What was your first passport stamp?
That would have to be from Great Britain. I got my passport so I could go to London for the summer as part of BUNAC (British Universities, North American Colleges) exchange program. You had to have a passport to be traded to another country.
Is there a tourist trap that you actually love?
Is there anything to hate about the Eiffel Tower? Okay, I've never been there in the heat of the summer, waiting in line to go up an elevator. But then perhaps that is a lesson to loving tourist traps, circumvent the trap to enjoy it off season.
First I was going to say “any,” but then I left this question and when I came back to it I had my answer. The Ritz Carlton Battery Park, NYC. We stayed there one quick getaway weekend in the winter one year after the World Trade Centers were destroyed. It is at the tip of the island Manhattan. Not much was open down there. But they offered a good deal and when we arrived looking fairly haggard (rough flight, no noise canceling headphones), Lyle inquired about a complimentary room upgrade. You know, they can always say no, but they don’t offer if you don’t ask. We were given an upgrade to a “Liberty Suite” of which there was one on each floor. It was the front corner of the hotel which had a view of the Statue of Liberty from every window. That combined with the fact that it was bigger than our house and had a separate service entrance to the kitchen, made it my Barbie Dream Home for the weekend. Did I mention it had heated toilet seats (there were two bathrooms).
Wow, so many to choose from... In New Orleans it’s Louisiana Bistro. In Paris, it’s Aux Trois Petits Cochons. In New York, it’s wherever my friends take me that they love. In Los Angeles, I love a little Thai place called Galanga (on Santa Monica near Gardner). In Vancouver, BC it’s Parkside. Okay, I confess I LOVE FOOD.
Carry-on or check?
While I was never an exclusive carry-on person, I used to do quite well. Now I give up. I carry a token esteem of what I may need on the other end (small toiletries, change of undies, clean T-shirt, ipod and food – DO NOT TRUST THE AIRLINE TO FEED YOU) and check the rest. Travel these days is a gauntlet of hell that you must navigate to find your destination of Shangri-La.
Beach or mountains?
Beach. Seriously. BEACH.
What's one unusual item you always travel with?
If I am headed to Europe, I have a Pope John-Paul II 3-D coin purse that holds all my Euros in my bag. Otherwise, I’ve taken to carrying my own cashmere blanket. If forced to lighten my carry on, it becomes either my über-chic pashmina wrapped around my neck or my granny shawl thrown over my shoulders.
Favorite airport pastime?
Shop for crap I don’t’ need. Magazine, mini-license plate with my name or someone else’s name, local magnet, chic-lit book, food... Rarely do I purchase.
First class next to a crying baby or coach in total silence?
First Class next to crybaby. They should be passing out those Bose noise canceling headphones any minute now...
However, if the question was regarding sitting next to the man on the left of the photo... that would be a much harder call to make...
If you were a boutique hotel, which would you be?
Uh, I think I may already be a boutique hotel. Themed room, plush towels, snooty service in the morning. Reservations highly recommended.
When I travel, I allow myself to ______:
Complain. Unfairly compare. Eat it all. Give up sleep. Wait a minute, I do that at home as well.
What travel-related job would you least like to have?
Airplane cleaning crew.
When your final day arrives, in which hotel would you like to die?
Does anyone really want to pass away in a hotel? Since I’ll be dead, I guess it won’t matter to me. But if I die in a hotel I hope it’s a hotel with deep pockets and it’s the hotel’s fault through gross negligence. Then my family can sue the hotel and appreciate that I had the good sense to stay somewhere so expensive.