Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Madrid Royal Guard Walking Tour

The 500-year history of Madrid's Royal Guard is the focus of a 2-hour guided walking tour, available in Spanish and in English. At the end of the tour, walkers can watch the Solemn Changing of the Roayl Guad, which involves 400 troops and 100 horses.

The tour is not given in January, July, August or September or on days with official events. In other months, walkers simply meet at the Plaza Mayor Tourist Center at 10 a.m. on the first Wednesday. Tickets cost Euro5.90 (about $8)

Monday, July 29, 2013

Tiber Cruises On Hold

The company in charge of all tourist cruises through Rome, Battelli di Roma has judged the water to be too trash-filled and dangerous to run the boats. In May 2013, the firm suspended the tours indefinitely pending a cleanup of the debris and rubbish in the river and along its banks, something that hasn't been done since 2009.

The problem was compounded by the very high flood waters of winter 2012, which left trash hanging in trees along the banks plus fallen branches and junk piled around bridges.

Part of the problem -- since 1906, the Tiber has been classified as "maritime" property and not "communal," which means the city of Rome is not responsible for its maintenance.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

White Nights Worldwide

In 2013, 23 cities worldwide each will hold a "White Night," an all-night celebration of free art, music, theater and other festivities such as fireworks. Paris' Nuit Blanche, in 2002, was the first such event. Each city chooses an overall theme for the evening. Restaurants, museums and stops stay open late and museum admission often is free. 

This year's events began January 28 in Bologna, Italy. Melbourne hosted Australia's first White Night even on February 23. The majority take place in countries in the fall, including Singapore (Sept 24, 25 and 31) and Jeruselem on October 6, with the final event being help in La Paz, Bolivia, on Oct 26.

For a list of cities hosting White night events and the dates, visit Choose a city from the list and in a search engine type in the city name and White Night 2013.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Learn to Surf in Costa Rica

Guests at the Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica located on the northwestern coast, may take surf classes through the Four Seasons partner Tropicsurf. Classes range from a 2-hour lesson ($220 per person) to a full-day trip of about seven hours ($490 per person, two people minimum.

Suitable for beginners or advanced surfers, the classes are taught by expert guides. Room rates at the hotel run $475 to $2,395 a night.

Verdi Festival, Parma

This year in Italy's province of Parma, the annual Verdi Festival will celebrate the 200th birthday of Giuseppe Verdi (1813 - 1901) September 30 to October 31. The program will include events and performances at the Regio Theatre in Parma and the Verdi Theater in nearby Busseto.

Performances include the operas "Falstaff, "I masnadieri" and "Simon Boccanegra." The composer's "Requiem Mass" and other compositions with also be performed.

Tickets went on sale June 11 online and at the box office at the Regio Theatre.

Brussels' New Flower Show

FloraliƫntimeIn Brussels, Belgium, in even-numbered years, the Grand 'Place is covered with 2,000 square meters of flowers. A new event, Floralientime, will now take place in odd-numbered years.

During Floralientime 2013 (August 15 to 18), several rooms in the City Hall will be transformed into a garden, with more than 100,000 flowers arranged by renowned landscape architects. The Grand 'Place will have a relation garden.
Hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with admission Euro5 (about $6.50). Tickets available at Visit Brussels shops ( amd at Brussels' Grand 'Place and Brussels Info Place (2 rue Royale), or, during the show at the City Hall Courtyard.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Forbidden Corner, Yorkshire, Great Britain

Talking statues, shrinking rooms, underground labyrinths, a griffin, a glass pyramid ... these are a few of the weird wonders at the Forbidden Corner ,one of Britain's oddest attractions. Initially one man's private pleasure garden, the park was opened to the public in 1994.

Admission is only through prebooked tickets which are available online or by telephone (+44 (0) 01969 640638). It is Open from 12 to 6 Monday to Saturday and 10 to 6 on Sunday from April 1 to October 31 and Sundays only from November until Christmas.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Should You Get Travel Iinsurance?

It depends. For my  husband and myself there are two main reasons we get travel insurance.

The first is our age and health. Either of which might cause us to have to cancel out trip. Travel insurance will cover any non-refundable payments we have made.

The second has to do with where we go which is a bit off the beaten path. We have sailed the Amazon River and Antarctica. We have been to the interior of Peru. We've been to the Galapagos Islands. If we were to become hurt or ill enough to require evacuation, it would be very expensive. Our travel insurance will cover that emergency expense.

Get a Free 10-Day Look with Allianz Global Assistance, the world leader in travel insurance. Get a free quote now.

As we get older, the insurance becomes more expensive. But considering some of the places we go, I don't give buying it a second thought. Although she always checks before getting it for us, our travel agent knows we want it.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Our Trip to Costa Rica

This past April my husband and I did a custom two week trip to Costa Rica. I had been there several years ago with a girl friend and loved the wildlife and nature.

With my husband's rising interest in wildlife photography, I decided this was a trip I had to do again ... but this time dragging him along.

We had a great trip. I had promised him that the wildlife was so prevalent he could get great shots, not only from our visits to various parks and preserves, but also from our hotel properties. And I kept my promise.

If you are interested in reading about our trip  -- and seeing some of the pictures -- you'll find the posts on my travel blog: Travel Snippets and More.