Friday, September 28, 2012

Useful Travel Tools: Utilizing Custom Google Maps

Last time I covered how to use Google Maps’ Offline Maps feature to get maps whenever you needed them, especially when you are somewhere that you don’t have a reliable mobile data connection.  In this segment I’ll cover how to use another feature of Google Maps to put placeholders on your downloaded maps so that you know where you want to end up.
The first thing you’ll need is a Google account so that there is somewhere to save your personal map.  Once you have that, head to on a regular computer and type the place you want to add into the search bar.  This process may also work from a smart phone, but if you are adding a lot of places I would highly suggest using a regular computer.  If the desired place came up you can move on to the next step.  In my example I searched for Kinkaku-ji, which is also known as the Temple of the Golden Pavilion and is located in Kyoto. 

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Blasting Off from Orlando

Back in high school my family and I took a trip to the Orlando, Florida area and visited Universal Studios, Disney World, and the Kennedy Space Center.  At that point I had chosen my major in college to be Aeronautical Engineering, so naturally Kennedy Space Center was a very exciting place for me to visit.

The Kennedy Space Center (KSC) visitor accesible parts are split up into a couple distinct areas from what I remember.  The first point of entry is the main visitor center itself, which houses exhibits on all sorts of space stuff and interactive things for kids to play with.  Outside of the visitor center is a rocket garden which houses many different types of rockets that have been used by NASA since their inception.  You are even able to sit in a couple of them which was neat.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Stunning Scotland

A couple of years ago business took me to Aberdeen, Scotland for a few weeks of the summer.  Work kept me very busy for most of the trip, but I got to see some of the beautiful Scottish countryside.  For those of you unfamiliar with the geography of the UK and Scotland, Aberdeen is on the northern part of the island on the North Sea.  I was there in the summer and since it is so far north the days last a very long time.  Most days the sun went down a little before midnight and came back up a little after 3 AM.

The first place I visited with a few colleagues was a national park around the Cairn Gorm mountain.  It is one of the taller and more prominent mountains in the Scottish Highlands.  There are a few paths around and up the mountain and my colleagues and I started up one of the more difficult ones.  Unfortunately I wasn't in very good shape at the time so I only made it up part of the way before having to stop.  Fortunately the surrounding area was very beautiful and there was plenty to see around the base of the mountain until they returned from near the top.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Useful Travel Tools: Google Maps and Offline Maps

Sometimes travel can be intimidating, especially if you don't speak the language of the destination or their culture is entirely different from ours.  With that in mind, I have decided to do a little series on some travel tools that I have found to be especially useful when traveling to unfamiliar places.

The first tool I am going to detail is Google Maps on Android.  I think the iPhone version has similar functionality, but I don't use Apple devices so I don't know for sure.  One common fear that I have when we are on vacation is that we will get hopelessly lost, won't find the places we are looking for, or wander into an undesireable neighborhood.  While it is usually pretty easy to find a paper map of your destination, it isn't always practical to bring out a large map and unfurl it on the sidewalk or across the dashboard.  This is where Google Maps comes in handy.  Using your phone you can download maps on the fly and the GPS on your phone allows you to pinpoint where you are. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Loving London

After visiting our relatives in Germany we stopped in London for a week before heading back over th pond.  One of the things I distinctly remember is that our hotel room was rather small and that the door to the bathroom would hit the toilet if you tried to open it all the way!  London was a really fun place to visit and we hit up a bunch of the main tourist sites.

Once again, I don't remember the ordered that we visited places in, but I'll start with the tower of London.  This is the castle where many famous people have been held prisoner and executed.  It is also located right by the London Bridge, which makes for some great pictures and really convenient sightseeing!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Exploring Deutschland

Back when I was in high school my family and I took a trip to see some relatives we have in Germany.  They all live around a small area that is kind of inbetween Nuremburg, Munich, and Prague.  We stayed in a small town named Lagenbach with my great aunt.  The town is very small (probably just a few hundred people) and everyone knows everyone else.  Her home is just across the street from a barn that houses a few cows, with a manure pile as high as the barn itself!  The smell wasn't as bad as you would think.  Since it was so long ago I don't quite remember the names of everywhere or the order we visited in, but I'll do my best to give you a good idea of the places we saw.
The first area I have picutures for is a church somewhere in the countryside.  All I remember about the church was that the inside was very ornate and pretty and the reason why it was constructed there was that a bunch of angels (7 I think) appeared to someone on this hillside.  I tried to find the actual name, but googling for "Church of the Seven Angels" didn't bring up any correct results.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Hometown Tourist

I'm also going to post some things to do around Champaign-Urbana during my travel lull.  I'll start with some places we visited during Labor Day weekend.  The weekend was a wet one with the remnants of hurricane Isaac coming through town.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

City from the Knoll

The sky was pretty clear this morning and I was able to get this picture of the Chicago skyline.

More from Salt Lake

So I took more shots from Salt Lake that I wanted to put up on the blog.  The first few are from my flight from ORD to SLC.  This was my first flight on a CRJ.  Even though this was a smaller regional jet I actually kind of liked it.  This jet seemed newer and appeared to have LED lighting.  I had the window exit row seat so I had plenty of leg room.  The one thing I will say about this seat is that it is cold by the door and I wish I had brought a sweater.  We got a nice view of the Great Salt Lake on the approach.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Upcoming Posts

I don't do as much travel as many of the other bloggers that write about travel so I am trying to come up with ideas for some new, interesting content to fill in the times when I don't have a lot of travel (like now).  I have decided to go through my pictures and begin going over older vacations and trips.  I'll try to remember as much as I can and hopefully some of you will find it interesting!