Month: August 2016

Good News for an Exciting Part of Dallas

Free streetcar will run to one of my favorite Dallas areas, Bishop Arts District, starting Monday



American Diner

Diner car exterior

If you haven’t eaten in a true “diner,” you’re missing out on one of the quintessential remnants of American history. The largest number of remaining diners are spread through New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania. In Texas, the closest thing to a diner is a Waffle House, whose design intentionally mimics that of the original diners.

What makes diners special? They serve very large, sometimes greasy meals (main dish, side and drink) for around $10, and usually include classic American desserts on the menu — things like especially delicious homemade cheesecake, apple and blueberry pies — that you cannot easily duplicate elsewhere. The food offerings have great variety, but you typically won’t find a paper menu. Rather the menu is posted on a board on the wall. Today (for some unknown reason) many diners are operated by Americans of Greek descent, so the menu and desserts include Greek specialties along with “New York” favorites.

Diner car inside (more…)


Fun on Trains

Lots of retail

Do you like striking up a conversation with a total stranger? Maybe you like people watching. In either case, you should consider a trip on America’s trains. It’s a great way to meet and observe fascinating people while seeing a lot of scenery.

America’s trains are not as fast as Japan’s and not as luxurious as the Orient Express, but they offer a unique charm. They usually have quiet cars where people aren’t supposed to talk loudly, so work or sleep comes easier. There are snack bars and some have white tablecloth dining rooms with white-gloved waiters. Amtrak could be extended to go more places, but there is no way you could ride the entire system as it is today.



Secrets of Getting the Best Airfare

Window seat cropped

Getting the window seat may be important if you want to take photos

Some people won’t accept anything less than white-glove service. Some just want to get to a destination at the lowest cost. Either way, no one wants to get ripped off spending more than necessary. Generally, you get what you pay for, but not always. Sometimes the person sitting next to you on the airplane paid a quarter of what you did. So how can we learn what the bottom line is?

The first thing to know is that flying round trip is usually cheaper, but not always. So always check one-way pricing too. Also, if traveling with other people, it may be best to book each reservation separately. I have found that I can get one ticket for less than two sometimes when there is only one low-priced seat left.



$100/lb. Coffee!


 In international competitions, the best coffee isn’t a brand you know because these best coffees are grown and roasted in small quantities and do not sell to the mass market.

I wanted to understand what makes an award-winning coffee, so I visited a high-quality coffee farm in the highlands of western Panama, close to Costa Rica. Usually black coffee has a slightly bitter taste to me. Not so for the coffee made at Finca La Milagrosa (Miracle Farm) run by proprietor Tito Vargas, in Boquete, a town favored by ex-patriates for its cool climate despite being in the tropics and close to the equator.