'Friendly' Food, Coffee, and Literature in Portsmouth

Posted June 2, 2009 by Kate Hamman

NH-Prtsmth-FriendlyToast-DE Blink and you could possibly miss New Hampshire's coastline, and the city of Portsmouth right along with it. Take the time, however, and you'll find yourself in a New England coastal village perfect for a late-summer or early-fall stroll. This once-industrial city has a revamped downtown area that houses fashionable boutiques in old brick buildings, as well as funky and fresh cuisine alongside the staples of fried seafood.

Friendly Toast: The only word that comes to mind when describing this retro-funky-alternative-artsy diner is "wow." The ambiance here consists of one part obscure (spaceman bottle collection), one part bizarre (gigantic Kewpie doll), and a reasonable dose of color (crimson walls). Now it only makes sense that a place this eclectic would follow suit with its food, and that it does, but with the most delicious results. For example, the Orleans Fries—thin sweet potatoes sprinkled with brown sugar and Tabasco served with sour cream—are bits of deep-fried sweet and spicy for $8.25. Portions are massive across the menu, so visit when you're hungry.

Breaking New Grounds: When God invented coffee shops; Breaking New Grounds must have broken the mold. This is not your traditional, run-of-the-mill chain coffeehouse. People behind-the-counter feel like long-lost neighbors, the fresh pastries are flaky and fruit-filled, and the coffee is rich and thick. No one is rushing or pushing, and there are plenty of places to sit and contemplate life, either at one of the many tables inside or outdoors on the brick sidewalk. Espresso drinks are comparable to the pricey drinks at major chains, but well worth it for the peace of mind.

Gulliver's Travel Books & Maps: When it comes to travel, this little bookshop is your ticket to a trip around the world. Located down a side alley, it may be a little difficult to find. But once you descend the stairs, you'll be greeted with maps to almost anywhere in the world and will probably never get lost again. This basement of books is also filled with guides to, tales of, and advice on different destinations across the globe, so if you suffer from perpetual wanderlust, this is the place to get your fix. Books are priced accordingly, but browsing doesn't cost a thing.

To search for flights and compare prices to Boston, which is home to Portsmouth’s nearest major airport, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo: Friendly Toast-Robert Jasper)

Island Hopping

Posted May 28, 2009 by Katie Blais

Preppy I am a recent Nantucket convert. As a born and raised New Englander, my family and I always ventured to Maine in the summer, the land of lobster and L.L. Bean, but recently I discovered Nantucket, (more specifically its big Figawi boat race over Memorial Day weekend, when the island turns into a big spring break party, preppy overload style with madras and critter pants galore). Regardless of my penchant for polo shirts and plaid, the island of Nantucket is gorgeous and I want to go back for a much more low-key weekend so I can bike the 14 miles of island, lie out on the beach, check out the whaling museum, and get my fill of seafood.

Thanks to JetBlue it might be a little easier to head back to the island. For the third year in a row JetBlue is starting up its Nantucket service.  From now until September 8,  starting at $79 one-way you can go nonstop from NYC or get super-easy connections via anywhere, from Chicago to Los Angeles.  Fellow Bostonians like myself can book flights with JetBlue’s Cape Air service out of Logan (which also services Hyannis, Provincetown, and Martha’s Vineyard). It's a great idea for last-minute flight and long weekend getaways, and as a bonus you’ll beat that nasty Cape traffic!

What are you waiting for? Get your whale belts out, your Nantucket reds pressed, and hop on a flight.The summer is only so long!

Swine Flu Travel Information

Posted April 30, 2009 by Nicki Krawczyk

UsentrymaskREX_450x300 It may not be my job to be your go-to girl for potential pandemics, but there seems to be so much crazy information out there regarding the swine flu and the ins and outs, ups and downs of travel, that I thought it might be a good idea to compile a bit of useful information.

First of all, three cheers for new media! Through the uber-easy-to-use media-darling Twitter, real information from valid sources can be disseminated quickly and easily to those who want to hear it. Case in point (and as reported by NPR) the Center for Disease Control has been tweeting like crazy to keep the public up to date about outbreak information.

Also, our good friends over at SmarterTravel have put together a very helpful and regularly-updated article for those travelers who are concerned about swine flu and equally concerned about how it will affect their trips. Find information about current warnings, which airlines and hotels aren’t charging change fees, how to protect yourself en route, and more.

In an effort to come to your aid in as broad of a spectrum as possible, I’ll even present to you information on how to get into Mexico for less. Please note that the government has recommended that you not visit this country for non-essential trips. However, that means that there are lots of empty planes and plenty of cheap flights to Mexico to be found. It goes without saying, of course, but you'll be traveling at your own risk.

Speaking of which, if you’re willing to hedge your bets a bit, right now might be a great time to try to nab a flight to Mexico for several months into the future after (hopefully) the furor has calmed down. It’s somewhat risky in terms of timing and pricing, but I just found a round-trip flight leaving September 21st and returning the 28th from Boston to Cancun starting at $255. I’m certainly no prophet and prices could always go lower if airlines get desperate about trying to recoup losses, but just keeping your eyes open is never a bad idea.


JetBlue Worker Caught Sleeping on the Job … in the Cargo Hold

Posted March 31, 2009 by Carl Unger

SleepingatdeskEveryone's been caught sleeping on the job, right? I mean, it's inevitable: Even if you don't take it to the George Costanza-level of building sleeping quarters under your desk, everyone, at some point, drifts off to Sleepytown while at work.

But what matters, one could argue, is not that you fall asleep, but how you wake up and whether or not your boss is staring at you when you do. (Note to my employers: I'm kidding, of course!)

Case in point: A JetBlue employee took a nap in the cargo hold of a plane that proceeded to fly between New York City and Boston. Yes, with the sleeping employee still in the cargo hold. Talk about a cheap flight, huh?

According to the AP, "The man was discovered by baggage handlers at Logan International Airport after the plane landed there Saturday. He told police he'd been accidentally locked inside the pressurized luggage compartment while taking a nap." Apparently the employee called JetBlue when he woke up and realized he was no longer on the ground.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is definitely not how you want to wake up when sleeping on the job. Fortunately the man was OK, but we'll see how he's doing after his supervisor has a word ...


Liberty, Brunch, and Wine on Beacon Hill

Posted February 25, 2009 by Kate Hamman

MA-BeaconHill-LibertyHotelCupola-DEF Boutiques and antique shops, cobblestone streets, large brownstones, and a range of upscale dining options attract visitors and locals to Boston's sweetheart neighborhood, Beacon Hill, and its darling, Charles Street. The area has been the focal point for many guidebooks, and is the place to experience part of Boston's historical side. Today, you can stay in a renovated prison, drink wines from around the world, and satisfy your breakfast craving all on the hill.

The Liberty Hotel: Located in the old city prison, the Liberty Hotel has unlocked the historical building's potential as a four-star accommodation. Many of the original structure's unique traits were preserved, such as its round "ocular" windows, the central rotunda, and the vestiges of jail cells in its restaurant, Clink. Guests will feel like they've been given a Governor's pardon staying here, with a 24-hour concierge, evening turndown service, valet, and glorious views of the Charles River. Rooms start at $295 per night.

Bin 26 Enoteca When it comes to wines, Bin 26 knows its vintages from its vintners. The close-quartered and friendly restaurant on Charles Street believes wine shouldn't be feared, urging visitors to sit back and enjoy a glass of red or white. Carrying more than 60 wines by-the-glass and 200 bottles, Bin 26 also features a food menu offering appetizers and entrees for pairing, including cheeses, charcuteries, and pastas. Entrees start at $15 for risotto with butternut squash, fried sage, and toasted pumpkin seeds, and $5 for wines by the glass.

The Paramount Serving hungry patrons since 1937, this hole-in-the-wall restaurant may be small in space but is big on taste. Brunch is a particularly popular time to go, and you may have to wait in line since you're only allowed to sit after you've placed your order cafeteria-style at the counter. However, if time is money, then it's definitely worth the wait to eat here. Egg sandwiches start at $1.95 and omelets cap off at $6.95. Along with the typical breakfast fare, you can also choose from blueberry, banana, or apple-cinnamon pancakes, as well as Texas-style French toast. The restaurant serves food all day, and the evening menu is served tableside.

To search for flights and compare prices to Boston, please use our price-comparison tool.

(Photo:Liberty Hotel)

Sweet Sixteen Hilton Style!

Posted February 29, 2008 by Heather Gilbert

Partygirlscrop_3 OMG, I totally can NOT believe this!  My parents, who are usually beyond lame, have decided to throw me the coolest Sweet Sixteen party in Boston!

My BFFs and I are going to stay in the Presidential Suite at the Hilton, which is like, beyond fabulous and I’m sure when Paris Hilton had her Sweet Sixteen she totally stayed there too.  It’s that awesome. 

And as part of this package thingie they got, we totally get three hours of limo service in an ESCALADE to take me shopping with a personal shopper to pick out my outfit for my HUGE party at the Hilton!! 

Maybe I can even be on My Super Sweet 16!!!!  AHHHHH!!!

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