I’ve been accused of being a “perk” traveler.  Always looking for that something extra, for free.  So what’s wrong with that, and how do you do it?
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Written on January 7th, 2015 , Anicdotes, Travel Tips

I’ve never been a very lucky person.  And the only raffle I ever won was for a bottle of “two-buck Chuck”.  If you can call that winning.  But every now and then, the travel god’s do smile on us.  And sometimes that smile lasts for a few days, or weeks.
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Written on January 5th, 2015 , Anicdotes

American travelers to Europe sometimes cannot figure out how to eat snacks and light meals.  Many lower cost hotels provide no means of storing perishable food items like cheese, meats, milk, etc.  Obviously they want you to eat in their restaurants, which can be pretty lousy and touristy.  So what did I do on a Venice visit for New Years celebration a few years ago?  And how could I preserve some excellent local sandwiches for a long train ride the next day?
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Written on December 21st, 2014 , Anicdotes, Food&Drink, Travel Tips

Is the term “Ugly American” still relevant?  Are you one?  Why do you travel anyway?

I often wonder why people travel to Europe, and expect to be greeted in English and never try to understand or assimilate into the local culture.  If your goal is to simply see sites, visit museums, and take tons of pictures, maybe traveling the great old USA would be better.  When I go to another country my main reason is to see how other folks live, eat, work, and play.  Their culture is what interests me, and how it’s different from ours.
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Written on November 21st, 2014 , Anicdotes, General, Travel Tips

Did you ever think what it would be like to go to Rome to see the Pope do Christmas or Easter mass?  Even if you’re not religious, attending one of these events can be exciting.  And dangerous.

Having done both the Christmas Eve service and Easter Vigils I can say its worth fighting huge crowds and standing in long lines.  And sometimes it rains…and is very cold.  So then, what is the procedure and what should you expect?  First comes getting “tickets”, something I didn’t realize the first time (we actually wound up watching the service on local Vatican TV).
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Written on January 15th, 2010 , Anicdotes, Travel Tips

If you’ve read my stories in the past you probably know I am not a fan of Tour Packages.  But some years ago I found a tour I couldn’t refuse…actually a cruise which I hate as much as group tours.  Why did I succumb?  Well the itinerary was something I just couldn’t resist and couldn’t put together myself.  I’ve always obsessed about seeing the pyramids at Giza.  And visiting the Cairo museum, the Greek Islands, and maybe Jerusalem/Bethlehem are also highpoints I needed to see.  So I found this great cruise on a very small ship.
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Written on November 21st, 2009 , Anicdotes

I was born and raised in a typical working class suburb in western Pennsylvania.  With an ethnic background from the Slavic areas my family meals were basic “meat and potatoes”.  Very little real taste and everything cooked extremely well “just to be safe”.  That meant overcooked meat, soggy vegetables, and no spices except for salt and pepper.
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Written on November 21st, 2009 , Anicdotes, Food&Drink

A little knowledge goes a long way.  And can gain you instant respect from waiters and locals in Europe.  Take for example a simple item like water.  Here in the USA we drink tap water regularly and now a lot of us are into bottled water (one of my pet peeves for people driving – please stop).  The concept of bottled water actually started in Europe out of necessity since tap water in a lot of places was, frankly, awful and sometimes unhealthy.  Each locality had it’s own brand or favorite.  And now it’s commonly a source of pride and in most upper scale restaurants a measuring stick for diners.  If you want instant respect you gotta know the right water to order!
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Written on September 21st, 2009 , Anicdotes, Food&Drink, Travel Tips

Maybe this should be called “Cities For Dummies”.  I bet nobody else ever had this problem?

In the days before GPS we navigated by instinct, and maybe used a map.  So what happens when you’re driving in Italy and enter a small town either by accident or possibly on purpose? During my early days exploring Italy I decided to check out a few towns in the Tuscany area.  Most are quite small, picturesque, and easy to navigate.  For some reason my wife and I decided to see what might be in Empoli…maybe a good lunch spot. So in we go headed for “centro” which is always the city center.  Nice town but bigger than we thought.  And lots of 1-way streets.  Nothing appealed to use foodwise, so I said “let’s head out to the countryside and find a good locals place to eat”.  Besides if we had to go all the way to Lucca, that’s the food paradise of this area.
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Written on August 21st, 2009 , Anicdotes

When you travel to a European country do you learn a few words of their language? Why not? If someone from France comes to California (probably to visit wine country, not Disney) do they expect us to greet them in French? Or even expect us to understand what they are asking for unless they speak English? So then why do most American travelers view people in France as rude and unfriendly because they refuse to communicate with us?  Hence the term “ugly American”.
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Written on August 21st, 2009 , Anicdotes, Food&Drink, Travel Tips

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