Saturday, February 17, 2018

More Travel Deal Finds and Impulse Control

You guys! I am STOKED!!

Anecdote: A long time ago my buddy Josh went to the train station in Ann Arbor and said I want a ticket to your next leaving train and found himself in DC for a few days on a whim. I have ALWAYS wanted to do that and I thought that it would be bitchin' to have it for flights where you just pick a date and hit show me all flights- alas, no, I never heard of anything like that.

UNTIL TODAY!

BEHOLD!! I bring you SkipLagged (also available in app form, which I am currently downloading as I type). From the look of things, I played around with a few days from Detroit to ANYWHERE just like Journey sort of said in Don't Stop Believin'- the sickeningly common Detroit "theme song" lately (Detroit runs east and west, South Detroit is Windsor). I'm toying with leaving town over the weekend of March 31st for personal reasons, and I don't care if I go at it alone. It's always really fun to imagine that you're going somewhere on vacation, to dream that you're doing something for yourself that makes trading hours for dollars worth it. So this beauty here let me put in my dates of ideal travel and hit enter and it gives me a list of discounted destinations to choose from. I'm instantly on board with this and will definitely use it to find last minute stops and hotels. How exciting! Even if you're not a big saver when it comes to money, if you're itching to get away even for just a few days, this looks like a good place to start your planning in reverse; plan the trip ideas then pick the destination based on the best deal. It even has a gauge on the app to let you know the highest and lowest price points and when. Helpful if you're actually making plans.
These are ROUND TRIP prices, y'all!

Another deal app that I have been digging on lately is Norwegian Air. A bit of a bummer that they don't fly out of Detroit Metro, but I can Spirit or Skip my way to Chicago or NYC for cheap to catch those flights and STILL save a whole canvas bag's worth of money. Imagine with me, if you will- 

Katie's dream getaway for 2018: **see edits at bottom
A few days over in Europe so that I can let me heart go wild in Dublin again and also visit my sister from another mister, Suzanne, just outside of Amsterdam. She has already welcomed me into her home any time I'm visiting, so that saves on hotel costs there in exchange for American treats, which is always a blessing. So basically Dublin is the only room to find, and I have no issue with hostels. I think. Thrifty, right?

First off, get my ass to SWF in NY. Easy enough, blah blah. Not. I digress.

Dublin is about $125 or less than flying to Amsterdam right now. So, book that at $109.30 direct to Ireland. 


With me so far?

Then after a few Irish days I'll head back to Amsterdam to see one of my very best friends. I can't tell you what she means to me, she's more of a sister. I guess that sums it up pretty well. Well, Norwegian one way to AMS is still over $120 but Hopper is $84 with a note that says the Hopper hasn't seen a price this low in 8 months. Helpful! That's why I love this app. 

Then flying home, of course, since I need to go home, I fly one way from Schipol airport in Amsterdam back to NYC, if I go on Sunday May 7th to be on time for work it costs $239.90, BUT if I go on Monday, just one day later, it's $189.90. Ok. 

I'm looking over a few flights from DTW to Stewart International Airport: don't want to do RT in case there are delays- I imagine one night in a hotel in NYC is the same price as my flight from AMS)"
SkyScanner: $204 there/ $$188 back. RT: $207...
Spirit: Doesn't fly to this airport. Wah Wahhhh
LowCostAir: $466 (not low cost)
SkipLagged: $203/$113
Momondo: $200+ for one way OR RT? Weird.  but $419 for one way? Gross. 
Hopper: $217/ $222
Fareness: RT $219
LastMinuteFlights: $216/$187
AA: $212/$519??? Ew.
Delta: RT $206ish
Google Flights all depends on time, it's anywhere from $206 -$493 DTW to SWF...

I'm going to keep looking. It sucks that it costs more to travel a few hundred miles to and from home to NY than it does to go a few thousand miles over the ocean. 
Another thought is I could fly to and from LaGuardia and just take a train or uber or something to Stewart because It would cost me less to do that than it would to fly to SWF.... So many options there but it seems like getting from Michigan to New York is the harder part than actually going overseas.... Like the MTA which they say is about $10 a ticket but probably takes hours... Plus I can't book my trip to NY before I book my flight out of NY because, obviously, I need to know times. 


It's a real ball buster that Norwegian flies out of Chicago BUT not to go to Ireland or Holland. I could try SkipLagged to see if there is a flight deal from Newburgh to anywhere with a Detroit layover and just get off there if it's cheaper than these flights. Rats. Maybe if I leave a day early? Or stay an extra day, or both? If only I didn't have that pesky day job to get in the way!

Anyone have any coupons or tips?

So, this is basically how I research all of my traveling. I. Scour. And I think it's fun, but it can be exhausting. At least through this make believe but possibly actually happening trip the time spent can help me eliminate the apps I don't like, or that are very similar to the ones I do. I have about 15 travel apps downloaded on my phone to try out, so, makin' my way!

But shoot, Amsterdam to Detroit is only $182 on Hopper...No need, I'm rolling my own eyes at myself. (one-way to Dublin is still over $300, though.)

Ok, this is really happening. Stay Tuned.

Sisters!

Until next time, be kind to one another and tip your American waitstaff!

Edit: I booked this trip!
Detroit to Boston: $70ish on Hopper
Boston to Dublin via Norwegian Air: $139
Dublin to Amsterdam via Hopper: $84
Amsterdam to Detroit (and Icelandic layover) $189

That's insane.

All together I am paying a mere $500 for all airfare, staying with friends in Holland, and splurging on a Dublin hotel instead of a hostel because I worry about noise while sleeping (I'm a light sleeper sometimes- like once my cat meowed downstairs and I woke up looking for her in the room) and also because I want to take in as much of Dublin as I can with my camera and music, and don;t want to be traipsing in at 2am while others are sleeping like a dillhole. If anyone has a good hotel deal site they're into or affiliates with any hotel services, let me know! If you send me a link I will look into booking as close to city centre as I can get at a not tremendously pricey rate. If you get a commission for me shopping your link- send it!
I'm so excited, I can almost not believe it's happening!

Friday, February 9, 2018

City Passes- San Diego was worth it!

Hello, hello!

I'm taking a step away from travel apps to discuss CityPass. For those of you in the know, City Passes (or GO Cards, CityPass) are a treasure trove of easy vacationing! If you're going somewhere new and want to tour it for all it's worth, it's your go-to for most of your travel destination needs. You pay for the card ahead of time per person and in that one swift payment you are welcomed to any number of tourist locations for a FREE or discounted rate. The card gets you into parks, museums, sometimes free parking, discounts on meals, skip the line features- definitely worth a look if you like doing as much as possible while saving your hard earned dough for other things like treats and stuffed bears! (no affiliation)

City Pass is an American company that produces and sells discounted ticket packages to top tourist attractions in various North American metropolitan areas- according to their Wiki. I first discovered these babies in 2014 when my husband and I were heading to the Southern California area for vacation. We stayed with friends in Imperial Beach (amazing place!) but got the SoCal GO! Card for 5 days here, which now has cash back from Ebates to sweeten the deal. (if you are not an Ebates member you should be-here's my link to JOIN). There are more offers on the card now than back then- rats! Guess I gotta go back!

With our GO San Diego card we hit as much as possible. Seriously, destinations on destinations on destinations! First day in town we went to the San Diego Zoo so I could cry about koala bears. I loved it! We got food discounts and I do believe I got 10% off of my stuffed koala bear in the Australia area. Pretty obsessed with koalas. With the card we got to line jump to get in (admission covered) as well and made some day friends who also had the cards, and who helped us take this traditional photo!
Sweet googly moogly!

We also went (camera free) to LegoLand (which, admittedly, would have been better if we had kids with us because half of the rides and activities were geared towards kids, so as adults it was just mostly a really long walk- something to keep in mind), Sea World (don't hate) and Belmont Park, a small seaside style amusement park that I was crazy about! All admission entries were free, plus at Belmont we even got free rounds of putt putt (I lost) and other games! It's a great way to spend the evening, it feels just like a tv show setting! 

Sup, bro?

We spent one day in sunny Los Angeles- which I really wanted to be my favorite day on the trip. It was pretty cool, for sure, but it was also not what I expected. But the Go Cards got us into a lot, A LOT, of neat stuff in LA! We started at the Max Factor Hollywood Museum, which I was obsessed with. There was a whole room of Lucille Ball, and as a horror fx makeup artists and costumer, I was just to the moon about the whole thing!

We also went to the Dolby Theatre (we entered through a mall) where I may or may not have sneaked a photo of Leo's Oscar chair, the Chinese Theatre filled with hands, feet and bus tours of people in EVERY infuriating direction (very hard to get photos of things you like when a group of 6 is constantly walking right in your shot even though you are CLEARLY standing with your camera down at the ground for a reason) and we got a discount on crepes while gazing at the Hollywood sign right outside the theatre. 
 Leo!
Harry Potter cast at the Chinese Theatre

Another trip we made in San Diego proper was the Petco stadium, which was neat. I like being aware of the bigness of an empty stadium. I like it back home at Comerica Park where the Tigers play, too. Like waiting for something to happen! We got free museum trips and discounts in Old Town San Diego State Park like the "haunted" Whaley House (maybe more on that later) We also had an adventure in La Jolla going on a Tandem Kayak tour where we saw sea lions, Dr. Seuss's old house and a Spanish guy yacking in the water. The tour was pretty great until that, even though the water was choppy and we could't do the full 90 minute's worth of sight seeing. 
I'll sight see this guy all day!

This adventure was amazing and we had such an unforgettable blast. I know that a huge chunk of us getting to do as much as we did was all thanks to the Go San Diego CityPasses I had only stumbled upon by chance trying to see if we would be in town during tapings of the Ellen show (we weren't). Not only did we milk SoCal for all we could with these babies, I've relied on these passes for a few other cities! Stay tuned for more Go! adventures and other resources for you to save some money on your next vacation!

I am not affiliated with anything listed above, I just like good deals and Ellen Degeneres!

Friday, February 2, 2018

Flight Deal Apps reviews; Hopper, Travel Pirates and WOW

So, in my last post I openly discussed Spirit Airlines and some ways that using their services could save you extra money on top of their great deals. I hope I helped introduced some of you cool cats to something you may not have known! Now I will candidly discuss my feelings on a few Travel and Flight Apps that are Android friendly and FREE! (I'm not affiliated with any of these apps or Android)

Today I want to shed some light on one of my favorite apps of all time: HOPPER! Fun fact, I have had a pen pal in Holland since I was fifteen, thanks to a Backstreet Boys Yahoo Group! Well, for over a decade and a half she and I have been talking about visiting one another, and this past fall I finally did it! And it's all thanks to the deals and ease of setting it up on, you guessed it, Hopper! It's easy, just pick your start and end destinations and Hopper finds the lowest fare for your selected dates from a pool of airways. You don't have to worry about individual choices of this or that airline and comparing the services that only have a $4 difference between them. What I love about it is that you can put an alert on your trip locale and Hopper will announce if the prices you were seeing have gone up or down significantly and their tips on if they think it will go down even further. Well, it took about two months but my husband and I managed to score round trip deals from Detroit Metro to Schipol Airport (Amsterdam) for $622 after taxes and fees (including international fees). When I looked at DTW and Windsor's flights they were RT for about $1300 each with more layovers than the one stop flight we had from Hopper.  And, from Hopper, we booked an RT flight to Dublin and back to Holland for $126 after fees. It was really easy, took about ten minutes for everything once I had my credit card and passport in front of me and all of our flight info was saved on the app as well as emailed over for extra security.
The good: Everything is easy to work with and manage. Check in was fine and printing boarding passes at the airport was a-ok. Hopper sent an alert when it was time to check into our flights a day ahead, as well.
The Bad: When the deals hit and it alerts you it only last about a day or two. So if you're not immediate upon the deal it may raise a smidge next day.
This is a test I did for a screenshot's sake. See how it aids?

Another App/website that I was turned on to is Travel Pirates. For flight deals I'm not sure how I feel about it- yes the deals are great but the ones they boast about (lately it's Fly to San Fran for $20) are only if you start from a nearby location to the place mentioned. For instance, to fly to San Fran for $20 you need to be coming from Vegas only. Coming from Chicago or New York are back over $100 one way and Detroit isn't an available airport.  Plus about 6 pop-up ads hide on you from hitting enter on any click. For flights it's basically your run-of-the-mill flight adjustment deal sites raking through airlines for cheapies, which is still great! But for the flight aspect it's nothing special and my airport only makes the cut half the time. However, the deals you can get for trips away are really looking good right now- a round trip flight with 4 star hotel stay in the French Quarter for a long weekend for $491*? Pretty good! (*that price is the entry level starting point. It goes up from there so I would recommend booking this early if you want it so that you can get the best deals before places book.) 
The good: The deals seem pretty good! Especially the package deals. 
The Bad: Not all airports are included. For most of the trips, if I wanted to book I would have to drive to or book another flight to Chicago O'Hare just to cash in, which kind of eliminates the savings. And all of the alerts I saw when I had the app were for generic trip deals, not anything I had specifically searched out or saved. Sometimes there were 5 or 6 a day to things I wasn't interested in at the time. 

Has everyone heard of WOW? It's a cheap fare service from the USA to Iceland and Europe. The app includes options for hotels and car rentals, if you're looking for that. I mostly only hear about WOW when talks of Iceland come about (DO narwhals exist??), but it's nice to know that you can also fly to about 15 other main European cities as well (such as the nicest people in the world capitol, Amsterdam and my beloved Dublin). Like Pirates, not all airports are on the list of take off list and you may find yourself having to fly to an international (or more specifically international than DTW) just to cash in on that deal. If you get lucky, or you're not looking for too complicated of a trip, WOW can suit you just fine, I suppose. 
The Good: The deals are pretty good! RT from Detroit to Reykjavik at Basic WOW fare (no add ons at ALL) is about $500 with fees but can add up to over $800 for perks like luggage and leg room. It's still a pretty great price! 
The Bad: You can't go whenever you want to these places. There are chunks of time where there is no flight listed from here to there and vise versa. Looking up flight info for this fake trip we're going on together right now took me to May because March and April both had zero availability to book on any day. Also, like other budget airlines (Not the same as budget purchases FOR airlines like Priceline or Expedia, etc) budget airlines "nickel and dime" you for extra money. If you want a great deal from Detroit to Iceland for 10 days but only plan on bringing your purse or laptop, then you're all set with the cheapest price. But if you're like most even slightly clean people, you may want to pack some extra socks and underwear or a granola bar, even, so you will have to pay more or strap it to your body somehow or light layer up. The flights are also nonrefundable and as you can see by this crudely taken photo, only the highest priced trip offer cancellation protection. I can't function the rest of the site unless I begin to build my flight plan, so I can't tell you what is offered as an add on, but I imagine all items in the Biz section can be added on to your tickets. So, you're saving money, but when it comes down to it with all of the itemization, you will be spending a prettier penny than it appears, so you may be surprised.
The app wouldn't show the same screen to capture a clearer shot. Sorry, I'm a caveman.

Now, I know there are many more apps, and I plan to research, try to use and review all that I can. But as someone who supports my fellow bloggers, I read a lot of blogs throughout the week. And I absolutely hate when the blog post looks like it could fill 17 pages if printed. So I will bid you adieu for now and return with another set of apps to help or de-hinder your travel experiences! 

Please, if you have any suggestions of another app to try for some good deals or have used the apps mentioned today, let me know in the comments! I'm always happy to strike up conversations about learning and deal hunting!

Check me out on Instagram and as always, be kind to one another!


Sunday, January 28, 2018

The great, the ok and the dirty; How Spirit Airlines wrangles you back in.

Hi readers!

This week is about finding travels deals online through Spirit in a sort of pro/con list. I am not affiliated with Spirit Airlines in any way.
I'm a really thrifty shopper- I look for deals, I research competitive pricing, I look for the gold in all shopping situations (but not in a Hoarders/TLC show way). I like Spirit because if you're not too consumed with time spent at the airport it's a really great deal. Where else can you fly round trip to NYC non-stop for about $150? No place. That's where.
Everyone takes these photos, right?

The Good: I'm not always convinced of Spirit being the best choice for all flights, but, sometimes a good deal is a good deal- or a great one! I found a one-way ticket to DC for $48 two weeks ago to visit a pal and I am kicking myself for not booking for a later date!- even though the trip back was more expensive at about $110... it was a 2 hour non-stop flight! WHAT was I thinking? Meanwhile American was around $325. See below for a more recent cost comparison.  If you're in it just for the fun of going someplace on the cheap and not SUPER worried about time restraints on your itinerary, I'd say at least check it out.  I find myself weekly now looking up prices of flights to random places I'd like to visit. Seriously, I've really fallen down the Spirit rabbit hole.
This is the cost if I left this week to DC from Detroit, round trip at about $250 per person. I did the same trip with American Airlines and you can see it's $100 more AND has a lengthy layover for no apparent reason. Hard to pass up.

OK: I've recently taken to Spirit's Free Spirit rewards program for frequent flyers. If I use Spirit any time soon it will be worth it. Anyhow, with this, of course, you earn sky miles for every flight, which, as you know, can be cashed in on the website for free airfare once you reach a high enough bracket of I believe 5,000 miles to equal one RT flight. But because I am a Free Spiriter I was also emailed about this annoyingly on-key survey program from Spirit called Miles For Thoughts. Instead of regular surveys all of the work from home and Penny Hoarder sites tell you about that can earn you a whopping 13 cents if you're lucky- Miles for Thoughts asks the same annoyingly invasive qualifying questions and "getting to know you" stuff  time after time and you're lucky to get a survey at all sometimes- but when you DO you get miles! I landed my first survey, and despite my binge watching Gilmore Girls for the millionth time, I earned 400 miles in what I imagine would have been six minutes if I were actually paying attention. Pretty easy stuff about banking and Merrill Lynch. Also, some of the surveys remember your answers so you mercifully don't have to redo everything every time. So, if you'd rather earn sky miles like me instead of spending all night trying to earn pennies at a time, I'd look into Miles for Thoughts. You DO, however, need to be on Free Spirit in order to get into Miles for Thoughts- those two accounts merge together into one MEGA spirit account. Thrifty tip: They're both FREE!
I've also been thinking about their Spirit World Mastercard credit card through Bank of America. Not that I need another card, but my credit is GOOD and you earn 15,000 miles from it (which is up to three RT flights not including taxes and fees blah blah) when you book your first ticket plus double cash back if you use it to book flights otherwise through spirit. Maybe I'm a sucker for thinking that's a good idea, but you can always cancel a credit card, or leave it open but rarely used to help your credit score a tad. I'm still on the fence since opening this post on Friday. The restrictions for those miles are heavy, but unlike other credit cards, it doesn't say you need to spend this much money in this much time to qualify. It just says from your first purchase, which I can only assume is through Spirit. Still, though...

You can also join their $9 fare club, which is a monthly fee of, you guessed it, $9, but lets you take better advantage of offers such as one way flights for $25 instead of $50+ and half off baggage check-ins. It would be worth it if you used Spirit a few times a year, I think. $9 a month is like, one small Starbucks coffee with no frills and only one sugar (but not the natural raw kind or Splenda- those are fancy extras).

Some tips if you choose to fly Spirit for the first time:
1. There are checked bag fees. You ticket is for you and a personal item only. All other bags are subject to extra fees, which I would recommend purchasing ahead of your flight.  They do check. 
2. Spirit does not fly to every American airport. It does take you to some Central and South American airports for a deal, don't expect to go to a luxury vacation spot like Hawaii on Spirit for cheap. 
3. You have to pay for everything in flight. Bring a book and a snack.


The Dirty:
The seats are smaller. There's barely any legroom. Don't be tall. Or have expectations of being comfortable if you are tall. (I'm not tall)
Spirit is rumored to be low fares because it's low quality. I get it. I do. It's hit or miss. On my way to San Diego there was no issue flying. Same with Orlando. Everything was on time, everyone was pleasant, my Dr. Pepper exploded a little. 
BUT on my way to Puerto Rico the way out was delayed a few minutes. No big deal. Got there fine. The way back, however, felt like as close as you can emotionally get to not knowing where your kids are at night while still being safe and not worried about anyone's death. We got to the airport at 10am for a 12:30 flight. Flight delayed. Flight delayed. Still, more delays. At 3ish or after we found out it's because there was a dent in the plane that they were fixing. What? A dent? So, HOURS later we finally boarded the place- at almost 6pm. So we board and sit in waiting for another half hour because some assholes refuse to make room in the overhead compartment for other paying customers. Dicks. Then we get to Florida and have to fly around a storm. It was completely bad ass and I have lightning videos somewhere around here. It did delay us further but not anyone's fault there. Totally dope. BUT when we finally get to Detroit Metro it's raining. It takes LEGIT 55 minutes to line the plane up with the gate so that we can exit. They. Could. Not. Line. It. Up. THEN they (or whatever powers that be) decided that since it thundered once while we landed an hour ago that it was unsafe conditions to unpack the luggage from the compartments under us and send it to the baggage claims. Only they didn't tell us that as we exited the plane. We had to find out another hour later after we all swore we didn't need our bags anymore. Then about 45 minutes after THAT bags started coming down one at a time. So, long story medium, our trip home took us from landing just after 5:40pm at DTW to finally retrieving our luggage well after 1 or 2am. I was exhausted. I don't know who is fully to blame for everything that happened after our arrival to DTW, but since we were there with Spirit airlines, I guess it's them. I don't know even if that can be helped or what airport policy is there, but after a shite day waiting for our flight and then waiting to get off of our flight, let's just say there was no cherry on top. Best bet is to travel lightly. This was a BAD experience, but probably not common.


So not every trip is the same, like all flights. If you're willing to travel light and have no real concept of time, I recommend these deals. It's quite worth it if you're saving half or more of what you'd spend on American or Frontier or something to get to the exact same place. I like Spirit because I get so excited at the thought of going somewhere more on the cheap than normal, and actually going sooner rather than later while still having pocket money. A lot of time people don't travel when they want to because of money, right? If money is your excuse to not go then you're traveling all wrong. Hopefully I could shed some light on your plans and make your wallet hurt a little less with some of these tips. 

I'd love to hear some other stories about flight deals. Next story I will go into my favorite app, Hopper, among a few other travel apps. Stay tuned and be kind to one another!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Travel Memory Crafting

Welcome back!

My name is Katie. And I am a travel keepsake hoarder.
13 days in Europe filled this 7 inch tall box.

Though this post isn't about finding a good deal TO travel, it's a Pinterest style post about how to be crafty with your keepsakes from traveling that won't blow the bank once you're home.

For a while I would just keep fancy looking boxes with all of my keepsakes nestled in and put on a shelf. I would go through them from time to time and relive my experiences and whatnot, but you know what? That shelf life is not as fun! I do still have the boxes, of course, because of the hoarding thing, but I've also taken things out of them to make into something that I can not only see every day, but that I can be proud of.
As mentioned in my Guinness Storehouse post, I am a looter. That means if I see something in my adventure that I like, I take it. Not in a shoplifting way of course, but combing beaches, sneaking tiny decorations off of cafe tables in Germany, cool looking rocks and pebbles, or again, a pocket full of barley from Guinness's display (see above) are all things I have added to my collection.

Over the last two winters I've gotten into the ornament game. It started last year when I saw a set of 2 clear plastic bulbs at my local Dollar Tree. (Those are no longer in stock but you can find affordable and comparable ones here on Amazon) These ornaments are really easy to work with. I fill and style them with my treasures both big and small. I like to have dramatic layers in my space, so I start by adding my largest items first, or if I want to specially place something, of course, do that first or second. It's all in how you feel. For my European bulb I didn't have the middle split option so I had to only use things that would fit through the opening- the barley, a few Euro pennies, bits of rock from all four countries I visited and so on. Your choice. Filling is the fun and easy part.
Clockwise: My wedding decorations and ties from gifts, Imperial Beach, Euro Vacay. 

Pro Tip: If you do all small then you can expect it to all settle together at the bottom, because remember, they will get shuffled around no matter how much care you put into placing them! See below...
Small bits of Earth from Ireland, Germany, Holland, Belgium and the North Sea.

Ta-da!

It's really that easy! I think all in all I spent a total of $5 on supplies and spent almost no time at all on building each bulb.
I of course bought the dyed starfish at the boardwalk in Imperial Beach, CA.

Another Pro Tip: With the split middles (live my California bulb above) I added a layer of glue around the seam of the bulb for safety and also added a layer of clear nail polish expanded a little past the glue edges. For the capped bulbs I added glue around the edge of my rim to grab extra hold of that little tin cap. 

Thanks to my friend Ariel, who runs Different Frame Of Mind I was turned on to this video idea from the Travel Channel about making your own map:
My next project? Mayhaps.

I'd love to try it out when I can say that I've visited more than 6 or 7 states! (Do airports count??) Some I would have to revisit just to get some good photos to use- so there's that excuse to travel!

But seriously- do airports count as having been to a state?

What kinds of crafts do you guys do with your souvenirs when you get back? Let me know in the comment section! I'd like to try more things!

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Dublin's National Wax Museum

When my husband and I arrived in Dublin the very first thing we did was get lost in the airport. But aside from that we picked up our Dublin City Pass cards (DublinPass) and took a bus to Dublin proper. We got shuffled from the bus about a half mile from where out hotel was, but it was the closest stop to Blooms. Not the worst, but still I felt silly walking around town with a big bag (so be advised if you plan on getting a city pass card and using it as your transport from the airport- it does not drop you off at your destination unless your destination is in the middle of construction somewhere in Temple Bar district)!
Well, as luck would have it, we walked right smack dab to the doorstep National Wax Museum Plus on our way. I had wanted to visit it as 1. I have never gone into a wax museum before and 2. it was part of the City Pass! Tickets are ordinarily €15 so it was a great help to our budget to be able to get in for free having already paid for the cards. 

The museum itself didn't look too big from the outside- boy was I wrong there! Coming in we saw a small lobby and gift shop, of course a gift shop, and they were kind enough to let us stow our bags behind the counter. Let that be a lesson, it never hurts to ask for a little help! Well, we started out in a hall of science and mirrors. Best believe we ran into our reflections a few times! Some of the science was left for nightmares, as you can see. A giant WTF at this one:
The way it's all mapped out is spectacular. I got a kick out of the mad hatter looking clock filled staircases. It's no way to live, though- all those clocks ticking! Really cool to look at, though. 
There are centuries of waxed Irish history by way of vikings tales, religious history, pain, suffering- all the good stuff. The fairytale looking enchanted tunnel was really beautiful. I think I went through it twice! I enjoyed the change in atmospheres in each section, too. It seems like a lot was crammed into each section so at times it felt like the wax walls were closing in! I really enjoyed the notable Irish writers section (am I the only one who thought the young Oscar Wilde was stud-ish?) I also loved the rock and roll section, which was short, and let's all mock how potatoey they made Trump look in the other notable Americans corner (not pictured because- why would I?). I was looking at Michael Jackson and Tina Turner thinking "God, what a slightly horrifying things these are, wax museums. What if they all came to life like in Toy Story? They sure as shite look like they come alive. Is he staring at me?" and a lot more along those lines. For some reason, maybe because we could get closer to the Hollywood figures and other artists- but they really jump into your brain as something to be weary of, am I right? So sketchy looking, like they're forcing you into an R. L. Stine series.
I see you, Tina.

I loved the Hollywood side, it looked like a little more time was spent on these guys. Or maybe they're just more modern? (see the Joker above) The details on some of these were incredible and I know not everything is made from wax, but geez, people work hard to make these! The artistry in each of these, insane! Also, what a weird job to have.
My favorite Irish actor's dad!

My favorite section was the Horror genre area. Like others, I wish it was a tad more interactive, but it the kind of scene in which you would picture Vincent Price narrating as you walk through. Creaky doors and random bursts of lightning-like light and the like. Some of the exhibits were made creepier by the fact that they were simply lurking wax figures, which made it  a different kind of  scary fun- more like a haunted house (possibly not the goal). It took it from looking at a was guy to seeing that wax guy come to life as a creepy Freddy in the kitchen about to look at you like you're next! Henry Jarrod on the brain in reverse. 
This screen area was real cool. Creeeeepy. 

All in all, our trip to the National Wax Museum in Dublin was worthwhile. Don't go in expecting it to be like a theme park- it's more or less an hour to an hour and a half's worth of activity. At times I felt childlike going through, and the way the histories were told almost read like a book. You get to know bits of Irish culture in a different way by taking in some of these views and reading their plaques. Maybe my point of view on it is a little more horror themed (or weird?) but I really did have visions of them all coming to life and being killers like any true horror buff would. Plus, I have seen House of Wax (both versions) many times, so don't think for a minute that I didn't check to see if any of them looked more human than mannequin! It's definitely worth the trip inside, it's truly spectacular to see the amounts of work and talent these artists have, and to see how they capture the essence of characters so well in the designs, even if they do look like they'll murder you if you get locked in by mistake at night. I enjoy the macabre, or even the idea that something like could become so- so to my friends I would say GO! and have some fun in your imagination whilst here. It's family friendly (discount tickets for kids), safe for all ages (har har) and a good conversation waiting to happen because where I come from we don't have anything like it (that I know of- again, see Henry Jarrod). 
Detroit Tigers in Dublin!

For more information or to plan your visit check out: www.waxmuseumplus.ie/
For Dublin City Pass info: https://www.dublinpass.com/ 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Palomino Island at the El Conquistador Resort

Down in Fijardo, PR- I saw a lot of things I don't see at home.Tropical Storms. Giant Iguanas. A Private Beach!


Here is a classic Fijardo moment caught on tape. Film? Digital? Well, whatever mode, here is this guy.

Palomino Island Food Drop


The El Conquistador Resort (Waldorf-Astoria) was beautiful! Palomino Island was one of my favorite parts besides the steepest slide in the water park they have on site, and they promote a hell of a deal on vacation sites! I'll discuss more about that and the resort next, but for now, here is my lizard friend, Carl. He was hungry. 

More Travel Deal Finds and Impulse Control

You guys! I am STOKED!! Anecdote: A long time ago my buddy Josh went to the train station in Ann Arbor and said I want a ticket to your ne...