Thursday, February 27, 2014

Travel Website Tips

When traveling, there are so many websites that can help make your planning a little easier. Here are some of the sites I visit and tips of how to benefit from the sites that may help when planning our next travel adventure.

Ryan Air:

For those traveling Europe, Ryan Air offers discounted airfares and can be dirt cheap. Like $10USD cheap and rarely over $120 round trip. You just need to make sure to follow their rules. The most important 3 to follow:

1) Print your boarding pass before arriving at the airport! If not, they will charge you a ridiculous amount at the counter for your boarding pass. You can check in a few days before your flight so you can usually print your round trip tickets and not worry about figuring out how to print your return ticket while on vacation.

2) If you are a citizen outside the EU, you have to get your ticket stamped at the counter. If you reach the point of boarding your flight without your ticket stamped for a Visa Check - you likely will be denied to fly by the flight attendants. Not worth betting if you can board or not.

3) If you are checking a bag, pay for it ahead of time! When purchasing your ticket - it will ask you if you want to pay extra for pretty much everything. You might skim this part but if you are planning on checking a bag - you might want to pay attention and pay ahead of time. If you wait till the counter, it can cost you as much as the flight. Also, pay attention to carry on bags. They have a strict 1 carry on bag policy. For those traveling from the USA, this does not mean 1 purse and 1 overhead - this mean 1 bag total. Your choice if you want it be a purse or small bag. Be sure double check the bag requirements prior to arriving at the airport.

Note: This is a great way to fly into a city and hop around Europe for less money and more direct flights. They do not do connections which makes getting around fairly easy and quick.

Wizz Air:

Wizz Air is another discount airline in Europe. They also offer direct flights (no connections) between some of the best destinations in Europe. You may also find smaller towns that may not have been reachable without airlines like Ryan Air and Wizz Air.

Be sure to follow the same rules as Ryan Air - the only real difference - you have to pay for a larger carry on and it is cheaper to pay for it up front. We suggest a bookbag - you can pack a lot and not have to pay anything to bring it on board.

Note: For both Wizz Air and Ryan Air, the boarding process is a first come first serve. We call it the corralling system where people wait in line and then mad dash to the plane to pick their seats. You can pay extra for priority seating on both of these airlines and it limits the amount of hassle associated with the boarding process. If you feel you have already saved a bunch - you might want to splurge here.

Sky Scanner:

Sky Scanner is great if you know you want to get out of town and not sure where. You can type in the city you are leaving from and in the destination type "Everywhere." It will give you a list of destinations that fit your dates and prices. Great for quick getaways or random dates with no place in mind to visit. What else makes this a great website, they offer not only the airline rates but the discounted airlines such as Ryan Air and Wizz Air. Pretty sure I visit here daily.

Cheap Tickets:  & Orbitz:  

Cheap Tickets and Orbitz are great because if you sign up for their emails, they are always offering discount codes. Often times I find the hotel on another site and then come here to book it because I can get 20% off. Money is money. is great for seeing the percentage of hotels that are booked in a city. If the city you are looking to stay is over 75% booked - I know I likely want to book soon because prices are only going to go up or only rooms that go for $500 a night will be available. At the same time, if a city is less than 45% booked - sometimes we come up with a list of possible hotels and just wait till we get into the town and see the rates. Often times, you will find cheaper rates and better rooms.

New York Times:

This is good for tips on a weekend in a place. While not all the suggestions will be up your ally, you may get ideas of restaurant districts, where to stay and things worth/not worth seeing.

Trip Advisor:

While I don't use this as a be all end all of opinions, it is a good place to get an idea of restaurants and hotels. You can gauge if the reviews are worth weighing your opinion one way or another.   

Go Global Travel:

Well of course I have to include Go Global Travel! A great place to read reviews of places Chris and I have traveled - and hope it helps you when planning your next adventure. 

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Just Dickin' Around in Berlin

Berlin, Germany. To be honest, Germany isn't a country that is high on our travel list but Berlin happens to be exactly 3 hours away from Wroclaw so it made for a perfect weekend getaway. We did some research and decided on the things that were important for us to see during our 2 days there. The good thing about Berlin - it's super easy to walk. And while we didn't take it - looked like they have good public transportation.

When deciding where to stay - we opted for the trendy Mitte area. There they have lots of trendy restaurants and art galleries and happens to be close to the sights we wanted to see. So Saturday we hit the pavement for a little tour.

First up, Brandenburg Gate.

We did a little walk through the park behind - joining a festival they had going on. The park has neat things to check out and one stop we made was to the Soviet War Memorial.
From there, we hit the Memorial for Murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial is an interactive outdoor exhibit. My interpretation is they are coffins, making you feel lost and confused, not knowing what or who is around the corner.
After the memorial - we headed to Checkpoint Charlie. This is the most famous checkpoint during the era of East and West Berlin. They have pieces of the wall, photos and historical facts to read up on your history. They also still maintain the stand in the middle of the street. While the history is cool to preserve, the checkpoint feels more like a tourist attraction than a reflection of history.

So when traveling, Chris and I feel it's important to get away from the main attractions and find the hidden gems. One cool fact about Berlin is they have the largest Turkish population outside of Turkey. In Berlin, there is a Turkish neighborhood called Kruezberg. It definitely has it's own thing going on. Residential with lots of cool street art.
Street art is something you will find all over Berlin. It is neat to see the city express itself in this way. While Berlin isn't a particularly pretty city - the art gives it such great character. Hence, where the name of this blog post came from.

Anyway - if you happen to find yourself Kruezberg, be sure to check out Mustfa's - they are supposed to have the best kebab in town. Be prepared to wait awhile though.
Chris and I waited for awhile but since it was cold - we weren't in the mood to wait so hit up Curry 36. Not worth it. We like the currywurst in Dresden way better.
After a little bite to eat, we continued our journey toward Gendarmenmarkt. This is large city square in Berlin. While you can tour the building, we opted to continue on to Museum Island.
 Here is where they have a few different museum's including the Berlin Cathedral.
Just behind Museum Island is Alexanderplatz Square. We didn't walk over but you can see the sky tower from many point within the city and on Sunday on the way to the East Side Gallery - we drove past it.

We enjoyed our evening exploring different places to eat and drink - as well as parks to sit and enjoy the night.

It was a long eventful day. Our opinion of the city - it is a dirty, Soviet style Washington, D.C. I don't know we'd recommend it to anyway but if you have an interest in going - it's always worth forming your own opinion of a place. One aspect we loved though truly was the street art. Seemed like every corner - someone had something to express. While we don't like pointless graffiti - when it is artistic and a statement - it is neat. PS If you haven't been to Poland, a lot of Berlin looks very similar to parts of Poland.

On Sunday, we hit up the East Side Gallery - you can see our post on that here: Berlin Wall Circa 2014.

Monday, February 3, 2014

"A Hero's Welcome" - Watch Budweiser's Super Bowl Commercial Featuring My Cousin!

This Super Bowl, my cousin Shannon and her American Hero & love of her life were featured in Budweiser's Commercial - "A Hero's Welcome."

Couldn't be happier for them on this unique adventure and to be together again.

God Bless the USA and those who protect and serve our beautiful nation.

"A Hero's Welcome": Commercial:

"A Hero's Welcome": Full Story

Check out Buzz Feed's Full List of Super Bowl Commercials