Celebrations International Travel Blog

Archive for October 2010

In honor of Halloween weekend, here are some thoughts on a few of the creepiest places in the world, at least in my book!

Accommodations: The Lizzie Borden Bed & Breakfast wins hands-down in this category!  I can’t even stand to watch it being featured on TV, let alone visit or spend the night there!

Sightseeing: Westminster Abbey is at the top of my list.  It is a beautiful place, but definitely has some creepy elements.  When I was 18, we were standing over the tomb of Queen Elizabeth I and Bloody Mary listening to the tour conductor’s commentary.  As I was staring at the intricately-carved, life-sized stone replicas of these two figures that adorn their tomb, my mother whispered “Would you dare spend the night here alone?”  Yikes!

Sterling Castle in Scotland is another of my top picks for creepy places.  Given Scotland’s history, it’s easy to see why the monarchs would have wanted to protect themselves, but this takes the cake.  Sterling Castle itself is a white-grey fortress-type building that seems to blend perfectly into its misty gray surroundings.  It sits atop a rocky mountain that is so steep that an angry king or queen could very likely have forced someone to the edge of the cliff and caused them to fall to their death!

The Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of American History has an exhibit of First Ladies’ Inaugural Gowns.  That exhibit gives me the creeps because most of the gowns are displayed on life-like mannequins made to look like the First Ladies, and the eerie blue lights in the darkened room only add to the spookiness.  I used to visit often, and I couldn’t stand the fact that the layout of the museum was such that I had to walk through that room every time.  I have to wonder if Abigail Adams is upset that her gown hangs on a headless body form!

Happy Halloween!

 

 

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I’ve found that many of my clients, whether they are frequent travelers or not, tend to ask Why would I want to visit the same destination more than once?”

Of course, this question is not in reference to those places they consider their favorite weekend getaway spots, but rather to the more exotic or faraway destinations.

My answer is this: If you really liked a particular destination on a past trip, try a different type of travel experience of that same destination.  Chances are, you’ll see and do things that are completely new, and have a chance to re-visit some of the memorable parts of your previous trip.  (Remember the beautiful antique replicas you wish you’d brought home?)

Ideas to Consider:

1.  Change your vantage point. If your first trip gave you an overview of the destination, consider a customized tour to explore more in-depth and at your own pace.  Or you might visit as part of a river or oceanliner cruise itinerary.

There are many ways to do this.  Two of the most popular are:  a) Narrow your itinerary to allow you to spend more time exploring or relaxing in each locale; and b) Consider designing your trip around a theme or special interest (i.e. cooking, gardening, the arts, etc.).

3.  Go off the beaten path. If you saw the major touristic highlights last time, consider activities that allow you to experience more of the everyday life of the local people, or to visit lesser-known–but often spectacular–sites.

4.  Visit during a different season or time of year. This could be a great way to experience a holiday celebration or capture the ever-changing vistas of nature’s beauty.

5.  Consider varying your accommodations. If you stayed in a non-descript hotel last time, consider more authentic or unique accommodations to enhance your experience.  For example, in Europe you might choose a chateau that has been converted to a hotel, or for a family or group, renting a private villa may be an option.

Celebrations International Travel can help you plan a great vacation, whether you’re a first-time visitor to a destination, or an avid repeat visitor.  Contact us today!

Interesting Facts About the Czech Republic:

•    There are 12 Unesco World Heritages Sites in the Czech Republic:  http://www.unesco-czech.cz

•    Prague Castle is the largest inhabited castle in the world!

•    Did you know…Madeleine Albright was born in Prague?

•    The Charles University, established in 1348, is one of the oldest universities in Europe.

•    World-famous Czech composers: Antonín Dvorák, Leoš Janácek and Bedrich Smetana are of Czech origin.

•    Only 2 people in the world know the secret recipe of the traditional spa liquor Becherovka made in Karlovy Vary.

•    Franz Kafka and Milan Kundera are both of Czech origin.

•    With over 2000 castles, the Czech Republic has the highest number of castles per square kilometer in the world!

•    Films shot in the Czech Republic: Amadeus, Mission Impossible, Bourne Identity, Everything is Illuminated, Les Miserables, Casino Royale
•    Two-time Academy Award winner Miloš Forman, the director of Amadeus, is of Czech origin.

•    The beer Budwiser and Pilsner are of Czech origin. The Czechs consume more beer per capita than any other country in the world!

As a culinary travel specialist, this last fact strikes a chord with me!  Let Celebrations International Travel‘s experienced agents help you see the world the way you want to!

I came across this blog post, entitled “The Most Embarrassing Travel Gear”.  I agree that most of these quirky things serve a practical purpose.  However, a few funny thoughts came to mind as I was reading:

– The Tugo: I don’t know if I’d rather put up with my bottle of water potentially falling out while I’m running through the airport dodging those beeping porters’ go-karts, or if I’d rather wear the weight on a strap around my neck.  Neither appeals to me.

– PlaneSheets: Kudos to the inventor for thinking of the germophobics of the world, but I wonder how easy it is to actually get this thing on the seat properly, given the space constraints of regular coach seats and the limited time you usually have before the flight attendants start asking everyone to take their seats.  This reminds me of how I once struggled to put a $200 cover on my sofa…..took forever and ended up not fitting right, even though the dimensions should have been perfect!

– Snazzy Napper: Sure hope the nose holes are intended to keep travelers alive!!

– SkyRest: Looks like it could be comfortable, but in this age of “carry on everything you can,” I think travelers would really have to love it to bother lugging this big thing onboard!

– XShot: I like this idea a lot, but I agree that I won’t be sticking my nice digital camera up in the air like that.  Can you imagine using this gadget above the trough at the salmon hatchery in Juneau?  The fish won’t have any use for your gift of a camera!

 

Today’s monsoon-season-induced cloudiness inspired me to share with you some of my top picks for sunny vacation destinations.  Ordinarily, Phoenix would be near the top of that list!

Los Cabos, MexicoLocated at the tip of the Baja Penninsula, Cabo San Lucas and the neighboring town of San Jose del Cabo make up the collective “Los Cabos.”  Ideal for couples, families, and groups of any size or type, Los Cabos has something to offer everyone.  I highly recommend a sunset cruise out to Lands’ End, where the stone arch, El Arco sits.  Hold tight to your cameras, close the lens when not in use, and hold on in case the waves get a little rougher than expected….You’re in for a real treat by Mother Nature!  All-inclusive resorts abound here, which equal a great value for travelers.

Hawaiian Islands – America’s own island paradise….Need I say more?

Southern California – This area’s many attractions, wineries, and variety of accommodations, shopping, and restaurant choices make it a perennial favorite.

Negril, Jamaica – I think most of Jamaica’s beaches are pristine, but Negril is also pretty quiet compared to Montego Bay, with all the best resort amenities you’d expect readily available.  Nothing like lounging on a beach chair sipping your favorite drink while you watch the ocean waves flow.  Yeah, mon!

Let the travel experts at Celebrations International Travel help you plan a getaway to your favorite sunny destination!

TGIF!  Heralding the end of another work week, I wanted to share with some ideas for great weekend getaways:

Palm Springs, CA: Until we visited for the first time, I’d always thought of Palm Springs as a pricey, exclusive “rich man’s hideaway”.  The truth is, it’s nice and upscale enough to be considered as such, but not at all “uppity” in nature, and most attractions and accommodations are reasonably priced for Southern California.  Palm Springs has become one of our personal favorite weekend destinations.  Not to Be Missed: Palm Springs Aerial Tramway; Saturday morning art festival at College of the Desert; Children’s Museum of the Desert.

Pocono Mountains, PA: Go ahead, indulge in the champagne glass-shaped whirlpool tubs just once, even if they seem a bit gawdy.  Enjoy a nice, relaxing weekend with that special someone!

Gatlinburg, TN: This Smoky Mountain hideaway, along with the nearby towns of Pigeon Forge and Sevierville, boasts a pristine country setting, unbeatable factory outlet shopping, and great entertainment.  Country music fans will enjoy a visit to Dollywood.

Sedona, AZ: Personally, I think the Red Rock formations in Sedona are even more stunning than those of the Grand Canyon.  Nice hotel and inn accommodations are widely available, and you’ll enjoy a stroll through the many shops and galleries in Uptown Sedona.  Have breakfast at the Coffee Pot restaurant, with its seemingly-endless menu.  You can take a Pink Jeep Tour that takes you into the National Forest and up onto the Red Rocks themselves, or if you have a 4-wheel drive vehicle, you might consider buying a Red Rock Pass for the day and following the suggested route to a number of scenic points.   For an elegant Sunday brunch, l’Auberge de Sedona is an excellent choice.

San Francisco, CA: There’s so much to see and do in this unique and cosmopolitan city!  Just a few of my favorite things to do:  Have lunch at Chowders on Fisherman’s Wharf, followed by an afternoon browsing the shops.  Take a walk through Chinatown.  Hint:  The best values on souvenirs in this area can be found in the shops just off Grant Street, the main thoroughfare.  Spend an afternoon in Golden Gate Park, where you can enjoy the serene Japanese Tea Garden, see what exhibits are on display at the park’s museums, or go for a jog.  Oakland, Berkeley, and other parts of the Bay Area are within easy reach via the city’s mass transit system, or a short drive.


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This is blog based on the experiences and interests of travel agency owners Adrienne and Agni Mitra. Through our blog entries, we will share our travel experience and expertise. We will also have other entries of interest to inspire your travels.

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