When in Edinburgh: Scotch Tasting at The Balmoral Hotel

I subscribe to the “When in Rome…” approach to travel. Why go to Memphis if you’re not going to eat BBQ and sample late night blues, right? So, when planning a trip to Scotland, I included an Edinburgh scotch tasting in my itinerary. Guided by an expert whisky ambassador, I learned about Scotland’s national drink at The Balmoral Hotel.

Table set for an Edinburgh scotch tasting.

Ready for action at The Balmoral Hotel. Photo: The Open Suitcase.

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Visiting Grand Rapids: Beer, Art, Beer, Repeat

Tell people you’re visiting Grand Rapids and you’re likely to get a confused look. This city of 200,000, located in Western Michigan, is still an under the radar travel destination, but it won’t be for long. It’s easy to navigate, features a premier art destination, and has a lively craft beer scene. It’s easy to sample during a quick weekend getaway, but, once you get a taste, you’ll want to return for a second helping.

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The dominant sculpture in the garden is American Horse by Nina Akamu. Photo: Cathy Bennett Kopf/The Open Suitcase LLC

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Going on a Treasure Hunt

Picture the ladies’ shoe department in Nordstrom on a busy Saturday afternoon. There’s a woman cooing, as she plucks pump after pump from the display rack, thrusting them into the face of the glummest-looking fellow in the world, her husband, who’s lolling on a leather settee, braiding peds.

I am that man. Continue reading

Florida for Grownups – St. Pete Part II

Last week I introduced you to St. Pete (Florida For Grownups-Part I), a sophisticated city destination for grownups seeking to explore a Disney-alternative in Florida.  Here are some of the great things to do while you’re there.

P1000660The best way to orient yourself is to take an evening walking tour with Ghost Tours.com.  Leaving from the Hooker Tea Company (this is a PG-13 trip after all) the tour winds along Beach Drive, the centerpiece of the city’s revitalization efforts. You’ll pass rumored haunts, like the Vinoy, several private residences and the Ponce De Leon. According to our guide a former Rockette burned to death in the hotel. And Ceviche, its top-notch tapas restaurant, was used as a morgue during World War II.  This may be your first clue that you’re not in Orlando anymore. Continue reading

High Times on the High Line

Tsq_green_chairs_jehWhen NYC does something wrong, it does it really wrong. For example, the pedestrian plaza in Times Square. Closing midtown blocks to vehicular traffic so tourists can gawk at the neon signs must have seemed like a good idea to someone. I’m sure visitors enjoy it but New Yorkers regard the area as they would a toxic waste site. Continue reading