Category Archive: Themes

Books to Read on Your Next Flight

In honor of World Book Day, I’m updating my progress in the 2017 Pop Sugar Reading Challenge – and in doing so, giving you a list of great books to read on your next flight (train trip, cruise, or wherever you enjoy immersing yourself in a book). As a refresher, the challenge is not a list of books to read. Instead, it’s a list of book themes and you pick something within your reading preferences while still stretching your reading repertoire my getting you to look at books that you may not have considered. The list is 40 books for the basic challenge, plus an additional 12 for the advanced challenge, the latter equating to one book per week for the year. If you don’t read all 40 – or 52 books, it doesn’t matter. The purpose of the challenge […]

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Sail off on a Viking Homelands Cruise

I know that lots of you still haven’t made your big vacation plans for the year, or maybe you’re ahead of the game and making plans for next year. I took a 15-day summer cruise on the Viking Sea and recommend both the ship and the itinerary highly. The itinerary is called Viking Homelands, and it’s a cruise through Scandinavia and the Baltic stopping in historic city centers and cruising majestic Norwegian fjords. It’s full of value luxury destinations and experiences. Viking Ocean provides great value for your cruise dollar. It’s an all-inclusive experience – something that seems to have fallen by the wayside on other cruise experiences – with many tours included at each port, soft drinks, beer and wine complimentary at meals, and specialty restaurants that don’t require an additional charge. It was nice to relax and enjoy […]

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Recommendations for a Romantic Getaway

Yes, Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, but keeping a list of ideas for romantic getaways close at hand for other special occasions – anniversaries, proposals, birthdays, or just to show a loved one a little special appreciation. What makes a destination romantic is as different as every person is. Whether your idea of romantic is a secluded beach, a penthouse in a big city, dinner for two with a view, or visiting somewhere you’ve always wanted to visit, I’ve got some suggestions for you. For City Lovers If you love the big cities, you know that they aren’t cold and impersonal – no, they’re teeming with life and excitement, and are full of romantic travel opportunities. Just think about these: A kiss at midnight at the top of the Empire State Building. It worked for Cary Grant and […]

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Sip Up! January is Hot Tea Month

January is hot tea month, a celebration of the second most popular drink in the world (the first is water). Even here in the U.S., where we don’t often embrace the many rituals surrounding tea, our consumption is on a rapid increase. I tend to agree with British writer Henry James when he said:  “There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.” I’ve asked some of my writer friends to share their tea experiences. From learning about its production to drinking it, from discovering the tea culture to enjoying traditional served high tea, I think you’ll enjoy these stories and find your own special way to celebrate hot tea month. Growing and producing tea: Boseong Green Tea Fields Samantha is currently teaching ESL in Namwon, South Korea. She fell in love […]

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Universal Orlando Resort: I’m So Excited

I am an unapologetic Universal fan, whether it’s Universal Orlando Resorts in Florida (I went there last year for Halloween Horror Nights), or Universal Studios Hollywood (I went there on a getaway last month with a family teenager). So you can imagine my enthusiasm when Universal Orlando Resorts asked me to join their Blog Squad, a year long ambassador program to discover and write about the theme parks (and a water park opening early next year), special events, world-class hotels and entertainment venues, shopping, food, and more. (You can read the announcement here.) This opportunity to discover more about Universal Orlando starts tomorrow! I’m excited to spend five days on site in the company of other bloggers, photographers, and videographers, many of whom I’ve not yet met. My stories of discovery and fun will come weeks and months down the road, […]

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Getaway to Universal Studios Hollywood

Heading to Universal Studios Hollywood during summer vacation was a frightening idea. The crowds, the lines, the mass of humanity crowded together pushing and shoving! But summer was the only time I could schedule a getaway to celebrate the 13th birthday for a family member. I set out to find a way to make it work both for the new teenager and for me. Here’s what I did as well as tips and recommendations for your own trip. Note:  This article was written in collaboration with Expedia.com who asked me to share my personal getaway guide to Universal Studios.  Choosing Your Dates Summer is vacation time, so there are a lot more people at Universal, and my top recommendation for timing is to go off-season, during the week while kids are in school, and to avoid weekends and holiday seasons. That […]

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Talking About Viking Homeland Cruise on Amateur Traveler.

It’s only been a couple of weeks since we’ve returned from my 15-day, 8 country, Viking Homelands cruise on the Viking Sea. This is one of the top highlights of my year of travel (if not the very top).  and it was my pleasure to talk about the ship, the itinerary, and why I’m impressed with the cruise product delivered by Viking (both River and Ocean cruising). In this episode of the Amateur Traveler, Chris Christensen (blogger, podcaster, friend) and I talk about the ship, the itinerary, and why we’re impressed with the cruise product delivered by Viking (both River and Ocean cruising). You might also be interested in my review of the Viking Sea. Press the green arrow below to listen to the episode.   Amateur Traveler Episode 525 – Baltic Cruise with Viking Ocean    

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Life Onboard the Viking Sea

The Viking Sea set sail from Stockholm on a 15 day Viking Homelands itinerary, visiting eight countries:  Sweden, Finland, Russia, Estonia, Poland, Germany, Denmark, and Norway. Since I was already in Sweden, and the itinerary included mainly places that I had never been, it was easy to get excited about the trip. “What will 15 days at sea be like?” friends wanted to know. “Won’t you get bored when you’re not in port? What will you do?” The Viking Sea is one of Viking Cruises newest ships in its ocean cruising division. The ship is big enough – 930 passengers with a crew of 550 – to travel the waters where river ships cannot go without sacrificing the service standards that loyal Viking cruisers expect. That loyalty is a good place to start when talking about shipboard life. Although I’m […]

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New Podcast: Where Else to Go

Today is a pretty big day for me. After months and months of research and practice (also known as dithering around), I’m launching my new podcast – Where Else to Go. The podcast focuses on value luxury travel – that sweet spot where price and experience intersect to create WOW! Value luxury helps you decide when to save and when to splurge, and makes sure you get the most out of every travel experience. Another reason for starting the podcast is that the female voice and angle is missing from what else it out there. I’ve been listening to podcasts for years, including many in the travel niche, and found the female approach to travel is grossly under-represented. So I jumped into the scrum. My half hour podcast is designed to help you decide where to go, but more importantly […]

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Hogwart’s is Coming to Universal Hollywood

The official opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Hollywood will be Thursday, April 7th, 2016. After visiting both Harry Potter attractions at Universal Orlando earlier this year, I’m excited about having something a little closer to home. Potter fans have been eagerly anticipating this arrival to the West Coast, more than five years in the making. Inspired by J.K. Rowling’s compelling stories and characters that were brought to life in the Warner Bros. films, “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is being masterfully recreated with impeccable detail as a real-world interpretation at Universal Studios Hollywood.  The land will be faithful to the visual landscape of the fiction and films, including Hogwarts castle which will serve as its iconic focal point. From its snow-capped roofs and cobblestone streets to the historic British sensibilities that characterize the […]

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