When I found out that I would be returning to Seattle a little over a month after attending my best friend’s wedding it almost felt like an imposition. It’s a four hour flight each direction, there were terrible options for hotels, and by going it effectively took away the only break in my travel schedule this fall.
But then I got here.
It turns out that travel is always worth it. No matter the destination, no matter how exhausted I am (I was in bed by 10 p.m. last night), and no matter where I go, I always find happiness visiting the places others call home.
After taking another flight to Seattle a little over a month from the last, today I headed from the airport to Tacoma to visit the University of Puget Sound’s campus. My best friend attended there, so I had been on campus once before, several years ago. It’s a gorgeous campus, rain or shine. Everyone was walking around bundled up for the 50 degree weather, so I’m sure they found it strange to see this half-Texan walking around business casual without a jacket, or even a cardigan. It’s okay; I’m warm-blooded, and after hot Texas summers a little cold weather feels absolutely perfect.
I might not be going to St. Louis this year, but I couldn’t stay away from the Arch! The Conrad Miami is located inside the Brickell Arch building, and has become my absolute favorite hotel (and I’ve stayed in a lot of hotels). The Brickell area itself is fantastic; there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance and there are always people out and about. That being said, I did spend a lot of time just enjoying the hotel. I’m hoping to stay in the Conrad Chicago next May and can’t wait for the experience, because this hotel is definitely an experience.
I’m flying home this evening, and my next stop is Chicago! I always love visiting my hometown, in spite of the hours I will spend crawling on the highways.
In Atlanta, I always stay in the Galleria area as it is most convenient to where I have to work. I’ve ended up at the same hotel three years running, the first time recounted here. I decided to try this hotel again last year because I knew the renovations would be complete, and that the jackhammers from hell were probably being used to keep some other unfortunate soul from napping. Renovations aside, I don’t spend a lot of time in hotel rooms anyway and now that everything had been upgraded, it was a pleasant place to sleep.
Fast forward to today and imagine my surprise when I pull up to park and am met with orange cones in front of every space. I always try to stay in places with minimal to no parking charges, but sometime between last year and today, the lot had been converted to valet-only parking. Valet-Only. For the entire parking lot. No spot is farther than 500 steps from the front door.
I must have looked dumbfounded when the person working the valet told me there was no self-parking option. As he was explaining how to request my car, I asked if I could just get the keys from him and walk to my car when I needed to leave. Honestly, that would be faster.
The explanation I received for the ridculous parking situation was that with the new Atlanta Braves stadium down the street, they had to keep fans from parking at the hotel. I could think of a few other ways to do that, but I guess I can’t really complain with a price of $12 per night; hotel valet parking typically costs at least $30, or even more if you’re in Chicago. But, it is entirely possible that I will request my keys to walk to my car anyway, just to see if they let me.
My trip to New Orleans this week was like dipping my toes in the water before being shoved face first into travel. It was great to get out and on the road, but I was only gone for two nights. What awaits me is entirely different.
I will be home for ten random days between now and November 1st.
Chances are, I’ll be coming to a city near you! I do a lot of flying, but I’ve also incorporated a few road trips this fall for budget reasons. I’m excited to see all coasts of the U.S. again. I can always find something new and fun to do, no matter how many times I’ve been somewhere.
First up is Atlanta. Last year a friend from my stint working at a boutique fitness center happened to be in the city at the same time as I was. Naturally, we made plans to hang out on one of our free afternoons and met up at the Coca-Cola Factory. I had visited there during a high school band trip many years ago, so I was excited to visit it again all these years later. My favorite part of the tour is the opportunity to taste Coca-Cola products at kiosks representing each continent. There are some good tasting beverages, but then some of them are downright disgusting, specifically Beverly. They describe it as tasting “bitter.” I was bitter after tasting it.
And of course, the visit was not complete without a red-eyed polar bear wandering around scaring the children. He did not quite have the mechanics of his mouth down, but he seemed pretty harmless.
I’m still undecided on what adventures to plan for Atlanta this trip as it’s a shorter visit than last time, but I’m not ruling out a return trip to the Coca-Cola Factory, if only to spend more quality time with my furry friend to the left.
One of the highlights on our cruise out of Miami was our first stop in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I have always wanted to visit the island, especially after I was supposed to go for a work trip that ended up being unceremoniously cancelled. We didn’t dock until late in the afternoon, so that left us with a few hours to wander around before we found a local restaurant for dinner. Per usual, we waited for the rush of people to exit the ship before making our way out, and we headed directly for the San Felipe del Morro Fortress.Built to guard the entrance to the San Juan Bay, this fort became a part of the National Park System in 1961 after the U.S. Army officially retired it from use. Driveways were removed and green space added to restore the area to it’s original state. Luckily, the late afternoon sun in March wasn’t as hot, so we could enjoy going through the entire fort.
On our way back, I discovered one of my favorite views of this port happened to include the Cementerio Santa Maria Magdalena de Pazzi, a cemetery from 1863 that overlooks the ocean. Due to an interest in genealogy and a love of history, I have always enjoyed visiting cemeteries, and this one was no exception. Seeing the Spanish influence in the monuments with the backdrop of the ocean on a beautiful day is one of the reasons I love to travel; a picture hardly does it justice.
We capped off our visit with some of the best mofongo I’ve ever had at Cafe Puerto Rico before heading back to the ship. It’s hard to imagine right now, but the entirety of Puerto Rico is currently without power thanks to another hurricane this season. I’m hoping for blue skies to return soon, like in the pictures above.