82 Search Results for "secret"
- From: VCBET
Stressed about the bad economy?. Be trapped in a crowded and noisy city?. Want to stay away from a boring life?. You need a vacation!.
Why not only get your very own photo of three of the last untouched corners of Vietnam, Pu Luong, Ba Be National Park and Ngoc Son Ngo Luong Natural Reserves, but also fulfill your responsibility to natural areas?.
Pu Luong Natural Reverse (Pù Luông) might suggest something of a secret garden of millions of years created by two mountains running parallely towards northwest-southeast. Instead of getting some sleep on a well-equipped and luxurious hotel, sleeping over at eco accommodation providers’ traditional houses should be thought of. It is absolutely true to note that none of travelers are not captivated by a 360-degree view over diversified natural landscapes when they climb to the highest point with the evaluation of 1700 m.
Moving on to the second must-see travel destination, Ngoc Son-Ngo Luong (Ngọc Sơn-Ngổ Lương), is located in the northern region of Vietnam with breakthtaking scenery. Easily accessible by car, great wildlife viewing is not out of travelers’ hands. It is for sure to say that you will have 24 amazing hours with a range of community-based activities such as rafting on charming rivers flowing through a forest, having the most memorable Thais-style dining experience rather than a nine-course tasting one with.
For sightseers, perhaps it is too enough to make them remember it over and over. So, how any travelers can explore part of Vietnam’s hidden beauty in terms of way which was is different from others?.
All you have to do is to join our tourism network_VCBET, Vietnam Community-Based Ecotourism Network, whereby you can get your responsible one-and-only trip done in relation to the local community. On the one hand, our carefully designed tourism products are good value for money as to participants. On the other hand, it is right your actions taken on minimizing the negative impact of tourism on where you had set your foot, providing direct financial benefits to hosts, and contributing to have a world of better tomorrow.
That’s exactly what our eco-tours and your journey ahead are all about.
And believe it or not, once you make a snap decision getting involved our eco-tours, you will have that “aha” moment…
To your enjoyment,
Vietnam Community-Based Ecotourism Network
Headquarters and Volunteer house: No 2, Cong Go Str., Dong Anh Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam
Office in Hanoi: MV-Space Building, No 14 Trung Yên 3 Str., Trung Yen New Urban, Cau Giay Dist., Hanoi, Vietnam
Office in Da Nang City: No 101 Pham Tu Str., Son Tra Dist., Da Nang City, Vietnam
TEL: (+84)4.6329 2996
Hotline: (+84)974 644 134 (Worldwide) | 0986 333 788 (Vietnam)
- Blog post
- 2 months ago
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- From: Bicycle_tours
Last September I joined a cycle tour in the Czech Republic. The tour took us from Prague in Central Bohemia to the rolling hills and charming medieval and Renaissance towns of South Bohemia and then through the gently-sloping vineyards of South Moravia. Some riders then cycled on to Vienna, whilst others chose to return to Prague. For many non-Czechs the countryside of the Czech Republic is unknown, secret, and undiscovered. This tour is a wonderful opportunity to discover what lies beyond Prague, a city that is deservedly visited by millions of people every year.
We were a very diverse group. Our party consisted of seven Australians, a British couple, a couple from Brazil, a New Zealander, an American, and our Czech guide, Jiri (George) and driver, Jindrich (Henry). And me – I’ve been living and working in Prague for six years, but I’ originally from London, UK. Age-wise, collectively we covered every decade from early thirties to (almost) seventy. As those who have been on tours like this before, there is a camaraderie amongst cyclists that transcends continents and ages.
Our First Day: Prague to Ceske Budejovice by mini-bus
Ceske Budejovice to Cesky Krumlov by bike
After collecting everybody from their hotels on a quiet and overcast Prague Sunday morning, we group of strangers, soon to become brave companions of the trail, gathered together in the cellar meeting room of the tour company to introduce ourselves and to receive a full briefing. We were given a detailed itinerary for each day, a safety briefing and a small glass of slivovice (a local plum brandy that some people quite like).
Then it was outside to hitch up the bike trailers to the mini-buses, check on helmets and water-bottles, and on to Ceske Budejovice. After a two and a half hour drive, we parked up in the city centre and everyone was allocated their bikes for the week. The bikes are already pre-selected for individual size, weight and experience by the company. Some people had brought their own pedals and these were quickly fitted by the ever-helpful staff.
Ceske Budejovice is of course the home of the Czech Republic’s second most famous beer, Budvar or Budweiser. It is an old town with a lot of green spaces and a very large Renaissance square, where we took the first of many group photographs.
We made our way through the town and down to the River Vltava (Moldau), the same river that runs through Prague. It was a great way to start, riding along the flat cycle path following the river to test out the comfort and settings of our bikes. After a while, we reached a rocky outcrop – our first hill! After climbing above the river, we coasted down a winding forest path to the small settlement and large monastery of Zlata Koruna (Golden Crown) founded in 1263. Here was a chance to stock up on a well-deserved bowl of soup and plate of sausage.
After suitable refreshment, the last stage of the day’s short ride was down to the fairy-tale chocolate-box town of Cesky Krumlov, dominated by the second-largest castle in the country built on sheer rocks which rise up from the river. It is spectacularly beautiful and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. George gave us a tour of the town, but sadly it was raining quite hard at this stage, so we were very glad to arrive at our hotel. The luggage had already been delivered to our rooms and we had time to freshen-up before dinner.
Dinner was in a lovely medieval restaurant where the food was prepared on an open fire. We sat at long wooden tables and had a chance to get to know each other better. However, what really bonded our group together was the next stop in a lovely crowded pub with a piano player who took requests. I’d like to think that our lusty singing of old standards was enjoyed by the locals as much as it was by us.
Kilometres cycled: 27
Second Day:Cesky Krumlov to Trebon
After a fine and hearty breakfast, we gathered in the courtyard of the hotel to reacquaint ourselves with our bikes and make some final adjustments to them. And so we set off. It’s a long climb out of the valley of Cesky Krumlov, nestled on a bend of the river, where in high summer canoeing and rafting are very popular. We rode along paved cycle tracks and forest paths before stopping at a village restaurant for lunch. It was quite a strenuous day’s cycling and some of our valiant company took respite in the mini-bus for the more hill sections. The mini-bus is never far-away and is stocked up with water, fruit and energy bars.
I should add that the day was quite testing; not only because of the distance and terrain, but it was also quite cold and raining, so it did test the morale of the group. However, the week’s forecast was good and the outlook was for sunny weather. Some of us rode the mini-bus into Trebon, while others pressed on through the mud and rain to arrive later.
After a welcome shower, we met for a meal in the hotel restaurant, which was served with élan and charm by our hosts. Some opted to take a walk around the town afterwards to take in the Renaissance square, the Marian column, the charming castle and a local hostelry to taste the renowned local brew.
Kilometres cycled: 61
Third Day: Trebon to Telc
Trebon has been the centre of the Czech fish industry for five centuries. Over this time many fish-ponds and man-made lakes have been developed to produce carp and other fish. Carp is a traditional Christmas meal in the Czech Republic. It is a flatter area of South Bohemia, so a good chance to get in some faster cycling along paved forest paths. It was raining lightly and misty but this added to the mystique of riding through the dark, silent pine forests of Central Europe. All very atmospheric, all very Brothers Grimm.
After about 25 kilometres we left the woods and the land began to undulate through fields. We met up with Henry and the mini-bus for snacks and refreshments, and to mend a couple of punctures.
We pushed on through the rain. This was the most gruelling day, the furthest to cycle, nearly 80 kilometres and the second two-thirds were fairly hilly. We stopped for lunch at a country pub-restaurant, but otherwise it was head-down and concentrate on getting to Telc and South Moravia.
The town of Telc is another UNESCO World Heritage site. It has a breath-takingly beautiful and extensive square, consisting entirely of Renaissance buildings from the 16th century, decorated in the typical brightly-coloured and sgraffitoed style of the time. It’s a great photo opportunity.
We stayed in a very fine hotel not far from the main square, which had been a large farm and dairy complex. The tasteful reconstruction provided spacious rooms and a fine restaurant which served an excellent and well-deserved dinner.
We were all pretty tired after this day, but we went to bed knowing that the following days would be sunny with temperatures rising to 25 degrees Celsius. Indian summer weather!
Kilometres cycled: 78
Fourth Day: Telc – Vranov
This was a shorter day than the day before but we had some hilly country to tackle as we followed the spectacular rocky and wooded valley of the Dyje river, which flows into the Danube.
By mid-morning the sun had begun to shine and the temperature to rise. We rode through sun-dappled forests and fields and stopped at a large 17th century convent complex, where we stocked up on snacks and looked around the old buildings perched on top of a hill with lovely views of the Moravian landscape we were to cycle through.
In the afternoon, after lunch in a country village restaurant where some of our party were brave enough to assay the delicacies of the bull, we cycled through deeply-forested paths with short steep climbs and satisfyingly long downhill runs.
We passed the 11th century castle Bitov, high on an outcrop of the river, and climbed up to take a short tour of the castle. It was extended during the 15th to 17th centuries and had a fine library and impressive collection of hunting weapons: bows, crossbows and guns.
A short distance away is another castle called Zornstein (Angry Rock). This is a quite different structure to Bitov, having been abandoned in the Middle Ages and largely derelict. It is however an impressive ruin of medieval fortifications. There were fine views to be enjoyed from this historic vantage point over the blue skies and green forests of the winding valley of the River Dyje.
From Zornstein, it was a short ride down to the river and along the bank to Vranov.
Kilometres cycled: 44
Fifth Day: Vranov to Znojmo
This was also a shorter day in terms of distance, but again there were some tricky hills and off-road forest tracks to be negotiated.
However, we did have the chance to tour the castle which sits upon a rocky crag that dominates the small town. The castle was modified extensively in the Baroque style in the 18th century and so offered a completely different style to the previous day’s visits. It really was a most impressive place giving an insight into the opulent way of life of the aristocracy during Hapsburg rule.
After the informative tour, we saddled up again and rode out of Vranov towards the major wine-producing town of Znojmo. This was another enjoyable day during which we mostly followed the border between the Czech Republic and Austria. The trails pass through forest and paved tracks in an area which had been off-limits for forty years during the days of the Iron Curtain. The natural habitat is therefore unspoiled.
The last section of the ride was quite taxing as we had to climb up away from the border towards Znojmo, situated on a steep hill above the river Dyje. It is a impressive sight with several ancient spires and towers rising above the houses perched on the hillside.
After the steep ascent, we were pleased to arrive at the hotel, beautifully modernised with glass staircases, large rooms and comfortable beds.
Kilometres cycled: 40
Sixth Day: Znojmo to Mikulov
For me this was the finest day for cycling. The weather was beautiful, warm and sunny, and the terrain was gentle passing through undulating wine-growing lowlands.
We had a long lunch at a traditional pub-restaurant and passed by the only section of preserved pre-1989 defences with fences, originally electrified, tank defences and a cleared, and previously mined, dead zone. It was quite creepy to see the physical embodiment of the ‘Iron Curtain’ and difficult nowadays to understand how peoples could have been so brutally divided after the Second World War.
About 15 kilometres before Mikulov we stopped at a small wine-cellar, little more than an underground shelter, where the proprietor talked us through his current production and we tasted Burcak, the deceptively first fermentation of the grape juice. It was interesting to see the small scale of the production, but it is clear the the best of the wine never reaches the export market.
Feeling refreshed, we pushed on through the glorious afternoon sunshine to Mikulov which we could see jutting out of the surrounding plains from far away. We had our farewell dinner in a restaurant adjacent to the hotel and then repired to a wine bar for prize-giving and valedictions.
Kilometres cycled: 70
Seventh Day: Mikulov to Vienna
Mikulov to Vratice – Lednice area
Mikulov is a charming small town with a population of about 8,000 which was at one time a major centre of Jewish trade and scholarship. It is very interesting and thought-provoking to walk through its square with its pretty church and then through the adjacent Jewish quarter with its 15th century synagogue.
After breakfast, our fellowship was broken. Eight of our party had planned to end their tour in Vienna and they set off with George guiding. After a day’s ride they were driven the remainder of the distance to Vienna and delivered to their hotels by the ever-reliable Henry.
The rest of us spent an enjoyable day riding a circular route from Mikulov to Valtice and Lednice. This area is another UNESCO World Heritage site and is thought of as the most architecturally valuable region in the country. This was a great day’s cycling to end the tour. We cycled along deserted roads to Valtice through the heart of Moravia’s prime wine region. We paused in Valtice to have a look at the impressive chateau and then pressed on to Lednice. The route took us through the forested parklands of the Lichtenstein family which are studded with ostentatious monuments including the Temple of the Three Graces and a shrine to the patron saint of hunters, Saint Hubert. After lunch in Lednice, we went to walk around the glory of the neo-Gothic chateau.
Then it was back to Mikulov along a series of ribbon lakes following the border to meet up with the driver, Tonda, who drove us back to Prague and delivered us to our hotels, safe, sound and tired after a most enjoyable cycle tour through some of the finest countryside and towns that the Czech Republic has to offer.
Kilometres cycled: 47
Total kilometres over the week: 367
Guided Group Tour by: www.bicycle-tours.cz
- Blog post
- 2 months ago
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- From: msmarls
Love beautiful tropical white sandy beaches with crystal clear warm water and hardly anyone there? Ever been to Palawan in The Philippines? No? Better hurry-the secret is getting out and everyone's learning that, as their new tourism slogan says, it's more fun in the Philippines.
- 4 months ago
- Views: 696
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- From: activetravelasia
Once a year, with his wife's blessing, Lau Minh Pao gets to have a guilt-free tryst with his ex.
Their rendezvous' have played out more like strolls down memory lane than salacious flings, but they are part of a treasured tradition in this mountainous corner of northern Vietnam that may challenge some more linear concepts of love.
"In the past, we were lovers, but we couldn't get married because we were far apart," Pao simply as he waited for his date on a dark night in the village of Khau Vai in Ha Giang province.
Now when they meet, he said, "we pour our hearts out about the time when we were in love." They are not alone.
For two days each year, on the 26th and 27th of the third month of the lunar calendar, the tiny village of Khau Vai, strung along a saddle in the lush hills near China, is transformed into a "love market."
For nearly a hundred years, the Khau Vai love market (Ha Giang province) as been known as a lovers' rendezvous. This is no ordinary farmer's market. Flirting, courting and, hopefully, canoodling are the order of the day. Hundreds of members of Giay, Nung, Tay, Dzao, San Chi, Lo Lo and Hmong hill tribes trek in from across the mountainous districts of the Dong Van Plateau and as far away as nearby Cao Bang province, some travel days to attend
Legend has it the market dates back to 1919. Legend has it an ethnic Giay girl from Ha Giang province fell in love with an ethnic Nung boy from the neighboring province of Cao Bang.The girl was so beautiful that her tribe did not want to let her marry a man from another tribe and a bloody conflict ensued between the two tribes. Watching tragedy unfold before them, the two lovers sorrowfully decided to part ways to avoid further bloodshed and to restore peace.
But to keep their love alive they made a secret pact to meet once a year on the 27th day of the third lunar month in Khau Vai. Thereafter, the hill village became known as a meeting place for all of those in love.
Young, dreamy singles trek to Khau Vai in hopes of finding a first love. Wayward lovers come to escape their families. Older generations might hope to bump into an old flame. Married men and women often return to the love market to rendezvous with former lovers, and they are allowed to meet again without jealousy from their spouses during this one event of the year.
- Blog post
- 4 months ago
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- From: egypttravel@cc
Egypt ; The Land of Pharaohs, cradle of civilizations, legends and mysteries. Legends of Pharaohs & The Nile Tour offers you an unforgettable experience to the ancient wonders of Egypt discovering the legendary sites of the Pyramids.
- 1 year ago
- Views: 256
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- From: hoosierfan1997
Set between two major mountain ranges, the Olympics and the Cascades, with the Puget Sound's fjord-like waters to the west and massive Lake Washington to the east, Seattle has one of the most dramatic settings of any city in the country.
The frequent moody cloud cover can hide those jagged mountains but on clear days 14,411-foot (4297 meter) Mount Rainier can be seen from the city. Reuters correspondents with local knowledge help visitors get the most out of a short stay in the northwestern U.S. city.
6 p.m. - If the clouds have lifted even a bit, there's no better place to watch the sunset over Elliott Bay than from the Seattle Art Museum's nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park on the downtown waterfront. Besides wandering about the 20 sculptures from major artists like Alexander Calder, Louise Nevelson and Richard Serra, you can enjoy further views of the changeable bay by strolling along the paved trail through nearby Myrtle Edwards Park.
7 p.m. - Head up to the Capitol Hill neighborhood and start the weekend with cocktails at Tavern Law, named by GQ Magazine as one of the 25 best bars in America.
There are plenty of handcrafted cocktails to enjoy in the Prohibition-era surroundings, but celebrate the start of your getaway with a custom champagne cocktail. Peruse the menu. The oxtail banh mi sandwich, based on Vietnamese tradition, will give you a taste of the Pacific Rim influence that figures in so many Seattle menus.
9 p.m. - Seattle takes its jazz seriously and there's no better spot than Dimitriou's Jazz Alley downtown to hear it. With any luck, a musician like Grammy Award-winning Arturo Sandoval will be holding court. Or maybe you'll catch the funky horn-driven Tower of Power.
9 a.m. - Fortify yourself for the day ahead with one of the best Mexican breakfasts anywhere at Senor Moose in the lively Ballard neighborhood. The crowded restaurant offers breakfast specialties culled from regions throughout Mexico. Try the outstanding huevos motuleos with black beans inspired by the Yucatan breakfast staple. Even though it's early, go ahead and get an order of the flawless guacamole and chips. It's surprisingly good with a cup of Senor Moose's strong coffee.
11 a.m. - Get a sense of Ballard's historic status as Seattle's Scandinavian neighborhood at the Nordic Heritage Museum and at stops such as the shop Scandinavian Specialties, where you can pick up house-made cured meats, homemade Swedish meatballs and a bowl of traditional yellow split pea soup.
Ballard also has a lively shopping scene. Â KAVU, a local Seattle clothing and gear company, offers the quintessential Northwest look, with hip interpretations of outdoorsy style clothes. Stop at The Secret Garden Bookshop which has a carefully chosen selection of books for children and adults. For lunch, head to the nearby Ray's Boathouse Cafe with views for which Seattle is famous, along with the seafood.
3 p.m. - Spend the next two hours absorbing more of Asia's influence on Seattle at the Seattle Asian Art Museum. The museum, which is situated in lovely Volunteer Park, showcases exquisite art from various centuries and numerous counties in Asia.
5 p.m. - Continue your exploration of Seattle's hot cocktail scene at the Zig Zag Cafe tucked away behind the Pike Place Market. Try the One Legged Duck, a blend of Rye Whiskey, Dubonnet, Mandarine Napoleon and Fernet Branca. Order a plate of marinated olives to go with it, or try the cheese plate. Much of the food on the menu is sourced at the Pike Place Market.
7 p.m. - Since you're already at Pike Place, head to Matt's in the Market on the third floor of the Corner Market Building, where the food matches the view. Meat lovers can try the Pork Belly Confit with kimchi broth. For those who prefer seafood try the clams with chorizo and cava or order anything with Dungeness crab or perhaps some oysters on the half shell. For a larger plate try the seafood stew.
9 p.m. - For a great evening head to the Triple Door in the heart of downtown Seattle, which offers music ranging from pop chanteuse crooners to Apple Jam, a group presenting a critically praised tribute to the Beatles. A great wine list is available, along with excellent cocktails and Southeast Asian inspired plates. The satays are a perennial favorite.
10 a.m. - For brunch try Salty's at Alki in West Seattle. It can be crowded, but the views and lavish assortment of Northwest foods on offer more than make up for it, including piles of Dungeness crab and smoked salmon, along with brunch staples like Eggs Benedict and Belgian waffles. Afterwards walk for miles along the waterfront through Alki, Seattle's premiere people watching neighborhood and beach scene. Seals often pop their heads up here, and you'll see ferries chugging off to local islands.
1 p.m. - Seattle is a book lover's town, and readers have many fine bookstores to visit. Seattle Mystery Bookshop in historic Pioneer Square is one of the best and offers both new and used books. Passionate, friendly staff can help you find the perfect read.
For an excellent general selection, Elliott Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill has the goods, many with staff recommendations, plus a great selection of unique cards. It's easy to lose yourself in the stacks, so keep an eye on the clock if you need catch a flight.
With booming family-friendly popularity, Seattle is an urban playground with wide open appeal for outdoor lovers. If you enjoy tall emerald forests and city parks, stunning views of distant snow-capped mountains and miles of Puget-Sound open water, you'll love Seattle. While many know Seattle as the rain capital, Seattleites boast their city actually gets less annual rain than New York or Miami. A little drizzle is no reason to miss out on exploring -- especially in summer.
Most city attractions for kids are clustered at Seattle Center, a 74-acre downtown venue with the Space Needle, Children's Museum, Children's Theatre, Pacific Science Center, Experience Music Project and an indoor-outdoor amusement park. Large event fests are here; make sure to bring strollers for the little ones.
· Pike Place Market. The nine-acre Market, which opened on August 17, 1907 according to its website (http://www.pikeplacemarket.com) is can't- miss for all ages as the city's heart and soul. The Market is a free National Historic District with more than 250 businesses, 100 farmers, 200 arts and craftspeople and open daily. Arrive at 10 a.m. to beat crowds. Mondays and Tuesdays are best for crafts; Wednesday-Sundays showcase amazing fresh produce. Kids love their photo with Rachel, the iconic life-sized bronze piggy. She's under the central Market clock by Pike Place Fish, where singing fishmongers throw fish.
· Space Needle. This symbol of the 1962 World's Fair has an observation tower ("O Deck") at 520 feet high. Kids love scoping out Mount Rainier on free telescopes. SkyQ's interactive experience, with five touch-screen kiosks, entertains all. An often-crowded gift shop sells noteworthy souvenirs. Kids 3 and under free; kids ages 4-13 pay $9, ages 14-64 pay $16 and people over 65 years old pay $14.
· Seattle Aquarium. While gazing into a 120,000-gallon aquarium, kids of all ages are astonished as they also see colorful salmon, rockfish, sea anemones and native Washington marine life. Also, there's storytelling for the youngest. On the waterfront at Pier 59, down a flight of stairs from Pike Place Market. It gets crowded, so arrive at 9:30 a.m. Kids ages 3 and under are admitted for free. Admission for youth (ages 4-12) is $10.50, and admission for adults is $16.
· Pacific Science Center. This hands-on, six-acre facility is great for elementary-aged kids, with interactive exhibits and live science demonstrations. A tropical butterfly area is popular for all ages. Also, IMax movies, laser tag and the Planetarium offer an educational, yet fun way of showing kids information. Prices range from $17-$23 for adults and $10-$13 for kids.
· Woodland Park Zoo. Its naturalistic settings rank the 92-acre Woodland Park among the country's top zoos with appeal to all animal lovers. Chilean flamingos, an African savanna, tropical rain forest, and covered activities such as parakeets feeding provide a full day's entertainment. Bring dollar bills for rides on an old-fashioned carousel (merry-go-round). Admission depends on the time of year. Kids under age 2 are admitted for free; admission for adults (October-April) is $11 and $16.50 during summer months. Admission for kids ages 3 through 12 is $11 during summer months and $8 the rest of the year. Be sure to rent a wagon (near admission entrance).
· Experience Music Project Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. One of the world's largest collections of memorabilia from Seattle icon Jimi Hendrix. EMPSFM appeals to rockers, high school teens and parents who remember Hendrix. It celebrates American popular music genres. Also, a SpinKids Station amuses young kids. Kids ages 4 and under are admitted for free. Admission for youth (ages 5-17) is $12, and admission for adults is $15.
· Tillicum Village & Tours. For a memorable four-hour evening, take a late afternoon cruise to scenic Blake Island State Park, birthplace of Chief Seattle, for a Northwest Coast Native American dance presentation. An all-you-can-eat traditional salmon bake dinner is yummy. Board from downtown waterfront's Pier 55. Kids under 4, free; kids aged 5-12 pay $30 and adults pay $79.95.
· Bainbridge Island. Board a downtown Seattle walk-on ferry (about $7 roundtrip, no reservations) at downtown's Pier 52 for a 35-minute ride to charming 28-square-mile Bainbridge Island. It's a fun day trip for the family. Enjoy ice cream, coffees, lunch or picnic. Bring a stroller.
· Olympic Sculpture Park. This free, downtown nine-acre sculpture park is a great spot to view Puget Sound and Olympic Mountains scenery. A z-shaped path rambles among permanent and rotating sculptures. Great for a picnic lunch with treats picked up from shops at nearby Pike Place Market.
· Alki Beach Park. Kids love this true sandy free beach park, with a 2.5-mile pedestrian walkway. It's where the first white settlers arrived in Seattle in 1851. Catch a Metro Bus (Route 56) a block from Pike Place Market. Water temps average 46 to 56 degrees Fahrenheit.
· University District Farmers market. Washington's largest "farmer's only" market is also Seattle's oldest market, taking place every Saturday throughout the year. Sample local farm foods and watch chef demonstrations. 9 a.m.-2 p.m. near University of Washington.
· Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. Kids love watching salmon climb up a fish ladder or catching a glimpse of a sea lion from a viewing window. Also known as the Ballard Locks, the locks raise and lower boats between fresh and salt water.
· Downtown parking is expensive and is challenging to find. Keep it simple -- walk, ride Metro Buses or take a cab.
· One-way streets and steady construction can cause direction confusion; ask for directions.
· The city's scenic waterfront-area hills are steep. Pack each family member's most comfortable shoes.
· At dusk, avoid historic Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market areas (hangouts for rowdy, alcohol-slugging vagrants).
· During late spring and summer, throngs of visitors and cruise passengers frequent popular spots; arrive early in the morning. Arrange a meeting place if family members get separated.
· Summer air conditioning is scarce, so plan accordingly. November kicks off the cool rainy season. In winter, dusk arrives come late afternoon.
Other things things you should know
· Seattle's Visitor Center and Concierge Services have free bookings and reservations for dining, tours, and transportation. Open Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Washington State Convention & Trade Center's Upper Pike Street lobby, 7th and Pike streets. 206-461-5800.
· Most top children's attractions are conveniently located near Seattle Center, a 74-acre urban park, including the Space Needle, the modernistic 1962 World's Fair landmark.
· Seattle's climate is refreshing from July through September. Pack a light jacket or sweater, but most humidity-free temps range from 50s Fahrenheit to the 80s.
· Dressy attire not required. Seattle is casual and laid-back, with layered comfort a fashion standard.\
· Multiple public parks, with green space for running and hiking (some with beaches) offer kid-friendly places for dissipating energy.
· Caught in a downpour? Cool weather? The towering, downtown flagship REI, billed as the world's premier outdoor gear store, has a 65-foot freestanding indoor climbing wall. (Residents typically shun umbrellas).
· At Pike Place Information Booth, corner of Pike Street and 1st Avenue, buy half-priced concert and play tickets for day of performance.
· While walking downtown, have kids look for Seattle's iconic bronze pigs. Take pictures.
· During the winter, rent a car for the day and take the kids skiing. Crystal Mountain has the state's highest vertical drop, along with scenic chairlift rides, hiking trails and biking trails (www.skicrystal.com). Also, the Summit at Snoqualmie has easy accessibility and lessons, both skiing and snowboarding, for adults and kids (www.summitatsnoqualmie.com).
· Plan picnics after visits to the Pike Place Market area. Fresh fruits, cheese, meats and sweet treat food choices are abundant. Don't miss Beecher's for cheese near the market; kids love the homemade mac and cheese on a cool day.
- Blog post
- 1 year ago
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- Views: 109
- Since: 1 year ago
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- From: landennadia
http://www.orderlegalsteroids.com Muscle Labs USA Sports Supplements develops unique analog compounds
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- 2 years ago
- Views: 14
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- From: plonde
A slice of pizza heaven? Um, no, not so much. I was compelled, COMPELLED I say, to eat there. My inner 13 year old girl had to dine at the namesake of my beloved childhood chick flick and find out if the magic really is in the secret sauce. It’s not. And there’s no need to keep this sauce a secret, truly. Tell folks and let them help you make it better.
Now, if you do want a slice of heaven, go to Galla’s pizza in Atlanta. That sauce is so good I want to wear it as perfume.
- Blog post
- 2 years ago
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- From: Kruzer57
The little lighthouse that was almost lost. This little gem was scheduled to be torn down, when a man from Saugatuck, Michigan bought it and moved it to his property along the bay in Saugatuck. It has been rebuilt/redone and looks GREAT. What a little beauty !
- 2 years ago
- Views: 361
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- From: suzitvlldy
Thinking of Switzerland in the winter as only snow -filled, is something of a misnomer. Yes the Alps in all their majestic glory with most cities and towns are steeped in snow. However; areas such as the deep valleys get very little snow and some not at all. For those who want to visit the snow, but not be “in” it all the time, this country allows them to enjoy the best of both worlds.
Switzerland being such a compact country makes visiting all areas easily accessible. No matter where you go however, you are always surrounded by the Alps in all their magnificence.
So much to see and so little time is how I would describe Switzerland. For history buffs, you have over 100 castles/chateaus and ancient ruins.
One such place is the Chateau du Gruyere which is actually a castle with a very small medieval town “attached” to it. Sitting high upon a hill over -looking a beautiful valley, it’s something you might imagine a fairy-tale castle looking like with its turrets and cobblestone paths. Built in 1270, it houses some impressive pieces of art and furniture, and offers guests a short film about its history. If you are a history buff and love architecture, this is a dream of a building. The little village just outside the gates is very pretty with its cobblestone streets and fountains. It houses mostly restaurants which all seem to have a fantastic view of the countryside and of course your ever-present gift shops. There is a very “unusual” museum and bar located just outside the gates of the chateau. The museum showcases a variety of creatures in a mythical-magical universe by artist HR Giger. The Ginger Bar opposite the museum represents the artist’s most beautiful works of art in its seating. So while enjoying that pint, you’re sitting on a work of art! Open year round. Christmas at the Castle is from November 19 to January 8 which will showcase nativity scenes from Austria and South Tyrol.
Located down the hill from the Chateau du Gruyere is, you guessed it, La Maison Du Gruyere cheese dairy. For cheese lovers, (of which I am one) there are several dairies which not only show you how this delectable morsel is made but some even allow you to make your own to be consumed on site or shipped home at a later date once it’s aged. Emmentaler or Swiss cheese is of course the most well-known and widely used in fondues. This particular dairy however makes the Gruyere or soft cheese. I thought it was unique in that as soon as you walk in the door, you can see the storage and aging of all the cheese before you even walk on the tour. The tour demonstrates how the cheese is made and processed. Afterwards, you have the opportunity to taste the cheese and of course buy some. The dairy houses a restaurant and menu that caters to all food types. It also has a very well stocked and varied gift store. Can you ever have enough cheese to eat?
Roughly, 40 minutes away from Gruyere, is the city of Broc. (Interesting the closer you get to the border of France, the more everyone speaks French). What makes this city so special? Chocolate! From the minute you step out of your vehicle, the scent of chocolate permeates the air! Cailler Chocolate Factory has to be one of the more interesting chocolate factories in Switzerland. I have to admit this was one of my favourite places. Definitely entertaining from the minute you walk inside and take the “Disneyland” tour of how chocolate originated in Europe. You walk thru several rooms starting with the origin of where cocoa beans came from and how they were discovered. Each room is decorated and animated along with a commentary which can be done in a variety of languages. I happen to be with a group of Americans so English was the language used. At the end of the “animation” tour, you find yourself in the actual factory where the candy is being made. I found it interesting that the chocolate is laid out in long rows and then a “guillotine” is used to cut into pieces. Then each piece is individually wrapped. To think that machinery now does the work that used to be done by hand! (Reminds me of one of my favourite “I Love Lucy” episodes where Lucy and Ethel are working at a candy factory wrapping chocolate and how things go horribly wrong). Technology. Gotta love it! As you wind up your tour, the piece de la resistance! Chocolate. Lots of it. Yours for the tasting! That saying “kid in a candy store” comes to mind immediately. I found it hard not sample each and every one. In addition to the tour and all the chocolate, Cailler’s offers daily chocolate cooking classes on how to make chocolate and create your own delectable treat. Can’t beat that! As you exit out of the building, with chocolate in hand, you can’t help but feel extremely fulfilled.
My cable ride up to the top of Schilthorn was breath-taking along with being one of the most thrilling “rides” I had ever been on. It takes 4 cable car rides to get to the top, the 1st one being the most dare I say, scariest? Yours truly is definitely not afraid of heights but traveling up in almost a vertical position you try not to think about the fact that you are suspended on only 2 cables. After white-knuckling it and looking at the passing scenery with only one eye open, you reach the 1st summit. After what you just experience, the remaining 3 cable car rides to the top, will seem like a piece of cake! Ah! you’ve made it to the top! You feel like a pro! That is, until you have to go back down again. But for now, your mind is taking in the spectacular views of the Alps and watching some of the fearless skiers skiing down the slopes. On a very clear day, I am told you can see the Black Forest of Germany. Unfortunately, not on the day I was there. Although a beautiful sunny day, in the distance clouds were forming. Not to worry. Time out for a bite to eat or to warm up with cup of hot chocolate in the revolving Piz Gloria Restaurant most popularly known as the “James Bond” restaurant. (Think 007 in Her Majesty’s Secret Service) The restaurant revolves around in a slow motion which I am told would take approximately an hour for a complete 360 degree turn. I actually timed it. It was closer to 40 minutes. Not a problem. It’s just nice to watch the different mountain ranges go by. Refreshed and sated, it’s time to gather that courage for that ride back down the mountain. On the 3rd cable car down, I got off and stopped in the small village of Murren. Car-free and only reachable by cable car, it is filled with quaint shops, walking trails and restaurants. Very popular with the ski crowd especially during the winter season, it has your typical Swiss Chalets style hotels. It also offers some incredible views of Schilthorn, the surrounding mountains and the beautiful valleys below. Ok, time for that final decent down. I have to admit it wasn’t as bad as going up. This time I decided to be brave and kept my eyes open and stood right against the window. I even took a picture of the decent all the while still white-knuckling it. Once I reached the bottom and was on level ground, I almost jumped up and down and yelled “I did it”! I didn’t really, but felt like it!
Driving back to Interlaken, (about 15 minutes) it was almost anti-climatic. After something so thrilling, back to this quiet but very quaint little town. Located on the river surrounded by the Alps, it has to be one of the most picturesque places to see. Very walk-able and very well laid-out with signs posting everything you want to see. It’s impossible to get lost here. Plenty of restaurants and hotels along with a bit of shopping, it has an ambiance all its own. Strolling along the park located in the middle of the city, I noticed a crowd gathering but couldn’t for the life of me figure out why. That’s when I noticed that everyone was looking up! It’s then I recalled a conversation with one of the cable car operators (which by way is a great way to pass the time as you are trying not look down during your decent) who informed me that most of the operators never take the cable cars down to go home. They “paraglide” down the mountain. Can you believe it? I thought he was joking! But he wasn’t! Looking up from the park, I saw about 20 different Para glider’s starting to land in the centre of the park! Apparently this is a usual afternoon thing. They jump off the top of the mountain, land in the park, quietly pack up their canopy and then walk home. This isn’t just for people that work and don’t want to drive, it’s a major tourist attraction as well. If so inclined, you too can jump off of a mountain and glide down to the valley by yourself or in tandem. Well, at least there is no rush hour traffic!
My Swiss experience would not be complete without experiencing what the Swiss are known for world-wide: Cheese Fondues. I found such a place to try this experience in a restaurant called Restaurant Laterne. Frequented mostly by locals, it’s in a residential neighbourhood of Interlaken. The outside looks your typical Swiss Chalet and the ambiance inside is exactly what you would expect a Swiss restaurant to look like with its wooden chairs and tables. Family owned and operated, the food is homemade with several types of fondues, veal, pork, cabbage, potatoes and plenty of it. The fondue is really a meal in itself, but trying other things as well is all part of the experience. I can guarantee you won’t go hungry here. The staff is friendly and very accommodating and the prices are well within reason.
Would I go back and visit Switzerland in the winter? In a heartbeat.
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- 2 years ago
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- From: bryann
Peninsular Malaysia is a land of countless natural treasures. Living in neighboring Singapore, I've been lucky enough to have visited quite a few of the better known Malaysian spots: Pulau Tioman, Pulau Redang, Kuantan, Pulau Penang, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur, each unique and memorable locations in their own way.
But it's only when I ventured off the beaten track along the Malaysian East Coast recently that I was truly awe-struck by the raw natural splendor of the landscape, the immense variety of wildlife and the kindhearted generous nature of the orang kampung, the village folk that live in this region.
In September 2010 I took a few friends on a little road trip. Our objective was to traverse the southern state of Johore Baharu until we reached Mersing, a pittoresque, yet bustling seaside town that gets its name from the Mersing River running through it.
We'd been to Mersing on previous occasions, it's the de facto departure point to many of the popular holiday islands that dot the sea there. This time though, after arriving in Mersing, we were feeling adventurous, and so we continued driving.
About 20 minutes after passing by Mersing, we took a turn into a dusty rock-strewn track that was barely discernible against its jungle backdrop. A dozen or so miles on, the track came to an abrupt end, courtesy of a crystal-clear stream that ran left and right as far as the eye could see. Our options were simple, we either turn back or take our chances with a dilapidated wooden bridge that spanned the stream in front of us.
The gamble paid off handsomely, because within minutes, we were cruising along a newly-constructed pristine road that appeared freshly gouged from the rainforest.
Not sure what compelled us to keep going and not even sure of where we were, we eventually stumbled upon Tanjung Resang, an area so stunning in its visual beauty, we instantly concurred that it is Malaysia's best kept secret.
Tanjung Resang is located like a natural retreat. Ensconced between an idyllic, almost endless stretch of beach on one side and a jagged dense jungle treeline on the other, it breathes tranquility.
If you enjoy Malaysian cuisine, you're in luck because even though secluded, Tanjung Resang is never a far drive to a resort or mom and pop eatery. Try their mouth-watering traditional dishes like nasi lemak, sateh or kueh.
Nature lovers will enjoy Tanjung Resang's many hiking opportunities and the exotic flora and fauna. While there, I saw snakes, monkeys, wild boars, huge flying foxes, eagles and a porcupine. I even spotted a pilot whale surfacing while we were paddling at sea on our SUP boards.
Speaking of the sea, advanced sailing and windsurfing enthusiasts will find Tanjung Resang a treat during the November-February monsoon, as this is when 20-25 knot nor'easterlies blow virtually non-stop.
The rest of the year, the prevailing more mild SE/SW winds are blocked by Tanjung Resang's terrain, creating ideal conditions for more recreational sailing, angling and scuba-diving.
Tanjung Resang, Malaysia's best kept secret.
Malaysia Sea Sports
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- 2 years ago
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Invincibility, Impossibly Gorg Invincibility, Impossibly Gorgeous Italians, and the Art of Buying a Train Ticket to Milan
- From: 4initalia
L'ho fatto! I did it! I took the train from Milan to Modena, and I did not end up on an ice floe! Well, almost.
I am logistically challenged and have no sense of direction. I am afraid of many things, including sandwich-stealing emus. My biggest travel-related fear involves Italian trains, specifically taking the train from Modena to Milan and back. I usually travel with my husband Andy, who believes that train schedules and departure boards can be used to control one's destiny, or at least one's destination. He has tried to explain how it all works....
La la la la....
But this trip I'm flying solo and will have to figure it out for myself; in order to visit my friend Melanie, who lives in Milan, I'll have to laugh in the face of my fear. Or at least smirk at it as I tremble uncontrollably.
My Train-to-Milan fear has many subparts. I am afraid to buy the ticket, either from a ticket seller, or from a machine. I'm afraid of getting on the wrong train. And I'm terrified of the Milan train station.
I am as terrified of the Milan train station as I am of emus.
Emus are as big as ostriches, only uglier. I once had lunch in a wildlife park in Australia where emus roamed freely. While tourists lunched at a picnic area, emus stalked the tables. Their fist-sized heads darted between the diners, seizing food off the plates in their vise-like beaks. Emu noggins are hideously joined, by a long muscular neck, to linebacker-sized bodies, which attach to leathery legs, that end in rapier-sharp claws. Emus are extremely stupid and may not draw a distinction between a picnicker and her entree'. So if an emu wants a sandwich, it's best to fork it over.
Emus frighten me, but as long as I stay out of Aussie wildlife parks during meals, I can generally avoid them. But I couldn't go all the way to Italy without visiting my fabulista fashionista friend Mel, so I had to steel myself for a trip into the very aorta of my neuroses: Milano Centrale.
Milan's central station is a menacing mini-metropolis of heroin addicts, gypsies, and non-denominational pickpockets. Like emus at a picnic, they feast on the naivte of tourists who don't realize they're on the menu.
There are two ways to buy an Italian train ticket: from a ticket machine, or from a Trenitalia clerk. The fastest way to buy an Italian train ticket is from a ticket machine. It is theoretically possible to push the right buttons, put in money, and end up with a ticket to the destination of your choosing. Except that while you're trying to figure out how to work the machine, a gypsy is reaching past your face and pressing random buttons. Gypsy women expect to be paid for this assistance, which may or may not result in a ticket you can use, but often results in the transfer of your wallet to her pickpocket companion right behind you. Heroin addicts perform the same ticket-confusion service, but louder and more erratically. If you refuse their assistance, they get enraged. Think of the zombie dancers in Thriller, add tuberculosis, and you're there.
The first time Andy and I visited the Milan station, I was so disgusted by the Oliver-esque main terminal that I fled with the kids to the relatively sedate international ticket area. There was no place to sit, but as we leaned against the wall next to a bank of ticket machines, I watched well-heeled travelers attempt to use them. They wore the same perplexed expressions as the people in the main terminal, but better shoes.
The international terminal was crowded, the ticket lines were barely moving. A chicly harried passenger, obviously a businesswoman who didn't want to miss her train, attempted to speed things along by assisting the woman in front of her with the machine. How civilized. Until I noticed that a man behind the assisted traveller was helping himself to her wallet. AIIIIEEE!!!!
Train ticket machines are the platter on which tourists are served to petty thieves.
There is another option; stand in a Trenitalia ticket line and attempt to wrest a ticket from a train clerk. My fear of Trenitalia clerks is almost rational. When we first moved to Italy, I used my elementary Italian to ask a ticket agent for a round-trip ticket. He scoffingly sneered at my accent, and sold me a one-way ticket at three times the normal price.
Trenitalia clerks are tied in malevolence with Italian postal employees: when Satan needs evil minions for a big job, he calls the train station.
It's not just the train station inhabitants, I find the Milan station frightening in itself. The Milan train station is connected to the Milan Metro. If I get on a Metro train by mistake, I could be hopelessly lost in a city where the local population is as well-dressed and friendly as Heidi Klum. Uh oh.
The train station is also connected to a million trains. If I get on the wrong train, I could not only end up in the wrong city in Italy, I could end up in the wrong country in Europe.
Europe includes many odd countries with indecipherable languages, and is small enough that I could get hopelessly off-track. My fear-based-worst-case scenario is that I could somehow end up in a train station in Iceland. I hate to be cold and am wearing only ballerina flats, so besides the language barrier, Iceland would present huge logistical problems.
I am proud to say I actually got myself from Modena to Milan on the train, with only a few emotional scars and a hugely fabulous Train Swain Rescue Anecdote:
In Modena, I bought a ticket to Milan, from a machine. When I checked the Departures board, I learned that the ticket I had purchased was for a train that had been cancelled - cancellato. So I stood in line, and actually convinced a Trenitalia clerk to change my ticket to one I could use. Yesss!!!! I just had to call Melanie from the train to tell her my new arrival time.
Once on the train, I turned on my cell phone. Of course it was dead. (I think they call them cell phones because I always end up talking to myself.)
Time to panic: It would be crazy to wander around the Milan train station, asking for directions to the pay phone. (The Thriller video is instructive here.) I would have to ask for help before I got to Milan. Snoozing across from me, slumped and rumply, was a man of uncertain age. While we rode to Milan he made a few calls on his cell phone, and his voice sounded like odd grunts in an alien language. How could ask this man for help? But as the train neared Milan Centrale, my desperation gave me courage to ask him about phones. I spoke in Italian, "I am an American, and my phone is dead. Are there public phones in the train station?"
He sat up, removed his sunglasses, and I was looking directly into the heart-melting eyes of a young, very Italian version of George Clooney. Heavens. And I mean that. He spoke English, and said he'd help me. He carried my luggage off the train, showed me the pay phones, and explained how to use them. He was so kind, and I was so relieved I called him my angel. As we walked, we talked, and let's just say that I understand the psychology of gorgeous Italian men a little better. He was devastatingly charming, and adorably handsome. It's working for him. But I wouldn't count on fidelity, ladies; I told him my angel had slightly gray wings. He chuckled.
In the delightful way of Italy, a dead cell phone led to sweet laughter and unexpected beauty. How can you not love Italy???
We found Melanie, I had an amazing time in Milan, and now, a week later, I'm on my way back to Modena.
But in order to avoid ending up in Iceland, I have to buy the appropriate train ticket in the dreaded Milan station; I opt for the ticket machine/gypsy/pickpocket/challenge, and hope to avoid escalating to the enraged-addict option.
I choose a bank of machines in a well-lit area with no lines, and no helpful gypsies. I.can.do.this. The machine asks a series of questions, which you answer until a gypsy comes up and starts pushing random buttons and steals all your stuff. Okey dokey, let's get started. For the language I would like to be confused in, I choose English. Where do I want to go? Modena isn't on the destination list, so I chose "Other Destinations," use the on-screen keyboard to spell out "Modena," ....Va bene....
A list of trains to Modena appears. I want the 9:50a.m. train, arriving at 11:36. Before I left for the train station, I checked the online train schedule. The online schedule said that I should take train #2275. I seared this information into my memory along with my Italian shoe size. But now that I'm in the station they've switched trains on me, now it's train #615. What happened to #2275? I picture God picking up #2275, placing it neatly on an unused track, and substituting #615 in its place. If that is God's will, I will take the other train.
I have discovered the secret to the collapse of the Roman Empire. While I write about Italian trains, an Italian man walks by. My gaze locks onto his crisp cotton shirt in an inescapable shade of cobalt. Why look away? His cheekbones and jawline are so chiselled, I'll bet he tastes metal. Aviator sunglasses framed in gold glint against his perfectly tanned skin, echoing highlights in his carelessly flawless hair. I have to look at all of him, and discover all of the ways he is magnificent.
So instead of thinking and writing about Italian train travel, my brain has veered off track and is running its lips over a perfect, and I mean that, stranger's cheekbones. But I digress.
This is why Italy doesn't care whether anything ever gets done here: Because it is impossible to think strategically, or even rationally, when your thoughts are continuously interrupted by piercingly perfect beauty. Women and men are so distractingly amazing that your brain has to stop what it's doing to process the details: tendrils of lace linger over cleavage that rivals the Grand Canyon, a flash of crystals sparkle like snowflakes with every flutter of tapered fingers. A bronze silk mini- skirt is an open invitation in fabric, men's shirts caress contours and dare you to hug them back, men's suits seduce; how does well-cut wool make one wobbly?? These people are utterly, charmingly, disarmingly gorgeous.
The decline of the Roman Empire most likely began right after the Romans abandoned their shapeless togas for flattering clothes that showcase Italian beauty and an inimitable sense of style. Why did Rome fall? After the Romans took a good look at each other, they abandoned world conquest and concentrated on conquering the world of fashion, and each other. That was a very wise move. Just ask my Angel With Gray Wings.
But I digress. L'ho fatto: I did it! I faced my fear of the Milan train station, I bought a ticket to Modena and I am now on the train.
Let's pretend that I handled the Milan ticket machine like a pro, that the machine didn't repeatedly insist that my card was inserted incorrectly, so that a frustrated Italian man did not have to tell me to leave my card in the machine long enough for my order to process. Let's pretend that I didn't get so flustered even the heroin addicts were embarrassed for me. Sigh.
The machine wanted my card to stay in the slot long enough so that I'd have time to save the Aussie couple at the next machine from being assisted by a gypsy. In gratitude, the Aussies offered to help me find my train. Sadly, there wasn't time to discuss my emu fixation.
Eventually, the ticket machine spat out a ticket, I found my new train number on the departures board, and my new train, that God personally placed on Track 9, was waiting for me. And that's where I am right now, in a carriage with five lovely Italians. I have faced my fear and am smiling even more maniacally than usual.
I'm sure we will all have a great time in Iceland.
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- 2 years ago
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- From: LadyTraveler
Why would you ever use a professional travel agent? You can Google just about any place on earth. The Internet can give you all the information you'll ever need. There are hundreds of 'book directly with a travel supplier' on line and toll free numbers. The best kept secret in the travel industry is that those who book directly are paying for something they are NOT receiving: the services of a professional travel consultant.
I realize you are being told that it is easy to book your cruise, tour or airline tickets online. You can do it yourself. Just trust the supplier to take care of everything and have your credit card within easy reach. It's all so easy, isn't it? Turn over your credit card number and personal information to someone in a cubicle in a reservations factory or, better still, to outsourced labor working out of a call center overseas. Now your credit card information is in Bangladesh, and your vacation will be expertly planned and delivered.
So, why use the services of a professional travel consultant - the first thing you need to know is that you are going to pay the travel consultant's commission when you book directly because it is always - NOT sometimes, always, built into the price of any brochure program or cruise. It's the way the industry prices those tours, cruises or hotels.
First lets talk about taking a cruise....did you know that ALL the cruise lines sell the same cabins to every travel agent and web based supplier for the SAME price. If you book on-line with a travel based supplier you are not getting any better of a deal. They lure you in with claims of "up to 70% off". First realize that not every cruise that sails offers cabins with deep discounts. The truth be told, the best cabins sell out up to 12 months in advance of sailing. The web based travel suppliers are there for bookings only. They offer you NO support after the sale. Most res agents who work for cuise lines are commissioned salespeople with little knowledge of the industry. Their goal is simple: try to get a direct booking, earn their smaller commission, and let the company pocket the rest of the total commission built into the fare But, using a professional travel agent, they will be there for you BEFORE, DURING and AFTER your trip. Also, remember the trip insurance...
Professional travel agents who sell cruises can be certified by the Cruise Line International Agency (CLIA). This means they have gone through hundreds of hours of training, classes, taken inspections of ships and then sold so many cabins before being certified. This is very important because they have great knowledge about the cruise lines. They will be able to help select the best cruise for your budget and likes, not every cruise is right for everyone. Cruise lines, even top grade hotels, love direct bookings because a portion of the travel agent's commission that is built in to every program simply goes into their pockets. They believe that it costs them far less to maintain oder-takers in a reservations center.
Professional travel agents that sell cruises receive weekly specials directly from the cruise lines. These specials are not advertised on the cruise sites for another week. This gives the agents time to contact their clients with the best deals being offered. So, don't over look a great resourse - your friendly professional travel agent for booking a cruise. They receive their commission directly from the cruise lines and that does not cost you anything. The cruise line will often try to upgrade you to a more costly cabin, or worse they will sell you a cheap cabin that is directly under the late night disco club and not tell you... A professional agent will want to please you and hope for your return business or a recommendation. You are their first and only priority.
If you are looking into a certain location for a trip, then also consider using a professional travel agent for this also. Most agents will specialize in a location and have in-depth knowledge of that destination. Agents who specialize in a location will do hotel inspections and can really be helpful there. Pictures on the internet are not always what they seem and can be touched up to make them appear better. Remember if a deal sounds too good to be true - then buyer beware! I personally inspect up to 100 hotels each year just for my clients. I have wonderful jewels that are rated & priced as a 3-star but are much more like 4-star hotels.
I am a professional travel consultatn and I take great pride in helping my clients. I work hard to save them time and money. Some dream trips seem destined to reamain just that. But the fact is, the only thing that spearates a fantasy from reality is a good, solid plan. That's where I come in and turn your dreams into destinations. I have made 6 trips to Southeast Asia in the past 4 years so I have great first hand knowledge. I also specialize in Italy and escorted a month long tour there last September. I also offer other locations that I have travel to and have first hand knowledge of: Russia, Europe, Turkey, China, Southeast Asia, and soon to include Isreal and Jordan. If you came to me with a request for a destination that I didn't have deep first-hand knowledge of I would contact an agent that does have specialization in that area. I belong to a net-work of over 2,200 professional agents that assist each other with knowledge and support each other.
So, I ask you if you can receive FREE service and guidence plus expert knowledge - why aren't you using a professional travel consultant for your trips and cruises. Now also keep in mind, that not all trave agents are equal. You will need to do a little homework and ask friends who they use. Word of mouth and a personal recommrndation is the highest prise a travel agent can recieve. I never advertise and I receive all new clients from referrals only. There is a professional organization for agents: National Assocociation of Career Travel Agents (NACTA).
The Travel Lady
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- 2 years ago
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