Wednesday May 22, 2013
For travelers, taking advantage of local transportation-- such as a subway or skytrain-- can save both money and time: in many cities, during certain hours of the day, jumping into a taxi will not be a convenience if it lands you in the midst of a traffic jam.
Yet often, travelers feel hesitant about trying out the subway or a skytrain-type of transport... Will it be easy to buy a ticket? Will we be able to navigate the system and find the right line to take? Is the subway safe? These are some of the questions that can cause a pause.
So I'm happy to read these Travel Like a Local
tips posted by the American Public Transportation Association, to encourage visitors to use local transport in Boston, Chicago, DC, New York City, Seattle and San Francisco.
Likewise in London, Paris, Montreal, Bangkok -- be sure to try the subway or skytrain transport! See tips for using the London Underground
, How to Use Paris Public Transportation
(and for this system, reading tips is advisable!), advice for using Montreal's Metro
, and an introduction to Bangkok Subway and Skytrains
. In Bangkok the subway is so well organized that people line up super-efficiently just to the side of the doorways, as these signs on the platform floor indicate (in the photo above.)
Photo © Teresa Plowright.
Monday May 20, 2013
One of the most popular strategies for keeping costs down on a vacation is to stay with family or friends, thus saving the big bucks you'd otherwise need to spend on accommodation, while also enjoying a visit with pals or loved ones.
However house guests should always be considerate of their host(s), and this golden rule is doubly important when the house guests have kids in tow. About.com's Guide for Honeymoons and Romantic Getaways has an excellent set of tips for How to Be a Good House Guest
. Be sure to help out, bring a small (or large! gift), treat your hosts, respect their usual habits and schedules... These are all great tips, especially when kids -- yours, and your hosts' kids-- are part of the picture.
I especially like the tip, Have Fun Together: "The point of visiting is to spend time together, but that doesn't always happen spontaneously. So plan on activities that everyone can do together. If you're a house guest in warm weather, offer to plan a picnic or suggest everyone visits a county or state fair together. And take lots of pictures to remember the good times." Take the time to plan in advance for fun activities together: these needn't be costly outings, and any outing will offer an opportunity to treat your hosts as a thank-you for their hospitality.
Friday May 17, 2013
Canada's already getting its May long weekend, this week: check out some ideas at About.com's Canada Travel site for Victoria Day Weekend 2013
Meanwhile, in the U.S., Memorial Day is observed on the last Monday in May, and though its origin is a sober one-- to honor and remember those who've died in war-- and many events still commemorate this purpose, over time this long weekend has also evolved into the unofficial kick-off for summer-time.
Memorial Day in 2013 is Monday May 27th. Many cities in the U.S. have special events including parades, concerts, and wreath-laying. Also, many resorts and hotels dream up special long weekend packages with BBQ's, entertainment, fireworks, to create some festive start-of-the-summer fun for their guests. Have a look at:
Photo courtesy of Sandestin Resort.
Tuesday May 14, 2013
We Muggles will soon have a new place to sample a mug of butterbeer
, immerse ourselves in meticulously recreated details from the Harry Potter books, and scream our appreciation of themed thrill rides.
Fans have been very happy indeed with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
"theme park within a theme park" that opened at Universal Orlando
in 2010. Millions have entered Hogwarts Castle and filed past talking portraits
and Dumbledore's office
on the way to the state-of-the-art Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey
attraction. Meanwhile in the Hogsmeade village area, guests can explore Ollivanders Wand Shop and Honeydukes before dining at the Three Broomsticks tavern.
All this and more has been found at the Islands of Adventure
theme park, which is one of two huge parks at Universal Orlando. The other park is Universal Studios Florida
, and now this park too will get a Harry Potter area: Diagon Alley will open in 2014 in the former location of the Jaws attraction. About.com's Guide for Theme Parks has details
... The two Harry Potter areas will be connected by the Hogwarts Express, and rumor has it that a feature attraction in Diagon Alley will be an indoor coaster based on Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Photo © Teresa Plowright.