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Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

 

 

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is Cleveland's sleek, glass monument to the soundtrack of our lives.

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is Cleveland's sleek, glass monument to the soundtrack of our lives.

 

 

Yes, There’s a Rock and Roll Heaven…in Cleveland

You won’t even have stepped inside the sleek glass building, when the sound hits you.  The Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Who, ZZ Top…the rhythms fill your chest and the harmonies roll over you in waves.  Almost unconsciously, you start to walk in time to the music.  How can you resist? 

This is the soundtrack of your life.

Call me sophomoric if you will, but the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is my hands-down favorite museum.  Yes, I’ve seen the Louvre and wandered through the British Museum – and yes, they were indisputably fascinating.  For all their treasures, however, none of the world’s famous galleries have the power to push my emotional buttons in quite the same way as Cleveland’s most famous landmark.  

Its floors are jam-packed with memorabilia from performers ranging from Sam Cooke to Bon Jovi.  You can gaze at Mick Jagger’s concert gear and wonder just how those thrusting hips of his could ever fit into such tiny pants, or view one of the 14 purple Cadillacs purchased by Elvis during a generous spending spree.  Concert photos, tickets, platform shoes, drum sticks, fur vests…you name it and you’ll find it showcased in a frame, draped in a glass case, or perched on a pedestal.  But that’s not where the real magic lies.

 

Star-studded memorabilia fills every corner at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Star-studded memorabilia fills every corner at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

 

 

It’s the music itself and the interactive audio and video displays that bring the power of rock and roll roaring to life.  Trust me.  Once you pop on the headphones and start to explore, you’ll find it nearly impossible to drag yourself away. 

Ever wondered how the Rolling Stones got their name?  It’s the title of a song written by their favorite R&B performer, Muddy Waters, a man who influenced much of their work.  The ‘Influences’ display at the Hall of Fame not only tells you about the relationship, but also plays a selection of Stone’s songs in conjunction with Waters’ works so you can hear the connections.  It’s fascinating, and that’s just the beginning.

Perhaps the most riveting area of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame is the Inductees floor.  There, you’ll see a year-by-year compilation of priceless film clips from the performers honored thus far for their contributions to rock and roll.  Those of us who grew up ahead of the video generation and in the kind of small towns major rock groups never heard of, much less toured, only saw our rock idols on album covers. The glimpses provided in this unique show, therefore, hit you like a shot of teenage adrenaline, transporting you back in a heartbeat to the days when you cranked up your stereo and wondered what Jackson Browne really looked like.  Now you’ll know, as you watch greats like John Mellencamp, Lynrd Skynrd, Tom Petty and the Ramones roll by on the gigantic screen.  It’s like going to all the concerts your parents wouldn’t drive you to!

All the big names are there of course, and more are added each year. Be sure to watch for The Sex Pistols who, miffed by not having been offered inclusion soon enough, sent a grammatically disastrous, ranting letter of rejection to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame committee members.  Unfazed, the Hall of Fame simply included the letter, mistakes and all, in the film.   Sid is apparently not only Vicious, but also illiterate.

Planning a visit to Cleveland in the near future?  Be sure to set aside far more than an hour or two for your visit to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  A day might give you almost enough time – but two would be better.  After all, it takes time to explore the soundtrack of a lifetime, one singer and one song at a time.

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 1:04 am.

1 comment

Avoid Travel Trouble

 

Avoid Travel Trouble!

Sarah met Sandra on the beach at the Caribbean resort where they were both holidaying.  After a shared snorkeling excursion and some giddy nights at the disco, the two felt like old friends, so when Sandra asked if Sarah would mind delivering a gift to her aunt in Toronto, there wasn’t a moment’s hesitation. 

But the customs official who tore apart her bags in Canada certainly gave Sarah reason to be seriously concerned when he told her Sandra’s beautifully wrapped package contained cocaine and not the coffee she thought she was delivering. 

Like Sarah, Don had no idea that he was setting himself up for a security disaster when he took his prescription medication out of its pharmacy-issued container and packed it in a zip-locked plastic bag.  The customs officials at the airport in Tunisia took a dim view of what they considered to be illegal narcotics.  Without proof that the pills had been prescribed by his doctor, Don was in serious trouble.

Jennifer was equally innocent of any evil intent when she snapped a few shots of the naval vessels docked in the harbor near her hotel.  That made no difference to the government official who saw the impromptu photo session, and followed Jennifer to confiscate her camera.  In some countries, military and other government controlled areas are off-limits to tourists and cannot be photographed, even from a distance.  Ask your tour guide to be sure.

It is against Canadian laws to import items of historical importance from other countries.  Check the regulations before making any purchases.

It is against Canadian laws to import items of historical importance from other countries. Check the regulations before making any purchases.

Bill actually thought he was doing a good thing when he bought the stone carving from the young man outside the famous shrine.  The kid looked stressed, as if he really needed the money.  It wasn’t until Bill was told that he’d bought a piece marble chipped from the wall of the shrine and that exporting items significant to another country’s cultural heritage was against the law, that he had any idea he’d committed a crime.

If you break the laws of the country you’re vacationing in, don’t count on your Canadian citizenship, or your lack of knowledge of the local rules or language to get you a get-out-of-jail-free card. You could also find yourself sentenced to far harsher penalties than anything you would ever experience at home.  It’s worth noting that some countries routinely sentence those convicted of drug possession to many years of jail time, whippings, or even, in rare cases, to death.  It’s scary, but true.

So what do you do if you’re arrested while far from home? Get in touch with the nearest Canadian government office immediately.  Although they will not be able to have your fine or sentence reduced, the consular officials can contact your family and friends, ensure that you receive fair treatment, and provide a list of capable, local lawyers.   What happens from there will be up to the judicial system of the country in which you’re being detained.

So what’s your best protection from these legal travel nightmares?  Good judgment and plenty of information.  If you’re not certain about what is and isn’t allowed in a foreign country – particularly when it comes to photographing people and places of military, historical or religious importance – ask.  If you’re planning to purchase an item you suspect might not be allowed into Canada, check at http://airs-sari.inspection.gc.ca  And if you’re asked to bring anything home with you that you didn’t purchase or package yourself, play it safe and say no.

Sidebar:

While we’re talking about terrifying things, we might as well cover all the bases.  Not only do the laws of other countries apply to you while you’re visiting, but you’re also subject to Canadian laws regarding certain crimes, no matter where you are.  Perhaps the most vigorously prosecuted of these are the laws regarding the sexual exploitation of children.  If you are suspected of committing such heinous acts while abroad, you can be charged at home, under the Canadian Criminal Code, and could face up to 14 years in prison.

 

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 12:54 am.

2 comments

Learn to SCUBA in Bequia!

 

Dive Bequia!

 

SCUBA instructor Nick suits up in Bequia.

SCUBA instructor Nick suits up in Bequia.

 

 

 

It was something I’d always wanted to do, but my new classmate Wayne couldn’t say the same.  Raised in rural England, far from any lakes or public pools, swimming was an unfamiliar and frightening activity for him.  The resort dive course we were both about to take – an introduction to SCUBA taught by the pros at Dive Bequia in the beautiful Grenadine islands might have sounded like the adventure of a lifetime to me, but for Wayne, the prospect was positively nightmarish.

Our instructor, Nick Baxter, a sun-tanned young Jacques Cousteau from South Africa, exuded intelligence and confidence.

“I’ll teach you what you need to know in the shallow water,” he said, wading into the waves, “and then we’ll go out in the boat so you can really give it a try.  You’ll go down 20 or 30 feet on this first dive.”

Wayne paled.

His girlfriend, watching from the shore, hands on hips, was determined.  An underwater photographer, she was keen for Wayne to learn to dive so he could become her assistant.  The pressure was soon on – in more ways than one.

Pressure is a huge issue in diving. Learning to deal properly with its effects as you sink beneath the surface and rise again can literally mean the difference between life and death.  Nick carefully explained the use of our air tanks, regulators, weight belts and personal buoyancy devices, vests into which air is pumped or released.

“And what’s the number one rule of diving?” he asked and answered. “Don’t hold your breath!”

From the look on Wayne’s face, I think he was fairly certain our heads would explode if we did.

Nick paid particular attention to the discussion of emergency air sharing – and so did I, breathing being one of my favorite pastimes.  We learned that if, during a dive, your partner’s air supply should be cut off, you can share, using an auxiliary regulator clipped to your belt.  We practiced in the shallow water, pulling the regulators off our belts and passing them to one another.

We were ready for deeper water.

Wayne’s girlfriend joined us for the boat ride out to the reef as he slapped on sun block, looking as if he was on his way to the electric chair.

Love is, however, a powerful motivator. Stoically suited up in mask, snorkel, flippers, buoyancy vest, weight belt and tank, Wayne hung his butt over the edge of the boat, rolled backward and sank like a stone.

I followed suit.

There was a brief moment of wondering if the whole breathing thing was going to work, but then I remembered the number one rule and sucked in a huge gulp of air from my regulator.  I was on my way.

Wayne wasn’t so lucky. Nick released me to explore the reef while he helped Wayne to adjust to the underwater world. 

Because we were just 25 to 30 feet below the surface, the sunlight illuminated the brilliant seascape. I was entranced and had been happily swishing around for ten minutes when I remembered Nick’s admonition to keep my partner in sight.  Guiltily, I turned towards Wayne, only to see that his face was an icy shade of blue.  Kicking frantically, I was just about to stuff my extra regulator into poor Wayne’s mouth, a strange thing happened. 

He rubbed his face.

A huge swath of blue disappeared.

The sun block so carefully applied on the boat was of the kiddy variety, designed to change color when applied. So much for my daring under-sea rescue!

Well-run and carefully executed, the Dive Bequia experience was the highlight of my visit to the Grenadines and my goal is to return and complete a certification course. 

And if Wayne can find a different color of sunblock, he’s welcome to join me.

 

 

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 11:48 pm.

3 comments

Top tips to help women travel safely

Hey Lady!  Travel Safe! 

Thinking about traveling solo?  There’s no reason why you can’t enjoy a wonderful holiday on your own, provided you take a few precautions to ensure your safety while away from home. 

Travel Light

The fewer bags you have to manage, the simpler it will be to maneuver through crowded airports and the less likely you’ll be to lose track of your belongings.  If possible, keep your luggage to one wheeled bag and one carry-on tote that can be attached to it.  If possible, avoid carrying a shoulder bag, and instead, put your wallet and passport in an internal, zippered pocket in your tote.  Make things as difficult as possible for would-be pick-pockets. 

Choose Your Cabs With Care

Don’t practice your cab hailing skills in foreign countries.  You might just catch a whole lot of trouble.  Instead, ask the concierge at your hotel to arrange for a reputable taxi company to pick you up.  If you need a cab from the airport, ask a uniformed airport employee to show you which of the many cab companies vying for your business are actually licensed. 

 

Lost?  Ask another woman for directions.

Lost? Ask another woman for directions.

 

Keep Your Map Out of Sight

There’s nothing that screams “tourist” more loudly than an open map. Do your map studying in the privacy of your room, before you head out so you’ll be able to proceed confidently and keep your eyes on your surroundings. 

Put Your Hotel’s Business Card In Your Pocket

If you get turned around and can’t find your way back to your hotel, find another woman and show her the card.  She may be able to help you get reoriented. 

Bring Your Own Doorstop and Smoke Detector

Before leaving home, go to the hardware store and invest in a simple rubber doorstop.  After you’ve locked your hotel room door, slip it under the jam as an extra bit of protection against anyone trying to enter from the hallway.  A small, portable smoke detector is easily set up in your room just in case the hotel isn’t properly equipped. 

Leave a Note

If you’re venturing out on your own for the day, leave a detailed itinerary of your plans in your hotel room and tell the front desk what time you’re expecting to return.  If, for any reason, you don’t come back on schedule, you’ll have left a trail for others to follow.  

Stay in Touch

Send emails and/or phone home regularly to let friends and family know what you’re doing and where you are.  

Stay Safe

Ask for a room on an upper floor, so you won’t have an easily accessible terrace or balcony door, and always request a location as close as possible to the elevator.   

Trust Your Instincts

Don’t like the looks of the gentleman in the elevator?  Make an excuse and don’t get in.  Trust your instincts even at the risk of seeming rude. 

Lighten Up

Pack a small flashlight in your purse.  Some resorts have pathways that are very poorly lit at night. 

Leave the Bling at Home

Flashing expensive jewelry is an invitation to be robbed.  Leave your valuables at home and be safe.  

Posted 7 years, 1 month ago at 3:56 am.

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How to save money on great hotels!

Even the most exclusive hotels and resorts offer special deals - you just have to ask.

Even the most exclusive hotels and resorts offer special deals - you just have to ask.

Hot Hotel Booking Tips

These days we’re keener than ever before to get the most value for our dollar – particularly when we travel.  Are there ways to upgrade your accommodations without increasing your bill?

Absolutely.

Start by minding your manners and lay the ground-work that will enable you to ask for the best deal available, in the nicest way possible.  Staying at a big chain hotel?  Call and deal directly with the reservations desk at the hotel you’ll be staying at, rather than working through their central booking system.  Explain why your stay is going to be a special time for you.  Perhaps you’re celebrating a birthday, an anniversary or even planning your honeymoon.  Be sure to emphasize that you put a great deal of thought into selecting just the right place to stay, and chose their property.

Having now set a friendly, positive tone, you’ll be in the perfect  position to ask for an upgrade or a lower rate.  Ask for their best price, after mentioning any memberships etc. you have that might qualify you for a cheaper rate (Canadian Automobile Association, for example.) Mention the rate you’ll like to pay, but if it isn’t offered say, “Hmmmm.  That’s more than I think we can afford.  Can you possibly do any better?”

If the answer is no, and you’re willing to consider staying somewhere else, say so politely.  If you’ve done your homework, you’ll know which competing hotels are in the vicinity, so you’ll be able to say, “We really wanted to stay at your hotel, but I don’t think we can afford that rate.  I guess I’ll have to check with xyz hotel.”

That may be the end of the conversation – and if you truly can’t afford the rate, it will have to be!  On the other hand, the reservations agent may rise to the bait and offer either a better price or some other incentive to encourage you to book.   If no discount is being offered, ask about an upgrade to a higher quality room, for the same price.  If a suite’s empty, and you’ve been pleasant to deal with, you might find yourself settling into more spacious accommodations at no additional cost.  No larger rooms available?  Ask about the possibility of having breakfast included in your room rate.  Note: the reservations clerk may not have the clout to make upgrade decisions without a manager’s approval so, if you sense confusion or confusion, ask to speak to a supervisor – and then roll out your whole charming manners once again.

At the very least, when booking a hotel room, ensure that the location of your room suits you.  Some people care most about their view, while others prefer to be as close to the elevator as possible, so suitcases etc. don’t have to be lugged very far.  By contrast, other people hate to be disturbed by the sound of elevators clanking up and down all night.

Tried your best, but still not scoring any deals with the reservations clerk?  Say “No thanks,” don’t book and call back later in the day or evening, when shifts have likely changed.  Sometimes, a different reservations agent will take a whole new approach!

Posted 7 years, 2 months ago at 3:58 am.

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