Blurt: Seven Days Staff Blog

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29 posts categorized "Travel" Feed

August 04, 2012

Grazing: Surviving Tales of the Cocktail

TotcIt's not every night that you can walk into a museum and feel fake snow brushing your face. Or, a few seconds later, watch cocktail demigod Dale DeGroff flame an orange peel in front of you, drop it into a glass of sherry and Absolut, and push it forward. Or, a few steps away, realize that the guy presiding over a table of Cosmos is Toby Cecchini, the bartender who created the drink at New York's Odeon in the late 1980s. 

Such is the surreal quality of Tales of the Cocktail, a fête that has drawn thousands of mixologists, brand ambassadors, journalists and thirsty drinkers to New Orleans every steamy July for the past 10 years to sample new spirits, exchange ideas, schmooze and party. It's a heady, wild ride, from the moment you arrive in NOLA until that last, wistful cab ride to the airport — and you can't anticipate its scale, pace and ability to squash you like the lightweight you are. Especially if you're a "Virgin." (More on that in a moment).

Continue reading "Grazing: Surviving Tales of the Cocktail" »

May 31, 2012

CCTA Bus Schedule Data Now Available on Google Maps

Google-bus.pngIt's now a little bit easier to take a trip on the bus.

CCTA bus schedule info is now available on Google Transit. That means when you're looking for directions on Google Maps between places serviced by these bus systems, Google shows you a public transit option alongside the drive, walk and bike options.

Try it out! Enter your current address and where you want to go — Google will tell you where and when to pick up the bus, which route (or routes, in the case of transfers) to take, and what time you're expected to arrive at your location. It's important to note that this isn't realtime tracking data, so Google won't tell you where exactly your bus is along its route or if it will be late. But it does make it much easier to figure out how to take the bus efficiently, especially if you're just a casual bus rider. And it works on smartphone versions of Google Maps, too.

It's not just useful in Burlington, either. Live in, say, Waterbury? Google will give you driving or walking directions to the nearest park-and-ride and tell you when to expect a LINK bus there. And if you're traveling from Burlington to Middlebury, Google's directions transition from the CCTA to Addison County's ACTR buses, which are also on Google Transit. Easy-peasy!

Getting the CCTA on Google has been a long process dating back a few years, according to Ross Nizlek,  IT and scheduling specialist for the CCTA. To integrate with Google Maps, Google needs the schedule data in a very specific format, Nizlek explains. The process includes gathering GPS coordinates for every last stop and updating how the agency stores its route data.

Continue reading "CCTA Bus Schedule Data Now Available on Google Maps" »

April 12, 2012

A Cause for Paws: A Vermonter Rescues a Stray Dog From Mozambique

Carmen today2From how far away are you willing to rescue a stray dog? From across the county? Across the state? Perhaps you'll even adopt one through, which lists hundreds of thousands of homeless animals rescued from kill shelters all over the United States. Many travel to their new homes in New England via livestock trailers that make scheduled stops along the interstates in a process resembling a modern-day underground railroad.

But even Artie, the cockapoo mutt I rescued via from a Nashville, Tenn., kill shelter in 2008, had a short trip home compared to Carmen. Next week, the 5-year-old street hound (pictured above) will make the journey of her lifetime from her native home in Mozambique to Jay, Vt., where a local couple are eagerly awaiting her arrival.

The intercontinental canine connection is the work of Claudia Neto, a Rice Memorial High School grad now living in Mozambique. Two years ago, Neto and her partner founded that country's first and only known animal rescue organization, called MAPS, or Mozambique Animal Protection Society. To date, they've "rehomed" nearly 100 dogs and puppies and 90 cats and kittens, mostly to expats living in the southeastern African nation.

"Carmen had been stuck at the shelter for over a year, seemingly with no hope of a future," Neto writes via email from Mozambique. "When I shared her story and situation on Facebook, a friend in Vermont found a couple up in Jay, Vt., who were willing to give Carmen a forever home." Thus began the arduous task of figuring out how to get her there — in particular, covering the expense, estimated at nearly $2000.

Continue reading "A Cause for Paws: A Vermonter Rescues a Stray Dog From Mozambique" »

February 28, 2012

Vermont Hotel Stars in Luxury-Obsessed Adverti-Art Film

Some might call it a long ad for fancy hotels. The press release from Starwood Hotel Group calls it "a cinematic experience that offers a glimpse into the hidden treasures of some of America’s favorite destinations." But there's no doubt that "Here," the new 15-minute film (or ad) from the acclaimed director of I Am Love, is quite a showcase for the Equinox Golf Resort and Spa in Manchester.

Here's the plot (which, by the way, was cowritten by Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton): A flawlessly attired and groomed young woman, played by model Agyness Deyn, receives a cryptic, handwritten message telling her to "Take the train till you're here."

Rather than tossing the missive and returning to her busy life, as some of us plebeians might do, our heroine smiles, crosses out everything in her appointment book and hops a train to Vermont, where she explores the Equinox and does a spot of rowing and falconing. Though it's foliage season, the inn appears creepily empty.

Continue reading "Vermont Hotel Stars in Luxury-Obsessed Adverti-Art Film" »

February 13, 2012

7 Questions for ... Andrew Forsthoefel, Walking to Listen


A few months after recent Middlebury College grad Andrew Forsthoefel left Vermont, the 23-year-old came up with a plan: He'd start walking. Along the way, he'd listen to whoever he happened to meet on the journey. Simple as that.

And, sure enough, Forsthoefel stepped out the door of his family's home in Chadds Ford, Penn., on October 14, and since then he's walked, and he's listened. And, incredibly, those two straightforward ingredients are bringing some amazing results.

Forsthoefel typically spends anywhere from five to eight hours a day walking, which translates into between 15 and 20 miles. He sticks to state highways and county roads. He headed south and west, with the eventual goal of hitting California.

Continue reading "7 Questions for ... Andrew Forsthoefel, Walking to Listen" »

December 21, 2011

Burlington Photographer Chosen As Finalist in National Geographic Photo Contest

Zoe BarracanoThere's probably no greater honor for an aspiring photographer, short of winning a Pulitzer, than to have one's work recognized by National Geographic. This month, that honor belongs to Zoë Barracano of Burlington, whose photograph, "Magnetism," was chosen as one of 10 finalists in National Geographic's "Story Without Words" global photo contest.

Barracano's picture (right) was shot several years ago in India while she and her family were living in Singapore and traveling around Asia. It was chosen by Dan Westergren, senior photo editor for National Geographic Traveler magazine, who had the daunting task of sifting through more than 7000 submissions to select just 10 finalists.

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November 22, 2011

A Vermonter and His Didgeridoo Are Invited to Senegal

DSC_7054 fbUkeleles may be all the rage, but don't tell that to Pitz Quattrone. The East Montpelier resident, who's been performing since his teen years and playing and teaching the didgeridoo since 1993, is on a mission to spread the, um, drone.

Recently, Quattrone was invited to participate in the Senegal-America Project of the nonprofit Arts Are Essential, Inc. The Massachusetts-based organization, which represents artist-educators throughout the Northeast, offers enrichment trips to the West African nation for cultural and educational exchanges.

Quattrone says he'll be able to teach Senegalese kids how to play the didgeridoo — an ancient Aboriginal wind instrument — and to build their own out of indigenous woods. In addition, Quattrone will get to hang in a local recording studio with percussionist Tony Vacca of World Rhythms, and members of renowned Senegalese musician Baaba Maal's band.

All this fun doesn't come cheap, though; Quattrone is hoping friends, fans and, hey, kind strangers will chip in to help him defray the $3900 travel expenses. And, he points out, donations are tax-deductible. (See the Arts Are Essential website for details.) The trip is scheduled for December and January.

Meanwhile, Quattrone is "in the middle of" recording an album as part of 3 Trees, which also features oud, ney, mouthharp, percussion and chant. The trio's sound has been described as "Middle East meets Native Australia." The new release is due in early 2012.

Want to learn the didge yourself? Start practicing your circular breathing. Quattrone now offers lessons over Skype.



October 14, 2011

Keeping Track of Gov. Peter Shumlin's Travels

24satelliteSince taking office in January, Gov. Peter Shumlin has taken regular respites — mostly long weekends at his chateau on Cape Breton, Nova Scotia — while at least one high-profile vacay took him to the sandy Caribbean isle of Dominica.

Shumlin was away this past Columbus Day weekend, just six weeks after the state was ravaged by Tropical Storm Irene.

Vermont’s Republican Party took the governor to task for his holiday weekend getaway, believing the gov should have stayed at home and used his bully pulpit to tout the state’s foliage to out-of-state travelers. The gov's staff called the charge "shameful."

Perhaps. If nothing else the vacation was ill-timed as many communities are spending their weekends orchestrating cleanup and repair efforts as evidenced by the calls for help from

Continue reading "Keeping Track of Gov. Peter Shumlin's Travels" »

September 15, 2011

Hotel Vermont Breaks Ground Wednesday

08-henofthewoods Burlingtonians loath to drive to Waterbury for mushrooms and eggs on toast — no matter how delicious — will soon be able to partake closer to home. Wednesday, September 21, at 5 p.m., Gov. Peter Shumlin will be on hand as local developers Jay Canning and Chuck DesLauriers break ground on Hotel Vermont, home to Burlington's own location of Hen of the Wood restaurant.

The developers aren't yet willing to comment, nor is Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill chef-owner Eric Warnstedt. The hotel and restaurant will open in April 2013 at 411 Cherry Street. Hen of the Wood at the Grist Mill in Waterbury will continue to serve its cuisine that earlier this year earned Warnstedt a nomination for the James Beard Foundation's best chef-Northeast.

Hen of the Wood won't be the only place at Hotel Vermont to wine and dine. Juniper Lounge will serve breakfast pastries in the morning, then offer "farm-inspired “carbon-negative” cocktails at night. That's not the only eco-based plan for Canning and DesLauriers — the entire hotel will be LEED-certified. Look for more information on our blog Wednesday night.





August 09, 2011

La Résolution Francophone Update

Canadaquebec2larger In a move that surprised exactly zero people, the Burlington City Council unanimously voted last night to pass a resolution introduced by councilors Norm Blais and Paul Decelles that will magically make Burlington even more friendly to nos voisins du Nord — les Québécois! Je suis désolé si vous ne comprenez pas ce blog. Mais, you better get used to reading French. And speaking it. And writing bad poetry in it. Because the city council's vote effectively allows Québec to colonize our little city by the lake. (Québecers, this is a joke.) Henceforth, Burlington shall now be called Lil' Québec. (Québecers, this is also a joke.) Which is awesome, if for no other reason than we'll now have access to socialized medicine. Nice.

It seems our résolution, which can be read in its entirety here, caught the attention of the Montréal media. Le vendredi, a journalist from CBC Radio-Canada came to Burlington (sorry, I mean Lil' Québec) to report a story about the "issue." He and I had a chat about the resolution and what Québecers want when they travel to the U.S. We also talked about things that are tongue-in-cheek, such as the previous blog post I wrote on the topic. Then he returned to the motherland and produced not one but two pieces for yesterday's broadcast.

The first is a news shorty framing the "conflict." The second is a whopping nine-minute opus en français on Franco-Canadian-American relations. The French was too fast for me to actually understand (but not for long, once we are fully annexed), so I enlisted the help of my polyglot colleague Margot Harrison to translate the piece. Here's what she came up with:

Continue reading "La Résolution Francophone Update" »

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