I've got a serious case of the travel bug. I've widely explored the United States, my home country. At the age of 34, I finally embarked on my first trip across the ocean recently. I visited Budapest and Prague, both which are sometimes referred to as the "Paris of the East". I feel that it is my duty to decide which one of these gorgeous cities should hold that title, but I can't do that until I visit Paris!
There is one issue with Paris; it's an expensive city. I assumed the city would be cost prohibitive to me, but the apartments GowithOh
offers would do an excellent job of defraying the lodging costs. If I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a GowithOh Guest Tester
, my total room board would be 0 USD.
I ran into an immediately problem while searching for an apartment in Paris. For the life of me, I had no idea how I was going to choose one apartment when there was a choice of nearly 400 of them. Luckily, I ran into a single photo within a few minutes. My mind had made up where I would be staying.
has a lovely view of the Eiffel Tower. I'm already dreaming about staring at this view as I eat the breakfast I prepared for myself in the apartment's kitchen.
The location is literally a few minutes from the the tower. I love walking along rivers, and this hotel is also a short walk from the Sienne. The Bir-Hakiem metro stop is nearby, so I would have the entire city at my finger tips.
I would go into details of what Paris has to offer, but that would be so overwhelming for anybody. Simply put, the city is full of wonderful history, art and architecture. I would love to be immersed in it.
After a long day of sightseeing, I can upload my photographs to my social networking sites while resting on the sofa bed.
If I win, expect a follow-up post of my experience in this apartment and in the city of Paris!
GowithOh offers apartments in 17 different cities. Which of those cities would you test an apartment in? You have until November 10 to enter to be a guest tester by writing a blog entry
or by visiting the Gowithoh Facebook page
Earlier this month, I traveled to Europe for the first time. I explored the cities of Budapest and Prague. Here are a few things I took away from there:
- I was told the Eastern Europeans were very cold, but most everyone I interacted with was very friendly.
- My first impression was that service is terrible, but that couldn't be further from the truth. You have to ask for your check, because they consider it rude to rush you out the door.
- It's easy to survive knowing only how to speak English.
- Wine and beer are often as cheap as water and soda.
- I can survive without mobile service.
- There are beautiful buildings most everywhere you look. It's impossible to soak it all in.
- Eating where the locals eat is much cheaper than eating where the tourists eat. Duh.
- Even the fast food tastes better than than in the U.S.
- Free walking tours are the way to go. You'll meet other friendly travelers. The guides love what they do, and they do not stick to a script.
- You might accidentally spend $70 on opera tickets when you intended to spend only $5, but it's still worth it.
- At least in the two cities I visited, people are very proud of the cities.
- Much of the last 100 years of history there is very depressing, but it's important to know.
- You have to pay to pee.
- You can clear customs and make a connection in less than 45 in Europe!
- Corn on the cob is sold as a snack.
- A Danube dinner cruise is a must.
I was attempting to find a book by Knox Mcoy
. All I could vaguely remember about the title is that it was about how not to make your marriage suck. I thought the search terms I used would take me to that book. I was wrong.
I'm a bit of a hotel snob. I've grown keen to a couple of brands; Kimpton Hotels and Hyatt
. Unfortunately, those brands don't exist in every location I visit. I resort to booking on Hotwire and Priceline. There are a few things these hotels and motels can do that make my stay much better.
- Uses white bed linens. White bed linens do not necessarily equate to cleanliness, but it's much easier to see things that don't belong there. Don't put comforters and throw pillows on the bed. I know you rarely wash those.
- Vacuum the entire floor before I check in. It's okay to spot vacuum the room during my stay, but I except a spotless room when I arrive.
- If the toilet has rust stains on it, it's time to either clean those stains or get a new toilet. Toilets are the cleanest thing in the hotel room, but I want it to look clean too.
- Ditch that old CRT TV for a LCD TV. It's not that I think I'm too good for a CRT TV. I just want to the room has been updated at least once since the year 2000.
- Give me a way to connect my phone to the clock/radio. Get a clock/radio with at least an auxiliary jack.
- Provide a lamp with USB charging ports. I want to be able to charge my phone near my bed. It may be a lot of trouble for you to put an electric outlet by the bed if it doesn't already exist. These lamps are an easy way to get around that, and will not break you bank.
- Seattle drivers treat pedestrians very well. As a pedestrian, you don't have to walk defensively as you do in most cities. If you have the right-of-way, the driver will always yield. Even in times when you don't have the right of-way, they will allow you to go.
- Top Pot doughnuts are the best. Hotel Vintage Park stalked me on Twitter, and ended up sending a box of five of these delicious doughnuts to my room.
- Due to my experience at Hotel Vintage Park and Hotel Monaco Seattle, I will now be a loyal customer to Kimpton Hotels. What other chain brings a pet gold fish to your room? Just one thing, I wish they knew they didn't have to address me as "Mr. Eubanks" each time they saw me.
- One disappointing thing about Seattle is that they don't have a visitor pass available to purchase for the public transit system. It's always nice to be able to buy a pass that will let you ride the rails and bus an unlimited amount of times for a set amount of days.
- Walking down the street, most people in Seattle will not make eye contact with you, but once you go indooors, they become the friendliest people no matter where you are.
- Pike Place Market is a wonderful place to spend time. The vendors would spoil me with samples of fresh fruit.
- If you ever go to Seattle, Fremont is a neighborhood you need to check out. It is home to Archie McPhee's, a Lenin statue which one called Czechoslovakia it's home, and the infamous Fremont Troll.
- It's quite easy to meet friends anywhere in Seattle. I made a couple of friends at the Fremont Troll. We ended up going on the Underground Tour together. I also went to a Big Head Todd and the Monsters concert with three friends I met previously that evening during wine hour at the hotel. I had never heard of Big Head Todd before that night.
- The EMP (Experience Music Project) Musem is a lovely place to visit. No other place has as much Nirvana, Jimmy Hendrix, Pearl Jam and science fiction memorabilia as they do.
- After eating Alaskan cod in Seattle, it is difficult to eat any seafood in Kansas.
- I think people in Seattle may be coldblooded. At 55 degrees, they were all bundled up in heavy winter garb.
If you missed my previous post, I was in a bit of a disagreement with American Express
To sum it up; I believed I was eligible to receive 15,000 SPG Starpoints as part of a promotion, but they believed that amount was 0. I was contacted today and given the details why I was not eligible for this promotion. It's plausible, maybe they're right, maybe I'm right. I don't know now. They gave me 7,500 points as a gesture of goodwill, which I consider very generous. I am somewhat pleased.
To avoid this situation in the future, I'm going to do the following when dealing with these types of promos:
- Create PDF files of any web applications I fill out.
- Create PDF files of terms and conditions.
- Keep any documentation I sent by snail mail.
I want to repeat what I said in my previous post, all the American Express representatives I dealt with were as polite as can be.
As of now, I am considering this situation resolved. American Express is a great business to deal with. In the 8 years we've been together, this has been our only disagreement.
I've been an American Express member since 2005. If you've been around me since then, you will notice that I almost always pay with an American Express card. Last August and early September, American Express was running a promo for the Starwood Preferred Guest branded card. You would get 10,000 Starwood points after you first used the card, and an additional 20,000 points if you spent $5000 within 6 months. This was all over the travel blogosphere, the American Express website, and American Express emails. I was late to the game. I signed up when they were offering their more standard promo, 10,000 points for using the card, and 15,000 points if you spent $5000 within 6 months.
If I were to purchase these points directly from Starwood
right now, it would cost me $393.75 with the current 25% off sale. If you redeemed them for a room, they would be roughly the same value.
Let me recap: If you signed up this card online in September 2012, you were either eligible for a total bonus of 30,000 Starpoints (if you signed up before September 4) or a total bonus of 25,0000 Starpoints (if you signed up after September 4). There were no promo codes. Here's what you would have seen when you went to the American Express website:
I got the card. I kept track of my spending the moment I began using the card. I had no issue with the 10,000 Star points being deposited to my account. I reached the $5000 spending threshold in January. At that time, I asked American Express how long it would take my 15,000 points. They said between 8-12 weeks. 2 months had passed and I began getting a little antsy, so I began researching it on the FlyerTalk
forum. I found out a lot of people are getting the shaft on this 15,000 point bonus. I contacted American Express three different times through email. Here is their last response:
I understand their position, but their position is wrong. They have a history of not linking the correct promotions to accounts. There were no other promotions available at the time I signed up but the one I have the screenshot for. I called American Express after receiving this response. The gentleman said my issue has been sent to research by their marketing team. It could take 4 to 5 weeks to get a response. I'm holding on to hope that my situation can be remedied correctly. It has been suggested to me that I cancel my card. I'm gong to be patient, but it is possible that I may eventually end my 8 year relationship with American Express over this matter. For the record, everyone at American Express that I have contacted has been very polite.
Many of you probably grew up under circumstances. If you were a good Christian child of the 80's/90's, you did everything possible to avoid seeing what was aired on MTV. If you caught too much of a glimpse of that cable network, you'd burn in hell. I was spared from hearing U2's devilish music
. There were bands like Jars of Clay
, and... (I guess the list ends there) putting out great artistic music, but for the most part, I had to go to school being "proud" of listening to music of the likeness of the gems below.
- Listen to one new album per week.
- Take a spontaneous trip to a destination I've never been to before.
- I got "Slang Flashcards" for Christmas. Every day, I want to work a piece of slang from one of these cards into a sentence.
- Stay in a hostel for at least one night.
- Begin a sentence at least once a week with, "Back when I was a gangsta rappa..."
- Do one of the following: skydive, bungee jump, or paraglide.
- Go to my first regular season Oklahoma City Thunder game.
- Put toppings on my ice cream more often.
- Ride in a helicopter or hot air balloon.
- See Mumford & Sons in concert.
This post has been brought to use by The O.C. Supertones, not really.
Cessna 208 A Caravan 675
First on my list is an airplane! I don't have a pilot's license yet, but I have taken the controls of a plane while in air before. If you were to buy me this for Christmas, I would take you and some friends up in the sky for sure. You'd just have to hope I had the intuition require to safely land this beast on to the ground (I've flown, but I have never landed). Oh, the places you'll go... with me.
Mini Cooper 1300
No, I don't want want one of those sissy Minis that Marky Mark sported duing the movie, The Italian Job. I'm talkin' about one of those sissy Minis the Brits drove during the 1960s. If yo could find one with the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle, which would be the left side, that would be a big plus.
The Plaza Hotel
They say money can't buy history, but I disagree. Actually, I've never heard "they" say that, and I don't know if this joint is up for sale. Speaking of joints, this is the location where Bob Dylan introduced The Beatles to marijuana. It's also the locale where Kevin McCallister maxed out his parents' credit carts. A 75% stake of of this property was purchased for $570 million, so you should be able to purchase this easily for under a billion quid (Yes, I learned how to talk British while driving the Cooper). It's my dream to own and manage a hotel, and I might as well start with the best.