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Seeing the *Word* Through New Eyes

December 23, 2010
Spanish addition

¿Comprendes las palabras? ©JF Sebastian, via Flickr

If you’ve ever traveled to a country where you didn’t understand the language, you’re keenly aware of the feelings of helplessness and confusion that arise when you can’t read or comprehend something as simple as a street sign. Phrase books can help out a great deal when you’re trying to speak, but what about when you’re trying to understand? What then?

Meet WordLens.

WordLens is a really unique translation app for the iPhone. I first found out about it a couple of days ago from my brother C* who recently tested the English to Spanish version of the app at work. Point your iPhone’s camera at words or a block of text in a language you don’t understand and WordLens will translate the text right there, in place. Although my brother admitted the app becomes slightly clumsier when handling larger blocks of text, he assured me that it really does work.

See WordLens in action. Read more…

An Evening With an Icon: A review of The Olde Pink House, Savannah, Georgia

December 21, 2010

Situated just off Reynolds Square, The Olde Pink House is a virtual icon of Savannah history, architecture, and cuisine. Construction on the Georgian colonial-style building began in 1771 and was completed in 1789. Since then, it’s been many things: a family home, a bank, a Union army headquarters during the Civil War, and now one of the most unique dining establishments in Savannah.

The architectural gem is also a ghost hunter’s paradise: rumor has it the ghost of James Habersham, Jr., the original owner of the house, appears to visitors and staff from time to time. And yes—the building itself is most definitely pink. When I decided to spend Thanksgiving in Savannah, I knew I wanted to have Thanksgiving dinner someplace special. The Olde Pink House definitely fit the bill. Read more…

Weekend Intelligence: December 18-19, 2010

December 18, 2010

It’s been a crazy week—finishing up some projects at work before I leave on vacation for the holidays plus submitting my final paper and taking a final exam at school. I’ve been waiting all week for the weekend…just so I could put together what’s becoming one of the more popular features of the blog: Weekend Intelligence. Here. We. Go.

  • What’s the best part of the holidays? Traditions. Whether it’s chopping down your own Christmas tree the weekend after Thanksgiving or lighting the menorah each night of Hanukkah, there is no shortage of rituals that enliven and add meaning to the holiday season. This week, Travel + Leisure Magazine rounds up some of the world’s strangest holiday traditions and while “strange” is a relative term, I’ve gotta admit some of these traditions are pretty unique. My favorite of the bunch? Zwarte Piet or “Black Pete” from Belgium and the Netherlands. Because if a man shows up at my door and wants to whisk me off to Spain, I’m not gonna resist or complain. Just sayin’. Read more…

Weekend Intelligence: December 11-12, 2010

December 11, 2010

When the weather turns bitterly cold like it did this week, many people simply want to curl up indoors with some good reading. Well, Single Occupancy brings the good reads right to you! I hope you’ll  find the article round-up compiled by our editorial staff (of one) as intriguing and titillating as I did:

  • Underwater, underground, in the dark, and suspended from a crane: these are only a few of the ways you can partake in some of the latest innovations in dining according to Travel + Leisure Magazine’s “World’s Strangest Restaurants.” The very strangest of these gastronomic oddities in my opinion? Eating dinner while sitting on a toilet. Also the most convenient, I might add. If your dinner doesn’t agree with you, you don’t have far to go for some relief. Ew. (Okay, okay—they’re non-working toilets but still!) Read more…

Getting Some Sugar in Savannah

December 9, 2010

My initial impulse on that first morning in Savannah was to head to the heart of the Historic District, but as I exited my hotel and headed east on Bay Street, out of the corner of my eye I could see the Savannah River. I made an abrupt left, crossing the street and descending down a steep, curved, cobblestone-lined stairwell down to River Street. It was early yet and there were only a few people there taking an early morning stroll or staring out across the watery expanse. The sky was a crisp, clear blue and the breezes cool as the massive hull of a loaded cargo ship floated silently downriver.

Cargo ship on the Savannah River

The MSC Loretta making its way down the Savannah River on my first morning in Savannah

Read more…

Meeting Savannah

December 7, 2010
talmadge-bridge

The Talmadge Memorial Bridge

I didn’t exactly have an auspicious start to my Thanksgiving jaunt to Savannah, Georgia.

I had arrived late that night by train, under the cover of darkness. A short, ten-minute taxicab ride brought me from the Savannah Amtrak station to my hotel, the Doubletree Historic Savannah located at the northwest edge of Savannah’s Historic District. The hotel was a little more posh than I’m used to—I’m usually a campsite and hostel kind of girl—but hostels and campsites are hard to come by in the heart of Savannah.

The room turned out to be a very good deal for what it was, and the king-sized four-poster bed and spacious room had me at hello. From my window, I could see the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, lit softly against the dark night sky.  But soon enough there would be time for exploring—now it was late and time for bed. Burrowed beneath the plush comforter and cocooned in my silky white pajamas, I smiled to myself.

I was finally in Savannah.

Waking with the birds the following morning, I was dressed and out the door by 8:30 am.  I had no fixed plans–it was an experiment, really, this “living spontaneously” thing. Under normal circumstances, I’d have filled my travel notebook with a minute-by-minute itinerary of all my activities for the day but this time, I was throwing the playbook out of the window. There was hardly any traffic on the roads and even less on the sidewalks as I drew in my first breath of Savannah air.

I wasn’t expecting a big metropolitan city like New York or San Francisco; to own the truth, I didn’t know what I’d find. In the weeks leading up to the trip, I’d kept myself from looking at images of Savannah because I wanted that catch of discovery, that “ooh…ahh” moment of seeing something for the very first time and being thrilled by its novelty. No—Savannah doesn’t hit you over the head with color, pizzazz, and movement like the big cities do. The pace is slower, the colors slightly more muted, but its beauty runs true and deep. Savannah seduced me, slowly and sweetly with its old-fashioned Southern gentility and modern-day charm. Before I knew it, I had fallen in love.

city-hall

The gleaming, golden dome of Savannah's City Hall as seen from Wright Square down Bull Street.

It started tentatively, with that first taste of a creamy, fudgy praline at River Street Sweets, grew and continued through a lovely lunch at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room, reached its climax with tears at The Tea Room, and gradually settled into a comfortable rapport over black-eyed pea hummus and braised veal cheeks at Broughton & Bull. And yes, I realize many of my highlights have to do with food. Deal with it.

Over the next few days, I’m going to take you on a tour of Savannah seen through my eyes, past centuries-old buildings and beneath billowing swaths of Spanish moss; down the winding Savannah River and through verdant squares (all twenty-two of them!); and around tombstones and over cobblestones and ballastones.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride.

Weekend Intelligence: December 4-5, 2011

December 4, 2010

Ah, yes—I’m back from my Thanksgiving jaunt to Savannah, Georgia and already dreaming about my next destination. Before my wanderlust whisks me away, however, my next stop is Fort Lauderdale, Florida to spend the holidays with my family. I’m looking forward to escaping our 40-degree weather here in New Jersey and spending some warm days on the Intracoastal Waterway.  Until then, here’s a roundup of travel stories that caught my eye this week:

  • Don’t Touch My Junk! – In a couple of weeks I’m going to have my first encounter with the new TSA screening procedures and I’m none too happy about it. Thanks to this recent article from the folks at Budget Travel (“Why is the TSA Questioning Me?”) I’ve got a heads up on how to reduce my odds of being singled out for the dreaded “enhanced” pat down.
  • It’s the end of another year and between holiday shopping and exhausted travel budgets, how do you satisfy that ever-burgeoning wanderlust? Thankfully, SmarterTravel.com has compiled a variety of escapes on the cheap in its “Top Five Bargain Destinations for Winter 2010/2011.”
  • No, Virginia, it’s not your grandmother’s hostel – Hostels have become a mainstay in the arsenal of many a backpacker, but they’re also growing in popularity among other travelers. However, the days of the hostel as pariah in the lodging world are quickly vanishing thanks to hostels that have taken services and amenities up a notch. Rooftop lounges? Yes, please!
  • ‘Tis the season for giving and receiving—If you’re looking for a gift for your favorite traveler, why not peruse New York Times’ Frugal Traveler Seth Kugel’s “Travel Gifts from $10 to $60”? My favorite item on his list? The Bheestie, a moisture-absorbing bag to save your tech gadgets after they’ve accidentally gone for a swim.
  • From the Single Occupancy Weekly – Blogger Gray Cargill of SoloFriendly.com felt like the resident village idiot during her recent trip to Paris. It’s a story of flubbed French phrases, culture confusion, and spilled wine which Gray handles with grace, humor, and a little self-effacement. Read “The Village Idiot in Paris,” this typically intrepid travel blogger’s misadventures in the City of Light.

Until next time: happy travels and happy holidays!