We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Our Recent Essays Behind the Front Page
Monday, May 4. 2015
Archeologist- and historian-led travel to Turkey, Greece, or Italy: Peter Sommer
Yes, they do have gulet trips down the Turkish coast. Excellent tours.
For self-planners, For Over Thirty Years, Karen Brown Has Helped Travelers Plan Perfect Trips
We use her books exclusively
Saturday, April 25. 2015
Readers may recall how much we enjoyed our trip to rustic and wild Little St. Simon's Island. (Not Saint Simons Island - Little Saint Simons)
We have a similar trip planned to the famous Greyfield Inn on Cumberland Island in Georgia. We love Georgia but, then again, we love almost anywhere. Again, no phones, no wifi, no TV, no shops, and no transportation other than bike or foot. Other than the old mansion (built by Carnegie), there is no other development. All nature sanctuary. Bring binoculars of course, bathing suit ... and mosquito spray.
Hikes and bikes, and sea, all day.
You get there by boat from Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island. Ha. I've been there! Had a fine seafood lunch in Fernandina overlooking the harbor. Huge plate of fried oysters with pepper salsa, as I recall, cole slaw on the side, and a couple of beers.
Pic is Greyfield Inn
Saturday, April 18. 2015
There is more theater in NYC than in London, and lots of it (Off- and Off-off Broadway) is affordable and excellent. Lots of actors in NY.
Union Square - just one of the hundred fun neighborhoods of Manhattan. Just slightly north of Greenwich Village.
Saturday, April 11. 2015
We have posted in the past about NY's cool Tenement Museum. They didn't have it so bad, considering what they were coming from.
Here's another one: MoMath - The Museum of Mathematics. Wonderful for all curious ages. E. 23rd st.
Sunday, March 29. 2015
Saturday, March 21. 2015
We like to let people - mostly possible NYC visitors - know about cool spots. We've covered Arthur Avenue, Jean George's cheap lunch, Keens for mutton chops, The Campbell Apartment, and lots of other fun places.
Here's another to add to your list: Club Macanudo. You can smoke!
The most pleasant clubs in NYC are private, large, old, and gracious (and permit smoking), but you need a friend member to get inside. Still, plenty of nice places for the proletariat.
Monday, March 16. 2015
An annual re-post for our travel readers -
Pic is JFK in a snowstorm last week. Managed to get out after an extensive de-icing of the airplane. Got lucky - the plane had managed to arrive the night before in a sleet storm.
I always forget something, so I have a travel checklist to run through.
Obviously one does not need everything for every trip - it depends on what your plans are - but I print it out, circle what I'll need for a given trip, then check them off when they're thrown in the bag. Perhaps it seems obsessive, but it is annoying to arrive somewhere and to find that you forgot to pack any socks. On my last trip, forgot to pack a t-shirt for snorkeling, had to buy one for $25. Mrs. BD does her packing her own way, and always brings too much stuff. That's what females do.
I travel too light, she travels too heavy.
My travel checklist below the fold. Obviously you just bring what you need for a given trip. Let me know what I have left out, and I will add items.
Continue reading "Bird Dog's recreational travel checklist of items - feel free to steal it if you want to"
Sunday, March 15. 2015
Or maybe it's already almost too late to plan for 2015. We have our plans mostly set - including a bit more of totally-cool north Africa and the Canary Islands. (Why? Ask Mrs. BD. She plans, I just show up with a passport, an absurd hat, absurd clothes, a credit card, and a cheap camera. I typically pack in 15 minutes, so it is ridiculous. Just remember - always throw in a tux for a formal ship.) I do love ships and I will always jump on one to go anywhere. This one has sails.
Readers know that the whole BD clan has been world-traveling for years, way before Maggie's existed. Between us, my own parents, and my in-laws, there are few spots on the planet which have been left unvisited. We have been a fortunate and adventurous clan.
I have a friend who took his kids (without Mom) on an around the world in 60 days trip which he planned himself. Bonding time with Dad. That's a whirlwind trip but a cool idea. Holland-America has a 115-day round the world cruise. We met a prof and his wife on a ski gondola in New Hampshire who had taken that during a sabbatical and loved it. How could you not? Leave all your cares behind...
I've been to plenty of places in the US and Canada too, before Maggie's, but it's fun to go places without a Wendy's or a Holiday Inn-type place. Never been to Orlando, and it ain't on my list. I guess I could say that my favorite places in the USA are Cape Cod, Montana, and New York City.
For fun, here's our Maggie's Travel and Travelogue with past travel reports, photos, and ideas. (Push "next page" at the bottom of the page to flip back through our old files.)
I have a bucket list, and I have not been everywhere.
Sunday, March 1. 2015
Pic: A salt marsh in Wellfleet, MA
A Canadian reader asked for a post on this topic. A complicated topic, because it depends on the season and on your interests. It's a varied place for such a compact area, with rivers, lakes, mountains, coasts, islands, rural lands, some charming antique towns, lots of decrepit small towns with tattoos, meth labs, and empty old mills; a handful of booming suburban towns of little interest, plenty of music, theater, and dance festivals, and a small handful of pleasant cities.
When driving around, one must bear in mind that most industry, and farming, fled New England in the past 60-100 years for more business-friendly and farm-friendly locations, so it is no longer the prosperous heart of America. Now it's mostly "Blue states", if you know what I mean.
For road food, I'd recommend diners, diner-like one-off places, and seafood shacks instead of fast food chains. There is even an excellent southern barbecue joint on Rte 91, as rickety as heck and the real deal (only during summertime - owner lives in Mississippi). With all the immigrants, there is good Thai food almost everywhere, but the Chinese food in New England tends to be terrible as does Italian food outside of cities except for pizza.
Rather than describing the places I know and enjoy, I'll list just a few and refer you to some good resources. For local flavor, I like Grand Manan Island (between Maine and Canada), Monhegan Island, Camden, Maine, Kennebunkport is touristy but Acadia Park, Cape Cod (Chatham, Wellfleet - lots of Quebec and Ontario license plates there in August), Block Island, The Massachusetts Berkshires - Lenox, Stockbridge, etc - Boston (haven't been there for years though), touristy Woodstock, VT, Stowe, VT, Lake Winnipesaukee and Squam Lake (New Hampshire), Watch Hill and Newport (Rhode Island) - well, it's too much to list and I'll leave too much out so I'll quit there.
We like Karen Brown at lot (her guides for places all around the world are our favorites), and she avoids fancy modern hotels that can make you feel like you are anywhere.
Maybe readers can offer some of their favorite charming New England spots - with interesting things to see, do, and eat - in the comments.
Wednesday, February 4. 2015
Thursday, January 1. 2015
It's time for 2015 travel planning if we have not done that yet (most have done so already, I suspect, but some people are last-minute "planners").
I have a new case of a fellow who has developed a travel phobia. To be accurate, he has not really developed it, it has just been exposed by his frustrated family.
Many people with fears of all sorts never have them exposed because they find ways and excuses to avoid the things that make them uncomfortable. Typical excuses: "I hate cocktail parties," "I hate going to sports stadiums," "I don't want to go to that stupid place," "It's dangerous," "I hate cities," "Airplanes suck," "It's too expensive," "I don't need any new friends," etc etc.
Phobias are more often identified by avoidances than by real episodes of fear or discomfort. How does one tell what is a phobic avoidance from a plain dislike? Well, a little ruthless dose of self-scrutiny can answer most of your questions about your own fears and insecurities.
Like agoraphobics, travel phobics dart from place of safety to place of safety and familiarity no matter how often over-visited, never enjoy the trip or the adventures of life, and constrict their experiences and the richness of their lives in the process. Carpe diem. Life is short and shorter with each new day and each new year.
Men are particularly reluctant to admit flaws and weaknesses. Pride and shame prevent people from owning up to the personal weaknesses of their fears and frailties. I give blogger Ann Althouse, for example, credit for acknowledging her travel phobia (she feels that a driving trip from Madison to Austin is a daunting adventure). Properly naming one's fears, instead of making excuses, is the first step towards addressing them and conquering them.
What we term "simple phobias" are among the easiest things we shrinks have to deal with. In my experience, people with travel phobias and adventure phobias, once mastered, want to go everywhere and do everything.
Sunday, December 28. 2014
We loved this family-friendly hotel in the Dolomites - southern Alps - now part of Italy but Austrian in culture and food. People speak German and at least some Italian, and also Ladin. Mostly Ladin at home, because nobody else in the world speaks it.
This hotel is in the Val Gardena. You get a rental car in Malpensa airport, and drive north almost to the Brenner Pass.
Hiking the Dolomites is on lots of folks' bucket lists. It can range from easy and relaxed to very challenging hiking. You do not have to climb those peaks, although we have a neighbor who climbed each one of them. A good thing is that there are refugios with coffee, beer, snacks, and frische buttermilch every few miles. There are trail maps to sort-of help you from getting too lost, but getting a little lost is part of the fun.
Thursday, December 4. 2014
He then took each to the side for a personal word.
Perhaps not as meaningful as his farewell speech to the troops, but the depth of his relationships which grew from the war followed him for years to come. Many continued to visit him at Mount Vernon. For obvious reasons, he will remain the only US President elected unanimously by the Electoral College.
Monday, November 17. 2014
Relaxed and enjoyed the sound of waves, played dominoes with the in-laws, ate fish every day, did some surf-casting (caught plenty, but nothing big enough), read my book (The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan), and today I'm going kayaking or paddle-boarding. If I can, paddle-boarding, it's better for your core. But either is a good workout.
I had blackened lane snapper last night at a restaurant that didn't appear to be more than a hole in the wall, probably the best I've had. Sometimes it's best not to judge based on the superficial appearance. We had breaded hogfish the night before, at the in-laws'.
Flight home tomorrow in the early morning. This is the second year I took a mid-November vacation. It's a good time to go south. Not only do you stay warm when the rest of the country is chilling, but you get two shortened workweeks heading into Thanksgiving. Then you roll right into the Christmas holiday season.
Wednesday, November 12. 2014
A few more pics below the fold -
Continue reading "NYC's Trinity Church"
Monday, October 20. 2014
Exploring southern Manhattan on foot, as if a tourist: A photo report from the First Annual Maggie's Urban Hike
We began our jolly urban hike on the southern tip of Manhattan Island, Battery Park, where the ferries depart to Staten Island, Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty.
What is fatiguing is not the hiking itself - it's the overstimulation. So much going on, so much to look at.
Below the fold, a photo summary of our hike, with relevant links -
Continue reading "Exploring southern Manhattan on foot, as if a tourist: A photo report from the First Annual Maggie's Urban Hike"
Saturday, October 18. 2014
All in all, the trip was a success. We stuck to the agenda, with a few extra stops baked in, up through to Chinatown. After that, minor adjustments were made to accommodate individual needs and schedules. But we made great time and managed to take in a good portion of the city's major sites and neighborhoods.
I hope everyone had a great time, I know Mrs. Bulldog and myself did. We enjoyed the company immensely. It was great to meet so many people and enjoy one of the world's great cities on such a personal level. From Fraunces Tavern to Cooper Union and McSorley's (where one member of the group was proud to announce he'd celebrated his 21st birthday recently - lucky young man!), we managed to soak in the flavors of New York. I think the one thing that surprised me most was that Stanford White designed the arch in Washington Square Park. In addition, one of the statues on the arch was designed by Alexander Calder's father.
I'd like to personally thank BD and Mrs. BD for introducing us to the Campbell Apartment in Grand Central. One of the coolest drinking establishments in NYC that I've ever been in. I will return with friends and family...and maybe even a few clients.
Saturday, October 11. 2014
Thursday, October 9. 2014
My pal who returned from a couple of weeks in Zambia is quite the wildlife photographer.
Wish he had included photos of the people, town life, etc., but these are wonderful.
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "More Zambia wildlife"
Tuesday, October 7. 2014
A street fair on Lex
They are cooking that corn the right way. The city is always a blast to walk around in, everywhere.
More pics below the fold -
Continue reading "Strolling around midtown Manhattan, a week or so ago"
Sunday, October 5. 2014
I do not mind looking like an American tourist. In fact, I often try to, just for fun.
Northern Italy, 2013, #2: Breakfast time on Lake Garda
Saturday, September 20. 2014
Wednesday, September 17. 2014
No, not if you ask me. The more people are able to get out of their comfort zones, the better. Furthermore, the only brake I know to slow the rapid passage of time in life is new experiences, new places, new stimulation, new people, and new ideas. Otherwise, it can all just be a blur of same, same and, next thing you know, seven years have passed.
Tuesday, September 16. 2014
Some people seem stingy to the point of sadism, cruelty. Envelopes in Marriott hotels invite tips for maids
Marriott is right to do that. Like restaurant servers, these people live on their tips. Leave the $ on the table each morning and, if you stay a few days in a place, you will get better attention and a grateful attitude.
Always tip generously. It's an easy way to make the world a more pleasant and cheerful place for all. In the US, roughly 20% in restaurants. In European restaurants, they usually include the gratuity in the bill but I always add a bit to it especially if the service is attentive. They do know that I am American, after all.
Addendum: Man, did that get some debate. Really, except at Dunkin Donuts, better not to tip at all rather than to leave a one dollar tip. It's insulting. A good rule of thumb: Always tip helpers to show gratitude. Including barbers.
Sunday, September 7. 2014