Travel Blog

There is no better way to visit the amazing state of Alaska than doing a Cruise/Tour. Many travelers who visit Alaska do so only on a cruise ship along its’ coast, but there is so much more to see and experience. I recently had the opportunity to visit Alaska Cruise/tour destinations on a Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruise sponsored trip exploring Alaska’s major interior destinations: Fairbanks, Denali National Park, Talkeetna, Seward and Anchorage. The vast expanse of the state has varied and stunning scenery not to be found anywhere else in North America.

Fairbanks

After arriving in Fairbanks by air, we met our escort at the Pike’s Waterfront Lodge where we spent the next two nights. Pike’s Waterfront Lodge enjoys a terrific location on the Chena River, a mile from Fairbanks International airport, 2 miles from Pioneer Park and 4 miles from the University of Alaska. The hotel has rooms with flat-screen TVs, some with balconies overlooking the river, mini fridges and microwaves and most have free Wi-Fi. Rustic log cabins elsewhere on the property feature private decks, kitchenettes and sitting rooms.

After settling in, we met our motorcoach driver for the trip and drove to the Steamboat Landing where we boarded the “Discovery III”, an old fashioned paddle-wheeler, that took us on a 2 1/2 hour journey down the Chena River. We stopped by the Susan Butcher (a 4 time Iditarod champion) Kennels to see the dogs and witness a demonstration with the dogs in harness pulling an ATV. Further down the river we had the opportunity to see a bush pilot take off from the river and land on the river. There are a great many bush pilots in Alaska and for many it is the only form of transportation. We then stopped to visit a re-created Chena Indian fishing village where we enjoyed a demonstration of catching and smoking fish, how a cache is built to store food, a typical summer tent sleeping area, a typical cabin and a presentation of how the women made clothes out of furs and animal skins. That evening we went to a salmon BBQ . . .yum!

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Watching Jake Sully enter the world of Pandora through his genetically engineered Na’vi body makes you wonder what it must be have been like. How did it feel to walk in the Pandora forest, run through the fields, or fall through the trees? How would it be to smell the air, to see the plants glow at night, to ride the Ikran, the predatory banshee that can fly? If you ever wished for that experience then your dreams have come true! You can now experience Pandora, The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World, Orlando Florida. It’s the perfect fit for Avatar fans, like me and my wife!

I had the most amazing opportunity to visit Pandora during its Grand Opening and walk around the Valley of Mo’ara. I was amazed at the mystery of its floating mountains alive with the sounds of life, drumming along like a beating heart. The flora and fauna glow both day and night, move and breathe like the native plants in Pandora. Many adventures wait for you here. Children and parents alike can paint their faces to resemble the Na’vi people. Take the look further with a souvenir T- shirt resembling the Na’vi skin color and war paint, or add a head band adorned with the ears of the Na’vi people. Complete the costume with Na’vi necklaces, bracelets and more. I had the chance to get my face painted at “Colors of Mo’ara” and bought the head band to match. But as soon as my wife saw it, she stole it from me and wore it for the remainder of our trip! People loved the look. We were met with curiosity all day as tourists and Disney Cast Members asked us where we got our Na’vi ears, wanting to know how much we loved Pandora! They wanted to share in our experience, even the face painting and ears! It was a thrill!

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It is summer, it is hot. You are enjoying gardening, walking, swimming and barbecuing with friends, but when fall comes you will have an urge to travel and yes, indeed, it is the best time to travel!

In many places it is the shoulder season, which means fewer crowds. In addition the weather is optimal, in the northern hemisphere, the summer heat has passed, but it is still quite pleasant; in the southern hemisphere, spring flowers are blooming; and in Asia the monsoon rains have ended.

Here are some of my favorite trips for the fall:

Hiking in Vermont: If you have not seen Vermont in the fall, you don’t know what you are missing. The fall colors there are simply unbelievable! With forests covering three-quarters of the state, and the highest percentage of vibrant maple trees in the country, Vermont can’t help but explode into amazing colors once the leaves start to turn. Whether you are touring the state on the scenic byways, or enjoying a crisp autumn hike outdoors, almost everywhere you look in Vermont during the fall months is alive with bursting reds, oranges and yellows.

Adding to the natural beauty of autumn in Vermont are a variety of festivals, events and activities that help celebrate the season. Harvesting fruits and vegetables, visiting farms, pumpkin patches and corn mazes, and game hunting are among the host of outdoor things to do that make fall such a special time of year.

Plus, the elegant inns, hotels and bed and breakfasts are perfect places to stay during a fall visit to Vermont, but let's plan your fall trip and lodging early, because when the calendar turns to autumn, virtually no place in America is more desirable to visit than Vermont.

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Penny Lane BeatlesFrom the birth of the Beatles to the creators of the kilt, this 7-day sojourn through England and Scotland was all about uncovering the best of Britain. Picture-perfect lands and charming cities make this a perfectly balanced way to spend a week in the U.K.

4/29/17 (Day 1) - Arriving in LONDON
After arriving at the Hotel Ibis London Earl’s Court, we all met in the lobby at 4pm. We were introduced to Brooke, the Trip Manager, and from there, we went to the Contiki Basement for a short orientation. Then, we drove to the Westminster Pier, across from the London Eye, for a 45 minute cruise on River Thames. There was champagne waiting for us at Zizzi’s, an Italian restaurant in Greenwich, where we were served way more food than we could eat. Afterwards, we rode back to the hotel in the coach.

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Walt Disney World"Magical" – This truly is the word for my most recent visit to Walt Disney World. The next best thing to an African Safari is a stay at Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge. With a Savanna View Room you can awaken to giraffes, ostriches, zebras and wildebeests.

If you prefer a Polynesian, princess, or pirate experience there is a place for you, too. A stay at the Wilderness Lodge, cabins or camping may be your thing. A luxury retreat at the Grand Floridian or overnight in a Disney Experience at the Little Mermaid, Cars or Lion King rooms at the Art of Animation might be your style.

Whatever you desire, Disney has a place for you! If you want to experience world cultures, food, and entertainment you only need to travel as far as Epcot.

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