When I was 10, I asked my grandma to buy me the first four books of the Harry Potter series because I thought “they looked cool”.  They sat on my bookshelf for three years at least, until my mom finally made me read them.  I was hooked after the first chapter of the first book, and I have been hooked ever since.  One of the very last days of my UK travel study will be spent at the Warner Brothers Studio- the Making of Harry Potter in London.  Everything I’ve read online about has said it may be “pricey, but it’s perfect for any Harry Potter fan”.

The website for the Warner Brother Studios is set up to help a fan plan the perfect trip, and it will defintely help me plan my money for the entire trip so I can budget my spending (which I will probably want to do a lot of when I see that gift shop!)  https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/  (https://shop.wbstudiotour.co.uk/)

The Warner Brothers Studio website shows all that is offered at the location including “Fantastic Beasts”, Sweets (including the Chocolate Frogs and the Bertie Bott’s Flavored Beans), and the newest attraction that will be open by the time I travel there: the Forbidden Forest.  Part of me wants to look over every inch of this site because I’m so excited to go.  The other part of me, however, wants to keep some things a surprise.  Either way, I am really glad this attraction is at the end of our trip, one of the last things we visit before returning home.  It gives me something to look forward to as we travel, and I think it will help me avoid being too home sick.  :)

“Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times…if one only remembers to turn on the light”-Albus Dumbledore

Posted by Sarah Steed, filed under UK. Date: March 6, 2017, 5:06 am | No Comments »

24  Feb
Cajun

Every time I travel there are two things that are EXTREMELY important to me: what are we going to see and what are we going to eat?  I LOVE FOOD.  I have my favorites, but I love trying new things.  For our Louisiana trip, the bowling team and I have been starting to look up tours and where to get the best Cajun food.  One tour group we have been looking at (Cajun Encounters) is a three hour city tour of New Orleans that also takes us through one of the cemeteries and gives credit towards another Cajun Encounter tour.

Screenshot (26)

I originally thought the Cajun tour would include a food voucher or something, but it doesn’t seem to.  Not to worry though, since we’ll be in the heart of New Orleans for three hours!  During this tour google search, I also typed in the “best places to eat Cajun food in New Orleans”.  Not surprisingly, there was more than a handful of resturants listed.

Screenshot (25)

Right now I am a little partial towards the first option: Resturant Revolution.  From their menu online here, http://www.revolutionnola.com/restaurant_revolution_menu.html#lunch they have a wide variety of choices.  It looks like the typical breakfast from home has been mixed in with the southern style seafood, but they still offer “plain” options (basic eggs, basic scrambled eggs, etc).  For anyone over 21, their wide selection of wine and cocktails seems to be a good reason to flock there as soon as we land in New Orleans!  And on that note, I think it’s time I go cook MY lunch! :)

Til next time,

 

“We travel not to escape life, but for life to not escape us”

 

 

Posted by Sarah Steed, filed under Louisiana. Date: February 24, 2017, 4:47 pm | No Comments »

Here we go!  Having three trips to go on this summer is both exciting and nerve wracking.  There’s so much to do, but the fun part is talking about all of them at once.  One day I can be talking about my travel study, and the next day I can be making plans for Louisiana or Montana.  That’s kind of what happened this week.  My mom and I sat down and made the first “set in stone” travel decisions for our Montana road trip.  Screenshot (24)

The date has been (tentatively) set, so now we can start making the travel plans.  For the longest time, my mom and I have talked about flying out to Montana.  The bride, my friend McKenzie from high school, and her husband are both in the army so they’re still a little reluctant to send out invitations, and we’re a little reluctant to book a flight.  Montana has always been a dream destination for my mom, and I knew flying wouldn’t really give us the scenery views like we would have liked.  So I said, “let’s drive”.  It took a little convincing because of the distance and time (since Mom has WAY more vacation time than I do!), but it wasn’t that hard.

My favorite part of road tripping is getting to see all the scenery you miss when you fly.  The route we have planned on the way out to Montana will take us through northern Minnesota, North Dakota and down into Montana.  We have never seen North Dakota so that will give us new sights, but our main goal is to get to Swan Lake in 2 days while hopefully avoiding any mountain highways at night.  The way home, though, will be a mix of new experiences and deja vu.  This route will take us through a corner of Wyoming, South Dakota, and southern Minnesota.  In 2006 we drove the same route for another road trip, but this time we want to see the Corn Palace, which we didn’t see back then.  Another stop on the way home will honor my favorite book series when I was little.  Little House on the Prairie.  Although I have pretty much grown out of the series, I’m still a history nut so visiting the Laura Ingalls Wilder musuem in Minnesota will be a fun learning experience!

I’m excited to keep planning and keep writing!  Til next time…

“If traveling was free, you’d never see me again”

Blog Post

Posted by Sarah Steed, filed under Montana. Date: February 19, 2017, 11:10 pm | No Comments »

18  Feb
Ghosts?

Confession time: one of my favorite TV shows right now is the Bachelor (corny reality TV, I know, but it’s so addicting!).  A couple of weeks ago the contestants and Nick were going on trips all over the world, and one of their trips was to Lousiana, which is my second trip for the summer.  It was excciting to see them there because I was able to get an insight of what I would be experiencing in a few months.  The scenery was gorgeous- the historical plantations, the bayous, and the downtown scene!  However, the one thing that got me freaking out in excitement was the ghost tour that was shown.

Back story: each fall, my coworkers and I go through a haunted house and they scare the S–T out of me!  However, I’m a huge history nut, love ghost stories, and I LOVE hearing historical ghost stories/figures.  So going on a ghost tour while on vacation would be my idea of fun.  I have an opition to go on a ghost walking tour in London, but I still want to experience something like that in Louisiana.  According to the travel book my mom ordered and my Internet research, some of the top choices for experiencing a haunting are:

  • The Old State Capitol building in Baton Rouge
    • https://www.vacationsmadeeasy.com/TheBLT/17HauntedPlacesinLouisianaYouNeedtoSeeforYourself.html
    • I’ve read some brief history on the Capitol building and its ghosts.
  • St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans
    • http://www.saveourcemeteries.org/st-louis-cemetery-no-1-tour/
    • An above ground cemetary filled with some historical figures (world class chess champion, Revoluation figures, etc).
    • Located near the French Quarter, with a tour that lasts between one and two hours.  Cost is $20.00 per adult although reviews suggest taking your own (free tour) vs a tour guide.
  • The LaLaurie Mansion in the French Quarter in New Orleans.
    • https://www.prairieghosts.com/lalaurie.html
    • “For more than 150 years, and through several generations, the LaLaurie House has been considered to be the most haunted and the most frightening location in the French Quarter.”  (Maybe I’ll pass on this haunting….)
  • The Myrtles Plantation.
    • http://myrtlesplantation.com/haunts.php
    • One of America’s most haunted houses (without the horror ghost stories it seems)

The benefit of having so many months to prepare for this trip is figuring out which places to go see!!  There’s so much to see in so little time, so I guess we’ll see where we wind up…

Don’t listen to what they say.  Go see.

Posted by Sarah Steed, filed under Louisiana, Travel Prep. Date: February 18, 2017, 7:23 am | No Comments »

So I want my blog to really focus on the pre-travel.  A few travel blogs that I’ve found talk about the packing list, but I think it’ll be a lot of fun to make everyone who reads this just as excited as I will be!  In the future I’d like to share information on places I’ll be staying, visiting, eating, etc.

For this post, I want to talk about applying for my passport.  It was a scary thing even if it doesn’t seem like it!  Obviously, it’s the first major thing you have to do for a trip abroad (besides applying for a program in my case).

The first thing I had to do was fill out the online form.  (Available on the U.S. Department of Travel website: https://www.state.gov/documents/organization/212239.pdf)  Double check all information you need, and make sure it is correct prior to submission/printing.  Applicants may have to know parents’ information (maiden names, birth places, etc.) as well as their own.

After I had printed out the online form, I had to take it to the local courthouse.  I chose to go to the courthouse because they take the required photo, accept payments and send the forms out for you.  One stop shop so to speak.  However, one thing I wish I had known prior was that they charge a handling fee (even for a simple photo!).  While it was annoying, having it all taken care of was really nice.  Now, I just have to wait!  When you turn in your application, the courthouse gives you a website so you can track your passport: extra bonus!

So, after this adult move, there are some things I wish I had done different or knew about:

-They do NOT accept cards.  Not credit cards, not debit cards.  So either have a checkbook or lots of cash.  I had my checkbook thankfully, but it would not have been fun to have to go withdraw cash somewhere.

-There are processing fees.  One was $12 for the photo.  I have heard Walgreens also takes the photo, but I figured the courthouse would be the safest route.  Another fee was $30, I believe.  That was for the application and mailing the forms, then mailing them to you.

-DOUBLE CHECK YOUR ADDRESS.  That sounds so stupid, but I managed to forget a number on my online application and almost didn’t catch it when I handed it in.  They don’t forward passports, so make sure to track it!

-They keep your birth certificate (and mail it back).  You need to bring your original birth certificate with you, but it also gets mailed out with your application.  It gets sent back sooner than your passport, but it’s always nice to know.

 

Hope this information helps someone out there!  Until next time….

 

-Make it Count

Posted by Sarah Steed, filed under Passports. Date: February 11, 2017, 6:34 am | No Comments »