Hotel Concierges To Cure Your Hangover And Fix Your Love Life

If you’re like many hotel guests, you probably just waltz right past the concierge desk without a second thought. After all, unless you need a hard-to-get restaurant reservation or last minute theater tickets, you can probably figure out whatever you want to know with a quick search of Google. But what if we told you your concierge might be able to help you quell that nasty hangover, or that they could put the spark back into your love life?

A growing number of high end hotels are bringing in specialty concierges whose job is to provide more personalized services to hotel guests. For example, Westin Hotels & Resorts has recently employed a running concierge who can share advice and help guests achieve their fitness goals. Meanwhile the Viceroy Riviera Maya has its own soap concierge for the traveler who just can’t bathe without some hand-shaved artisanal soap.

One specialty concierge we can imagine being in high demand is the Ritz-Carlton New Orleans’ “Recovery Concierge.” Guests who partied a little too hard can head to the concierge for hangover help, and might find themselves being prescribed a hair of the dog treatment, an in-room massage, or some fresh fruit to give them a healthy energy boost. And then there’s the “Romance Concierge” at the Rendezvous in St Lucia. Her job is to help romantically challenged individuals woo their partner by organizing private dates on the beach, musical serenades, and private sunset cruises, among other things.

What kind of fantasy concierge service would you like to see in a hotel?

Love In The Civil War At The New York State Museum

The Civil War is the subject of numerous exhibitions and special events these days as the country commemorates the war’s sesquicentennial. Most study the battles and politics, but one at the New York State Museum in Albany is focusing on how the war affected the relationship between two lovers.

“I Shall Think of You Often: The Civil War Story of Doctor and Mary Tarbell” opens today as part of “An Irrepressible Conflict: The Empire State in the Civil War,” a 7,000-square-foot exhibition that examines New York’s role in the war.

Doctor and Mary Tarbell were childhood sweethearts who got separated when Doctor Tarbell went off to war with the Union army. They kept up a regular correspondence until the doctor was captured and sent to a Confederate prison.

Mary heard nothing from him and didn’t even know he was alive until he was released in February 1865. The doctor wasted no time getting leave to go home and marry his true love.

The exhibition tells of their enduring relationship with letters, diaries, photographs and Mary’s wedding dress, giving a personal and emotional side to a period of history so often concerned with death and violence.

Both exhibitions run through September 22.

[Photo courtesy Tompkins County History Center]

Photo of the Day: Love Locks in Paris

Paris is a romantic city. The architecture, the lights, the food, the language; it’s hard to deny that this city is a place for love.

One of the classic expressions of romance in the City of Light is the collection of love padlocks on some of Paris’ most classic bridges. Love locks are a simple thing: a couple writes their names on a padlock, locks it to one of the bridges, and if they are really committing to everlasting love, throws the key into the Seine.

The weight of love in Paris is so big that a few years ago, town hall was concerned about the influence of the locks on the city’s architectural integrity, and one night, all of the thousands of locks were cut down – although the culprit remains unknown. But even French bureaucracy can’t win in the battle of love, and locks returned, in all colors and sizes.

You’ll find the biggest assortment on Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché (which bridge you choose depends on which type of love you are trying to express), where Flickr user jrodmanjir snapped this photo.

Have your own travel photos that capture a special moment? Submit them to the Gadling Flickr Pool for a chance to be featured on Photo of the Day.

[Photo Credit: jrodmanjir]

Travel Troubles: How To Have A Travel Fling

In a recent fit of travel nostalgia, I pulled out the diary I kept while living in Ireland when I was 20. I expected it to be filled with precocious ramblings about the people and culture, a la Steinbeck’s “A Russian Journal” or at the very least to offer up some “Eat, Pray, Love”-style insights about myself. Instead I found pages of minutely plotted grocery lists (I was so broke I had to shop meal to meal) and endless entries about… boys. Numerous paragraphs, for example, are devoted to flirtations with a witty Irish bartender. There is also much speculation over whether or not the long-lashed Spanish neighbor has a girlfriend. And a cute, scruffy lawyer who frequented the pub where I worked earned a full four pages before I even learned his name.

Ah, youth. Ah, travel. Ah, romance. As mortifyingly boy crazy as my young Ireland journal is, re-reading it did remind me of the excitement of being with someone new somewhere new. A small portion of these international romances endure but many are as short-term as our visitor visas. Still, you want to make the most of your foreign fling. Here’s how.Seek Out Locals
Are you the kind of person who takes those frenetic group tours where some perpetually grinning guide leads you and 30 others down the beaten track of whatever city you’re visiting, occasionally letting you stop for ten minute intervals to snap photos? No? Great. Me, neither. I want to experience the local culture as much as an outsider can and one great way to get a glimpse of it is by hanging out with an actual local. Let your Romeo lead you through a Verona only a Juliet would get to see. I guarantee he’ll take you to the best Renaissance balls and only the finest apothecaries. Just don’t stay too long. I hear Romeo’s last relationship ended rather badly.

Widen Your Net
Got a 20-point checklist of all the qualities your future wife should have? Did you ditch the last guy you were dating because Cosmo told you he wasn’t the “one”? Well, you’re in luck. Since you’re only in country X for a week, you can drop all preconceptions about long-term mates and hook up with someone without worrying about pesky little issues like soul mates and divorce rates. So go on. Indulge your inner rebel and date the Dutch guy whose arms are covered in tattoos of his dead pets. Fantasize about mortifying your uptight mother with the chick who swears like a sailor. The world could use more tolerance and open-mindedness and it might as well start with you and your travel fling.

Kiss and Tell
Being a writer is great because I have a professional excuse to do ridiculous things for the sake of a story. And I’m not talking only about adventures I plan to publish. I consider this imperative to investigate people and places fundamental to having a great life story, the kind you tell wide-eyed grandkids whom you want to know the highlight of your day wasn’t always gumming a cheese sandwich. Yes, this means I’ve made many stupid mistakes – and it should go without saying that you should exercise the utmost caution when getting involved with someone you don’t know in a foreign land – but it also means I’ve had some amazing, spontaneous experiences. If you say yes to that Austrian drummer who invites you to an underground concert in Vienna, you just might, too.

Manage Your Expectations
You meet a guy in Buenos Aires one balmy night. You laugh. You drink. You dance. And somewhere around 3 a.m. you two lust birds find yourselves making grand plans to travel the country together, a romantic version of “The Motorcycle Diaries.” Be wary, traveler. These are heady times. It’s easy to get swept up in the moment, especially on the road, where, among strangers, we sometimes imagine reinventing ourselves and our lives. The thrill of so many new experiences is powerfully intoxicating; it makes us want to say yes to everything, including romance. But travel flings often disintegrate like vampires in the sun. Be prepared to appreciate them for what they are – exciting and often temporary – and to move on.

Cool It
I once had a friend who went to Barcelona with the singular goal of having an affair with a tall, dark Spaniard. She announced her intentions on multiple occasions before the trip – to me, to our other friends, to pretty much anyone who would listen. I imagine she also relayed her plan to every man within earshot she met in Spain that week. You might not be surprised to hear that her “spontaneous” travel romance never materialized. You will not snag an awesome guy or gal simply because you are a new face in an old town. And don’t depend on that American accent to charm anyone but the waitress who hopes you don’t realize that you don’t need to tip 20 percent in Europe. A friend of mine offers this wise but important travel fling advice: “remain cool and mysterious and let things happen naturally.” Actually, this is pretty great life advice, too.

[Photo Credit: Grant Martin]

Giant Roman Mosaic Discovered In Turkey

A team from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln has discovered an impressive Roman mosaic at a little-known site in Turkey.

The 1,600-square-foot work is part of the forecourt of a Roman bath at the ancient city of Antiochia ad Cragum on the southern Turkish coast. The mosaic dates to the third or fourth centuries A.D. and archaeologists think they’ve uncovered less than half of it.

“Its large size signals, in no small part, that the outward signs of the empire were very strong in this far-flung area,” said excavation director and UNL professor Michael Hoff in a press release. “We were surprised to have found a mosaic of such size and of such caliber in this region – it’s an area that had usually been off the radar screens of most ancient historians and archeologists, and suddenly this mosaic comes into view and causes us to change our focus about what we think (the region) was like in antiquity.”

The team has been excavating the city since 2005 and has worked on a third-century imperial temple and a street lined with shops. They hope to uncover the rest of the mosiac next summer.

“This region is not well understood in terms of history and archaeology … so everything we find adds more evidence to our understanding of this area of the Roman Empire,” Hoff said.

Hopefully the mosaic will be left in situ so visitors can see it in its original setting, like the mosaics in Ephesus and Pergamon, Turkey’s most famous Classical cities.

The best collection of Roman mosaics I’ve seen is at the Museo Nacional de Arte Romano in Mérida, Spain. The Museo Arqueológico Nacional in Madrid also has a grand collection, but the museum is currently closed for renovation. The British Museum in London also has a good collection. I’m sure Rome has some great collections too, but when I visited I was so entranced with the churches, catacombs and monuments that I never made it into any of the archaeological museums!

[Photo courtesy University of Nebraska-Lincoln]