Old Man of Storr: Hiking in the Clouds

The Old Man of Storr is not actually a person, it is a rock formation on Isle of Skye, Scotland.  You can spot it from a distance because it really looks like an old man on top of the mountain.  Of course, since it is so iconic, we really wanted to hike it during our short visit.

The views hiking the Old Man of Storr are spectacular! - "Old Man of Storr: Hiking in the Clouds" - Two Traveling Texans
The views hiking the Old Man of Storr are spectacular!

The Old Man of Storr is part of the Trotternish Ridge which is about a 10 minute drive north of Portree, the main town on the island.  The afternoon we went the weather looked like it might take a turn for the worse, as can happen in Scotland.  It was windy, drizzled at times, and the clouds were very low.  I am sure Old Man of Storr was much less crowded than it normally is.  We found parking in

EU Flight Compensation Rules Simplified

Having a flight unexpectedly cancelled can really be a nightmare especially if you have somewhere to be – like work!  But when you travel a lot these things are bound to happen.  Sometimes it’s outside the airline’s control, like when it snows, but there are also times when flights get cancelled because of aircraft maintenance.  That is what happened to me when I was supposed to fly back to NYC from London after the Christmas holidays.  Well what could have been a nightmare ended up not being so bad thanks to the EU flight compensation rules.

United planes through a rainy window. Unfortunately you cannot get compensation if the cause is weather. - "EU Flight Compensation Rules Simplified" - Two Traveling Texans
United planes through a rainy window. Unfortunately you cannot get compensation if the cause is weather.

EC Regulation 261 covers compensation for both cancellations and delays but it is complicated and the airlines don’t make it easy.  Some airlines try to offer miles in lieu of monetary compensation and if you accept it you can no longer make a claim.  Unfortunately, many passengers never get the compensation that is rightfully theirs because they don’t understand the EU flight compensation rules.  Please don’t let that happen to you.     If you have had a flight cancellation or significant delay in the last six years, you may still be able to claim the compensation.

Disclosure: I am not a legal expert, I am just passing along my experience in order to help readers better understand the EU flight compensation rules for cancellations.  If you are not sure how this applies to your specific situation, I would encourage you to speak to a lawyer.

The Story   

My lovely Christmas trip to England was coming to a close. I had booked a flight leaving Heathrow at 4pm, so we planned to have a relaxed morning before heading to London.  Unfortunately, things didn’t go as planned. (more…)

Spend One Night at Alcatraz

Alcatraz is arguably the most famous prison in the world.  The most dangerous prisoners were kept here because it would be so difficult to escape.  The prison is on an island in the middle of the San Francisco Bay.  Although, I had visited many years ago, I decided to go again for two reasons.  First, Russell hadn’t been and secondly now they offer a night tour.  Spending a night at Alcatraz would give me a different perspective, and I was surprised how much I learned.

I must stress that it is important to buy your tickets in advance especially if you want to do the night tour.  I would recommend buying them at least a month ahead of time.  There are only two boats for the night tours and they only do them Thursday through Monday.  The night tour does have special programs that are not available during the day too.  The night tour costs $50.50 per adult and the day tour is $43.50.  I also wanted to do the night tour because I thought the atmosphere would be better.

You get a lovely view of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge as you dock at Alcatraz. - "Spend One Night at Alcatraz" - Two Traveling Texans
You get a lovely view of San Francisco and the Bay Bridge as you dock at Alcatraz.

You are told to arrive at the dock early and when we got there it was already a pretty long line.   Of course everyone that had a ticket was able to get on the boat but people want to line up early to get the best seats.  Honestly, I wouldn’t worry too much about that.  Pretty soon after the boat left the dock we headed to the outside portion of the deck for the best views.   (more…)

La Boqueria Market: Come Hungry!

One of the reasons, I chose to visit Spain was the food.  Who doesn’t love tapas and a glass or two of Rioja wine?  We took a pintxos cooking class in San Sebastian, and in Barcelona we visited La Boqueria Market.  The market has been open since 1840, so you know it must be special.

One of the aisles in La Boqueria Market. - "La Boqueria Market: Come Hungry!" - Two Traveling Texans
One of the aisles in La Boqueria Market.

We decided to go to the market for a quick breakfast.  La Boqueria was a short walk from our hotel.  It is located close to La Rambla, the pedestrian street in central Barcelona.  The closest metro stop is Liceu on the green line (L3).  We arrived shortly after it opened at 8 am and it was pretty quiet, some stalls weren’t open yet.  I have heard it gets really crowded, so I would recommend that you try to go early too.   (more…)

NYC Tenement Museum: Rediscovering the American Dream

One of the things I really like about New York City is the diversity.  New Yorkers come from all over the world, and I really think that is one of the things that makes NYC so special.  We get to celebrate holidays from different cultures and try cuisines from pretty much any country you can imagine.  I wanted to learn more about the role immigrants have played in making NYC what it is today, so I decided to visit the Tenement Museum.

An old map of New York - "NYC Tenement Museum: Rediscovering the American Dream" - Two Traveling Texans
An old map of New York (photo courtesy of the Tenement Museum)

You may wonder – what is the Tenement Museum?  Well, a tenement is a run-down, usually overcrowded apartment house in a poor section of a large city.  In 1988, the museum bought an abandoned building at 97 Orchard Street and restored it so it could be turned into a museum.  Twenty two families had lived in the building, as our guide, Sarah, told us it was pretty much their next stop after Ellis Island.

The Tenement Museum is not your typical museum.  You can only visit as part of a guided tour.  I would recommend choosing your tour(s) and purchasing tickets online in advance as some do sell out.  You will need to print your confirmation and bring it to the ticket office at the Visitor Center at 103 Orchard Street.  I would suggest arriving at least 15 minutes before the tour begins.

They offer a variety of tours covering the different floors of the building and even areas in the neighborhood.  I decided to take the Shop Life tour, which focuses on the first floor of the building which was mostly commercial space.  The tour guides do not go off a script, they really know their stuff and are happy to answer any questions.  Our tour also included interactive discussions which really helped you to learn.  Also, no photos are allowed inside.

"NYC Tenement Museum: Rediscovering the American Dream" - Two Traveling Texans
Be sure to read the sign outside 97 Orchard Street

The tour guides will pick you up at the Visitor Center.  I should mention that the Visitor Center also has a gift shop with lots of interesting items.  You will want to allow some time to check it out either before or after your tour.  Our tour started with a brief introduction outside then we entered the part of 97 Orchard St that was a German Beer Saloon from 1864 to 1886.  They did a great job recreating what was it would have been like back then.  We took a few minutes to look around and then took our seats so that Sarah could tell us more. (more…)