Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Site selection....

I’m on my way back out west after a great weekend in Boston. It’s flight 607, which is service from BOS to LAX….with a nice little stop in ORD on the way…just to keep things interesting. And yes, I’m busy preparing for that always enjoyable decent and landing into the windy city. Before I get to what I want to actually write about, first a note on a new find this weekend.

Finally made it to “Drink” this weekend. Within the first 10 minutes it promptly became my new favorite bar in Boston. And given that Boston is known for being a city with more than a few famous places to get well drunk, that’s saying something. I’ll admit that I was nearly turned off at first brush by the line creeping up the stairs. I’m not usually one to have much patience for waiting in line to stand around. However, Drink is different, and completely worth the wait.

Its less your typical Boston bar, and more like a restaurant that serves primarily alcohol. They don’t take reservations, but don’t just open the doors and fill the place to capacity. When you get in, they make sure you have space to sit, or lean at least, bring over water and glasses and proceed to serve amazing drinks at a leisurely pace. If you walk in with a craving in mind, they’ll be more than happy to oblige, but you’d be missing out on the point.

Drink doesn’t have a printed cocktail menu, but the staff are extremely well-versed in their trade and the ingredients are amazing. This is a bar that squeezes their own juice, makes their own infusions, and picks herbs in front of you to be crushed in your drink. We took advantage of the experts and asked for suggestions. Saying something like, “I’m in the mood for vodka and maybe something citrus,” might get you any number of drinks but all of them will be unique and impressive. To say they have a wide range of options would be a gross understatement, and the bartenders take it seriously. It’s not a place to go if you’re looking to drink for the sake of getting drunk, but the atmosphere is amazing and if you’re looking for an enjoyable and memorable night out I recommend it completely.

And yes, wait in the line, you won’t regret it. The one unfortunate thing, however, is that when your cab driver asks you where you’re going, and you say “to drink,” you’re going to have to back that up with an address.

So…. First maven moment over for tonight.

And here’s the next one: Websites. Yes…you heard me. As if you didn’t already have enough to keep you distracted…

My reason is that after writing about the extensive and useful world of flyertalk.com last week, I came up with several more that I know, love, and thought were worth mentioning. As the plane has now been unloaded, re-boarded, doused in sucrose, and zipped back up into the sky, it seems like a good time to finish this and pay them a quick tribute, so here I go:

1) TripAdvisor.com
This is your basic vacation, location, travel, etc site. It’s all purpose, and you can get information on hotels, resorts, restaurants, etc and usually with very candid reviews and photos. Doesn’t need too much explanation really, but it gets my vote and I’ve found the reviews to be useful.

2) Flighttrack.com
This is actually a fun little App for the iPhone that is reasonably priced (they have several models, but mine was $4.99). It does a reliable job of keeping track of your flight time, gate information, etc down to the minute. I save all my upcoming flights for the month just to keep it all organized. If you’re expecting a visitor, it’s even more fun, and will give you their flight time, as well as let you see their current altitude, speed, and a map of where the plane is as it moves across the country or around the globe.

3) Seatguru.com
Probably the best place to get advice on where to sit. The site includes detailed and color-coded seating charts by plane model, variant, and airline. It will tell you not only the dimensions and layout, but also little but important details like which seats don’t tilt, or whether they have an obscured view of the in-flight entertainment.

4) Gateguru.com
This is a fun site and app that lets you know instantly what’s in any terminal you might stumble into. It works like a giant mobile wiki for frequent fliers. Users get points for adding or reviewing amenities in the airports themselves. It’s especially useful when you need to know, say, if there’s a place to get a smoothie in DFW terminal D…or if you need to grab that before taking the terminal link to terminal B. (Note…there’s multiple options in both). The one annoyance with this app is that they reset the point totals each month for those adding to it, thereby limiting your bragging rights (I was top of the list for LAX last month and now have been relegated to the bottom of the pile again).

5) Jetsetter.com
This is my new love as far as travel sites go. Jetsetter offers its members significant discounts on stays at hotels and resorts in every corner of the globe. The discounts range from ‘nice’ to ‘its like stealing,’ and the range of locations at any given time is truly impressive. For example, within the last week there have been offerings in New York, Chicago, Santa Monica, Miami, and Paris, as well as more exotic locations such as: ski lodges in the Alps, a resort where you can have high tea in Bermuda, and adventure-based stays in the mountains of Chile, or even Easter Island. This isn’t the place to book your regular night at the Westin, the site caters to boutique or luxury properties mostly.

The catch to all this is that both space and days are limited. The sales only last a few days, and it’s first come-first served for reservations. But if you happen to be flexible in your planning, or what they’re offering matches your schedule, you might be able to book a great vacation at 30%-60% off the advertised rate. The further catch is that you must be a member to use the site, and membership is by invitation only. However, don’t let this stop you, you can “apply” on the homepage, and I don’t get the impression it’s a tall order to be accepted yet.

The site itself is beautiful. They go so far as to say that the site is “curated” rather than designed. There are beautiful pictures of the properties on auction, and of their locations put together with reviews that give useful details about the resort or hotel, and also about the area. All in all, worth a look.

Well….so far it’s been a decently smooth flight, and despite being seated behind a couple who seem to have mistaken Row 4 on this 737 for the hotel room they just checked out of, no complaints so far. And yes, if you must know, I did just tuck the chips that came with my meal into my bag for lunch tomorrow. When you’re logging 10,000 miles a month and still working overtime, it leaves precious little time for grocery shopping. Speaking of which, I’ll be grounded for the next few weeks due to work and changing apartments….but I’m sure I’ll be back at it soon enough.

Until then, safe travels.

1 comment:

  1. I love Jetsetter too. The only problem is you need an invite to join. I have a few invites to spare. Just check in here: http://www.jetsetter.com/invite/today