10 Questions For (24): Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet

Happy to introduce a fellow Baby Boomer Travel Blogger, -Writer and Photographer: Donna Hull of My Itchy Travel Feet:

Donna Hull

1) Who Are you?
I’m a Tucson-based freelance writer and photographer specializing in travel and human interest content for print publications as well as the web. My articles have been published in regional and national magazines in the U.S. In the travel field, I concentrate on luxury travel, luxury and small ship cruising, soft adventure, boutique lodging including bed and breakfasts, the Southwestern United States and active travel for baby boomers. In fact, I write a blog, My Itchy Travel Feet, which advises baby boomers about active travel. Recently, I’ve partnered with two writers in Tucson to produce Tucson on the Cheap, a site highlighting entertainment bargains and cheap things to do for Tucson residents and visitors.

2) What do you like about what you do?
Travel writing gives me the opportunity to see the world. I never tire of visiting new places or meeting people along the way.

3) What don’t you like about what you do?
My biggest complaint is time. I need more of it. Can we add another hour or two to the day? Balancing trip planning, writing and marketing is a constant challenge for me.

I love it: My Itchy Travel Feet!

4) Please tell us all about your blog and your aims with it.
At My Itchy Travel Feet, I write about active travel for baby boomers. Using my personal experiences, photographs and references, I advise boomers on where to go, what to do, where to stay and how to prepare for that dream trip. My aim is to encourage baby boomers to stay active and see as much of the world as they can. Of course I’d also like to attract the eye of editors needing travel content.

5) Your top 3 destination experiences you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
Oh, this is a hard choice. I love everywhere I’ve ever been but experiencing a South African safari has to top the list. Sitting quietly in the bush observing animal behavior was life-changing for me.

The South Island of New Zealand is another favorite. The slower pace of life is very appealing. My husband, Alan, my travel companion and photographer, wanted to move there.

My third choice would be cruising through French Polynesia which I’ve done twice in the last few years. It’s such a beautiful part of the world that provides a tranquil escape from real world pressures. Swimming with the stingrays is a must.

Ivory Lodge Bedroom

6) Your top 3 accommodations you’ve ever stayed to date and why?
I’ve stayed at some wonderful places so this is another hard choice.

Ivory Lodge in South Africa’s Sabi Sands area tops the list due to outstanding personal service. The staff called us by our first names from the moment we arrived. They paid attention to our likes and dislikes, anticipating our every need.

Birkenhead House perched on a cliff overlooking the ocean in Hermanus, South Africa is a close second. The combination of excellent food, spectacular views and luxurious rooms can’t be beat. When we first entered our room, we discovered flower petals decorating the bed and bath.

Another favorite is Leroux Creek Inn and Winery in Hotchkiss, Colorado. The southwestern adobe building makes a convenient headquarters for exploring nearby Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Breakfast, prepared by one of the owners who is a classically trained chef, is served on a deck overlooking the vineyard.

7) Your top 3 most memorable food experiences to date and why?
Dinner at Hanagan Meadow Lodge while a snowstorm raged outside the window is a favorite dining memory. The setting at 9100 feet in Arizona’s White Mountains was the star here rather than the food.

Another great dining memory is sitting outside in the boma area of Lion Sands where a gourmet dinner was served on linen-draped tables placed near a roaring fire. The romantic setting included flickering lanterns hung in tree branches.

And of course I’ll include a favorite ship-board dining experience. On a Panama Canal cruise on Regent Seven Seas ship, Mariner, we were invited to a special dinner with the captain and cruise director. The staff transformed the cigar lounge into an intimate dining setting. Along with a small group of passengers, we enjoyed the best in food and wine that the ship had to offer.

Writer and Photographer

8) Your 3 worst destination/ accommodation /food experiences to date and why?
Sorry, but I can’t think of any. I can usually find something good in everywhere I’ve stayed.

9) Can you offer the readers 3 travel/ food / accomodation / things to do tips about the city you are currently living in?
A visit to Tucson isn’t complete without taking a hike in Sabino Canyon. Although it’s located in the city, once on the trail you’ll feel like you’re in the wilderness.

For dining, drive downtown for a meal at Cafe Poca Cosa where the inventive Mexican menu changes nightly.

To feel a sense of Tucson’s history, stay at the Arizona Inn which has been owned by the same family since 1930.

10) Any Question(s) you’d expected me to ask that you would like to answer?
Where am I going next? I’m currently planning a visit to Molokai and the Big Island of Hawaii. Alan and I will be concentrating on off-the-beaten-path adventure while staying in small inns and bed and breakfasts.

Thanks for this opportunity, Guido. It’s been fun sharing my travel experiences with your readers.

My observations:
Thank you very mutch Donna. It was a pleasure having you.
I dare say you have very nice feet:-)
Tucson Arizona must be a place with many ancient Adobe buildings and maybe also some adobe built hotels. I am curious if this is true and if you can pinpoint some. Am glad having found another Baby Boomer who is so actively engaged in modern technology!

Google Invests in Pixazza, An AdSense for Images


If you’re using images in your blog, you could be poised to make a nice little chunk of change from Pixazza.

The site launches today and hopes to become the AdSense for images. It uses crowdsourcing to match products in photos on participating sites with similar products available for purchase, and essentially turns bloggers and content creators into affiliate marketers who can cash in on Pixazza’s merchant network.

Publishers just need to create an account, login to the site, and embed the JavaScript code in the header section of their website. Then, by default, images even from previously published content are added to Pixazza’s shoppers’ queue, and once each image has been analyzed, a mouse over call to action will appear over each image.

via Mashable | Google Invests in Pixazza, An AdSense for Images.

Photo Plugin Galore: First Try – Two 12 ft Dinghies in Love

The new WordPress 2.7 version makes it much easier to find Plugins. I had a project on my back burner for which I need a decent Photo or Gallery Plugin.

I have shown already some interest here for Yachts and Yachting. I have not divulged yet that I used to be an avid dinghy sailor and used to race dinghies as well. Alas ever since I ventured into our Hotel business, my own clinker built 12 foot Dinghy dating back from 1944, is stored safely without much attention lately. I’m even not sure my old stiff legs will be able to endure a regatta anymore.

On the original date of this post I used a plugin, Tylr Slidr enabling me to show you a couple of photos that I uploaded recently, but took in 2005 in Venice during the Biennial of 2005. There I found two Italian 12 ft Dinghies in the Arsenal. They were berthed opposite each other and were giving each other signs with lamps. It was an Art installation. A sort of act of love. Very poetic and I would never have thought of such use of two old dinghies in a basin that was used for maintenance of submarines.

The Artist, Laura Belem, born in 1974 in Bele Horizonte and working there, was able to make this installation with the help of a stipend from the Ministry of Culture of Brazil.

The 12ft Dinghy is a typical One Design Class. It was designed in 1913 by George Cockshott, an amateur boat designer from Southport, Lancashire, who won a competition organized by the Boat Racing Association (BRA). The BRA wanted a new sailing dinghy that would also serve as a yacht tender, and Cockshott’s design with its single, high-peaked lugsail fitted the bill.

It became an IYRU Dutch Class in 1914 and an International Class in 1920. It was even used for sailing competitions in the Olympic Games of Antwerp of 1920 and of Amsterdam of 1928. In 1920 they sailed on the North Sea with a lot of wind. The gold medal was won by the Dutch brothers Jan Hin and Frans Hin. In the 60ies I had the honor to sail against Jan Frans Hin – well, competing …. actually it was more of looking to his backside:-) The Silver medals were also won by two Dutchman (Van der Biesen and Beukers). In Amsterdam in 1928, on an inland lake near Amsterdam with not much wind, the medal winners were all of Scandinavian origin: 1)The Swede Sven Thorel, 2) Norwegian Henrik Robert and 3) The Fin B. Broman.

Recently we saw the International 12 ft Dingy class association being incorporated.
There are still several fleets:

  • In The Netherlands there is a fleet of over 200 active enthusiasts,
  • North Germany has fleets mainly around Lubeck and Hamburg,
  • Italy has several fleets and is very active,
  • To my knowledge there are also fleets in the UK, Japan, Switzerland and Turkey.

Dutch compete in Italy and in Germany. Japanese and Italians come to The Netherlands for a race sometimes. The class becomes more and more international nowadays, 95 years after it’s creation. Amazing huh?

I found a PDF file with 2007 draft Class rules in English at the site of an Italian Fleet.

This exercise in nostalgia was just to test this plugin and it seems to be what I needed for this post, although the loading of the whole seems a bit slow. What would you think? [Added: And sadly it didn’t work out as anticipated]

Added January 5, 2008: The next Slideshow of the same photos is as per the advice of Heather from Heather on her Travels and used by her at a slideshow of the Turtle Fountain in Rome. It loaded a lot easier, and was also very easy to copy and paste into your blog, but has not the full screen view mode as the other plugin….Thanks Heather! [Update: Unfortunately Slideshow has closed down]

Added July 14, 2009
Oops When I reviewed this article there appeared some hiccups and parts of the post including the two slide shows simply disappeared completely. Grrr recovering it from previous revisions must be done piece by piece as apparently a later update of WordPress (or the theme) seems to garble text into executable code…. done…it was the link to the Swiss fleet that did it!. Those Swiss:-)

Added November 9, 2009
Since this post I’ve had to delete the plugin. We now are waiting for the 2.9 version of WordPress, wich has been promised will handle media much better than it does prsently.

Added March 11, 2012
It appears Slideshow has closed its doors permanently as of March 6, 2012. Revisiting the site of Heather learned me she has now incorporated a Google + thingy…I’ll put this on the back burner for a while to look into it further.

CitizenM Hotel Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Opening (3): Final Observations

I have uploaded my photos of the opening to Happy Hotelier’s Flickr Account. Some final observations:

The name
Correctly spelled the name is CitizenM and not Citizen M. I cannot change this in my prior posts because of the archiving system I am using here.

The Launch Party
After the Press conference there was the official opening. Rattan Chadha (Chairman) and Micheal Levy (CEO) held a speech and then everybody attending got a piccolo of champagne with the request to have the cork popping out at the same moment after a count down. The photos show a Happier Boss than at the press conference.

Rattan Gandha Opening the CitizenM
Rattan Chaddha Opening the CitizenM

He emphasized that the whole operation is a matter of teamwork, but as an onlooker I would say this is his baby and the team should do as he says. Not bad though, because the result is really innovative. See the glowing review of a frequent traveler as a comment to one of my prior posts.

Philips was represented by Andrea Ragnetti
Philips was represented by Andrea Ragnetti

I believe they made a giant step forward with Philips in applying domotica in hotel design with the Mood Pad.
Extensive coverage by the Press
There was a huge attendance of TV, writing press and Bloggers.

Extensive TV Coverage
Extensive TV Coverage

When returning home my wife told me Dutch TV had covered the opening with 4 whole minutes which is a lot of free publicity!
The “cameraman” here is not a cameraman, but my Italian friend and fellow Blogger Stefano Pugliese, who rather would be called “Director” and who organized the attendance of several Bloggers at the opening, among which: Hotel Chatter, Howard Greenstein and two of the grayest, err sorry Karen – I’m not a Grey Travel Blogger, Happy Hotelier! (lol) , Independently Minded Travel Bloggers :

Two of the grayest Travel Bloggers
Karen Bryan (R) of Europe A La Carte and Wandalust
Happy Hotelier (L)

Here is a good TV impression of the whole on: Bright TV and here is another link on Tech Digest and here is the Youtube Version of the Tech Digest Video:

Of course the WiWiH crew was there as well:

The WiWiH crew
The WiWiH crew

The Lobby
The lobby gives a feeling of your own living room and is filled with retro design furniture due to a collaboration with Vitra. Here is a picture of the check in screens.

CitizenM Check In Screens

Very cleverly your room number is not shown on the screen at checking in, because everyone could look over your shoulder, you get your room number and password for the WiFi printed on a decent paper slip. Don’t forget to take it with you from the printer though otherwise you might find someone else in your room, or worse, someone else taking advantage of things you have paid for.

You are requested to take the electronic key card and use it with your next check in. You can use it as luggage tag and in case you lose your luggage which is not uncommon with the present status of service from the airlines, and if, for security reasons you don’t want to label your luggage with your home address because you are afraid of unwelcome visitors during you stay abroad, you have a chance of reclaiming it through CitizenM. They know how to reach you…..

Last update July 3, 2008

Dutch Design #22 FG Stijl and The College Hotel

Amsterdam College Hotel Front
The Amsterdam College Hotel Front

Some of my prior posts in the Dutch Design category I forgot to number. I found the correct number:-)

Dutch designers Colin Finnegan and Gerard Glintmeijer of FG Stijl have had a important influence in the design of the Amsterdam College Hotel. I now have access to press material from their site and also, after setting up my new computer, I am able to resize their high resolution photos without getting the famous blue screen. Therefor I now can offer my dear readers some additional photos.

Amsterdam College Hotel Front Desk
Amsterdam College Hotel Front Desk
Amsterdam College Hotel Room
Amsterdam College Hotel Room
Amsterdam College Hotel Restaurant
Amsterdam College Hotel Restaurant

I do like this style. The College Hotel is partly staffed by students from a local hotel school. Therefor the service is sometimes not entirely up to the standards that FG Stijl has set for this hotel.

Update May 14, 2008:

Recently the owner of the Hotel (the Amsterdam school ROC) was forced by the Dutch Government to sell the school. Dutch Government deemed the risks of owning a hotel too high for a state funded school….The buyer is Michael van de Kuit’s Nedstede Groep BV. Contrary to many property tycoons, Michael van de Kuit wishes to stay as anonymous as possible. To that extent he even has retained a PR adviser to keep him off the journalists’ hooks.