HOT DEALS!

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort

This may be the gift that keeps on giving, all the way through December 31, 2022. Bring your meeting to The Beaches of Fort Myers & Sanibel and receive a $3 room rebate per actualized room up to $5,000. The Islands Incentive program created by the Lee County Visitor & Convention Bureau includes any new bookings that occur from May 1 to December 31 each year through 2022. To qualify, planners must book a meeting with a minimum of 150 room nights at one of these 14 properties. In Fort Myers: Crowne Plaza Fort Myers at Bell Tower Shops, Holiday Inn Fort Myers Airport at Town Center, Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa, Drury Inn & Suites, and Luminary Hotel & Co., Autograph Collection (opening in 2020). On Fort Myers Beach: DiamondHead Beach Resort and Pink Shell Beach Resort & Marina. South Seas Island Resort and ‘Tween Waters Inn Island Resort are both on Captiva Island. The others include Embassy Suites Hotel, Estero; Gasparilla Inn & Club, Boca Grande; Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, Bonita Springs; The Westin Cape Coral Resort at Marina Village, Cape Coral; and Sundial Beach Resort & Spa, Sanibel Island. The offer applies to meeting groups who may be considering other destinations besides Lee County. Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_9605 Russ really lost his head over this accordianist!

Russ really lost his head over this accordionist!

In Part 5: Mozart brought music to the world, The Sound of Music rang in our heads, and the Eagle’s Nest reminded us of the destruction that greed, hatred, and supreme power can enable.

Munich is the capital of Bavaria. There are roughly one-and-a-half million people living in the city, who proudly have their own nationalistic dialect, and think of themselves as from München Bavaria, not Germany. Munich is known for its beer, Oktoberfest celebrations, museums, and international companies like the headquarters of BMW.

Where we stayed:

Eurostars Book Hotel must have been designed for people like me: readers and/or writers whose imaginations propel their lives. From the first moment we stepped inside Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_9413 This is the birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart was born here.

In Part 4: Neither the Prince of Liechtenstein or Heidi was around so instead we visited a mountain in Innsbruck and a centuries-old museum of Tyrolean farms.

SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

Where we stayed:

Imlauer Hotel Pitter Salzburg has been owned by the Pitter family since 2007. The hotel was renovated in 2014. It has a beer cellar and Imlauer Sky – Bar & Restaurant rooftop restaurant. The buffet was diverse and carries many regional dishes. Staff was friendly and professional.

What we saw:

One of my grandfathers was from Salzburg (which means salt fortress), so I was Read the rest of this entry »

Vineyard near Heidiland (Maienfeld) in Switzerland.

MAIENFELD, SWITZERLAND (OR HEIDILAND TO DEVOTEES!)

In Part 3: A toe dip into Stresa, Italy and a relaxing cruise around Lugano, Switzerland that explored many ancient and diverse communities.

Before leaving Switzerland behind and crossing into Vaduz, the capital of Liechtenstein, we stopped in the border town of Maienfeld, Switzerland. For such a small area, Majenfeld holds two great distinctions of world import.

It’s the birthplace of Heidi, a story written in 1881 by Johanna Spyri.  The story may have been a work of fiction, but try telling that to the international tourists who flock here to visit a theme park-like area called Heidiland to see Read the rest of this entry »

Driving through the Simplon Pass connecting Italy and Switzerland.

In Part 2: A relaxing boat ride and two cogwheel trains later, we’d risen over 10,000 feet to gape at the Matterhorn.

We took a toe dip into Italy before re-entering Switzerland, where we would be staying in Lugano for a few days. I say a toe dip because we left the mountains briefly for Stresa, Italy, an internationally acclaimed resort town snuggled up to Lake Maggiore, and because similar to a toe dip, we weren’t invested in full immersion.

Before arriving in Stresa, we took a roadside pause on the Simplon Pass, where Napoleon had constructed a road Read the rest of this entry »

View on our ferry ride to Andermatt.

In Part 1: Trains, boats, a fierce storm atop Mount Pilatus… and this was just the beginning of the tour!

On our way to a boat ride that was part of the day’s transportation to Zermatt, the alpine city from which many mountaineers venture to tackle the Matterhorn, we bussed through the small village of Vegas, where once Russian composer Sergei Vasilyevich Rachmaninoff lived. The gentle one-hour 45-minute minute journey on Lake Lucerne aboard the Flüelen ferry began in Vitznau, which also has the oldest cogwheel train still running. Lake Read the rest of this entry »

The scenic natural beauty of Switzerland.

It was the trains that did it.

The idea of trains snaking slowly up to mountain peaks 7,000 feet or higher along ancient cogwheel tracks exhilarated my any-excuse-to-take-a-train husband, Russ. My stomach roiled pondering multiple train rides chugging along steep inclines, thinking about how I got nervous even holding onto the railing on the Empire State Building’s upper floor and tried looking down. He buttered me up about taking the Odysseys Unlimited Alpine Splendor tour by painting a picture of the scenic beauty we’d encounter in five countries: Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Liechtenstein, and Germany. By then, I remembered we’ve climbed glaciers and volcanos, ridden cable cars up 5,000 feet, and never once did I pass out in fright. My fears morphed into anticipation.

Ride along with me on this soaring Alpine Adventure which concluded with an extension trip to Read the rest of this entry »

Marenas Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Miami, FL

HOT DEALS!

School in Florida is back in session, but that doesn’t mean the travel deals have played hooky. In the two-and-a-half-mile white sand stretch of Sunny Isles Beach in the Miami area, a number of hotels are offering some sweet deals for getaways. For Florida residents, the Read the rest of this entry »

Brocket Hall at Christmas

HOT DEALS!!

The holidays are fast approaching, which means you only have until August 31 to book a vintage holiday celebration at one of the main venues at the 543-acre Brocket Hall Estate in the United Kingdom. There are special menus and amenities for each venue. Brocket Hall’s butlers cater to up to 150 guests in the ballroom, Billiard room and library. With this booking by August 31, the planner receives a complimentary bedroom in Brocket Hall on the night of the party. Book the Oak Room and the planner gets a complimentary bedroom in Melbourne Lodge on the night of the party. Or, join in with your group of Read the rest of this entry »

A painting by Paul Cezanne.

In Part 4, we saw how Vincent Van Gogh’s art was impacted by his mental issues, how mountaintop former castles and fortresses continue to “live,” and how the idyllic beauty of Southern France country landscapes inspire paintings.

Aix-en-Provence

It was a reality jolt to spend days roaming gentle villages of country folk living high in ancient fortresses and then to find oneself in the thriving urban city of Aix-en-Provence. We strolled along Cours Mirabeau, a wide, tree-lined thoroughfare, explored the Old Town, and took in the artistic drumbeat left by Artist Paul Cezanne, born here in 1839 and who Read the rest of this entry »

Shopping at the farmer market.

In Part 3, we cruised down the Canal du Midi in a barge, cooked a full-course meal in a 5-star French hotel’s cooking school, and learned that Vincent Van Gogh left his impressions on more than canvas.

SAINT-REMY-DE-PROVENCE, LES-BAUX-DE-PROVENCE, ISLE-SUR-LA-SORGUE and ROUSSILLON

One of the absolute delights of this Southern France trip was getting to visit (albeit too briefly) small mountainside medieval villages on day excursions. We were lodging in Aix-en-Provence. Each village brimmed with the flavors of France, from fresh bags of lavender to nutty confections of nougat, to the flower-potted window sills that crowded narrow passageways within the former fortress rock walls. The air was fresh from mountain breezes. The views of multi-hued fields Read the rest of this entry »

The locks at Canal du Midi

In Part 2, the journey took us to Figueres, Spain to explore Surrealist Salvadore Dali’s Theatre-Museum, to the seaside city of Collioure immortalized by paintings of André Derain, Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso, and to the quiet beauty of Perpignan.

CANAL DU MIDI, AVIGNON and ARLES

On our way to stay in Arles and to visit Avignon, we paused for a morning excursion on the famed Canal du Midi.

CANAL DU MIDI

The slow steady pace of cruising down the 150-mile-long 17th century-constructed Canal du Midi in a flat-bottomed barge was one of the most relaxing aspects of the two-week Odysseys Unlimited tour thus far. Originally named the Canal Royal en Languedoc in 1681 when completed by Pierre-Paul Riquet, it was renamed by French revolutionaries to Canal Read the rest of this entry »

Hollywood Oscar-like figurines repose in niches at Dali’s Theatre-Museum

In Part 1, our journey began in Albi before exploring the medieval city of Carcassonne and then the Abbaye Fontroide in Narbonne.

FIGUERES (SPAIN), COLLIOURE and PERPIGNAN

Where we stayed:

La Villa Duflot sits in a three-acre park with olive and palm trees. The hotel’s site says it has just 24-rooms, but it is apparent they have added many more than that. We had to walk outside the hotel’s lobby to reach our room in a first-floor wing. The hotel is styled after an Italian villa, although the décor was more Art Deco. The dining room in the evening is Read the rest of this entry »

Idyllic Southern France countryside

Art. Food. Wine.

Those were the three words that drew my husband, Russ, and I to book our two-week tour to Southern France, the Languedoc and Provence regions. Russ expected this tour would be a bit more laid back than our previous Odysseys Unlimited tours, though sometimes we still felt as if we were racing against time to cram in as many cultural experiences as we could before our weary bodies collapsed. That’s not a complaint, by the way… just the reality of not wanting to miss out Read the rest of this entry »

Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa

HOT DEALS!

Summer isn’t the only time Florida Resident discount rates will be available at Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort and Spa, minutes from Naples, FL. A seven-day advance purchase is required, but the rates are available through December 31 by using the code CPFLR. The 26-acre property can host meetings up to 1500 people, has an 18-hole golf course, Camp Hyatt kids club, two firepits and is close to the airport. There is a three-acre pool area with waterslides, lazy river, adults-only pool, hot tub, and both a Read the rest of this entry »

The Met Hotel in Greece is both an art gallery and upscale hotel.

When I first began writing this column, I was working regularly for a high end travel magazine that catered to the hospitality, meetings & events industries. Over time I have realized that not all travellers visit destinations or plan events because they are part of a corporate or social group. This edition (and likely more in the future) will feature some personal travel options for adults and families.

HOT DEALS!

It’s an art gallery. No, it’s a hotel. No, actually The Met Hotel in the ancient coastal city of Thessaloniki, Greece is both. While Read the rest of this entry »

GRAND OPENINGS

A terrace of El Llorenç Parc de la Mar overlooks the Palma neighborhood in Mallorca

One of the oldest neighborhoods in the Palma area of Mallorca will be getting awakening jolt of modern sophistication when El Llorenç Parc de la Mar opens this July. The 33-room boutique hotel will have a three-tiered rooftop terrace providing 360-degree views of the city, as well as two restaurants, a lobby bar, and a wellness center called Natura Bissé. Renowned island chef Santi Taura’s culinary offerings will reflect traditional cuisine, with ingredients sourced locally, such as signature black pork from an island producer. El Llorenç Parc de la Mar is located within the ancient quarter known as La Calatrava, an area once inhabited by Jews, Muslims and Christians. Highlights include the Arab baths, the Church of Santa Fe and the Church of Monti-Sion and the Convent of Santa Clara, where the nuns of the Order have lived and prayed for more than 750 years. The quarter is located just a short distance from some of the city’s major landmarks, including the Palma Cathedral, Almudaina Palace, Cort Square or the S’Hort del Rei Gardens. Swedish designer, Magnus Ehrland. Incorporates geometric motifs reflective of the local history and Moorish influence on the island. Read the rest of this entry »

Hotel ICON in Hong Kong

HOT DEALS!

Book a suite or Above & Beyond Club room directly with Hotel ICON and enjoy a complimentary one-way private chauffeur ride in a Tesla Model S from Hong Kong International Airport to the hotel in the heart of Tsim Sha Tsui East. Together with two electric shuttle buses and a BMW i3, Hotel ICON aims to lead the industry in switching to 100% electric transportation. Bookings made through other booking channels or an online travel agent would have to pay HK $800 one way. Multiple bookings on consecutive nights will also get a 20% discount on the departure airport transfer by Tesla. Bookings Read the rest of this entry »

Russ wearing the MP Magic Premium Socks

I have reviewed Magic Socks when the company has come out with a new style. Sometimes the socks are more feminine and in the case of this latest MP Magic Premium Socks, more masculine. The company doesn’t pay me to write about their socks. They ask if I’d test them out and review them, good or bad.

So far, their various socks have been tested by me (for dance and fitness classes), by my grandson for football practice in Florida’s summer sun, and this latest pair by my husband.

The company’s philosophy is that you should be able to wear their socks for up to six days without them becoming smelly. They are woven of fast moisture wicking to keep your feet dry and have special silver, Read the rest of this entry »

 

Eiffel Tower Lights shine across the sky on the Las Vegas, NV Strip.

WHAT’S OLD IS NEW AGAIN

It’s amazing how the new light show at Paris Las Vegas can illuminate even the neon-drenched Nevada skyline and add more than a little sparkle to a 541-foot gem originally erected on the Las Vegas Strip in 1999. Inspired by the Eiffel Tower’s illuminations in France, the $1.7 million light show will offer a free, recurring show featuring synchronized and choreographed twinkling and colored lights for visitors to enjoy nightly on The Strip. In partnership with Vision Sign Inc., Paris Las Vegas installed approximately 300 color washing light fixtures and more than 800 white strobe lights on the tower’s exterior. Guests can enjoy the nightly light show every 30 minutes on the hour and half hour from sunset to midnight. By May, the hotel’s Read the rest of this entry »

Swimming with a whale shark

EXOTIC DESTINATIONS. LUXURIOUS LODGING. ACQUISITIONS.

Corporate and leisure-travel readers across the world read my blog, so it shouldn’t come as any great surprise that I am often asked if I know about out-of-the-box trips or exotic destinations of which they may not be aware. This new package just being offered by Montana-based Austin Adventures sounds exactly like it would fit the bill for any adventurous group to undertake. Of course, individuals can sign on for any scheduled trips, but think of the experiences a like-minded, seaworthy group could share by swimming alongside 25-40- Read the rest of this entry »

I was threatened today by email. Third time this particular threat has arrived in the past few weeks. Each time the message is roughly the same: send me bitcoins or I will expose you to your friends, family, and all email contacts.

The return addresses are always different. Sometimes the threat is that they have one of my passwords and in good faith, they reveal it. I immediately called my computer guru, Joseph Boy of Your Computer Solutions, who said he gets these messages also. Just delete them. He explained how the hacking trolls obtained that one password, but they haven’t actually wormed their way into my system.

Today’s email heading actually bore one of my own email address, which I didn’t notice until after I began reading the threatening email. That is part of the scare tactic: I can spoof your email and everyone will open this insidious note because they will think I am sending it. I’ve gotten many phone calls that spoofed a business name and even twice our home number said it was us calling, but this email got right to the point of trying to instill fear instead of just scamming me into buying their services.

This troll alleged he had remoted into my webcam and caught me watching porn. Send a $1000 in bitcoin or the world would see my scandalous activities. It was a much more detailed, longer message than ones I’ve gotten before, but still cautioning me against calling the police or trying to track the extortionist.

Sad news for them. I don’t watch porn and I don’t have a webcam.

I haven’t gotten the phone calls about family members in dire straits (send $$ immediately) or that the IRS was after me for not paying taxes and I needed to contact this number immediately or I’d go to jail. I haven’t gotten those calls, but I do personally know people who have.

The scare tactics work on many people. They are more unsettling than some Nigerian Prince has a fortune to leave me, or XYZ company in (usually) China is looking for a representative and even though I do not have any experience with what they’re seeking, I am the chosen recipient of what promises to be great business wealth.

I’m likely older than many of you reading this. I remember when this insistent pursuit of money at the expense of anxious victims-to-be didn’t initiate on the telephone or internet, or on unsuspecting innocents.

I want it to stop.

No one I’ve asked has answers except to delete the messages, hang up the phone, or just don’t answer calls from numbers you don’t recognize. The latter works with our home phone but not my business number because I don’t know from where my next client will emerge.

I don’t get the greed, animosity, mind games, and scare tactics. A couple days ago I discovered a troll had given me a nasty review that appeared on a search site next to my website name (www.ThePsychicLady.com). I’ve never heard of this person, let alone read him. I have other business friends who have had this occur and the unwarranted negative comments nearly ruined their respective businesses. I’ve read that people are paid to write, stalk or troll businesses by a competitor who must not otherwise be able to obtain a steady clientele on their own merits.

I don’t have answers. Just questions on why people go out of their way to do harm. I don’t want to believe this is the new normal, so maybe they are just people with morally-bankrupt souls. Either way. I want it to stop.

We all must want this to stop.

Thoughts?

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2016 – 2020 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the third consecutive year. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

SoundWaves brings music to Gaylord Opryland swimmers.

HOT DEALS!

The party possibilities just got hotter at Gaylord Opryland with SoundWaves, the nation’s first upscale indoor and outdoor resort water attraction. The four-acre park on three-levels, kept at a comfortably warm 84 degrees year-round, has 111,000 sf of indoor attractions, dining and amenities, as well as 106,000 sf of outdoor water attractions. The natural setting of nine acres of garden atriums in the hole are enhanced by rides intertwined with living walls and plant beds. Book your corporate function Read the rest of this entry »

I am always looking for new adventures. Cooking, travelling, and exploring what makes others smile. Here I am on a farm in Hungary, rolling out strudel dough just like my relatives taught me.

Welcome to the New Year. No matter where you are in the world, change is going to be the most overused word of the year. Even those of you who choose to ignore political news stories or who prefer to see the glass as always half full will realize how nothing remains as it has been, is, or will be. So welcome to the Year of Change. What will remain consistent is that I intend to provide you with the latest in destination deals, informational entertaining stories of my travels, reviews of products. Food and wine, and to know that I listen to you. I pledge to honor your diligence and faithful reading of my blogs Read the rest of this entry »

Sports socks kept my feet fresh smelling.

My feet don’t stink and I don’t think I have ever worn a pair of socks a second day after working out in them the day before, but I was willing to test MP Magic Socks’ latest innovation, the sports sock.

Full disclosure. I do not work for MP Socks, nor was I paid to write this review. In September 2017, the then new company sent me socks and asked if I would review them. The premise of what made these socks “stink-less” was intriguing, so I agreed.

In that article, https://karenkuzsel.wordpress.com/2017/09/24/stinky-sweaty-feet-new-solution-for-old-musty-problem, I let my husband and a teenage boy wear two of the three pairs sent and I wore a pair of anklets to my exercise class. Surprisingly, even the pairs worn by the men remained odor-free. One wore them to football practice. The other for gardening and walking.

Like the aforementioned socks, this new pair is infused with three metals: silver, copper and zinc. The combination of these materials, along with some other undisclosed ingredients, are to make the socks antibacterial, durable, and the mesh structure is supposed to enhance air flow and permeable. Unlike the anklets I tested the first time, this pair of socks extends three inches above my ankle bone.

While I thought this pair more stylish in design, with sporty red and white pinstripes running the length of the black socks, what I absolutely enjoyed has been the sheer comfort. My feet felt padded without the socks being thick and my feet didn’t get sweaty or hot as I went through three strong workout classes over two days and then wore them with a different pair of sneakers to run errands for many more hours.

Best of all, after two full days of wearing these socks, they remain as fresh smelling as when I first donned them.

https://mpmagicsocks.com

Karen Kuzsel is a writer-editor based in the Orlando area who specializes in the hospitality, entertainment, meetings & events industries.  She is an active member of ILEA and MPI and is now serving on the 2018 – 2019 MPI Global Advisory Board for The Meeting Professional Magazine for the third consecutive year. She is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists. Karen writes about food & wine, spas, destinations, venues, meetings & events. A career journalist, she has owned magazines, written for newspapers, trade publications, radio and TV. As her alter-ego, Natasha, The Psychic Lady, she is a featured entertainer for corporate and social events. karenkuzsel@earthlink.net; www.ThePsychicLady.com; @karenkuzsel; @thepsychiclady.

 

Pickering House Inn in New Hampshire is ready for winter

THESE VENUES ARE GOING FOR THE FULL REDO

You won’t want to pass this off as a place for just sports fans, even if NFL legend and Hall of Famer Terrell Owens did join Caesars Entertainment CEO and President Mark Frissora for the grand opening of The Book, an Experiential & Technologically Savvy Sports Bar & Event Venue connected to The LINQ Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, NV. So what makes this 220-seat, 11,000 sf venue so exceptional? Maybe the 87 TVs, some as large as 98 inches. Maybe it’s Vegas’ Read the rest of this entry »

Caesar’s Entertainment and Saleforce members build wheelchairs for veterans

COMMUNITY SERVICE RESPONSIBILITY IS THE GIFT THAT KEEPS GIVING

Caesars Entertainment, the world’s most geographically-diverse U.S casino-entertainment company, and Salesforce, the global leader in CRM, have given more than “Thank you for your service” appreciation to veterans in Las Vegas, NV. Forty team members of the two companies joined forces to build and donate eight wheelchairs to the veterans through Veterans Village. The build-a-wheelchair event was hosted at the High Roller, the world’s tallest observation wheel at The LINQ Promenade, adjacent to Caesars Forum, which opens in 2020. This is not Caesar’s Entertainment first give-back to Veterans program. Since 2013 when they launched the Enlisting Heroes program, more than 280 activities have been produced and more than $1 million has been donated. Salesforce created their Vetforce program, which is the internal employee resource Read the rest of this entry »

Even the lemurs like the pumpkin giveaway at Safari Wilderness in Florida.

HOT DEALS TO WARM UP COLDER WEATHER

Book three-nights at Paradisus Cancún by October 31 and stay before December 22 to get 35% off the stay, plus added amenities for taking advantage of other promotional offers, such as booking a Royal service room and getting a $100 in MeliáRewards points that you can exchange for services at Cocos Beach Club, fine & prime cut, exclusive brand bottles.

www.melia.com

ME Cabo

Book and stay at ME by Melia Cabo by December 22 and receive $500 in US credits that can be used to pay portion of goods and services during your stay including Yhi Spa Services, room upgrade, dinners at BMI Restaurant and Read the rest of this entry »

A Memorial column.

Part 6 was Tourists Invade Prague, The City of Concerts, Castles and Korunas

GERMANY

BERLIN REFLECTS THE PAST AS IT MARCHES FORWARD

While our two-week Odysseys Unlimited Discovering Eastern Europe tour focused on cities from which my ancestors had originated, our tour company’s arranged non-guided extension trip to Berlin, Germany at least landed us in the same country from which many of Russ’ family had dwelled. Seven of our tour group faced one another on a four-hour train ride from Read the rest of this entry »

Ballroom in the Grand Bohemia Praha, where the Mozart dinner concert is held.

Part 5 was Slovakia, Once Again!

CZECH REPUBLIC

TOURISTS INVADE PRAGUE, THE CITY OF CONCERTS, CASTLES AND KORUNAS

Where we stayed:

The 78-room Grand Bohemia Praha is tucked neatly onto a side street within walking distance of famous attractions such as the Old Town Square, Old Town Hall, and Wenceslas Square.

Our room was a triangle, which seemed to make it feel larger. One thing did surprise me. I was startled while in the restroom to hear voices so loud I thought someone had entered our cute but efficient guestroom. Turns out there are speakers from the TV in the restroom so you never have to miss a single word! Breakfast was wonderful, an endless buffet of fresh breads, fruits, and prepared dishes, plus bottles of bubbly wine and a selection of juices to mix or drink separate. Russ and I did not attend Read the rest of this entry »

Looking at the UFO Restaurant across from Hotel Devin in Bratislava.

Part 4 was The Music and Muses of Vibrant Vienna

SLOVAKIA, once again!

BRATISLAVA

Yes, I have spoken about Slovakia, but only when our intrepid group of travelers paused for lunch on our way from Poland to Hungary in Part 3-EASTERN EUROPE: STRUDEL, SCHNITZEL AND STRAUSS, A FEW OF OUR FAVORITE THINGS;

Breakfast in Poland, Lunch in Slovakia and Dinner in Hungary. This time we departed Austria and headed for the Czech Republic, stopping for the night in Bratislava, the world’s only capital to share borders Read the rest of this entry »

A stately building in Vienna.

Part 3 was Breakfast in Poland, Lunch in Slovakia and Dinner in Hungary

AUSTRIA

THE MUSIC AND MUSES OF VIBRANT VIENNA

Where we stayed:

The Hilton Vienna Plaza didn’t have the same startling views of the Danube River as our Hilton Budapest did, but it did have Alpine tap water so crystal clear that we forewent drinking bottled. Our room was quite lovely, with marble streaks of two-toned greys, a workable desk with a comfortable study desk chair and a divan instead of a lounge chair. Location Read the rest of this entry »

Our welcoming sight to Budapest, Hungary is the House of Parliament Building

BREAKFAST IN POLAND, LUNCH IN SLOVAKIA AND DINNER IN HUNGARY

Part 2 was From Concentration Camps to Trendy Kraków

Only one road connects Poland with Hungary, and you have to drive through Slovakia to do it. The narrow, exceedingly bumpy road was under reconstruction so traffic barely crawled. It did give us time to peruse the beauty of the Tatra Mountains, popular for winter sports. What I noticed is that the Slovakian houses we passed all have sloped, peaked roofs to prevent snow from mounting.  Flower boxes hang from balconies and even with a typically brief summer season (though not true this year Read the rest of this entry »

FROM CONCENTRATION CAMPS TO TRENDY KRAKÓW

Part 1 was The Razing and Rebuilding of Warsaw

I grew up with the horror stories of the Holocaust, from family whispers to the stacks of books I devoured. (I can’t count how many versions of The Diary of Anne Frank I have read or seen acted.) Just knowing our Odysseys Unlimited tour included a visit to Auschwitz (known in German as Oswiecim) and its nearby sub-camp, Birkenau, made me edgy. We were travelling to Kraków, but the visit to the camps were scheduled for the earlier part of the day. Could I handle seeing the reality which has heretofore only been personal stories or movies?

Trainloads of prisoners would arrive here at Birkenau

I propelled myself forward and listened attentively to the statistics of how many were killed, how many survived, and why it has been a Polish government project to preserve the camps and their wretched history. I shuddered when we passed by a gas chamber, held my breath when we entered barracks that still echoes the misery of their cramped, emaciated inhabitants, and Read the rest of this entry »

Spinach strudel, boiled potatoes, sausages and more at Café Museum in Vienna, Austria

Strudel, Schnitzel and Strauss weren’t all that grabbed our attention about Eastern Europe, but they were certainly components of the rich cultural influences food, wine, music, arts, and architecture played during our recent Odysseys Unlimited Discovering Eastern Europe tour. The trip evoked memories of our ancestry.

Yiddish was the language my grandparents, aunts and uncles spoke when they didn’t want me to understand the conversation. English was the rule otherwise. How often did I hear them say, “We are now Americans. We speak English.”

My parents were first-born Americans from parents who fled Poland, Romania and the Austro-Hungarian Empire in the early 1900s. Even as the eldest of my parent’s three children, I didn’t know to ask why they fled their native countries or how Read the rest of this entry »

PLACE YOUR BETS. THESE NEW KENTUCKY VENUES ARE SURE WINNERS!

Mare and foal, just two of the thoroughbreds residing at Hermitage Farm

When you think of Kentucky, do you immediately think bourbon and horses? Add culinary innovation to the mix and you will understand why Hermitage Farm is transforming a horse farm into an agritourism destination. Located just 25 minutes from downtown Louisville, owner Steve Wilson says his desire to showcase the best of Kentucky was the motivation to convert the horse farm into a farm-to-fork restaurant featuring menu items grown in the onsite five-acre garden, country store stocked with local farm products and picnic lunches, and specialty bourbon retail and tasting rooms. Groups will enjoy an art walk instillation and hayloft event space for approximately 200 guests. Planned to be open by Kentucky Derby Day 2019 will be the unique ability to dine inside renovated horse stalls, offering both communal and private dining opportunities. The 700-acre homestead, which Read the rest of this entry »

Hilton Santa Barbara Beachfront Resort

WHAT’S HOT AND WHAT’S NOT FOR SUMMER ROAD TRIPS ACROSS THE U.S.

WalletHub, a company that surveys and analyses how people live, travel and spend, knows that across the U.S, summer is a time for road trips. But, all road trips are not equal. According to WalletHub’s latest survey, California has the highest number of scenic byways, 66, which is 22 times higher than in Delaware, the state with the lowest at three. Wyoming has the lowest daily price for camping, $32, which is 2.1 times lower than in Connecticut, the state with the highest at $68. Arizona has the lowest price for a three-star hotel room, $64, which is 3.4 times lower than in Hawaii, the state with the highest at Read the rest of this entry »

St. Mark’s Square and colorful buildings line Venice’s Grand Canal

GONDOLIERS DON’T SING BUT VENICE STILL EVOKES ROMANCE

In Part 5 – The Classical Beauty Of Tuscany, The Elegance Of Florence And San Gimignano’s Tall Towers

VENICE

Where we stayed:

The Carnival Palace Hotel, opened in 2012, overlooks the Cannaregio Canal in the heart of historic downtown Venice. The modern 67 room hotel is not in the midst of tourist traffic, so if you want to venture to St Marks, museums and art galleries, you either have a very long walk or you can easily take a water bus from a station just a short distance away. The hotel buffet was diverse, with a vegan brioche I mistakenly took for a wheat croissant until I bit down into its soft, buttery texture. These were so amazing I ate them every morning for four days. Russ and I and several Read the rest of this entry »

View from Villa San Fillippo

THE CLASSICAL BEAUTY OF TUSCANY, THE ELEGANCE OF FLORENCE AND SAN GIMIGNANO’S TALL TOWERS

Part 4 was Medieval City Faced Chemical Warfare And Peace Makers Wage War Against Poverty In Orvieto And Assisi

SIENA, FLORENCE and SAN GIMIGNANO

Where we stayed:

Villa San Filippo is an 18th century 35-room resort in the Chianti hills, in Barberino Val D’Elsa. Russ and I stayed in a magnificent suite that opened up to a dining and kitchen area, tiled floors, and a step down to the bathroom and luxuriously appointed bedroom. A comfy chair positioned in front of a large window and balcony in the living room afforded spectacular views of the lush Tuscan landscape Read the rest of this entry »

Welcome to the medieval town of Orvieto

MEDIEVAL CITY FACED CHEMICAL WARFARE AND PEACE MAKERS WAGE WAR AGAINST POVERTY IN ORVIETO AND ASSISI

Part 3 was The Power Of Prayer And Governments Ruled Montecassino And Rome

ORVIETO, ASSISI and DERUTA

Where we stayed:

You couldn’t ask for a better central location to unpack your bags than the Grand Hotel Italia when staying in Orvieto, a medieval city built atop a volcanic butte that lies between Florence and Rome. There were inconsistencies in the water pressure, the WIFI drifted in and out, but the staff of the 46-room property did their best to make us comfortable, even to turning on the hotel-wide AC earlier than they’re used to in the season. The morning buffet was just ok, but one of the first lessons to be learned Read the rest of this entry »

Michelangelo’s Pieta in St. Peter’s Basiilica

THE POWER OF PRAYER AND GOVERNMENTS RULED ROME

Part 2 was the Sex, Lives And Jewelry Of Pompeii And Sorrento

ROME

Where we stayed:

I never tire of staying in former palaces converted to hotels. One such converted palace to hotel is the 110-room Empire Palace Hotel in Rome, originally built in 1879. Room sizes vary a lot. The floor and walls in our room and bathroom were marble. The shower wonderfully easy to operate, an appreciation you won’t understand unless you have used showers that require a pilot’s license for all the buttons and controls. The pillows were flat and hard. Downstairs, the onsite Blue Bar is a cozy venue with live music in the evening. Warning: when hotel signs indicate breakfast ends at 10:30, they do not mean a minute longer. The hotel is Read the rest of this entry »

Seated man frozen in ash at Pompeii

SEX, LIVES AND JEWELRY OF POMPEII AND SORRENTO

Part 1 was The Magnificent Sights And Sounds Of Amalfi And Ravello

POMPEII, SORRENTO and MONTECASSINO

Watching one of many fictionalized movies about the destruction of Pompeii and Herculaneum in 79 AD when Mount Vesuvius erupted does not adequately impart the swift horror that befall the populace. Vesuvius has since erupted nearly 30 more times, the last being March 17, 1944. Considered one of the most dangerously active volcanos in the world, it’s scary to know it sits only about 20 miles from the city of Naples. Estimates are that as many as 30,000 residents may have been “frozen in place” under ash in 79 AD. An eruption today might cause as many as Read the rest of this entry »

St Mark’s Square & the Doge’s Palace on Venice’s Grand Canal

Part 1 – THE MAGNIFICANT SIGHTS AND SOUNDS OF AMALFI AND RAVELLO

Pizza, pasta and gelato. Wines that never reach America. Mythological gods and goddesses. Warring religious and political leaders. Artists, sculptors and architects whose works still breathe life into a people, country and tourism-driven economy.

Stunning landscapes of contrasting colors, from the foam-tipped whites of the sea crushing against jagged rocks of the Amalfi Coast to the neon yellow of the lemon tree-studded mountains of Ravello; from

Boar’s head sits in oaken bucket. Otherwise, a typical wine and food shop within stone walls of medieval town

 

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Vineyard Tower is a $120 million expansion to Gaylord Texas Resort & Convention Center

FEED CENTRAL FLORIDA YOUTHS THIS SUMMER

Orlando, FL area restaurants and the Central Florida chapter of the Florida Restaurant and Lodging Association (FRLA) are partnering to make the Summer of Dreams come true for homeless Central Florida youths. The annual “Round Up For Kids” fundraiser for the Orlando After-School All-Stars initiative will provide meals, academic enrichment, tutoring, mentoring, and a backpack filled with school supplies for the upcoming school term. Last year, the Summer of Dreams program served 1,151 Central Florida homeless students. Diners can help just by letting participating restaurants know you want to support the cause by Read the rest of this entry »

Zebras are just one of the many 55 species of animals you might see on Safari Wilderness’ Sunset Safari’s this summer.

It’s the season for summertime travel if you’re based in North America, and if you are one of 72 million Americans expected to travel abroad, WalletHub has some interesting statistics about foreign transaction fees you may want to consider. According to surveys done by WalletHub, 51% of Americans worry more about foreign transaction fees on credit cards than tariffs on Chinese imports. Two-thirds of those surveyed think credit cards should charge lower foreign transaction fees in countries allied with the U.S. Are you aware that 96% of credit cards offer rental car insurance, while 86% offer travel accident Read the rest of this entry »

Hard Rock Hotel Daytona Beach’s guitar-shaped pool. photo by Architectural Photography Inc

CSR TOUCHES YOUNG LIVES IN PROFOUND MEASURE

April is World Autism Month. In honor of the month, LEGOLAND® Florida Resort, which already offers entertainment for children with a wide range of physical and cognitive disabilities, as well as food allergies and other dietary restrictions, has their carousel alight in blue. The theme park’s Guide for Guests with Disabilitie, available in printable PDF form, lists ride-by-ride safety requirements, including LEGOLAND Water Park, Read the rest of this entry »

Cliff House Maine in Neddick, ME is offering promotional discounts

HOT DEALS!
Breathe in Spring by taking a long weekend to relax and rejuvenate at Gaylord Palms Resort in Kissimmee, FL Enjoy 20% off plus $25 daily hotel credit for your weekend stay for travel through May 31. Just minutes from Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando Resort, the resort’s $25 credit per night can be used at on-site restaurants, in-room dining or at Relâche Spa. Use promotional code P91 in the Corporate/Promotional code box when making Read the rest of this entry »

Paradisus Punta Cana has promotional discounts and gorgeous settings

HOT DEALS!

Pamper yourself or your group with new promotions by Paradisus, renowned for its top all-inclusive resorts in Mexico and Punta Cana. Receive up to $1,500 USD in resort credit, free golf rounds, and complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport. Resorts include Paradisus Playa del Carmen La Perla, Paradisus Punta Cana, Paradisus Cancún, Paradisus Los Cabos, and Paradisus Palma Real.
www.melia.com

See the world from the deck of a Seabourn cruise liner during their Signature Savings Event and receive incentives such as a complimentary upgrade when Read the rest of this entry »

Swim with the Manatees? It’s a popular package at Plantation on Crystal River, located on Florida’s Nature Coast.

BEGINNINGS AND FRESH LOOKS

Parents and business visitors to Gainesville, FL will have a new reason to yell “Go Gators” when the AC Hotel Gainesville (by Marriott) opens its doors early this year. This college town has always been known for rousing spirit and Read the rest of this entry »

Jump into the foam ball pit at Planet Obstacle

What’s a nice safety-obsessive girl who doesn’t like heights and is a natural klutz doing in a place like Planet Obstacle, Lake Mary, Florida’s ode to extreme indoor sports?

Mostly just trying not to let my jaw keep dropping open as I gape at hundreds of kids flying through the air like ninja warriors, or playing dodgeball in a brightly-lit padded court, or bouncing about in a foam ball-filled pit. Above me, a ropes course had human monkeys disguised Read the rest of this entry »

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