Category Archives: Vacation

Zagat Puts Reviews in Your Hands

At first glance, Nina Zagat looks like any other woman you might happen to meet in New York City. She is pleasant and personable, with a huge smile that lights up her entire face. Spend even just two minutes speaking to her, though, and you’ll understand why she and her husband Tim have made Zagat Rating and Review guides into a household name. She embodies everything that one would hope to find in an entrepreneur. Nina is smart, creative and passionate about what they’re doing in the NYC offices. She also has a damn good eye on the future and what they need to do to keep up with the times.

Zagat Survey began as a hobby for Tim and Nina back in 1979. They saw a need for good restaurant guides, and wanted to fill that gap. I believe it is this enthusiasm and love for what they are doing that has carried them to the top over the years. They became a leader in the social space before the social space was even defined. In the years since their launch, they have expanded to become the world’s most trusted source to help consumers make informed decisions about restaurants, nightspots, hotels, attractions and other leisure activities.

Zagat is working hard to lead the mobile push, as well. Nina chuckles when she speaks of the ways they are pushing forward to embrace the mobile market. She admits that the majority of their users come from iPhone owners… but they are working hard to improve their Android app and their upcoming Windows Phone 7 app. Look for information about that here on launch day – November 8th!

Today, Zagat Survey® has expanded to cover more than 100 countries worldwide and a range of leisure activities including dining, travel, nightlife, shopping, golf, theater, movies and music. Zagat content – available today on most media platforms – lets people search for and find the perfect places for their needs based a wide range of useful criteria. That breadth and depth of information has made Zagat a name that consumers can trust – even if they aren’t sure how to pronounce it.

The single best component of Zagat is the fact that their information actually comes from YOU. The surveys are filled out by consumers just like yourself… people who eat, shop, watch movies and visit local attractions. The information is compiled into a guide by Zagat’s content department. The star ratings are given based on the feedback provided by all of you.

Zagat is not just an ordinary guide book – it’s a way of life. Check them out today.

Sustainable Living at Gnomedex

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Scott Mueller is a quirky-smart thinker with leadership experience ranging from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. He’s passionate about helping people see their true potential and getting them to places they never thought possible.

Scott and his wife, Alex, started an experiment in life and living, called Moosicorn Ranch, east of Spokane, WA. Through the help of friends and colleagues, they hope to make Moosicorn Ranch a sustainable home and farm. But there are even bigger dreams in the works including providing a place for workshops, seminars, and even a place for artists to live, learn and create.

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Keyboard Carrying Case Review

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I usually lug several different things around with me when I’m out and about. I take my iPad, in case I need to do any work. Then, of course, I have the Bluetooth wireless keyboard for it, my iPhone, perhaps a netbook… and various cords. I tend to throw all of the cords into a gallon-sized baggie, which doesn’t give such a great impression. I’ve been on the lookout for a good-looking and durable carrying case for small items such as this. The one sent to me by Waterfield fits the bill perfectly.

The Waterfield Keyboard Travel Case is perfect for my needs. It looks professional and simple, which I like. The inner compartment is actually divided by a fabric liner into two separate spaces. My keyboard tucks nicely into the back, leaving room for other items I may need to bring along.

The outside of the case features another zippered pouch which is also divided. You can keep your batteries separate from your cords this way. I know how important that is. Is it just me, or do cords tend to somehow multiply? Anyway, keep them well apart with the liner and never worry about that little situation again.

The case is lightweight, and it has a little “thumb hook” on the end to carry it by – or attach it to something else. It’s also small enough to pack inside of a larger bag when traveling.

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FourSquare Sends Local Reviews to Your Phone

Ever found yourself in a new town or neighborhood, feeling a little hungry, but unsure if there was a restaurant nearby that was worth checking out? If the new location-based resources in FourSquare take off as they’re predicted to, you won’t have that problem much longer.

ReadWriteWeb reports that the Independent Film Channel (IFC) and the Huffington Post will now push reviews and suggestions to your cell phone. All you have to do is opt-in.

“Click to follow these publishers, check in near one of the locations they have annotated,” says blogger Marshall Kirkpatrick, “And your phone will get special tips pushed to it just like you get when near a place where one of your individual friends has left a tip.”

What kind of suggestions will you see? Visit IFC on FourSquare and you’ll find examples from their “Always On, Slightly Off Guide to America,” with recommendations for bars, restaurants, and other local attractions across the U.S. If you’re logged into FourSquare, you can click to indicate that you’ve visited one of the Top 50 locations or to add it to your personal to-do list.

Know a place that’s not on their list and should be? Just go to the IFC site and nominate it. Can you make a suggestion that gets your hometown in the Top 50?

How do You Travel?

Chris Brogan is – simply put – a great guy. I’ve heard him described as a “big teddy bear” with a “huge heart” on more than one occasion. He’s genuine, personable and extremely intelligent. Chris recently started up a new site that he is calling Man on the Go.

Chris is definitely a man on the go. He attends more conferences and functions than even Robert Scoble does. During all of his travels, Chris has learned many things the hard way about packing, unpacking, hotels, food, airlines and things that most of us never even think about. He’s using Man on the Go to help educate men and women alike… helping us all be better travelers.

Some of the tips Chris gives in this video include:

  • Only use a carry-on bag whenever possible. – You’ll cut down 20-30 minutes of each trip by not having to wait in line for luggage. You also will never run the risk of having your luggage lost.
  • If you’re a larger person, go for a window seat. – Chris has very wide shoulders, so he always chooses to sit near a window. This way, he can tuck himself in a little better and not be bashed in the arm or leg by the beverage cart.
  • Bring your own snacks on the plane. – Chris advises you to bring your own snacks to eat. Most airlines will give you nothing more than a small bag of half-stale pretzels or nuts. Bring some jerky, trail mix or other snacks that can be easily tucked into your bag.
  • Test out your carry-on before getting on the aircraft. – There’s nothing worse than struggling to find what you need in your bag in the middle of a flight and disturbing people around you. You don’t want to elbow someone repeatedly as you dig through and attempt to find what you’re looking for. Pack smart, and be aware of where things are located that you might want to retrieve in the air.
  • Don’t read your magazines until you are going on a trip. – If you subscribe to any magazines, don’t read them when they arrive if you know you’ll be traveling soon. It’s unreal how much you will save by not grabbing something in the airport to read on the plane. Many magazines have their cost inflated by up to 90% when you buy them this way.

What tips do you have that are tried-and-true? Leave us a follow-up comment and give us your ideas.

What is There to Do in Boston?

It’s been awhile since we last wrote about travel tips, as sent in by our community members. We asked months ago for you to send us the top ten places to visit in your hometown. So many of you responded that we are STILL trying to get them all posted! Today we’re going to talk about Boston. We may end up with more than ten things to do, since three of you sent in your ideas. Thanks to Mike, Robert and Charmain for letting us know what great things there are to do in Boston, Massachusetts!

  • USS Constitution – Better known as Old Ironsides, the USS Constitution was a prominent ship during the War of 1812. Tour the ship or visit the museum, which is full of over 150 interactive displays.
  • Harvard Walking Tour – After taking this tour, you’ll be able to say you’ve been to Harvard! Tour the famous campus with a student leader, and learn of its history and prestige.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Campus Tour – Regularly scheduled student-led campus tours are conducted Monday through Friday at 11:00 AM and at 3:00 PM.
  • Institute of Contemporary Art – For more than a half century, the ICA has presented contemporary art in all media – visual arts, film, and video, performance and literature – and created educational programs that encourage an appreciation for contemporary culture.
  • Bunker Hill Monument – In this first major battle of the American Revolution, the outnumbered American militia flew a red, white, and blue flag bearing the pine tree emblem of the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Today, you’ll find a 221-foot granite obelisk marking the site of the famous battle.
  • Fenway Park – Fenway is the home of the Boston Red Sox baseball team. It’s a gorgeous stadium, and one that you’ll enjoy visiting… even if you’re not a baseball fan!
  • New England Aquarium – Founded in 1969, the New England Aquarium is a global leader in ocean exploration and marine conservation. The Aquarium is one of the premier visitor attractions in Boston, with over 1.3 million visitors a year, and a major public education resource.
  • The Public Garden – The Public Garden was created in 1837, Boston Common in 1634. What a difference two centuries made. From its inception, the Public Garden was decorative and flowery, the Common pastoral and practical. The Common’s walkways were for crosstown travel, the Public Garden’s paths for meandering. The Common was America’s first park, the Public Garden its first public botanical garden.
  • Boston Tea Party Ship and Museum – This is a comprehensive museum dedicated to preserving and interpreting the legacy of the single most important event leading up to the American Revolution. It is scheduled to re-open in the summer of 2010 (after renovations are complete), and will undoubtedly be a huge hit.
  • Boston Children’s Museum – The Boston Children’s Museum exists to help children understand and enjoy the world in which they live. As an early museum experience for children, the environment is informal, but the purpose is serious. The exhibits are geared towards children ages 2 – 10.
  • Boston National Historical Park – The Boston National Historical Park is an association of sites that showcase Boston’s role in the American Revolution. It was designated a national park on October 1, 1974. Seven of the eight sites are connected by the Freedom Trail, a walking tour of downtown Boston.
  • Boston Duck Tours – You’ve never toured Boston in anything that comes close to Boston Duck Tours. The fun begins as soon as you board your “DUCK”, a W.W. II style amphibious landing vehicle. First, you’ll be greeted by one of our legendary ConDUCKtors, who’ll be narrating your tour. Then you’re off on a journey like you’ve never had before.
  • Arnold Arboretum – The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University is the oldest public arboretum in North America and one of the world’s leading centers for the study of plants. It is a unique blend of respected research institution and beloved public landscape.
  • Whale Watching Cruise from Boston Harbor – Boston Harbor Cruise’s Whale Watching cruise is both an unforgettable and educational experience. The guides, who are researchers from the Whale Center of New England, will teach you about everything from whale behavior and migration patterns to the local ecology. You’ll also be able to get amazing photographs of the area – and the whales!
  • Franklin Park Zoo – Franklin Park Zoo is a 72-acre site nestled in Boston’s historic Franklin Park, long considered the “crown jewel” of Frederick Law Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace Park System. You’ll find hundreds of exhibits, and enjoy hours’ worth of fun.

It sounds as though there is no shortage of fun – and educational – things to do around Boston! There seems to literally be something for everyone!

What is There to do in Singapore?

From all of the pictures I’ve seen over the years, it’s safe to say that Singapore is a beautiful place. David Xu wrote in to share with us some of his favorite places to visit in the city. I can close my eyes and picture some of these places, thanks to the great descriptions that David provided. I have to say that after reading through this list, Singapore is now on my list of places I need to visit someday!

  • Sentosa Island – This is an island off the southern coast of Singapore mainland, and is one of the most visited resorts of tourists. One can travel to Sentosa by car or bus, via the bridge, or use the cable cars that will allow you to have a sky view of the island before going on it. There are butterfly parks, dolphin lagoons, underwater world, go-karting, 3 amazing and relaxing beaches, and the Merlion tower. This tower is about 37 meters high, and is a replica of Singapore’s most enduring symbol. A Merlion is fish with a lion head.
  • Singapore Zoo and Night Safari – The Singapore Zoo is well known both in Southeast Asia and worldwide for its variety of animals and excellent pedigree. You’ll see everything from Chinese pandas to orang utans to white tigers. Certainly worth a visit and if you have the time, go for the Night Safari which is an interesting night tour of the zoo. Night Safari is the 1st nocturnal zoo in the world which was started in Singapore in the year 1994 and encompasses a total area of forty acres with 120 species and a total number of 1040 animals, out of which 29% are endangered species. The zoo has received a number of awards such as the top ten best family attractions, the best leisure attraction in Singapore and more. This open air zoo, which is open only at night, is set in a humid tropical forest and is divided into 8 zones which can be surveyed on foot or by taking trails and trams. There are a number of itineraries which include creatures of the night show shown by Leopard trails and tram journeys. The various attractions in the park include Fishing Cat Trail, Forest Giant’s Trail, and Himalayan Foothills, Nepalese River Valley, Giant Flying Squirrels, Bat Mangrove Walk and more.
  • Jurong Bird Park – If you’re bored of seeing the numerous shopping malls and restaurants in Singapore, then try visiting the Singapore Jurong Bird Park. The Jurong Bird Park is the largest open-concept bird park in the Asia Pacific, with over 600 species of birds. You can take a ride on the air-conditioned Panorail for a scintillating sight of the Park. You can also enjoy the fantastic Penguin Exhibit with an underwater viewing gallery, along with the world-class All-Star Bird Show.
  • The Singapore Botanical Gardens – Among the most interesting and most visited place in Singapore is the Singapore Botanic Gardens. The gardens are a lush and scenic park spread over 52 hectares of land right in the heart of the city. The garden is accessible from the Holland road and Cluny Road, just off the western end of Orchard Road. The park is a great spot for people who want to enjoy time at a leisurely pace, go for a jog or set up a picnic spot. The Botanic Gardens are rather distinctive as they contain a whole variety of flora from differing climates.
  • Haw Par Villa – The ‘Haw Par Villa’, is an important tourist spot in Singapore. You can see all the different mythological and legends of the Chinese culture here. Moreover, you will be entertained by the dragon dances and other cultural shows. A dragon boat ride brings you through the ups and downs of the Chinese Hell.
  • Chinatown – If you’re interested in the culture and sights of the largest ethnic group in Singapore, then Chinatown is a must visit for its interesting little curio shops and cultural fare. Make sure you pop in to try the local food and also shop for traditional Chinese stuff like herbs and mahjong sets or jade.
  • Singapore River – This is the place to be at night. The scenery is really indescribable. Included is a picture of Downtown Singapore at night. You can see the Singapore River in the middle, and towards the left, there’s a triangular shaped building. That is the Fullerton Hotel, Singapore’s very own 6 star hotel.
  • Esplanade – The Esplanade is easily differentiated from the other buildings around it due to its unique architectural design. Its design is similar to the tropical fruit, durian, so many Singaporeans refer to the Esplanade as “The Durian”. It is a place that is worth taking a photo with as you won’t see this design anywhere in the world.
  • Singapore Science Center – For budding scientists, the world-acclaimed Science Centre Singapore will keep your mind racing with more than 1,000 interactive exhibits depicting the wonder and beauty of science. Apart from the main exhibition galleries, the Omni-Theatre is also one of the central attractions of the Science Centre Singapore. The five-storey high and 23 meters diameter hemispheric giant screen and sophisticated sound systems promise audiences a thrilling cinematic experience.
  • Food! – Singapore is Food City. There are many other good reasons to stay in Singapore, such as the Night Safari at the zoo, the Bird Park, Sentosa, the war memorials, and even the shopping. But eating is the attraction that could keep visitors amused for weeks. Singaporeans love eating. Anything, at any time. To get the best from Singapore eating, it’s advisable to break all the Australian rules. Head for shopping centers. Go to luxury hotels. Indulge in fast food. Look for buffets. And eat something strange.

What about you? Have you been to Singapore? Did David list all of your favorite places? What about where you live – what are the best things to see and do in your area?

What is There to do in Kentucky?

It’s been a few weeks since I last posted a top ten travel tips post. We have had so many responses, and I have loved learning about where all of you live. I thought it was past time to get back to posting these. Spring is coming sooner than we think, and many of you are thinking of planning your vacations! Kentucky has much to offer in the way of entertainment and culture, as evidenced by this list sent in by Tim Cook.

  • Mammoth Cave – Mammoth Cave is considered to be the world’s largest cave. So far, the passageway is measured to be 360 miles long, with discoveries of new passageways every year.
  • World’s Largest Baseball Bat – This bat is six stories high, and is located just outside of the Louisville Slugger Museum. There is also the world’s largest baseball glove to go along with it.
  • Paramount Arts Center – Go watch a concert at the historical Paramount Arts Center. The arts center started out as a movie theater in 1931, showing only silent films thats was made exclusively by Paramount Pictures. It was also one of the first transitional theaters built for “talking pictures” while it was a model theater to showcase films by Paramount. But during the Great Depression, Paramount had decided to turn it into a all-in-one theater for mainly concerts. It has recently been remodeled to look like it did in 1931, which is like stepping back in time.
  • Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace – Visit Abraham Lincoln’s Birthplace, which is not located in Illinois, as many believe. You’ll find the cabin where he was born, still in good shape.
  • First Kentucky Fried Chicken – Visit the World’s first KFC, which started in 1937. The original name of the restaurant was Colonel Sanders Cafe & Museum before it burned to the ground. It has been, and still is today, a restaurant and a motel combination.
  • Muhammad Ali Center – If you’re a boxing fan, then the Muhammad Ali Center is the place to go. It was created by Muhammad Ali himself. The Center is entertaining for any age, and features captivating exhibits and multi-media presentations, a five-screen orientation theater film, historic Civil Rights era media footage, video-on-demand of Ali’s fights, interactive boxing, two changing exhibit galleries, children’s Hope and Dream wall, meeting and event space, a retail store and more.
  • Kentucky Derby – The most well-known derby in the U.S. is the Kentucky Derby. It has been anually held since 1875 on the first sunday in May. The horse races aren’t the only attraction. The museum is also the most famous and remunerative in the world.
  • Nicholasville – Visit a town called Nicholasville, which is the home of the nation’s first commercial vineyeard, established in 1798. It holds national record as the third-largest producer of win since 1860.
  • Cumberland Falls State Park – To see the rare moonbow, you need to go to Cumberland Falls. The moonbow is located in front of the waterfall, which is 125 foot wide and has a 68 foot drop. The moonbow can only be seen on clear, strongly moonlit nights. The lake is also called Little Niagra.
  • Jenny Wiley State Park – For those who enjoys outdoors, then this park is for you. There are any number of activities to participate in. You can play golf, watch a play, go fishing, swimming, walk or ride a bycicle at the trails. The heritage byway alone is a 154 mile loop.

I don’t know about visiting anything sporty or outdoors-y, but I’m down for heading over to the KFC! What about you? Where would you like to travel to this year?

Ten Things to Do in Switzerland

Imran sent an email to me awhile back, talking about all of the best things to do if we ever visit Switzerland. At the beginning of the email, Imran mentions that Switzerland has not one, but four national languages: German, French, Italian and Rumantsch! There is also a wonderful rail system there, so you don’t have to rent a car if you would rather not. Without further ado, here are Imran’s recommendations.

  • Geneva (French-speaking) – Geneva is the home of many international organisations : WTO, WHO, UN, and the Red Cros. This is the most international city in the country. There are interesting museums, including the Red Cross Museum and the Patek Philippe Museum (one of the most prestigious watch makers). And it’s nice to just stroll around the city center, where you may find various kinds of shops. And there’s an Apple Store too ! Home of the Protestant movement and Calvin, you will want to see the Reformation Wall.
  • Lausanne (French-speaking) – About 50 km away from Geneva, still on the Leman Lake, this city is home of the IOC. You definitely want to check out the Olympic Museum, which is situated right on the lake’s shore, with a permanent collection tracing back the whole history of the Olympic Games, and a temporary exhibition which covers various subjects. And strolling around the city is a blast, but you might be warned : the city is built on several hills, so you won’t stop walking up and down.
  • Leman Lake – A very nice thing to do is to board a steamboat and
    > sail all around the lake – that’ll take all day, so maybe you’ll want to just go to another city on the lake shore (like Vevey – home of Charlie Chaplin towards the end of his life – or Montreux). And every time you see a lake in Switzerland, try and see if you can sail on a steamboat, it’s worth it, especially in summer.
  • Canton Valais (French speaking (East) and German speaking (West)) – This Canton doesn’t have any real major cities, it has mountains !! Over there, you mainly have one big valley from which you can access many famous small towns up in the mountains, such as Verbier, Crans-Montana, and Zermatt. The latter one being my personal favourite, since it’s a very small place where no cars are allowed… and where you have one of our famous national symbols : the Matterhorn! Further to the west, you have the Aletsch Glacier, the biggest in Europe (23km long). You will want to go up in the mountains in winter or in summer (but beware of the hordes of tourists in winter ! summer is still okay). On a side note, Valais is not the only place with mountains, but there are so many, I’ll let you check it out yourself. You really have dozens of places to visit up there, and hundreds of kilometers of trekking paths.
  • Bern (German speaking) – The capital city! You’ll definitely want to walk around the old town all day long, it’s so beautiful! And check out the Federal Parliament too. It’s the biggest city in Switzerland, but it’s worth visiting.
  • Basel (German Speaking) – Situated way up north, Basel has an interesting History, and a nice city center. You may want to check out some of their temporary art exhibitions, which happen every so often.
  • Luzern (German speaking) – A city by the Four Canton Lake (or Vierwaldstättersee), there is the famous Chapel Bridge, the oldest wooden bridge in Europe – built in 1333 and still there! This was partially burnt down in 1993, but it’s been repaired. And most of all, you have the Lucerne Museum of Transport! There you’ll see the whole history of Swiss trains, planes, boats, cable-cars… and with the real things, real size!! You can enter the trains and see how people traveled decades ago. A must-see! Plus you have the iMax cinema there too. And through the lake, you are able to reach different other smaller places nice to visit, and also you may see the Grütli plain, where the Swiss Confederation was originally created in 1291.
  • Zurich (German speaking) – This is the biggest city in Switzerland. You have so many things to do there. You’ll want to walk down the main street (Bahnhofstrasse), and see all the fancy buildings. You also have the lake. Believe it of not, you have two Apple Stores in Zurich.
  • Lugano and Locarno (Italian speaking) – These two cities south of Switzerland are absolutely breath-taking in summer. As usual, you have lakes, and mountains surrounding them. Plus, every year around August, you have the International Film Festival of Locarno, with an open-air screen in the Piazza Grande.
  • Canton Graubünden (German and Rumantsch speaking) – Another canton with mountains to explore! The main cities are Chur and Davos. A must-see canton in winter!

I don’t speak any language other than English, but Switzerland definitely looks like an absolutely amazing – and beautiful – place to visit!

Top Ten Things to do in Boston, MA

Elan has lived in Boston all his life. He loves his city, and it shows in the email he sent to me recently. Elan listed all of his favorite must-see places that you don’t want to miss if you ever find yourself in Boston.

  • MIT Museum – They have collections of old computers, exhibitions featuring robots, and much more.
  • Fenway Park – Fenway Park is the home of the Boston Red Sox. The park itself offers tours on a regular basis. Game tickets are pricey, but well worth the cost to be there in person for a game.
  • Freedom Trail – The Freedom Trail is a 2.5 mile red-brick walking trail that leads you to 16 nationally significant historic sites, every one an authentic American treasure. The Freedom Trail today is a unique collection of museums, churches, meeting houses, burying grounds, parks, a ship, and historic markers that tell the story of the American Revolution and beyond.
  • New England Aquarium – They have all sorts of great shows, and exhibits. They also have an iMAX Theater. You can also go whale watching.
  • Faneuil Hall Marketplace – This is the seat of American history and the site of one of America’s most famous shopping and dining experiences. For over 250 years, the marketplace has played an integral role in the life of Boston’s residents. So if you are ready to see, taste, and touch a true Boston experience, visit the historic and exciting Faneuil Hall Marketplace.
  • Museum of Science – The museum has hundreds of unique and fun exhibits. They also feature an electric light show, which is awesome.
  • Boston Apple Store – Even if you don’t own a single Apple product, this particular store is a must-see. The tall glass building is much like the one found in New York City, and there are a ton of Apple products on hand for you to try out and play with.
  • Duck Tour – This awesome tour takes you all around historic Boston, and ends in the river at the Boston Harbor. The ConDUCKtor will give you interesting and fun facts about all the sights along the way. Often, these are things that you’ll never read in any history book. It’s a lot of fun, and educational as well.
  • Sam Adams Brewery – Taking a tour of the Brewery is a lot of fun, and you’ll learn everything there is to know about brewing Sam Adams beer. At the end, there is a tasting room where you can sample many of their beers for free. People under 21 are welcome on the tour, but will not receive free beer!
  • Georges Island – Seven miles from downtown Boston, Georges Island contains a large dock, picnic grounds, open fields, paved walk ways, a parade ground and a gravel beach. Guided tours of historic Fort Warren are offered. Georges also has a snack bar.

Boston definitely sounds like a place where one can find any number of fun and educational things to see and do! What about where you are from? What are the best places to visit?