Tuesday, August 2, 2016

Way Behind

Yes, I know it's been a while since I've posted. Been busy traveling for one.  :)  Spent 4 days in Puerto Rico with my 16-year-old granddaughter. I rented a car and we had a great time, traveling the northern part of the island from east to west.

Just finished doing a Shutterfly album for the trip. This is probably my 12th album ... one of these days I'll count how many I've done. I love the job they do.

After I place the order, I got a promo for new Shutterfly customers. You can order an 8 x 8 album for FREE. I think shipping might be extra but still a great deal.

If you want to take advantage of this you have to go to the Shutterfly website using this link. I'm sure you'll be as pleased with your album as I have been with mine.

Monday, July 18, 2016

21st Century Guide to Walking Wales

Looking for castles, beach and wild ponies? The Gower Peninsula, near Swansea, Wales, is a designed "Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty." You can now visit this area with the help of the free "This is Gower" app, available for Android and iOS.

The app contains directions and maps for 14 walking trails. It includes visual and audio guides (with pictures and videos) on 80 locations, using GPS to tell walkers when they have reached an area of interest.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Japan Now Has Rail and Bus Passes

Japan now offers two 5-day tourist passes which are good for unlimited train rides and bus rides, which are within train stop cities. The Japan Rail Central, 13,500 yen (approximately $112), covers rail between Kansai Airport near Osaka and the city of Nagoya, including Takayama, Fukui, and Kanazawa. The Japan Rail West pass, at 10,500 yen, covers travel between Nagoya and Hii-Katsuura, including Toba and Owase. Route maps and passes are both available online.

Passes are also available to visit the Mt. Fuji area and the Alpine area with a route going from Tateyama to Kurobe.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Changes in TSA Body Scanning and Pat-Downs

On December 18, 2015, the rules changed on the US Transportation Security Administration scanner versus pat-down option. Up until that date, passengers had the option of going through the full body scanner or choosing a pat-down. That option can still be requested but the passenger should be prepared for the request to be denied.

The full-body scanners were installed in 2007. When someone is in the scanner, the image of their body underneath their clothes, along with any objects being carried, appears on a monitor. Many people felt the images were very intrusive, despite the TSA assuring people that the images were not saved and that the person viewing them was in a different area from the person being scanned. Still, some people were not comfortable with this and could opt for a pat down instead.

This changed with the installation of new body scanners that no longer show a graphic image of the person being scanned. Instead, the image shows a generic body, with the general location of items being carried highlighted, alerting the TSA agent as to whether or not further investigation is needed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Artic Zoo in Winnipeg, Manitoba

A couple of years ago we went to see the polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba (link to my blog posts).  As part of the trip, we had a day to spend in Winnipeg, Manitoba. So for anyone considering a similar trip, here's an idea for your day in Winnipeg and a preview of what you might see in Churchill.

The Assiniboine Park Zoo has a "Journey to Churchill" permanent exhibit. In it you can see Artic foxes, musk oxen, caribou and watch seals and polar bears through an underwater viewing area. There is even a domed theater that projects images of the northern lights.

The zoo is open daily and admittance is $19.75 CAD for adults and $17.50 CAD for under 18 or senior.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Stay Cool in the Tropics

A cool mist of water is a nice way to stay cool when traveling in hot climates. Now you can carry your own mister around and it is no more than carrying a water bottle.

LUNATEC's Aquabot is a high pressure multi-functional drinking water bottle with a personal mister, stream and shower.  It is BPA free and requires no batteries. There are two attachments for lanyards making it easy to carry hands free. You simply pump it to build up the pressure and the variable flow trigger allows you to adjust it for just the right amount of water.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Guadaloupe Slavery Museum

The Memorial ACTe slavery museum opened on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe almost a year ago.  There are six sections following the history of slavery, from times of pre-slavery in the New World to post-abolition today. Included in the facility are two restaurants, room for temporary exhibitions and a memorial park.

It is open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 9 to 8 on Friday and Saturday and 10 to 6 on Sunday. Entry fee is 15 Euros and audio tours are available in English, French, Spanish and Creole.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Tourist Killings and Kidnappings

As terrorism around the globe increases, with tourists some times caught in the crossfire, it is even worse, in my opinion, when it happens by a country's military. This is exactly the case when some tourists from Mexico were killed by the Egyptian military in the Wahat are of the Western Desert. This area is near Libya where the Egypt has been struggling to control terrorist groups along the border. The military claimed the group wandered into a restricted zone and were mistaken for a terrorist group. But the head of the Egyptian Union of Tour Guides reported that the group not only was licensed to travel there, but they also had a police escort.

The southern islands of the Philippines is another dangerous area. It is not uncommon for Muslin militant groups to kidnap tourists to this area. In September 2015, two Canadian tourists, a resort manager and a Filipino woman were kidnapped from the Holiday Oceanview resort in Samal. Their whereabouts are still unknown.

For current updates on U.S. State Department traveler warnings, visit www.travel.state.gov.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Using ATMs in Europe

There is no shortage of ATMs in Europe. But you need to be careful which ones you use or it will end up costing you. For instance, some charge an extra fee. Some, like the ones from Euronet, give a horrible exchange rate.

So how do you know which ones are good to use and which ones aren't. Some times you won't know until you start the transaction.

For those that charge a fee, the screen will tell you how much the fee is. I recently had an ATM tell me the fee was 5 Euros. No thank you! I cancelled that transaction. Some ATMs, like the Euronet ones, will tell you how much the Euros will cost you in U.S. dollars. When that happens, cancel the transaction. The exchange rate is lousy.

What you want is an ATM with a seamless transaction just like the one you use at home. And once you find one that works for you like that, simply use ATMs from the same bank whenever you need more cash. We recently spent 3 1/2 weeks in Spain and I used the same bank ATM multiple times and it was easy and perfect.

BTW, I've never had a problem with a transaction that I've cancelled.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Review: Barcelona City Tours

OK  .... going to be right up front here and tell you that we did not take this HOHO bus but I put 'review' in the post title for Internet search purposes.

So why am I writing about it? Because we saw some very good reasons NOT to consider taking this tour and I felt those reasons would be helpful to others.

We were in Barcelona May 16 through 20th. I seriously considered using Barcelona City Tours but after a lot of research, decided to use the public bus system. And I'm glad we did.

We were lucky and had beautiful sunny weather. One morning we took the public bus to Sagrada Familia and, as expected, the area was mobbed with people. Plus, a bit of a bonus for us, the HOHO bus stops at the back of the church, which walking from the public bus stop took us right to the front of the church and an "OH WOW" moment as we turned the corner.

When we had made our way around to the back, the area was even more crowded .... with people waiting to get on to a Barcelona City Tour bus. There were company personal keeping things in order and people waiting patiently but, based on what we saw, it could take a wait of several buses before some people could board. Plus, being a bright sunny day, if you wanted to sit inside out of the sun, you would probably be out of luck.

We were glad we were using the city buses. We had stopped at an information booth and got a map of the city bus routes (excellent). When we told the information person where we wanted to go she marked the bus numbers for us. T10 tickets, good for 10 rides and shareable with everyone in your party, can be purchased at tobacco shops for 10 Euros. Transfers are allowed if the ride is less than 1 hour and 15 minutes. The bus routes you take are stamped onto the back of the ticket so you know how many rides you've used and what you have left.

Of course we didn't have the narration you would have on a HOHO bus. And if all you want to do is ride the city and get an overview, then, yes, go for the HOHO bus. But I wouldn't recommend it to get from sightseeing destination to sightseeing destination. For that, use public transportation.


Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Rooftop Tour of Stockholm

If you are looking for a vey unusual tour of Stockholm, Sweden, you may want to consider the tour offered by Takvandring. This one hour and 15 minute tour takes visitors along Stockholm rooftops, 142 feet above the streets, along catwalks and up ladders.

The tour costs SEK595 (about $70) and must be booked in advance online. While safety gear is provided, the tour is not recommended for anyone weighting over 264 pounds or may have heart disease or who have a fear of heights.

Friday, May 27, 2016

Italian Land of Motor Tour For Ducati, Lamborghini and Ferrari Fans

If you are stopping over in Bologna, and are a fan of these cars, you may be interested in a 7 hour tour offered by Amazing Italy. The Land of Motor tour stops first at the Ducati factory and museum where you can learn about the racing history of the Ducati motorcycle.

The next stop is the Lamborghini factory, followed by a visit to the Ferrari Museum, which is next to the Ferrari test track, and finishing up at the Ferrari factory.

The tour is only available on Tuesdays and is 248 Euros per person. The price includes lunch and pickup from a Bologna hotel, or the Bologna airport or rail station.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Ergonomic Travel Pillow by Travelrest

We've all seen horseshoe shaped travel pillows. Well, here's one that is very different, one that provides good side of the head support, allowing you to lean into the pillow, the Travelrest pillow.

It provides upper body support, which makes it easier to fall asleep. With proper alignment for the head and neck, it keeps your head from falling forward. Inflation is easy and it deflates instantly. And storing it is easy, rolling it and clipping it to your carry on handle.

The pillow can be positioned along your side or across our body. You can loop it around your head or around headrests on airline seats or in cars. The pillow comes with a full set of instructions on ways it can be used.

No matter how you travel, whether car, bus, train, by air … this pillow is versatile for both children and adults.


Friday, May 20, 2016

Help For Traveling With Your Dog

If your want to travel with your dog and are looking for help on finding locations that will allow them, check out the BringFido.com directory. Here you'll find lots of advice about traveling with your pet.

The site is searchable by destination and provides information on restaurants, accommodations and attractions worldwide that accept pets. There is also a phone line (877 411 3436) that is staffed by pet travel experts.

The site provides information on airline pet regulations and also has a forum where pet owners share tips and can ask questions about traveling with pets.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Cairns Artillery Museum

The largest collection of artillery and armored vehicles in the Southern Hemisphere is located in Cairns, North Queensland in the Australian Armour & Artillery Museum. Some of the things visitors can do are ride in an armored vehicle and (if 12 years of age or older) fire a bolt-action rifle (under supervision). The museum opened in September 2014 and is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. except for Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year's Day and Good Friday.

Friday, May 13, 2016

Annual Theater Spektakel in Zurich

Held annually at the Landiwiese Park located on the shore of Lake Zurich, street performers gather for the event, coming from all over the world. In 2016, the Theater Spektakel will take place from August 18 through September 4. There will be 10 stages featuring acrobatics, music and performance art.

Some of the performances require tickets, with most costing CHF25-CHF47 (about $25 to $47). Tickets will be on sale starting July 13 and can be purchased at www.starticket.ch. The festival sites can be reached using either tram or bus and a ticket for the event includes free public transportation in zone 110 for that day.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Reunion Island Opens Music Museum

Located in the Indian Ocean, the island opened the Musee des Musiques et Instruments de L'ocean Indien on Noverber 5, 2015. The museum highlights musical tradition, with a collection of more and 1,500 ancient and modern instruments and include pieces from Africa, Europe and Asia.

The website is only available in French, as are the information placards in the museum.

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Japanese Archaeological Gallery at Tokyo National Museum

Japanese Archaeological Gallery at Tokyo National Museum reopened October 14, 2015 after a year's worth of renovations. A wide range of artifacts can be found in this gallery from stone tools (about 14,000 BC) to the time when Tokyo was still known as Edo (1603-1868), displaying armor and items made of wood, ceramic, stone and metal.

There are tours in English plus the placards by each item also have the description in English. Visitors under 18 or over 70 are admitted free. Otherwise admission is 620 Yen (about $5).

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Borders Railway Operated by ScotRail

Starting in April 2015, Borders Railway departs every half hour from Edinburgh to Tweedbank. The train travels along the southeastern border between Scotland and England.

There are stops in Galashiels, Stow, Gorebridge, Newtongrange, Eskbank and Shawfair. There are hop on/hop off privileges and tickets can be purchased round trip (about $25) or one way (about $15). Tickets can be either purchased ahead of time online or at the railway station.

There are sites of interest within a 15 to 30 minute walk from some of the stations. Near Eskbank is the medieval Rosslyn Chapel and near Tweedbank is the 12th-century Melrose Abbot and Sir Walter Scott's house, Abbotsford House.

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Low Airfare to Iceland and Beyond

WOW Air will begin offering flights from Los Angeles (LAX) and San Francisco (SFO) to Reykjavik, Iceland (KEF) in June of 2016. The airline already offers flights from Boston (BOS) and Dulles (IAD).

One way fares for flights from the west coast start at $229. As is typical with low-cost airlines, there are extra fees for booking a seat, carry-ons (if more than 15 lbs), checked bags and changes.

The advantage of using this airline is that connections are offered, through KEF, to 20 other European cities.

(Before booking, be sure to check out all of the extra charges and fees to make sure the trip to Europe on WOW will really save you money as compared to other airlines.)

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

How Can Travelers Check Health and Safety Risks

Checking the health and safety risks in areas you might be traveling to has just gotten easier. In December, the International SOS, a "medical and travel security services company," and Control Risks joined together to release the Travel Risk Map 2016.

The map uses color coding to indicate the availability to medical care -- green for easily available good care to red where good quality care is inadequate or hard to get. It also shows the level of risk from political instability to violence, from insignificant ("I") to extreme ("E").

The map is available in PDF format and can be downloaded from the International SOS site. Also on the site is an interactive map where you can click on a specific country and get a summary of medical and dental services availability.

While International SOS is geared towards business travelers, its services are available to any traveler. Membership can be on an annual basis or by trip.


Friday, April 15, 2016

Excellent Cruise and Port of Call Information

Whether you are just going on your first cruise, have cruised a couple of times, or are a veteran cruiser (the category I put myself in with over 30 under my belt), the absolute best resource I have found is the board on Cruise Critic.

This forum is used by cruisers all over the world. Whether you want to know about a specific cruise line or ship, or want details on what to see and do (and how to do it) in a port of call, this forum should be your first stop.

On a cruise in October, 2015, one of our ports of call (POC) was Istanbul. Not being a big fan of ship shore excursions, I found excellent information on the forum on how to do it ourselves. (I simply used the Search feature, typed in Istanbul, selected the Ports of Call forum, Europe, Other Mediterranean Ports, hit Search Now and a wealth of information was made available to me. So much so that my husband and I were able to do Istanbul on our own, using the tram and visiting the highlights of the Blue Mosque, Topkapi and the Aya Sofia. And everything worked out perfectly.

On an upcoming trip one of our stops will be Casablanca. Back to the forum to find out that everyone who had posted in response to a request about Casablanca said to get out of the city and visit either Rabat or Marrakesh. And almost everyone who went to Marrakesh said to take the ship's excursion because of horrible traffic and the possibility of arriving back late into port.

Want to meet some of your fellow passengers before boarding ship? Join your ship's Roll Call. Thinking about river cruising? There's a forum for that too. Travel with a wheelchair? You'll find help with that also.

Yes, it may take a little while to get the hang of the forum (for instance, responses to threads you post in will be displayed when you click CP on the tab bar at the top) but don't let that defer you. There is just too much great information and help here to pass up on.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Protect Yourself From Germy Airplane Trays

A couple of years ago I read an article in Yahoo News about how unsanitary airplane tray tables and seatback pockets were. Since then I carry antiseptic wipes with me and wipe down the tray table and the back of the seat in front of me (for when I put the table up and then take it down again). I also don't use the seatback pocket.

That's why I found the Executive TRAYblecloth Airplane Tray Organizer very interesting. I've taken a second and third look at it and think I might purchase one for me and one for hubby for out next trip.


Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Save Money on Baggage Fees With a Luggage Scale

It's bad enough having to pay fees now to check luggage. And the last thing you want is making it worse by having a piece of luggage that weighs more than your airlines allowable weight and paying even more to fly with that bag.

I got a luggage scale from my travel agent many years ago. At the time we were traveling with only carry-ons and didn't find much use for it. But now we are older, and since we are checking our bags, figured what the heck - and we now travel with larger bags. Now that luggage scale has come in very handy.

A hint on using it. The first couple of times I used our scale, I lifted our bag with a "jerk" and the bag weighed darn close to 50 lbs. Before I totally panicked about having to repack, my husband suggested I lift the luggage gently, without the jerk. Sure enough, the weight dropped almost 10 lbs.

Unfortunately, the luggage scale we have is kind of heavy itself and I really don't want to add it to my suitcase. So I'm considering getting another one that is much lighter, such as the Camry 110 Lbs Luggage Scale which weighs only 3.2 ounces. Then I can weigh my suitcases for the trip home, after I've added my purchases.  :)

Saturday, March 26, 2016

See Dinosaur Tracks in Australia

Preserved in a climate-controlled building are 3,300 fossil footprints of three types of dinosaurs. Paleontologists estimate that the footprints were created during one hunting event. The building is located southwest of Winton, in Queensland.

Called the Dinosaur Stampede, the building reopened on July 3, 2015 after renovations that included  new audio exhibits and an extended viewing walkway. Access to the building is by guided tour only which lasts about 55 minutes. Suggested arrival time is 15 to 30 minutes before tour time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Expansion of Suez Canal

On August 6, 2015, a new expansion to the Suez Canal was opened. This expansion will allow easier and faster movement of 2-way traffic. At a cost of $6 billion, one year and 43,000 workers, the result is a 21 mile bypass along the center of the canal. Estimations are for reduced wait times of up to 8 hours.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Pollution Concerns in Non-U.S. Cities

Beijing Hotel Smog
Beijing, China
The World Health Organization (WHO) is one resource that monitors air pollution around the world. Two gauges are PM10 levels and PM2.5 levels. Levels of PM10 considered 'unsafe' are higher than 20 micrograms per cubic meter and levels over 50 are considered dangerous. The respective levels for PM2.5 are 10 micrograms per cubic meter and more than 20.

PM10 measures particle matter that has a diameter of less than 10 microns. PM2.5 measures particle matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 microns. PM2.5 matter is considered more dangerous because it is easier for the smaller particles to get deeper into the lungs and, therefore, harder for the body to get rid of.

In China, there was a smog alert for a five day period at the end of November for the 30 cities surrounding Beijing. On the worst days, the PM10 rating reached 250 micrograms per cubic meter of air.

Ten European cities that do not meet the standard are: Oslo, London, Barcelona, Florence, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Geneva, Berlin and Moscow. Elsewhere, the following cities have high readings: Bangkok, Mexico City Rio de Janeiro, Lima, Ankara, Hanoi, Johannesburg, Ulaanbaatar, Cairo, Karachi (with PM2.5 of 117 and PM10 of 273) and Delhi with (150 and 286, respectively).

According to WHO, the high pollution in Delhi leads to over 600K premature deaths. The city with the highest PM10 is Peshawar, Pakistan, measuring 540 micrograms per cubic meter.

Dust masks anyone?

Monday, March 14, 2016

TSA Makes Changes to Airport Security Screening Policy

As of December 18, 2015, a pat down option will no longer be available to some passengers at US airports that have full-body scanners. The TSA hasn't defined which passengers will not be eligible for a pat down -- at the discretion of the TSA agents -- but for some passengers using the scanner will be "mandatory."

Full body scanners have been in use since 2007. Many people have not been happy with these scanners which display an image of the passenger's body under his clothing, despite TSA assurance that the images are not visible to the public and that the viewer cannot see the image and the person being scanned. Up until December 18, a passenger had the option of asking for a full body pat down in a private area.

Full-body scanners being used today no longer display graphic images of a passenger's body. Instead, the display shows a generic body, with the general location of hidden items highlighted. While a passenger can still request the pat-down, there is the possibility now that the request will be denied.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Stay Up to Date With Australia Events

Sydney Opera House- 2006
The Australian Events Calendar lists upcoming events in Australia and is constantly updated. You can customize the search by date, type and location, including "Food & Wine," "Arts & Culture," "Sports," and "Nature & Wildlife."

Sunday, March 6, 2016

New Height Requirements for Bagan Hot-Air Balloon Flights

On October 15, 2015, new regulations were put into effect for the hot-air balloons that fly over the site of Bagan. Bagan has pagodas that were built in the 9th through 13th centuries.

Now the balloons must stay at least 300 feet above Bagan and they are not permitted to land within the grounds of the pagodas. Although no incidents had been previously reported, the new rules aim to reduce any possible damage to the structures.

Bagan has more than 3,000 pagodas with the tallest, Thatbyinnyu the tallest at 200 feet.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Dengue Fever In New Delhi and Guatemala

New Delhi had the worst outbreak of dengue fever in 2015 than it has had in five years. More than 3,800 cases had been confirmed along with 17 deaths. Blamed for the large outbreak is poor drainage of standing water.

Guatemala also issued a countrywide warning after there was an outbreak in September

Dengue fever is mosquito-borne and typical symptoms are joint pain, fever and rash.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Timing Application for Airline Cards Credit Card Mileage Offers

Airline credit card mileage offers are as abundant as they've always been. Although now, instead of 25K or 30K free miles, there are cards offering as much as 50K miles.

All of the cards have a minimum amount that must be spent within a specific period of time. The time period is usually the first three months that you have the card and the amount that must be spent to get the bonus typically ranges from $1K to $2K.

If you are not a big credit card user, it is important to time the application for these cards, like a month or so before a trip or final payment on a trip. That way you can be sure to meet the minimum within the specified time frame and get your bonus miles.

Keep track of your spending. Don't miss out the offer you are trying to take advantage of!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

"Painting the Modern Garden: Monet to Matisse"

This exhibition, exploring how the city's gardens influenced Impressionist and Avant-Garde artists run from January 30, 2016 to April 20, 2016 at the Royal Academy of Arts.  Tickets are available online.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Rodin Museum Reopens

The Musee Rodin in Paris reopened last November after a 3 year renovation that cost 16 million Euros. As part of the project, may of the sculptures and paintings were restored. There are two entry fees, one for the museum and a less expensive option for just the sculpture garden.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Trevi Fountain Opens

It took 20 months but the restoration of the fountain is now open. It reopened November 3, 2015 at a restoration and cleaning cost of $2.33 million.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Starwood and Marriott Merge

Marriott announced on November 16, 2015 that it would merge with the Starwood brands of hotels. When completed, the merged company will have more than 5,000 hotels worldwide, including Sheraton and Ritz-Carlton, resulting in the largest hotel chain.

Currently no chances have been announced to any of the loyalty programs, although the Starwood program is considered better because points can be earned through the use of 35 airlines and American Express.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

How Long Can It Take To Renew A Passport? Months!

In 2007, the Western Hemisphere Travel Initiative took effect. In 2008, that initiative was extended to the Caribbean, Canada and Mexico. So U.S. citizens with travel plans in 2008 were flooding the passport office with applications in 2007 and early 2008. That means all those passports are now coming up for renewal.

While it typically takes about 4 weeks to get a passport, officials are now warning that it could take 6 weeks or even longer.


Vincent van Gogh Atlas

At 180 pages, the "Vincent van Gogh Atlas" includes maps showing places the painter lived and worked, including Amsterdam, Paris, London and Auvers-sur-Oise. Included are drawings, photographs and letters relating to each location.

The atlas can be purchase from the Van Gogh Museum in English, Dutch and French and is available through the museum's website. Price is about $47 total for atlas and shipping to the U.S.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Look Inside the KGB in Riga

Espionage and secret-police work was the job of the KGB, known as "Cheka" in Latvia. These activities are now the focus of an exhibition that opened February 2015 at the former KGB headquarters in Riga, Latvia. Called the Corner House, visitors can see the dungeon and prison cells, the offices and a memorial to KGB victims.

The Corner House is the work of the Museum of the Occupation which is dedicated to the 1944-91 Soviet occupation of Latvia.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

World's Highest Figure 8 Ferris Wheel

What is being called the world's highest figure 8 Ferris wheel just opened in Macau. Call the Golden Reel, it is part of the hotel complex opened in November, 2016, Studio City.

Built more than 400 feet off the ground, it is located between two hotel 35 story towers. It has 17 pods and each can hold up to 10 people. The pods slowly run along the sides of the figure 8, which has no hubs or spokes.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Store Credit Card Phone Numbers

When traveling, one potential nightmare is having your credit cards stolen. Be prepared by having a list of phone numbers you will need to call if that happens, both domestic and international numbers.

Even better, store the numbers in your cell phone to have them quickly and easily available.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Diefenbunker, Cold War Museum in Ontario Canada

Located in Carp, Ontario, this bunker was originally built in 1958 to house the Canadian prime minister and important members of the government in case of a nuclear attack. It is now a museum, meant to preserve Canada's role during the Cold War.

The Diefenbunker was named for the prime minister at the time, John Diefenbaker. It measures 100,000 square feet and the museum has guided and self guided tours. The restored rooms display the situation center, the Bank of Canada vault, living quarters and medical facilities. It is open daily from 10:30 a.m. to 4:00 pm. Free one hour tours are available between 11 and 2 and must be booked in advance. Admission is CAD 14 + HST for adults.


Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Clean Clothes Without a Washing Machine

Want to travel light and not sure about the availability of a washing machine? The answer is to take your washing machine along with you.

The Scrubba Wash Bag is a bag that can be sealed water tight, with an interior that has a washboard surface. Fill the bag, place in a bit of liquid soap, add water, then seal it shut. Rub the clothes against the washboard for 30 seconds to 3 minutes, depending on how dirty they are and how full the bag is.

You can rinse the clothes in the same bag or in the bath/shower/sink and then wring ... or roll in towel and then wring ... and hang to dry.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Enjoy Cultural Experiences at the Kyoto Ritz-Carlton

Several cultural experiences are available to guests of the Kyoto Ritz-Carlton. They include the:

Samurai Experience: learn techniques using real swords and in traditional costume, Tuesday and Thursday

Sushi Masterclass: make maki rolls with chef Masahiko Miura, second Sunday of the month

Japanese Sweets: learn out to make traditional wagashi sweets, first and third Sunday

Sake Tasting: sample various sakes and learn about the brewing process, fourth Sunday

Soap Making: Try soap-making at Shabon-ya, Kyoto’s famous purveyors of natural, organic soap.

Once you have your hotel reservation, you can contact the hotel to book your learning experience. Charges for most experiences although some, like the soap making, is free.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Visit The Amazon and Stay In a Treehouse

If you want an unusual experience ... even more unusual than visiting the Amazon (see details on our river cruise on my travel blog - read bottom to top) .... how about accommodations in a treehouse?

Treehouse Lodge is located at the confluence of the Cumaceba and Yarapa rivers. It has eight bungalows which are connected by hanging walkways that radiate from the central lodge, all 25 to 65 feet above the jungle floor. The accommodation prices include transfers to and from the Iquitos airport and three meals a day. Also included are walking excursions, bird watching, canoe trips and searching for the elusive pink river dolphin.