Accommodation, Review, Save Money, Sightseeing, Travel

Disneyland: Staying on-site vs. staying off-site

Hi everyone! I just got back from a fun trip to California, specifically Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth!

Disneyland Partners Statue in the spring

On this trip, I debated whether I should stay on-site again, or if I should save some money and stay off-site. On both my previous trips to Disneyland, I stayed on-site, first at Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel, and then at Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa. This trip, I thought about staying at the third Disney-owned hotel, the Disneyland Hotel. Looking at the prices for May 20-24, the lowest price I found was for $390/night, which was way more than I wanted to spend.

When I stayed at the Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa a few years ago, they had a deal to “buy two nights, get the third night free”, so the room ended up costing $298/night, which is still pretty steep. However, I really wanted to be immersed in the Disney environment, so I decided that paying that much would be worth it – and it totally was! Continue reading “Disneyland: Staying on-site vs. staying off-site”

Accommodation, Restaurants, Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Solo trip to Biltmore, staying at the Inn at Biltmore Estate, & the best breakfast buffet ever!

On a trip to Newport, RI, I noticed a poster advertising the best privately-owned homes to visit in the US. The largest and most impressive was Biltmore Estate, located in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC. The unique architecture of the mansion was what really caught my eye – it’s amazing! I knew right then that I had my next holiday destination!

I read about it online and found that they decorate the estate for Christmas. Since Christmas is my favorite holiday and I usually visit Walt Disney World in December for Christmas, I decided to add an extra three days to my holiday and stop by North Carolina on my way back home from Orlando. This would be a solo trip as I would be spending one week at Disney with my sister, and then we would fly home separately since we live in different states. So how was staying right on the estate as a solo traveler during Christmas?

Inn at Biltmore Estate Exterior

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Accommodation, Culture, Review, Sightseeing, Transportation, Travel

Solo holiday in London: Food & museums in Covent Garden and Kensington

London Covent Garden Balloons
Clusters of clouds at Covent Garden

Sometimes when I feel like traveling but don’t have enough money or time, I like to go to TripAdvisor, pick a city I want to visit, and look at the hotel rankings for that city. Maybe it’s my researcher side, but I like to see what hotels have available rooms for a timeframe I wish I could visit, like near my birthday or for a long weekend, and then research online to see if I can find the best prices. It’s kind of like when people use pretend money to invest in stocks, sometimes you win or lose money, but it’s all pretend.

However, there are times where I’d find a great deal on a nice hotel, but the flight to that city might be too expensive, negating any savings I might have had with the hotel deal. But on the rare occasion when the hotel is within driving distance, I might throw caution to the wind and say “why not?” – and I’d book the hotel for a much needed escape!

This is exactly what happened when I was feeling mentally drained from my PhD. I had just submitted my PhD thesis and was now in the middle of studying for my viva, which decides whether or not I earn my PhD. To take my mind off my stress, I went to TripAdvisor and looked at the top hotels in London just to see if there might be any good deals. Well, lo and behold, that day I found one!!

Continue reading “Solo holiday in London: Food & museums in Covent Garden and Kensington”

Accommodation, Restaurants, Review, Transportation, Travel

Vienna Beyond the city centre: Advice, advantages, & reviews

I have to be honest, when planning a trip to Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest, I was least excited about visiting Vienna. It was time to plan a summer trip to celebrate my submission of my PhD thesis (Finally!!!) and a friend’s PhD graduation/last big trip before she left Iceland so we tried to think of cities neither of us had been to but wanted to visit before we had to move back to the states.

We decided that Vienna, Salzburg, Prague, and Budapest were all close enough that we could travel to all of them in a little over a week. In our research, it looked like Vienna was the best option for traveling to and from the other cities. For me, Vienna was essentially the hub that would take us to more exciting destinations – boy, was this mentality totally wrong!

Vienna Schonbrunn Palace
Schönbrunn Palace & Gardens in the summer

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Accommodation, Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Budapest, Hungary in the summertime: Arrival & hotel

Budapest in the summer is extremely hot. In early June, the temperature rose to almost 90F every day, making traveling to and from Budapest quite an adventure!

Traveling by train is probably the best option because the seats are comfortable and the temperature is not too warm or cold, making the long journey from Prague (almost a 7 hour train ride!!) a pleasant one. Plus, the cost was only 20€, can you believe it?? The train from Boston to New York, about a four hour train ride, costs almost 4x that amount.

Seven hours later, we’ve finally arrived at the Budapest Keleti railway station.

Budapest Keleti Train Station
Keleti Train Station

Paris in Boston Budapest Train Station

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Accommodation, Review, Sightseeing, Travel

Two days in Copenhagen

Copenhagen, home of Hans Christian Andersen and the Little Mermaid, is the unassuming capital city of Denmark with plenty of hidden treasures and historic architecture.

After exploring Sweden, I continued my Scandinavian adventure by taking the train from Malmö to Copenhagen (105 SEK, or $12.50). The ride takes you over Øresund Bridge in about 35 minutes and straight into Copenhagen’s Central Station (Københavns H). Both countries are in the Schengen Area and part of the EU so you won’t need to show your passport.

I had only two days to spend in Copenhagen so I wanted to make the best of it, starting with choosing a convenient place to stay. I booked a room at WakeUp Copenhagen which was about a 10 minute walk from the central station.

Wake Up Copenhagen Hotel lobby

The lobby was really quite airy and modern, with lots of space to people to congregate and plan their day’s outing.

Wake Up Copenhagen Hotel lobby

Continue reading “Two days in Copenhagen”