Category Archives: Destinations

Having Fun, Despite My Inevitable Loss!

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It doesn’t look like I’ll be winning that week long stay in a luxury suite at the Hilton Union Square in San Francisco! I’m in close 2nd, only about 350 “likes” behind the 1st place person, ha haa!

If you missed that write up, here it is again, CLICK HERE

The contest ends tonight, Friday, at Midnight PST, so it’s not too late to help me out 🙂

In the meantime, I thought I’d share a moment of crazy fun with you that helped lift my spirits!

In case you couldn’t guess, I’m the crazy in the pink tutu!

I may not be headed to San Francisco any time soon at the rate this contest is going but I AM still headed to EUROPE for two weeks in May so life is good, real good! I am blessed to be living and having fun!

Help Me Win a Trip to San Francisco!

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I have the opportunity to win a social media contest sponsored by Hilton Union Square in San Francisco!

The past guest whose story is being currently featured on their Facebook page, has to have the most “likes” under their photo.

Can you help a fellow blogger out!? I’m currently in close 2nd place with 65+ likes!!

Food the link to the Hilton page featuring the picture of me and my friends in our Pj’s! Just click like and you are done ! So easy and it would make me so happy!

CLICK HERE TO HELP

Super Easy to use!

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I have been researching my train options for booking the night train from Paris to Barcelona in May of this year. I always begin my travel searches at Trip Advisor, as I have been a loyal member of theirs for years.

While on TA, I came across another website that specializes in Rail Travel just about ANYWHERE! The Man in Seat 61 was unlike any other travel site I have ever been on! It really gave me a complete understanding on the European rail system with all of its complexities. For example, in booking my segment from Paris to Barcelona, I would never have guessed that using the Spanish Rail system as opposed to the French rail system made the most sense for me. The Renfe site allows users to print their tickets at home, whereas the French site won’t.

Also, some companies accept bookings 92 days out, some are at 90 days out, some are at 60 days out…it can all get very confusing quickly! One of the tips I was given was to definitely call your credit card company in advance so that any foreign rail charges don’t get rejected. American Express was very helpful with this and I experienced no problems whatsoever when I booked by German Rail segment thru the DB Bahn site. Ulm to Paris for two costs 138 Euro plus the 8 Euro reservation fee. Their site also has the print at home option.

The support team at Man in Seat 61 also suggested that if I DID experience a glitch while attempting to pay at the RENFE web site, that there was a US Based Spanish Travel agency that accepted rail reservations for RENFE. PETRABAX became my back up plan!

Sure enough, this morning, the RENFE site kept showing techinical errors with the American Express payment and were very clear in stating that it was not their problem but a problem with the credit card company, who kept assuring me that they did not have a hold on the account.

I turned to Petrabax, where a very friendly agent named Jose, was kind enough to walk me thru their on line reservation process. They do have a slight mark up but it was nominal and worth my peace of mind in knowing that my reservation was in place. They also allow the print at home option. I browsed thru their website, they have a full range of tours & lodging available all through Spain & Portugal. I am definitely going to keep them on my radar for future travel needs!

Beautiful Bellagio Conservatory

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I love flowers & I love Gardens…indoor or outdoors! This is one of the best displays I’ve seen on the West Coast.
This beautiful display is in the Bellagio Hotel Conservatory in Las Vegas. It’s on my daytime “day time to do” list each time I visit! It’s never the same display twice! They change the display through the seasons and also have exhibitions as well.

When everything is moving so quickly in the fast paced city, it’s a real treat to step into the conservatory and feel the tranquility around you.

Click HERE for the Bellagio’s calendar of events for the conservatory.

Ear Pain When Flying? Here’s a Solution

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I flew ONE time with a bad cold and the ear pain I experienced then has left that same ear vunerable each time I fly. Sometimes it’s bearable, sometimes it not! I may have to consider checking into something stronger than gum and a stiff drink!

Don’t Speak the Language? Here’s How

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I will definitely need to add some of these before our trip next spring but am also hoping that the new Rosetta Stone I just bought my husband will be life saver for the Spanish part of our travels!

A Pirate’s lookout in Laguna Beach!?

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Laguna Beach is crammed with tourists most of the year. It’s nice to be local enough to know where the “off the beaten path” beaches are to escape the crowds. THIS one is really fun & definitely hard to find if you are not a local! If you find it, welcome to Victoria Beach!

Don’t be too shocked to see what looks like a pirates lookout on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the tide pools! I’ve been to many, many beaches but never one that creates such a dramatic backdrop for imaginary playtime! I had heard that it belonged to the house that sits above it, that one of the previous owners used to hide coins in and around it for children to find. I also read in THIS blog, that Bette Midler is on the list of people who have owned the home and castle tower at one time.

I stayed in a beach house on this beach for a long weekend with my family a few years back and it was one of our most memorable “stay cations”! Close enough to town but remote enough to be hidden!

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Click HERE for more information on how to find this beach & castle!

Don’t Pretzel my buttons!

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I giggled out loud as I typed this title because it just makes me chuckle each time I say it! If you are a fan of “OPI Nail polish”, you’ll relate to the title a bit! It’s from their their fall collection of German inspired names! “Dont Pretzel my buttons” was my favorite but it’s so hard to choose just one with funny names like these:

DON’T PRETZEL MY BUTTONS,  MY VERY FIRST KOCKWURST,  BERLIN THERE DONE THAT,  DON’T TALK BACK TO ME NEIN! NEIN! NEIN!,  OK FINE UNFOR-GRETA-BLY BLUE,  EVERY MONTH IS OKTOBERFEST ,  SUZI & THE 7 DUSSELDORFS,   DUETSCH YOU WANT ME BABY?,  DANKE-SHINY RED GERMAN-ICURE,  SCHNAPPS OUT OF IT !

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Also funny, this apron my sister sent to us along with this Pretzel maker! I guess you can take the girl out of Germany but can’t get the German out of the girl!! I’m ok with that!

Click HERE for OPI polish shopping! Be sure to check out their “Skyfall” collection too!

It started with a Kiwi Bird!

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One little Ornament! That’s how it began! A gift from my good friend Julie who had moved back to her native New Zealand. She sent me an adorable little Kiwi Bird ornament that still adornes our tree 20 years later.

After that, Any time I went anywhere, I sought out an ornament as a keepsake. In addition to that, another good friend & I shared the memories we created on a Euro trip as students back in ’86. Since then, we try to swap unique gifts that remind us of our adventures there. It’s not always an ornament, sometimes it’s European Chocolates or tea or anything else we come across. This ornament in the photograph is one of my all time favorites that she sent me! Every time I look at it, I think of the two of us taking cover from the rain with locals under an Arc. Someone had a bottle of wine, someone else had bread, we had the chocolate…we had an impromtu picnic with complete strangers in the downpour of Paris

As I was putting up the ornaments this year w/ my family, I noticed that I have enough travel related ornaments to do a themed little tree if I wanted to. Now I’ll be on the hunt for clever DIY ideas to help bring it all together so I can make it happen in 2013! Any ideas?

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A hotel for your Pooch!

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From Pooch Hotel’s Web site:

“We Love Dogs.

As recently as a few decades ago, most dogs were “outside dogs”, and only the most privileged had dog houses in their yards. In recent years, not only have dogs made their way inside our homes, but most are now welcome in our beds, cars, laps, purses, and wherever else we can share our love together. And now, when you can’t be together with your dog, they are welcome to join our extended loving family of Pooch Hotels.

In 2004, we had a vision: to create a dream destination for dogs, where people could feel good leaving their pooches, knowing they would be loved, pampered, and cared for. Pooch Chicago was born.

By 2008, we had two locations in Chicago: Lincoln Park and West Loop. In 2009, we expanded to the Silicon Valley in Sunnyvale, California.

Shortly thereafter, Pooch was elevated from a boutique, family-run organization to a brand worthy of national recognition and scale – it was purchased by Petco to recreate the fantastic Pooch experience in more areas across the country.

So who are we?

We are a family of diverse experiences, backgrounds, and interests all brought together because of our love for animals.

We are animal behaviorists, dog trainers, groomers, and veterinary technicians. We are students and doctoral scholars. We are musicians and mathematicians. We hike, bike, ski, run, and golf. We are young and we are old – but all of us (you included) share something larger: We Love Dogs.”

I LOVE this idea! I’ve only had to board a dog once & it felt like the pound, it was sterile, musty, and in no way resembled any form of fun.  Pooch Hotel feels like a home and treats your dog as if it is a family member! Locations are popping up across the country. I’m excited that I have one nearby to try out! Pooch Hotel offers 1/2 day, full day, and multi day boarding so whatever your needs are, they can meet it! Click here to see their full site with a list of services, locations, and more about the company. Next time you travel and need a place for your four legged loved one, consider finding a Pooch Hotel near you!

 

5 ways to snag free WiFi at the airport

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Excellent tips to keep handy!

The Wireless

WiFi isn’t always free at the airport. Some want you take a survey first, some restrict access to specific websites, and others only offer services like Boingo and iPass. If the company isn’t paying for the WiFi, how do you get online?

1. Sit near an airport lounge

Airlines frequently offer their lounge guests all kinds of freebies, including free WiFi. Settle down near a lounge and hop on the internet.

2. Find an unprotected network

Your chances aren’t always great, but it’s worth looking for an unprotected network. If you manage to connect, remember that your information is just as unprotected as the network is. Stick to https sites.

3. Tether your phone

This won’t get you on the WiFi, but it will get you online. Learn to tether your phone, and by connecting it to your computer you’ll be able to use your 3G or 4G to…

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Vino Volo Wine bars at US Airports

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sf 9When Traveling at some US airports, whether your coming or going, it’s always nice to have an option for a “Wine down”!  “Vino Volo” wine bars are in over a dozen US Airports across the country, including Oakland, where this wine was enjoyed!

From their site, they say ” Vino Volo aims to revolutionize how people experience wine.  Each store is a comfortable post-security retreat for air travelers, combining a cozy wine lounge, restaurant, and boutique wine shop.  Vino Volo (derived from “wine flight” in Italian) offers wines from around the world by the glass, in tasting flights, and by the bottle for guests to take home or have shipped.  Operating successfully in airports across the nation, Vino Volo is the only airport wine bar and wine retail concept with a depth of experience and a proven track record.”

This was the 2nd time I’ve been able to relax in one of their wine bars before a flight & I look forward to them! They are much more quiet than the standard food court & the food options are WAYYYYY better. The food is good, the wine is good, the ambiance is good…I’m in! Whose with me!?

to see the list of Vino Volo Airport wine bar locations, click HERE

48 hours of fun in San Francisco!

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sf2I’m back from my whirlwind girl’s weekend in San Francisco! I’m still on a “weekend high”, that’s how much fun it was!  This shot was taken just steps from our hotel as we wandered over to our first “meal stop” of the weekend, an Irish pub, for excellent bowls of Butternut squash soup washed down with a tasty beer!

Click here for restuarant details! It was reasonable, great ambiance, centrally located, & the staff was friendly too.

Elephants in Kenya

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A few years ago, a good friend of mine was taken on quite a vacation by her in-laws. They invited their adult children, their spouses & grandchildren on an African Safari over Christmas time. They visited several countries, did a few safari’s, mingled with the Masi, & had the family vacation of a lifetime.  The pictures she shared with me were truly amazing! This is just one of many & was taken in Kenya.

click here to see one of the lodges they stayed at.

There are so many beautiful places to see on this planet & Africa is just one of many on my list! It’s prioritizing the list that brings me anxiety! How to choose what’s next is always  when the boxing gloves come off at my house, the art of compromise comes into full play! Africa will have to wait a little longer since next year’s trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary has been booked! We will be Europe bound, not quite as wild as seeing Elephants at play in their natural habitats but still full of culture & adventures for those seeking it.

A good read that takes you to Italy

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The Wedding Officer: A Novel of Culinary SeductionThe Wedding Officer: A Novel of Culinary Seduction by Anthony Capella
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I could see this definitely being on the big-screen someday! What an eloquently written book! The language was delicious & it just flowed so nicely. I enjoy WWII stories & this one has been one of my favorites. Amazing how people’s expectations of themselves and others are changed when in survival mode! Naturally, it made me hungry for Italian food! I enjoyed his writing so much, I’m half way thru his Coffee novel!

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