Beards and travel.
Beards and travel.
Depending on where in the world you call home, the amount of vacation time you receieve from your employer will vary. Here in the US the average worker gets ten days to do with as they please, with a few national holiday observances thrown in throughout the year. For a travel enthusiast, ten days is not a lot to work with. When my wife and I went to France last year, we used our entire ten days, in the beginning of the year, leaving us nothing for the rest of the year. To add insult to injury, the French we met pitied us for our lack of time off. "It's so unfortunate," they would say with sympathetic eyes and warm pats on the back.
Turns out, France has the highest amount of minimum vacation days required by law...SEVEN WEEKS! No wonder they felt sorry for us. Denmark comes in second with six weeks. Germany, Finland, and Austria also rank high.
You can check out the country-by-country comparison here.
Our lack of usable days in the US has really bothered me for the last year. But hey, at least I'm not in China where employers aren't required to give their employees any days off.
As I type this, there's a six year old kid flying high over Colorado in a runaway home made balloon. It seems as if his family built some sort of flying saucer shaped experimental aircraft, the kid climbed in, it accidentally took off, and now authorities are scrambling to catch the balloon. It's possible that the craft could reach altitudes of 10,000 feet.
That kid is probably wetting his pants right now.
Last September we visited Austin, Texas to see some old friends and attend the three day Austin City Limits Music Festival. While we were there we totally fell in love with the city and it's people. Definitely good vibes all around. Here's a list of five "must-dos" while visiting Austin:
1. See Live Music - Austin has declared itself "The Live Music Capital of the World" and it's a fitting title. In addition to the popular Austin City Limits and the annual music/film/arts event South By Southwest, Austin also boasts the Latin inspired Pachanga festival and the more recent Urban Music Festival. But large scale events aside, this town just breathes music. Almost any downtown restaurant, bar, or coffee shop has some form of live music every day of the week. In our visit we even saw a very small, modest taco stand with an elaborate stage and seating area built beside it to host live shows.
2. Eat Local Food - You won't see too many McDonald's or Starbucks around downtown Austin. That's because Austin puts great effort in to promoting unique local businesses. Two of our favorite places are the extreme sports themed Wahoo's Fish Taco, and the very quirky Amy's Ice Creams where you can get the incredible flavor creation "Mexican Vanilla." Oh, and I hear they have some good BBQ in Austin too ;)
3. Shop SoCo - South Congress Avenue features some of the most eclectic shopping in all of Austin. Antiques, hand made jewelry and kitsch, trendy boutiques, vintage clothing, chic home decor, and more . Be sure to check out Allen's Boots to satisfy your inner cowboy and the wild everything-but-the-kitchen-sink store Uncommon Objects.
4. Get Outdoors - The people of Austin tend to be an active, health conscious bunch and they don't have to travel far to engage in all sorts of exciting outdoor activity. Lady Bird Lake offers kayaking on the water and ten miles of scenic hiking and biking trails that wind all through the city. If you need a break from the heat, take a dip in the three acre Barton Springs Pool that is fed from under ground springs and is an average 68 degrees year round.
5. Congress Bridge Bats - The Congress Avenue Bridge spans Town Lake in downtown Austin and is home to the largest urban bat colony in North America. About 1.5 million Mexican free-tail bats emerge each night from mid-March to November and flood the sky in search of food. This event has become one of the most spectacular and unusual tourist attractions in Texas and pays proper due to the local creed, "Keep Austin Weird."
For more on Austin, Texas check out http://www.austintexas.org/