Ok fellow travelers. If today you find yourself wandering around a new city with a grumbling stomach and light wallet; ask around and point yourself to the nearest KFC. KFC has officially declared today, Monday, April 27 as “Unfry Day” and is offering you some free Kentucky Grilled chicken. Personally Im a fan of the extra crispy but its hard to complain with gratis poultry.
Grown tired of spending the first 12 hours of your vacation stuck in airport terminals and airplanes? Traditional bloggers would argue the time spent crossing the Atlantic is worth seeing Paris. Personally, I’ve grown tired of trying to enjoy my morning baguette without being trampled by a herd of drunken American collegiate students. With more young Americans having the confidence to visit the Rhone, or Greece, or spots once believed to be secret gems, I’ve investigated alternatives to visiting the tourist flooded cities of Western Europe. Is there no solution?! It’s a shame there are not more places of wonder and paradise near the continental United States. Would you believe me if I told you it was possible to visit London, Barcelona and Amsterdam by taking a non-stop 3 and a half to 5 hour flight? In our own backyard there is a chain of islands that not only brings you the sandy beaches and the crystal clear water, but the culture, food and architecture of Western and Southern Europe.
Welcome to the Caribbean Lesser Antilles! O.k. so I admit you may have been expecting something a little more exiting than your typical Carnival Cruise to the Bahamas. But who said cruise, and who said Bahamas? I’m talking about real culture in the lesser smaller islands of the Caribbean. YOU are the savvy tasteful traveler so I have found you something more fulfilling than over-priced beach resorts serving burgers shipped from the U.S. My time chasing music and exotic foods in the Caribbean brought me farther and farther away from Miami, to places so far down the chain, I could see Venezuela from my beach towel. I found the Bahamas to be too full of crowded beaches and once again, drunken college students. I tried Jamaica, but giving you a crash course on how to not get robbed away from your hostile didn’t seem too exiting either. As I headed south, I found cultures and people that made me feel welcomed as a connoisseur and not a tourist.
St. Croix Heritage
We’ll start with the closest and tamest for you skeptics. The U.S. Virgin Island of St. Croix. Now here do we not only have sandy beaches, great weather, but everyone speaks English. It’s the first of the Lesser Antilles just 50 miles east of Puerto Rico. After going to St. Croix I felt the Jamaican Reggae music was a poor mans version of what the good people of St. Croix had going on. Here in this small paradise are fewer tourists than the larger island, good food, music, and resorts for the pampered all the way to the rugged. It is truly the best of both worlds, where English customs and currency are valid, but French cuisine, art, architecture and leisure make you feel a million miles from the red white and blue. Because it was once a French colony the culture is very rich, and the taste of Paris can be seen at every town on the island. Not only is it convenient in terms of how close it is from Atlanta, New York or Los Angles airports, but it’s a U.S. Territory. What does this mean? No passport, no problem! If you’ve been worrying about taking your friend or even your children abroad but the hassles of obtaining your passports have killed your drive, no worries. If you have a driver’s license, you can fly to the Caribbean and enjoy yourself with no hassle and no currency exchange needed.
This wonderful island was a blast, I found myself forgetting what time it was and not caring what kind of cuisine it was. Truly a personal release and retreat full of rich food music and culture. Check in frequently to follow me down the island chain to the Dutch territories full of the free spirit of Amsterdam and the French Territories where royalty used to vacation. And after we’ve covered all the islands you get to choose from in the Lesser Antilles, I’ll show you how to survive and have a good time in the enigma of Cuba that will soon be letting connoisseurs like you in! Safe Travels
So disaster has struck and you are at the airport with no ID and the flight departs in 20. You miss this flight and its game over, your girlfriend will drop you for that Law grad student she keeps bringing up, you will prove to the fam that you are incapable of being on time or handling even the smallest of responsibilities and basically be an all around schmuck.
Well don’t worry! Your relationship is saved and your family will be none the wiser because you; my dear disillusioned friend can fly without an ID.
Step 1. Don’t be frightened. When you present your dilemma to the ticketing agent the responses will vary. If you are not so lucky you will get the “freak out” and they will demand you produce some form of government issued picture ID. They may even get snippy and insist that it is a federal law! Well, fear not because this is far from the truth. Actually to the contrary the law mandates that it is illegal to barre you from flight based on the absence of ID alone. So take solace in this fact, take a deep breath and prepare for step 2.
Step 2. Have you found your center? Smile politely and request to be a “selectee.” This term comes straight from federal mandate security directive 26-05 that states:
1. IDENTIFY THE PASSENGER –
A. ALL PASSENGERS WHO APPEAR TO BE 18 YEARS OF AGE WILL PRESENT A GOVERNMENT ISSUED PICTURE ID, OR TWO OTHER FORMS OF ID, AT LEAST ONE OF WHICH MUST BE ISSUED BY A GOVERNMENT AUTHORITY.
B. THE AGENT MUST RECONCILE THE NAME ON THE ID AND THE NAME ON THE TICKET – EXCEPT AS NOTED BELOW.
C. IF THE PASSENGER CANNOT PRODUCE IDENTIFICATION, OR IT CANNOT BE RECONCILED TO MATCH THE TICKET, THE PASSENGER BECOMES A “SELECTEE.” CLEAR ALL OF THEIR LUGGAGE AS NOTED IN SECTION 6, BELOW.
6. CLEAR SELECTEE’S CHECKED AND CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, AND SUSPICIOUS ARTICLES DISCOVERED BY THE QUESTIONS ASKED;
A. IF THE SELECTEE IS ON A FLIGHT WITHIN THE 48 CONTINENTAL US STATES, OR TO MEXICO, OR TO CANADA, ITEMS CAN BE CLEARED BY EITHER OF THE FOLLOWING METHODS:
1. EMPTY THE LUGGAGE OR ITEM AND PHYSICALLY SEARCH ITS CONTENTS BY A QUALIFIED SCREENER, OR;
2. BAG-MATCH – ENSURE THE BAG IS NOT TRANSPORTED ON THE AIRCRAFT IF THE PASSENGER DOES NOT BOARD.
B. IF THE SELECTEE IS ON AN INTERNATIONAL FLIGHT – CHECKED LUGGAGE, CARRY-ON LUGGAGE, AND SUSPECT ITEMS CAN BE CLEARED ONLY BY THE FOLLOWING METHOD; EMPTY THE LUGGAGE OR ITEM AND PHYSICALLY SEARCH ITS CONTENTS BY QUALIFIED SCREENERS.
This continues on but I think you get the point.
Step 3. You should then be given some type of marking along the lines of an orange sticker both on your luggage and your ticket. This serves to inform personnel that you are a Selectee and will require additional security screening. Not scary stuff, but if you’re going to forget your ID then you’ll have to deal with the additional & thorough security measures. You may also be provided with a form to fill out and carry with you.
Step 4. Fly happy…
National Independence Day Parade – Washington D.C.
If you’re into large crowds then viva the July 4th with the masses and head to D.C. for the largest annual 4th of July parade in the country. Every year, Washington D.C. fittingly sets off Independence Day with a bang that’s highlighted by a parade of elaborate floats stretching down Constitution Avenue. With more than 25 bands and 400,000-yes 400,000 spectators, there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge in entertainment. Plus, this celebration has the all day factor.
Why travel somewhere else for just two hours of fireworks?
After you’ve scoped out the parade explore the sights and museums then head over to the Capitol Building where the National Symphony Orchestra will perform to the tune of the largest televised fireworks exhibition in the country.
Plan to arrive the night before to prep for the crowds and plan to stay for at least two nights to recover from the fun. Don’t rent a car, the streets will all be closed off and driving in the district is hell anyway. Take a taxi and book a hotel somewhere close by, like the Hilton Garden Inn on 14th street; this will give you a mere 5 block walk down to Constitution Avenue. There is no better reminder of diversity in America, than this 4th of July fiesta. Whether, you like to Fiesta, Partay, or Petit Fete…come to DC, for the ultimate Partay.
Boston Harborfest – Boston Massachusetts
20 years ago, Boston Harborfest began as a humble festival with 30 events. Today, the 7 day celebration has grown to more than 20 concentrated events and is considered “THE” national Independence Day celebration in the country. The Boston Harborfest showcases the Maritime and Colonial vale of the revolution. Critics have heralded it as one of the best family celebrations to attend because of its vast array of booths, activities and entertainment. Events take place in the historic district and on the waterfront but the main events held exclusively on Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Because of its colonial heritage, the festival trumpets, the austere aura of archaic American culture that has fizzled out over the last couple centuries. The immersion into colonial Americana is completely outfitted with opulent revolutionary war costumes. Tours reenact the American revolution regularly. I guarantee the 4th of July will move up a notch on your top 3 holiday places to celebrate list. Otherwise, send me an email and tell me why YOUR local holiday celebration takes the cake.
Summerfest 09′ – Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Welcome to the self proclaimed “World’s Largest Music Festival”. Summerfest begins the week prior to the 4th and is the culmination of events and concerts that ushers in summer. This cornucopious music-fest is one of the best annual music event on the planet. If you don’t believe us, you might listen to the Guinness Book of World Records, that has made the same proclamation about Summerfest, the event has comedy acts, shopping vendors and of course, fireworks. Known as the “Big Gig”, Summerfest takes place in Henry Maier Festival Park and has been an annual tradition since 1968. Everyone who is a real musician has taken part, including the Grateful Dead, Sting, Prince and Eric Clapton, all whom have graced the main stage at this ultimate celebration. The 11 day playbill featuring over 700 bands that culminates in the the ultimate fireworks show on the 4th of July. If you’ve been looking for something more than your standard-issue snap, crackle and pop fireworks show, then Summerfest 09? may just be your calling.
Macy’s Firework Celebration – New York, New York
40,000 shells at a rate of 1,200 explosions per minute is a lot of sparkle that is a kaleidoscope you must see to appreciate. Take a gander at some of the photos and see if you can wrap your head around the cacophony of colors crackling in the summer sky of New York City. Save this piece of endless summer memory for your scrapbook and experience the ultimate July 4th fireworks bonanza, and try to attend Macy’s Fireworks show and parade on the Hudson River.
This global event is complete with NBC coverage, featuring international performers and the ultimate in fireworks. Besides, it’s New York, and everybody needs a good excuse to get away to the Big Apple. If you are looking for a crowd then New York is the place to be-fireworks or not. The show sets the Manhattan skyline ablaze as skyscrapers reflect and intensify the explosions overhead and the familiar smell of summer sulfur fills the night sky.
We must warn you about the patriotic themed scores that will trumpet in the background, bringing flashbacks to emotional movie moments, which has brought many to tears. You won’t catch me crying, but, if we run into each other, I will have a box of tissues ready for you.
The best views for this year will be between the 23rd and 59th blocks of Manhattan’s west side. These public spots will fill up quick so get there early to snag a good patch of real estate.
New York City parking guru “Gridlock Sam” says the best viewing area will probably be south of 42nd Street along the pier by the Circle Line. Other prime West Side public viewing spots include:
Dewitt Clinton Park (Access from 11th Avenue)
Pier 54 (Limited access from 14th St.)
Pier 84 (Limited Access from 44th St.)
Needing a more upscale location to enjoy the show? There are plenty of premier venues in up for grabs. Try the Chandelier Room at the new W Hotel in Hoboken (New Jersey). If you’re feeling really ambitious the 86th Floor Observatory at the Empire State Building is selling tickets for $125 dollars per person. And our third pick would have to be the Hudson Terrace located off the west side highway (621 West 42nd St.) for $125 dollars you can get an all you can eat gourmet buffet and for $75 dollars more you get a private cabana for 15 to watch the show in private (ish) luxury.
Check out some of the top 10 4th of July hot spots!
2. Cape Cod, Marthas Vinyard, Nantucket
4. Mount Rushmore
6. Queen Mary 2 (docked in Long Beach, CA)
7. San Diego
8. San Juan Island
9. U.S. Virgin Islands
10. Washington D.C.
The Worldwide Premier of “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince” is today coming off of the successful super exclusive premiers in New York, Tokyo and London. Here’s a tip! If you can hold out another two weeks you can indulge in the extreme Potter Experience by hitting up the I-Max 3D Release on the 29th. If you have ever wanted to truly feel a part of the Potter universe then 3D is the way to go. Want even more? Warner is running a sweepstakes to win an original Prop from the movie. Hopefully they don’t come to you empty handed and tell you you’ve just won the invisible cloak. A real prize would be a guaranteed guest appearance in the 12th installment of this epic movie mecca. But I digress…grab your Sorcerer’s Stone and rush past the Chamber of Secret’s because you would feel like a Prisoner of Azkaban if the Order of the Phoenix swooped up all the tickets to see Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and you were left wanting. (That was pretty bad but give me props for trying)
Full release schedule from imdb.com
Country Date Japan 6 July 2009 (Tokyo) (premiere) UK 7 July 2009 (London) (premiere) USA 8 July 2009 (New York City, New York) (premiere) Australia 15 July 2009 Belgium 15 July 2009 Brazil 15 July 2009 Canada 15 July 2009 China 15 July 2009 Egypt 15 July 2009 France 15 July 2009 Iceland 15 July 2009 Ireland 15 July 2009 Italy 15 July 2009 Japan 15 July 2009 Mexico 15 July 2009 Morocco 15 July 2009 Netherlands 15 July 2009 New Zealand 15 July 2009 Panama 15 July 2009 Spain 15 July 2009 Sweden 15 July 2009 UK 15 July 2009 USA 15 July 2009 USA 15 July 2009 (IMAX version) (limited) Austria 16 July 2009 Czech Republic 16 July 2009 Germany 16 July 2009 Hong Kong 16 July 2009 Israel 16 July 2009 Kuwait 16 July 2009 Malaysia 16 July 2009 Peru 16 July 2009 Philippines 16 July 2009 Portugal 16 July 2009 Puerto Rico 16 July 2009 Russia 16 July 2009 Singapore 16 July 2009 Slovakia 16 July 2009 Slovenia 16 July 2009 South Korea 16 July 2009 Ukraine 16 July 2009 Bulgaria 17 July 2009 Denmark 17 July 2009 Finland 17 July 2009 India 17 July 2009 Indonesia 17 July 2009 Kazakhstan 17 July 2009 Lithuania 17 July 2009 Norway 17 July 2009 South Africa 17 July 2009 Taiwan 17 July 2009 Turkey 17 July 2009 Venezuela 17 July 2009 Argentina 23 July 2009 Croatia 23 July 2009 Hungary 23 July 2009 Lebanon 23 July 2009 Cyprus 24 July 2009 Estonia 24 July 2009 Latvia 24 July 2009 Poland 24 July 2009 Romania 24 July 2009 Canada 29 July 2009 (IMAX version) USA 29 July 2009 (IMAX version) Greece 25 August 2009