Tag Archives: Las Vegas

Basement Bargains Abroad

There is good news out there for international travel. The RyanAir, Southwest airline, Easy Jet model has moved into long haul. You get food of course, but instead of departing from a major hub like Boston, you fly from Providence and the price difference on a transatlantic flight to Germany can be over $1000.

No way! Yes!

And here’s the deal. If you think airlines you’ve never heard of, like Condor, are going to force British Airways or Lufthansa to change their fare structure, think again. The big guys are figuring that you don’t want to fly from an airport that’s 30 miles from where you originally wanted to fly to, even for bargain travel. And the chances are that you didn’t check the routing thoroughly enough on Expedia. If you want to fly from Boston to Frankfurt, that’s what you’re going to get, prices from Boston to Frankfurt. So you’ve got to be smart and outsmart the technology, which is going to auto-populate and drive you to the bigger hubs.

Furthermore, business class is cheap on these airlines; baggage fees are waived and the booze is still free. So drink up, enjoy the Euro and look for Condor expanding beyond Seattle, Las Vegas, Ft. Lauderdale and Baltimore. And in case you’re looking for nonstop from New York, Chicago or LA on second-tier airlines – good luck, you’re not going to find them. Happy Travels! Oh, and guess what, the secret’s out Condor is actually owned by Lufthansa.

A World Traveler Visits Las Vegas for the First-Time

I had never been to Las Vegas before. In fact, I feel that I must be the only person in my office and probably one of the few people in America and Europe that had never been to Las Vegas. As the British Tourist Council had organized a conference there, I decided to pop over, meet up with some colleagues, see the sights, and then head back after a couple of nights.

What a weird, wonderful, and strange place it is.

The ride from the airport does not take long. Out of the desert, emerges the mirage of hotels in the middle of nowhere. Not just your average hotels either –- rather iconic sites of the world hotels. Every hotel is a casino. My check-in experience was walking through the casino, watching all of these people sitting by slot machines, smoking cigarettes, and losing money.  Then there were other people who hung out on the empty card tables waiting for customers to play Blackjack, Poker, Craps, or Roulette. And still, nobody looked like they were making much, if any, money. No wonder the hotels don’t cost a lot here.

In the end, Las Vegas is like one huge shopping mall. Most people, I believe, never really leave their hotel environs. There are shops, waterfalls, fountains, restaurants, and swimming pools, but most people just wander around in the air-conditioned paradise of the interconnected walkways.

Out on the Strip, on the other hand, is another world. It is unbearably hot, there is a central four-lane highway running through and separating the hotels. And there are all of these iconic sights that you normally have to go halfway around the world to see that are jammed next door to each other.

And honestly, even though it is completely bizarre and hilarious, it is absolutely brilliant. The Eiffel Tower is stunning. The gondoliers in the canal at the Venetian are the real guys. The fountains at the Bellagio are awesome. There is a Trevi Fountain, a pyramid, and currently ready-to-roll is the largest ferris wheel in the world.

London, eat your heart out.

What is amazing about Vegas is stuff goes up really quickly. This juxtaposition of all of the new development architecture against the old, slightly seedier Vegas stuck in between. And it’s fall at the Bellagio! Trees were going up with red leaves, pumpkins, hay, and all of the accoutrements of fall, except in fall the leaves come off of the trees.

Oh well, it’s Vegas.

Ironically, the day after I left Vegas, I ended up at Red Gate Farm in Buckland, MA for a barn dinner fundraiser for all of the good work that Red Gate Farm does by bringing in kids from the inner city and teaching them about vegetables, animals, and the environment.

It was a magnificent evening. The local music director at Charlemont Academy, a nearby school, provided the music and the band. He played banjo. We left into a cold and crisp New England night where the stars were out, the moon was high, and the smell of fall was in the air.

The real deal.

No Eiffel Tower, no gondolas, and no fake trees. What a difference a day makes.

Red Gate Farm barn 091913-resized-600

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