Starling Travel

March 31, 2006

HotelChatter Rates the WiFi in Hotels for 2006

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

WiFi, or Wireless Internet, is a service that hotels are using to make themselves look more appealing. Just like in hotel gyms and swimming pools, having Wireless Internet can make or break a hotel. Mike and I do so much work while we are out of town, that we won’t stay in a hotel that doesn’t have WiFi.

Unfortunately, if a hotel has Wireless Internet, that doesn’t mean the same thing everywhere. It might mean that I have to pay ten bucks a day to access it. It might mean it’s free for both me and Mike. It might mean (such as the case at the Hilton in Austin) that it will cost us ten bucks a day and only one of our computers can access it at once.

HotelChatter has taken the time to rate hotels based on WiFi access. First the good news:

Here is the list of the best hotels that have WiFi:

Now, the bad news. If you’re planning on travelling and need to have access to the Internet, you might want to avoid these places, according to HotelChatter.

The worst hotels for WiFi are listed here:

These articles are a little pretentious and assume that they are only talking to jet setters:

“So if you don’t mind staying at the Holiday Inn instead of some place more glamorous your money is well spent here.”

I’ve found that the small Mom and Pop hotels all across the nation are jumping on the WiFi bandwagon, but they are going to be unable to explain the terms unless they are free. The good news is that many of these little motels and hotels ARE offering free Wireless Internet in order to attract you away from the bigger companies.

I like the Mom and Pop motels better anyway. They seem to care whether we enjoyed our stay more than the automatons that the big companies hire.

Via: Boing Boing: America’s worst WiFi hotels

March 30, 2006

The Pottery World Fountain

Filed under: Nevada,Places To Visit,Shopping,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Click Here to See the Pottery World Fountain
Not too long ago, I did a story about Pottery World just outside of Las Vegas, Nevada.

Starling Travel » Small Pleasures Week: Pottery and Patio World

At the time, I took some video of this fountain. Unfortunately, it was filmed “sideways” and I didn’t have the correct software to rotate it. Thanks to what I learned at SXSW, I have finally been able to remaster this 29 second video for your viewing pleasure.

When I filmed this video, it felt like light itself was spilling over the sides of the fountain. The chilly wind whipped around my hair, smelling like dirt and rain. In the background, the owners of Pottery World were playing Mexican music and I felt so at peace. Pottery World was truly a visit of small pleasures that week in Las Vegas.


Where: Google Local – Sloan, Nevada

March 29, 2006

Green Hotel in Milwaukee

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Inn SerendipityInn Serendipity is ecologically friendly. They use solar power, windpower and heat the place with a wood stove. They grow food in their own organic garden and greenhouse.

If you wanted to stay there just to find out how they do it all, you wouldn’t be alone. Some guests come just to learn about self sufficiency. Others just want to escape the nearby urban areas.

Wisconsin is trying to make this a trend by creating a registry of green hotels, hoping that other states follow suit. For now, you can always stay at one of Inn Serendipity’s rooms (the music room or the writing room).


Where: Inn Serendipity 7843 County P Browntown WI 53522 Google Map Phone: 608-329-7056

March 28, 2006

Austin, Texas: The Congress Bridge Bats Video

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Video — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

While Mike and I were in Austin, we were able to get this video of the bats coming out of the Congress Avenue Bridge. March is early in the season for the bats, so the sky wasn’t black with them, but there were still a lot of them to be seen. We saw three waves of bats leave the bridge. This was the second one. The video is 1:11 minutes long.

Congress Bridge Bats

There was a crowd of people under the bridge waiting for the bats to come out. A lady was jogging along the trail and asked us what was going on. We told her about the bats and she just shrugged and kept on jogging. I wonder if she thought there was a mugging or something. We were all there waiting with our cameras. I’m shocked I was able to get anything at all.

What didn’t show up on the video was the sound the bats made and the smell of the area under the bridge. It took me a while to recognize the smell, but I realized that it smelled like a hamster cage. The sound was just like the movies. I thought the movies made up that sound and bats only made ultrasonic noises, but they don’t. There is a high pitched sqeak, kind of like a mouse, that we could hear everywhere under the bridge.

It was amazing.

March 27, 2006

The Hilton Hotel MP3 Player

Filed under: Lodging — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Hilton MP3 PlayerIf you haven’t stayed at a Hilton Hotel for a while, you may not have heard about the new clock radios that all the rooms have. Mike and I stayed at the Austin Hilton during SXSW, so I was able to give their cute little clock radio a test drive. How did it sound and did it work with my Treo 650? Find out here:

Little conveniences like this make travelling seem less bothersome. Like a hair dryer or coffee maker in the room, they aren’t essential, but they make the stay a tiny bit more enjoyable. It’s not enough to choose the Hilton over another hotel, but it can make the difference between a boring night in front of the TV and a enjoyable night listening to music from home.

March 24, 2006

San Antonio

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

Since we just got back from Austin, Texas, I have been researching the area for interesting things to do. Here is a great article about San Antonio.

She has great advice for people who are visiting the city:

What advice do you have for someone going to San Antonio? If you can, avoid the Alamo and the River Walk on weekends, when crowds of tourists converge on places like Ripley’s Believe it or Not and the Hard Rock Cafe. On Saturday and Sunday, do the art museums and the Mission Trail, or take a drive out to Hill Country, and save the more popular sights for Friday or Monday. Better still, come during the week. You also might want to check with your hotel to see when the big conventions will be in town, and consider scheduling your visit for a time when room rates are lower and restaurants are quieter.

That advice holds true of wherever you travel. Avoid the most popular tourist sites during the weekend and visit them during the week. Choose the less popular sites on the weekend and find out when the big conventions are in town so you can avoid travelling at that time.

Since we are going to Austin for a convention, we don’t have that luxury, but that won’t stop us from enjoying what that city has to offer and hopefully we’ll be able to make a quick stop in San Antonio while we’re down there.

March 23, 2006

Links To Find Unique Hotels & Inns

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The following is a list of web resources where you can find unique hotels and inns. I’ve found that a hotel can be a destination all by itself. When we stayed at the Washington School Inn in Park City, the hotel was a relaxing place to rest and the hope for the ghosts of school teachers kept us alert.

Of course, sometimes, you just need a hotel as a place to crash at the end of a busy day. Both views of lodging are valid, it just depends on what you’re looking for. I can tell you that the food at Washington School Inn was enough to make me want to stay there every time we go to Park City, but there have been times when all we needed was a place to rest our weary heads. In those cases, Econolodge was the best for us.

Via: The Seattle Times: Travel: How to find hotels and inns with character, history

March 22, 2006

Kiss the Earth

Filed under: Travel — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The vision of the Pope getting off an airplane and kissing the ground is a strong one in my mind. I’m not Catholic, so the Pope seemed like a strange mythical creature to me. One that could bestow blessings on a land just by kissing it. My childlike mind was imprinted with that view of the Pope so strongly that it remains to this day.

When we travel, however, what is to stop us from kissing the earth when we arrive. Whether it is by train, plane or automobile, why do we not bestow our own blessings on the ground when we visit a new destination? Why is it only the Pope that gets down on his knees and embraces the earth?

We travel to see new lands and new people and new buildings. We spend a lot of money to do it, yet I rarely see gratitude of this in such a vivid act as kissing the earth. Sure, frazzled fliers kiss the tarmac after a grissly flight, but other than that, I have only seen the Pope be that grateful for the lands he visits.

Next time you get off the airplane and step into a different land, be mindful of the great opportunity that has been alloted you. Smell the air. Let the sun blind you. Listen for native birds and local industry. Taste the exotic food.

And kiss the earth.

March 21, 2006

Austin, Texas: Take a Cruise on the Lonestar

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas,Tourist Attractions — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Lonestar Riverboat in Austin, Texas

The Colorado River snakes its way through Austin, creating Town Lake and many other waterways. Along that river floats the Lonestar Riverboat.

If you have ever had fantasies about taking a riverboat ride, you can have them fulfilled in Austin. Take a sunset cruise and watch the sky turn red over the water while resting on the deck. The evening cruise is a great way to see the bats of Austin as they come out of the Congress Bridge.

The Lonestar from Google MapsInterestingly, Google Maps captured the Lonestar Riverboat when it was at dock. If you zoom in by the water on 1st Street, you can see the dock and the riverboat on the water.


Where: Lonestar Riverboat 1st Street & Riverside Drive, Austin, Texas Google Map Phone: (512) 327-1388

March 20, 2006

Austin, Texas: The Congress Bridge Bats

Filed under: Places To Visit,Texas — Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am

The Bats over Town Lake in Austin

Every spring, the bats migrate to Austin from Mexico. They have found the cracks and creavices of the Congress Bridge a hospitable place to nest during the day. Every evening, they swarm out of the bridge and into the city to eat between 10,000 and 30,000 pounds of insects. The bats have become a beloved fixture of the city nightscape.

Although they go back to Mexico during the winter, the bats have become a permanent fixture in Austin, Texas. The tourists and locals alike await for their return every year and enjoy their silent flight across the sky at twilight.


Where: The Bats at Congress Bridge: Congress Ave & Cesar Chavez St W, Austin, TX 78701 Google Maps Bat Hotline: 512-416-5700 (ext. 3636) for the latest flight times

« Previous Entries - Next Page »

Powered by WordPress
(c) 2005 Michael Moncur, Laura Moncur, and Starling Studios