Imagine sipping champagne as the sails flap in the warm breeze and dolphins cavort putting on a show that seems planned just for you.
You are not in the Caribbean, you are in Key West Florida.
We often think that romance and adventure lies in lands where the language is not our own. While exploring those wonderful far away places should be on everyone’s bucket list, the USA has so much to offer. Many of us never go more than 20 miles from home and 25 miles from your house could be a wonder you never knew existed.
The United States of America is a melting pot of culture, food, entertainment and deep in history like no where else in the world.
Take a trip to Plymouth MA, yes you can see Plymouth rock, but you can also experience the life of the pilgrims at Plimouth Plantation or head north and get the real story of the Salem Witch Trials, maybe even do some whale watching. Don’t forget to stop in Boston for some chowder and stop by Paul Revere’s house.
You can ski in Vermont and visit Mystic Seaport in Connecticut.
Are you a foodie? Try a stop at the CIA in New York, one of the training grounds of today’s great chefs. It’s only a few hours from there to city that never sleeps, New York. Whether you want an over the top dining experience like Thomas Keller’s Per Se or an affordable but still gourmet meal at Bark Hot Dogs you will find something to make your mouth water. Don’t forget to find the museum of your choice and take in a broadway show or just hang out in Times Square.
The romance of the old west still lives, consider a trip to Dodge City Kansas, or ride in a covered wagon in Wyoming and get the feel of the brave pioneers of yesterday. Keep your hankering for the west alive with a trip to Colorado from rodeos to silver mines to some of the best skiing you can imagine.
You can visit wineries all over this great country but visit Napa Valley in the spring and spend a day tasting some of the best.
There are many resources to figure out where to go and what to do. Books like Fodor’s and Frommer’s are great for planning. There are a lot of fun off the beaten path stops that will make you laugh or fill you with wonder.
Planning it yourself builds excitement, but can take time and often seem overwhelming. Travel agents can make the planning easier or even set you up with the perfect tour.
Spontaneous trips can be lots of fun or trouble. Plan ahead if you can, if you just want to get in the car and go, keep in mind a few things, weather, major holidays, events and where you will sleep.
We can all be pioneers exploring places we’ve never been, it may be just across the county line or across country, but it will enrich and enhance you in ways most of us never imagine.
Unique Travel Events is a full service travel agency with the firm belief that travel is medicine for the heart, mind and soul.
Thanksgiving is over and everyone is getting ready for Christmas, Chanukah, Kwanzaa and celebrations of the New Year.
While the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, Dec. 19-Dec. 25 is the busiest week. Also take into account that the last week of the year most children in the USA are off from school and this is the time often used for family vacations.
If you are traveling in the last two weeks of the year be prepared for crowds and plan for delays, as in addition to lots of people, weather is a big factor at this time of year. Keep snacks handy, especially for children. If you are flying remember you can’t take that bottle of water through security so put in your budget costs for water and maybe meals at the airport.
Buying travel insurance is an inexpensive way to have peace of mind and if needed save often thousands of dollars. Consider the flight delay that means paying more for the kennel for your dog or meals or hotel rooms, insurance covers that and more.
Exchanging gifts is a focus at this time of year. If you are flying anywhere think about what you will be carrying with you, onboard the plane as well as what you have to check. For many airlines checking even one bag will cost $25 or more. With that in mind, consider gift cards, small gifts or just buying online and let the companies ship for you. Many companies are offering free shipping which can save you money and headaches.
If someone is coming to visit you, think about what they have to carry back with them. Good things come in small packages.
Hitting the road will have its share of bumps as well. If you are traveling to a metropolitan area, get a feel for the traffic flow before you get in the car. Plan your trip to avoid rush hours and the ‘are we there yet’ question. Sites like Traffic.com and local radio stations online can give you a good heads up on the road conditions. Also, Weather.com gives you the ability to plan for what to wear based on temperatures and road conditions.
Are you looking for a last minute deal? Don’t keep your hopes up around the holiday season. During the holiday season, any city or beach that attracts tourists will often have lodging at costs of 10%-200% higher than normal. The deals are in places where most people don’t go at this time of year. In addition, the best places book early, sometimes as much as 6 months in advance, so even if you are willing to pay the price, there may not be a choice of where to stay.
If you like peace and quiet, no crowds, change your plans to travel in January or September through early December. Even if you are taking the children on a trip, if they are young enough missing a few days of school can be offset by the learning experience of being in a new country and meeting new people. Also, your costs will be lower and you will have less stress.
We hope you will have a wonderful holiday season whether hitting the road, riding the rails, sailing the waves or flying high or enjoying the comforts of home.
For Billy Joel fans, you can complete the thought, it all depends on your appetite.
For baby boomers, wine was just that, red or white. But today, your grocery store offers a global collection of wines, including choices from the USA, France, Italy, Chile, South Africa, even Australia.
Believe it or not the USA is the 4th top wine producing country in the world. There are 4700 wineries in the USA. Most are in California, but every state has at least one. Virginia is the 5th top wine producer in the USA, with wineries throughout the state.
Wine tasting and winery tours have become popular excursions. There are even limo companies, like Virginia Wine Tours, offering tours so you can imbibe as you please and not worry about who’s behind the wheel.
Words like Sommelier and Oenophile have crept into our vocabulary, and who hasn’t heard of Merlot. But most of us are novices, myself included. When traveling its great to try new foods and new wines. In fact if you travel then you have the incredible opportunity of trying new cuisines and local flavors that can be the icing on the cake of a great trip.
We often hear about wine pairings. This is when expert advice is really an advantage. Let the chef and sommelier at a restaurant work their magic. There is even an organization Food and Wine Pairing which helps to educate us. Why is it important? In the scheme of things this is not life altering but when we can get the most out of an experience we should. Pairings allow us to get the best flavor from both the food and the wine.
There is a ton of information available online and in the book stores. If you want a fun and educated view of wine try Drinkthistv.com. The Wine Bible is pretty highly rated for consumers who want to learn about wine.
Enjoy your travels and treat your tastebuds to all the delicacies the world has to offer.
If God forbade drinking, would He have made wine so good?
Here with a Loaf of Bread beneath the Bough,
A Flask of Wine, a Book of Verse – and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness –
And Wilderness is Paradise enow.
The Rubiyaiyat of Omar Khayyam
translated by Edward Fitzgerald
Do you have a great wine story, a wine that you just can’t live without or a bit of education on wine? Let us know, we’ll share the knowledge and give you credit (with your permission of course) Photos and videos are welcome.
Unique Travel Events is a full service travel agency. Call us at 703-986-0934 for all your travel and vacation needs.
As I have begun to promote river cruises I realize that because they are a relatively unknown way of seeing the world it is time to give folks a good explanation of what river cruising is and isn’t.
Although you are cruising a river when sitting on the deck of a ship that spends the afternoon floating down the Potomac or Hudson, or spending an evening dining and dancing while sailing down the river this is not the type of river cruising offered by travel agents.
For this purpose river cruising is spending anywhere from 4-15 days sailing one of the world’s scenic rivers, but most are 7-10 days. As with an ocean cruise your meals and lodging are part of the experience, unpack once and take in some amazing sites and cities. One of the added benefits of a river cruise, wine and beer is usually included. The staterooms are becoming more luxurious as river cruising grows in popularity. Avalon is adding suites to their newest ships.
Unlike ocean cruises the ships are much smaller carrying 100-150 passengers vs 1,000-5,000 passengers.
In addition on many river cruises shore excursions are often included. A distinct advantage of river cruising is the proximity to the places you really want to visit. Since the ships are small enough to sail the rivers they pull up to docks that are often right at the heartbeat of a city. Instead of a half hour or longer trip to visit a museum or market it can be a 5 minute walk.
River cruises are offered in Europe, Egypt and China. If you are looking for an exotic experience but want the comfort and security of being in same place every night a river cruise is perfect for you.
Even here in the USA river cruises are catching on. From Maine to the Potomac to the Columbia and Snake rivers cruising is a great option for getting up close and personal to American cities. Next year there will be TWO new river cruise ships on the Mississippi, the Mississippi Queen which has already booked passengers and the American Queen being refurbished now.
For those who can’t take an ocean cruise because the waves are too rough the river cruise is another plus.
A couple of things to keep in mind with river cruises:
The staff on the ships speak English.
They are not designed for children. Taking your mature 12 year old may be okay but I wouldn’t recommend it for most children.
You probably won’t find Las Vegas or Broadway style shows onboard, take advantage of those in the cities. There will often be lecturers, local entertainment and piano or jazz bars.
The food is often shopped for by the chefs in the city you are visiting, which means you will dine on authentic cuisine, but as with the larger cruise ships your dietary needs will be met, just ask.
In the US, American Cruise Line offers many options.
Unique Travel Events is a full SERVICE travel agency working to make their clients travel and vacation dreams as seamless as possible.
- River cruising poised to return to Mississippi (msnbc.msn.com)
I was treated to a wonderful experience this week, a presentation and dinner at the residence of the Turkish ambassador.
Like most Americans I really didn’t know much about this culturally diverse and beautiful country. Whether you want to sunbathe, picture yourself at the beach Marc Antony gave to Cleopatra, or explore ancient ruins, like the stone heads of the gods rising from from the sand, you will not be disappointed.
In Istanbul you will find the ultimate mall for shopaholics, the Grand Bazaar with over 4000 shops. Visit the birthplace of Santa Claus, St. Nicholas, tingle your tastebuds with Turkish coffee, Baklava and seafood dishes you’ll want to bring home.
Call Andrea at Unique Travel Events to find out how create your ‘great escape’ to a place you’ve never been but always dreamed of seeing.
Unique Travel Events