Friday, July 30, 2010

Walking Tour iPhone Apps

Fodor’s has partnered with EveryTrail , a GPS travel community and interactive trip sharing service, to offer walking tours available for purchase both online and as an iPhone app.

These interactive travel guides enable one to find things to do anywhere in the world including walking tours for San Francisco’s Chinatown; La Rambla, Barcelona; Prague’s top sights; and an Aboriginal art walk in Brisbane, Australia.

Sure beats lugging around a heavy guidebook!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Buckingham Palace Opens Tourist Cafe

This week London's Buckingham Palace opened its first cafe for summer tourists while the Queen enjoys a cruise around Scotland.
The Garden Cafe is built on a prominent spot, with panoramic views of the home's beautiful 40-acre grounds. While the palace sees millions of visitors a year, many of whom are content to watch the Changing of Guard from the gates outside, the cafe only seats 210.
Choices of sweet or savory snacks are available. Classic British fare like tea and scones will be available alongside foreign treats such as almond croissants, chicken foccacia and Greek salad. Anyone with a £17 ($29) ticket will be able to enter. A cappuccino, complete with a crown-shaped chocolate dusting, will only cost £2.65.
About 400,000 people are expected to visit the palace this summer. All proceeds from the summer opening, a tradition that began in 1993, will be used to maintain the Royal Collection, one of the world's top art collections. Last summer, £8.2 million was raised.
Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your trip to England!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Boston’s Liberty Hotel

Where to stay in Boston? Prison, of course! As recently at 1990, prison inmates roamed the catwalks of this historic building, formerly known as the Charles Street Jail. Prone to riots and subject to physical decay, it was officially condemned to close years before it finally shut its doors for good as a prison. Now, after a $150 million renovation, this Boston landmark is a luxury four-star property aptly named The Liberty Hotel. This impressive transition must leave previous inmates stunned and a bit jealous.

This massive structure features a 90-foot central rotunda and cupola (built in 1851), as well as a restaurant, bar, grand ballroom, meeting spaces, and 300 guestrooms. The original architecture has been preserved as much as possible with its new spaces echoing its traditional look with rich mahogany woods, exposed brick walls, and touches of stainless steel.

Sleek accommodations have floor-to-ceiling windows, some of which peer out through ornate ironwork. Clink, one of three drinking establishments within the complex, has cozy dining nooks in vestiges of original jail cells. During the Summer months, guests gather on the outdoor patio casually dubbed “The Yard” – a perfect place to enjoy an afternoon cocktail while relaxing on a plush sofa.

Other jail hotels exist throughout the world, minus the splendor of the Liberty Hotel, of course, including hotels in Mt. Gambier, Australia; Luzern, Switzerland; Liepaja, Latvia; and Oxford, England.

Hotel link:

Friday, July 23, 2010

Royal Caribbean's Gourmet Getaway

Set sail on a voyage of culinary adventures with Royal Caribbean’s limited-time Epicurean Discovery cruise – an entire week devoted to cuisine and fine dining. This unparalleled gourmet experience features celebrity chefs who will not only cook for you but also provide cooking tips and advice. The perfect vacation for foodies everywhere!

Freedom of the Seas is one of the most innovative cruise ships with several swimming pools, cantilevered whirlpools, and an open-air night club, in addition to its restaurants, including Portofino and Chops Grille. Dining aboard is accompanied by original productions featuring world-class performers.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to book your next cruise!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

8 Outdoor Adventures on Kauai

Kauai, known as the Garden Isle due to its lush foliage, abundant flowers, and white-sand beaches, is a nature lover’s playground. Kauai also tends to have more rainfall than Hawaii’s other islands, not that it deters many from spending the day at the beach, and the rain tends to result in some pretty fantastic rainbows. This tropical paradise has many unique facets for visitors of all ages to explore.

1. Visit Jurassic Falls. Several helicopter tour operations transport guests to the base of 400-foot Manawaiopuna Falls, made famous by the movie Jurassic Park. Most trips tour the rest of the island as well offering rich views of the sea cliffs and Mt. Wai’ale’ale, which can only be seen from the air. A great idea for serious photographers.

2. The Zip Trek Nui Loa is a 1,800-foot zip course above the forest canopy. Tandem lines soar past the Ha’upu Mountains and over trees for a quarter mile, which takes roughly a minute-and-a-half (but well worth it!).

3. Take a hike. The Kalalau trail is one of the more popular trails with fewer visitors and a challenging climb. The trailhead lies at the end of the road on the North Shore. After just two miles you’ll arrive at scenic Hanakapiai Beach. From there you have three choices: continue on to Kalalau (for serious backpackers only), ford the stream and turn inland to Hanakapiai Falls (another more strenuous two-mile trek to a spectacular 300-foot waterfall), or head back the way you came. Be sure to wear sturdy shoes that you’re not afraid to get dirty (no matter how careful you are). Better yet, bring an old pair of sneakers and toss them before heading home.

4. Explore Waimea Canyon. Ten miles long, two miles wide, and 3,600 feet deep, Mark Twain nicknamed it the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Revel in the deep reds, greens, and browns, each created by a different volcanic flow. Waimea Canyon borders Koke’e State Park which spans over 4,000 acres with about 45 hiking trails.

5. Ride the Kauai Plantation Railway. Learn about plantation life, Kauai agriculture, and modern-day commercial farming as you explore nearly 100 acres on a wooden narrow-gauge train. The 30-minute journey tours fields of sugar, pineapple, banana, papaya, coffee, and tropical flowers.

6. Explore the Wailua River Valley either by boat or kayak – a must for any first-time visitor planning to travel to Kauai. The valley has been used in such films as Outbreak and Raiders of the Lost Ark. Boat trips take you to the recently restored Fern Grotto, and kayaks can take you even further on Hawaii’s only navigable river.

7. Tour the Napali Coast, one of the most awe-inspiring sights you will ever see. Na Pali Coast State Park is a 22-mile stretch of volcanic cliffs. You can view the coast from a distance but the best way to see it is by helicopter or boat.

8. Visit Limahuli Garden and Preserve, featuring 1,000 acres of botanical gardens covering three distinct ecological zones on Kauai’s wet north shore. Both guided and self-guided tours are offered over a ¾-mile walk on a loop trail.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent to book your next trip to Hawaii!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Beijing Making Locals Speak English

The Chinese government has stated that it wants most residents living in Beijing to be able to speak English as it wants to convert the city into a "World City."

The government program was first launched in 2002 in preparation for the Beijing Olympics and has been recently renewed. All kindergartens in the city are to introduce English courses within the next five years. A minimum of at least 60 percent of shop assistants, receptionists and hairdressers under 40 years old will also be required to pass English tests by 2015, as will 80 percent of police officers, the report said.
Every civil servant under the age of 40 with a Bachelor's degree will also be required to master a minimum of 1000 English sentences. The program aims to bring "greater convenience to foreigners working or studying in the capital and enhance international relations and cooperation."

For assistance with booking your next trip to Asia, contact a Professional Travel Agent today!

Thursday, July 01, 2010

U.S. is Raising Cost of Passports

If you are planning on any international travel over the next 10 years and need a passport, now is the time to get it.

Starting on July 13, the price for a US passport will go up about 30 percent for adults, and 20 percent for children. The US Department of State says the higher fees are to cover the increasing costs of producing passports.
The price for an adult passport, which is now $100, will increase to $135. For children under 16, the price will go from $85 now to $105. The prices of visas and other consular services will also increase.

Contact a Professional Travel Agent today to get started booking your next international trip!