Archive for December, 2008

Hope everyone had a nice holiday and has recovered from and repented for any gluttony they may have participated in. ūüôā Just two reminders and a belated photo this Monday morning.

First, it’s your last chance to get your suggestions in for the running Reader Tips Contest for New York City and Washington DC. I’m still waiting to hear *your* best tips and tricks before I take off on Wednesday, so please add your comments on the linked post.

Second, today is the final day to make your donation to the Passports with Purpose fundraiser/raffle for Heifer International. If you’re interested in winning, chances were best on the prizes linked here¬†or here. The drawings will be held tomorrow.

Finally, a tardy Photo Friday entry from the chilly wilds of northern Minnesota:

snowy berries

Though the cold keeps us indoors and the ice and snow off the slippery roads, there are some mornings too beautiful not to appreciate winter, right?

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The LDS has made it possible for travelers with a layover in Salt Lake City to visit their Temple complex downtown:  they offer a complimentary hourly shuttle service from the airport direct to Temple Square (and back!).

In the months of July and August, temple shuttles travel half-hourly from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with returns from 10:30 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday; in the shoulder season, the same hours are traveled hourly.  November through March and Sundays year-round, the shuttle runs a limited 9 a.m.-2 p.m. schedule, with returns from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.  There is no service on holidays, and travelers are permitted only hand luggage on the shuttle.  The visit requires at least a two-hour layover.

LDS shuttle mapsThe Temple is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.¬† It’s also possible to visit the Tabernacle, home of the world famous Tabernacle Choir, or, if the timing is right, to hear a choir concert — Thursday nights from 8-9:30 p.m. or Sundays from 9-11 a.m.¬† Admission to all is free.¬† Find out more information for your specific date¬†by calling their visitors’ center directly: 1-800-537-9703.

Thanks to Travel Tips from a Frequent Traveler for the tip and the map image!

Related posts

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Thursday Photo Friday #16

In May, I¬†attended an open house at Rundfunk Berlin-Brandenburg (the local public broadcasting service).¬† They’re located just a hop, skip and jump from the convention center in Berlin in a beautiful brick segmented semi-circular complex.¬† In a quiet side alley, away from the hustle and bustle of studio tours, concerts and other entertainment available that day, I discovered this section of preserved Russian graffiti.

RBB Open House -- Russian Grafitti

The inscription (my translation from German) tells the story:

House of Radio (HdR) under Soviet control, 1945-1956

On May 2, 1945, Major Popov and a company of Soviet army troops took control of the House of Radio (HdR).  As a radio technician who had himself worked here as an engineering intern from 1931 to 1933, Popov knew the building well.

Starting May 4, the first calls and news programs were broadcast under Soviet leadership; on May 13, 1945, they reinstituted a regular broadcasting schedule.

After the city was divided into four sectors, the English, French and Americans began broadcasting their own radio programs from their respective sectors. The Soviets secretly removed the technical equipment from the HdR and transported it to the Soviet sector (Nalepa St.).  In 1950 the HdR ceased broadcasting.

Until the building was returned to the Berlin Senate on July 5, 1956, the Soviets maintained a 10-15 man watch commando in the empty building in 14-day rotation.  It is assumed that during this time the cyrillic grafitti was scratched into the facade.

This writing was discovered during renovations to the facade in 1998-1999 and was retained and preserved to document the mutable history of the HdR.

It is not uncommon to find Russian graffiti in buildings of historical significance in Berlin, though most (like that most notably found in the Reichstag) was left during the siege in 1945.

If you’d like to learn more about broadcasting in Germany’s capital, you can take an online tour of the RBB facilities here (German only).

  • Follow¬†fellow Photo Friday participants here.
  • Related posts:¬† Berlin
  • Related posts:¬† Germany

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‘Tis the season to make a numbered shopping list!¬† Thankfully, the no-budget traveler is easier to shop for than you’d imagine.¬† If you’re still looking for ideas, take a look at last year’s list, then follow me after the jump for another 20 items for under $20 (18 under $10)¬†your favorite travel fiend.


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Still doing your holiday shopping, or just need to pick up a couple last-minute gifts? Avoid the crush at the mall by ordering those items online — and, if you time it right, enjoy the benefit of free shipping, too!

Free Shipping Day logoHundreds of online merchants are participating in Free Shipping Day on (and only on) Thursday, December 18 — the last day most will guarantee Christmas Eve delivery on regularly shipped items.¬† (Click on the link above to see a partial list of participants.) Not sure if your preferred merchants are participating and can’t tell from their website?¬† Contact their customer support and ask!

Just because the offer is timed for the holidays doesn’t mean you can’t take advantage of it for your own personal ends — to pick up that guidebook you’ve been meaning to on Overstock, for example, or to order some hiking boots or comfortable sandals for next summer’s travel adventures from Zappos.

Thanks to Frugal Hacks for the tip!

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Vicky Cristina BarcelonaTuesday is¬†discount day at one of the largest English-language (i.e. not dubbed) cinemas in Berlin.¬† On tap this week was Woody Allen’s newest, Vicky Cristina Barcelona.¬† Though a sadder movie than I expected, what disappointed¬†me most was the portrayal of one of those three title characters — can you guess which one?

The film is set in — surprise! —¬†Barcelona, and while every review you’ll read will extol the gorgeous sweeping views of the enchanting city, it felt more like they spent a few days shooting¬†at spots around town¬†before retreating to other locations.¬†¬†Would that Spain had been more influential in the plot.¬† As written, the film and its romantic intrigues¬†could have easily¬†been set in any other number of romantic, European, Mediterranean locales.¬†

La Sagrada Familia ceiling

One of the first things Vicky and Cristina do upon arriving in town is a pilgrimage to La Sagrada Familia, the masterwork-in-progress of architect Antoni Gaudi.¬† Vicky is¬†pursuing a master’s in Catalan culture (without, I might add, much ability to speak Spanish), inspired by the works of¬†Gaudi and the dulcet strains of the Spanish guitar.¬† If you’re not familiar with his work, Gaudi’s style was influenced by art nouveau and his whimsical architecture, like La Sagrada Familia, detail on door (Pontius Pilate)that¬†of Hundertwasser,¬†is usually fiercely loved or hated.¬† For lovers, it is easy to take in a great variety of his works in just a short visit to the city.

Making La Sagrada Familia unique is that it remains under construction, over 12 decades since breaking ground and eight decades after Gaudi’s accidental death;¬†work continues despite setbacks¬†from a civil war, two world wars, and the near-complete¬†destruction of Gaudi’s La Sagrada Familia, sculptural detailmodels and plans.¬† Workers hope to finish by 2026, the centennial of Gaudi’s passing, though with any construction project of this magnitude, it is unclear whether or not they will achieve this goal.¬† If you could ignore the modern equipment, it¬†would be like stepping back a thousand years, when many cathedrals across Europe were built, each taking¬†hundreds of years to complete.

The church, open at 9 a.m. daily, is located near the subway station bearing its name.  Admission fee:  10 euros adults, 8 euros students.  Included in the admission price is entrance to the church and two on-site museums.  The site has two excellent gift shops with a variety of reasonably-priced Gaudi gear and a wide selection of postcards.

La Sagrada Familia stained glass

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Focused readers (and those feed reading rather than bellying up to the trough) may have overlooked two new elements in the sidebar.  Let me draw your attention to them now.

Further down the page I’ve added a “Crossing my Radar” box in which I share links to some of the most interesting and useful posts I’ve spotted across the blogosphere.¬†¬† If you like what I’ve got to say, I think you’ll like these too.¬† This is constantly updated as the articles, ahem,¬†cross my radar, so keep checking back to find the latest and greatest in no-budget travel news.¬† It is even possible to add these as a feed piped directly to your prefered feed reader, if you swing that way.

For the month of December, I’ve added a link to the Passports with Purpose project.¬† If you haven’t read about it yet, here it is in a nutshell:

Passports with Purpose is a travelblogger-driven fundraiser for Heifer International, a nonprofit organization that seeks to eliminate hunger and poverty around the globe.  I know many of you are kind-hearted souls who have probably given or received a duck or sheep or two with this organization and are familiar with their programs. 

If you haven’t given¬†Heifer money yet this year, or if you’re still unsure what to give some of those hard-to-shop-for ninnies on your list, let me suggest you donate by¬†purchasing a raffle ticket from Passports with Purpose.¬† All proceeds go directly to Heifer, but you (or your chosen ninny) are also¬†eligible to win some amazing (and expensive) prizes, donated by travelbloggers across the globe.¬†¬† You can find the full list of prizes here¬†— there’s plenty for travelers and non-travelers alike.

All tickets are sold through 29 December over the¬†First Giving site.¬† For each¬†$10 donation you make, you’ll be entered into the raffle for the prize you’ve selected.¬† Be sure to enter your email address and the prize you want to win in the comments field.¬† The organizers will pull winners and notify them via email on December 30th.

For even better chances at a teensy-tiny¬†prize, I’m still looking for reader suggestions for NYC and DC.¬† I’m surprised that no one’s left a comment on New York yet (meaning your chances of winning currently stand at 100%).¬† So click through and add your hard-won experience today!

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Tickets are purchased but plans are still loose:  the no-budget traveler is tackling the American capitals of New York City and Washington DC at the start of the new year.  Lincoln MemorialWith just 2.5 days for each city, time and money are at a premium.  What budget secrets have you uncovered for museums, transportation, or restaurants?  What are your favorite free sights and experiences?  What is best avoided at all costs?

Share your voice of experience and earn a modest prize if I deem your advice the best or most useful. Entering is easy: simply leave a comment below!

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This Just In published an interesting interview with Alex Boylan, star of the upcoming show Around the World for Free.  Boylan earned his fame and travel cred as the winner of the U.S. reality television show The Amazing Race 2.  Please go read the interview, (watch this clip, if you choose,) then come back and join in the following discussion.

In principle, I¬†agree with much of¬†Boylan’s hard-earned advice¬†and offer in many ways a less extreme version of the same ethos here on this blog.

At the same time, this project (and other travel experiences/blogs like it) lead me to reflect on how gendered travel can be.  How many of these places and experiences were open to them simply because they were two young men rather than two young women undertaking this journey?

This is not to imply that women *couldn’t* do this trip or that women *shouldn’t* travel anywhere these men did, or that we are somehow inherently more fragile or weak than male travelers.¬† But at the same time, women do consider the risks of rides or offers of accommodation from strange men, traveling in areas of unrest and even being out after dark differently from their male counterparts.¬† Further, female travelers are harrassed and targeted in ways that men on the road are not.¬† I’m sure it’s not possible to quantify the difference that this confidence and access¬†makes, but I believe more effort should be made to note it.

I don’t pretend to represent all female travelers and would love to open a discussion on this subject.¬† While I hope you will take my lead and leave your thoughtful¬†comments primarily on this topic below,¬†there are two more points I think are worth making.¬†

As an anthropologist, I wonder to what degree the camera influenced their interactions with their subjects.¬†¬†Boylan touches on this only slightly in this excerpt and doesn’t reflect on how the camera affected his¬†own behavior either.

Relatedly, does travel lose some of its transformative power when your home audience is so immediate?¬† My college Russian professor thought we were spoiled because we had the internet while studying abroad; when he studied behind the Iron Curtain,¬†the only contact with home came¬†during 3-minute phone calls placed¬†from the central telephone office.¬† Now students can (and do) twitter and vlogcast their experiences just like¬†Boylan did.¬† But do we¬† — in broadening the horizons of our friends, family and interested audiences “traveling along” with us¬†— sacrifice our own deeper¬†understanding, preventing full immersion by surrounding ourselves in a protective bubble of interaction with the familiar?¬† Is there not something meaningful in¬†unfettered escape from home?

Thanks in advance for your comments.

Related post:  Traveling (Solo) Safely

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Carnegie Hall offers a variety of free concerts as part of their Neighborhood Concert series, playing throughout the year at locations around New York City.

Ben Allison & Man Size Safe

Tonight at 8 p.m. you can enjoy Ben Allison & Man Size Safe at the LaGuardia Performing Arts Center.  (Listen to clips of the group at benallison.com > videos/photos.)

Other concerts this month include:

Falu (listen)
Sunday, December 7 at 2 p.m.
Flushing Town Hall

Alexander Fiterstein & Friends: The Zimro Project (hear Fiterstein here)
Sunday, December 14 at 4 p.m.
Brooklyn Central Library

Check out the interactive map or see the program by borough (Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens, Staten Island).

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