Five Favorite Travel Apps

Tried and true travel apps…everything on this list has been used for several years and has a proven track record with me.  There are, of course, zillions & zillions of travel apps.  These are my “must haves” and have been road tested.  Please share your favorite in the comments and travel on!

 

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Rome2Rio

Gets top honors…type in your departure location & where you are headed.  You’ll get the cost, duration and specifics for every possible way to travel there.  Planes, trains, ride-sharing, buses, ferries, walking…it’s amazing.  Especially handy in Europe for trains.  Best app!

 

 

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OnTheFly/ITA Software

For flight pricing & ease of use, this is my go-to flight finder.  You’ll have to go to another site (airline, etc.) to book flights, but it’s worth the extra step for the simple screen.  Search by airline, dates and it’ll suggest alternate airports.  App seems better than the website.

 

 

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World Holiday by Cinono Design

Lists holidays in over 40 countries.  Ever lost a day on a trip to an unexpected “everything’s closed” day? I have…sometimes it’s been a happy accident, though, too.  Like the time I happened to be in the Netherlands for Queen’s Day and was surrounded by jubilant Dutch people wearing orange and celebrating their monarch & country at a frenzied pace.  Since Queen Beatrix stepped down in 2013, it’s become King’s Day (her son Willem-Alexander is running the show now).  You get the point — it’s handy to know what’s happening where you are going (you might need an orange tshirt).

 

 

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Simple to use, can be used offline and has saved me from some ridiculously overpriced purchases.  I didn’t even know there were 190 currencies, but if it’s out there, this app can convert it into your dough-ray-me.

 

 

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Delta

If you travel often from an airports with lots of Delta flights, I recommend this app.  When the price & schedule is the same, I’ll always choose a Delta flight because this app makes my travel life so easy.  Online check-in, boarding passes on my phone, updated gate information, alternative flights when there’s a cancellation, seat selection…this is my all-time favorite airline app.

Share your favorites in the comments and happy travels!

 

Garmisch-Partenkirchen & the Zugspitze, Germany

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Loud and proud, I belted out “Climb Every Mountain” at the top of the Zugspitze in Germany.  Well….not in real life.  In my mind, though, I sounded just like Julie Andrews before she had vocal chord issues.  I did the whole twirling around with my arms in the air thing, too.  Thankfully for my friends, however, that only happened in my head because I’d have looked like a freaker AND I have an awful singing voice.

But, you get the idea.  This place is beautiful.  Beyond beautiful.  People use words like “awesome”, “incredible” and “amazing” all the time for things that are really just “kinda-cool”, “pretty nice” and “okay”.  The Zugspitze truly has jaw-dropping, freakishly stunning views that deserve those accolades.  It’s a humbling place, too.  I felt simultaneously connected to everything and teeny-tiny.

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Does a James Bond movie villain live here?
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Big Air waiting to happen
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The buildings in Garmisch-Partenkirschen were built by magical, lederhosen-wearing elves
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Next stop Zugspitze!

The Zugspitze and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.  Bucket-list worthy.

Links~

Zugspitze: http://zugspitze.de/en/winter/skiarea/garmisch-classic

Frommer’s: http://www.frommers.com/destinations/garmisch-partenkirchen/691583

Fodor’s: http://www.fodors.com/world/europe/germany/the-bavarian-alps/places/garmisch-partenkirchen

Buenos Aires, Argentina

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“Gran Gromero” giant Rubber Tree in the Recoleta neighborhood

Disclaimer: Buenos Aires owns some prime real estate in my heart.  I’m biased; unquestionably & unapologetically.  Years ago, I fell in love with BA’s complicated, beautiful city soul.  You might, too.

There’s a lot of talk about how Buenos Aires is a mix of Europe & South America.  True, but somehow that marriage of influences has produced a quirky, energized off-spring that is a unique entity.  New. Fresh. Pulsing with life, creativity & the black and yellow cabs that zip around the city like pinballs.

A Google image search will show you that it’s a large, hectic city with lots of traffic and a fair number of deeply unattractive buildings.  It will also show you the sprawling parks, funky public art and the “gotta-see” neighborhoods.  Places like Palermo Soho, Palermo Hollywood, La Boca and Recoleta.

There are countless blogs, Instagram feeds, webpages and guidebooks devoted to Buenos Aires.  Check them out.  As many as you can.  Planning a trip or researching a destination is half the fun.  My list below is the down & dirty, cut-to-the-chase version that I tell my friends.  Here’s the skinny…

Where to stay?

The Poetry Building, Recoleta / http://poetrybuilding.com

Why?

  • In the upscale, safe & central neighborhood of Recoleta.
  • 15 apartments with front desk staff to answer questions, make dinner reservations, arrange cabs and give helpful advice.
  • Roof-top pool and small honor bar.  Free wi-fi.
  • The staff seem to truly want you to help & are proud to show off their neighborhood & city.
  • Bottom line: feels like you live in a friendly, upscale apartment building in one of the best neighborhoods of the city.

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1 of the 2 apartments I’ve stayed in – both functional & comfortable

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The apartment terrace right after a brief downpour

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2 of 2 of the apartments I’ve stayed in…both were fully equipped with everything I needed

What to do?

Visit Plaza de Mayo on a Thursday afternoon

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One of the white-scarf wearing “Mothers of the Plaza Mayo” in 2014

Witness living history in Plaza de Mayo every Thursday.  You may even meet one of the brave women who brought to light human rights violations after Argentina’s “Dirty War”.  Learn more at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mothers_of_the_Plaza_de_Mayo

Take a graffiti / street art tour

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Black & white street art in a working-class, non-tourist neighborhood

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Who knew that 2 street artists often combine their artwork in a kind of style slam that makes 1+1=3?  Not me.

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Teta & Salta were created to honor two neighborhood kids. It’s a story worth hearing.

Normally, I’m a bit “anti-tour”.  Thankful I made an exception.  The best $24.99 I’ve spent in YEARS.  Saw areas of Buenos Aires I’d never stepped foot in before.  Learned the difference between graffiti, street art & tagging and more than expected about history and architecture.  Check out Graffiti Mundo at: http://graffitimundo.com/graffiti-street-art-tours-buenos-aires/

Experience a Soccer Game

Argentina 2009 start of La Boca game

Boca Juniors at La Bombonera

Argentina 2009 Coke guy at La Boca game

The guy in the red shirt selling snacks didn’t even fake it.  He only sold during timeouts and half-time.  The rest of the time he joined the crowd yelling at the players and chanting.

Whether you see the Boca Juniors or River Plate, you haven’t really seen a soccer game until you’ve seen one in Buenos Aires.  European games can’t hold a candle to the mad frenzy at a Boca Juniors game.  Find a reputable ticket seller and watch Argentines in their natural habitat.  While I can’t remember which re-seller I’ve used in the past, these three look pretty good…

  1. http://www.bafutboltours.com/#!soccer-football-game-tickets-argentina/c16ua
  2. http://daytours4u.com/blog/en/bsas4u/buy-football-tickets/
  3. http://landingpadba.com/buenos-aires-soccer-tickets-2015-games/

 

Here are a couple of the team songs you’ll hear (many times) at a Boca Juniors match … https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yr2Nea_MQ0s

Have a coffee and watch the world go by…

Argentina 2009 Perfect Breakfast for $3.12 in Palermo neighborhood

The start of a perfect day at the corner of Serrano & Honduras in Palermo Viejo.  $3.78 for a cafe con leche, three mini croissants and a small glass of sparkling water.  People watching nirvana.

Whatever you do in Buenos Aires, I hope you fully enjoy it.  This blog only scratches the surface of the options in this vibrant and creative city.  Please share your BA favorites in the comments below – the best tips come from fellow travelers.  Hoping BA finds it’s way into your heart, too!

 

P.S.  USA travelers – be sure to have your proof of payment for the $160 USA/Argentina “reciprocity fee”.  You’ll need to show it before you board your final flight into Argentina.  More details at: http://www.embassyofargentina.us/en/consular-section/reciprocity-fee-for-us-citizens.html

 

Gratitude vs. Appreciation

Is there a difference?  My acupuncturist (how trendy is that?) off-handedly commented that “appreciate” shows she recognizes the value of something or someone, but also implies she deserves it.  “Gratitude”, in her mind, leaves out the “you-deserve-it” part.

Splitting hairs?  Maybe, but I can’t shake this nagging question shuffling around in my mind.  Time to get to sort it out.

 

First stop…Webster’s Dictionary.

  • According to Webster’s gratitude means “a feeling of appreciation or thanks”.
  • Appreciate means “a feeling of being grateful for something.”

Hmmm…not super helpful.  Each word is included as part of the other’s definition.  Seems like a draw.

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/gratitude

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/appreciation

Second stop…the powerful & all-knowing Google.

  • Google says gratitude means “the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.”
  • Oz Google says appreciation is either “the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something” or “a full understanding of a situation.”

Neither definition weighs in on whether of not we deserve the object of our gratitude or appreciation.  Another draw.

https://www.google.com/#q=gratitude     https://www.google.com/#q=appreciation

Final stop…I polled my friends; completely un-scientific and random.  My question…”is there a difference between gratitude vs. appreciation?”

“Who cares?  Are you taking a class?”   ~snarky friend (let’s just say I’m not always appreciative or grateful for him, but he does have a point)

“My resolution this year was to be more grateful & appreciative daily – they’re the same thing to me.  Thank you for reminding me.”   ~ridiculously evolved & kind friend

“Did I forget to thank you for something?”   ~ paranoid friend

“Use ‘appreciation’ for art or music or architecture.  ‘Gratitude’ is for something somebody does for you.”   ~truly trying to be helpful friend

“Thanks for asking.”   ~ smart ass friend

 

Third strike.  No answer from Webster’s, Google or my friends.  In the end, it may not make any difference what I call it as long as I recognize the good stuff.