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21 Aug 2006
The Prettiest Towns in Vermont
I’m sometimes asked where to find the “best,” “prettiest,” “most photogenic” villages and towns when traveling to Vermont. In the southern half of the state, I recommend seeing Newfane, Woodstock, and Grafton.

Listing those three is a quick and easy answer, and sure to please. Of course, there are plenty of other villages a little farther north such as Middlebury, Brandon, Brookfield, and Craftsbury Common that are well worth a visit.

And there are parts of some other towns such as Old Bennington, Manchester, and Vergennes that have long traditions of being included in travel book and magazine photographs of great looking VT towns.

Peacham and Greensboro are favorites with residents of Vermont, nearly all of whom love the more remote and picturesque Northeast Kingdom part of the state. This area will take you back to the old days because little has changed in the last half century or longer.

Just to round out the list of best looking villages, I’ll add the two local favorites of Warren and Stowe. We are located about half way between them. Warren is about 20 minutes south and Stowe is about 20 minutes north, both on Route 100.

For larger, best looking towns to add to your VT travel plans, I suggest Burlington and the state capital of Montpelier.

One quirky favorite: the classic buildings in Ripton on Route 125 east of Middlebury.

I have others I would suggest but the list above is of reasonable length for an average length visit.

Are there any areas that aren’t pretty? Unfortunately, even Vermont gets hit with the ugly stick once in a while. One outstanding example: Route 7 on the south side of Rutland.

Load up the film or get a bigger memory card for your digital camera and enjoy some of the prettiest villages in New England.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus LLC
 
Advice
posted by  grunhaus at  22:30 | permalink



19 Aug 2006
If You Are Flying During Your Vacation to Vermont
Here is a link to a helpful website called Ellipses. After the airplane scares last week, airline travel was disrupted but quickly got back to normal according to some of our guests.

The Ellipses web site is a good one to check occasionally to see what's going on in travel. Chris also writes about car rental companies from time to time and presents information you should definitely know.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus LLC
 
Advice
posted by  grunhaus at  22:42 | permalink



6 Aug 2006
Get It in Writing
Quite a few years back, Holiday Inn had an advertising campaign celebrating its consistency (or blandness if you're a cup-is-half-empty type). "No surprises" was the promise. In other words, we're not the greatest but we won't let you down. You know what we have and we will deliver it every time. Kind of like the Number 2 meal at McDonald's. If in doubt, go with the tried and true. Made a lot of sense to me.

Wyndam Hotels may want to call Holiday Inn and ask to borrow the campaign. It seems that Wyndam found the nifty, add-on mother lode that car dealers milked for many years. Used to be, you could get a car at a good price and the dealers would make all their profit in add-ons such as luggage racks, pin striping, paint sealant, and rust proofing. Wyndham simply changed the tags to resort fees, resort tariffs, energy surcharges, and parking/transportation fees. Somebody at Wyndham probably made vice president with that idea but, if so, they had better get their resume in order.

The Florida attorney general found out about the scheme because the state of Florida was getting socked with these fees when state employees stayed at Wyndham Hotels. Long story short, the FL AG went after Wyndham and now the hotel chain is going to pay a $2.3 million settlement with the state; disclose all such "automatic" fees on all travel web sites such as Orbitz; and repay a half million dollars to some affected customers (not you - you're too small - customers such as the state of FL).

No doubt, other hotel chains will get the message and get to full disclosure soon.

All this is a good lesson in Travel 101: find out what your total bill will be. If it proves difficult to find out, find another place to stay. For instance, some facilities in my industry, B&B's and Inns, will charge service fees and gratuities. That is fine if it's disclosed before arrival, and it usually is.

The point is, you should ask what your total bill will be. Get it in writing. In case you're speed reading this article, let me repeat: get it in writing.

If you can't get it in writing before you arrive, you can be sure you will get it in writing when you are there. It will be printed on the bill you will be obligated to pay.

If you have even the tiniest difficulty getting a summary of what your total will be before you arrive, hang up and move on the next place. The vast majority of places are completely honest and you should have little trouble finding one that will give you that commitment in writing.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus LLC
 
Advice
posted by  grunhaus at  22:40 | permalink



31 Jul 2006
While We're on the Topic of Driving
After I posted the article about speeding, I began thinking about driving habits here and what tourists may find unusual about travelling in Vermont.

The first is that Vermont drivers will stop for pedestrians waiting to cross the street. I first witnessed this phenomenon in Los Angeles many years ago. All you had to do as a pedestrian was step anywhere near the curb and you could stop traffic immediately. In many areas of the US, pedestrians technically have the right of way but, in practice, they’re crazy if they try to exercise that right. They wait for the stop light or a break in the traffic and then run. Here in Vermont, a pedestrian rarely has to wait but a few seconds for traffic to stop in both directions.

Another traffic characteristic is less well defined. That is when a car is turning left after waiting at a red light. Often the oncoming driver will allow the driver to turn left in front of them when they get the green light. You have to be a little careful though if you are in either position yourself. I know this is common practice in Pennsylvania for instance but it can be spotty here and not everyone abides by this custom. See the next point.

Vermonters don’t do much friendly waving at other people compared to drivers in the Midwest and the South. The customary sign of recognition or hello to someone you know (rarely to strangers walking along the road for instance) is to just lift one finger while keeping your hand on the steering wheel. No, not that finger - the index finger. The exception to this is when Vermont drivers become traffic directors. Even if they have the right-of-way, they will often vigorously wave you through.

Also, the double yellow line here (no passing in most states) seems to be more for advice and not a requirement. You will see people pass wherever they can whether there are sold yellow lines or dotted yellow line – makes no difference to some drivers here. This is actually unusual though.

The last custom is a pet peeve of mine. You see some drivers here cross the yellow line while going through a corner. I have no idea why. It even occurs when an oncoming car is nearly in the corner itself and has to move right to avoid contact.

(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
 
Advice
posted by  grunhaus at  09:41 | permalink



30 Jul 2006
Watch Your Speed
There has been an increase in serious traffic accidents in Vermont this year. As a result, the police departments around the state will be tightly controlling speed limits on the highways and roads.

According to a Brattleboro VT newspaper article, police are reducing their tolerance levels and will be ticketing much closer to the speed limit than in the past. That could mean getting a ticket for going 57 miles an hour in a 55 mile per hour zone.

Lately, there have been some articles and letters to the editor at the Valley Reporter newspaper in Waitsfield VT which is the next town south of our inn, on Route 100. Some residents were complaining because so many speeding tickets were being handed out at strict levels.

You have to be especially careful in towns because there is often just one sign with the speed limit posted. Tourists are often admiring the landscape or looking for a landmark and can miss these signs easily.


(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
 
Advice
posted by  grunhaus at  14:02 | permalink



29 Jul 2006
Make Foliage Reservations Soon
As I mentioned in my June 4 entry, the sooner you make lodging reservations for the fall foliage period, the better. Our best foliage time is late September and the first half of October.

Our foliage bookings have been coming in steadily and right now we have four rooms remaining available the first weekend of October. You can see details on the availability calendar that many inns have on their web sites. Some Chambers of Commerce have them too - one example is Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce. You can take a look at our calendar here.

Naturally, the most popular rooms get rented first so the sooner you reserve, the better your choices whether it's at our place or any other.


(c) 2006 Jeff Connor Grunberg Haus
 
Advice
posted by  grunhaus at  12:54 | permalink





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