Category Archive for 'Travel Notes'

For frequent travelers who regularly journey overseas, the credit card company with the dopey barbarian TV commercials has a seductive offer. Repeated unquestioningly by many reputable publications, including The New York Times and Consumer Reports, is this claim, appearing in the FAQ section of the Capital One website: “Capital One does not charge a fee [...]

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Pricey Spanish Spice

There are reasons why saffron is so exprensive. The dainty purple crocus – crocus sativus – is a cousin of those pretty little blossoms that pop through the last snow cover of late winter in the northern climes of the U.S. But it’s only a family resemblance. What’s needed to make saffron are the three, [...]

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You’re an American. Let all those foreigners know it. To make sure you are absolutely, positively identified as a tourist, observe these rules: * Speak up. Waiters and the people at the next table appreciate knowing your preferences and every other detail of your life. Express dismay that someone doesn’t understand English; they’re just stuck-up. [...]

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Clean Lucre

Money, money. We have less, but it buys more, and not just at those 50% to 75% discount sales we’ve been seeing. A euro cost almost $1.60 a year ago this May. Lately, it’s been bouncing around $1.40 (although who knows what next week will bring.) That means that a Rome hotel that cost €200 [...]

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Stealth Poison

Mmm, tasty, this red snapper. One little problem: It might cause projectile vomiting, explosive diarrhea, massive abdominal pain, reeling dizziness, instant rashes, even paralysis or death. If you’re lucky, the cascading symptoms will only last three to six months. The cause is Ciguatera Toxin, a poison carried by predator fish that feed on other fish [...]

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Euro Cheaper

If you spent any time in the Eurozone a year ago, you had to swallow hard and tell yourself it was only money when presented with your bill at the hotel or the neighborhood trattoria. In summer 2008, the euro edged up to $1.60 in value. In March 2009, it dipped as low as $1.25. [...]

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Puffing

Not so long ago, Europeans visiting those parts of the U.S. with anti-smoking regulations mocked American prudery.  Now, smoking has been banned in restaurants and workplaces in Ireland, Spain, France, and Italy, all nicotine-afflicted countries where smokers always felt free to light up wherever they happened to be. Results of the no-smoking legislation are surprisingly [...]

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So were we advised by a writer in Food & Wine magazine shortly before our departure for our three-week dream vacation in Venice. Wanting to blend in to the degree possible in a city where every native has tourist radar activated within thirty meters of any stranger, we left the shorts at home. The sandals, [...]

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