Thursday, August 29, 2013

Egypt & Tourism

During training today with my co-workers I met an older lady that share a common love of travel with me. We talked about the amazing places we have been to and some of the places we wish we could go to.  My older co-worker was telling me that a week before the chaos in Egypt started she and her family went on vacation. She went on to say how beautiful that country is and how much of a shame it is that she probably will never have the chance to safely travel there for several years to come. Ironically enough, I come home from training and found an informative article about Egypt and tourism. I've copied and paste the article by Laura Dean below, so please check it out.

By Laura Dean

SHARM EL SHEIKH, EGYPT -- There’s nothing like being on the brink of civil war to turn a nation’s hottest tourist destinations into ghost towns.
It should be high season for this famed Red Sea Resort town, which is beloved by Europeans but more known in the U.S. as the site of several failed peace efforts between the Israelis and Palestinians.
Indeed, tourists from Scandinavia, Russia and the U.K, usually clog the towns’ glittering casinos and dance clubs. Visitors marvel at the luxury hotels and come from near and far for its stunning scuba diving.
Not now.
At least nowhere the numbers shop owners and travel organizers are used to.
The military ouster of Mohamed Morsi, the country’s first popularly elected president in post –revolution Egypt, has infuriated his supporters in the Muslim Brotherhood and led to running battles in the streets of Cairo and the north Sinai.
Sharm el Sheik, in south Sinai and in part due to extraordinary security sent itsway, has been spared the violence but suffers empty beaches and vacant hotels.                                                                                                        
While the rest of the country rushes home at sunset to make it in time for the 7pmcurfew, in Sharm el Sheikh, bar owners stand outside their establishments to drum up business.  
Abu Hassan Yestawi, a 28-year-old shop owner from the southern Egyptian town of Aswan,  says he is very scared, for the country’ economic health.Speaking for shop owners, he says, “no one buys anymore than he has to” from the large warehouse outside of town.
Egypt  blames the problem on  perception.
Fearful of lawsuits, some European tour companies, are practically bribing customerswith a 120% refund to just stay home, infuriating Egyptian tourism czars whohave asked severa1 European nations to actually encourage travel to this most ancient of lands, where the LA Times says 1 of every 8 people make their money from the industry.
The tourists who are here though, conscious of the difficult times in whichEgyptians find themselves, are eager to share their positive experiences.
“You’veonly got to look at us to see we’re getting color and are enjoying it,” saidSylvia Sherin, a 75-year-old British tourist visiting Sharm el Sheikh for thesecond time.
Workers report that most of the foreign tourists here have been to the Red Sea beforeand understand that it is an isolated haven away from the frightening images ofthe capital.

Sherin said she had to reassure many family members and friends in advance ofher trip though. Her itinerary had originally included a tour of the Valley ofthe Kings and St. Katherine’s monastery, but she and her family decided tolimit it to the Red Sea for security reasons.
Tourism,an industry that used to account for 11 percent of GDP, has been in decline inEgypt since the uprisings in January of 2011 that led to the ouster of then-PresidentHosni Mubarak.
While stability, and more importantly for Sharm, the perception of it, has notreturned to Egypt, one thing that has, is the police. Reporting for this piecewas cut short by a brief detention by the tourist police. In his office ColonelAhmed asked if, in America, one could you just go around and take photos without a permit? He seemed to think it was a rhetorical question and was quitedisbelieving when he was told that, yes, you could. Harassment of journalistssince August 14 has occurred at unprecedented levels.
But Susan Burke, a 50-year-old British woman and the niece of Sylvia Sherin,couldn’t say enough about her stay: In the UK, she said “people never have timefor the elderly. But here as soon as they see her (her aunt) they’re rushingover…they can’t do enough for her.”
“I’d like to stay longer than 2 weeks,” Sherin agreed.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Cape Cod 2013 Day 4


It was Day 4 on the Cape and the copious amounts of alcohol has finally taken it toll on me. I woke up still drunk and was not able to go to the beach with everyone. As a result, I missed saying good bye to my friends Jen and Steve. The gang went to Craigville Beach again, and I nursed my hangover at the Cape house.

Around 4 o'clock my friends came back to the beach and our final guest Christina arrived. Christina was Erik and Ryan's friend from College and she came down to stay from Tuesday (day 4) to Friday. We all decided that we wanted to get out of Hyannis and explore more of the Cape, so we headed up towards Wellfleet. 

Wellfleet is about 15 mins away from the tip of the Cape and the only reason we went up that far was because of The Beach Comber. This bar is on a sandy cliff above a beautiful beach and Tuesday night is reggae night. Us girls got in one car, the boys got in the other and we headed down Rt. 6 to Wellfleet. About 25 minutes into the car ride we get a call from Chris telling us that he wants to stop at this beach and take a picture of the sunset. This beach apparently has the best sunset in all of New England.

I follow the boys through twist and turns down a residential road and eventually come to a sandy parking lot at the end of Thumpertown Rd in Eastham. Chris was right, the sunset was gorgeous and reminded me of a Hawaiian sunset. As the sun slowly made its way down to the horizon line, more and more people began to show up to watch nature at it's best. 

Thumpertown Beach Sunset. Eastham, MA

Chris captured an amazing picture of us. Right to left - Kelly, Ryan Erik, Myself and Christina
After the sun finally set, we got back in our cars and continued over to Beach Comber in Wellfleet. The place was busy for dinner but the wait for our party of 6 only took 20 minutes.  This place has a laid back vibe to it. The food was amazing and the drinks were equally as good. The signature drink there was the Goombay Smash that truly does leave you smashed after two drinks.

The group minus Chris (he was taking the pic) at Beach Comber!
Around 10 pm Reggae night started and the place got packed. Out of nowhere, surfers, beach bums and every pot head on the Cape seemed to be there. I was disappointed that Reggae night was done by a DJ called DJ Bud E Green and not a live act. They have an inside and outside bar and we mainly hung out at the outside one. 

About an hour into Reggae night my sister Kelly gets cold and for whatever reason needs me to walk with her to the car to get her sweatshirt. Upon returning to the bar we were stopped and ask to pay the $10 non local cover charge. I guess if you eat dinner there, then hang out for an additional 2 hours and then run out to get a sweatshirt they can charge you......yeah complete bullshit! They even made up some dumb-ass excuse that they come around and collect the cover from their bar patrons (yeah never happened that night). I was pissed that my sister who made me come out with her conveniently didn't have cash on her so it cost me $20 to walk to a car and back. After that bullshit I go to the outside bar and try to order a drink and the bartender makes it obviously that he is going to serve the locals first and then the tourists. These two experiences ruined this bar for me. It is a tourist trap that rips off people and favors the locals. The staff is rude, the place is filthy and I would recommend that you never waste your time here. 

What began as an amazing night was ruined by this bar. We left soon after the shitty cover charge incident and made the 45 min ride back to Hyannis. It was an early night for us because Wednesday was Martha's Vineyard day and that my friends was one of the top days of my vacation. 

Friday, August 23, 2013

Cape Cod 2013 Day 3

The weekend was over and most of our friends went home Sunday night. Monday morning started off like Saturday and Sunday morning. Chris made every one an amazing breakfast and then we all headed to Craigville Beach again. Stella and Joe wanted to go back to the beach because they had to leave that afternoon.

Craigville Beach was once again beautiful. The sky was voided of clouds and thankfully there were no jellyfishes this time. Chris had his friend Molly and her adorable 3 year daughter come down for the day. Around 2 o'clock Stella an Joe left to go back home and now it was just Kelly, Erik, Ryan, Chris, Jen, Steve and myself hanging at the beach. Soon after Stella and Joe left, the snobby girls from Sunday night joined us. They were more social this time and they really warmed up to us after Steve apologized for his antics the night before. Now keep in mind that both of these snobby girls were killing vodka at the beach and the result of drinking vodka since 2pm takes it toll on them later on.

So we get home from the beach, we all shower and get ready to go out. Molly and her kid left to go back home so it was just our group minus the snobby girls who wanted to do their own thing for dinner. Chris suggested we go to Baxter's Boathouse restaurant in Hyannis. Baxter appeared to be a good idea but we left the house at 8:30 and didn't realize it closed at 9. When we walked in, our IDs were immediately check and then we were told to go all the way to the back deck. Apparently the back is a serve yourself and no one in our group wanted that. We left and headed down main street to see what was around.

Finally around 9:30ish we decided on a restaurant called Prova Brazil. Now my friends and I come from Framingham, Mass and it has a large Brazilian population, so we know and love our Brazilian food. However, when I received my menu I was shocked to see all the name of the dishes in Italian. I guess its a Brazilian and Italian restaurant but not so much Brazilian and a whole lot of Italian. Minus the no Brazilian aspect of this Brazilian restaurant, my food was amazing and I destroyed it in record time.

I'm pretty sure Steve humped that bull on the way out
After dinner we walked down main street trying to find a busy bar. It's amazing how dead Hyannis is during the week compared to craziness of the weekend. We walked passed an empty BBC (british beer company), a boring irish pub and finally found a slightly busy bar called Embargo. Embargo was pretty cool, they had a live band that refused to play anything Journey no matter how loud Steve yelled out "JOURNEY!!". After several strong drinks and finding out our bartender went to college in Framingham (small world) we decided to head back to our cape house and continue drinking there.

Things got a little crazy when we got back to the house. 
Back at our cape house we continued to drink and play drinking games when our front door flew open and two drunk girls stumble in. It took us a while to figure out who they were, but when we did we couldn't stop laughing at these hot messes. It was the two snobby girls from Sunday night and the beach. I guess they went to Trader Ed's and like everybody on Saturday night, they too got fucked up. Between the hiccups and chocking back vomit the girls told us how they hopped on these two random guys motorcycle and took a ride around the Cape. When the guys finally dropped the girls off at their own cape house, they were both too drunk to put the key in the hole and couldn't figure out how to open the door. I'm not sure how they got to our cape house (I really hope they didn't drive) but I definitely do prefer the snobby drunk girls over the snobby sober girls.

Everyone passed out around 2 am but Steve and I. I am typically a night owl so it was nice to have someone stay up with me for a change. Steve and I decided to watch The Patriot (one of the few dvds in the house) and made up a drinking game to go along with it.

1. Drink whenever someone speaks in a British accent.
2. Drink whenever someone speaks in a southern accent
3. Drink when someone gets killed. 
4. Drink whenever Heath Ledger appears on screen. 

So yeah by the time 5 am rolled around I was shit faced. One could even mistake me for being mentally retarded because I couldn't put a sentence together. And with that I give you day 3 of cape-cation!! Stay tuned for Day 4.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Cape Cod 2013 Day 2

Day 2 of my vacation started out blurry, that may have been the vodka from the night before. All 15 people in my cape house woke up around 9 am to get ready to go to the beach. It was a sunday and the weather was drastically different from the shitty weather the day before. The sun was out and I don't remember seeing a cloud in the sky.

All 15 of us headed to Craigville beach. The beach is about 1.5 miles away from the cape house and cost $20 on the weekend to park (it cost $15 during the week).  A couple of my friends hopped on their motorcycles and drove to the beach, while two other cars followed behind them. 

Joey H. and Jen chilling at Craigville Beach
The beach was packed, the sun was beaming and the water was perfect. I only went in knee deep because in my hungover state that morning I couldn't locate my bathing suit bottoms. My sister Kelly, Steve and a few other friends ventured further out into the water.

While I'm hanging out knee deep in the water, I see Steve throw something at my sister. My sister starts to immediately freak out and basically flashes the entire beach to get something out of her bathing suit top. Apparently if I had walked further out into the water I would have notice several small jellyfishes (they looked like jellyfishes but had no tentacles). I guess Steve came up with this game where he wanted to see how many jellyfishes he could fit in my sisters cleavage. He got one in before she nearly shit herself. 

The beach was a blast and having a cooler filled with several racks of bud light was a nice touch too. Around 4 o'clock most of my friends that rode a motorcycle left to go back to the house and my other friends Bruno, Susan, Sarah, Joe and Stella left in 1 of the 2 cars we brought. The rest of the group decided to leave about 10 mins after Bruno and his group took off. So we packed up and walked to the parking lot. It was in the parking lot were we notice that somehow we had to fit six people with a bunch of beach stuff into a sedan. We squeezed as much shit as we could in the trunk and squeeze all six of us in the car. 

All six of us in the car. Four people were in the back seat with a huge radio
Later on that day we decided to go to the famous Pirates Cove mini golf. We split up into 3 teams. Di, John, Joe, Chris, Stella and myself were a team. Thank god for having Joe on my team because he saved me from being the worst player. I shot 56 he was 59. 

Me at Pirates Cove. They gave me a flag and a hat for being amazing
Most of my friends left later that night and only Jen, Steve, Stella and Joe stayed that sunday night. Erik had invited two girls over that were "friends" with his brother. The girls were a far cry from friendly and did everything they could to avoid most of the people in the cape house. My friend Steve is the type of kid that will do anything and I mean ANYTHING to get a rise out of someone. Steve thought it would be funny if he annoyed these girls all night, and me being the drunken asshole that I am thought that was the best idea I've ever heard of. 

Some of Steve's Drunken Antic to the Anti-Social Bitches:

1. Walks up the basement stairs naked to the kitchen where the girls are and silently grabs a beer and walks back down. 
2. Walks in with his boxers on but has a hot dog in an interesting place. The girls where too afraid to turn around so Steve kept rubbing the hot dog on their arms. 
3. We all were sitting around the table trying to talk to them when Steve pretended to choke on water and showered one of the girls with water. They left promptly after that. 

That Sunday night was filled with more booze and drinking games. Most people passed out early that night because of the rager we had the night before.  Thats Day 2 in the books Day 3 gets even better. 

The end to a successful day 2 at the Cape

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Cape Cod 2013 Day 1

My alarm went off at 7:30 am on August 3rd; it was the start of my vacation. My sister and I loaded the car with our belongings and waited for our friends Erik and Susan to arrive. They arrived around 8:15ish and we followed Erik to Cape Cod. We decided to leave so early in the morning in hopes that we could beat that horrible Cape traffic and as luck would have it we only experienced about a 2 mile backup.

We finally arrived in Hyannis around 11ish and headed straight to Craigville beach. The clouds decided to creep in and hide the sun. Even though it was a crappy beach day we still grabbed the cooler full of beers and went to the beach. My friends Jen and Steve joined us at the beach a few minutes after we got there. Unfortunately the clouds didn't go away and what started with a few drops, quickly became a steady rainfall. Instead of trying to get drunk in the rain, we thought it would be a better idea to get drunk at a bar. Erik, Susan, Kelly, Jen, Steve and I decided that Spanky's Clam Shack was the best place to kill some time before we were able to get our Cape house. Spanky's is a cute restaurant by the water on Ocean Street in Hyannis. It has everything a seafood lover could want and for those that hate seafood (like me) there are plenty of other options to have.

Finally it was 3 pm and our cape house was ready. My friends and I made it to our Cape house and Tom (the owner) was nice enough to leave us a bag of Cape Cod potato chips, Salt water Taffy and a bottle of Champagne. More friends arrived and that's when the madness began.

I can't turn down a swig of bubbly
In total about 15 of my friends came that night to party it up. We played a pretty intense game of volleyball (my team won of course!), corn hole, ate some grillables and then drank like Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas.

The boys playing corn hole
After we ate, some friends wanted to go to a bar called Trader Ed's. When the sun finally went down everybody but Steve, Chris, John, and myself went to Trader Ed's. I decided to stay back because my friends John and Steven didn't want to go and I felt bad leaving them behind. We played pool and the drinking game asshole. Now I thought I was drunk, when my friends came back from the bar they were shit faced.

A couple of my friends passed out the second they got home. My sister fell down the basement steps and spilled an entire can of beer on herself and somehow the ceiling. Julie decided the best way to clean it up was with plastic bags. My friend Steve spilled a beer on the pool table and I found my another friend passed out in the back yard.

My friends absolutely shit faced
Beer pong, asshole, ring toss and numerous other drinking games were played that night. It was probably one of the best times I've had in a while. However, waking up the next morning was not as fun.  This is Day 1 of 7 in the books, stay tune for Day 2!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Cushing Memorial Park

I live in the town of Framingham, which is situated about 20 mins from Boston. Framingham has it's low points and it's high points. One of those high points is Cushing Memorial Park located at 100 Dudley Rd in South Framingham. This is a clean, safe, and beautiful park.

A pathway on the Winter Street side
You can park on the Dudley Rd side next to the chapel or park by Keefe Tech on Winter Street. I always park at the Winter Street parking lot because it is never busy and there is always plenty of parking spots.

My dog Petey enjoying a stroll in the park. All dogs must be leashed!
The park itself has a small playground for the kids, paved paths (1 mile loop with markers) and there is plenty of open space for a pick up game with friends (soccer, baseball, frisbee, etc.) Water bubblers are available to the public, and doggie bags are next to just about every trash can (I always bring my own just in case they run out). I love to take my dog to this park because they strongly enforce that all dogs must be on a leash. For this reason alone I prefer Cushing Park over Callahan State Park because it is much safer for my dog.

The Chapel on the Dudley Rd side
This park isn't just your run of the mill park. A beautiful chapel sits on the ground near the Dudley Rd side. You can rent it out for weddings or other special occasions. A little bit further down from the chapel is the "Living 9/11 Memorial". On that horrible day 17 people with ties to Framingham lost their lives.
A far away shot of the trees planted for the 9/11 victims.  My dog insisted on going the opposite way because there was a Jack Russell he needed to greet!

The park is open from sun rise to sun set. It is a great place to bring the kids or your dogs. Hope to see you there!!