Car Seats and Airports

Does anyone have any good insight on making the process of using a car seat in an airport any easier? I've seen a few options out there. The Cheeky Monkey Back Pack (see fig 1), The GoGo Baby Kidz Travel Mate (see fig 2) and the Sit and Stroll Car Seat Stroller (see fig 3). From what I understand, the Sit and Stroller isn't a very good car seat or a good stroller. The cost doesn't seem worth it, either. So, I'm down to the Cheeky Monkey or the Travel Mate. Which works best?

Fig. 1 - The Cheeky Monkey Back PackFig. 2 - The GoGo Baby Kidz Travel Mate

Fig 3. - The Sit and Stroll Car Seat Stroller


Heading South of the Border

It looks like we'll be heading to Cancun before the summer... a company reward trip for a job well done. We're excited. Not only do we love to travel - we really love to travel for free! Who doesn't.

My wife hasn't been to Cancun before and I haven't been there since a 8 day raucous spring break trip in 1992. My memories of Cancun are a bit incomplete, if you know what I mean. I remember Cancun as a very touristy version of Mexico and I know it's pretty much the same... probably on a much bigger scale. If you want to experience the "real" Mexico, Cancun isn't it. Still, what you do get is a warm and sunny vacation with beautiful white sand beaches and gorgeous turquoise waters.

We'll be staying at the Cancun Palace, a 600+ room all-inclusive resort. From what I've seen, the resort looks fantastic. Every room has a balcony with most facing the ocean and a few facing the lagoon. Every room has a jacuzzi and a large bathroom. Reviews on TripAdvisor are largely quite positive. I understand the hotel used to be less "modern" in design (pre-Wilma) and had more of a Mexican feel. Some people complained about that but, again, if you're looking for "old world Mexico" you might want to pick another resort.

While there, I'm sure we'll do a whole lot of nothing. Our agenda, from what we understand, will be relatively open. One sidetrip we'll probably take is Isla Mujeres. Rather than taking the typical booze cruise, we plan on taking a ferry to the island and then renting a golf cart to get around and do our own thing.

More on the trip when it approaches...


Now THAT is a pool!

Shoot... the next time we're in Argentina, maybe we need to hop over to Chile. All I can say is WOW! The San Alfonso del Mar in Algaborro, Chile has unveiled the world's largest pool. Amazing! Yes... the sea is nearby but would you ever make it to the beach?


The 53 Places to Go in 2008

Although the article is a month old, I came across a piece in the International Times Herald called "The 53 Places to Go in 2008". Some great suggestions and some odd ones...

A great suggestion...

11. HVAR

As Croatia's Dalmatian Coast has become a new Riviera, Hvar has become its St.-Tropez: a tiny village that fills with yachts and international partyers over the summer. While the waterfront Carpe Diem (www.carpe-diem-hvar.com) remains the island's night-life center, narrow stone alleys are lined with chic cocktail lounges and hotel terraces, including the rooftop pool at the new Adriana hotel, Croatia's first Leading Small Hotels of the World member (www.suncanihvar.com/adriana).

An odd one...


Historically crime-ridden Detroit may not spring to mind as a hot tourist spot, but don't tell that to the city's bullish hoteliers. Newcomers include the MGM Grand Detroit (www.mgmgranddetroit.com), the MotorCity Casino Hotel (www.motorcitycasino.com) in an old Wonder Bread factory and the historic Book Cadillac Hotel, being transformed into a Westin (www.westinbookcadillac.com). Plus, the Detroit Institute of Arts (www.dia.org) just reopened after a $158 million renovation.

And a usual one...


The lights are back on Broadway. And the strike settlement couldn't have come soon enough for several well-publicized productions scheduled to open before the May 7 deadline for the 2007-08 Tony Awards. Among the more highly awaited shows are three revivals: A 40th-anniversary production of "The Homecoming," Harold Pinter's play about a dysfunctional family (as if there were any other kind), starring Ian McShane; "Come Back, Little Sheba," the William Inge chestnut, featuring the Emmy Award-winning actress S. Epatha Merkerson; and an inventive take on "Sunday in the Park With George," Stephen Sondheim's Pulitzer Prize winner, which comes to New York via London and the Menier Chocolate Factory theater company. And for lovers of street theater, the action downtown in the meatpacking district continues to heat up with the arrival of the Standard New York hotel.


A Great Roman View

As you know, Rome is known for it's famed seven hills. Some visitors to Rome make it a point to visit each hill and see the city from above - the views can truly be spectacular. One of the most popular, for example, is the view from the Aventine Hill...

The view from the Aventine

Typically, it's really not that crowded since a majority of tourists tend to stick to the core of the center of town. In fact, the Aventine is a quiet area with several nice churches and a tranquil walkable neighborhood.

Another lesser known view is located smack dab in the middle of the city and is one of my favorites. Let's say it's a view that lets you focus on the details rather than admiring the big picture. It's easy to get to but most people don't know about it. My aunt told me about this view a couple of trips ago and it's was worth checking out.

Looking out over Trajan's Makets

The directions are easy. Head up the cordonata to the Piazza del Campidoglio. If you don't know what I'm referring to, any good guidebook can help - the Campidoglio is also referred to as the Capitoline hill. Once you're in the main piazza, walk towards the back of the piazza and to the left until you see a wide set of brick steps that lead up to a brick building. At the top of the steps, you'll want to enter the building on the far right... they'll be an open door that leads down a hallway. Follow that hallway, up some steps and eventually you'll pop outside.

Wintertime view towards the Colosseo

You can then find your way to a usually calm cafe' - an pricey but great spot for a morning cappuccino and cornetto or an afternoon tramezzino. All along the cafe is a nice open area with marble railings that provide excellent views of Trajan's Markets, Via dei Fori Imperiali and i Monti. Yes, you'll figure out that, for the most part, you're standing on Il Vittoriano but you wouldn't be mobbed by other tourists. We've stopped by there both in the dead of summer and early winter and both times, there were maybe a half-dozen other people. Just perfect.

My wife and aunt at the cafe'


Hotel Room Workouts

Craig Ballantyne from Turbulence Training is a frequent contributor to Men's Health magazine and other fitness magazines. I've always liked reading his pieces because he provides good insight on exercise routines and staying in shape.

Looking through some exercise videos, I came across his Hotel Room Workout video - some good tips on staying in shape while on the road. As he puts it, you're really limited by your imagination. You'll see several ideas in his video - others that I can think of include lunges, wall squats, pike pushups and incline pushups.


Tart Cafe in Houston

A quick Houston tip... if you're in the Museum District, a great little lunch place to hit up is Tart Cafe. Located at 4411 Montrose in a building primarily occupied by galleries (such as one of our favorites, Peel Gallery), Tart specializes in (you guessed it), tarts. They're delicious! Their salads are excellent, too. A simple dish like a chicken and pesto tart with a side salad will run you under $10.00 - not bad at all.


A Parade Worth Seeing

I'll admit I'm not big on parades. Most guys aren't. The thought of standing around on a sidewalk for a few hours while watching high school bands and flag twirlers isn't completely appealing.

There is one exception that I know of... the Tournament of Roses Parade. Granted, it's associated with the Rose Bowl so football is automatically part of the equation. Still, it's amazing to see the floats and the parade is steeped in tradition.

We had a chance to watch the parade in person before the 2005 Rose Bowl when Texas played (and subsequently beat) Michigan. It really was a great experience. Now, we didn't go through the whole "sleep on the street overnight to save a seat" tradition. That's a bit, eh... extreme!? We did get there around 6:00 AM to get a decent spot. What we saw was worth the early wakeup time and was a nice prelude to the game.

Here are some shots from the 2005 parade, including the Texas float that, ironically, broke down at the beginning of the parade route. Could've been a bad omen but, no, Texas was on the way to winning it's first of two Rose Bowls in a row. Just for grins, I've included a picture of the game-winning kick, as seen from our vantage point.