Let’s Get Outta This Town

19 02 2008

I am finishing my graduate degree at the end of July. It has been quite a journey, not just graduate school, but the entire universe of my educational career. Granted, it is only February, and July 26th is still 157 days away. Yes, 157 days. But for the first time in my entire life, I can see the end of my schooling. 18 years I’ve been in school without a break any longer than the two and a half month summer vacation we are so gratiously alloted. And as of July 26th, it will be done. Officially. Whoa. The magnitude of that is something that has occurred to me recently. It’s kind of a big deal! One that most of my friends have already realized, having finished their college educations already. I’m not sure how I am handling this yet, the realization that after this there is no more school. Well, there could be, but so far that isn’t a part of the plan. Anyway, like I said, this is a big occasion in my life. And to mark the occasion, a friend and I have been tossing back and forth the idea of taking a trip in August. We’re talking about it now, because we are both graduate students with loans that we have to think about. So saving for this trip will take a lot of planning. Who has tried to plan a trip online? I travel pretty frequently, and usually venture between Expedia, Travelocity, and Kayak when I am looking to book a flight. The difference right now is that I am also looking at hotels (and for one of the destinations that we are looking at, attraction tickets). So, I have logged quite a bit of time on these websites plus many, many other travel sites in the past few days. And I haven’t found that they are going to save me any money. Seriously. For the places that I want to go, the time is going to be off-season, so the website prices are the same as these special price-saver sites. I am not saying don’t use the sites, because I still always use them when I am booking a flight to Dallas. But I thought I would save a lot if I booked a package with one of these sites, but it is turning out to be less expensive if I book everthing seperately. Maybe if you have a family, or a lot of people (more than two?), then the packages are less expensive. But so far, what I’ve found is that for just my friend and I, it will be more expensive to book a package. I love planning trips. I really do. Take a trip to DisneyWorld, for instance. If I were planning a trip to DisneyWorld, not only would I research the best prices for flights, hotels, park tickets, etc., but I would be looking for the best times of the year to go, average rainfall for the time I wanted to go, average temperature for the time I wanted to go. Then once I had my dates set, I would see what special events were happening during the days I was going to be there. (If you are a Disney traveler, then I am talking about things like their extra magic hours and stuff.) A few years ago, I did this for my family. Once we had the dates we were going, I spent days researching every minute detail that I could for us to make the most of our trip. We were going during July, which is one of the busiest, hottest, and rainiest times to go to DW. And I did not want us to miss anything because of long lines or rain. I researched what days each park was the busiest, which rides were busier in the morning versus the afternoon, which rides had fastpasses. I researched the best places to view the fireworks shows at each park. I researched the best restaurants for which times and which budgets. Then I cross-referenced all this information with maps of the parks so to optimize our time even further (not running from one end of the park to another ride at the other end of the park, and then back). I was able to put together a detailed itinerary that outlined what park(s) we would be visiting each day, what rides we should stop at, what rides we should get fastpasses for, and what our options were for eating at the respective parks. The totally neurotic side of me thinks this was the most productive way to do this, the normal side of me realizes what a freak show the neurotic side is. Well, my family (who asked me to do this, by the way, because they know of my neuroticisms) largely ignored my itinerary, except for the days that we would visit each park. But I learned a lot in my experience. Particularly where to go to find good travel tips and the like. All this to say, my recent research has yielded some interesting results.
And now I want to go to Disney World. 🙂

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$167 McDonald Sandwich!?

17 02 2008

I’m lovin’ it. Well, ok. This sandwich is not a McDonald’s sandwich, it is the McDonald sandwich, named after the creator, the chef at London department store Selfridges, Scott McDonald.
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This sandwich, which sells for £85, is Wagyu beef, fresh lobe foie gras, black truffle mayonnaise, brie de meaux, rocket, red pepper and mustard confit and English plum tomatoes. The high cost can be attributed to the Waygu beef (also known more commonly as Kobe beef), which is one of the most expensive breeds in the world. Waygu cattle have a special diet that consists of wheat, beer, and sake and varies in price anywhere from $40/lb to $150/lb. The bread on which the sandwich is sour dough, that has been fermented for 24 hours. I am stunned for words at this revelation in the sandwich world. Gone are the days of peanut butter and jelly, I suppose. Oh well. So. Who’s hungry?