Thursday, April 26, 2012

Review: Roomorama, Kuala Lumpur

One aspect of travel that I love is trying to get the local feel as much as possible whenever I'm abroad. Getting that feeling isn't always possible, especially when I'm traveling in a new place for a short period of time, but staying in a local apartment is one quick way to get a local perspective.

Roomorama is a website that helps travelers connect with local apartments. Founded by two young executives with the belief that travel is more than checking off a list of tourist attractions, I was intrigued by Roomorama's philosophy of "living like a local" and decided to try them out during my recent trip to Kuala Lumpur.

The Site and Booking: Roomorama has an incredibly user-friendly site with a nice design that highlights their international properties. I found it extremely easy to navigate and search for accommodation. Property descriptions can be sparse or fully-detailed, depending on the individual host, though a clear overview of amenities is listed for quick reference. Each listing also includes a map so that you can get a sense of what part of town you could be staying in, as well as nearby sights and public transportation hubs.

Making a reservation can be slightly time-consuming as there is no availability calendar for specific properties. Users need to contact individual hosts to inquire about dates, wait for the response, and if the dates are not available, it's back to the drawing board. After a week of searching, emailing a number of properties, waiting, exchanging information, and finally confirming, I had a luxury studio located in Kuala Lumpur's City Center booked for my stay.

The Stay: Upon arrival, I discovered that the studio was in fact a serviced apartment housed within a large hotel. It wasn't exactly the local feel I had hoped for, though I suppose it offered a taste of modern living in Kuala Lumpur. Check-in procedures were hurried and slightly impersonal, understandable given that my flight was delayed and someone other than my "host" had to wait to hand over the keys.

The room itself was spacious and relatively clean, though the kitchen counters could have used a wipe-down and the shower curtain should have been replaced. My biggest complaint is that it lacked small touches to make the place feel like a home. It was like staying in a mediocre business hotel, but without the basic amenities such as toiletries, coffee, tea, or even a tea kettle. The hotel staff was also less than helpful as soon as they find out you are a "resident" and not a hotel guest, though I'm not sure why that would be the case.

The listing mentioned that wireless internet was available in public areas, but it failed to state that it was only available in the ground floor lobby sixteen floors below and that you had to pay for it. The rate wasn't high, but it was a huge inconvenience to not have wireless access readily available in the room, something extremely important for a travel writer and social media enthusiast.

Although the property itself was rather disappointing, the location was ideal. I was within a 10-minute walking distance of Kuala Lumpur's LRT (Light Rail Transit) and just around the corner from a very local street market, complete with delicious local cuisine. This is what I was looking for!

The Impression:  I like the concept behind Roomorama and from the looks of the other properties listed, there are some true gems available through the site. Unfortunately, the property in Kuala Lumpur I stayed in wasn't one of them.

I would be willing to give Roomorama another try in the future, but this particular property fell short of expectations. It certainly wasn't a positive experience, but it also wasn't completely negative. Unfortunately, Roomorama only has the two options when reviewing properties so I wonder if some of the reviews may be skewed due to this black or white rating system.

I would advise users to read property listings and guest reviews carefully, as well as view all available photos, when searching for properties. This will better ensure that your Roomorama experience lives up to the expectations of what you require and the "atmosphere" you want.

To view Roomoorama's property listings and to inquire about booking a local apartment for your next trip, please refer to their website.

*Disclaimer: My stay in Kuala Lumpur was sponsored by Roomorama, but all opinions are an accurate and honest view on my experience there.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Package Tours

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk! Just follow the #TTOT hashtag!

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Package Tours" where seasoned travelers discuss the pros and cons of packaged tours and independent travel!

Q1 Do you usually go with package tours? Why or why not?
  • : Prefer traveling alone, gives me more freedom and knowledge about a place because I have to research everythng myself and no deadlines
  • : Sometimes you have to, couldn't have see The Galapagos Islands without the package tour
  • : I tend to avoid tours. Mainly because I'm stubborn and want to prove I can do it myself
  • : I prefer independent, but tours have great advantages - lots of sights in little time, experienced guide, transportation included
  • : Eh, NO! I travel to feel free, not to let someone else run my complete schedule
  • : Package tours can be great for first time travelers, they're a good way of getting to know people and safer 
  • : No, don't have much money
  • : I mix it up. Have done many tours and many solo trips. Sometimes the remote places require packaged tours

Q2 via What's your most enjoyable or most frustrating experience of a package tour?
  • : Enjoyable: It's easier and you don't have to do too much planning. Great for last-minute escapes
  • : Frustrating: Led into tacky shops so that the guide can get a commission
  • : Enjoyable: Meeting lifelong friends & experiencing new things that u may not have thought about when solo
  • : Worst: I just hate being herded like cattle on those tours
  • : I LOVE walking tours. What a great way to get to know a city. Especially history or ghost tours
  • : Worst experience was, as a kid, not being able to sleep due to noisy drunks at an all-inclusive resort
  • : Enjoyable- being able to sit back and let someone else take care of the details. Frustrating- being on a schedule

Q3 via  Do you prefer traveling with a package tour or on your own? Why?
  • : The freedom of being on our own is important. There's been many times that we want to stop and explore a place, chat with locals
  • :  For beach vacations, package tours all the way
  • : On my own - I can decide what areas I want to pump my budget into and which ones I want to skimp on
  • : I do like tours of "hidden gems." I did a tapas crawl/tour in Spain and discovered great places I wouldn't have found myself
  • : Most times on my own, the schedules and restrictions of package tours don't allow enough time for photos/exploration/spontaneity
  • : Depends on the destination. Some tours give access to places you wouldn't be able to go on your own
  • : On my own! The food is much, much, MUCH better

Q4 by Are certain destinations best experienced while on a package tour? Why?
  • : Great for places that are hard to access otherwise - Tibet, North Korea, Burma, Bhutan
  • : Packages help cover main destinations during a short trip in an organized manner
  • : Easier and better value for families to travel on package/guided tours, especially if traveling with young children
  • : I would take an organized tour - or ideally, hire a guide - if there were particular security issues in the place in question
  • : If dangerous animals are involved, it's best not go it alone
  • : Some tours like sport/language/photography courses are so specialist u couldn't have the same experience alone
  • : River cruises are a complete package and a great way to see Europe
  • Sometimes for safety tours are better or maybe where the tourist infrastructure is not established tours make things easier

Q5 via Who, alive or dead, would you love to have as a package tour guide?
  • : David Attenborough immediately leaps to mind
  • : Anthony Bourdain
  • : Wouldn't it be cool if you could do tours with the original person who discovered the route/destination?
  • : Julius Caesar to show me around Rome and tell me what it was like back in the day 
  • connvoyage: Christopher Columbus or Ferdinand Magellan 
  • : Steve Irwin probably would've been a blast to tour with
  • Ernest Hemingway, Paris
  • : Harry Potter, that way we could apparate everywhere! So much more efficient 
  • Che Guevara South America tour... Preferably on motorbike
  • : I'd love to see what package Indiana Jones could offer me
  • : Santa Claus- he's been everywhere & knows where the bad kids are

And there you have it, "Package Tours!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "DomesticTravel!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Package Tours" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

Paradise Found at Temple Tree, Langkawi

After my year of teaching English in Hong Kong, all I wanted was a break. I was exhausted. Officially burnt-out. I needed something to help me come back to life, as well as renew my desire to live. Okay, okay, so I may be exaggerating a bit here, but it's not too far from the truth. Working in Hong Kong is draining!

The day after leaving work, I jumped on a plane for Malaysia, ready to be restored and rejuvenated.

I found exactly what I needed at Langkawi's Temple Tree Resort.

Heaven on earth: Temple Tree's main pool

A perfect blend of guest house and luxury villa, Temple Tree is comprised of eight stunning heritage homes rescued from around Malaysia. Every villa was painstakingly numbered and disassembled piece by piece, then transported to their current site in Langkawi before being resurrected to their former glory. Each home's history is recorded and shared with the guests of Temple Tree, adding heart and soul to their stay. The structures are architecturally unique, and all interiors are styled with Asian antiques to preserve the look and feel of the home, as well as tasteful modern touches to add to the charm. I found the results simply stunning!

My own little piece of paradise: Temple Tree's 1920s Colonial House

The beautiful 1920s Colonial House I stayed in was originally from Georgetown, Penang, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built by wealthy Arab goldsmiths, Colonial House offers two individual rooms downstairs and two large suites upstairs for guests to enjoy. Alternatively, the entire house can be rented by large groups.

The communal living room inside Temple Tree's Colonial House

Upon entering Colonial House, I was greeted with an enormous sitting room with large windows. I loved the amount of sunlight flooding in! The perfectly suited interior decor made the space feel like both a living museum and an inviting place to take a rest and relax.

The foyer of Colonial 3 at Temple Tree

I had no idea what my suite would look like, and I was already falling in love with Colonial House, but when the double doors of my Colonial 3 suite were opened into this foyer, my heart skipped a beat! Look at that antique wrought-iron umbrella rack! It was exquisite! I knew I was in store for something truly breath-taking as I continued upstairs...

My breath was stolen away by Colonial 3 at Temple Tree

True to expectations, Colonial 3 did not disappoint. In fact, I dare say that Colonial 3 far exceeded all expectations and from my impression from the umbrella rack (please scroll up and take another look at that beauty!), those expectations were high! My goodness, if this isn't a piece of paradise, I don't know what is!

Detail of antique Chinese cabinet inside Colonial 3

I absolutely adored every thing about Colonial 3! From the antique Chinese furniture, to the color scheme, to the open airiness of the multiple windows, to the distressed leather couch, everything was just perfect!

The double showers inside Colonial 3

Colonial 3 extended further to reveal a double shower bathroom with tiles that matched the downstairs landing. It's hard to convey the emotion I felt at this point, particularly at a shower and toilet of all things, but the amount of care and quality of renovation that went into this restoration was quite moving. I almost needed a moment to regain my composure.

Further paradise found in the form of double wooden baths in Colonial 3

Oh, but it gets better! Adjacent to the double showers awaited the a pair of Japanese-style wooden baths. If I didn't already feel like I was in a perfect paradise, I knew I would be once my bath was drawn. As the only suite in Temple Tree to boast adjoining baths, it's easy to understand why Colonial 3 is popular favorite among honeymooners.

Sarongs for personal use during your stay at Temple Tree

After settling into the room and trying to get used to this incredible mix of luxury and charm, I marveled at some of the finer details of the room and noticed the little, thoughtful touches designed to make my stay at Temple Tree as perfect as can be. I found two batik sarongs hanging in the closet for use during my stay; ideal as a cover-up for the pool as well as post-bath.

Temple Tree's protection from pesky mosquitoes

There's a cabinet full of anti-mosquito protection available for guests in the rooms. Handy items for someone like me since mosquitoes seem to seek me out to their bellies' content while my companions sit undisturbed throughout the evening. Best of all, just before sunset, members of Temple Tree's staff prepare the rooms for their nightly battle with the tropical insects.

Breakfast is served, cat not included

To allow guests the option of enjoying a lazy morning (and who doesn't love a good, lazy morning while on holiday?), Temple Tree discreetly leaves guests a breakfast of homemade cakes, fresh bread, yogurt, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and tea in their refrigerator at the end of each night. Simple, but the feeling of an unhurried morning was pure luxury.

Temple Tree's helpful pool caddy

The thoughtfulness of Temple Tree included a wicker basket to help you organize and carry pool items. Such a seemingly little gesture, but this act speaks volumes in how much Temple Tree is concerned with your holiday being as comfortable and easy as possible.

In addition to all the minor details that Temple Tree put into their suites and rooms to promote ease and comfort for their guests, they also provide a multitude of other readily available items to help make your stay extra special. Yoga mats, tripods to capture those special moments, binoculars and a bird guide to help you recognize the surrounding wildlife, and even prepared picnic baskets should you decide to explore outside the grounds are among some of the extras that Temple Tree has on hand for their guests.

Temple Tree's second pool

But, let's be honest. There is little reason to ever leave the grounds of Temple Tree. There are two stunning pools available within a short walking distance of the magnificent suites for you to while away the hours! Trust me, it will be hard to tear yourself away from the tranquility of the pool areas! An additional plus? The pool towels smell divine, like tropical coconuts and lime!

Indo-Dutch fried rice at Temple Tree's Strait Club House

Leaving Temple Tree in search for good food is also an unnecessary endeavor as delicious meals, served both in the local style, as well as Western, can be found at the Strait Club House (itself a magnificent 1920s colonial mansion originally built for a Eurasian family). A daily happy hour encourages guests to get to know one another, while a weekly dinner with wine pairing offers a tasty meal at a reasonable price. The chef is also available to create dishes upon request to celebrate special occasions.

Temple Tree's inviting reception room inside Strait Club House

Perhaps the most enchanting aspect of Temple Tree is the quality of service. As soon as you enter the reception area of the Strait Club House, you are immediately treated like an old friend by Temple Tree's cheerful and personable staff, all of whom incredibly, already know you by name!

One of many adorable cats from LASSie, taken with Instagram

Pushing Temple Tree's charm factor up several notches are the loveable dogs and free-roaming cats from LASSie (Langkawi Animal Shelter and Sanctuary Foundation), a passion project of Temple Tree's owner. An astounding 50% of Temple Tree's proceeds goes directly to this worthy cause for neglected and abused animals in Langkawi. As someone who's not usually a fan of cats (they creep me out with their stealthiness), I was won over by the adorable cats that sought my company during my stay.

The pool at Bon Ton, taken with Instagram

Guests of Temple Tree can also enjoy the amenities at neighboring Bon Ton Resort, which is operated by the same owners, including yet another beautiful swimming pool, a bar and lounge, as well as a private dining room overlooking a picturesque lagoon.

Nyonya Platter at Nam Restaurant, taken with Instagram

Bon Ton Resort also houses the Nam Restaurant, one of Langkawi's premier eateries. The extensive menu of local favorites and innovative fusion cuisine was enough to keep this food-lover more than happy. I enjoyed two meals at Nam and absolutely loved the food, including the well-portioned dessert plates!

Happy and content at Temple Tree, with my new friend

In this hurried and hectic world we live in, it's easy to get lost and forget to enjoy life. Temple Tree was the perfect solution in reminding myself why it's important to slow down and relax; pet an affectionate cat, sleep in, enjoy a lazy breakfast, and lounge by the pool for hours on end, getting up only to take a quick dip in order to cool off.

Life at Temple Tree is life as it should be, and I truly didn't want to leave. Unfortunately, I had to, but when I did, I was rejuvenated and ready for what else life had to offer me.

Pineapple mint tea from the Strait Club House

My last bit of advice? Try the pineapple mint tea! I promise it will cool and refresh you like nothing else on a hot day!

Visit Temple Tree's website, for more information and to make your reservations on-line.

*Disclaimer: My stay at Temple Tree was sponsored by the hotel, but all opinions are an accurate and honest view on my experience there.

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Sleeping in Unusual Places

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk! Just follow the #TTOT hashtag!

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Sleeping in Unusual Places!" 

Q1 via : Where's the most unusual place you've slept?
  • : On a campsite by Ngorongoro Crater where wild elephants were drinking from our shower tank
  • : I slept in a sleeping bag on a boat in a storm. Woke up at other end of the boat cos I rolled the entire length of the boat asleep
  • : On a sand dune in the Wadi el Rayan desert, Egypt
  • : The post office. It was unlocked 24 hours and much cheaper than a hotel
  • : A Buddhist temple, a pod hotel, a camp in the Sahara, an old mining barracks...
  • : Entryway of a squat in Greece
  • : In my hammock on a night train in Vietnam

Q2 via : Any tips for better sleep on planes or buses?
  • : Bring a good travel partner. It's much more comfy if you're sleeping on someone's shoulder
  • : Pack an inflatable beach ball in your hand luggage - fits in that window/seat gap to make a perfect pillow
  • : Pay extra for exit row, more leg room
  • : Don't sleep the night before, spend it partying with friends. Get on the plane/train/bus exhausted = dead asleep. Works every time
  • : Benadryl and booze may not be the *best* idea, but it works
  • : Try sit by the window on a plane or bus! You'll drift away without falling asleep on a strangers shoulder
  • : Neck pillow and earplugs
  • : Blow up pillow, ipod with really good headphones (and a chilled playlist), and melatonin
  • : A belly full of food and wine, should help you sleep just fine

Q3 via : What's the best technique for getting a dorm buddy to stop snoring?
  • : Smelling salts you get in SE Asia work well. Get them to sniff whether awake or waft under their snoring noses and they will stop
  • : I like the classic shove or shoe throwing
  • : A spray bottle and good aim
  • : Best thing to do is fall asleep before them
  • : If it's a close buddy, arm under the neck works. Not so close, duct tape
  • If I have to be awake, they should too! I say wake 'em right up
  • : I love my white noise sounds from the Ambience iPhone app
  • : Very simple. Buy Kwon Loong Oil in Chinatown or Asia. Put a few drops in a bowl. Fill with boiling water. Vapors ease breathing

Q4 via : Show us a picture of the coolest place you've ever slept

: Slept with sea gypsies in Indonesia

: Jungle bungalow in Tikal surrounded by howler monkeys

: In a mud house in the Thar Desert

: Namib Desert

: Camping on a frozen lake under the Northern Lights

: Hobbit house in New Zealand

Q5 via : The best place you have slept out under the stars?
  • : Camping under the stars in a swag at the bottom of Uluru, Ayers Rock in Australia
  • : On a net at the front of a boat cruising through the Whitsundays. Spectacular
  • : With millions of young people during the World Youth Day in Manila
  • : Even tho big window wasn't open, the view of stars and full moon over Polish/Ukrainian countryside from night train was spectacular
  • : Slept in the Atacama Dessert in Chile... But it was cloudy
  • : Beaches in Thailand are perfect. Sipandan in Laos. And on a liveaboard in the Similans. Stars PLUS night diving
  • : Definitely Mongolia. Cold but I've never seen so many stars

And there you have it, "Sleeping in Unusual Places!"  

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Package Tours!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Sleeping in Unusual Places" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Friday, April 13, 2012

Turkish Delights at Hong Kong's caffè HABITŪ

Good news! April marks a month-long collaboration between Hong Kong's caffè HABITŪ and award-winning Turkish Airlines, one of my favorite international airlines!

For a limited time, caffè HABITŪ is serving up two Turkish dishes to delight you, as well as four dessert and coffee pairings, designed by Turkish Airline's flying chef, Denizhan Dağdelen.

I was invited to sample the menu two weeks ago and was impressed with some of the offerings. 

Fantastic dessert: Macchiato and sacher mousse

Being the dessert fanatic that I am, my favorite item from the special menu was the macchiato and sacher mousse. Paired with a nutty Yunnan Grade AA coffee, the refreshing strawberry and mango flavors really came through. What pretty presentation as well! I felt a little guilty destroying the layers, but the taste was completely worth it! Definitely a dessert to enjoy during this warm April month in Hong Kong!

Steamed sea bass with dill

Another menu item I enjoyed was the streamed sea bass with dill. Wrapped in paper and served with grilled red pepper, it's the lighter of the two main dishes on caffè HABITŪ's Turkish-inspired menu. The mild taste of lemon and dill makes this an ideal lunch to fill you up without weighing you down, perfect for preventing those post-lunch snooze attacks.

Traditional Turkish meal: Shish kebab

The most Turkish-like option on the menu is the shish kebab. The traditional lamb skewer is served with grilled tomato and green pepper, along with Turkish-style rice flavored with sultanas and cinnamon. This definitely brought me back to my days of dining al fresco in the backstreets of Kadıköy when I was living in Istanbul! Due to the heavier flavors, this fares better as a great dinner option after a long day at the office.

Priced at $228 HKD for the sea bass or $248 HKD for the shish kebab, both only offered at caffè HABITŪ the table restaurants, it's a great price for a tempting taste of Turkish flavors, especially since it comes with a Turkish dessert and coffee pairing!

The dessert and coffee pairings (without the meal) are available for $78 HKD at all caffè HABITŪ outlets across Hong Kong.

These Turkish delights can be enjoyed during the month of April only so don't miss out! Afterwards, the menu will only be offered on Turkish Airlines' business class flights in and out of Hong Kong, which isn't a bad excuse to fly...

© Connie Hum 2012

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

#TTOT Round-Up: Travel Myths

Every Tuesday, it's Travel Talk on Twitter! Join either of the two sessions at 9:30am GMT and 9:30pm GMT to get in on all the fun travel talk! Just follow the #TTOT hashtag!

Here's the round-up of this week's #TTOT on "Travel Myths!" 

Q1 via : What is most widely believed (and incorrect!) travel myth?
  • : That traveling will have you check off items in your bucket list. It doesn't! The bucket list only grows longer
  • : That you have to stop traveling when you have kids. Sooo wrong
  • : That you can actually fully understand a foreign culture by living there a few months
  • : That female solo travel is a bad idea. Sick of arguing against that one
  • : Dress smart and ask nice and you will get a free airplane upgrade! Has that ever happened to anyone?
  • : Everywhere that's not your home is extremely dangerous & will give you diarrhea
  • Traveling is only for the rich! - WRONG. Travel makes you rich. Just a different kind of it
  • : That everyone speaks English, or if they don't, then it's not a place worth visiting
  • : That you need to wait for the right time to travel 
  • : That merely using a measly 1% reward credit card is getting you the best travel points
  • : That you might come back from Mexico with only one kidney
  • : That it's a small world. Anyone who believes that hasn't tried to see it all

Q2 via : What "Travel Myths" have been proven right, or wrong by your travels?
  • : True- Wanderlust is an incurable disease and can get worse over time
  • : That language barriers mean you have to act like an arm flapping shouty idiot when you really don't
  • : Myth proven wrong - Don't eat street food. If it's piping hot and cooked in front of you, go for it. It can be delicious
  • : I've never understood the 'French people are rude' stereotype. I've only ever encountered the most wonderful people in France
  • : That old people can't travel. I went white water rafting with a 78 year old couple in Nepal. They inspired me tremendously
  • : It's not you versus the world. Most people are going to go out of their way to help you
  • : That the world hates American travelers, especially in Europe - proved VERY false

Q3 via : If you could invent a travel myth to attract people to your fave place what would it be?
  • : Public transport in London is like clockwork, never crowded and smells of lavender
  • : That the fossils of the Jurassic coast come to life at night
  • : You can get a "citizen of the world" passport only in Gdynia, Poland
  • : In Antarctica, the snow tastes like whip cream
  • : Free leprechaun with every pint of Guinness in Dublin
  • : No McDonald's in Ghana (not true but it kinda makes you wanna go there, huh?)
  • : Why attract them? "The mountains of Corsica are home to the dread black rock-dragons, who are known to eat hikers alive."

Q4 via : What's the weirdest travel myth you've heard?
  • : That it's perfectly okay to act like a nitwit because you're on holiday and you'll never see these people again
  • : That you can't move in Australia without coming in contact with a deadly spider
  • : That ALL unusual food tastes like chicken
  • : That I'd be constantly offered a dowry for my wife in Egypt. It was NOT a myth
  • : That you'll catch malaria EVERYWHERE
  • : If you buy something in Africa, they'll know u have money and get you later and even take back their goods
  • : That British food is bad and that the French are rude - NEITHER is true

Q5 via : What Travel Myths do you actually wish were true?
  • : That travel writers have a cool job and they make helluva lot of money
  • : Every cabbie is a nice person and isn't trying to rip you off in ANY country
  • : I like to believe that Nessie is real and can be summoned if one tries hard enough
  • : That you can live in a hobbit house in New Zealand
  • : That flying low cost is convenient, enjoyable and actually much cheaper
  • : That every hotel was exactly as sumptuous, convenient and welcoming as it appears on its website
  • : That Ryanair flights will actually take you remotely close to the city you think you're going to land in
  • : I wish the myth that booze helps my fear of flying were true. I also wish more Italian men had pinched my bum

And there you have it, "Travel Myths!"    

Next week's #TTOT topic is: "Sleeping in Unusual Places!" Submit your questions HERE!

See you next Tuesday 9:30am and 9:30pm GMT for the next #TTOT!

As always, a HUGE travel community thank you to our #TTOT hosts and organizers: traveldudes, , , , , , and !

Have YOU got anything to add to the "Travel Myths" discussion? 

© Connie Hum 2012

Monday, April 9, 2012

I Want to "Go with Oh" to Venice

The wonderful people over at Go with Oh have an amazing competition for travel bloggers that they've invited me to enter. My first thought was, "Free accommodations for a month in Europe doing what I already love to do?"

I'm IN.

Out of the ten destinations available, and choosing a favorite was extremely difficult, my top choice would be glorious, sinking Venice.

I spent a week in Venice in 2005 and to this day, I still recall the wonder that filled me as I strolled, and inevitably got lost, in the small streets and back alleys of that incredible city.

Getting lost in Venice, 2005

To have another opportunity to visit Venice, nay, to be able to stay in a local apartment, would simply be a dream come true for me.

Here are the top five things I would do and experience in Venice:
  1. Blow glass - The streets of Venice reveal shop after shop of Murano's famed blown glass. I remember being so enthralled by the intricate creations during my first trip to Venice, marveling at the skills involved. Given time and the opportunity, I'd love to learn what the process of blowing glass is and hopefully, even get a chance to blow my own!
  2. Travel through time - There's no doubt that Venice has been the sight of many significant historical events. As a history enthusiast, I'd love to not only learn more about Venetian history, but also have the experience of recapturing it while I'm physically there. I can imagine myself exploring Venice for the birthplaces of Marco Polo, Antonio Vivaldi, Giacomo Casanova, and the like, not to mention exploring the names and namesakes of Venice's calli, campi, and campielli. These lanes, squares, and "little squares" are all named after events that took place at that very spot, or from the jobs held by the residents of those lanes, squares, and "little squares." A lot of fun history to be discovered and I'd soak it all in!
  3. Attend the Venice Film Festival - If the timing works out, I'd love to attend the Venice Film Festival, the oldest running film festival in the world! Even if I couldn't manage to snag tickets to this prestigious and popular event, just being there for the glitz, glamor, excitement, and celebrity sightings would be thrilling enough.
  4. All things culinary- It's easy to just sit back and eat. I would be in Italy, after all! However, I wouldn't be content with just that. I have every intention of eating as much Italian food as I can fit into my belly, but I want to enhance my food experience. I would find a willing soul to take me in and show me how to properly prepare and cook truly authentic Italian meals. The whole she-bang, and, once I'm done learning and mastering my authentic Italian meal, you bet your ass I'm going to be cooking and sharing up a storm when I (reluctantly) leave Venice.
  5. Photography - I could very easily spend my days and nights walking through every crevice of Venice, snapping away. From wide-angle shots of honeymooners enjoying their customary gondola ride on the Grand Canal to extreme close-ups of crumbling palazzo foundations, I would photograph just about every inch of Venice that I could!

If you're a travel blogger and interested in entering the competition, more information on the Go with Oh competition can be found on their website. I only ask that if you win and you heard about this contest through me, you bring me along as your guest!

Not a travel blogger? You can still win amazing prizes from Go with Oh through their Facebook page.

Retweet my post and leave a comment below to help me improve my chances of winning! Thank you in advance and hopefully, I'll be blogging from Europe with Go with Oh soon enough!

© Connie Hum 2012

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