Category: General Travel

More Impressive than Valley Forge!

Valley Forge certainly has a better PR department than Morristown, N.J. People flock to Valley Forge to see an American Revolutionary War winter encampment, but a much more convenient place to see an even better show is Morristown.

No battles were fought in either location. Troops spent the winter of 1777 at Valley Forge, but the much more brutal winter of 1779 was spent at Morristown. It was there that George Washington settled in for what is recorded as the worst American winter ever. After this encampment, Washington began the decisive push south and eventual Yorktown victory that ended the war two years later in 1781. (more…)

WOW, other discount airlines, don’t

Flying these days is anything but luxurious, and the discount airlines nickel and dime you for everything. Nevertheless, sometimes the price of the ticket makes putting up with the inconveniences worth it. I don’t think that happens often, though. I recently flew the discount airline WOW (pronounced “vow”) Airlines to Iceland. This is a newish Iceland-based airline built on the same type of platform as Spirit Air, another discounter. I found the experience almost unbearable.

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Going the Extra Mile to Save for a Lifetime

The National Park Service’s Senior Pass is one benefit of getting older. If you are over age 62, the pass allows holders to enter parks free of charge. If you drive a car, the whole carload gets in without paying. So youngsters, make friends with the elderly! Currently the pass costs $10 and is good for your lifetime. Effective at the end of this month, August, the price is scheduled to go up to $80.

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Stranded in Mexico City

On a recent trip to Mexico City, my evening flight was cancelled due to storms in Dallas. I was forced to stay overnight at the airport until I could get the next flight in the morning. The morning flight was also cancelled due to the equipment not arriving in Mexico City as a result of the same weather. I didn’t get out until nearly 18 hours after my scheduled departure. All this had an upside. It gave me time to explore Mexico City’s international airport. I was pleasantly surprised.

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Add Mexico City to the A-list

Ask people in Mexico City and they invariably tell you it’s the world’s second largest city with 36 million inhabitants, second only to Shanghai’s 42 million. Of course, I have no way of independently verifying this, but a Google search reveals that the population is much lower and Mexico City isn’t second. In any event, the place is huge.

Such a huge city has its share of traffic problems and pollution can get very bad. But on the June weekend when I visited, it was sweater cool and the skies were very blue. Situated in a bowl surrounded by mountains, I can see how the pollution can vary. But its elevation usually makes the climate mild, despite the erroneous mythology to the contrary. Traffic, alas, is definitely a problem. I suggest you don’t drive in Mexico City.

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Zika poo

          The Zika mosquito is worth worrying about. It can cause a terrible human toll. Full disclosure: the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) contacted me and other travel writers to get the word out about this underappreciated threat.

Zika is a disease that is spread by the bite of a mosquito. If you get the disease, your symptoms may be so mild that you won’t even realize you have it. However, if bitten during pregnancy, the disease can spread to the fetus and cause birth defects. The fetus can be infected even by a mother that has no symptoms. Those with symptoms may experience fever, rash, joint pain, and red eyes that last for about a week.

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Get Thee to the Brooklyn Flea

The venerable Williamsburg Savings Bank Building in downtown Brooklyn stood for years as the tallest building around. Its clock tower served as the timepiece for the surrounding neighborhoods, and its clock face was the largest ever at the time. Built in 1927 in a modernized Byzantine-Romanesque style that is hard to duplicate today, with large amounts of limestone and marble accompanied by beautiful mosaics and tinted windows, it was, and remains, an architectural masterpiece. Eventually it was eclipsed by taller buildings, converted in part to luxury loft condominiums, and today the old bank floor with its 63-foot-high ceiling is the centerpiece of one of the coolest uses you can think of … a Saturday flea market known as the Brooklyn Flea.

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New York Isn’t All City

                                                              The goat gives evil eye

When people think of New York, they think of the Big Apple, New York City, but New York is also home to a great rural life worth exploring.

Drive a mere one and one-half hours north of the center of The City and you’re smack dab in the Catskill Mountains with its farms, ski resorts, and rich history.

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India’s Golden Triangle Not Golden for All

Delhi is India’s biggest city (and one of the world’s biggest, too), with all the typical problems of large cities in the undeveloped world including excessive traffic, pollution, poverty, and crime. Southwest of Delhi is the city of Jaipur; southeast of Delhi is Agra, site of the Taj Mahal. These three cities form what is popularly known as the “Golden Triangle” of India, the most heavily visited area for tourists to India.

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Entitled to be Rude?

     Being wheeled around (lower right)

 I was traveling to India through Dubai. I didn’t realize that 1/3 of the population of Dubai is Indian. As usual, I carried what I needed on board in a backpack. I don’t like risking losing baggage in foreign countries when I have connecting flights. This happened to me once on a trip to Egypt. I had to get someone who spoke Arabic to call Egypt Airlines repeatedly until I was granted access to the lost baggage area at the airport, a room the size of a football field filled with baggage of all types. That didn’t happen until the day before I was to leave the country. But I did find my bag there. A lot of valuable touring time was wasted in the effort.

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