Blogs > Millennial Traveler

New and traditional ways of exploring the globe, and your own backyard.

Sunday, July 31, 2011

Study shows we're happier before a vacation than after one

I was reading Parade this weekend while chilling in Grafton and there was a "happiness quiz." (at least I think it was Parade, could have been USA Today) The quiz read: You are happiest - a) one month before a vacation, b)on a vacation, or c) after a vacation. And the answer was (a).

According to a Dutch study (from about a year ago), researchers found that people get more excited about the anticipation leading up to a trip than the actual trip itself sometimes. This happiness can extend weeks/months before the trip.

On top of this, the study also found that when the person comes back they are no more or less happy than someone who did not take a trip at all. Weird.'s exactly one month until my N./Ire/Eng/Ice-land trip...and, yeah, I guess I'm pretty happy. That may start to dwindle if all of the exchange rates don't start going in my favor a bit, though.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Wettest and Driest Areas in the U.S.

We had a pretty wet year until recently. It snowed - a lot. Then rained- alot. Now, it's pretty dry and the thermometer's mercury is up - a lot.
So, all this made we wonder.....(other than if Al Gore was right about Global Warming)....where are the rainiest cities in the country?
According to a San Francisco-based WeatherBill study, the wettest areas may not be where you'd think. For example, Seattle is nowhere to be seen on the top 10 list.
1. Mobile, Alabama - with 67 inches average rainfall, 59 average annual rainy days
2. Pensacola, Florida – 65 in, 56 days
3. New Orleans
4. West Palm Beach
5. Lafayette, La
6. Baton Rouge, La
7. Miami, Fl
8. Port Arthur, Tx
9. Tallahassee, Fl
10. Lake Charles, La
The study is based on the findings from 195 cities in 48 lower states, over a 30-year period.
Though, Olympia had the most rainy days on average (63) for the 30 years.
Cities in Alaska and Hawaii had more than 100 inches of rain but were not in the study.
Meanwhile, the driest areas were California, Montana, Nevada, and Arizona, with Las Vegas as the driest city.

Just one more year....

...until the London 2012 Olympics.
In fact, since I'm a little late posting this, it's less than a year.
They held celebrations for this in London this week. The first divers went into the Olympics diving pool and thousands celebrated the countdown to the opening ceremonies that will be in less than a year.
Since I did not get into one of the lotteries for the games' tickets, I'm not sure where I stand on going to the actual events but....I'm still planning to be in London around this time next year.
Just one more year....and I'm going to swim the English Channel. I better Really start training now, huh?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

A driving directions site for international travel

Until about a month ago, I had never heard of via michelin. And now, I would like to spread the word about the Website which not only gives you directions for places on other continents than North America but also gives you gas price estimates and toll figures.
The site literally has countries from A to Z (Albania to Zimbabwe). I found it while trying to find a googlemaps/mapquest-like site that specialized in non-North American car travel. It has: quickest, shortest, economical and sight seeing settings.
While I have not yet used the site, I hope to in a quasi-near future.
Although, I recently (at least tentatively) changed my itinerary for Ireland to no longer include any stops at the Ring of Kerry or Cliffs of Moher - which is what I initially needed international driving directions for.
I'm hoping to check out the tourist sites I missed on my last Irish trip when my bf can go since he wants to go to the Emerald Isle too at some point.
After Ireland/Iceland, my next (tentatively) planned trip is a which case I won't need driving directions. But, eventually I'll be able to review via michelin - maybe when I go to my friend's wedding in India in a year or so....

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bootleggers on Broadway

Bootleggers on Broadway in Troy has been open for a little over a month now. I finally made my way to the bar last week. And...I'm torn.
The physical appearance of the bar is beautiful. There's a gorgeous dark wood front bar, nice tables/chairs, and a large ballroom area which would definitely be sufficient for a wedding reception. The cover band playing was even pretty good, I thought.
However...the crowd, on a Wednesday night, was ridiculously drunk and slightly obnoxious. Granted, there was a birthday party going on but there are birthday get togethers at Bombers all the time and I don't get annoyed by those.
On top of that, the bar tender - sucked. I mean, he barely cleaned the bar, didn't make any pleasant conversation, and took forever to see we needed a second round. I'm guessing he was as new as the business.
I guess I'm worried that if the bar has that many annoying people during the week then what is the weekend going to be like.
I hope I'm wrong. But, I'll check it out sometime on a Friday or Saturday. And, if I was right, I can always go back to Footsy Magoos which is what I did last week.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Places (inside and outside) to Stay Cool

Aside from the cooling stations in the area that have been set up (some of them even have TVs), there are other places to enjoy summer, people watch and stay cool at the same time. I love multi-tasking.

Your public library: The Upper Hudson Library system has branches in Troy, Lansingburgh, Cohoes, multiple locations in Albany,etc. The libraries are free, have internet/computer access, DVDs, CDs, some have iPads, and fishing poles (at Cohoes). Oh, yeah...and books too. A lot of those.

The concourse of the Empire State Plaza: I realized while driving under the plaza the other day that there is an extreme difference when you're underground (kinda like going to Howe Caverns where the temperature is a constant 40-something degrees). Only at the concourse, you can get food, go to the gym at the Y, and do a lot of people watching. The State Museum is right nearby too.

The mall: Whether it's Crossgates, Colonie, Latham, or Rotterdam, there's a decent amount of malls in the area which are all air conditioned and have a wide variety of stores and access to the movie theatres - another good place to go when it's hot out.


The Adirondacks: When in doubt, head north. I remember all my trips up to my alma mater at SLU from Troy always included about a 10-degree difference in temperature. You'll find at least that when going into the mountains themselves. It'll still be hot for a hike but...not As hot. Plus, you can cool off in a mountain spring. Can't get much colder than that.

Area beaches: There are a lot of beaches in the Capital District - Snyders Lake, Sand Lake Town Beach, Grafton Lakes State Park, Brunswick Town Beach, Cherry Plains - all within a 25 minute drive from Troy/Albany. And that's not including the natural beaches along the Hudson River. But, with all the dredging upstream, that's really a swim at your own risk situation.

Municipal pools: There are also a lot of pools that your tax dollars pay for in Troy, Cohoes, Albany, Watervliet. Fees may apply, which is silly since your money is already paying for the pool,'s cheaper than running your own pool at your house.

Parks: Whether it's Thatcher Park with a slight elevation change or Frear Park with a sprinkler system in the playground, parks are another good heatwave place to be.

One place it's a good idea not to go during a heat wave: Alive at Five - with a lot of people no shade, and very expensive drinks, this is probably the last place someone should go or bring their kids. But....I'm going there later today anyway to see Kansas.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Dangerous Water Hole in Hawaii

I was reading that a popular Kauai swimming hole has claimed the lives of at least five visitors in the past five years, with two of them in the past seven months.

The place is called Kipu Falls.

It seems people will jump/dive in from 20 feet above the water level and then they possibly get sucked in from a current under the water. That's just scary.

And this is not including the number of people injured from the rocks, spraining their ankles and even getting rope burn.

I know we all have this vision of a perfect waterfall with a perfect swimming hole in a tropical locale but I don't think this particular paradise in Hawaii is worth the risk.

Another thing not worth the risk? Climbing over a safety barrier at Yosemite National Park.

I heard on the TV (yes, as described before I can't see the TV at work) that three hikers are now missing after going over a waterfall in California's Yosemite park. NBC's Channel 13 reported that a couple went over the barrier to get a better view and then fell over the ledge into the water. Then, a third person went in to rescue them and also has not been found. This happened yesterday (Tuesday) and the search for them continues today.

What have we learned today, folks? Natural water holes bad. Water Slide World good.

Just kidding. I fully encourage people to check out swimming holes. (I also recently heard about a natural water slide in New Mexico. Cool!) Just be careful.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shaving Cream Pie Thrown at Murdoch

In case you hadn't heard, because you don't have CNN and/or live under a rock, tycoon Rupert Murdoch had a pie thrown at his face today.
The white foam throwing culprit has now been identified as a comedian and, he may not realize it, but of all his possible pie-throwing options, I think he took the less messy one.
You may recollect I have some experience with pies in my face (I volunteered to have one thrown at me in May). The pie at the circus was similar to the one thrown at Murdoch because it was made of shaving cream.
From my experience (since I've also had whipped cream pies thrown at me too....don't ask), the shaving cream pies are actually a lot easier to clean up from your body than the whipped cream pies. While a real pie or a whipped cream pie may be tastier, the shaving cream pie is not as sticky and comes out of your hair (though Murdoch doesn't have a lot of this) easier and does not have as weird a smell.
All this kinda reminded me of the 2008 Iraq shoe throwing episode with Bush. Only Bush actually ducked. One of the smartest moves he made while in office, I'd say.
I'd also say....why do all the cool things like this happen abroad? I want to go to a press conference or trial with shoe and pie throwing.

First same-sex wedding Sunday in Niagara Falls

Niagara Falls is going to be a rainbow of color, literally, on Sunday at midnight and one second. A gay couple who have been together for more than a decade, have 12 grandchildren and five children, will say their vows at Luna Island at the popular tourist destination, wedding and honeymoon spot.
They're getting married with a rainbow behind them on the falls. (interesting)
The happy couple are longtime Buffalo residents Kitty Lambert & Cheryle Rudd. Their wedding, set to be the first same-sex marriage in the state, will be witnessed by family and political officials.
Meanwhile, I Love New York has started a campaign to help provide a one-stop-shop for gay couples to help with their wedding planning. Their advertising for places like Niagara Falls, beaches on Long Island and wineries in the Hudson Valley. More details for the wedding and honeymoon packages can be found at

Monday, July 18, 2011

Iceland is getting ready for me....

While listening to the Channel 10 newscast (I can't watch it because my desk is at such an angle where I can only hear it), Steve Caporizzo was saying there are higher than normal temperatures in Iceland.
I found this news story on it. I guess it being 70-degrees in Iceland now would be like it being about 100-degrees here since the people there are not used to warm temperatures. The highs are usually around 60 in the summer.
In any case, I hope this heatwave means that it'll be warm when I'm there too in September.
Go Global Warming! I mean....*achem*....

Friday, July 15, 2011

Park Playhouse Starts Tuesday

It's about halfway through July and I was surprised I hadn't heard anything about the Park Playhouse's summer schedule. I started wondering what shows they were going to put on with their Park Playhouse II, Kids and mainstage productions.

Well, I'm not a patient woman and I got tired with waiting for them to tell me and sought out the information myself...and I'm glad I did. Their 23rd season starts next week!

I first saw on their Facebook profile that they had a Producer's photo as their profile picture. I assumed correctly this meant they would be putting on the Mel Brooks' classic for their main production - that, by the way, starts Tuesday at the lakehouse in Washington Park in Albany. The start time is 8pm (Tuesdays through Sundays).

What I love about the plays, and the reason that I wanted to learn more about when/what they were doing this year, is because it is a fun experience year after year. I bring my lawn chairs, blankets, wine, Taco Bell....ok, not always Taco Bell but usually some random food like that...and watch a group of actors bring a favorite, and usually a classic, to life - for free. Though, there is also the option to reserve seating closer to the stage.

I can't help but think quite possibly the economy is hitting these guys pretty hard and that could be why our newsroom had not seen any advertising, etc yet this year.

So, check out The Producer's from July 19 to August 14 and when they give their song and dance about giving money - make a donation. It's a great cause, and you get a cool sticker too.

And, if you're interested in their other projects, Throughly Modern Millie is showing from August 2 to August 14, Tuesday through Sunday at 5:30 p.m and the Kids's production this year is Annie from July 26 to July 31 also Tuesday through Sunday at 5:30 p.m.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

U.S. embassy attacked in Syria

When I was at the Sen. Charles (or as peeps in the news biz call him occasionally - Chuckles) Schumer press conference earlier this week, one woman in the audience at Marra's pharmacy asked our state senator why the U.S. had an embassy in a Middle Eastern country like Syria. Her question was provoked due to an attack at the embassy this week.
The woman said the embassy had been bombed but everything I've read on it so far has said there was a storming of the embassy with people even going over the barbed wire to get in.
No one was hurt but there was some damage to the facility in Damascus.
Schumer answered the woman's question stating that anywhere that there are Americans or families of Americans there should be embassies.
While I see the woman's point that in these conflicted times having a U.S. presence in possibly conflicted areas might be bad news but we're used to it by now, aren't we? We're the World Police, for crying out loud. (not that I agree with that)
And, as someone who has been a tourist in Middle Eastern areas during not-so-quiet times, I appreciated knowing that there were U.S. embassies nearby and did take note of them, just in case.
It's a good idea to have them. It just might also be a good idea to put more barbed wire and higher walls around them, again, just in case.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Troy Pig Out *oink, oink*

You may have heard that the annual (I mean, 4th Ever) Troy Pig Out is this weekend in the Riverfront Park. I actually can't make it. But you can! (hopefully)
It's 11am until 10pm on Saturday, with the notable bbq tasting contest at 4pm. Then, 11am until 4pm on Sunday. And it's free, except for the $1 fee for the samplings which go toward the National Kidney Foundation.
I'm hoping to make Sunday, we'll be speeding down the Northway from a camping trip to do so.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Finger Lakes

Anyone who has never been to the Finger Lakes should go. Period.
I had actually never been until this past weekend. It was where a friend and I planned to have my good friend Jessie's bachelorette party. The person who helped coordinate the gathering with me has family who lives on Waneta Lake, not far from Keuka Lake, and they were so extremely gracious and nice enough to put us up for a night in the ground floor of their beautiful home and in a lakeside cabin.
One thing I will say about the Finger Lakes is that it is further away than I thought. In my head, I thought it would be only a few hours but it is a solid four hours to get to Keuka Lake. It's less if you go to Seneca which is basically right off the Thruway.
Another thing I'll say about Keuka Lake and the Finger Lakes, in general, is that with so many wineries and places to go, it was darn hard to figure out which locations to choose.
I found a limo (Quality Transportation based in Victor, NY) through a Google search. It was a good price, some places were charging double what we paid for the same time period of six hours.
After emailing about half a dozen wineries, I chose two: Keuka Spring and Bully Hill.
Keuka Spring mainly because the owners got back to me immediately when I contacted them in February. They were attentive and they also happened to be having a shrimp and chardonnay tasting that same day.
The view from Keuka Spring of the lake was amazing. We had beautiful weather and they had a nice set up with a patio area, Adirondack chairs facing the lake, and when you're standing at the bar trying the wines you get a perfect view - of the wines and the lake.

The shrimp/chardonnay tasting was outside and had four shrimp and other appetizer/shrimp items that were pretty good. We were hungry (because we basically went from driving four hours - not including lost time due to the *achem* GPS - to jumping in the limo and drinking Andre) so some of the people in our group didn't wait until the wine part to actually taste the shrimp.
After Keuka, we went to Bully Hill. The main reason for going there was due to it being a main tourist destination and its reputation in the Finger Lakes. I was not impressed with their customer service since after multiple emails no one got back to me about any possible special options for our bachelorette party but their restaurant, on the other hand, was very helpful since I was able to make a reservation a few weeks in advance and change the time slightly once we arrived (since, again, we were hungry).
We missed the last time of the tour, since their Website was foggy on the tour times and no one got back to me about when they were, but the tasting inside had a lot of...personality. I, personally, didn't like that the majority of the spiel was an effort to get us to buy things in their gift shop but the wines were good and that's what matters.
Dinner was also good. The prices were high but about what you'd expect in a tourist area in peak season. I also had leftovers for the next day - but I always have leftovers so that's no surprise.
Our party also liked the coloring place mats with a black/white butterfly and we had our own lil coloring contest.

For more information on the Finger Lakes, check out this site. I also found some good maps,etc at the Harmony House Marketplace in Cohoes.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Sept. 11 Memorial tickets....

...are going fast.

According to the Denver Post: More than 24,000 visitor passes to the new Sept. 11 memorial are gone—distributed Monday in just the first hours after the ticket website went live.

The online reservation system for the tickets was up at 9 a.m., and 5,000 were secured for various dates in just the first hour of operation.The Kansas City Star reported that there only were 5,000 passes but the Denver Post reports differently.

Passes to the memorial are free, the Post says, and officials said they expect them to be in heavy demand as 9/11 approaches.

Reservations are required because the parts of the memorial plaza open to visitors can only hold 1,500 people at a time.

You can check out the memorial site here.

Friday, July 8, 2011

London Bombings, has it been six years already?

Akin to the 9/11 attack memorials...that have already started and we'll see more of come September...London just paid tribute to those 52 who lost their lives in the 7/7/05 London Underground bombings in Aldgate, Edgeware Road, Russell Square, and a city bus. About 700 commuters were injured in total.
This hit home for me for a few reasons. Mainly because I literally used some of these lines daily when I studied in London in 2004. Kings Cross, which may be familiar to Harry Potter geeks out there, was where the four suicide bombers started from in the system and I went through that station every day on the Piccadilly Line.
I was lucky in that the last time I had been there was a year prior to the attack, many were not so lucky. But even that felt way too close for my liking. It was downright weird to think what might have happened if I had been there...
(And, speaking of Harry Potter) While the memorial for this was in the morning on Thursday, the world premiere red carpet show of the final chapter of the saga was that evening in England. I, personally, might have rescheduled it but....I guess we all need our ways to keep our minds off real dark things and on fictional ones instead.

Jersey Shore, sans Snooki

So, one of my friends has planned a trip to the Jersey Shore and I was cool enough to get an invite.
This may come as a surprise but I have never actually been to any New Jersey beaches. I've barely even been to New Jersey - just to see Live Earth in 2007 (actually we just passed its anniversary) and I drive through en route to other places.
As my boyfriend can tell you, my aim is to experience everything, ever, on Earth. So, I kinda want to see what all this hubub is about the Jersey Shore that has sparked annual family vacations and reality shows, most notably...The Jersey Shore (which is now in Florence, oddly enough).
If I had my way, I'd go down with my friend and her kids, stay in the quasi-beachside property for several days (it's 1.5 blocks from the beach), check out Ocean City (since I've only been to Maryland's and not New Jersey's) and maybe go to Atlantic City since my co-worker Sue keeps telling me good things about it.
But, with four weddings coming up including two out of state and one out of country, I'm not sure about my finances for this. *le sigh*
I guess I can't do everything.....well, not at once anyway. But, let me see where everything stands after the bachelorette party this weekend where I'll also experience something new but I can't say what yet since the bride-to-be has no clue and I'm proud I've kept the secret for this long....

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Albany to Las Vegas for $52

I get a lot of Sherman Travel and Travelzoo updates and I ignore most of them but every now and then there is a really good deal and I'd say this is one of them.

The Travelzoo update said the $52 one way/$147 round trip from Albany and Buffalo to Las Vegas was the best price they've seen and that it's unadvertised and might not last, with flights available in August through November. August might be a bit hot to go out and play in the desert but Sin city, with its shows, year-round conferences, and ever-changing strip, is always a good time.

A unique film experience comes to the Capital District

I got to preview something called a D-Box today. I have to say, whoever named it should have thought it about it more. Whenever I think of D-Box I think D-Bag. But I D-igress...(ha,ha)
As I sat next to the Times Union's Steve Barnes - popcorn in hand and water bottle in my over sized cupholder - I wasn't really sure what to expect at the Rotterdam Mall Theatre.
There was a brief visual introduction to the large, red chair which explained there was a panel to control the intensity of the "experience" which would include jilts, tilts, vibrations, and some heaving - of the chair (no one got motion sickness, though I do wonder if that could become a problem).
Our first demo had some fast movements in the latest edition of The Fast and the Furious. I had my intensity level all the way up and felt a lot of vibrating with the scene involving an 18-wheeler and Vin Diesel's crew trying to hijack the cargo. I found it interesting that the vibrations stopped completely when the scene quieted down and then heavy vibrations started back up with the continuation of the scene - which ended with Vin being stuck between a turned over truck and enflamed truck tumbling down a hill toward him. It was cool.
The next demo was with The Polar Express. It began with Tom Hanks explaining to two children that they were at the front of an out of control train about to go down the steepest part of the railway system. I liked the lead up to this and the slight tilt and good vibrations at the climax were pretty awesome.
I liked the D-Box seat for The Polar Express roller coaster-like scene but not as much in the Fast Five car chase.
But, if nothing else, you walk away paying $8 extra for a decent massage and a unique experience since this is the only theatre of its kind in the state, with the closest D-Boxes in New Jersey.
(The new D-Box seats can be reserved for the Harry Potter midnight premier, and other showings following that, on The seats are $16.50 for adults and $13.75 for kids.)

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

It was announced today that the 2018 Winter Olympics will be in South Korea for the first time in the modern international sports competition's history (which had their start in 1896). This comes after two failed attempts to host the Olympics by South Korea.

The country, hosting in Pyeonchang, received 63 of 95 votes from the council, though they only needed 48. The Associated Press also reports that these will be the first winter games hosted in Asia outside of Japan.

Well..I have always wanted to go to this part of Asia.....

Girls Gone Wild, comes to Albany

So, I'm not sure why but I keep hearing about things that involve half-naked women (ie the Dirty Blondes contest and Playboy post). I do notice that I started getting these notification pretty soon after my nude beach blog......maybe that has something to do with it. Hmm...
In any event, a friend invited me to the Girls Gone Wild event at the R Bar (old Envy) in Albany on Friday from 10pm until 4am.
According to Facebook, they will be filming for an all-new reality show (surprise) called Search for the Hottest Girl in America. There will be prizes and giveaways.
But if you're camera shy, you may want to steer clear...."cameras will be rolling."

Polish Night in Cohoes

Since Average Joe totally used a possible post topic for my blog, I'm going to use one that he could have used for his blog - which also kinda ties in with the Cowabunga mission as well. I guess food and travel go hand-in-hand really.
So, this Friday (July 8) from 4pm to 7pm the Cohoes Farmers' Market is hosting a Polish Night with authentic Polish cuisine and Polish Music. Gotta love polka.
Considering the large Polish population in Cohoes, and the surrounding area, I would think this would be pretty good. I've yet to go to Poland but that's on my list - as is eating my way through it.
Or, if you prefer to stick around Troy, check out this place. I have been there and it's soooooo gooood.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Free Places to go Berry Picking

For the first weekend in months, I actually do not have any social activities planned - at all. It's kinda weird, but I'm looking forward to having time to get things done that need to get done (like unpack in my new apartment in Troy) and then there are a couple get togethers on July 4th that I'll attend.

But, for the rest of you, this is looking like primetime berry picking season.

At the grocery stores, the berries are plump, juicy, and not super-expensive like they usually are. Well, there's a way to get them even cheaper - picking them yourself.

There's, of course, a lot of local places to purchase berries that you pick but you could also go on a little berry adventure into the unknown and come out wiser, maybe a little sunburned/bug-bitten, and pleasantly-plump with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries and mulberries.

As a kid, my parents would take us berry picking every year. Sometimes we would pay to go to a place but usually we would go to one of the spots my parents found when they first moved to the area.

I'm all about sharing information and knowledge, so I'll share some of these places with you.

Around Troy

If you go to the Mount Ida Cemetery on Pawling Avenue, check out the wooded area along the Poestenkill (especially near the front green/white house, near the pond, and then near the little waterfall in the back of the cemetery). There's quite a few blackberry and raspberry bushes.

At Frear Park, there used to be tons of berry bushes on the hill not far from the tennis courts and across from the picnic pavilion, near the road when you came in. I know I've seen bushes around the outskirts of the park too.

At Spring Little League, across the street from the concession stand, check out some of nature's candy instead of the Sour Patch Kids at the park (though, you can't beat the prices at the concession stand for candy).

Around Grafton

I've been told, by some very reliable sources, that the wooded area across from the Grafton Lakes State Park entrance has some amazing blueberry bushes - that is, if you get to them before the local residents.

Around the Berkshires

The Berlin Mountain hike from the Petersburgh Pass area, on Route 2, has some great mulberries and blueberries. There's been some nice, sunny days this time of year that I would hike that route and fill up my belly on sun-rippened berries. You can't beat that.

Around the Adirondacks

Hikes I know of that have berry bushes: Buck Mountain on Lake George has blueberries, Hadley Mountain has blueberries and mulberries, Shelving Rock near Sleeping Beauty had mulberries and raspberries (but A LOT of mosquitos too), and I seem to remember getting some raspberry stains on Giant Mountain but not getting to enjoy actually eating the berries.

I'll add to the list as I think of and discover more. Feel free to share as well.

Happy berry picking - watch out for the prickers and berry stains (they're a bitch to get out).