Category Archives

14 Articles

Travel

How to Go Out and Have Fun without Going Broke

Posted by Frederick Parker on

Going to five bars in one night and buying drinks at each one can create a deficit in your wallet faster than people move from dancing to making out to sex in Berghain. Remember, every act done in order to save money is justifiable by the excuse, “Whatever- I’m a student, or, “Whatever – I have to work for my money,” or, “Whatever- my boyfriend/girlfriend/parents works hard for the money I spend.”

If money grew on trees perhaps humans would be more environmentally cautious and preservational about forests, which are all too rapidly dwindling. As the second contingency is dependent on a faulty first suggestion, it is really not going to help anyone. However, these tips about saving money when you go to party at night just might help you out a little bit.

The best resource for creating inebriation without causing irreparable monetary damage is home purchased alcohol. What better way to prepare for a night out then gathering all of your friends, each equipped with a nice bottle of wine, and playing drinking games for an hour before heading out for the night? This can be continued walking towards your destination or riding the S-Bahn, in fact right up until you reach the point of entry to your destination. Another option is to share a bottle and shots of Jaeger or some other drink of choice beforehand. Not only will you have such a buzz that you will not want to drink much more (hopefully,) but if you try that might just make you sick, which would also probably save some cash. Proceed to buy a drink in whatever place you visit, unless you already pay an entry fee in which case drinks are not necessitated, and you will have done your bank account a favor.

If you are bar or club hopping and need a pick-me-up between locations, stop at a local all-night Imbiss or train station kiosk for a little refreshment. More than you would pay in a grocery store for your drink, but far less than you would at a bar or club. Small enough bottles are sold that you should be able to find the right amount of liquid which you desire to imbibe. If you budget yourself, then you will force yourself into wiser money spending habits.

If this does not pan out, you can always resort to asking your bartender to go heavy on the alcohol. There is also the classic flirt-with-the-bartender-for-free-drinks ploy but that is never a guarantee, and indeed in busy places is scarcely possible, but is a classic nevertheless. This should be saved as a last resort, and can be substituted with flirting with another person in attendance at said soiree in order to lure them into buying you a drink. Your level of shamelessness is commensurate with your chances of receiving free drinks.

One of life’s pleasures is going out, but one of them is not going broke.

 

Travel

The Philadelphia Zoo: Fun for the Whole Family

Posted by Frederick Parker on

The Philadelphia zoo was the first ever zoo in America, and what better way to spend a summer day then to walk around and see the great animals it has to offer. With over 1,300 hundred animals, 15 habitats and 45 acres the Philadelphia Zoo has something for everyone. The zoo is two miles from downtown and there is parking on site. You can also take the bus or trolley there.

At the zoo you can see lions, tigers, and cheetahs. An animal you don't want to miss is the snow leopard, perhaps the most beautiful cat in existence. The zoo also has giraffes, rhinos and hippos, as well as the very rare white rhino. The hippos, Unna and Cindy, are always fun to watch.

The zoo has some great primates like lemurs, spider monkeys and gibbons. But there are two you must see. The orangutan and Western lowland gorilla. Orangutans are absolutely amazing to watch swing from tree to tree, and with the addition of the baby Batu they are a must see.

However the most special animal in the zoo are the Western lowland gorillas. The Philadelphia Zoo has an area where the gorillas can sit right on the other side of a large plexi-glass window. When the gorillas are there you are literally 2 inches away from one of the most powerful and imposing animals in the world. You can look them right in the eyes and hear them breathing.

The zoo also is home to reptiles such as alligators, crocodiles, and Galapagos turtles. There are also snakes including king cobras, pythons, and anacondas. The king cobras are amazing, see here for a videos of the zoo's pair.

Besides animals the zoo has all kinds of activities. You can ride camels and ponies, rent swan boats, ride a carousal and take up a hot air balloon to get a bird's eye view of the city, don't worry its tethered. There is also a train for the kids and face painting.

Admission to the zoo is $18 for adults, $15 for children, and free for kids under 2. They can be purchased here and printed on line. A trip to the zoo zoo is certainly one that should not be missed, and one that you will not soon forget.

 

Travel

Swing Around Fun Town Lots of Fun

Posted by Frederick Parker on
Swing Around Fun Town Lots of Fun

See the source image

Swing Around Fun Town is a great place to take your kids to and enjoy a relaxing Saturday afternoon. There is an endless amount of things to do and have fun at Swing Around Fun Town.

First they have go karts which you can ride. They have the fastest and longest track in the St. Louis Area with the new models. The go kart track is very large and it takes you under and over bridges. They have single seat go karts, and double seat go karts for moms and dads with children. The track is located outside and open during the winter but the temperature must reach 50 degrees for them to be in operation. The go karts are lots of fun and well safety equipted. And then if you have a child who is 3-8 years old then they can enjoy themselves on the kiddie karts. The kiddie karts is made just for the children themselves to drive without a parent present in the kart. The track and karts are specially designed for younger children with safety in mind and well monitored.

And then outside there is also Bumper Boats you can enjoy yourselves on. With a giant bumper boat pond you there is enough room to enjoy yourself. And in the warm months there is also a large fountain in the middle of the pond which will shoot out water over an person pushed under it. Bumper boats are great for every member of the family.

If you are into playing miniture golf then this is the place for you . Swing Around Fun Town has three professionally designed courses in which you can challenge your self on. There is never a wait to golf because of having three golf courses.

Now if you like to swing away in batting cages then they also have them for you as well. The batting cages have both baseballs and softballs so boys and girls can practice. The ball speeds range from 35-80 mph, you pick your setting and just swing away and have fun. The batting cages are located outside and in order for them to be in operation it must reach 50 degrees outside.

Now inside they also have lots of fun things to do as well. You can enjoy yourself with the brand new addition of Bowlingo bowling lanes. And for little children they have a soft playground tunnels and slides fun and safe for children even during the cold winter months. And then you could enjoy yourself by playing jump shot basketball. A whole new way to play basketball with a trampoline and totally safe and lots of fun. And then they have a large arcade area with 80 games for you to enjoy. Swing Around Fun Town is a great place to enjoy yourself and have lots of fun.

 

Travel

Big Fun on a Small Budget – Hartford, CT

Posted by Frederick Parker on
Big Fun on a Small Budget – Hartford, CT

See the source image

I travel in the U.S. quite a lot and when I travel, it’s on the cheap. There aren’t a lot of free things to do, but you might be surprised to find that a lot of fun things are not real pricey. I did find Hartford to be a very easy city to get around in (and I’ve been lost in a lot of cities in the world). We ran a map quest of the places we wanted to visit before leaving home. The streets were well marked and the highway on and off ramps were easy to find. Here are my suggestions of things to do on the cheap.

Bushnell Park is the biggest park in the city, in fact among the oldest in the country. Brownstone Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch was dedicated in 1886. There is a fancy, old (1914) carousel located here ($1 per ride). This is a good picnic stop if you need to slow things down a bit.

Elizabeth Park is the 3rd largest rose garden in the country (15,000 flowers). Try to see this in the spring or early summer.

Riverfront Park has shopping and boats and a nice walkway.

Hartford Star – free downtown shuttle

Connecticut Fire Museum and Connecticut Trolley Museum are in East Windsor just a few miles from the airport. $7 covers both places including a 3 mile ride on a trolley car.

**New England Air Museum – 10:00 – 5:00 – $9.00 (AAA discount) (open every day) is an absolute for airplane buffs. It is located on the north end of Bradley Airport about 7 miles down the perimeter road. The museum occupies 3 buildings of about 75,000 sq ft plus outside displays. There are sections on Military history and aircraft, women in aviation, the Tuskegee Airmen, the history of civilian aircraft and a lot of interactive displays. Allow between 1 ½ and 3 hours for this one.

***Mark Twain House – 9:30 – 5:30 – $16.00 is (as far as I’m concerned) a must see for anyone at all interested in history, architecture, or literature. There is a large museum with an introductory film and a room full of displays. I learned a lot of interesting facts about Mark Twain (Samuel Clemmons). He was born in Hannibal, MO, and that is where the Huck Finn and Mark Twain stories took place, but this house in Hartford is where he wrote those and several other stories. The mansion itself is pretty amazing from an architectural view point (especially considering the time period).

**Harriett Beecher Stowe Center- 9:30 – 4:30 – $8.00 is right next door to Mark Twain’s house. (These are downtown, just off I84). Interestingly, they were neighbors and knew each other. If you’re doing the one and have extra time, you should do Harriett’s place, but of the two, this one rates slightly lower on my list of must dos. Harriett’s whole family was very influential in their time. She wrote “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” and according to President Lincoln, was the “little lady who started this Great War”.

If you have more than one day you really should drive to:

***Mystic Seaport – 9 – 5, every day – $16.00. This was about an hour and 15 minute drive south east from Hartford. The town of Mystic actually has a ton of stuff to do: Nature Center, Aquarium, Arboretum, Essex Steam Train and River Boat, and lots of lighthouses. We, however, did only the Seaport Whaling Village and that took us several hours. There is a preservation shipyard where you can watch ships being rebuilt and a village where you can watch craftsmen at work. You can go onboard several ships, and just imagine the conditions endured while sailing the oceans in these craft. They have some excellent museums with rotating special exhibits including “Black Hands, Blue Seas” about black sailors. The wind off the water was wicked cold and there was a lot of walking (or in my case a lot of wheelchair riding – they rent wheelchairs and are very accessible). The guides were very informative and the village was very interesting. There is an excellent seafood restaurant also or you can buy snacks at the souvenir shop. Of course, while we were near the coast, we had to take a little drive t check out a local beach which was very nice (and free I might add).

Hartford is only one of many great destinations that can be explored and enjoyed on a beer budget. As always, research your hotels ahead of time and call the hotel direct for reservations. If it’s a slow time of year, I can often save $20 per night this way. Fill up on your free continental breakfast at the hotel and buy snacks at a local grocery store. Dinner for us is always a local specialty – in this case New England clam chowder and seafood. Enjoy Hartford’s attractions whether your interests are in history, aviation, literature, or just good travel with new things to experience.

 

Travel

Shopping and Having Fun in Galveston, Texas

Posted by Frederick Parker on

Galveston, Texas, offers 32 miles of beautiful beaches where adults as well as children of all ages may build sand castles, picnic, wade in the Gulf of Mexico, fish, surf, or swim. A large portion of the beach is topped by a seawall that was built to protect the town from hurricane damage. The seawall and adjacent boulevard are great places to bike, walk, roller skate and cruise. It is certainly the attraction of the fun in the sun that brings multitudes of families back to Galveston year after year, but Galveston also has a lot to offer those looking for cultural, shopping, and dining experiences.

Galveston was home to one of the United States foremost architects, Nicholas Clayton. He designed many building in Galveston, including the Bishop’s Palace that was home to Bishop Bryne of the diocese of Galveston, before the official diocesan office was moved to Houston and the Galveston-Houston diocese was born. The Bishop’s Palace was originally built as a private residence in 1886 at a cost of $250,000. The architecture is still ranked among the top 100 most historic homes in the United States and daily tours are held for a nominal fee. The home offers a stunning look at stained glass windows, beautifully painted ceilings, and a glimpse into the historic past of Galveston.

Another home available for touring are the 1938 Michel B. Menard home, which is the oldest home still standing in Galveston. It is of Greek Revival and filled with old south charm. The 1839 Samuel May Williams home is a combination of a New England sea captain’s home and a creole plantation. This home was actually built in New England and hauled to Galveston on a barge. The 1859 Ashton Villa is an Italianate mansion also on daily tour where a look into the lifestyle of a prominent Victorian family is available. Many original furnishings are intact and a portion of the mansion is available for rental for weddings, receptions, parties, and the like. The 1895 Moody Mansion and Museum is another historical Galveston home that was built by W. L. Moody, Jr., who was a financial pioneer in Galveston. Rounding out a tour of Galveston homes and buildings would surely be the Rosenberg library, which opened in 1904. This is the oldest public library in Texas and features several art and history galleries, a rare book room, a tremendous collection of Lalique. The Rosenberg library was established as a gift to the people of Galveston by Henry Rosenberg.

Another wonderful piece of architecture exists in the 1921 City National Bank Building that is now home of the Galveston County Historical Museum. This museum features a Thomas Edison footage of the 1900 Storm and many rotating exhibits from quilts to Native American exhibits. Available for touring from this same era is the 1930s passenger deport of the Santa Fe railroad. The building is rented out to offices but the main floor has been preserved as a museum featuring an old waiting room, model train layout, railroad china exhibits, and original Pullman sleepers, cabooses, diner and mail cars open for inspection. It is a wonderful look into the railroad history of the country.

More current museums include the Mardi Gras Museum and the Lone Star Flight Museum. Both of these entities feature dramatic glimpses of history pertinent to Galveston and the United States. The Flight Museum is also available for for private receptions and features programs especially designed for children.

Other great places to visit include the Moody Gardens situated on 240 lush acres on Galveston’s West End. This entity has a 10 story glass pyramid which houses the rain-forest pyramid, a ride film attraction, a private white sand beach, the Colonel Paddle-wheeler boat for touring the bayou, a 3-D theater, a beautiful hotel, and lush, tropical gardens. Each Christmas a beautiful festival of lights is held on the Moody Gardens grounds, which also include hiking trails. There is a beautiful hotel, convention center, and several restaurants featuring fine cuisine to hamburgers.

If eating is your thing, Galveston offers terrific Italian food at Di Bella’s, a little place in mid-town that is favored by locals. Luigi’s on the Strand is also a great place to wine and dine, as is Rudy and Paco’s next door to the 1894 Grand Opera House. Take in one of the fabulous shows at the Grand then slip over to Rudy and Paco’s for a really fine meal and great ambiance. The Grand features performers from Willie Nelson, the Oak Ridge Boys, and Jerry Jeff Walker to the Nutcracker Ballet. There isn’t a bad seat in the house and some seats are just terrific with original boxes still available. Again, a great glimpse into the past.

Also remember, that Galveston has two of the finest seafood restaurants known – Gaido’s and Clary’s. One is on the Seawall and the other is on the West End of the Island. Other great choices for dining are Landry’s, the Steakhouse, and fun spot with the kids, the Rainforest Cafe, which also features a lagoon ride that is lots of fun. Just 20 minutes from Galveston is the Kemah Boardwalk featuring several top name restaurants, a hotel, rides for the kids and the young at heart, fireworks, a fast boat ride, and live music. An entire day can be spent at the Boardwalk. Bring a folding chair for the outdoor concerts.

In 1877 the tall ship, Elissa, was built and put into service. It is now a museum that provides an audiovisual presentation in the adjacent museum and a computerized immigration database for those entering the United States through the Port of Galveston. The Elissa and museum are located at Pier 21, just a short walk from the historic Strand which is a national landmark. The Strand features one beautifully restored Victorian style building after another with many providing restaurants, unique shops, souvenir shops, clothing stores, and all manner of entertainment. The Strand is also a center of attraction for the Lone Star Motorcycle rally, Mardi Gras, and a unique Christmas festival entitled Dickens on the Strand. During this street festival, the Strand is turned into a Victorian shopping and entertainment paradise with many vendors and participants dressed in period costume.

Also in close proximity to the Strand is the Pier 21 Theater which features the film “the Great Storm”, about one of the nations’ worst natural disaster, a hurricane that hit Galveston in 1900, killing more than 10,000. After the storm, the entire city was elevated and sand pumped in as a new foundation and raising the city above sea level. It was a tremendous undertaking and even the historic St. Patrick’s Church was raised during this time. Just a short trip over the Pelican Island Causeway will take any visitor to Pelican Island and the Seawolf Park that offers a pavilion, fishing, a magnificent view of the ship channel and the opportunity to explore the USS Cavalla and the USS Stewart. Pelican Island is also home to the Texas A&M; Maritime University.

Besides TAMU, Galveston also offers a medical school, a nursing school, a junior college, and a school of allied health sciences. Galveston actually has the oldest medical school in Texas, with the original medical school building, “Old Red”, still standing. Old Red is another product of Nicolas Clayton, and is a tremendous tribute to the history of medicine. The huge rotunda once used for surgeries is still used as a classroom.

Likewise, the NOAA/Fisheries Sea Turtle facility in lid-town Galveston is a constant place of learning and research. The laboratory opened in 1978 does extensive research into the Kemp’s Ridley turtle and the Loggerhead sea turtle.

Galveston is a great place to live and to visit. If you want to swim, fish, surf, sail, visit museums, have a big party during Mardi Gras, or just eat some great food and stroll down the boulevard, Galveston is the place to do it. This article mentions only some of the available entertainment options. Look online at for more information.