I am still on the move as I write this, but just wanted to post about my stay at the Hostel Buffalo Niagara (also referred to as Buffalo Hostel), a “non-profit hostel is in the heart of downtown Buffalo’s Theater District”.
I am a little groggy in the video. Sorry about that.
A friendly Indian family had shared some chai with me that morning, but it wasn’t as caffeinated as my usual espresso. At least I’m keeping my media shorter these days. 🙂
And here are a few more shots of the room I stayed in:
I’d say travel is worse with the government shutdown, but here are some ideas to consider.
I was in Salem this past weekend and while one would think that that would have nothing to do with the federal government, the visitor’s center was not open.
Thank goodness for the volunteers standing outside of the visitor’s center, or we might have had to figure things out on our own, which is very doable in most tourist attractions.
But it’s unfortunate that all this has to happen.
Like I have mentioned in other posts, this is Salem’s busiest time, so they weren’t going to let a shutdown effect business. And it was very busy there, so I don’t think it’s making a lot of people hesitate to take excursions. It just might take a little bit more planning before heading out the door.
The upside to all of this? I’m sure there are locations that have really slowed down (like Washington DC), so if you like having cities all to yourself and can deal with the way the shutdown might make things a slight bit more inconvenient (or closed), then this might be the perfect time for you to take a trip.
Here’s a post from Hosteling International about the topic. It’s very good and some of the places that are on their list surprised me. Why would Disney World have anything to do with a government shut down? Probably for the same reason Salem does, but I doubt that Space Mountain is closed or that Mickey has locked himself in his cottage.
When I created TBP 0004 “Enjoying a Hostel Environment” I mentioned that one should leave the dog home if planning to stay in a hostel. I didn’t think that any hostels existed that were open to pet travel because the logistic of a dorm room are not conducive to such amenities.
It can get too crowded with just a bunch of humans and their huge luggage, but can you imagine adding three barking chihuahuas and a giant St. Bernard to the mix?
That would be utter insanity!
But apparently hostels in Europe have figured out a work-around for the dog issue.
After I posted that podcast, I received an email from Hosteling International with a link to their blog post about a few of the hostels that DO allow dogs.
I was thrilled to read the article because even though I enjoy solo travel, it can get a bit lonely.
The dog obviously keeps me company, and many of the dog-related places that I visit (like dog parks) offer a great way for humans like me to socialize on the road, but there is nothing like finishing a day of sightseeing in a common room or in the kitchen and sharing my experiences while listening to others who also have advice and could guide my next day of touring.
I hope that the American hostels will follow suit and consider opening their doors to pet travel, too. I love staying at hostels and have really missed the camaraderie and the social way to learn about the the destination.
Yes, I know I said I would never do a podcast about Chicago, and to tell you the truth, it took me a while to figure out how to I would present the city in an honest way – both celebrating the fun of traveling as a tourist while also being forthright about my learnings from living there for over a year.
I think I achieved a good balance in TBP 0017, so if you are interested in visiting Chicago, this podcast should give you not only a great overview, but a few tips that most tourist don’t know and tour books don’t tell you.
I would love to hear feedback about this podcast. Despite all of the trepidation I experienced before the recording, I think this is one of my better ones. 🙂
PODCAST NOTES FOR TBP 0017: Traveling in Chicago: A Nice Place To Visit But I Wouldn’t Want To Live There
Howard Johnson’s on LaSalle
I have heard the quality is questionable. I didn’t mention this hotel in the podcast and have never stayed there, but you can’t beat the parking situation and fabulous location.
How random is it that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is in Cleveland, Ohio?
One would think it would be New York, Los Angeles or even Nashville…
But if you are crossing the country and getting tired of the typical sights of the mid-west (corn fields, Amish markets, sports stadiums, etc), The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is an awesome alternative.
Cleveland was one of my favorite stops when I was regularly driving between Chicago and New York because of the Rock Hall!
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is located right on the banks of Lake Erie in Downtown Cleveland and is very easy find. They have signs leading to it from miles away on several of the highways, and if you have GPS you will be all set.
It’s definitely worth the stop, even if you only have time to check out the free part, which is the main level and part of the basement. You can still get plenty of driving in for the rest of the day.
This is how I visited the first time and it was the perfect way to get some fun in the morning before a long, 8 hour drive to my next stop in the Bronx (New York).
Here are my five tips for visiting the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame:
1. If you are looking to stay in a hotel, I recommend staying in the suburbs, near the airport. You will find better rates there, especially if you use one of those Roomsaver booklets that are in every roadside stop on Rt. 80, and many of the places don’t mind if you have a dog (try Best Western or La Quinta). (And if you have to kennel your dog while at the Hall of Fame, there is a Petsmart with a very good Pet Hotel and day-camp that is only slightly out of the way when you are headed to the museum from the airport area).
2. Garage parking for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is $10. It’s better to park in the train station and walk two blocks. You’ll be parking outdoors, but it’s equally convenient. One thing to note… they have signs all over the place that tell people to not leave valuables in the car because there have been break-ins. I have never had a problem, but maybe it’s a good idea to leave the laptop in the hotel safe rather than the car when your going to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame for the day.
3. Leave PLENTY of TIME to see the museum. This museum is HUGE! The first time I visited, it took me two hours to simply go through the free basement and first floor area, which has many awesome relics, like guitars that belonged to some of my favorite rock music legends, and rare candid pictures of artists, as well.
4. Don’t go on Game Day! One Sunday last fall, I had the whimsy to go to the RRHOF as I was passing through on my way to Indiana. When I arrived, EVERY PARKING LOT WAS FULL and the streets were complete gridlock! The Hall of Fame is right next to FirstEnergy Stadium, the stadium where the Cleveland Browns play football, and the day I went, not only was there a big game, but tailgaters has started to throw back brewskis and bratwurst outside the stadium at the butt-crack of dawn. Needless to say, I did not get into The Hall that day.
5. Become a Member! The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is $22 for an adult pass and $33 for a two day adult pass, at the time this blog post was written. If there are two adults in your party and you pay for parking for two days, the price is $86. Better to get a “Duet Rocker” membership, which includes parking for one of the days, and will bring the price down to $85 and allow you to visit for free for a whole year. You get other perks (like discount purchases in the gift shop) and are helping to preserve rock and roll history for future generations.
Finally, here is a single shot video I made when I first visited the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is a (almost) 360 degree shot from in front of the Rock Hall.
One of my top priority questions whenever I go on vacations is, “Where is the spa? How can I find a massage in this unfamiliar town?”
Obviously, if you are going to a luxury resort, they are going to have a spa.
That’s a no-brainer.
But the answer is not as obvious if you are creating your own itinerary for a road trip or are going to be in a rural area.
Speaking purely about travel within the United States, when I am looking for a relaxing health experience I have a few go-to tactics I explore.
Look on message boards at coffeehouses, yoga centers, health food stores, health clubs or any place that health oriented people gather.
The last time I found a massage this way, I wasn’t even looking for bodywork, but I was so drawn in by an ad on a board in Cottonwood, Arizona, that I had to call. Not only did she do great work, but she also sold wonderful moisturizer products that I ended up loving and buying to take home with me.
Additionally, even the most rural towns have some sort of gathering place for people who want to stay healthy. My cousin found such a place in a teeny-tiny town in Southern Illinois, and I can guarantee they had a message board with at least one massage therapist posted to it.
The upside to this is you can zero in on a lot of options, especially in bigger cities.
The problem is that these sites often won’t help you find a massage in smaller towns, and if you are in a bigger city where you don’t know your way around, you may need to trek into areas that are hard to get to or that are not as safe as the mainstream tourist areas.
This is one of my favorite choices and I often am very willing to go out of my way in order to get to a massage school. They usually don’t offer eucalyptus steam rooms or cucumber slices over the eyes, but 9 out of 10 times you can get a great massage from someone who is very enthusiastic at what they are doing for a great price.
I was a professional massage therapist many years ago and massage schools were my go-to place when I needed a massage.
Ask at the Nearest Hotel Front Desk
He or she should be able to guide you well.
And if you are staying in a small town or a lower-end motel, the front desk will at least be able to guide you toward the right resource and tell you where NOT to go or what areas of the city to avoid.
I have found many out-call massage therapists this way, especially in ski resorts.
Do That Home Spa Thing
Well, you’re not at home, but you can still create a nice, relaxing atmosphere in your hotel room.
Obviously, this isn’t my first choice when I’m looking for some therapeutic bodywork, but if I have been sightseeing all day or am fatigued from carrying my day-pack all day, a little self-pampering in the hotel might be exactly what I need.
Here are some ideas… (not in any particular order)
Draw a hot bath for yourself.
Or even better, draw a hot bath and once your body is warmed up, stand up and shower in cold water, then warm the bath water up again and get back in… Instant Hydrotherapy Session.
Give your feet a massage with the complimentary lotion.
Steam your face over the sink by running the hot water and draping a towel over your head to catch the steam.
Massage face cream on your face and place a hot washcloth over it to open the pores and let in the moisturizer.
Dry exfoliate your skin before your shower by rubbing your body vigorously from head to toe with one of the hotel towels.
Do you compulsively look for a spa or massage place everywhere you travel?
I had a rough time planning trips for Las Vegas the first few times. I had always gone with people that were familiar with the city, so when it was my time to plan, I was surprised when I realized how little I knew.
But now that I am a more savvy traveler and actually lived in Vegas for a while, I can give you the scoop on how to do it with greater ease, save money and find some places that are off the strip that you wouldn’t know to visit if you hadn’t heard it here.
SKY MANIA!!! On the outskirts of Las Vegas on the Henderson side. If you have a car, it’s worth going out there. This was my favorite thing to do in vegas. http://www.skymaniatrampolines.com/
Stuff I forgot to say in the Podcast:
*** PET TRAVEL: DON’T BRING A DOG. they charge a lot for dogs ($50/day typically), and aren’t you going to be partying too much to remember to walk your little pup?
*** Cabs can take longer than walking because there is so much traffic on the strip. Sometimes it is faster to walk.
Just to clarify… Strawberry Banke is a museum that I have not visited, but when I lived in the area I used to refer to the park across the street at Strawberry Banke. The real name across the street is called Prescott Park.
For those of you traveling with pets… It was very hard to find pet-friendly hotels in the Portsmouth area that didn’t cost a fortune or weren’t a complete dive, so I cannot make any recommendations for pet travel, but if you bring your dog, Portsmouth has a really nice dog park on the outskirts of town.