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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The British are Coming! And They’re Getting a Fast Pass!

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Coming soon to an airport near you: speedy U.S. customs clearance for UK citizens. (Photo: Shutterstock/Andrey_Popov)

Over 5 million United Kingdom citizens cross the pond each year and, starting on December 3, it’ll be much easier for them to clear U.S. Customs. After successful vetting by their own government, UK citizens can apply for the Global Entry program, administered by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. Continue reading

Caz-Mania

Brigadoon_(french_poster)I’ve been searching for Brigadoon since falling in love with the film (and Gene Kelly) when I was a wee one. It’s an entertaining musical about a mysterious Scottish village that appears for one day every 100 years and then vanishes in the mist. Gene hooks up with Cyd Charisse and considers chucking his glamorous NYC life and pal Van Johnson to spend his life in kilts. To date, Cazenovia is the closest I’ve gotten to finding Brigadoon. I forged the two together years ago after dining in the local tartan-wrapped Brae Loch Inn. Located on the eastern fringe of New York’s Finger Lakes, this picturesque village has a charming mix of Gothic, Greek Revival and Adirondack-style residences and wonderful spots to sip and shop. And, best of all, it won’t disappear when you turn your back. Continue reading

So Long. It’s Been Good to Know Yuh.

This post was originally intended as a reminder that my giveaway for the 3-piece packing cube set ends on Wednesday.

But then I read that Google, after acquiring the Frommer’s series of travel guides seven months ago, is reportedly halting production of the printed books. Although I wholeheartedly embrace every internet tool available to enable and enrich my travel experience, I am sad to see the beginning of the end of packable travel guide books.

Credit: Shutterstock

Credit: Shutterstock

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6 Reasons Why I Love Airports

“Almost all U.S. airports are utterly barren of things to do. The dirty little lunch counters are always choked with permanent sitters staring at their indigestible food. . . The traveler consigned to hours of tedious waiting can only clear a spot on the floor and sit on his baggage and, while oversmoking, drearily contemplate his sins.”

Airport conditions haven’t changed much since this article was published in Fortune in 1946. Except for the smoking. Now smokers are confined to those glass rooms, a human terrarium. I always feel a bit sorry for them, especially when kids stare and point, like they’re caged zoo animals. Continue reading