Tag Archives: travel

Poll- WiFi On Planes or TV On Planes You Vote.

I’ve flown AirTran this year who boasts of having WiFi equipped planes. On this Jet Blue flight where I am composing this post and will save it as a draft on my laptop until I can get home to a WiFi signal and upload it there are seats which are all equipped with Direct TV and a pretty good selections of stations.

If you could pick just one, which would it be- $10 per flight WiFi or free direct TV?

Next scenario- Free WiFi or Free Direct TV.

Personally I’d take the WiFi in both situations but I’m curious what our readership would pick.

So vote in our poll and leave a comment in the comment section below this post.

For those of you who still haven’t figured out the comment section if you look directly below the body of this post there should be a word that says “comment”.  Click the word “comment” and put in your two cents on any post.  TY.

 

St Lucia vs Playa del Carmen vs Turks

A few words about these three warm January locations. 

Once the grueling 7 day a week season is over we book a warm climate beach destination for our January vacation.  Over the past 4 years it was St Lucia twice, last year Playa del Carmen and this year Turks.

I trust the Mrs’ vacation planning skillz implicitly.  She uses Trip Advisor to drill down on the best intersection of price/value/nice accommodations.  It hasn’t failed us yet.  I assume most of you have heard of Trip Advisor but for those who haven’t, it’s user based ratings and recommendations on just about every vacation property under the sun.  From big mega-resorts to tiny boutique hotels.  The benefit of using Trip Advisor as a guide is that when you get hundreds or thousands of user-based reviews and ratings it helps you drill down quickly on the types of places that suit your taste and/or budget without the influence of huge marketing budgets from the mega-factory travel resorts.

Big huge resorts have big huge marketing budgets and are comping travel agents or building into their pricing structure all those marketing costs to try to lure you in to their joint but what we’ve found is that the smaller hotels offer good value and the Mrs can’t stand to travel with the masses in buffet lines or fight for spots around pools with hundreds of people at mega-resorts.

So using Trip Advisor is my number one piece of advice when doing your vacation planning.  If you have no confidence in your ability to read and process what other people have said or how 5 star ratings are better than 1 star ratings, use a Travel Agent instead.

Anyway.  For my money from March to May or September through December there’s no better beach destination to escape the Northeast than Naples Florida.  Warm, Clean, Safe, Awesome Beaches, Tons Of Restaurants, Tons of Shopping, Tons of Attractions.  It’s got it all, there are a ton of flights, it’s a quick flight.  I could go on and on about the virtues of Naples Florida.

But in January and February you aren’t guaranteed beach weather anywhere in the continental US.  You’re really not guaranteed beach weather in Playa Del Carmen either but your chances are greatly increased of being able to swim in the ocean there over any place in the US in January or February.

So now for the differences between the three winter destinations we’ve been in the past four years- St Lucia, Playa del Carmen and Turks.

The Grub:

All three have had fantastic dining options.  Wide ranges of different kinds of foods.  Of the three Playa had the most and by far the least expensive.  St Lucia in Rodney Bay where we stayed had plenty and the prices for dinner were surprisingly about the same as eating out in Gloucester be it Passports or Lat 43 or The Duck.  The food here in Turks has been outstanding but you have to close your eyes when the bill comes because it is very very expensive.  Example- the nice, recommended casual tiki-bar-esque Somewhere Café we got two pulled pork taco inners, two coors lights, and two orange stoli tonics with a slice of Key Lime pie and it came to $100.  Then add $10 cab ride back and forth for a $120 dinner.  That’s steep for comfort food in my book.  In Rodney Bay St Lucia and Playa you can walk to dozens of great restaurants.  There are dozens of great restaurants here but they’re not congregated.

The Beaches:

The water here in Turks is just like the water in Playa- that turquoise blue, warm, crystal clear water that you could float in all day long.  The sand like powder.  I’d rank them both 9s.  The beaches in Rodney Bay St Lucia were nice but there were lots more tourists on them.  they were a bit more scenic with the hills surrounding the bay with lush vegetation as well.  I’d rank the beach at Rodney Bay a solid 8.  Nothing to sneeze at but just a step behind.  It should be noted that St Lucia is really lush with flora being in a Rain Forest and Turks is flat with lots of scrub.   The most beautiful beach I’ve been was Horseshoe Beach in Bermuda.  Little lagoons, and rock formations and clear water, and powdery sand.  A nice spot but not swimming weather warm in January or February.  Highest concentrations of Europeans wearing banana hammocks- St Lucia by a mile.  This is a positive and a negative.  The positive is that you get to make fun of dudes wearing banana hammocks, the negative- you have to look at dudes wearing banana hammocks.

Turks:

Reduit Beach St Lucia:

Playa Del Carmen:

The Attractions:

There is probably the most number of quality outdoor attractions if you want to be active in St Lucia (this could be wrong but it was our experience) Between Rainforest Segway Tours, Zip-lining, Snorkeling, Catamaran, the Castries marketplaces, and more. 

Playa had the usual boating, snorkeling, parasailing stuff but they don’t have the Rainforest stuff.  Still plenty of stuff to do there and by far the most nightlife and shopping, with the awesome Fifth Avenue providing great people watching and dining/shopping.

Turks is ALL about relaxation.  Mellow, mellow, mellow.  There is the boating stuff, parasailing, snorkeling and such but the place is more spread out than Rodney Bay in St Lucia or Playa Del Carmen’s hotel/shopping district.  This can be a really good thing if all you want to do is unwind.  Playa is much more active and Rodney Bay falls somewhere in between.

If you plopped me down on the beach in Turks and told me I was on the beach in SW Florida I wouldn’t argue the point.  Playa Del Carmen definitely has it’s Mexican stamp on it and St Lucia has more of an island feel to its layout.

Overall Here’s How My Recommendations Would Play Out Regarding The Three Different Places For Warm Beach Destinations In January or February.

If you totally want to unplug and relax and do NOTHING- go to Turks with a buttload of dough.

If you want more of an eco-rainforest beach vibe with stuff to do and great dining go to St Lucia and stay at the Coco Palm. Highly rated and excellent value in St Lucia.

If you want beautiful beaches, and a little more excitement and Mexican flavor and great value go to Playa Del Carmen.

Feel free to ask questions.

In This Day And Age…

I just don’t understand how freaking hard it is to install the equipment necessary to have wifi on all aircraft.

Wifi makes a flight go by what seems 3-4 times faster.

You know how airlines charge extra for checked luggage? In our case $25 more per bag on US Airways for a total of $50 for our one way flight. They should refund you for the total technological failure of not having wifi on all flights in the year 2013. The FAA should shut these goddamn airlines down that don’t have wifi. Fine the shit out of them. Ground these planes til they get their act together.

How is a media giant supposed to keep his finger on the bleeding edge of what is going on for his legions of loyal followers?

Listen, take a couple grease monkeys off safety check duty and get them up inside the cabin installing the necessary equipment to provide wifi. Cancel drink service for a couple weeks, use a lower grade toilet paper in the toilettes. Charge me up for the wifi, I don’t care. I’ll feel a whole lot better about paying for wifi rather than a checked bag, that’s fer shizzy.

Somebody get me a direct line to the CEO of US Air STAT, maybe I can explain to him or her just how important it is.

Bruce Tarr, Ann Margaret, forget about such pithy things like people losing their homes on Plum Island to major storms, let’s focus on much more critical agendas like making sure your boy Joey C has wifi on all his flights.

Thank you for your attention to this serious matter.

Next politician that tackles this matter automatically gets my endorsement. Fiscal cliff, fiscal schmiff, let’s solve the important matters first. Calls for an emergency meeting of the executive branch, no?

Give me wifi on all aircraft or give me death. Enough dickin’ around.

Canadian writer, Ilona Biro From Huffington Post Travel Loved Her Time Here- Read On from Linn Parisi

Linn Parisi writes-

Following is the first of a few articles that Ilona Biro from AOL Canada (now Huffington Post Travel) is doing about the Seafood Trail.

She and her husband had a wonderful visit here, and they plan on coming back with their kids.  That’s what we like to hear!

The Seafood Trail will continue to make a difference in visitation, as does your generous participation in these FAMs.

Thanks-    Linn

When You’re in Boston, Hit the Seafood Trail

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This summer, my husband and I were lucky landlubbers – lucky enough to land on Massachusett’s Seafood Trail, one of those culinary road trips that dreams are made of.
Just north of Boston, the Seafood Trail (unofficial slogan: "all seafood, all the time"), serves up everything you can imagine, from crispy fried clams, oysters, and fish ‘n chips to rich, lip-smacking chowder, steamers and mussels. From casual meals fresh off the boats to romantic four-star dinners, it can all be had here. In truth there’s so much amazing food along the Seafood Trail you could take a week to experience it all. We did our best to pack in as much as we could in a single day.We started in Gloucester, dubbed America’s Oldest Seaport and founded in 1623. It’s a tight-knit town that’s seen more than 10,000 of its souls perish while fishing on the plentiful seas, among them the men of the Andrea Gail, whose story was captured in the movie The Perfect Storm (which was also filmed here). A monument honouring those brave men takes pride of place along the seaside promenade leading into the town centre, and the seafaring tradition carries on today.
So before we got cracking on the lobster, we wanted to meet some of the locals. One local light, Clarence Birdseye, invented his flash freezing technique in Gloucester, and went on to fame and fortune. Fast forward to today and Gloucester is still a working fishing village, not a replica of something from the past. While Birdseye’s methods are still in use, we were curious to see the inner workings of the seafood industry today. First stop was Steve Connolly Seafood where we met up with foreman Romeo Solviletti. It’s a busy place, where fish was being gutted and filleted and lobsters cooked in huge pots, before being sent off to grateful diners – from Los Angeles to Hong Kong. Soviletti showed us a 14-pound lobster that he said was more than 100 years old. It looked like it belonged on the Seafood counter at Harrod’s, but Solviletti told us what happens to a lot of these monsters: "At Christmas, people come in and buy the biggest lobster they can get and set it free in the harbour. It’s a tradition for some people, and to be honest, you’re better off eating a smaller, younger lobster anyhow." Our mouths were watering by this time, but we wanted to do a little more exploring.
So we went to Joey’s place. One of Gloucester’s biggest boosters, Joey Ciaramitaro has run the Good Morning Gloucester blog for years, and has built the Web’s largest collection of mutant lobster photos, one blue lobster pic at a time. If you want to tap into what’s happening around town, you’ll find no better place. And if you want fresh lobster, straight off the boat, head to Joey’s dock and he’ll weigh it in for you with a huge smile. Extra bonus? Joey’s unvarnished opinions on the best seafood restaurants this side of Boston. Follow his advice and you won’t go wrong. His tip on lobster rolls: "Never, never put

for the rest of the story follow the link-

When You’re in Boston, Hit the Seafood Trail

Ponies of Chincoteague

One reason I wanted to visit Chincoteague was to see the ponies on the beach. On Assateague Island there are 150 ponies that run wild in the marshes and along the beach. They are managed by the Volunteer Fire Company with vaccines and annual auctions to thin the herd. The legend is that the ponies of Chincoteague are descedents  of horses that washed ashore from a wrecked Spanish galleon off the coast of Assateague Island 300-400 years ago.  The book and movie, Misty of Chincoteague, made the Island famous and a tourist destination. The book was written in 1947 by Marguerite Henry based on a real family of Chincoteague.

Here are the ponies we saw from the road into Assateague Island

and by Boat on Assateague Island

Some Travel Tips From Your Boy Joey Regarding Airlines and Booking Flights

Most of you may already know this but I think it bears repeating because I am sometimes guilty of making the same mistakes repeatedly.

When searching for airfares for my winter vacations I start early, about three months ahead of time and I check the regular websites for the best deals on flights.  The main website I use is Kayak which gives you some pretty decent customization options as far as whittling down the exact flight times and non-stop flights so you can only be viewing flights that meet your criteria instead of 1000 or so flights that have 2 or more connections or are red-eyes. 

I prefer early morning direct flight departures and mid day direct flight returns.  Kayak allows me to do searches for the exact flights that meet my criteria. 

The searches can be then filtered by cheapest price or best times or shortest route.  The way I usually perform my search for the best flights is this-

I check off

  • Non-stop
  • My flights are flexible (Plus/Minus 3 days)
  • Depart Early
  • Return Mid-day

Now I’ll check every other day or so until the flights I want come up within the prices that are reasonable to me.  For Florida this means direct flights at the right times for anything under $235 and for the Caribbean anything under $400.

Once I see those flights coming up I go directly to the airline’s site for which that fare is listed to se if it is listed for cheaper on the Airline’s website.  I figure that most times the airfare aggregator probably adds $10 or so to the costs to pay for their service.  some times it will be listed a little cheaper on the Airline’s website, sometimes not but it’s always good to check IMO.

Now here is the thing though that even I who I consider to be a pretty informed and savvy web travel person still to this day forget at times in the excitement to book a great deal.

Firstly there are the baggage fees that should be taken into consideration.

Here is an airline baggage fee chart from Kayak for reference-

American Airlines charges $25 for your first checked bag on domestic travel.

Jet Blue offers the first checked bag as free.

So when comparing the two 9 times out of ten I will book the cheapest fare the way it is listed on the Kayak site but forget about the baggage fees. A $225 flight to Miami on American actually will cost you more than a $240 flight to Miami on Jet Blue if you check one bag, but it won’t be listed that way on either kayak or on the individual Airline’s respective websites. now $15 isn’t a whole lot but then if you consider that you might be flying with a partner or children and it turns out to be three checked bags that would be $45 each way equals $90.  Ideally you can travel light and avoid checked bags all together but in many instances that is just not a reality.

The next point that I would like to make is that not all airlines are created equal and some don’t have TV or Internet on them.  I don’t know about you but I would gladly pay an extra $30 for round trip airfare anywhere in the country that offered tv and/or internet in the seatbacks in front of you. 

So now lets take the above instance of the flight to Miami on American for $225 which doesn’t have internet and only has a couple of TV’s in the middle of the aisles for which you may or may not have a decent view of and charges you an extra $25 for your checked bag.

$240 for a flight without a checked bag fee on a newer Jet Blue plane which offers wifi internet and individual TV’s in each seat is an absolute bargain.

Take your time when you are booking your flights and figure out what the baggage fees will be along with if the airline has wifi on your flight.  A flight to Vegas with internet access will literally FLY BY a whole lot quicker with the internet to distract you, I guarantee it.

Why Don’t Planes Have Cupholders?

Seriously, how hard can it be to put some goddamn cupholders on planes?

They make you buckle in for safety they make you stow your luggage completely under the seat in front of you.

Am I the only person in America that thinks that cup holders are a good idea to have as a convenience on planes.  You get a cup of coffee from the flight attendant and then have to juggle the thing around til its not too hot so you can enjoy it.  I swear they put grease on those tiny little trays and everything is sliding around on there.  I’m a nervous wreck until whatever beverage in front of me is fully consumed, and is that really any way to enjoy coffee?  Chugging it down quickly?  Hell no!

Try traveling with a two year old and soon to be four year old and al the gear that comes with trying to entertain them for a three hour flight and tell me you can enjoy any type of liquid refreshment in front of you on that teeny, tiny slippery tray.  Forget it!

The Mrs was the unfortunate victim of a lap/seat full of apple juice when Madeline inevitably spilled it off the tray in front of them.

With no change of clothes on the plane The Mrs had to sit in that sticy liquid for two hours til landing in Boston.  All that could be avoided I thought with the simple addition of cupholders.

I’m sayin it right now to any airline out there- I’ll gladly pay $5 more per ticket for a cupholder.  Get it done.  It just makes sense.

end rant