Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Chicago hosts two good travel-related shows

Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place (Photo courtesy of Chicago Boat Show)

Chicago Boat Show at McCormick Place (Photo courtesy of Chicago Boat Show)

Time to start thinking about leisure time, outdoor sports and the next vacation. To get ideas or just enjoy the fun parts of two, get-out-and-do-something shows, check out the The Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show that takes over McCormick Place’s South building Jan. 9 through Jan. 13 and the Chicago Travel and Adventure Show that moves into  the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont Jan. 12-13, 2019. They both will likely have you drooling, wishing or planning.

 

Chicago Boat, RV & Sail Show™ is not just about walking around and admiring boats or having “inchitis” to move up to a larger craft. See the seminars available to learn more about what you are already doing or hope to do.

If you stop by sponsor Progressive’s  Boat Club that is working with the Annapolis School of Seamanship you may get some tips on docking techniques (docking pool) and you can experience a Virtual Reality boating session.

As to the travel aspect, Corona will be encouraging visitors to “Find their Beach) at its Beach Bar & Cantina to put you in a boating frame of mind.

Then there is a booth to test your boating skills (A429) and a Build-a-Boat at Chicago Maritime Arts Center’s section for youngsters and adults. Or let the kids (age 12 and younger) fish for free at Huck’s Pond.

Paddle board enthusiasts or wannabees can see demos and get how-to instruction while sailboat racing aficionados and hopefuls can try remote control sailboat racing or take a free sailing lesson with a simulator.

For those visitors who envision traveling now that they are retired or want to  travel with their possessions, there is the RV Info Center with models and experts to fit all needs.

DETAILS: McCormick Place South, 2301 S Lake Shore Drive Chicago IL 60616., Jan. 9-13, 2019. Admission is free to age 12 and younger and $15 age 13 and older but save $2 by purchasing tickets online in advance through Jan,. 8. Senior Day is Jan. 9 to pay $10 for ages 62 and older. For hours, other information and tickets visit Chicago Boat Show.

Find out about the places you have only dreamed of visiting. Photo courtesy of Travel and Adventure Show)

Find out about the places you have only dreamed of visiting. Photo courtesy of Travel and Adventure Show)

 

The Chicago Travel and Adventure Show is a chance to hear about vacation destinations from Africa, Asia and Australia to closer to home adventures in North, Central and South America.

Visit and chat with exhibitors, hear travel experts and sit in on travel seminars. Some of the fun things to do are take SCUBA lessons in a dive pool and take a camel ride, really!

There will also be a trip door prize and giveaways from many booths.

DETAILS: Chicago Travel and Adventure Show is at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center’s Hall F, 5555 N. River rd., Rosemont, IL 6001 Jan. 12-13, 2019.. Tickets are $15 for one day, $22 two days  to ages 17 and older and free to children age 16 and younger. Tickets are available at a discount on line for a limited time. For hours and tickets visit Travel and Adventure Show.

 

 

 

 

Take a Palm Springs escape back in time

Frank Sinatra House, Palm Springs (Jake Holt photo)

Frank Sinatra House, Palm Springs (Jake Holt photo)

 

It’s not too late to get tickets for An Afternoon of Jazz at the Modernist Loretta Young Estate  or a architectural Bus Tour of Palm Springs neighborhoods where such stars as Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack took refuge from Hollywood or hob nob with VIPs at Palm Springs Modern Committee Annual Gala Benefit  at the Lawrence Welk Estate or see designer Christopher Kennedy’s renovation of the  Modernism Week Featured Home: La Vie en Rose  a 1958 home in posh Vista Las Palmas that backs up to the San Jacinto mountains.

You get the gist of this escape. It’s a trip back to mid last century architecture and homes of famous people who wanted to be within a director’s calling distance of LA studios or not too far from Las Vegas stages.

A mere 119 miles southeast of Los Angeles and about 230 miles from Las Vegas, Palm Springs, CA sits on the always sunny (more than 350 days) western edge of Coachella Valley in the Colorado Desert. The events just mentions are a few of the dozens of tours and activities taking place in and around Palm Springs during the town’s annual Modernism Week, Feb. 14-24, 2019.

The bonus is two, really good shows in the Palm Springs Convention Center. Feb. 15-18, 2019. One is the high-end, Art Palm Springs. The other is a dealers’ Modernism exhibit. Feb. 15-18.

The week, actually 10 days, celebrates the area’s reputation for having more mid-last century homes than anywhere else in the world. Here, old homes are not torn down but are instead, preserved for people who appreciate mid-1900s designs. Indeed, the National Trust for Historic Preservation put the area on its America’s Dozen Distinctive Destinations architecture list in 2006.

Modernism Week happens twice a year, October and February. The fall event is small but the February one runs out of tickets to some of the popular tours and lectures. Check Tickets to see what is left and snap them up before you go.

 

Bus tour of Palm Springs (David A. Lee photo)

Bus tour of Palm Springs (David A. Lee photo)

 

Do a bus tour

Definitely get tickets for the Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour. Taking  about 2.5 hours, the bus drives around Mid-Century Modern neighborhoods, and past Desert Spanish estates.

Knowledgeable guides tell stories about the stars and are likely to explain that the Palm Springs area was chosen because of what was then the studios’ “two-hour rule.” Actors had to be available within a couple of hour’s driving time for film and photo shoot calls..

It’s where tour guides have been known to say, “There is Frank Sinatra’s home, Twin Palms. When he was ready to party he hoisted a Jack Daniels flag between the palms.”

Mid-century architecture is so valued that the much photographed  gas station at the foot of the area’s Tram, is on the tour as a re-purposed Visitors Center.

Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Barack Obama have gotten away from cameras here but it is also a resort and golf area for folks who like its year-round summery weather.

 

Go to the Convention Center shows

At the Modernism Show, wander around the booths of dealers who specialize in 20th century design movements to see furniture and accessories similar to what your parents or grandparents cherished that are now back in style.

At the Art Palm Springs show check out the post war and contemporary art works.

 

Shop, Visit Galleries, Relax

There is so much to do during Modernism Week, that you should schedule in down-time. Stay awhile to explore the area, shop the boutiques and art galleries. One of the best galleries is Heather James in neighboring Palm Desert. Oh, and get in some golf and spa time. The Greater Palm SpringsVisitors Bureau has lots of ideas.

 

 

 

Travel tips during the holiday season

 

First, the hard to believe news.

You don’t need half the stuff in your closet and drawers. Emulate travel writers.

On a recent trip to South Padre Island, none of the four of us travel writers had more than a roller board carry-on plus handbag.

The spinner (four turning wheels at the base) is best for easy walking and the handbag strap fits easily over the suitcase’s pop-up handle so you are basically hands free.

Ladies, you probably, strongly disagree but you don’t need to travel with six pairs of shoes. Pare down to a pair of walking/running shoes, a casual pair of sandals and a dressy pair of shoes/sandals.

The carry-ons out nowadays are roomier than you think and they look. There is room for a hanging bag which means you will already have the tops/dresses you like on hangers, ready to hang in the closet when you get there. If you carefully fit at least two tops inside each other they don’t wrinkle as much and you can fit six tops that way into the hanging bag.

Fit makeup (or shaving kit) and underwear on the bottom of the case between the wheel bars, shoes on either side with and then fold the hanging bag with its hangers on top. Really, try again. It does fit.

If not TSA approved, put liquids in the outside zipper compartment for easy access going through airports.  You should be TSA approved. If not, apply. You won’t have to take out liquids from your suitcase.

Don’t forget sunscreen. No matter where you’re going you will be outside sometime. Also, pack or wear a hat. Skin cancer is real.

spinner carry-on, hanging bag and cell-phone wallet on a strap. (J Jacobs photo)

spinner carry-on, hanging bag and cell-phone wallet on a strap. (J Jacobs photo)

Now, for the easy stuff you think you know but often forget. You likely have a smart phone with everyone’s info on it but have you left your itinerary with contact information with friends, neighbors and family back home?

I know people whose basements have flooded when the electricity went off and the sump pump stopped working and people who have had a tree topple on the roof from wind or heavy, icy snow.

Now the handbag/ briefcase know-how.

Make a copy of your driver’s license and or passport. Also make copies of your credit card info and phone numbers to call. Keep it in a zippered compartment attached to your handbag/briefcase, not in a separate wallet that could easily be slipped out.

Wallets are taken out of pockets and purses more often than you may think. The time spent doing this is well worth the time. Even if you don’t need any of that this time you might need it back home because holiday shopping season is also pick-pocket/purse season.

Two examples: In Prague, the American Embassy has a stolen-wallet desk and there are warning signs on public transportation. In Chicago, a friend just had her wallet stolen downtown.

It doesn’t hurt to be old-fashioned and wear a money pouch/belt. It used to be common for travels outside the US but it is still a way to safeguard foreign and US currency.

Or be new-fashioned. Look for a Bandolier or Goldno cell-phone wallet on a strap. I wear one whenever I go downtown Chicago. My buss and train pass fit as do a credit  and and couple of dollars.

And guys, you may think your back pockets are so tight a thief can’t access your wallet. Wrong. They are adept at bumping people in crowds and often work with an accomplice.

Because you’re smart and do only carry-ons you shouldn’t have to worry about what happens if your luggage is lost. But if you do check luggage through, put an extra pair of underwear/shirt and small make-up, sewing/ shaving kit into your handbag-briefcase.

 

If you have a tip to share, please put it in comments. Travel tips are welcome.

Have fun and travel wisely.

Jodie

 

 

Holiday shop in London this year – Harrods and Fortnum and Mason await

Oxford Street, London during the holidays. (J Jacobs photos)

Oxford Street, London during the holidays. (J Jacobs photos)

Make London your December holiday trip. The city is always bustling but during the holiday season stores go all out with spectacular windows, sparkling lights that line buildings and crisscross streets and music everywhere.

Pack comfortable shoes, warm scarf, hat and fly off to Heathrow (great shopping airport for last minute gifts before flying back). Take the Heathrow –London Express for the fastest way in (reserve ahead) or the Underground (Tube) or taxi to your hotel after checking options at Heathrow transport.

You are likely to find a place near where you want to be within your budget at Visit London. I like Marriott Hotel Marble Arch because it feels like a boutique hotel but is on a main tube stop and within easy walking distance to gaily decorated Oxford Street’s shops.

Once unpacked and ready to go, forget taxis. Traffic is so bad above ground that the meter runs while you wait through three lights to proceed through one intersection. Pick up a map of the Underground stations but wear those walking shoes.

London loves its Harrods for luxury items and Fortnum & Mason for gourmet foods but also likes the trendy stuff in the Sloan and Chelsea areas and the fun of shopping its famous markets

OK, have at it.

Holiday windows in the Knightsbridge Sloan shopping area often tell stories such as Cinderella a few years ago.

Holiday windows in the Knightsbridge Sloan shopping area often tell stories such as Cinderella a few years ago.

Knightsbridge: Take the Tube, get off to shop the Knightsbridgbe-Brompton Road-Sloane Street District where you can wander Harrods. I like the Food Hall. Then, go into Harvey Nichols and Sloan’s other high-end designers, even if just to look.

Snap photos of the Harvey Nichols Christmas windows (like Macy’s windows). They often tell a story like Cinderella. Tip: At Harrods and other London department stores you’ll see fun “crackers” which are good stocking-stuffers but airports started disallowing them after 9-11 so get one just for yourself to pop in your hotel room.

King’s Road: Another Underground stop would be Sloan Square for King’s Road and the Chelsea neighborhood filled with designer and trendy shops and Duke of York Square. Browse fun boutiques, cafés and the Chelsea Antiques Market.

Oxford Street: You’ll love the lights overhead if shopping at night and the windows any time of day. They all definitely set the holiday mood for stopping at Selfridges and Marks & Spencer.

If you didn’t get chocolates at Harrods, look for a Thorton’s across from the department stores. It’s a chain with really good candy. You can also find the Debenhams Department Store (founded in London in the 18th century) and several good clothing shops on the street. Which Tube stop that accesses Oxford Street depends on what stores you want to visit. The Bond Street station is closest to Selfridges.

Regent Street: Famous for its holiday lights and shops the street maintains a retreat area where you can relax during the holiday season. If you don’t mind walking, you can use the Piccadilly Circus Tube stop to pop into Fortnum & Mason and go over to Hamleys, an amazing toy store to visit even if you don’t have to buy a kid’s present. Dating to 1760, Hamleys is among the world’s largest toy stores. There is also Liberty, a high-end store in an elegant Tudor building that offers cutting-edge and clever accessories.

Oxford Street during the holidays (photo take a few years ago).

Oxford Street during the holidays (photo take a few years ago).

Or use the Oxford Circus station to hit Liberty and Hamley on Regent and then Fortnum & Mason at Piccadilly.

Opened in 1707 Fortnum & Mason has served the Royals since Queen Charlotte. You have to go here for the old atmosphere and to pick up something to take home.

While in the area of Piccadilly Circus or Bond Street walk down Savile Row if interested in a hand-tailored suit. Among shops to visit there are Abercrombie & Fitch’s flagship store, Henry Poole & company and Gieves & Hawkes. Also, go to the boutique filled Carnaby Street.

Covent Garden: You’ll find three unique markets here. Look for arts and crafts in the North Hall’s Apple Market. The East Colonnade Market has jewelry and handmade soap. Products in the Jubilee Market in the South Piazza vary by day from antiques on Monday to general items other weekdays and crafts on the weekend.

Camden Markets: Save time to explore the markets in Camden Town at the Camden Town or Chalk Farm Tube Stations. There’s the Camden Lock Market at the canal which was the original craft-stall place in the mid 1970s. The Camden Stables Market has fashions.  Other markets including Inverness Street and Buck Street spread out across the area with clothes and other items. It’s a fun place to browse. https://www.camdenmarket.com/

You don’t have to load up the suitcase because the stores are happy to ship. But a good idea if you want to take presents back is to bring an extra bag. Remember airports don’t like wrapped boxes so plan to gift wrap at home.

Have fun shopping, browsing and seeing London during the holidays.

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