Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Longtime Restaurant - Strings in Denver, CO

Saying Goodbye to Longtime Restaurant -
Strings in Denver, CO

I attended a lunch in mid-April, right before the closing of a longtime favorite, Strings, closed on April 30, 2013.

This restaurant had been around for years. It was the place to go on special occasions, and was a favorite for those who lived in that community located by city park, and for those of us who lived a bit farther away.

The first time I ever went to Strings, I was in high school. One of my classmates parents' took us there for dinner. My friend and I felt so mature and grown up, because it was definitely a restaurant for adults. The the vibe was always laid back, and the decor and atmosphere were professional and well-maintained. They served delicious salads, steaks and fish dishes that were immaculately prepared, but never fussy.

As life progressed and I moved away from Colorado; I would still frequent this restaurant when I would come home during summer and winter breaks. Despite the saying, "you can never go back," that wasn't the case with Strings; regardless of the change of time and age, it was always a place that I could go to and enjoy myself and reminisce on "the good old days."

When I moved back to Colorado a few years ago, I attended an event that was hosted by the Aruba Tourism Board, at Strings. I hadn't been there in several years, but the moment I stepped through the door it was as if I was that young girl in high school again.

Steak salad @ Strings Restaurant

My last visit was a luncheon being held by a family member, Lucy Walker, of Eden Theatrical Workshop. Lucy has been a part of the community even longer than Strings; however, given its close proximity (walking distance) from Eden Theatrical Workshop, Lucy had been a long time guest of Strings, so it was apropos that Lucy would so graciously hold a final luncheon there, to say goodbye to a favorite neighborhood restaurant.

*photos taken by That Chick Té


Friday, June 21, 2013

Fright of Flight!

Fright of Flight!
With that title, I'm sure you are expecting me to be talking about the flying experience - but I'm not; it's actually about all of the fees being raised and instituted by the major airline carriers.
I am all for businesses making money, because there is a cost to doing business; however, some of these fees are getting ridiculous. In late April of this year, several airlines increased their change fees to $200-250 (this is for non-refundable tickets). That's per person, so a family of four would be looking at a minimum of $800-$1000 if they had to change their flight. Also, just to be clear, this fee is ONLY for changing your ticket, that is not taking into consideration if there was a change in your flight costs. 

Sarah is taking her daughter to New York to celebrate her 16th birthday. She's worked with her travel professional and provided all of the date information and booked and paid for the vacation six months in advance. Later, Sarah finds out a month prior to her trip that she needs to change their flights because she has a work obligation that she can not get out of, so they need to depart a day later.

The initial price of her round-trip tickets per person were $350 dollars; however, the price of that flight has shot up to $500 dollars. Not only does Sarah need to pay the difference in the price increase of $150 per person (which will be $300), but she will also be paying a change fee as well. If her flight was booked with one of the carriers that charges $200 per person, then she will be paying $400 to change her and her daughter's tickets. The total price she will be paying additionally out-of-pocket will be $700. I don't know about you, but that's a lot of money!
Sadly, it's all about "follow the leader." If one carrier sees that a major carrier has increased their fees; rest assured, many others will be following suit. 

Quick tips to possibly alleviate this issue:
  • Make sure your dates of travel are set, and there are no potential conflicts that may make you have to change  your dates. Yes, things do come up, but the better prepared you are, the better off you will be.
  • Double and even triple check all documents you receive to ensure the dates of travel are correct, because if there is an error and it's not caught prior to purchase (or with some carriers, within twenty-four hours), you could be in for a rude awakening when you are hit with a change fee because you need to make a correction.
  • In some cases, the purchasing of travel insurance can help defray some of the costs of non-refundable payments that have been paid. This is a case-by-case situation, but is definitely worth considering and looking in to when you are planning your travels.
  • Finally, cross your fingers and hope for the best. Ok, ok, I know that's probably not the best tip, but hey, it's true! Many things happen that are out of our control. 
The site, www.airfarewatchdog.com, is good about updating information in respect to most of the major carriers and their fee schedules. I've only scraped the tip of the iceberg on all of the fees that can be potentially assessed, so if you want more information, you can check out their site. Their last update was on May 1, 2013 (as of today).

*Photo used from freedigitalphotos.net


Thursday, June 6, 2013

Travel Tips Learned from Game of Thrones

Travel Tips Learned from Game of Thrones

I will gladly admit that I've succumbed to reading George R.R. Martin's, A Song of Fire and Ice series, starting with, A Game of Thrones. Masterfully written (well, at least books 1-3), and entertaining; the entire process by which Mr. Martin must have taken to put together these tome's is exhausting to imagine, and also quite inspirational and impressive.

While reading this series, I was struck by the many lessons that were being taught that could so clearly be connected with traveling. Alright, I can see you sitting there scratching your head saying, "How can some mythical world have anything to do with travel?" Well, let me lay out a few items that I can easily relate to travel:
  • You're going to get lost. Keep a map. Throughout the characters' various journeys both by land and sea; they would get lost. Granted, they somehow always seemed to get back on track, but as one character pointed out (paraphrasing, and no spoilers here), "How can we know which lake we are too follow? And how do we even know this is the right one?" Keeping a map and/or GDS system handy is key. Whether you are traveling near or abroad, having reliable directions will be the difference between a wonderful vacation versus one fraught with aggravation.
  • Do a bit of research on your destination prior to arrival. Countless characters throughout this series had limited or faulty information about the destinations they were traveling too (and trust me, there is a LOT of movement throughout this series). What seemed like it would be a divine place to go; oftentimes turned out to be (figuratively speaking) one of the seven circles of hell. While some characters believed they were traveling to destinations brimming with food, opportunity and safety; more often than not, their "dream" destination turned out to be a nightmare. The lesson here: don't just believe what you hear from one person, do a bit of your own research.
  • Be open to eating different and unique foods. Hmmm, this is a bit dicey because there were a lot of the meals described in the series that I just was not keen on (can we say, horse heart anyone). Suffice to say, there were also quite a few of the meals described, that actually sounded delicious. Several of the wedding dinners and large gathering meals that were described didn't seem altogether bad. There were some detailed descriptions of pies, meats and desserts that were elaborate, and my imagination was able to take over. And, lest not forget the wines. It would appear that no one was without some (weak or strong) ale and/or wine to wash down any of their meals. The lesson here: it may sound trite, but it's true, be open to experiencing something different that you wouldn't ordinarily eat. While fried grubs may not be high on your list of foods to eat, you may be surprised and find out...hey, they do taste like chicken!
  • Pack light. (Or you'll lose it.) I think this one is self-explanatory, but always bears repeating. When you are traveling by horseback and carriage, it's easy to see how some items will be lost along the way. It just works out that way. What seems like a good idea to pack on day one, turns out to be a nightmare and pain to drag around by day twenty. Fortunately, this is the twenty-first century, so it's not quite that bad (although, many who travel via the airlines on a frequent basis may disagree). Regardless, less is definitely more. Many hotels have on-site dry cleaners and laundry facilities so there is no reason to pack everything you've ever owned. Also, as I learned at a young age when camping; if you pack something that you don't want to carry for about 10 miles on your back, leave it at home unless it's absolutely necessary.
*Photo from "Fresh Crown Of Thorns" by Iamnee; provided by freedigitalphotos.net