budget Tag

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The not so quiet American

You know those moments when every stereotype you have about a nationality is realised? I had one of them the other evening in a hostel in Austria. It might not surprise you to hear that the nationality in question was American. (Cue slightly off-key rendition of Star Spangled Banner.) I was trying to get some work done in the common room of the hostel. (OK, fine, you caught me out - I was procrastinating on Facebook!) But the point remains that I couldn't concentrate because the not so quiet American was having a very loud and very personal conversation on Skype. At first it was annoying but, when I started to eavesdrop on what he was saying, it was so entertaining I gave up all hope of getting any work done. (OK, I gave up hope of looking at my friends' photos and their inane updates on their kids or binge...

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25 May
uruguay, beaches, top 2012 destination, playground, punta del este
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The secret playground of South America

Away from Punta del Este Punta del Este is the typical beach holiday in Uruguay. But it's not the best. Here, the sands stretch for kilometres. Waves crash onto the shore, filling the air with thunder and the smell of salt. Birds fly overhead while fish leap from the water. The sun rises in the sky, the rays embraced by the coastline and caught by the crests of the ocean. The beach is ready. The only thing missing is the people. You see, it’s December in Uruguay and it’s still a week or two until the crowds descend. Welcome to the summer playground of the South Americans. This is their secret indulgence… their escape from the heat of the cities. And they don’t want you to know about it! The coastline of Uruguay, stretching from near the capital, Montevideo, all the way to the Brazilian border has some of the nicest beaches on the continent....

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22 December
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The Tribute

Gram's Place at Tampa, Florida tribute |ˈtribyoōt| (noun) An act, statement, or gift that is intended to show gratitude, respect, or admiration It was exactly two decades ago that a young man built a tribute in Florida to a musician he revered. It was no statue, though – no lifeless representation of what had once been. This young man decided to build a youth hostel as his tribute, and through the energy and vitality of the community that grew within it, he created a heaving and breathing monument that captured the spirit of his idol. Tributes have many layers and they often say more about the creator than the hero. Four years ago that young man – twenty years older but, by all accounts, light of heart – took his own life. The hostel didn’t close, though. It still remains today, still welcomes in visitors from around the world and still fills the night...

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11 November
travel, blog, travel stories, travel fatigue, new york to boston
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Out of the gutter and back on the road

Well, after more than a week of sitting still, sleeping still, and just still being, I am back on the road. Actually quite literally, seeing as I’m writing this blog post from a bus with wifi. Greyhound isn’t all that bad these days, for your information. It occurs to me that it wouldn’t be as awful in 2011 to win one of those prizes on Wheel of Fortune where you get sent to some family caravan park up the coast courtesy of Greyhound. Anyway, where was I? Oh, yes, on my way to Boston after hanging out in New York for a while. My time in the big apple made me feel a bit like a big lemon, to be honest. I did very little and, although there were lots of friends in town, I also took the time to spend precious hours with myself. It’s been almost four months since I...

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05 October
The Ace Hotel at Palm Springs, celebrity, glamour, Hollywood, desert, party, oasis, accommodation, motel
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Finding an Ace in Palm Springs

Glamourous Palm Springs In the romantic days of Hollywood, decades ago, when movie stars were glamorous and mysterious, rather than trashy and mass-produced, there was a desert hideaway where they would gather to get away from the lights of the big city. Two hours drive from Los Angeles, in the middle of the scorching desert, the biggest stars in the business built themselves an oasis. It was called Palm Springs, the name apt for the illusion of shade and water that was so artificially replicated. Bob Hope, Shirley Temple, Ginger Rogers and Clark Gable were some of the stars who found relief in Palm Springs early on. Coming later were the likes of Elvis Presley and Elizabeth Taylor. Today, the city is still popular with the Los Angeles movie and music sets but the A-list shimmer has faded. It seems to be more about money than talent – a fitting parallel to...

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29 September