From the Blog...

A Full Day in London

September 22nd, 2012

Our overnight flight from Dulles touched down in London at just after 6am local time. Despite only a couple of hours of sleep and some jet lag, we were still quite excited to have finally arrived in the UK. An hour ride on the tube (my first) brought us to the Piccadilly Circus stop and after a short walk, we found ourselves at Piccadilly Backpackers… “London’s most central hostel”. Notice how they highlight only location in their tag line. “Sketchy”, “dirty”, and “dingy” are words I would use to describe the accommodations as we crammed into a 10×11 room with two bunk beds. However with only one night in London on the front-end of the trip, we would certainly be able to make due.

Check-in wasn’t until 1pm so after checking our bags, we had enough time for a traditional English breakfast – eggs, sausage, bacon, baked beans, grilled tomatoes, toast – and a quick Wi-Fi stop at McDonald’s before making our way to Green Park for a walking tour of the city. We were met by our tour guide, Suzy, at 11am and spent the next few hours seeing the typical sights of London: Buckingham Palace, Trafalgar Square, Downing Street, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben and Parliament among others.

Buckingham Palace

National Gallery at Trafalgar Square

Westminster Abbey

Following the tour, we stopped at a pub near Trafalgar Square for a late lunch, including more traditional fare of fish and chips, as well as the first pints of the trip. Being a bit beat at this point, we made our way back to the hostel to check-in and enjoy a little downtime before heading out for the evening.

While checking our bags earlier in the morning, we let the attendant talk us into purchasing tickets for a pub crawl sponsored by the hostel. Being new to London nightlife, it seemed like a good idea. In hindsight, I’m not sure we saw the best bars London has to offer (perhaps quite the opposite) but it did make for a fun evening and served as a great kickoff to the trip.

Pub Crawl

Tomorrow we head to Liverpool via train. While we were never able to score tickets to Liverpool vs. ManU, we’ll find a pub somewhere to watch. I’m looking forward to meeting some proper hooligans and making the most of the quick stop.

UK Adventure

September 20th, 2012

It has been just over 20 months since my last international adventure. Work has continued to provide me with opportunities to travel within the US but I have struggled to find an exciting destination outside of the states that works for me and at least one of my friends. My buddy Jeff continues to be my “go to” when it comes to international travel and despite some conversations around both Australia and New Zealand, a different opportunity came up as of late with a larger group of friends.

Conrad is a buddy of mind that I worked with at a prior job, and is actually the one that originally introduced me to both Jeff and another one of my good friends, Jerry. Conrad moved back down to Florida about five years ago but during his time in DC, I spent most of my Friday and Saturday nights with these guys. With Conrad in Florida, we obviously don’t hang out as much as we used to but we stay in touch, and it’s given Jeff, Jerry, and me an excuse to head down to Jacksonville from time to time.

Earlier this year, talk kicked up amongst the four of us about a potential trip to the United Kingdom this September. Jeff and I both have birthdays in September, Jerry and I are both big soccer fans, and we hadn’t been down to visit Conrad in a while. As happens with a bunch of guys when a topic like this comes up, there’s a lot of talk and wondering if it will actually happen but it all became real when I pulled the trigger on four tickets to London for Sept 20-30.

We’ve done an excellent job coordinating our 10 days abroad via email. London was a no brainer. Liverpool was highlighted in one blog post as one of the “three must-see UK cities outside of London”. Scotland was highly recommended by several friends and would present some of the beautiful landscapes that Jeff and I have grown accustomed to during our travels.

With this being our first “big” trip as a group, it was great to see everyone carry their own weight in the planning department. I took care of flights, Jerry handled all major travel within the UK, Conrad booked accommodations, and Jeff found a tour package for our time in Scotland. After all was said and done, our itinerary looks like this…

  • London: Sept 21-22
  • Liverpool: Sept Sept 22-23
  • Scotland: Sept 23-28
  • London: Sept 28-30

As always, we’re trying to pack as much as humanly possible into each day. Highlights will include catching Liverpool v. ManU in a pub in Liverpool, Fulham vs. Man City live and in person in London, and hopefully catching a glimpse of the Loch Ness monster during our tour of the Scottish highlands.

Work has been tough as of late and with Fall activities ramping up, a nice break before they get into full swing is much needed.

LIVESTRONG Challenge 2012

June 17th, 2012

This year marks the fourth year that I will be participating in the LIVESTRONG Challenge. My friend Gerald, now a triathlete as well as a biker, continues his courageous fight against cancer and once again will convene team Wannabe Riders Against Cancer in Philadelphia to participate in the run/walk and riding events. Our team of riders will be making their third attempt at completing the 100-mile course after being rain and thunderstorm shortened the past two years. While two of our team members were able to successfully complete the full 100 miles last year, I still look forward to reaching the century mark for the first time ever.

With 10 weeks to go until the date of the ride, I’m in great shape from a training standpoint. I have amassed 262 total miles biked, which has included two rides of 50+ miles with another 95 miles biked over the course of Memorial Day weekend. (I had reached just 85 miles at this point last year.) This year I have also managed to recruit a few additional DC friends to join me and even found a few challenging hill routes to vary my standard ride on the W&OD which has made for a more enjoyable time training.

This year I will again set a goal of raising $1000 for Lance Armstrong’s LIVESTRONG Foundation. While Gerald’s battle with cancer continues to be a successful one, much work remains in the fight against this disease. Cancer became the number one cause of death in 2010. One in three men and one in two women will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. I would love your support in helping me reach my goal.

To read more about the LIVESTRONG Foundation and my participation, please check out my personal fundraising website. You may also head straight to the donation form to contribute.

While Gerald inspired me to accept this challenge, and I ride in support of his continued fight against cancer, he is not the only one in my life who has been affected by the disease. I will continue to ride in support of fellow Team Wannabe Riders Against Cancer teammate, Natalie O. I will be riding in memory of my Uncle Harry, Aunt Denny, and close friends Judy O and Carole F.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I do appreciate the support.

LIVESTRONG Challenge 2011

July 8th, 2011

For the past two years I have participated in the Philadelphia LIVESTRONG Challenge in an effort to raise money for the Lance Armstrong Foundation (LAF) and more importantly, to support my friend Gerald in his continued fight against cancer. After completing the 70-mile course in 2009, our team (Team Wannabe Riders Against Cancer) set our sights last year on completing the 100-mile course. Unfortunately the weather did not cooperate with intermittent torrential downpours forcing ride officials to close off the 100-mile course for safety precautions. Nearly all riders, including all of our team, were forced onto the 70-mile course.

In just over six weeks, on August 20th, our team will meet again in Philadelphia to participate in the LIVESTRONG Challenge run/walk and riding events. On Sunday the 21st, I will make my 2nd attempt at conquering the grueling 100-mile course. While a bit behind where I would like to be, my personal training is well underway with two 50+ mile rides under my belt and a 75-miler scheduled for this coming weekend.

I have once again set a goal of raising $1000 for the LAF and would love your support in helping me reach this goal. To read more about LAF, my participation and to contribute to the cause, please check out my personal fundraising website: http://philly2011.livestrong.org/dascentral.

While Gerald inspired me to accept this challenge, and I ride in support of his continued fight against cancer, he is not the only one in my life who has been affected by the disease. I will continue to ride in support of long time family friend, Carole F, and fellow Team Wannabe Riders Against Cancer teammate, Natalie O. I will also be riding in memory of my Uncle Harry, Aunt Denny, and close friend Judy O.

Thanks for taking the time to read. I do appreciate the support.

Off to Cancun

January 5th, 2011

Over the past two years, I have been blessed with the opportunity to visit many beautiful and exciting places throughout the world. I’ve come to realize how much I enjoy traveling and how important it is for me to experience a culture different from the daily life I live in DC. These experiences provide perspective for how the rest of the world lives and give me an appreciation for the comforts that I experience on a day-to-day basis.

Initially upon returning from my South American adventure, I talked with my buddy Jeff about a trip to Australia and New Zealand. However early in 2010, those plans changed when a friend of mine got engaged and invited me to attend his wedding in Mexico in early January 2011. Never having experienced a destination wedding, the Australia and New Zealand plans were shelved and my first international adventure with a larger group of friends was put on the books.

My previous trips with Jeff have been held at a breakneck pace as we try to experience as much adventure as possible in our time available. I already know this trip will bring a much more relaxed pace. I will trade the rigor and excitement of the fast pace for lazy days on the white sands of Tulum, Mexico. This will be a 5-day adventure that will involve a catamaran tour off the eastern coast of the Yucatán Peninsula, tours of the ruins and underwater caves of Tulum, and of course, a wedding ceremony.

As an added wrinkle, this will be my first trip traveling with a significant other. I am hopeful she and I will have the same travel chemistry I have come to enjoy with Jeff.

Given the much shorter duration of this trip compared to my previous three-week journeys, I’ll probably be able to record the events in one additional summary post but I’m looking forward to the time away just the same.

Much more to come.