Friday, July 31, 2009

Finns Talk Trash

Everyone knows it’s hip to be green, and Finland is doing its part in a typically wacky way. Last summer, four talking trash bins in the center of Helsinki encouraged passersby to throw trash away while teaching them the Finnish language. This summer, the bins have returned in full chorus with four new buddies, now in locations near Esplanadi, Senate Square, Sibelius Monument and Temppeliaukio Church.

Simo Frangén, a popular Finnish TV celebrity, is the voice behind the taking trash bin which speak in 6 languages (Finnish, Swedish, Japanese, English, German, Polish, and Russian). Some even provide a musical accompaniment to the dialogue, with sounds created by Helsinki high school students.

Think this is wacky? Finland is also home to wife carrying contests, mobile phone throwing competitions, sauna sitting marathons, mosquito swatting events and other equally crazy events. Who would have thought!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fancation in Miami: Miami for Families on Sale through December 31

Miami has always been known as one of the sexiest cities around, but what about when you are traveling with your kids? There's baseball, for sure, and be sure to stay tuned for my "Fancations" story about the Marlins. But, for now, forget about Collins Avenue and South Beach and head to the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, a welcoming Marriott property, for a fun family getaway. The Doral is just west of Miami and a quick car ride away from the city's fabulous beaches should you ever decide to venture from your own 650-acre private paradise.

Through December 31, the Doral is offering the Kids’ Family Break 2-Rooms package, starting at $358 per night, with two connecting deluxe rooms (one room with a king bed connecting to another room with two double beds), daily breakfast for two adults and two children (up to age 12), and parking. The best part is arguably for the kids: they get half-day passes to Camp Doral(ages 5-12) with lunch, an in-room movie each night, and free room service (pizza, chicken fingers, or burgers. And they can sleep late -- checkout isn't unitl 2pm!

Mom and Dad, you're not forgotten either. Dad can play golf at the home of PGA championships while Mom relaxes at the European-inspired Spa. For kids who might aspire to be the next Tiger Woods, Marriott’s KIDS-GOLF-4-FREE program will give them a free lesson (ages 6-15)any time and let them play free after 3pm when accompanied by a golfing (and paying) adult.

Children's Theater -- Weekend Shows in Central Park and Prospect Park

Starting this weekend, you don’t need to spend a dime to get a taste of the tropics with The Theatre Playground’s “Life on A Desert Island” performances. This free outdoor show for children is based on Daniel Defoe’s novel “Robinson Crusoe” and takes place in both Central Park and Prospect Park. Bring a blanket and snack and enjoy the summer sun as you and your children learn how to survive the wilderness and respect the environment during this interactive show.

Catch the show in Manhattan in Central Park (68th Street & Central Park West) on August 1, 8, 15, 22, and 29 OR in Brooklyn in Prospect Park (5th Street next to Litchfield Villa) on August 2, 9, and 16. Performances start at 4:30 PM and run for one hour.

For more information,

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Boogaloo at Brooklyn's City Reliquary fundraiser - July 25

Enjoy good food and fun for a good cause at The City Reliquary's Brooklyn Boogaloo & Barbeque. On Saturday July 25 from 6-10 PM, the fundraiser helps support one of our favorite non-profit community museums, The City Reliquary in Williamsburg, where collections of "saved" items from throughout the city are displayed and stored. The Boogaloo (a music formed by blending Latin Jazz, Soul, and R&B) was created in the late 1960s in the Bronx, and will serve as backdrop to the museum's BBQ feast of pulled pork sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, served with Brooklyn Beer (of course) and homemade Sweet Summer Punch.

Other activities include a silent auction and one of the Reliquary's current exhibits, INDIGENOUS, which features artwork celebrating Brooklyn, all by LaGuardia High School students and graduates.

Tickets are $25-$100, depending on how generous your donation is, and include a full dinner and all drinks.>.
718.782.4842. 370 Metropolitan Avenue, Brooklyn.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

A Deal a Week: A Bermuda Escape You Won't Want to Pass Up

How about trading in the cityscape or suburbs for some gorgeous pink sand, charming pastel homes, and breathtaking island views? In honor of Bermuda’s 400th anniversary, the Bermuda Department of Tourism is offering $400 back for a stay of four nights or longer. This offer applies to some of the island’s most luxurious hotels including the Fairmont Hamilton Princess, Fairmont Southampton, Elbow Beach Bermuda (A Mandarin Oriental property), Newstead Belmont Hills, Pompano Beach Club, and The Reefs. If you book through one of the participating hotels, a $400 credit will be applied to your final bill at check-out. If you book through a tour operator, the $400 credit will be part of the package price when purchased.
An additional perk is that you can fly from JFK or Newark to Hamilton (BDA) in under three hours. JetBlue flies non-stop to BDA and has been offering great deals this summer. As always, Kayak is a great tool for finding cheap flights as well.
This offer isn’t going to last: travel must be booked by August 17th and completed by August 21st. For more information, visit Happy birthday, Bermuda!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Food Truck Watch: Turf War at 86th and Lexington

At what has to be the best corner for food trucks in the city, there’s an interesting jockeying of position going on. One day, Paty’s Mexican arrived with its fantastic tortas, agua frescas, and tacos. Then the 24-hour Shaban Halal truck moved its position from 86th Street near 3rd Avenue to park right across from Paty’s on Lexington (which also delivers!). The next day, the “polished” Rickshaw dumpling truck, which uses recipes created by Chef Anita Lo of Annisa, joined the fun. And all three overshadowed the smaller guys on the avenue: the honey-roasted nuts truck and Mister Softee. An added bonus beyond the excellent food doled out at these trucks: You can stand over the subway grates while you wait for your order and find out whether your train is on time.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Now is a great time to save on the beautiful Ixtapan Spa Hotel and Golf Resort. This luxurious property sits 5,400 feet high in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico and has been voted one of the ten most affordable spas in the world.

Through October 4, The Ixtapan is offering an irresistible deal packed with pampering and style. For the discounted rate of only $616 per person based on double occupancy, the amazing 4 night/5 day "Spa Classic" package includes accommodations, meals, 3 massages, 2 facials, 2 reflexology sessions, 1 loofah treatment, 1 fango (mud) bath, 2 hair treatments, 2 nail treatments, 1 manicure, 1 pedicure, 1 hairstyling, and 3 golf/tennis lessons. Traveling solo? Add only $20 per night. You can’t even go to a day spa for this price! For information, To book, call 1-800-IXTAPAN.

Now is also the time to book really cheap airfare. Sites like Kayak and TravelZoo can help you find the best airfare deals to Mexico City or Toluca airports. Mexican carrier Volaris is also known for its low fares.