Author Archives: Gabriel Hershman

Rent a dream machine for the New Year’s Eve celebrations

See the world flash by this holiday season ————————————————— Pascal-P / Flickr / CC BY-NC

 

The great thing about the holiday season is that you can afford to be ostentatious and rent a luxury car that’s a little above your normal means. Let’s face it, everyone like to impress that special person on a holiday date. For the New Year’s Eve celebrations, try three of our dream cars – all available from our vendors – and you certainly won’t regret it!

Porsche Boxster

Perhaps you’d like to show off to your girlfriend by taking her for a spin in a great sports car on New Year’s Eve? You can rent a vehicle you couldn’t normally afford to drive, like the new Porsche Boxster, a car that would normally set you back 90 000 dollars!

Porsche Boxster

 

 

The new Porsche Boxster is a mid-engined two-seater roadster. The first-generation Boxster was introduced in late 1996 and heavily influenced by the 1993 Box. The latest Boxster has all the trimmings of previous models but with more power, lower weight and great take-off. You can reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and 109 mph in 12.7 seconds. Yeah, man!

It’s a thrilling car to drive. When you hit the throttle, you hear a great roaring sound, a kind of intoxicating howl that is a real ego boost. The Porsche Boxster is also known for its amazingly fast gear changes.

Features include radio, CD, bucket seats, central locking, cruise control, satellite navigation system, power brakes, electric mirrors and tilt steering.

All in all, it’s a special car that will remind you of your younger, wild days!

 

The Porsche Panamera

The Porsche Panamera is a luxury four-door saloon; it is front-engined with rear-wheel drive, although four-wheel drive versions also available.

The Porsche Panamera

The Porsche Panamera production model was first unveiled in Shanghai in 2009. In 2011, hybrid and diesel versions were launched. In April 2013, a facelift to the Panamera was announced, launching again at the Auto Shanghai show. A plug-in hybrid version, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, has just been released into the U.S. market.

A nice aspect to the Panamera is that you can open the hood and still see engine components, just like in the old days. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The extra head room, even in the back seat of the sedan, allows plenty of space even for a strapping 6 foot 4 guy. It’s a functional car but with far more room than a traditional sedan.

Features include radio, CD, bucket seats, central locking, cruise control, electric mirrors, sunroof and tilt steering.

 

BMW M3 Convertible

A convertible, 414 horsepower, with extraordinarily seductive fittings, this BMW is able to negotiate all corners and conditions. It may be the most enjoyable and exotic car you will ever drive.

BMW M3 Convertible

Your friends will be completely blown away if you take them for a whirl in this vehicle. It has all the finely sculpted, elegant seats and great finish associated with previous BMW models but the BMW M3 Convertible will simply go anywhere faster and more safely. Just point the steering wheel where you want to go and let the car do the rest. All in all, it’s a superb example of thoughtful dynamics and craftsmanship.

Features include radio, CD, anti-theft device, bucket seats, central locking, cruise control, dual mirrors, satellite navigation system, power brakes, electric windows and tilt steering.

So go ahead and rent a luxury car from our vendors for the New Year’s Eve celebrations . You certainly won’t regret it!

Family togetherness over Christmas

Christmas is the time when the whole family gets together … and argues.

Cia de Foto / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

That’s an old joke that will resonate with many people as we approach the holidays. How could it be otherwise? You are seeing relatives whom you haven’t seen all year. Perhaps you spoke to them on the phone or emailed them but you haven’t actually sat down in the same room together. And the phone and email can be an impersonal form of communication – perhaps more about fact-finding and exchanging pleasantries. But in a way it’s easier to have a good relationship with them over the phone than face to face.

One big unhappy family? 

It’s only when you actually see them that the tensions start rising again. For example, you suddenly realize that everything about your brother’s manner and appearance annoys you. He has a habit of rubbing your nose in the fact that he has a better job than you and earns considerably more. He is too ostentatious about his wealth and you resent it bitterly –especially as it’s been yet another tight year financially for you. Not that you’ll ever go hungry or anything but you have to be careful about what you spend.

You get along OK with Mom but she has never really approved of your wife. Again, there’s a bit of socio-economic tensions. Circumstances mean that your wife works in Walmart. You resented it bitterly when your mom asked her – “Did you always want to be a shop assistant?” You’re still trying to work out if it was vindictive or just one of her infamous slip-ups. Probably the latter but it still rankles.

 

Your very practical brother-in-law

Also, you just realized that your brother-in-law will be there. You and he always clash about politics. You’re a liberal and he’s a conservative. What annoys you is that he’s so damn practical. If anything needs doing round the house, he’s just a dab hand with any tools or any piece of machinery. If your car needs a tweak he’ll be under the bonnet as fast as you can say “Michael Moore” – you two always end up arguing about him. And when he drinks…he always reminds you that you’re an airy fairy dreamer and a hopeless idealist. You know what really hurts? In your heart of hearts, you know he’s right!

Hey, they’re your family…

And then there’s your dad. It’s no secret that his recent stroke has made him a bit funny in the head. You’re a bit wary of him making comments on racial lines because your wife is of Indian background. And … hey, wait a minute, take a deep breath and calm down!  This is supposed to be an enjoyable occasion!! So don’t anticipate disaster. And don’t forget that your sister will be there. You always got on with her just swell, as they say.

The logistics

So how will you get there? The distance between Indianapolis and New Jersey is just too great. You’ll certainly not going to drive all the way there. On the other hand, you will need a car once you get to New York. That’s vital, if only because you’ll be staying there for a whole week and you’ll need a car to get you and your wife away from other family members when they get on your nerves.

Justin in SD / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

You will need a site that can do everything for you – book your flight and secure you the best car rental rates.

So stop worrying about whether you’ll have a row with your family. You probably will but…hey…enjoy the tension! You’ll have a whole year in which to recover.

 

 

Follow the sun with these great winter beach holidays

You face the grey, cold days with increasing trepidation. You’re starting to suffer from “SAD” (at the sunshine deprivation) and you occasionally thumb through the atlas looking for places where summer reigns all year round.  Here are some great places for a winter beach holiday where you can brush up on your tan.

Christopher Chan / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Saint Barthélemy

Fancy mixing with A-listers? Or maybe you are an A-lister reading this. (If so, this is my big chance, to say, hey Jennifer, loved you in Silver Linings Playbook.)

muscapix / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Big stars, you see, don’t go to places frequented by mere mortals. So where do Hollywood royalty spend their Christmas holidays? In St Barts, of course, this sun-kissed, sybaritic enclave in the Caribbean. In fact, if you are reading this, Jennifer, I bet you’re planning your St Barts getaway right now, aren’t you?

A word of warning, though. Visitors are expected to have some money. This is definitely not for budget holidaymakers.

This volcanic island is home to iguanas, picture-postcard perfect beaches, millionaires’ yachts and boutiques where you can cheerfully part company with tens of thousands of dollars inside a few minutes.

St Barts’ full-time population is composed of French settlers and transplanted Europeans – it’s certainly one of the most unusual of the French West Indies Islands.

muscapix / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

St Barts is also known – surprise, surprise considering it is part of France – as a place of gastronomic delights. You have so many great restaurants to enjoy the finest food with your toes virtually in the ocean. But let’s recommend just one – La Plage Restaurant – a hip place with a romantic appeal.

See you there, Jennifer!

St Petersburg, Florida

Florida is a great winter getaway for those looking for some sun. In the summer it’s a humid greenhouse but it’s perfect in the winter. As Ratso Rizzo said in the film Midnight Cowboy – “there are two things essential for life – sunshine and coconut milk,” and Florida has both in abundance.

State Library and Archives of Florida / Flickr

St Petersburg lies on a peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico on the West Coast. Once known as God’s waiting room – in view of its retired population – it’s now attracting a younger crowd.

St. Petersburg’s Beach, with its white sand and turquoise waters, stretches for five sun-kissed miles.

Daytime winter highs in the low seventies make St Petersburg a warm alternative. Tampa is just 22 miles away, Orlando 106 miles. If, on the other hand, you want to fly in from Washington, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour flight.  An agreeable distance and Washington and Florida occupy different worlds in the winter.

San Diego, California

Not rip-roaringly hot but this southern California city is nevertheless a nice winter-warmer – with daytime highs in the mid to upper sixties in December and January. You could fly to San Diego and pick up a car rental at the airport.

San Diego Shooter / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

 There are many beaches in the city but Pacific Beach is known for its wide stretches of sand and perfect surfing waves. If you enjoy surfing and find yourself working up a good appetite, then you have come to the right place. Why not enjoy a lavish breakfast of eggs, sausage and fresh avocado at beachside Kono’s Surf Club?

When you’re not sunbathing, you can explore all the attractions in this magnificent city. Visit San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and SeaWorld San Diego. Meanwhile, the city’s Latin American heritage is reflected in places such as Mission San Diego de Alcala and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.

Playa del Ingles, Gran Canaria

Perhaps you’re planning a trip to Europe and in between business meetings in northern capitals, you fancy a little warmth?

Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands is one of the few places in Europe where you are guaranteed some winter sunshine, lying as it does to the west of Morocco in the Atlantic. It’s also the most attractive of the Canary islands with miles and miles of sandy beaches.

Robby van Moor / Flickr / CC BY-ND

For those fancying a really great resort, you can’t beat Playa del Ingles. It has a long beach made of tall sand dunes, and is connected with other beach towns including San Agustín and Maspalomas in the touristic center of the island. Average daytime highs hit the low seventies in winter.

Detroit Thanksgiving is testament to a defiant city

Detroit, Michigan, was once an industrial empire with a huge automobile industry, first made famous by the legendary Henry Ford. Yet only a short time ago the city filed for bankruptcy, facing a fiscal cliff that threatened its very survival amid cripplingly high unemployment rates and massive urban flight. Many likened Detroit to a war-torn metropolis.

Yet this iconic city, a standard bearer for America’s extraordinary diversity, has tried to fight back. This year, in spite of the financial emergency, there have been some encouraging signs of revitalization. These include new constructions such as the $82 million reconstruction of the David Whitney Building in downtown Detroit and the Woodward Garden Block Development in the city’s midtown area.

And every year, as it has done for almost a whole century, Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day parade assumes center-stage, providing a welcome opportunity to forget the city’s (and one’s own!) problems and have some fun. 

Thanksgiving Day Parade - 2012

87 – not out!

This year, Detroit’s Thanksgiving Day Parade Turkey Trot, sponsored by 5/3 Bank, takes place on Thursday, November 28. It is expected to attract more than 30,000 runners and additional parade attendees, providing a real fillip to the local economy. This, the 87th Parade, will start at Woodward Avenue and Kirby and end at Woodward Avenue and Congress in downtown Detroit. You too can enjoy the extraordinary spectacle of Detroit Thanksgiving when you take a car rental to the parade.

Thanksgiving Day Parade - 2012

A rich history

Detroit’s traditional Thanksgiving Parade began in 1924. Gimbel’s in Philadelphia was actually the first American department store to try its hand at parade sponsorship. But it was J.L. Hudson’s in Detroit (at the heart of the downtown shopping district) that first launched a parade that became enshrined in Thanksgiving traditions.

Hudson’s relinquished sponsorship in 1979 when it turned it over to the Detroit Renaissance. Sponsorship was then handed over to The Michigan Thanksgiving Parade Foundation and, finally, in 1990, the foundation’s marketing and operating division, The Parade Company, was created.

In 1985, shortly after the parade experienced a major sponsorship change, the Distinguished Clown Corps made its first appearance in the parade. Local businessmen can serve as clowns for a $1,000 donation and many distinguished folk have done just that.

Thanksgiving Day Parade - 2012

All the fun of the fair

The Detroit Thanksgiving Parade is truly one of the most colorful in America, featuring the distinguished clown corps, flotillas and balloons. Expect to see Disney characters, school marching bands, giant floats and some genuinely eccentric incarnations – people dressed as giant ants or sunflowers and, in the past, even some participants riding penny farthing bicycles!

Previous parades have also seen horse-drawn processions, Mounties, dancers dressed as movie characters and marchers decked out in Star Wars costumes as well as giant papier-mâché heads of film stars such as Tom Selleck.

Football and footfall

What would Thanksgiving in Detroit be without a good game of football? The Detroit Lions have hosted a game on Thanksgiving Day since 1934. This year, Ford Field in downtown Detroit hosts the Detroit Lions vs. Green Bay Packers at 12.30pm.

A Turkey Day Flop

The day after Thanksgiving, Friday November 29, is a holiday for many and Detroit hosts one of the biggest shopping days of the year. Consult your local Thanksgiving Day newspaper to acquire ads, coupons, and circulars that will give you big savings. Some deals will enable you to get an extra 10 percent off if you shop before 11am.

Other cities may have similar processions to Detroit’s, for example New York’s giant Macy’s Parade, but the Michigan parade is truly inimitable and one that just has to be experienced. So make a date to be in Detroit on November 28!

The crimson tide: Four reasons why Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 is still an EVENT

You undress and take your place in a hot spring and submerge into a soothing liquid. You look down. You are bathing in crimson waters. Don’t worry, the liquid concerned is not blood! You have not accidentally stepped into some ghastly horror film! You are actually bathing in a Japanese spa, 80 km southwest of Tokyo.

horschmology / Foter.com / CC BY

It may sound fantastical but such is the popularity of Beaujolais Nouveau wine that thousands of people will be flocking to this spa for 10 days from November 21.  And someone will even appear at regular intervals to pour some more of this precious substance into the spa – just like your mother with a kettle on bath night when the boiler ran cold!

For many wine connoisseurs around the world, November marks the build-up to this year’s decanting of this celebrated wine made from Gamay grapes grown in the Beaujolais region. Such is the enduring appeal of this wine from a relatively small region in France’s central “breadbasket” that houses 4000 vineyards.

The figures speak for themselves. In 2010, around 35 million bottles of Beaujolais Nouveau entered the market. Of these, around 7.5 million were sold in French supermarkets and 15.5 million to Japan, Germany and the US. Around 49 million liters of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau 2013 are likely to be produced.

Here are four reasons why this French wine is such a favorite worldwide:

1. Quality

The wine comes from the vest of French grapes, all of which are handpicked. These are the only vineyards, along with champagne, where hand harvesting is mandatory. The wine has a fruity hue and the bitter tannins, normally found in red wines, are absent because the must is pressed early.

The wine may not excite all critics, of course. One wine writer, Karen MacNeil, has compared drinking Beaujolais Nouveau to eating cookie dough. Elsewhere on the net it’s been referred to as “kicked up grape juice”. But who cares about a few snobbish critics? Most people like it.

 

2. Tradition

The French love any excuse to uncork a few bottles and have a good party. There are about 120 Beaujolais Nouveau-related festivals held in the Beaujolais region alone. The most celebrated, Les Sarmentelles, is held in the town of Beaujeu, the area’s capital. The five-day festival features wine tasting, live music and dancing.

French law stipulates that the wines must be held until one second after midnight on release day which, it is also decreed, should be no earlier than the third Thursday of November.

“It’s the New Year’s day of wine. We celebrate the vintage – not just of Beaujolais, but all wines,” explains Patrick Fabre, proprietor of Paris bistro Aux Tonneaux des Halles.

Unlike other Nouveau wines, it doesn’t improve with age so you may as well drink it when it is first uncorked.

ChabiGraphe / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

3. A skilled marketing campaign

The release of the year’s Beaujolais Nouveau has become an event that everyone awaits with licked lips. A lot of that is due to the marketing ingenuity of Georges Duboeuf, “le roi du Beaujolais” – the king of Beaujolais.  Now 80 years old, Duboeuf managed to convert what was essentially an old wives’ tale – the idea that town criers once circulated French towns announcing the arrival of this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau vintage – into a perennial tradition.

La Cave de George Duboeuf, a wine shop in Paris with a cheerful pink facade, opens between 8am and 7pm on November 21, selling and offering tastings of various “primeurs” bottles. More than a fifth of Duboeuf’s annual production, about 4 million bottles, is Beaujolais Nouveau.

And where was “le roi” be for the first tasting of this year’s vintage? Monsieur Duboeuf will have been in Japan, which is perhaps testament to his wine’s success.

Smaku / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

4. Adaptability

Unlike most red wines, which are drunk at room temperature, Beaujolais Nouveau is best drunk at around 55 degrees. As such, it’s something of a party drink, not so much sipped as swigged. Americans like it with their Thanksgiving meal; it’s great with anything from pizza to turkey sandwiches and this is in a country where consumption of red wine is less than 30 per cent.  It makes a great transitional wine for anyone wanting to move from white to red.

Beaujolais Nouveau might have dipped slightly in popularity in France itself, but it’s still big in California and Japan (selling 12.5m bottles at its peak in 2004) and emerging markets.

So are you going to visit Beaujeu or perhaps the Hakone Yunessun spa in Japan? Wherever you go, there will be no escaping Beaujolais Nouveau 2013.

 

 

5 tips for planning a car rental across the pond

Motoring in Europe can be a challenge for the American psyche: the narrow lanes, the aggressive steering, the irritating tendency to drive on the “wrong” side in the UK, the complexity of dealing with different languages and … cue the screeching sound of fingernails on a blackboard … the horror of being on the road in ITALY.

Yes, driving in Europe does require a different set of muscles but with careful preparation you will only have to admire the Carabinieri from a distance.

Let’s be straight with each other. A car rental is great for some routes round Europe – in particular exploring little towns and hamlets ill-served by public transport – but not a great idea for really major cities. The key, as so often, is planning; know where you are going, establish your itinerary and sort out your transport accordingly. Here are five tips in the run-up to your journey.

Anirudh Koul / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

Prepare proper documentation

You will need travel insurance, a driver’s license and guidebook. Start packing at least a week before your trip and check that your phone provider allows you international access. And, yes, you will need a passport, the thing that Europeans always joke that Americans don’t need because they never travel. Prove them wrong! Retrieve it from the recesses of your cupboard, open it so you get used to the texture and feel of it and check the expiry date. Remember that ordering a new passport can take between 4 and 6 weeks.

Is your destination really car-friendly?

London is a case in point. What with gridlocked roads and the congestion charge and the relative ease of public transport, a car rental would be folly. Of course, that doesn’t mean we are recommending you travel on the tube at rush hour. But, for example, the Thames River cruise from Westminster pier to Greenwich would be far more enjoyable than being caught in traffic in the City of London. Driving around other busy European capitals is not necessarily the best option either.

Likewise, you would do better on two wheels in bike-friendly Amsterdam, or taking the tram in hilly Lisbon. If you do plan to hire a car in the UK, it would be advisable to pick up in a smaller city like Bristol or Bath. Steer clear of major destinations at the start and end of your trip and also avoid picking up at an airport. In Germany, for example, if you start your hire car at an airport or station, you will play an extra 20 per cent. Learn the rules of the road of the country you are visiting. Go to the US State Department site and click on your destination for more information.

mau_ry / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Book everything from the US

Always book the air fare before anything else. Then think about accommodation and the car rental. But every step of your journey should be pre-booked. This not only gives you peace of mind, it is also considerably cheaper than paying on a case by case basis in Europe where you don’t know what hidden expenses you may incur. If you get all your credit card fees out of the way in the US, then you know exactly what you have paid beforehand.

Budget carefully

You will always have to beware of hidden extras. Bring back a near empty tank to the drop-off point and you may find yourself with a 200 dollar fee for fuel plus a refilling charge. So fill up the tank and make sure you keep the receipt. Return the car early to avoid incurring late payments. Sometimes you are made to pay an extra day if you return your vehicle late.

If you want an automatic vehicle, order it well in advance but remember that in Europe it can cost an extra 100 to 200 dollars a week. Cars bound for Eastern European countries like Romania and Bulgaria, as well as the Soviet Union, will also cost more because rental companies are wary of such trips. Hopping between countries will also add to your bill. It’s as well to bear in mind that Italy has the highest car rental rates and Germany the lowest.

modenadude / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Finally…choose a reputable company

Although many companies are available to you, it’s best to avoid very small ones. What happens if you break down in an isolated area and need help from your car rental firm? Avis, for example, has more than 350 locations in Germany alone. When you know you have a back-up in the case of an emergency you will drive more calmly.

 

 

The eternal thrill of Vegas

Just the name “Vegas” evokes instant images – monster shopping malls, marauding mobsters, gold-plated towers and sybaritic splendor. Above all, of course, gambling…the 24-hour playground of those enjoying the pulsating thrill of a possible windfall of unearned earnings or…betting everything on one last desperate, doomed dice roll at 4am.

wbeem / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Jaundiced observers may see Vegas as a monument to artifice, greed and sleaze. Others see it as the most exciting city on planet earth. One fact speaks for itself; the city attracted 40 million visitors last year alone. And although the economic crisis has taken its toll on this extraordinary Nevada city, it’s still home to 15 out of 20 of the world’s largest hotels.

It’s no coincidence that Vegas has featured in so many movies, whether it’s Presley’s Viva Las Vegas or the Rat Pack’s Ocean’s 11 – moving on to Martin Scorsese’s sizzling profile of organized crime, Casino. Who can forget the psychopathic, pen-wielding mobster played by Joe Pesci? Be careful if he’s on the phone in any casino near you…

Or the doomed drunkard played by Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas? It’s a place that, of course, has its dark side, but only if you choose to see it so. It’s also the city of dreams, the ideal setting for a wedding or a romantic getaway.

Vegas may be designed to bankrupt the foolish gambler but it need not be that way. Set a ceiling on your spread and stick to it, down to the last nickel. If you lose, fair enough.  If you win, don’t get greedy. The “odds”, that elusive term common to gamblers, may ultimately be against you, but gambling IS fun. So if you like to bet on which raindrop will reach the bottom of the window first (although there’s little of that in Vegas) or in the words of former mayor Oscar Goodman – a fierce custodian of the city’s reputation – “which way a cockroach will move”, then this is your mecca.

Great perks accompany gambling in Vegas. Drinks in most casinos – the yard-long margarita being a particular favorite – are complimentary. So when you get to the fruit machines, take time to enjoy a good slug and don’t pull that handle too frequently. The biggest ever slot machine jackpot was 39 million dollars but be prepared to fall a little short of that. Of course, if you’re mega-rich and prepared to risk colossal sums, then, as Piers Morgan once proved in a documentary, a casino can take a million dollars off you very quickly!

A car is a great way to see Vegas. Don’t think about hiring a limo. That’s a cliché in Vegas and nobody will notice you. Parking is free almost everywhere and gas is cheaper here than in neighboring California. So a Las Vegas car rental will not break the bank.

Fancy going on a gondola in a replica Venetian canal? Or a trip up the Vegas version of the Eiffel Tower? Or staying in an Egyptian pyramid? You’re in business. Vegas caters to your every whim, especially if you’re a good customer. Are you pining for a mountain of caviar? It’s at your door, sir! Doubtless, certain establishments would deliver the Taj Mahal to your room if they could transport it!

And you’re in great company. The Venetian, which now occupies the site of the old Sands Hotel and Casino, was where the original Rat Pack – principally Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis – played to sellout audiences in the early 1960s. Howard Hughes and Tony Curtis were also former residents. Nowadays, you may find the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears prepared to officiate at your party … for a price!

Werner Kunz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Go down Vegas’ strip and you will see what was once the world’s largest hotel, the MGM Grand (3799 Las Vegas Boulevard) the New York, New York Hotel and Casino (3790 Las Vegas Boulevard) and – just opposite at number 3785 – M & M’s stores – four floors of chocolate fun – and Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Boulevard), the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino (3770 Las Vegas Boulevard) and the Trump Tower (2000 Fashion Show Drive – Las Vegas Strip) with its 24 carat-gold windows.

Werner Kunz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

You can easily pay 25,000 dollars a night for the best accommodation in the city. But there are many places within the reach of mere mortals. Avoid coming on weekends when room prices spiral. Keep a cool head and enjoy yourself. Of course, if you ever get really fed up with the glitz, the desert is nearby. Just don’t bump into Mr Pesci; he may be disposing of a corpse or two behind those rocks!

 

Eat, play, love in Delray Beach

This Palm Beach County coastal city used to be a quiet place back in the 1980s, dozing in its acres – a sleepy suburb of Miami. Since the building boom a decade ago, however, it’s become racy and trendy – brimming with art galleries, outdoor cafés, great restaurants, glitzy boutiques and beautiful people with seemingly deep pockets.

Colony Hotel, Delray Beach Jeff Cooney / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

Go along Atlantic Avenue, for instance, the city’s jewel in the crown, and you will be dazzled by the magnificent homes and passing yachts in the ocean. So what’s the drill when you have driven to this palm-fringed paradise with your Delray Beach car rental?

Scampi, shrimps and Sundy

Boring people claim they eat to live. Wiser souls, however, live to eat sumptuous seafood in places like Delray. Try the lunch at 50 Ocean (50 South Ocean Boulevard) where the blue crab puffs, mussels and lobster will give you a taste of the Atlantic waters below. Or enjoy an authentic Italian dining experience in one of the city’s oldest restaurants, Caffe Luna Rosa (34 South Ocean Boulevard). Menus change but the pan-seared shrimp scampi has received a top recommendation in the past, alongside the cheesecake martini for dessert.

Sundy House, Delray Beach Ohad Ben-Yoseph / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

One of Delray’s most famous landmarks is the Sundy House (106 S Swinton Avenue), just one block south of Atlantic Avenue, and built in 1902 in honor of John Sundy, the first mayor of Delray Beach. From the outside, you would never know about the breathtaking gardens, complete with swimming pool, within. The restaurant, which recently hired a new executive chef, has won plaudits for its grilled pork belly, among other delicacies. It’s an idyllic spot and particularly popular for Sunday Brunch or a romantic weekend …or even a wedding.

If you’re planning an imminent trip to Delray, then your timing is indeed exquisite. You can get there in time for the (second) Delray Beach Wine and Seafood Festival on the weekend of November 9 and 10. Around 50 booths usually decorate the east end of Atlantic Avenue with seafood ranging from 3 to 20 dollars.

Shopping, sipping, surfing

Atlantic Avenue, which offers excellent parking facilities on the street as well as a nearby garage, has great antique shops, galleries and clothing boutiques, and stores trading in everything from olive oil and vinegar, through to health and spiritual products. And, thankfully, not all the eateries are upscale; there’s even a Dunkin’ Donuts for those on modest means!

You can also venture north on 2nd Ave through Pineapple Grove where you will find more fabulous boutiques, restaurants, salons and other diversions. If the weather is stormy and wet, then the recently opened Delray Market Place (9025 W Atlantic Ave) has 258,000 square feet of shopping, dining and entertainment fixtures.

Intracoastal Waterway, Delray Beach Ohad Ben-Yoseph / Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND

For evening entertainment, try Paddy McGee’s on 307 E Atlantic Avenue which has live music every night. But, hey, you’re truly spoiled for choice in Delray. Stroll down Atlantic Avenue after dark and music spills out onto the streets – everything from classic rock to cool island reggae.

Of course, you probably wouldn’t be visiting Delray unless you wanted to hit the surf. And, in Delray, you have two miles of public beach accessible from Florida State Road A1. There are great waves all year round but perhaps the weather is at its most comfortable in the winter when it’s not so humid but daytime highs still hit around 75 degrees. Winter is also the dry season in this part of the world, especially February – the month that sees the annual Delray Beach International Tennis Championships.

Hideaways in Delray

If you fancy a sleepover in Delray, try the Hyatt Place (104 NE 2nd Avenue), a hotel known for its very spacious rooms – including 42-inch TV and Cozy Corner Sofa Sleeper – great continental breakfasts and excellent business amenities. The Wright by The Sea Hotel (1901 S. Ocean Boulevard) has wonderful grounds that include a large tiki hut, grill and patio area, lawn area and pool as well as a croquet and ping pong area with shuffleboard courts and basketball hoop. There’s a private beach, an observation deck to watch the sun rise and plenty of shady, palm-sheltered spots where you can sit and contemplate life. Crane’s BeachHouse Hotel & Tiki Bar (82 Gleason Street) is another secluded retreat decorated in old Key West style, billed as “Delray’s hidden treasure”.

You are approaching a great time of year to visit Delray. You just need a good Delray Beach car rental to make the most of this, one of Florida’s most atmospheric resorts. We hope you enjoy your stay!

 

 

 

Avoid Carmageddon: Five reasons to rent rather than own a car

Opting for cheap rental cars has many advantages over long-term car ownership. And we’re not just saying that to get you to rent one. The facts speak for themselves. Here are some good reason to favor renting.

1. To reduce congestion

 

Saf’ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Space on this planet, believe it or not, is NOT infinite. Yet our overwhelming desire to get into our own vehicle, along with our continuing gravitation towards cities, is creating alarming urban gridlock. By 2035, the world is predicted to have 800 million vehicles on the road, twice the current number. And, by mid-century, it is estimated that up to 75 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities.

This creates the prospect of even more traffic in our cities. That means real practical problems in getting to work and supplying food and essential goods. Remember the recent 11-day traffic jam in China? Is this the way ahead? It will be if we all own cars and use them every day. Ironically, William Ford, current executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of legendary car-maker Henry Ford, believes that action is imperative to prevent a humanitarian crisis: “We see global gridlock as an issue of human rights, not just one tied to business and economics,” he says.

Rent a car for just a few days a week and it will alleviate the burden. Think of the environment. Think green.

2. Save money

Try to make do without a car for most of the week if you live in a city and watch yourself save the pennies. The American Automobile Association recently estimated the annual cost of owning a vehicle at about 9000 dollars, based on an assumption of 15,000 miles of annual driving. Use public transport most days and you won’t have to worry about paying for petrol. You will also save on wear and tear costs associated with owning a car; New York drivers can easily spend between 50 to 200 dollars a month on car maintenance alone.

 

Michel Filion / Foter / CC BY-ND

 

If you rent a car and it breaks down, then the car rental company has to help you. Plus you are putting mileage on a rented vehicle, not your own, and renting a car has a set charge, so you know all the costs from the beginning. Try just using a rented car on weekends, for trips out of town or to big stores.

 

3. Upgrade on special occasions

If you don’t own a car and only want one for that special occasion, then you can choose a cool model for that prestigious business convention or that high-class jamboree in the Hamptons. Or perhaps you would like a bigger car than you would normally buy (or could afford) to drive all the children to that camping trip or sporting occasion? A rental car can convey a special image and allows you to experiment with new models. Even with cheap rental cars, you will be driving a new or nearly new vehicle.

 

IceNineJon / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

4. Owning a car restricts you

Own a car and the tendency is for all travel to be within driving distance. Imagine the following scenario. You live in New York and you have to attend a convention in Charleston. If you own a car you may be tempted to drive all the way to Charleston. You arrive frazzled and you never had the chance to do the reading you wanted to do in preparation. If you rent a car, you can fly to South Carolina and then hire a car.

And rather than having to worry about your own car back home, why not dispense with it altogether? A rented car also takes you to places you often don’t normally go to. Hire that special car – a jeep or SUV – and you can deal with that treacherous terrain and venture to places off your usual beaten track.

 

5. Get fit

Do you really need a car all the time? You may instinctively say “yes”. But it’s not a good idea to get too dependent on your car. I remember some bulky neighbor of mine who lived in the same block as me, but several hundred meters down the street, once driving to my home for an engagement. All of 300 meters!

Do you really need the car to make that trip to the grocers to get a few items? Just try walking to work or to the deli. When you abandon your sedentary lifestyle, you will get fitter…and the roads will get lighter!

Are EVs the way to revive the three E’s?

Being the economy, the environment and the energy sector…

In Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities, a quiet revolution is taking place. So quiet, in fact, that if you closed your eyes you might not be able to hear the traffic. You see, park rangers are riding around on solar-powered electric vehicles (EVs), a move forecast to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in gas and electricity costs over the next 25 years.

So imagine the benefits if motorists worldwide did likewise. And this may be more feasible and more lucrative than you think…

JaulaDeArdilla / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Energy (in)dependence

We live in an era when America’s leaders constantly fret – understandably – about reliance on foreign oil. Those who underestimate the challenge should remember what happened in 1973 when OPEC nations quadrupled oil prices, triggering massive inflation in the West. We all want to avoid a recurrence of that nightmare. So, just as the electric light transformed our homes a century ago, making candles and smelly oil lamps redundant, could EVs do the same for today’s cities?

Big city dwellers know the problems all too well. When I was a kid, I was struck by a message I once say on a London street – “Let’s all make the world a better place and throw away our cars”.  Living in a city well served by its public transport, you could understand the graffiti, especially when you started wheezing while walking around the capital.

Ben Amstutz / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

Kinder to ourselves…

Motor vehicles are major polluters, not only through road emissions but also through refueling, manufacturing and disposal.  Some experts even believe that car pollution is linked to certain cancers. Perhaps the link to other illnesses, such as asthma, is more substantiated. Leave the big city for the countryside and you feel the difference immediately.

Of course, some green-minded activists manage to live without a car. As we get older, however, we find that coping without a car gets harder. Perhaps we have several children and move to the suburbs. In such cases we find that it’s increasingly necessary to have a vehicle at our disposal, at least some of the time.  But, if you don’t need to own a car all the time, and your conscience pricks you at the thought of renting a conventional motor, have you thought about renting an EV? You just need to find an agency with the best car rental rates.

jurvetson / Foter / CC BY

 

…and the environment

Electric car batteries pollute the atmosphere far less than internal combustion engines. Granted, they are not entirely pollutant-free because most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. But EVs recharged from coal-powered electric generators cut carbon emission roughly in half. And those recharged from hydropower and nuclear plants reduce carbon emissions to less than one percent of those produced by internal combustion engines.

 

…And the economy

Then there is the reduced cost to drivers, proved by the example of the Brooklyn Park Rangers. New York taxi drivers who use hybrid vehicles also report annual savings of thousands of dollars. For many motorists, environmental considerations and spiraling petrol costs mean that EVs will probably become more popular.  Although EVs still have drawbacks, notably battery costs and recharging times, the benefits are stark.

Eco-friendly cars run on electricity or a combination of electricity and hydrogen-based fuel. Not only do they reduce a driver’s carbon footprint, EVs are constantly being re-designed to reduce pollution and waste. As a result, these cars often require less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles.

EVs are definitely good for the three Es. So it’s perhaps curious that, although electricity has transformed our lives in so many ways, most transport still beats to the drum of the internal combustion engine. We still spit fumes into the sky round the clock in cities everywhere, guzzling up one of the world’s most precious commodities in the process. Perhaps one day EVs will make out cities as sanitized as our homes. Here’s hoping…