I've been writing for Frommers.com for more than two years now, recounting deals and secrets, discovering new destinations and uncovering tips. But the travel world doesn't stand still, so I decided to check back and see how some of my favorite past subjects were doing. Today, I'll give the most recent scoop on global bathrooms, Tokyo hotels and European flights. On Monday, I'll talk about some of my favorite destinations I've visited in the past.
What a Whiz!
Update to: www.frommers.com/articles/2003.html
Mary Ann Racin, the mind behind The Bathroom Diaries, is still collecting reports of clean restrooms around the world. She took a few months off updating the site, but is now back in action, focusing on integrating a slew of reports she's recently received about bathrooms in China. Her site is still the best worldwide resource for knowing where to go: www.thebathroomdiaries.com.
There are some smaller sites, but none with the global reach of The Bathroom Diaries. Restroomratings.com focuses on bathrooms in Minnesota. Addyourown.com does Manhattan. Boston Online (www.boston-online.com/restrooms/index.html) has a bunch of potties in Beantown.
If you're going Down Under, though, the Australian government's "National Continence Helpline" has mapped and summarized over 9,000 toilets on their new website, www.toiletmap.gov.au. The site even has a trip planner that marks all the public toilets you pass on a particular journey. This is by far the best resource on public toilets, anywhere.
Our own Arthur Frommer has also jumped into the toilet mix (okay, that doesn't sound quite right) with a free pamphlet called Where to Stop, Where to Go available at www.wheretostopwheretogo.com and sponsored by a maker of bladder medication. The guide profiles restrooms in 19 cities and four national parks, with a few oddball choices; the list includes Baltimore, Branson, Boston, Chicago, D.C., Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, LA, Miami, Nashville, New Orleans, New York City, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Francisco, Seattle, and the Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Great Smoky Mountains parks. Unfortunately, the full pamphlet isn't available online, so you'll have to order one.
A Great Stay in Tokyo
Update to: www.frommers.com/articles/2518.html.
On a trip to Japan last December, I discovered Tokyu Stay, a network of reasonably-priced, foreigner-friendly apartment hotels throughout Tokyo. Since then, they've opened two new branches, one of which is especially notable.
Tokyu Stay's Higashi-Ginza branch (www.tokyustay.co.jp/e/hotel/HIG/index.html) is right next to the Tsukiji Fish Market, making it a great place to stay if you want to get up at 5 AM and see the tuna sales. It's also just a few blocks from the upscale Ginza shopping district. The rooms come with LCD TVs, PCs with high speed Internet access, kitchens and washing machines; prices start at ¥9,030 ($82.50) per night for a two-night stay in a single, or ¥14,070 ($128.50) in a twin room. It's a great choice if you want to stay in that part of town.
Cheap Flights in Europe
Update to: www.frommers.com/articles/1881.html
Budget airlines in Europe are only getting more popular, so Alex Banks, the volunteer webmaster of Flybudget.com, has a lot of work to do. He's still updating his guide to budget airlines around the globe, though updates sometimes come a bit sporadic. Banks' website focuses most heavily on Europe, but he also tracks budget airlines in the rest of the world, such as Nationwide in South Africa and SpiceJet in India.
To help price out journeys on Europe's budget airlines, Banks recommends SkyScanner (www.skyscanner.com). SkyScanner has improved since we saw them last; they now cover more than 50 budget airlines around Europe, including the two biggies, Ryanair and Easyjet. The site has a nifty map summarizing budget routes around Europe, along with links that can show you the cheapest times to fly during the year and everywhere you can fly cheaply from any given European airport on any given weekend. SkyScanner is an excellent companion to Europebyair.com, the airpass system we've recommended before that lets you cross Europe for $99 per flight -- you can use SkyScanner to see if you can get under that figure. SkyScanner competitor FliteSite (www.flitesite.com) doesn't seem to have kept things quite current -- their North America map, at least, has one airline that is now out of business (JetsGo) and is missing many city pairs.