Thursday, May 7, 2009

Portland's Hip Dining Spots

Portland's Hip Dining Spots

At the smooth and cool speak-easy lounge of Hobo's, there is a great lounge menu, and the food is excellent. This restaurant works well for large parties, and the dining room is best for romantic dining. A large-party gratuity is added for parties of five or more. It's a highlight of Portland's gay culture scene.

Pok Pok is a personal favorite of Portland locals, and they feel very strongly about it. Serving authentic Thai food, it’s the top-rated restaurant in the city. Expect more than the standard chicken curry and pad Thai. Go with a friend or two and order the wings.
The festive Red Star Tavern and Roast House is part-fancy dining room and part-busy bar. The mahagony walls are off-set by an open kitchen decorated with 1930’s décor. The food is serious stuff and you better not leave hungry. You can walk to downtown from here, but you might pay a bit more for the location.

The Portland Spirit is a dinner cruise down the Willamette River offering not only excellent river and city views, but meal specialties like crab and lobster, of course. Order a local wine while you watch the stars go by.

Or, take some time to visit the Woodstock District, which is right by East Moreland. This is an out-of-the-way area, but Tani's Sushi, The Delta Café, and Otto's Sausage are top-notch.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Great Hostels in Rome

Great Hostels in Rome
Ask anyone about the best hostel in Rome, and they’ll tell you it’s The Beehive. Imagine if your really tidy (but somewhat chic) aunt built a hostel. This is that hostel. It’s got a nice private sitting area outside, as well as friendly staff and clean (!!) rooms. What more can you ask for in a hostel?

If you want to party because you’re in town with the boys for a nice, civilized rugby game, stay at Yellow, located near the main train station. It’s only for 18-39 year olds, and they serve a lot of alcohol at their in-house bar. That’s either exactly what you’re looking for, or exactly not!
If you want the personal hospitality and good breakfasts offered by a downtown B&B, consider the Bobby B&B, which is near the center of Rome. The rooms are uniquely decorated and, most importantly in that part of town, sound-proof! This is only for the ultra-feminine travelers!
For something cheap but still offering a more comfortable hotel feel, there is Hotel Romae, located just a few blocks from the main train station. There are several room sizes to choose from, and they have a good selection of breakfast, though you may have to trek across the street to their sister hostel, Yellow. For all standard Rome Hotels check out Travelape.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Boston on a Budget

Boston on a Budget
If the weather is nice, take a lengthy stroll through Hyde Park, right next to the Capitol Building. This is the place you see in the movies with the swan boat rides. The original Cheers is nearby, but don’t go in just to take pictures.

Be sure to visit the historical Copley Square; though the shopping there is fairly mainstream, it is still a really nice place to walk around in. Nearby is today’s Boston city center, including the Hancock Tower and the site of the Boston Massacre, which is now a giant bank. And you haven’t been to Boston without getting a crab cake at Quincy Market.

The Samuel Adams Brewery tour is perfect for those museum-phobes that just want a museum to serve a free pint, darn it! After a fairly brief tour through their facilities (where you’ll gain mad respect for Sam and friends), your tour group will take a seat to taste the fine brews they offer, including some test types or seasonal ones you’ve been craving.

For meals, visit the Italian District in the North End. You could sit down and pig out in one place, but consider a walking buffet. Discover the world’s best manicotti at La Summa, where you’ll be surrounded not by tourists, but by other Italians.Before or after dinner, take a self-guided walking tour through Boston’s historyon the Freedom Trail, such as the Old North Church (Remember? ‘Two if by sea…’), Paul Revere House, Copp's Burying Ground, and the Bunker Hill Monument.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Summer Festivals in Chicago

Summer Festivals in Chicago

The free parties get started the last weekend in May. Mayfest Chicago is the region’s annual German festival, so you know what that means. Get ready for lots of loud music, plates of Wiener schnitzel and other heavy foods, plus an offering of the finest brews the Germans have to offer. For more culture, try the many foreign fests in August: Armenian, Croatian, Korean, Belize, and Greek!

On June 5-6, visit the family-friendly 57th Street Art Fair, the Midwest’s oldest juried art show. The displays are everything from glass to printmaking to ceramics to jewelry to fiber and more. There is plenty of opportunity to entertain the kids at this alcohol-free event, whether its hands-on, kid-friendly crafts or the many nearby parks. For more artsy fun from July 14- August 25, watch a movie with your family in Hyde Park for absolutely free each Tuesday night. Watch the classics under the stars.

Of course, just one week later you have the largest outdoor blues festival in the world, the 26th Annual Chicago Blues Festival. There are many stages with all of the modern legends helping you soak up that summer sun. If you’re into down-home music, visit the Chicago Ribs’n’Soul Festival from August 14-16. Speaking of ribs, you do not want to miss the world-famous Taste of Chicago on August 29-30.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Where to Walk with Only 24 Hours in Paris

With so little time, you won’t have any to spare for the Eiffel Tower line, but don’t worry—you’ll get even better pictures away from all those stuffy tourists. Take the metro to Trocadero for fantastic Tower pics.

Take the Metro Line 2 to “Blance” and check out the Moulin Rouge. Hang onto your purse and walk to the base of the Sacre Coeur, which is on your left. Climb the stairs and pay 5 Euros and go to the crypt where you can climb the stairs to the dome of the church. Not many people do it, so you get one of Paris’ best views and some privacy.

Walk the famous Champs-Elysée towards the Place de La Concorde. You’re nearing the high-class shopping area of Place Vendome, Rue de Rivoli, etc. Hop the Line 1 to St. Paul and you’ll land in the heart of Le Marais. Take a Metro is St. Michel to see Notre Dame, the Seine River, and the Latin Quarter. Check out the famous Shakespeare and Co. bookshop. Then walk along the Seine to Odeon. Near the metro stop there is a little pink-and-green stand where a happy French man serves France’ best crepes. Walk down San André Des Arts and find the Pont Des Arts bridge. End your day with a wine and cheese picnic on Paris’ only bridge without cars.