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Saturday, February 16, 2013

Kimpton Hotels Refunds Airline Checked Bag Fees


You can pay $25 or more to check a bag on an airline. .  Kimpton Hotels will give you cash back to offset airline baggage fees.  Simply show proof of an airline baggage charge when you check in at any Kimpton Hotel in the country, and they'll issue a room credit for one bag, up to $25.  You gotta love 'em for it!


Kimpton Hotel's "We've Got Your Bag" promotion



 

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Marriage - US Airways & American Airlines

Early on Valentine's Day morning, after nearly a year of dating, US Airways and American Airlines announced they will merge their huge families and corporate structures.

Photo courtesy of Reuters


  • The combined airline will be called American Airlines and will use the recently re-branded     American Airlines AA.
  • Once completed the new airline will be the world's largest carrier  with 94,000 employees, 950  planes, offering 6,700 daily flights to 336 destinations in 56 countries. It will have eight major hubs with a total revenue of nearly $39 billion
  • The new airline will be affiliated with the One World Alliance
  • The company will be headquartered in Dallas-Fort Worth and will maintain a  corporate and operational presence in Phoenix
  • Customers will not see any changes to their existing travel reservations.
  • Travelers will continue to book each airline independently until the merge has passed all legal and financial hurdles with the Bankruptcy Court and the Department of Justice.
  •  Until the merger is complete, each company will maintain its current loyalty programs (US Airways – Dividend Miles and American Airlines – AAdvantage®).        
  • For the most updated information on the proposed merger visit www.usairways.com/arriving.  






Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Fat Tuesday in Sweden

Fika is the Swedish word for coffee break.  If you were playing a word association game, you're forgiven if Sweden wasn't the first thought you connected with coffee. But strong coffee and sweet pastries, especially cinnamon rolls, eaten with friends, are an important part of Swedish culture. Afternoon chats with friends at cafes are especially enjoyed during the long dark winter months. 

Semlor, photo courtesy of  www.americanswedish.org 


On Shove Tuesday also known as Fat Tuesday or simply the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, cinnamon rolls are replaced with Semlor or Semla.  These pastries are unique to the Nordics.   As you might expect from the name, they were originally made from semolina  wheat.  The buns are made from wheat and Cardamon. Cardamon is a spice that I love, unfortunately it isn't all  that common in the US, but it's very popular in Norway, Sweden, and the Arabia peninsula.  In Scandinavia it is often used in cakes and breads, in the Middle East it's also added to coffee.  

Semlor is a cardamon-spiced bun which the top has been cut off and the insides scooped out, it's then filled wit a mix of the scooped out bread crumbs, almond paste or raspberry jam and topped with whipped cream or powered sugar.  Look for the recipe on 
 www.americanswedish.org 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Preservationists Give Corbin Building a New Life

Standing on the corner of Broadway and John Street, the Corbin Building built in 1888 is undergoing a Restoration. Scheduled for demolition until preservationists intervened, the Corbin Building will be incorporated into the new Fulton Street Transit site.




Built by its namesake Austin Corbin, who combined the Long Island rail lines into today's Long Island Railroad, the building was designed by architect Francis Hatch Kimball who also designed the Empire State Building,  the Brooklyn Montauk Club, Reading Terminal, and Garrick Theatre among many other buildings.
I was standing on John Street and what struck me was the number of arched windows.  I discovered that the Corbin Building is unique for its time because Kimball used brick arches as an enduring structural support below grade and as a device to create a fairly column free office space on the upper floors.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Freedom Tower views in February2013

Last week I had one night in Manhattan and stayed at the  Millenium Hilton  
  across from the Freedom Tower. My window on the 37th floor overlooked the construction site.  It was a cold, crisp, and very windy night and the view of the site made me thoughtful. I said a prayer of thanks for my family and everything that we have and the things and events that enabled me to be looking out the window that night.






Sunday, February 10, 2013



If you check a bag, you need to have it weighed.  Working in a grocery store in high school, I remember how the scales weren't always calibrated - people pulling on them, kids swinging on them. The baggage scales at airports get an even bigger workout, staff stepping on them, kids weighing themselves, all shapes and sizes of bags being thrown on them.



Jerry Butler, with the Standards Division of the North Carolina Department of Agriculture, confirms at that airport scales can't always be trusted. "They will get off because people are dropping 50-pound bags on that thing hundreds and hundreds of times a day," Butler said.   http://www.wral.com/pack-light-and-use-bathroom-scale-to-avoid-airline-baggage-fees/11798351/

If hes going to check a bag for an upcoming trip, DH always weighs himself on our bathroom scale, then gets on again holding his suitcase. The difference is, of course, the weight of the bag. We've never had over weight bags so haven't run into the problem of paying for excess baggage, but I've seen other people   asking the airline rep to weigh their bags on another scale. Like the produce scales in your grocery store, the baggage scale should start at zero. Paying for checked bags is expensive, at least make sure that the weight of your bags is correct before you  hand over that credit card.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Airline Ancillary Fee Revenue or What it Costs to Check Bags

The airlines reported $14,816,370,067 in ancillary fee revenue for the period July 2011 - June 2012. Ancillary fees include baggage fee, extra legroom, premium seat selection and on-board food and services.  This averages about $50 per passenger on Quantas, $34 on Allegiant, and $23 on Flybe.  The bulk of this is of course checked bag fees.  



Representatives at JFK Airport say that one of the best selling items in the airport is luggage. People pack too much into their one suitcase and are over the weight limit. It's often cheaper to check two lighter bags than one heavy bag.

The airlines change fees fairly regularly and if you're like us, looking for the lowest fare, and with no allegiance to any airline, meaning no gold/platinum status, you're going to pay something for a checked bags.  If you regularly check bags,  are the type to purchase a ticket for a $50 saving,s think about what the airline is charging for a checked bag before you click the purchase button.

We  like to go to the website below from Fare Compare.  It does a very good job of going into specifics on baggage fees and allowances.. They also include details on several int'l airlines.  This page was updated on Jan. 25th.  
http://www.farecompare.com/about/worldwide-baggage-fee-chart/





Thursday, February 7, 2013

Guinness Storehouse Photography Conest

If you've been to the Guinness Storehouse, and were smarter than me and took a camera, Guinness would like to see your photos. They are sponsoring a photography contest with some nice prizes awarded monthly. So you have a good chance of winning.
http://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/photocompetition.aspx






Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Become a Guinness Ambassador

Have you already booked or are you in the process of booking for The Gathering, the year long Irish Homecoming celebration?
James Gate Guinness Brewery, Dublin

 If you are, you're likely planning a trip to the Guinness Brewery in Dublin.  Consider  registering as  a Guinness Ambassador.  Guinness is offering free admission and a free pint to everyone that registers.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Montreal Canadien's at the Bell Center

 Having not been to a professional hockey game in some years, I really enjoyed the total experience at the Bell Center. 

video


 The game, the players, the music, the atmosphere, the fans....nothing is like watching a hockey match in person, and in Montreal.   CP Rail is one of the team/arena sponsors and when the Canadians' scored a goal the music started,  lights flashed, and on the first tier marquee a CP Rail Train went around.  The energy from the fans could have lit up the arena.

 Erik Cole scored the first goal in 2013 for the Canadiens, and rookies Brendan Gallagher and Alex Galchenyuk both scored two points each- and the crowd of course went wild. Gallagher is 20 and Galchenyuk is 18!  





Sunday, February 3, 2013

Guinness before the Storehouse

About five years ago we attended a corporate event at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.  We started downstairs with a tour, and being history buffs enjoyed learning about how the Guinness family started the company.


We walked on through looking at the sepia photos of the brewery and Dublin in the 18th century as well as the old brewing equipment.  We learned how technology has improved the process but that they still only use the best barley, hops and yeast and water from the Wicklow Mountains.  Being a logistics guy, DH enjoyed the film on cooperage and how Guinness has been transported around the world for the last two hundred plus years.

We worked our way to the top of the Storehouse and the event at the Gravity Bar were we had 360 degree panoramic views of the Dublin City night sky.  The bartenders gave demonstrations on how to pull a pint and there was of course, traditional Irish music. The food, drink, and Craic  were mighty.

I didn't have a camera that night so I have no photos of us together to share. But I have an old photo of me in a tee-shirt that I bought in Dublin, way before Guinness opened the Storehouse to the public.

If you aren't a fan of stout, Diablo who owns Guinness also owns several other Irish beers and spirits - all available at The Gravity Bar - among them Smithwicks; the non-alcoholic beer - Caliber - which was a favorite of my father in law;  Bushmills - which was my Dad's choice, as well Bailey's.  Still waiting to hear if they are working on a Gluten Free beer.

http://www.guinness-storehouse.com/en/Index.aspx


Nothing like a hockey game in Montreal

Tuesday night I had the good fortune of attending a   hockey game at the Bell Center in Montreal, Montreal Canadians vs. Winnepeg Jets,  with some work friends.

Montreal Canadians vs. Winnepeg Jets Jan 29, 2013

Way back, before kids, when we lived in NYC, we used to go pretty regularly to Ranger's games in Madison Square Garden. I think that good tickets back then were less than $20. Something a young couple could afford.  We've been to a few in the thirty years in between but not too often,  and it reminded me how much I enjoyed it, especially when there is a fan base that really knows the sport.  It was hockey in Canada! My friends and I had good seats about thirty rows back from the goal.  I wish I had worn a red coat - I was one of the very few people that wasn't wearing the team colors.

The Montreal fans all in red




Monday, January 28, 2013

Keep Up with the new Northern Ireland


Break those stereotypes you have of Northern Ireland.  Instead put these images into your head - hiking and walking some of the best trails in Europe. Sure the mountains aren't as high as the rest of Europe but they are steep and rocky. You might be the only hikers on the trail and the only ones at the top enjoying the scenery views. 

Slieve Donard in the Mourne  Mountains is te highest peak in Northern Ireland



 Of course, there is always a reward at the bottom - great pubs and good food.  If the only music you have in your head is  traditional Irish - the jigs and reels you hear on St Patrick' Day. Take a listen.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Why Ireland has 40 Shades of Green






Ireland

It is easy to see from this true-color image why Ireland is called the Emerald Isle. Intense green vegetation, primarily grassland, covers most of the country except for the exposed rock on mountaintops. Ireland owes its greenness to moderate temperatures and moist air. The Atlantic Ocean, particularly the warm currents in the North Atlantic Drift, gives the country a more temperate climate than most others at the same latitude.

Moist ocean air also contributes to abundant rainfall. Ireland receives between 750 and 2000 millimeters (29 and 78 inches) of rain per year, with more rain falling in the west and in the mountains. Most of the rain falls in light showers.

This moist climate means plenty of clouds and fog. According to the Irish Meteorological Service, the sky is entirely cloudy more than 50 percent of the time. There are more clouds during the day than at night, and fog is common.

The cloud-free view shown here is extremely rare. The Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) on NASA’s Aqua satellite captured the image on October 11, 2010, a time of year when Irish weather alternates between rainstorms from the west and cool, dry weather brought by high-pressure systems known as anticyclones.

Credit: NASA/MODIS Rapid Response Team

Friday, January 25, 2013

Kobe Bryant vs. Lionel Messi on Turkis Airlines

Turkish Airlines - ''The best airline in Europe'' continues to fly with the best! Their new TV commercial which stars Kobe Bryant and Leo Messi is now live! - Lionel Messi vs. Kobe Bryant



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sQLG37rM5hw




Thursday, January 24, 2013

Doha's Hamad International Airport to open April 1



The first phase of the Hamad International Airport, formerly known as New Doha International Airport, is set to open on April 1, according to the airport’s operator, Qatar Airways.  





Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Geography Quiz2

How's your knowledge of Middle East Geography?


  Iliketolearn.com has a great series testing our geography knowledge of countries, capitals, oceans, rivers, and mountains.  Take this quiz and see how much you know about the Middle East.   http://www.ilike2learn.com/ilike2learn/MidEast.html

Monday, January 21, 2013

Leave Your Comfort Zone and Travel


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel        
                                                http://www.amazon.com/Exotic-Marigold-Hotel-Thomas-Newman/dp/B0073FIAK2  is the story of  six English pensioners  who for a variety of financial and medical reasons leave cold and wet England to "outsource their retirement"  and travel to warm and sunny Jaipur, India, There’s a great cast of actors including Judy Dench, Celis Imrie, Bill Nighy, Ronald Pickup, Maggie Smith, Tom Wilkinson and Penelope Wilton.  

There are multiple themes and subplots in the film and medical care for the elderly is one of them. Medical travel vacations have been an interesting topic especially for Americans, so it's interesting that Muriel Donnelly’s  (Maggie Smith) reason for traveling to India is that she needs a hip replacement and the wait list on the British Health Care System is months long. She determines that even with socialized medicine that she can’t afford the cost of a hip replacement hence the journey to The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Despite the fact that The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not the luxurious retreat “for the elderly and beautiful” as advertised, friendships develop among the travelers and the hotel owner Sonny Kapoor (Dev Patel). While the hotel is not the charming resort promised to these English empty nest retirees, the story is very charming, and there are great street scenes in Jaipur, India.     

The Best Marigold Hotel has been described as a feel-good movie. It's sentimental and funny with a dose of real India for reality.  But the films  biggest message is that it's not too late to leave your comfort zone and explore new places and cultures. Which is exactly the message that we'd like to convey on this blog.

5 Hours of Airplane Landings Captured in 30 Seconds


American photographer Cy Kuckenbaker has captured every airplane that landed at San Diego International Airport in timelapse.

Friday, January 18, 2013

American Airlines new look and image


Travel news from forty-five years ago-- the Gateway Arch in St. Louis is dedicated, The Winter Olympic Games are held in Grenoble, France, the border between Spain and Gibraltar is closed, Boeing 747 makes its maiden flight, NASA launches the first manned Apollo mission...and American Airlines redesigns its livery. So 1968 was the last time the AA planes got a new dress! http://www.aa.com/homePage.do


Yesterday American Airlines introduced its new livery and logo. We think it’s pretty sharp looking.  What do you think of the new look and the slogan “Becoming a New American”?  


Forbes has put together a slideshow of American Airlines logos through history. http://www.forbes.com/pictures/ehlk45gemh/1934/

The C.S.Smith American Airlines Museum in Fort Worth has a treasure-trove of historical artifacts, photographs, full-scale aircraft and engines as well as historic advertising and promotional materials.

http://www.crsmithmuseum.org/home.aspx

Thursday, January 17, 2013

French Seaside Style in Quiberon


Our last stop in France was in Quiberon, and quite by chance we booked a beautiful family owned hotel just newly renovated, the Hotel-des-deux-mers  http://www.hotel-des-deux-mers.com/, which we found on www.booking.com

Sometimes things work out better than expected and this was one of those times.  We were lucky to spend our last two nights in France here.  



Quiberon is in Brittany on a peninsula connected to the mainland by a very small tombolo or isthmus.  On one side of the peninsula is the calm bay perfect for sailing or swimming. On the other side is the wild Atlantic. 

The Hotel-des-Deux-Mers was simple and elegant. The rooms are done in white and sea glass colors bringing lots of light into the rooms. The focal point of our room was the sea view.  Our room had French doors that opened to a small terrace with views of the sea and the olive and cypress trees below.
























The hotel had been a family summer home in the early 1900’s when the railroad came to Quiberon, and there is still a feeling of it being a family home – with lots of little nooks for curling up with a book and a glass of french wine. There was a beautiful sense of relaxation and calmness inside the hotel. To me, calmness and relaxation also comes from paying a very reasonable rate that included internet and breakfast every morning in the salon.



The other day I was in the decorating section of our local Barnes and Noble carefully considering how to spend a Christmas gift card when I stumbled on the book French Seaside Style by Sebastien Siraudeau.  The room on the dust jacket looked so similar to our room at the Hotel Des Deux Mers that I had to open the book, and this lovely hotel was indeed featured….the epitome of French seaside style. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

How do you stay on a diet when you're traveling - with MyfitnessPal


Staying on a diet when I’m  traveling isn’t easy. OK, it’s not that easy at any time, but it’s more difficult when I’m away from home.  I always want to try new foods – that’s one of the reasons to travel after all.  Generally we walk and hike a lot more when we’re traveling than when we’re at home, so the output or energy spent is greater than it would be at home – but the intake is a lot greater too! I’m usually pretty willing to try new foods, but  sometimes  I don’t know what it is I’m eating, and it gets especially hard trying to find Gluten Free (GF) food so that often I give up trying to stay on the diet. 



I just discovered MyFitnessPal  http://www.myfitnesspal.com/ a great free app for helping me manage my weight and diet program. I’m using the web version but it’s available as well for Android, Blackberry, and iPhone.

It’s a user friendly app that counts calories and tracks exercise. You register on line with your current weight, height age, fitness level, and goal. MyFitnessPal then comes back with a personalized plan on how you can achieve that goal. The program gives you  information on what your daily intake should be for calories, carbs, fat and protein and tells you how long it will take you to achieve that goal.

You enter the food you ate and your exercise and it does the calculation.  It has more than 1,000,000 foods included in the data base including brand names and supermarket chain products and product packaging sizes.




In addition to grocery items the database has restaurants and menu items. Enter Starbucks, McDonald's, Flemings or nearly any other chain and you'll see the entire menu.

Traveling for business might mean eating at chains but dining when traveling for fun can mean anything from the romantic little restaurants to eating at brasseries and cantinas, or eating off food trucks and street carts or shopping at the local grocery store.  Nearly every type of food comes up in the database with a choice on the portion size.  I found US, Canadian, and UK supermarket brands and chains. There's a bar code scanner for finding packaged foods' nutritional information. MyFitnessPal also includes Spanish/Mexican food and brands.

There is no guess work, just enter whatever is on your plate and the app will give the calories, protein, carbs and fat. My mind is still on France, and because I want to show you that the database has just about everything - I entered oysters. I scrolled down through the database and selected Steamed Pacific Oysters as the closest and best option. This tool offers forums for support and has very active Communities for motivation and support, fitness and exercise, diet and recipes, chit chat, and success stories for bragging on yourself and your weight loss achievements.




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MyFitnessPal has been rated as one of  the best all-in-one calorie counters and exercise trackers out there.  Now there are no excuses for ditching your diet when you’re traveling locally or globally. 

Monday, January 14, 2013

Prevent Jet Lag Calculator

Jet lag, according to the Mayo Clinic, is a temporary sleep disorder that can affect anyone who quickly travels across multiple time zones. Jet lag is caused when your body's internal clock or circadian rhythms, which tell your body when to stay awake and when to sleep in the old time zone, are out of sync with cues from the new time zone, such as light exposure and dining times.  www.mayoclinic.com

Would you want to miss this because of jetlag?




Jet lag conditions include insomnia, waking early, daytime fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and muscle soreness. Typically traveler’s recovery time is one day per time zone crossed. Many of these are the same symptoms are the same as those experienced by shift workers.  Jay Olson is a researcher at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver who has studied how magicians influence people in a bid to learn more about memory and decision-making. He has just published a study in Scientific American: Mind Matters on how to avoid jet lag. 

  

  

“Most people experience jet lag when travelling across time zones,” Olson says. "Travelers need to figure out when to seek and avoid light based on their own trip and body clock/circadian rhythms." He says that with a few simple steps it may be completely preventable.

Mr. Olson says travelers who adjust their exposure to light prior to travel may bypass jet lag. They can calculate how to do that is the premise of his new, free websitewww.jetlagrooster.com.  This website lets people enter their trip details and get a personalized jet lag plan which they can email to their smart phone to pop up with reminders during the trip. 



Sunday, January 13, 2013

Fed Ex donates 60th Boeing 727


This past week FedEx Express donated a Boeing 727-200F to California Baptist University for use by its new aviation science program.  The aircraft will be on permanent display at the Riverside Municipal Airport (RAL) and will provide a working laboratory for aviation students.  The plane had been in service for 33 years and is the 60th donation by Fed Ex of a Boeing 727 aircraft. Since 2000 Fed Ex has donated these aircraft to various organizations around the world including museums and colleges for educational purposes.  When you think of community involvement and charitable donations by corporations, this is pretty big, but not as big as the "Baby Jessica" story.


Photo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20130110/DC40822) 

In October 1987, like millions of other Americans, we were riveted to CNN as emergency service crews in Midland Texas worked  for 58 hours to free "Baby Jessica" McClure from an old backyard well where she was trapped 22 feet down in a shaft 14 inches wide. We had a baby just about the same age and had just relocated from Texas. 

Scores of local and state government workers and paramedics worked round the clock to pull Jessica from the well. The government few in a special investigator with the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration and FedEx flew in the drill that ultimately enabled crews to rescue Jessica. The story was followed around the world and the world cheered when the paramedic rescuer came up with Jessica and she was safe.  Since then I've taken an  interest in FedEx's community and charitable giving, from rescuing babies and delivering hearts to supporting disaster relief to local involvement.
   

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Best Deal in NYC is the MTA


One of the best deals in New York City is a Metro Card. http://www.mta.info/fares/
The NYC Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) runs the subways, buses, Metro North and Long Island Railroad.

In NYC you can get on a bus and deposit the exact change into the fare box.  If you ask the driver for a transfer, the driver will give you a Metro card that you can use to transfer to another city bus within two hours.  For example you can take an uptown bus and then transfer to a crosstown bus for $2.50.  Not a bad deal.  You can also buy a one ride ticket at a subway station kiosk with a credit card, cash –dollars or coins.


Metro cards are an even better deal and start at $4.50 for a two ride card.  The $10 card is a good deal for weekend visitors to the city.  With this card you get an automatic free transfer between subways and buses and between buses.  You can buy these cards at the newsstand at LaGuardia just outside baggage claim and you can get them at most stationery stores and in subway stations.

  
When our kids were very young, and we didn’t want to give them individual cards we would buy one card and swipe it once for each of us.  This works in some cities, but not in NYC.  The NYC Metro cards can’t be used again at the same subway station or the same bus route for at least 18 minutes.  So if you are traveling with a friend or a family you will each need to purchase your own metro card. Here's the link to the MTA http://www.mta.info/



Taxi’s especially in NYC traffic at rush hour can be very expensive, and wouldn’t you rather spend money in a restaurant in Little Italy http://www.littleitalynyc.com/  or in the shops in Chinatown http://www.explorechinatown.com/GUI/Content.aspx-Page=Discover.htm   For bus and subway information can be found on these links as well as lots of information on festivals, food, and walking tours.

Last fall Roger Wade editor of Price of Travel published a list of the cost of Single-ride public transportation prices in 80 tourist cities.  Take a look and use this as you make your 2013 plans.   http://www.priceoftravel.com/595/public-transportation-prices-in-80-worldwide-cities/




Friday, January 11, 2013

What was behind the Iron Curtain?



Before the fall of the Berlin Wall, school children in the US, only learned about The Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. "The Iron Curtain" separated what we knew as Europe from the USSR, and we didn't know what was behind The Curtain.  At ages eight or nine we speculated about what the iron curtain looked like - was it like the Berlin Wall or was it more like the curtain on the stage in the school auditorium but made out of iron stretching for hundreds of miles through farms and villages.  You might laugh now, but it just was something that wasn't talked about.

 Iron‑Curtain‑Map.jpg
worldhistoryatyhs.wikispaces.comShare

Once every four years during the Olympics, we'd hear about gymnasts, swimmers and great athletes from Georgia and Slovenia, and Slovakia, and then never hear of those countries again for another four years.

For the majority American children who didn't have ethnic roots in these countries, these places didn't exist in the 50's, 60's, and 70's.  They weren't in any text books and it was almost as if the government or text book publishers thought that if they didn't tell us about them, they didn't exist. 

So for those of us who grew up in that period, we have a lot of catching up to do.....and lots of beautiful places to visit.  Yes, the countries in Eastern Europe do have Tourist Boards. I have no favorites, but here is the link to  Croatia's tourist board:  https://croatia.hr/en-GB/Homepage. 

Here's a little quiz to test your knowledge of the geography of Eastern Europe.

Travel Eastern Europe with this Eastern Europe map game.   
 http://www.ilike2learn.com/ilike2learn/eastern%20europe.html



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A Northern Ireland Welcome - for Ohio Family

In your US passport it states where you were born, and mine states Ireland. Whenever I've come through Immigration whether it be Dublin, Shannon or Belfast, the Immigration Officer always says "Welcome Home."  I want to cry and I've just gotten there! I've had some wonderful warm welcomes over the years but few people have experienced the welcome given by the Northern Ireland Tourist Board this Christmas to the Monroe Family from Ohio.


They won a contest sponsored by the NITB http://www.discovernorthernireland.com/  and when they arrived into George Best Belfast City Airport not only were Roisin Monroe and her children Brandon and Kaeli Ann greeted by their family but they were welcomed by a flash mob - the Belfast Community Gospel Choir dressed as travelers, airport staff and flight crew.  The choir bust into an incredible rendition of “Joy to the World". What a wonderful Welcome Home and what a great start to a family reunion and Christmas.


Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Passport to the South



Southern Living's latest edition came out today with the advice to "resolve to pack your bags and hit the road."      

In answer to the inevitable question, "Where should we go?" They've put together a Southern Passport highlighting 18 uniquely southern sites, one for every state in the region.  They range from visiting Ernst Hemingway's Home in Key West and a day of deep sea fishing - both on our list to visiting Turner Field and taking in a Braves Game in Atlanta to sipping mint juleps at the Kentucky Derby

If you've never had Maryland crab cakes they suggest trying them at the 18th-century Robert Morris Inn on the Chesapeake. And of course you have Mt Vernon and Arlington Cemetery in Virginia and the Smithsonian in Washington among the 18 southern sites.

Texas used to be our home state and we have great memories of having crayfish, Gulf shrimp and Lonestars on the old Landry's dock in Kemah. Southern Living recommends the Texas State Fair --- which is like everything else in Texas, bigger than whatever you've experienced before.

There are 18 interesting, historic, fun sites. Most have a modest admission fee but some are free. After you visit each site you can visit the Southern Living passport site southernliving.com/stamps to download your southern Passport stamp and post to your Facebook timeline.     

Below are three of the stamps from Southern Living, one from our home state of North Carolina, one from Washington D.C. and one from Mississippi. Take a look at the rest, and hit the road, and max out your Southern passport in 2013.




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