18 September 2013

Staybridge Suites Atlanta Buckhead - Atlanta, GA USA

The last time we stayed in this hotel was in 2010 and things have changed. They have remodeled the rooms and they look nicer but they did not think out the floor plan very well. In my room, they had to cut a hole in the door so you could close the bathroom door. The door and the toilet would otherwise collide. Also for a newly renovated room, the dishwasher had some issues, the soap area in the machine would not close. The room is cramped as they tried to put too much furniture in it and the placement of the TV is way off. There is really nowhere to sit comfortably and watch. The pillows are also very small, not a normal sized pillow. They may want to get some larger ones.
The breakfast was ok but they were out of 2% milk one day and it took them a while to get it fixed. We left before it was fixed. It was nice to have some fresh fruit available and be able to make your own waffle. They could have had more cereal selections (only four) and more tea selections especially mint tea. The breakfast people were hard to find when items needed to be refilled. We only ate there once out of our stay since it was easier to have breakfast in the room. We bought some groceries and ate most of our meals in room.
The one main thing that bothered me the most and I am not sure how they will be able to correct it, is the smell as soon as you walk in the front door. It is not a pleasant smell but thankfully it does not go beyond the front desk area. The first person who greeted us wasn’t very pleasant but the rest of the folks at the front desk were outstanding.
I was a little surprised but it was my own fault as I thought I was getting a room with a separate bedroom. Make sure you read the description carefully. I had a Queen Studio Suite. The suite part is what through me off and made me expect the separate bedroom. The room we stayed in was 414. I really liked the free covered parking and the wireless internet, definitely assets.

Maid of the Mist - Niagara Falls, ON Canada

One of the best things to do in Niagara Falls. Don’t miss it. It’s not very expensive and worth every penny. We were lucky enough to get the top deck and you will definitely get wet. You get so close to the falls and get amazing pictures, make sure your camera is waterproof. You can get good shots of both the Canada and American falls. If you do nothing else during your visit, do this.

Oh Canada Eh? Dinner Show - Niagara Falls, ON Canada

It had its pros and cons. The show was not as funny as I expected but it did have its good moments. The show also seemed a little disjointed, it didn't really flow well. Our waiter Matthew was great. The endless salad was delicious and my son loved the pea soup. He also loved the potatoes. I found the rest of the food ok but I am a picky eater. My mother loved all of it. The drink prices weren't bad either. It was great to be able to take pictures with some of the actors after the show. I just wish they had more souvenir stuff. They had some really great cups on the table but they weren't for sale in the shop. It was a bit expensive but mostly worth it.
Although not a big issue, the show is far away from the main Niagara Area. We tried to get the bus but would have been late as none came for 30 minutes so ended up taking a cab. That was almost $20 to get from around the casino area. We took the bus back and it wasn't bad at all just be prepared to wait.

Copa Cabana Brazilian Steakhouse - Niagara Falls, ON Canada

Make sure you are hungry before coming here. My son loved this place and he actually tried 18 different prepared meats. The atmosphere was great, the dancers were great and the service was very good. Only issue I had was that the drinks are super expensive, two glasses of wine were more than $20. We went twice while here but the second night wasn't as good, they were out of some of the meats my son enjoyed the first night. Some of the meat selections are boneless leg of lamb, cheese stuffed prime rib, chicken drumstick, filet mignon, top sirloin, lamb chops, skirt steak, garlic sirloin, flank steak, chicken breast, picana brazil, parmesan filet, beef ribs, rib eye, salmon, roasted pineapple, sausage, moroccan chicken, chimichurri steak and pork ribs. This is the most selection I have seen in any Brazilian restaurant. The sides were good but don't fill up on them, leave room for the meat. The price is typical Brazilian around $40-50 a person but under $20 for a child. While in Niagara Falls, definitely make this a place to have a meal.

Fallsview Indoor Waterpark - Niagara Falls

For a place that is geared towards families, I have to say our experience was horrible. First I have to tell you that the water park is on the top floor of a parking garage. This may seem unimportant but because of our experience it is very important. We will never again go to any indoor water park that is not on a ground level. Great Wolf Lodge would probably be much better bet.
So the experience did not start out negative. My son had about an hour and a half of fun and that was it. And I do understand the situation that happened is not within the control of the water park but what is, is how they handled the whole situation.
A car caught on fire with excessive smoke right below the water park. The water park had to be evacuated immediately. You could smell the smoke and see it coming in. I completely agree with this and glad they did it. But here is the problem. I could not find my son. I let one of the employees know who was very nice, he took my son’s name and info and I also handed over a picture. And I proceeded to leave as instructed. I also spoke with several other employees as I was leaving asking if they had seen my son. I did of course eventually find my son who was crying to no end. I asked him why he didn’t go to an employee and tell them he couldn’t find me. To my surprise he told me he did but was told to keep going. This is unacceptable. There should be something in place for kids who are unable to find their parents. You do not let a 10 year old child evacuate a building without an adult or at least a designated area for him to go to where parents can find their children and where they will be safe.
My son wanted nothing to do with this place after this incident and nor did I. I find the handling of this situation incompetent and laughable to say the least.
I usually have photos but since we did not stay anywhere near the 6 hours I thought we would, I did not get a chance to take any photos.

Hilton Baltimore - 401 West Pratt St, MD

We checked in very late and the desk person was still very friendly (we are talking 3 in the morning here). She was fast and efficient which was exactly what I needed after driving straight 14 hours. The hotel is very well located, across the street from the baseball stadium and easy walking distance to the aquarium and the harbor.

There is a Starbucks about two and a half blocks away up S. Eutaw Street past the Fire Station on the right hand side of the road if you need your coffee fix in the morning like I do.

Internet is $11.95 per day if you are not a certain member level so a little pricey.

We extended our stay the next day and had to move to a different room. They tried their best to let us stay in ours but the hotel was pretty much full. We were there for a conference so now surprise. IT did cause a glitch though since I had purchased internet at 4 in the morning but moved rooms are 10am, they couldn’t transfer the internet I had paid for to the new room. I asked them if I could get some kind of credit instead they went above and beyond and gave me a password for the whole stay which I thought was amazing.
The room was clean and a decent size. The beds were pretty comfortable. Some of the plugs did not work in the lamps which made it a little difficult to charge all our items but we worked it out. One thing that was disappointing is that they did not replace the shampoo & lotion we had used. Also our first room had nice non-plastic cups where our second had no cups at all with the coffee machine. The ice machine on the 11th floor where we spent our additional two nights did not work, not sure about the one on the 17th floor where we were the first night. The air conditioning in both rooms didn’t seem to work very well. It took a long time for the room to cool down and that was by setting it as low as possible.

We did not get a chance to check out the pool. Parking was expensive but it was indoors and easily accessible. The important thing is you still have access to the parking lot when there is a baseball game going on as it seemed very hard to finding parking otherwise. You do get in and out privileges as long as you pay for it in the front lobby at the valet window. They give you a special ticket to use.
We were pleased with this hotel but it is expensive and had it not been for the conference would not have stayed here.

Hiddenite Gems Emerald Hollow Mine - Hiddenite, NC

We didn't know what to expect when we went but the overall experience was fun. We were not prepared well although I read the information all over the website. Make sure you bring shoes that can get wet if you are doing the creek portion. That was the most fun. The buckets were ok and we didnt find much but our biggest frustration was trying to get someone to help us identify what we had found. We eventually gave up and just decided to take the rocks home and consider it a fun day. Bathrooms were better than expected, although are not anything special. They ran out of toilet paper pretty quickly though so you may want to have some spare tissues on hand. You can easily spend the whole day if you bring food as they have picnic areas.

China Restaurant China City - Kaiserslautern, Germany

It was ok but I wouldn't go there again. The selection was sparse and the service ok. The buffet table was one area only, and the food was often luke warm. With the make your own portion they also were limited on selection. Find another place.

EpiCentre Theaters - Charlotte, NC

The food was horrible, the server(s) kept getting confused on who the orders belonged to. Several times they passed our plates to other since they were at the other end of the row or on the opposite row. Eventually they found us but it was annoying having to constantly keep an eye out for a server to make sure we received our food. The chicken nachos barely had any chicken on it, they were cold and just not good. My son's order was wrong but I couldn't be bothered to get them to correct it as it would have probably taken too long. My son ordered lemonade and got sierra mist and it took them forever to clear the plates.

Hilton Charlotte Executive Park - NC

The person who checked us in was very friendly and helpful. I feel bad for not catching his name as he should be acknowledged for his great customer service. Our rooms were nice but there is no fridge or microwave. There were plenty of towels and the bathroom was nice and clean. The breakfast was ok, lots of fruit which was great, but the french toast was cold and didn't taste very good. There was a nice choice of milk varying from 2% to even soy milk. Bottled water was also available during breakfast. Cereal selection was ok maybe 5 or 6 kinds. They had about 6 different types of bread selection to include bagels, english muffins, white bread, wheat bread and danish.
One thing that was a little annoying is that housekeeping came very late the first day. We left the room around 11am and were about around 4pm and the room still hadn't been cleaned. The next day, housekeeping knocked at our door around 10am although check-out isn't until noon so I rushed thinking we were late getting out (I didn't have my watch on).
The location was good for us since it is very close to 77 and you could get downtown within 10-15 minutes. There are several restaurants in walking distance to the hotel as well as Costco.
I was pleased with the hotel overall and would probably stay there again if I couldn't find something downtown.

Best Bites Mediterranean Pizzeria - Martinez, GA

The falafel here is very good. The appetizer is 4 pieces and they are nice and large, unlike several other places I have been to. The chicken kebabs are juicy with the perfect amount of spice. Grilled vegetables were good but could have a little more char on it but that's a personal preference. The tzatziki was good as was the humus but I would have preferred the olives to be on the side. The only issue is that it can be a little pricey depending on what you are ordering. Since finding this nice little spot, I have been back several times and I will continue to do so. The owner is a wonderful, friendly person and really makes you feel welcome.

Colosseum - Rome

This is a must. I thought my son would be bored but he really did enjoy the tour. We took the tour that included the Dungeons and upper Tiers which let us set some great pictures and different perspectives. We went early morning and it wasn't too crowded which was very nice. They also have a great book in the bookstore that shows you how the Colosseum is now and how it would have been and includes a video (although we haven't watched that). It was about 12Euro or so.

Hotel Giuliana - Rome, Italy

This is a wonderful little hotel. We really enjoyed our stay. All the employees were super friendly and made you feel very welcome. We arrived there early and they let us get one of our rooms so we could relax. As soon as the other room was ready, they came and let us know. It was a little bit hard to find. If you are coming from the train station it is a short walk. If you go out the middle front entrance, you need to walk straight by where all the buses are until you see the road Via Cavour on your left. Walk down Via Cavour until you reach Via Agostino Depretis on your right. Walk down the road on the right hand side and you will see the hotel within a few blocks. We were in room 14 and when we opened the windows, the early morning market was right below us. It was a little bit noisy listening to them set up but it really didn’t bother us at all. The hotel is very clean and the beds were comfortable. The only issue we had with the room was that the cold water in the bathroom had a really low pressure. I liked having the mini-fridge in the room as well.
The breakfast was simple but nice and I love that they make your cappuccinos and hot chocolate fresh for you. There were some fruits, toast, yogurt and some cereal.
This is also very convenient to a lot of the major tourist attractions. We walked to quite a few of them but the baths were pretty far although you can still walk it.
We would definitely stay here again.

Le musee gourmand du chocolat - Choco-Story - Paris

Interesting little museum with lots of history on Chocolate”

4 of 5 stars Reviewed December 25, 2012

OK, yes this museum is not big but it holds a lot of information on the history of chocolate. My son enjoyed looking for the Playmobile areas to complete his quest that he received when we purchased our tickets. It is a bite expensive for what you are getting, I would have felt better if it was between 4-6 Euro. We had just gone to the science museum for kids and that had many more activities for approximately the same price as the museum 9 Euro.
The demonstration was very nice and done in both English and French. It was nice to get chocolate samples at the beginning of the demo as well as when we first came in. We then were able to taste a sample of the chocolate made during the presentation. All of the posted information was both in French and English which was nice as we weren't sure what to expect when we saw such a small museum.
The hot chocolate was a bit over-priced and a little disappointing. They heated the milk and added a chocolate stir, I expected a little more. We have visited Paris often and it was nice to get away from the regular sites and visit this quaint museum. We all learned a lot about one of our favorite things and the souvenirs were definitely well priced and a good selection.

The website for the museum is http://www.museeduchocolat.fr/en/

La Cite des Sciences et de L'lndustrie - Paris

The first thing you have to do is to find out when each session starts. We were unaware that there were time restrictions and just bought tickets to find out we only had an hour and a half left. We went to the 5-12 kids section and immediately my son ran to the closest thing at hand. Everything is in French and English and hands-on. It was very busy and some activities we could not do. They even have a greenhouse with beautiful butterflies everywhere, you just have to be careful when leaving as one may be perched on your shoulder. Luckily we were able to return to the greenhouse and put it back before it flew away. Some of the kids were very pushy and no adult was around them so it is best if you keep an eye on your child so they get their turn. There was one machine that let you create a cutout to make a box by folding it in certain ways but some of the adults there seemed to be making several designs, making it impossible to get your design printed. It may be best to go there first if you want to do this activity. The area was also very popular and my son's favorite. They even have live ant colonies and a section dedicated to how a TV studio works including a green screen, weather backdrops, cameras, and specialty cameras and a switcher.
The closest metro station is the Porte de la Villette on the Metro 7, someone advised us to take a different metro (I think the 5) and it was quiet a walk just to get to the entrance (at least in the rain). When we went the hours were Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 6pm and Sundays 10am to 7pm.
This was a perfect activity to do in the winter time when it was raining outside.
There were several other things that could be done there but we did not have a chance.

Hilton Houston NASA Clear Lake

We arrived very late but the people behind the desk were very friendly. Our room was right by the elevator which I didn't like too much. It was room 624. We also didn't have a very nice view but that's ok we didn't spend a lot of time in the room anyway. It was nice that there was a fridge but without a microwave it is almost pointless since if we brought food back to the hotel we would not have been able to reheat it. Another is with this room was that the bathroom is very small. Not much moving around space. I did like the beds and they were comfortable. We had an issue with the TV remote but again we barely used it so not a big bother. The hotel is very close to the space center although we did not visit it. There are a few places to eat not too far away, most importantly there is a Starbucks close by across from the McDonalds. We were there for a conference so didn't have much time to explore the area or use other amenities in the hotel. The food provided by the hotel was pretty good, lots of fresh fruit. Over all it was a nice hotel and if we come for vacation here, I would definitely stay here.