Posted October 19, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Bordello murders, fatal wedding-day accidents, hate-fueled arson
attacks, and other tragedies have left behind unsettled spirits in
historic restaurants and bars across the country. For the spine-chilling
chance to see the resident apparitions and experience their antics, sit
down to a filet mignon in Michigan or hit the slot machines at a Nevada
saloon. Here are some of America's most haunted restaurants and
bars—ones that have given employees, patrons, and even ghost hunters
more than what they ordered.
Mission Table, Traverse City, Michigan
The unhappy ghost of Genevive Stickney, an obese and jealous woman, still frequents her former residence, now Mission Table
restaurant. As the story goes, Genevive and her Chicago lumber-baron
husband built the home in the late 1800s. Succumbing to the excesses of
good food and fruit brandies, the attractive Genevive became quite
stout. She had a special gilt-edged mirror installed that made her
appear thinner than she was, but eventually she became so large that she
needed an elevator to transport her to the second floor. When her
philandering husband took up with a mistress and left the mistress all
his money, Genevive took her own life.
Haunted Encounters: In Genevive's mirror,
restaurant guests have seen the reflection of a woman dressed in
19th-century clothing with hair pulled into a tight bun, the way
Genevive wore hers. Lights turn themselves on and off, objects are
mysteriously hurled through the air at people, hands on the grandfather
clock are moved ahead, and candles are found burning in the morning.
The Brass Rail, Hoboken, New Jersey
A ghost bride is said to haunt the historical Brass Rail
restaurant in downtown Hoboken. Legend has it that on her wedding day
in 1904, she tripped at the top of the staircase, fell, broke her neck,
and died. Later that night, her distraught husband, who was drinking
heavily, wrote a suicide note and hung himself in a room near the
Haunted Encounters: Restaurant staff and
patrons have spotted spirits of the bride and groom wandering up and
down the stairs. A photo taken by the New Jersey Ghost Hunters Society
revealed a white wisp of smoke hovering above the stairs when no one was
smoking in the room. Others say they have heard walking in the upstairs
dining room when it was empty and seen the ghost of a woman wearing
white in the back alley.
The UpStairs Lounge, New Orleans, Louisiana
Forty years ago, one of the deadliest crimes against the LGBT
community in U.S. history took place at this French Quarter gay bar
above The Jimani Lounge & Restaurant
when an arsonist set it on fire, killing 32 men. The UpStairs Lounge
had only one entrance—the door at the bottom of the stairwell, where the
fire originated. While the fire blazed, patrons tried desperately to
climb out the windows but couldn't escape, since windows were mostly
barred or blocked completely. Several bodies were unclaimed by
embarrassed family members, and the arsonist was never caught. The
UpStairs Lounge area is now the kitchen of the first-floor Jimani Lounge
Haunted Encounters: The building's current
owner, who witnessed the event as a child when his father was owner, has
seen apparitions of charred bodies, dark shadows, white orbs, and
flashes of light in the building. When Syfy's Ghost Hunters crew visited last year, detectors picked up screeching noises in the stairwell.
The Masquerade, Atlanta, Georgia
This concert venue in Atlanta's historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood
was originally a mill that produced wood shavings. Since the mill
property's opening at the turn of the 20th century, it has seen its
share of fires, structural collapses, and the gruesome accidental death
of mill worker Hubert Neal in 1899. But the grisly stories that
circulate at The Masquerade only add to the appeal for the goths, metalheads, and punk rockers who converge here for shows.
Haunted Encounters: Staff and concertgoers
repeatedly report sightings of an apparition of a tall black man and say
they've heard voices, screaming, and heavy phantom footsteps. An
investigation by the Georgia Society for the Paranormal Sciences
gathered accounts from multiple employees who described the feeling of
being watched. The group recorded several unexplained noises and
encountered a dark human-shaped mass. In the middle of the night, the
group watched as a mysterious dense white fog appeared and dissipated on
the club's second level, called "Heaven."
Pioneer Saloon, Goodsprings, Nevada
The paranormal activity at this 100-year-old Wild West saloon just outside Las Vegas kicked off the 2013 season of Ghost Adventures
on The Travel Channel. Reportedly haunted by an elderly miner and a
cheating gambler who was killed at a card table in 1915, the Pioneer Saloon
hasn't changed much since the days of the town's mining boom. Bullet
holes from the gambler's murder can still be seen in the wall.
Haunted Encounters: Nearly every bar
employee has seen the ghost of the elderly miner, a short man who wears a
cowboy hat, standing behind people at the slot machines or hanging out
by the potbellied stove. The spirit of the gambler makes an occasional
appearance at a card table at the back of the bar. Visitors and staff
have also been known to hear disembodied voices and see mysterious
trails of cigarette smoke materialize.
The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro, Little River, South Carolina
Drawing paranormal-research conferences, A&E's My Ghost Story crew, and numerous investigation groups, The Brentwood Restaurant & Wine Bistro
has been called the most haunted location on the Grand Strand. It's
just north of Myrtle Beach's main drag in a 103-year-old Victorian home.
The restaurant owners have embraced the supernatural, saying they've
never felt threatened. They regularly plan special-event dinners with
psychics and talk openly about the restaurant's spook factor.
Haunted Encounters: Guests often get
"locked" in the second-floor bathroom. Strange voices, unexplained
movement of equipment, and shadowy figures have been reported by even
the most skeptical guests and employees. When one of the restaurant
owners asked the spirit who was there, the reply—captured in a
recording—was "Clarence." Clarence and Essie Bessent-McCorsley were the
original owners of the Victorian home.
Jean Bonnet Tavern, Bedford, Pennsylvania
Built in the 1760s at a major junction of the only road connecting
eastern Pennsylvania with the Ohio River, the Jean Bonnet was an
important trading post and watering hole for early settlers. If the
tavern's original stone walls could talk, they'd tell of rowdy trappers
and traders, Whiskey Rebellion farmers' meetings, and encampments of
troops summoned here by George Washington. Stories of the spirits at the
Jean Bonnet Tavern are captured in The Pennsylvania Ghost Guide, Vol. II by Patty A. Wilson.
Haunted Encounters: Guests and staff
describe a strange man in the bar after-hours, doors being opened and
closed, and the sensation of being touched when no one is around. When
members of the Central Pennsylvania Paranormal Association spent the
night, a group of apparitions in frontier-type clothing appeared in a
doorway and watched a man playing the piano at the other end of the bar.
Catfish Plantation, Waxahachie, Texas
In the south Dallas suburb of Waxahachie, Catfish Plantation
restaurant occupies an 1895 Victorian home where three former residents
are believed to have died. The apparition of Elizabeth, murdered here
on her wedding day in the 1920s, appears in her wedding gown. A
Depression-era farmer named Will walks around the lobby and front porch
in his overalls. Caroline, a strict religious woman who detested
alcohol, passed away here in 1970, and now she sends wine glasses flying
into the wall. The Travel Channel's Extreme Restaurants show, NBC News, and several paranormal groups have reported on the Catfish Plantation's strange occurrences.
Haunted Encounters: Besides seeing the
resident ghosts, the restaurant's guests and staff have felt cold spots
that move around. Clocks with missing parts chime. Doors, lights, and
faucets all operate at will. And several knives go missing every night.
The Jury Room, Columbus, Ohio
One of the oldest continually operating restaurants in Columbus,
opened in 1831, this downtown mainstay has plenty of stories to fuel its
ghostly reputation. It was built on Native American burial ground and
lost its third floor to a fire in the late 1800s. The original tin
ceiling and historical photos are a throwback to The Jury Room's
days as a bordello. At the bar, you can order a "Hung Jury," a
"Bordello Bubbly," or a "Lorenzo's Revenge," all nods to the prostitute
who shot a man on the bordello's front doorstep in the 1850s and her
subsequent trial for murder.
Haunted Encounters: A tall, shadowy man has
been seen roaming around the bar and appearing behind bartenders.
Objects move at will and women describe being attacked by unseen forces.
There have been so many occurrences that the staff now keeps a ghost
log and The Travel Channel's The Dead Files has come to investigate.
High Noon Restaurant & Saloon, Albuquerque, New Mexico
In Albuquerque's Old Town, two different spirits are believed to haunt High Noon Restaurant & Saloon,
housed in one of the historic district's oldest structures. Constructed
in 1785, the building has served as both a casino and a successful
brothel. According to Ken Hudnall's book Spirits of the Border IV: The History and Mystery of New Mexico,
some say High Noon is haunted by the ghost of a trapper. The female
spirit, investigated by the Southwest Ghost Hunter's Association, wears
an old-fashioned white formal dress.
Haunted Encounters: Hudnall says the male
ghost may be responsible for the unseen tapping that customers and
employees feel on their shoulders, the smell of burning when the
fireplace isn't lit, and the calling out of employees' names. Several
customers and staff members have reported supernatural sightings,
including the female spirit, who haunts the Santos Room lounge. High
Noon is one of many restaurants and bars on the lantern-lit Ghost Tour of Old Town.
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This article was originally published by SmarterTravel under the title America's Most Haunted Restaurants and Bars.
Posted September 9, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
From medieval hilltops to breezy coastlines, European wine towns make
for irresistible vacation spots. Local cuisines help form a food-wine
symbiosis unique to each locale, and surrounding vineyards provide the
perfect backdrop. Whether renowned or under the radar, these gastronomic
playgrounds offer plenty to taste plus enough history and culture for
days of exploration. So head down into the cellar, uncork a prized
vintage or two, and toast to these 10 amazing European wine towns.
Within its ramparts and narrow cobblestone streets, Beaune has one
major priority: the production—and consumption—of wine. Dubbed the wine
capital of Burgundy—itself one of the most famous viticulture regions in
all of France—the small town has been obsessed with the drink since the
Middle Ages, thanks in part to the lavish lifestyles of the Dukes of
Burgundy. Today, it remains the region's center for wine trade and
tourism. As you walk through town, undoubtedly in search of prestigious
Pinot Noir-based vintages, stop at the Wine Museum, the Dukes' former residence, for a quick study in oenology, then enter the cellars at Marche aux Vins for a free tour and tasting. Across the way, the Hotel-Dieu,
a medieval charity-hospital museum that hosts an annual wine auction
every November, offers a sobering look into the lives of the sick and
poor in the 15th century.
Uncork: Biodynamic wines at Joseph Drouhin, best tasted in the winery's historical Duke's cellar, built on top of 4th-century Roman fortifications.
Pair: In the snazzy, red-cloaked dining room at Loiseau des Vignes,
opened in 2007 by Dominique Loiseau (wife of late chef Bernard
Loiseau), choose from among 70 different wines by the glass to accompany
the regional prix-fixe menu.
Of the many wine villages on Germany's Mosel River, Bernkastel-Kues
is one of the most well-known and oldest. Set in the Middle Mosel
region, the town has the ideal terroir for growing prized Riesling grapes. Its steep, slate-covered hillsides are striped with vineyards and lead up to the ruins of Landshut Castle,
a focal point for cruisers floating by in river boats below. In the
town center, take time to admire the medieval market square lined with
half-timbered houses, and stop to photograph the narrow and leaning Spitzhauschen
("Pointed House") that dates back to 1416. Continue on, strolling
through small boutiques and breaking for a leisurely lunch at one of the
many welcoming restaurants. Just be sure to open a bottle of the town's
most legendary wine, Bernkasteler Doctor, which supposedly cured the 14th-century Archbishop of Trier of serious illness.
Uncork: More than 160 regional wines—including Riesling, sparkling Elbling, and fruity Kerner varietals—at the Mosel Wein Museum's Vinothek, housed in the cellars of the historical St. Nicholas Hospital.
Pair: Enjoy regional specialties complemented by a Riesling-focused wine list at Doctor Weinstube, a 17th-century hotel and tavern with an inviting, rustic dining room.
Perched above vineyards and cypress-tree groves in the Italian
province of Siena, Montepulciano is the biggest and highest medieval
hill town in southern Tuscany. Panoramic views of the Val d'Orcia countryside render it a perfect setting for movies like The English Patient and Under the Tuscan Sun,
but it is most famous for its Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, a red wine
made primarily from Sangiovese grapes. The town, lined with Renaissance
palaces and churches, centers on Piazza Grande, where the Bravio delle Botti
barrel race takes place every August. Food lovers will especially enjoy
shopping in the Centro Commercial Naturale, visiting the olive mill, and learning how to make pici pasta with flour from local wheat at the Il Sasso school for language and culture.
Uncork: The celebrated reds at the Consorzio del Vino Nobile di Montepulciano,
the local wine consortium made up of more than 70 producers, and its
Enoteca Wine Shop in the historical Palazzo del Capitano on Piazza
Pair: Sample Pecorino cheese, meat, honey, and olive oil in the town's cantines (wine cellars), which are often linked by underground tunnels. Local favorite Cantine Contucci, in the 13th-century cellars of the Palazzo Contucci, is open for tastings every weekday.
When in Portugal, many wine lovers make a beeline to Porto and the Douro Valley. However, the lesser-known Alentejo
region to the south has plenty to offer as well, especially when it
comes to smaller towns devoted to wine. Though the historical UNESCO World Heritage city of Evora has a regional tasting room and is a natural starting point for the Alentejo wine route, it's nearby Borba that truly lives for wine. From adegas
(wineries) in the heart of town to the annual Festa do Vinho e da Vinha
(Festival of Wine and Vine) in November, visitors to Borba have plenty
of opportunities to sample its robust reds. However, it's also
worthwhile to check out the architectural details throughout town:
Because of several nearby quarries, Borba is dressed in fine marble,
particularly at sites like the Convento das Servas de Cristo and the ornate Fonte das Bicas fountain.
Uncork: Touriga Nacional (considered Portugal's finest grape) along with other regional varietals such as Trincadeira and Aragonez at Adega de Borba, a cooperative that offers different labels from 300 wine-growing associates.
Pair: Dine among giant terra-cotta talhas storing wine while eating local specialties—including ensopado de borrego, a lamb stew, and migas, a traditional dish usually made with breadcrumbs, garlic, and pork—at tasquinhas, or small taverns and restaurants, in town.
On the hills of the Bukk Mountains, nestled in one of Hungary's main
viticulture regions, Eger is a popular wine town regarded for its whites
and especially reds. Architecturally, the town presents a melange of
Turkish, Baroque, and neoclassical styles, evident in well-touristed
sites like the Eger Cathedral and the original Ottoman-period minaret.
You can learn about the history of Eger's castle and its underground
fortification system at the Istvan Dobo Castle Museum, then unwind (releasing any lingering anxiety from the museum's medieval-punishment exhibit) at the recently renovated thermal baths and Turkish spa. After climbing the 97 claustrophobic steps of the needle-shaped minaret, get a sweet fix at the Marzipan Museum
and candy shop across the way. To taste wine, hop on the shuttle from
the central Dobo Square to cellars in Szepasszony-volgy, or "Valley of
the Beautiful Women," just south of town.
Uncork: The legendary Egri Bikaver, or
"Bull's Blood of Eger," Hungary's best-known wine internationally.
Blended with three or more red grapes—primarily Kekfrankos—the cuvee is
matured in oak barrels for at least a year.
Pair: Taste dishes such as goulash soup, roasted pork tenderloin with creamy wild mushrooms, and smoked Hungarian sausage at Kodmon Tavern, an elegant spot that has been serving local cuisine since 1778.
With clay soil ideal for growing grapes, multitudes of wine bodegas,
and an organized vineyard route, Haro has earned the right to be called
the wine capital of Spain's Rioja region. Not only does wine drive
Haro's local economy, but it is also taken quite seriously as a way of
life—so much so that on the feast of San Pedro (June 29), the town hosts
a wine battle,
during which opposing sides launch liters of wine at each other, then
throws an after party in central Plaza de la Paz Square. Oenophiles and
casual visitors alike can delve into the study of viticulture at the Rioja Wine Interpretation Centre,
which serves as a research center and museum, or taste the area's fine
red wines at the many vineyards and cellars open to the public.
Uncork: Wines from area bodegas, such as the generations-old Lopez de Heredia or the more modern Roda, which specializes in Tempranillo-based wines.
Pair: In Haro's Herradura neighborhood, known for tapas bars and restaurants, seek out dishes like pepitos (steak sandwiches) or pincho moruno
(skewered diced pork). For traditional cuisine, mixed vegetable stew,
chorizo, and lamb cutlets with vine shoots go nicely with the local
If the scent of freshly baked macarons wafting through medieval streets isn't enough to lure you into Saint-Emilion, the wine
certainly will. One of the most famed villages on the right bank of
France's Bordeaux region, Saint-Emilion is built as much on Merlot and
Cabernet Franc as it is on ancient limestone. After visiting the many
wine shops in town, take a tour of the 800-year-old Monolithic Church
and go underground to the cave where Breton monk—and hermit—Emilion
once lived. Come back up to admire the eye-catching 173-foot-high bell
tower before following the winding road that leads out to wine-tasting
chateaux and rows of vineyards in a World Heritage landscape that span as far as the eye can see.
Uncork: Wines by innovative—but controversial—garagiste winemakers, such as Chateau Valandraud and the appropriately-named Bad Boy label by Jean-Luc Thunevin.
Pair: Decant a bottle of Grand Cru Classe then toast to seasonal market cuisine either indoors or on the shaded terrace at L'Envers du Decor.
On the southwestern tip of Peljesac, a peninsula on Croatia's
Dalmatian coast, Orebic is a maritime town that attracts tourists
looking to relax on its sandy beaches, dine on the local catch, and
drink wine from the surrounding vineyards. Explore the Maritime
Museum—and its collection of models and paintings of boats—at the foot
of Mount Elijah, and find sea captain's homes (which you can often stay
in) throughout town. The Franciscan monastery's observation towers
afford views of the Adriatic, the old town below, and the fruit trees,
cypresses, and olive groves that dot the landscape. Winemaking on
Peljesac dates back to Roman times, and the Plavac Mali grape, called
"the blood of the soil" in Dalmatia, thrives in the Mediterranean
climate and takes center stage on the peninsula's pebbled hills.
Uncork: Dry, ruby-red wines such as Dingac,
which is deeply rooted in the region's winemaking tradition and became
Croatia's first protected wine, and Postup, the country's second
Pair: In Orebic's taverns and cafes,
seafood reigns supreme. The highlight is the local shellfish, in
particular crab, squid, and octopus, but make room for the region's
handmade cured ham and cheeses, local olive oil, and fresh citrus fruits
famous for its garnet-colored wines made from the Nebbiolo grape, is a
low-lying town tucked into a valley in Italy's hilly Piedmont region.
While the town has produced wine since at least Roman times, we can
thank the last Marchessa of Barolo, French-born Giulia Colbert Falletti
di Maulevrier, for realizing the potential of the noble grape in the
mid-19th century and getting the town on the map. Visit her former home,
the recently renovated Castello Falletti, which houses the WineMuseum (or WiMu) and tasting room, or head next door to the Corkscrew Museum in a former wine cellar. Stay in the neighboring countryside and use your rented villa or farmhouse as a home base for taking walks through the vast vineyards of Barolo and the rest of Piedmont's Langhe wine region.
Uncork: Wine from the 11 communes that produce Barolo at Enoteca Regionale del Barolo, located in the basement of the Falletti castle.
Pair: Choose dishes that can stand up
to—and are often cooked in—the region's wine, such as mushroom risotto,
braised beef, and gamey stews like bollito misto. Find similar items on the menu at Locanda nel Borgo Antico, a modern farmhouse restaurant tucked away in the vineyards.
Pico (Madalena), Portugal
It's one thing to be a wine town, but it's quite another to be a wine island.
On the Azorean isle of Pico, coastal vineyards grow along the sloped
edges of an enormous volcano, with their gnarled grapevines creeping up
basalt stone walls that protect the plots, or currais, from whipping sea winds and saltwater. Get an introduction to this unusual World Heritage vineyard landscape at the wine museum in Lajido, then trail the coastline in search of clay-roofed wine cellars built with black lava rock, old stone ramps (rola-pipas) that barrels would roll down and onto waiting boats, and tracks (rilheiras) carved by ox carts hauling grapes over the rugged landscape. At the cooperative in the main town of Madalena, learn how the basaltic wines are crafted and, of course, taste them too.
Uncork: Regional whites and reds from Frei
Gigante and Terras de Lava, plus aperitif wines and firewater, which
will knock you clear off your axis if you're not careful.
Pair: At Restaurante Ancoradouro in Madalena, start by drizzling corn bread and Pico cheese with honey, then pair a glass of vinho branco with any one of the seafood specialties. Grab a table on the breezy terrace for views of the sea and the nearby island of Faial.
Read the Entire Story: 10 Amazing Wine Towns in Europe
Follow Anne Banas on Google+ or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Posted August 2, 2013 by SmarterTravel.com
Your carry-on bag is typically where you pack the most valuable and
important items—or everything, if you hate checking a bag. But there are
some things that should never go in a carry-on. Read on to find out what they are.
Hey, we're all about packing healthy and cheap snacks.
But spare some consideration for the rest of us packed into a confined
space with you and leave behind any stinky or strong-smelling foods.
(We're looking at you, guy eating the tuna-fish sandwich in the middle
seat.) Anything garlicky, vinegary, hot, or pungent can bother other
passengers—even if it remains in your backpack or purse for the whole
You'd think it would be obvious not to
pack weapons in a carry-on, but judging by the number of guns, knives,
and explosives the TSA confiscates, it seems we all need a reminder. In
just one week, the TSA confiscated 49 firearms
at U.S. airports, as well as knives, box cutters, and grenades. Don't
forget about self-defense items like stun guns, small knives, and mace.
These aren't allowed in the cabin, so be sure to double-check your purse
or that rarely used backpack to make sure you haven't forgotten about
anything in there before you fly.
Meats, Cheeses, And Chocolate
Packing a hunk of cheese, block of
chocolate, or rope of meat? Leave it out of your carry-on. Some X-ray
machines cannot tell the difference between a wheel of cheese and a
plastic explosive. (They have similar densities.) If you do bring one of
these items, be prepared to unpack your carry-on for a bag search.
When in doubt—check it. If you're unsure
about whether you can bring something in your carry-on, you're probably
better off putting it in checked baggage instead of getting delayed at
security. Most sports equipment, for example, is not allowed in carry-on
baggage as it could potentially be used as a weapon. Examples of
prohibited items include baseball bats, golf clubs, pool cues, ski
poles, and hockey sticks. You can, however, bring aboard smaller items
like baseballs and basketballs. Check the TSA's rules on special items for further clarification.
Just because your weapons don't work
doesn't mean you can bring them on board. It seems that many of us like
to bring fun items like replica Claymore mines, inert grenades,
simulated explosives, and other non-working items back from vacation.
Unfortunately, the TSA doesn't know if these items are the real deal or
not until they call in the bomb squad—which pretty much guarantees
you'll be missing your flight (and possibly heading to jail).
Packing your electric toothbrush or razor?
Make sure you either take the batteries out or tape the item's switch
in the "off" position. Battery-powered devices can easily turn on after
being jostled around in a carry-on, which can in turn draw the attention
of security. Play it safe and pack your batteries separately from your