Being interested in terrorism, a by-product of having your city attacked, I was intrigued when I saw the Counterterrorism Education Learning Lab (CELL) in the museum area of Denver. Thecell.org
Their description is “The only one of its kind, The CELL’s exhibit is a dynamic, interactive experience with content developed by world-renowned experts that provides visitors with an in-depth understanding of the history of terrorism, the methods terrorists employ and the extent to which terrorism impacts societies around the world.”
I think it’s a perfect description.
The lab is self-guided and is very natural the way it is set up. None of that guessing about where to go or what to do that you sometimes end up doing at a museum or exhibit. It’s high tech, educational and powerful.
You start with some history of terrorism, and then move into some of the tools of the trade. I now know what an RPG looks like. After that they lab moves into the area of who might be a terrorist and signs to look for in terrorist activity and of course the best way to report it.
The exhibit is suggested for 14 and over. However, I would caution that you have to know that 14-year-old child. I wouldn’t suggest it for my own 14-year-old nephew. Some exhibits are just a little too violent or real and may be too much for them.
In June I stayed at the brand new Courtyard Marriott Herald Square in New York City for one night when I had a night out on the town planned. My original reservation was for a city view room with two full sized beds. When I checked in I was offered a non-city view room or an executive room (King Bed and Pull out sofa) with a city view. I’m usually not a fan of pull out beds in hotel rooms, but I figured in a hotel that was 2 weeks old the bed would be in good shape.
So up I went to room 911 with a view of the city (midtown). The room was obviously nice and fresh, being only 2 weeks old. When you walked in the room you’re in a hallway that has the bathroom at the end and the bedroom area to the right. The benefit to this design was that you can’t see the room from the hallway of the hotel.
The room had a king sized bed, a small couch (twin sized pull out bed), flat screen TV, coffee table, desk, small closet with THIN full length mirror, coffee maker and a mini fridge. I found the bed and couch comfortable and although the closet was small, it was what I would expect in a hotel in New York City.
The room was quite spacious for 2 people (by New York City standards), but it would be tight with a third person in it for more than a day or two. They layout was good for the space, my only complaint is that if you sit at the desk you block access to the rest of the room.
Also worth mentioning is that there is security at the entrance of the hotel, while the doors open automatically during daytime hours you need a room key to enter at night. I like that extra bit of security.
If you’re looking for a reasonably priced hotel in midtown I would recommend staying here, it was clean, secure and the staff seemed to care.
I’ve addressed the “issue” of lap infants on flights several times. Even though I have no children of my own (I have traveled with my own nephews several times), it’s a subject I feel pretty passionate about. While I understand the financial hardship of purchasing a seat for a small child, one that you may end up holding for an extended period during a flight, I do not believe it is safe. On a United flight this week from Denver to Billings the plane his severe turbulence, injuring several passengers and crew members. There is also a report of a child flying up in the air during the turbulence, though not injured.
I do believe there is a difference between flying to visit family and taking a vacation – one you may have limited control over (family can be persistent), while the other (vacation) is completely discretionary. And, if you can’t afford to pay for your child on a flight for a vacation, then perhaps you need to reconsider if you can afford the trip.
Mommy Points wrote a great article about lap infants and their safety this week. Personally, I’m not a fan of the FAA’s decision to allow lap infants and I wonder what will happen when just one lap infant gets seriously injured on a flight.
Another trend in the lap infant debate is the roll of airlines. I have heard stories of passengers being pressured into NOT buying a seat for a child under 2. While the FAA allows this, I don’t think they ever intended to take the option away from parents. But what about this case with Spirit Airlines that Chris Elliot highlighted a few days ago. Parents who purchased a seat for their child and were asked to give it up to another passenger due to a broken seat. I can understand the parents wanting to be helpful and maybe even feeling a little pressured to agree, since they were already on the plane. But why do airlines underestimate the risk? If I tried to book a seat for my under 2 child and the airline pressured me not to, and something happened to the child. Who am I suing?
While I think this is an issue that will only be resolved by the FAA, I hope it’s not at the expense of a child who is injured. Until then it is a choice for parents to make, but I do hope they make their decision based on more than just the financial aspect.
For my trip to Australia I wanted to push my comfort zone and opted to stay in some hostels. In Melbourne I stayed at the Space Hotel in a single room. I arrived after 11PM on a Sunday night and the staff was friendly and I was upgraded to a larger room on the 4th floor. I got a full size bed for my stay and more space.
I had read, and it is true that the bathrooms are not that clean. It’s not that they’re dirty, but with the amount of traffic they get they could be cleaned more often. It would probably also help if they used better toilet paper that didn’t fall apart when you tried to pull it. Each floor had 5 bathrooms and mine had 1 or 2 handicapped bathrooms. If you can claim a handicap you might do better with the bathrooms. I found the number of bathrooms to be sufficient even though I had to wait to shower one morning. The bathrooms were situated with a shower, toilet and sink, so one stop shopping. The bathroom would benefit from more counter space too, but it was workable.
The room was nice, and included a flat screen TV and an iPod/iPhone player, though it was not compatible with new lightening chargers. The bed was on the stiffer side, but at least there were no divots in it. There were plenty of plugs in the wall, handy even though I only had one plug adapter. The room temperature was adjustable and there was a closet, desk and 2 night stands.
As for the rest of the hotel… There was a gym, which was on the small side, lounges, meeting rooms, a kitchen, laundry, a bar and a rooftop area. The rooftop seemed like a nice area with lounge chairs and a hot tub, if I had more time I would have hung out there more often.
The location was just ok. Although it was near a couple sites I wanted to see, it was not in the heart of the Central Business District so there was not as much foot traffic, restaurants or shops in the area, which was disappointing.
Overall it was a nice hotel/hostel. Although I would consider staying again, I would likely explore other options in Melbourne before jumping on this one again.
In November when I flew to Australia my flight from JFK was on Delta and it was my first time flying out of the new Terminal (4) and the first time I would get to see the new Delta Sky Club at Terminal 4. My vast experience of airline clubs consists of having been to the BA Lounge in JFK once. So my standards are pretty high and not necessarily based in reality of the average lounge.
First things first, Terminal 4. It’s a nice terminal. After security you do have to go downstairs which I always find annoying when they make you change floors. In the main area by the stairs/escalators/elevators there were a lot of selections of food and shops for the average traveler. The normal stuff you would find in an airport. Once you leave that area I found the selection diminished severely. It had fancier shops and higher end food or just a quick grab a sandwich type of thing. It was missing more of the fast food places, ya know, quick, hot, crappy food you can eat on the run. The other problem with terminal 4 is it is a LONG WALK to some of those gates and there are not many moving walkways. When I say long walk, I mean 10-15 minutes from security, possibly more if you’re one of the last gates and you’re a slow walker.
The Sky Club
It was actually very nice in aesthetics, a wide variety of different seating areas for different types of travelers. There were some snacks and a few complimentary drinks. Then of course you could order food and drinks at an additional cost. I found this surprising. The BA lounge I was in not only had a selection of hot foods, but they had a dining room with a full service buffet with a wide selection of food. The other problem was that the food to order was not cheap, which probably explains why it was all fancy foods. It was like they were trying really hard to make a menu to match the prices. How about a turkey sandwich, you can put it on fancy bread and give it an upgraded condiment with it. Jazz up something simple instead going all high end and making people pay for it. So no, I did not order anything, nothing appealed to me.
Now that I’ve gotten past my bitterness about the food, on to the things I liked. The views, there were views of the airport on both sides. There is even an outside deck, allowing you some fresh air and the sounds of planes taking off. There was perfect weather the day I was there, I enjoyed that spot.
There are also plugs EVERYWHERE, there was at least one plug at every seat. Even the dining tables have plugs at them. Well done on the plugs by Delta – 5 star job!
And after the chaotic day I had before arriving at the airport I was glad to take a shower. Yes, little shower rooms. I did like the red walls, nice touch! I did appreciate the fancy soap on this occasion, though I didn’t bother with washing my hair or anything. I do think they made a bad call with making clear shower walls. If someone accidentally walked in on someone, they’ll get a free show before they even realize what had happened.
No matter the food or if you want a shower, the Sky Club does offer a retreat from the terminal. Although the terminal wasn’t too crazy or too loud, it’s always nice to have a comfy seat and an outlet to charge your phone.