Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Nashville Style!

A hotel rating of 3 stars conjures up images of more comfort that your
average run - of - the - mill hotel. You would probably expect a king
sized bed, enough space to not need to stack your luggage, and staff
that is competent and english speaking. You probably don't expect firm
mattresses with down pillow tops, a half dozen pillows of various
density (including down), a room the size of your average living room,
or those cool curved shower rods that give you elbow room while
lathering up your locks.

We stayed at the Hotel Preston once before, the two nights after our
. It was a wonderful experience and so we decided to go back
for a little mid year getaway. Eagerly anticipating that huge soft bed
and plethora of pillows I jumped onto their website to book a room. I
was shocked to find the room prices comparable to a Holiday Inn or
lower end Mariott!

So I did some snooping and found that the Hotel Preston only rates 3
stars. This has got to be one of Nashville's best kept lodging
secrets. Where else can you order yourself a gold fish companion to
keep you company while watching the tube, or a lava lamp to provide a
little extra atmosphere? I don't know of anywhere else?

The staff is very professional and very polite, but they lack that
obsequies attitude that so often kills southern charm and hospitality.
Conveniently located (even amidst the horrid construction) between the
airport and downtown Nashville on Briley Pkwy just off I-40 the Hotel
Preston is a breath of incredibly affordable luxury. Very few details
are left unrefined, including a bathrobe in each room along the lines
what you'd find some where twice or more as expensive.

We haven't tried the hotel restaurant yet, that will be another trip,
and we accidentally left the "Do Not Disturb" sign on the door after we
ordered the complimentary lava lamp - we didn't feel like staying up an
extra hour so it could warm up and cast its warm and bubbling glow over
us so we didn't bother calling down to have it sent back up. But I
can't wait to go back and put the rest of their amenities to the test.

reveiw submitted by Tim M. This is Tim's first of many reviews for our readers.
To submit a review please email tuesdaystraveler@gmail.com

Tuesday's Tip: Check out the hotel web site for cool packages. They are a pet friendly hotel and even offer a special pet package!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006


Dives. The word itself conjures many different images. Greg Louganis knocking his head on the diving board at the 1984 Olympics. Jacque Cousteau diving down in his little submarine looking for new sea creatures. That biker bar on route 6. But for me dive means "i'm willing to take a chance on this place because chances are they care more about the food than aesthetics."

One such place is John's in Kitty Hawk North Carolina Mile 4.5 on the beach road). While the atmosphere of many of the local restaurants is beach casual this takes it a bit further. On first glance it looks like nothing more than a run down snow cone place. It may have been painted in the last 10 years but I wouldn't put money on it. This road side stand is little more than a glorified shack. People line up at two windows to place orders and when it's ready (about 5-7 minutes the day I was there) they yell your name and you fight your way back through the crowd of people to get it.

What do you order at Johns? They are famous for a couple of things but mostly their Mahi Mahi. This is fresh Atlantic Mahi Mahi lightly breaded and fired up to perfection. This is not a filet o fish this is good stuff. Hot, moist fish that is not overpowered by the breading is what you get. The Mahi comes two different ways. In a basket (mahi bites) or as a sandwich. My wife and I split a basket and a cheeseburger and both said that next time we would opt for the fish sandwich. Several people in our party had it and it looked great. While the cheeseburger was good you don't go to the outer banks to get beef. You go to the ocean to eat things that swim in the ocean.

Save room (or even make room!) when you go for one of their famous shakes. These are as good as they get! With more combinations than your mind can fathom John's takes shakes to the next level. You want a banana, cherry chocolate chip shake? No problem! Butterscotch and fudge? No problem! These shakes are thick tasty and filling.

My advice...Mahi Sandwich a shake and split an order of french fries with whoever your with and you will have a great meal for under $10.

Where is your favorite dive? Write a review and share it with other Tuesday's Traveler readers.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

“You want massage?” the smiling lady with the husky hands asked me for the fifth time that day on the beach. I was about to kindly say no again, as I had said previously to the pineapple seller, sarong peddler, and bead hawker, when I suddenly realized how nuts this was. My fear of staggering off the beach, dripping in sarongs and pineapple juice, while the hawkers hi-fived each other, wasn’t proving rational. The sun was setting over the water, the price was certainly right (maybe $2), and after all I was on a beach in Thailand.

Does Asia seem too far away? Not only in distance, but culture and language? Maybe too difficult or dangerous to travel in? If you’ve never been, I can highly recommend Thailand as a first timer’s destination to Asia. If you arm yourself with a sense of adventure, a helpful Lonely Planet Guide, and carry bug spray along in your arsenal, you’re in for a treat. Your treat could consist of: Your own private beach bungalow for 5 dollars, elephant rides, the FOOD!, sunset beach massages (roaming hawkers included), temples to study meditation in, and exchanging giggles with curious 8 year old monks. There is no wonder that Thailand is one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations, well, mostly with Europeans anyway. You will encounter more Scandinavians than you can shake a stick at, but it’s all part of the fun of meeting fellow travelers.

Without a doubt, the biggest expense of your trip will be the airfare. After that, a ridiculously affordable adventure awaits. Cheap (under $5) and mid priced (up to $15) accommodation abounds throughout the country. Clean, simple, and comfortable. With all the delicious food to eat, things to do, and foot massages to enjoy, I threw my budget out the window, and never batted an eyelash.

Getting around Thailand by bus, train, and tuk-tuk was a breeze. If you keep your English simple and polite, and learn a few phrases in Thai, people are obliging to help. There was never a problem buying bus tickets, negotiating a tuk tuk price, or finding a room, even in high season.

I was there for about a month and was fortunate enough to explore Bangkok, Lopburi (a city crawling with monkeys!), the ancient capitals of Ayuthaya and Sukothai, Chiang Mai- a mountain city and popular base for trekking, the WWII sights of Kanchanaburi Province, and the islands of Koh Tao and Koh Samet. Even if your time is short, there is plenty to experience in and around Bangkok.

Thailand is the perfect place for a unique trip, whether you want to take cooking classes or just get lost in some temples. You’ll likely come home sporting a lovely tan and arm-loads of well-haggled over souvenirs. And you’ll still have money left in your pocket for another adventure!!!

Review submitted by Genah W. (her 2nd review for Tuesdays Traveler)

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

OBX (for those in the know)

Ahhhh...a family vacation...a week with the in laws...a 14 (yes I said 14!) hour car ride...sound like fun? Well it should. Our first trip to the Outer Banks of North Carolina was, in a word, great and will not be our last either.

One thing noticeably different about the Outer Banks is the lack of huge condo developments and big hotels. Beach house rentals are the lodging of choice here and that, I think, sets the tone for the area. Because of this the OBX is more family focused than some other beach destinations. This for us is perfect. We rented a great beach house with a view of the Atlantic out the front and a nothing but marsh out the back. Eight bedrooms with eight and half baths were more than we needed but made us feel very spoiled. Our house, like many others, came with a private pool and hot tub. Both of which got plenty of use. When we go back I can't imagine renting any other house.

As far as activities go there are of course the mandatory putt putt and go cart establishments that are required for any tourist destination. I will say that there are not as many nor are they as big and annoying as some I've seen in other parts of the country. Other activities include the Wright Brothers Museum, Jockeys Ridge State Park (with huge sand dunes which are perfect for kite flying or hang gliding if you are brave enough) and of course lighthouses.

We took a day trip from our South Nags Head location to visit the Cape Hatteras Light House and Ocracoke Island. If you find yourself in the OBX don't miss this great trip. While the Hatteras lighthouse provides great views for me it was Ocracoke that was the highlight. This is a tiny island that time could have easily forgotten were it not for the free ferry that shuttles tourists back and forth (allow plenty of time for the ferry). This is a quaint seaside village with adorable shops and good restaurants. I can recommend the Parmesan Crusted fish at Cafe Atlantic. Moist flavorful fish encrusted in a delicious parmesan crust that had me from the first bite. Also try any of there wonderful homemade desserts. The coconut cream pie was a hit with my wife and I. Cafe Atlantic was recommended to us by Brian at BW (Big Waves Big Water) Surf Shop. One of the great little shops in town. Brian is super friendly and has a great selection of flip flops if you are in the market. If you stop by tell him we sent you. Ocracoke is definatly worth the trip.

During my stay I had the opportunity to play a couple of golf courses. Goose Greek Golf Club was okay but not worth the money. At the opposite end of the spectrum is Kilmarlic. This is a gem of a course and as head pro Dan O'Boyle says any level player can enjoy it. This course is a lush as they come. You will find an open course with plenty of water and sand to make you feel not far from the beach. Unlike many of the other courses in the area this is not a links style but more of a North American traditional. At Kilmarlic you will find greens that roll true, beautiful fairways and rough that will not overly penalize you. Be sure to bring a few extra golf balls for #11 though. The island green took two from me bofore I finally got on and made a 20 footer for a double! The entire staff was helpful and the pro shop is well stocked without gouging you on price.

In my next post I will give you a couple of restaurants not be missed in the OBX and one that I wouldn't bother with.

Tuesday's Tip: Allow plenty of time to take the ferry to Ocracoke. They leave every thirty minutes but you will, more than likely, have to wait in line for at least one or two ferrys before you can get on. The wait is worth it though.