Readuponit: Travel and voracious reading

Max Hartshorne, travel website editor, sharing some of the stuff I read, hear and see with you. Updated every day. Click on the photos to enlarge them.

Dr Samuel Gladstone to Retire After Serving with Distinction

by Max Hartshorne on October 29, 2014

Samuel Gladstone MD

Samuel Gladstone MD

I’ve been lucky in life to have had a steady hand looking over my health since 1991. That’s when I began to visit Dr Samuel Gladstone as my personal physician. I can look at my chart every visit, much of it hand written in Sam’s unique style of penmanship. I got a letter from the good doc announcing his retirement from practicing in Amherst.

I have always felt confident and well taken care of, as I bet his hundreds of patients all around Amherst would say too. He really was very good at his chosen craft, and made me feel good.

Here is some of what he said in his farewell letter.

“You have all helped me to live my lifelong dream of being a family physician in the town in which I live.

I plan on growing old in Amherst, so if you see me around town, please say hello. Some of you don’t like to acknowledge our relationship in public, so I will try not to make the first move.

It has been an honor to be your physician and to have had you share your life with mine, thank you for that opportunity.

Sincerely,

Samuel Gladstone MD

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TRYP by Wyndham: A Giant Room in Crowded Manhattan, Wow!

by Max Hartshorne on October 28, 2014

My huge room at the Tryp by Wyndham hotel on 45th St. New York City. Fab!

My huge room at the TRYP by Wyndham hotel on 45th St. New York City. Fab!

I found my hotel last night after a long walk across town, and the friendly people in the lobby gave me a positive feeling. There is lots of wood here at TRYP by Wyndham, and screens in the lobby directing you to all sorts of information about the hotel and about what’s going on outside. But the real hotel room test comes when you open the door.

My premium room was a surprise. First a big living area–bigger than the apartment where I visited my friend Bruce in lower Manhattan. A wide expanse of space, then a hallway with a nice wooden bureau, a second bathroom and way on the far end, a metal screen and a kingsized bed. I’m typing now on the marble countertop next to a Keurig that I couldn’t get to work. Oh well.

I just returned from the hotel’s Gastropub, on the first floor, where a large hot breakfast is served, including scrambled eggs, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, and served on china plates, not the throw-away kind of paper you see at cheap hotels. $17 for the full buffet, including a cup of coffee to go in a china cup. During the day they serve tapas and other Mediterranean fare like hummus and grape leaves. Everything looked fresh and well prepared, hardly a hallmark of hotel buffets.

Outside of the room, even on the third floor, it was quiet, and there are lots of elevators so no long waits. There’s a business center that even lends out laptops! Meeting facilities include video conferencing, and there’s a large terrace here too. They also loan out devices to create white noise and Wii game units for the kids.

The location surprised me. Located on a somewhat dark corner of West 35th St., there is just a small blue sign, no big drive up lobby and an army of doormen. Like so many hotels, TRYP relies on giving guests only what they need, and no one really needs those guys wearing the big puffy uniforms and hats to hail cabs and hustle tips for touching your bags.  The people who work at TRYP are friendly and helpful, you don’t always see that in a New York City hotel full of people speaking different languages and asking all sorts of questions.

Nearby is Penn Station and Port Authority, so it was easy to get to my business meetings in midtown.

This room that could easily sleep two couples (with the fold-out couch) and they could each have their own bathrooms for the $449 rate plus tax, which comes out to $518. Not cheap—but if you do the math, and team up with a few others this is a great alternative in NYC for your next visit. Find out more at their website.

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All About Drones

by Max Hartshorne on October 23, 2014

A drone infographic

All About drones

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Bath Bakhmaro: Scrubbing My Way to Bliss in Tbilisi

by Max Hartshorne on October 19, 2014

Our scrubber at the Bath Bakhmaro in Tbilisi.

Our scrubber at the Bath Bakhmaro in Tbilisi.

I’m still feeling relaxed and clean four hours after emerging from Tbilisi’s famous sulfur baths, called Bath Bakhmaro, located in the historic district and hard to miss by its distinctive brick domes.  We had anticipated our visit since we first came to Tbilisi, and so we arranged to rent two rooms for our party–five women in one and four men in another.

The cost for the rooms was 5o lari and 10 more to pay the guy or gal who scrubbed us from head to toe.  For $11.86, I was treated to absolute bliss, that lasted a lot longer than any massage I’ve ever had.

Plus, the water was hotter than any so-called hot tub I’ve ever slipped into and it was naturally heated hot spring water with a special sulfur aroma. Not bad, though when you enter the arched doorways of the spa it hits you quite distinctly.

When our appointed time came (you must arrange this ahead of time), we entered our bath and removed our clothes, some of us using thin towels provided for one lari, others using thick terry towels borrowed from the Holiday Inn. We walked from our private changing room into a tiled room with deep tub about five feet deep, with seats built in.  Next to this was a table made of marble and tile where we would get our scrubbing.

Max relaxing after our scrub and soak in Tbilisi.

Max relaxing after our scrub and soak in Tbilisi.

In the next room were two showers that poured out cold water, which we would appreciate after soaking ourselves in the 40 centigrade sulfur water, (104 fahrenheit).  I was going to wear a bathing suit, as did a younger colleague of mine, but after I saw my other two buddies butt naked, I figured what the hell, and took it off.

We soaked in the hot pool for a while and then jumped out and took a cold shower. It took a while to get all the way into the cold, but after a few of these hot and cold exchanges I was much more willing to let the cold really cover me, and then run back to the hot pool.

Then our man entered wearing a bathing suit and motioned Max, my colleague to come forward and lie on the table.  He began scrubbing him from the shoulders down the body to the legs, using force to really scrub.  Then he poured a few big buckets of the hot water on top of Max and told him to turn over, and he repeated the procedure. We kept coming in and out of the tub enjoying the contrast.

Then later our man had scrubbed all of us, he motioned for Max to come back. Now it was time to use soap to lather us all up. Max lay down and the scrubber took the loofa and put it inside of a mesh bag with lots of soap and proceeded to lather him from head to toe.  Then he poured the water a few times to remove it, and had him sit up and he washed his arms and chest. At one point Max couldn’t see a thing he was so covered in soap suds!

We all did this and then were instructed to get back into the cold water and do a few more hot/cold plunges. After a final cold rinse we emerged from the bath and sat, blissfully, in the changing room. No silly mellow music, no calm woman coming to you with herbal tea, simply the most relaxed and mellow feeling you can imagine.  At the end we paid our bill and gave our scrubber a few laris to thank him. None of this $20 tip thing you have come to expect in the US.  No, just simple bliss, for under $12.

We came out and compared notes with our female colleagues. Their scrubber did her work topless, which we thought was kind of cool. We are not sure about whether the women folk all got naked for their scrubs or modestly left on their suits. I guess what happens in Tbilisi will stay in Tbilisi!  Bath Bahkmaro, 5 Grishasvili St, Tbilisi, 272 05 94.

 

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Georgia: Traveling from the 12th to the 21st Century

October 18, 2014

Tweet   We woke up in Mestia,  about 30 km from the Russian border, and at 8 am we hit the winding road for a marathon 11-hour journey all the way back to the capital, Tbilisi.  The previous day we had ventured even further up north and visited a church with frescoes still perfectly clear [...]

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Eating the Republic of Georgia: Some of the Country’s Favorites

October 17, 2014

Tweet Georgia is a fantastic food destination, it’s full of fresh locally grown vegetables and the chefs don’t feel the need to use a heavy hand with sauces or dunk everything in frying oil. Here are some of the highlights of Georgian cuisine that we tasted during our journey and some of the things that [...]

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