Saturday, February 28, 2009

Santa Fe on a Budget

Georgia O'Keeffe, Ram's Head White Hollyhock a...Image via Wikipedia

It's rare that I travel anyplace where I have to pay for both transportation and accommodations. I've had some great vacations on the cheap. Mostly, I mooch a guestroom or a futon from a friend, while I pay for my airfare plus entrance fees to museums and some of my meals. Other times, when I traveled for my old job, I used to add a day at the beginning or end of trips, and my workmate ST and I would split the cost of an extra night in the hotel, while our airfare was covered by the org we worked for.

This upcoming trip to Santa Fe is a bit out of my usual mode as the mooching opportunities are minimal, which means I have to scope out how to do this on a budget. My mates ScribeGirl and her husband will be in Santa Fe with another couple at their time share, and I'll be in town for part of the week that they're there. So I'm arranging my own digs for five nights.

I'm not really keen on either hotels (all those identical, characterless rooms) or B&Bs (sharing close quarters with strangers). When Rosenbeans and I went to London for a week in 2004, we had accommodations that worked out really well. We stayed at the Langorf Hotel, which is actually three Edwardian terrace houses in Frognal near the Finchley Road, two of which have B&B rooms and one -- where we stayed -- that is divided into studios and small apartments. We had a little apartment with a bedroom, full bathroom, kitchenette, and lounge with a sofa bed that I slept on, a table with four chairs and a TV with four channels. We even had one of those European washer/dryers, but sadly it leaked all over the floor of the kitchenette due to a torn gasket and we had to finish washing and rinsing our underwear and socks in the tub and hang them all over the apartment to dry.

But I digress. When I started to look for a place to stay in Santa Fe, I typed things like "weekly rental Santa Fe" and "vacation apartment Santa Fe" into Google, and a few clicks kept leading me to the same place: Chapelle Street Casitas. Run in conjunction with Casa del Toro B&B, this place is made up of several properties within a couple blocks just north of the Georgia O'Keeffe Museum. All the reviews that I saw were glowing. I checked availability online and watched videos of several of the available spaces. I liked the sound of this unit from the description on the website:

This one has 100 year old plank wood floors and is an old old adobe that has settled a bit here and there. Bottom line is there is not a level spot in the whole room. There is a full bath with acid stained concrete walls. Best thing is gas burning stove in the Living Room that keeps everything nice and cozy.

There's also a full kitchen that looks frozen in time, circa 1965, as well as satellite TV and wifi. When I called and spoke to Paul on the phone, he told me that this unit is funky and old fashioned. I asked if it's clean, safe and quiet, and he assured me that it is. Sounds a lot like me: vintage, funky, clean and quiet. So I booked it. Here's the best part: $68/night plus tax. That comes to a bit under $400 for five nights.

Paul told me that I'd receive an e-mail confirmation in a few minutes (I did) and that it would contain several pages of detailed info about the accommodations (indeed, it did). He encouraged me to contact them with any questions, but cautioned that there would be severe consequences if I was to ask anything that's explained in the e-mail. I'm sure they get their share of needy, whiny yuppies as guests, so the peremptory strike is fair and understandable.

Now that I've got my reservations for flights and accommodations sorted, I'll move on to start my research of what to do while I'm in Santa Fe. More on that later, mates.
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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Adventures, old and new

A map of London in 1300 from a historical atla...Image via Wikipedia

I'm such a geek, and so taken with Apture, that I've just gone back through my (old) September dispatches from London and added all kinds of rich content goodness to them -- links, photos, maps and a video or two. Some of my loyal readers are just as geeky as I am and like this sort of thing, so I encourage you to go back and re-read the posts while clicking on the Apture links for all the extras. If you have questions about any of the places I saw, or want more info about anything, leave me a comment and I'll search out some more content for you.

And now for the new: I've just purchased a ticket to Santa Fe, New Mexico for five days in May for the unbeatable price of $196 round trip (airfare Hartford/Albuquerque; the shuttle up to Santa Fe will be another $25). Now, I'm doing online research on cheap places to stay, reading reviews and watching some clunky homemade videos of various B&B offerings. It's been ten or twelve years since my one and only previous trip to Santa Fe, and that was for a conference so I really didn't have an opportunity to explore much back then. This visit may have a daytrip up to Taos and will definitely involve lots of photo-taking. More info to follow as I make a spreadsheet of the things I want to do and see. Meanwhile, winter drags on
like an indeterminant sentence. It's good to have something to look forward to -- especially something involving sunshine and warm weather.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

I'm Captured by Apture

I know I say this whenever I find some new gadget or gizmo, but this one really is the best thing for blogs since sliced bread. It's called Apture, and like Zemanta, it helps you to add links to your blog posts. But Apture takes things beyond where Zemanta goes -- with Apture, you can link to media files and point to more than one place with your link. It creates pop-up boxes -- yes, we all hate pop-up boxes, but stay with me here -- that show you a Wikipedia article, map, video, photo, or all of those things for one target.

I'm not very good at explaining this, so you'll have to see it in action. Go to one of my posts below. You'll notice that some of the links have a wee icon (book, camera, movie film, etc.) to the left of the link. Those are Apture links. Mouse over the link, but don't click. A box will open up and you'll see the linked item without ever leaving my blog. In most instances, I've got only one item for each link, but I've added maps and photos to some of them and will add more in due time.

If you like what you see, click on Get Apture at the bottom of one of my boxes. All you have to do is create a free account and follow the steps to put a gadget box on your blog. There's no software to download, so you can use it on any computer once you've made your account. Be sure to watch the tutorial video. You'll be Aptured before you know it.
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Friday, February 06, 2009

Blogging on the Fly

Nokia N810. Created by ThoughtFix of Tabletblo...Image via Wikipedia

I'm a bad blogger. I admit it. The problem isn't the content of my blog -- generally, I think I write pretty informative and entertaining posts. But all the gurus say that, to develop a loyal readership, you have to present new content on a regular basis, and that is my downfall. A quick look at my archives will reveal the infrequency of my blogging.

But that, dear readers, is about to change. I have bought me some new gear. (Have I mentioned how much I love gadgets?) I've been looking at and reading about the Nokia N810 internet tablet for well over a year, and the price just dropped on my birthday, so I ordered one for my birthday prezzie to self. Here are just some of the features of this pint-sized powerhouse:

  • Wifi, with Mozilla browser
  • QWERTY keyboard that retracts
  • Internet radio (with BBC installed!)
  • Skype installed
  • Media player
  • Photo viewer
  • GPS (fee for service)
  • Games (including Mahjong solitaire, my fave)
  • Slot for memory card for photos and music
I'm thinking this will be great to take along when I travel. No longer will I have to beg or borrow computer use and/or wifi from my host. I'll have access to all my travel research that I keep in Google docs spreadsheets, and I'll be able to blog from anywhere. Now all I need is a new trip or a more exciting life to blog about.
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