Blogs > Millennial Traveler

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

Monday, January 28, 2013

Winter Hikes from the DEC

The DEC has a list on their website of "Great Winter Hikes". It has a few local sites listed including: Five Rivers in New Scotland, and Partridge Run in Berne. Other recommendations, Buck Mountain and Camp Santanoni, are also not too far away.

Check out the list here.

From my own experience:
Five Rivers has nice flat terrain for snowshoeing (you can rent shoes there) or XC skiing.
And Buck Mountain has a steady ascent with a very steep/flat rock portion at the end toward the top. I've never done it in the winter but I hear it is challenging, but fun.

Enjoy the winter weather out there!

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Cruise Excursions - Check!

It's 9 1/2 days out from the 9 1/2-day cruise and not only am I excited but my subconscious is excited too. I had a dream about traveling last night which, honestly, I wish happened more often.
The things I'm especially excited about are the excursions my dad and I just booked for the Norwegian Gem cruise headed to the Caribbean from NYC on Feb. 5.
In the past couple months since we purchased our tickets, I've flipped and flopped and flipped again about doing excursions.
When I was first looking into the cruises - my first one - I thought it was almost necessary to do them so I looked into the Norwegian offered ones and Googled a few offered at the actual islands. I thought the locally-operated ones would be cheaper but that was not always the case, surprisingly. You might save $15 but risk more of a chance of missing your boat when you come back.
(NCL - San Juan City Tour - $44 vs Local tour - $55, NCL - Discover St. Thomas and Magens Bay - $54 vs Sunny Liston's Beach, Shopping, Sightseeing - $40, and NCL - El Limon Waterfall horseride- $79 vs Tour with Terry - $60)
Then, as time went by, I started thinking that maybe excursions were not really needed. We'll be on a tropical island - golden sun, turquoise water, sandy beaches, beautiful vistas. Maybe all I'd really need is a good book and/or my Kindle, a swimsuit, some a lot of sunblock, and a couple a lot of cocktails. That would certainly save about two hundred dollars.
It was my dad - my 68-year-old dad - who convinced me that we should do more than just sit at the beaches. We're healthy, active and, in the end due to a lot of budgeting over the past few months, can afford the excursions.

So, we did it. And, in true nightowl Sanzone fashion, finally booked one for each port of call around midnight the other day:
In San Juan, my dad - a coffee lover - wanted to do the Espresso tour but $94 seemed a bit steep for coffee and talking (if that was the usual price, I don't think quite as many people would be meeting for "just coffee"). So, we compromised, and decided on the San Juan City Tour which will include stops at the fort, and several areas of the old and new parts of the city. And we'll probably get an espresso or two on the way back to the boat.
In St. Thomas, we are doing the Discover St. Thomas and Magens Bay tour with panoramas of the island and bay, a stop at one of the top 10 ranked beaches by Nat Geo(or so everyone keeps saying but I didn't actually see a link/site about it through multiple searches) and Blackbeard's Castle, which, according to reviews, is touristy but still sounds kinda fun.
In St. Marteen, we'll be doing something I'm especially looking forward to: catamaran sailing and snorkeling. I've never done either before and it sounds wonderful.
Finally, in the Dominican Republic, a rainforest hike with natural pools.
I thought we had a good variety of activities - some history, some beaches, some luxurous fun, and some physical activity - and it was actually about what I had budgeted two months ago.

Now, maybe in the next several days, I'll have a couple dreams about these excursions too.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

A Tip for Cheap Airfare from the Wall Street Journal

This is brilliant.
The WSJ points out in an article this week that you can save an average of 30 percent by purchasing airfare for multi-leg trips with multiple tickets and possibly different airlines.
"Pairing two discounted tickets together to create your own connecting itinerary can often be less expensive than flying on one ticket, if you take advantage of airlines' city-specific specials, or create your own route using discount airlines," the WSJ reported Thursday.
As they explain, there are negative aspects like re-checking bags or even staying overnight in a connecting city. But, if all goes well, there are savings to be had.

(photo from Wall Street Journal article)

Pay More for Early Boarding on Southwest

Would you pay more to not have to wait in line at Southwest? To be able to board a bit early?
That's what Southwest Airlines is counting on with a new $40 fee to be among the first 15 in line "letting them stow away carry-on bags in the overhead bin and pick seats with more legroom," reports the LA Times.
I have to admit I don't think I would pay more. But, I'm sure others out there would.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Seneca Falls, NY - Historic Tourist Destination

Today's inaugural address made me think of a historic site that's -Almost - in our backyard. Well, considering we're talking about the first women's rights convention in the western hemisphere, 3 hours really isn't too far to drive to travel to where the historic events took place.
According to Wiki, the 1848 Seneca Falls convention was the first meeting of its kind organized by women and it was a huge step towards women's rights and suffrage.
Now, Seneca Falls is marketed as the gateway to the Finger Lakes and, given the name, there's probably a lot of Native American history there as well from the Seneca Nation.
On top of all of this, there's rumors that this town was the inspiration for Bedford Falls in the Frank Capra holiday classic "It's a Wonderful Life."
(If you stop along I-90, you've probably seen this marker which talks about the Finger Lakes and Seneca Falls - pictured are myself and my brother.)

Friday, January 18, 2013

Russian Winter Festival Saturday

A press release about tomorrow's Russian Festival:

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Two Locally-Made Films Opening this Week

Everybody loves going to the movies, especially when you know it was filmed in your own backyard.

Tonight, (Thurs. Jan. 17) there is a 7pm and 9pm sneak peak of The Throwaways, a documentary filmed in Albany and featuring a lot of local people who have been down on their luck. It's $10.

Then, 6:30pm tomorrow (Friday, Jan. 18) the movie Off Limits is debuting which was apparently filmed around the same time and same places that The Place Beyond the Pines was filmed. It's $11.50 and includes a showing of Broken City.

Both of these are being featured at the Madison Theatre - how much more local can you get?

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The New York Times' 46 Places to Travel to in 2013

Not sure where they came up with the number 46, but overall I like the list which includes travel staples like Paris, Ireland and Thailand, along with explaining new and upcoming trends like beer tours in Lithuania. And, with the 2016 Olympics planned for Rio, NYT folks think it better to go now than in three years.
Our very own Adirondacks in NY made the list. Though, I'd never heard of the "glam" camping ("glamping"?) place they mention: Camp Orenda. It's $155/person per night and includes camping in a tent with a queensize bed, campfire meals and activities for adults and kids.
For that price, I think I'd rather camp at my alma mater's Canaras which is an ADK great camp near Saranac Lake.
Getting back to the list, though, I am excited I'll be going to one of the recommended locations next month: Puerto Rico. Though, the description talks more about Puerto Rico's new hotels than actual sights.

For the complete New York Times article: go here.

It's Official: Almost time for my first cruise

I got approval for time off for my 10-day vacation today!
I think that means it's official that I'll be going to Puerto Rico, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, and the Dominican Republic. Though, honestly, if it hadn't been approved I probably would have taken the time off without pay since I booked the cruise a month ago - on my 30th bday (which reminds me, I have to change my blogger description on this since I think it still describes me as a 20-something).
I finally asked for the time off last week after booking the train tickets to NYC - since my dad and I will be leaving from a port there.
I guess all this means for the next three weeks I'll be thinking about what to do while on board the Norwegian Gem from Tuesday, Feb. 5 through Thurs. Feb. 14.

One thing I just noticed was that we'll be on the ship making our way back to NYC on Mardi Gras...I wonder what that will be like on ship with 2,400 passengers.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Albany Parking Authority Solar Meters

From a press release this week:

ALBANY – The Albany Parking Authority (APA) today announced it will begin installing 33 additional multi-space parking meters to expand on-street parking options downtown. The new solar powered meters extend the 2-hour parking limit to 10 hours. The meters accept credit and debit card payments using Visa, MasterCard, and Discover in addition to accepting coins, and run on a gradually increasing rate structure.
“The next phase of our plan to update downtown parking will create even more convenient parking in the downtown entertainment district, not to mention improving the overall look of the street scape,” said Michael Klein, Executive Director of the Albany Parking Authority. “With the addition of these meters, the on-street parking system will include 70 solar powered multi-space meters regulating access at 604 parking spaces in downtown Albany.”
The installation of the new meters commence January 10, it’s expected to take about 1 week, but is weather dependent. The 33 new solar powered multi-space parking meters will take the place of 262 old “lollipop” meters near downtown Albany’s Entertainment District along Pearl Street, Broadway, James Street, Beaver Street, Green Street, Hudson Ave, Howard Street, Lodge Street, Pine Street, Eagle Street, Van Tromp Street, and Columbia Street. The replaced meter’s poles will remain until weather permits removal, but all mechanisms will be removed and marked to identify they’re inactive.
The Albany Parking Authority began first installing the new meters in June 2011, bringing 12 new meters to State Street as an initial pilot project. That change was well-received by the public, and as a result a second phase added 25 additional “smart” meters near the Capitol and along Washington Avenue about six months later.
After parking their car, drivers will go to a nearby multi-space parking meter to purchase their desired amount of time, take their receipt, and then place it on the passenger side of their dashboard. The Albany Parking Authority urges the public to place the receipts face-up on the passenger side of the dashboard so that Public Safety officers do not have to enter the roadway to check them.
For the convenience of those who drive motorcycles or convertibles, the APA has located and purchased receipt/permit display devices to secure the receipts, and offers them to the public at below market prices.

Upgrades at Disney World

Call it a new and improved way of visiting Mickey Mouse and the gang. It's Disney 2.0, but they're calling it MyMagic+ and it starts in the spring.
The folks at Disney will be investing almost $1 billion to equip their parks and guests with new technology that includes bracelets for visitors that can act as their ticket into the park and a way to purchase items easily once there, just like a credit card (kinda sounds like what most cruises do now already - probably even the Disney one).
MyMagic+ will also allow would-be/soon-to-be guests the opportunity to choose up to three FastPass tickets on rides before they even leave for the park.
This is starting at Disney World  - with about 30 million visitors annually - and I'm guessing, if successful, will expand from there.

For more info, check out this NYT article.