Mardi Gras — Fat Tuesday — falls on February 13 this year, and is celebrated in America most notably in Louisiana.
In my limited Mardi Gras experience, I’ve noticed that Louisianans like to dance to Cajun music, dress up and ride in Mardi Gras parades, catch beads, drink copious amounts of liquid refreshments, and eat crawfish.
I love seafood, but when I was presented with a heaping platter of boiled crawfish in Lake Charles, Louisiana, a few Mardi Gras celebrations ago, I was a little intimidated.
While crawfish look like little lobsters, they’re way too small to crack in the same way. So how do you eat them without making a fool of yourself in front of the locals?
If you find yourself in a similar situation, here’s what I was taught by a local expert (and it works!):
1. Pick up one fully boiled crawfish.… Continue reading
Sometimes even experienced travelers make simple mistakes that can get a trip off to a very bad start, or even ruin it altogether.
The folks at by Grand European Travel — which specializes in guided vacations and river cruises in Europe and around the world — have developed a helpful infographic that identifies six common travel mistakes that it would be wise to review before setting off on your next foreign trip.
I’m not immune to making some of these mistakes (sometimes it’s easier to dish out advice than follow it).
My rookie mistakes have included not properly insuring my trip, not packing light, and not notifying my banking institutions that they can soon expect to see charges appearing from places like St. Lucia, Hungary, or the Falkland Islands.
I’m pretty anal about… Continue reading
This is the fifth and final post in guest contributor Myles Stone’s reflections on his recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, more than 40 years after the end of the war that roiled America and in many ways changed baby boomers’ lives and world views forever.
But now it’s a new era in this beautiful Southeast Asian country, where the vast majority of the population was born after what they call the American War. (Even when I visited Viet Nam in 1997, there was little anti-American resentment.)This is the fifth and final post in guest contributor Myles Stone’s reflections on his recent two-month stay with his family in Hoi An, Viet Nam, more than 40 years after the end of the war that roiled America and in many ways changed baby boomers’ lives and world views forever.
Myles offered eloquent observations about the history of… Continue reading
It features a number of “exam” questions that, in a humorous way, are designed to get you thinking about whether you’d rather spend this January in Italy — on their 10-day tour of Rome and Naples called “Fundamental Italy” — or back home in the U.S. in the dead of winter.
Illustrated with photos old and new, the exam asks you to choose between, among other things, shoveling snow or standing in the sunshine overlooking Rome’s Tiber River; having a cup of Dunkin’ Donuts coffee or a cappuccino; eating American fast food or Italian pasta; and viewing a smoggy American city or what looks to be a dreamy photo of the Isle of… Continue reading
Although I’d been to Greece twice before, I wasn’t familiar with the town of Nafplio (also spelled Nafplion) until four members of my family and I spent several days there recently to attend a baptismal ceremony and celebration for the baby daughter of some friends. (More on that in my next post.)
Nafplio is about a two-hour drive from the airport in Athens, and is located at the northern end of the Peloponnesian Peninsula, where the Peloponnesian War pitted the Athenians versus the Spartans in the 5th century BC.
The militaristic Spartans prevailed over the once-dominant but philosophically minded Athenians, dealing a fatal blow to the golden age of ancient Greek democracy.
It was kind of like the Michigan State Spartans football team taking on the UC-Santa Cruz Banana Slugs. Ouch.
Nafplio,… Continue reading
Fourth in a Series:
During my week on the Greek island of Milos, I saw no Mexican restaurants, no sushi bars, no French bistros, or even a Chinese take-out joint.
Yes, there were casual cafes that served pizza, burgers, or crepes as part of their offerings, but no dedicated ethnic eateries or American fast-food places.
All this was fine with me. My family and I ate Greek food three times a day — more if you count the occasional snack — and never got tired of it.
Not only was it almost invariably fresh and delicious, but the variety in selection and preparation far surpassed what you might expect to find in a Greek restaurant in the United States. Our diet went way beyond the familiar gyros,… Continue reading
Second in a Series:
Driving on a Greek island is easy — if you let your spouse take the wheel.
I’m fortunate, in a way, that my wife, Catharine, gets a bit nauseous if she tries to read anything — such as a map — in a moving car. That means that in unfamiliar territory without a GPS, I get to navigate, and she has to drive.
Getting to our house on Milos — which we had rented for a week’s vacation with our son, daughter-in-law and six-month-old grandson — was something of an adventure.
Driving up from Adamas, the largest town in Milos and site of the ferry terminal and waterfront marina, required following a winding road up through the hills while cars zipped around us, passing on blind curves. Catharine stuck… Continue reading
Milos — one of Greece’s sun-soaked Cycladic islands that include the better known Mykonos and Santorini — had not been on my radar until a Greek-American friend of ours suggested it might be the perfect place for a three-generation vacation.
The three generations? My wife, Catharine, and I — first-time grandparents as of six months ago — our son, Grael; daughter-in-law, Nona; and our young grandson, Conrad, making his first trip abroad, brand new passport in hand. (Well, not in his hands — though he would have liked to have gotten hold of it, along with anything dangling and shiny.)
Because we’d all be traveling with a baby, we didn’t want anything too hectic and crowded — that eliminated Mykonos and Santorini — but we did want a good choice of lodgings, restaurants, cafes, and beaches, as… Continue reading
First, let’s establish one thing: I’m not a particularly affluent traveler, certainly by U.S. standards. I don’t really know where I fall in the spectrum of what I spend roaming the world , but I know that when I’m traveling on my own dime price is definitely an object.
Sure, I like to stay in a five-star hotel, dine in a Michelin three-star restaurant or fly first class as much as the next guy, but only if someone else is paying for it. As a consequence, I’ve stayed in some real dumps, eaten any number of meals in greasy spoons, and sat cramped in coach for up to 14 hours at a time on hundreds of flights, all to feed my travel addiction or in furtherance of getting a… Continue reading
“The Savvy Path to Breathtaking Travel, Without the Hassle”
“Less Planning, More Experiencing”
“A Journey of a Thousand Smiles Begins With a Single Click”
These are some of the taglines that express the essence of the new travel website, StrideTravel.com, where I worked for more than a year as Content Director. (My job is now in the capable hands of Content Coordinator Samantha Scott, who, together with co-founders Gavin Delany and Jared Alster, comprise a formidable team.)
In practical terms, Stride aspires to be — and in many ways already is — the best place on the Web to survey the wealth of multi-day, pre-planned trips that are now available from hundreds of travel suppliers around the world.
“Pre-planned trips” may encompass guided group or private tours as well as independent journeys… Continue reading