TSA and the Little Sequined Top

My wife has a sequined top that she has worn while traveling a few times. I don’t believe there is anything seriously metallic in the sequins and it has made its way thru a number of metal detectors. On a recent trip all hell seemed to break out over this top.

While we have never paid for pre-clearance we usually get pre-cleared on our boarding passes (not really sure why). Last October while passing thru the TSA Pre check my wife was directed to go thru the scanner. Feet on the marks, hands above your head and wait, something has gone wrong. It seemed the agent scanned her several times and now she is pulled aside for a thorough search. What went wrong? She was wearing that top!

After a little research we have discovered that TSA screening devices have a lot of issues with some types of women’s clothes. That splash of gold print on a T-Shirt can contain enough metal to set off the metal detector. The same with attached beads. Sequins can literally blind a scanner. Since often these things are part of the fabric, passing a wand over you cannot determine if it is the top you’re wearing or something concealed under it. Time for the pat-down.

A comment Submitted by Cindy M found on the TSA blog from Jan 2018 – When the scanners were introduced I believed they were an improvement. Now however, I see that the machines don’t spot real problems. Instead they seem to be confused by a variety of normal things such as sequins, metal, or other sorts of embellishments on clothing.

Why is it I\we have to dress for the TSA?! Actually you don’t but you can expect to be delayed and/or inconvenienced.  Especially if you ignore some simple tips that help TSA do their job efficiently. They do post a lot of information online that can help avoid these sort of issues. Unfortunately as of now sequins aren’t one of those tips.

 

 

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Cruise Port of Call Barbados

The Barbados Cruise Port is a popular cruise port of call on southern Caribbean itineraries.

General– Barbados is in the Lesser Antilles, the eastern most island in the Caribbean. It is an independent British Commonwealth nation, bounded on the east by the Atlantic Ocean and on the west by the Caribbean Sea.

Where You’re Docked– At Barbados cruise port cruise ships dock at the Bridgetown Cruise Terminal and free shuttles take passengers from the ships pier to the terminal building. There are lots of shops inside the terminal and WiFi is available but not free. A walkway into Bridgetown runs along the waterfront. The distance into town center is approximately two miles. Most stores are open during the week but close at noon on Saturday and are not open on Sunday.

Boardwalk heading into Bridgetown

Transportation– There are lots of taxies available from the Barbados cruise port  area. The fares are regulated by the government but it is still important to agree on a price before the trip. The Georgetown Bus Terminal is located two blocks outside the port area, behind Pelican Village. Exact fares must be paid for bus rides and tokens can be purchased at the bus terminal. Rental cars are available but the rates are fairly steep and you will have to pay for a Barbados tourist driving license. Driving is on the left side of the road and, once you leave the city areas, many roads do not have name signs

The coast at The Crane, Barbados

Money

The official currency is the Barbados dollar (BBD) but US dollars (not coins) are widely accepted. The current exchange rate is US $1.00 = BBD $2.00.

Nearby trips:

Bathsheba, Barbados on the Atlantic coast

There are many beautiful beaches in Barbados but the easiest one to get to is Boatyard Beach on Carlisle Bay. It is about a 20 minute walk from the terminal or an inexpensive taxi ride. A fee of $20.00 is charged to use the facilities which includes a beach chair, shared umbrella, one cocktail, WIFI and free transport back to the ship.

 

Mount Gay Rum Distillery (web site) in Brandons, St. Michaels offers tours Monday to Friday and sometimes on Saturday. The current fee is $20.00 which includes a presentation on the rum’s history and a tasting. Tickets can be booked online.

Harrison’s Cave

Harrison’s Cave (web site) in St. Thomas is a network of caves, waterfalls, lakes and streams approximately 170 feet below ground. Tours are offered daily for a fee. The area above ground is a good place to spot green monkeys.

Earthworks Pottery (web site) is located mid island in St. Thomas Parish. It is an opportunity to view local potters at work and purchase some hand made souvenirs. Closed Sunday.

Bridgetown Harbour

George Washington House in Bush Hill welcomes visitors Monday through Saturday. It is the only place outside the United States that George Washington ever visited.

Bathsheba on the rugged Atlantic coast (eastern shore) is a great place to see surfers and enjoy a lunch at one of the local restaurants.

Black Pearl Party Cruises (web site) provides a 4 hour trip on the Jolly Roger which includes a buffet lunch, swimming, snorkeling, dancing and unlimited house drinks. The price is just under $90.00 with discounts for online booking and groups.

IMPORTANT – Do not wear camouflage clothing as it is illegal in Barbados; Only smoke in designated areas; Avoid touching or standing under the big shady Manshineel Trees as they are poisonous. Most of these trees are marked in red or banded in red.

Photo Essay – The Keukenhof

It’s coming up Spring in Europe and that means it’s Keukenhof  time in Amsterdam.

For additional information about the Keukenhof click  HERE.

Open 21 March to 15 May 2019

The Keukenhof is unarguably the largest flower gardens and show in the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For the Official site click HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For additional information about visiting the Keukenhof click  HERE.

The Bristol Hotel In Buenos Aries

The Bristol at Avenue 9 de Julio
The Bristol Hotel A Great Choice For Location and Economy in Buenos Aries

On a recent trip to Antarctica we passed through Buenos Aries twice. The first was an extended visit and the second was a place to stay in transit. In both occasions we stayed at the Bristol Hotel in were very happy with the experience.

The Bristol Hotel is located in a good location near the Obelisco at Avenue 9 de Julio, Cerrito 286, C1010AAF CABA, Buenos Aries, Argentina.

The hotel lobby

When looking for a hotel and evaluating your stay afterwards there are a number of things we use to rate the hotel:

  • Location
  • Price
  • Cleanliness
  • Comfortable beds
  • Hot water
  • Helpfulness of the staff
  • Room size

After those, most considerations are esoteric and relate to luxury and exclusivity. Generally when we travel our budget is one of the major considerations. For this trip we selected the Bristol Hotel first because of its location. Also at US$50 a night and with four star on Google reviews we couldn’t resist.

A queen room

On check-in we were pleased with our choice. The location was right in the center of things, the staff was friendly and helpful and the room was well appointed and clean. The beds proved to be comfortable and there was plenty of hot water.

Two twin beds

Located near the hotel are lots of cafes and good restaurants. Only ten blocks to the northeast are a number of pedestrian walking streets with lots of interesting shops. All-in-all we were very pleased with our selection.

A Great Steak In Buenos Aries

Don’t miss great steaks at incredible prices in Buenos Aries.

A 600 gram, bone-in Ribeye…

Argentina is most famous for the tango and gaúchos and nowhere is that tradition celebrated more than in Buenos Aries. The gaúchos are South American horsemen honored for their skill, but they are above all else, cattlemen and Argentina is a country that knows something about beef.

When you visit Buenos Aries every barrio (neighborhood) has a tango dance club along with at least one truly great steak restaurant. Many restaurants use parrilla al carbón in their name, a description which simply indicates that they grill over a traditional coal fire and I can’t think of a better way to prepare a good piece of steak.

The interior was warm and comfortable

On our recent trip we stayed at a hotel only a block from the Obelisco and only a half block west was the Revire Brasas Bravas, a steak restaurant that we had located online. The address was Av. Corrientes 1124, C1043AAY CABA, Argentina. Our first visit was so fantastic we went back again a few days later.

The biggest issue with our first visit was language. Nobody spoke English and we had a lot of difficulty ordering a steak (our Google translator let us down). How do you ask for a rib eye medium rare in Spanish? It took a while but we eventually got our order placed. A one and a third pound, bone in, rib eye grilled to perfection was the result. We had also thought we were ordering two glasses of Malbec and were presented with a bottle instead. The result was one of the best steaks I’ve ever had and a great bottle of wine and the final check was under $38. At home I would have paid more for just a steak.

Desserts included!

Ordering on our second visit went much easier as the waiter spoke passable English and we enjoyed another great steak. Our recommendation, if you find yourself in Buenos Aries near the Obelisco, pay a visit to Revire Brasas Bravas! You won’t regret it.

Port of Call Montevideo, Uruguay

Making a Day in the Port of Call Montevideo, Uruguay

Tucked in between Brazil and Argentina along the South American coast is the county of Uruguay. Its capital and major port is the city of Montevideo where over half of the countries population of three million live. A frequent port on many South American cruise itineraries the city is located near where the Rio de la Plata flows into the Atlantic Ocean. It is two-hundred fifty miles down river and east of Buenos Aries.

Where You Dock

Cruise ships normally dock at the Terminal Puerto De Montevideo which sits at the tip of a peninsula which covers most of the Tres Cruces barrio. A barrio is neighbourhood or district and Tres Cruces means “three crossings”, referring to the three major transportation routes which meet in the area. The port is well developed but does not offer a terminal adjacent to the pier. However only a couple of blocks outside the port is a shopping district and public restrooms are available in the Port Market*.

Transportation

While Montevideo is a large metropolitan area,Tres Cruces is the heart of the historic city with most of the sites within walking distance. Getting outside this area usually requires a taxi. While Taxis are common they are not cheap as gasoline is expensive here. A majority of drivers only speak Spanish so be prepared with written names of your destination. Expect to pay about UYU100 for a ten minute ride. Tipping is not usual, but rounding up is common.

Getting To and From the Airport. A shuttle is available between the airport and downtown for about UYS 800/950 or US$45. A taxi should cost about UYU 1500 or US$70.

Currency

Currently a Uruguay Peso (UYU) is worth about US$0.03. Most merchants in popular tourist areas will accept Dollars and Euros and most major credit cards can be used. If using currency expect small change to be in Uruguay Pesos.

Attractions

Just outside the port is The Port Market. Outside are street stalls and local shops and inside the main pavilion is a collection of cafes, bars and restaurants. The area is particularly famous for its steak houses.

Within the Tres Cruces area are a number of attractions like:

 

  • Locks Fountain at Av. 18 de Julio
  • Ramírez Beach, a wide sand beach & popular hangout
  • Galeria SOA, Candombe pedestrian Curuguaty
  • Palacio Diaz at Av. 18 de Julio
  • Ciudadela at Av. Intendente Municipal Juan Pedro Fabini
  • Fountain Plaza Cagancha at Dr. Enrique Tarigo
  • Galería Caubarrere Convención at Restos de la muralla de la Ciudadela at Buenos Aires
  • Mausoleo de José Gervasio Artigas at Prócer de los Orientales
  • Monument at Plaza Independencia
  • The Black Gallery Arte Contemporáneo at Calle Perez Castellano
  • Palacio Santos at Av. 18 de Julio
  • Monumento a Atilio Narancio
  • Palmera de Juana de Ibarbourou at Manuel Vicente Pagola

 

 

 

Hotels Near Iguazú Falls

Hotel Saint George in Puerto Iguazú, Argentina

If your plans in the future include a visit to Iguazú Falls (if you are a traveler – it should) we would recommend staying for a night or two in the area. The falls are truly one of the natural wonders of the world. See our article on the Falls HERE.

If you are inclined toward deluxe accommodations you can’t do any better than the Gran Melia Iguazu, a five star resort located right inside the park with spectacular views of the falls and only a short drive from the airport. All the remaining accommodations are about fifteen miles away in the town of Puerto Iguazú which boasts almost a dozen four star rated hotels.

We booked our stay at the Hotel Saint George and were pleased with its location. Overall the staff was very friendly and helpful, the rooms were large, clean and well appointed. The pool patio area was attractive with a nice snack bar. Unfortunately the hot tub wasn’t operational while we were there.

The Saint George is located right in the middle of town and right across the street was the Restaurant Parrilla where we enjoyed pizza and beers in the evening with a tango dance show that was a surprise bonus.

After our day at the falls we went back to the Saint George to clean up and pick up our bags before our flight . Again the staff was most accommodating, providing us with a place to clean up with plenty of towels.

Standard king room

When you start planning and begin reading reviews keep in mind that you are going to be visiting an isolated area and even four star ratings will most likely not rise to the level you come to expect in the U.S. or Europe. After all it is an outpost of civilization a couple of hundred miles up into the South American rain forest. For that reason you should discount many of the negatives you read. We did and were generally pleased with this part of our trip.

Downtown Puerto Iguazu