MEVANS, for all your travel needs...

So...I like to travel..a lot! These are my stories.

Friday, December 31, 2010

Pic(k) of the week: Disastrous Republic

In January of 2010 (almost a year ago!) we traveled to Punta Cana, DR. Now, I have mentioned that I wasn't a huge fan of our DR trip. Mostly because there was a lot of stress around it - the huge earthquake that hit Haiti happened a few days before we were supposed to leave for the trip. Yes my friends, Haiti and DR are on the same island. I can't even tell you about the nausea.....I was a nervous wreck until the plane landed and we were safely at our resort.  

We stayed 5 nights at the Majestic Elegance, which was very beautiful and our accomodations were gorgeous. The food left a bit to be desired, but I guess you take the good with bad. I believe I said it in my other post; you get what you pay for...The main thing was that were safe and had some funny stories to come back home with. Here are some of my favorite parts of the trip:

Side note: Beware of the "Bali Beds" - I layed on one and got little bug bites all over the side of my face and caused me to have an allergic reaction. I took benadryl and wore cortizone cream for about a week straight. Strangers were asking me what happened to my can imagine my horror....and not to mention my fear of bed bugs...

I look forward to bringing you some good travel posts in 2011!

Look sharp!

xoxo mevans  

Thursday, December 30, 2010

What's the Deal-io (Thursday): End of Year Sentiments

Do you ever feel like time is flying by so quickly you can't even deal with it? I can't believe that we are on the verge of 2011. Where did the time go? Before I get all nostalgic and sentimental about the goings-on of this past year, I should jump into my deal-io for the week. I apologize for the delay. Wednesday caught me by surprise this week. I blame it on the snow - and, well, my laziness. 

Since it is the end of the year, now is a good time to try to negotiate deals because, like retail stores, everyone is trying to get rid of their "inventory" and gear up for a new travel year. Domestic travel is especially discounted. This Best Western located on Disney Property (close to the Downtown area) has $79 per night (with a two night minimum) including a continental breakfast and free shuttles to the Parks. Honestly, you really can't get much better than that. The special runs from January 1 to March 31, with some blackout dates. The TA reviews are very favorable. Try to complement with some cheap fares from Jet Blue and Southwest, and you are good to go!

xoxo mevans

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Familiar Feeling

Welcome to winter my friends. An exhausting time of year where snow boots, gloves, shoveling, blizzards, and other wintry-what-have you are part of every day life here in NY. This is when I trade in my flip flops and T-Shirts and opt for my snowboarding coat and fake Uggs. It's a sad day when the flips get traded in *sigh* - an all too familiar feeling that, yes, it's that time of year again - which means that snowboarding trips are right around the corner.

With that being said, and to follow-up from Wednesday's post, Bud, our friends Jay and Josh, and myself drove up to Belleayre Mountain Saturday for some winter sport-age. Our journey began at around 6:30am and after surviving the Thru-way *shudder* and Bud's early 2000's play list, we made it up to the mountain by around 10am. For a holiday, the mountain was EXTREMELY busy and everyone was quite frenzied. Note to self: never wear sneakers with ankle socks and leggings when having to walk from a snowy parking lot to the main lodge. It was a beautiful wintry day though, with some sun and clouds, although the conditions on the mountain were a bit icy. The views from the lift were absolutely breathtaking. Trees trimmed with snow and icicles, and a blanket of white snow underneath? Sounds so Disney, I love it!  

Remember what I said about my snowboarding skills being "awkwardly mediocre" at best? Well, I think I can drop the mediocre and crank it up a notch to "awkwardly average" at best. Hey, at least it's progress. There were a few low points though. Josh did get seriously hurt and had to visit the ER in Kingston (poor Josh - he's OK though). I suffered a number of less than graceful falls from the lift, had some tears here and there, and in one section of the trail, a face-full of snow.

Snowboarding is always an experience and you never know what day you are going to have until you get there. What makes the experience worthwhile for me is sharing it with Bud and my friends. Their smiles and laughs usually get me through the somewhat terrifying experience of flying down a mountain at what seems like 50 miles an hour. At least I can say I did it, right? Maybe we'll have to put snowboarding in the Alps on hold for awhile......I still need to learn toe-side...

Stay warm guys!

PS - This post is dedicated to Josh! Feel better!

xoxo mevans

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: View from the Top (not the movie)

Wow, Friday already! I can't believe it! Since I shared some snow with you guys on Wednesday, I figured we'd bring it back to some nice warm weather! This pic was taken from our hotel room when we visited Cancun (shout to the Hilton Cancun!!). I wanted to remember this view forever. There's something about the sun glistening on the water, the palm trees, and the intricate design of the pool. Doesn't it look perfect? *Sigh* Memories of the warm Mexico sun are all I have right I sit and type with my hot chocolate and am bundled up in my blanket. I really need a Snuggie! 

Have a great weekend everyone!

xoxo mevans

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What's the Deal-io Wednesday: Winter Sport-age

Yes my friends, winter is *OFFICIALLY* here, although it seems like it was here two months ago. These blustery, obnoxiously cold NY days have contributed to some pretty nice snowboarding/skiing weather. Now, you know I'm all about the sand and sun, and you know how much I hate the Thru-way, but I do like to sport a snowboarding jacket every now and then. I'm thinking of adding a helmet this year to the wardrobe though - I've had some nasty spills. 

Snowboarding is one of Bud's favorite past times and he is really good at it (I'm not just saying that, he really is!). I would rate myself as " awkwardly mediocre" at best (and you know how much it kills me, because I hate mediocrity). What I lack in snowboarding experience I make up for in my writing skills...

Anyway, my deal-io for this week is $25 lift tickets this Friday and Saturday at Belleayre Mountain. Usually lift tickets are around $50+. If you are willing to hit the slopes, I highly recommend this deal. Sure, there are better mountains, I'm not disagreeing. I'm a big fan of Stratton, VT myself. However, Belleayre is a pretty easy mountain to navigate and if you haven't experienced the winter sport-age before, it's a great place to start. The lifts are open from 9a-4p. If you don't have any gear, rentals are $25. 

These pics are actually from Bud's trip to Hunter - not Belleayre, but I still thought it was appropriate (sorry):

This is my girl Brita. Killin' it! You go Brita! This was her first time and she did awesome! You can't see her, but she's super cute.

Have fun you guys!

xoxo mevans

Monday, December 20, 2010

Literally Laughing Out Loud

Well, it's Monday, and I think we all need a good laugh. I definitely have a case of the Mondays today. I was looking at some old pics that instantly brightened my day by bringing back some fun memories. 

Have you every visited somewhere and found the most random things amusing? That's on of my favorite parts of traveling. The memories you make and the good laughs you have along the way are priceless. These photos below were taken last year over Thanksgiving that made us "LOL".

Cancun is notorious for little market places and great deals. Don't forget to haggle! I don't even know what this is, but apparently "it's is a bag"....

 El Shrimp Bucket, anyone?
I mean come on, who doesn't want to eat out of a bucket? Classy.

I don't remember these guys' names, but I know one of them is German and they have tequila. Enough. Said.

I'm not sure why this is funny. We sure had a fun time taking silly pictures in ChedrauĆ­, a Mexican grocery store in Old Cancun. Picture if you will, the Mexican version of Target, 
and for some reason it smelled like cheese....

Happy Monday everyone! 

**Shout out again to J-Mills for some of the pics.....

Friday, December 17, 2010

Pic(k)s of the week: Galapagos Much?

I really wish I could come up with a jazzy-er title for today's post - but it's been a long week and I have been sick (excuses, excuses, I know). My wit only goes so far. Sorry folks (you know how I hate mediocrity).

What's not mediocre are the pic(k)s for this week. HUGE shout to J-Mills and his little bro, PastaMillerBoy for helping me out this week. Let's give them a round of applause *clapping*. These adventurous guys share my love of travel and seeing the world. These pics are courtesy of the Miller family photo album.

They embarked on a journey to the Galapagos Islands back in the Spring of 2009. Believe it or not, you CAN visit the Galapago Islands (which are islands off the coast of Ecuador). Fun factoid, they only let a certain number of guests visit the Islands each year. You are not allowed to disturb the animals in their natural habitat. From what I understand, you are almost tripping over the animals...they are like, literally crossing your path!

I will let the photos speak for themselves. This one is J-Mills' pic(k):

This is Kicker Rock of the Northeast coast of San Cristobal Island. So pretty!

And now for PastaMillerBoy's:  

A sun-bathing iguana (it would probably attack me if I was there)

A baby seal and his mom (aww cute, right?)

Thanks again guys! Enjoy the weekend everyone! 

xoxo mevans

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What's the Deal-io Wednesday: A Pilgramage to Boston anyone?

Oh yes, it's that time of week again. Wednesday! Aren't these weeks just flying by! I've given you guys enough warm weather posts to make everyone severely in sun withdrawal (I can't believe we have snow already). I'll highlight deals on our big neighbor city to the North - Boston!

If you guys have a hankering for really good New England Clam Chowder, or a mediocre baseball team (it had to be said), Travelzoo posted an amazing nightly rate at the Hilton Boston Back Bay. Hilton is offering $119 per night (around $136 with taxes and fees) for select dates from now until March - including weekends! I really love the Hilton Group (thanks Paris) - they really know how to treat guests well. Normally this hotel runs about $200++ per night with taxes. It is located in the heart of Boston, near the Financial District and near mass transit. I checked the TA reviews and they are great!

Beantown has a lot to do and see, although you might want to wait till closer to March when the weather is a bit warmer!

Happy travels everyone!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Thanks you guys!

OK, non-travel related post - big thanks you guys for reading my stuff!

 We just hit over 300 page views!

Thanks for thinking I'm interesting! 

xoxo mevans

Monday, December 13, 2010

Everyone's A Critic

Do you ever sometimes feel like you missed your calling? Sometimes I think that I should have been a some kind of reviewer. Not like a food critic, but some kind of critic of hotels or destinations, or something like that. How cool would that be?

While I can't pursue this dream professionally, I turn to my next best option(s) - obsessing over travel guides, and posting write-ups on Trip Advisor (TA). I love research. Yes, I am a big nerd. I've worn glasses since I was five and worked in the attendance office in high school during my lunch period. I like knee socks and getting a full eight hours sleep. I also like office supplies and crossing things off my "to-do list". 

My nerd-like tendencies also include love of books. I mean actual books - sorry, I don't own a Kindle. I still have the first Ipod shuffle that Apple came out with in 2005 - playa, puh-lease. My recent purchase involved some travel guides - ahhh I love breaking open the books and reading about what exciting places and things a destination has. My recent purchase included The Unofficial Guide to Disneyland Paris. I have no plans to visit there ANY time soon, but I love the fact that there might be a time WHEN I can actually use that book - although by then it might be severely outdated. Trust me, I'll get over it. 

All these guides have some great tips as far as what time of year to go, must-sees, and how to get from point A to point B. I really like Frommer's travel guides, and if you ever go to Disney, check out Birnbaum's guides. My friend James recently recommended the Lonely Planet series of guides. There's plenty out there, you just have to check out which style you like the best.  

For reviews, I hit up TA right away. I do not book or reserve ANYTHING without consulting TA first. This website has "user" reviews on everything from airlines to hotels to restaurants. Their forums have a ton of useful information. The reviews are pretty honest and accurate. The reviews and posts are generally entertaining and make for a good read. I love hearing what fellow travelers have to say! What/who do you guys consult? 

Happy planning everyone! 

Friday, December 10, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week: The girl who visited Ipanema

Well it is that time of week my friends - my pic(k) of the week this week is another beach related one. Sorry, it is just RIDICULOUSLY cold here.

These pics are taken from the famous Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Rio is one of my favorite cities. The city, the culture, the people, the food - I loved every minute I was there. If it's on anyone's travel bucket list, I recommend visiting. It's worth a trip.

While my time there was short, I saw so many things. Rio is a cool city because you have everything: mountains, beach, and "big city" buildings, all in one place. In the last picture you can see the Sugar Loaf Mountains in the distance (those people totally messed up my photography flow). Although it was a bit of an overcast day, we enjoyed the warm waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Watch out for those waves though, and there's not much of a shelf....I ended up getting slammed by a wave and dragged out. I survived though, along with the 30 mosquito bites I got on that trip (I was pretty sure I was going to get malaria or Dengue fever - does anyone even know what that is?). All in all, it ended up being a pretty awkward time - but - it was a trip of a lifetime.

Yeah, I don't know who those people are. 

Enjoy guys! 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's the Deal-io Wednesday: Seriously CheapCaribbean?

I came across this little beauty in my Travelzoo newsletter that I get once a week. Have I told you how much I love Wednesdays? That's when I get all of my alerts of what travel deals are out there.

This all-inclusive resort located in Puerto Plata, DR is $20.10 per person, per night for a minimum of a four night stay from January 3, 2011 until December 20, 2011. There's about a $7 tax per person, per night, also. Booking has to be done by this Friday, so if you are looking for a last minute trip, now is the time to do it! You must book via the website. 

Traveler beware, I'm sure there is some sort of sales pitch involved with timeshare - there's always a catch! For sand and sun though, I would definitely pay the price! Find yourself a nice cheap air deal to DR (JetBlue is probably your best best), and you are good to go!

Now, I've been to Punta Cana in DR, and, to be honest, I'm not a huge fan. I'll get to that trip in a later post. I would go back to DR, but only for the right deal. This I would try out though. I  browsed some of the reviews on Trip Advisor site and they are pretty favorable, and a lot of people had taken advantage of this deal. Do keep in mind of course, that you always get what you pay for!!!

Check it out and let me know what you think!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cabin Fever (the good kind?)

Not to go all "Me Monster" on everyone, but, as you have probably seen so far, I'm not really an outdoors-y kind of person. There are several factors. First, I'm not really into "braving the elements". Second, almost every time I go outside I get bitten by every single insect you can imagine (I still have scars from this past summer). Third, as a child of the 80s, I do really live a life of convenience. I'm sorry to admit it, but I am a product of mass consumption. To quote a Lilly Allen song, "'s not my fault, it's how I'm programmed to function".  

Me and Bud joke around all the time that I have probably spent about 15 minutes total outside my whole entire life (exaggerated of course). When I was little I spent most of my time reading books and writing stories. I was ignorant of the outside world - kind of like Rapunzel (sorry, I saw the movie last night and immediately fell in love with it). Those Disney movies get me every time (*tear*). 

You can imagine my hesitation when Bud and I signed up to go on a hiking trip with some of our friends in October 2010. I was excited to spend a weekend away with our peeps, but hundreds of questions swirled through my brain. How cold is it going to be? Will there be bugs? What are we going to do? Do we have enough food? What exactly does "roughing" it entail? I was literally nauseous until the day we left. After an extensive shopping trip to Target and Wal-Mart (the best stores EVER), and borrowing all of our camping gear from my in-laws, I finally felt prepared. What's a camping trip without hummus and peach mango salsa???

So how did it go? I mean, I knew we were going to have good time, but we had a GREAT time! Shout out to the KOA Newburgh, NY because it was a really nice setup! We stayed in a cute little cabin and sat by a wonderful fire (thank you Bry & Craig), ate a ton of yummy food, sang songs, told stories, and played games. It was everything I wanted it to be. We also had a wonderful breakfast overlooking Mohonk Mountain (thank you James), a hiking trip, and apple picking at a local orchard. It was a great weekend! And no bug bites! Or car accidents!  

By Sunday night I was so upset that we had to go home. We shared so many laughs and had so much fun with all of our friends. As we made the travel back home on the Thru-way (oh how I despise you Thru-way) I couldn't help but think that I actually was outdoors-y for once in my life. This was a BIG accomplishment for me and my awkwardness. There was something about the fresh mountain air I guess. Although I couldn't have survived without my friends. You guys are the best!! 

Here are some pics for your viewing pleasure. Ahhh memories:  

Friday, December 3, 2010

Pic(k) of the Week

Since Wednesdays are now known as "What's the Deal-io Wednesdays", Fridays will now be known as "Pic(k) of the Week Fridays". Which, you guessed it, is a posting of a pic from the Evans Photo Gallery. I know you are all super excited about this.

As it is December and the first real cold and miserable weather spell has hit NY, I figured a little bit of warmth should be introduced this week. These pics were taken at the Sandals Resort in St. Lucia in October of 2006. After a VERY early flight we arrived early afternoon at the resort. At this point in time our room wasn't ready, so we had to chill in the outside restaurant/bar until it was ready (I think we ended up eating here every day). As we dined on delicious jerk chicken and the best jalapeƱo quesadilla I have ever had, we got a look at this view:

*Sigh*, isn't it beautiful? I thought this would help, but I'm getting more depressed as I type. 

Stay warm this weekend everyone! 

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What's the Deal-io

I'm not made of money. I wish I was, but I'm not. Traveling is no doubt expensive. I get nauseous forking over $8 to just drive across the George Washington Bridge (I know the states of NJ and NY are completely broke, but seriously?). Forget about purchasing airline tickets. Thinking about that makes me completely ill.

It goes without saying that when it comes to traveling, everyone comes up with a strategic plan of attack to find the BEST (and by BEST I mean CHEAPEST) form of travel possible. This takes into consideration several opportunity costs such as travel time, length of stay, comfort of accommodations, etc. Bottom line, you search for deals to help your budget's bottom line.  Who doesn't love a good deal? To be honest, finding a good deal gets me through the day!

With all this being said, as of today, I am starting "What's the Deal-io Wednesdays" where I post THE best deals I can find, with the help of my trusty travel guides. I point your attention to the websites on the right hand portion of the page. I'm also available for personal planning questions if you care to have me a plan a trip for you - I won't charge, I promise! HA!

We'll start with this week's love for last minute trips:

Taken from via Travelzoo, next weekend you can fly round trip on major airlines from NYC area airports to 10 major cities, with fares ranging from $29-$99 each way. So for example, say you wanted to take a last minute trip to Chicago (Saturday-Tuesday), you can fly direct from Newark to Chicago for $179 round trip. Good stuff my friends (and no, I am not being paid by! Loves it!

I think my work is done here. Happy travels!