Category Archives: Attractions

Taking the Cross Sound Ferry = #betterthandriving (much better)

Would you choose spend four to five hours driving to save a thousand dollars on airfare?

We did that a couple of times, when it turned out that flights to Europe from the JKF Airport were much cheaper than those from Boston’s Logan Airport, the airport closest to where we live.

The JFK Airport in New York City is “just” a couple hundred miles away from Boston, which means an about four-hour drive without traffic.

The crucial word here is “traffic,” though.

One time when we were coming back from Europe the Sunday after Thanksgiving, the traffic between New York City and Boston was so bad, it took close to seven hours to get back home. We were completely exhausted when we got back home.

That trip from hell was one of the reasons we decided to try the Cross Sound Ferry after coming back from this year’s vacation in Europe.

Turns out traveling by ferry is a much more pleasant way to travel, even if it doesn’t save a whole lot of time. Continue reading Taking the Cross Sound Ferry = #betterthandriving (much better)

Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna

The shape of the building that houses Haus des Meeres (House of the Sea) in Vienna, Austria, looks like an odd choice for an aquarium and a zoo – a rectangular box of concrete with a tent-like green house on one side, no windows on the other three sides, and circular platforms sticking out on all sides from the roof deck.

Haus des Meeres from the outside
Haus des Meeres from the outside

That’s because the building was repurposed – it was originally an anti-aircraft and gun tower during WWII, with a radar that could be lowered into the concrete tower and protected. The round platforms on all four sides on the roof deck was where the aircraft guns stood.

The idea of turning the building into an aquarium came about in the 1960s, and now the top deck offers great views of Vienna and the surrounding hills, and the 4,000 square meters, or 43,000 square feet of floor space inside house aquaria, terraria, and an aviary. Continue reading Animals in the Gun Tower: Haus des Meeres in Vienna

Old Quebec Bus Tours: Les Tours du Vieux Quebec

Whenever we’re in a new city, and especially if we’re there for only a few days, we like to do a bus tour, because it’s a great way to cover a large area in a relatively short time, and also helps us see if there are any places that we might like to visit again during the rest of our stay.

During our recent trip to Québec City, we spent the first day of our short stay there admiring the city from the second deck of a big red bus, on a sightseeing tour organized by Les Tours du Vieux Québec (Old Quebec Tours).

Where Do You Get On?

The tours begin in the Old Québec, at Place d’Armes, right by the famous (and impressive) Fairmont Le Château Frontenac, but you can get on the bus at any of the 12 stops. Just make sure to check the bus schedule to see what time the next bus is coming, because they depart every 30 minutes so, and you might be in for quite a bit of a wait if you just miss the previous one, like we did the second time we boarded.

route of Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec (click on the photo to open the pdf of the official tour guide)
route of Ligne Rouge (Red Loop) of Les Tours du Vieux Quebec (click on the photo to open the pdf of the official tour guide)

Continue reading Old Quebec Bus Tours: Les Tours du Vieux Quebec

Nerding Out with My Son over Corning Gorilla Glass

It’s late Saturday evening. I had just come home from the opening day of WITS15 – Women in Travel Summit, and my son and I are looking through the SWAG – the free items we received from the conference sponsors.

One of the items is a charger from Corning Incorporated, maker of Corning® Gorilla® Glass 4.

“You had CORNING there?” my son exclaims with more enthusiasm than I would have expected from a “cool” (thir)teen.

“Yeah,” I reply, surprised. “They made a presentation about their glass during our lunch break. Why? What’s so exciting about Corning?”

He looks at me with disbelief, then pulls open his laptop, opens YouTube, and in a few seconds finds what he was looking for.

“Watch this,” he practically orders.

The guys on the screen look familiar – it’s Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman and the clip is titled “The Glass Age, Part 1: Flexible, Bendable Glass.”

Continue reading Nerding Out with My Son over Corning Gorilla Glass

Have you ever seen the village of Lacock? You might have

Have you ever seen the village of Lacock in Wiltshire, UK?

Before you say “No,” let me ask you – Have you ever watched the 1995 Pride and Prejudice, Moll Flanders, The Mayor of Casterbridge, Cranford, Wolfman, Downton Abbey, or Harry Potter?

If you answered “Yes” to any of the above, then you have seen Lacock. On screen.

Compare the image above with the shot below. Look familiar?

shot of the corner of East and High Streets in Lacock, during filming of the BBC Pride and Prejudice
shot of the corner of East and High Streets in Lacock, during filming of the BBC Pride and Prejudice

You can also see some great shots of the cast of Downton Abbey in “Downton Abbey filming held back by local tour guide.”

Continue reading Have you ever seen the village of Lacock? You might have

How much can you see in three-and-a-half days in Quebec City?

Mind you, just so we’re clear on that – three-and-a-half days is NOT enough to see everything worth seeing in Québec City and the area.

From its centuries-old stone buildings that look like they were transported straight from France, to its many museums, this charming city of about half a million has a lot to offer to visitors.

Unfortunately, we only had a long weekend for this visit, but if you have more time, do yourself a favor and spend a few more days in this capital of the Canadian province of Québec.

It’s an about six-hour drive from Boston, another old city worth seeing, but it’s very different than any American cities you will see, including the also-French New Orleans.

We saw the following attractions in Québec City. You can decide whether you want to put them on your to-see list as well.

Continue reading How much can you see in three-and-a-half days in Quebec City?