This time in two weeks I’ll be in China.

May 28, 2011

Eight months ago when I was considering signing up to go on a group trip with Hillsborough Community College to China it felt like it was lightyears away.  But here it is less than two weeks until departure and I’m realizing that it’s going to be here before I know it.  I have 12 days before I leave to look up as much information on the places I’ll be visiting.  I’m planning on watching a few videos on NetFlix and I want to look up each places on the itinerary so I have an idea of what’s in store.

For previous trips, I rarely would do a lot of research because I liked to see places without knowing too much.  Also, the anticipation of a big trip, especially an international trip, really sucks dealing with so the best approach for me is to continue concentrating on work and the other things I have going on and then before I know it the trip will be here.  Then of course I have to completely adjust and slow down so that the trip goes by as slow as possible.

CHINA 2011

The evening of June 9th I fly from NYC to Tampa, arriving at 12:30am.  On June 10th my flight to China leaves at 6am so we need to arrive at the airport by 4am, so I’ll stick around the airport and wait for the morning to come.  We fly through Chicago and then onward to Shanghai.

In Shanghai we’ll visit a handful of places and we’ll also have some time on our own to explore.  The Bund is one of the most famous tourist areas of Shanghai.  The stretch of road which is The Bund houses 52 buildings with various architectural styles.  This website recommends a bunch of things to do in the area.

Shanghai French Concession

Frommer’s doesn’t seem thrilled about the Yu Garden, mainly saying it’s overrun with tourist

Jade Buddha Temple

Shanghai Acrobatic Show

Black Dragon Pool

Lijiang Wangfu Hotel

Jade Snow Mountain (2)

Yufeng Monastery

Naxi Ancient Music performance

Shangri-la Golden Flower Hotel

Terra Cotta Warriors

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

Great Mosque and Museum Quarter

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Dunhuang travel guide

Bicycling rental in Dunhuang

Festivals in Dunhuang

Magao Grottoes (pics)

Crescent Moon and Singing Sand Dunes

Sandsurfing YouTube video

Peking duck dinner and Peking Opera

Sofitel Wanda hotel

Tian’anmen Square (protests)

Forbidden City (2)

Temple of Heaven and Hutong Tour

Mutianyu Great Wall

Sacred Way

Day 1, June 10 — Departure from Tampa International Airport to Shanghai, China

Day 2, June 11 — Group arrival in Shanghai and group transfer to the Hilton hotel

Day 3, June 12 — Full day tour of Shanghai including: the Bund, Old French Concession, Yu Garden, Old City Bazaar and Jade Buddha Temple. Evening Acrobatic Show with transfer (B,L,D)

Day 4, June 13 — Fly from Shanghai to Lijiang via Kunming by air including transfers. Afternoon visit to Black Dragon Pool and the Ancient Town of Lining. Overnight at Lijiang Wangfu Hotel (B,D)

Day 5, June 14 — Visit Jade Snow Mountain ( including chairlift ) Yufeng Monastery. In the evening enjoy a Naxi Ancient Music performance (B,L)

Day 6, June 15 — Fly to Xian via Kunming with transfers included. Enjoy an evening Dumpling Dinner. Overnight at the Shangri-la Golden Flower hotel (B,L)

Day 7, June 16 — Full day tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Great Mosque and Muslim Quarter. Evening Tang Dynasty Dinner Show with transfers (B,L,D)

Day 8, June 17 — Fly from Xian to Dunhuang by air including transfers. Camp overnight in the desert (in 2 person tents) with campfire and sunset dinner (B,D)

Day 9, June 18 — Full day tour of Mogao Grottoes , Crescent Moon and Singing Sand Dunes, Sand surfing and camel ride (B,L)

Day 10, June 19 — Fly from Dunhuang to Beijing by air with transfers. Enjoy a Peking Duck dinner followed by Peking Opera. (B,D) Overnight at the Sofitel Wanda hotel

Day 11, June 20 — Full day tour of Tian’anmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven and Hutong Tour (B,L)

Day 12, June 21 — Mutianyu Great Wall and Sacred Way (B,L)

Day 13, June 22 — Return travel to Tampa, FL


Big Nick’s Burger Joint & Pizza Joint

May 20, 2011

I’ve walked past this place many times but I’ve never given it a second thought to stop and eat here.  Big Nick’s is on Broadway between 77th and 76th Streets and is definitely a gem in the Upper West Side.

Two coworkers were talking about amazing chicken sandwiches and recommended that I have lunch here sometime.  They recommended a specific chicken sandwich but I don’t recall which one it is.  I ended up ordering a chicken steak & prosciutto pesto sandwich “deluxe” which means with french fries, $12.50.

=AMAZINGNESS, I’ll probably start having lunch here once a week or so.

I’m disappointed they don’t have a website, instead their webpage goes straight to their menu hosted by Seamless Web.

Vintage Windmill photos

May 15, 2011

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Courtesy: I Amsterdam via facebook images

National Windmill Day – Holland

May 14, 2011

Today and tomorrow is National Windmall Day in Holland where windmills around the country open their doors to the public.  Out of the approximately 1,000 windmills left in Holland, about 600 of them participate.  The ones flying a blue pennant welcome visitors.

Unfortunately the official website for National Windmill Day is only in Dutch but from what I gather, most of the windmills that participate have some sort of festivities going on as well such as music or special exhibits.

There are only eight windmills in the city of Amsterdam because most of them are built outside city walls.  If there are buildings too close then the windmill isn’t able to be as effective.  But for visitors to Amsterdam, this is a great chance to get outside of the city as this website points out.  When I visited Holland last weekend I was lucky to get the chance to bicycle outside of the city.  My friends lived about 8 miles outside of the center of Amsterdam and one of the days instead of taking the Metro to the suburbs, I decided to bicycle.

Pretty much the whole weekend in Amsterdam I had no idea of any sense of direction.  On the last day, of course, I started to get the hang of things but on my third day there I rented a bike for the day to ride around the city center.  In order to get back to my friends’ house that I was staying with, I needed to get on the Metro and it is about a 40 minute ride.  Even though I had a map I wasn’t able to get the hang of things this day and the map didn’t include the suburb area that my friend lived in.  But nonetheless, I knew he lived THAT way which is south of the city and I started biking to where I thought I needed to go.

The only real indicator I had was that I knew I needed to be west of the Amstel River but as I rode along the river it started veering further and further from where I needed to be.  Eventually I was out in the middle of nowhere in the beautiful countryside riding along the river.  There were a bunch of farms that looked to be around five to ten acres large each.  Some of them had sheep, chickens, lamb and many other types of farm animals and crops.  Also, situated in this part of the countryside was a windmill which really caught my attention.

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Amsterdam day three and a half

May 10, 2011

Walking along one street, I decided to try to get some photos of the different stores and buildings that were on the block.  The next photos are all one after another on the block I happened to be on…

Amsterdam Day 3 black&white

May 9, 2011

Amsterdam Day 3

May 9, 2011

Yesterday was a bit of a lazy day for me which I screwed up a little bit.  It was an amazingly nice day and today ended up being rainy and overcast.  But nonetheless, I rented a bicycle today in City Center and rode around quite a bit.  It was raining when I picked up my bike so I quickly tried to find a restaurant to eat at because I was also really hungry.

After eating and riding around the main part of Amsterdam, I started to try to make my way towards my friend’s house in the suburbs.  I wasn’t sure where to go exactly but I felt like I was heading in the right direction.  I ended up riding my bike through some amazing country land and along a really nice river and saw a lot of rural farm land.