Tuesday, April 22, 2014

9 Tips for Packing Light

Given the postponement of my TV segment until May 8, some of my loyal fans may be chomping at the bit to receive my pithy packing tips. Here are the best of them, designed for the lady who wants to carry on without rolling her clothing or shipping ahead. Gentlemen, some of these tips may apply to you as well. But face it--it’s far easier for  you to get away with limited clothing options than it is for those of us of the fairer sex.

Prime Packing Tips
1. Pick a color scheme and stick to it. Many people choose black and white. I find that quite blah. Not to mention that once you spill something on those white pants, they are down for the count. Opt for basics in blue, chocolate brown, or green to stand out from the crowd. Having a color plan allows you to limit purses and shoes (see below).

2. Do the mix and match thing. If your skirts and pants sport patterns, bring solid tops. Make sure you can wear different tops with different bottoms to give the illusion of tripling the size of your wardrobe.

3. Thank goodness for accessories.  They can truly change the look of an outfit. Pop a belt over that flowing dress and you have a whole new silhouette. Those who are handy with scarves can find a million ways to change things up with one small piece of fabric.

4.  Jackets and sweaters can also alter a look. Just add a top layer to an outfit you have been wearing all day and voila, you have a new outfit. Plus, the new layer will serve to cover any stains, man-made or natural, that you may have acquired on your blouse during the day.

5. Since all of your clothing mixes and matches, you only need one purse.
I do not recommend choosing
clogs as one of your
three pairs of shoes.

6.  Likewise, you will be able to stick to my famous Three Shoe Rule. Now, I am not saying you can only bring three shoes. But I am limiting you to three pairs of shoes--one for dress (heels); one for fashionable walking (comfy loafers or sandals or flat boots, depending on the season); and one (sneakers) for those workouts I know you do on the road..

7.  Pack lightweight, low-wrinkle, hand-washable clothing.

8.  Use compression bags. Packing carry-on doesn't have to suck when you use these, because by sucking the air from the bag with a mini-vac, you can basically shrink-wrap your clothing--reducing bulk by half. Travelon Space Mates are also airtight, leak-proof, and cheap (2 for $15).

9. Wear your heaviest clothing (parkas, boots) on board.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Tips for Packing Light

Today I appeared on NewsChannel 8's Let's Talk Live to provide the skinny of putting your suitcase on a diet. The clip will soon be posted.  

In the meantime, people often wonder how I can pack so light. True, I was unable to fit my gear into a carry-on for the 25-day trek from Beijing to Moscow. But I still had less baggage than my fellow passengers. And I  headed back to the USA lighter than I started (suitcase--3 pounds lighter; body-10 pounds lighter) largely because 1/4 of my suitcase was reserved outbound for gluten-free snacks.

Here's the pre-trip packing list:

3 pairs of pants

2 pairs of shorts

3 casual dresses
What do you wear to meet a bear?

1 pair of sandals

2 pairs of loafers

1 pair of heels

6 T-shirts

2 long-sleeve tops

2 sweaters

1 windbreaker

1 leather jacket

1 silk robe (not worn during trip--robes supplied on train and at hotels)

1 bathing suit (not worn)

Socks, underwear

2 pairs of comfy yoga pants

I also brought a shoebox full of hotel-sized amenities like shampoo, body wash and conditioner, most of which I didn't need. I also packed reading material, an umbrella, sunglasses, glasses, drugs and potions, a neck pillow, a butt supporter, mini-headphones, and a few notebooks....plus iPad,cameras, batteries, chargers, adaptors, credit cards, an ATM card, and my passport. All were packed in a 26" Biaggi foldable suitcase, a small backpack, and a purse.

Yes, I did break my three-pairs-of-shoes rule, largely due to a two-hour meeting in Moscow which required heels. That bothered me. But the fact that I wore through everything else, and arrived back home with a big sack of dirty clothing, proved another packing job well done.


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

9 Things to Love About Chicago

Only 9 things? Well, of course, it is simply impossible to narrow down a list to 9 things. Thus, I will focus on places I was able to revisit during my recent stay in Chicago.  For more ideas. go to www.choosechicago.com.

First, though, some hot-off-the-presses (do they still have those?) news from the Windy City.

1. Virgin's first hotel is opening in Chicago in the fall. The 250-room property will be located at 203 N. Wabash, near the top of the Loop.

2. The Art Institute of Chicago will celebrate painter Rene Magritte starting  June 24. The retrospective will canvas the Belgian Surrealist's formative years.

3. The Museum of Contemporary Art will open David Bowie Is in September. The blockbuster show pays homage to the 40-year career of the pioneering singer/performance artist. Costumes, concert set designs and album art will be some of the memorabilia on display.

Now, on to my favorite things about Chicago:

Picasso at Daley Plaza
1. The iconic architecture

2. The public art

3. Lake Michigan

A Sunday on La Grande Jatte
by Georges Seurat @
The Art Institute

4. The Magnificent Mile

5. The Museum Campus and the Museum of
                                            Science and Industry

6. The Art Institute of Chicago

7. The El

8. Millennium Park: Celebrating its 10th anniversary this year

Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean

 9. Wrigley Field: Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year.


Friday, April 4, 2014

Traveling To Turkey: Key Information

For those of you who heard my April 3 report on Turkey, here is
additional information. For those of you who didn't listen in, you have a second chance. Go to www.aroundtheworldradio.com/aarchives.jsp.
You'll find my segment 25 minutes into the April 3 program.
Or you can see the TV version and see pictures.

Here is the tip list.

First, you need to get there. I recommend Turkish Airlines, which
currently has five U.S. gateways. They are Los Angeles, Chicago, Washington, DC, New York and Houston. The latter city was just added to the roster this month. All flights land non-stop in Istanbul. Expect more announcements of U.S. hubs to come.

In case you didn't know it, Turkish Airlines flies to more countries than any airline in the world. It's part of the Star Alliance. And, because it regularly offers special deals, the airline's prices to international destinations are often the best available. So, even if you aren't going to Turkey, but are going long-haul, check them out.

Americans need a visa to enter Turkey. Don't worry--it's hassle-free. When you get to the Istanbul airport, you will be directed to a visa payment booth. There rarely are lines, and you get through quickly, as it's a simple cash transaction. That noted, be sure to bring $20 U.S. Turkish lira and credit cards are not accepted.

If you plan to visit Istanbul, check out this official website. It's packed with sightseeing suggestions, and advice on where to stay and how to get around.

If you are interested in exploring Cappadocia and points beyond (Ephesus, Pamukkale, Izmir), visit www.goturkey.com.

 If you are interested in experiencing a hammam, or a Turkish bath, here is the skinny on that cultural experience.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Naked Spas in Turkey

My German naked spa experience opened me to the pleasures of relaxing in the buff. Therefore, when the opportunity to do a naked spa in Turkey came my way, I couldn't resist. What I discovered, however, was that the Turkish hammam is a totally different experience in the altogether, so to speak.

Now, mind you, when going to these naked spas, I am simply doing my duty as your diligent travel reporter. The Turkish hammam, after all, is a cultural and historic experience. Taking a public bath is a Turkish tradition dating back more than 1000 years. So, if you want to soak up the history, you must do as the Romans did. And the Greeks. And the Ottomans. Because they all bathed here.

Going to a hammam can be somewhat intimidating for a first-timer, especially one not well-versed in the Turkish language. Here's a blow-by-blow.

Step #1: Find a hammam. Please do not make the mistake of knocking on someone's door and asking them if you can take a Turkish bath.

Step #2: Tell the hammam attendant the services you desire. You can select from a DIY bath; a bath with an attendant; or a bath with an attendant plus a massage. I opted for the latter.

Step #3: You will be given a little packet that contains a locker key, a loofah mitt, and a pair of panties. Undress, put on the panties, and cover yourself with the tiny dish towel (peshtamel) provided.

Step #4: Go to the bath area. At the Cemberlitas Hammam, this area was a large octagonal room, with a similarly-shaped marbled slab in the middle. Flop yourself down upon the gobektasi (literally, belly stone) as the warm air opens the pores. After a 15-minute light steam, a bikini-clad, slightly out-of-shape spa attendant (a natir) comes over and throws cool water over you. Next, she lathers you up, and, if you are lucky, she scrubs you silly (sadly, my natir was not a scrubber). Then, she throws warm water over you, shampoos you, and exfoliates you with the aforementioned little loofah mitt. After that, you are free to stay on the slab, or you can wander into one of the side alcoves equipped with a kuna, a marble basin with water taps. There, you can fill a tas (bowl) with water and pour it on yourself. Or you can opt to linger in the hot tub, which, at Cemberlitas, was rather tepid. The cost for the process, sans massage, was a mere $15 (plus tip). If you go to a non-touristy hammam, you'll likely find more authenticity for a lower price.
After the bath and massage
Turkish hammams are generally not co-ed, so the naked spa nature of things is not all that titillating, However, I can report that men do have a slightly different experience than women do. The male attendants, called tollaks, are likely to be burly and hairy. And when they scrub you down, they scour you (according to my sources). Apparently, the massage some provide can border on the sadistic, which, frankly, sounds better to me than the lukewarm treatment I received. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Images of Istanbul

Whirling dervishes, Turkish coffee, historic mosques, hand-woven carpets, a cruise on the Bosphorus--that's life in Istanbul.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

A Turkish Rorschach Test

What do you see in the following images? Please comment below.
All were taken in the Cappadocia region of Turkey.

I see a camel.

I see a little family.
I see me.

Hmmm and Me.

Hmmm Again.

Two Gents A'Walkin'.

A Grand Lady with a Tiny Head.