Saturday, December 19, 2015

Home Travels

Most of my travels in the last 10 years have taken me around the world, very often to Europe.  I have experienced incredible people and places and each trip lead to another and another until I felt more at ease away than at home.  I even moved overseas for a short time and thought I would go back to retire. 

Now, I feel the need to be a little closer to home and to my family.  I still love to travel so I thought it would be fun to plan some trips here at home.  There are so many things that I have never seen or done in the US and I can't wait to explore more of my own country. 

Here's a short list to begin the journey -
- Drive Route 66, maybe in a convertible :)
- See the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
- Visit Yellowstone National Park
- Statue of Liberty
- Lincoln Memorial and Cherry blossoms in Washington DC
- Cruise to Alaska
- Visit all 50 states










Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Travel to your hearts content

I am so grateful that I have been able to see the world, traveling to distant and far away places that only existed in my dreams.  I have found freedom and joy in places and people that have touched my very soul.

What I appreciate most is that I found the place in the world with a heart.  That place that touched me so deeply I thought I could never leave.  Now I know the meaning of true love, that I can be away from this place and yet carry it with me forever. 

When people ask me for travel advice I tell them simply go until you find your hearts content...

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Tipping

I was part of an interesting chat today about tipping while traveling.  I did not realize that I had such strong feelings about this until a couple of the comments really struck a chord with me.

As an American it is customary to tip every service person at least a minimal amount and extra if you are very pleased with the service provided.  One of the comments was - why should you tip someone for just doing their job?  I realize this isn't the case in other countries but in the US the typical wait staff at restaurants or housekeepers at hotels make very little money and tips help give these very hard working people some additional income. 

Anyone who is willing to provide that service should be paid well enough that tips are not an issue but here that is just not the case.  As for the housekeeping staff who have to clean up after strangers (in ways I don't even want to imagine) they cannot be paid enough to make that worthwhile.  Yes, I'm the guest who makes her own bed and picks up before they come in to clean.  I leave money, candy, calling cards or anything else I think might be useful as a sign of my appreciation for work that I could never do.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Close your eyes - where do you want to go?

If I asked you to close your eyes and picture the most beautiful, serene place in the world, what would you see?  Is it a tropical white sand beach with warm waves splashing on your feet, or perhaps a dense rainforest lush and full of life, maybe it's a gorgeous mountain meadow with the sun softly shining down or rolling green hills as far as the eye can see.

If you can see it, smell it and touch it in your mind you can be there.  If you can capture the essence of that place and how you will feel, it will be yours as surely as if you were standing there.




Thursday, May 28, 2015

It's the little things

I had a wonderful conversation with a man on my flight to Europe recently.  We started talking about where we were going and of course as you talk with fellow travelers the discussion almost always turns into where you have been and what you have encountered along the way.

The experience doesn't have to be extreme for you to develop an overall impression of the place you are visiting.  It reminds me of the old adage - you only get one chance to make a good first impression.  That is certainly true for the international travel and hospitality industry. 

This man had traveled from Germany to the US to give a lecture at a medical conference that was being held at the hotel where he was staying.  After arriving very late at night from his international flight he called room service to have a beer delivered to his room and was told he would have to wait over an hour.  Just that one small request was all it took for this to be an unpleasant experience for him, so much so that he does not stay with that particular hotel brand when he travels and always shares that experience with other people he talks to. 

Anyone who travels on a regular basis knows that it is the little things that can really make a difference - for me it is having water, Wi-Fi, food and drink available at off hours.  There isn't anything better than arriving after a long flight and checking into my room to find 3 bottles of water with a lovely assortment of candy, nuts, sometimes even cheese, biscuits and fruit.  If there is a mini bar or drinks available it is fantastic.  It really sets the tone for my trip be it business or pleasure.

While I understand and truly appreciate getting "special" treatment for being a member of loyalty programs it is even more important to see what effort you make when I am just the average paying customer.  If I can get a beer before I go to sleep chances are I'll stay with you again and again. 

What's Your Favorite?

As I was standing at the grocery store checkout the cashier playfully asked me - what's your favorite color?  Blue, I answered without thinking.  It reminded me of my trip to New Zealand and when I looked out at the Tasman Sea the water and the sky blended together in one gorgeous shade of blue.  You couldn't tell where one ended and the other began.

Then he asked  - where is the most beautiful place you've ever been?  Ireland, I smiled and answered without hesitation.  It isn't just the scenery that is so beautiful I explained but the people that will take your breath away!

He explained that he loves to hear peoples stories so that one day he too can see these amazing places.  Just like me when I was a young girl reading books and daydreaming about all of the wonderful journeys - sometimes it doesn't seem real but all of my dreams have come true!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Master Packing List for Women

I'm starting to get ready for my trip to Europe, planning and packing are part of the adventure for me and really gets me into the mindset of my trip.  I take only carry on bags (1 rolling backpack and 1 small tote bag).  Here is the master list I use for all of my travel.  Before every trip I print a copy of this list and modify it for climate, duration etc. but as of yet I haven't forgotten anything major without ever checking my bags.  For me, traveling light is critical for an easy, carefree journey and I hope this will help you as well.

Clothing:Personal:Misc:



SlacksShampooTickets - Boarding Pass
JeansConditionerID (Driver License)
ShortsBath SoapPassport
DressToothbrushCash (Home/Destination)
SkirtToothpasteDebit & Credit Cards
T ShirtsDental FlossBack Pack
Tank TopsDeodorantWater Bottle
BlousesBody LotionSunglasses w/strap
PantiesHair SprayBook 
BrasMakeupJournal
StockingsFace CreamGlasses
NightgownSunscreenPersonal Door Lock
SwimsuitHair BrushCamera & Charger
Flats/HeelsHair DryerSweater
BootsRazorJacket
Tennis ShoesQ-TipsUmbrella
SandalsFeminine Hygiene SuppliesScarf/Gloves/Hat
BeltsSleep/Allergy TabletsJewelry-Watch
Slip/CamisoleVitamins/MedicationCell Phone & Charger
Slippers/Flip FlopsImodiumAC Int'l Adapter
Travel Space BagsAdvilLaptop/Kindle & Power Cord

Ginger Tea

Tweezers, Nail Clipper, File

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Warm Irish Welcome Before I Even Arrive

I shouldn't be surprised but it still catches me off guard when I encounter the genuine sincerity of the Irish.  Something as simple as a message on Twitter brings out the warm friendliness that I have come to know and love. 

After I replied to a beautiful photo of Galway and mentioned I would be there soon, this is the response I received from Tourism Ireland - "We will have the kettle on for you. ;) What will you be doing in Galway? ".

They don't ask out of politeness, they really want to know.  This is something that as an American has always surprised and delighted me.  In the US it's usually just a passing statement with little or no response expected.

What followed was a wonderful exchange and information on Edwards Hotels in Louth and Galway.  Now when I'm there I will make it a point to stop in for a cuppa and perhaps meet some of these lovely people. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

The Stanley Hotel

It was a beautiful spring day and my friend was coming to Colorado for a visit.  We decided to go to Estes Park for the weekend.  We talked as we drove up the mountain; he asked if this was where “The Shining” was filmed, I thought nothing of it and drove on.  It was a glorious day - blue sky, beautiful scenery and a perfect way to begin our trip. 

As we approached the overlook we saw Rocky Mountain National Park rising up in the background, what a spectacular sight.  We drove toward town and noticed a striking white building on the hill.  Neither of us knew what it was so we decided to investigate.  As we drove closer we marveled at the perfectly manicured grounds and then saw the sign “The Stanley Hotel”.  We agreed that we had to see it but were sure it must be out of our price range.

As we entered the property, the massive white gates opened to a large patio.  The lobby was beautifully decorated; leather chairs surrounded stone fireplaces, antique tables with fresh flowers brightened every corner, it was warm and inviting.  We inquired about the rates and were surprised they had a special price for the night, so we decided to stay.  After checking in, the desk clerk informed us that the hotel was haunted and that they had ghost tours in the basement after dark.  We thought it was amusing and a good tourist attraction but declined. 

As we climbed the stairs we noticed the air changing, it became heavy and dense.  The brightness of the lobby faded as we walked toward our room.  We opened the door and immediately were struck with the closeness of the space.  Not only was it very small but there seemed to be no air circulating.  We decided immediately that this would not be comfortable and asked to change rooms.  They moved us to a large, beautifully appointed suite with a great view of the mountains. 

We enjoyed a luxurious meal at the restaurant and continued to marvel at the wonderful surroundings.  We planned on going into town later and do some sightseeing but never left the hotel.  Throughout the evening, several people approached me saying I looked like someone they knew.  When I went downstairs to the ladies room, I felt a chill in the air.  The entire time I was there I felt as though I was being watched, it made me very uneasy and I hurried back to our table.  My friend laughed when I told him and reminded me about the ghost tours, it was funny and I quickly put it aside.   

It was getting late so we decided to go back up to the room.  As we talked I felt a draft of cold air and looked to see where it was coming from.  I saw an apparition of a man step through one of the doorways and disappear.  Just then, my friend asked if someone was behind him.  Standing over his shoulder I could see the faint outline of a young girl.  We both were stunned, not sure what was happening.  Slowly we began to speak, this felt like a child’s spirit nothing malevolent or frightening.  Suddenly, the energy changed dramatically, the room filled with cold air and a bright light flashed across the room and splashed on the bureau mirror.  It felt as though dozens of very angry people were trying to get into the room. 

It was 2:00 a.m. and seemed strange to check out in the middle of the night but we could not stay.  We were relieved to see a friendly night clerk at the desk. She informed us that this was a regular occurrence and that she had seen some extraordinary things herself. We talked to her for sometime and then she told me I looked very much like a woman who passed away many years ago.  We drove back down the mountain in silence; years later I still think about what we encountered in that strange and dark place.  I have never returned to the Stanley or to Estes Park.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

2015 - Women's Irish Travel

 
This year I will be coordinating several tours to Ireland for women of all ages.  The most popular itineraries will be arranged.  So pick your favorite or make a suggestion of your own - it is Women's Independent (Irish) Travel after all.

Favorites Include:
Emerald Isle Explorer (Dublin, Killarney, Galway)
West Coast -Wild Atlantic Way, Dingle, Cliffs of Moher, Connemara, The Burren
Galway Horse Races
Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival

If you have always wanted to visit Ireland or have been before and want to return here is your chance.  There so many fantastic things to do all through the year so I hope to see you there!  SlĂ inte



Monday, January 19, 2015

Cold Hands Warm Hearth

There is nothing like the lovely scent of burning turf to remind you that you are in Ireland.  As I stepped in from the bitter cold I felt the warmth of the stone fireplace and the kind souls gathered around.

After getting my pint I took a seat in one of the large worn leather chairs.  I could feel my body warm and relax as I settled in.  Just then, a dear gentleman approached the fire and put his glass on the hearth.  "I'm not English", he whispered to me.  "It's the warm glass that feels good on my cold hands".