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Travel: David Landsel

February 08, 2007

UPDATE: Don't be messing with our Wonder Spot


Science and logic are used to being told to scram - if you've ever tuned in to Sylvia Browne, you know what we mean. But in the great outdoors? Ah so.

There are dozens of "Mystery Spots" around the country -- usually located in forested areas, often conveniently located along major highways -- where laws of physics are suspended, people appear to walk up walls, and other freaky "unexplained" phenomena goes down.

If you've never stumbled on one of these spots (they're in at least 24 states, from Gold Hill, Oregon to Burkittsville, Maryland), you are what's known as Seriously Deprived.

Of what, we're not quite sure. But go with it.

Sad news, though. Wisconsin's "Wonder Spot," located in wooded ravine near Lake Delton and famous for having water run uphill and chairs balancing on two legs, is on Death Row. Earlier this year, the village bought it up, and those heartless bastards plan to tear it down in order to build a road.

A tragedy to be sure, but not all is lost. Other paranormal tourist traps are still alive and kicking - our favorite has to be the Mystery Spot located up in the hills above Santa Cruz, Calif. Why we like it: when the weirdness starts to get boring (T-minus 15 minutes in and counting), you're in Santa Cruz -- which, as you can imagine, is a slightly better deal than Burkittsville, Maryland.

Posted by David on 02:03 PM | Comments (0)

February 07, 2007

IT'S A BARGAIN: Go somewhere warm

Newport Beachside Resort

Remember all those people bellyaching about it being too "balmy" outside? Let's all get together and torture them. Slowly. But first, let's warm up. Somewhere, preferably, where thermometers with numbers below 80 haven't been invented yet. If you think points south are all overpriced right about now, you haven't been paying attention. Here, 5 recommended itineraries for mid-February departure dates (room rates are doubles per night).

So it's not super-warm, but it ain't here, that's for sure.
Fly: $205/RT from LGA on United.
Stay: $223/night at the Newport Beachside Resort in Sunny Isles. This ain't no country club, but it ain't no disco neither. Sneak into the nearby Acqualina resort if you need a touch of class.

It's a little cheaper to get here lately - Wilma recovery is still underway. One thing hasn't changed - the temperatures. Niiice.
Fly: $298/RT from EWR on Northwest.
Stay: You get what you pay for when you pay $91/night at the Radisson Hacienda Cancun: A downtown location, and no beach shuttle. We're confident you can find your way alone.

You don't need a passport - just in case you were confused.
Fly: $256/RT from JFK on United
Stay: It's just $108/night to be one block from the beach at El Canario by the Lagoon, one of a small group of properties in the Condado district with a a strong following.

You want hot? This is one of the few Caribbean islands where you can all but depend on winter days warming up to the point where you actually sweat. Prices tend to run accordingly, but this fare isn't bad, when you consider that to go to, say, Jamaica, you're looking at about $600 RT.
Fly: $391/RT from JFK on American (
Stay: $136/night at the not-too-shabby (seriously) Holiday Inn Sunspree Resort Aruba-Beach Resort & Casino.

Posted by David on 01:24 PM | Comments (0)

February 06, 2007

STRATEGIES: 12 step program for curing the New York blues

The lobby of the Four Seasons, home to the Ty Lounge

The worst thing about being down on New York isn't that you aren't feeling your hometown - its that you've got to feel guilty for not feeling it, because everyone back in the provinces is all, "Wow, New York! Awesome!" Well, you know better. Just because it ain't Topeka doesn't mean it doesn't get tiresome now and then. The only answer? Get out there.

By out there, we mean up out of your home-to-work, work-to-home rut, and in to worlds you don't normally explore. (As they say on TV, if you haven't seen it before, it's new to you.) Here, 12 quick and easy cures to try right now. Do one, or do them all in one day. Either way, we guarantee you'll get at least a little smile on. (No grinning. People will think you're goofy.)

1) GET GOOD AND TIGHT: The recently opened Ty Lounge at the Four Seasons Hotel makes a mean Manhattan. Even at $20, one is never enough. A way more civilized room than the old bar, which is full of people trying to get into L'Atelier. Sit by the fire, if there's room. This is one of those hotels that makes scores of out-of-towners think this town is the greatest. You'll see why.

2) EAT LUNCH WHERE THEY GIVE A DAMN: How many sad sandwich lunches before you say, enough? You have to go to Financier, the original on Stone Street, where on Thursdays, they have a serrano ham and manchego cheese panini. It comes wrapped, in a pretty little box to go. Have a latte. (Ask for an extra shot, it tastes better that way.) Stick around, though - this cheerful room is the perfect place to sit out these temperatures.

3) PLAY HOOKY: What's better than being in SoHo on a weekday when the tourists are gone and your colleagues are in the office? For us, not much. Play dumb. Fake a doctor's appointment. Whatever you gotta do. While there, stop by the crepe guy outside of Dean and DeLuca. He's an artist.

4) GET BUZZED: Been to Williamsburg lately? Ever? Ignore all the whining. In this neck of the woods, "ruined" is really code for "something to do." Take the L to Lorimer and walk south to Gimme Coffee. Best cup of joe in town. Promise. Get lost on your way over to Bedford (its not a suggestion - you'll get lost) and do a little shopping before heading back to civilization. Or maybe its the other way around?

5) CLIMB THE WALLS: Why wait for one of those lame ones they have on cruise ships? Try the world's most challenging climbing wall at the Sports Center, over at Chelsea Piers. They sell day passes and rent equipment. No excuses.

6) TAKE A BUBBLE BATH: Order a glass of the Billecart-Salmon rose at The Bar Room at The Modern while you peruse the menu. Soak it up with some of the homemade meats or a tarte flambee. Or just keep drinking. You deserve it. (For best results, bring someone with an expense account.)

7) GO TO VIENNA: I wrote about this earlier in the week but i'll say it again: Cafe Sabarsky at the Neuegalerie is stone-cold fun. Keep your order simple (coffee and cake) just like you would in Vienna, and everything'll be lovely. The Sacher torte really isn't bad. Love the room. Love it.

8) SMELL BETTER: How many of us have never set foot in Bergdorf's. What the hell's it there for if you're not going to go in? They're way nicer than the idiots at Barney's. Start small - go down to the basement and pick up some Acqua di Parma (the new shaving line for guys, the new, stronger Iris scent for girls). Or just buy some of the Fico de Amalfi scent as an office deodorizer (it works).

9) RAMBLE ON: We wouldn't know much about what goes on in Central Park's mini-forest, The Ramble, but we do know this - ain't nothing much at all happening in weather like this. Bundle up and go for a jaunt. Warm up at La Maison with some dark hot chocolate over on Madison afterwards. It's just like when you were a kid! Well, sort of.

10) THIS AIN'T NO JACUZZI SUITE WITH MIRRORS: There are day spas, and then there's the Spa at the Mandarin Oriental. Do it right for a change, and don't even look at the prices. Go whole hog and get the VIP Spa Suite with the bed and the wet area. It's like a killer hotel suite, but one where nice people come and touch you, then leave you alone to get up to whatever mischief. Don't worry - they've probably seen it all.

11) SLOW THE HELL DOWN: Practice looking up. Sure, nobody does it except tourists, but what true New Yorker gives a damn what other people think? One of the best places to start: Fifth Avenue between Washington Square Park and 23rd Street. That was some glamorousness back in the day. But wait - it's still there! Excellent.

12) WIN THE LOTTO: You haven't been to the theater in ages. Why not grab one of those $20 orchestra seats for A Chorus Line? All you have to do: show up at 5:30pm, drop your name in a hat and wait around to see if you're called at 6. The odds are good right now, with fewer tourists in town. For $20, why not? At least it ain't Rent.

Posted by David on 01:04 AM | Comments (0)

ADDRESS BOOK: Bombay boutique crawl

Whym in Bandra, by Raakhee Mirchandani

If you read Raahkee Mirchandani's whirlwind shopping Bombay/Mumbai story in the paper today and were left wondering how to find the addresses of her favorite shops in the suburb of Bandra, well, wonder no more. The list below. Don't worry if they don't make sense - just show them to your taxi driver/hotel chauffeur/helicopter pilot.

Braving the train? Bandra, Kemp's Corner and Khar - the given addresses for all the shops listed - are reasonably near the Bandra station on the Western line, (see map here) which operates the most direct service (all things being relative) from South Bombay, departing Churchgate.)


A Gulistan Marg, ground floor
184 D'Monte Park Road off Turned Road, Bandra West
022 2642 0888

Shop No. 1, Rizvi Mahal
Waterfield Road, Bandra
022 26420481

2 Cornelian, Kemps Corner
104 AK Marg, Mumbai
022 23826972

11-13 Khar Punum CHSC
junction of Rama Krishna Mission Marg and Linking Road
Plot 67, Khar
022 2649-8446

Shop 1, Mangal Smurti
14th Road, Khar
022 9323 71954

Posted by David on 12:47 AM | Comments (2)

February 05, 2007


SNEAKIEST REASON TO UPLOAD A CHEESE/BEEFCAKE GALLERY: We would have talked about the travel section but were too busy flipping through the photo gallery for Larry Rohter's up-front story on class segregation on Rio's beaches. Apparently, some of these people are rich and others are poor, but they all look like winners to us. (Now this is a story that takes us there!) [NYT]

TOO MUCH INFO: The "Sourcebook 2007" contains 18 pages of phone numbers and websites for international hotel chains. In case you forgot how to Google. The list of hot destinations to know says China's big, but another list also says don't forget places like Tulsa and Pittsburgh. Yes, sir. [LAT]

NOT ALL OF EUROPE IS PRETTY: Grandpa Al boards one of those Peter Deilmann river boats on the Upper Rhine and, as we often have, points out that in parts of West Germany, you might think you're sailing down the Passaic River. Points off for saying "there's the rub." Twice. [ChiTrib]

NOW YOU KNOW. AGAIN: Frequently asked questions answered. [WaPo]

Posted by David on 08:10 PM | Comments (0)

STAR TREK: FedEx ships out

The Chesterfield Hotel

It's the day after the Super Bowl, and while nobody except the people who bet money and the people who live in Indianapolis care about who won, all of Miami Beach is atwitter with celebrity gossip.

Who stayed where? Who did what? We heard that Kevin Federline, the undisputed star of the night's commercial lineup, was originally booked in at the Catalina, but decided that their suites weren't big enough - he ended up at the nearby Chesterfield, down Collins Avenue a piece.

Why the Chesterfield, and not something a bit more fancy? "Some celebs want a place where the players play," says the hotel. That, or maybe the check from Nationwide hadn't yet cleared.

Posted by David on 05:57 PM | Comments (0)


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