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Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Free admission to national Parks this weekend

Admission to the National Parks is FREE this weekend, June 5 and 6, 2010. With longer days and fewer crowds, there’s no better time to visit places like the Rocky Mountains National Park, Mesa Verde, or Yellowstone. (Fees for activities such as camping, reservations, tours, or concessions are not affected by the entrance fee waiver.)

245 of the 392 National Parks are free year-round. The other 147 parks charge entrance fees ranging from $3 to $25.

You might want to hike some of the 17,000 miles of trail located in national parks on National Trails Day on June 5. The National Park Service National Trails System also manages more than 50,000 miles of historic and scenic trails of national importance, such as the Appalachian National Scenic Trail, the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail, and more than 1,000 national recreation trails of local or regional significance.

On these special weekends, some of the national park concessioners are joining the National Park Service with the their own special offers. The National Park Service entrance fees will also be waived on other dates this year.

Fee-free days this year:
June 5-6, 2010
August 14-15, 2010
September 25, 2010
(Public Lands Day)
November 11, 2010
(Veterans Day)

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Staycations: Is it truly a trend?

YPartnership just posted the results of its Portrait Of American Travelers survey in which it examined whether the recession and resultant household budget constraints has caused people to choose a "staycation" and vacation closer to home.

The typical leisure traveler, according to YPartnership, averages four leisure trips a year.

Last year, the survey found this "staycation" trend to be "more media myth than reality" since fewer than 10% of respondants reported in the affirmative. The latest survey, however, found that during the previous 12 months nearly one quarter of respondants with an annual income over $50,000 took one or more leisure overnight trips or vacations within a 50 mile radius of their home as an alternative to traveling a greater distance. The incidence is greater among younger travelers, Millenials (age 18-30) and GenerationXers (age 31-44), but has affected all age groups.

Here are their findings:

All Leisure Travelers 26%
Generational Group
• Millennials (18-30) 37%
• GenXers (31-44) 31%
• Boomers (45-63) 21%
• Matures (64+) 15%
Annual Household Income
• $50-$124K 26%
• $125K+ 26%
Children At Home 32%
No Children At Home 21%

Saturday, April 17, 2010

One if by land and two if by sea: Historic Concord Inn offers package specials

Just in time for the April 18 anniversary of Paul Revere's historic " One if by land and two if by sea" ride, the historic Concord Inn is offering luxury package specials. Guest rooms are located in the original building, which dates to 1716, and provides an authentic Colonial experience, complete with wood floors, exposed beams and period accents.

Concord's Colonial Inn is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and has been operating as a hotel since 1889. The Inn overlooks Monument Square and is surrounded by many literary and revolutionary landmarks.

In 1775, one of the Inn's original buildings was used as a storehouse for arms and provisions. When the British came to seize and destroy the supplies, the Minutemen met them at the North Bridge on April 19th for what became the first battle of the American Revolution. In the early 1800s the Thoreau family moved in and Henry David Thoreau lived in what is now the Colonial Inn from 1835 to 1837 while he attended Harvard University.

The hotel has teamed with local spas, historic attractions and its own award-winning restaurants to offer a variety of packages.

With 300 years of history, Concord's Colonial Inn is one of America's most historic Inns. Guests include Franklin D. Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, John Wayne, Shirley Temple, Steve Martin, Kurt Russell, Goldie Hawn, Ally Sheedy, Arnold Palmer, Faye Dunaway, Dan Quayle, Glenn Close, Bruce Springsteen, Queen Noor of Jordan, Harry Connick Sr., and Lady Mary Soames, daughter of Winston Churchill.

The Inn is just 20 miles outside Boston. Area attractions include the Old Manse, Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Walden Pond and the Concord Museum.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Copenhagen's Little Mermaid arrives in China

The Little Mermaid, star of the 1989 Disney movie and subject of the fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen on which it was based, is now a world traveler. Her statue by Edvard Eriksen has remained in Langelinie pier for nearly a century--since 1913--despite two beheadings and having her arm cut off, and is Denmark's most popular tourist attraction.

Following a Danish and Chinese ceremony at Langelinie March 25 in which the Minister for Economic and Business Affairs, Brian Mikkelsen, and the Lord Mayor of Copenhagen, Frank Jensen, wished her a bon voyage, the Little Mermaid embarked on her journey.

According to Brian Mikkelsen, Minister for Economic and Business Affairs, "We participate in EXPO 2010 to brand Denmark and Danish values to the Chinese and all visitors from around the world who visit the Danish Pavilion. Our loan of the Little Mermaid to China shows that we Danes are interested in other cultures and want to share our art and cultural treasures with them.

Frank Jensen, Lord Mayor of the City of Copenhagen, remarked, "We are proud to lend the Little Mermaid to China. I am convinced that she will be an excellent ambassador of Denmark, particularly since the Chinese already are very fond of Hans Christian Andersen and his fairytales. At the same time I am delighted that Ai Weiwei's video installation will make it possible for the Danes to follow her throughout her journey.

She arrived yesterday at the World EXPO in Shanghai and will be on display in Harbour Pool in the center of the Danish Pavilion from May 1 to October 31, 2010. Visitors will be able to ride bicycles around the pavilion, Copenhagen-style. It is expected that she will be seen by 70 million visitors.

See Notable Travels for more on Copenhagen or Copenhagen Tourism for additional information on the Little Mermaid .

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The fountain at the center of civil rights and the Civil War

Montgomery’s Court Square is dominated by the landmark fountain that stands at the site of Civil War-era slave auctions. No matter which way you look from this spot, you see reminders of major movements in our nation’s history.

The telegram that led to first shots of the War of Northern Aggression, (known to Yankees as The Civil War) was sent from a hidden telegraph office on second floor of the Square’s Winter Building.

Rosa Parks waited at a nearby bus stop for the historic ride in 1955 that led to her arrest for refusing to give up her seat. The Rosa Parks Library and Museum, part of Troy University, is just down Montgomery Street, at the site of this pivotal event.

Dexter Avenue—one of most historic short streets in the US—runs uphill from Court Square to the State Capitol where in 1861 Jefferson Davis was inaugurated as President of the Confederate States of America. A little over a century later (1965) the Selma-to- Montgomery march for voting rights for all citizens ended here, highlighted by the “How Long, Not Long” speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Midway up the hill, Martin Luther King, Jr. preached from his first and only pulpit at the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church, also headquarters of the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

The First White House of the Confederacy, Jefferson Davis’ Civil War home while Montgomery was Capital of the Confederate States of America has been preserved with period furnishings, war memorabilia, and some of his personal items. It was relocated from the Renaissance Hotel area, a short walk from the fountain, to its present spot across from the Capitol and adjacent to the Archives.

The story of Alabama’s people is revealed at the Alabama Department of Archives and History, Alabama’s official state history museum. It’s the oldest state-funded archives in the nation and a genealogical research facility, all housed in an impressive marble building completed in 1940.

For more about this historic city, see Montgomery.

Go fly a kite

March always reminds us of the fun of flying a kite. The folks in Eureka Springs Arkansas, the ultimate Victorian mountain village, are holding their 20th Annual Eureka Springs Kite Festival on March 27, 10 am to 4 pm.

For more information about the kite festival, call KaleidoKites at 479-253-6596 or go online at KaleidoKites.

Nestled in the Ozarks of northern Arkansas Eureka Springs is the 19th century resort known for the healing powers of its mineral spring waters. Today, Eureka Springs is one of most respected art centers in country. The many festivals and special events attract tourists and renowned artists and performers from around the world.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Win a free book 'Once in a Lifetime Trips'

European Waterways has announced that their hotel barge Shannon Princess II that cruises the Emerald Isle's River Shannon, is featured in a new book called 'Once in a Lifetime Trips' by Chris Santella.

This book brings together the world's 50 most extraordinary and memorable travel experiences and is filled with stunning photographs.

European Waterways is giving away a copy of this wonderful book.

Enter the Book Competition

Competition Rules

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Paris--City of Romance

For Valentine's Day, what more romantic destination than Paris? Do you know who we have to thank for the beautiful city of today? The megalomania of a General and the talents of a Baron created the standard by which other cities came to be judged. See more in our column :>

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Attention Comcast subscribers--virus warning

Comcast terminated their contract with McAfee and switched to Norton but hasn't informed subscribers yet. As soon as possible, go to the High-Speed Internet (lower right part of page). Follow the instructions to switch to Norton.

I learned the hard way that my McAfee wasn't working. It is supposed to be provided as part of my Comcast subscription.

I got a virus Tuesday night. I ran a McAfee scan to no avail. Seems it hadn't been working for days.

Since McAfee's contract was terminated, McAfee would only help if I paid $89.95. After multiple calls to Comcast, in which Comcast representatives insisted McAfee was in effect and will be phased out gradually by May 12, I was connected with Norton for assistance. I had to pay $99.99 for them to debug my computer and get Norton running.

Finally reached upper level Comcast management today. Apparently this is a big problem now for lots more people than me. Finally got them to credit me the $99.99, etc. Took a lot of calls to straighten this out. Two days wasted and plenty of frustration.But at least they covered the financial cost.

If you get suspicious pop-ups, don't try to click them off with the mouse. Hold down alt and F4. Any click activates the virus, which, I'm told, is designed to get your credit card info.

In any case, if you are a Comcast customer, switch to Norton anti-virus immediately to be sure you are protected.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Royal Caribbean Cruise Line in Haiti

As the controversy continues regarding the cruise ship stops and partying on Haiti in the midst of the devastation, we wanted to share with our readers a letter from Adam Goldstein, President and CEO of Royal Caribbean International:

Dear Linda,

The devastating earthquake in Haiti has saddened us all at
Royal Caribbean® and our thoughts and prayers continue to go out to the people of Haiti. I have heard from so many of you about your concerns and how we together can make a difference. I appreciate the valuable feedback, suggestions and ideas that you, our valued Crown & Anchor® Members, have provided and please know that we've taken them all under consideration.

There has been debate over our decision to continue our calls on Labadee®. This was not an easy decision to make. Government officials, representatives of the United Nations and even taxi drivers asked us to seriously consider maintaining our visits to Labadee® to ensure the economic stability of this unaffected area of the island. In the end, we focused on the fact that we have been doing business on the island for more than 30 years and we were not going to abandon her in her darkest hour. So we have decided to continue to call on Labadee® as scheduled.

All of our ships calling into Labadee® are transporting much needed supplies to Haiti, amounting to over 120 pallets in the first week alone and more is on the way. Our lounge chairs have even become useful as makeshift hospital beds to help treat the injured. Royal Caribbean® has pledged at least $2 million in humanitarian relief including 100% of the net revenue generated during calls to Labadee®. Additionally, guests onboard our ships will have the ability to donate to Food for the Poor's Haiti Relief Fund through their onboard accounts if they elect to do so. In response to numerous suggestions regarding guest participation in the recovery efforts, volunteers on some ships calling into Labadee® can join us in assembling backpacks for kids which we will be donating to the local community.

During this difficult time, it means so much to us to have you standing by our side. As the recovery efforts continue, Royal Caribbean® commits to continue our support for the reconstruction of the nation of Haiti and its people. Please visit to learn about our latest efforts to provide relief and assistance. I will continue to keep everyone updated on our efforts through my blog.


Adam Goldstein
President & CEO
Royal Caribbean International®

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Royal Caribbean donates revenues to haitian relief effort.

After the devastating earthquake in Haiti, it's easy to point fingers at those who vacation on its shores in seeming indifference to the tragedy.

The alternative, however, deprives the Haitians of the income so crucial to them.

Royal Caribbean, one of the largest foreign investors in Haiti,is also delivering much-needed supplies on its stops there, has pledged a minimum $1 million in aid, and is donating the destination's net revenues to the relief effort.

Passengers are given an opportunity to donate to the Food for the Poor's Haiti Relief Fund.

USA Today has published the full text of Royal Caribbean's announcement of Haitian aid.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Adventure Travel: You're Only as Old as You Feel

Seems the proverbial rocking chair is going the way of the ice box, Victrola, and LPs.

Travel companies are noticing that the average age of travelers is inching up--right up into the 90s for the increasing number of active seniors with the health and mindset to do so. Read more about the antics of some adventurous octo- and nonagenarians in this New York Times article.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Baggage fees reach the stratosphere

Continental Airlines has matched Delta's increase in the fee to check luggage and is now charging $23 for the first bag and $32 for the second one if you pay online. Paying at the airport bumps it to $25 and $35, respectively.

This applies to tickets bought on or after January 5 on Delta and on or after January 9 on Continental.

Our advice--Don't jump at what appears to be the lowest fare without factoring in these costs. Check and compare with Southwest, which has the best policy--first 2 checked bags are free. And let Southwest know that this is why you choose them. Rumor has it that they are conducting surveys on the effects of jumping on the bandwagon.

For more on this and other airlines' policies see CNN

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Travel Warning: The Sky Is Falling in Florida

Leaping lizards! The temperatures in Florida are so frosty that iguanas are falling from the trees.

Don't assume that the pesky critters are goners. They are merely in a state of suspended animation, according to Fox news.

3 1/2 year old "Iguana Girl" has turned this into a great adventure.

You might want to rethink collecting them as souvenirs. They'll be right back to their pesky selves as soon as they get warmed up.