Blogs > News-Herald Food and Travel

Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Prime getaways to Jersey shore, Lake Erie battle & Indy kids museum

Kathie receives her boarding pass from the gate agent/flight attendant.

The August 11 News-Herald Travel will inspire end-of-summer getaway dreams and equip you to realize them.

Stories are gathered in one place here so when you click on their underlined descriptions you will go there.

 A promise to take us in three hours from home to a posh Atlantic City casino was put to the test when a pair of girlfriends joined me on FlyBorgata.  Passing up TSA and the need for lots more time, passengers discover flights with oldtime amenities like blankets and free drinks, transfer and an early resort check in. Everything helped to stretch our getaway weekend with plenty of leisure for hanging-out time.

Its been 200 years since the Battle of Lake Erie, important turning point in the War of 1812. Island communities and ports on Ohio, Michigan and Ontario mainlands are hosting the Tall Ship participants in the days leading up to Labor Day Weekend. Then a well-planned re-enactment of the Battle will take place in the lake 16 miles northeast of Put-in-Bay among ships with crews costumed in the era. Black powder exploding from well-aimed cannons will contribute to the din and drama. Go and discover events and places that helped open the Great Lakes to westward expansion and determine the boundary for our Canadian neighbors.

Then head west 5 or so hours to Indianapolis, making the acclaimed children's museum there the perfect swan song to summer for kids. Join staffer Betsy Scott and her three children when they meet her sister and their four cousins for a weekend packed with fun, friendship, animals and creative play.

We hope you enjoy reading these stories and will pass them along to your friends.  All these trips would be a delight to enjoy with others in the weeks before our all-too-short summer begins to wind down.

Get the paper on your newstand and you'll find lots more, including a new Museum of the Bison, a food festival in Traverse City, a Kentucky cave tour,  some wonderful new shore excursions and ways to bring the expense of a Tokyo visit into line.

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Dire straits in Atlantic City prompt mega deals

Atlantic City's newest casino, Revel, is desperate for business. 

Remember Atlantic City? Once the "closeby" destination for gamblers? The proliferation of casinos - including Cleveland's -  has caused a real decline of business from midwesterners and casinos there are going to great lengths to lure them back.

On Sunday Aug. 11 you'll be able to read about my weekend trip with a pair of girlfriends to Borgata, the Atlantic City casino that promised to get us from our Mentor doorsteps to casino resort check-in in three hours. After I wrote about that promise I decided to take them up on it.and then write about the experience itself  for Travel, which is what I did. For me, at least, the time saving promise was the clincher.

Note how few people stroll the Atlantic City's Boardwalk in front of Revel, the newest casino and the one that declared bankruptcy last March.

Borgata is great but it's not on the famous Boardwalk so of course we took a morning to visit it, getting there by a 10 minute jitney that circles among all the properties and costs $2.25 a ride.

We were dropped off near Revel which opened on the northern end of the Boardwalk in April 2012 with an emphasis on luxury, with no smoking, a salt grotto in the spa, celebrity chefs instead of all-you-can eat buffets. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie declared Revel to be a turning point for the city, with an emphasis away from gambling.

That just didn't happen. Revel lost $11 million in its first year, and declared bankruptcy in March.

 Now folks can smoke there, cafeteria  style restaurants  have been installed and a big sign "Gamblers Wanted" greeted us as we strolled toward the entrance, passing undulating exterior  walls of what appeared to by shiny aluminum.

 Meanwhile. on the other side of the Boardwalk heavy equipment moved on the ocean side beyond newly planted beach grass restoring the beach swept away last year in Hurricane Sandy. Off shore we saw what appeared to be dredging boats scooping sand off the sea floor to put back on the beach.

A sign near the Revel ceiling tells gamblers that slots losses in July will be refunded.

When we went into Revel's  casino the first thing that caught our eyes was a big sign promising to refund any slot machine losses during the month of July. There's a catch, of course.  To get the money back players must lose at least $100 on slots and the refunds will be put on their loyalty cards and doled out over 20 weeks starting this month.  You can get cash back on a loyalty card, but it's easier to put it back into the machines.

Still, the casino floor wasn't nearly as crowded as the huge one at Borgata, where we were staying. Obviously its strategy to provide chartered flights from more distant cities is working.
Roof damage from Hurricane Sandy keeps several oceanside areas closed off the Boardwalk. Note the freshly planted sea grass.
The famous Steel Pier looms over sunbathers on the white sand Atlantic City beach.
Walking south on the boardwalk, we saw storm damaged buildings on at least one of the famous piers and several walkways to the dunes still closed amidst freshly planted grass. I can't say any of us know what's involved, but it certainly seems to be taking a large chunk of time to complete storm restoration to a place that must be a big economic engine for the State of New Jersey.
 Summer is certainly a better season there than winter,  but we were there in mid-July and saw very few other people along the boardwalk -  or even on the wide white sand beach.

Catch Sunday's Travel for more about our visit.

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Monday, August 5, 2013

Epic Maui trip enjoyed by 28 member family

All five of the adult Eiswerth children  joined their parents on Maui when Betty Ann and Tom Eiswerth renewed their vows for their 50th wedding anniversary.

Their five kids also renewed their own wedding vows, an occasion witnessed by the 13 grandchildren who also came along. 

When I heard about this story from a parishioner at  one of the area Catholic churches, I was impressed with the logistical  feat of coordinating such an epic trip. Rev. Thomas Johns and Rev. John Betters are area priests who came along to officiate - and word travels fast among area Catholic parishes.

But as I spoke to family members I became more and more captivated with those who are part of this wonderful family. Many of the adults are professionals with their own busy lives and the grandchildren are involved in high school sports, community theater, college studies and dozens of other activities. The grandparents, Betty Ann and Tom, play an active role in all their lives  - something made easier by the fact all have remained in Northeast Ohio.

Family is important for all of them  and its importance is one of the family values being passed on to the grandchildren. Every one of the Eiswerths had to made a huge effort to be on Maui on June 29 when the renewal ceremony took place. The senior Eiswerths are not wealthy people but their efforts multiplied by 28 made the memorable trip happen.

I'm sure  you'll enjoy the Eiswerths story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Just click on the underlined words here to go to it.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Wish Alan Iacofano a happy anniversary

The Iacofano family shares wine in Napa Valley. From left are the senior Iacofanos,  Alan and Colleen, their son Greg, daughter Colleen and her husband Matt Misconish. It's an annual family trip.

Who knew that Alan Iacofano's lottery win gave him his start in the beverage and liquor business? That was back in 1977 and everyone in his Euclid neighborhood certainly knew since they all were his friends.

But he showed the fiscal self-discipline that has characterized his business life ever since and banked the money he won until he was able to buy his dad's Shoregate Beverage.

Alan, who now owns World Wines & Liquor  in Mentor,  was surprised for the 30th anniversary of  his beverage business with a new office put together from top to bottom by his daughter, Colleen, and son, Brendan, who work for his beverage store just as he worked for his dad's store three decades ago. Colleen, who was lurking in the darkness with a  camera,  caught his surprise in a video when he opened the door and turned on the light.

I profiled Alan in the Thursday paper and it was story that was to have run on Monday. But it didn't since I first needed to talk to Alan himself for the story and couldn't reach him by cellphone. He and his wife had slipped away to North Carolina for a quick visit with one of their sons.

But we had a photo of Alan, his wife Colleen, their California son, Greg. daughter Colleen and her husband Matthew Misconish. Something slipped through the cracks here at the paper and although the story profiles Alan  the picture that ran with it   showed Brian Fife, the store's wine manager and one of Alan's biggest fans.

But those of you who want to be able to wish Alan a Happy Anniversary this week, check out the photo with this blog so you know what he looks like. He's at the store most days.  .