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.