Stephanie Abrams' Travel Blog
Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Blog – Nationally Synidcated Radio Show Host
Shock to Americans: US Government Introducing US Companies to Businesses on Other Continents to Help Them Grow! What a Surprise. . . NOT!
August 11th, 2016

I am truly blessed with a multitude of amazing experiences in both my personal and professional life that have led me to global destinations. From those interests and travels, I have amassed an extraordinary number of experiences that put me in a unique position to be able to understand events and happenings as they unfold on the global stage.  The current flap over an American business person asking for an introduction to a business in a foreign country that might meet his company’s specific needs, which may have included finding a supplier of goods/services, finding a customer for his company’s products/services, find a partner to help grow his business on other continents are all functions that the US Government willingly, robustly, and gladly provide for US businesses. And I know that because the US Government assisted me . . . yes, me(!). . . in my quest to globalize the company in which I played a key role for almost 16 years prior to 9/11.  The company was a leader in its category as a franchisor of travel agencies, something I contributed handsomely to propel that company to grow.  We were the “McDonald’s” of the travel agency franchise world and when I was at an IFA, International Franchise Association meeting, chatting with a top executive of a restaurant franchise company whose brand you would recognize, telling him about the globalization plans I was spearheading in which I had already sold countries, that you didn’t know were for sale, selling the Master Rights so that strong entrepreneurs in the global destinations could develop our brand within their territory,  he asked me if I was using US Embassies to do that.  I had no idea what he was talking about and, frankly, the last thing I wanted to do was introduce the US Government into our daily business lives as that didn’t sound like that was such a good idea.  His question, a suggestion in disguise, did not make any sense to me and I hadn’t a clue what he was thinking or trying to share with me.

The incident nagged me.  What could he have been trying to tell me? What was he thinking? Maybe I needed to know something he knew but I didn’t know what that could be.  As is my M.O., I couldn’t let it go until I found out what he might be referring to and what I might be dismissing that might be a great opportunity.  So I set about, prior to the internet playing a role in every person’s business and professional life, to find out what he was referring to at this point in time in the early 1990’s.

What I found out led me to be introduced by the US Government to entrepreneurs who had the financial resources, the knowledge of the laws and customs of doing business in far-flung global destinations where they lived, some understanding and interest in travel and tourism, and a desire to work with a strong US brand to bring the services we provided to the locals in that person’s country. . . and all I had to do was ask! Just ASK the US Government to introduce me to people who could become our joint-venture partners with our company.

Because of these introductions which were, in general, made face-to-face around the world, I traveled and met the people that the US Commercial Service in each US Embassy in each foreign country had organized to introduce me to potential investors in our system in Madrid, Barcelona, Milan, Paris, Argentina, Chile, Mexico City, Bangkok, and Kuala Lumpur for the purpose of education them on what our company did  and answering their questions as well as evaluating each of them to determine if they would make a good partner for our company .  Every now and then, somebody launches a campaign to save the US taxpayer money by eliminating the Department of Commerce (DOC) and every time that happens it sets my brain on fire as those folks clearly have no idea of the wonderful services provided by the US Government and the DOC to aid in US companies in their efforts to grow their businesses.

The Trade Missions I did to the nine (9) destinations mentioned above were generally composed of key executives of from other companies in travel, tourism and hospitality.  During these trips I met executives from A&W Restaurants, Holiday Inn Hotels, and a variety of car rental companies and other lodgings and restaurants all looking for international area developers to purchase the master rights for their country.  The way the system works, much like the much discussed phone call asking for an introduction in a foreign country, is that the US company that wants to do business in a foreign destination, needs a joint-venture partner, is looking for a customer or a supplier, contacts the US Government and explains what you do and what you are looking for.  For years, my key contact was Mr. Sam Dhir, who I am hoping to track down and have on the air with me!  After providing essential information on your US business and explaining what kind of business or entrepreneur you wish to connect with and what country/countries you are interested in working with, the DOC will contact the US Embassy in that destination and ask them to research what company/companies would be good matches for your company to chat with.  There’s no collusion or underhandedness in play! This is so normal in a day’s work as it is seen as one of the features and benefits that our tax dollars support to help businesses grow.  Such a sane idea!

The DOC publishes a list of trade missions dates and provides missions focused on various industries which may include garment manufacturing/buying/selling fabric for US companies, energy related companies such as those involved in wind and solar power, technology companies, food industry companies, manufacturing sectors and you can find out easily . . . don’t be afraid to make a call to Washington, DC to speak with someone specifically about how our government can help your company. . . what the calendar for 2016-2017 looks like so you can plan to participate. Just the way that someone called or sent an email asking for the name of a company and introduction for a specific business need, I called Sam Dhir at the DOC on a regular basis and I’m sure he remembers me more than a decade later even though he has retired!

So companies in travel, for instance, who want to see their restaurant chain, car rental company or hotel chain grow in Europe, South America, Africa, Asia and/or Pacific Rim, would, through the US Government, look for introductions to hoteliers, car rental company owners and restaurateurs who are successful in their country/region and want to grow by being associated with the marketing distribution that American brands can bring to them, the training and other associations with group buying and other features that could be beneficial as well as giving them the opportunity to grow the brand in their own company and earning fees from new owner and service fees paid within their own country that the US company and the master franchisee in the country will benefit from.

Those planning to go on a Trade Mission with the DOC will be asked to provide anywhere from 30 to 50 kits of information on their company and ship that number of kits to each US Embassy to the US Commercial Service at that destination for each country you’ll be visiting. The folks in the Commercial Service at each destination will go to work to identify people for you to meet with, generally putting together a one or two day agenda of back-to-back meetings so that you’ll be introduced to about 6, sometimes as many as 8, entrepreneurs, business owners, and those whose business interests match the interests of the US business person.  The meetings are generally set up at the headquarters of the local Chamber of Commerce (you should see the one in Madrid. . .gorgeous, historic and all-around amazing) or it may be set up in a hotel or other government building in the destination the trade mission participant is visiting. Generally, at the end of the event, or sometimes on a 2-day event it will take place on the first night, a reception is planned and all of the local entrepreneurs and trade mission participants have a chance to mingle in a social setting, often at the home of the US Ambassador to that country or the home of a US attaché associated with the US Embassy in that country.  If you want to see amazing, get yourself invited to the home of the US Ambassador to Thailand. . . right out of a Hollywood movie!

The DOC evaluates the US companies who wish to participate to be sure that each company is solid and is a credible company and the same is done to research the business backgrounds of the companies requesting introductions to US companies at the US Embassy in their county.  If you want to do this kind of outreach to grow your business but you don’t want to wait until there is a trade mission focused on your specific industry because you need to find your international connection now, check to see if the DOC is still offering the Gold Key Program.  This program allows for the Commercial Service in the destination(s) of interest to set up meetings customized for one specific company to take place at the convenience of the US company. Additionally, with the advent of SKYPE, the meeting(s) may be set up so that there is no need, initially, for the US company’s representative to travel to the foreign destination as that connection can be made electronically. Ultimately, it’s a really good idea for the US company to fly to the destination, meet all the people involved, check out any offices, warehouses, plants, physical locations of the potential foreign partner as part of the US company’s due diligence before you sign anything.

Fees? Yes! I haven’t done a trade mission in 15 or 16 years so you’ll want to find out the going rates.  In the dark ages of 1994-2000, most DOC trade mission fees paid by US companies to be a participant, not counting air transportation, hotels, meals, taxis, car rental fees, was about $2000-$3000 per destination. Often, there were multiple destinations put together like Brazil, Argentina and Chile or Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and discounts on participation fees were offered if you chose to do multiple stops on that trail.  You could also buy into one or more destinations for trade missions without doing all of them.  Special hotel rates were often offered as part of group rates that made the trip more economical for participants.

You’ll want to check with the rate for the Gold Key Program is today.  In decades past, the rate for the Commercial Service for each day that they needed to invest in sorting out the people they would introduce you to meet your special needs was in the range of $500 to $1000 per day of their work and the rate depended on whether they needed to contact 100 people of 30 people and how much time needed to be devoted.  The SKYPE program was less than that.

But when I had a question that someone in a foreign destination could answer for me if they were steeped in the travel/tourism industry, because the folks at the Department of Commerce knew so many people in so many sectors of business all over the world, I wouldn’t hesitate to call and ask if someone could think of a hotelier or a travel agency owner or tourism minister that they could give me a name, in the worst case, and contacts in the best case for the type of person I needed to talk with to get credible answers to questions or to suggest that we work together with them  to head up our local training and support programs we’d need to set up in the foreign destinations to support our emerging travel agencies that we planned to open through a master franchisee program!
So simple. . .not underhanded. . . nothing sneaky. . .just people who know people acting like ‘directory assistance’ to save American businesspeople weeks of research to find someone reliable and trustworthy to do everything from have a chat to act as a support system, provide ground services for arriving travelers from the US, be the local tour operator with receptive services from VIP meeting at airports to sightseeing and local transportation to being investors in bringing this franchise to their country.  Somebody ought to applaud the people who go out of their way to help US businesses grow globally. It’s not an easy thing to do all by yourself!

At the end of my career at that company a month and a day after 9/11, I had sold 21 countries you didn’t know were for sale! Ten (10) of them were the result of introductions made by the US Government.  They included: Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia (all sold to one buyer) which represented the eight nations of the ASEAN at that time in the 1990’s . . . and that down-payment check was for $237,500usd. . . what a gorgeous sight(!), Mexico, and Spain.  Here’s my applause for all who get it and all in our government who help the wheels of US business move forward by assisting in hand-across-the-ocean programs!  And this is my invitation for all who don’t know what they are talking about to take a deep breath and learn something before you express an opinion.


US Gov’t. Center for Disease Control’s Website Info. . . Read Before Traveling!
July 24th, 2016

I have had Dr. Ann Powers from the Arboviral Diseases Division of the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention on the air with me both on Travelers411 and on Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams hoping that these discussions and her input, as an expert on Zika Virus, will help to provide straight information for  women who are of child-bearing age and men who are sexually intimate with women of child-bearing age who have been to destinations where the Zika virus has been reported to have been acquired.  There is a story publicized in the travel industry resulting from a radio broadcaster who produced a show in Puerto Rico during which the show host made it clear that no one should fear going to Puerto Rico because of the presence of the Zika virus-carrying mosquito.  I hope you will listen to the my two radio shows on which Dr. Ann Powers appeared as it was made very clear that the US Government Center for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending that men who return from a destination where the Zika virus originates (which you can find on a list at this websites : https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/zika-travel-information) should either abstain from sexual relations with any women of child-bearing age with whom he is intimate for up to six (6). . . yes, you heard it right. . .SIX MONTHS or use a condom for that period of time to be on the safe side of not being responsible for introducing this virus to an unborn who could be born with horrible malformation of the head/brain,  . . . go look it up! It’s awful!

As for the radio host in Puerto Rico suggesting that there is nothing to fear from the Zika virus for those who visit, for most people past the age of their child-producing years, they will probably, if they are bitten by a Zika-bearing mosquito, have a mild case of the flu. Some may develop, it has been pointed out by CDC, Gillian Barre Disease which is what the medical community now says was what afflicted Franklin Delano Roosevelt and was misdiagnosed as Polio which is a disease of childhood but whose symptoms often include fever, respiratory problems and paralysis.

When you go to the list of reported cases of Zika virus at the CDC listing that the above link will take you to, you will note that the number of cases of reported Zika virus originating in Puerto Rico is over 2400 while most other destinations report small numbers of locally acquired Zika.  It disturbs me that a major travel industry trade newspaper would report and, therefore, repeat the message of the radio host who encouraged travelers to avoid succumbing to fear of travel to Puerto Rico.  My advice is that if you are a traveler going on a honeymoon and anticipating that a pregnancy just might result from that trip or if  you are involved in a relationship that includes hopefulness of a pregnancy within the next six months or if you are a pregnant woman, or if you are the parent/sibling/best friend of a woman/couple who fit that description,  please, PLEASE, take a moment to go to the link above for the CDC and have a look at what is going on in the world and become acquainted with what happens to a baby whose mother is on the receiving end of the Zika virus.  Nobody wants to risk these potential results. . . especially when there are so many wonderful places in the world where this is one issue you don’t have to worry about.

To date, no US state has been shown to have had a case of Zika virus that originated in the state. There was a news story last week that indicated that Florida “may” have a locally acquired Zika virus case but, to date, I have seen no corroborating evidence that that is true.  I will keep you updated as I stay on top of this story to find out if, in fact, the Zika-carrying mosquito has announced its entrance into Florida. Until we have that evidence, it is more likely that the illness came into to country with someone who was bitten by the insect somewhere else.

Do you homework, people! This is too important an issue to make such a serious mistake by going to a place that can inflict dire results on a family and one of its children. . .especially when you have choices and you can somewhere where other things could happen in this imperfect world but wreaking havoc on your unborn child isn’t one of them!


Radio Show Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams’ Guests for Weekend of July 16 & 17, 2016
July 16th, 2016

Broadcast media travel expert, Stephanie Abrams, presents the following guests this weekend on her two nationally syndicated radio shows:

Travelers411 broadcast July 16, 2016 from 10am to 1pmET coast-to-coast:

Dr. Powers discusses fact, fiction, and misconceptions as it relates to Zika Vira prevention, contracting the illness, and transmitting the illness.
Anthony Rudolf explains how necessity for training and education in specific areas related to restaurant management evolved into the creation of “Journee,” a membership organization that costs $1 per day ($365 membership) that provides its membership with seminars, classes and learning opportunities in management of food service locations including specialty classes in such areas as wine service and economic features of restaurant management. Anthony gives insights into his vision for NYC’s newest ‘eating attraction,’ Kellogg’s NYC located at 1600 Broadway in the Times Square region.
Robert Nieporent, General Manager of Kellogg’s NYC explains what makes this Times Square location a Must Visit spot for weary visitors to the region to have their favorite breakfast cereal with milk, yogurt, and a variety of delightful and delicious toppings. Rob describes the unique decor and delivery of the cereal ‘pick-me-up’ you might want to have when on the run, hungry, and little time for something satisfying and healthful.
Victor Cappdona walks us through the extensive parkland setting that is Cranwell Spa and Golf Resort in Lenox, Massachusetts.  Everything from discussion of a casual meal at Sloan’s Tavern, at the third tee of Cranwell’s golf course to fine dining in Wyndhurst in the Cranwell’s mansion, with stops along the way to check out their spa and accommodations, listeners will enjoy learning all about this unique luxury resort in beautiful Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts.
Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams broadcast July 17, 2016 from 6pm to 9pm ET coast-t0-coast:
Dr. Powers had so much of value to say on Saturday on Travelers411, Stephanie Abrams invited her back to continue that discussion on Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams.
Travel expert Stephanie Abrams discusses the vast hospitality offerings of Landry’s, Inc., a national company with hundreds of hotels and restaurants in their holdings. Focus on the hotels in the Houston-Galveston, Texas corridor creates entry into discussing the Westin Houston, the Boardwalk Inn in Kemah, and the company’s three Galveston hotels including the San Luis Spa and Conference Center, the Hilton Galveston and the Holiday Inn Galveston.  Stephanie notes that her conversations with Paul prior to the interview were “Delightful! This is an amazing company that Paul Schultz has been part of for about two decades and his wealth of information and passion for the company and its founder heighten the value of information he has to offer on the issue of where to stay when in that region.  While the whole nation will be interested in this information, we have a strong local drive-market of listeners who tune in on KGBC AM1520, “Abrams notes.
Live from Marseilles, France, photographer Robert Fischer joins Stephanie to discuss his new book, Vignettes, which displays photos taken globally that demonstrate a moment in time.  Stephanie Abrams notes that this book is a good discussion-starter between parents-children-grandchildren-friends regarding the circumstances leading up to the moment these photos were taken, what is going on now and what will happen next.
Stephanie Abrams invited Anthony Rudolph to share the benefits of membership in his NYC company, Journee, which provides training and educational seminars and classes for those in hospitality who want to learn the brass tacks of how to manage and operate food service establishments. This is particularly important for those who are working as waiters and busboys who want to rise to managerial positions and such positions related to wine service and other specialty restaurant skills.
NOTE: All interviews and shows are podcast at Travelers411.com for one year and archived at sAbrams.com in Show Notes and at Travelers411.com in FORUMS, Directory listings, and cross-referenced in other online features.

Zika Virus: Be Careful What Advice You Take When Your Health and Safety are at Stake
July 9th, 2016

Anyone who has ever read anything I’ve written or heard a word I have said related to travel knows two things: I am a great believer in going places globally and an equally great believer in paying attention to legitimate warnings about clear and present dangers presented by authoritative organizations like the World Health Organization, the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the US State Department’s advisories and warnings about destinations that may, even temporarily, present a dangerous situation for US travelers, whether from natural crises, such as earthquakes or diseases to political situations and events. I go to places I believe I will come home from the same or better than when I left home. I often hear stories and warnings like “Europe is Dangerous” or “The US is on Code Red” and I really don’t know how to interpret something that broad in scope. I’m keenly aware that one can be snug as a bug in one’s bed under the quilt that Grandma made and a tree can crash through the roof and end one’s life. For that reason, I do a fair amount of analysis before I write off a destination, even for a short period of time, when I make travel decisions. One of the big health concerns for travelers at the moment is the Zika virus and I’m struggling with facts as presented by the Center for Disease Control’s report on where the mosquito carrying the virus has created the highest concentration of the disease and where those who have traveled to destinations where the Zika-carrying mosquito is present and have returned to the US infected with the illness and its potential for harm to an unborn children. This is where your thoughtful analysis is important before glibly accepting the word of those who have been crowned  with the label of “travel expert” who broadcast information that is open to question as to what their advice truly means to someone making decisions regarding traveling to a  Zika virus infested destination.
Let me make it simple:
The prestigious travel trade magazine, Travel Weekly, which I have always respected for its accuracy and credibility. . . why shouldn’t I ? . . . after all, they awarded me three Achievement Awards for Best Marketing Promotion, Best PR Campaign, and Best Radio Advertising Campaign. . .clearly, they knew what they were doing (!). . . published a blurb in the July 4, 2016 issue on page 4 in at the end of the “Travel Confidential” column, which included  a note about a TV travel editor who has a radio show and who “did not mince words in a recent live broadcast from Puerto Rico in which he encouraged visitors to set aside fears of Zika virus when making travel plans,” going on to note that there is nothing to fear and that travelers should use common sense, intelligence and preventive medicine” and go on their merry way.
Good grief! This is such erroneous and vague information and the fact that this information was woven into a show broadcast from Puerto Rico which would create the illusion that if this individual chose to go to this destination that it must be safe for everyone which leaves so much open to question in the categories of common sense and intelligence when it relates to a virus for which there is no preventive medicine and which, in the best case, creates mild to severe flu-like symptoms and ,in the worst case, creates terrible  life-altering deformities and challenges to unborn children which they and their families will need to deal with forever. Unlike shots and pills that can help your body build immunity to various potential illnesses like pneumonia or shingles or malaria, or Montezuma’s Revenge, there are no such medications to date to prevent the Zika virus in humans and nothing you can do if the virus inhabits your body until it runs its course, like other viruses, and leaves your system.  Hoping that bug repellent will be sufficient to protect the traveler my create a sense of confidence in one’s security and hope and prayer may also work but can you be certain that a simple spray will create an impregnable shield when so much can be at stake?

On April 24, 2016, in HOUR 3 of Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, which you can hear by clicking on this link to the show notes (http://www.sabrams.com/showNotes/shownotes.php?showID=000827), Ann Powers, Acting Chief, Arboviral Diseases Branch, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), was a guest and shared valuable information with my radio audience.  Among the realities of the Zika virus are the following: many people won’t even know they have the virus as they may experience anything from mild to more severe flu-like symptoms and feel anything from tired and ‘under the weather’ to more severe symptoms. Children and older individuals may be hit harder but pregnant women or women who become pregnant after being bitten by the Zika-carrying mosquito may learn that the fetus they are carrying does not grow normally as expected inflicting terrible physical challenges on the baby and emotional and other difficulties on the family. While one might choose to use insect repellents, there is no guarantee that the individual will avoid being bitten. The people who need to be most concerned are women of child-bearing age and men who are intimate with women of that age group because laboratory evidence indicates that a man who has been bitten by a Zika mosquito can infect a woman who has not been exposed to the Zika mosquito through sexual transmission. We learned in the interview with Ann Powers from the CDC that the longevity of the Zika virus in the human body is short lived over a period of a few to several weeks with evidence pointing to a six-week period when the illness can be sexually transmitted but there is concern as to the exact longevity. Once the virus enters the body of a mother-to-be or if the virus is in its lingering stage in the body of a female when she becomes pregnant, the potential for damage to the fetus exists and there is no antidote to eliminate the Zika virus or the damage it can do to the unborn child. This link will take you to the CDC’s travel pages related to avoiding insect bites which should be of assistance to you in trying to prevent bites from many different types of insects. https://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/page/avoid-bug-bites

If you are a male and part of the over-the-hill-gang no longer concerned about intimacy with a woman in her child-bearing years, then it might be easy to recommend that people, perhaps those in the same passage of life as the recommending individual, not fear contracting the Zika virus as the most that you can be concerned with is getting the aches pains and of a flu-like mosquito-borne disease if bitten by a Zika-carrying mosquito but when you give advice that works for you to others in a blanket statement as if that advice covers all humans on this planet, there is an area of danger in that approach. I found the following information provided by the CDC fascinating as I expect you will as well. This data represents information accumulated between January , 2015 and July 6, 2016 by the US CDC :
1. No cases have been initiated on the US mainland of the 48 contiguous states from a mosquito and no cases have originated in Alaska or Hawaii.
2. One case was initiated in the US resulting from a lab incident.
3. 1132 travel-acquired cases of Zika virus have been identified in the US . Fourteen (14) of those were sexually transmitted. Every state has reported at least one (1)  travel-acquired Zika virus case.
4. The largest number of cases of travel-acquired Zika-virus was identified in NY (285 cases).
Note: Since Zika virus mimics the symptoms of other viruses, it is not known how many instance of the disease have gone unreported. Many people who have Zika virus may have mild symptoms, feel tired and achy for a week and then recover without ever realizing that they have the illness.
Every state in the US has at least one (1) case of Zika virus that is travel-acquired reporting with many in the 5 to 40 cases range. As mentioned above, but worth noting, no US state has reported a case of Zika virus that originated in the state but every state has reported one or more cases of the illness that was acquired by someone who traveled to a Zika-virus-infected region and entered the state with the disease.
5. Puerto Rico reports seven (7) cases of travel-acquired Zika virus that has emerged in the territory from a person who has traveled to another infected region and entered with the disease.  However, and this is the part that troubles me,  when I learned of the recommendations provided by a radio show host while broadcasting in Puerto Rico encouraging people to forge ahead fearlessly and not worry about Zika virus, Puerto Rico has reported two thousand four hundred seventy-four (2,474 cases!) cases of Zika virus originating in that US territory. Other US territories reporting include the US Virgin Islands with  twenty-one (21) cases originating in the USVI.  American Samoa, in the Pacific, reports no travel-acquired cases but has experienced thirty-one (31) locally originating cases of the illness.
It is, in my opinion, unconscionable and shameless to be cavalier with broad recommendations regarding travel as it relates to the health of travelers. Frankly, if I were on a honeymoon with expectations that my future life with my life-partner might produce a child during that romantic interlude, I would make every effort to honeymoon in a destination that has not produced one case of Zika virus originating locally. It appears that contracting Zika virus is associated with being bitten by the Zika mosquito or being intimate with someone who has been bitten by the bug in an infested destination.

The US is bless with mountain tops and valleys, shorelines and coast lines, palm trees and blue spruce, attractions, events, and places where the best sunrises and sunsets take place at places that every lifestyle of hotel, resort, spa and golf resort can be found in abundance.. If you’re looking for a romantic interlude, you have a wealth of locations to choose from in the 50 United States where, to date, no Zika virus case has local origins.  There appears to be no Zika-virus- carrying mosquitoes in the states and I can only hope that flights arriving in the US from international destinations and US territories afflicted with this insect are sprayed before takeoff to eliminate the chance of any bugs hopping a ride into the US and are given a final delousing before landing in the US just to be sure.

Meantime, maybe this is the year to plan your business and holiday trips based on where there is no Zika virus if you and your partner(s) are in your child-bearing years. This is not a frivolous “catch a cold and get over it” situation. The experience and quality of life of a newborn child may be determined by the outcome of where someone chooses to travel to and, regardless of the age of the travelers, children, teens, or seniors, tell me, when was the last time you chose to visit a destination where you knew that there was an illness waiting to meet you that you could avoid by directing your booking choices in another direction?

I went to Hong Kong five months after the SARS virus was gone. . . not while it was in high swing. I went to Mexico seven months after Swine Flu was eradicated from that destination. Both viruses came in with great gusto, bravado and lots of noise, terrible illnesses and many deaths. We haven’t heard from them again. We can only hope that Zika virus takes a hike as well or that scientists find a means of eradicating the carriers and the virus from the earth. In the meantime, before you take glib advice telling you that there’s nothing to be afraid of, understand what there is to be afraid of and come to a decision that you can live with because no radio host is going to be at your side if disaster strikes and the work of the Zika virus on unborn children is nothing short of disastrous so be certain that you are prepared to deal with the consequences of your choices when you make them. And when, regardless of your age, do you really want to choose a destination that has already produced over two thousand cases of this virus when there are so many Zika-free locations to enjoy? Like my post-SARS and post-Swine Flu visits to Hong Kong and Mexico, I’m waiting for the scourge to pass before I make any plans to be in a destination of my own choice that is currently reporting illnesses . There are so many wonderful places to visit in the world that pose no clear and present danger. I can see no reason to put oneself in harms’ way when it’s unavoidable, particularly if your decision can potentially affect you or an unborn child who will pay dearly for that decision.


Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams Program Content for July 10, 2016 Includes Dallas, Las Vegas & Lake Las Vegas
July 9th, 2016

Hour 1 of the three-hour edition of Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams which will air on Sunday, July 10th in the 6pm to 9pmET time slot coast to coast and streaming live at sAbrams.com, will rebroadcast the interview with Olivier Meslay, currently Associate Director of Curator Affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art.  This interview, recorded earlier this week, prior to the tragic events in Dallas inflicted upon a community of peaceful marchers and the police there to secure their safety by one deranged lone-wolf, is more indicative of the quality of life in Dallas than the current news coverage of the heinous moment in time which is now the focus of global attention.  While our hearts and prayers are with the people of Dallas and particularly with the family and friends of those whose lives were ended so tragically and to those who suffered unnecessary and painful injury, after much consideration, rather than postpone the airing of this positive representation of what Dallas truly is made of, we chose to broadcast the interview as planned for Saturday’s edition of Travelers411 on July 9th and to repeat the interview on July 10th on Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams.  Olivier Meslay’s interview takes listeners from his birthplace in Morocco to France and onward  to Dallas.  We learn that his tenure in Dallas is approaching an end and that Berkshire County in Western Massachusetts will be the beneficiary of Meslay’s move to become the new Director of the Sterling & Francine Clark Art Institute, a world class museum which has recently experienced a major expansion that has created a unique experience for visitors who, while being inside the museum, are bathed in the natural light and panoramic views of the Berkshire Mountains.

Hour 2 takes listeners to Downtown Las Vegas to the Federal Building there where the National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement, briefly known as the Mob Museum, is located at 300 Stewart Avenue.  Jeff Burbank, researcher and writer for this museum, walks radio guests through the unique exhibits at the museum.

If you’re planning at trip to the region to include the Mob Museum, when the day comes to an end you’ll want to stay at a resort that offers you spacious comfort and is keeping on top of reimagining the accommodations and public spaces, is in close proximity to the Las Vegas Strip but gives you a quieter environment for a restful experience. Hour 3 of Sunday, July 10th’s Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams takes audiences to visit with  Carlton Werner, General Manager of the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa in Lake Las Vegas, walks us through all of the features and benefits of this resort  pointing out the various planned refurbishments that the hotel is about to implement. Given the size of the hotel in what Carlton refers to as located in “The Other Vegas,” the AAA Four-Diamond resort will close one wing at a time so that guests will not be inconvenienced by upgrading work-in-progress as the new features and new decor are installed.  One of the items Carlton shared is that, while the hotel  provides 493 guest rooms including 45 suites and 95,000 square feet of meeting space, a Jack Nicklaus Golf Course, lake and pool swimming, has featured designed to appeal to families with paddle boats, stand up paddle boards, an amazing water slide feature in their pool, a sport court, and a white sand beach which is private for their guests plus electric boats in their lake for guests’ use, parking at the hotel is free for self-parking and $15 per day for valet parking. . . now that’s a list of value-packed features and benefits for guests! And, if that weren’t enough to entice you, the Westin Lake Las Vegas Resort & Spa has a Japanese restaurant that is honored as the #1 Sushi  restaurant in the region!


Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams Saturday Radio Show, Travelers411, Includes Dallas Interview
July 9th, 2016

The July 9th edition of Travelers411, radio show travel expert Stephanie Abrams’ weekly three hour Saturday show heard coast-to-coast, includes insights into understanding the effects on travelers from the United Kingdom to other destinations, including the US, and the effects on US travelers to the UK as well as to Ireland and the rest of Europe where the Euro is the unit of currency.  Both currencies have become weaker with the Euro having plunged in the last 18 to 24 months and the British Pound Sterling taking a recent downward spiral, both making visiting those destinations economically advantageous to the US visitor to Ireland, Northern Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and the countries of Europe that use the Euro, Abrams explains.

Before taking listeners off to Mendon, Vermont to an award-winning spa near Killington at the New Life Hiking Spa where weight loss through calorie controlled meals combined with daily hikes of varying levels matched to guests’ mobility skills, Abrams interviews Olivier Meslay, Associate Director of Curator Affairs at the Dallas Museum of Art in Dallas, Texas.  The hour-long interview focuses on Meslay’s travels from his birthplace in Casablanca, Morocco to France and onward to Dallas, Texas taking him from his professional life in the arts at The Louvre in Paris to the Dallas Museum of Art.

Abrams’ interest in interviewing Olivier Meslay was two-fold: firstly to learn about the unique offerings to the visitor at the Dallas Museum of Art and then to learn about how Olivier made his connection to and interest in the Sterling and Francine Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts in Berkshire County where Abrams broadcasts originate weekly from the Crowne Plaza Berkshire Pittsfield Hotel which is about 15 miles from the Clark Art Institute.  Olivier Meslay will assume the role as the new Director of the Clark Art Institute later this summer and Abrams wanted to have share these insights with her traveling audiences on radio and online where the interview will be podcast for one year at Travelers411.com and archived with show notes at sAbrams.com as part of the resources available to web visitors.

Abrams explains that it is often inconvenient for guests to be available for weekend interviews and, as a result, interviews are often recorded earlier in the week before the weekend that they air, generally within 3 or 4 days the broadcast so the information is fresh and timely.  In the case of the Meslay interview about the Dallas Museum of Art, the interview was produced on Tuesday, July 5th, prior to the horrifying events in Dallas that ended a peaceful demonstration with gut-wrenching violence.

Abrams notes, “We considered  postponing the  broadcast of this interview and came to the conclusion that, while we mourn with the people of Dallas and all Americans who feel the pain of the tragedy inflicted on that city and the families who lost so much at the hands of one deranged individual, Dallas remains the vital and culturally important city it has been and reminding people of the positive features and benefits of what Dallas has to offer, even during this time of mourning for the great loss this city has just sustained, was a tribute to the people of Dallas and to the peaceful demonstrators who deserve to be reminded that we and our national audience on radio and our global audience at our family of award-winning websites, acknowledge the unique features of the city of Dallas that those who were peacefully marching have helped to build and participate in making the city a special place for residents and visitors. Listening to Olivier Meslay describe, as a person who has lived in North Africa, France, and, more recently, Dallas, what makes the city, and the museum of which he has been an important staff member for years, a special place for residents and visitors, actually comes at a time when the world needs to know that the heinous act of a deranged lone-wolf is not a descriptive of what Dallas is.  My audience will learn that quickly listening to this special interview which is truly a tribute to Dallas. For these reasons, it was clear that this interview should broadcast this weekend as planned. Additionally, we felt it was important to include this interview in Travel WITH Stephanie Abrams, heard on Sundays in the 6pm to 9pm ET time slot coast-to-coast. Both shows are podcast for on e year and archived with show notes indefinitely.


Disney Plans to Post Signs on Lake Shores Warning “Alligators”. . . Didn’t Know Alligators Could Read!
June 17th, 2016

Minutes ago, CNN reported that Disney World plans to post signs along the lake shores on their resort grounds that warn that there is potential danger from the presence of alligators.  What is the point of posting signs? Clearly, they are aware that alligators are amphibious creatures! They are just as happy coming up on the shore and waltzing around, resting, sleeping, grabbing some prey!  Does Disney management expect that alligators are as clever as Mickey Mouse and can read the signs so they’ll know to stay away from the guests?  Even if guests never go into the lakes, that won’t stop alligators from following a child or adult on the shoreline.

Someone suggested that Disney fence their properties. If they do install fencing, they better install flat slats that are tall and impossible to climb. I saw a video today of an alligator climbing over a chain-link fence.  He went over that fence like an Olympian!

Like the danger presented at the Cleveland Zoo by having a spot where a little one could slip through, this clear and present danger presented by alligators who kill, who are not “pets” as one Disney employee apparently tried to explain to a prior guest who complained to a Disney hotel employee, which cannot be sloughed off as a once-in-30-years incident but needs to be seen as the danger that it is, needs to be scrutinized carefully to find a reliable means to assure that open-season on guests from alligators, not only in Disney World but all over Florida, comes to an abrupt end.

I can’t imagine the horror of that moment when the alligator wrenched that little boy from his father’s grasp or the horror in that child’s mother’s eyes.  A million years of therapy couldn’t possibly erase the trauma or the flashback of those final moments when that darling little boy was swept away in the jaws of an alligator.  And Disney is going to put up signs? Maybe they expect that the next guest under attack will pull the signpost out of the ground and use it as a weapon beating off the alligator. That might be a good use for the signs! Good grief! I can only imagine that the Disney legal team has indicated that “Walk around our grounds at your own risk” will lessen their liability as ‘you’ve been warned!’  There are so many creative people employed by Disney enterprises.  Can’t somebody come up with something more creative and effective than warning signs?

Our heartfelt condolences to this particular family whose lives have been turned inside out by the Disney alligator and to all of the families who are grieving in Orlando this week.  I can only hope that Orlando has turned a corner to safer and happier times.


Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: What’s Wrong with This Picture?
June 15th, 2016

I regret to inform you that the above photo is just the most recent evidence of an epidemic in the US of bartenders who are unaware of the 2 minutes, or, as explained by Guinness as 119.5 seconds, ritual necessary to produce a perfect pint that looks as good as it tastes.  This rampant disregard for ‘aim for perfection’ presentation of each and every Guinness that you see routinely in Ireland and in select location in the US, compelled me to write my first blog on this subject on June 11th. Yesterday, I took this photo. It  was what was delivered to the table for a friend who had ordered a pint of Guinness.

This, my friends, is a classic example of what should NOT have been delivered to the table! It’s time for the revolution to begin. Learn what a Guinness is supposed to look like and how that is achieved in my June 11th blog and educate the bartenders you meet who, Bless their Hearts, mean well but are missing a vital part of their mixology education. No one should ever be served a Guinness that looks like the one pictured above.  The manufacturer goes to great lengths to assure a perfect product as you’ll learn when you visit the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, the most visited attraction in that city and well worth your time! But they, regrettably, can’t have a quality control person at every bar in America to be sure that the product makes it from the bar to your table the way it should be served.

SO SPEAK UP, AMERICA! TEACH YOUR BARTENDER HOW TO POUR A GUINNESS PROPERLY

IF YOU ARE BEING SERVED SOMETHING LESS THAN PERFECT!

Please remember that I don’t drink! But there’s something about the delivery to a table in a bar or restaurant in the US of a perfectly poured and perfectly presented pint of Guinness that conjures up the image of  a mini-trip to Ireland.  When the pint or more that’s been ordered arrives at the table, you know that “good craic” follows, that uniquely Irish jovial atmosphere infused with stories and jokes and witty tales when people laugh far more than you generally hear laughter anywhere. When the pints of Guinness arrive, it heralds that the party has begun!

I’ve been told it’s romantic for a gentleman to drink champagne out of a lady’s shoe.  I can’t imagine drinking anything out of any shoe! And it’s about as unimaginable to think of a pint of Guinness being served in a glass that’s not a specially shaped Guinness-branded glass. . .  but serving it in the glass shown above evokes in my mind the  cowboy’s response to an insult  saying, “Them’s fightin’ words!”

THE REBELLION HAS BEGUN!  I hereby appoint you Guinness Deputy of Quality Control to help spread the word to those nooks and crannies of America where something goes awry between the tap and the table!  May I suggest that you print my blog of June 11th and, if  you care enough to order the very best, then insist that it be poured and properly delivered for your drinking pleasure!  Your bartender will thank you because I have to believe that tips will increase when improvements are made and guest experiences reflect attention to detail creating that “Ahhhhh!” moment when the Guinness arrives on the bar or at the table.  This is a win-win for the guest and the bartender, People!

There is a  cartoon character named  Snoopy who is adorable, cuddly and overflows with warmth. wit and charm. . . and then there’s Snoopy’s crusty brother, Spike, who is a complete contrast to Snoopy. Spike is seedy looking, actually nasty to look at, and, while you can see that Spike resembles Snoopy, they really are a case of “Night” and “Day.”  No sooner  had I written my blog about the eye candy of a properly poured Guinness and, I am told, of the delicious treat one experiences drinking the properly served  product, motivated by seeing one too many US-served Guinness  jolt my sensibilities in the last two weeks after spending the month of May in Ireland where bartenders take pride in pouring a perfect pint every time, I was confronted with this yesterday when it was delivered to a  table companion ostensibly to fulfill his order for a pint of Guinness. My reaction: no!  This was a case of asking for Snoopy and getting Spike! The pint above isn’t even close and, in reality, actually offensive.  If you merely drop some liquid on tap into any handy glass and rush it through to fill an order thinking that you’ve fulfilled the expectations of the guest when you hand them a pint that completely misses the mark, I”m here to tell you that you’ve done the product and the guest a great disservice.  Please remember that I don’t drink and I also don’t ski but I know what proper equipment and proper form looks like and I find it painful when something that is designed, like a race car, to be handled in a certain way and serviced with particular products to achieve its highest performance,  you need to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations to get the most out of that race car, or the skis or, in this case, that Pint of Guinness, which requires its own special two-minute ritual with the respect that is expected by presenting the product in its very own specially designed glass.  And the details make all the difference as you can see from the photo above which, in the world of all-things-Guinness, is truly obscene. Bars go out of their way to get Guinness on tap in the US knowing there is something close to a cult following of the drink and with far too much frequency don’t go the extra step to make sure that their bartenders know how to serve a proper pint. So on behalf of US Guinness drinkers everywhere, I am carrying your silk scarf into battle to shake up the hospitality industry to get their attention: Ya gotta get it right, People! I see this kind of shoddy presentation in far too many places! Make today your “Teach Our Staff How to Pour and Present a Pint of Guinness Day!”

There must be those among you who fall into two sets: (1) those who read my blogs and (2) those who also drink.  I suspect that there are those who may question how someone who doesn’t drink can give advice to bartenders.  The reality is that I’ve gotten the best education on the proper methodology for the care and pouring of that special pint that is not done by grabbing just any glass, filling it to the brim, and serving it without another thought.  Skill, easily learned. . . even I learned how to do it at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin, for goodness sake. . . pride in a job well done, and a bit of theatrical flare in perpetuating the ritual of the proper pouring of a pint of Guinness

I suspect there are those not so keenly observant of what a pint of Guinness should look like and perhaps have never seen the look of amazing satisfaction and total peace that comes over the face of someone who has wrapped their lips around the edge of that specially shaped Guinness glass and vacuumed up that first perfectly chilled slurp.  It quite an amazing look that I’ve seen on friends, strangers in pubs and restaurants and my husband alike that I’d classify as somewhere between seeing Utopia and a religious experience!

There may be those of you who, for want of superior knowledge on the subject, think that I’ve overstated the case of the mismanagement of the art-form of pouring a Guinness and what difference could it really make if the pint is quickly poured into any glass that’s handy . . . and how often could that happen anyway?

And, lo and behold, only days out in the blogosphere, my tutorial on the proper pouring of a pint of Guinness is confronted with the reality that I actually know what I am talking about in the form of an object lesson in which I was forced to observe a travesty of justice as I sat and watched an oft-traveler to Ireland, my friend named Patrick who knows a properly poured pint from an utter mess, sit across from me drinking what he was served while concentrating on remembering what the experience of enjoying a Guinness is about when done properly.

So this is Lesson No. 2, offered in the hope that all who serve Guinness to the public take the time to review the all-important steps so that no pub-goer or restaurant guest is ever served the “hot mess” that Pat was confronted with yesterday!

  1. Never serve a Guinness in “any ol’” glass! Look how awful that looks! Definitely a no-no!
  2. Can you tell that the Guinness was poured incorrectly just by looking at this photo that I took of the glass above? Here are the tell-tale signs:
    1. That’s a very puny head, really a lack of a lovely, foamy thick head.  Not good! It looks sickly!
    2. Where’s the foaming, creamy residue that should be lining the glass as the liquid level descends into the glass? No foamy lining? Clearly, poured incorrectly and just maybe the wrong carbonation was used!
    3. And did I mention the glass? Good grief! It borders sinful to put Guinness in that glass above!

Tell the truth: Would you prefer the glass above or the one below? Even without tasting either you know which one is the winner of this contest.

BTW: The Guinness in the photo below, one of oh-so-many poured by bartenders all over Ireland, was actually poured at the Bridge Bar at the Moorings Inn in Portmagee, Ireland. That’s the inn and restaurant/bar next to the bridge to Valentia Island where The Skellig Experience is located. On the shoreline in front of the Moorings Inn and Bridge Bar you can get a boat to Skellig Michael to see for yourself where the end of Star Wars (2015) was filmed where the round stone huts and hundreds of stone steps were built into the hillsides of this rugged island by the monks about 1000 years ago! For those of you who enjoy a pint, you’ll want to stop into the Bridge Bar at the Moorings Inn in Portmagee after you visit the Skellig Experience and take a boat trip to Skellig Michael. You can see that their bartender has mastered the technique for pouring a perfect pint! And say hello to Gerard Kennedy, Publican and Innkeeper who runs a tight ship!

For the bar that served-up that awful looking mess pictured at the top, and to every bar that has Guinness on tap for its clientele but doesn’t go the whole way to properly serve it, you really need to get your act together! I don’t drink the product but I truly  hated the experience of just looking at that pitiful glass that clearly held a product whose pouring methodology missed the mark.

Moral of the story: If you’ve made a commitment to serve an iconic drink to your guests, many of whom know from their travels what that drink should look like and taste like, make sure you’re going the whole nine yards making the proper effort to present the product as it is brewed to be presented.  Serving a Guinness haphazardly gives the same bad impression of the establishment as having a neon sign outside where one or more letters no longer light up.  If you serve up your Guinness in a slipshod way, guests may wonder what else you’re cutting corners on! Get it together, American bartenders!  Like the head on a properly poured Guinness, rise to the occasion and get it right!

And start by getting Guinness glasses. If you don’t, how will you know where to stop pouring the first 70% of the drink? (I’ll tell you how you’ll know. . .even without looking. . . It’s called practice!) Now shape up! As Winston Churchill once said, awkwardly but  grammatically correct to make a point: “Up with this I will not put!” Shape up, America!

Read my blog below that gives the easy steps to pouring a perfect Guinness if you are a bartender.

And if you’re somebody who wants to get the Guinness you expect, share my blog with your bartender.  When someone gives you a slap-dash-not-quite-there presentation, THAT IS YOUR TEACHABLE MOMENT!  Pounce on the opportunity! We can change America one pint at a time!


Tragedy Strikes Orlando and LGBTQ Community in a Weekend of Contrasts Thru Deaths.
June 12th, 2016

This has been a weekend of incredible contrast focused on death.  On Friday, we watched the Memorial Service of Muhammad Ali that celebrated the life of a man  imbued with Shakespearean ideology as you could easily  describe Ali as filled with “the milk of human kindness.” He was, by choice, a Muslim.  The focus of Muhammad Ali’s life, shown through film, writings and stories told by people who knew him personally and well and represent many religions, unique groups and many countries, was on Ali’s love of people, love of learning about diverse cultures and was clearly a man  who appreciated the diversity of peoples while celebrating the commonality of all people on this planet.  Ali’s principles also reflected Shakespeare’s  directive, “To thine own self be true,” which was shown again and again to be in keeping with the way Ali lived his life.  His confidence in his beliefs, particularly his Muslim beliefs, guided his refusal to kill people even when it would have been in his selfish best interest to cave in to external pressures and take the easy road to keep his championship status, awards and celebrity in tact which would have been an easier road for most people regardless of the principles they professed. In everything that he did in his life, Ali made time for people of all ages, all creeds, colors, and beliefs and this was clearly celebrated and remembered as his message of LOVE was the centerpiece on Friday, June 10th, at his Memorial Service in Louisville, Kentucky.
Barely 48 hours later, we are faced with the horrific tragedy in Orlando. . . ORLANDO: Land of Happiness and Fun! . . . where a person with deranged notions seems to believe that the world would be a better place if innocent, fun-loving, happy people enjoying a Saturday night out at a disco were annihilated by him and, in his deranged mind, what better place to target than one frequented by members of the LGBTQ community.  The enormity of this tragedy cannot be overstated. There are no words that can express the grief of this nation mourning those caught in the line of fire of a lunatic on a senseless mission.

Shakespeare describes life as a “brief candle.” Unquestionably, the brevity of the candles extinguished in Orlando in the wee hours today was so much shorter than anyone would have anticipated.  The contrast between Muslims focused on love as portrayed by the way Ali lived his life and this lunatic fringe radical using the cloak of religion as a good excuse for wreaking havoc create day and night bookends around this weekend of grief starting with great light and ending with great darkness.

There are no words to adequately share the enormous shock, horror, pain and sense of loss I feel at this writing that would uplift the family and friends of those lost in this tragic and heinous way who were literally cut down senselessly while doing nothing more than enjoying a Saturday night on the town.  I know that Americans and others around the world grieve with the families of these innocent victims.

You know that my special interest is travel and tourism. Orlando is one of the top tourism destination for people, not just in the US, but around the world. I can remember being in Thailand and Malaysia, in London and Paris, in Rome and Istanbul, passing travel agencies with large posters promoting travel destinations in the world.  Every agency I have passed all over the world has at least one poster of Orlando in their window promoting the destination.

While what happened today may cause a temporary contraction created by fear for travel to Orlando as a knee-jerk reaction to today’s news, if I had plans to go to Orlando, in spite of this awful event, I, personally, would not change my plans or my future plans for traveling to the destination.  This incident, today, is yet another case of hit-and-run-lightning-strike.  We would all like to think that we can control our fate and our destiny and the reality is that all we can do is be alert and cautious but we cannot allow fear of dying to stop us from living.  Even shooting sprees are random and one has to hope that the randomness of life doesn’t find us in the wrong place at the wrong time.  People have been known to stay home to avoid danger only to be buried in a mudslide, carried off in a flood or have a tree fall through the roof of their home trapping them in their bed snug under the quilt their grandmother made for them.  It is very difficult for humans to accept that we are not the masters of our destiny.  We cannot play the “If-I-had-done-this-or-that the outcome would have been different” game. The best we can do is use reasonable judgment in not putting ourselves in danger and leaving the rest in  Greater Hands.

To the LGBTQ community which was clearly targeted for this heinous attack, those who truly love humanity love you as well.


Heads Up American Bartenders: Here’s the Right Way to Pour a Perfect Pint of Guinness!
June 11th, 2016

You have to admit that a properly poured pint of Guinness is a beautiful thing! This pint was one  of many ordered in pubs and hotels when we were traveling in Ireland last month.  Our May trip to Ireland was an unexpected pleasure not planned until the day before Easter Sunday this year when I finally caved in to invitations to be present at the VIP grand opening of a new attraction in Dublin called, “EPIC Ireland,” an attraction worth a visit on your next trip to Ireland.  The event started with  speeches and a ribbon cutting at the chq building in Dublin’s financial district, where EPIC Ireland is housed in a unique shopping center of boutique shops, cafes, bistros, and eateries of various kinds.

When we arrived at the chq building for the EPIC Ireland grand opening event, the very first person I saw was Paul Carty, Managing Director of the Guinness Storehouse, the most visited attraction in Dublin.  Paul’s first words to me, even before ‘hello,’ were: “I just listened to the interview you did with me last fall.” (You can hear that interview archived at sAbrams.com by clicking on Paul’s name above).  I asked Paul why he had just listened to it in the last week when we did the interview on September 20, 2015. He said that he’d never listened to the archived interview and just a few days ago a friend came across it online (at sAbrams.com) and sent him a link with instructions to “Listen to this!” Paul had wonderful things to say about that interview. I enjoyed that interview very much and was very happy that he took the time to explain how to pour a pint of Guinness as it’s not just a question of filling a glass!

I told Paul we had visited the Guinness Storehouse this year, again, to check out all the new exhibits and changes there, and we started out the New Year 2016 with a visit on January 2, 2016! It was a great way to start the New Year!

Paul Carty asked me what part of our visit to the Guinness Storehouse I enjoyed most and, since it is a wonderland of information presented in the most amusing and humorous way, that was a tough question to answer but by the time I met Paul in May in Dublin I realized that the most valuable part of our visit to the Guinness Storehouse was learning the technique for pouring a perfect pint!  Please remember that I am not a drinker and it’s rare when something with alcohol in it passes my lips. When my doctor asked the question at my yearly exam, “How much alcohol do you drink weekly?” my answer is, “I drink about an eye-dropperful of alchohol in a year! I save my calories for hot fudge.”  But my husband is a “Guinness Man” although he has a self-imposed one-pint-limit at a sitting. My drink of choice is Diet Coke and you can always tell when Mark and Stephanie Abrams have been at a pub table when you see the telltale signs of a Guinness pint glass and the bottle or can of Diet Coke and the appropriate glass! Like the plaques that say, “Duncan Hines ate here,” this table configuration is evidence that the Abrams’ have been here!

In Ireland, pouring a pint of Guinness is an art-form in which bartenders take great pride. In the US, there is a pervasive combination of misconceptions, being in a hurry, and lack of pride in this uniquely Irish product, that get in the way of the pouring of a perfect Guinness.  You’ll often hear that the Guinness in Ireland is better than the Guinness in the US and there’s really no reason for that.  So for all of you purists who want your US pint to be as good as it can get, here are some facts along with directions on how to Pour a Perfect Guinness. . . and, by the way, I took that class at the Guinness Storehouse and have a certificate to prove that I am a Master at Crafting the Perfect Guinness! You can see that certificate below!

1. No, Guinness is not supposed to be served warm! For heavens’ sake! In fact, in Ireland, and places elsewhere in the world who know how to serve a pint of Guinness properly, even the glass is refrigerated so that the cold Guinness is put into a cold glass. . . and it should be one of those specially shaped Guinness glasses.

2. One of the reasons that Guinness on tap in Ireland has a reputation for being more wonderful than Guinness in the US and many other places is that bars and pubs use the same carbonation used for other beers on tap to carbonate their Guinness on tap. A proper pint of Guinness will come out of the tap propelled by a mixture of 80%-90% nitrogen gas in Ireland. In the US, most bars use “bar gas” which has a much lower percentage of nitrogen which leads to a much less dense, less creamy foam top and changes the taste somewhat from what you can expect in Ireland.

3. Most US bartenders are in a big hurry to fill the pint glass and move on.  When you go into a pub in Ireland at about 4:30pm, you’ll see half the length of the bar covered with rows of Guinness glasses that are filled to a point just at the bottom of the Irish harp logo on the glass.  You’ll watch those glasses settle out until the liquid goes from a brownish shade and fizzles up to a rich, dark brown color.  Customers will start to pour in as fast as the Guinness is being poured and the glasses are then topped off.  The time between pouring most of the Guinness and topping it off should be just 2 minutes. You’ll note that at the Guinness Storehouse they will tell you that it takes 119.5 seconds to pour a Guinness.

That’s Mark Abrams hand mastering his ability to pour a perfect Guinness in the Guinness Mastery Class at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin. Time to move that glass to the bar’s counter to let it settle before topping it off to achieve a perfect pour!

So here are the steps to pouring a perfect Guinness:

1. Take your icy cold Guinness glass and tilt it to a 45 degree angle holding it under the tap.

2. Pull the tap and allow the Guinness to flow against the lowered edge of the glass still being held at a 45 degree angle. For those of you who are not mathematicians, the angle of the glass should be halfway between straight up and horizontal, parallel to the floor.

3. Fill the glass, as shown in the photo above, to the point that the dark liquid ends just at the top of the word Guinness and  just at the bottom of the harp on the glass .

4. Place the partially filled glass (filled about 70% of the way) on the bar. You will see the brownish liquid swirl about in the glass as the carbonation rises and creates a head that is about a half inch high. Wait just 2 minutes. . . at the Guinness Storehouse, the time period is noted as 119.5 seconds but 2 minutes is a bit easier to deal with (!)  . . . and you will see that the liquid is a rich, dark, chocolate-brown in color and there is a small, rich, foamy head.

5. Put the glass, straight up, under the tap and fill it up until the top of the foam is at the top of the glass. The head should be about three-quarters of an inch high.  Now you can serve it!

6. Done properly, as the Guinness is enjoyed, a foamy lining will be present as you can see in a photo above.

WARNING for those outside of Ireland who think they know how to pour a Guinness:

DO NOT pour the whole glass at one time.

DO NOT pour the glass straight up for the first 70% of the contents.

DO NOT serve a Guinness while the contents are still lighter brown and the carbonation is swirling.

DO NOT serve Guinness that is warm!

And for all of you bartenders and bar/pub owners, who are using the same carbonation mix that you use for other beers, talk with your distributor about getting nitrogen to propel the carbonation of your Guinness on tap!

And that is that story!

Now lift a pint and, in the spirit of all things Irish, say, “Slainte,” pronounced “slansha,” an Irish word meaning good health, or, in essence, l’chiam!”

Here’s  a good way to remember the procedure taken from the back of my certificate confirming that I have crafted “The Perfect Pint of Guinness” at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin and attested to by the signatures of Paul Carty, Managing Director, and Breffni O’Reilly, Quality Director at Guinness. Not bad for a non-drinker!

So now you go have  pint while I enjoy my Diet Coke!

Your Director of Leprechauns. . . .

SA


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