Snippets from the Road


sleeping on a plane

Do you stress about where you sit on a flight?  I do. When it comes to international flights, where I sit is nearly as important as the flight schedule and/or the cost. It sets the tone for the beginning (or ending) of memorable journeys.

I think about where I am most likely to avoid small children.  It’s not the kids; it’s the parents who think their children do not need to lower their voices or stay in their seats. Beyond that (over which I obviously have no control), I think about sitting on the left side window.  Why? Because I sleep on my left side, so that way I am facing away from the distractions.

Did I mention I stress about my seat?

For years, I went to SeatGuru for guidance.  You entered your flight details and voila — up came the seat configuration map. Additionally, the passenger reviews of the aircraft were very helpful.  Comments might be “this bulkhead seat eliminates some storage space” or “the window is not aligned with the seat” or “anticipate noise from the galley or restroom.”

A recent column in The Points Guy indicated that SeatGuru is certainly obsolete if not essentially non-existent.  The good news is:  AeroLOPA

AeroLOPA is a portfolio of aircraft seating plans, carefully developed and uniquely detailed to help you make the very best decision about where to sit on-board your next flight

In perusing the site, I found links to virtually every major airline.  So assuming you have the equipment details available via your booking (or flight you want to select), the site appears to have all of the seat maps.  While customer reviews are absent, the site provides much greater detail about a given aircraft’s cabin seating and even includes wi-fi and entertainment offerings.

Do I wish I were one of those people who gets on a plane without a second thought and drifts immediately into a blissful sleep?? Well, the hubby got that gene. I just figured out how to deal with what I have and feel victorious when it all works out.

International TravelThings You Should KnowWining/Dining



Did you know that Singapore has four seasons?  They are hot, hotter, extremely hot, and monsoon rain (resulting in just mildly hot weather).  Frankly, I don’t know how people manage.

After the brief stay in Tokyo (in case you missed it, click HERE), we made a return visit to this center of remarkable capitalism.  Since declaring independence from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore has enjoyed incredible development.  It is:

A highly developed country, it has the second-highest GDP per capita (PPP) in the world. Identified as a tax haven, Singapore is the only country in Asia with a AAA sovereign credit rating from all major rating agencies. It is a major aviationfinancial, and maritime shipping hub, and has consistently been ranked as one of the most expensive cities to live in for expatriates and foreign workers. Singapore ranks highly in key social indicators: educationhealthcarequality of lifepersonal safetyinfrastructure, and housing, with a home-ownership rate of 88 percent. Singaporeans enjoy one of the longest life expectanciesfastest Internet connection speedslowest infant mortality rates, and lowest levels of corruption in the world. (Source: Wikipedia)

Now, if they could just do something about the weather.

I managed to score a highly-coveted booking at Burnt Ends in the Dempsey Hill area for our first night.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed a selection of small plates, one better than the next.  The real show was the bar itself, with truly artisan cocktails being mixed non-stop.  And the bartenders or “mixologists” are quite the showmen.  We were enthralled.

First, the food seen below (“slider”; wings; salad & taco bites; dessert)

Next; borrowed this one to show the bar area where we sat (photo courtesy Burnt Ends)

In answer to the question:  “How do you get to the bottles up top?”  

No trip to Singapore is complete without seeing the iconic Marina Bay Sands complex (casino, hotel, high-end shops galore and endless dining options).  While the 57th floor infinity pool is only available to hotel guests, there is an observation deck atop another tower.  I steeled myself with a libation at lunch (a White Cosmo with orchid petals in the ice cube) which took the edge off being up so high (and outside).  It is quite something to see the entirety of Singapore from that vantage point. Lunch (below) at Daniel Boulud’s bistro.

In the quest for some delicious Chinese food, we opted for Jian-Nan Chun at the Four Seasons Hotel. And what an auspicious decision that turned out to be.  While looking for the restaurant in the lobby, a gentleman offered to help us find the spot.  And then asked, “Have we met before?  Were you at the Four Seasons in the Maldives (Kudaa Hura)?”  Yes, in 2017.  He was the general manager there at the time.  How did he remember us?  Because he reads this blog!  How cool is that?  If ever I question why I continue to do this, it is stories like these that connect and inspire.  We’re still in touch with the executive chef from the Maldives who we visited in Kuala Lumpur in 2019 (who loved this reunion story when I shared it with him!).

A most delicious dinner below with gorgeous centerpiece:

After learning there are giant pandas at the Singapore Zoo complex, it was an easy decision to see them along with assorted other species.  But you had me at the pandas.  While the shy mom was in the den, we watched in awe of the father and the 2-year old Le Le consume copious amounts of bamboo.  That’s a lot of what they do besides exude cuteness overload!

Below, a more rare Red Panda

Patriarch of the family 

And the youngin’ Le Le

From our Orchard Road-adjacent hotel (the St. Regis), it was an short drive for our last dinner. That was at the Singapore outpost of Osteria Mozza. Nancy Silverton (who revolutionized bread via La Brea Bakery) has excellent personnel on hand making sure the food is identical to the flagship in Los Angeles.  Given that every ingredient must be imported, that is not easy. Among the comments shared with us from the Australian-born executive chef, we found out a young lady makes all the pasta from scratch.  It was delicious. By the way, that it is atypical for someone young to be so adept at this particular skill. Especially since there are none of the Italian “nonnas” teaching her how!

With a morning departure, we said our goodbyes and boarded Singapore Air for the 2+ hour flight to our next stop — Bali.


International TravelThings You Should KnowWining/Dining


tokyo 5

Many decisions made for the big trip are based on the farthest point we can achieve for the smallest outlay of dollars or miles. Getting across an ocean is typically involved, in this case the Pacific. For previous trips, that meant typically flying Cathay to Hong Kong, but unfortunately no more.  With American or OneWorld miles, it is now Tokyo via Japan Air.

I read a number of reviews of the plane, service, etc., and looked forward to the 12-hour flight.  I even bumped us up, taking advantage of using relatively few miles required (80k per person) for First Class. It is 60k for business, which is still a great deal!

There are just eight suites in the cabin — two rows with a 1-2-1 seat configuration. My time investment attempting to pick the ideal seat was for naught. I put us side by side and ceded the window seat to my left. That turned out to be occupied by an “influencer.” How did I know her “profession?” Because she spent the entire flight on her phone, mostly photographing herself or having the crew photograph her or taking photos of her food or changing outfits. And she wouldn’t lower her window shades (the only ones open in the cabin) because she needed light to take pictures (while many tried to sleep). Twelve hours’ worth of photos.

The staff are incredibly accommodating and do everything in their power to make a passenger happy. It was very enjoyable. Below, a few photos from the flight.  My favorite was the french press coffee! And then we were in Tokyo (Haneda airport, very close to the city).

What to do on this return trip to Tokyo?  Not much, other than acclimate to an enormous time change and hope to see a glimmer of cherry blossoms. The blossoms were gone because of an early spring debut, but I was reminded that we had a spectacular sighting of them in Stockholm last year (see below; read here).

We walked and shopped up and down the Ginza (12,000 steps worth), enjoying some delicious sushi (below) at one of Tokyo’s enormous department stores.

Our big splurge was a fabulous dinner at La Table de Joel Robuchon. Not only is the food special, but the dining room setting is just beautiful — mostly black and white with lavender everywhere.

Clockwise:  Amuse puffs; eggplant with avocado; a take on paella; waygu beef with amazing vegetables.


View from the 34th floor hotel room

It seems like Tokyo and Japan for that matter are on the “favored destination list” of many travelers lately.  There’s good reason for that — it’s safe, clean, beautiful, pleasant, modern and offers a great many things to do and see.  We’d happily return again, and for a longer stay.  For this trip, we head to Singapore for the second stop.

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know



It only took me 10 years, but I am happy to report that my agency Travel with Teri B and I are now fully recognized by IATA.  What is that exactly?  Well, it the official trade association for air travel. It is also the professional designation for travel agencies and their agents.  So why now?

I liken it to getting a degree.  While many people have successful careers without one (present company is a good example), I simply analyzed that it was time to boost my travel knowledge by having access to more information. “Knowledge is power” as it is said.  And few things are more complex than navigating air travel these days.  So the more information at my disposal, the better to benefit clients!

This was no walk in the park — a ton of paperwork, forms, E&O insurance; fees (lots), etc.  But when that “Congratulations” notice arrived, it really was thrilling.

I look forward to sharing my travel stories, planning and booking travel itineraries for others, and drilling deeper into this great passion.  So, how may I be of assistance?

Reprinted from the Wall Street Journal Jan 24, 2023






Things I LoveU.S. TravelWining/Dining



Continuing this 2-part post from the Thanksgiving in New England (read Part 1 HERE), we had three days exploring Maine and a bit of southern New Hampshire.

From our stay Manchester, it was on to Maine via a stop for lunch in Concord, New Hampshire.  While I drive and Sam navigates (along with managing the playlist), the hubby generally does the “where to lunch” search. The Concord stop included good burgers at The Barley House, a view of the state capitol and a bit of shopping at Pitchfork Records for fans of vinyl.

Above, the capitol in Concord; below, searching for vinyl gems

From there the drive to Portland, Maine, is under two hours.  Portland not only is Maine’s biggest city, but a bustling “foodie scene” — which is always a plus.  It is well located for travel to other parts of the state and just a couple hours north of Boston.  One day it was north to Freeport (best known as LL Bean’s headquarters) and Augusta.  Another day it was south to Kennebunk and Portsmith (NH).  Clearly, one can see a lot in a relatively short period.

Below, delicious dinner at Scale’s in Portsmith — pick your seafood; arctic char; grilled bread; apple cake

Below, the only beer drinker in the family.  Fun fact:  there are more breweries per capita in Maine than any other US state. 

Below – “Marketing 101” courtesy of LL Bean                                                                     

Below, the capitol building in Augusta.

Dinner at Chaval in Portland featuring French/Spanish small plates — excellent Coq au Vin.

Below, seeing Strange World in Portsmith, NH, on Thanksgiving.  Thrilled to see Hannah’s name in the credits (again). 

Downtown Portsmith below 

Below, our travel map.  The longest route was Boston – Manchester.  Everything else was a couple of hours max.  I research everything in advance! 

And then the trip ended as it began.  The last day was back to Boston in time for spectacular pizza at Regina’s below and a rendevous with east coast cousins near Logan Airport.

So what is the “key ingredient” I teased in Part 1?  Flying home on Friday instead of Saturday after Thanksgiving.  The flight was nowhere near full, meaning empty middle seats.  I managed upgrades for the hubby and me (no cost or miles!).  American Airlines is employing new transcontinental Airbus planes and they are terrific.  Spacious, good entertainment options, and seat outlets. All pluses in my book. From landing to home was about an hour.  With checked bags.  That is unheard of.

Enjoy some previous Thanksgiving destinations via the following links (The Carolina’s, Napa, Portland-Oregon).  One fun discussion is always “where to next year.”  I’m happy to report we have a unanimous decision.  But you’ll just have to be patient to find out where.  One hint:  staying in our time zone. As always, I’m very grateful to have this family time. I hope yours was special too.

Below, the Bush family home “Walker’s Point” (viewed from the back), Kennebunkport, Maine

Snippets from the RoadThings You Should Know


sticker shock

Shout it from the rooftops: Travel is back! This is great news. And it’s hardly a surprise if you’ve been reading about it, know people who are taking or took trips, or gone yourself. I lost track of how many people I know who went to Europe this summer and/or fall. Or might be there or elsewhere now.

So, I have a question. Has anyone noticed how much the cost of hotel rooms has just skyrocketed? I’m not speaking just of the 5-star variety (although those are truly shocking), but in virtually every category. From the November 2022 issue of Travel & Leisure, a smattering (yes, many are luxury brands with prices are included for shock value):

Napa — everyone’s favorite wine country destination: Montage Healdsburg (doubles from $1,100); Four Seasons (doubles from $2,000); Stanly Ranch, an Auberge property ($1,450). But there is the Andaz in downtown Napa (it’s lovely and begins at $340)

Maui – Andaz at Wailea Resort (doubles from $1,179)

Grand Cayman – Ritz-Carlton on magnificent Seven Mile Beach (doubles from $879 — a good $300 increase from when I stayed there).  But there’s also Hampton by Hilton (from $220) on the same stretch of beach

Marrakesh – a very popular destination these days – where the storied La Mamounia seems likes a bargain (from $550) compared to the Mandarin Oriental (from $1,009)

And the granddaddy of them all – the new Aman in New York City, yours beginning at $3,400 per night. Among the primary reasons why I’ve not been to one of their properties.

Next question. Who the hell is paying these prices? And it’s not just the hotels. Anyone flying these days???

I’ve written often about having the benefit of knowing long in advance of my spring travel plans due to the hubby’s work. The annual departure date is right after April 15th. So I can keep watch on airfares and, most importantly, mileage seats. Using miles for “flying over the ocean” in either direction helps significantly lower the overall cost of the trip.

Spring 2023 is mostly done. These days I look for the best flights and then figure the itinerary after.  For our Asia travel, the jumping off point is Tokyo with American’s enhanced relationship with Japan Airlines (a really good one). Business Class seats (one way) are just 60,000 miles. For years it was Cathay (I loved that one), but no more. By comparison, if I were heading east (to Europe and beyond), the starting point is London where the same seat is 166,000 miles.

But it’s not all doom and gloom!  Portugal seems to be on every list, whether it’s best places to retire or a great and affordable travel destination.  Examples:

Near Lisbon, the resort Areias do Seixo starts at $316 or Six Senses Douro Valley, a high-end brand with doubles starting from $460.  That reminds me, it’s time to give Portugal another visit since 1987 was the first one!

And the Spanish island Ibiza has a newly opened Six Senses (starting at $460).

What’s the takeaway?  Well, I wish I had some secret solution. My advice is engage a savvy travel professional (I happen to know someone ..), pay particular attention to loyalty programs, and, finally, decide if seeing this vast world is your priority. I made that happy decision long ago. It always comes through.