Florida Keys – A Photo Summary

Let me see if I can make a post just by setting up a long photo gallery of….yes, you guessed it as the title states, the Florida Keys – although this is more of the various spots along the way between the various keys….No other description ūüôā

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Big Bend National Park – More Views

Well, folks I had published before about the Big Bend National Park – and then I realized I have quite a few photos more. ¬† ¬†So here they are now in this new update — and what a better way to describe the beauty of the park but a photo blog ¬†/ album

Enjoy!

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Bangalore Palace

Bangalore palace

Here is a quick summary overview of a unique site in the city of Bangalore – the Bangalore Palace.  Now that you have figured out how to get the most cost effective and comfy seat on the plane for your next long haul trip, it is time to leverage that for a trip to distant India and one of its most dynamic cities – Bangalore.

Turns out, while the city has an incredible concentration of high tech companies and a huge brain trust powering the activities of a large number of multinational and Indian companies, one can also experience a step back in time to the days of the Maharajas – the royals of the Bangalore / Mysore.

The palace is large and very ornate and as I usually like to highlight — best described in photos – so enjoy below the set provided from my recent trip to Bangalore.  One word of caution – to set expectations – the palace is large but not massive.  At the end of the day, it offers a unique glimpse into the lives of many generations who have ruled the province.

Check out the Photo Blog at this link for more of the Bangalore Palace

India Bangalore

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Premium Economy Class – a New Way to Travel Comfortably

Air travel is an interesting segment of the economy for sure.  Over the years, we travelers have observed the airlines cancel and consolidate flights and essentially reach a point where on the average (in my experience and that of colleagues and friends of mine) flights are close to 100% full.

It appears that each time I am at the airport (which is very frequently) the gate personnel for a given flight are announcing that “the flight you are about to board is full and so please mind what luggage you are bringing on-board…”. ¬†The more important aspect of this though is that the airlines have conditioned many travelers to seek upgrade alternatives and overall better flying conditions.

Ta-taa….Enters the PREMIUM ECONOMY seat. ¬†Multiple airlines have been introducing it over the last couple of years. ¬†So in this post I wanted to give you a view of which airlines have that class and what are their specifics.

Seat description

Economy Premium Description

I will be adding more information from the various airlines so stay tuned for that.

Overall, I think premium economy is definitely worth it especially on the long-haul flights so consider booking it.

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Arbanasi Bulgaria ‚Äď Picturesque Village Near Veliko Tqrnovo in Bulgaria – Part-II

Continuing the photo blog view of Arbanasi – here is the next installment and next set of photos.

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If you ask me for more specifics on what exactly you should do in the area, my response will be simple – Arbanasi is a great place to just go to and wander around – whether on foot or on a bike. ¬†You will enjoy the architecture, interesting surroundings…and nature most of all…

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Arbanasi Bulgaria – Picturesque Village Near Veliko Tqrnovo in Bulgaria

Well so for this post I intend to be as short in my text as possible and focus on the pictorial representation of a picturesque village in northern Bulgaria in the Veliko Tqrnovo area. ¬†The village is Arbanasi (in Bulgarian –¬†–ź—Ä–Ī–į–Ĺ–į—Ā–ł) – and it dates back to the 15th and 16th century A.D.

I do not think there is much of an old history to cover here – but the natural surroundings of the place are just beautiful and so are the village’s own old buildings. ¬† So here we go with the pictorial:

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Terrapin Beach – Beautiful Even in December

The Terrapin Park and its beach are located on 276 acres of land north of the Kent Island Terminus of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  It is very easy to find and to get to once you cross onto Kent Island.   Here is a map of the area to assist you:

The park has about 4,000 feet of shoreline large amount of which is the actual beach (see below on the slideshow). ¬† Additionally, it includes¬†large area¬†of wetlands – which by themselves create a great landscape with their plants. ¬†Then you get to experience¬†(from¬†two observation blinds which border the tidal ponds), a number of birds – herons, ospreys, swans, and when you walk – turtles, bullfrogs…

Shown below is a slideshow I pulled together from our visit at Christmas РDecember 2014.  The amazing thing is that we had a very nice day Рthe temperatures were in the 50-degrees F, the day was sunny, and overall we had a very nice time going on a long walk through the park and the beach.  Enjoy the photos in the slideshow:

Then just in case you would like to help this blog and purchase some of the photos, you can look into the album list of photos below…Enjoy!

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Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge – a Beautiful Place to Visit

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge Eastern Shore Maryland

Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge is a great park which appears to be overlooked in the grand scheme of things.  We visited the refuge on a very cold and rainy December day (right after Christmas) and were very surprised to find it extremely interesting.

Driving through the park (which is very easily accessible) we saw tons of wild birds Рblue herons, geese, ducks, to name a few.  The views were spectacular and memorable

 

Here is a slideshow with photos I took during the trip to the park and the near-by (about 20-30 minutes away) Hoopers Island on the Chesapeake Bay

In terms of any suggestions and tips on getting there etc, here are my observations:

  • At the entrance to the park (if you are coming along route 335) you will see directions to the visitors center. ¬†I recommend you take advantage of it – nice bathrooms ūüôā and of course a lot of helpful brochures and maps of things to see and do in the park
  • Once you leave the visitors center, you will continue by turning right on Key Wallace Drive and look for the entrance to the park self drive road = the so called Wildlife Drive.
  • At the entrance you will fillout an envelope with information and deposit $3 fee and the envelope lid will be your ticket/receipt to put on the windshield (inside) of your vehicle
  • Proceed along the Wildlife drive – there will be many places to stop and observe
  • Here is a link to a great brochure from the park service

Once you are finished with your visit to the park – you have the option of driving to Hoopers Island – please see map above. ¬†The slide show above also shows you some images from our visit there (albeit a very brief one). ¬†During December most places in the area are closed for the season – including a restaurant we were recommended to visit for a nice seafood dinner – Old Salty’s – but which was closed.

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Connecting Flights – How to Avoid Missing Your Flight

Connecting flights

In today’s world of hub and spoke air travel most of us are bound to get to our ultimate destination via at least one connecting flight. ¬†Gone are the days of direct / non-stop flights even between major US airports. ¬†In most cases you will have to ‘experience’ the pleasure (and in some cases) the frustration of going through one of the hubs for the airline you have chosen. ¬† Additionally, you may have to rely on a connecting flight or two to get to your destination internationally. ¬†The experience may turn out to be just fine and in some instances you may experience flight delays which ultimately may result in you missing your next / connecting flight. ¬†What happens at that point in time may depend solely on how you have booked your flights — the end result being

  1. No hassle – smooth connections and on-time arrivals. ¬† Of course, in that case, great! everyone is happy…enough said!
  2. Your initial flight is delayed causing you (and your travel companions) to rush madly through the airport in order to catch the connecting flight. ¬†In many cases this scenario ends with a lot of anxiety, sore legs (from the run) and stories of how you were able to rush through a terminal or two in an Olympic runner fashion….Congratulations! ¬†Good stories are half of the enjoyment of travel, right…
  3. If point 1 and 2 above are not you….Oh, sorry – the frustration, financial and time inconveniences may be a big deal here…What do I mean ? ¬†Well, how you fare in case you missed your connecting flight will depend on how you booked your tickets. ¬† So let’s talk about what you need to do in order to prevent the double negative of both missing a flight and potentially having to buy a new ticket
    1. Booking a multi-connection flight often involves flights on more than one airline.
    2. This is when the temptation is big to book the flights on the different airlines separately.   Ticket costs may be significantly lower in that case.  BUT, in most cases I will strongly advise against it.  Why?  Because you will have no protection in case your first flight is delayed and you miss your second /connecting one.
    3. Speaking from experience Рyou may have a flight from Los Angeles (LAX) to Shanghai (PVG) and then from Shanghai to Shenzhen (both in China).  The connection time between your arrival in Shanghai and departure for Shenzhen is 3+ hours.   Well, I have missed the connecting flight at least once due to (a) delays in leaving LAX and head winds in route to Shanghai.  Then on top of that the immigration line in Shanghai was huge and long story short, I missed the connecting flight.  Luckily, my flights were connected at time of purchase and I purely lost time waiting for the next flight to Shenzhen.  On other occasions, I have booked my connecting 2nd flight separately and in that case you will most likely have to purchase another ticket!

So, with that in mind your best practice is to follow these guidelines (rule of thumb):

  • Book your multi-flight itinerary as one reservation – i.e. on partner airlines and via one of those airlines’ itinerary.
  • Make sure you have at least 45-minutes connection time — although often the airlines will book you with even 40-minute connection time. ¬†In this case you risk only your time – the airline will have the responsibility to get you to your final destination since you booked the ticket with that connection via them
  • For international connections, again, book all legs of the trip via one itinerary / reservation – i.e. one airline arranging all the flights and ensuring the separate legs of the trip are connected. ¬†This way you will ensure you are protected and even with a delay will get to your final destination. ¬†Be aware even if the flights are on partner airlines but if they are booked separately you are at risk of losing a ticket if you miss your flight.
  • Check with your booking airline if there is enough time for your to clear security and customs checkpoints in the airports where you are making connections. ¬†Many airports require you to clear security even after you disembark from one plane and before you board your next one even if you have not left the airport at all. ¬†Tokyo’s Narita, London’s Heathrow among many all require you to clear security as you change terminals – i.e. you arrive from Dallas into Narita and are connecting let’s say to Bangkok or Beijing — you will have to clear security check between the two flights! ¬†Therefore make sure you have plenty of time for that!
  • Finally, keep your cool, enjoy your travel and look at it all as a set of stories you will tell for many years to come ūüôā ¬†Happy Travels!
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Fall Colors from Austin, Texas

Fall Colors

Austin-Texas-SunsetI continue to be amazed at the colors one could see during the Fall even in Austin Texas. ¬†Most people go to New England (the Northeast of the US) to admire the Fall colors…but having started mountain biking again in the last 4 years or my family and I have experienced great views in our own backyard in the Texas Hill Country.

Over the years we have seen it all – brilliant colors of red, golden yellow,…all in all interesting and brilliant colors and worth seeing. ¬†Most of people get to oh and ah about the New England foliage but I think the Texas Hill country offers very good views as well.

So here are the colors of the Texas Hill Country in late November 2014…. Enjoy!

And of course, a link to my Biking Blog

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