— Barbara Benham (@TravelSweeps)
5.8.13 | Banjo Boy’s headed to San Sebastian this weekend, for his last independent travel. Three weeks from today, he will be home, and my nine-month stretch of transatlantic parenting will be but a memory. Like so many things parenting, some days were harder than others. On the days I missed him so much I thought my heart would burst, I reminded myself that his experience was worth every longing.
5.7.13 | Oh, to win a safari. That’s been one of my greatest sweeps fantasies. This safari sweeps is from the adventure-outfitter Sobek, in honor of its 40th anniversary. The package consists of a 12-day Tanzania safari, through the magically inspiring Serengeti, Ngorongoro Crater and Tarangire National Park, as well as a round-trip flight from Exito Travel and assorted travel gear from Magellan’s.
To enter, click HERE. You can enter once through July 16, 2013. Go for it!
5.1.13 | I’ve been writing recaps for my favorite TV show of all time, Mad Man, over at Reel LIfe With Jane, the sensational site devoted to film and television and run by the phenomenal Jane Boursaw. It’s a complicated season, my second as one of the Mad Men obsessed, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the ride. Here are my recaps.
Here’s a line from last week’s episode that sheds light on Don Draper’s struggle to love his children.
Then one day they get older and you see them do something and you feel that feeling that you were pretending to have and it feels like your heart is going to explode.
— Don Draper, “The Flood,” S06 E05.
And this being Travel Sweeps, what would a post be without a shoutout for a chance to win a trip? There’s still time to enter AMC’s Hawaiian sweepstakes for a four-night stay at the Royal Hawaiian, the hotel featured in the Season’s Six opening episode. The sweeps closes May 7. You can enter daily until then. Go for it!
4.18.13 | I won four nights at the Majestic Colonial Resorts in Punta Cana, the Dominican Republic from Expedia in yesterday’s #ExpediaChat on Twitter. Amazing! Look at the beach, at that water! The prize is for two adults. I’m confirming that I can take my son as my guest. He’s sixteen. I hope it flies. He’s been three times, with his dad, so this is amusing. I’m planning on snorkeling and swimming and taking long walks on that gorgeous stretch of sand.
4.12.13 | Two weeks ago I attended my very first DC Travel Tweetup, a gathering of travel-inclined folks who get together on a regular basis and organize themselves on Twitter under the hashtag #DCTravelTweetup. It was great fun to meet several people I know through Twitter in person, including Marilyn Terrell, National Geographic Traveler’s chief researcher and, under the handle @Marilyn_Res, an engaging and generous Twitter presence.
The event took place at Edgar Bar and Kitchen, off the lobby of the Mayflower Hotel (a Marriott property, if hotels are your thing). I sat with two new-to-me faces, a blogger who posts photos of D.C. and a woman who’s building a blog of her own. (Normally I’d include their names, but I misplaced their business cards!) I ordered some appetizers and a cherry martini and sat back while panelists Ann Tran, Marilyn Terrell and Kerry O’Shea Gorgone (@KerryGorgone) shared blogging tips and inspiration.
The highlight of the evening for me was a story. When Marilyn Terrell was traveling in Croatia several years ago, she exchanged email addresses with someone. There was confusion because in Croatian, the “@” sign is not referred to as “at,” rather, it’s got a wonderfully visually inspired name: monkey. Apparently, in an iteration that would make Rorschach proud, the “@” sign takes names of the things it resembles, from, depending on the country, the animal and plant world to the kitchen. The Israelis call that “@” sign strudel, the Danes a cinnamon bun, the Italians and the French snail. Back at the ranch, I hopped on my computer and found several articles about this phenomenon, including this charmingly informative one in the Washington Post, which references this article from the website Herodios.com.
Here, from the Herodios article, are two of my favorites – and this is just the d’s!
In Danish it’s either called “alfa-tegn” [alpha-sign] or “snabel,” [elephant’s trunk]. Obviously the former is the more formal useage, but the latter term is used most often when refering to e-mail addresses.
The @ sign is also sometimes called “grisehale” [pig’s tail].
The imaginations of Dutch speaking people seem to have worked overtime to come up with names for this little symbol. The original name was “een a met een slinger” [an a with a swing ], but was soon more popularly called either “apestaart” or the diminutive “apestaartje” [(little) monkey’s tail] or “slingeraap” [swinging monkey”]
Other names attested:
“a-krol” or “a-krul,” [curly a].
“slinger-atje” [little swing a]
“apeklootje” [little monkey’s testicle].
Since nearly everyone in the Netherlands also speaks English, and as more and more people go on-line, the English term is increasingly recognized.
I can’t begin to imagine what various countries would do with the ampersand. As for the punctuation of the moment, the practical hashtag, that seems to be “hashtag” in many countries. Except in France, where they tried to ban it earlier this year. Who knew comparative punctuation could be so fun!
4.8.13 | One of the great hotel observations of all times comes from Joan Didion: “Of course, great hotels have always been social ideas, flawless mirrors to the societies they service.” I quoted it on this blog HERE and on another blog HERE.The quote shows up online in compendia of travel quotes and Joan Didion quotes with no attribution. I could never find the source, simply because I didn’t know which hotel provided the context. Until last night, when the Washington Post’s Mad Men recap noted that Joan Didion had written about staying at the Royal Hawaiian Hotel. (The two-hour episode starts with Don and Megan on vacation there, the hotel’s a client, and towards the end of the second hour, Don pitches a colossally miscalculated ad that evokes suicide.) I wondered, could the Royal Hawaiian be it, the missing piece of the search puzzle? Indeed, it was.
Joan Didion made this observation in an article that appeared in the April 24, 1970 issue of Life Magazine. Here’s a link.
Of course, Joan Didion had written about the Royal Hawaiian in The White Album, in an essay called In the Islands that starts in 1969 and runs through 1977. If you’re interested, click HERE.
4.4.13 | So this Sunday’s the night. I’d like to share my twist on the Greyhound, one of the cocktails associated with Mad Men’s imbibing brood. It’s simple, but delicious, and, for me at least, a notch above the simply stirred version.
Pink Greyhound, Shaken not Stirred
1 shot vodka
2 shots pink grapefruit juice, fresh or Ocean Spray’s Ruby Red
Pour vodka and juice over ice in a Mason jar or a cocktail shaker, it doesn’t matter which. Shake 100 times. (Don’t skip a shake!) Strain into a cocktail glass of your choice.
Same as above, but use pink lemonade instead of pink grapefruit juice.
P.S. Yes that’s the Royal Hawaiian Hotel, featured in Mad Men’s Season 6 opener.
This is so silly, it almost doesn’t merit a blog post. But it ticks me off on several levels. I got a call this morning from someone representing Wyndham Rewards. I’d entered a promotion at the DC Travel and Adventure Show earlier this month. These giveaways are one reason people attend such events. In this case, I didn’t keep any material about the promotion, so I didn’t know the terms. The woman explained that my named had been selected for the promotion package, and that the package consisted of four plane tickets. I believe she used the word “prize.” I must admit, I got excited. But I didn’t let myself get carried away. I wanted to make sure I understood what I was getting into, and I slipped into due diligence mode.
My first question was whether this was a straight-up prize or where there strings attached. Her answer was non-responsive. She explained how I won the prize. Well, I knew that I entered the promotional giveaway at the Travel and Adventure Show. She told me this two or three times. When pressed if this was a straight-out prize, what happened after I won the prize, she said yes, this was a prize. Then she started explaining the terms, that the ticket vouchers were valid for two years, that I could use two at a time, and listing the places to which they flew. Europe, Hawaii, the Caribbean. The value would depend on the prices when booked. I admit, I started to get jazzed about going somewhere with my teenage son. She then explained I’d book with a travel agent, and I’d have to book my tickets at least 45 days in advance.
I asked if I could stay wherever I wanted. And here’s where things fell apart.
For no particular reason, I tuned out the Steubenville case as it unfolded in the news. I saw the headlines, and knew there were rape charges against football players and that social media played a role and that all this had divided a town. But that was it — a vague sense of a terrible thing. Then, last Sunday, after the judge’s verdict and sentence, I read the press coverage. (I don’t have cable, so I missed the incomprehensibly biased reporting from CNN’s Candy Crawley and Poppy Harlow when it first aired; I viewed it online the next day.)
This is a handkerchief. Not hygienic but totally charming.
This sweeps closes Friday March 22, so hop on it if it sends you the way it sends me. The prize: Three nights in NYC at the Conrad New York, passes to most Tribeca Film Festival events. Airfare, too. For a chance to win, like and enter HERE.
UX Critique: The Tribeca Film Festival’s website does not have the date clearly displayed. I’ve clicked around to about six places and still could not find it, not even in the listing for ticket purchases HERE. (Look at these cool bundles!) It’s April 19 - 21.
3.17.13 | I’m not traveling these days. It’s not in my budget. Work’s slow. I have several wonderful clients, but it’s not enough. I’m looking for a full-time job, a professional home, a place I’d hang my hat if I wore one. Part of the appeal of a job-job is the steady income and benefits. But I also want to be around people, and I learn things I can’t learn working from home. This job situation is confounding, I never in a million years thought it would take so long to figure out. Anyway, until my next trip, I will pine for beaches and hills and rainforest downpours and the exhilaration that comes with going someplace new. I will remember surprises, like Bologna. Oh, how I loved that city. I take great joy in hearing about my son’s travels. This past week, he went to Andalucia. Que suerte tiene mi hijo. And down the road, when this difficult stretch is behind me, I will appreciate what a great privilege it is to travel. We don’t acknowledge that often enough, in my book. Part of the travel divide is due to inclination, not everyone’s a born traveler. But some people don’t travel because they do not have the means.
2.28.13 | My favorite show returns April 7. I can’t wait to watch it, even though I don’t have cable. I’ll find a way to watch the two-hour season opener. After that, I’ll follow the show on Twitter as it airs, which is perverse but, like much stellar television, it’s not so much what things happen but how they happen. Then, on Monday, I’ll watch the show on my desktop on Amazon first thing in the morning. And after that, I’ll monitor the recaps as they appear throughout Monday and into Tuesday. Mad Men brings out some inspiring commentary. I plan to do a recap roundup, like the one I did last May.
Here’s a chance to win three nights in NYC, at a 5-star hotel, with $1,000 in spending money and a $1,000 gift card for Banana Republic, with a stylist. This is a promotional for Banana Republic’s Mod Style Mad Men-inspired line.
To enter, click HERE. The sweeps closes April 12. You can enter daily.
P.S. The word “curate” knows no bounds. This sweeps is curated by Urbandaddy.