Travelers Roundtable

Author: Robert Bundy

Last February, a very dear friend of mine was going through a tough time. A terrible thing happened to him, and I was frustrated by the distance that separated us, so I proposed that we meet somewhere. I wanted to offer distraction, nothing more. Hopefully someplace warm, as it was bitterly cold in both our respective cities. I suggested Las Vegas, the capital of distraction, but he demurred. New Orleans, he said. He wanted to go to New Orleans.

I don’t know where I’m going. My driver won’t reveal our destination. But he promises me I’m going to like it. The driver is one of my oldest friends, Portland native Jeffrey Neal. Jeff picked me up a few hours ago in The City of Roses, at the recommended Hotel Fifty, with an air of gleeful secrecy, and we hit the highway towards our mysterious destination. The green magnificence of Oregon rolls by as we head west towards the Pacific Ocean[…]

Silence. It’s what I was hungry for all these months, though I didn’t recognize the lack of it until I was immersed in it. The quiet is startling at first, foreign to me after too much time in the city. I lean on my ski poles and take a minute to listen. There are many varieties of quiet. There are the vacant atmospheres of waiting rooms, the faintly humming vacuum of a field of empty office cubicles, the muffled rustling[…]

Chicago has been called “the most American of American cities,” so it should come as no surprise that a Chicago Christmas offers visitors some of the most archetypically American holiday experiences to be found anywhere. From browsing the charming store windows at Macy’s to shopping your way down The Magnificent Mile to sipping cocoa or mulled wine at the Christkindlmarket on Daley Plaza to taking a regal afternoon tea under a grand, 20-foot-tall Christmas tree in a posh Michigan Avenue hotel, Chicago[…]

Detroit, Michigan has filed for bankruptcy. The city’s emergency manager made the decision last Thursday. So that’s that. Detroit is finished. Again.

Some of us believe that to travel is to become a temporary local and that it is essential when traveling to immerse yourself in the local culture as completely as you can. And that means eating as the natives do, even if the riding gets rough. Over our many years of traveling, my wife and I have tested that philosophy and come away rewarded… and not. Here are the kinds of experiences that put either question marks or exclamation points[…]

Now this is traveling light. The svelte ShaveTech electric razor is absolutely ideal for the road. You can shave dry, recharge it through the USB port on your computer or with an accessory electrical adaptor, and it’s the size of an iPhone. When not in use, the USB plug tucks back inside the shaver for streamlined, smartphone-size portability. It’s so discreet and lightweight, you could even carry it in a suit coat pocket and it wouldn’t put a crease in your[…]

On a trip to Spain last year, a friend gifted me with a fantastic bottle of locally grown olive oil. I would’ve loved to bring it home, but I refused as I still had fresh memories of a bottle of contraband Czech absinthe that burst and ruined my bag several years earlier. If only I’d had the Vinnibag with me. The Vinnibag is the perfect tool for transporting that rare bottle of wine, olive oil or exotic perfume home with you from[…]

My wife and I travel light. No more than one bag each, no matter the length of the trip. Having one carry-on bag each means that we’re fast and mobile, and we can scoot out of airports without waiting around the luggage carousel– and with no risk of the airline losing our bags. This typically used to mean taking only a single pair of shoes per person. And for my wife, that almost always meant taking the practical pair with her[…]

For decades, it was rare for travelers to encounter bedbugs, but they have reemerged in recent years, and have even been showing up at the finest destinations. While they are not dangerous, they are a genuine nuisance, and if you unwittingly let them hitchhike home with you from your vacation, you’ll discover that ridding your home of them can be a very expensive process costing thousands of dollars. Don’t let that happen. Bugzip offers a sturdy vinyl solution that resists[…]

    Wisconsin’s Best Beer Guide, 2nd Edition by Kevin Revolinski AKA The Mad Traveler Frequent Travelers’ Roundtable contributor Kevin Revolinski has just released the eagerly awaited second edition to his invaluable Badger-state beer bible, Wisconsin’s Best Beer Guide. More than 20 great new breweries that have recently opened across the state, and Kevin has answered the challenge with his new, improved and fully updated second edition that now features more than 90 breweries. And like its predecessors, Wisconsin’s Best Beer Guide still has the special offers corresponding to passport-style signatures you[…]

I’m walking in St. Louis’ City Museum through a menagerie of beautifully crafted stone and gleaming white terracotta. Everything around me has been salvaged from venerable old buildings that fell to “progress” here. I turn a corner and see a 19th century, rough-hewn stone drinking fountain. Hand-chiseled into the front of it is an invitation to the thirsty stranger, “Come Be Refreshed.” From what we’ve seen the past two days, those three words might as well be the unofficial motto[…]

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