Wednesday, February 17, 2016
|Everyone is treated like a king! December 2015, Park Hyatt Vendome, Paris.|
Last January, Hyatt ran a somewhat targeted promotion that would guarantee their top tier status if you completed a challenge - usually a certain number of nights or stays within a period of time. TH had by chance booked nearly the number of nights/stays that would make her eligible for this promo. The promo had been leaked by a blogger and then posted on several message boards and like with anything - people started to take advantage of it or thought they could.
TH called and asked if she was eligible. The agent on the phone couldn't even find the challenge (more on that at a later date), she was finally transferred to someone who told her that the challenge was targeted at guests who stayed a lot, but not enough to make the highest tier status, so she was ineligible.
She ended up moving all the stays to the Kimpton chain.
I fumed for a while, we could have lived like Queens on all our stays at the Hyatt - all the suite upgrades, the lounge access, the plushy bathrobes, the extra points! The truth be told, I was a Hyatt Diamond for about eight years and it was lovely. But the hotels that we stay at the most within the Hyatt chain already treat us well, we don't need anything else and that is what matters the most to us.
Sometimes I grow weary of all the things we read on the internet, scams, bonuses, gaming the system successes and hacks and wonder if I'm a rube for not taking advantage of them or relieved that I don't care enough. I wonder how people have the gall to game the system or spend nights coming up with loopholes to let them get away with paying nothing and getting everything.
It is a whole industry and people are happy to add their experiences and knowledge, but I'm not sure I'm game for it.
I'm looking forward to staying at two of the properties that treat us well in the next week.
Thursday, February 11, 2016
|Way out London, December 2015.|
Vacation head is starting to overtake my consulting head and my class head and mostly, my kon-mari and get my life organized head.
When you start counting down the days until you escape your hamster wheel of life to do something different, it can be hard focus.
I have six days to really focus - phone calls, spreadsheets, stuff to "thank and let go" and dogs that need walking don't give a hoot about if I should reroute myself through LAX nor where I should eat in London.
How do you cope with vacation head?
Thursday, February 04, 2016
|Campo de Fiori - Sunset|
There are few places on my list for this year that I've never visited that are on my list for 2016.
In no particular order:
They are all in the U.S.
Why? Some of these places are important in terms of development of the U.S., others because they are just intriguing to me.
Places I'm likely to visit this year that I go to on a regular basis (heavy rotation):
Salt Lake City
I'm not even going to stray from the familiar when it comes to international travel - it is a well worn path these days for various and sundry reasons. I'm okay with that too.
For now, I'll live vicariously through friends and acquaintances gorgeous images and make plans for another day.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
|Chelsea Physic Garden - a great place to see urban snowdrops.|
I'm in the midst of planning my next attack on the snowdrops of England. I had such a blast last time that I convinced TH to come along with me. Like last time, I'm going to be depending on the fine UK transport system - trains mixed with a few regional buses and some long walks.
So far it looks like I'm hitting the ground early on a Saturday and going north to Stevenage. The following day I'm heading back up north to Retford and the following day I'm going towards Crawley and then to Brighton.
That is a lot of moving around. I wish I had a week.
I'm tweeting to the various gardens in hopes of getting some snowdrop updates and grateful when each place updates their websites and Facebook status with snowdrop reports. It was bonkers last year and I want it to be the same awesome experience this year, especially since I've gushed about my trip and don't want to let TH down.
Somedays I wish I could just not plan and let the chips fall where they may, but I feel like there are so many places and gardens I want to see and not enough time to enjoy them all.
Here's to a colder few weeks in England to keep those snowdrops from blooming early and to fine weather to experience their beauty.
Wednesday, November 04, 2015
A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on
This year I have seen some spectacular things - Swaths of snowdrops in Lincolnshire, the back roads of Southeastern Tennessee, Monet's Giverny in full bloom, Great Dixter at a quiet time of year, the Columbia Gorge with its salmon heading home to spawn, the northern New Mexico landscape in the winter and fall and the view below the Golden Gate Bridge by boat. Today, I finally made it to Joshua Tree.
In one word, amazing.
We didn't hike or pull off the road to see every marker or scenic point, but the drive and views were spectacular at 35 miles an hour. The park is not too crowded this time of year and the weather was magnificently brisk, but manageable. It made me realize that there are so many things I have yet to experience. It has inspired me to start thinking and planning new travel itineraries.
All in all a pretty awesome hump day.
Sunday, September 06, 2015
Saturday, September 05, 2015
Friday, September 04, 2015
Thursday, September 03, 2015
I either have allergies or am coming down with the summer cold. This happened to me during Snowdrop Mania in February and I was not amused, but for the most part I soldiered on. I'm going to do the best I can tomorrow to get to Giverny . I have some ibuprofen and what I believe to be an antihistamine, so down the hatch they go.
A photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on
My goal this trip is to see four things I've never seen before (not in a particular order):
Vaux le Vicomte
La Grande Arche
The new park for Clichy and Batignolles
and if I'm lucky on my way home from Vaux on Saturday - I'll hit the small park near the Palais de Decouverte.
I try and plan and make sure I do things in the most efficient routing possible. I hate retracing my steps, so I make mental maps and then validate them on paper or on-line maps. I still get lost and sometimes things don't work out - delays happen, new and interesting things are discovered or you fall ill and decide that a day in bed is better than four hours on a bus.
I've got a few good decades left in me - most of these places have been around for a long time and are likely to be there next year and the year after.
Are you happy doing the same thing trip after trip or are you always looking for new things to do when you travel?
Wednesday, September 02, 2015
I wish I could say I’m a packing pro, but I’m not. My conferences and meetings do not happen in boardrooms or ballrooms. I don’t possess a navy or black suit with three contrasting silk shells. I’m more of a skirt and sweater girl, but even that can be pushing it depending on the meeting I’m attending. I saw more cargo shorts and polo shirts at my last meeting than business casual attire.
These days I’m doing more leisure travel which can be even more vexing in terms of packing. I’m not confident I’ve picked the right mix of clothing types. Will I sweat through every t-shirt I bring and what happens if I get a blister and need to swap out shoes? What if I get cold or too hot?
The great thing is most of the places like I go are in the first world and thanks to globalization – I’m likely to be within spitting distance of a GAP, so I can replenish my wardrobe if necessary. Better yet, I can subscribe to the weather alerts for the places I’m visiting to get a better idea of what to expect on the ground.
So, here are my rules to pack efficiently for a trip to the first world. It takes time and a few iterations to get it right, just like product/market fit. My objective when it comes to packing is to make sure that everything I bring get used during the trip.
Before starting to pack ask yourself these questions:
What is your packing goal for this trip?
Are you checking luggage?
How are you traveling? Will you be moving around or staying in one place long enough to dry your smalls over night?
Are you participating in an activity that requires event-specific apparel and shoe wear?
Are you the kind of person that can eat a ripe peach wearing a white t-shirt and have it remain white?
Are you averse to washing out smalls in sinks if necessary?
Are you okay wearing the same shirt or pants two days in a row?
Are you comfortable relying on hotel bathroom amenities and leaving your own stuff at home?
Are you planning or willing to buy new clothes on your trip?
How much electronic/craft equipment will you be bringing along with you?
Once you answer those questions – you can start thinking of the most efficient way to pack for your trip so that you can feel confident in your choices and not get cranky when you find you packed five pairs of socks and no smalls.
Sunday, August 30, 2015
Number of cups of coffee consumed: 5 (all decaf)
Number of waxed mustaches spotted: 6
Number of books purchased: 6
Number of tasty meals: 2.5
Number of not so tasty meals: 0
Number of needlepoint canvases purchased: 5
Number of dogs I played tug and catch with today in a needlepoint shop: 1
Number of rain showers experienced: 3
All in all not a bad Sunday.
Sunday, August 16, 2015
I never get tired of this image, this falling down outbuilding around milepost 93 towards Ellensburg. I drive by it a few times a year and every time I appreciate it even more - no matter the season, no matter how fast we're going.
My guess is that most of us have place much like this - whether it is seeing the wind turbines in Altamont, the Space Needle as you drive from the south into Seattle, the first sight of the Battersea Power Station on train towards London, a house or garden that we pass daily that reminds us that we're nearly home.
These are the places that remind us where we're rooted and where we want to go.
I'm not going to lie to you. I have been a lot of places this year and I still have the hankering to leave again, somewhere familiar but somewhere I can always find something new to discover. There is comfort in the familiar, no matter how far from home we are.
Tuesday, May 12, 2015
I'm all for packing snacks to take on the road. You never know when you'll end up stuck in an airport or wake up in the middle of the night starving. I usually pack a few Larabars which never seem to get eaten, a package or two of m&ms (don't judge), turkey jerky (in the day), a few apples and satsumas if I know my upgrade isn't going to clear and I'm going to be hungry.
The April 14, 2015 New York Times food section was devoted to the sandwich with many different recipes and ideas to spice up your sandwiches. Martha Rose Shulman suggested making a goat cheese and roasted pepper sandwich which doesn't get soggy because the peppers are placed between the goat cheese encrusted bread. This sounds like a great idea, but I still wonder if the goat cheese is going to be okay after 12 hours in transit.
My sandwich choice is the solid peanut butter and marmalade sandwich - Paddington style. It is a sandwich that holds up to being smushed in the bottom of my bag and can be eaten any where. If you are concerned about nut allergies, you can sub out sunflower butter, but don't skip the marmalade.
I have to admit that I'm in awe of the English and their fascination with the sandwich - I've had many a meal of the cut rate sandwich eaten on the train or in my hotel room late at night. They seem to cram so many things in the sandwich and because they are British, they seem so exotic. My favorite sandwich was the cheese and celery sandwich from Marks and Spencer. There was something about the crisp and mineral taste of the celery mixed with the mature cheese and mayonnaise that was comforting to me. I haven't been able to locate them recently, but I would break my dairy embargo to have one soon.
I can't wait.
What is your favorite traveling sandwich?
Thursday, May 07, 2015
Last week we flew to the Bay Area to see a friend and mentor give his last lecture to his students before retiring. It seems that we spend more time attending memorials than retirements and weddings these days, so it made us happy to be present and catch up with dear friends for a happy occasion.
Paul Groth is a professor of geography and architecture at UC Berkeley, he was also TH's father's student. Over the years, Paul took a genuine interest in our lives and scholarship. When TH was contemplating returning to grad school to get her PhD., he reviewed her statement of purpose and provided excellent editorial advice. As she worked towards finishing her degree, he provided needed encouragement, advice and when it was time, Paul helped hood her.
When I was in grad school (again), Paul helped narrow down my broad desire to write about the connection between health and landscape history to a topic that was well-defined but not well studied. The thesis ended up being a lot of fun to research and write.
Prior to this trip, TH and I talked a lot mentors and influencers in our lives. Does that person have to be called out as a mentor? Does that person have to be someone who gains from your accomplishments? Should they? Does that person have to be someone you shadow or check in with on a regular basis? Does that person have to be within your discipline? How much do you need to give back as a mentee?
When I went back to school for the second round, I felt more grounded in my scholarship and felt like the professors that took a genuine interest in me acted as mentors. From them, I learned to research, analyze and write about topics of gender, landscape and built environment in a way that made me feel proud of my work and felt like they were also happy with my results. I still hear them in my head when I write or look at a building or urban plaza. I remember to think of the context and events that impacted the design or placement of buildings. Now I think of software and app design in the same way, so what I learned is bigger than a building footprint.
What makes a good mentor? Have you mentored someone?
What makes a good mentor? Have you mentored someone?
Wednesday, May 06, 2015
I cam out of my shell a little more today, was more gregarious and asked a lot of questions. In doing this, I learned a lot. While this all is so energizing, I'm just as knackered as the day before. Collision Conference, you killed it and you killed me.
Sunday, May 03, 2015
My friend Joan just posted to Facebook a great article from the NY Times on what makes a good travel companion - you can read it here.
I met Joan by posting on Flyertalk in 2000 (remember that far back?). I had posted that we were visiting Paris for a day and would like to meet up with anyone who wished to go exploring with us. Joan took a morning train from Brussels and we spent a delightful day wandering, eating and marketing. From that trip a million miles ago, we've traveled to Paris again, London, Japan as well as the US. We talk about doing some more traveling soon. What made our trips work is that we have many of the same interests (quirky museums, eating, markets and fine hotel lounges), we have similar schedules and stamina for long days of walking and know when to give each other space. We're also pretty good planners and communicators and this helps tremendously. Joan is also the only person in the world who could get me to eat sweetbreads and I sort of liked them.
The past July, I took another short break with my friend Elaine to Paris. We had seen each other off and on over the years when she lived in London, but had never traveled together. Again, we had a great trip because we had the same interests (sight seeing, shopping and eating), similar levels of energy and stamina and were mature enough to enjoy our own company. I would repeat the trip again in a heartbeat.
Trips together don't require flying on the same flights or the same day, but they require some discussion prior to leaving to figure out logistics such as reservations at hard to get into restaurants and booking that burro ride down to the bottom of the gorge in 100 degree heat. They also require a little flexibility, which can get harder as we get less flexible in our bodies and minds.
Where to go next?
Thursday, April 02, 2015
Peanut is nearly done and I'm starting something new #theyearthatis2015 #2015yip #091/365 #needlepointmania2015 cc: @rittenhouseneedlepointA photo posted by Nazila (@nazilam) on
Fast forward a few decades later and I have nearly completed one of my high school projects - a needlepoint pillow sampler in a lovely pale pink. I've also finished two other tapestries and am now
struggling loving my new project which uses a 18 mesh canvas and cotton thread.
The truth is that the more I needlepoint, the less I look at my phone. I also seem to be eating less because you can't really eat or drink with a canvas in your lap. I like the fact that for the most part, I'm working on portable projects and that they are good conversation starters.
It is great for me because TH is also doing some needlepoint, so she's okay with me dragging her to needlepoint stores wherever we travel.
My favorite thing to make - pillows. I estimate that I'll have completed six of holiday accent pillows. I can't believe I've become that person.
Tuesday, February 03, 2015
Monday, December 01, 2014
|I need this. Just saying.|
I loved it.
I really appreciate all the feedback.
I am not sure I can continue at the pace of NaBloPoMo. The days I was exhausted or sick, it was hard to get enough enthusiasm up to post. I was glad I could do it from my phone.
I have an editorial calendar at work, I need to do the same for this blog.
I promised a few recipes and didn't deliver. I have a bunch of ideas scribbled down and need to start writing and doing a little research.
During the month of November, I flew two Europe twice and went to California once. I am nearly done with travel for the year. I cannot wait to go and come home again. I see so much when I travel that I want to share - places, things I see and things that make me go hmm...
Thanks for sticking it out with me.