Archive for February, 2008

What town won “Great American Main Street Award?”

What small town recently won the “Great American Main Street Award” from the National Trust for Historic Preservation? I visited it last week….yes it’s picturesque Greenville, located at the foot of the Blue Ridge Mountain, in northwestern South Carolina. This charming Southern town vibrates with energy and Southern charm.  I strolled up Main Street past fountains and historic statues and discovered crashing waterfalls, concert halls, art galleries, warm hospitality and tempting restaurants.

Maple and oak trees form a leafy canopy over North Main Street, which is lined with small stores, coffee shops, eateries, the Performing Arts Center and at the end of the street is the crown jewel; the historic, elegant, Four Diamond,  Poinsett Hotel.  A half block from the hotel you’ll find Liberty Bridge and a park with waterfalls! Yes! That’s right, waterfalls right in the middle of town.

High Cotton, an upscale seafood and Southern cuisine is perched above the falls. (Perhaps you’ve dined at High Cotton, the famous sister restaurant in Charleston). Too bad I wasn’t in town for the Sunday Brunch to listen to live Jazz and watch people promenade through Falls Park and the Reedy River splash over the rocks and cascade below the windows. Oh well, next time.  My next time should be May-October when there is a Shakespeare Festival in the park. 

For New Orleans BBQ shrimp or green fried tomatoes dine at Soby’s with New South Cuisine, housed in a renovated 1884 bicycle shop. Save room for the sinful white chocolate banana cream pie.

The crown jewel of the downtown area is Falls Park, with a long suspension bridge, gardens and 60′ waterfall.

Next blog: Where can you visit the largest single collection of Andrew Wyeth and Jackson Pollack paintings?   

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What airlines are charging for the extra bag at check-in?

Starting May 5th, 2008, United Airlines will charge passengers $25 to check a second bag. Is there a way to get around the fee?  You’ll be exempt if you buy a ticket that isn’t domestic nonrefundable or if you have Premier status of higher in United’s Mielage Plus Program. What about the Star Alliance members? You must have Silver status or higher to have the fee waived.

Spirit Airlines will double the fee for all checked bags beginning Feb. 20th, from $10 a bag if reserved, and $20 without reservations.

My take on this news? It’s annoying, expensive and will create longer lines at check-in while the airline explains the rules and collects payment.  If United finds it lucrative to charge for the second piece of checked luggage, then other major airlines will soon follow. It’s one more way the big carriers are squeezing more money out of  passengers who book the cheaper fares and aren’t flying business class.  Who ends up paying? Everyone pays with longer lines and those who will be hit the hardest are leisure travelers who pay for their own tickets and can’t “expense” the fee.

Making a Difference for Nepalese Children

In January my daughter and I visited Olga Murray in Kathmandu. Her story helps us all see that “ONE WOMAN CAN MAKE A HUGE DIFFERENCE”. We met her kids and saw first-hand the work she’s done at the homes for children.

It all started in 1984 when, on her first trip to Asia, Olga found herself captivated by the tiny Himalayan kingdom of Nepal. “I got off the plane in Kathmandu and was overwhelmed by the beauty of the land, the exotic surroundings, but most of all by the children. They were poor beyond anything I had ever experienced – dressed in rags and dirt, malnourished, mostly unschooled, but with an amazing capacity for joy. I thought that for the price of a good haircut, I could make a huge difference in their lives.’” So she returned to the USA determined, somehow, to do just that.

By raiding her own savings, and securing donations from friends, she returned to Kathmandu with the wherewithal to establish a home for the country’s throwaway children – street urchins, handicapped kids, orphans, or children who had been abandoned – often by parents too poor to feed them.

As word spread about her work, generous people worldwide wanted to help. In 1990, two years before she retired, Olga founded a non-profit organization, Nepal Youth Opportunity Foundation (www.nyof.org) NYOF, and just in time. The children’s home, originally for boys, had of necessity become coed, and was full to overflowing. NYOF rented another house, and a home for girls was born. Both homes provide children with warm beds, hot meals, a safe haven and security. NYOF provides these kids not only private education, living and medical expenses, but love and personal attention—just as a good parent would do. And the kids will be taken care of from childhood through college.

Since her retirement in 1992, Olga has divided her time between her home in Sausalito, California, and a new home in Kathmandu, devoting all her energy and ability to help her children. Olga is living proof that getting older does not mean slowing down. “I’m not that different than I was 25 years ago,” Olga says. “I’ve stayed active and interested in life. Regular exercise – walking, going to the gym, lifting weights for my knees and back – has helped me stay healthy. I haven’t had a cold in fifteen years. Also, I’m more positive and more confident. I know where I’m going and what I want to do, so I don’t get so involved in my own problems.”

READ MORE in my next blog about buying girls out of bondage: Indentured Daughters Programs.

 

Temples of Kathmandu

Even if you only have one day in Kathmandu you should visit the “Monkey Temple” (Swyambunath populated with new-born to mean-looking grandpa monkeys). My favorite Buddhist temple; Bodanath, famous for the huge eyes painted on the white round stupa. Bodanath is the largest Tibetan Temple in Kathmandu and there’s always some sort of festival going on around the large white stupa (dome). I also love Bodanath because it’s always crowded with traditionally dressed Tibetan pilgrims turning huge prayer wheels as they walk around the stupa chanting prayers. If you have time, the interest and stomach for it, also visit Pashupatinath (the Hindu temple on the river where the dead are cremated). This temple is also haunted by screeching monkeys, as well as aggressive beggars and hawkers.


About Marybeth Bond

Marybeth Bond is the nation’s preeminent expert on women travel. She is the award-winning
author-editor of 11 books.

Marybeth has hiked, cycled, climbed, dived and kayaked her way through more than seventy countries around the world.

She was a featured guest on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Marybeth has appeared on CBS News, CNN, ABC, NBC, National Public Radio and National Geographic Weekend.