Sunday, October 15, 2006

I'm a big liar. With a well-used passport.

Remember the two conflicting themes I've mentioned lately? A) No more spending money! and B) I want to travel SOON!

Well. They do not mesh well, these two ideas. I have some stuff to share. But wait on that a bit.

Once again I've had a nice Sunday experience. I was awake about 7.15, but got up around 8.15, just because. I worked out right away, which helped me get warm in the still-chilly apartment air. I think I shall try to do this every Sunday and Tuesday and Thursday, since those weekdays I get home sooner and at least on Tuesday there's no good tv on to distract me.

There, I have made a pledge to the world that I will try to stick to a routine for working out. Therefore I must stick to it! Ha, we'll see.

Then I set about continuing to clean up. I've got my shag rugs piled in the hallway for the yoga and for the floor sweeping. I cleaned up the random stuff littered on the floor, and did a pass with the swiffer vac.

But I did not stop there, ho no.

--I moved the AC unit and my three fans into the linen closet (I LOVE ALL MY CLOSET SPACE!).

--You know those wire shelf things that you build together to make cubes and stuff? I've got several two-story cubes around, holding various things. One was in my closet holding socks and stuff. So I took them out, organized the socks (dark for work and white for summer and free time) and put them in the fabric drawers in my big white storage shelf/entertainment unit. Hurrah!

--Next, I moved the wire cube to the wall under the window previously occupied by the AC. In it I put the extra piles of books that were accumulating on my other 'bookshelf.' I had another cube under the other window, and I moved it over next to the other one, so they are sitting together, holding some random things.

--I finished and paid for the certification application. I had tried a month ago but the page didn't go through. My ATS-W scores are supposed to be ready at the end of the month, and so hopefully the certification process will proceed very quickly after that.

--I sorted through the piles of mail and bills and bill-related items that I just throw in a couple spots. I went through them all and tossed anything I could, and put the rest together in neat little piles, which I then put in either file folders (for pay stubs and grad school stuff) or an expando-file for monthly accounts like credit cards, cell phone and energy. I feel much better with that done. Hurrah!

--Boyfriend called to tell me that my girl Haley is playing in the East Village this week! It's on Thursday night at 10pm, but I don't care. I'm totally going to go. I didn't really see her play last time. She opened for Mason Jennings at a show two years ago at the Mercury Lounge, but I missed most of her and only saw her do one song with him. I really love both of her albums, and I'd been afraid she wouldn't come back out here again.

He bought us tickets and I'm going to drive in to the city at nine. I figure it'll be faster and easier than dealing with late-night trains and whatnot. I won't get home til way past my bedtime, but it will be worth it.

--And now, back to the lying and self-deception!

In the first four months of this year (if you count the last week of December, which, close enough, I say), I traveled to three countries and another region of the US: Barcelona and Paris in December, Prague in February, New Orleans in April. Plus Seattle in the summer.

Waiting until February to travel again? No way!

So just now I sat down with my friend and a list of big cities in Europe, (I marked the ones that I haven't been to). I looked with flexible dates between the 24th and 31st of December. Here is what I found, in cost order:

Florence: $820
*Bratislava: 761
*Istanbul: 753
*Vienna: 738
Athens: 682
*Krakow: 645
*Warsaw: 641
Venice: 622
*Copenhagen: 593
*Milan: 575
Rome: 573
*Edinburgh: 573
*Budapest: 553
Brussels: 516
Amsterdam: 515
Berlin: 510
Prague: 505
*Munich: 492
*Frankfurt: 485

According to Kayak's fare trend graphs, the prices have been dropping or staying steady at fairly low prices. Woohoo!

So, HOLY COW. These prices are not too bad at all. I think my February 2006 Prague trip cost $485. For a Christmas time trip, around $500 is really not bad at all. Actually, our Barcelona-Paris trip was a special steal at $475, bought six months ahead of time, so these really aren't too shabby.

It looks like Germany is a good place to go! I've wanted to visit the Black Forest area, which I believe Munich is in. And it's all new to me, which is great.

The other thing to remember is the incredible rail system in Europe. Part of me just wants to get there as cheaply as possible, and then take a train somewhere else if I want. Or more than one somewhere else. Ooh-ee!

In theory, I really should not do this. I can't afford it right now.

BUT! Here's the thing. Travel is one of, if not the most important things in my life. Judge if you like, but if you've traveled at all yourself that you probably agree with me. If you've traveled and don't agree...well then, you have some thinking and reprioritizing to do. I am young, no family, no outstanding debt, the world is my oyster!

And let's not forget the magic of credit cards. Charge it now but pay it next month or the one after, when you CAN afford it. And then you've paid for it well before the trip and you can save up to actually spend a little while there.

So clearly, I have to go!

Any recommendations for which gorgeous city to visit this December?


Fred said...

Florence would be my pick. I've been to a few of them on your list, and since I teach about the Renaissance, it would be the city I'd go to.

Of the cheaper cities, Prague would be where I'd go. While I haven't been there personally, many people did go while I lived in the U.K. and they raved about it.

Jonathan said...

First things first - that kayak is a very cool site.

But more imporant stuff: your list.

From your list? You've been to Berlin. I liked Berlin. Budapest is a little like Prague. I enjoyed wandering there.

Istanbul's my favorite, and you know someone there, don't you? But that is the top end of cost.

I looked for more cities. Malta is on my list, but not for December. $893. Geneva comes in at 522. Dusseldorf at 491. That name sounds funny.

I also noticed that all my prices were off a few bucks from yours. These things must really be in motion.

So Istanbul is the best, but if you are hopping on a train, Berlin is the best bang for the buck, and Munich does the same thing, but with a more central location.

Last year I went to Florida over Xmas. I will find something, probably not as far as you. But searching with kayak is fun. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Something to think about for the time period you are wanting to go is WEATHER. I lived in Europe for a bit and spent quite a bit of time traveling around. Germany is wonderful and shouldn't be missed, HOWEVER, the weather is much like that of the Pacific Northwest at that time of year. That means some really, really cold rain and snow, etc. If you do go, it'll be lovely with the Christmas and New Year celebrations and the german people are wonderfully welcoming.

Also, if you go there, do some research before regarding all the castles, the history, etc. You can wander around in them and it is just as cool as can be.

One more thing about Germany: I suggest you visit some small villages as well as the larger cities. They are charming and that is where you will find all sorts of amazing surprises. Everyone speaks english, which makes things really nice.

Oh man, and the FOOD!!! sigh. *mentally wondering how soon I can get my new passport*

On the other hand - Italy is ... simply ... incredible. You'll want to really splurge on some great stuff while you are there.

Hey, you don't have extra space in your pocket, do you? ;)

btw, everyone here says hello with big hugs and kisses and your cousin is growing by the minute!


Just something to think about! Let us know!

p.s. Congrats on all you are doing with your career!

Nancy said...

Vienna is beautiful but not cheap. I highly recommend Budapest..beautiful and cheap! I've been to Bratislava...don't remember much and wasn't particularly blown away by it. If you can get to Croatia (is that on your list?...don't remember!), my friend went over the summer and LOVED it.
I would save cities like Vienna and Florence for a time when you have more money at your disposal, ie when you're older.
My brother just got back from Morocco and loved it.