Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Three Travel Apps I Will Use in Chile and the One I Won't!

The upcoming trip to Chile will be my first with a device that supports apps. I did do a weekend get-a-way last year with my iPod Touch but it was hard to connect to the Internet. So in the interest of travel, cough, I purchased an iPad. Since I have had trouble connecting to the Internet I chose the WiFi model plus 3G. The brilliance of the 3G is that you can turn it on one month at a time. I do not require 3G service on a daily basis (and how can people afford it!) so a pay as you go 30 day plan is perfect for me.

My hope with the iPad is to be able to ditch the guide books and multiple maps and not have to lug them around. Instead all that information will be in my cute little iPad. I have even purchased a mobile external battery to keep the life in my precious little iPad ( I do feel I should name the iPad - any thoughts?).

Now on to the travel apps. What will I use? Well I have four on the iPad right now that I am testing out and hoping they will be quite useful on the trip.

First is Trip Advisor. I have used the Trip Advisor website for as long as I can remember - since at least 2004. So when I got on the Apple bandwagon it was one of the first apps I downloaded. The app recently updated on August 6th to version 6.4 so I have been playing around with the new features, and I have to say it is a massive improvement.

The layout is quite different and more accessible and for me it is easier to work in the app. I also really appreciate the new save feature. Just hit the save star for any hotel, restaurant or attraction and it will be pinned to a map of the area you are visiting so it can be accessed it for later use.

What I am most curious about with the Trip Advisor app is – will my save functions work if I do not have Internet or 3G service. If so that would be a tremendous advantage.

Offline maps and/or information appeal to me because I am not quite clear on how the 3G network will/if work in a foreign country. So far for the Chile trip all of our hotels are offering free WiFi.

As far as the review aspect of Trip Advisor - I don’t live and die by a review. Every person has different needs, wants and tastes. I just use it as a general guide. If there are 50 great reviews I try to not get my hopes up. If there are 50 negative reviews I tend to shy away from that place. I find it a good general rule of thumb.

THE APP I WON'T USE - Tourist Eye-offers trip planning and offline maps. I really wanted this to be THE travel app for me, but it has been nothing but a problem. The maps never downloaded. What I entered on the website never integrated into the iPad. Every time I opened the app it said downloading and never ever finished. The most recent version updated on July 16. I originally downloaded the app in February and even with the update it has never retained my original information. After the update I went in to try again inputting some of the Chile trip information. After entering all of the data it asked me to pay (pay! I tell you!) to access the offline map - $1.99 per trip or $20.00 annually. No thanks!!!!!!
So far all of our dealings with hotels in Chile have been only is Spanish. Google Translate has become a very important tool in the hotel booking process. Knowing that the language will be our biggest barrier I have downloaded two apps for translating –Google Translate and Word Lens. Anything that helps me communicate in a foreign country is priceless!

Google translate has been working very well. I just cut and paste into the app and voila - Instant Spanish. Where was this when I was taking Spanish in High School?

Although it doesn't seem to not like large chunks of information all at once - it has worked well. I even used it to translate emails received from our hotels in Chile from Spanish to English.

Here is an example of Google Translate trying to decipher and email from a hotel in Chile:

I really was curious about Word Lens. By using the camera on your iPad/iPhone just point and what needs to be translated. You can pause the picture to see what the translation says. Sounds perfect! Although I haven’t really had good luck with the picture. I get the gist of what it is trying to say, but he Google Translate is much better – the only downside is that you have to type and/or cut and paste the info. Word lens would be much more efficient if the point and shoot concept worked better.

Here is an example of Word Lens trying to translate the same hotel email from Chile as above:

What about you? What are your favorite apps? Travel websites?

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Final Medal Count of the Countries I Have Visited!

I am so sad to see the London Olympics go away. Waking up every day to see my favorite city ever(!) on the TV, Internet, radio, FaceBook Twitter, Tumbler what have you has been BRILLIANT!

I thought it would be fun to see how many medals were won by each individual country I have visited.
I know the games are not about the medal count or at least they shouldn't be about the quantity - it's about quality, eh?

Country                                        Gold             Silver         Bronze             Total  

US                                                        46                    29                 29                104

Great Britain –                                      29                    17                 19                  65
Well Done Team GB!

France -                                                11                    11                12                  34
tres magnifique!
Hungary -                                               8                       4                 5                   17
where I had the best meal ever!

Netherlands –                                         6                       6                  8                  20
so cute in all their orange    

Czech Republic -                                    4                        3                 3                  10
I do love a Pilsner Urquell

Denmark -                                              2                        4                 3                  9
I would LOVE to be at Tivioli

Turkey -                                                 2                        2                 1                  5
First foreign country I ever visited!

Sweden -                                               1                        4                 3                  8
I guess they do better in the winter sports?

Mexico-                                                1                        3                  3                  7
went here as a kid-don’t remember!

Ireland -                                                1                        1                  3                  5
Too much or not enough Guinness?

Slovakia -                                              0                        1                 3                   4
Walked across the Danube to have a beer here

Belgium -                                               0                        1                2                    3
They have the REALLY good beer! 

Puerto Rico -                                         0                        1                1                    2
Could have been two more for the US?

Greece -                                               0                         0                2                   2
poor show birthplace of the Olympics!

Austria -                                               0                         0                 0                  0

Barbados -                                            0                         0                 0                  0

Chile -                                                  0                         0                 0                  0
going in 5 weeks!

Luxembourg -                                       0                        0                  0                 0
I love this cute little fairytale-ish country!

Saint Lucia -                                         0                        0                  0                 0

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Perfect Day in London

As an American that thinks of London on a daily basis (no longs for London on a daily basis) I am thrilled to be seeing the capital city of England and the UK during the Olympic coverage.

The Olympics are exciting, but if I were in London right now I would just be happy wondering around and taking in the sights of the city.

Walking is a very British thing to do so I have created a unique walk tailored to the city of London and my current favorite BBC show Sherlock.

Using the massive amount of resources at www.Sherlockology.com (a fabulous website to check out if you are a Sherlock fan!) I created a walk comprised of filming locations for the BBC hit TV show. Then I added in the famous Sherlock Holmes pub (I am ashamed I have never been!), and I am sure you could have a wonderful day’s walk in London.

I am in the process of planning a trip to London next year (third time), and I can’t wait to try this walk!

So this is how I would spend my day. You may think it geeky or dorky or what have you. I just know this would be my perfect day in London.

The Jet Lagged Vagabond Sherlock Walk

The walk starts at 187 North Gower Street, Camden, London NW1 2NJ.
Tube Stops: Euston or Euston Square

This is the filming location of 221B Baker Street – the home of Sherlock Holmes, Dr. John Watson and their loveable housekeeper landlady Mrs. Hudson. Next door is Speedy’s Café. Speedy’s is a real working café and is featured in the background of the show as characters come and go from 221B Baker Street.

I start the walk at Speedy’s with a full English fry up followed by some photos of the 221 B front door located to the left of Speedy’s. I better fill up this is an all day walk!

Click here for a picture of Speedy's from Google maps!

From Speedy’s the walk heads to St Bart’s Hospital West Smithfield London EC1A 7BE via Russell Square Gardens.

The journey is 2.1 miles and will take 45 minutes not counting any time to stop and take photographs.

Click here for Google map.

 Russell Square Gardens was used in the Sherlock episode A Study in Pink (Series 1, Episode 1). This is where John Watson runs into an old friend who in turn introduces Watson to Sherlock Holmes at his place of work St. Bart’s Hospital.

Side note: From Russell Square to St Bart’s the path will pass the Renaissance Chancery Court London at 252 High Holborn. This is the hotel where I stayed in 2004, and I absolutely love it. For a chain hotel it has a fantastic location with a convenient tube stop and the building is absolutely beautiful. I highly recommend! Note: I just read that the Chancery Court has changed ownership –shame!

Now on to St. Bart’s a real working research hospital that is featured in many episodes as the workplace of Sherlock Holmes and Molly Hooper. However St. Bart’s roof top plays an important part in The Reichenbach Fall (Series 2 Episode3). Beware of messenger bikes and cell phones that have the Staying Alive ringtone!

Click here for Google map.

From St. Bart’s head south to my favorite church St. Paul’s Cathedral and keep going until you come to Sir Norman Foster’s Millennium Bridge. Cross the Thames to the South Bank and hope you get a text message from Sherlock as Irene Adler did.

Click here for Google map.

Photo from Wikipedia

Now we are South of the Thames. I absolutely love to walk along the South Bank and that walk has been in my mind for weeks as I think about London. For the purposes of the Sherlock walk the path will head west towards the Battersea Power Station.

Note: this part of the walk goes past: The Tate Modern, Blackfriars Bridge, views of St. Paul’s across the Thames, the Oxo Tower, the National Theatre, Jubilee Gardens, London Film Museum, the London Eye, Westminster Bridge, views of Parliament and Big Ben, and Lambeth Palace and Gardens all leading to Battersea Power station. Indulge as much as you like!

Don’t worry there are plenty of pubs, bars and restaurants along the way to refresh and soak up the views!

Click here for Google map.

Battersea Power Station is a disused, well power station that has become an icon of London. In Sherlock it appears in A Scandal in Belgravia (Series 2, Episode 1).

Speaking of THAT scandal in Belgravia we now cross back over the Thames via Chelsea Bridge for a quick 30 minute walk towards 44 Eaton Square in Belgravia also known as Irene Adler’s home.

Click here for Google map.

The walk left Speedy’s Café nearly three hours ago. I think a pint is in order.

Therefore the next destination is the Sherlock Holmes Pub located at 10 Northumberland Street St James London WC2N 5DB.

Click here for Google map.

After a pint or two it’s off to dinner at Tapas Brindisa Restaurant 46 Broadwick Street Westminster London W1F 9

Tapas Brindisa is featured in Sherlock A Study in Pink (Series 1, Episode 1). The restaurant has changed its look from the time of filming, but the distinctive lights in the front window are still there.

Click here for Google map.

And there you have it. A nice long walk taking in the sites of London and hopefully some great food and drink as well.
Remember to not just look but to also observe. You never know if and when you will run into Holmes and Watson!