It was my son’s 10th birthday and we always try to celebrate with a super summery adventure. One year we went to Disneyland. Last year, The Police Reunion Concert (my choice) and this year I deftly averted a trip to Vacaville, CA and Scandia; a nightmarish Scandinavian themed, mini-golf/ arcade experience, in 100 plus degree heat (thanks to a colleague who did a weather check for me). We settled on Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, a West Coast Coney Island if you will, kinda lost in time; totally manageable. So off we went ready for rides, perhaps swimming, lots of sugary treats and maybe a skeeball game or two (my grandma Viola was the queen of skeeball in Hollywood, Florida and I have taken up the passion). We had a blast on the flume, roller coasters and my favorite, a hang gliding twirly thing; although the chin rest smelled super funky sweaty. I even did some body surfing and a sea lion joined me about 30 yards away. But the highlight o the day was the FREE circus performance on the beach. CIRQUE MAGNIFIQUE has performances July 12th- August 20th. There are two free shows daily; Monday –Thursday: noon & 3:00 and Sunday: noon & 6:00. It is no Cirque du Soleil, but we knew immediately the performers were Quebecois (what’s in the water there?). It was so adorable, I would venture… enchanting. It wasn’t jaw dropping feats but completely entertaining and so lovely to enjoy in the sun, rubbing your feet in the sand; don’t miss it!
Bastille Day is next week. This is a special day for me, not because I passionately studied French History or married a Frog, in a previous life, or even because I count being at the Bi-Centennial Celebration in Paris in 1989 as a peak life moment, but because my eldest son was ironically born on July 14th, 1999. I have so much baggage and history with France and French Culture. The love/ hate relationship still teeters more towards love but I can’t deny I get a bit gleeful when there is bad press, the French are exposed as hypocritical or in some way there is de-mythologization of some aspect of the coveted culture. I get a lot of mileage out of my stories of living in France; much like the New Yorker’s Adam Gopnick, I always found humor in the little things. The hilarious scene at Disneyland Paris buffet where diners swarmed a waiter delivering a bowl of bread to the buffet before he could even reach it. The fact that my friend was served mussels and spicy merguez sausage as the first post-operative meal in the hospital or the fact that before my marriage I had to get a ‘Carte de Concubinage’; a card stating that I was his concubine… I could go on. So today I open up to the Yahoo Page with the lead story: “French Tourists Seen as World’s Worst: Survey”. So apparently, according to this survey, done by Expedia, the French, despite their rumored savoir faire, were declared the most arrogant, cheap and worst at foreign languages of all global travelers. Continue reading »
Last week I was invited to a friend’s rental house in Inverness in Marin County, on Tomales Bay, surrounded by Point Reyes National Seashore, with my five-year-old. We left the house at 7 a.m. to maximize our visit, stopped at House of Bagels (the best bagels in SF) and bought loads of yummy stuff and headed over the bridge. The sun was shining and I was so looking forward to spending quality time with my friend and her family.
Inverness is a small village named after the Scottish town and there is so much to recommend it. Continue reading »
There may be no animal more impressive to see in the wild than the tiger. These regal creatures that once prowled the forests of Asia in the hundreds of thousands are now down to a few thousand, with human encroachment on their habitat putting more pressure on them.
Yet there are wildlife sanctuaries in India and Nepal where tourists can see them despite their dwindling numbers. Tourism brings money into local economies and can contribute to conservation efforts in and around the parks, and can provide a financial incentive to local residents for protecting the animals. But not everyone thinks tourists looking for tigers in wildlife preserves is a good idea. Continue reading »
I used to get upgraded to Business or even First Class when flying abroad with video crews for Preview Travel, the company that helped inspire Triporati. It was amazing! Massages in-flight, champagne, full beds, fresh and well rested upon arrival, I even felt like I got more oxygen! I never tired of the groovy toiletries kits and I still have some of the products these many years later. Would I ever pay for it…no. Would I ever use my frequent flyer miles to upgrade…maybe for a long haul flight.
As coach service has become worse and worse, the lure of Business and First Class seems more appealing. Yet with the cost so high, one feels like a kid looking at candy or toys through a shop window: it’s there but so out of reach. I chuckled recently when I read about how the downturn in the economy has hit business and first class travelers hardest…seems we are all flying cattle car coach these days.
Triporati Producer Gwynn Gacosta recently returned from a trip to the Philippines and has this take on the issue of “Class” travel.
Slumming It in Business Class
I tend to hate air travel and lately, there’d been little to like about it. The food, or lack thereof, is terrible; the service rude or indifferent. I hate that we in coach class aren’t allowed to use the bathrooms in business class, even if those are the ones we are seated closest to. That there is no comfortable way to sit in order to avoid the people directly in front of us, behind us, next to us. Certainly not with the leg room provided.
For my recent trip to the Philippines, I had to mentally prepare for an over 12-hour flight each way. And really, there’s really no other way to prepare for that except to accept that it’s going to be uncomfortable and hellish. I always wondered what first class and business class would be like, but I never thought I’d be so lucky to experience it.
When I arrived at the airport, a Cathay Pacific customer service rep informed me that my flight had been overbooked. “Would you mind switching to a Japan Airlines flight, which leaves at around the same time, but arrives in Manila earlier? And for your inconvenience, might we also offer you $200 spending cash as well as a coupon voucher for a free business class upgrade and access to our business class lounge for your next Cathay Pacific flight?”
Uh…is this a trick question? Continue reading »
Triporati’s Chile and Argentina expert Wayne Bernhardson reports that the future is uncertain for the national park comprising the Juan Fernández Archipelago, which includes Robinson Crusoe Island. The report on his blog for Moon Guides says that the government is considering building a road from the airstrip to the village of San Juan Bautista.
Is a road from an airstrip to town such a transgression? Well, maybe if it’s through landscape Wayne describes as “one of the most scenic and solitary [walks] I’ve ever done.” Right now to go from the village to the airstrip requires a four-hour walk or a one-hour sail, but isn’t that what you’d expect on an island where castaway Alexander Selkirk lived alone for four years to become the inspiration for Daniel Defoe’s famous novel, Robinson Crusoe? Continue reading »
Perhaps it won’t be long before the U.S. embargo of Cuba is over and Americans of any stripe can freely visit the island. Until then, Triporati’s Conner Gorry will keep us abreast of developments on her new blog, Here Is Havana, whether cultural, political, or just plain fun.
Here are a few of the many things she loves about Cuba:
- The way the palm trees smell after it rains
- 5 cent cigars
- Drinking little cups of sweet, black coffee around the kitchen table with friends
- Yucca with mojo
- The music – from Pancho Amat to Pancho Terry, Los Van Van to Los López-Nussas.1
- How anything under the sun can be fixed and rendered functional
There’s more, so check it out.
When traveling in much of the developing world, having money in small denominations is important. Even when traveling in the so-called “First World,” having small denominations is helpful for tips and such. But in Vietnam, as Triporati expert Richard Sterling reports, having small money is essential. Without it, getting the simplest things done becomes a chore.
Richard moved to Vietnam last year and sent this dispatch about life in his Saigon neighborhood.
The View From 608
Life as I see it from apartment 608 on Ngo Tat To (”No Tattoo”) Street, Saigon
By Richard Sterling
A DOLLAR AND A DIME
You’ve always got to have “small money” in your pocket. In Vietnam or any other “Third World” country, any poor country, you need small money. There are too many persons who simply can’t or won’t break a five. Or a six, as the case may be. Here in Vietnam, for example, we have the 50,000 Dong note. A laughably big number for a sum that amounts to a three dollar bill. Years ago I asked a beggar here, when he pressed me for alms, for change of a 50,000 Dong note. More the fool I. The poor old sod had maybe one one hundredth of that in his krinkly, wrinkled hands. Then there was the time in Mexico when I was pulled over by a traffic cop. I earnestly tried to convince him that the stop sign was hidden by the tree (so providently placed), and so I couldn’t see it. He politely responded, “It’s not much money, Señor.” The smallest I had was a tenner. I asked him if he had change. He might have had a pocket full of ones and fives, but the answer was, of course, a smiling “Sorry, Señor.” I ponied up the ten-spot. Lesson learned. Carry small money. Always, carry small money. Continue reading »
I like city driving; not freeways, but I can handle the Marin route out of San Francisco. So, I have made the trip to the Healdsburg area in Sonoma County three times in the last few months. Recently, for a birthday party at a lovely B & B called the Gipson Bed & Breakfast, owned by an old friend and his wife.
I had been to the same spot last summer for an epic 50th Russian Dacha birthday party, where many guests camped and a Russian BBQ ensued with a zip line, trampoline, bubbles, pool, jacuzzi and pogo-sticks for the big and little kids and of course shots of vodka and blinis for the hearty adults. This time it was for a five-year-old’s party, the daughter of my friends, the innkeepers.
Healdsburg lies at the crossroads of three of California’s most famous wine growing appellations: Dry Creek Valley, Alexander Valley and the Russian River Valley. It is surrounded by more than 60 wineries and is a favorite Sonoma Wine Country destination. Continue reading »
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I was driving to work yesterday and heard a compelling report on NPR about the R2I phenomenon. R2I is short for “Return to India,” the story of so many who have perhaps studied and lived in the U.S. for many years and have now decided to return home. For many, it is the pull of the aging parents or maybe the desire to bring their knowledge and expertise to their homeland. There is no better time as the U.S. economy declines and the Indian economy continues to be robust.
With recent elections and the distractions arch-enemy Pakistan is facing, many Indian ex-pats are packing up their Silicon Valley, New Jersey or Dallas digs and heading home. According to Sandip Roy’s NPR report, web sites offer advice on everything from who’s hiring in Bangalore to how much gold you can bring home. Dubbed “a brain drain in reverse,” many of these folks jumping on the R2I train are in their mid–thirties, with families and higher degrees. When they return, despite their heritage, many experience a culture shock. Continue reading »