happy holidays 2: lost in new york

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Remember Home Alone 2?  That’s a holiday classic that never gets old.

New York is my favorite US city when it comes to the holidays, and really for lots of people — that’s why it’s featured so heavily in many movies around this season, Elf, Miracle on 34th Street, Scrooged.  From the Rockefeller skaters to the Rockettes, this city comes alive during the most wonderful time of the year.  Even though it’s colder than Jack Frost, there’s something very magical about rockin’ around this enchanting city while it snows.  Happy Hanukah and here’s to dreaming of a white Christmas!

Tis the season!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

As we kick off the busiest travel days of the year, it can be a real stressful time for both travel and family.  I get stressed out and I’m around my extended family all year round!  But they’re family, what can you do?  My sister is having me pick her up in the pit of hell LAX on Wednesday night.  I cannot imagine a worse case scenario…and if we didn’t share DNA I would straight up charge a hella exorbitant fee.  Friendship and family lines get drawn at LAX.

I digress…I did my traveling in the past two weeks together to pre-Friendsgiving it up, so to speak, and on these long plane rides, I was ruminating about life and conversations I had with my pals (as I tend to do), so here are some thoughts from my motivational speaking corner.

Life is too short to be unhappy.  It is unpredictable, especially in the world we live in –nothing is guaranteed, so pursue what brings you joy.  And if you already have it (many of us do), don’t push it away, make time for it.  We all deserve that chance for ourselves, and how do we get it?  First by trusting ourselves.  We all need basic things like food, water, clothing, shelter, but what I think a lot of us really need is belief and confidence in ourselves.  I always say 75% confidence, 20% luck and 5% skill.  If you don’t believe in yourself, you don’t have much of anything because that inner confidence is typically the driver of determination, hope, and state of mind.  In order to best serve others, you have to first best serve yourself — it is the oxygen mask dictum.

Work isn’t everything.  Repeat that.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s great– you need work to get money and provide for yourself and your family.  But, your job that you’ve put so much of yourself into, the thing you’ve sacrificed so much for — it’s not the only thing you have going for you.  Don’t take the extra shift, spend it with your people, they need you more.

Note the words: basic needs.  Learning to be apathetic about materialism helps.  You need things, but do you need things?  Marie Kondo your life.

Knowing your worth is huge.  You have much more to offer than you think, and if you are unsure, ask someone you trust and they’ll lay it out for you (you can ask me, I am typically that person in the friendship).  And if they don’t listen or they aren’t there, or if only they say stuff that you want to hear, then they’re probably not your friend.  It’s better to have truth men than yes men, and yes, the truth hurts.  No pain, no gain.

At the same time, surrounding yourselves with people who are only like minded is a recipe for insulation.  Not always a good thing.  Read more, do things that may make you a little uncomfortable, always keep your eyes open and learn.  That’s why traveling is so important — it makes things a little less abstract, a little more relatable and in reach.  It makes you a more well-rounded and patient individual.

Be strong, be calm and walk away if needed.  This year, I left my comfortable job to go out on my own.  It was the best decision I have ever made (granted, it wasn’t a difficult decision).  There was definitely something better at the end of the tunnel, and for every trial and tribulation in life that comes your way, just know that you’ll come out on the other side.   I am thankful to the people I have around me that have supported me and spurred me to find the best situation for myself.  Happy Thanksgiving and because I yammered more platitudes than you’d see at Home Goods, here’s a pic of Jerry’s World from the sky.  They’re hosting the Redskins/Cowboys match up on Turkey Day, so post up and be with your loved ones!

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know before you go: DXB

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Appearing like a glittering jewel oasis in the middle of the desert, arriving into Dubai and being saluted by the sea of skyscrapers and hotels makes you feel like you’ve stepped into another world.  A paradise that is far more fancy and luxurious than anything you could imagine…except no need to pinch yourself, you’ve made it, you’re here.

DXB is one of the world’s preeminent destinations, so it’s no wonder that its airport is one of the top three busiest in the world.  The numbers for passenger traffic are astounding when you take into account that there are only 2 runways.  Being the largest traffic stop for Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 helps.  It is the hub for Emirates (if you live in the USA, that’s probably how you’ve arrived — from a very long flight out of LAX, JFK, SFO, IAH, ORD), flyDubai, and Qantas.

The MASSIVE airport is split into three Terminals.  Terminal 1 is for international flights and is connected to a separate Concourse D, and 2 is for travel around the Middle East region (“domestic flights” as it were), and Terminal 3 is the main one, further divided into Concourses A, B, and C.   Emirates operates out of Concourse A.

Terminal 3 is the second largest building by floor area in the entire world.  Think about that for a second.  Yeah, there’s multiple 5 star hotels, more shopping than most massive luxury malls and several FLOORS of executive lounges.  In fact, there is a secondary mini-terminal near Terminal 2 that is exclusively for people richer than you and me.

As one of the top cargo ports in the world, there’s even a terminal specifically for flowers.  FLOWERS.  This is how you know exactly how extra they are at this airport, and I’m here for it.

Remember: ✈️ = dub down to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = dub step

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (there’s metro, ground, taxi — just be sure to check the times if you’re traveling during Ramadan)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (it is massive, but there’s a people mover and shuttles –luckily most connections are long bc it takes more than 30 minutes per shuttle ride in some cases)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (Your typical International fast food brands — Starbucks, McDonald’s, Burger King, Shake Shack, Krispy Kreme, KFC, Charley’s Steaks?, Pinkberry, Subway, Wolfgang Puck, and a lot of Indian and Asian fare)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️  (obviously very clean, and +100 for FREE showers at Terminal 3, C gates)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (This is what makes it worth it.  Gucci, Hermes, Ferragamo, Chanel, Cartier are some of the high end.  Many spas, executive lounges — literally the Emirates lounge has been my travel goal for years– 5 star hotels, showers, prayer rooms, gardens, gym, conference rooms).  Shout out to the baggage claim, too.  What usually looks like a bottom of a trashcan in most airports looks like the foyer of a palace here, mad props to DXB.

Pittsburgh strong

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It completely broke my heart to see the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday.  It’s just so sad and the vitriol so unnecessary, and I don’t have any more words to describe it other than that. The Pittsburgh community is one of the most down home, genuine cities with the best people and the actions of a hateful individual will not change that.

The city is strong like its Steelers, neighborly like one of its most famous former residents, Fred Rogers, and a horrible act of violence and hate will not change that.  Pittsburgh strong.

Let’s channel a little Mr. Rogers and be good neighbors to all our friends in Pittsburgh.

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weekender in LA: happy lebron day

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Happy Lebron-starts-for-the-Lakers Day everyone!  A momentous day, hopefully an auspicious one.  There’s been a drought not only in Southern California’s water reserves, but in winning seasons for our Showtime squad and that just will not do. We were obviously spoiled by the Kobe era.

And if that weren’t enough, the Dodgers play the Brewers tomorrow to win the NL pennant race!  Because everyone loves October baseball…let’s continue the series of NLCS/ALCS cities with LA! We goin’ back to Cali, Cali, Cali…

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3 days in Boston

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Boston has had a pretty good past few days with the Pats beating my Chiefs on SNF and the Sox defeating the Astros on Sunday.  But today is a new day, and we’ll see if Boston can continue its streak against Houston.  Starting with Beantown, here’s the first in the series of the ALCS/NLCS cities.

One if by land, two if by sea…

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miss saigon: weekend in HCM City

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Vietnam is one of the most popular places in the world to travel, probably because it has everything: culture, art, delicious food, natural beauty, miles upon miles of beaches, history, welcoming people, hospitality and above all else, affordability.  You can live like a king on a moderate budget, every dollar goes super far here, while not sacrificing quality.

When traveling to Vietnam, you’re going to want to traverse the entire country, as there are unique landscapes, disparate culture and people throughout.  Even though it’s a smallish country, citizens from each region are very proud of their own distinct communities, from food to style and everything in between.  Just don’t get into a debate about who invented pho…there’s no winning with that one (it was the northerners ;).

The south of Vietnam is a great place to start.  Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is the country’s largest city by population.  The history of this city is rich, from its origin after Vietnamese conquered Khmer area, to the capital of French colonial rule to the then doomed epicenter of the Republic of Vietnam.  Because of the timeline of all sorts of different influences, the city is a mishmash of architectural styles.

Above all else, this is probably the epicenter of the future of Vietnam, with skyscrapers sprouting up everywhere and a population that is projected to be near 15 million in the next few years.  Not as cramped as Hanoi, this area is certainly still very crowded with motorbikes and people teeming into the streets every which way…and it’s ever changing.

blink and you’ll miss saigon

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know before you go: ATL

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Welcome to Atlanta where the players play…it’s that time of year again, when droves of Otolaryngologists flock upon one lucky city for their annual society meeting.  This year, it’s HOTLANTA, so watch out, many  mild mannered surgeons will be heading your way.

The world’s busiest airport, Atlanta Hartfield-Jackson, is like a city on its own.  Luckily there’s a train that connects the terminals because no one would ever make their connections due to the vast nature of the complex.  Speaking from experience x multiple times.

There’s MARTA and SkyTrain transport that can get you to the airport from the city, which is convenient as it is about 10 miles or ~30 minutes in Atlanta traffic.

There are five (count em, 5! runways that serve two terminals, which are where you check in and retrieve your baggage.  The Domestic terminal is further split into a North and South.  South houses Delta, which has its hub at ATL.  North has all other domestic carriers: American, Frontier, JetBlue, Alaska, United, Spirit, Southwest. In between the terminals lay the 209 gates in the seven concourses A-F and T.  T is connected to the Domestic terminal, F is connected to the International side.

You can fly anywhere from this airport.  I’ve gone to Central America, Africa, Europe.  Literally it is a microcosm of the world, as is its dining options (albeit Americanified).  The shopping could be better, but the international terminal does have a bunch of duty free shops.

Remember: ✈️ = stomp the yard to ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ = ATL

Convenience to the city: ✈️✈️✈️ (MARTA, SkyTrain available to domestic terminals)

Ease of navigating through terminals: ✈️✈️✈️ (there’s a train, but be prepared to walk)

Dining: ✈️✈️✈️✈️✈️ (every type of fast food you can imagine, all major chains including Burger King, McDonald’s, Chick Fil-A.  There’s Panda Express, PF Chang’s and Peiwei.  Are you thinkin’ Arby’s? Cuz you can because there’s one in there.  There’s a lot of southern fare, too, if you want low country food at high country price)

Bathrooms: ✈️✈️✈️✈️  (depends on the concourse, but clean and plentiful)

Charging stations/wifi: ✈️✈️✈️ (free wifi available, good amount of charging)

Amenities: ✈️✈️✈️  (not a ton of high end shops, although there’s a Sean John store? American, Delta and United have lounges, there are Xpress Spas and art)

 

24 hours in Vienna

Austria is one of those fly under the radar countries.  Like, in the way that it’s surprising you don’t hear about how amazing it is all the time.  Because you should.  Because it truly is.

Especially it’s capital and largest city, Vienna or Wien (they speak German here).  Not Ween, that’s an alt-rock band.  This is a European city: there’s sprawling boulevards, a backdrop of rolling hills and mountainous terrain, miles of shoreline along the Danube river, awe-inspiring art, stunning Roman and Baroque architecture, amazing food, interesting if not dubious history (umm home of Freud, Hitler and Lenin?), innovation and culture, and…it’s the sound city of music.

plan your travel soon because vienna waits for you

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36 hours in phoenix & scottsdale

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Phoenix is hot.

Literally and figuratively.   Phoenix has been one America’s fastest growing cities over the years, and it seemingly hosts every major sporting event possible (BCS bowl games, Super Bowl, Final Four, etc) because of its world class stadiums and ample hotel facilities.  No doubt it’s in part by having the tony suburb of Scottsdale and college towns of Tempe and Glendale nearby adding to its metropolitan area mix.

The capital of Arizona, Phoenix is your perfect desert getaway for a weekend, that’s why so many snowbirds head south to Phoenix, especially in the winter.  And for the rest of us: there’s spas, shopping, golf and fabulous chain restaurants.  Jk there’s obviously great local stuff including a rich art and cultural scene (so many murals!).

phoenix is rising

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