Tuesday, September 27, 2011

More Important Packing Tips

Just when you think you know it all...never leave home without...

Brought to you by the Gutsy Traveler, Marybeth Bond, who's packed for travel to over 100 countries.

It seems like every time I visit a new country I discover something I forgot or “should have packed.” For example:

  • Duct Tape. May seem silly but comes to the rescue if a strap on a sandal snaps, a purse handle or backpack strap breaks, or luggage gets ripped.

  • A large safety pin or a clothespin to fully close the hotel drapes. To help you sleep for an extra hour after early morning sunshine illuminates your room.

  • A bathing suit. You never know when there will be a Jacuzzi or roof-top pool you wish you could have used.

  • A rubber door stopper. Regardless of the hotel ranking, many doors do not have security locks. Many hotel rooms have doors to adjoining rooms and they are not always locked or secure. Play it safe and kick that door stopper under the door.

  • Moleskin (cut in small squares) and Band-Aids. Pack a few in your wallet. Walking on a hot day with sweaty feet can cause hot spots or blisters even when you’re wearing your most comfortable shoes.

  • Umbrella, raincoat, sunscreen. Check the weather for your destination and pack layers, umbrella, sunglasses, sun hat and sunscreen.


  • Zip lock bags to keep wet bathing suits separate from clean clothes, to keep shampoo or liquids that may leak separate from clothing, and clean and dirty underwear organized. Reading glasses

  • Individually wrapped nail polish remover pads

  • Band Aids, moleskin

  • Dental floss

  • Q-tips

  • Silicon ear plugs

  • Over the counter sleep aids

  • One dollar bills for tipping

  • Hand Sanitizer

  • International toll-free 800 numbers for your credit cards in case of theft
  • Tuesday, September 20, 2011

    Vendy Awards -- September 24

    As you know, I'm a huge fan of food trucks. This year's 7th Vendy Awards happens Saturday on Governors Island, just off Manhattan. You can get there easily by free ferry from Battery Park.

    The details: Here, the fiercest street chefs in the city will rev up their engines in competition for the titled position and honor, the Vendy Cup. General admission tickets have already sold out, but a new forum of Early Entry tickets have just been released and are selling for $145 a person. These exclusive tickets allow for a foodie dream, complete with an extra hour of eating and fast pass availability to shorter lines. From 12:30-5pm, vendors prepare and serve tastings; in the end it’s the public’s vote that determines the top prize. Bring comfortable shoes and be prepared to stand in lines. For more information on booking, transportation to the event and a list of the just-announced rookie and dessert finalists, go to: www.streetvendor.org/vendys

    Monday, September 19, 2011

    Daffy’s Celebrates 50 Years with Free Fashion Show and Birthday Cake, plus Store Discounts – September 22

    The runway takes a tasty twist on Thursday with a “Cakewalk” fashion show by Daffy’s. The city’s popular retailer of distinctive and affordable fashion will premiere its fall collection in partnership with WE tv’s “Staten Island Cakes” star Vincent Buzzetta. It's also a celebration of Daffy's 50 years in business, and since all birthday celebrations must have a cake, this one will have a 10-foot high, four-layer cake, for everyone to enjoy.

    The event’s host, comedian Heather McDonald of E! Entertainment’s hit show “Chelsea Lately,” will introduces models wearing the fall fashions, beginning at 5pm in Greeley Square Park (located at West 32nd St and Broadway). Unlike the other "designer" shows around town, this one is open to all, free, plus your swag is a discount at Daffy’s flagship Herald Square store.

    Thursday, September 15, 2011

    September is National Yoga Month in the U.S.

    After the 9/11 remembrance of this weekend, I’m all about turning OMG into OM this month with September’s Yoga Month celebrations. Last week I took a blindfolded yoga class at Pure in New York with Marco Rojas (that's me in the hot pink top and black pants doing the headstand and being interviewed for ABC-TV). Not surprising, NYC has lots of events going on, but the yoga happenings are nationwide. Visit www.yogamonth.org to celebrate with one free week of yoga at any of the 1600 participating studios nationwide.

    Here are some yoga-paired activities if you’d like to explore your inner adventurous yogi, foodie yogi, or performing yogi. From OM to YAHOO and YUM.

    Vocal Yoga (Los Angeles, CA): Join LA’s own Heather Lyle, a well-respected voice teacher for singers and actors, as she teaches students how yoga can open the voice and improve speech and singing. Learn to use your body to its fullest to find your perfect tone and resonance.

    Cowgirl Yoga (Clyde Park, Montana): Head to the luxurious Double T River Ranch for a true girlfriend’s getaway combining horses and yoga. Whether you’re new to yoga or horseback riding or just trying to star in the next Sea Biscuit film, women of all levels are invited to join. Hop on the saddle and deepen the horse-human connection as your yoga practice continues.

    Yoga and Wine by Candlelight (St. Helena, CA): This Napa Valley wine shop offers an amazing selection of California’s best wines, but it also serves as home to a special weekly Thursday night yoga session that culminates with a lovely wine tasting by candlelight. Join for yoga at 6pm and relax even further at 7pm with the tasting featuring wines from small boutique wineries. The class is priced at $15 for the yoga and wine combo or $10 for yoga or wine.

    Liquid Yoga + Surf (New York): Yogini and surf explorer duo Lauren Hanna and Annee Elliot invite students to unleash the healing benefits of yoga and surfing during their weekend retreats in Montauk and beyond in destinations such as Costa Rica and Morocco. Call the team for more information on lessons and parties in Montauk, The Hamptons, and NYC or join in next summer’s adventure in Reykjavik, Iceland.

    Yoga + Chocolate
    : Vosges founder and chocolatier Katrina Markoff joined forces with At One Yoga co-founder David Romanelli and fused their two passions together: chocolate and yoga. Allow Vosges Haut-Chocolat exotic truffles to stimulate your senses and guide you to pure bliss as Dave leads you through a magical yoga session. For more information and to book classes, visit http://www.yeahdave.com/yoga-chocolate.

    Monday, September 12, 2011

    A Personal Memory: 9/11 Ten Years Ago and Today

    Travel and Food Notes welcomes James Wacht of Sierra Realty who shares his feelings about yesterday's 10th anniversary tribute to the events of 9/11 and his memories of New York City right after September 11, 2001.

    I spent yesterday morning in Central Park thinking about 9/11. This morning's weather reminded me very much of the weather of that day. Vibrant and clear with a crispness in the air signaling the end of summer and the beginning of fall, a perfect September day. Far off in the background I could hear the melancholy tones of bagpipers playing a tribute to those who died. Their somber tones were a sad complement to the feeling of loss I was experiencing.

    Memories of ten years ago flooded back to me. Even though I was not close to anybody who died in the attacks, I continued to experience a profound sense of loss for weeks, if not months, after the attack. There were constant reminders. Foremost, was the profound change in the city skyline. No longer was downtown dominated by the icon of the Twin Towers. Where they once proudly stood, there was nothing but a gaping hole, the skyline, once a beautiful smile, now permanently marred by the loss of its two front teeth. Then there were the missing person posters with the question "Have you seen this person" written over a photograph of a person missing in the attacks. These posters appeared all over the city, on lampposts, mailboxes and temporary kiosks erected for that purpose. And the photographs on them, typically of a person smiling at the camera often with a child or pet in their arms, gave a very human face to the tragedy. The victims were not just numbers but were real people that stared out at us from these posters imploring us to find and return them to their families. The hope, but really the despair, expressed in these posters was palpable, and I couldn't help but think of the families who posted these signs and the all-consuming and always-present anguish they were experiencing of not knowing whether a person they loved had perished that day.

    There were other images that I'll never forget as well. The men and women emerging ghoul-like from the midst of the fallen Towers, their clothes, hair and faces covered with a fine dusting of soot, not running, but walking heads down in crushing defeat. And then there was the smell --acrid and vulgar, the smell of loss and destruction. It lingered over the city for many months, an ever-present and inescapable reminder of the events of that day.

    The city became very quiet the weeks following 9/11. Horns did not honk, once boisterous and loud voices were now replaced with muted and hushed whispers. Bus rides, typically a cacophony of conversations and cell phone calls, became eerily quiet. It was clear; we were a city in mourning. Mourning the people who worked in the Towers and died in the attack, mourning the brave policeman, fireman and other first responders who selflessly sacrificed their lives to help others, mourning all those who lost somebody they loved, and mourning our lost sense of safety and security. Our lives had been forever changed that day.

    Our spirit had been tested that day by a horrible evil but through our courage and sheer will our city and country came together as a community and demonstrated all our resolve to emerge better, stronger and wiser.

    Thursday, September 8, 2011

    Fashion Week Kicks Off with Fashion's Night Out - An Australian Hotel to Visit

    The big day is here: models everywhere, glamorous parties, and the all-powerful Fashion's Night Out. Follow us here throughout the week for our own very special tribute to Fashion Week as we celebrate our favorite hotels and suites worldwide designed by the fashion industry’s best.

    When it comes to fashion, there is no question about the influence Italian fashion house Versace has had on the industry. The Palazzo Versace Hotel on Australia’s vibrant Gold Coast is no exception to the luxury and sophistication that is associated with the name Versace and is often referred to as “the world’s first full fashion-branded hotel.” The Versace-obsessed will be pleased to see the hotel outfitted in the Versace Home Collection along with other elegant features reflective of the Italian heritage of the brand such as vaulted ceilings with hand details in gold, marbles and mosaics. Bask in the beautiful Southern Queensland sun at Australia’s only “Water Salon,” the property’s elegant oasis of a water lagoon pool and cabanas. Those tempted to shop will also find a Versace boutique on the property.

    Wednesday, September 7, 2011

    Paris Remembers 9/11 with Events near the Eiffel Tower

    On September 11, the grassroots organization the French Will Never Forget (TFWN), offers their own commemoration of the events of 10 years ago, with a strong show of support by the French for their American allies.

    Of particular note is the unveiling of a scaled reproduction of the World Trade Center towers in front of the Palais de Chaillot esplanade, Place du Trocadéro in Paris. Each tower will be approximately 75-feet high and will be created by scaffolding wrapped in white tarpaulin. The first tower will list the names of the 9/11 victims. The second tower is a mélange of messages from across the globe, taken from the French Will Never Forget’s Facebook page.

    To ensure that the country’s youth not forget these tragedies, 70 teens will open the day’s ceremony, carrying US and French flags measuring 30 feet by 60 feet, in a demonstration of global support. A message of hope will be conveyed at the towers’ unveiling with a performance by a French children’s choir and the orchestra of the Académie de Musique de Paris. Further showing American-French unity, three young American musical performers, flown in from the US, will also participate.

    If you know of other tributes around the world, please let me know. I’d love to share them with you.

    Here's a link to events happening in New York City to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11.

    Tuesday, September 6, 2011

    Fashion Week Offers Up Prix-Fixe Dining in Lincoln Center: September 8-15

    New York City kicks up the glamour with the return of Fashion Week from September 8-15. For one week New Yorkers are invited to release their inner Anna Wintours (without shame) while attending the shows and events. And now there’s another reason to rejoice: Lincoln Square’s “Fashion Plate Prix Fixe.” Twenty-three of our favorite Upper West Side restaurants will be serving it up in style with prix-fixe meals during Fashion Week. Enjoy a bistro break from the excitement with Bar Boulud’s three course prix-fixe lunch ($29) or go all out in elegance with Picholine’s four-course tasting menu ($92).

    Make sure to also stop into the Empire Hotel for an oh-so-fabulous libation from their Fashion Week Cocktail Menu including the Avant-garde-tini, Lincoln Center Luster, Thanks It’s Vintage, and Don’t Feed The Models. The creativity behind these creations rivals that of the designers!