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travel bugged

travel bugged adventures of the traveling and exploring kind.

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My Perfect Day Trip to the City of Brotherly Love

Despite living in the Big Apple with numerous of summer things to get into, sometimes you just want to go somewhere.  And this time, Philadelphia was that place.  Not knowing what to get into and what to expect, we opted for a quick overnight trip to the City of Brotherly Love.  And this is what we did:

  1. Afternoon of Touristry:  Since they were a good walking distance from the hotel, we headed straight to the Independence Hall and Liberty Bell Center to get a good dose of American history.  We actually grabbed an early dinner at one of the restaurants on the way, there were a good number to choose from as you walk down Walnut street.
  2. Wanting to explore more of the city, we took a healthy walk from the Liberty Bell Center all the way towards Penn’s Landing where we saw a familiar sign – Dave & Buster’s.  Although a chain, it was nice to be able to step in and get some rest from such a long walk.
  3. On our way back, we wanted some dessert and found Capogiro Gelato which had me wanting to come back before we left Philly.  I can still taste the macadamia nut gelato and the peach orchard.  Sigh.  I want some of that right now!
  4. The following day was another tourist day, but with a geek twist.  It was Segway day!  I was able to book a Segway “tour” online and it was fun as fun can be on a Segway.  There was more Segway riding than actual touring though, but that’s not a complaint from me.  I did still learn a few things about Philly that I never knew.
  5. With some time to kill before lunch, we headed to the Philadelphia Zoo since our post-lunch spot was already planned.  It was a decent zoo, small in size compared to what I’ve seen (The Bronx and The San Diego Zoos).  But what made it super cool was the Lego exhibits on display.
  6. So when lunch hit, so did this downpour.  And it was like hurricane weather downpour.  And because of this, we couldn’t really do our personal taste test between Pat’s and Geno’s – the ultimate tourist thing to do when in Philly.  We made our way to Pat’s but the rain thwarted any advances to Geno’s.  And I’ll be honest and say that as a foodie, it wasn’t really worth it.  But as a first time Philly tourist, you just kind of have to do it.  If I ever go back I probably will try Geno’s, just to say that I tried them both and then I can render my official opinion between the two.
  7. With still some more time to complete our overnight stay, we went to check out the Franklin Institute and their well-advertised Cleopatra exhibit, which was done very nicely.

 

For my first actual Philly visit, I think this was a good template of things to see and do.  I honestly had a hard time trying to find what Philly had to offer.  Even the Gowalla list wasn’t as forth-coming with suggestions as I had hoped.  If I ever found myself back there I probably would do the Segway tour again, and maybe not the tour, but just rent it for an hour or so.  I was told they also provide that service.  And I would DEFINITELY head back to the Gelato pl

For more detailed reviews on some of some of the Philadelphia’s best, check out my Yelp list here.

For more Phillly pictures, check out my Flickr page here.

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London Highlights

I once met an Englishman who visited his girlfriend in New York (she was American), and when I asked him if he enjoyed his visit, he simply said..."Eh, it's alright."  Now of course, as a current NYC resident, I was curious to know why his blase response.  And he simply said, it's just like London.

And after 4 days of going here and there and practically everywhere in London....I have to admit...he was right.  And the major difference between London and New York...at least to me, was that London is definitely a lot more expensive thanks to the Dollar to Pound conversion.

Regardless of that though, I did find a few things that I definitely enjoyed on this trip.  And here are my personal highlights.

1.  The London Eye

When in London, you HAVE to go visit the London Eye.  It's practically one of the first things that people will ask if you've done it.  Hence why it is the first on my list.  Giving you some great views from North, South, East and West....I think the most spectacular view you'll see is that of the Big Ben and the Parliament Houses.  Granted, it is the closest major site to the London Eye.  And because the London Eye is open for longer hours compared some of the other London sites, my word of advice is to go right about Sunset.  You'll catch some great camera effects.  And if possible, by your tickets online to avoid the long lines to purchase tickets on-site.  Just like the movie theatres here in the states, there are machines you can easily get your pre-purchased online tickets.

2.  Kensington Palace/Kensington Gardens

The Palace is located right inside the gardens so you get a bit of a 2 for one visit should you decide to visit either or.  The Gardens itself is quite huge, and I honestly think can put Central Park to shame (at least size-wise), but for us it was all about the Palace.  I'm not sure if this is the Palace's true state, but as we visited the Palace apartments, think of the set-up as a kid-friendly, modern art gallery, showcasing children's life growing up as part of the Royal Family.  They've put this together really nicely.

3.  Westminster Abbey

I loved Sound of Music so of course I had to go see the Abbey.  A few important notes though about the Abbey is that they have short open hours...meaning on most occasions they close at 130 or 330pm.  So get there early.....there is definitely a lot to see inside.  And unfortunately, you aren't allowed to take pictures inside.  So make the most of your visit.  Thankfully, the audio guides are free, as they are part of your admission fee.

4.  The Original London Sightseeing Tour

London is known for its double-decker buses, so why not do a sightseeing tour on one of them.  I particularly liked this company with their full 24-hr ticket and numerous routes to take offering a completely ride through all of London.  With the open air tops and the tour-guide commentary (live or recorded), they provide a cool and quick way to see the city.  Also along with your ticket is a cruise ride along the Thames River.  We didn't opt for it, though it is free.

5.  St. Martin-in-the-Fields:  Cafe in the Crypt

I had to highlight something about food since I was a bit weary of food choices considering everyone I know who has visited London had to warn me about the food.  But the food here was not only good but fairly inexpensive.  Great for those budget travelers.  Easy to find, sitting across the National Portrait Gallery...the Cafe int he Crypt does provide an interesting dining setting as you are in the basement of the St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, which also means you are eating atop some crypts of years long past.

6.  Outside of London:  Canterbury

I guess most people who are able to do a day trip outside of London will head to Stonehenge or Bath...we went to Canterbury.  And I guess, so do the locals, as Canterbury is also home to the "Black Friars" shopping area, filled with your modern day stores built in/around/all over a not so modern setting.  It's kind of neat.  And of course, Canterbury is home to the Canterbury Cathedral (really magnificent).  Oh yeah, this is also where I had my authenticate Fish and Chips plate.  Yummmm.

All in all, I can't say I was extremely ecstatic about my first London trip.  I can definitely cross it off my list.  But despite its (major) similarities with New York...as a big city that is....I definitely found moments that I could never have experienced in New York.  Perhaps if I get to visit again, I'll definitely need to understand the Changing of the Guards schedule.  I would definitely want to see that.

For more reviews on the places I visited while in London, click here.

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London: First Impressions

First trip to London and first impressions are everything.  Well...almost everything.  So here's what I've realized during my first 8 hours here across the pond...

  • Londoners (Brits, the British, English...) walk fast.  I mean, I live in New York and admittedly walk slow for someone who lives in New York for the Brits...that's what you call power walking.
  • The Underground is not a club, but what their subway/train system is called.  Most know it as "The Tube."  It's also the oldest and most expensive public transportation system in the world (that's what I learned), and honestly, it shows.  It's clean, both the stations and the trains.  The train announcements are highly audible and provide consistent information on any delays (or lack thereof), and there is also a station agent at every entry/exit point willing to help you.  Oh, and they have signs EVERYWHERE.  If you got lost on The Tube, it's cause you weren't paying attention.
  • I generally think they walk in the same direction as the drive...opposite of us (walk/drive on the right).
  • There just seemed to be more tourists (French?) than there were English wherever we went.  And yes, we're tourists as well, but we didn't hit the major tourist spots until the next day.
  • People can drink outside of the pubs. Well, not sure how legal that is, but that's been our observation.  Maybe as long as they are drinking right on the outside perimeter of the pub?  Cause believe you me, there were quite a good number of pubs that patrons standing on the outskirts of their establishments with beer or wine in hand and just chatting away.
  • As much as some Brits will say that we Americans have butchered the English language, it's a bit hard for me to understand them as well.
  • I should have known better, but they do have quite the same stores/brands as the US with Starbucks, Mac, The Gap, H&M (I know this is more of a European brand), Banana Republic, McDonald's, KFC, Pizza Hut...etc.  Really did take me by surprise.  And actually, I think they have more KFCs and Pizza Huts than New York does ;-)
  • There are a good number of Japanese restautants/cafes in London...anywhere and everythere.  Works for me since I like Japanese food.

 

Stay tuned for more highlights.  But for now, these are my first impressions.

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"My" Vegas in Pics

Although work has allowed me to visit Vegas twice a year since I was hired, I've never really took as many pictures as I have since this past trip. Here are a few moments captured on my phone.

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My Vegas Top 5

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Often times when one travels, there is always a few things that we'd like to know about that place. Things that we just have to do to say that we were here. And for Vegas...these are my top 5. 


1. See a show.

There are so many shows in Vegas, how can you not go to one. Or even yet, how can you not find one that you'll enjoy. From Broadway shows, comedy shows, cabarets and Cirque. There should be something that piques your interest. My personal recommendation, see a Cirque show. It will definitely be worth the money, and the shows are always spectacular (especially "O" at the Bellagio). 


2. Go to a buffet.

Vegas is all about excess, so tihs includes food. Find a good buffet, and I mean good, and just eat til you can't eat any longer. A few recommendations....aim for a late lunch, like perhaps after 2 but before 5. You'll find the buffet lines and tables aren't as crowded then and you'll also be able to walk off all that food you ate earlier. You know, right before you go into a food coma. Another recomendation, if you go to the Wynn, expect great food, but not a great hostess. I'm just saying. I have a more detailed review here.


3. Experience the Vegas Night Life.

I honestly wouldn't really recommend this, because Vegas Night Life just isn't my thing, but I guess by being there....you just have to at least go once. If you're from the East Coast I would suggest go on an actual true club night...you know, Thursday-Saturday since it's the weekend crowd the DJ and the club just can't afford to be bad. (See mediocre review of Eve here.)  Definitely dress to impress, and maybe for Vegas standards the sleezier the better...for the girls? But what else can I say, it is Vegas.


4. Walk the strip.

One of the best way to better understand your surroundings, as well as take in the different scenes and views of all the hotels, is to walk the strip. If you want a day to just take lots of pictures to capture your time and the sheer amazingness (I say amazing for a variety of reason), just take that time for a walk down the Vegas Strip. Just make sure you're camera is fully charged.


5. Enjoy one or all of the rides.

A few hotels offer other entertaining activities aside from clubs, buffets, and gambling. There's a roller coaster ride at New York New York, and I think something at Circus Cirus as well (though I think that's more for little kids). But really, when I say rides, I'm takling about the rides on top of the Stratosphere hotel. I hear there's bungee jumping now. There's more info about Stratosphere here.

 

I think if it is your first time in Vegas and you definitely want to try to do it up, stick with these top 5 things to do and you'll be all set. To be quite honest, there will be more to do if you ever decide to come back, but hey....that's what makes Vegas, Vegas, right?

 

PS:  Want to read more of my Vegas Yelp reviews on other things Vegas not mentioned in this post?  Click here and enjoy!

About Me

  • Member for 6 years 26 weeks
  • Last online 12 weeks 9 hours ago

i recently moved to atlanta and have had the opportunity to visit many spaces and places through work and otherwise. here you'll find some tips i've gathered and experiences i thought were worth sharing.

if you want to read more, check out my other OnSugar blogs listed below or follow me on Twitter or Yelp*.

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