George Washington’s Mount Vernon

Lately, I’ve been trying to spend more time exploring my own (adopted) region. This weekend, with temperatures breaking 60 degrees, that mission—and my current Hamiltoninduced 18th-century history kick—sent me across the Potomac to explore our first president’s home and estate with my friend Adam (…who’s also been roped into seeing Hamilton with me in two weeks).

One of the best things about DC is that most of its top-tier historic attractions are free. Alas, visiting Mount Vernon has a price tag. To be exact, it’s $17 if you buy your tickets online or $20 at the door. But the experience is well worth it—whether you’re a history buff or a nature enthusiast or interested in visiting a petting zoo, there’s something for you. Continue reading “George Washington’s Mount Vernon”

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Staying in London: Stratford

It’s a challenge to find a place to stay in London when you’re on a budget—particularly when you also have a jam-packed itinerary and can’t risk leaving your precious few hours of sleep in the hands of unknown hostel bunkmates. I look forward to the day when money’s not an obstacle and I can just crash in Mayfair or whatever with the posh people, but right now, I’m 23 and work at a nonprofit. So I spent many, many, many hours scouring Expedia for accommodations on those nights when I wasn’t going to sleep on a bus.

Ultimately, after weighing several dozen options and getting dangerously close to my departure date, I settled on the Epsilon Hotel in Stratford. At $70 per night with free wifi and breakfast included, the price was right, and though it’s not especially centrally located, the tube stop ten minutes away meant it wasn’t too much of a sacrifice location-wise.

Honestly, I liked my hotel in Stratford precisely because it was a bit out of the way. Continue reading “Staying in London: Stratford”

Cat on a Plane

Almost 8 years after I got my learner permit, I still haven’t managed to pass my road test. Or, uh, bothered taking it. To the shock of some people who find this out, I do manage to function as an adult human despite my lack of a driver’s license, thanks very much.

But when my first holiday season as a cat owner rolled around, I did find one big inconvenience. At the holidays, DC is a ghost town. And petsitter fees skyrocket. And I have no one to care for my cat but also can’t just drive her home like my roommate did with his cat.

And that was how Lily ended up paying the price for my stubbornness/ineptitude and racking up her first thousand miles on American Airlines. Continue reading “Cat on a Plane”

Wonder at the Renwick

For all the time I spend mentally planning trips around the world, I don’t do nearly enough exploring in my own city (which is by all accounts a wonderful place to explore—it topped Lonely Planet’s list of must-visit destinations in 2015). Lately, I’ve tried to change that and become more of a tourist in my own (adopted) town. After all, I’ve only lived here a year and a half—I still have that newcomer sense of wonder when I take the time to consciously appreciate my surroundings.

But for those Washingtonians (or visitors) who might be a bit more jaded about #ThisTown, the newly-reopened Renwick Gallery is making a strong effort to revive a sense of wonder in everyone.  Continue reading “Wonder at the Renwick”

Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle

With DC currently getting wrecked by the Snowpocalypse/Snowzilla/Chersnowbyl disaster, and my right arm less-than-functional after I slipped spectacularly on some ice earlier this week, it feels like the right time to recap my quick trip to Iceland.

I didn’t really mean to go to Iceland. After cobbling together the cheapest possible flights—one of the very first WOW Air flights from BWI to Reykjavik, then EasyJet to Luton—I ended up with a day’s stopover there. A quick pit stop en route to the UK.

But ever since, I’ve been telling everyone who asks (and too many who don’t) that they need to visit this spectacular country. And I keep seeing BWI-KEF flights for less than $300 and getting impulsive ideas. What I saw in one day was breathtaking. Continue reading “Exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle”

Test Driving Megabus Gold

Experiences with Megabus in the States did not make me eager to try its European counterpart. It’s at best cramped and at worst unbelievably unreliable (or, you know, deadly—it’s hard to forget one unfortunate encounter between a bus and a bridge near my hometown).

But as I struggled to fit a day in Edinburgh into my most recent trip to the UK, I knew I was going to have to travel back to London overnight to make it work. My options were the cheapest possible ticket on a Caledonian Sleeper train (too expensive), a seat on a regular overnight Megabus (too uncomfortable)… or a bunk on the relatively new Megabus Gold service. Continue reading “Test Driving Megabus Gold”

12 Hours in Edinburgh

I’ve been desperate to visit Scotland for years, and I was determined to finally get there on my most recent trip to the UK. But with just a few days overseas and my trip to Highclere inflexible, I found myself with only one day to spend there. I’ve done quick city breaks in the past (a day in San Francisco here, a day in Amsterdam there), but trying to see Edinburgh in just 12 hours was probably my most ambitious to date.

Here’s what I managed to fit in. Continue reading “12 Hours in Edinburgh”