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Archive for February, 2008

Oahu Hawaii, Two Years in Paradise

February 29th, 2008

Oahu Hawaii

So am I lucky or what? I have recently returned to my ‘home’ in Orlando Florida following a two year stint in paradise - Oahu, Hawaii.

I say home above, which is in itself subjectional as my native home is England, but I have lived in the US for about 15 years.

So how was it? Beautiful, tropical, exotic, perfect climate?? Yes, and more, but different too.

If you ever have the chance to visit, you simply must. There is a certain magic in the air that’s hard to describe, a mixture I think of the pure uncontaminated light and ambience (it’s a small island, any man-made pollution is quickly whisked away by the tradewinds). Geographically, anywhere on Oahu Hawaii you can see the Ocean (Makai) and the mountains (Mauka), and it’s hard to be more than a few minutes away from the beach - pretty much anywhere on the island.

Oahu Hawaii

 

Weather is warm to hot year round, warm is 70F and hot is 85F but there is no humidity. What’s not so cool is that air conditioning is not common in private residences (ours too), so during the summer it is hard work to stay cool!

Oahu Hawaii is where the majority of the people (Kama Aina - resident) live, in fact 85% or so of the entire Hawaiian population lives here, and the vast majority of these in or very close to the city of Honolulu. Honolulu is home to numerous historical locations, more recently to of course Pearl Harbor.

Big Island of Hawaii (yes that’s it’s name) is home to some of the most diverse regions on the planet, and home to the world’s Kilauea the active volcano. This is a must see, though don’t get too seduced by the idea of seeing live hot lava - this will require a heli trip.

Maui and Kauai are my favourites, particulalrly Kauai which has I think the most laid back and non commercial feel to it, as well as some spectacular scenery and locations. If you make it, check out Princeville Resort, I reccomend booking a lunch or dinner there, the main restaurant has a view to die for.

So why back to Orlando? I think you have to be a certain kind of person to really embrace the islands, or rather the island lifestyle. It would also be very beneficial to be indepently wealthy (I’m not) as this is an expensive place to live day to day and to get established. So for now, we’ll ‘make do’ with the Sunshine State and all it’s virtues and sins….

pkitching Travel, Travel Guide

Fette Sau!

February 28th, 2008

You can certainly satisfy your appetite in millions of restaurants in New York City so why paddle over from your Manhattan accommodation to Williamsburg (Brooklyn)?

BECAUSE…you need to visit Williamsburg once anyway and it is even more fun at night as this neighbourhood is full of cool bars, cafés, restaurants, speakeasies and clubs - which are not frequented too much by tourists from Idaho or Germany. If you don’t want to pay big dollars on Four Seasons or Jean Georges and fancy a cheap chain diner then there is a real alternative: Fette Sau (means fat pig).

The closest subway station is probably Metropolitan/Lorimer on the L line. Go on Metropilitan opposite direction of subway, pass under the highway and find a driveway equipped with picnic tables on the left hand side, close to Havemeyer Street. You’ve arrived! This joint is a former garage and still kept its industrial style. Not big, but cozy.

They offer earthy, greasy but solid pork, beef and lamb through a self-service butcher’s counter which is paid by weight. The staff puts your meat directly on a sheet of paper on your tray. You can choose from a few sides that are not overwhelming but you have at least something to chew on besides your meat (potato salad and such). You are probably terrified when you see black pieces of meat coming from the smoke apparatus which is the heart of this place. You’ll find a changing variety of ribs, leg of lamb, belly of pork, steak and pastrami. Accompanied by one of the local brewed beers and a shot of digestif, bourbon or whiskey from the über-equipped bar and you will be happy (not you, veggies and vegans!) There is a handful of different home-made and creative sauces for your meal as well. The meat is greasy, tender and aromatic. Their staff is nice and folks around you may be students, young families from the neighbourhood and some southerners who swear on this unpretentious cuisine.

Fette Sau

Those who do not flinch from eating at Fetta Sau earned an interesting experience away from the Times Square pack and can call themselves “hip”. Find your way back to by continuing further in direction of the East River with a final visit to a chic watering-hole in Wiliamsburg before boarding the L-train back to “civilized“ Manhattan.

carsteng Dining Reviews, Travel

What to Eat in Tel Aviv

February 27th, 2008
Tel Aviv Israel
(View of Tel Aviv from Old Jaffa)

While traveling for business I visited Israel last year and it was an amazing experience! The Tel Aviv dining was absolutely fabulous! Everything was so fresh and delicious! I have listed below a few of my favorites during my stay.

Giraffe Noodle Bar - Located on 49 Ibn Gvirol Street in Tel Aviv, this bar offers a mix of Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Japanese cuisines. The menu is full of noodle dishes and a large selection of sushi. Make sure you bring your appetite because the servings are huge! I had the sushi, a Thai noodle dish and Israeli wine which were all excellent!

Tandorri Restaurant – This Indian Restaurant is located on Dizengoff Sq. in Tel-Aviv. I have never tried Indian food before and I am spoiled forever! Vinod Pushkarna, the owner, recommended several dishes for myself and friends which were full of flavor! The atmosphere is wonderful and the staff is very friendly.

Moon - This restaurant has a must see conveyor-belt sushi bar! The sushi and hot tempura dishes are amazing! A fun place to eat and socialize! Moon is located on 58 Bograshov Street in Tel Aviv.

amiep Travel, Travel Guide

Paris - The City of Lights - Champs Elysees and More!

February 26th, 2008

Hi guys,

My name is Elinor and I just moved to the Orlando area a few months ago.

I come from Paris, known as the City of Lights, the City of Love, and the City of Fashion. For those who have never been there, or for the ones that want some tips, I will tell you the how to have a perfect day in Paris!

I would definitely stay at the hotel Georges V. It has beautiful spacious and luxurious rooms. I think it is the perfect location on the Champs Elysees.

 

Champs Eylsees

(looking down the Champs Elysees)

By the way, the hotel Georges V. is super expensive, but you only live once, right? If the hotel is too expensive, then I would recommend the Saint Germain, it’s a little bit cheaper and very nice.

For breakfast I totally recommend to eat in Le Cafe Francais, it’s located in the Bastille Quarter and you will have the best croissant you can ever eat…be French till the end.)

Then, let’s shop in Les Galeries Lafayettes, it is a huge building only for shopping and is crowded with people from open till close (the whole street is dedicated to the shopping hobby!)

After spending a lot of Euros, you must be hungry. Just pick up a sub at Paul ( bakery) so you can still do some window shopping.

Tired? Spend your afternoon in the famous museum Le Louvre, or just relax at a Starbucks ( yes, there are StarBucks in Paris too!) Make sure you save your energy for the night!

Le Louvre

(the Le Louvre museum)

For dinner time I would recommend a sushi restaurant, or a light dinner so you will not be too be tired for the night coming up!

Here we go! It’s Night Club Time! Most of them are on the Champs Elysees, so you can just jump from one to another if you do not like the music. My favorite one is La Maison Blanche, it has all kinds of music.

It’s 5 o’clock AM, time to go back to the hotel or just skip it and start another day with a very nice breakfast just remember to change your clothes!

One Final Tip: come with a lot of money and do not sleep too much!

Enjoy Paris Life!

Paris France

elinorb Tips, Travel, Travel Guide , ,

The Infamous Polar Plunge

February 25th, 2008

Polar Bear Plunge

While in Madison Wisconsin visiting some friends I had the opportunity to witness the Polar Plunge. If there is one in your area you have to see this! The plunge is a charity event that gives businesses, organizations and individuals the opportunity to support local Special Olympics athletes. There are two ways to raise money for this charity event:

1) Get Sponsored. Have individuals, organizations or businesses sponsor you to take the plunge.

2) Pledge a Plunger. If you don’t want to take the plunge yourself, you can make a contribution and sponsor a plunger.

Polar Bear Plunge

The Polar Plunge I saw took place in Olin Turville Park, Madison on frozen Lake Monona. There was a man made dock on the shoreline of a hole cut into the lake that was surrounded by spectators armed with cameras. The plungers get into lines and make there way towards the dock dressed in full costumes and some in bathing suits. The announcers count down and the plungers jump into the freezing water, make their way across the decent sized hole to the ladder and then run to the hot tubs and changing area to warm up.

Polar Bear Plunge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a promotional video for the state of Wisconsin Polar Plunge on YouTube.

For more information visit Wisconsin’s Polar Plunge website

Erica Fischer Events, Travel

The best “Barrio” in Buenos Aires, La Boca

February 20th, 2008

Hi to all,

This is my first post, so i will introduce myself, I’m Matias from the Last Minute Travel team.

Altough I mainly deal with Europe I want to give you some useful tips for the neighborhood of La Boca which is located in the city of Buenos Aires were I was born.

One of the “must visit” places is “Caminito” right beside the seaport, a colorful street with lovely local people, you will be able to find all what a visitor is looking for in Buenos Aires, Tango, local painting, local handcrafts, good food and many Boca Juniors football team Fans.

Not far from there (Blocks) you can find the mythic “La Bombonera” Stadium were the Boca Junrios team plays.

In the Necochea street you should visit the Inmigrants church which was constructed with funds donated from immigrants that populated the neighborhood (Mainly Italians).

The only wax museum of Argentina is located Del Valle Iberlucea street, not far from the Boca Junior Stadium, it shows most of the Argentinian history starting from the local natives.

And of course when talking about food, I would recommend to stop for a Pizza Slice at Banchero ( Almirante Brown 1200), this cozy restaurant was inaugurated by an Italian immigrant in 1932 and since then it is a meeting point for the people of “La Boca”

Here is a cool clip of the “Caminito”

I Hope you will enjoy it…


Matias

matiaselisavetsky Tips, Travel, Travel Guide ,

How to Avoid Jet Lag

February 20th, 2008

Jet Lag is caused by changes in your circadian rhythm. The symptoms vary from person to person. In general, women seem to be more susceptible to jet lag than men and younger people tend to get jet lagged worse than older people. Some common symptoms of jet lag include dehydration (if you are traveling by plane from the dry air), fatigue, disorientation, grogginess, insomnia, irregular sleep patterns, loss of appetite, nausea, upset stomach, irritability, mild depression, irrationality, headaches and sinus irritation. The following dos and don’ts can help you prevent some of the symptoms.

Dos

  • Get a good night sleep before taking any trip
  • If you have a connecting flight take a walk around the airport and on long flights stand up once and awhile to stretch
  • If you are going to be in a plane avoid alcoholic beverages and drink plenty of water to help keep you hydrated. Drinking alcohol will dehydrate you and make your jet lag worse.
  • Taking a shower between flights if possible or right when you get to your hotel room can help reduce symptoms of jet lag.
  • When you arrive at your destination, try to stay awake until the local bedtime. Taking a quick power nap is ok as long as it is a short one and you get up so you do not catch up on your sleep during the day.
  • Get as much daylight as you can to help your body naturally adjust quicker to the time zone.

Don’ts

  • Do not take Melatonin! It has not been proven to prevent jet lag and if you miscalculate, this tactic you can make your jet lag even worse.
  • Do not take sleeping pills! This can be extremely dangerous and even fatal due to the prolonged immobility of the body during the flight. Sleeping pills can cause passengers fatal blood clots and worsen dehydration.

Erica Fischer Asides, Tips, Travel

In Madrid, with nothing but my health

February 18th, 2008

Gone – my iPod, camera, passport, wallet with my license, cash, every credit card, really, any card with my name on it was gone. I was in Madrid, Spain for a tradeshow and with nothing to link me to my actual identity, I had 16 hours to catch my flight and, hopefully, maintain my identity, credit rating, etc.

Long story short, at the tradeshow, I put my bag behind the booth for 3 minutes while typing an email on my blackberry. When I went back, it was gone.

If you are unprepared like I was, follow my example as it seemed to work pretty well. However, if you are reading this, you should now know better than to be unprepared.

  1. While crying, I took inventory of what I did still had. . . my blackberry. If you have every read the book “Hatchet” that is what my blackberry meant to me
  2. Next, inventory of my credit cards. A nearby booth had computers with internet so I got phone numbers for each credit card and started cancelling them
  3. While online, I got the address and phone number to the US embassy in Madrid and my hotel (including fax). I called the US Embassy emergency number to find out what I should do.
  4. Next call - my parents. Three years ago I had given them a photocopy of my passport, hopefully they still had it and could fax it to my hotel.
  5. In case my parents didn’t come through, I emailed my employer. When you are employed they always photocopy your driver’s license.
  6. I went straight to my hotel and immediately got a new room since the thief had my hotel room key.
  7. The front desk pointed me to the police station (the embassy asks you what measures you took to find/report your lost passport). My friend who lives there accompanied me (unfair advantage). It took an hour, but would have taken 2 with out her as my translator.
  8. Arrive at the embassy when it opens (8 am) - get in the line for American citizens. When you get in, you take a number, fill out 3 forms and take a picture (4 Euros). Although they didn’t ask for an ID, they did take the faxed photocopy of my passport when offered (thanks mom & dad!). I had a temporary passport (good for 3 months) 1.5 hours and $100 dollars later, which my friend provided, so keep cash separate from your passport. They do accept euros, dollars and credit cards, but the credit card network was down. PS: Don’t expect sympathy from anyone at the embassy.

Here is what I should have done:

  1. In the United States:
    1. Leave photocopies of your passport and credit card front/back with someone you trust and leave a copy in your office.
    2. Memorize your Social Security Number and Passport number.
    3. Create a document with phone numbers to (1) ‘the keepers of your photocopies,’ (2) your credit cards and (3) the US embassy for where ever you are traveling. Email yourself the document and keep one copy - separate from your wallet.
    4. Take no more than 2 credit cards with you.
    5. Whether traveling on work or pleasure, back up your computer!
  2. In the country:
    1. Keep your passport and extra cash in your hotel safe, not on you.
    2. Keep your valuables/credit cards in multiple places.
    3. Keep bags and valuables in eye sight at all times.

lvolcheff Tips, Travel

What you Should Know About Rule 240

February 14th, 2008

If your flight has been canceled and you are stranded at the airport or if your flight is delayed and is going to cause you to miss a connecting flight, Rule 240 can come in very handy. Basically, the rule guarantees passengers certain rights that the airline is obligated to abide by. This rule is for US. airlines and does not apply to airlines outside the US. A few things to note before booking a flight with an airline when looking for the rule:

1.) This rule is not a federal requirement which means that all airlines are not required to have one.

2.) To find this rule check the policy of the airline in which you are flying on and obtain a copy to keep with you while you travel just in case.

3.) If your airline does have a Rule 240, the following are examples of conditions that would constitute a flight delay or cancellation by fault of the airline:

· If the pilot or other crew are late to the aircraft

· Late arrival of the aircraft

· Mechanical problems

4.) This rule does not guarantee that you get an automatic refund for your flight. It can, however get you some of the following:

· A flight on the airline’s next flight or a flight on another airline

· The option to not travel and obtain a refund

· Meal vouchers

· Ground transportation

· Phone calls

· Hotel accommodation

Erica Fischer Tips, Travel

Road Trip Planning Tips

February 13th, 2008

If you are thinking about taking a road trip, preparation is key. Here are six Road Trip Planning Tips:

  • Get your car thoroughly checked and serviced before you leave.
  • Inquire ahead about service facility locations just in case the area has a few service centers, especially if you are driving a rental vehicle.
  • Mark your route on a map in a distinct color and make notes of interchanges if you will be changing roads or directions.
  • Plan for detours and delays by getting the phone numbers of state transportation agencies along your route and request information about highway construction.
  • For safer driving, plan on at least a 10-minute break every two hours.
  • If you plan on driving a rental car, make sure you carry your proof of auto insurance in a safe place.

Erica Fischer Tips, Travel