Category Archive for 'Travel Tips'

Shock and Awe

Too bad there was never a successful international convention on electrical currents and the means by which we tap into them. After early contention over Direct Current vs. Alternating Current (Thomas Edison, who had a stake in the discussion,  pushed for DC), the United States settled on AC, delivered by 110 to 115 volts. Much [...]

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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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Money Swapping

Some people have no difficulty mentally calculating the equivalent of pesos or yen or euros in dollars – on the spot, the seller of the English teapot or Turkish prayer rug or Mexican candlestick impatiently waiting. Then there are the rest of us. There are devices and dodads to do the chore, but they take [...]

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Target: You

Too many travelers carry the notion to foreign countries that they are somehow immune or invisible or invulnerable to the attentions of street thugs and con artists. In fact, they are highly desirable targets of opportunity for those who think it’s a fine idea to rob rich foreigners. New York Times writer Nicholas D. Kristof [...]

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Staying Put

“Gather ’round, people. I have some housekeeping announcements. In the morning, have your bags packed and outside your hotel room by 5:30. I know that’s early, but we have a long ride tomorrow to Wherever and only 45 minutes to see the Whatsis. Then we’re on to Someplace to have lunch at 2:30. Yes, that’s [...]

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Travel Note: Dressing Up

Once, in a tavern in the Spanish hilltown of Calaceite, I was pontificating to my wife that Spanish men never wore shorts, for it was considered unmanly. The words were barely out of my mouth when a farmer whipped aside the beaded strings at the entrance, strode to the bar, slammed the flat of his [...]

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Travel Tip: Airplane Seating

Q: What’s the safest place on the plane? A: In the back. Q: Why not the front? A: That’s where the mountains are.

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Travel Tip: Laundry

Packing light has never been more wise than when airlines actually have the nerve to charge for checked bags. If you need further motivation, understand that the less weighty your luggage the easier it is to get around. Need incentive for resolving to escape your hotel with your dirty clothes and find a neighborhood laundromat or dry cleaner? [...]

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Most cellphones sold in the United States don’t work overseas. Here’s a big, fat, four-star recommendation: The Mobal World Phone. It’s a universal cellphone that works in 150 countries. The cheapest model is only $49 (with tax and shipping $63.35). There are no minimum fees, service charges, or usage requirements, even if you use it [...]

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