Monday, February 8, 2016

10 Tips for International Travel


I have only started recently to travel internationally, but I have already found that international travel often involves a lot more planning than domestic travel. Big shocker, I know, but a fact that can be easily overlooked when one is excitedly anticipating an amazing trip. Here are my tips and reminders for traveling internationally.

1. Before you pack anything, figure out what can and cannot be moved across borders. These items vary by country, region, amount, and how lax your border patrol officer is. I would highly recommend checking out the US Customs and Border Protection website if you are uncertain about anything.

2. Figure out if you will have cell coverage. Does your data plan cover other countries? Can you add a country onto your plan before your trip? If the answer is no or you do not figure out this detail in time, you can forget using Google Maps to help navigate you through a place you have never been to.

3. Speaking of phones, make sure you will be able to plug your electronics into outlets. This article from REI provides a ton of information about how to choose the right adapter.

4. Call your bank and inform them you will be traveling internationally. Nothing will put a damper on your trip quicker than not being able to use your credit card.

5. On the topic of money, always have cash on hand. Many banks will exchange, but you will need to check with your bank first. I know for fact the Bangor Savings Bank will exchange American and Canadian money.

6. Have a very basic command of the language or a very knowledgeable guide or friend with you. It is far easier to ask someone where a restroom/restaurant/hotel is than it is to wander aimlessly around somewhere you have never visited.

7. This will sound incredibly silly to anyone who is an experienced traveler or a non-American, but review your metric. It is quite jarring to suddenly be driving in kilometers instead of miles. It is also quite jarring to be pulled over by a police officer because you cannot figure out what the speed limit is.

8. Make copies of all your important documents and keep them in a secure place. Places such as Rome and Istanbul are notorious for pickpockets. You do not want to be caught without a passport. You can even invest in one these babies if you want to be particularly safe and oh-so stylish.

9. If you do not already have a passport, apply for one nice and early. It takes at least 4-6 weeks to get a passport card and 6-8 weeks to get a full passport. Here is the website to help you find a passport acceptance facility.

10. Get a professional passport picture. I tried to do this myself and failed miserably because there are so many rules. I paid $12 to get two passport photos at Walgreens and it did not cause me to pull my hair out in frustration.

I hope that you found these rules helpful. Enjoy wherever in the world life takes you!

Sunday, January 24, 2016

A Week in California

I was recently in California to help my family during my dad's surgery. I got to spend a lot of time with my little brother and sister.

Logan and I enjoyed a lot of baking.


We also worked on Logan's mission project and visited the Riverside Metropolitan Museum. 



I had the pleasure of meeting and grooming Maddy's horse Copper.





Last but not least, I got to cuddle a lot with our family dog Leia. 


It was a lovely week and my dad's surgery went really well. See you later California!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Reeds Brook Trails

Christopher and I started the new year with a short hike on the Reeds Brook Trails. These trails are located behind Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden. This an excellent place for a brisk hike.


Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Recap

2015 was an exciting, challenging, trying, and rewarding year. I thought it would be nice to do a bit of a recap to say good-bye to a year that was chock full of change and major life events.

January-March

During this past winter we joined a new church which has become a huge part of our lives. Right before we left for PAX East we learned that Christopher received a wonderful promotion.Christopher also started his own business, Riverside Computer Services.

First Congregational Church of Brewer
April-June

April, May and June were incredibly trying but ultimately wonderful months. Our apartment in Brewer flooded and we lost many of our belongings. This trial however led us to search for a home of our own and we closed on a remodeled nineteenth-century home in Hampden in early June. To learn more about this experience read here, here, and here. I also celebrated my 25th birthday on June 5th. 



July-September

This past summer was full of academic tribulations and rewards. I attended a conference at St. Lawrence University for the second time in July, defended my thesis and received my Master's degree, visited Canada for the first time for a travel grant (I have a four part series on my travels there), and began my Ph.D. program. We did sneak in some fun and relaxation with an awesome 4th of July weekend, a Red Sox game, and our first time blueberry picking





October-December

On October 11th we celebrated our first wedding anniversary with a trip up to Moosehead Lake. To boot, Christopher also started free-lancing for a tech site and I decided upon a dissertation topic and committee. We were also blessed this season to host guests on Thanksgiving and Christmas. 





How will we ring in the new year? Our plans are a up in the air. We might join in the festivities in downtown Bangor, or we might stay warm and cozy in our lovely home. We wish you a very happy and safe new year! 


Friday, December 18, 2015

Best Restaurants in Bangor Part III- Pubs


Here is the moment you have all been waiting for-the best pubs in Bangor! Everyone loves good food but good drinks even more so.

1. Geaghan's Pub & Craft Brewery 
This place has been opened since 1975 and is run by the descendants of the original owners. It has good old fashioned pub food and excellent beer. I personally like the Bangor Brown.

2. Sea Dog Brewing Company
Sea Dogs was founded in 1993 and now has multiple locations Maine, New Hampshire, and Florida. Their mascot is a dog named Barney who once belonged to the family. The food is fantastic and their drinks are equally so. Both my dad and father-in-law love the Owl's Head beer.

Image from http://www.seadogbrewing.com/beers.php

3. Paddy Murphy's
A small classic Irish pub. Give their awesome Guinness stew a try.

4. Nocturnem Draft Haus
Nocturnem is a German-themed bar. The drink list is VERY extensive. They have also just started a brewery-bus tour which sounds like a blast.

5. Orono Brewing Company
This is actually one of the few breweries I have not been to, but everyone I know loves it. They have a very impressive collection of IPA's.

Image from http://oronobrewing.com/

6. Black Bear Microbrew
This microbrewery has been around since 2008 and is a favorite of the University of Maine student. Their Gearhead beer, a dark amber, is delicious.

7. Penobscot Bay Brewery
Penobscot Bay Brewery is about twenty minutes south of Bangor .They are owned by the same people who run Winterport Winery and Bay Brew Ice Cream. My favorite beer from them is their Brownie-Chocolate Milk Stout.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Best Restaurants in Bangor Part II- Fancy

It is time for part two of the best restaurants in Bangor. These are the types of restaurants to take a date to or treat yourself to. Part Three will cover the best pubs and places to get a drink.

1. Thistles
Thistles draws from recipes from Argentina, Colombia, Germany, Italy, Portugal, and Spain. If you love fusion food, this is the place to go. I personally love their lunches and flan.


Image from http://www.thistlesrestaurant.com/


2. 11 Central
This is one of my favorite restaurants in the area. Their pizzas are awesome and they have a fantastic cocktail menu.

3. Blaze
Blaze has a location in Bangor and in Bar Harbor. They are known for craft beers and their wood fires. I always order BBQ tacos with their jalapeño margarita. 


Image from http://www.blazebangor.com/


4. Taste of India
Bangor has a surprisingly large number of ethnic restaurants and Taste of India is one of the best in the area. They are known for their Tandoori items. I particularly love their tikka marsala. They also do take-out in case you want to eat their delicious food at home.

5. Little Vietnam
Who would have thought that Bangor would have such an authentic Vietnamese restaurant? Their Boba or bubble tea is awesome and I highly recommend their B1 and B2.

6. Fiddlehead
This is an expensive but delicious restaurant. Their menu is seasonal and relies on local ingredients. I am very fond of their cucumber lemonade and I remember drinking about four glasses of it. 


Image from http://www.thefiddleheadrestaurant.com/gallery/

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Best Restaurants in Bangor Part 1- Casual

Christopher and I do not have dinner dates, so when we do it is a really treat! This post will be divided into three, so here our favorite causal restaurants.

Hole-in-the-Wall's

1. Thai-To-Go
This place has some of the freshest, best Thai food I have ever had. This is a to-go only restaurant and everything is made to order Just note that since everything is made to order, it usually takes about 45 minutes. Also, this place is cash only.

2. Jamaican Vybz Take-Out Restaurant
Two professional chefs from Jamaica decided to open a restaurant in Bangor. This place is the real deal.

3. Friar's Bakehouse
Friars from the St. Elizabeth Monastery in Bucksport make some of the most delicious bread and sandwiches in Bangor. Be sure to check their Facebook, because their hours are a little strange.

Image from tripadvisor.com

4. Bagel Central
This place is a Bangor classic and one that no one should miss out on.

5. Angelo's Pizzeria
Angelo's has a location in Hampden and Bangor. The prices are a little higher than most pizza places, but the food is fresh and delicious.

6. Moe's Original BBQ
If you are craving some ribs or pulled pork, this is the place to go. They have restaurants across the country, but it is unique in Bangor.

Diners

1. Dysart's Diner and Truckstop
Dysart's is a Hermon/Bangor classic. Their portions are huge and their breakfast is divine.

Image from Dysarts.com

2. Coffee Break Cafe
This little cafe in Hampden also sells ice cream during the summer.

3. Broadway Coffee Shop and Dairy Freeze
If you love good ol' fashioned greasy diner food, this is the place to go. Cash only.