"Miami's skyline may not be the most classically majestic, but it takes on an enhanced beauty at night thanks to the lighting. There are many great places on South Beach to see the lights of downtown Miami, including the Venetian Causeway."
If you've been to Miami, you'll know what he's talking about. With the low flying clouds and bright orange city lights, there is somthing magical about the Miami night sky.
You can read all Seven Unatural Wonders (with pics) at hella frisch.
This is a follow-up to Gus' post about our trip to New Orleans. The Search Conference was great, and our hotel in New Orleans was beautiful, but there was a big bump in the road getting there.
The short version of the story is, our American Airlines flight that was supposed to leave at 2pm didn't leave until 11pm. This was after 7 gate changes and rescheduling our departure 10 times. We weren't too perturbed because we had "The Incredibles" on DVD, but you should have seen the other passengers freaking out!
Being the Travel Specialist that I am, I had to see what other people were saying about how American Airlines treats their passengers. I came across a very revealing document at F'd Company -- an internal memo from a Regional Manager to all American Airlines flight attendants.
"Customers have told us repeatedly that were it not for our extensive global network, our schedule frequency, and our AAdvantage program, they would likely choose another airline to serve their needs, because they are dissatisfied with our overall service and lack of consistency."
Mr. AA Regional Manager sums that up nicely!
On a related note, I met Philip Kaplan, the founder of AdBrite and F'd Company at the conference, he is a very cool guy.
Michelle and I just returned from the Search Coference. Next time you visit New Orleans, we highly recommed staying at the International House Hotel on Camp Street.
This romantic, downtown hotel is one block from the French Quarter. The room rates are very reasonable. They have a nice restaurant and bar, and free wireless internet access for guests. Michelle said the Hotel reminded her of the Delano in South Beach, but with a New Orleans voodoo twist.
June 17, 2005
Auto, jewelry, and electronics auction
The City of Miami Beach is holding an auction of surplus vehicles (more than 100) and police confiscated items (electronics, jewelry, cell phones, car radios, clothing, tools, computers, and more). The auction will take place on Saturday, June 18, 2005 at 9am (Auction Inspection of vehicles and items) with a 10am auction start time.
Place: Miami Beach Convention Center
North Parking Lot
1901 Convention Center Drive
Miami Beach, Florida 33139
Terms: $100 refundable cash deposit will be required to register to bid. All items sold in "as is condition with all faults" to the highest bidders. Vehicle purchases will require Title transfer prior to release of the vehicle. Tag/Title agency will be available on Auction Day. Successful bidders on vehicles will be required to provide a 25 percent cash deposit on the day of the auction.
Questions: contact Francis Santos, Fisher Auction, at (800) 331-6620.
As far as I know, Miami Beach is the only city in the U.S. where it is customary for restaurants to add the gratuity to the check. Waiters call the practice, tagging the check. They're hoping you don't see the added gratuity, and you mistakenly double tip them.
I'm sure the reason for adding the tip has to do with the large amount of European and South American visitors to the City.
But in opinion, this leads to lazy, bad service. I've seen many waiters who don't give a darn if you're having a good time because they know either way, the tip is included.
Most of the upper-class restaurants do not add a tip, but make sure to check your bill just in case.
If you have ever wondered who and how much to tip? Consumer Report has some advice for you:
"While 93 percent of survey respondents said they tip the bellhop who escorts them to their room, only 69 percent leave anything for the chambermaid who cleans it. But both should be tipped. Leave $2 per person each day for the chambermaid. To make sure the right person gets the money, don't leave a lump sum on your last day."
Maitre d': $20 or more, if a special service is performed such as getting you a table when you have no reservation and the restaurant is full.
Waiters: 15-20% of the bill, unless a gratuity is already added to the bill. In the United States normally a gratuity is not automatically added unless you have a party of 6 or more. In a buffet restaurant, add 10% to the bill for gratuity.
Sommelier (Wine Steward): 15% percent of the bottle price
Cocktail Waitress: 15% of bill or $1 minimum whichever is greater (i.e. if a drink costs $5, then 15% is 75 cents, but leave $1).
Bartender: if you are served at the bar, 15% of the bill, or $1 minimum, whichever is greater.
Coat Check: $1 per coat
Restroom Attendants: $0.50-$1
Musician in Lounge: $1-$5.
At the Hotel:
Parking Valets: $1-2 when you leave your car and again when they get your car.
Bell Hop: $1 per bag plus a couple extra if he shows you the room.
Doorman: $1 for hailing a cab; if he helps with luggage, same as Bell Hop.
Concierge: nothing for simple questions. But, if they make restaurant reservations, obtain theater tickets for you, make travel arrangements, then $5-$10 per task performed. Put the gratuity in an envelope with a note of thanks and give to the concierge.
Room Service: 15% of the bill, unless a gratuity is already added
Delivery to Room: if you requested something delivered such as a hairdryer: $1
Housekeepers (maids): $1-2 per day left at the end of your stay.
Spa Services: 15-20%, if a service charge is not already included. Ask that the gratuity be divided among the providers.
Swimming Pool Attendant: No tip for handing out towels, only if special service performed, then $1-$2.
Tour Guide: $2-$5 for a 1-2 hour sightseeing tour.
At the Airport:
Porters and Skycaps: $1 per bag
Shoeshine Person: $3-$5
Cab Drivers: 15% of the bill.
On a Cruise Ship:
Some cruise lines add the gratuity onto the payment for you, so check with the specific cruise ship on which you will be traveling. Otherwise, plan to include tipping as part of the cost of taking a cruise. Usually small envelopes are left in your cabin with suggestions for gratuity amounts such as:
Cabin Stewards and Waiters: $3-$4 each per guest per day.
Maitre d' and Busboy: $1.50-$2 each per guest per day. (Some suggest $10-$15 to Maitre d' for the week).
Hand out the gratuities in the envelopes to each person at the last evening’s meal, and to the cabin steward the day before the cruise ends. On a cruise ship, you don't need to tip your bartender, wine steward or bar waiter because a 15% surcharge has been added to every drink for gratuity. Some cruise lines may state “tipping not required”, but tips should still be given for good service. The link below gives tipping guidelines for different cruise lines.
if you're traveling abroad, check out what are the rules in different countries at Del Amo Travel.
Last Saturday, someone in Miami bought a $6 million winning Lotto ticket, but has not shown up at an airport gas station to claim their prize. The winning ticket was sold at the Airport Service Center, 8701 NW 13th Terrace, state lottery officials said.
"Everybody around this area knows that somebody won here, but the winner hasn't come yet,'' Luis Fajardo, the store's cashier, said Sunday. ''We are waiting for them. Maybe they don't know, or something weird.'' The winning Florida Lotto numbers selected Saturday: 2-7-9-12-20-23."
This was the only ticket to match all six numbers and win $6,000,000. A total of 253 tickets matched five numbers to win $1,508.50 each; 9,441 tickets matched four numbers for $32.50 each; and 133,708 tickets matched three numbers for $3.50 each.
Mailboat journey times can vary from 5 hours to 21 hours, depending on which island you're visiting. For example: Nassau to North Eleuthera and North Andros takes approximately 5 hours, and costs $30-$40; Nassau to Abaco takes approximately 12 hours, and costs 40; and Nassau to Long Island takes 15 hours and costs $45. The long-distance trips are not for me, but they show an interesting side of the Bahamas that few visitors see.
The Commonwealth of Bahamas publishes an updated mailboat schedule with sailing times and fares.
June 10, 2005
Smugglers caught moving drugs on cruise ships
An undercover operation has stopped several hundred pounds of cocaine and heroin from entering South Florida aboard cruise ships.
"Agents said those running the drug operation were recruiting passengers and employees on cruise ships to participate in the efforts to smuggle the cocaine. Drugs were found on ships docking at the Port of Miami, Key West and Port Everglades."
10. When attempting to take a naked picture lying on Mickey’s Bed, alarms will go off. There’s a reason that there is a do not cross sign there. His bedroom really is off limits. The minute you step into his bedroom, loud alarms sound and Disney cast members come running to see what all the commotion is about. They then will discover you standing there half in the room, half out of the room without your clothes on and they will not be PLEASED at all.
It is a far better idea to take your “naked” photos in Minnie Mouse’s house, which is right next-door. While there are loads of very small children traipsing through, there are no alarms and thus you have a far better chance of actually getting naked, having your niece snap a quick photo, and moving along to the next attraction without creating a spectacle! [naked photo]
Update: After closer scrutiny by BoingBoing and others, nakedjen's naked photo at Disney World appears to be a fake. Oops. Funny what we'll do for a little link love.
This week, the Miami Beach City Commission passed a law that bars convicted sex offenders from living within a half mile of schools or other places where children gather. This City of Miami is voting on a similar law, next week.
Sadly, a college exchange student drowned early Friday when she got caught in a rip tide off the coast of Miami Beach.
"Four college students from Russia were walking along Miami Beach when they decided to go into the water off 16th Street in Miami Beach. Three of the young women immediately came out because of the roughness of the surf. However, the fourth woman had ventured further into the water and was caught in the rip tide. One of her companions tried to rescue her only to be caught by the tide as well.
The women on the shore flagged down help. Miami-Dade County sea turtle observers and a Miami Beach police officer went in after the two women.
The officer was able to pull out the second women, but was unable to rescue the first.
Miami Beach Fire-Rescue arrived on the scene and pulled the woman out of the water. She was not breathing and had no heartbeat, officials said.
She was rushed to South Miami Beach Community Hospital where she was pronounced dead.
CVS Pharmacy, with 6 stores in Miami Beach, is selling disposable digital video cameras. The $30 pocket-sized cameras can capture up to 20 minutes of video and sound. CVS then will process the camera for $13 and return a DVD.
"enterprising hackers are racing to reverse-engineer the camcorder so that they can extract their own video and make multiple uses of the camera without paying repeatedly. A hacker has posted the pinouts for the camera on a Linux site, so victory is surely in hand:
1 no connection
3 no connection
4 Battery + (probably used to verify the battery level when recycling)
5 no connection
6 USB +5V
8 USB Data +
9 USB Data -
Pins 6 - 9 is the only pins needed to connect to a USB port.
"One of the hottest new amenities at resorts and hotels this summer is the outdoor movie — a film projected onto the side of a building or on a big screen set up around the pool."
Cruise lines are getting into the act. Carnival's newest ship, Liberty, will have a 22-foot-wide screen atop the Lido deck for outdoor movie screenings. Princess, which launched movies on the deck of the Caribbean Princess last year, will have them on three ships this summer and two more by the end of 2007."
Update: U.S authorities on Thursday said they will allow the Cuban family (that tried to make it to the United States on a bright blue taxi-turned-boat) into the country, pending a successful review of their immigration documents.
The decision came after immigration officials determined that Rafael Diaz Rey, his wife Nivia Valdes Galves, 16-year-old stepson Pablo Alfonso Valdes and 10-year-old son David Diaz Valdes had documents for entry into the United States.
Two former America West Airlines pilots were convicted Wednesday of operating an aircraft while drunk in the cockpit after an all-night drinking binge.
"Both men bowed their heads when the verdict was read after a two-week trial and deliberations over parts of two days. They face up to five years in state prison at sentencing."
Pilot Thomas Cloyd and co-pilot Christopher Hughes were arrested July 1, 2002, as their jet bound for Phoenix was being pushed back from its gate at Miami International Airport.
Police ordered the plane to turn back and arrested the pilots after security screeners smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Hughes and Cloyd got in an argument over his attempts to bring aboard a cup of coffee.
The pilots split 14 beers at a bar the night before the flight, ending their revelry about 4:40 a.m. — roughly six hours before their flight was to depart. Hours later, they registered blood-alcohol levels above Florida's 0.08 legal limit.
• Real cloth outfit with a white suit and red silk shirt
• M-92 pistol, switchblade knife, and wad of $20 bills
• Al Pacino likeness with scar, tattoo, and gold chain
Nine voice phrases captured from the film
• Why don't you try sticking your head up your *** - see if it fits.
• You got good stuff here, class A ****.
• I kill a communist for fun, but for a green card, I carve him up real nice.
• Chi Chi, Chi Chi, get the yeyo!
• This country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.
• All I Have in this world is my ***** and my word, and I don't break 'em for nobody, understand?
• I bury those cockaroaches! [Listen]
Now, I wouldn't pay $45 for a doll, but I love the movie. My favorite line is when Robert Loggia is on his knees, pleading for his life and Tony says "I'm not gonna kill you." Then Tony turns to his partner and says "Manolo, shoot that piece a ****" (bang).
If you have a favorite scene from the movie post it in the comments.
The Pride of America is headed to Hawaii, where it will offer island cruises and join the NCL fleet.
The 920-feet ship can carry 2,146 people and its interior decor reflects the best of America.
The Pride of America is one of the ships that received an exemption from President George Bush to operate in Hawaii, even though it would be built abroad. The ship originally was intended for the now-bankrupt American Classic Voyages. After Bush's exemption, NCL bought the incomplete hull and took it to the shipyard of Lloyd Werft in Bremerhaven, Germany, for construction.
Last year, a gale caused extensive damage to the interior of the near-complete ship delaying its arrival in the islands by nearly a year.
"Wyndham Resort Hotel has several shops, a full-service salon, four restaurants, and even a florist. Guests can rent a boat at the private dock. A self-serve business center and 40,000 square feet of meeting space cater to business travelers. The hotel’s quiet stretch of beach is more private than that of most Miami Beach hotels.
Wireless Internet access (Wi-Fi connections) is available in throughout the hotel and guest rooms for a charge of $10 per day."
Last week, British director Vaughn quit the third X-Men movie because of personal problems. The filmmaker, who is married to supermodel Claudia Schiffer, flew back to his home in London -- leaving the movie's pre-production in chaos. Enter Brett.
United Airlines and Verizon Airfone have become the first companies to receive Federal Aviation Administration approval to install the necessary cabin equipment to enable passenger and crew use of wireless technology (Wi-Fi) devices on board U.S. domestic commercial aircraft while in flight.
The date that customers can begin using Wi-Fi devices on United has yet to be determined by the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) scheduled "Air-to-Ground" auction to be held in the coming months, where service rights will be awarded to one or more providers for onboard passenger access to the Internet.
John J Nance from ABC News has written an interesting article that forsees the Airlines greatest future competition is "transparency in teleconferencing" and it's coming impact on the Airline Industry.
"When it matures to the status of transparency — when people can sit in two different parts of the planet and see and hear each other with the same degree of transparency we've achieved with voice communications — two very large challenges to commercial aviation will begin to roll across the industry like an economic hurricane — a change driven first by convenience, and then by cost.
Imagine sitting in a comfortable, well-appointed boardroom with your counterparts in full color and essentially three-dimensional clarity across the table in what appears to be the other half of the same room — when in fact they're in Tokyo or London and presented to your eyes as a high-definition, digitally reassembled, liquid crystal image on a seemingly transparent glass wall that divides the table. When someone speaks, you hear his or her voice coming from the same place you see their image. No cameras jerk around, eye contact is instant and easy, and documents can be exchanged in full color by very high-speed facsimile devices built into the table. Add to this a new breed of service organizations that will specialize in catering the same lunch on the same plates on both sides of an ocean, and you have what we in aviation have understood for a very long time: The effectiveness of good simulation. With the realism of a flight simulator, you're essentially together, with the exception that trying to shake hands through the glass won't work.
Now, imagine a cost of $40 per person per day versus $400 to $600 and you see why, when the technology matures to achieve transparency (where the medium no longer gets in the way), businesses simply won't have a choice. The result will be a massive decline in business airline travel.
He's right. Already, I've seen a Blackberry and Instant Messenging transform many small businesses.
But $40 for three-dimensional clarity, with high-speed faxes, and lunch off the same plates sounds too good to be true.
I'd pay $100 for a service like that. What's it worth to you? Post your answers in the comments.
Crews took two days last week to cut the ship in two with circular saws and torches. The crews cut through the steel outer hull, the watertight inner hull, interior spaces, thousands of cables, pipes and ventilation ducts. They even cut through the swimming pool on Enchantment's top deck.
Then they spread the two parts of the ship apart wide enough to slip in a new prefabricated middle section, which held 151 ready-to-occupy staterooms complete with furniture.
Next will come 12 to 15 days of work to weld the ship back together and connect the cables, pipes and ventilation ducts.
While some ships have been expanded this way before, none has been done as quickly. Enchantment will be out of the water for just one month.
Hemingway spent more than 20 years at the home near Havana, where he wrote "The Old Man and the Sea." Time and the elements have severely damaged the hacienda, called Finca Vigia, or Lookout Farm."
The house's roof is leaking, the foundation is crumbling and plaster is falling off the walls. But evidence of the author remains, including a daily record of his weight and blood pressure penciled on the bathroom wall.
The Hemingway Preservation Foundation was denied a government license last year to travel to Cuba. The Bush administration has taken a tough stance on visits to the communist-run island.
Nowadays, more and more airlines are offering less and less when it comes to serving onboard meals. That's why I was excited to find airlinemeals.net. The site contains a smorgusborg of images of airplane food, indexed by airline. Plus behind-the-scenes stories, vintage ads and photos, and even reviews should you choose your flight based on which cardboard-like chicken breast rates highest.
"The Fontainebleau Resort is located on 20 lush, tropical acres overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. The resort has a magnificent setting that encompasses a lagoon-style rock grotto pool surrounded by lush tropical greenery. Child-friendly amenities include a recreation program and an octopus-themed water park with a 260-foot slide."
Witness: Pilots accused of being drunk controlled plane
A veteran pilot testified Tuesday that two pilots accused of being drunk while operating an America West passenger plane at Miami International Airport were technically operating the plane even if it was still on the ground.
"Capt. Joseph Chronic, vice president for flight operations for America West, struck at a key part of the defense's strategy in describing at length what the airline requires a pilot and copilot to do to prepare a plane for flight."
"Chronic said that pilots are considered to be operating the aircraft even during their walk-around inspection of the plane and their preflight checks in the cockpit."