Monthly Archives: February 2011

What’s Up With Airfares?

Less than a month ago, I searched for flights from JFK to various European destinations.  The consensus on Kayak was that it would cost me a bit more than $800 to fly into either London, Amsterdam, or Munich.  We spent $714 last year, JFK to London.  A month ago, a flight on Air Berlin to Munich was $850.  I thought I’d wait a while for prices to come down.

In the last two weeks, that same flight–the EXACT same flight–has gone up to $1080.

I’m both sad and torn.  Do I continue to watch flights, hoping that they will come back down again–and then book the moment prices return to two-weeks-ago-rates?  Or do I resign myself to a summer road trip?  I do really want to check out Montreal.

For the record, flights to anywhere have gone up at least $200 per person since my last search.  I’m always keeping my options open, and as such I have a basis for comparison for many different destinations.  A flight to Vancouver that two weeks ago was under $500 is now over $700.  Philly to San Fran?  $600.  Seriously?

I am both very sad and very scared.  My ‘year ‘o travel’ may be very limited if this continues.


My New Look

You may have noticed the fact that Blog on the Run has a new look.  I felt that it was time for this change for a number of reasons.  First and most importantly, I was tired of the baby blue, and I found the squished format of the previous template less-than-ideal.

I also wanted to make all of my blogs more cohesive.  To this end, I chose a basic theme and changed the header for each.  If you visit The Suitcase Scholar, it will look very similar to this, but with a header featuring the glass ceiling of The Great Hall in the British Museum.  My third blog, Virtual Passenger, is a bit more colorful; the header is the glass art ceiling at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.

Are you sensing a trend?  I’m a big fan of taking photos of ceilings–especially glass ones, or domes.  I’ve finally found a use for all of those photos.  It is actually shocking how many I have–before I settled on the ones I chose, I passed over 1.  The ceiling of the Opera Garnier in Paris, the dome of Sacre Coeur, and the beautiful glass dome of Galleries Layfayette department store.  The only reason that last one didn’t make the cut was because the photo quality was poor.  Man I love that dome.

As the subtitle of Blog on the Run is ‘The Travel Blog of a Hopeless Nerd’, the header above celebrates said nerd-dom; it is a photo taken of the dome of the US Capitol, on a trip inspired by reading the book The Lost Symbol.

Can I get any nerdier?  I don’t know…but right now I have to go watch the Discovery Channel’s series ‘Life’.  My husband was given the entire series on DVD.  As a gift.  For presenting at an educational conference.

Nope.  I could not be any nerdier.  I’m surprised I wasn’t born with leather patches on my actual elbows and a slightly tweed-y hue to my skin.

Travel Writing is Better than Sex

Travel and leisure do not always go together.  In fact, ‘to travel’ and ‘to go on vacation’ are two very different things–trust me, I learned that in Paris last summer.  Some people travel as part of a job requirement.  Many people travel so they can volunteer in areas where help is needed.  Others travel for academic or spiritual purposes.

I travel so that I can write about it.

There is nothing more satisfying than setting out on a mission to collect information with the intention of turning it into words to be shared.  Nothing.  It is better than ice cream, it is better than sunshine, it is better than…well, I’d say ‘it is better than sex’, but I’m not allowed to say ‘sex’ on this blog, lest it get me fired.  But ooops–I did it anyway.

Travel writing is better than sex.

My next trip–which, ironically, I’m not talking about on here at all–is a trip with the singular purpose of writing.  It is to be trip number one of many committed to that goal.  I cannot wait.

But in the meantime, I thought I’d ask you, dear reader.  Do you travel for purposes other than leisure?  What are these purposes?  How do they add to your travel experience?  Or do you think I’m crazy, excitedly boarding a plane with a netbook and a notebook in my purse?

Closer is Not Always Cheaper

For the past week or so, I’ve been researching alternate summer vacation destinations in the interest of saving money.  I thought I’d post this, just in case anyone was wondering:  renting a house on Martha’s Vineyard for two weeks is more expensive than staying in, flying to, and traveling around in Europe…for three weeks.  So much more expensive.  Than travel in any European country.  I’m so flummoxed I’m using fragments.

Ah well–back to the drawing board.  Or, rather, back to Kayak to track airfare…


Best Places: Holiday

I’ve been agonizing over this post–it has made me shake my fist in the air at the travel channel since I challenged myself to follow the ‘Best Place I’ve Ever Been’ lineup with ‘Best Of…’ lists of my own.  This one is the most difficult.  Why?  Because holiday travel is typically two things I strongly dislike–expensive and crowded.  So I’ve never traveled over a holiday.

Or have I?

It seems I’m forgetting one very note-worthy holiday, during which I am typically out of town for one reason or another (the ‘one reason’ being ‘because it is summer, and that’s when I can travel’).  The Fourth of July.  And the best place I’ve ever been for the Fourth of July is not a beach side resort town.  It is not a local campground or a national park or even my own back yard.  The very best place to celebrate the Fourth of July is at Wildacres Writers’ Workshop in the amazingly beautiful mountains of North Carolina.

This is in case you didn't believe me about the 'amazingly beautiful' part.

Surprisingly, when I looked back in my posts to link the Wildacres post to this one, I discovered something shocking–there IS no Wildacres post!  Why?  I didn’t start this blog until after I returned.  Woah.  I simply cannot imagine a my life without this blog, but there it is–a memory from before Blog on the Run.  I attended Wildacres two summers ago, in July of 2009–two short weeks before this blog was born.

That year, the workshop happened to fall over the Fourth of July.  Of course we had a party, complete with box wine (if I ever doubted that I was born to be a writer, those doubts have been erased by how well ‘wine’ and ‘writing’ go together!)  Judi, the amazing woman who runs the workshop, had a little patriotic assembly where several attendees read portions of the Declaration of Independence.  It was quite…cute.  We had hot dogs and hamburgers on the grill, and then when the sun went down we all drank aforementioned wine on the flagstone patio whilst musically talented writers played acoustic guitars and sang Tupelo Honey.

Man I love that song.

Best.  Holiday.  Ever.

I did not return to Wildacres last year, mainly because we were in Europe (or was it Vegas?) during that week.  And this year it is not over the Fourth of July holiday.  But I’ll still be there.  And there will still be wine and Van Morrison covers and foggy mountain mornings.

Is it July yet?


Long Weekend

This is not a post about travel.  It is a post about a lack thereof.

In my last-Thursday post, I discussed my desperate need to get away for a few days.  Well, I’m sad to report that this just didn’t happen.  Why?  Blame it on a backup of work, unforeseen circumstances, and that responsibility that comes with having a husband and a home, but it just wasn’t in the cards for President’s weekend.

I had big plans.  I wanted to finally get to the Met, as I’ve never been (and I wanted to conquer my dislike of NYC).  I wanted to visit a friend who lives not-even-that-far-away whilst doing generally touristy things in Philly.  I wanted to experimentally educationally travel, so I’d have some content for my new educational travel blog.  But that’s all going to have to wait for another day.

What did I do, then?  I took a break from working on my various projects and took myself out for lunch.  I cleaned my entire house, had a slumber party, and worked on my book proposal.  I visited my grandparents, went to a home show, and hung out with my mom.  I made a nice dinner for my husband, did two loads of laundry, and finalized plans for my next trip.  All in all, not a bad four day weekend.

However, I did encourage readers to post mean comments if I didn’t get out of town.  So–have at it!




Best Places: Indulgence

As promised, this is post one in my ‘it is winter so I’m not really traveling right now Travel Channel inspired’ series of Best Places.  The first episode, and thus my first post, is about ‘The Best Place to Indulge’.  I’ve thought about this for several days now, and I have to say that I’ve officially come up with a tie.

I know, I know, that’s cheating.  But I honestly cannot decide between Las Vegas and Amsterdam.  So I’ll discuss the relative virtues–er, vices–of both, and let you decide.

My discussion of Amsterdam really needs no words–only a photo or two:

That’s a really big beer!  But I don’t drink beer.  So I need a photo of my own….

That’s a really big pot of the best mussels I’ve ever had.  Fortunately, we were sharing–though it does look like he’s going to eat them all himself!  In addition to the food, Amsterdam was also indulgent to the eyes.  Check out the flower market…

Ahhh Amsterdam.  I understand why my husband wants to go back.  And I understand why I’m even considering returning, despite many good reasons to stick with a domestic vacation this year.

Speaking of returning, and of domestic vacations, Las Vegas was pick number two.  To be honest, it would easily have been pick number one but for one single factor–cost.  I guess the word ‘indulgence’ implies that something is expensive–in that case, Vegas wins hands down.  But for me, to be able to indulge without cringing, my excess needs to be affordable.  That giant pot of mussels was less than 20 euros.  Three single mussels in Vegas would be $65, easy.  At a lower end restaurant.

But Las Vegas has its charms, and they are all indulgent.  Take, for example, the day we spent between the pool and the French restaurant in our hotel.  We got a lot of sun, drank a lot of wine, and ate a lot of cheese.  If that’s not an indulgent day, I don’t know what is.

I think that last photo really seals the deal of indulgence.  I mean, who puts that much effort into a dessert?  The answer?  The lovely people at The Bellagio do.  God bless Las Vegas.