How Did Astoria Get Its Name?

Astoria, Queens was named after John Jacob Astor, who was once the wealthiest man in America. You might imagine therefore that Mr. Astor was born in what was then known as Hallett’s Cove and the village renamed themselves in his honor. That would be understandable and frankly quite boring. In reality, Mr. Astor never set foot in the…

Citadelle Laferrière

  The ponies were called White Fang and Weedle and they followed us up the mountain to Citadelle Laferrière in northern Haiti, the largest fortress in the Americas. White Fang and Weedle and their owners walked beside us as we hiked. We were sweating and panting and wishing we’d brought more water, and having the…

Trip to Alaska & the Arctic Circle!

Soon I’ll be in the Arctic Circle in the far north of Alaska. I’m so excited! After much procrastination and indecisiveness, we’ve booked roundtrip flights to Alaska, a train tour from Anchorage to Fairbanks, and an additional 17-hour day trip from Fairbanks north to the Arctic Circle. That final day trip is described thusly: Travel in The…

The Tragic Story of James the Giant Dresser

Friends, this is the tragic story of James the Giant Dresser, who sadly is no longer with us. It’s a very sad tale, so please don’t read if you’re easily upset. First, an intro to James. He was the huge dresser that we bought in September 2015 from a second-hand furniture adoption website. Two men brought…

A Fight with a Seafood Platter

I don’t really eat seafood. I’d probably go so far as to say I don’t like it. Occasionally I’ll encounter a calamari, squint at it, maybe even lick it, then order a burger. But for my birthday, my loving girlfriend took us to a well-critiqued seafood restaurant called Street and Co., in Portland, Maine. And because…

A Winter Weekend in Portland (no, not that one)

We recently spent a weekend in Portland, which I have to clarify by adding “Maine”, because we did not, I repeat we did not, go to Oregon. The gift shops in Portland know all too well that if you tell someone you went to “Portland” they automatically assume the one in Oregon. Every fridge magnet,…

Sneezing and Sniffing in Rome for New Year’s

It’s winter and everyone is either sick, was sick recently, or is cheerfully announcing to everyone that they never get sick (please join me in coughing all over those bastards). And my dad, always the attention seeker, got sick before Christmas, got better, and then got sick again two weeks later, just so he could get more…

A Chocolatey, Amish Christmas Experience

What do you get if you cross a giant candy store, an Amish farm, and an overloading of Christmas cheer? A fun day out from New York City. We had a booked a tour to visit Hershey Chocolate World and Koziar’s Christmas Village.  It took over 3 hours to get to Hershey Chocolate World and…

Heading Home for the Holidays

Later in December, I’m heading home to the UK. To be more specific, I leave New York on Christmas Eve and land at Heathrow at 7am on Christmas Day, where my beleaguered parents will be waiting, having woken up at 5am and driven an hour and a half from Cambridge to pick me up. I…

An Unnecessary Addition to the Christ the Redeemer Statue

The Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro is one of the more incredible things to see in this kerfuffle we call life. I’m a fit and able human being and I have no problem climbing some steps to see something so impressive. And besides, there’s a train most of the way up, use…

Hiking in Bear Mountain State Park

Hiking is good exercise. But when you live in New York City, to go hiking you have to walk to the subway – passing a perfectly adequate gym on the way – then take the subway to the bus station, then sit motionless and cramped on a bus for two hours, and then you have to…