Friday, January 8, 2010

Three Travel Tips

Image by Talekinker at Flickr

I was tagged by Sherri at Postcards and Coasters to share three travel secrets and in turn tag five other travel related bloggers and request they do the same on their blogs. “My 3 Best Kept Travel Secrets,” organized by Katie of states “the aim of this game is to unite travel bloggers in a joint endeavor to create an amazing list of top travel recommendations across the globe to share with the entire travel community.”

Here are my three tips:

Tip 1: Learn to say “Hello”, “Please”, and “Thank You” in every language you will encounter on your trip.
Most locals do not expect us to speak their language fluently, but when I use a few simple words in their native tongue here and there, I am rewarded with a smile. Of course, I will never know whether the smile is due to appreciation or glee caused by my mispronunciation, either way they’re amused. Maybe it’s my imagination, but I find that I am more apt to get the directions I request and that shopkeepers give me better service and are more willing to negotiate with me when they see that I'm making an effort. My husband and I once witnessed a street vendor in the South of France charge a brash Australian man 25% more for the ham and cheese sandwich we helped him order. This man's reverse discount can be attributed to his bold assumption that he does not need to try to speak one word of French in order to get service. It goes without saying that these words are the rock-bottom minimum words you should know. Your experience in a new country improves with each word or phrase you learn.

Tip 2: Buy local toiletries.
Even before we were restricted to only one zip-lock bag of liquids, I never tried to pack all my toiletries for extended trips. I love having a reason to go into a local, non-touristy drugstore to buy toothpaste or mouthwash. I enjoy entertaining the local shopkeepers when I try to converse with my hands and feet while pointing to my spent toothpaste tube. When I get home, my Swiss dental floss sends me back to our memorable ride on the Golden Panorama train and I have a good time trying to decipher the words on my Italian toothpaste tube.

Tip 3: Use Eagle-Creek Pack-it Folders
My favorite travel accessory is the Eagle Creek Pack-It Folder.

 Here’s a video that shows how to use them:

These folders keep my clothes organized throughout the trip and because I can sinch it tight with the Velcro flaps, the resulting compression uses less space in the suitcase. I use the small size for shirts and the large size for jackets and pants.

I hope you find my tips useful. Bon Voyage!

Monday, January 4, 2010

Macro Monday – Yosemite Reflections

DSC03751 Cedar waterdrops 3
California incense cedar (Calocedrus decurrens)

It was a time of reflection. Last week my husband and I escaped the frenzy of the holiday season and drove 150 miles west to celebrate our anniversary in Yosemite National Park. We reflected back twenty years when we escaped the whirlwind of non-stop wedding activities and honeymooned here in the majesty and serenity of the mountains.

We reflected back to our last visit here when our son asked to come here for spring break:

DSC05301 Yosemite Falls

DSC04927 Yosemite Valley - Merced River

We decided to visit the same places…

DSC03814 Yosemite Merced River in the mist

This time the water was still, allowing for more reflection:

DSC03809 Yosemite Merced River reflection

DSC03807 Yosemite Merced River reflection

The ultimate place for reflection in Yosemite is of course Mirror Lake:

DSC03931 Yosemite Mirror Lake

The grandeur of this park is a reminder that we are but a tiny element of nature. Yet, when we slow down enough to look closely, we can find reflection in the smallest places like in the water drops on the California incense cedar. Click here to see a larger version.

DSC03751 Cedar waterdrops 2

See other Macro Monday photos hosted by Lisa, you won’t be disappointed.
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