Forget Tokyo’s Robot Cafe; Kyoto has Roberoids!

GEAR Show in Kyoto
GEAR Show in Kyoto — Circus arts at their best

You’ve probably heard the hype about the Tokyo Robot Cafe, but did you know that Kyoto has real life Roberoids?

The Roberoids are stars of the GEAR Show, running at Kyoto’s Art Complex 1928. 

These robots perform mime, magic, juggling, and break dancing.

Art Complex 1928, Kyoto
Art Complex 1928, Kyoto

Their skills are showcased in a non-verbal performance with a story line that pulls at the heartstrings.  The show is very entertaining with lots of incredible special effects.

The production values are amazing.  The technical wizardry reminded me of the Broadway production of the The Curious Case of the Dog in the Nighttime.

The GEAR show has been running for several years straight with a rotating cast.

The theatre is in a cool art deco building in downtown Kyoto.

Tickets are discounted if you order online in advance.  Also, you get a ticket discount any time during your birthday month.

But don’t take my word for it.  You can read all the rave reviews on TripAdvisor!

 

Dulles Plane Pull, Fun Run, & Family Festival

Dulles Day Plane Pull
Dulles Day Plane Pull

On Saturday, September 19, 2015Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) will sponsor an “open house” for visitors.

This is an all day affair, including:

  • 5k/10k runway run
  • plane pulling competition truck pulling contest for kids
  • moon bounces
  • antique car show
  • vintage airplane display

Admission and parking are free!  Free Silver Line Express buses will operate from Metrorail’s Wiehle-Reston East station beginning at 9:30 a.m.

Proceeds from fund-raising activities such as the plane pull will benefit Special Olympics Virginia.

Run the Runway at Dulles International Airport

5/10K Run at Dulles International Airport
5/10K Runway Run at IAD

Dulles Day kicks off at 7:30 a.m. with a 5k or 10k runway run for registered participants.

The Dulles airport runway will be closed off to provide runners with a flat, fast course alongside the landing strip.

The 10k will run the entire length of the runway!

Runners must be able to complete the course by 9:00 am, when the runway will be reopened for aircraft traffic.  Advance registration is required.  Up to 2,500 runners can be accommodated.

Plane Pull for Charity at IAD

Dulles Plane Pull
Dulles Plane Pull for charity

The signature event is the Plane Pull, an event in which teams compete to pull a full-size jet aircraft in the shortest time.

More than 70 teams are competing this year.

Two aircraft will be pulled —  a FedEx plane and an United Airlines plane.  You can join a team here.

Kids Truck Pull at Dulles International Airport September 19, 2015

Kids' Truck Pull at IAD
Kids’ Truck Pull at IAD

This year, kids can get in on the fun with a truck pull.

Teams of eight will compete to see who can pull a  big red junk truck 12 feet the fastest.

You can register at the festival starting at 11:30 am. There is a $10 donation to participate.  Participants will receive a Truck Pull tee shirt.

Dulles Day Family Fun Festival 2015

At 10:30 a.m., the gates to the airfield open for the free family festival.

Additional family fun activities at Dulles Day include:

Free Bounce House at the Airport
Free Bounce House at the Airport
  • Airfield tours aboard the mobile lounges for $1 per person
  • Kids’ play area with bounce houses, truck pull and dunk-a-cop tank
  • Equipment displays by Airports Authority Police, Fire and Rescue and Maintenance
  • Ride in an Airports Authority fire truck for a $5 donation to Special Olympics
  • Police K-9 demonstrations on the half hour
  • Food and beverages available for purchase
  • Aircraft on display
  • Classic car show

Aircraft on Display at Dulles Day

Look for more than 40 aircraft on display, including:

  • U.S. Air Force C-17 cargo jet
  • U.S. Air Force A-10 Thunderbolt (close air-support aircraft)
  • U.S. Marine Corps MV-22B Osprey (tiltrotor helicopter-plane)
  • U.S. Navy HT-28 (Bell Jet Ranger helicopter trainer)
  • U.S. Coast Guard Rescue “Dolphin” Helicopter
  • DC-3 “Miss Virginia”
  • DC-3 “Tabitha May”
  • Nakajima Japanese bomber “Kate”
  • PBY Catalina (WWII Patrol Bomber)
  • Bell 429 Helicopter
  • Hughes 500D Helicopter
  • TBM Avenger (WWII torpedo bomber)
  • DHC-1 Chipmunk (WWII primary trainer)
  • L-5 Sentinel (WWII “Flying Jeep”)
  • L-39 Albatross (Czech built high-performance jet trainer)
  • T-6 Texan (WWII advanced trainer)
  • T-28 Trojan (WWII advanced trainer)
  • Yak-3 (WWII Soviet fighter aircraft)
  • Stearman PT-17 Biplane
  • Kodiak, high wing float & cargo aircraft
  • Piper J-3 Cub (WWII utility aircraft)

17th Annual Dulles Day Classic Car and Motorcycle Show

Check out the cars, trucks and motorcycles on display at the Dulles Day car show.  You can help vote on the winners in the following catagories:

CAR SHOW CLASSES

  • “Best of the Brass and Antique” (through 1925, Car or Truck)
  • “Best of the Classic Era” (1926-1948, Car or Truck)
  • “Best of the Chrome and Fins” (1949-1963, Car or Truck)
  • “Best of the Muscle Era” (1964-1971, Car or Truck)
  • “Best of the OPEC Era” (1972-1983, Car or Truck)
  • “Best Import” (Tuner)
  • “Best Custom” (Hot Rod Car or Truck)
  • “Best American Sports Car”
  • “Best Imported Sports Car”
  • “Best In Show” (Car or Truck)
  • “People’s Choice” (Car or Truck)

MOTOCYCLE CLASSES

  • “Top American Motorcycle”
  • “Top Import Motorcycle”
  • “Best Custom Motorcycle”
  • “Best in Show” (Motorcycle)
  • “People’s Choice” (Motorcycle)

Want to enter your vehicle?  Here’s the registration form.

Montana On My Mind, But Not With Miles and Points

Headed to Montana Soon
Montana bound on miles and points, not!

When I think of Montana, I think of mountains and rivers, glaciers and prairie, cowboys and grizzlies.

Our upcoming trip will not focus on any of those things.

Instead, we will be touring cement plants and factories, dams and bridges, historic forts and industrial ruins.

Traveling to Montana with Miles and Points — Not!

We will be participating in the Society for Industrial Archeology’s Fall Tour.  When we saw that Great Falls, Montana was the site for this year’s tour, we signed up right away.  My sister lives in nearby Helena.   This will be a great opportunity to see my sister and her family!

We will not be utilizing miles or points for this trip.  We’ll be flying in to Great Falls, and out of Helena.   I could not find a decent itinerary using frequent flyer miles.

I was very excited however, to see the Staybridge Suites in Great Falls on the IHG “points break” list for this fall.  This is a new hotel that is ranked #1 on TripAdvisor’s ranking of hotels in Great Falls.  5,000 IHG points per night would be a nice bargain.

Where to Stay in Great Falls, Montana

Sip & Dip Bar with Live Mermaids
Sip ‘n Dip Tiki Lounge with Live Mermaids at the O’Haire Motor Inn in Great Falls, Montana

We decided against the Staybridge Suites, because we wanted to stay at the conference hotel.

The conference hotel is in downtown Great Falls.  It is the O’Haire Motor Inn.

Aside from the convenience of staying with the rest of our group, the O’Haire Motor Inn looks to be a hoot.

Believe it or not, GQ Magazine named the Sip ‘n Dip Tiki Lounge at the O’Haire Motor Inn the number one bar on earth worth flying for!

This honor wasn’t just because of the live piano bar or the umbrella drinks.

The unique feature of the Sip ‘n Dip Tiki Lounge is the glass wall between the bar and the swimming pool.  There are live mermaids swimming in the pool!

* * *

This will be my first trip to Montana, but it won’t be my last.  I hope to return during the summer months to visit the National Parks in the Big  Sky state.

Flip Out at the Paris Pinball Museum

Paris Pinball Museum is rich in history.
Paris Pinball Museum is rich in history.

4.5 of 5 starsGiven that the Pinball Hall of Fame is now #13 of 692 things to do in Las Vegas on Trip Advisor, I wanted to put in a plug for another fabulous pinball gallery.  

The Paris Pinball Museum is an incredible historical collection of slot machines, jukeboxes and over one hundred pinball machines from every era, from the 1930’s to the present.
Every one of the games is top condition and in working order!

Play All You Want at the Paris Pinball Museum

You need an advance reservation to visit the Paris Pinball Museum, which is only open on weekends.

The Paris Pinball Museum also features one armed bandits.
The Paris Pinball Museum also features one armed bandits.
A $15 Euro admission ticket grants you access to play all the games as much as you want.
The owner, Raphael Lanker, was kind enough to arrange an opportunity for us to visit, even though he was away at the time.
Lanker has been in pinball since the 1950’s, and his love for the game is evident in the collection he maintains.
All the games at the Paris Pinball Museum are set to free play.
All the games at the Paris Pinball Museum are set to free play.

Each room in the museum is devoted to another decade.

There are an abundance of the wood-railed machines from the 1940’s, especially Gottlieb machines.
 The Paris Pinball Museum is a blast from the past!
If there is time in your schedule, you may wish to include a visit to the museum on your next trip to Paris!
The artwork on the back glasses is amazing.
The artwork on the backglasses is amazing.  Sky Line is a personal favorite!

The Secret Terrace Cafe at the Louvre

The Terrace Colbert
The Terrasse Colbert in the Louvre has a convenient outdoor snack bar.

There are at least 15 restaurants at the Louvre museum in Paris, and all 15 of them have a long line at lunch time.

Except one.

In the Richelieu wing, on the “first” floor (which is really the second floor), just past the entrance to the Cafe Richelieu, there is an open door which looks like a service entrance.

There is a banner on the door, but if you are coming from the opposite direction you will miss it.

The door leads past the Cafe Richelieu espresso machines to an exit onto an outdoor terrace overlooking the courtyard of the Louvre.

Welcome to the Terrasse Colbert!

Statuary of the Terrace Colbert
Statuary of the Terrace Colbert at the Louvre
Image via Wikimedia Commons

There, you will find some long tables set with chairs, and a small cafe.

This cafe is not mentioned in the official literature from the museum, so I suspect that it is seasonal.

You can rest your feet among the statuary and enjoy the view.

The snack bar at Terrace Colbert at the Louvre
The snack bar at Terrasse Colbert at the Louvre

The selection at the snack bar is quite limited — just a few types of sandwiches, soft drinks, and packaged ice cream.

But you will be able to rest your feet, enjoy the fresh air and the view of the famous pyramid, and avoid wasting precious time standing in line.

Enjoying the atmosphere at the Terrasse Colbert
Enjoying the atmosphere at the Terrasse Colbert

Here is a map to help you find this hidden gem!

Location of the Terrace Snack Bar at the Louvre
Location of the Terrace Snack Bar at the Louvre

Destination DCA: Behind the Scenes Tour

 

Happy 74th Birthday, DCA!Happy 74th Birthday, DCA!
Happy 74th Birthday, DCA!

To celebrate the 74th anniversary of Reagan National Airport (DCA), the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) is holding a behind the scenes tour of operations at the airport.

Destination DCA will give 25 lucky participants insight into the past, present and future of Reagan National Airport.

MWAA will randomly select 25 guests for lunch and a guided tour of the airfield at DCA.

The event will take place on June 23, 2015 from  1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

To enter for a chance to attend, go to http://www.mwaa.com/reagan/8025.htm.

Entries open open Tuesday, June 16, 2015 and close on Thursday, June 18, 2015 at 12:00 noon (Eastern Time).

This event sounds like great fun!

Aviation Fans: View Aer Lingus Airbus Inaugural Flight into Dulles

Aer Lingus Inaugural Airbus Flight into IAD
Discover Dulles: Watch this A330 land on May 1, 2015

The Aer Lingus Airbus A330  is making its inaugural flight from flight from Dublin, Ireland into Dulles International Airport (IAD) on May 1, 2015.  

45 lucky people will be invited to view the landing and get a behind the scenes tour of the Ramp Control Towers and Operations at IAD.

I attended one of these “Discover Dulles” events last summer and it was a blast!

Click here to enter the contest for a chance to be a part of this historical event.

Continue reading —>

Free Happenings at the New York Public Library and Bryant Park

Mardi Gras Celebration at Bryant Park
Mardi Gras Celebration at Bryant Park, February 14, 2014

When we were in New York City over the Thanksgiving holiday, I wanted to stop by the offices of the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO).

In the olden days before the internet, you could pick up lots of great tourist information and maps at various international tourism offices in New York.

Walking down Fifth Avenue on our way to JNTO, we passed the main entrance of the New York Public Library and stopped.  I had never been inside the library to see the iconic Reading Room.  We were there.  We had to go in.

It turned out that the Reading Room was closed to the public due to ongoing repairs. I asked the lady at the information desk what other parts of the library we should see, and she encouraged us to sign up for the free building tour.  So we did.

Free Building Tours of the New York Public Library

The tour guide was terrific.  We got to see the Periodicals Room, the Map Room, and learn about the history of the library and the history of New York City.  We never made it to JNTO, but this was a most worthwhile detour.

The New York Public Library offers free one-hour tours at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Mondays to Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays (except during the summer.)  Sign up at the reception desk in Astor Hall.

By the way, if you are in New York at Christmastime, the New York Public Library displays an enormous Christmas tree, decorated with beautiful birds.  There were lots of people taking family photos in front of the tree.

Free Ice Skating at Bryant Park

While you are in the vicinity, you might want to try out the free ice skating in Bryant Park, which is right behind the library.  There is a large skating rink and during the holiday season the park is ringed with vendors like a European Christmas market.  If you need to rent skates the cost is $15.  Compare that to Rockefeller Center where admission is $12 for adults, $15 for children, and skate rental is $12.

The rink at Bryant Park is open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day from late October through  through March 1, 2015.

Juggling Class and More at Bryant Park

Bryant Park offers lots of other free entertainment:  Ping pong; juggling classes; Tai Chi; fitness club; and more.

Take a ride on Le Carrousel, which plays French cabaret music.  It costs $3 per ride, or $15 for ten tickets.  There is no charge for parents to ride alongside their small children.

On Saturday February 14, 2015 at 1 p.m. there will be a free Mardi Gras celebration at Le Carrousel, featuring a Cajun band and a magician.

* * *

I can’t tell you how many reports I’ve read about the Andaz Fifth Avenue on other miles and points blogs.  They all praise the view of the New York Public Library.

Next time you are passing by, I suggest you go in.

Where to Eat in Salt Lake City, and Why

India House dishes are beautifully presented.
India House dishes are sensational.

We stumbled upon India House in Sandy, Utah via one of those restaurant business card displays you often see in hotel lobbies.  They were offering a 10 or 15 percent discount, so we thought we’d give it a try.  Sandy is about 15 minutes south of downtown Salt Lake City.

If you are traveling along the I-15 corridor in Utah you will find a lot of chain hotels and franchise restaurants.  Think Texas Roadhouse, Olive Garden, or Chili’s.  At home and when traveling, we prefer small, local, ethnic restaurants, whether Thai, Afghan, Indian, Mexican, or whatever.

India House is an unassuming family run restaurant, with the most diverse selection of naan I have ever seen.  They run a lunch buffet on weekdays for $8.99, including soup, salad, dessert and an array of fragrant vegetarian selections and chicken kormas.  You can also order from the menu.  The dishes are flavorful and reasonably priced.

I can recommend the Peshwari Naan — a homemade bread with a marzipan like filling.  The lamb saag and butter chicken are delightful too.

But don’t take my word for it — read the reviews on Yelp here.

India House has two other things to recommend it:

1) It is part of at the Rewards Dining program — allowing you to earn frequent flyer miles for eating out.

2) It is next door to an eclectic antique consignment shop — really 20 shops in one as they rent space to various vendors.

Earn 2,500 Delta SkyMiles Miles for Eating at India House in Salt Lake City

It was a great surprise to discover that we had earned United Mileage Plus  frequent flyer miles for our lunch at India House.  This restaurant participates in the Rewards Dining network.  You can register to earn miles with your choice of frequent flyer programs.

Early in the year is a good time to take advantage of bonus offers for signing up with various Rewards Dining programs.  Different airlines have different offers.  The most lucrative offer right now for new sign-ups is with the Delta Skymiles rewards dining program.

New members of the Delta Rewards Dining program earn 2,500 bonus miles after spending $30 at a participating restaurant. Register by March 1, 2015.

Salt Lake City is a Delta hub so 2,500 Skymiles could come in handy.

Sandy Antiques Mall
Sandy Antique Mall
Photo by Joel Shprentz

Sandy Antique Mall

India House Restaurant and Sandy Antiques Mall
India House Restaurant and Sandy Antiques Mall

The Sandy Antique Mall is next door to India House.  It’s an agglomeration of several buildings that seem to go on forever.

Vendors specializing in everything from vintage clothing and jewelry to antique furniture and gadgets have “booths” here.

It’s fun to browse because you never know what you might find.

Many of the restaurants in the Rewards Dining program are unremarkable but India House is definitely worth seeking out.

Do you participate in the Rewards Dining programs?

Museum Free-For-All in Los Angeles January 31, 2015

Museum Free-For-All in Los Angeles January 31, 2015
Open House at 20 Los Angeles Museums

Twenty Los Angeles area museums open their doors to the public on Saturday January 31, 2015 for the tenth annual Museum Free-for-All.

The list of participating venues includes diverse art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science museums.

There are a number of top attractions participating — such as the Los Angeles Museum of Art and the California Science Center, but if I had my druthers I would head over the the Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits.

Kids love dinosaurs and what could be better than an active excavation site for dinosaur fossils?   We spent half a day at the Tar Pits when we last visited LA with our then school-aged daughter.  Regular admission is $15 per adult and $8 per child, so free admission is a really great deal for families!

 Los Angeles Museums Participating in 2015 Free-for-All

Here are links to the museums that are participating in this year’s open houses.  The Jan. 31 offer is good for general  admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions.

Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences 
Annenberg Space for Photography 
Armory Center for the Arts 
California African American Museum 
California Science Center
Chinese American Museum 
Craft Folk & Art Museum 
Fowler Museum at UCLA 
The Getty Center 
The Getty Villa (Timed tickets required)
Hammer Museum 
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
Los Angeles Fire Department Museum and Memorial
The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) 
Museum of Latin American Art 
Museum of Tolerance (Feb. 1)
The Paley Center for Media 
The Page Museum at the La Brea Tar Pits 
Pasadena Museum of California Art
Santa Monica Museum of Art 
Skirball Cultural Center
The Torrance Art Museum 
USC Pacific Asia Museum 
William S. Hart Museum 
Zimmer Children’s Museum (Feb. 1)

Weekly/Monthly Free Admission Days in Los Angeles and Other Major Cities

If you can’t make it this coming weekend, plan to take advantage of the regularly scheduled free admission days at Los Angeles area museums.

FreeMuseumDay.org publishes a calendar of free museums and free museum days for LA and for these major cities:

Check it out!