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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Holiday Celebrations Along the Hudson River

Looking for a way to spend some holiday time? We just returned from Dutchess County in New York, where Gilded Age mansions are decked out in holiday style, and the Culinary Institute is offering unique dining experiences and classes to hone your cooking skills. For ideas on what to see, where to stay, and restaurant recommendations, see our latest story Holiday On the Hudson

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Obama's Nobel Prize

President Obama is in Oslo for the Nobel Peace Prize, and you can follow in his footsteps.The laureates always stay at the Grand Hotel and the festive banquet in their honor is always held in "Speilen" - The Mirror Room. World-famous Norwegians such as Henrik Ibsen and Fridtjof Nansen made Grand Hotel their second home.

You ,too, can sample a 5-course Nobel Dinner at the Grand Hotel served by white-gloved waiters on official Nobel china. The price for the dinner is NOK 850 per person, with special packages that include a hotel stay. For more information, see the "Obama experience" .

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Still waiting for the news to get past the border

Parliament Building, Ottawa

A Columbus Day parade followed by great Italian food makes for a terrific celebration, but should we really be distorting history for a canolli?

Just look to L'Anse Aux Meadows in Newfoundland for the evidence of the Vikings' presence in North America--well before the navigator who sailed for Queen Isabella.

Viking images are in the Parliament Building in Ottawa with the rest of Canadian history. So why hasn't the news gotten past the border? Maybe it's the same reason we haven't converted to metric...?
Or is it just more comfortable to stay with the same myths and legends?

When will we catch up to the rest of the world?

One of the things that comes up frequently when we travel is the amazement people in other countries feel when they read that Americans can go bankrupt if they get sick. We are the only industrialized nation where this happens. Why should it be controversial that everyone should be equally protected in catastrophic cases?

Other nations tackled national health care long before we did, and theirs costs half as much as ours. They cover everyone. We need a basic policy that covers everyone, too.

Yes, I know people say we have more specialists and faster non-essential services. We also pay twice what other nations pay for their health care. All the bells and whistles can be added as perks or paid for out of pocket, etc., but first we need a simply administered basic health care plan that everyone can count on.

Rather than bailing out the irresponsible we need to provide for those who meet with misfortune through no fault of their own.

Bearskin hats

We recently returned from a wonderful visit to Ottawa , where we enjoyed the pageantry of Parliament Hill. It seems that the bearskin hats were originally designed to add height on the battlefield, and they do make quite an impression in a parade. Couldn't help thinking that the must be terribly hot in summer, and wondering how they keep them balanced on their heads.
Looking for a unique once-in-a-lifetime holiday gift idea?

How about tickets to the 2010 Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games to be held in Lexington, Ky. at the Kentucky Horse Park from September 25-October 10, 2010.

It's the largest sporting event in America in 2010, second largest in North America only to the Vancouver Olympics. This is the first time in history that the World Equestrian Games have been held outside of Europe and is also the first time the world championships of eight equestrian disciplines will compete in one location.

Renowned clinicians and trainers will be at theEquine Village. The trade fair will feature vendors from around the world. Add a day trip to a bourbon distillery or a famous horse farm.

For more information go to or Individual tickets for sessions of competition will be available for each of the eight world championships, and prices range from $25 - $150.

Friday, October 2, 2009

HalloWeekends at Cedar Point

It's ultimate thrills all year long at the #1 Roller Coaster Capital of the World, but at Halloween, Cedar Point Amusement Park adds to the fun with HalloWeekends. It's a spooky family-friendly event voted “Best Seasonal Event” by the readers of Theme Park Magazine.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Working Waterfront Festival in New Bedford

Today was a perfect New England fall day--too nice to spend it all catching up on chores indoors. Lucky for us it was the day of the New Bedford Working Waterfront Festival, so that's where we spent the rest of the afternoon. It's held on the same wharves used by the whaling ships in the mid- to late 1800s.

Did you know that whaling was once the fifth largest industry in the nation and that half of all the whaling in the world was from New Bedford's customs district? The city's whaling agents were among the richest people in the USA, and new Bedford was one of the richest cities. The discovery of petroleum changed all that.

New Bedford had been a center of many manufacturing jobs, few of which are left. It was great to see how strong the fishing industry continues to be. Several boats were open for touring and the tug even took folks out for a ride. A captain aboard the spiffy Alaska scallop boat showed a film of their operations onboard as we sat in the galley. They supply scallops all over America, including the Kentucky Derby.

There was live music, including, sea shanty songs by the Johnson girls, scallop shucking contests, arts and crafts for sale, whaleboat rides, a tugboat muster, and a whole lot more, including some of the freshest seafood treats you could hope to taste for sale under a big tent. Admission is free!

This continues tomorrow, September 27. If you are reading this in time and live in the area, don't miss it! Read more about it here: Working Waterfront Festival

Saturday, September 19, 2009


Just home from a writer's conference in Alabama--an immersion in Civil War and Civil Rights in Montgomery, and a strange encounter at the U. S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville.

Growing up as we did in the midst of the turmoil,tragedies, and achievements of the 60s,walking in the footsteps of Martin Luther King, Jr. and in the cockpit of APOLLO astronauts was quite a thrill.

During a meeting on the Star Wars exhibit that will be at the U. S. Space and Rocket Center June 25 through Sepember 6, 2010, who should walk into the boardroom of the Space and Rocket Center but a couple of Stormtroopers and Darth Vader himself. (Not sure who the woman in the blue suit is. Anyone know?) Aside from the heavy breathing, Darth was a charming lunch date.

Friday, August 21, 2009


We just got back from Ottawa, and I just don't know what kept us from visiting before this. It's the capital of Canada but somehow we overlooked it. It's a great city.

The places of greatest interest are easily accessible on foot--London-style Changing of the Guard, world-class museums, a colorful history, great restaurants and performances. We were struck by how clean the city is, too. It also has one of the best hotels in the world, the Fairmonts Chateau Laurier, of the grand hotels built for the Grand Trunk Railway, and a favorite of Winston Churchill and British royalty--right in the middle of the city. (With tourism down, it's offering some great promotions.)

Beyond the history and culture, Ottawa is on the Rideau Canal, which is great for boating and the canal is lined with miles of bicycle trails. On Sundays they close some of the streets for bicycling. And then there's those Beavertails at the Byward Market...
The Seattle Times reported that the number of Americans traveling to Canada is at the lowest point it has been since 1972, due in large part to the recent passport requirement. Something needs to be done to encourage the 70%+ of Americans who do not have passports to get one.

Ours is a beautiful country, but we certainly need to experience more of what's outside our borders if we are to better understand what's going on in the world. (Of course, the small amount of vacation time Americans get is another factor that keeps them closer to home. If more people became aware of the vacation time Europeans enjoy, we'd probably have a revolt. And since most don't travel abroad they don't realize the difference.) But that's another topic for another day.)

Bottom line is that it's important to get outside the box/border and to see what's there. We need to do something to encourage people to get passports so this won't be a deterrent to international travel.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Travel Deal of the Year

Jet Blue is offering unlimited travel with its All-You-Can-Jet Pass. Travel as much as you like between September 8 and October 8, 2009 for $599. You must book by August 21.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Children of Chernobyl

A chance encounter at a coffee shop yesterday brought our attention to an area of the world we hadn't thought about for some time--Chernobyl. The devastation and radioactivity goes on decades after the tons of radioactive material was released into the atmosphere in 1986---the worst nuclear accident in history. The conditions in the affested areas are heartbreaking, but a group of volunteers is making a difference.

We met a man who volunteers his time as a translator for children who are brought here each year for much-needed medical help as part of the Chernobyl Childrens Project in Boston. The children arrived in Boston today for a month-long stay. For more information on the international projects or to become a part of this collaborative effort of host familes, physicians, hospitals, sponsors, translators and others, click here

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Time to hit the road: Hotel prices are dropping

Prices are falling, making travel more affordable. According to's Hotel Price Index (HPI) (March 23, 2009), the average price of a hotel room around the world dropped 12% in the fourth quarter last year as compared to the fourth quarter of 2007.

The largest drops were in North America and Europe. Prices are about where they were when the index was started in 2004. Since the HPI tracks prices paid, not advertised prices, it's a pretty good indicator of what's going on.

Here's what they found:
"Some of the notable findings about U.S. destinations included in this year's report:
New York was the most expensive U.S. destination of those tracked in the global list, with prices averaging $255 during Q4 2008 - a fall of more than one-fifth (22 percent) compared to the same period in 2007.
Washington, D.C. saw the sharpest price increase of any U.S. destination, with a 10 percent rise to $120 compared to Q4 2007. Demand for properties in the nation's capital surged as travelers planned trips for the presidential inauguration.
Among the United States, New York was the most expensive destination, followed by Hawaii and Massachusetts. The least expensive states for travelers in Q4 2008 were Idaho, Nevada and South Dakota.
New York topped American travelers' lists as the most popular domestic city destination, followed by Las Vegas, Orlando, Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
For Americans venturing outside the country, Toronto was the most popular destination for U.S. travelers, followed by London. Paris, Rome and Hong Kong also made the top 10 list of international favorites for American travelers.
For international travelers visiting the United States, New York, Las Vegas and Miami were the top destinations in Q4 2008. "

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Canada becomes a bargain

Have you noticed that a Canadian dollar costs just 82 cents? With Canadian vacations such a bargain now, we're trying to decide where to go next. We loved the Canadian Rockies last fall, and it's hard to top the festivals in Montreal and Quebec City....More later...

Here are some links to our favorite Canadian experiences:

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Plymouth, MA

Sometimes we forget how much there is to do right here in Massachusetts. We shared fish and chips, clams, and calamari by the wharf and walked the waterfront in Plymouth. Of course, we had to do the obligatory stroll past the Mayflower II and the stop at The Rock. Its great to be there before the summer crowds. Tried the free wine tasting at Plymouth Bay Winery, chatted with the owner, Tim, and brought home some cranberry wine. It'll be great for Thanksgiving--if it lasts that long.

Friday, March 20, 2009

We're working on a story on Missouri and going over some of the well known people from the state, like President Harry S. Truman. Seems everyone has seen the photo of Truman holding up the Chicago Tribune--a paper that had called him a nincompoop--with the headline "Dewey Defeats Truman". BTW, Do you know what the S. stands for? Nothing. It's just an S.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

exchange rates

Prices abroad are starting to look a little better. Just checked the papers today and the British pound is $1.40, compared to over $2.00 in the fall of 2007 through the fall of 2008---when our daughter and son-in-law were living in England. Hasn't been this low since the summer of 2001.

The euro is $1.29, high for those of us who remember it hitting $.85 in 2000, but a big drop from the 2008 highs of $1.59. Will the pound and the euro soon be on par with one another?

cruise deals

The prices just keep dropping and cruises seem to be unbeatable vacation deals. We just received an email from Carnival Cruise Lines offering 7 night Caribbean cruises from $429, balcony cabins from $599! Depending on where you live, you may not even need a flight. There's Canada and New England in a balcony cabin from New York starting at $719, or Florida and the Bahamas from Baltimore from $669. We haven't tried Carnival, but at these prices for a vacation that includes transportation, meals, and entertainment, it sounds like a great deal. For more on cruising see

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We were delighted to learn that five of our stories received awards in the 2008 NATJA writing competition. All appeared in the Sun Chronicle and versions of these stories are on our website, Notable Travels.

Awards included First Place for All About Oxford in the Historical Travel category. A two-part series on the North and South islands of New Zealand, 'Kiwi Adventures: Feel the Spirit' and another on river cruising in France 'Sailing the Seine; Simple Pleasures' picked up Merit citations in the Best Travel Series category.

The North American Travel Journalists Association is a premier professional association of writers, photographers, editors, and tourism professionals dedicated to redefining professional development for the travel industry.

Friday, February 13, 2009

February 12 marked the one year countdown to the Vancouver Winter Olympics and this will be a time of special celebrations--many free. Go to for more information.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

In time for Valentine's Day, we just read an email from that listed their choice for Top 10 Romantic Destinations:

Santorini, Greece

Bali, India

Paris, France

Salzburg, Austria

Algarve, Portugal

Sorrento, Italy

Poipu, Hawaii

Phuket, Thailand

Killarney, Ireland

Quebec City, Canada

Any other suggestions?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Want to impress your Valentine? How about tickets for this? The spectacular in-the-round production of Carmen--the world's most popular opera-- returns to the Royal Albert Hall for just 12 performances between February 26th and March 8th.

The Milestone Hotel, recently voted Condé Nast Traveler's Best Hotel in the British Isles in the magazine's 21st Annual Readers' Choice Awards, is just a few minutes from the Royal Albert Hall and is offering a special package for an unforgettable night.

Their special Carmen Experience package includes:

Welcome glass of champagne on arrival
One night in the room of your choice
Full English Breakfast in bed
Three course "Carmen" pre-show themed menu in Cheneston's , with dessert , coffee, and liqueur upon return
Two tickets to Carmen
Complimentary VIP transfer to RAH by Bentley Limousine
Price of package depends on choice of room. Deluxe King £489.12, Studio £627.12, Junior Suite £873.22 and Master Suite £1,103.22.To book this package please contact the hotel directly on +44 (0) 207 958 7727, US Toll Free +800 16988740 or visit

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Sale on vacation home rentals on London, Paris, and New York

From January 5th to 28th February 2009, our favorite vacation accommodations rental company, Coach House Realty, is offering a 20% discount on selected London, Paris and New York properties for stays of 7 days or more

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

$1 hotel rooms

Last Minute Travel is featuring $1 hotel rooms for 15 minutes each day this week. For more information, see Notable News:

Monday, January 26, 2009

We love to travel and are often asked for recommendations by friends and acquaintances . We can never come up with just one favorite destination or one-size-fits-all trip, so decided to put together a collection of stories about the ones worth writing about. Whether your budget is large or limited, with a little planning you can savor some of the best of what the world has to offer.
We'll be adding travel tips, news, and--important in today's economy-- special deals. It's all coming together in our new website, Notable Travels It's a collection of exceptional travel experiences for Baby Boomers and beyond--- people like us who love to expand their world view by discovering new things about the people and places around us.