plotting: early stages

IMG_2103Sometimes I think that half the fun of travel is in the research – and the plotting.

 

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iconic nyc: l.i.e.

l.i.e.

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the journey home: part one

let the great journey begin

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dine and dash, new england edition

Culinary travel is hotter than ever and New England in summer is one of the best places to do the surf and the turf. Here are just a handful of packages recently found via New England Inns & Resorts, a collection of nearly 250 aligned inns, resorts, and B&Bs. The website has a handy reservations widget so you can search availability across the collection – or download their free app to view info on each property and plan a vacation.

Farm to Fork Weekend (Nonantum Resort, Kennebunkport, ME) – As the farm-to-table movement continues to grow, this weekend showcases Kennebunkport’s best local purveyors. Begin with a meet and greet that includes demonstrations from Cabot Cheese, Urban Farm Fermentory, and Shipyard Brewing Co. Saturday starts with breakfast in 95 Ocean Dining Room followed by a customized Foodie Tour of the Kennebunks, a lobster boat ride on the Rugosa, cooking class with the resort’s Executive Chef and a private dinner featuring a “Farm to Fork” menu. The weekend ends with a sunset walk and a Jazz Brunch. Starts at $598 per couple.

Now We’re Cookin’ (Johnson & Wales Inn, Seekonk, MA) – This package includes overnight lodging for two in an executive suite, a $50 dinner gift certificate for Audrey’s Restaurant, a 3-4 hour recreational cooking class for two at the campus of Johnson & Wales University in Providence, RI, two Chef’s Choice aprons and breakfast for two at Audrey’s Restaurant. Starts at $369 per couple. Tax and gratuity not included.

Inn to Inn Culinary Herb Tour (Inn at Ellis River, Jackson, NH) – Visit 10 different inns for tasty herb treats, recipes, seeds or plants for the garden, and culinary lore. This package includes a welcome reception, herb-themed breakfasts, tours, and a gift from the inn from $249-$469 depending on room choice. A limited number of one night packages are also available for $159-$179 or stay a third night for an additional $99-$139.

King Arthur Flour Discount (Norwich Inn, Norwich, VT) –  Aching to get baking? Sign up for a class at King Arthur Flour’s Baking Education Center and take advantage of a 20% discount on accommodations at the Inn. Additionally, the Inn and King Arthur offer a 10% discount on memorabilia at the Inn and many items at the Baker’s Store (excluding Cafe and baked foods). Classes cater from beginners on up to expert bakers and include such favorites as Pizza Perfected, Bread: Principles and Practice, and Cake 101. This is a midweek-only deal available Sunday – Thursday. Rates at the hotel start at $129 per night.

Roaring Ramble Package (The Red Lion Inn, Stockbridge, MA) – Hit the road on your motorcycle with Executive Chef Brian Alberg for a freewheeling half-day ride through Berkshire farmlands and back roads before stopping at one of the chef’s favorite farms or a microbrewery.  Package includes a Sustainable Foods dinner for two at the Inn, overnight accommodations, and a sustainable breakfast the next day. Available from $525, including tax and gratuity, it’s available for overnights Sunday June 19 and Sunday August 21, with rides taking place the following day.

 

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back to basics

Remember when the primary purview of this website was travel? Lately it seems as though I’ve done little more than eat myself silly and go to the theater. Well, next week it’s back to basics: I’m off to one of my favorite parts of Ireland, the wild and wooly coast of Co. Clare. Until then, however, it’s back to the trough – not to mention another op’nin’ of another show.

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travel tips: round-the-world

It’s the ultimate trip: circumnavigating the planet, stopping off wherever takes your fancy. Great for travelers who want to see it all, or who are just plain indecisive. But booking a round-the-world trip can be a complex business. Here’s a guide to getting started.

How to do it: The most economical way to circumnavigate is to buy a round-the-world air ticket that uses one airline alliance. Theoretically, any routing is possible, but knowing how the RTW booking system works will make your trip cheaper. For example, the Star Alliance, a coalition of 27 airlines, offers a RTW ticket with a maximum of 15 stops. Its member airlines fly to 1185 airports in 185 countries. There are rules: you must follow one global direction (east or west — no backtracking); you must start and finish in the same country; and you must book all your flights before departure, though you can change them later (which may incur extra charges).

How long you need: You could whip round the world in a weekend if you flew non-stop. However, the minimum duration of most RTW tickets is ten days — still a breathless romp. Consider stock-piling vacation days, tagging on public holidays or even arranging a sabbatical in order to take off two months, ideally six to 12. The maximum duration of a RTW ticket is one year.

When to go: The weather will never be ideal in all your stops. So, focus on what you want to do most and research conditions there: if a Himalayan trek is your highlight, don’t land in Nepal mid-monsoon; if you want to swim with whale sharks off Western Australia, be there April-July. Then accept you’ll be in some regions at the “wrong” time — though this might offer unexpected benefits (for example, Zambia in wet season means lush landscapes and cheaper prices). In general, city sightseeing can be done year-round (escape extreme heat/cold/rain in museums and cafés) but outdoor adventures are more reliant on — and enjoyable in — the right weather.

Where to go: The classic (and cheapest) RTW tickets flit between a few big cities, for example London — Bangkok — Singapore — Sydney — LA. If you want to link more offbeat hubs (Baku — Kinshasa — Paramaribo, anyone?), prices will climb considerably. The cost of the ticket is based on the total distance covered or the number of countries visited. Remember, you don’t have to fly between each point: in Australia you could land in Perth, travel overland, and fly out of Cairns. Or fly into Moscow, board the Trans-Siberian train, and fly onwards from Beijing. Pick some personal highlights and string the rest of your itinerary around those. For instance, if you’re a keen trekker, flesh out a Peru (Inca Trail), New Zealand (Milford Track) and Nepal (Everest Base Camp) itinerary with Brazil (Rio’s a good access point for South America), Australia and North India. If budget’s an issue, spend more time in less expensive countries. Your daily outgoings will be far higher in Western Europe and North America than South-East Asia; Indonesia, Bolivia and India are particularly cheap.

Tips, tricks & pitfalls:

— Talk to an expert before you book: you may have an itinerary in mind but an experienced RTW flight booker will know which routings work best and cost least — a few tweaks could mean big savings.

— Be flexible: moving your departure date by a few days can save money; mid-week flights are generally cheaper, as are flights on Christmas Day.

— Think about internal travel: it can be cheaper to book internal flights at the same time as booking your RTW ticket — but, with the global increase of low-cost airlines, you may find it better (and more flexible) to buy them separately as you go.

— Be warned: if you don’t board one of your booked flights (say, on a whim, you decide to travel overland from Bangkok to Singapore rather than fly it) your airline is likely to cancel all subsequent flights.

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chomping at the bit

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gobble, gobble

The day before Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorites.  There’s something incredibly satisfying about a leisurely half-day at the office followed by a half-filled tumbler of whiskey.  More to the point, it is usually accompanied by a half-cocked smirk, which spreads across my face as I surf the news in befuddled amusement at the traffic snarls and airports descending into chaos.  Suckers!

This year, however, I am one of those poor schmucks braving the Lincoln Tunnel while preparing my junk to be unceremoniously cupped at Newark airport.  Feel free to enjoy a moment of schadenfreude, dear readers.

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