Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Monday, November 9, 2009
As the article says, in the UK (and Ireland) adults will often buy chocolate. In fact, it is ironic that many would see Americans as candy-munching sweet tooths, whereas in fact I would say that many more adults in the UK and Ireland buy chocolate on a regular basis than their American counterparts. Just witness the huge array of chocolate bars in even the smallest shop. And chocolate has more of an adult mythology: for many adults, the renaming of "Marathon" to "Snickers" has the same emotional resonance as the Brooklyn Dodgers becoming the "LA Dodgers".
I can attest to the weird "grainy" texture also. However, I have never eaten doggie chocolate so I can't vouch for that comparison:
Some say the US version, made at a plant in Hazleton, Pennsylvania, tastes sweeter than the stuff made in Bournville, Birmingham. Others detect a slightly more "grainy" texture. The US chocolate is a little darker and, say connoisseurs, a little bit more melt-resistant. For British expatriates or holidaymakers visiting the US, the difference is disconcertingly noticeable. Certain anglophile Americans, too, yearn for the British version, giving "real" Cadbury chocolate a cult following stateside.
"The British version just tastes a hell of a lot better," says John Jago-Ford, owner of the British Shoppe, a store in Orlando, Florida, that is among the few places to sell the original Cadbury chocolate imported from Britain. "American chocolate is so sweet that it tastes like doggie chocs."
Monday, October 26, 2009
Seems unlikely that a terrorist would go to the trouble of putting explosive-making liquids into a snow globe, but I guess they have to think of everything...
Friday, October 23, 2009
Perhaps they thought that Delta was turning it into a Ryanair-style airline which uses airports which are not particularly close to the destination city. I remember flying to Brussels with Ryanair and looking down, thinking "hmm that is Brussels we just passed", and then flying on for quite a while before we landed in "Brussels Charleroi"- which is a long way from Brussels itself.
Thursday, October 22, 2009
Not cheap, but good food - just make sure you are not in a hurry.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
Monday, October 19, 2009
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
If you're flying Boston to BWI on Airtran, you can get free WiFi from now until the end of 2009 by following these steps:
1. On the plane, select the "gogoinflight" SSID
2. Sign in or click "Buy" to create a new account.
3. On the "Payment Info" page, enter this code (case sensitive): BOSBWI
4. Click "Update Total".
Saturday, October 3, 2009
"Your comment at check-in that Osama Bin Laden had packed your bags was unwise"
Hat tip to the Daily Telegraph - 15 funny road signs
Monday, September 28, 2009
But, in a major oversight, they don't list Australia's weird and amazing monuments, such as:
- The Big Banana
- The Big Potato
- The Big Pineapple
And, of course, the "Big Boxing Crocodile" in Humpty Doo, in the Northern Territory. Monuments do not come much stranger than that.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Hyatt Hotels & Resorts is extending the health care benefits of the 98 housekeepers who were fired from the three Boston-area Hyatt hotels last month, according to a statement from the company yesterday.
(original post on this, where apparently Hyatt workers were tricked into training their replacements)
Saturday, September 19, 2009
from: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jRxEXI1Z16hhdOZ4g18ZogzD5CXgD9AQJKAO0 :
This weekend the airport expects to nearly finish the first runway in the nation repaved with an environmentally friendly material called warm-mix asphalt.
The asphalt is heated to a lower temperature than normal, burning less fuel and emitting less carbon.
Airport operator Massport says on this project that means a cut of 4,000 tons of carbon dioxide and 400,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
Thursday, September 17, 2009
When the housekeepers at the three Hyatt hotels in the Boston area were asked to train some new workers, they said they were told the trainees would be filling in during vacations.
On Aug. 31, staffers learned the full story: None of them would be making the beds and cleaning the showers any longer. All of them were losing their jobs. The trainees, it turns out, were employees of a Georgia company, Hospitality Staffing Solutions, who were replacing them that day.
My colleagues and I have been staying at Sheratons recently and I think it'll be staying that way unless this one has a happy ending. I'll keep you posted...
Nice flight and friendly staff as usual, though.
Friday, September 4, 2009
Though, if you just take carry-on, their fares remain very good.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
Wednesday, September 2, 2009
Tuesday, September 1, 2009
Thursday, August 27, 2009
I echo his experiences of Irish B&B's. Some excellent, with great breakfasts. Others "trying to emulate hotels, with dining rooms like public spaces, minimal interaction, and a growing sense of formality". And, as with Ireland in general, many are still overpriced. But the good ones are really good:
However, it was an experience in Bunmahon, Co Waterford that reminded me why a good Irish BB beats all. I arrived close to 7pm at Copperfield House BB in the middle of a massive downpour, soaked and mucky. When she answered the door, the look on Margaret Curran’s face said “Come in out of the rain” and not “Oh dear God, my carpets”. Within 10 minutes my bike was in the garage, she had offered to dry all my sports gear, and she and her husband chatted pleasantly with me about my day and the area.
All of this was followed by a knockout breakfast the following morning. And Copperfield House BB was also the cheapest BB I encountered at €35.http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/features/2009/0827/1224253323345.html
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
The only Hyatt Resort I've stayed at is the Hyatt at Palm Springs - normally I am at more staid Hyatt locations like last week at the Hyatt in Herndon Virginia. I'd highly recommend the Palm Springs Hyatt - nice rooms opening out onto an enclosed courtyard with a piano.
Monday, August 24, 2009
Thursday, August 13, 2009
Friday, August 7, 2009
Thursday, August 6, 2009
I wonder if this rumor is true?
Yesterday's Rumor: Dollar bills left in hotel bibles.
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
Is this true, or just a rumor? I guess I am playing a part in promoting the rumor here with this blog post.
Snopes.com tracks the history of this particular rumor, which interestingly goes back to the 1950s, and exists in Jewish as well as Christian mythology.
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
I usually run alongside the moving escalator if I'm really in a hurry. Less risk of being stuck behind a group of people standing motionless.
So I was interested to read this in the Daily Telegraph:
Some interesting facts in the Telegraph story:
Designed specifically to improve the flow of passengers, they often catch out tired and elderly travellers who find it difficult to maintain balance coming off and on the moving pathway.
They can also disorientate drunken passengers and those loaded down with luggage.
In 2006, London Underground estimated they were the most common cause of accidents across the network, and reported 933 injuries from their use.
There is also a problem with people wearing bifocal glasses as when they look down everything is out of focus. They cannot see their feet and trip over.
At Rome’s Tiburtina station, York University professor Sally Baldwin was crushed to death in 2003 after a travelator collapsed and she was pulled into the cog wheels.
And in Boston, USA, drunken sushi chef Francisco Portillo died after getting his head stuck in a subway escalator in 2005.
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Tuesday, July 21, 2009
Monday, July 20, 2009
Friday, July 17, 2009
The ROP also had a certain wry Gulf Arab humour, with a lot of meaning being expressed in short remarks and smiles. "Suburban" on the Other Oman blog records some recent interactions with the ROP. For example:
Thursday, July 16, 2009
- High point of the show was the opening of "Hallelujah" - "I heard there was a secret chord/ That David played and it pleased the Lord" : Leonard Cohen
- High point of the show was the opening of "Play your part (Part 1)" - "my bitch a choosey lover, never f**k without a rubber / never in the sheets, like it on top of the cover /money on the dresser, drive a compressor /top notch hoes get the most, not the lesser": Girl Talk
- The artist takes off his hat and holds it over his heart when his band play solos, as a mark of respect: Leonard Cohen
- The artist throws his t-shirt into the crowd while teeing up Kelly Clarkson's "Since you've been gone" on his cellophane-covered laptop: Girl Talk
- The artist ends his set with a tip of a black fedora hat to the crowd : Leonard Cohen
- The artist ends his set by being carried over the shoulders of the crowd riding on a flashing holographic life raft, wearing only bright sparkling silver pants, batting away beach balls which are thrown at him:
So there you go: No excuses for mistaking these two artists with each other anymore...
Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Tuesday, July 14, 2009
I occasionally take black cabs in London and, despite the occasional unwanted racist comments from a minority of drivers, they have known exactly where to go and got there fast. Would I take a black cab over a long distance? No - too expensive. Would I take a black cab instead of a minicab? Yes - but that's because of a residual feeling I'd have that the minicab driver may not know the route as well as a black cab driver (though GPS softens that difference).
Interesting to see how this plays out...
Monday, July 13, 2009
FYI, my trip recently was Boston-London, cross London by bus to Stansted airport, fly by cheapo Ryan Air (bought on their site) to Brittany (Dinan), pick up car there, drive to apartment with wifi. This was because I got a much better deal on a ticket to London at the time, and it saved me 2 train rides and a lot of time to go via Ryan Air direct to Brittany rather than travel via Paris.
This is a great way to get to somewhere like Brittany. The problem, though, is getting over to Stansted (you can take a bus, as she did, or the train into London and then up to Stansted from Liverpool Street tube station). Connecting with Aer Lingus in Dublin is easier, but there are only so many US cities which fly to Dublin (compared to London). The landing fees in Dublin are way lower than Heathrow so it can be very cost-effective to connect through Dublin to go to (let's say) Nice or Krakow.
Not many people do this type of two-stage journey to Europe because you can't book it all in one itinerary on Expedia or Orbitz. So, it requires some out-of-the-box thinking to get these kinds of good travel deals. Just the thing for the recession.... I wonder why Ryanair does not publicize this technique by advertising more in the US and on US travel sites...
Friday, July 10, 2009
It doesn't make sense for tourists, but I've used it plenty of times to get to and from central London (albeit the wrong side of central London for me usually - I then have to connect by Tube to get where I want to go) .
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Tuesday, July 7, 2009
It's an adaptation of the story of the Minotaur, a story which used to terrify me as a child. In "Ziggurat", the Minotaur wanders a labyrinth of empty spaces. Some are empty because he has eaten the people who he encountered there. But others are just empty. He encounters, "in the pine-panelled section of the Labyrinth", a girl playing computer games.
The description of wandering, dislocation, events out-of-kilter, furnished places - all this hit home with me as I read it on a twice-canceled flight over a thunderstorm over New York City.
"The central aisle of an airliner, the back seat of a car (stale popcorn crammed into cushion cracks), a coal mine, a hospital waiting room, a long tunnel in which a hot breeze blew first in one direction and then the other. So many varieties of emptiness. For centuries. Millennia."
Monday, July 6, 2009
Thursday, July 2, 2009
Last night the Boston Globe reported that the "instrument-landing system at Runway 4R failed Tuesday for reasons that are still under investigation". Well, I'd understood it had failed last week, when the Continental pilot announced it. But in any case, this meant that I had two different flights into Boston canceled yesterday, and only just about managed to get onto the last flight out of Washington Dulles to Boston around midnight.
Apparently this landing problem will last all summer :-( . I have no way to avoid using Boston Logan airport, so this will not be fun...
Saturday, June 27, 2009
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Friday, June 19, 2009
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has announced the implementation of the Secure Flight program. This program is intended to enhance the security of domestic and international air travel for all passengers through the use of improved TSA watch-list matching, as well as reduce the instances of passenger misidentification.
In accordance with this new policy, United® will be making changes to its reservation process that you, as a valued member of Mileage Plus®, should become familiar with.
How will Secure Flight affect you?
In the coming months, United will begin to request the following information from all customers when making a reservation:
- Full name (first and last, as it appears on the non-expired, government-issued photo ID you will present at the airport)
- Date of birth
- Redress number (if one exists)*
Please note the importance of the name on your ticket matching exactly the name on the ID you will present at the airport.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
That said, the line-up is pretty good:
And it's good to see boutique music festivals springing up in the US. If it takes insurance companies to make that happen, I guess it's good.
The flight attendant (or "air hostess" as I would say) team was a mum and daughter. Never seen that before. Funny to hear "and in the back of the cabin, my mom".
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Seen in a Vermont Welcome Center off I-89 yesterday.
For most of us it is not necessary to put a "non-potable" sign beside a toilet. The only visitors to Vermont who I can see benefiting from this sign are literate cats.
Wednesday, June 10, 2009
Tuesday, June 9, 2009
Now, I have spent about a week of my life on Hamilton Island, and probably also about a week on AirTran flights. I can safely say that even though AirTran has friendly staff (once an AirTran pilot let my son sit in the pilot seat after the plane landed) and low fares (especially from Boston to BWI), flying for a month is not something I'd be blogging happily about.
And these have to be the most unconvicing Twitter posts ever:
"Got up at 4:30am. I thankfully feel great."
"Having an incredible time. "
and the clincher:
"Just did "Fox & Friends" on Fox News. Lots of fun"
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
Maybe they should have used one of those grab-claw games, so you could pay your couple of euros, then attempt to pick up one of the bags using a mechanical claw. That would add a bit more of a challenge to the whole process. Or maybe I should not suggest that, in case anyone from Dublin Airport is reading this....
Monday, June 1, 2009
CNN.com is, right now, streaming its French language coverage of the missing Airbus 330, en route from Brazil, which may have been foudroyé somewhere between Brazil and the coast of French West Africa.
Friday, May 15, 2009
USA Today says "It's hard to know how many people would use miles for a one-way trip — parents driving a child to college and flying home might — and American officials didn't offer any estimates." (http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-05-11-aa-frequent-flier-revamp_N.htm).
Well, I can provide a personal example. I would use the miles to book a transatlantic flight, using half the miles which I would normally use, and book a cheap one-way return trip with Aer Lingus (through Dublin) to get me back. Hey presto, a cheap way to get to Nice, or Rome, or London. With so many airlines now effectively "one way airlines", it makes sense for them all to move to "one way mileage rewards".
Thursday, May 14, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Where it flies: The Toronto-based carrier services six Canadian cities, Chicago-Midway, and Newark. In 2009, it plans to add flights between Toronto and Boston, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C.Link: www.flyporter.com
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
Dublin airport to charge for those little clear plastic bags used to bring toiletries through security
Can that really be true? I know that Heathrow gives them away for free...
The purpose of the bag is just to group the toiletries together. The bag itself is not seen in the X-Ray. I just simply group the toiletries together and forget about the bag. This has never caused me any problems, in Ireland or anywhere else. Skip the bag and help the environment, and also save a couple of Euro in Dublin Airport.
From the Irish Times
Monday, May 4, 2009
Saturday, April 11, 2009
Friday, April 10, 2009
Wednesday, April 1, 2009
I'd be a bit wary of their geography knowledge, though, if they think that East 65th Street (a land of high-end strollers and fancy apartments) is in Kyrgyzstan (check out http://www.connectbyhertz.com/locations.aspx)
[ Update - After a few days, they removed the Kyrgyzstani location from their site ]
Good article this month in the New York Times on Zipcar, the company and the service.
I should get the card in a few days, and then I'll check out the service. In actual fact I rarely need a car except for business trips (which almost invariably I fly to anyway). But, it will be nice to have the option of driving somewhere, especially in the summer.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
"A Tunisian pilot who paused to pray instead of taking emergency measures before crash-landing his plane, killing 16 people, has been sentenced to 10 years in jail by an Italian court along with his co-pilot."
From the Irish Times:
Monday, March 16, 2009
I can certainly relate to the driving style - in Ireland that is how I drive on rural roads (bothereens, in the Irish language - "little roads") - 50 miles an hour and "assuming that another car is not coming in the other direction".
Friday, March 13, 2009
Thursday, March 12, 2009
Wednesday, March 4, 2009
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
"On a grey day from the edge of the runway at Heathrow, a 747 appears at first as a small brilliant white light, a star dropping towards earth. It has been in the air for some twelve hours. It took off from Bangkok at dawn. It flew over the Bay of Bengal, Delhi, the Afghan desert and the Caspian Sea. It traced a course over Romania, the Czech Republic and began its descent, so gently that few passengers would have noticed a change of tone in the engines, above the coast of Normandy. From the ground, the white light gradually takes shape as a vast two-storied body with four engines suspended like earrings beneath implausable long wings. In the light rain, clouds of water form a veil behind the plane on its matronly progress towards the airfield. The plane is a symbol of worldliness, carrying within itself a trace of all the lands it has crossed; its eternal mobility offering an imaginative counterweight to feelings of stagnation and confinement. This morning the plane was over the Malay Peninsula, a phrase in which there lingers the smells of guava and sandalwood. And now, a few metres above the earth which it has avoided for so long, the plane appears motionless, its nose raised upwards, seeming to pause before its sixteen rear wheels meet the tarmac with a blast of smoke that makes manifest its speed and weight".
Monday, March 2, 2009
However, my experience in the US is that unless you have Gold status with BMI (equating to Star Alliance Gold status), you don't get lounge access with United. Also, the miles which I amassed with BMI were useful for transatlantic flights, but not so much inside the US. For example, i could not do much with a small-ish amount of BMI miles, though if I had miles from a US carrier then I could use a small-ish amount of miles for internal US flights.
Therefore, a few years ago I signed up for United's frequent flyer program and I use this to amass miles (which I can spend internally in the US, or for transatlantic flights, e.g. with Aer Lingus to Ireland). I find that I get perks such as upgrades, though still not lounge access (as I'm still only on Star Alliance Silver level).
Here is the story from Yahoo Finance anyway, even though it doesn't match my experience with lounge access (unless you have Gold status):
BMI is part of the Star Alliance, a group of 25 airlines that work together (United, Lufthansa, Air Canada and Air New Zealand among them), which means your points and upgrades can be applied to any of those airlines. While most U.S. airlines do not offer complimentary lounge access to frequent fliers, most foreign carriers do, which means you get the benefit of using those facilities within the U.S.--on airlines like United--without actually belonging to their frequent-flier programs.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
However, I also see some strange searches, but when I checked the results they actually do make sense:
- "cat packing". This search leads to: http://24hourstravelguide.blogspot.com/2008/10/cat-packing.html)
- "wooden highheels". This search leads to: http://24hourstravelguide.blogspot.com/2008/10/high-heels-on-wooden-floor.html)
Tuesday, February 24, 2009
The bad news if that parking fees have gone up at Logan. It's expensive by US standards, but still I find it reasonable when compared to places like Heathrow or (ridiculously) Dublin.
Monday, February 23, 2009
Thursday, February 19, 2009
However, I have to say that I 100% agree with these reviews of the Stage Deli (on Broadway). As one of the reviewers says below, there are plenty of places in NYC where you can get a $20 sandwich. And not wait about half an hour for it to be delivered.
Don't Eat Here -- The Service is Unforgivable
dano7532 from 91607 | Posted on 1/29/08
The service at this restaurant is substandard. The waiters give rude a new meaning. If you're going to pay $20 for a sandwich, there are a hundred places in New York that will serve you them with a smile. Not only is the staff completely useless, but the management doesn't seem to care about customers' complaints at all. I guess they feel they have a built in clientele of "dumb" tourists. Go across the street. You'll get the same food with none of the unpleasantry.
78 out of 159 people found this review helpful.
GinnieS from 17601 | Posted on 9/30/07
I go to New York several times a year. This was the first and last time i will eat at Stage Deli. Waiters were rude, all sitting in the corner. One of the waiters, was walking out of the kitchen with a cusomers meal, and was picking the french fries right off there plate and eating them, as he got to the table to place the food down. He hid the fry behind his back. It was gross. I will never return, other than the sandwiches being big, they were not all that good.
168 out of 308 people found this review helpful.
Monday, February 16, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
The thing which the stories fail to mention is that parts of Dubai already looked like a ghost town. I've visited Dubai a few times over the past few years. There was a tremendous amount of building happening there, with many tall apartment buildings going up. But few people seemed to be living in the buildings, or moving in. Do you know how you could tell? At night all the buildings were dark. I stayed in a hotel amongst many tall new apartment buildings, and at night you could not tell that the tall apartment buildings were there at all.
Take a look at this photo of the Burj Dubai (tallest building in the world) at night. It is lit up, since it is under construction. But where are the buildings around it? Nowhere to be seen because they have no lights on at night. If buildings are actually being used, either as office buildings or as apartments, then some lights will be on at night.
Compare the photo to this picture I took of San Francisco at night. Those are all office buildings in the photo, but at night they still have many lights on.
The old joke is that "will the last person to leave turn off the lights", but in the case of Dubai the lights were not on in the first place.
To finish, here is a great video of a city at night. If you don't like the music, turn it to mute. But what beautiful images:
Friday, February 13, 2009
On the way I came across this building, coming out of nowhere round a bend in the mountain road. I stopped to take a look. It's the Black Hawk casino. I parked and walked around. It was like Casinos I'd seen in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but with a Caribbean/tropical theme at odds with its surroundings. It is either the tackiest thing you will ever see in your whole life, or a lot of fun, depending on your outlook.
Here it is:
View Larger Map
Monday, February 2, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
Before I used Xoom, I searched blogs to see if anyone had any recommendations about them. I found nothing useful. So, I'm posting my experiences here. I'm happy to say that they transferred the money safely and successfully, for a $5 fee. If you're only transferring a few hundred dollars, then the difference between Bank of America's $35 and Xoom's $5 is substantial.
And, if Xoom ever let me down, I'll post that here too :-)
Sunday, January 25, 2009
"As the bombing and rocket attacks in Gaza and Israel intensified over the past few weeks, saturating the 24-hour news channels, I found myself turning the sound down and gazing at the horrific images emanaying from the region. Through camera shots panning back and forth across the horizon I noticed that the rural landscape of the area - with its low, inclined slopes, good gravel and southern Rhone-like stoney fields - was ideal wine country".
He goes on to say that the Golan Heights, Gaza, parts of the Negev Desert, and the hillside slopes of Bethlehem, are all "potentially one giant vineyard".
I haven't read Jimmy Carter's new book "We can have peace in the Holy Land: A plan that will work", but Tomás Clancy's idea of turning the place into a giant vineyard sounds good to me. Make wine not war.
[ The Tomás Clancy article is not online yet..]
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Here is the castle tower. We slept on the top floor.
The storied history of the castle is written on this plaque:
Here is the view from the tower, looking down to Lough Sheelin.
Locally there is horse-riding and fishing. It really is the stuff dreams are made of. Bizarrely, I grew up about 15 miles from Ross Castle but never knew it existed. It is quite isolated, only accessible via a narrow bog road, so I never even knew it was there. Check it out at http://www.ross-castle.com/.
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Sunday, January 11, 2009
I was shocked to see that Enterprise didn't have a 24-hour operation in an airport like SFO. Next time I'll just choose Avis. I had been experimenting with Enterprise, and appreciated their friendly service, but in this case I felt let down a bit...
Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Tuesday, January 6, 2009
This is a pity, since it must be possible to balance security with design. In fact, Monocle Magazine has an excellent online documentary about this very issue. It profiles the Manser architecture practice in London which designed high-security British embassies in Katmandu and Harare. The video interview talks about how the British embassy in Harare is planted only with indigenous trees, planted so that they provide shelter from the morning and late afternoon sun. The print article also talks about how some countries use embassies as a shop window (e.g. Denmark using embassies to showcase Danish furniture design). A far cry from "the world's largest, meanest cheese grater".
Spending money on embassies is not a waste of money. It promotes the image of a country, something which Britain is good at (the BBC World Service, British Council, etc) but which the US seems to have missed in this case.