Christine Westen


Christine Westen

North America » United States » Louisiana » New Orleans February 12th 2020

My flight home wasn't until 5:00 PM (except then it was delayed but more on that later) and I wanted to have time to visit New Orleans before heading to the airport. Left my cozy condo at 7 AM on another foggy morning and hit the road. The drive was easy, although foggy all the way until just before the city. My friendly Google Maps navigator had me exit I-10 at Elysian Fields Ave, which runs through the 7th Ward. I noticed many of the houses looked pretty run down yet most had cheerful Mardi Gras decorations hanging on their balconies. Eventually I turned onto Decatur Street and proceeded to look for a parking lot. I read ahead of time that parking on the street in the city is not advised because the meters are tricky ... read more
New Orleans!
Beignets to go
Powdered sugar everywhere!

North America » United States » Alabama » Gulf Shores February 11th 2020

Today I woke up to fog, and not just any fog, dense fog. The window screens and sill were wet, the balcony was wet and I could just barely see the dunes out my window. This put a slight hitch in my plans as the ferry was not running at all, visibility for driving was poor and I couldn't decide what to do. In the end, I decided I should not plan anything and should just go wherever I felt like. After laying around the room, I finally got moving and drove into Gulf Shores and further along the coast to Orange Beach. This time of year the traffic is pretty light so it was a nice easy drive. The fog was all along the coast and I couldn't see much so I turned around. I ... read more
Interpretive Center in the Fog
Pets only!

North America » United States » Alabama » Gulf Shores February 10th 2020

Let me start by saying that the people in Gulf Shores are friendly. That applies to locals and visitors alike! I started my morning with a walk on the beach, which required me to ride down to the lobby in an already occupied elevator. The gentleman saw me follow him out the door and said "Morning walk on the beach too huh?" He is a snowbird from Valparaiso and gave me some food tips and wished me luck on my shell hunting. I walked east along the beach for quite a ways. Along my walk I saw several dead jellyfish (I was careful not to step on any), a Great Blue Heron and lots and lots of shells. The waves are very large right now and there are rip current warnings all over. The water temperature ... read more
Dead Jelly
Obligatory Feet and the Ocean
Fort Morgan

North America » United States » Alabama » Gulf Shores February 9th 2020

When you start to get overwhelmed at work and need a break, you start looking for where you can go quickly and cheaply. For me, that ended up being the Gulf Coast so I could finally cross some more states off my list. As far as the basics, I got a cheap $75 round trip flight on Spirit from O'Hare to New Orleans and found a condo right on the Alabama coast for $56 a night. You can't really get a better deal than that! Every time I fly Spirit I say I won't fly it again and then I do. The advantage on a short trip like this is I did not need to bring a bag bigger than my backpack so it was worth it. This time the flight left on time, arrived on ... read more
Lake Pontchartrain
Welcome Center
Welcome Center

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas February 8th 2019

Our flight home was to leave at 8:30 so I arranged for the shuttle to pick us up at 6. We left our fancy room and headed down through the very quiet hotel to check out and wait outside for our ride. The shuttle was a little delayed, but the airport is only a 10-15 minute drive from the hotel so no big deal. We got our boarding passes, went through security, got breakfast at Starbucks and reached our gate only to learn the flight was delayed. The incoming plane was late due to weather delays out of Minneapolis. But it was ok as we weren't in a huge hurry to return to 8 degree Chicago! On this trip, I got to cross one more state off my list, sing along with the songs of my ... read more

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas February 7th 2019

We had one full day to check out the sights and sounds of Vegas. We slept in (for us) after our late night and left our hotel around 9AM to do some walking. And boy did we walk! When you look at a map, it looks like each casino is right next to it's neighbor, and that is true, except each casino is roughly the size of a city block. The nice thing is that the strip is very accessible for pedestrians. There is a wide sidewalk on either side of Las Vegas Blvd with multiple pedestrian bridges to get from one side to the other. And you can reach the bridges by stair, escalator or elevator. Our plan was to head north on the strip as all the places we wanted to see were in ... read more
Bellagio Conservatory
Bellagio lobby
Renee winning?

North America » United States » Nevada » Las Vegas February 6th 2019

And here we go! Getting to, and staying in, Las Vegas turned out to be way cheaper than I thought it would be, probably because they want you to spend all your money in the casinos and not on travel. I booked the trip through Expedia and we flew Spirit Airlines so it was very inexpensive. Our flight left O'Hare on time at 9:00 and we arrived in Las Vegas at 11. We used Super Shuttle to get to and from the airport and I would recommend them if going to Vegas. I chose the Cosmopolitan when I picked our package on Expedia. I had no idea where we should stay, other than the Bellagio was probably not in our budget, and the Cosmo was one of the more inexpensive options. I did upgrade to get ... read more
Cosmopolitan Hotel
Room 4926
Room 4926

Europe » Portugal » Azores » Terceira March 23rd 2018

Our flight left Boston this morning at 7 AM so we were waiting for the shuttle at 4 AM. Jet Blue has a great system at the airport with tons of kiosks for self check-in. If you have bags (like we did) you attach the labels and proceed to the bag drop where they scan everything and send them on their way. Everything went quickly and there were no issues. The security line was rather long and both our backpacks had to be inspected, but that's why I like to get to the airport early! Our plane left early and got to O'Hare in a quick 2 hours. I think we landed at the farthest spot possible as we spent a good 20 minutes or more taxing to the gate. Luckily we were at one of ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Azores » Terceira March 22nd 2018

I always hate when a trip comes to an end. It means you have to leave a place you spent discovering, you have to get back on a plane for x number of hours and you have to return to the realities of every day life. This trip came at just the right time when a break was needed from work and I felt so relaxed and stress free the entire week. It was hard to leave! We had one last breakfast at the hotel and spent our last few hours sitting on the balcony enjoying the sun and the ocean. Then it was time to check out and wait for the shuttle back to the airport. The driver took a nice scenic route up the hill behind our hotel and across the middle of the ... read more
Little Local Lizard
View from the shuttle

Europe » Portugal » Azores » Terceira March 21st 2018

Today was our last full day on Terceira. It's hard to believe our week is almost over! The weather looked like it was going to be perfect, mid-60s and sunny. We planned to walk around Angra, hopefully see inside some churches, do some shopping and eat. As most places don't open until 10, we ate a slightly later breakfast and sat on the balcony until heading out. We started our morning at a little store tucked away along the sea wall that sells handmade embroidery and other made in the Azores items. I was lucky and found a cute little hand carved nativity set to add to my collection! From here we walked down to the Misericordia Church, hoping it would be open this time. Luckily it was and we were able to get a short ... read more
Inside Misericordia Church
View of the harbor
Lunch guest

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