Win a Photography Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park

With no purchase necessary, today is the last day to enter to win an exciting 5 day/4 night Exclusive Nature Photography Experience at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL.

The contest is sponsored by the new KODAK Professional Ektar 100 Color Film in conjunction with Disney’s Animal Kingdom Park, a 500-acre conservatory with over 1,700 animals of 250 species.

Ten winners of the Exclusive Nature Photography Experience will get exclusive access behind the scenes at Disney’s Wild Animal Kingdom, a morning safari, workshop with professional photographer Eddie Soloway, and a meet & greet with Clyde Butcher.

Winners will receive the vacation package for themselves and 3 guests that includes round-trip airfare from a major U.S. city to Orlando, FL, transfers, accommodation, a $200 Disney gift card, and a welcome basket.

For complete rules and to enter the contest, visit the Exclusive Nature Photography Experience.

Polynesia in September

French Polynesia has long been a favorite with travelers but those in the know like to visit in September.

The first event that kicks off is the Taps Junior surfing competition, for ages 16 to 18, in Punaauai, Tahiti, on September 5th and 6th, 2009. This is followed by the Taapuna Master competition where you can see both young and old talent from September 10th to 27th and finally by the Taapuna Pro-Am September 26th to October 4th.

Promoting eco-tourism is the 8th annual Painapo Raid in Moorea that takes racers through dense mountain forest, rivers, and plantations, all revealing spectacular views of the island.

With visibility to 120’ and average 80°F water temperature, diving in French Polynesia is stunning at anytime. But in September, the manta rays begin their fascinating underwater ‘ballet’ drawing divers & visitors from around the world to Moorea, Huahine, Tahaa, and Bora Bora.

The International Tahiti Golf Open takes place from September 18 to 21 while on September 16th, Cinematamua at the House of Culture will show a documentary film about the days of Tahiti gone by.

For more information, visit Tahiti Tourism.

The Braderie de Lille – Europe’s Largest Flea Market

Up to two million visitors will pack the streets of Lille, France, on September 5 and 6, 2009, to bargain hunt at Europe’s largest flea market.

Dating back to medieval times, the massive Braderie de Lille will have over 10,000 exhibitors selling everything from trash to treasures. One of the most anticipated flea markets in Europe, the event starts at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday and lasts until midnight Sunday.

Another tradition that takes place during the Braderie is the competition between local restaurants to build the highest pile of empty mussel shells. Moules & frites (mussels & chips) are the popular snack throughout the weekend and it’s estimated that over 500 tons of mussels will be consumed.

For more information, visit the Lille Tourist Office.

Luxury Cruising Just Got Better

Silversea Cruises has recently announced their fares for the 2010 season with savings of up to 60% off and free air on selected voyages.

The offer works like this - the first passenger in a cabin receives a 20% discount with second passengers sailing for free which averages out to a 60% discount overall.

Silversea Cruises is also offering free and specially priced air packages from select gateways in the U.S. and Canada. Depending on your cruise of choice, you may also qualify for a $1,000 onboard spending credit.

One of the Top 5 Small Ship Cruise Lines according to Conde Nast Traveler, Silversea Cruises The offers are space available and must be booked by December 31, 2009.

Silversea Cruises offers more than 190 itineraries sailing to 7 continents, 80 countries, and more than 400 destinations worldwide. For more information, visit Silversea Cruises.

Celebrate French Cultural Heritage

The 26th annual European Heritage Days will be celebrated throughout France during the two-day event, September 19 and 20, 2009.

Originally developed in France in 1984, European Heritage Days is now celebrated by 49 countries throughout Europe. France has chosen ‘heritage accessibility to all’ for the theme of this year’s event that showcases the diversity and richness of European cultures.

European Heritage Days is a highly anticipated event in France and some of this year’s venues include:

  • Cluny Abbey
  • Soleil synchrotron, Saint-Aubin
  • House of Robert Schuman, Scy-Chazelles
  • Cité de l’Automobile Museé National, Schlumpf Collection, Alsace
  • Gestapo Headquarters, Paris
  • Court of Honour of the Popes’ Palace, Avignon
For more information, visit European Hertiage Days.

Taste of Egypt…in Ohio

For the 12th year in a row, St. Mina and St. Abanoub Coptic Orthodox Church in Miamisburg, OH, is presenting their two-day Taste of Egypt festival, August 29th and 30th, 2009.

Offering free admission and parking, this event is the perfect way to discover Egypt in your own back yard. Here you’ll have a chance to sample authentic Egyptian food like a grilled kofta kabob or stuffed grape leaves plus choose from a delectable array of pastry desserts.

Enjoy the music while shopping for Egyptian arts & crafts and jewelry while the children have fun with face painting and carnival games - there’s even the opportunity to take a camel ride.

And don’t forget to buy your raffle ticket to win a Trip to Egypt for 2!
For more information on this exciting event, visit Taste of Egypt.

MOBA: Art Too Bad to be Ignored

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) in Dedham, MA, has been attracting visitors since 1994 that are in search of, well, bad art.

The private museum first started as a single exhibit in a Boston basement but somehow this wacky concept has expanded into two locations and a humorous website. Not that they’re laughing at the art itself, well, maybe.

The online collection is divided into, landscape, unseen forces, and portraiture, where blue faces and bad, bad, painting is common. If you fall in love with some bad art, don’t worry, postcards, posters, and t-shirts are available online of some of MOBA’s most famous or infamous finds.

If you’d like to become a supporter of MOBA, you’re invited to join by simply providing your email address which then gives you the coveted entitlement to attend any free MOBA show for free.

To view the art or for more information, visit MOBA.

Cincinnati Kicks off Cultural Season

Fall in Cincinnati brings forth a cornucopia of exhibitions and performances that continue to impress visitors year after year. With so many things to see and do, let’s take a look at the highlights of Cincinnati’s cultural season.


Having just celebrated its 45th anniversary, the famous Cincinnati Ballet Company starts its upcoming season with performances of the local favorite, ‘New Works,’ at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.


Also in the celebration mode with its 50th anniversary, the Cincinnati Playhouse at the Park kicks off its fall season with a production of ‘Sleuth,’ a suspense thriller.


Cincinnati is home to a National Historic Landmark, the Taft Museum, plus other great finds like the Cincinnati Art Museum and the Contemporary Art Center.


In downtown Cincinnati, world-renowned conductor, Paavo Jarvi, continues to lead the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra while maestro, Erich Kunzel, conducts the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Plus, don’t forget the Cincinnati MidPoint Music Festival with performances by over 230 bands in one weekend.

For more information and a complete schedule of events, visit Cincinnati USA.

Best Kept Secret Hotels & Restaurants in the USA

TripAdvisor members recently came up with a list of great off-the-radar hotels and restaurants from across the USA. Let’s take a look –

New York City, NY
▪Da Vinci Hotel, Manhattan – with a 75% recommendation rate
▪Alma, Brooklyn – Mexican cuisine and great views

Washington D.C.

▪Embassy Circle Guest House – with an awesome 99% recommendation rate
▪Dr. Granville Moore’s Brickyard – Belgian food, Belgian beer

Las Vegas, Nevada
▪Sam’s Town Hotel & Gambling Hall – great rates make this good value for the $
▪Golden Steer Steakhouse – 60’s Rat Pack & great steaks

San Francisco, California
▪Hotel Rex – 91% great recommendation rate in a great location
▪Rue Lepic – intimate French restaurant

Chicago, Illinois
▪Hotel Burnham – great location and great staff
▪Bistro Campagne – romantic French restaurant with outdoor seating

Anything you’d like to suggest? If so, drop me a line!

All You Can Jet with JetBlue for $599!

JetBlue Airways is offering a new way to fly with the ‘All You Can Jet with JetBlue’ promotional pass which allows you to fly with JetBlue “anywhere you like, as often as you like,” between September 8 and October 8, 2009.

For only $559 USD, the unlimited travel pass includes domestic taxes and fees with the exception of international and Puerto Rico taxes and fees. All flights using the pass must be booked 3 days in advance; the pass must be purchased by August 21, 2009, or while supplies last.

If you already hold a ticket on JetBlue during the one month travel time period, you are eligible to upgrade to the All You Can Jet with JetBlue pass by paying the difference in cost.

JetBlue Airways serves 57 cities with more than 600 flights daily. To purchase the All You Can Jet with JetBlue pass or for more information, visit JetBlue.

Rancho Bernardo Inn for $19/night!!

The legendary Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort & Spa, San Diego, CA, is offering a special ‘Survivor Package’ where you can name your own price for a room.

The standard rate for this luxury 5-star hotel is $219 which includes breakfast for two. The Survivor Package lets you pick your rate as follows:
  • $199 without Breakfast
  • $179 without Honor Bar
  • $159 without A/C or Heat
  • $139 without Pillows
  • $109 without Sheets
  • $89 without Lights
  • $59 without Linens
  • $39 without Toiletries
  • $19 without Bed
The Survivor Package at the Rancho Bernardo Inn is available from August 16 until September 17, 2009, and is subject to restrictions, blackout dates, and availability.

The Rancho Bernardo Inn Golf Resort & Spa offers 287 rooms & suites set amongst lush meticulously manicured gardens. For more information, visit Rancho Bernardo Inn.

Top 5 Nude Beach Destinations in the World

TripAdvisor recently released their list of the Top 5 Clothing Optional Beach Destinations according to their readers and members. Let’s take a look, or maybe not...
  • Mykonos, Greece
  • Haulover Beach, Bal Harbour, FL
  • Orient Beach, St. Maarten
  • Black’s Beach, La Jolla, CA
  • Wreck Beach, Vancouver, BC

TripAdvisor also took a vote of almost 4,000 members who responded to the question – ‘Would you ever bare all at a nude beach?’ and here are the results:

31% replied ‘Sure, I love to see and be seen!’
30% replied ‘I might check out the scenery, but I wouldn’t strip’
39% replied ‘No, there’s a reason swimsuits were invented’

And the funny thing? I’ve been to 2 of these beaches. Yes, I belong to the 39% group - how about you?!

Why Drive When You Can Fly with Southwest Airlines?

Southwest Airlines has announced their ‘Why Drive When You Can Fly for $59 or Less One-way?’ seat sale.

One-way fares with Southwest Airlines range from as low as $39 to $59 in select markets. A sampling of the ‘Why Drive When You Can Fly’ fares include Las Vegas to Los Angeles for $59; Dallas to San Antonio $49; Cleveland to Baltimore $49; Nashville to Birmingham $39; San Jose to San Diego $59; and Jacksonville to Tampa Bay $39.

Southwest has not announced an end date for the sale but all tickets must be purchased at least 21 days in advance with October 30, 2009, as the last day of travel.

Why Drive When You Can Fly fares are available for one-way or return trip. Travel is valid any day of the week and is subject to availability; taxes, fees, and/or surcharges are not included in the prices shown.

For more information or to book a flight, visit Southwest Airlines.

San Diego Zoo has New Baby Panda!

The staff of the Giant Panda Research Station at the San Diego Zoo is proud to announce the birth of a yet- to-be-named Giant Panda cub born at 4:58 a.m. on August 5, 2009.

Proud parents are Bai Yun, the mother, and Shi Shi, the father. The cub’s weight is approximately 4 to 8 ounces with an average length of 6 to 7 inches. Giant Panda cubs are born hairless and will not develop its signature black and white colorations until about 1 month old.

As a hands-off approach is taken by the zoo staff in order to allow mother and baby to bond, the sex of the cub will not be known until later. Following Chinese tradition, the baby will not be named until it is 100 days old.

View the Panda Cam for a chance to see the new baby or to find out more information about endangered Giant Pandas, visit the San Diego Zoo.

Hurricane Felicia Heading toward Hawaii

Running June to November, ready or not, the hurricane season is upon us.

The latest to develop is hurricane Felicia which is enroute to Hawaii. According to National Hurricane Center (NHC), this category 4 hurricane has winds of 140 mph and has already absorbed tropical depression Enrique.

Although wind shear over the Pacific Ocean is expected to break up the hurricane, if Felicia does continue on its predicted route it will reach Hawaii next Tuesday even though it is nowhere near land at present.

For the latest information on Felicia and Hurricane Preparedness, visit the NHC website.

Golf Oregon and Choose from 200 Courses!

The toughest part of golfing in Oregon could be choosing one of the 200 public golf courses available throughout the state.

Designed by famous golf course architects including Arnold Palmer, Robert E. Cupp, Bill Coore, Ben Crenshaw and David McLay Kidd, Oregon’s challenging golf courses offer everything from tee times amongst scenic mountains to playing the front nine with amazing Pacific Ocean views.

South of Portland, Pumpkin Ridge offers up two courses, Witch Hollow, that hosted the US Women’s Amateur, and Ghost Creek, which was home to the Nike Tour Championships. Bandon Dunes, Bandon, and the Running Y Ranch, Klamath, have consistently ranked in the top twenty USA golf courses by several national magazines. The long fairways of the Wildhorse Resort, Pendleton, offer up the opportunity to play, stay, and then play again at the resort casino.

As there are just too many courses to list individually, visit Golf Oregon for more information.

Top 2009 Summer Destinations for US Travelers

According to TripAdvisor readers and contributors, the top destinations for summer 2009 are:

Las Vegas, NV
: known for its bright lights, gambling, endless entertainment (some of it FREE!), eating cheap, and walking strip

Los Angeles, CA: entertainment mecca including Disneyland, Universal Studios, Knott’s Berry Farm, and Six Flags

Orlando, FL: entertainment capital of Florida with Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, Busch Gardens, and the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex

Miami, FL
: with not to be missed attractions like the South Beach art deco district, Everglades National Park, Miami Seaquarium, and the Miami Metro Zoo

Honolulu, HI
: don’t miss a chance to attend a luau, visit Bishop Museum, Iolani Palace, Waikiki Beach, Chinatown, and Diamond Head Crater

Cancun, Mexico
: fun in the sun & powdery white sand beaches all while experiencing a different culture

Seattle, WA
: don’t miss Pike Place Market, Space Needle, Seattle Art Museum, Pacific Science Center, and Pioneer Square

San Francisco, CA
: must sees include Fisherman’s Wharf & Aquarium of the Bay & Wax Museum, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, and Coit Tower

Denver, CO
: check out the 16th Street Mall, Black American West Museum, Colorado History Museum, Denver Art Museum & the Children’s Museum of Denver

Atlanta, GA
: visit the Atlanta Motor Speedway, High Museum of Art, Zoo Atlanta, the World of Coca Cola, and the Inside CNN Studio Tour

Continental Clear Air Turbulence

Early yesterday morning, Continental flight 128 enroute from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to Houston, Texas, experienced a violent episode of what appears to have been clear air turbulence. The event happened six hours into the flight somewhere between Puerto Rico, USA, and Grand Turk Island, Turks & Caicos.

It was reported that the aircraft had two unexpected intense episodes where the aircraft rose and then dove immediately after causing passengers without their seat belts fastened to fly throughout the cabin. In one case, an overhead panel had a large crack in it after a collision with what was said to be a passenger’s head.

With 179 passengers and crew onboard the Boeing 767, the aircraft was diverted and made an emergency landing in Miami, FL. Thirteen passengers were taken to a local hospital while twenty-two other passengers were treated at the scene for bumps and bruises they received during the powerful incident.

Clear air turbulence occurs when there is an erratic movement of air pockets that collide with one another. As they move rapidly and vertically at different speeds, the pressure becomes unstable and in some cases, can cause an aircraft to experience a violent turbulent episode.

Clear air turbulence is invisible and provides no warning or clues to its existence while storm turbulence can be identified by the presence of clouds. Aircraft radar is unable to detect clear air turbulence and it usually occurs between altitudes of 23,000 – 39,000 feet which is the navigation path of most commercial airliners.

New Ships on the Cruise Horizon

With cruise travel already established as the best value for your vacation dollar, it’s exciting to know that even in this slow economy new cruise ships are waiting on the horizon.

Royal Caribbean will be introducing the Allure of the Seas in December of 2010 which will feature two-story loft cabins, a full size carousel, and a zip-line for fantastic views of the ship.

Norwegian Cruise Line is set sail the Norwegian Epic in May 2010 which features an ice bar, a large Aqua Park, bowling alleys, rock climbing wall, a sports complex, and a Wii center.

In July 2010, Holland America Line will introduce its newest ship, the Nieuw Amsterdam which will provide a culinary arts center, a family-style Italian restaurant, a New York Times cyber coffee house, and premium spa amenities.

MSC Cruises will be introducing the MSC Magnifica in March 2010 which will have three swimming pools (one of which has a retractable roof), mini-golf, a solarium, plus the ship is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

Costa Cruise Line will introduce the Costa Deliziosa in January 2010 which will be the twin sister to the Costa Luminosa. Guests will enjoy the display kitchen of the Club Restaurant, the 4-D cinema, outdoor mega movie screen, and the golf and Grand Prix simulators.

The Celebrity Eclipse will be introduced by Celebrity Cruise Lines in April of 2010 and will feature the AquaSpa Relaxation Room, a two-story glass wine tower, and spacious the Eclipse Theater.

For more information, visit Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Costa Cruise Line and Celebrity Cruise Lines.