Talk about Travel: The new Revel resort in Atlantic City

May 14, 2012

Have a travel-related question, comment, suspicion, warning, gripe, sad tale or happy ending? The Post Travel section's editors and writers are at your service.

Happy Monday afternoon, travelers. Thanks for joining us today. Hope you got to see our big Revel spread this weekend -- Andrea checked out the resort scene, Post Food writer Tim Carman told us about the restaurants and I explored what we might see in Atlantic City in the future. We also sipped some espresso in Italy. So for today's question, tell us about where you travel to get your fix of a certain food. Best answer gets the prize.

Here we go!

Just returned from vacation in Turkey. I noted that there, as well as in European countries I've been to, my underwire bra always sets off the alarm and I am pulled aside for wanding. It has never bothered me. But the alarm never goes off when I am in the US. Why are our machines not set for the higher sensitivity? Makes me trust the TSA process even less than I already do.

It's my understanding, from having written about this topic frequently, that the magnetometers used for airport screening have various settings -- which is to say, they can be made extra sensitive, to pick up even the smallest metallic object. Maybe TSA's new full-body scanners, which can detect non-metallic objects that can represent a threat, are thought to provide a thorough screening when used together with the magnetometers. It's hard to know for certain, because TSA doesn't answer any direct questions about its screening, citing security issues. (Believe me, I've tried.)

So I have a trip planned (and paid for ) to Cozumel in late July, made with some trepidation but at that time things were fairly quiet in Mex. Now, however, all heck seems to have broken loose. Knowing that you can't make my decision, what are your thoughts on going there?

Despite the ongoing violence, the overall situation in Mexico has not changed. The violence is still concentrated along the border and in port towns, not tourist resort areas. (For a piece I wrote about Mexico's troubled and safe areas, see here.)

Cozumel, Cancun and other beachy areas are still considered safe. Go and relax!

Every summer for a few years now my husband and I take advantage of our kids being at camp by taking a vacation, just the 2 of us. We've gone far: Napa, Mexico and near: Charlottesville. This year we'd like to keep it close to home: not more than a 4 hour drive, a place with good restaurants and a relaxing environment.

What about the Eastern Shore of either Maryland or Virginia? In Maryland, you could go to St. Michaels or Oxford, both charming waterside towns with history, charm and good eats galore. Stay at the Inn at Perry Cabin or the Robert Morris Inn. Both a little luxe, but worth it. Or you could give the Hyatt Regency Chesapeake Bay resort in Cambridge a try. Or the Tidewater Inn in Easton. All these places are fairly near each other, so you could stay in one town but still visit all the others. There's lots of walking, biking, boating, or just plain relaxing to be done.

In Virginia, there's the Tides Inn in Irvington, or look for something on Chincoteague or Tangier Island. The Virginia Eastern Shore is slightly less touristy than Maryland's, I think.

Chatters, your thoughts?


Hi travel gurus! Husband and I are looking for suggestions for a weekend getaway from DC by train. We love Charlottesville, and have been to Williamsburg and the historic triangle. We are looking for somewhere quaint with restaurants, shops, art galleries, etc with a pedestrian friendly downtown area to stroll. Any small-ish towns that you recommend? Thanks for any ideas you may have!

How about Lynchburg, Va.? I was there a few years ago for a story on the Snowflex at Liberty University and was pleasantly surprised. Had a pretty nice stay at the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast. The Craddock Terry Hotel, located in an old shoe factory, is another option.

After returning home from a trip to Italy, my wife wrote a review in about how disappointed we were with our hotel in Venice. It wasn't long before there were several other reviews about how wrong she was and what a wonderful stay others had there. Either the hotel has two classes of room (which I doubt - there was no evidence of that) or someone who has something to lose from a negative review was watching. Do hotels and other agencies keep favorable reviewers on retainer?

This sounds like sophisticated reputation management, which I discuss at length in my latest book. Hotels know how important positive reviews are to generating new business, and often hire outside companies to seed discussion forums and user-generated review sites with positive write-ups. I have another word for it: lying.

I'm going to Costa Rica on Ma 20th and I'm wondering what to expect, weather-wise, for the Monteverde Cloud Forest. I know this is the rainy season so I'll bring a rain jacket. But what will the paths be like? (I won't be hiking if I can avoid it!) Will I need boots or will sneakers suffice? Later I'll go to a resort near Jaco. Any chance of me lying on the beach in some sunshine? I know you can't predict the future, but what are some general weather trends? I'll start packing soon! Thanks!

I would bring hiking boots or another type of rugged, waterproof shoe. You might skid and slip in sneakers. Also be sure your day pack is waterproof and put any gadgets in plastic baggies. It can get pretty soggy in the rain forest and you don't want damage your valuables.

Rainy season does not traditionally mean heavy, nonstop rains day after day. Rather, you might see a mix of showers and sun, on and off throughout the day. So definitely pack your swimsuit, which you can wear under your rain gear.

Do you know how e-readers are treated in the airport security checks? Are they like laptops that must go thru the scanner in a separate bin? They are so small - I'd hate to have mine lifted while I wait in line! Thx

No need to pull out that e-reader. My Kindle has traveled through the machines just fine in my bag.

Loved traveling with my late husband. Visited a great deal of France, Amsterdam, Bruges, Quebec City, Vancouver, and even did a 50-day circle trip of the U.S., sleeping in the back of our pickup truck. Now it is just me. My current plan is to take a one week trip to Seattle this summer to get used to traveling alone. I hope to take a solo trip to Europe next summer. Any suggestions/advice for a newly widowed traveler? So far, all the arrangements I have made are refundable, so I can always cancel. But I think it would be good for me to do this.

I agree that it would be good for you -- take the plunge! Solo travel is becoming more common, and it can be a wonderful adventure, as long as you plan carefully, keep your head and wits about you, and open yourself up to the possibility of meeting new people and learning lots of new things. Have a look at this story we did last year on solo travel; it offers some good tips and advice on issues of safety, planning and more.

I'm contemplating a move to the Pacific Northwest. I've spent a few days in Portland and have never been to Seattle before. Any tips for what to check out over a 4-5 day reconnaissance mission that is more about checking out real life in these places versus touristy spots?

Stay at a bed-and-breakfast in a residential neighborhood and chat up the host/hostess. B&B proprietors know everything about their neighborhoods and cities.

My husband and I have a layover in the Munich airport on June 28 of about 2 hours. Anything we can see or do in the city during that time? Also, we have another layover in the Montreal airport on July 9 of about 4.5 hours. What do you recommend we do to pass that time?

Technically, those are stopovers, not layovers (layovers involve an overnight stay). I would not try to go into town on the Munich stopover; you'll probably have enough time to get a bite to eat. In Montreal, you don't have enough time to go into town and get back through security. I'd go shopping.

Not sure if this is a Travel Gang or Dr. Gridlock Question. I am flying out of Dulles for the first time ever in mid-June on a 8:40pm flight on a Friday night. It's an international flight. How early should I get to the airport? Two hours? And if I'm supposed to be there around 6:30 pm, how much time should I allot for driving from downtown Baltimore? I'm only intimidated by the Beltway traffic because of the deadline. Thanks!

Airlines typically recommend arriving three hours in advance for international flights. However, if you are traveling with carry-on only and check-in online in advance, you can shave off some time. Personally, I try to arrive about 90 minutes to two hours before departure.

I don't know the drive from Baltimore to Dulles; from D.C., I usually give myself an hour. Since you need to be on the road during the start of rush hour, give yourself twice the time to drive the route. Better to arrive early than late!

I tend to travel for the learning experience. One of the best ways to learn about a culture is by eating the cuisine that is native to the area. I do not separate travel from eating in that sense. But there are certain places I will travel just for the food. Locally, I will travel to the Eastern Shore for crabs and oysters in their respective seasons. I have traveled to New Orleans for great cajun. I also have traveled to eastern North Carolina for the vinegar based barbecue pork.

Heading to Charleston for a few days in mid-June. Already have a B&B booked, lots of great restaurants planned, and a few activities including a cooking class and a history tour. Any other suggestions? Also - what is the best way to see the plantations that are driving distance from the city? I hear there is a shuttle to take you but not sure how reliable it is. Better to rent a car for the day?

I'm not familiar with the shuttle -- has anyone done this? Some area buses go near a few of the plantations, but for the most flexibility, I would think a car rental would be your best bet.

Other activities -- Fort Sumter and the City Market. I also really enjoyed these two historic homes.

I have a silly question... Can you bring fruits/veggies on an international flight as long as you consume it before getting off the plane? Trying to stay healthy!

Yep. Just be sure the produce is not liquid-y, like orange Jell-O, which isn't a fruit anyhow and will be confiscated by TSA. Also, I just brought a ripe banana on a plane and it squished all over (plus the scent was pretty strong), so watch the mushy factor.

Of course almost everyone in the area knows that Amtrak goes directly from Union Station to Penn Station in NYC, but I still thought it was odd that this mode of transportation was not included in the box accompanying Joe Yonan's piece on vegetarian restaurants in New York. Many of the area's residents, and Post subscribers, do not own cars or would prefer to take a relaxing train ride instead of fighting traffic up 95. Further, Atlantic City is also accessible by train, which was not noted in the piece about the new resort. You can transfer in Philadelphia to NJ Transit and there are free shuttles from the train stations to the casinos.

Yes, Amtrak goes from Washington to New York, but it can be fairly expensive, certainly more expensive than BoltBus or Megabus, which you fail to note *were* included in the box. You can fly to New York, too, and maybe some people would prefer to do that for whatever reason, but we didn't include that, either. Sometimes, in the print paper, we are dealing with space issues, so it's impossible to include every single mode of transportation to and from any given place.  We hope our resourceful readers can figure some of this out for themselves -- as you say, almost everyone in this area knows that Amtrak goes to NYC.

I live in Atlanta - but I'm from NY. So when I go visit - which is rare - I get bagels and pizza. Just can't get the same here in the south. When I visit Florida, they have REAL NY food I will get pizza and bagels there as well. I'm moving to Oregon now, though, so I'm not sure if I'll be able to get my fix *there* and I know I won't be traveling back east as much.

Ha, that's my kind of carbo-loading vacation! The Pacific Northwest isn't too shabby when it comes to food, though. Don't know if you'll be anywhere near Portland, but that city, of course, has a superb dining scene.

When is the best time to travel to Ghana in terms of weather and airfare costs. Can you also provide some tour operators or travel agencies that specialize in travel to Ghana?

Here's a Going Our Way we had a few years ago about Ghana. That piece recommended Spector Travel. I think someone over there would have advice on airfare, as well as climate.

I am thinking of a trip to Southeast Asia with this company...any comments about it? Does the company have a good reputation?

I get some complaints about OAT, but they are usually resolved quickly, and in favor of the customer. I wouldn't have any problem booking one of its trips.

It's hard to narrow it down because almost all my travel is for food (Spain for ham, Santa Fe for green chiles, etc), but maybe my most ambitious was the Texas BBQ trail... in one day. Nonstop BWI to AUS, then promptly into the rental car and en route to Lockhart. Through strict portion control, we were able to sample brisket, ribs, and sausage from most of the legendary spots. We were quite full, but a dip in Barton Springs after helped to calm the meat sweats.

That is intense.

My mom and I have a flight budget of $2000 each. Can we go anywhere outside the US R/T for this amount? It does not have to be a big tourist site, just interesting, friendly towards black americans...

Wow, for $2,000 you can go a lot of places. I think you're going to have to give us a little more to go on. Perhaps I'm too optimistic, but I would think most places you'd consider traveling would be accommodating to people of all types.

I crossed from Sarnia, ON to Port Huron, MI a couple of weeks ago by car. Took an hour and a half on a Thursday mid afternoon. This crossing has always been quicker than the Windsor-Detroit Ambassador Bridge. Are the US Border people working to rule? Coming back a week later into Canada, zero delay.

I had an identical experience last year, when crossing the U.S.-Canadian border on my way to Montreal. It's likely that you were experiencing the normal ebb and flow of traffic between the countries. 

It's really time to re-think how you do the accompanying boxes - as the one chatter pointed out, you didn't mention some obvious options to New York; other times, you seem to pick and choose airlines for reasons that are not clear (e.g. a story on Oklahoma City might omit a nonstop option out of BWI but quote prices for a connection from IAD). If space is at a premium and travelers are smart enough to figure out their options, you should just ditch this less-than-helpful feature. Otherwise, get creative - maybe just try symbols, dollar signs, and whether you have to connect en route. What you have isn't working.

Thanks for the input. Ditching it might be just the thing. We'll take your comments under advisement.

yes! we're moving to Portland. We were just there. looks like a VERY nice eating town.

Yeah, I defintiely don't feel sorry for you. :)

I live in South Florida and in spite of the abundance of sea food here, I simply HAVE to get to the Baltimore or Maryland Eastern Shore area every so often just for their blue crabs and crab cakes... nothing like what they serve down here! Yum... now, just from mentioning it, I think I will have to start checking air fares.

It wasn't until I went to Greece last fall (unfortunately, during the violent 2 day strike, which was happening a block from my hotel), that I understood how fabulous Greek yogurt is--rich, creamy, incredibly thick, and tangy. It's lucky I did like it so much, as our hotel ran out of food the first day of the strike so there was not much for dinner, but they still managed a wonderful breakfast. I've also had lots of good pizza here, but until I went to a neighborhood joint near a friend's apartment in Testaccio in Rome, I didn't realize how good pizza with truly fresh toppings and fabulous cheese can taste.

Is there any organization that helps solo travelers locate other travelers to share cruses with, to cut the cost? Only the EPIC cruse ship has single rooms. It is too expensive to pay double occupant rates alone.

Many cruise lines have a singles program in which they'll match you with another solo traveler. Call your cruise line and ask. Also, try looking for a fellow traveler on the messages boards on I haven't used it myself, but the Web site helps people connect for all sorts of travel, including cruises. You can specify destinations, the preferred gender and age of your prospective traveling companions, etc. Of course, as with any online experience, there's a degree of risk involved, so use good judgment!

I second your recommendation of Lynchburg. I went to college close by and have been impressed by how much the city has come to life in the past decade or so. In addition to downtown, I recommend the Rivermont area for old houses and cute cafes -- Rivermont Pizza is delicious and the Cavalier Restaurant has great burgers and a low-key environment. There are many pretty parks, such as Percival's Island in the James River. (Practically across from the other pizza place you had mentioned!) To the couple looking for a vacation spot close to home, how about driving down Route 11 through the Shenandoah Valley? I'd start in Shepherdstown, WV, and stop in Winchester, Middletown, Strasburg, Harrisonburg, and Staunton. A relaxed drive with beautiful scenary and many great restaurants. (I love doing this route whenever possible!) They could then drive back up through Shenandoah National Park or 340 through Luray.

I second your recommendation as well. I lived out in the Shenandoah Valley for a few years post-college -- very pretty.

Going to New York for Labor Day weekend, which is halfway through the US Open tennis tourney. Can you or a chatter advise when to go and what ticket to buy? They go on sale in June - and the web site is confusing. I could go Sat PM, Sun AM or PM. I've heard that available Ashe Stadium tickets would be so far from the action, it would be better to go to the smaller venues and hope to see a top player against a lower seed. Any advice on how to get the best experience in a half-day by planning ahead?

This is a trip I've always wanted to do. Who can help us out?

Not where I go to get a certain food per se but just my favorite food memory from travelling that still makes me laugh. I went to Japan as part of a school exchange and the first night we all went to dinner. I was expecting we'd go to some sort of traditional Japanese restaurant, but no- we ended up at a Chinese place. Second night- ended up at a pizza place. Third night, I had brought spaghetti sauce and noodles over to cook for our host family. It wasn't until the fourth night we got actual Japanese food!

There's a place en route to the east end of Lond Island that everybody just calls "Lunch." It's super casual - paper plates and plastic cutlery, but they have the best lobster rolls anywahere, including Maine. I have been known to brave Friday afternoon Hamptons traffic just for one of those lobster rolls.

Going to Dallas for 5 days this week to visit a relative. My first time in Texas! Any ideas for sight-seeing and/or local eateries? So far on my list is the Cowboys stadium and the Kimball Art Museum. Thank you!

Well, of course, there's Dealey Plaza, site of the JFK assassination and the Schoolbook Depository, from which Oswald fired the fatal shot. There's a museum on the sixth floor, with a webcam view from the window Oswald fired from. And you should also see. . . Fort Worth! It's just a short car drive away and you shouldn't miss it. Check out the Stockyards and have a meal at Joe T. Garcia's just for the experience.

Other recommendations, chatters?

Irn Bru soda outsells (or at least it used to) Coke and Pepsi combined in Scotland. It used to be almost impossible to find outside Scotland and was rare even in England. I still seek it out when I travel though, most British shops sell it and I have bought it locally in Arlington, but also NZ, British Columbia, Quebec, and several other European countries. Bonus points for its hangover curing powers.

I travel to the Upper Peninsula whenever I can for pasties. [Ahem. They begin with 'past' not 'paste'. Paste-ies are worn by certain types of dancers.] Michigan's pasties are filled with meat and root vegetables. The flaky crust melts in your mouth. They are as big as your head. With any luck, you'll catch the Big Mac on a gloriously sunny day and see Mackinac Island in the distance. The air in the U.P. smells so... wild and crisp. Pair one of those pasties with a box of hand made fudge and you'll think your post-vacation diet will be completely worth it. You can lose yourself in the wilds of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.

I am an American living overseas in Europe and I travel home to the U.S. about once a year and look forward to getting fixes of my favorite foods. Some favorites -- American bread, corn-fed beef, peanut butter cup ice cream (Europeans can"t believe pb would taste good with something sweet!), good Mexican food, root beer, etc.

We're planning a trip to England for September and planning to stay in several smallish hotels and B&Bs. We're encountering a number of places that are asking for prepayments via bank transfers. They won't even accept credit cards to hold a reservation until we arrive. By the time you pay for several international bank transfers, pay for money exchanges at the worst possible exchanges, and figure in the time for multiple trips to my own bank here in DC, this is turning into a bit of the problem. Any suggestions on the best (cheapest) way to deal with this? Is this a growing trend? Or just a new fad in Devon and Cornwall where we plan on visiting?

I would be suspicious of any business -- even a small inn or B&B -- that asks for a money transfer. It's true, there are some legitimate businesses in Europe that only accept payments via direct transfer. But once you pay, your money's gone. There's no way to dispute a charge, as you would on a credit card. My advice would be to work with a travel agent and pay by credit card. An agent can help you identify the right inn that accepts credit cards.

The questioner better leave at least 4 hours if not more. Leave BMore around 4. No sense taking chances with the traffic going that way since it can be pretty brutal, plus check in and security time.

Good advice, from a sane voice (I tend to push it!).

I am in the early stages of planning a trip next year for my (gasp!) 60th birthday. One of the things I was looking at was river cruising and I was wondering if any of you had any experience with the 2 top companies, Uniworld and Viking? Or do you know of other, maybe smaller companies?

I've cruised on Viking several years ago in Germany, and really liked it. I've had no consumer complaints about Uniworld, so I would have no problem booking a cruise on either of those companies.

When is the best time to travel to Israel? Can you provide soem reputable Israel tour operators for a 10 day Christian Pilgrimage to the major sites.

Spring and fall are best weather-wise.  The country's Ministry of Tourism has a list of tour operators on its Web site. Hopefully, one or two of the trips will fit your interests and budgets, or that you can work with an operator to craft an itinerary. Also check  VoyageTrek Travel, which has received accolades for its trips to Israel.

I have an opportunity to travel to Salvador Brazil. Is there any tourism there? What is the best time of year to travel there, and how much should I expect to pay in airfare? Thank you for your advice!

We had a story on Salvador da Bahia last year -- it sounds lovely. Check out the Frommer's "When to Go" info on travel to Brazil. 

The lowest fare I'm seeing in the next few months is $1,150, which doesn't seem that bad too me. But since you have a conference, you might not have as much flexibility. Around $1,500 seems to be fairly typical looking at other dates -- I guess if you can get something l0wer than that, go for it.

I saw the question about E-Readers, and I thought to ask about smaller tablets under 10" like the I-pad and some of the android tablets. Are they also treated like the Kindle or are they treated like a laptop? Thanks

TSA says iPads can be left in your bag.

We'll be going to Revel in June. I've been looking online - they have so much to offer. If we are there 2 nights, what restaurants should we focus on?

Tim says:

Not all the restaurants were open when I visited in April, so I can't give you a full accounting of the eateries there. But if I were to spend my own money, I'd visit Jose Garces's Amada, a very good tapas restaurant that has some of the best views of the water. If you're in between pulls at the slots, I'd go with Garces's Distrito Cantina, a fun, tasty, food truck-themed concept that serves two corn-tortilla tacos (single-ply alas) for $10 or less. It's the best deal at Revel. For sheer fun and great beer/wine, I'd head straight for the Mussel Bar. You almost forget you're inside a casino at the Mussel Bar.

On the flip side, I have to say that I didn't care for the much-hyped burger at Village Whiskey. It was a thick patty of absolutely tasteless ground beef: The server will almost demand that you smother it in various toppings, and I would take he or she up on that. Otherwise, the burger is a giant wad of chewy meat. At least in my experience.

Don't miss breakfast at the O Dining Room, either. The morning options are fairly standard-issue, but their execution is flawless, which is what you would expect from Michel Richard and his team. 

My daughter and I are traveling back to DC from Berlin in October. To get a reasonable fare, we have a layover in Dublin from 11pm to 11am. We'd love to catch an early breakfast in Dublin, but do not know if this is doable. It would be lovely to get out of the airport and see a bit of Dublin, but do not want to risk missing our flight. Any ideas would be most appreciated. Thank you!

A 12-hour layover should give you plenty of time to get out of the airport and see the town. The bigger problem is  that your layover is overnight, so how much would you really be able to see in the wee hours? Maybe you could just take a taxi ride around the city, then stop somewhere for breakfast before heading back to the airport. Be sure to leave yourself at least a couple of hours to get back and get through security so you don't miss your flights. Here's Andrea's layover story from last year to give you more insights.

I grew up in Central PA and have to have teaberry ice cream when I visit. It's pink and tastes like wintergreen. Most other local treats can either be shipped or found at specialty shops, but perishables are the real treats to seek out when traveling.

I always return to New Mexico at least once a year for New Mexican-style Mexican food with red and green chiles. There is no other cuisine like it in the world; and you just cannot get it outside New Mexico. Posole (my aunt's is the best), green chile stew, carne adovada, chile rellenos, guacamole, sopapillas with local honey...

We don't target a specific food when designing a trip, but we're always on the look out for something good. Perhaps the biggest surprise in terms of overall quality of food was our trip to Turkey 8 years ago. We expected a lot of the usual middle-eastern fare -- humus, fresh olives and eggplant. Tasty, but not great. What we didn't expect were the fabulous mezes made with the most flavorful and fresh ingredients. My wife and I still fondly recall the various fresh tomato and cucumber salads. And we're still trying to duplicate them in our own kitchen, even through our basic ingredients don't seem to measure up. Maybe they have different varieties of tomatoes or something.

Good morning, My husband will be attending a conference in Kyoto this fall and I'm considering joining him on the trip. Part of me is nervous about sight-seeing by myself during the day. The rest of me is saying just go- getting lost or forgetting which phrase to say or ordering the wrong dish in a restaurant is not the end of the world. Talk me into it :)

Kyoto is incredibly safe and most people are very willing to help a lost American, even if neither speaks the language. (Pointing and gesturing is the universal language.) Bring a guidebook (with the names of places also written in Japanese), so you can show the cab driver where you want to go. If you are very concerned, hire a local guide for the day or join a group tour. Your hotel concierge should have some suggestions. Or sign up for a tour with Chris Rowthorn, who writes the Lonely Plant guidebooks for the city and leads outings.

I live in New England and follow the travel section it! Is there a website where the Navigator columns are archived? Thank you.

You can access the most recent Navigator columns here. Even older ones can be found here.

I discovered poutine by accident on my first trip to Quebec. We stopped at a diner in a small town, where the waitress did not speak English. We ordered hamburgers because we recognized the name :-) and I ordered poutine. For the rest of our trip, I got it every chance I could, and even bought some of the cheese curds at a farmer's market to bring home.

I never did try it when I was there last year! Next time.

Dallas: Old Dallas Heritage Village--19th century houses. We loved it. At the state fair grounds are musuems--women's history. Although a chain--liked Pappadeaux's so much we went there twice as we could share an entree without a problem. Take a jacket or sweater as Dallas seems to like super cold AC--even escalators rails were cold.

My great-aunt and I are planning a weekend trip to Philadelphia to see the Barnes. She'll get on Amtrak in DC, I'll board in Baltimore, and we'll spend one night somewhere either near the train station or near the art museums. Any suggestions for (moderate) hotels, restaurants, or other sights?

I really liked the Latham Hotel. Newly renovated and close to Rittenhouse Square.

my grandmother used to make something we called 'pastel' or 'burekas' (she was from greece). They are kind of like spanikopita - but a different crust. She used to make them for me and my cousin without the spinach. Whenever she came to stay with us, she'd make tons of them for our freezer, and when we'd go visit *her* she'd always have them in her freezer - and give us some to bring home. Well, there's a synagogue here (atlanta) with many people from the same area she was from. They have a festival every year - and make the burekas with different kinds of fillings. I ALWAYS go there to get some that once a year (I can make them too - but it's VERY labor intensive). So, I spoke with my grandmother once about it and how the ones they made that they called spinach had a lot of spinach and just a little cheese (the opposite of hers) and she told me: that's just stupid. :) I miss my grandmother. But still go to get my burekas every year at the synagogue.

for an 8:40 flight, leave no later than 4. Baltimore to the beltway = 40 minutes, Beltway to IAD = 1 hour, 3 hours before the flight

I went on a trip to Costa Rica through Overseas Adventure Travel in 2004 and enjoyed it. The guide was great and fun. We were never in big crowds of tourists, which was nice. The trip was with my grandmother (the age group for OAT seems to lean towards older people/seniors; I was 18). She has been on other trips with OAT and I haven't heard of any issues from her.

My wife and I have specifically travelled to Maine for the lobster. Each night we have to eat lobster in a different form.

Love that idea. Last time I went to Maine, I met my goal of eating a lobster roll at a different restaurant/stand every day.

Definitely go to the Stockyards, eat at any of the Risky's or Hunt Brothers (H3) and go shopping at Maverick's or Ryon's.

Where -- exactly -- in Charlottesville should we go on a day trip? We tried just driving there recently but couldn't find the "right" places with restaurants, shops, etc. and didn't even stop.

Oh, dear! I can see how you might just skirt around the heart of the city if you're on those bypasses that don't take you into town. The downtown mall is just awesome. Then there's also U.Va. and the area around it (a.ka. the Corner). That's just a start.

I generally ignore the rave reviews of any hotel because, really, who does that? I also discount rants without facts. I find thoughtfully detailed reviews - negative or positive - are generally more reliable. Clusters of good reviews surrounding the not so good (like the one described by the OP) are also suspect. Online reputation companies advertise on the radio; it is a huge business.

That's a good practice. Also, never make a booking decision based on reviews from a single site. Check multiple sources. A hotel may be able to "manage" its reputation on TripAdvisor and Yelp, but it can't control everything everyone says.

Will be taking our honeymoon in November... thinking of the Caribbean because we don't want a long flight (Hawaii,, etc). We are considering St. John or St. Lucia right now... any suggestions between these two, or should we consider something else as well? We want to relax on the beach/pool, but do a few activities (snorkeling, boat rides, etc).

If you want to be surrounded by other people on their honeymoon, go to St. Lucia. I was there last year with my family, and sometimes I felt like the odd man out because everyone else seemed to be honeymooning. St. John has really excellent diving and snorkeling, and if you go at the right time of the year, it's very quiet. I don't think you can go wrong with either choice. And you're right, Hawaii is a haul. If you go, I'd stay at least two weeks. It takes almost as long to get used to the time difference.

I've been asked to take both out. Now i just take them out no matter what. It doesn't take any more time, and saves me from having to (incorrectly) have my bags rechecked.

Oh, interesting. The standard line is you can leave them in, but I suppose there's some discretion allowed on the part of the agents.

The Nasher museum and sculpture garden in Dallas are lovely, and be sure to catch a glimpse of the new bridge downtown designed by Calatrava. Go to Chuys for Tex-Mex. And be sure to enjoy the friendliness of the people, which is undoubtedly the thing I miss most about Texas.

We have a wedding on September 2 in New Cannan, CT. Should we drive (google maps says 6 hours) or fly? Its labor day weekend and I don't want to sit in 12 hours of traffic but 6 I could manage. Thanks!

Yeah, I might be a little afraid of driving that corridor Labor Day weekend. Check into airfares, but also consider the train. Go to New York and then take Metro North to New Canaan.

OMG. I AGREE!!! I dont know what sort of "crab" was in my crabcake benedict in San Diego, but I can tell you for sure it wasn't Maryland blue. The crab is hands down the best!!!

We went four years ago, for the first week. We did a day session and a night session. If you're an American Express cardholder, you can get your tickets one week before they go on sale to the general public. For the day session hit the outer courts first. Have lunch, then head to Armstrong for the rest of the afternoon.

Two items come to mind - I go out of my way in Acapulco to have the breakfast buffet at the Hotel Tortuga - its on the Costera across from the bungee jump. They have tamales in banana leaves instead of corn husks; and the lady behind the counter takes great pride in them - my favorite is the pork. I'm not a fan of the hotel itself, which is popular with huge, loud mexican familes - but I love the home-style food. The other item is a nostalgic taste from my hometown - the Reuben Sandwich from Shapiro's Deli in Indianapolis. It's a 100 year old institution, but they just opened an outpost in the airport so I always have good reason to arrive at least 90 minutes before my flight!

We are headed down to Mathews, Virginia for a bike ride this Saturday (the "Tour de Chesapeake" ) and I was looking for suggestions on what we should or must see on Virginia's western Chesapeake, while headed down or coming back. Or, a preferred waterside restaurant in the neighborhood?

If you can zip over to Gloucester, I'd recommend it. It's a nice little town. Or try Tappahannock. Maybe stop at Westmoreland Berry Farm on the way back for some in-season fruit. They had some gorgeous strawberries at the farmers market this weekend.

I am thinking of going to Cuzco around Thanksgiving. Do you know how the weather is at that time of year?

November is the start of rainy season and temperatures are on average fairly mild, around 69 degrees.

When I visit my hometown of LA, I eat, in this order, good Mexican food, a double double from In-n-Out, a good breakfast by the beach (not brunch!), a french dip sandwich from the original - Phillips - and then, more Mexican food.

This might be obvious, but be sure you can live with 200-250 days per year of rain before you move.

Why not Shepherdstown/Harpers Ferry?

Why not indeed?

Don't visit in June, July or August. Last summer we were complementing our waitress on the lovely weather. She rolled her eyes and said that she doesn't see the sun from October to May. DC might get 4 inches of rain a month from 4 storms. They get four inches a rain spread out all 30 days of the month. One 30 day long drizzle. She was not happy.

I went on my honeymoon two years ago to a resort near Jaco and was able to get plenty of sun! We just had rain for 30-45 minutes each afternoon. It was just enough to take the edge off of the humidity and find a good place on a covered patio for a cocktail! Enjoy!

I'm currently undergoing chemo treatments for breast cancer. I have a saline implant on one side, with a port for injecting saline into the implant, and my chemo port on the other side. I'm not anticipating travelling by air anytime soon, but I'm curious about what I would have to do/expect to get through security.

Here's TSA's page on traveling with medical equipment and conditions.

The Dallas Arboretum is a lovely place to visit - right now they have a really neat exhibition.  For ambience and views, and pretty decent food, check out the 560 restaurant in Reunion Tower. Other neat things to see - Dallas World Aquarium, the Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas Museum of Art.

My wife and I travelled to Malaysia last year, and spent 5 days in Penang trying to get some culture, but mainly we just ate hawker stand food off the streetcorners and had a wonderful time. Roti canai, char keoy tiaw, laksa, oyster omelets, it's all there, and beats any you can find here. I have a feeling we'll be heading back in a year or two.

I've had so many negative experiences with United, I wanted to write about a positive experience I had last week. I was flying back to DCA from O'Hare on a 4pm flight. I got through security at around 2:45 and decided to go to the gate where the 3pm flight was boarding to see if I could get on. The guy working said it was totally full and they weren't adding to the standby list, so I said ok and went to my gate, two gates down. Around 10 minutes later, he came running over and said he was looking for me and he had a seat on the flight and to come with him. They had already closed the door, but he got me on in the last seat. I was so amazed and impressed he came looking for me like he did. I don't have status on United and hadn't even given my name so he had no idea who I was. I didn't get a chance to get his name, but sent a note through United's website yesterday expressing my thanks and hoping he'll get recognized.

A great story, thanks.

Good morning crew! I'm leaving for a week-long trip to France on Friday (yay!) and plan to use Paris as a home base while taking a few day trips to nearby cities. Our current plan is to just purchase tickets at the station before each trip. Would it be more cost effective to buy tickets ahead of time? When does it make sense to buy a rail pass? Thanks for the help!

It might depend a bit on where you plan to go, and how often.  A three-day rail pass for France costs $416 for two people. On the other hand, a ticket to Chartres is $21 per person one way, meaning that you'd spend about $85 on that one trip.  So if you're planning trips farther afield that would cost more, it may be worth it. Also saves you the hassle of buying tickets each time. Chatters, what do you think?

Well, fresh REAL extra-sour San Francisco sourdough French bread -- on which I grew up in the SF Bay Area! -- is still only available in the SF Bay Area, so I like to have it with meals (or as a snack) when I go there to visit relatives and friends.

I think I've gotten pretty good at discerning the "truth" from reviews on TripAdvisor and Yelp (discount the best and worst, read all with a grain of salt, figure out which negatives would matter to me and which wouldn't, and develop a sense for which negative reviewers had unrealistic expectations or treated staff badly). But another source I would recommend, from what I've see (and no, I have no connection to it) is, which has its own staff visit hotel visit and do detailed write-ups with lots of undoctored photos. Based on the places I've visited myself, I've found their information to be spot-on.

Agree on Oyster. We wrote about them the other year. They are real pros.

i was in portland, OR last week. Bright and sunny all week. I returned to Atlanta - it rained for the first 36 hours. The sun isn't even peaking out now.

I am somewhat of an expert on travel from DC area to US Open Tennis Championships, I've been there 11 of the last 12 years! If the questioner would like to connect by email, please let me know!

How generous! Send us an e-mail to U.S. Open traveler, you do the same!

I think you answered this a few weeks ago but the season is getting closer and of course I can't find the response in the archives....Where do I go to book the Dewey bus? Thanks!

Are you talking about DC2NY?

Well, that does it for us today. We appreciate you stopping by. I'm definitely ready for lunch after all your food stories, but I think the prize is going to have to go to the person who hit the barbecue trail in Texas. You made me laugh with your comment about the "meat sweats." Send your name and mailing address to

We'll be back next week for more, and we hope you will be too. Until then, happy travels.

In This Chat
Andrea Sachs
Andrea Sachs is a staff writer for Travel.
Zofia Smardz
Zofia Smardz is the acting editor of Travel.
Christopher Elliott
Christopher Elliott writes The Navigator column, clearing the way through the fog of consumer travel issues. He is also National Geographic Traveler magazine's reader advocate.
Becky Krystal
Becky Krystal is Travel's editorial aide.
Jane Touzalin
Jane Touzalin is acting deputy Travel editor.
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