chicago...yet I find myself obsessing over the Disney cruise we have planned for May! And even worse than that, since late 2008 we have been talking about taking a trip to Europe in the summer of 2011. We finally decided that a big portion of that trip should be a Eastern Mediterranean cruise and that we would prefer to sail with Royal Caribbean--but their 2011 Europe dates aren't available yet! Maddening, especially as they are coming out this week, but I'm already tired of waiting. Planning a trip to Europe is a huge undertaking, especially with the cost would help for us to get some tentative dates and cruise ideas now so that we have over a year to save.

(Really, I'm just an extremely impatient person and want to know what my choices are, haha)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Learn to Trust Your Better Judgment: A Greenville St. Patty's Day

Don't worry, this blog won't be as serious as the subject makes it sound ;)

We went out for Saint Patrick's Day last night. Bad idea in itself, considering it was a work night, but hey, once in a while can't hurt, right?

That's what we told ourselves yesterday. Today, of course, we feel otherwise.

That's part one of this entry on learning to trust your better judgment. I think that even as we were saying "We can't not go out on Saint Patrick's Day. Again." (we didn't go out last year), we knew that we weren't making the best decision. Of course, that's water under the bridge now, and we're both dragging ourselves through work today.

Part two deals with our bad choice of where to go to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day: Chief's Wings & Firewater.

Oh yeah, you read that right.

Now, when I lived in Greenville back in 2007-2008, I went to Chief's, which is behind the mall, a total of two times. The first was for a friend's birthday, and it was a Saturday night. The place was loud, the bartender only knew how to make the simplest mixed drinks (the "restaurant special" was a Malibu & Pineapple--seriously), and on top of that, the drinks were very, very weak. I turned my nose up at the place and refused to go back for something like 8 months.

But I decided to give Chief's a second chance. They touted themselves as being the place to be in Greenville on Wednesday nights, which they dubbed "Working Women's Wednesdays" (when I told Steve about this, he scoffed and said "Working Women? Isn't that what they used to call prostitutes?"). So I dragged my [now] ex and a guy friend up there for a couple of drinks.

Which turned into one drink and us leaving twenty minutes later, because "Working Women's Wednesdays" turned out to be a euphemism for a bunch of cougars hitting on 22-year-old guys.

So when my sister insisted that Chief's was a blast last year on Saint Patrick's Day, I was more than a bit skeptical...yet still I, the queen of writing people and places off after a mere two chances (sometimes less), gave into my sister and agreed to go to Chief's. In the back of my mind was the knowledge that Steve had never been, it's supposedly a popular bar here in Greenville, and he deserved to form his own opinion of it.

But again...I think I also knew that there was no way this place could redeem itself. Hence, "Learn to Trust Your Better Judgment".

We went, paid $6 per person to get in, a round of crappy drinks was $12, and the place was mainly full of people in their 40s and 50s. We waited for a friend of Christy's to meet us there, had a drink with him, and after some debate finally decided to find another bar. We left Chief's and headed over to a nearby bar on Woodruff Road. This place was a little better--cheaper drinks, certainly; a slightly younger crowd; with a live band that was halfway decent (I say halfway because they were playing great music by bands like The Beatles and Cheap Trick, but then they would turn around and play crap like Nickelback)--but I still wasn't overly impressed. We called it a night just before midnight, but as you can probably tell from other things I've said in this blog, that wasn't early enough to keep us from dragging this morning.

I think we've also learned our lesson about bars in the Woodruff Road/mall area: none of them are really that great. We'll stick to downtown Greenville from now on, thankyouverymuch.

Where do I begin?

I decided yesterday to move forward with this blog, and literally dove right in--but now I'm left wondering, where do I start?

I've been traveling, really traveling, since the summer after my freshman year in high school. Sure, I went places before that--camping in Cape Cod, Amish country and Hershey Park in Pennsylvania, even Disney World--all with my family. But it wasn't until that summer, the summer of 1997, that I truly caught the travel bug. I would have been content if my parents had decided to just take us to Disney World every year; in fact, I was annoyed that they decided against Disney World [which would have been our third vacation there] and instead chose to take us to a dude ranch in Colorado. But that vacation ended up being amazing, and in the context of my travel desires, life-changing as well.

So the question I start with my most recent travel experiences, and work my way back? Do I mix it up? Or do I "begin at the beginning...and go on till [I] come to the end"? Of course, there will be no "end", really, because as long as there is a vacation day and a dollar left to me, I will continue to travel.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Maybe I have too many blogs.

I am a 27-year-old Finance Manager whose past work history and passion involve traveling. Lots and lots of traveling. I have also lived in five different states, including but not limited to off-and-on stints living in Orlando, Florida and working at Disney. When I finally let go of a career with Disney--for my own personal reasons--I tried my hand at being a travel agent. Unfortunately, being a travel agent in today's internet-based travel industry does not a fun or good career make, and that's how I ended up in a [surprisingly] much less stressful job, making far more money, and doing anything involving traveling for fun only.

At the moment, I already have two blogs that I use on a regular basis--my personal blog, which is mainly friends-only--and a blog dealing with the recent re-relocation of my boyfriend and I from Connecticut to South Carolina. In the past, I had a travel blog, but it had few followers and I wrote in it very sporadically.

Therefore, this will be my attempt to actually keep a true-blue travel blog. Thankfully, I have plenty of TripAdvisor reviews and blogs regarding my travels of the past few years to write dozens of entries even before my next vacation (which is thankfully just over a month away). Currently, most of my reviews are of hotels, but I plan on writing some of restaurants as well. And maybe, just maybe, this reviewing and travel blogging will become more than just something I do for fun ;o)