Insider Travel Guide to St. Lucia

Published March 2012 on Concierge.com

Like other honeymoon destinations, the default mode on St. Lucia is “liming” (relaxing). While it’s tempting to spend all your time squirreled away in your resort sipping a rum cocktail, enjoying the turquoise view, and working on your tan, there are endless spoils for those prepared to explore the island. Those Piton mountains were meant to be climbed. Up north, the Castries market is a lively experience, while down south in the former French port of Soufrière you’ll get a taste of Caribbean–Creole culture. Want a real down-to-earth spa treatment? Try mud-bathing in the steamy Sulfur Springs that were once in the interior’s largest volcano. Or you can immerse yourself in St. Lucia colonial history by hiking up the hills of Pigeon Island to explore the ruins of an 18th-century British naval fort…

Invisible Passengers: Where Germs Breed on Planes

Published December 2010 on Budget Travel

Holiday travelers are filling up flights, and flu season is in full swing, so it’s more important than ever to protect yourself against illness. We dug deep to identify the major germ zones on planes (and tips to avoid them). No, you’re not likely to contract meningitis, but better safe than sorry, right?…

Insider Travel Guide to Brooklyn Nightlife

Published December 2010 on Concierge.com

Don’t let the fogged-glass windows and locked accordion gate in front of this Williamsburg speakeasy fool you. Slide around to the side entrance and you’ll find the Hotel Delmano’s leather booths packed with neighborhood hipsters and in-the-know Manhattanites supping potent cocktails with names like Devil’s Garden. Roughly translated from the Spanish “of hands,” Delmano is furnished with pieces handcrafted by its artist owners, from the curved marble bar to the custom-built tables and cut-stone tiles in the bathroom. The overall aesthetic? Rive Gauche meets 1950s Havana. Grab a wooden stool at the bar for a front-row view of the black-aproned bartenders who craft their cocktails with the patience of an apothecary. Arrive early in the evening if you want a seat on Friday or Saturday night—the lounge is exclusively first-come, first-serve…

New Green Wave of Eco Hotels

Published August 2010 on AOL Travel

Imagine a hotel that breathes, that generates power and cools itself using the wind, that absorbs the sunlight for energy like a plant, that collects and recycles rainwater from underground pools, and is covered with a landscaped roof sloping out from the hillside. Welcome to the new world of eco hotel design, where sustainability and green innovation are the current buzzwords. As architects experiment with new technologies and materials that will provide for a greener future, so, too, is a renewed eco-consciousness spurring enterprising hoteliers to build lodgings that are not only energy-efficient and environmentally friendly, but inspired by and adaptable to their natural habitats…

To Go or Not to Go? Controversial Destinations

Published June 2010 on AOL Travel

There’s always a dilemma about traveling to an endangered destination. Whether it’s the threat of global climate change, commercial enterprise or sightseer wear and tear, your conscience might stop you from buying your ticket. But for those who decide to fulfill their dream of experiencing a natural wonder like the Antarctic or the remnants of an ancient civilization like Angkor Wat, there are ways to ensure a visit will inject some much-needed cash into the local economy, as well as being low-impact…

How Airlines Are Ruining Their Own Image

Published June 2010 on AOL Travel

The airline industry’s reputation has taken enough of a hit these days: from bankruptcies to bomb scares, runway troubles to flight disruptions from volcanic ash. They should be working overtime to restore their images. But some airline ad campaigns are the public relations equivalent of a crash landing. We’ve singled out the best of the worst airline ads—some in bad taste, some a matter of poor placement, some lost in translation, and others a simple case of comedy gone terribly wrong…

Lebanon & Israel: No Simple Answer to War on the Border

Published August 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

Half a world away, the people of Qana in southern Lebanon are burying their dead: more than 50 civilians, most of them children. Israeli ground troops continue to push north to fight Hezbollah inside the border, and helicopters continue to search and destroy enemy targets.

Half a world away, the people of Haifa, Israel, near the Lebanon border, hide out in shelters listening to Hezbollah rockets explode in the streets.

Here in the Lakes Region, Tala Zilberman, a 22-year-old Israeli camp counselor at Center Day Camp in Windham, watches the news flashes every night, checks online for news reports in Hebrew and talks with family and friends in Israel.

Zilberman can’t help but think of the campers she cares for at Center Day Camp when she hears of the humanitarian crisis going on back home. When asked by the ever-inquisitive children at the camp about the war, she gives one reply, “It’s complicated…”

Mountain Division Railroad: Brief History

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

There’s a feeling of return to a time come and gone while walking the old Mountain Division Rail.

The wind rustles through the trees as rusted railroad tracks bend through the woods near Gambo Road in Windham.
A gravel trail runs alongside where bicyclers and ambitious walkers in recent times have made the five-mile stretch to Johnson Field in Standish.

As the tracks head north, traffic from nearby roads becomes faint, overtaken by this rustle and the chirp of birds not seen but heard from hidden branches as the woods envelope the trail.

Somewhere, the whistle of a ghost train carries in the breeze…

International Fraud Hits Home

Published June 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

It started with one simple check—the biggest check Rena Wynn, owner of Sebago Dock Company in Windham, writes every year: a $42,201 payment mailed to a plastics corporation in Canada for vinyl decking material. But little did Wynn know by mailing that check her company would be inadvertently drawn into an international scam to steal millions from banks and unassuming victims across the United States.

When the plastics corporation called on April 18 – three weeks after the check was mailed – to tell Wynn it just received the payment, she thought nothing of the check’s late arrival in Canada.

That is until she got the first call from her bank, Maine Bank & Trust, concerning a forged check for $40,201…

Mountain Division Railroad: Possibilities and Practicalities

Published July 2006 in Lakes Region Weekly

On any given summer day, Route 302 is clogged with traffic heading north and south through the Lakes Region.
For tourists visiting the region and commuters driving to work, there’s no way to avoid the heavy traffic and no other option but to drive the main road since all forms of alternative transportation were suspended long ago.

Since transportation officials continue to focus on road improvements and highway expansions to solve the problem of traffic congestion throughout southern Maine, reviving the state’s railroad network remains on the back burner.
But with the price of fuel sparking interest in railroad passenger service and freight, old railroads like the Mountain Division Rail are once again being looked at for the future of transportation.

The Maine Department of Transportation is currently pursuing purchase of the abandoned rail line from Route 202 in Windham to the SAPPI Fine Paper mill in Westbrook from Guilford Railroad. This is part of an ongoing effort to preserve vital rail corridors in the state for future passenger and freight use. The state already owns the rail tracks from Windham to the New Hampshire border in Fryeburg…