There are great cities that happen to be national capitals. Cities like London and Paris are such places. Great food, great culture, great sites – a good time is had by all. Then there are national capitals that want to be great cities. Washington and Ottawa happen to fall into this category. Neither has the vibe/density/scene that London and Paris have, but they are trying. (And this is where my mother-in-law would add the phrase, “bless their hearts.”)
I happen to be in Ottawa a few weeks back and had some kick ass meals. First up, Murray Street – a charcuterie and wine bar. They bring much respect to meats – all of them. Anywhere that has an offal of the day as well as a whole pig head on the menu gets my vote any day of the week. It is a small place with a great feel. Highly recommend.
Next up – The Whalesbone Oyster House. Go. There. Now. Imagine a tiny restaurant embedded into an old bike shop. Forget open kitchen, the hot stations are actually in the seating area and the night we were there the a/c wasn’t working – forcing the staff into tank tops and shorts. Whalesbone is, as the name implies, an oyster and fish joint and it takes its ingredients seriously. If the amazing fish, oysters, and drinks doesn’t do it for you, then try this – when was the last time you went to a bar or restaurant where the music was provided by records? Two huge stacks of records behind the bar, from which Ray Charles, Abba, and Sam & Dave were pulled when we were there. The staff has been friends since high school and you can feel their love for the place in everything they do. Again – go there now! Continue reading "On Capitals and Eating: A short trip report from Ottawa"...
My wife and I just got back from a long weekend trip with friends. We’ve been to the greater Playa del Carmen area of Mexico a bunch of times. We figured that this would be an easy trip. And for the most part it was.
Hotel Basico, as always, was awesome. The rooftop bar and pool is great. The food is amazing. I’m not sure how they do it, but the fried fish nuggets are amazing.
Playa, sadly, is slowly being turned into a more rustic Cancun. It became noticeable last time we went and this time it was all too obvious. More stumbling drunk idiots and more chain stores. This is not a good trend.
For a change of pace, we headed down to Tulum to check things out there. Overall, we liked the area. There is, however, a fundamental problem with area’s value proposition. Most of the hotels are on the water and are rustic. We had some very serene moments just watching the waves roll in. But that being said, the price per night for one of these hotels seems to average about $170. That just is too high a shower whose pressure resembles a Windex bottle and a room that lacks A/C. At $100 or less, the value prop works, but I just have a hard time paying for what I know to be a glorified back packer flophouse. (And in case you think I am being a snob, I have spent many a night in low budget hotels around the world and loved them. Much love to Archie’s House.) Continue reading "Our travel luck has run out"...
As some of you know, my wife and I were recently in Thailand. We were, in fact, there while People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD) closed down the airports in Bangkok. Once that happen, we (a long with 349,998 people) were pretty screwed getting back home. The following is a rough account of what we went through to get home. It is a bit long, but enjoy it anyway.
By way of an introduction, the following is a map of roughly where we were and where we went.
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Tuesday, November 25th – The Fun Begins
PAD takes over the main airport in Bangkok, Suvarnabhumi, as well the older Don Meung airport. They have a bit of a throw-down with the cabbies at the airport. This involves golf clubs, sticks, and whatever else everyone get their hands on. They demand to know when the Prime Minister is returning to Thailand, which turns out to be Wednesday. I figure that the PM will come back to Thailand and work things out with PAD. Oh so wrong was I.
I cannot begin to imagine what it was like for the people at the airport waiting to fly out. Truly terrifying. But then again, PAD people were dressed rather festively and they did set up a bunch of food stalls. It might have been fun… for about 5 seconds.
Wednesday, November 26th – What, me worry?
So the Thai Prime Minister returns to Thailand, but instead of flying back to Bangkok where the welcome committee was stationed, he flew to an air force base near Chiang Mai. We had seen this base a week prior. The PM states he will not dissolve the government and he called on PAD to leave the airports. Stop or I’ll say stop again!
Hoping that this would resolve itself, we did nothing to prepare for what was coming. Continue reading "How we got out of Thailand"...
I’ll wait to write a longer trip report until I get back to the states. We are currently on the island of Lanta and having a great time, all things considered. We were supposed to leave for home tonight, but Bangkok’s airport has not reopened and there are no signs it will do so for a while.
We are going to make our way to Singapore by way of Langkawi and then KL. Hopefully, we’ll he home by the 1st.
Safe, sound and a little stressed are we. United hasn’t been the best travel partner for us this trip, but the hotel, Layana, has been a second home.
Finally, to those of you with family in Bangkok or Mumbai I hope they are safe and out if harms way.
I have a lot to be thankful for today as I am sure you have as well.
[Some friends from Approva where in town from Pune, India. They had read my trip report on our company trip to the beach in Dapoli and found it hilarious. They implored me to post it up on tuesday night.]
Day 1 – A Good Start
After Shamshu (or Uncle as he is known in the office) picked me up at oh-dark-thirty, we headed to the office. There in watching everyone try and get organized, I introduced him to the expression “herding cats.” I knew I was in for a good time when I noticed dried vomit festooned on the side of the bus. Shortly after, Shamshu asked, with a slight malevolent grin, “Do you get the motion sickness?” I do, Shamshu, I do indeed, but I had prepared for such a situation by doping up appropriately.
So off we went, about 2 hours later than we were supposed to. And by off we went I mean to say, we started fighting through traffic in Pune. Both buses stopped a while later to pick up more people. (There were two buses. Hare Krishna, seen above, and The Short Bus, which will be taking a prominent role in a moment.) In the crew that we picked up at the second included Shishir, Kaustubh, and Aniruddha. After much back and forth, it was decided that the drinkers and smokers would take The Short Bus and everyone else would ride with Krishna. So off we went… again.
Queue Bollywood sound track at earsplitting decibels. After an hour of that I did make out the distinct sound of a beer being opened. Okay, I’m thinking, this is a good old fashion road trip. Kingfisher in hand I sat back and enjoyed the drive out of Pune and into the hills. Stopping at a Tata Power Generation control reservoir I got a good sense of the landscape reminded me of Southern California.
On the way back to the bus I saw something hanging from the open engine compartment. Shamshu called it lemon chili and it was, supposedly, for good luck. Keep that good luck charm in mind. Continue reading "What happens in Dapoli stays in Dapoli: A Trip Report"...