Go Where Ireland Takes You!

A land full of mystery and enchantment, Ireland has so much to offer!

Imagine rolling green hills, medieval towns, castles, heritage attractions, music, theater, sailing, golfing, great food, and so much more!  Discover Ireland tourism states that “you only have to touch down on Irish soil to realize that the island of Ireland is a relaxed unspoiled place where you can enjoy life.”

Only six hours from the east coast of the United States, and 5 airlines with direct flights, getting to Ireland has never been easier.  Hotel accommodation in Ireland starts as low as USD $82 per night with packages including airfare, car rental, and a 6 night hotel stay start at $499 per person.

Not to be missed sights in Ireland include:

  • Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin
  • Glendalough
  • Waterford Crystal factory
  • Blarney Castle
  • King John’s Castle, Limerick
  • Lakes of Killarney
  • Cliffs of Moher
  • Shannon
  • The Burren
  • Bunratty Medieval Banquet
  • The Walled City of Londonderry
  • Castle Leslie
And don’t miss out on having a full Irish breakfast, which, according to Wikipedia is “scrambled eggs, sausage, black pudding (don’t ask, don’t eat – haha), bacon, mushrooms, baked beans, hash browns, and half a tomato.”

For more information, visit Discover Ireland.

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.

Experience an Epicurean Mayan Feast

If you didn’t get enough turkey yesterday, here’s another feast you can look forward to – the Epicurean Mundo Maya tour of Honduras and Guatemala.

From farm to table, featuring traditional to contemporary food, this uniquely sustainable tour will take participants from Copan, Honduras, to Antigua, Guatemala.  Share conversations, make new friends, taste menu delights from up-and-coming chefs plus favourites from the masters.

The Epicurean Mundo Maya tour offered by Culture Xplorers has been featured as one of ’50 Tours of a Lifetime’ by National Geographic Traveler Magazine.  With only 4-12 people per tour, 8-day adventures start at USD $2,485 per person.

For more information on this and other tours, visit Culture Xplorers.

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Travel Writer scoured everywhere to find a Thanksgiving travel story with some humor, but alas, we were not successful.  
So, we will revert back to our favorite quote about Thanksgiving, with thanks given to the late Johnny Carson, who so aptly said:

“Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday.  People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year.  And then discover once a year is way too often.”

Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy your day and give thanks to whatever and whomever you see fit.  Oh, and this is a turkey who landed in our back yard!

Interview with Passionate Bermuda Specialist, Linda Mitchell (Part One)

Travel Writer would like to introduce you to professional Travel Consultant Linda Mitchell, owner of Bermuda Travel, who specializes in all things Bermuda including weddings and honeymoons.  

Q. Travel Writer: Why did you pick Bermuda as your area of specialty?
A. Mitchell: “I think Bermuda picked me!  I was a corporate travel agent working at on site travel offices specializing in VIP travel assistance.  Bermuda was always a focus for my client’s vacations due to my love of the island and frequent visits.  Bermuda is a passion of mine and so it makes it very easy for me to offer this destination with intimate knowledge to my clients.  I went to Bermuda for the first time in 1972 for spring break and fell in love with the island.  And because of my love of the island, I truly love what I’m doing and am doing what I love.”
Q. Travel Writer: That’s great, Linda!  So what was the turning point when you decided Bermuda was the niche for you?

A. Mitchell: “When my daughter decided to be married in Bermuda 8 years ago.  After planning her wedding with an on island wedding planner, I decided to start my own business to offer prospective wedding couples a service that provides consulting and assistance that includes the wedding event information as well as the travel piece for them and their guests.”
Q. Travel Writer: What makes your Bermuda wedding travel service unique?

A. Mitchell: “Until my business began, there was not someone that could give honeymoon or wedding couples the entire picture or that specialized in the destination.  Additionally, I am able to offer first-hand experience having been a mother of the bride and experiencing planning her wedding.  Each wedding that I have had the pleasure of working with has been a learning experience for me as each one is so wonderfully different.”
Q. Travel Writer:  How did you become a Bermuda Specialist?
A. Mitchell:  “I went through the Bermuda Department of Tourism ‘Bermuda Specialist Program’ which includes testing plus on island familiarization trips.  I’m also a Certified Bermuda Specialist and a Certified Destination Wedding Specialist with Travel Agent University.  As well, Bermuda Travel is an Accredited Agency with the International Association of Travel Agents (IATA).”
Q. Travel Writer:  What advantage is this to someone planning a trip to Bermuda?

A. Mitchell: “A Bermuda Specialist has updated information sent to them directly from the Bermuda Department of Tourism.  In my case, I take my specialist status to a higher level by traveling to Bermuda more often and forging impeccable relationships with the hotels and restaurants.  I can then make wonderful things happen for my clients that may include special reservations at restaurants and exclusive discounted rates as well as upgrades and amenities at the hotels, best rooms and extra special service.”
Q. Travel Writer:  How often do you travel to Bermuda yourself?
A. Mitchell: “As I built my business, I traveled to Bermuda and still do several times a year to visit hotels, restaurants and to meet with vendors, keeping sharp with what is going on.  I have also assisted many of the hotels with setting up wedding programs for the destination wedding couple.”
Q. Travel Writer:  Why should someone travel to Bermuda?  Why not the Caribbean or Bahamas instead?
A. Mitchell: “Where the Caribbean and Bahamas are very beautiful, Bermuda holds a charm of its own.  First of all, the closeness to the eastern seaboard makes it a perfect getaway for those that cannot take a week or more of vacation time.  Bermuda is less than 2 hours from Boston, DC, or New York, and just a little more from Philadelphia.”
Q. Travel Writer:  Now for the best part, tell us about Bermuda!  
A. Mitchell: “Bermuda is convenient and safe to travel throughout the entire island.  It is clean and welcoming!  It has the charm of a British Colony but is not stuffy.  The constant blooming of flowers throughout the island makes it beautiful even when you are not looking at the ocean which is the most magnificent color of aqua blue! The pink sand beaches are famous and there are many gorgeous ones to enjoy!  Bermuda was voted the #1 island by the 2009 Conde Nast Reader’s Poll.  There is something for everyone there! But really what makes Bermuda so alluring and charming is its people.  They are full of warm and welcoming hospitality!  Where else in the world do men wear shorts, shirt, jacket, tie and knee socks to work?!”

In Part Two of our interview series, Mitchell tells us about the best time of year to travel and accommodation choices for Bermuda; in upcoming Part Three, Mitchell will talk about sightseeing, shopping, and nightlife in Bermuda!

Feel free to contact Mitchell in the mean time by email or by telephone at 781.662.1953 or readers can visit her website, Bermuda Travel, where travel specials and her blog are posted. 

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.

Nearcation Trip of a Lifetime – Puerto Rico, USA

In the northern Caribbean lies an island of only 110 miles long and 35 miles wide – rich in history, culture, nature and teeming with white sand beaches, parks, mountains, and natural wonders – this is Puerto Rico.

Close than you think – 3 ½ hours from New York, Washington, DC, and Atlanta; 4 ½ from Chicago and Dallas; 2 ½ hours from Miami – Puerto Rico offers a year round average temperature of 80°F.  

Flying into Puerto Rico will take most visitors on a visit to San Juan, a spectacular combination of old and new.  Old San Juan features Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, market places, and the almost 500-year-old El Morro fortress, a World Heritage Site.  Here visitors will find quaint restaurants, cafes, galleries, and museums to explore aimlessly.  The Condado area of new San Juan consists of beach front hotels, fine dining, casinos, and entertainment galore.

Things not to be missed include the islands of Vieques and Culebra which consist of small laid back beach towns, perfect for soaking up the sun; a visit to Ponce including the Cathedral of Our Lady of Guadalupe; El Yunque Rain Forest which showcases amazing flora and fauna; one of the world’s largest cave systems, Camuy Caves; Porta Coeli church in San German, one of the oldest churches in the Western Hemisphere; and the world’s largest radio telescope at the Arecibo Observatory.

With no passport required for United States citizens, this is a nearcation that’s hard to beat!  For more information, visit the official site of the Puerto Rico Tourism Company, GotoPuertoRico.com.

© 2009 by Connie Motz.  All Rights Reserved.

Plan a Spring 2010 European River Cruise with Big Savings!

Imagine meandering along the Seine River in France viewing castles, quaint villages, and exquisite scenery, through the floor-to-ceiling windows from the luxury of your own cabin onboard a river cruise ship.
But not just any river cruise ship.  This is a European River Cruise Vacation offered by Avalon Waterways.  Featuring the most modern ships in design and technology, not to mention the youngest, it’s no wonder Avalon Waterways touts a 97% satisfaction rate.  Each cabin is a spacious 172 square feet with air conditioning, flat screen television, Egyptian cotton beddings, and ample closet space.  

Enjoy fine dining, local wines, enriching locally guided tours, while you marvel at the likes of the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, and Notre Dame, making a Seine River cruise the ultimate experience for lovers of art, history, and wine.
With prices starting from USD $2,149 for Seine River cruises, Avalon Waterways is currently offering a savings of $1,000 per stateroom on select Spring Europe River Cruise Vacations, including France, Belgium, Holland, Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Bulgaria, Romania, Serbia, Croatia, and Hungary.

For more information, visit Avalon Waterways.

Louis XIV, the Man and the King, at Versailles

From now through February 7, 2010, the Sun King, Louis XIV, will be honored at the Palace of Versailles in the first of its kind exhibit showcasing the art and personal tastes of the King.
Over 300 objets d’art will be on display including sculptures, paintings, tapestries, lavish jewelry, grand furniture pieces, and even a suit of armor worn by the King himself.  Highlights of the exhibit include a bust formed by Bernini in 1665, a portrait of Louis XIV created in 1701 by Hyancinthe Rigaud, and a stunning cabinet produced by Domenico Cucci and Pierre Gole on loan from the Duke of Northumberland.
Versailles Palace is open every day except Monday and French National holidays; entrance cost for the Louis XIV exhibit is €15 which includes an audioguide and admission to the Palace.
For more information on the exhibit, visit Chateau de Versailles.

Christmas New Orleans Style!

Have you been to New Orleans lately?  Why not consider spending Christmas or at least part of December in the Crescent City!  The month of December offers up great discounts on accommodations, plus musical events, extraordinary Christmas shopping plus traditional French Reveillon menus.

Let’s start with the accommodations.  Papa Noel discounted room rates are available at many districts within New Orleans starting as low as USD $69 per night at the Andrew Jackson Hotel, $99 at the Hotel Monteleone, or $149 at the Ritz-Carlton, all located within the French Quarter.  If you’re interested the Arts District, try the W New Orleans from $89 or the JW Marriott New Orleans from $99.

Musical events include Carolling in Jackson Square on December 20; Carols and Choir at the St. Louis Cathedral Mass on December 24; and Christmas Cathedral Concerts at the St. Louis Cathedral throughout December.  Irving Berlin’s White Christmas is performed weekends in December at Le Petit Theatre while Holiday Choir Performances are held on selected dates at the Hotel Monteleone.

Of course, amongst the streets glowing with twinkling Christmas lights is the fantastic shopping in the French Quarter – stop for a beignet and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde before visiting the French Market or head over to the Shops at Canal Place or Riverwalk Marketplace.   Once you’ve covered the downtown area, be sure to visit Julia Street, St. Charles Avenue, and Magazine Street, for more great shopping.

Reveillon Menus are a French tradition featuring time-honoured Creole cuisine all with a prix fix menu serving four or sometimes five courses.  With prices ranging from USD $27-65, sample delectable Creole delights including appetizers of Turtle Soup; classic Reveillon salad with Blue Cheese, walnuts, Louisiana Citrus and Cranberry Pesto; entrees of Crispy Duck with Red Currants; and desserts like White Chocolate Bread Pudding or Eggnog Creme Brulee.  

For more information on spending Christmas in New Orleans, visit New Orleans Online.

Drunken Airline Pilots – How Common is it?

Earlier this week, pilot Erwin Washington of United Airlines was about to push back from the tarmac enroute from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare when an alert co-worker on the flight reported his condition to authorities.  All 124 passengers onboard United Airlines flight 949 were transferred to other flights.

Erwin was removed from the aircraft, arrested, and subsequently faces charges of violating alcohol limits.  The 51-year-old is currently out on bail and has been temporarily suspended by United Airlines.

Previous pilot DUI incidents include:
  • May 2009 – a pilot for American Airlines was arrested at London Heathrow just prior to flight take off enroute to Chicago
  • Feb 2006 - an American Airlines pilot was pulled from his flight scheduled to fly from Manchester airport to Chicago
  • Aug 2004 – a pilot for Finnair received a six month jail term when he was arrested for being drunk prior to flight time
  • Nov 2003 – a British Airways pilot was sentenced to six months in jail as he was prepared to fly with an obviously drunken co-pilot and several crew members onboard
  • July 2002 – an America West pilot and co-pilot enroute from Miami to Phoenix lost their pilot’s licenses and were sentenced to prison terms for attempting to fly under the influence
Although extremely alarming, incidents of airline pilots flying under the influence of alcohol can at least be comforted by the fact that all of these pilots were intercepted before flying an aircraft which could have produced disasters of major proportions.

Where is Puerto Plata? Learn about the Dominican Republic!

Located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic, Puerto Plata is a friendly cultural experience with quaint Victorian houses in the Old City, plus an array of accommodations, restaurants, and bars to choose from – all within an arm’s reach of those gorgeous white sand beaches.
The Malecon is a popular shoreline walking destination which leads to the San Felipe Fortress which is over 500 years old.  You can ride the cable car up 2,800 feet to the top of Mt. Isabel de Torres, for spectacular island views and lush botanical gardens.  Mix with the locals at Sousa Beach or Long Beach, check out the local lobster sellers on Playa Grande Beach, or the adventure of kites surfing on Cabarete Beach.  Or swim with the dolphins or encounter rays, sharks, sea lions at Ocean World Adventure ParkNightlife hotspots include La Esquina Bar for jazz, Cristal Night Club for dancing, and the local action along the Malecon.

It is said if you want the glitz, glamour, and all things pretty – visit Punta Cana.  But if you want to visit the real Dominican Republic, visit Puerto Plata.   

Daily direct flights are available from Miami, FL, and Newark, NJ, with American Airlines and Continental Airlines respectively.  Jet Blue is also offering flights from New York City to Puerto Plata while Delta Airlines will start daily flights from Atlanta in December.  Charter flights are available from Chicago with Apple Vacations.
For more information on Puerto Plata, visit Dominican Republic Tourism.

Tour Australia – 14 days/11 nights with $240 per person Savings!

Ahhh...the land down under, isn’t it about time you visited Australia?  Spectacular scenery, wildlife, the Great Barrier Reef, dining, shopping, and those great Australian wines – just what are you waiting for?!  Now is the time to tour Australia.
Here’s a popular self-drive scenic tour choice to consider – ‘Waves and Wineries: A Road Trip’ presented by Swain Tours located in Pennsylvania.  This 14 day/11 night tour departs from Los Angeles and visits the Australian cities of Melbourne, Port Fairy, Coonawarra, and Adelaide.

Included in tour are international return airfare from Los Angeles, domestic flights within Australia, 11 nights four star/first class hotel accommodation, 11 breakfast and 3 lunches, a 5-day car rental, plus adventures that include an Aboriginal Cultural Experience, Kangaroo Island Adventure, Adelaide Markets and Barossa Valley.
Prices for this exciting tour start at $3,650 USD per person which includes an already deducted savings discount of $240 per person.
For more information on the Waves and Wineries: A Road Trip tour, visit Swain Tours.

Exclusive Promo: Palms Place Hotel & Spa Las Vegas $99 Luxury Rate!!

The Palms Place Hotel & Spa, located on the Strip at the Palms Las Vegas, is offering an exclusive $99 Luxury Rate for stays from now until December 28, 2009.

This exclusive promo rate includes a one night stay in Studio Suite Luxury accommodations which features a 660 sq ft room with Brazilian Ebony hardwood throughout, marble floors, expansive windows for spectacular views (some rooms feature a balcony), plasma television, plus a deluxe gourmet kitchen.  

But, if you’re not interested in cooking for yourself, the Palms Place Hotel & Spa offers no less than 10 dining and lounge options.  The Simon Restaurant & Lounge features the “best brunch in Vegas” according to the NY Post.

After a night on the town, you can indulge in the oh-so-comfortable king size pillow top mattress featuring luxurious Egyptian cotton bedding.  There’s also a queen pull-out sleeper sofa for additional guests.

The $99 Luxury Rate also includes a VIP Nightlife Pass which allows access to Ghostbar and the world’s only Playboy Club.  In order to receive this special rate, call the Palms Place Hotel & Spa directly at 1-866-725-6773 and ask for Promo 157.

For more information, visit the Palms Place Hotel & Spa.

Planning a trip this winter? Think BRAZIL!

Having remained a small fishing village without electricity until 1998, Jericoacoara is located 300km north of Fortaleza on the northern coast of Brazil between Camocim and Acarau.
With gorgeous white sand beaches and spectacular windsurfing, Jericoacoara (meaning ‘house of turtles’) became a protected National Park in 2002; this limits the numbers of tourists to the area but also preserves its overall natural beauty.
With a population of only 10,000, Jericoacoara doesn’t have any paved streets, only those covered with sand.  The slow pace and temperatures between 77° and 95°F attract visitors from around the world.  Restaurants offer fresh local seafood while quaint pousadas (inns) and hotels offer all the comforts of home; keep in mind that restaurants and hotels do not accept travelers checks, only cash, VISA, or MasterCard.
Nearby Prea Beach is known for even stronger winds than Jericoacoara which provides for exhilarating days of endless surfing, windsurfing, and kitesurfing.  The sand dunes of Jericoacoara also provide great dune buggy experiences, horseback riding excursions, and sand boarding.
For more information visit, Jericoacoara, Brazil or Jeri.com

PRESS RELEASE: The Right Place in Texas!

Are you looking for an exciting new city to visit? If the answer is yes, then Odessa, Texas is the RIGHT place for you.

Odessa is located midway between Dallas and El Paso in West Texas. Here, you’ll enjoy breathtaking skies, wide-open spaces and real West Texas hospitality. First class accommodations, great entertainment, museums, annual festivals, and unique attractions make Odessa “The right place in Texas.

Visit Odessa for unique shopping, entertainment and cuisine. You can enjoy everything from lip smackin’, good old fashion barbecue to authentic Mexican food. There is something for everyone in Odessa!  

To learn more, visit the Odessa Convention & Visitors Bureau.