Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Tuesday, March 30, 2010
Today, the heart of Downtown Little Rock along the southern banks of the Arkansas River is centered on Markham Street/President Clinton Avenue and its art galleries, a number of restaurants and the Clinton-related sites. The River Rail connects all the major sites in Little Rock and, via the Main Street Bridge, loops Downtown North Little Rock.
Little Rock is worth a look, particularly for a weekend getaway. Lodging options abound from upscale hotels to quaint bed-and-breakfast inns. We've stayed in the Rosemont Inn & Cottages, a bed-and-breakfast inn just a couple miles south of the river.
Arkansas tends to be the punchline of jokes, but is, in fact, a state filled with beauty and a number of great outdoors activities, several of which can be found just outside Little Rock.
Monday, March 29, 2010
But this was our first time at this restaurant, and I must say it's one of the best dining experiences I've had in Memphis. And that's nothing against the dining scene in the Bluff City. Memphis is a foodie city; of course most consider it as such because of the barbecue and traditional Southern fare.
But there are plenty of fine-dining options, and Flight is one of the latest to join the fray.
I don't know that I would call Flight the best food in Memphis, the best wine in Memphis or the best atmosphere in Memphis. But it does a tremendous job of combining the three, in addition to offering a unique option for dining in Memphis: the concept of flight dining.
Let me explain. Food items are listed on the menu in threes. Feathered, seafood and fresh fish, for example, are presented as flight trios. The feathered flight features small plates of chicken, quail and duck. Of course you can order individual small plates, mix and match from different flights or just order a larger entree of one item.
Wines are also served in flights of three: Chardonnays, zins and sparklers, for example. The wine flights reminded me of the great eateries in Napa and the numerous wineries there with tastings available. At Flight, the wine flights come out with tasting cards describing the wines one has ordered.
The setting inside the restaurant, in addition to the superb food, reminded me of great eateries in New York and Europe we've dined in. We sat upstairs where we could look out through the large windows in this corner spot, with Monroe Avenue to the left and the trolleys speeding by on Main Street.
Sunday, March 28, 2010
I was intrigued by the news this past week that Travelocity is now offering a “name your price” concept for hotels like the service found on Priceline.
In case you’re not familiar with the concept, it’s pretty simple. Staying in
The difference, it appears, between Priceline and Travelocity’s new service is that Travelocity eliminates bidding. You simply plug in the city, date and how many people are staying in the room and it returns a list of hotels by star rating, price and general location, such as downtown. The catch is that you don’t know the name or exact location of the hotel until you book – and make a nonrefundable reservation.
One drawback I’m finding so far with Travelocity is its location listing is not as complete as Priceline. You can find all the major cities on Travelocity, but the second- and third-tier locales are not there. I’ve used Priceline for smaller cities such as
I will consider Travelocity in the future, maybe for one of our many trips to Atlanta. I'll report back then. In the meantime, Gadling.com has a good review of the service. Read it here.
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Friday, March 26, 2010
Today's Friday Photo is more of a Friday Photos. It's the Suffolk village of Lavenham, a couple hours northeast of London in East Anglia.
We visited Lavenham nearly five years ago while on an extended stay in Norwich, a city about an hour and a half northeast of Lavenham. We only spent a couple hours there, but it was one of our more memorable experiences in England on that trip.
While there, we stumbled upon a showing at an art gallery, had a leisurely stroll along the beautiful streets and enjoyed a couple of pints at a local pub.
Travel & Leisure listed Lavenham as its fourth of 25 undiscovered villages in Europe. The funny thing about the listing is it doesn't mention a single word about what struck me as the best thing about the village, the half-timbered cottages, many of which have a crooked slant.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Monday, March 22, 2010
I can’t think of a better time to write about an outdoor event in Memphis than on this cold and rainy Monday. It’s hard to say what the weather will be like this Friday in Memphis, but here’s hoping it cooperates for the first Friday Night Art Trolley Tour of the spring.
In case you’re not familiar with it, the Friday Night Art Trolley Tour is a monthly event on the last Friday of every month in Downtown’s South Main Historic Arts District. Technically, the event encompasses all of the district – Main Street south from the Beale Street area to just south of Central Station at the intersection with G.E. Patterson Avenue. But the heart of the shops, galleries and boutiques begins at Huling and heads south to Central Station (and including the galleries along Huling).
The district itself seems to constantly be changing. Seven years ago when I began attending the Art Trolley Tour, the businesses in the district were pretty much all art galleries and a couple of restaurants. Today, it’s a mix of galleries, designer boutiques, shops and eateries. And what was once what I would describe as a hole in the area between Huling and Beale Street, has been filling in with several restaurants and a smattering of galleries.
So why go? Well, if you like art, particularly local and regional art, the galleries usually debut new works at these events. It's a great time to expose yourself to the local arts scene in Memphis.
Maybe you like the Downtown designer boutique feel found in New York’s SoHo. It’s not SoHo, but there is a nice mix.
And when the weather is good, the sidewalks are actually pretty full of Downtown residents, visitors, tourists, the after-work crowd, the Friday pregamers, the wine-and-cheese crowd and more walking from gallery to boutique with a glass of wine in hand.
The details: The night begins at 6 p.m. and while many shops close around 9, the bars and restaurants stay open later. The Main Street trolley from Beale Street south is free.
Also, the South Main Association will be grilling hamburgers and hot dogs and offering complimentary Boscos beer to its members ($5 for nonmembers) in the lot next to Bluff City Coffee beginning at 6 p.m.
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Sunday, March 21, 2010
Friday, March 19, 2010
Seeing pigeons in New York City is a common occurrence, but it's still a little odd when you find one staring you in the eyes up close 86 stories above the street. But that's what I found when on the observation deck at the Empire State Building in Midtown Manhattan. There were pigeons everywhere, but this guy allowed me to get extra close. Central Park and the Upper East Side are in the background.
Thursday, March 18, 2010
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
Obvious statement of the day: New York is a walking city. Even when taking the subway, a bus or hailing a cab, you will find yourself walking. And we're not talking a block or two. Many times, it's blocks upon blocks.
So when visiting, why would you go out of your way to experience an attraction that requires walking an easy mile? And this is a mile that once you start, there's no turning back.
But for me, one of my favorite experiences in New York City is walking the Brooklyn Bridge, particularly if you can do it on a beautiful, sunny day.
You can drive across the bridge and see the architectural gem that it is. But if you want to really experience the beauty of the bridge, it's got to be on a walk.
And don't worry about safety. The bridge has a wide walking/biking path elevated above the roadway. Just make sure you stay in the walking lane and don't get in the way of bikers.
I would like to suggest David McCullough's fabulous book "The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge" written about the construction of the bridge. I read the book after walking the bridge, so it's certainly no prerequisite to walk the bridge.
Tuesday, March 16, 2010
I've gotten a little hit or miss over the past week or so with my blog, and I think it's partially because I've lost a little of the focus of what I originally had in mind.
On one hand, I find myself wanting to write about Memphis, the place I live, work, play and socialize. While I call myself a traveler, I'm not like many of the travelers I follow in cyberspace who are constantly traveling, whether in a permanent sense, or just find themselves on the road three weeks out of every four.
Unfortunately because of finances, I can't up and take a three-day trip or one-week getaway on a whim. Memphis, on the other hand, is my hometown, an American city that people from around the world travel to for our food, music and culture.
But not everyone out there lives in Memphis, travels to Memphis or even cares about Memphis.
I also want to write about all the great places I've traveled to, discuss the latest travel trends and the places I hope to one day experience.
So with this wide variety of travel topics I find myself wanting to write about, I figure a little organization is in order. So starting today, I'm going to start a weekly rotation of topics.
Memphis Mondays: This is where I will write about the latest goings on in my hometown.
Travel Tuesdays: This is an opportunity to write about other cities, countries and locales I have been to or hope to one day see.
Wild Card Wednesdays: This gives me the opportunity to write about a variety of topics. Could be a continuation of a Travel Tuesdays topic, or some other travel topic such as the latest in the airline industry, for example.
Thursday Thoughts on Travel: This is where I will write about a range of topics, mostly items that I've been labeling as Travel Essays.
Photo Fridays: A weekly photo or photos from my travels and the latest hot spots.
Week in Review/Web Weekends: Weekend posts will cover the gamut of the latest in online travel and social media, as well as a review of travel topics from the week and a preview of things to come in travel.
This isn't really anything crazy, it's just a way for my OCD self to be more organized with the blog in an effort to make it more useful for my readers.
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Saturday, March 13, 2010
I've spent a few days as a child in a cabin in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas; an extended weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a college basketball tournament; a week in icy cold Boston, the Massachusetts seaside and Kennebunkport, Maine; a few college spring breaks in Panama City Beach, Fla.; an overnight stay in Little Rock, Ark., for more college basketball; and a weekend in Springfield, Ill., for a family gathering.
I think that just about covers it.
So why do I bother writing about these random trips? Well, as schools are heading out for spring break and the weather turns warmer, at least here in Memphis, it makes me think of travels. The past week has seen amazing temps here in Memphis, and I've had the opportunity to get out and experience our world-class zoo and enjoy some dining out more than usual.
March is a unique time of year to travel. The weather is warming, but in some regions it's still quite cold, possibly even snowy/icy. Of course if you have children in school, March provides an easy way to get away in the offseason without feeling guilty for taking the kids out of school.
My child is only 3, so I haven't experienced the need for spring break yet.
Like many college students, I spent a few spring breaks at the beach. For me, it was Panama City Beach, Fla. These trips actually helped cement my love for the beach, despite the fact that the water was too cold to enjoy. But the smell and sounds of the ocean, it doesn't matter if it's raining, snowing, cold or hot, a beach is a beautiful thing.
So what are my favorites from these March trips?
Legal Seafood; Harpoon Brewery; seeing a random lighthouse on the snowy, rocky Maine shore; eating lobster soup in Kennebunkport; experiencing the quaint and quiet fishing community of Marblehead, Mass.; walking out on a frozen Walden's Pond; seeing the House of Seven Gables (no, I've never read the book and don't know who wrote it, now that I think about it); walking the battlefield where the American Revolution began; eating a cannoli in Boston's North End; walking the campus of Harvard; and ice skating outdoors at Boston Common.
And that's just the Boston trip. One of the great things about this blog is that it helps me relive many of my favorite trips. That's also why I keep a journal while traveling, not to mention an abundance of photos.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
In honor of today's start of the Conference USA men's basketball tournament in Tulsa, Okla., I thought I'd post a few thoughts I have of that city.
Monday, March 8, 2010
Friday, March 5, 2010
"The festival created nearly 2,000 jobs and netted nearly $4 million in state tax revenues. For the year ending February 2009, Sundance generated media attention valued at more than $8 million."
Indie Memphis is no Sundance, but garnering just a fraction of that economic impact isn't a bad thing. There are so many jobs that exist in Memphis, and many cities for that matter, that are thanks to the dollars generated from visitors and locals alike enjoying events such as music and film festivals.
That brings me to my next thought. Memphis long has been regarded as a festival town, largely centered on Memphis in May. Many people, including myself, were not impressed when the lineup for the Memphis in May Beale Street Music Festival was announced Thursday. Bonnaroo it is not.
But the attendance numbers usually don't argue with the festival's success. Even in down years, it usually draws 80,000 or so attendees over the three days. I haven't decided if the acts I do enjoy who have been announced for the festival are worth purchasing a ticket to see. But I know many Memphians and visitors enjoy those bands. And I'm very happy we have events such as Beale Street Music Fest to enjoy.
Wednesday, March 3, 2010
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
I try not to have regrets for past actions or remorse for lost opportunities, especially when it comes to my travels.
There is one minor regret I have, though, and it could have been avoided if I would have just had $5 on me.
See, I have this thing about not carrying enough cash with me. I like to use a rewards credit card for every purchase. I don't carry much cash and it usually isn't a problem.
But on a baseball trip through Cleveland and Pittsburgh a few years back, my wife and I decided to make a side trip to the Andy Warhol Museum while everyone else had breakfast. I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to let my artist wife enjoy her passion while on this trip to make another step in fulfilling a goal of mine to visit every major league ballpark (I've hit 10 teams, 12 parks).
The museum is in a bustling riverfront neighborhood adjacent to PNC Park, home of the Pirates. So I dropped her off to get a head start while I searched for either free street parking or a garage that would take my credit card. That's because by this point, the last day of our two-day trip from our base of Columbus, Ohio, I was broke. But after circling both sides of the river and getting an actually great tour of a very beautiful downtown, I had no luck.
So while she enjoyed Warhol, I saw Pittsburgh through a windshield. I crossed a couple of bridges. I drove through the empty streets of a Sunday morning. Even found the original Primanti Brothers, where we would later have a postgame meal. But I did not see the works of America's modern art genius.
The game was good, the ballpark was beautiful and the weather was perfect. It made for a nice Sunday afternoon in May. But it certainly would have been nice to enjoy Warhol.
Lesson: It's OK to be cheap (that's who I am), but have enough cash to enjoy the trip. And maybe more importantly, parking garages charge when you exit, not upon entrance. I could have borrowed cash from my other travel companions to pay for parking, which is what I ended up doing.