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A Snapshot of Havana's Class Cars

Talk about destinations with a difference. I was lucky enough to spend a week in Amsterdam with its canals, brisk cool air and fabulous museums and then a week later to travel to Havana to enjoy warm weather, an exciting art scene and long walks around the city.

I came back from Havana filled with impressions and ideas. I want to sort through my notes and write about the trip but it will take a while. In the meantime, here are photographs, a snap shot of Havana experienced over a week.

Everyone who visits Havana is struck by the great number of 1940s, 1950s and early 1960s American cars on the road. Some are beautifully restored. Others are rust buckets clearly held together by wires and ingenuity. For many visitors they are a source of fun and nostalgia. Tourists pay handsomely to be driven around the city in beautiful 1961 Ford Fairlane convertibles as we were as a special treat one night during the Havana Film Festival.

The cars are still running around Havana because of the half c…

Having a Very Good Time in New York State's Finger Lakes

Last month I went on a road trip in the Finger Lakes. Flying to Rochester, I rented a car. For the next three days I drove south, then east, then north until I dropped the car off in Syracuse. With guides from the county tourism boards, I saw as much as I could on a too-short trip. I had a great time enjoying the lakes, visiting with farmers, looking at the beautiful countryside and meeting people who have lived their whole lives in this very special part of the country.
The focus of the trip was distilleries. Specifically, those distilleries on orchards. These are family owned farms. Those farms were allowed to produce distilled spirits because of law that was passed by the state of New York in 2007.
The Finger Lakes region is well-known for its vineyards. Now there are good products originating in the orchards. For the most part, that means apples. All kinds of apples, which are used to make hard cider. In the past when I tried hard cider, I didn't enjoy the sweetness. The hard …

Summer Travel - Time to Plan a Picnic at 30,000 Feet

When you board an airplane and walk past the first-class passengers settling into their double-wide seats, it’s difficult to avoid feeling like a second-class citizen. The issue isn’t only personal space. As the curtain closes behind the lucky few, you know the crew is preparing a nonstop feast for those with plenty of disposable income. You can almost see the French cheeses and crackers on a tray with glasses of bubbly Champagne, an opulent first course meant to stimulate the appetite before a gourmet entree — chateaubriand, perhaps, or line-caught salmon with roasted asparagus. If you listen closely, you can hear the flight attendant whispering to leave room for the hot fudge sundae with fresh whipped cream and toasted almonds. In coach, nothing is free. Sure, for now the sodas, water, and coffee are still complimentary, but if you’re hungry, have your credit card ready. Alaska Airline’s cheeseburger with chips or the Chicken Bánh Mi Sandwich is a relative bargain at $7, but Delta …

Advice If Your Child Is Traveling On Their Own

International travel is a great way for kids to have fun experiences in worlds beyond school and home. For parents it can be a really good time but also stressful when children travel on their own. Our sons are good travelers. They are smart and careful. They love experiencing other cultures and landscapes.

Over the years I developed a to-do list for them so they are ready to get the best out of the experience. The to-do list helps me as well. I want to know they are having a good time and that they are safe and know how to navigate their travel environment.
Because there is a great difference between travel destinations, we are lucky to have the internet to research the attractions and safety issues of just about any venue.

Here is an email I sent our son when he was getting ready for a week's vacation to an island in the Caribbean.

Good morning. We’re very happy you’re going on your trip. That’s so cool.

It’s going to be beautiful there. Remember to bring sunscreen. From the iPhone …

Authentic Guatemalan Ceviche and Mexican Ice Cream on West Pico Near Crenshaw

Anyone who lives in Los Angeles knows this is a great city to enjoy ethnic food. It is easy to eat affordably priced meals at any number of national and regional restaurants including those that serve Chinese, Japanese, Mexican, Brazilian, Thai, Jewish, Korean, Vietnamese, Armenian, Persian, Peruvian, Guatemalan, Ethiopian and Indian dishes. 

Living near the beach, I don't come into town as often as I would like. To meet a friend close to where he lives meant we needed to find a restaurant near the 10 Freeway at the Crenshaw Boulevard exit. Not knowing where to go, I turned to Bobby Rock, who knows the area well. He had suggestions.They all sounded good. We wanted a light meal, so we figured we'd try La Cevicheria (3809 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90019, (323) 732-1253).
As I parked in front of the restaurant, my friend called to say he would be late. A car issue, easily solved in ten to fifteen minutes. Ok, no problem. That gave me time to explore the area. 
Across the street, J…

Picnic Food and Caviar at 30,000 Feet

Growing up, we used to fly from Los Angeles to New York once and sometimes twice a year so my mom could visit her mom who lived on the Upper West Side (110th and Amsterdam). In those days I looked forward to flying. How amazing, I thought, that this big heavy thing could roar down a runway and push itself into the air.

Sitting next to the window and looking down as we passed over desserts, mountains and cities, I was mesmerized.
I still regard flight as something of a miracle even if the actual experience of being in an airplane isn't as much fun. Terrorism and economics have degraded the airport and flying experience. Having to pay for amenities we used to take for granted like paying to check luggage and being charged to phone an airline agent are high on my list of why travel is less fun than it used to be. And what about being charged for food on planes? When I was a kid, I looked forward to those meals. I know, I was easily satisfied when my favorite not-cooked-by-mom meal wa…

Which Credit Cards Offer the Best Award Miles and Benefits Programs?

With the summer travel season approaching, now is a good time to look through the credit cards in your wallet. Every week unsolicited credit card offers arrive in the mail.  I don't need any more credit cards, but it's good to check out the offers. Are the terms as good as the credit card offers you're receiving in the mail?  Maybe it's time to switch.
NOT ALL CREDIT CARDS ARE CREATED EQUAL
Not all credit cards have benefits. Many are just "credit" cards.  In the simplest terms, with these cards, the bank advances you money. You are expected to repay what you borrowed at the end of the month. If you don't repay all the money you borrowed, you pay interest on the balance. That's pretty straight forward.

But since there are credit cards out there that not only loan you money but also give you a goodie bag of benefits, why not use those cards?  Banks want your business. That means you can have credit and goodies too.  And that is a very good thing.

Over t…