Monthly Archives: February 2014

The New York Times Travel Show Opens This Weekend

One recent tagline I had seen for The New York Times Travel Show was “See the World. Be Home in Time for Dinner.”  First out firsthand for yourself when this annual show opens to the general public Saturday, March 1, and Sunday, March 2, at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.


This year, more than 500 destinations around the globe will be represented. Walking through this consumer trade show is like hopping to different parts of the world in a day’s length. It can get overwhelming, as the travel show attracts many visitors. Here is a map, so to speak, for getting around.

The setup on the show floor is segmented by continent or country. The United States or Europe can be found in certain areas, while you have to cross another area to learn more about Africa, the Caribbean, Asia, or Latin America. Then, there are subdivisions for specific travel interests such as cruises and adventure-minded excursions.

616213_10151446244076457_1984918430_oVendor booths feature reps from hotel/resort properties, tourism boards, tour companies, public attractions and gadget/apparel companies. From booth to booth, you’ll find brochures and tchotchkes – remember it can end up being a lot to carry home – as well as special show promotions or giveaways where you need to provide your information.

Another way to take in the show is to check out the programming offered throughout the weekend. There are travel seminars where leading experts share their input on topics ranging from top destinations to go to this year to savvy money saving tips. Definitely make it a point to listen to Arthur Frommer, founder of Frommers guidebooks, and his daughter, Pauline Frommer. They are very nice and well respected in their field.

Stage performances consists of educational lectures and demonstrations that showcase customs and traditions through dance and music. Cooking demos and book signings with top names happen too.

In all, here is what you need to know if you plan to go to The New York Times Travel Show:

 ·  Saturday, March 1: from 10 AM to 6 PM

·  Sunday, March 2, from 11 AM to 5 PM

Consumer tickets are at $17, plus NY sales tax.  Children 18 and under are free.

You can purchase tickets in advance or in person. For tickets and the entire show schedule, see this link. I’ll be around this weekend. Who else is going?

Hey, That’s My Picture – on Huffington Post!

Last week, in timing with Valentine’s Day, Huffington Post’s Travel Section put out a request for people to send in their pictures of “Love Locks” taken for a photo montage. Love locks are small padlocks that couples fasten to iron bars or other permanent fixtures as a symbolic gesture to display their feelings for, or strong commitment to, each other.

Often, these love locks are found on bridges, or in other open areas. After the lock is put in place, the couple pretty much discards the key, throwing it into a river or just away in general.

When I was in Prague in 2012, I saw love locks around the city, mostly on the Charles Bridge and a nearby district called Mala Strana. While on the Charles Bridge, I happened to catch a couple from France, I think, put on a lock at a spot where I was standing right next to them.

Going back to The Huffington Post, they were kind to feature my picture from Charles Bridge (which is definitely one of many reasons to make a trek to Prague) as a lead in to this travel photo montage. Here it is below; the caption is listed right after.

o-LOVE-LOCKS-570“This week’s Moment of Travel Zen comes to us from Michele Herrmann. Her photo of love locks on a Charles Bridge gate is set in Prague, one of the most romantic cities in the world.”

My second pix is found in a lineup with other really great snapshots! See the full montage here.




The Single Traveler’s Guide to Valentine’s Day


Photo by Richard Elzey via Flickr

Valentine’s Day gets a lot of hype. Even in the travel sector.

Granted, it’s a holiday push. Hotels create theme packages, special deals and savvy promotions. Article topics extend dreamy destinations, hip restaurants around the world, and many sources — even uses — for quality chocolate.

Yep, travel can be romantic.

So as February 14 rolls in again, I thought about how travel can give even the most self-conscious singleton a boost on a day like this. Here it goes:

1) Many Go Solo
Although having a travel companion is great, going solo can be even better. It’s brave too. Perhaps your potential significant other might not want to go to that place you’ve dreaming about. Or due to different reasons, can’t go.

Plus, who knows who you might meet on your adventure?

During a night in Athens, I was trying to figure out what transit line to take to get to the Acropolis Museum. Anxious about making the right stop, I asked a Greek male waiting on the platform with me if I was in the right place. He confirmed it, and while on the train, he was nice to notice me checking off each stop. And then suddenly, at the right stop, he said, “I’ll go with you.”

Instead of just walking me to the museum’s front, he bought a ticket as well. We ended up having a good evening out. He not only explored the museum with me but also walked with me to the Plaka, had dinner with me, and then brought me back to my hotel.

2) Everyone Can Have Travel Issues
If it makes you feel better, couples travel is not always as pretty as a picture. Even the best of them have had to adjust to traveling together.

People have different approaches to travel, and, like traveling with friends and families, you have to make compromises. You might encounters issues beyond your control: cancelled flights, missed trains, food poisoning, you name it. From planning to budgeting, to styles and interests, couples travel can really teach you how you work well in good times and bad.

My once significant other was a good sport about going places with me, and I was in turn with him. Thanks to him, I got to see more of New Hampshire (including a great pancake place) and he met up with me in Las Vegas after my work’s conference ended. On the contrary, he had his quirks such as always having to take an interesting choice of hotel souvenir.

3) It’s Your Choice
On Valentine’s Day, go out. Look at event calendars like ones at museums to see if you can drop in a public program. One good source is Eventbrite, a ticketing website where you can see event listings in or close to your area and then directly purchase a ticket if available. Avoiding mixers? Head to a concert or a fundraiser instead. Or even a chocolate shop.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

Learn about Immigrant Life at NYC’s Tenement Museum

For many immigrants arriving in New York City around the turn of the century, Lower East Side became their new home. At 97 Orchard Street, the Tenement Museum is a visual reminder of how these newcomers adapted to working and living in America.

photoPaying a visit to this museum is like opening up a time capsule. Built at the start of the Civil War, the Tenement Museum was once a single apartment building that housed nearly 7,000 working class tenants until the last tenant left in 1941 (the property’s owner stopped using it for apartments in 1935 due to new building codes). The building was left to rot for about 50 years until the museum’s founders discovered it by chance in 1988 while scoping out the venue.

photo-1Thanks to the diligence of researchers, and with original fixtures like wallpaper still intact, six apartments have been restored to reflect the different periods and different families who stayed in them. Visits are led by tour guides who start from the museum’s Visitors Center at 103 Orchard Street, right around the corner from the tenement. You don’t see the entire tenement from top to bottom; just only the floor of the tour(s) you purchased.

Since the four-story building is set as how it would have looked in its heyday, the lower entrance at the ground floor is dimly lit. You then walk up a staircase to get to whichever apartment tour your ticket is for. These tours not just take you into people’s homes, but also into their lives and struggles. Keeping their balances between work, family, and even religion. Fitting in. Adapting American standards of living, and how they would shake up family dynamics.

Tenement Museum

Source: Tenement Museum/Keiko Niwa Photography

Here, the old saying “if these walls could talk” is an understatement. Families that lived here in the late 18th and early 19th centuries originally came from Ireland, Sicily, Greece and Eastern Europe.

Their personal stories are touching and eye-opening. One family ran a clothing business in their living room, putting in long hours. Another mourned the loss of their child. In all, living space was tight, and at one time tenants had to go outside to wash up or repeated bring buckets of water back upstairs. And to use outhouses.


Source: Tenement Museum/Battman Studios

Each apartment is furnished with pieces reflecting its period. Some items that have been found in the tenement during excavation are shown in display cases.

The two tours I went on — and highly recommend — are Sweatshop Workers (which introduces the Levine family, who ran a garment workshop) and Irish Outsiders (which I chose due to being the daughter of an Irish immigrant). There is also a children’s tour, in which an interpreter plays a 14-year-old girl who lived in the tenement in 1914.

Another surprise you might find on these tours is hearing personal stories from fellow visitors. On my Sweatshop Workers tour, a man in my group talked about his great-grandfather, who also had worked in the garment industry. As a young boy, that man was a “runner.” He had to drape piles on fabric on his shoulder and haul materials back and forth from shop to shop, perhaps like an employee that the Levin family had.

In all, what you will hear and see at the Tenement Museum is a living legacy to all immigrants. You might even be able to relate with your family history.

Editor’s Note: No photography is permitted inside the Tenement Museum. The photos shown here come from the museum’s Flickr account and have been given the correct photo credit. I thank the museum for access to these images.