Plitvice National Park, Croatia

Since the moment I saw a picture of Plitvice for the first time, it had sat on the top of my place to go wishlist. I had a brief pinterest account which had exactly one board ‘travel wishlist’ with exactly one pinned photo ‘Plitvice National Park.’ My first trip to Croatia I was seriously running low on funds while there and couldn’t make it out to Plitvice. So, when my cousins and I were putting together an itinerary for our trip, my first and pretty much only ‘must visit’ was to go see some lakes and waterfalls. Continue reading “Plitvice National Park, Croatia”

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Casino, USA

When I was growing up, my general region was rocked when a casino was built in our state.  Though I’m not really a gambler, Mohegan Sun Casino has become a surefire stop every time I come back to the states.  With lots of fun shopping, great eating, sparkly lights- it’s fun for the whole family!

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As I said, gambling- not really my thing.  So, the actual casino part of the casino is, to me, the least interesting.  It’s a good place to people watch.  That’s about the highlight of it, I think.  The people at the casino really run the gambit from young people dressed up for a night out with friends (and hopefully free drinks if you gamble enough) to senior citizens with buckets of nickels playing the slot machines.  With an attached hotel, it’s the closest thing we have to an all inclusive resort in these parts.  (Well, ya know… besides the other casino down the street…)

The shopping in mostly overpriced little boutiques, which, for me, are great to look through… but not really things that I would ever actually buy.

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If shopping’s not your thing, surely eating is?  Everyone loves eating!  The restaurants are varied and spectacular.  From a krispy kreme doughnut workshop where they make hot fresh doughnuts to waterfall restaurants… wait.  Waterfall restaurants?

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See? from the outside, this looks like a lit up, man made waterfall.  But on the inside, it’s a restaurant.  Because you haven’t lived until you’ve eaten inside a lit up, man made waterfall.

There are many entrances into the casino.  Obviously.  Because it’s really big, and there are lots of people.  However, unlike basically every other building that has run of the mill, unexciting entrances and exits- we do things differently here:

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One of my favorite things at the casino is the Chihuly sculpture.  Glass blowing is at the very top of my bucket list. (Between learning how to develop my own pictures and body painting, if you were interested)  It is something that I would love to learn how to do.  It is also something that I find fascinating.  So, Dale Chihuly is a cool guy in my book.  Sidenote: I once met a woman that had a glass manipulation booth at an art expo in Chicago.  She said she had studied with Chihuly.  Needless to say, I now consider this woman to be one of my very few celebrity meets.  (Along with Bono, Dane Cook, and Jamie from Real World New Orleans- I am so cool, I shock myself sometimes)

DSC02013How cool is that?!  (Don’t call it the sperm statue.)  For more of Chihuly’s work: http://www.chihuly.com/installations.aspx  Check it out!

 

Now, in addition to everything else (as if it really needs more awesome…)  Mohegan Sun has a sports arena, a cabaret club, and several other venues and things.  My favorite is the Wolf Den, which has a live band every night, and is always free to get in.

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Some bands are more exciting than others.

So yeah, that’s it.  I leave you with a little life update.  I am on my way to Korea, to start the next adventure.  So it might be a bit before I post again, as I move and get settled.  I also need to buy a new camera, because mine is dying a not so slow death.  So hopefully within the next month or so, I will have new posts from Korea.  And I have some posts backlogged as well.  So we’ll see how everything goes!

Also, I use picasa for webhosting my photos… and they have added a feature called auto awesome.  I think it’s bizarre, but… yeah… kind of awesome.  So I leave you with a photo that picasa auto awesomed (I had nothing to do with it.  The internet did this on its own!)

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(I don’t know how I feel about the internet thinking and anticipating.)

 

 

 

Lahemaa, Estonia

I have been staying in Tallinn, Estonia for the last few weeks.  While here, I decided to go on the Lahemaa National Park tour.  It was gorgeous.

We started the afternoon by going to the largest waterfall in all of the Baltic countries.  Interestingly, the water was very brown, because of the high amount of limestone in the area.  Ultimately, the waterfall looks like a waterfall of beer, which is appropriate considering how much beer is consumed in Estonia.  This is not, however, the place where they bottle the beer, as one person on the tour actually asked.  Beer is not naturally occurring.  Wouldn’t life be different if it were?

I was also happy to continue to take pictures of trees and flowers.  Two of my favorite things!  Wild geraniums were growing all over the place.  I enjoyed taking pictures of them because while they looked purple in real life, they photographed blue.  That’s always fun.

After the waterfall we went to visit one of the largest manor houses in Estonia.  It was very run down, but it was just awesome.  Interesting fact about Estonian manor houses?  While many large houses around the world are built with wine cellars or some such, manor houses in Estonia are built with vodka distilleries.

This is the main building of the house.  The manor also housed the only grocery store in the town.  The building was for sale, for the low low price of just one million euros.  Everyone in the tour group pooled their money together but we were still roughly a million euros short.  Sad. We could have had, not only a great house, but also control of all the food for an entire town.  Whoa.   Also, as part of the cost of buying the house, you have to renovate it.  So that would probably need another four or five million.  But you even get a vodka distillery!

The distillery wasn’t in very good condition.

From the manor we continued on to the swamp.  Now, normally, swamp is not a word that gets me really excited to go visit a place.  I picture a gross looking marshy bit with lots of mud.  This wasn’t like that at all.

It was one of the coolest parts of the trip, due in large part to having a research biologist in the group.  She pointed out a ton of interesting things, carnivorous plants and interesting birds.  It was a little like being on a high school field trip, but hey, a flashback is nice every once in awhile.

There was a tall observation tower in the swamp, which I did climb, but it was windy and I I’m afraid of heights, so I only took one picture before going back down.  Too scared.   We walked through the swamp for several kilometers, along a boardwalk.  At one point we even stopped to go swimming.  Swimming in an Estonian swamp.  That wasn’t something I pictured myself doing.

It was really pretty, however.  And really, it changed my views on swamps forever.

Our last stop on the trip was a beach sort of in the middle of nowhere.  In Estonia, the water is very shallow.  You can walk out pretty far, and still only be in water up to your knees.  There are also a ton of boulders and large rocks.  Makes great places to sit.

The whole beach area was pretty deserted, so it was really calm and relaxing, even in the middle of summer.

All in all, I had a wonderful trip in the national park.  It was great to get out of the city (even if Tallinn is a pretty small city) for a little while and get back into nature.  The biggest downside?  The crazy Estonian mosquitoes.  Seriously.  I probably got about 30 mosquito bites in just the few hours that I was out there.  Worth it though.