The art of sightseeing while on a tight schedule

If you’re anything like my husband, you’ll have a business meeting in Chicago and then have a few hours to kill before boarding your next flight and jet setting to another meeting in San Diego, where you’ll then maybe get to sleep the night and have another few hours before you get right back on that plane and, if you’re lucky, head home. According to Linda Vaughn from the Business Traveler magazine, the average reader of BT takes about 30 round trip flights a year, rarely taking advantage of the little time he or she has in between meetings. Which is why the folks at BT have created the 4-Hour Guides, a great resource that directs busy business travelers to the must-see sites in a manageable between meetings/flights time span. But these plans are also good for all us regular people who want to have some efficient, fun, site seeing while our husbands/wives/parents are at their meetings and we’re bored of sitting around in the hotel waiting for them to get back and take us down to the lobby for dinner.

This month’s 4-Hour Guide is on Boston and since it has not yet been published online (we get the actual paper magazine) I thought I’d share it with you all! This article is by Alison Stein Wellner and I’ve taken her recommendations of the places, but have used my own experiences as explanation.

1. Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum – I love Boston and this is one of my favorite places in Boston. This museum is actually Isabella Stewart Gardner’s former residence, complete with her personal art collection. The building is a magnificent Venetian-style home with a garden and courtyard filled with beautiful flowers, art, and music. Works of Titian, Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli, Manet, Degas, Whistler and Sargent are organized not according to era or style, but are placed aesthetically in a manner that Gardner had thought was beautiful to admire. In the summer months the Gardner Café is open. And, if your name is Isabella, you get in for free! Also, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is right near Fenway Park, so you should pop in there while you’re in the area.
2. The Backbay Fens – Beautiful urban parks that connect the Boston Common, to Franklin Park (where you can then take the kids to the Franklin Park Zoo). The park was established in 1879 and offers great respite from city noise.
3. Harvard Square and Harvard Book Store – I lived in Cambridge for a year and loved every second of it. Just walk around and enjoy the cobblestone roads, bookshops, cafes, and street performers. You can take the T here from The Fens, by taking the E train to Park Street and then switching to the red line. You’ll come out right by Harvard University. While you’re in the area, head over to Davis Square (2 more T stops away or a nice 20 minute walk) and get some ice cream at J.P. Licks. (Get the Oreo or the peanut butter yogurt.)
4. Mr. Bartley’s Gourmet Burgers – Wellner recommends this Harvard Square hot spot, and I’d have to agree with her choice. She suggests getting the onion rings, which I’ve never had, and the malted milk shake, which I have had and which is amazing.
5. The Prudential Center Skywalk Observatory – Take the T back to Park Street and then take the Green Line back to Copley Square. Besides for another J.P. Licks in the area, you should stop by the Pru for some great views, and some great food and shopping.

Have fun in Boston!
P.S. For more on Boston, check out this post that I wrote a few months ago.
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Jackson Hole, Wyoming – not such a hole after all

Done with business school, got a little wild vacation after it, and now I’m back to work with the occasional “business trip” in tow. I have a lot of work that I need do from home, and when that piles up high enough, I take it away with me somewhere nice to do it in peace away from the city. I write off most of it as business expenses.

All that was by way of introduction to my current lodgings at Teton Mountain Lodge & Spa. I don’t take travel lightly and I figure that if I’ve got the money I should spend it. I don’t stay in big, fancy hotels because I don’t like them; but I stay in nice ones.

So I’m in Jackson, Wyoming, right near Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

I spend half of every day working and the other half either hiking (I’ve hired a private guide to show me the best of the best in a limited amount of time) or I’m in the spa relaxing. This is my kind of vacation—out in nature, with fresh air and wildlife, but not too far from a luxury room and my laptop.
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I hope you didn’t believe me…

I received a frantic call from my little sister (who reads my blog religiously) who was so confused about my last post on San Diego Zoo’s Future. So just to clear my record here, The Onion is a SATIRE WEBSITE where about half the articles are satires of current events, and half are just plain JOKES. So the San Diego Zoo is NOT merging with any prisons, not now and (probably) not ever.

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Dr. Beach recommends…

I’m SO frustrated! We were just in the Tampa area and were choosing between a few beaches in the area and DIDN’T go to Caladesi Island State Park Beach. And NOW, only now, do I read that Dr. Beach rates Caladesi Island SP as the TOP beach in America!

Caladesi Island is a barrier island north of Clearwater (which is not far from Tampa Bay) with white sands, crystal clear, steel-blue Gulf waters, and forests filled with birds and wildlife.

Stephen P. Leatherman (a.k.a. Dr. Beach) makes a list of the nation’s best beaches every year, and I ALWAYS look at, but for some reason it escaped my mind this year.

The other beaches in the top ten for 2008 are:

So no big deal…just next time I need to check the list before heading out to the beach!

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Summer Trip is announced!

Two or three times a year, my parents take me and the kids on a fantastic vacation, all expenses paid. I have a brother and sister-in-law and a niece who either get their own vacation with mom and dad or join us. This year it’ll be the whole family. Obviously we all get input into the destination, but m&d get the final say. And this year, we’ll all be going to…SAN FRANCISCO!

I am really excited. I have never been to San Fran and have always wanted to. Sometimes the trips are small, like 2-3 nights in the mountains nearby, but it seems like this is going to be a biggie. We’ll be going for 8 days and they already have quite an itinerary.

Here are the definites, and of course, if anyone has any MUST DO’S, please let me know so I can pass on the advice to my parents:

  1. Basic Brown Bear Factory – This will obviously be a winner with the kids, but I’ve always loved factory tours, so I’m looking forward to this as well. And my mother actually collects teddy bears, so that’s probably the real reason why we’re going.
  2. Wax Museum at Fisherman’s Wharf – None of us (except my sister-in-law) have ever been to a wax museum. I, of course, am most looking forward to Elvis Presley. Alexandra says she can’t wait to see Leonardo DiCaprio – how does she even know who that is?
  3. Alcatraz Island – This one is really my dad’s top choice, so he says “it ain’t gettin’ moved off any list.” So here ya go, dad.

It’s a small list so far, but they only just decided on a location this morning and we don’t leave till mid-July. So we’ve got plenty of time. I only wanted to share because I was so excited about the announcement and I have friends who keep asking where we’re going this summer!

Anyways, as always, please feel free to offer advice! Like what are the best beaches? Is it worth it to go to the zoo up there (Oakland Zoo or the San Francisco Zoological Gardens) if we have such a good zoo (Zoo Atlanta) right near our new home?

Thanks for your help!


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San Diego Zoo’s future?


The Vacationer presents : Is this the future of San Diego Zoo ?

The Onion states that due to lack of funds, the San Diego Zoo and the Ironwood Prison will be joining forces to create a single-campus that brings together local inmates and wildlife to live together under one roof. The new name? San Diego Maximum Security Zoological & Convict Reserve.

You should read the article, but just for a taste:
“This is, without a doubt, the only facility of its kind,” said warden Jeff Thurston, noting the zoo-prison’s authentic natural environments and thick bullet-proof glass. “At any given time, visitors may be able to spot as many as three parole violators and up to five adult black bears in the same holding cell. During scheduled feedings, that number may be even higher.”

The article also states that a similar merge was done with Orlando’s SeaWorld and the Ryan E. Puttnam Mental Asylum.


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Tampa and Tampax

Uh-oh. That’s all I was thinking when Katie pulled a tampon from my purse yesterday and asked if it was a souvenir from our recent trip. I immediately saw the confusion and got all flustered myself in trying to answer. She already “kinda” knew what it was, so the explanation wasn’t too painful. And first I made her run and get Alison, just to save me from going through the same thing twice. And now, I think forever Katie and Ali will associate Tampa, Florida with menstruation.

Wow, it’s amazing how time flies here on this blog. I felt like I just updated our travel plans the other day, and before I know it, weeks have passed! We’ve already gone to and returned from Tampa and St. Petersburg and did everything that we had planned on our itinerary (plus more).

A few highlights: The Lowry Park Zoological Society of Tampa was fantastic. We took a jeep ride and saw animals I’ve never seen before—kookaburra, manatees, and komodo dragons. The girls had a blast in “The Billabong” water area. This hadn’t even been on our itinerary, but we stumbled upon and were thrilled.

Another surprisingly good afternoon was spent at the University Mall in Tampa. In a way it’s a typical mall with anchor stores and other popular stores; and in a way it’s like a big flea market. We spent hours rummaging through locally owned shops, stopped for some snacks in the food court, and then saw a movie. We had spent the morning at St. Pete Beach and wanted to do something low key on our way back to the hotel, and University Mall hit the spot.

I wonder where we’ll be off to next….


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