Nomad by Trade

A travel blog for the kid at heart.

Wawel Castle in Krakow, Poland

Visiting Wawel Castle is one of the top things to do in Krakow, Poland and should not be skipped on any visit to the city. One of the most famous castles in Poland, it’s located on a hill high above the city, its beautifully restored buildings are a delight to behold. Featuring historic architecture from different eras, one of the best art galleries in Poland, and a magnificent cathedral, visitors can spend anywhere from a few hours to a whole day on the castle site.

Flowers in the Wawel Castle courtyard

This is one of my favorite Krakow pictures.

What to see at Wawel Castle

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Spaceship Earth - Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival

The Epcot International Flower and Garden Festival takes place every spring and features – you guessed it – flowers and gardening expos. Plus some delicious food. Festivals at Epcot always mean good food. I’ve attended the Flower and Garden festival five times now, and I’ve seen it evolve over time as elements have come and gone. One thing that has remained unchanged is that it showcases Epcot at its most beautiful. With colorful flowers and Disney-themed topiaries around every corner, you will never see Epcot prettier than it is during Flower and Garden.

The International Flower and Garden Festival 2018 edition marks the 25th anniversary of the annual event, so it’s extra special. This year’s festival runs from February 28th-May 28th, 2018, so it’s perfect timing for spring break trips or a Mother’s Day visit.

Flower and Garden Festival topiaries

I’m not super into gardening and I’ve often joked (mostly) that if I ever buy a house I’m going to clear cut all of the landscaping and just plant grass corner to corner in the yard, so the topiaries at the Flower and Garden festival are my favorite thing. Seeing life-sized Disney characters made out of flowers and other plant materials is incredible, and the detail that the designers include is impressive. The feature topiaries even feature white flowers set into the characters’ pupils to capture that gleam of reflected light a real eye would have. Here are a few of my favorite topiaries to inspire you to visit. You won’t want to miss any of these on your visit to Epcot, so I’ve also included instructions on where to find the best Flower and Garden topiaries.

Figment topiary at the Epcot Flower and Garden Festival 2018

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Skiing in the Alps at Hinterstoder Hoss, Austria

Skiing in the Alps at Hinterstoder, Austria

For sports enthusiasts, no trip to Austria in the winter would be complete without a day spent skiing in the Alps. The Hinterstoder ski resort combines gorgeous scenery with good skiing – and their lift tickets are very affordable!

It’s worth noting that having grown up in the Midwestern US, most of us had never skied a real mountain before. The resort we spent most of our ski time at boasts a whopping 300 foot vertical drop. That’s basically the bunny hill at a real ski mountain like Hinterstoder Hoss. Skiing in the Alps had always been a dream, but not something I ever thought I’d get to do. We were very rusty and slightly overmatched, but after getting comfortable we did pretty well. And I didn’t fall down at all, so I consider it a victory.

Skiing the Alps at Hinterstoder, Austria

Never did I ever think I’d get to go skiing in the Alps with my dad.

Note: This post was not sponsored and we paid for the full cost of our skis and lift tickets.

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Mondsee, Austria - Travel mistakes, how to avoid travel mistakes, and how to recover from travel mistakes

Our Biggest Travel Mistakes and Disasters and How You Can Avoid Them

Travel mistakes and disasters can happen to anyone, even seasoned travelers. I recently went on a family vacation touring through central Europe and despite the fact that we’ve all logged countless miles and nights on the road, we made lots of travel mistakes. From flight delays to lost luggage to deceitful rental car companies, we had it all. Here are our biggest travel disasters and what you can do to avoid making them yourself (or recover from them).

Travel disaster: Lost luggage

Three members of my family had their luggage lost for the entire 10-day vacation. This included ski gear, Christmas presents, and almost all of their clothes. This was the biggest travel disaster I’ve ever encountered in four years of constant flying. Check out all of the awful details of our lost luggage saga with Air France and Lufthansa.

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Lost luggage disaster with Air France and Lufthansa

Our Nightmare Lost Luggage Saga with Air France and Lufthansa

This Christmas, we decided to take a once-in-a-lifetime family trip to Europe for the holidays. We had a great time – don’t get me wrong. We saw all kinds of cool places, but the vacation was overshadowed by a horrendous experience with Air France and Lufthansa and both airlines’ refusal to offer any semblance of customer service. We’ve been home for over a month now and are still fighting with both airlines to receive the customer service that we deserve. Here’s the sad, infuriating saga of my family’s luggage-less vacation.

The seven people on the trip came over in three separate waves. My mom and sister came a week earlier. I flew solo and met them in Milan. My dad, brother, and brother’s girlfriend, Jill, flew over together last. They were scheduled (and had confirmed seats together) to fly from Windsor to Toronto to Paris to Munich. When they got to the Windsor airport, they were told that they didn’t have seats on the first flight. They spent nearly two hours at the Air Canada desk while a customer service agent moved mountains to get them onto the full flight. He told them that he could see that the segment had been cancelled by someone from Lufthansa, but had no way of knowing how or why it had happened. Eventually, all three of them made it on the plane and got to Toronto.

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Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice, Italy

The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice

Located just a short walk from the most popular tourist spots in Venice, the Leonardo Da Vinci Museum is an enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours of hands-on fun. Da Vinci invented so many incredible things – like ball bearings that are still used in machinery today – and this museum brings them to life with wooden recreations that you can operate yourself.

The first floor of the museum contains several replicas of da Vinci’s most famous works of art with descriptions and information about their significance. You can also see some of his handwritten manuscripts. I passed through these displays pretty quickly because I was anxious to get up to the hands-on portion of things.

Manuscript at the Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Venice, Italy

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Colosseum tour in Rome

Touring the Top of the Colosseum

Visiting the Colosseum in Rome had been on my bucket list since before I ever heard the term “bucket list.” When I first caught sight of it on the bus to my hotel, my jaw actually dropped in amazement. It’s amazing to think that such an enormous structure was built using only manual and animal strength.

While I was planning my trip, I discovered that the top level of the Colosseum had recently been reopened to visitors for the first time since the 1960s. I knew I had to experience that. As it was the thing I was most looking forward to in Rome, I decided that it was worth splurging on a tour to get the full experience. I ended up taking a 3.5-hour guided tour with City Wonders.

View from the fifth level of the Colosseum

It’s also possible to visit the top level of the Colosseum with a ticket purchased straight from the official website, but I gave up on that because with only two weeks left in December, they still hadn’t started selling January dates and I had plans to make.

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Fountain at Detroit Metro Airport

The Best and Worst of US Airports

Everyone who flies regularly eventually comes up with a list of best and worst airports, as well as a healthy set of air travel pet peeves to go along with it. I asked travel bloggers and frequent business travelers about their favorite and least favorite parts of all of the major United States airports. Read on to find out which US airports have the best food, which airports have the worst security lines, and which airports are so hopelessly outdated that all you can do is shake your head in disbelief.

Airports on the list are alphabetized by the major city they serve. (Anything not credited to another contributor is my own two cents based on four years of frequent business flying and an unfortunately expensive personal travel habit.) Make sure to visit the comments at the end to tell me your favorite and least favorite airports!

Atlanta, Georgia – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport (ATL)

The terminals in Atlanta are linked by a surprisingly efficient train system which makes making connections way less daunting than you would expect for such a large airport. It’s consistently ranked as the busiest United States airport, so you can get pretty much anywhere in the world from here and have lots of options to be rebooked if your flight is cancelled.

I’d had connections through the Atlanta airport many times before finally having it as my final destination. Just getting to my rental car from the airport took an eternity. Taking the train to the central terminal, finding my way to another train, and then taking that to the garage took well over an hour. All I wanted to do was leave the airport.

The Atlanta airport has almost no capacity to deal with winter weather, so a tiny bit of snow or ice can cause major flight delays.

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Visiting Fortress Hohensalzburg in Salzburg, Austria

Fortress Hohensalzburg: Salzburg’s Top Attraction

While visiting Salzburg, it’s impossible to miss the imposing fortress Hohensalzburg high atop the hill looming over the city. It offers lots of great history, plus a killer view, so touring the fort should be on everyone’s itinerary when visiting Salzburg.

Salzburg, Austria at twilight

Things to do at the fort

First things first, let’s talk about that view. When you exit the inclined railway, head left to go to the “balcony” overlooking Salzburg. You’ll get the perfect panoramic view of the Salzach River winding its way through the city with the surrounding mountains in the background. It was gorgeous in the summer, and when we visited in the winter, the twilight view looked like it belonged on a Christmas card.

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What to see at the Musei Capitolini

What to See at the Musei Capitolini in Rome

The Musei Capitolini offers a fantastic gallery of artwork and artifacts right in the heart of ancient Rome. If the collection isn’t enough to amaze you, the buildings themselves are worthy of exploration, as they’re intricately detailed and certain areas show off the blend between ancient Rome and more modern construction as old ruins were uncovered during excavations to expand the galleries.

If that’s not enough to convince you to visit, the museum has a significant historical significance: it’s considered to be one of the oldest museums in the world, having been gifted to the people of Rome by the Pope in 1471. The layout of the unusually-shaped square was designed by Michaelangelo (the artist, not the Ninja Turtle), who also contributed one of the most famous works of art nearby – The Sistine Chapel’s ceiling.

Note: I received free admission to the Musei Capitolini thanks to a 72-hour Roma Pass provided by the tourism board. All opinions are my own. For more information on the Roma Pass or visiting Rome, check out the Tourism Board’s website. You can also contact them on Facebook or via phone at 0039 060608.

What to see at the Musei Capitolini


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