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Archive for March, 2008

Boston Travel Guide

March 13th, 2008

Boston is one of my favorite cities to visit in the Northeast. Famous for everything from the Red Sox and Paul Revere to Cheers and clam chowder. Boston is a popular destination for so many reasons. Two of things I recommend to any one who visits the city are to take walk on The Freedom Trail and visit Faneuil Hall | Quincy Marketplace for amazing food and shopping.


Boston Freedom Trail

(The Freedom Trail next to Faneuil Hall)

The Freedom Trail covers 16 historic landmarks across Boston and Charlestown. Beginning in the Boston Common and ending at the Bunker Hill Monument, one can walk the trail and experience sites such as the New and Old State Houses, Park Street Church and Granary Burial Ground, the Black Heritage Trail, King’s Chapel & Burial Ground, Faneuil Hall, the site of the Boston Massacre, Paul Revere’s house, the U.S.S. Constitution and several others, all connecting many of Boston’s historic events. The Freedom Trail has long been known as one of the most basic and “must-see” attractions in Boston. A historic and thorough overview no visitor should go without.

Sixteen historic sites, all significant in this country’s early struggle for freedom, are connected by a 2.5 mile red brick line that not only links one place to another, but the past to the present. What makes the sites on the Freedom Trail so special is that they are not recreations or adaptations. They are real. Each one has a role in the beginning of a nation, each one connects us to the spirit of Boston’s early patriots whose hearts were ignited by the spark of liberty. Revolutionary Timeline 1630 Puritans establish the town of Boston. 1670 The first Old South Meeting House, a two-story cedar hall, is built. 1761 James Otis speaks against the Writs of Assistance at the Old State House. 1764 The Sugar Act taxation and Currency Act infuriate Colonists. 1765 The Stamp Act taxation sparks rioting in Boston. 1768 September 18-British garrison troops in Boston. 1770 March 5- The Boston Massacre leaves five dead. British uphold the Tea Act. 1773 December 16-The Boston Tea Party prompts the Intolerable Acts as punishment. 1775 April 18-Paul Revere and William Dawes, Jr., ride from Boston to alert the countryside that British troops are headed to Lexington. 1775 April 19-The British retreat to Boston after the Battles of Lexington and Concord. 1775 June 17-The Battle of Bunker Hill leaves heavy casualties. 1776 March 17-Washington liberates Boston. British evacuate with troops and local Tories. 1776 July 18- Declaration of Independence is read from the Old State House balcony. 1788 June 21-The Constitution is ratified. 1789 George Washington makes triumphal visit to Boston as first President. 1795 Construction begins for the new State House. 1797 USS Constitution is launched. 1809 The Park Street Church is built. 1822 Boston is incorporated as a city. 1829 July 4-William Lloyd Garrison speaks against slavery at the Park Street. 1843 June 17 -Bunker Hill Monument is dedicated.

Quincy Market

(Quincy Market)

If you are a history buff there is Faneuil Hall and for those who like shopping there are a number of stores that will exceed your expectations in Quincy Market. National Park Service rangers present historical talks every thirty minutes, except when Hall is in use for special events. Faneuil Hall has served as a marketplace and a meeting hall since 1742. Funding was provided by a wealthy merchant, Peter Faneuil, for the construction and local artisan to create the grasshopper weather vane that still perches on the building’s cupola. Inspiring speeches by Samuel Adams and other patriots were given that eventually led to independence from the British. Faneuil Hall was expanded in 1806 by Charles Bulfinch.

When Boston became a city the use of Faneuil Hall as a government meeting place came to an end, but it was still regularly used. Today, the first floor is still used as a lively marketplace and the second floor is a meeting hall where many Boston City debates are held. The 170-year-old Quincy Market, located directly behind Faneuil Hall, served as Boston’s wholesale food distribution center until the 1960s. Today, the food stalls inside this stately granite building offer culinary delights to thousands of visitors a day, selling everything from calzones to gourmet soup to frozen yogurt. Be sure to visit with an empty stomach, since you’ll find a variety of food vendor. The Marketplace is a five-minute walk to the New England Aquarium, The Children’s Museum, The Old State House, and Paul Revere’s House. Other attractions that are between 7-15 minutes away include The New State House, The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston Public Garden, Old North Church, The USS Constitution, and Fenway Park. There’s a Cheers here as well as one in Back Bay. The Back Bay location is what inspired the show.

jasonede Travel, Travel Guide , , ,

Rio de Janeiro Brazil Travel Guide

March 11th, 2008

My name is Gabriela and I am originally from Argentina. A couple of months ago, I had the opportunity to travel to Rio de Janeiro Brazil for friend’s birthday party with my husband. Here is a short travel guide for Rio:

Where to stay:

I booked my hotel right on Copacabana Beach, which was a 50 minute tax ride.

 

Copacabana Beach

(Copacabana Beach)

What to see:

I would definitely recommend visiting Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corvado. I also recommend checking out the view at Arpoador Beach.

 

Sugar Loaf Mountain

(Sugar Loaf Mountain)

 

What to do:

There is a really cool bar called the Cristal Lounge that we went to. In Rio de Janerio Brazil the city is just as fun during the day as it is at night!

gabrielar Travel, Travel Guide

Eating your way around the world

March 10th, 2008

Food is my #1 passion in life and travel #2. However, sometimes I think the only reason I like to travel is to find different foods to fuel Passion #1 - I even keep a restaurant journal. When I travel, I research the restaurants and make someone else research everything else. I then record the details of the foodie-adventures in my journal.

Some lessons I have learned along the way:

  1. Ask locals for recommendations – obvious, but there are a few caveats.
    1. Your hotel front desk is usually the first place to start, but beware. If they recommend a restaurant with a business card and instructions to give it to the restaurant and “tell them we sent you,” DON’T GO. This happened to me in Barcelona, and we were so upsold at dinner it was the most unrelaxing part of the trip.
    2. Ask the right question. Don’t ask, “What restaurants do you recommend.” Ask, “Where do you eat with your friends/family?” and follow that one up with “What kind of food do you like” to ensure their tastes aren’t completely off from yours.
    3. My favorite people to ask are taxi drivers and locals working at bars or restaurants where you have had a good experience.
  2. If you are traveling within the US, the internet will be your best friend in pre-planning, but web sites aren’t as common among international restaurants. I like www.chowhound.com for national and international.
    1. One thing you can research online before is what is considered local cuisine and drinks. Research tipping practices while you are at it.
    2. If you go to a restaurant that you like, and there are a lot of other restaurants in that same area, grab a business card – that way, you can hand the taxi driver the card the next night instead of trying to explain.
    3. Look for restaurants that are already busy – it will be worth the short wait.
    4. Ask for an English menu, you would be surprised how many places have them – and they usually give you a good laugh with the spelling and translations.
  3. I shouldn’t have to tell anyone this – but try to avoid chains. However, some local chains, are usually pretty good.

So actual recommendations in random locations?

Tokyo: Garlic House – order the garlic French bread for the appetizer, amazing!

Madrid: La Finca de Susana (chefs in training, so great, inexpensive food), and ENE (funky posh, a little pricy)

Dublin: For me, the food in Irelandtastes as dull as the weather, but I managed to find one good place: Chatham Brasserie (Chatham street Dublin– try the burger and chorizo brushetta). Diep Noodle Bar (Ranelagh Dublin 6) is also good.

Madison, WI:I know, not very ‘jetsetter’ of me, but this is an all time favorite and easy to miss and there is only a small black sign hanging on a grey door: Muramoto (106 King Street; Asian fusion)

Barcelona:Barceloneta (L’Escar, 22 moll Dels Pescadors) – pricey, but the view is to die for! Try the cod Carpaccio and don’t skip dessert.

London: Too many great restaurants to count, but Ping Pong is great. All Dim Sum! Order Jasmine tea for a nice surprise too!

Berlin: KaDeWe is a department store in Berlin – like Harrods in London, at least when it comes to the food. Take a few hours to wonder around the upstairs section and sample oysters and champagne!

Santiago: Nau Kana - unbelievable Asian, Middle East fusion! Try their version of the Mojito - vodka & basil.

lvolcheff Dining Reviews, Travel , , , , , , ,

New York City Guide

March 7th, 2008

New York City

As travel to New York continues and we see an increasing influx of travelers from my native home of Ireland, I am always asked the same questions, where should I stay?, where should I shop? and what should I do? Here are a few tips to share with everyone:

Where should I stay? It really depends on when you come and your budget, but the most important thing to remember is that there is life outside of Times Square!! There are some great deals on the East Side and Upper East, like the Marmara Hotel, a luxury suite property on the East Side with great views, service and value for the suite that you get. Because the subway is such an easy mode of transport, I encourage people to look outside the center to get better value for money and see more of the city.

Marmara Hotel

(Marmara Hotel)

Where should I shop? Well those in the know go to Macy’s, and it’s not just for the selection. When you go to Macy’s bring a passport, or your hotel key and you will get a discount coupon for 11% off everything in the store - yes that includes electronics!. This is only for International Travelers. Most sales have some exclusions, but this coupon does not. Additionally, open a Macy’s account and you can get another 15-25% on top of that for the next 48 hours. That’s a lot of savings. For the braver bargain hunter willing to fight for their deal, go to Century21 downtown. It gives you the opportunity to see Wall Street and Ground Zero at the same time.

What Should I do? Well, if you are interested in museums they are donation admission (free but some with a donation suggested) on Friday and some Saturday evenings. By now, most know about the discount Broadway tickets available at the TKTS booth, but just be aware that the location has a temporary location at the Marriott Marquis hotel. Finally, for those beguiled by the long lines for the Empire State Building, my personal opinion and preference is to go for Top of the Rock. The views are spectacular and you have the Empire State Building in your skyline to admire. To show I am serious - that’s where I got engaged!! Have fun on your visit and I will let you know where to eat next time.

Top of the Rock

(A view from Top of the Rock)

dermotq Travel, Travel Guide ,

Imperial London Hotels

March 6th, 2008

Hello all, my name is Magnus and this will be my first posting to the blog. For those interested in visiting London, England. As this was my first visit to the historical city, I have much to tell.

Eden Plaza Hotel

 

 

 

I actually stayed at the Eden Plaza Hotel, a comfy warm two star establishment in the heart of South Kensington, which was not far from the Tube stations in either direction. Plenty to eat and tons of things to see. I think I had a different approach to seeing London. Starting out in Piccadilly Circus and moving on, getting lost, and having fun! I was a bit interested in what other hotels would be like compared to the place I was staying at. I was even given the assignment to check out some of our Exclusive deals that Tourico offeres in London.

 (Eden Plaza Hotel)

So the following is a report, a review of the Imperial London Hotels. Included, are the

  • Royal National Hotel
  • President Hotel
  • Imperial Hotel
  • Bedford Hotel

All four are centrally located in London and are easily accessed by car, bus, taxi, or my choice—the London Underground. Both Gatwick and Heathrow International airports are accessible via the extensive Underground services, called the Tube. The Piccadilly line runs from Heathrow terminals, and the Gatwick express train bringing you from Gatwick to Victoria Station, in less than half an hour. Connecting lines allow you to easily arrive at the Imperial London Hotels. Taking the Northern Line, get off at Russell Square, which is deep underground, but won’t be noticed otherwise by taking the lift. I took the stairs and was quite surprised at the depth, as it took me five minutes to climb a staircase reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty’s insides. By moving west towards the actual Russell Square, going left that is upon exiting the Underground, you find yourself approaching a beautiful garden surrounded by restaurants and pubs. Depending upon which hotel your reservation may be at, their locations are North and South of Russell Square Garden.

Royal National Hotel
(Royal National Hotel)

 

The Royal National Hotel, north of the Gardens, boasts to be the largest hotel in the entire EU. With over 3,500 total rooms, the hotel is quite big comprising two main buildings. There are seven floors with singles, doubles, triples and suites on all. The rooms are quite nice, with new carpeting and nicely tiled bathrooms. Upon my visit the hotel was undergoing a bit of renovation and the supervisor said to have 1,630 rooms depending upon availability. The last refurbishment was completed in 2000, however, was nonetheless quite impressive. The rooms were modern with most amenities. Anything else needed is just a matter of contacting hotel staff. The Royal National offers a currency exchange, a bar, a fine restaurant serving continental breakfast as well as dinner, and an Indian restaurant on premises. Outside you can get a car at the Enterprise rent a car office, which is also on the Hotel premises. If you have a taste for the Orient, there is a Japanese Sushi restaurant on the same street as the Royal National Hotel. Given the size of the hotel itself, it would be a good choice for those traveling in a group, otherwise is an excellent choice for even the tired businessman. For those guests who may be traveling by car, may park in the underground car park for a 20.00 GBP*.

 

President Hotel
(President Hotel)

A fine reception area greets the tired traveler at the President Hotel. The President is directly east of the Gardens. The building came to be in the 1850’s and there was minor damage sustained during the War. There are a total of 523 rooms, as well as eight rooms for any guest who may be disabled. The President’s Sportsman’s bar; true to its name, is adorned in a sportsman motif, and offers all sorts of tasty liquids to satisfy any person’s palate. Their Saracen Restaurant offers continental breakfasts in the morning and dinners in the evening. The breakfast—continental style which is included in the hotel rate, could be upgraded to a full English breakfast for 4 GBP*, depending upon the guests appetite. The rooms are quite nice, offering most amenities. New carpeting, comfy beds, and depending upon which side of the hotel you are on, may have a view of life below. The President Hotel is also undergoing some refurbishment at the current time and is expected to be completed shortly. For those guests who may be traveling by car, may park in the underground car park for 21 GBP*. The President has a conjoined twin, namely the Imperial Hotel.

 

Imperial Hotel
(Imperial Hotel)

This hotel, united with the President and east of the gardens, has an impressive reception area. The outside greets customers with a row of statues and a nice fountain. To the left of the inside reception area rests a beautiful spiral staircase with chandeliers dangling above, leading to the Emperor Bar. A cozy feel, small lifts to the rooms and restaurant, as well as an excellent view overlooking Russell Square Gardens. The rooms here offer the same fine amenities as its sibling hotels; direct dial telephone, tea/coffee making facility, and satellite TV offering some international channels. The Imperial Hotel offers 448 rooms, a new “night and day” pub-bar offering good food, the Emperor Bar which is upstairs, the Atrium coffee bar with internet access and lots more. The shopping area inside the hotel includes a hairdresser, a bank, a Chinese herbalist, and a newsstand. Want more? Next door there is a Casino which is open most evenings. Needing a car? There is even a Hertz rent-a-car on the premises. If you brought your own, you can park it in the underground car park for 28 GBP*.

 

Bedford Hotel
(Bedford Hotel)

The Bedford Hotel is smaller and quieter. With only 184 rooms and last refurbished in the ‘60s, it offers a pleasant take on staying in England. As you walk in, the reception has polite and friendly staff eager to show your room. To the left of the desk, is the bar, offering all sorts of liquid pleasures, and directly behind lies the restaurant. The continental breakfast is the staple, however, could again be upgraded at the guest’s discretion to a full English breakfast for 4 GBP*. The Bedford is very nice indeed, there’s a nice garden in the back, with statues and green. From the top floor, you get a view of the British Museum as well as offer a peek into the typical Londoners garden, that is, there are private residences in the back. The rooms offer dark cherry stained furniture, comfortable beds, shower and toilet separated, and some even have conjoined rooms. An older more elegant feel and a true English experience without having to go to the country. The hotel is a short walk from Covent Garden, which offers grand cafes as well as fine shopping. On weekends there are even live performances, including opera, classical music, and circus acts which I was lucky to encounter. If you haven’t eaten and are reluctant to stay at the hotel, fear not, there are plenty of sumptuous menus just across the road from the Bedford Hotel. If your palate aches for delicious Indian cuisine, or a fine Italian Ristoranti experience, then this is the place. If it’s Bangers and Mash, heed not dismay, for not far away, are legendary Pubs of England—like the Swan on 7 Cosmo Place, offering typical English fare.

Guaranteed to please, the Imperial London Hotels, not mentioned here were the County and the Tavistock Hotels, which are also part of the Imperial London Hotels.

*Also note, dependent upon guests who are light sleepers and easily awoken by slight noise, perhaps may sleep better on the side of the hotels not facing the roads, and should consult about availability upon booking. Any questions should be directed to the hotel management at +44 020 7278 7871 /2 /3 otherwise by e mail: info@imperialhotels.co.uk

Questions ask me. ;-) Cheers…

magnushar Travel, Travel Guide , , , , ,

Mallorca Travel Guide: The European Paradise

March 6th, 2008

Mallorca

Dear all, This is my first blog, so I will introduce myself….. I am David Fernandez from the European product team. Although I was born in the south of Spain, city called Malaga, I will focus my first blog in the amazing island of Mallorca, the place where I lived since 5 years ago. Have you ever dreamed of living in a place where the city center will be within walking distance? A place where if you fancy going to amazing beaches will take you no more than 30 minutes? Or spend the day in magical Tramuntana Mountains no more than 40 minutes driving? Traditionally, the island was best known for its sunny beaches and hot discos, but there is much more to Mallorca than sand, sea and sun. These are some of the things that Mallorca can offer…

Palma

Palma de Mallorca - The capital of the Balearics and has a cosmopolitan look, with many shops, restaurants, and other activities for visitors. Within walking distance you can spend the day visiting monuments like the giant cathedral and the Arab baths which are also worth a visit. Those with a shopping desire might want to visit the boutiques along Avenida Jaime III and the Paseo del Borne; there are restaurants located everywhere. The district around the cathedral contains many interesting shops and boutiques. Linens, perfumes, and glassware are popular, and the Spanish leather goods are high quality. Lladro porcelain (and other porcelains) is often a good buy. The city is dominated by its wonderful Gothic cathedral, La Seu, and most of the main sights are located within the area bounded by the old city walls, especially to the north and east of the cathedral. A half-day walk around the old city can start and end at the Plaça d’Espanya. It is a popular gathering point, and is the terminating point for many buses and the train to Sóller.

Train to Soller - Prior to 1912, the journey across the mountains of Mallorca made passage difficult, and the Palma-Sóller road was a terror to navigate (and still is!). The train ride today is much like it was almost 100 years ago. Vintage railcars with mahogany panels and brass fittings rattle along the track through numerous tunnels. The ride is not fast, it’s totally the opposite, but the vistas are spectacular! The numerous tunnels along the way provide a glimpse of how difficult construction must have been. The train goes through the mountains and arrives in a valley of orange groves between the mountains and the sea. Finally you arrive to Sóller, an old fishing town that has a fine selection of pastry shops, tapas bar and a great number of sea food restaurants… The train ride back to Palma was fun and gave the visitors an opportunity to see more of the beautiful island.

Outside Palma de Mallorca - For those who wish to venture away from Palma de Mallorca, some of the most dramatic landscape is on the northern end of the island at Cabo Formentor. The road to the end of the long, narrow peninsula is long and winding. Another option outside the city is a tour of the Caves of Drach on Mallorca’s eastern coast. This immense cave system features a natural lake and is one of the most visited sites on Majorca. Unfortunately the cave has only one admission each day at noon, so it might be a bit crowded, but worthy to visit.

Next blog I will get deeper into the range of small village to visit like. One of the most popular day trips is to Valldemossa, where some say Frederic Chopin and George Sand were the first Mallorcan tourists. Finally I will go over the selection of crystal clear beaches that are with a visit.

dgonzales Travel, Travel Guide ,

Selecting a Cruise Line - Norwegian Cruise Line Review

March 5th, 2008

People look at many things when selecting a cruise. The ports of call, cabin type, on board entertainment, and many other things. When I took my vacation last year I was more than happy with the experience I had with Norwegian Cruise Line.

What has me sold on NCL is their freestyle living program. This allows you to go eat when you want and not have scheduled meals. This is great due to the fact that I am not always hungry at a particular time. I love the different themes of restaurants such as Italian, and Japanese. The nicer restaurants like the habbati grill and the steak house are amazing! They do require a small upgrade fee but it is well worth the money!!

I love good food and I am so happy that I went on a cruise with Norwegian Cruise Line. I know there are other things that sell people on cruises, but it was definitely NCL’s freestyle living that sold me!

-DAN

danveenstra Cruises, Travel

What to do in Israel - Jerusalem, Eilat and more!

March 4th, 2008

What is small and contains everything in it? You guessed right…ISRAEL! From the Hermon Mountain in the north, through the beautiful green fields in the Galil, to the Israeli Coastal Plain there is so much to do! During the summer it is quite warm and the humidity is really high. If you want to cool off you can go to Jerusalem and visit the dead sea, the lowest point on the surface of the Earth to the desert, and of course Eilat in the south, where you can relax from your journey.

Dead Sea

(a tourist cooling off in the Dead Sea)

If you decide to stay in Eilat then you have to go to eat at the Pago Pago, they have the best steak EVER! The restaurant is inside a boat (don’t worry you will not feel sea sick), next to the King Solomon hotel walkway. Eilat is a good place for you to dive, very nice coral and colorful fish; if you stay for more then 5 days you can easily take the basic diving course and enjoy the fabulous sea world. You can then go to the Dolphin Reef on the shores of the Red Sea where a group of Bottlenose Dolphins, including babies born at the site, maintain their daily routine of hunting, playing, courting and socializing.

Another suggestion for a 1 day trip is to go to Timna Park. It is located approximately 25 kilometers north of Eilat, in the Southern Arava region of Israel. The park contains the amazing natural phenomena: King Solomon’s Pillars and Arches. You can also see the “Mines of Time”, the new multimedia exhibit with a revolving stage, 360-degree projection screen and seven projectors, create colored sand bottles and do a variety of other activities. I am sure that if you visit Israel you will have so many things to see and do that you will have to come back!

Hilit Yanay Travel, Travel Guide

“La Isla del Encanto” - Dining in Puerto Rico - The Best Food on the Island

March 3rd, 2008

 Puerto Rico

Buenos Dias,

My name es Cesar Castro and I’m going to tell you a little bit about dining in Puerto Rico; the best food on the Island. I was born and raise in Puerto Rico and lived in the island for 22 years, so who better to tell you what to eat while you are enjoying the beaches during your next vacation to Puerto Rico.

Asopau de Camarones - You can find this delicious dish in Isabela, PR right near the beach where many restaurants serve this plate. This dish is made of fresh shrimp, potatoes, sofrito, and tomato sauce and it’s serve with fried plantains. You can enjoy this dish for about $10. Believe me if you are a seafood lover, you can’t miss this plate when you visit the Island.

Bacalaitos - You can also find these near the beach or in any restaurant. Bacalaitos is basically fried cod fish, but these taste like no other. While being fried in peanut oil in huge pans, near the salty windy air of the beach, their crunchy taste of cod fish you can’t only have one, definitely 2 or 3. This go for about $3 each.

Rellenos de Papa - These are a “must have”. These curious looking potato balls stuff with meat are the best. You can find these anywhere in the island. These usually go for a $1 a piece and like I said, they are so delicious that they are addicting.

Well, there you have them my top 3 picks for dining in Puerto Rico while you are visiting my beautiful Island, Puerto Rico. Until next one “Y que pasen un buen dia”

cesarca Dining Reviews, Travel, Travel Guide

“La Isla del Encanto” - Dining in Puerto Rico - The Best Food on the Island

March 3rd, 2008

 Puerto Rico

Buenos Dias,

My name es Cesar Castro and I’m going to tell you a little bit about dining in Puerto Rico; the best food on the Island. I was born and raise in Puerto Rico and lived in the island for 22 years, so who better to tell you what to eat while you are enjoying the beaches during your next vacation to Puerto Rico.

Asopau de Camarones - You can find this delicious dish in Isabela, PR right near the beach where many restaurants serve this plate. This dish is made of fresh shrimp, potatoes, sofrito, and tomato sauce and it’s serve with fried plantains. You can enjoy this dish for about $10. Believe me if you are a seafood lover, you can’t miss this plate when you visit the Island.

Bacalaitos - You can also find these near the beach or in any restaurant. Bacalaitos is basically fried cod fish, but these taste like no other. While being fried in peanut oil in huge pans, near the salty windy air of the beach, their crunchy taste of cod fish you can’t only have one, definitely 2 or 3. This go for about $3 each.

Rellenos de Papa - These are a “must have”. These curious looking potato balls stuff with meat are the best. You can find these anywhere in the island. These usually go for a $1 a piece and like I said, they are so delicious that they are addicting.

Well, there you have them my top 3 picks for dining in Puerto Rico while you are visiting my beautiful Island, Puerto Rico. Until next one “Y que pasen un buen dia”

cesarca Dining Reviews, Travel, Travel Guide