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Archive for the ‘Entertainment’ Category

Downtown Houston

Downtown Houston by telwink, on Flickr

When picking a new travel assignment, you can compare the “cool” factor of cities across the country.  Forbes ranked 65 American cities based on how cool a place they are to live. Cities with abundant entertainment and recreational opportunities, large number of restaurants and pubs (excluding chains), young diverse population, significant migration into the city, and low unemployment rate were the factors used to compile the list.

Houston’s strong economy has spurred its enviable growth. Residents and visitors enjoy world-class arts, pro sports teams, award-winning cuisine and loads of shopping in the nation’s fourth largest city.

WHAT TO SEE

  • •Buy a $2 METRORail ticket and go explore Houston’s Museum District. With 19 museums and a 50-acre zoo, the intellectually curious will find a range of satisfying topics from the Holocaust to postmodern art.
  • •Bike or hike on trails inside the 10.4 acre downtown Sesquicentennial Park or kayak through Buffalo Bayou during a four hour urban excursion.
  • •Play at the number #1 ranked children’s museum in the country or take the kids to the Health Museum—it’s part of the world renowned Texas Medical Center.
  • •Shopaholics can spend days in the Galleria with more than 375 stores. Take a break at the indoor ice skating rink.
  • •Spend an evening at the 17-block Theater District. Reserve a seat at the Alley Theater, the Houston Grand Opera, or Houston Symphony.
  • •Sports fans can back their favorite pro team. H-town has its own football, baseball, basketball, soccer, and hockey teams.

TOP TEN

The top ten coolest cities in America are:

Houston, Texas

Washington, D.C.

Los Angeles, California

Dallas, Texas

Seattle, Washington

San Diego, California

Boston, Massachusetts

Orange County, California

San Francisco, California

New York, New York

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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BDesotelle1

Photo courtesy Bruce Desotelle

I love this time of year, when every weekend, stadium parking lots come alive with a sea of tailgaters. For example, Kansas City Chiefs’ fans are known to get the party started a few days early. Each football town has its own way to boost team spirit. As healthcare travelers, you have the opportunity to witness first-hand how different fans in different cities honor their teams’ tailgating traditions.

Regardless of where you attend the party while on assignment, there is a certain etiquette expected of all tailgaters. Here are a few of the basics for beginners.

• Fanfare: Unless you’re a diehard fan for your own team, invest in some local spirit gear, such as a cap or T-shirt, so you fit in with the crowd.

• Car show: Once on the scene, stroll the grounds to see how vehicles have been decked out and customized to display their owners’ over-the-top team loyalty. Most people will be happy to explain how they converted an old school bus into a football lounge on wheels.

• Personal chef: One of the best parts of tailgating is tasting regional favorites prepared on portable grills or creatively constructed cook tops. If you’re in Boston on assignment, you’ll find kettles of New England clam chowder at Gillette Stadium. Every grill at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisc., will be loaded with brats. Even if you’re not hosting the football fiesta, offer to contribute to the menu, maybe a side dish or dessert. Extra ice and drinks are always appreciated, too.

• Dress code: Better to be over-prepared than get caught in the rain or snow. Bring an umbrella, or gloves, scarf, and hat if you are on contract in a northern town. Here’s a thought: battery operated portable heater.

• Keep cool: Sure, the majority of people will be cheering for the local pigskin players, but there could be visiting fans, too. Good-natured teasing might be okay, but keep the “game talk” G-rated so everyone has a good time.

• Clean-up service: No matter if you’re attending the big game or watching the gridiron showdown on TVs set up in the parking lot (yes, that happens), don’t leave a mess behind. Bring along extra trash bags to pick up after your neighbors if necessary.

Whatever the final score, everyone wins when tailgating is done right.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Florida vacation & June 08-45

Flordia vacation & June 08-45 by juliawhite1115, on Flickr

For years, my family has spent summer vacations soaking up the sun on different Gulf Coast beaches. It is one of my favorite ways to relax.

In July, we drove to Florida’s Navarre Beach. Situated between Pensacola and Destin, its welcome sign reads, “Florida’s Best Kept Secret.” I have to agree. If you are on assignment in northwest Florida or just looking for a place to rejuvenate, Navarre Beach is a narrow strip of heaven on earth.   

WHAT TO SEE AND DO

  • Playing in the sugar white sand and clear, emerald green waters is the number one reason to visit Navarre. Beach umbrellas and lounge chairs can be rented for $25 per day.
  • Walk or fish on the new Navarre Beach Fishing Pier, the longest of any piers in the Gulf of Mexico and a short stroll from our condo. Visitors pay $1 each to walk the 1,545-foot pier and $7 to fish. On weekends, live music plays at the adjacent Pier Restaurant.
  • Bike along the National Seashore–an eight-mile stretch of undeveloped shoreline protected by the federal government. Only ten coastal areas in the U.S. have received this recognition. Take a camera to snap photos of nesting sea turtles or the towering dunes.
  • Hang out at Juana’s Pagodas (look for the thatched roofs) beside the Navarre Bridge.  The complex includes a restaurant, bakery, and pub. You may also rent jet skis, a sailboat, boogie board, stand-up paddleboard, bike, and/or a surfboard.

WHERE TO STAY

If you are within driving distance but too far for a day trip, you may opt to stay overnight. My family and I stayed at the new high-rise condominium, Beach Colony West. Our 1,700-square-foot unit had three bedrooms and three bathrooms. A large picture window and sliding glass door in the living room provided views of the water. The best spot to enjoy morning coffee was the outdoor, circular porch with a table for four. This complex boasts the largest swimming pool in Navarre.

Condos are an affordable option for multiple families or couples who want to share the cost. Contact Gulf Blue Vacations (gulftbluevacations.com for information. Rates vary by season. (The condo, for example, rents for $2,420 per week in July.) After September 15, the weekly rate is half that amount. Taxes and cleaning fees are additional.

MORE INFORMATION

Visit floridabeachestorivers.com for tips on planning a laidback beach getaway.

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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Happy Labor Day, everyone! While everyone’s favorite September holiday tips its hat to the economic and social contributions of American workers, it also also signifies the unofficial end of summer/beginning of fall. And of course, it is often celebrated with friends and family, and a variety of food-related festivities—from brunches and barbecues to potluck suppers and picnics.

As a traveler, you get to experience new beginnings every 13 weeks or so. You also have the opportunity to try regional fare and unique dining options in countless locations throughout the U.S. and beyond. Odds are you’ve discovered some pretty amazing and tasty treats along the way. You know, the kind of stuff you may never have stumbled upon if it weren’t for your mobile career.

We would love to hear about your picks for the best restaurants and takeout places in your assignment communities. We’d also like to learn about great eateries you’ve discovered en route to a contract destination.

To kick things off, I thought I’d tell you about one of my favorite haunts in New York City. If you find yourself in or close to the Big Apple during a travel assignment, consider a trip to Britain. No, that’s not a typo; I’m talking about Little Britain, the wonderfully Anglo-centric slice of the city’s West Village. It’s where you’ll find Tea & Sympathy.

Tea & Sympathy (right), situated in New York’s West Village.

For more than 20 years, owners Nicky Perry and Sean Kavanagh-Dowsett have provided New Yorkers and out-of-towners with the opportunity to enjoy a “proper cuppa” and traditional English fare. Once you set foot in this charming, authentic British café, you will be swiftly and happily transported to Dear Old Blighty. The atmosphere is intimate and cozy, the service impeccable, and all of the staff hail from the United Kingdom.

My recommendations? A proper bacon butty with HP brown sauce and of course, Tea & Sympathy’s famous scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream. As you may expect, there are a plethora of options for tea lovers, from black currant, to Chai, to my pick, Typhoo.

A delicious bacon butty!

Tea & Sympathy’s famous scones with raspberry jam and clotted cream. Yum!

A variety of teas in the sweetest little teapots.

Tea & Sympathy also serves spot on bangers and mash, and the best treacle pudding this side of Tooting Broadway. Located at 108 Greenwich Avenue, it is open Monday through Friday, 11:30 am to 10:30 pm, and Saturday and Sunday from 9:30 am to 10:30 pm.

Happy travels,

Bobbi

Bobbi Harrison is content channel manager for Healthcare Traveler and LocumLife.

***

Like to recommend a great place for a bite? Contact Bobbi Harrison at bharrison@advanstar.com.

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Photo: Big Hassle

If being on the move is stressing you out, try creating a pick-me-up playlist to improve your mood and relieve tension.

Need a few recommendations?

Check out these tunes to help maintain your sanity while on the road.

Settle Down – No Doubt

The Southern California band is back and better than ever with this dancehall-inspired track. Sure, the chorus will get stuck in your head but just sway with the melody and go with it.

Roll Away Your Stone – Mumford & Sons

If you aren’t already acquainted with this indie favorite, there’s no better Mumford & Sons song to introduce you to the British folk rock band than “Roll Away Your Stone.” The tune is contagious and perfect for highway driving with the windows rolled down.

Lights – Ellie Goulding

Get your dance on with this radio darling that was a hit in the UK a whole two years before it caught the attention of music lovers Stateside. Ellie Goulding had the honor of performing at the wedding reception of Prince William and Kate Middleton so if she’s good enough for royalty, she’s good enough for your playlist.

Everybody Talks – Neon Trees

It’s nearly impossible to be in a bad mood while listening to the rockin’ feel-good tunes from Provo, Utah’s own Neon Trees. Upbeat and catchy, “Everybody Talks” is sure to be in heavy rotation on your MP3 player.

Unashamed Desire – Missy Higgins

Slow things down with this first single from Australian singer Missy Higgin’s latest disc The Ol’ Razzle Dazzle. Bluesy and emotional, you’ll love her powerful voice and confident lyrics.

Kelly Bryant is a freelance entertainment writer based in Los Angeles, California.

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Photo: Ben Sutherland via Flickr.com

Did you watch Ryan Lochte outswim Michael Phelps?

Or witness the U.S. men’s gymnastics team struggle only for the Fierce Five to dominate the women’s team event?

If you’re anything like the members of my family, you haven’t missed a single moment of the major Olympic events.

But for fans around the world, the stars of the 30th Modern Olympiad aren’t just in the pool, gym, or on the track. They compete in weight lifting, team handball, Judo, and other sports that may seem “less mainstream” to Americans. Still, these athletes are considered superstars in their home countries.

Here’s a glimpse at some of this year’s Olympic international all-stars.

Weightlifting

Photo: Greatist via Flickr.com

Don’t let Pimsiri Sirikaew’s height fool you. At 4’11”, the flight attendant from Thailand was a heavy favorite to medal. Her silver will surely earn as much honor as her teammate Prapawadee Jaroenrattanatarakoon’s 2008 gold medal.

Virtually unknown before 2008, Iranian champion Behdad Salimikordasiabi of the men’s competition has taken the winner’s podium in one international competition after another over the past four years. It’s no surprise that he dominated the Olympic stage, winning gold in the +105kg event.

Team Handball

Photo: SH Photography / hegi.info via Flickr.com

Ever heard of team handball? If you have, you can forget the one-on-one competitions you would typically see at gyms and playgrounds. This is a serious sport played by 800,000 teams in 183 countries, and is projected to be a major moneymaker in London.

If you’re planning on watch the event, don’t expect to cheer on Team USA because it’s the only entry in which Americans are not represented. Instead, you can root for Norway, Korea, Spain, or Montanegro, the semifinalists heading into the final week of competitions.

Judo

Phot0: Clicks2006 via Flickr.com

Historically, Japan has ruled this sport, but French heavyweight Teddy Riner took top honors.

Although she didn’t make it past the first round, Wojdan Shaherkani made history as the first woman from Saudi Arabia to compete. She even had competitors rally behind her to convince officials to permit her wearing a traditional headscarf during the match.

Their 15 minutes of fame

This is just a sampling of the many Olympic competitions going on right now. They may not always draw the biggest headlines, but for fans of the sport and from the 204 nations represented, it’s a moment in the international limelight.

Be sure to check out the August issue of Healthcare Traveler for a feature on mobile professionals who use assignments to participate in their sport of choice, such as marathons, CrossFit, and equestrian eventing.

Anne Baye Ericksen is a professional writer who has contributed to Healthcare Traveler since 1996. She resides with her family in Simi Valley, Calif.

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Photo: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Every year, our family buys season tickets to Summer Lyric productions at Tulane University in New Orleans. For more than 45 years, they’ve been producing a made-in-America art form—musical theater.

We’ve seen singing nuns march down the aisles in “The Sound of Music,” and anxiously watched Norma Desmond—arms akimbo and eyes wide open—descend the staircase for her final close up in “Sunset Boulevard.”

Each season, three musicals are staged with a live orchestra and amazing casts. Attending these shows is one of the highlights of our summer.

Colleges across the country produce a wide range of theatrical performances from elaborate musicals and classic plays, to the avant-garde and absurd.

To find out what’s playing at a college near you, visit the university’s website and search for its theater or dramatic arts department.

The following schools have announced their 2012-2013 season:

Carnegie Mellon (CMU) — Pittsburgh, PA

The School of Drama Subscribers Series kicks off with a funny and sexy production of “The Rivals,” directed by a guest artist from Britain. The season also includes the Tony award winning “Angels in America, Part One: Millennium Approaches,” the new musical version of “Spring Awakening,” and three modernized versions of Shakespeare plays. Visit the CMU School of Drama website for more information.

Florida State University (FSU) — Tallahassee, FL

The MaGrath sisters are having a particularly bad day in the Pulitzer prize winning, “Crimes of the Heart.” Additional highlights of the season include: “How to Succeed in Business without Really Trying,” “The Monster Under the Bed,” and “Much Ado About Nothing.” Visit the FSU School of Theater website for more information.

California State University (CSU) — Fullerton, CA

Wacky wit and black humor skewers Mom and Dad in “Baby with the Bathwater,” the season opener at California State University. Ticket holders can also see a range of shows from the mature and daring “Metamorphoses,” to the classic musical “Carousel.” Visit the CSU Fullerton Department of Theater & Dance website for more information.

Jim Twardowski, BSN, RN, CMSRN, is a travel writer based in Louisiana. His work has been featured in AAA Home & AwayGlobal Traveler, and QUEST magazines.

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