Hidden gems – Alexandria Cupcake

With a staff as sweet and cheerful as the products they sell, Alexandria Cupcake is a great place to stop off for coffee and a tiny cakes.  The shop is located in the heart of Old Town a shopping district full of boutiques and restaurants.  You can walk from King Street metro station, though you will definitely need to refuel when you get there, it’s over a mile.  I stopped with a friend recently and sampled their wares.  The devils food cupcake with vanilla frosting was velvety smooth and not too sweet.  And much to my delight the frosting was evenly spread over my entire cupcake, a personal pet peeve of mine.  If you’re passing through Alexandria, VA put Alexandria Cupcake on your list of stops.  You’ll thank me.

Great travel accessory

Are you taking a long flight this Summer and aren’t flying in first class?  Then you’re going to need some creature comforts to make the trip bearable, and I’ve got a great idea for you.  Pocket some Herban Essentials peppermint wipes before you board the flight.  You can use them to refresh and wake you up in the morning when you arrive.  Sure, it’s not a hot towel, But remember you can also use your wipes to clean your tray table, your hands and even counteract that stale airplane air with an invigorating scent.  The wipes are available from 3Floz.com, and you can even mix and match fragrances.  So try lemon, orange, and lavender too!

The look – Summer

My Summer look this year?  BoHo.  Straight up.  I’m loving cutoff jean shorts, tank tops, chunky wooden sandals, and my big score – the Calypso St. Barth for Target linen tote.  It’s inexpensive, but sports a unique turquoise circle design.  I can’t decide if it reminds me of an Indian squash blossom necklace or a tiled floor from Rome, which makes it perfect for travel.  One thing you won’t be seeing me in?  A  maxi dress.  Unless your 5′ 10″ and 130 pounds, no one makes that look good.

What’s your summer uniform?

Where shall I go?

Maybe it was the James Bond movie I watched last weekend, but this week all I am thinking of is traveling by dhou.  You know, a sail, a river, a lazy afternoon.  There’s something about this throw back form of transport that seems so romantic.  Normally I’d recommend Egypt for this type of trip, but given the recent unrest my focus has moved over to Zanzibar (above).  Even the name rolls off the tongue like an exotic spice.

The travel article I’m least likely to read

What happens if you get sucked out of a plane.  This was a headline at Discovery News.  Sure they’re talking about the Southwest incident last week where a 3 foot hole opened up in the fuselage and they had to make an emergency landing.  But, really do we need to know what would happen if you really were sucked out of a plane?  I don’t think so people.  Leave that to Hollywood movies.  It’s not something I want to contemplate at 30,000 feet.

There are some things in life that are just bound to get you fired…

Like putting an infant in an overhead bin. Seriously.  This actually happened.  A flight attendant on a Virgin Blue flight.  It was apparently a game, and all in good fun.  But not in good taste.  Come on, you didn’t realize this could get you fired?  I thought sliding down the emergency slide with a fist full of beer was crazy.  This just seems beyond to me.  I’m thinking there is a lawsuit in their future.  Note to self, children may sometimes seem like baggage, but they shouldn’t be stowed.

Another fleet on the ground

Remember a few years ago when American’s fleet was grounded by the FAA for a wiring infraction? Well it’s happening again.   This week United has grounded it’s entire fleet of 757s. Voluntarily it seems. 96 planes in all are out of commission for “unscheduled maintenance”.  The official story is that it is to update an onboard air data computer system to comply with a 2004 FAA airworthiness direction.  2004?! And they are just getting to this now?  Glad I’m not flying any time soon!

Great travel accessory

All of us spent most of last week anxiously watching the plight of the Carnival Splendour.  It was dead in the water and lacked electricity – so no air conditioning, elevators, hot food or bathrooms.  Well proving that necessity truly is the mother of invention I’ve found the perfect accessory to take with you on your next cruise Splendour passengers, the sh*tbox.  Invented by canny Europeans and sold on Firebox.com.  It’s meant for outdoor concerts and camping trips, but it’s perfect for those days when you’re stranded out at sea.  The sh*tbox is cardboard and folds up to fit into a case you can carry under your arm.  It’s 15.99 British pounds, but comes in an assortment of designs.  Just the thing for the cruiser on the go!

You’re going to have to buy me dinner first

The web was ablaze yesterday with stories about John Tyner, a 31 year old passenger flying out San Diego who refused to go through the backscatter imaging machine.  He did accept a pat down, but when it was detailed exactly how close TSA would get he famously stated, “If you touch my junk I’ll have you arrested.” He was promptly thrown out of the airport and may even be fined $10,000.  Now I haven’t personally encountered a backscatter machine yet, but I do know that the images they produce are, well, intimate.  And TSA has already been caught out storing the images even though they claimed it wasn’t possible.  I’m very uncomfortable with that.  What I’m wondering is if Hollywood could come up with a scanner that shows skeletons, why couldn’t TSA?  I mean hey guys the idea has been out there since Total Recall.  Maybe you should give Arnold Schwarzenegger a call.

Travel tip of the week

Tired of paying checked bag fees? Well get ready for an early gift because this holiday season Intercontinental and Holiday Inn hotels are running a promotion that will pay those fees for you. Yup, book a 2 weekend night stay at the Intercontinental using you Visa and you’re eligible for up to $850 in bag fees. You do have to submit paperwork, but in my opinion it’s totally worth it. The Check It Free promotion runs until Dec. 30, 2010.  Need more details, you’ll find them on USAToday.com travel here.