Travel Advice


Mar 09 2010

Hidden Treasures – Three Books About Living, Eating, and Traveling Green

Published by under Book Reviews

Living and traveling green doesn’t take great personal sacrifice, but not all of us know how to get started without giving up our habits and routines. “Green” may be a popular trend, but you don’t have to buy expensive “earth friendly” products, eat strictly vegan, or stop going places and retreat to a secluded cabin in the woods to practice eco-living. Allow me to present some Hidden Treasures that will prove it to you.

Wake Up And Smell The Planet, The Non-Pompous, Non-Preachy Grist Guide to Greening Your Day edited by Brangien Davis with Katharine Wroth

“We bet we can guess what your morning routine looks like: You gently click off your solar-powered alarm clock, crawl out of your hemp sheets, don organic cotton slippers a recycled fleece robe, and shuffle across your bamboo floors to the bathroom where you bathe in rain water and botanicals harvested from your own garden.
Not quite? Good.” This is when you snicker and read on.

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Apr 25 2009

Ode to Skyr – A Vegetarian’s Guide to Iceland

The Author Eats Skyr Unaware of the Lurking Camera on a Bus in Iceland

The Author Eats Skyr Unaware of the Lurking Camera on a Bus Somewhere in Iceland

Iceland is often described as a magical place. And for the average tourist there – as opposed to the average banker these days – I would have to agree with that assessment. The ethereal landscape particularly lends itself to Lord of the Rings-type fantasies. Waterfalls spill down the green hills into valleys of pastel wildflowers and hot springs. Snow-capped volcanoes, seething sulfur pits, and the occasional fjord pop up every now and then. Don’t be ashamed if you envision yourself sporting chain mail and downing flagons of mead after a hard day of discovering North America and slaying dragons. It seems like one could make quite a living offering Viking reenactments or selling Merlin costumes. And apparently they do. Continue Reading »

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Feb 07 2009

What to Do with Your Travel Loot

Travel Loot -- photo by Nicole

Travel Loot -- photo by Nicole

You’ve spent weeks, months, or even years planning your trip.  You’ve fantasized about lazy vacation days on a Caribbean beach, slathered in suntan oil instead of wrapped up in scarves.  You’ve spent long afternoons at work mulling over hotel deals and airfare to that remote South Pacific island where you can throw out your wool socks and throw on a sarong, all the while appearing, of course, to the eyes of prying bosses to be diligently at work.  Maybe you’ve elaborately mapped out a European museum spree, complete with pastry breaks and espresso stops.  Or perhaps you’ve spent your weekends training for a thrilling, perilous trek up a snow-capped Himalayan peak, interviewing sherpas and depriving yourself of oxygen.

But now you’re back.  You’ve taken several hundred pictures, sent off your postcards, lost your passport, gotten ripped off by taxi drivers and rickshaw wallahs, seen some pretty disgusting toilets, found your passport (hopefully not in the disgusting toilet), and managed to make it back home with several extra bags full of hard-earned, hopefully hard-bargained for, travel goodies.

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Jul 24 2008

Just a Car Ride Away

Vermont--photo by Jess Jorge

Lake Rescue, Vermont--photo by Jess

For better or worse, I’ve spent a good hunk of time touring the New England region in the past couple months. I’ve taken the train to coastal Connecticut, the commuter rail to the North Shore of Boston, the train to New York City, and I’ve driven to southern Vermont, northern New Jersey, and Hartford, Conn. For lack of more exotic travel dispatches, here is some advice on traveling not-so-far from home:

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Jul 06 2008

Brawling and Bawling: Adventures On Romania’s Railways

Women Travelers

Women Travelers by Christel Mouchard

I have only had one “major” problem while traveling by myself. This happened way back in 1998, when I was working as a teacher in Romania. During my two week Easter vacation my sister and I went on a “sister-bonding” trip through Scandinavia. After dumping her off at the airport, I just wanted to get home and relax. Against my better judgment and multiple warnings from my surprisingly travel-savvy 5th graders to “NEVER EVER TAKE THE NIGHT TRAIN FROM BUDAPEST TO TIMISOARA!!!” I decided to go ahead and take the dreaded night train to Romania. The whole thing was a disaster. Once I got to the train station I was unable to buy a ticket for the “Romanian” portion of my trip, due to local bureaucratic peculiarities that were (and still are) baffling to me. I finally decided that I was going to take a chance and try to buy a ticket from the conductor once I crossed that border, and started to settle into my compartment. While stashing my luggage in the overhead compartment, I was suddenly relieved of my purse by a charming Hungarian petty thief. I channeled my inner Powerpuff Girl, chased the guy down, grabbed my purse back, screamed Romanian obscenities that made no sense whatsoever coming from a girl, momentarily incapacitated him, and made my way back down the corridor to a chorus of “bravos” from all of the Hungarian men that witnessed the event, but didn’t bother to help me. As I sunk into my seat, a large majority of these men surrounded me, pinched my cheeks, told me to be careful, asked why I wasn’t married, and persistently tried to sell me their watches.

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Jul 03 2008

My Top Six Burrito Spots in Boston

Published by under News,Travel Tips and Resources

Okay, so some people blog about things of greater consequence — vacations or…beer — but unfortunately I lead a relatively boring life, so here are some of the places in Boston to get that ultimate cheap street food: the humble burrito. This is more for the newcomer or visitor to Boston than a resident, so I will not be listing any of the national chains (eat local folks). A further note, if you’re from the West Coast or elsewhere you may have the idea that Mexican food on the East Coast is terrible, which might or might not be true, you’re just going to have to deal either way. Also be warned, these are my picks, no one else’s.

1) El Pelon: El Pelon Taqueria, 92 Peterborough St. (between Jersey and Kilmarnock Sts.), in the Fenway is one of my all-time favorite burrito places outside of the West Coast or Southwest. Nothing is better on a summer afternoon than hitting up El Pelon before heading over to Fenway Park to watch the Sox. Lines can be long, especially on game days, but they move fast, and if you move faster you can snag a seat. Very good salsa and fresh ingredients. I’ve been told the fish tacos are very good, and they’re on my list for next time. Pelon has the added benefit of being significantly cheaper (and more filling) than anything comparable you’ll find inside the Park or on the nearby Yawkey Way, so you have more cash for beer and peanuts.

2) Anna’s Taqueria: Anna’s, at various locations throughout the city, is right behind Fenway Park on the list of places I consider my church.

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Jun 27 2008

Hooray to the Mighty Red Maps!

Published by under News

Red Map of NYC

Red Map of NYC

Yesterday, my day off, I was lucky enough to take a day trip to New York City. It wasn’t just for fun; on the contrary, I had the task of helping my two foreign friends.

New York City is overwhelming. It comes down on you like a hurricane, like a mighty wave of light, sound, heat, commotion and pure thrill. Its streets are like overflowing rivers and its subway system is a maze that confuses you in a snap. All of it together makes your head spin. Now, multiply the effect of it all by a thousand for two humble guys who haven’t seen anything like that in their entire lives. So, I had no other option than to turn into Ariadne for one day — to help them find their way in this labyrinth called “The City.”

Well, even Ariadne had to use a wool thread. I had a better tool in my hands — two Red Maps of New York City. I presented those to my friends and they immediately let out two sighs of relief. They obviously were not going for a lot of details, so something clear, straight to the point and with a subway map marked right over the streets perfectly served the purpose. I headed back to Boston with a light heart yesterday just because I know there is nothing better than a nice, useful, helpful map to make a brief stay even in the bustle of New York City a breeze.

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Jun 25 2008

Ruby Slippers Will Get You Nowhere!

Published by under Book Reviews

Serengeti National Park

Map of Serengeti National Park, Tanzania

I love being outside, whether it is on my bike, camping, hiking, or even driving around with the windows open. It is one of the greatest things in the world. However, I have found myself in certain situations where being outside can be a pretty scary thing. Some examples: you go on a hike, get lost, and do not know which way is which. Another time, you get up at night in the pitch black while camping and your flashlight doesn’t work. Or, your boat battery dies when you are nowhere near land. I know you’re thinking that I am an ill-prepared moron, but that is not always the case. You never know what is going to happen next and the great outdoors is called “great” for a reason.

There is a book I would recommend to you persons who might encounter these situations: Finding Your Way Without Map or Compass, by Harold Gatty. This dude tells you everything, and I mean everything. Within the book you will find:
1. How to navigate when lost at sea based on sea swells.
2. How to find your way when all the navigational tools die on your plane.
3. Where the sun is on a cloudy day just by looking at trees.

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Jun 03 2008

Advice Sought!

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Being a procrastinator, it is very odd for me to start thinking about packing my suitcase more than a month in advance of my departure. I typically pack at the last minute, having perfected my method of loading my clothes directly into my suitcase from the dryer. However, I am flying myriad budget airlines in Europe, and due to their luggage requirements, I can only take 20 kg with me! Usually this is not a problem, however my itinerary is a little “scattered.” Continue Reading »

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May 18 2008

Excellent Visa Service

If you are traveling to a country that requires a visa, I highly recommend using A. Briggs Passport and Visa Expeditors in Washington, D.C. For a $55 fee, A. Briggs will do all the necessary legwork for you (and for $95 they will get your visa as quickly as the consulate will issue it). I have gotten three Russia visas and a Tajik visa through A. Briggs, and every time the service has been courteous and prompt. Continue Reading »

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