Travel

PORTUGAL HIGHLIGHTS
Dr Reena Koppala   Jul-2019   19 Views   0 Comments
Portugal, officially Portuguese Republic, is a country lying along the Atlantic coast of the Iberian Peninsula in southwestern Europe.

Day 1:  We got on to a flight from Dallas to Madrid and had a one-day stopover in Spain. At that time my son was an ardent fan of soccer, so this stopover was a surprise for him. We went on a sightseeing tour of Madrid and had breakfast, lunch and early dinner in Madrid. Just before we went on to board the flight to Lisbon we made a stop to shop for footballs and jerseys.

Day 2: We landed in Lisbon, Portugal capital. Lisbon's urban area extends beyond the city's administrative limits with a population of around 2.8 million people, being the 11th-most populous urban area in the European Union. Lisbon lies in the western Iberian Peninsula on the Atlantic Ocean and the River Tagus. The westernmost portions of its metro area form the westernmost point of Continental Europe, which is known as Cabo da Roca, located in the Sintra Mountains. In Lishhboaaaa (that is how they say it) we stayed at a hotel that was a 15th-century Portuguese palace with a sea view. The first thing my son picked was a Hippo tour. It was a minivan that took us around Lisbon and later drives into a sea and becomes a boat.  We could barely keep our eyes open because of the jetlag. On our way back we stumbled across a museum, the Portuguese teachers were explaining about Ramayana and Mahabharata to their field trip students (made a note to read Jaya by Devdutt Pattanaik on Kindle once back).

Later in the evening we traveled by train to downtown Lisbon and had dinner at ' Timeout'. One of the most unique eatery places that I have ever been to. There were around 40 eating places under one roof with a contemporary look and so informal (fell in love with the concept). Strolled on the streets of the historic downtown and had late local coffee, Of course, shopping inclusive.

Day 3: My son's pick for today was Oceanário de Lisboa which is the world's largest saltwater Oceanarium and is a fantastic tourist attraction especially for families. Just to go to that place we took 3 forms of transportation metro, train, cable. One of the main adventures of any travel is “TRAVEL LIKE LOCALS”.  Trying to understand Portuguese and trying to find our way, was the most interesting part of our travel. Next stop was Vasco da Gama Shopping Center. We took a Cable car on the ocean and had lunch at Cais de Sondre. By the time we came back to our hotel, it was 6:00 pm. The hotel always had surprise exotic chocolates for kids. We quickly changed into formal wear and got ready to witness the iconic Fado show in style. Fado is commonly regarded as simply a form of song which can be about anything but must follow a certain traditional structure. In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness, and melancholia.Awesome Portuguese music mixed with dinner made it a perfect evening. We came back from the show around 12 am. Today we really felt the essence of Portugal. 

Day 4:  Woke up late and had a brunch in the hotel itself. Took the metro, to reach another station. There we went on a city hop off tours castle line and Belem line. Our next stop was Rossio Square or Praça do Rossio, officially called Praça de D. Pedro IV, is Lisbon's nerve center. The square is situated in the city's Baixa neighborhood, on the northern end of Rua Augusta, very close to Restauradores Square. Praça do Rossio is the liveliest area in the capital of Portugal and where many locals and tourists meet up. We had a good walk and browsed all the antique shops on our way. My son Arnav played with water that was hitting the shores for sometime before we moved on. 

Our next stop was Padrão dos Descobrimentos; Monument of the Discoveries, which is a monument on the northern bank of the Tagus River, Lisbon. Located along the river where ships departed to explore and trade with India and the Orient, the monument celebrates the Portuguese Age of Discovery (or Age of Exploration) during the 15th and 16th centuries. From the top of this monument, we had a breathtaking view of Lisboa. It was 6 pm now and we headed back to our Palacio. We walked for over 3 miles to get to our train station. My son said that he may forget this trip but will never forget the walk from the monument to the train station. We reached Hotel and almost collapsed, had a quick dinner and called it a day. It is at this hotel we learned the essence of Peri Peria very hot sauce made with red chili peppers.

Day 5:  We started our day at 6 am. Took a cab to central Lisboa to board the tour bus to the Sintra. Sintra is consistently ranked as one of the wealthiest and most expensive municipalities in both Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula as a whole. Sintra is similarly known for its high standards of living, consistently ranking as one of the best places to live in Portugal. The historic center of the Vila de Sintra is famous for its 19th-century Romanticist architecture, historic estates & villas, gardens, and numerous royal palaces & castles, which resulted in the classification of the town and its historic passage as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palacios Reais de Sintra was beautiful and calm. We had a wonderful stroll spending our afternoon there on the cobbled streets. Had lunch at a 1945 Portuguese restaurant. Don't miss Paste De Nata the Portuguese official dessert. Later grabbed some coffee and went on a shopping spree. Loved the village ambiance and spending time with the locals. Towards the evening started our way back and drove to Cascais another beautiful town so pure and so rich in history. We stopped briefly at Cabo da Roca or Cape Roca the westernmost point of the Europe Continent. Now we called it a day and headed back to our hotel. 

Woke up early had a quick breakfast and headed to Cristo Rei, took a ferry to the other part of the town Your trip would not be complete without visiting this place.

Day 6: The giant statue in cement was constructed to express gratitude because the Portuguese were spared the effects of World War II. To view Cristo Rei in close proximity was an experience by itself. Later returned to Lisbon and visited the Jerónimos Monastery. The Jerónimos Monastery is one of the most prominent examples of the Portuguese Late Gothic Manueline style of architecture in Lisbon. It was classified a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with the nearby Tower of Belém.We later took a tram to Jorge Castle. It was totally uphill ... my son got to play with the peacocks there. He and his dad visited the entire fort and later saw the archaeological sites. The scenic view at night from the castle was spectacular.  By this time it was dark, we quickly wrapped up our shopping and walked back to our station en route to our hotel. I started packing our bags and now my very own husband and son disowned me and they refused to give me any space in their luggage for all my shopping. At last, I did some pushing and pulling and finally got to close my suitcase. We woke up at 3 am in the morning and headed back to home sweet home Dallas on a 16 hr flight.  




Read More...

Scotland highlights by Dr Reena Koppala
Dr Reena Koppala   May-2019   83 Views   0 Comments

The Scots are famous storytellers, and in Scotland you'll discover that every castle, loch, and glen has a legend surrounding it. Travel to Scotland and immerse yourself in its fabled history and nature. You'll leave with your own great story to tell, here is mine!

Day 1: We arrived around midnight in Edinburgh, we started our expedition the next day with an authentic Scottish breakfast. We made reservations to a couple of Scottish shows and a ghost tour. They say commuting like a local in its essence is the pinnacle of any travelers experience… Using a local map we walked to the nearest bus stop to board the Lothian bus. We got on an ocean terminal bus to visit the Royal Britannia yacht. The Royal Yacht Britannia is the former Royal Yacht of the British monarch that served Queen Elizabeth II, in service from 1954 until 1997. We were enthralled by the Royal Ships layout, and imagined the way the royal family would have spent their memorable times onboard the ship. After the tour, we set out for a quick shopping sprint and hopped the bus back to the city. By this time, we were extremely hungry on our way back, we spotted an Indian restaurant ' Golden Ambal'. Deeply immersed in the spread of idli, dosa, naan, and biryani my son could barely talk after the fact! Following the late lunch we went back to our hotel and relaxed over a hot milk with a 'cube of sugaaaaa'. The evening part of the tour was reserved for the faint old section of Edinburgh… 

Caddies and Witches tour is a must-see attraction on your trip! Around 8 pm we were greeted by our very own 'Ghost' who ushered us through the dark alleys and dungeons of Edinburgh. Confronted by sightings of ghost, ghouls and goblins and spellbound by the bone chilling folk stories, we were truly thrilled, thanks to our ghost guide! This was the best tour ever! Later that night we walked by the University of Edinburgh and took a metro back to our hotel to unwind to the comfort of our cozy rooms. 

Day 2: We woke up a little late the next day, quite exhausted by an eventful first day. Following a scrumptious breakfast we headed for my son's place of choice for his birthday, The Edinburgh Castle. It was a breathtaking walk with a spectacular scenery of the old town. Edinburgh Castle is home to the Crown Jewels of Scotland, that with them rests the 'Stone of Destiny' also knows as 'Stone of Scone'. It is a traditional coronation stone of all the Kings and Queens of England and Scotland. That stone has been fought for by England and Scotland many times. There we got to meet a lady personified and dressed as Mary, Queen of Scots. She performed a show and taught us how to do the Scottish walk. Later we browsed through some old woolen shops and souvenir shops in search of memorabilia's to take back home with us.  Make sure to buy some Scottish jackets here, because the wool used in the jackets are very different and quite unique. In the evening, we walked through the cobbled stone path to a traditional Scottish gala where they had traditional Sottish music, dance, and songs followed by a grand dinner in the setting of a magnificent historic Preston field House. This was just moments from the Royal Mile.  This truly was the highlight of our tour!

Day 3: This day was our day tour to Loch Ness 'monster'. A visit to Loch Ness and Inverness combines the great outdoors with the warm vibrancy of the Highlands. The drive through Scottish highlands and villages itself was enchanting. We arrived around noon and took the boat tour inside the lake. Either as a part of a boat tour or as a trip in its own right, you must visit the Urquhart Castle and  discover more than 1,000 years of history perched on the edge of Loch Ness. Once one of Scotland's largest castles, Urquhart saw great conflict during its 500 years as a medieval fortress. After the cruise, we stopped at the pleasant bustling village of Drumnadrochit, a great place to stop for lunch either at Loch Ness Inn or Fiddlers Inn. I know, you will believe me when I say that I saw the Loch Ness monster! On our way back to the Hotel we enjoyed the breathtaking views of the Scottish Highlands.

Day 4: On the fourth day we woke up early to catch a train to Glasgow. Took the train from the Hay-market to Queen Station. Once in the city, we visited the 16th Glasgow Cathedral, a grand example of pre-Reformation Gothic architecture, and the only mainland Scottish cathedral to have survived the Reformation.  Next main stop was the Glasgow science center. While my family explored, I had a quiet afternoon at a local Scottish bakery ... catching up with work and my diary. We got to view the BBC and later took a cab back to George Square. The brief stroll through the city chambers and its architecture was truly captivating, it is indeed a must see! Just before dusk we set out to explore the streets of Glasgow where we had dinner in the city before boarding our train back to Edinburgh. From the Haymarket station we walked back to our hotel. After resting and taking a quick shower we headed to the coffee room and had some milk and snacks in the library room. By this time we were done and ready to hit the sack.  The beautiful part of Scotland is in every hotel, nook and corner and at the center was a library where you could find some really old books.

Day 5: This day we went on an informative sightseeing tour of Edinburgh, stopping to view the regal Palace of Holyrood house. We got to go inside the new Scottish Parliament Building and walk the Royal Mile, delving into the heart of the city. Later after lunch, we strolled through the grand new town with its gothic façades, enjoying the rest of the day at leisure. The Museum of Scotland is a must see during this trip, this is where we spent our afternoon. I have seen many museums in different parts of Europe but I felt this was the best museum I experienced.

Day 6: On our sixth day morning we crossed the Firth of Forth to the celebrated home of golf - St. Andrews, to view its ancient university and famous golf course. Shakespeare's Macbeth takes center stage as we visited Glamis Castle, once home to the beloved Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. We enjoyed a guided tour of the castle and its beautiful gardens just before we traveled to the waterfront city of Dundee, distinguished for its status as the first UNESCO City of Design, and the original home of marmalade! By the time we made it back to the hotel we were tired, yet overjoyed with our experience! Having packed our bags to start our journey back to Dallas the next day morning we bid farewell to a truly enchanting town and its Royal character and charm.

Day 7: On our sixth day morning we crossed the Firth of Forth to the celebrated home of golf - St. Andrews, to view its ancient university and famous golf course. Shakespeare's Macbeth takes center stage as we visited Glamis Castle, once home to the beloved Queen Mother and birthplace of Princess Margaret. We enjoyed a guided tour of the castle and its beautiful gardens just before we traveled to the waterfront city of Dundee, distinguished for its status as the first UNESCO City of Design, and the original home of marmalade! By the time we made it back to the hotel we were tired, yet overjoyed with our experience! Having packed our bags to start our journey back to Dallas the next day morning we bid farewell to a truly enchanting town and its Royal character and charm.

Read More...

STARTING DFW TO PARIS DIRECT FLIGHT FROM 31ST MARCH 2019 :DELTA/AIRFRANCE NEW VENTURE
Khusboo Rawlley   Mar-2019   332 Views   0 Comments
It is best opportunity to visit Europe with this new flight, till today we had only option of American airlines  direct flight to visit Paris, now we can use Delta/Air France for Europe as well as Jet airways combination flights going to India.                                                    
Delta Airlines was represented by Sales and development Executive Mr. Gil Buitrago.” Delta very excited to give you this news about our joint venture. Now we are offering great options for our customers who would like to get connected with their destinations. Air France/KLM and Jet airways will be joining hands with us to provide great service and experience to connect our customers quickly and conviniently” said Mr. Buitrago.

Mr. Arnaud Grimal, The joint Venture sales and Sales development director represented Air France/ KLM airlines said “This is another important milestone to our airline. No, we can provide services to our loyal customers to their favorite destinations from DFW”.

Air France-KLM is the leading airline group in international traffic on departure from Europe serving 314 destinations in 116 countries under five brands.  Passengers can earn or redeem Delta SkyMiles or Flying Blue Miles on all Air France or KLM flights. Mr Grimal talked about special added features and said,“More features has been added to economy class travellers like more space between armrest and more legroom.A wider HD touch screen.

The Business seat is equipped with a Business passengers also a hypoallergenic feather pillow, soft duvet, and a comfort and well-being” kit containing toiletries and Clarins moisturizer”.

Air France begins nonstop service between Dallas/Ft. Worth and Paris -Charles de Gaulle Airport (CDG) March 31 with 5 weekly peak season flights.

March 31 thru Oct. 26 2019 Air France operates 3 weekly flights  (wed/fri/sun) with 5 weekly flights during summer peak season in July and August (mon / wed / fri / sat / sun)

Jet Airways was represented by Mr. Ather Khan Vice president of Jet airways America. Being one of the well recognized international airline “this venture will give more options for customers with flexibility, quick connections and more affordable” It also will add value and increase sales with quality services in market for Jet airways said Mr. Khan.
When you fly with Sky team member  partner airlines as you get benefit of  Priority Boarding, Preferred Seats, and Waived Baggage Fees --stay with you no matter where you are around the world.

Plus, certain partner airlines offer even more benefits when you travel with them:

Our preferred partners (including AeroMexico, Air France, China Eastern, GOL, KLM, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Australia) offer elevated benefits like Complimentary Upgrades.

Our SkyTeam partners (an alliance of 20 airlines serving 177 countries and over 1,000 destinations across the globe) all offer a unique suite of benefits including access to partner lounges around the world
Read More...

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic by – Dr Reena Koppala
Dr Reena Koppala   Feb-2019   113 Views   0 Comments

Punta Cana is a resort town within the Punta Cana- Bávaro -Veron-Macao municipal district, in the municipality of Higüey, in La Altagracia Province, the easternmost province of the Dominican Republic. The area has popular tourist beach resorts called balnearios which face both the Caribbean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean. To make the most of your time during your vacation, it is always wise to book an all- inclusive resort that includes activities at the beach. The following is a summary of a trip I took to Punta Cana.

Day 1: Our Punta Cana flight arrived early in the morning and after a brief cab ride we arrived at our resort, Barceló Bávaro Palace. The resort featured a Club House Entertainment District, a shopping  promenade, 24-hour sports bar, 24-hour casino, golf, world-class spa and much more. The Barceló Bávaro Palace is one of the top luxury hotels in Punta Cana, designed specifically for people who love constant sunshine, the gentle sound of the Caribbean breeze whispering in the palm trees, and beautiful crystal-clear waters with a coral reef.

The only thing Barceló Bávaro Palace guests need to think about is waking up in an idyllic place and choosing between the most pleasant form of relaxation or an exciting range of activities. After arriving at the Barceló Bávaro Palace, the first thing we did was dump our luggage in our room and then went for a stroll on the beach. The variety of the drinks, snacks, food was spectacular. There was a gigantic spread of food everywhere. Usually the specialty restaurants on the resort ground fill up fast so we had to make our dinner reservations little early. The variety of food options at one of the best All Inclusive hotels in the Dominican Republic allows guests to enjoy themselves and experience unique culinary adventures by sampling Dominican flavors or savoring international specialties at one of its 11 restaurants. We ended the day with a light swim and a music concert on the beach.

Day 2: The next day we woke up early to catch an early sunrise over the beach glimpse and later started our journey to the outskirts of the village which was quite a ride. This was the most exciting part of the trip. Here we joined a group on a dune buggy adventure. The dune buggy tour takes you on a offbeat path in the Dominican Republic and we drove past plantations, beaches, and farmland. The buggies are manual transmission with 4-speed stick shift and VW engine. Make sure you take extra pair of clothes when you go on this adventure as once it is over we were drenched in a combination of dirt, sand and  water. After freshening up ourselves we went to a cigar making factory to see how they make cigars from scratch, not something I looked forward but the gadgets used were interesting and pretty historic. Later we came to our resort to the lively music, food and entertainment shows. It was quite a day.

Day 3: Today was my son’s thirteenth birthday and he wanted to go on an adventure that had a wow factor. NOTE: You should NEVER give the choice to pick an activity to your kids. My son picked the most adventurous swimming option, swimming with the SHARKS and sting rays adventure. We joined a fun and lively group of enthusiastic people on a catamaran to go into the depths of the sea. In the middle of the ocean against blue waters was a huge area that was netted. Slowly my heart sank seeing the sharks inside the water pen. However my family was eager and swam to the netted area and jumped into the pen to be with the sharks. I could hear people squealing in fear when the sharks rubbed against them. This lasted for 30 mins and once we got back on to our catamaran we were greeted by the crew to a delicious lunch, drinks and of course some birthday cake. Later we danced our way back to the island during which they taught us some cool dancing steps. Once back at the resort it was the usual, huge dinner spread and lively entertainment.

Day 4: This day we kept aside for exploring the island. We went to a coffee plantation. The plantation was ½ an hour from most hotels in the area. It presents 500 square meters of different plants, especially coffee and cocoa, tobacco, pineapple, sugarcane, papaya, plantains, corn and others. The walk starts with a visit to the typical house, with the guide explaining how the locals lived, a walk through the areas and how they prepare their meals in a firewood stove. After this visit we continued to walk along a path inside the plantation, which by its nature, sunlight can barely penetrate. We then stopped at coffee spot where your guide will explain the whole roasting process and will offer tasting. Children get to prepare their coffee cake too at this location. At every step of the way there was an opportunity to buy some local gifts to take home. Exhausted from the walk we headed back to the hotel to relax on the beautiful sand and sip some cold coffee over sunset.

Day 5: The hotel is beside one of the 10 most stunning beaches in the world. So today we decided to just explore our beautiful resort and stay on the beach. We took advantage of enjoying water sports such as scuba diving, snorkeling, kayaking, and windsurfing activities on the beach. There are many facilities for sports enthusiasts, an exclusive spa for guests looking to unwind, a casino, clubs, and evening shows for those who enjoy nightlife. We explored almost every nook except the casino. The spa is a must visit spot in this resort.

Day 6: We packed our bags ready for our journey and returned to Dallas. Will surely miss the sand, beach and Dominican people.
Read More...

Ancient Greece By Dr Reena Koppala
Dr Reena Kopala   Jan-2019   563 Views   0 Comments

Greece was always on my bucket list for a very long time, but to do a trip that has a 17 hour journey from Dallas to Athens, with a huge time zone difference, I had to wait for my son to be 13. Before we embark on my journey and experience, I have to put it out there that we are one of the super crazy families that DO NOT relax on a vacation as we want to spend every single minute trying to explore some nook or corner of the city even if it is at midnight. 

 

Day 1 and Day 2: We took a flight from Dallas to Athens via Chicago and Frankfurt. Plan the flight timings in such a way that you get to sleep during your flight and land before 12 pm in Athens. For any Europe travel, try to use your ATM card for Euros rather than exchanging cash. We reached Athens around 10:30 am and took a cab to our hotel, which was right in the middle of Syntagma Square and walking distance to the Parliament building. Once at the hotel, we quickly refreshed and soon were back on the cobblestone pavements leading to the Square. Greece is synonyms with gastronomy, as there was a wide range of cuisines to choose from at the market square, with everything tasting delicious. We visited a local travel agent and booked a Delphi Tour and made our reservations for the Hover speed boat to Santorini (it is better  to book locally than on the internet because local reservations have so many choices). After lunch, we strolled around for 10 minutes and came across Acropolis, which is an ancient citadel located on a rocky outcrop above the city of Athens and contains the remains of several ancient buildings of great architectural and historical significance, the most famous being the Parthenon.We took a hike to the top of the mountain and saw breath taking views of Athens. Watching the city during sunset made it even more spectacular. We spent some quiet moments absorbing the glory and stories it contained. On our way back, we stopped at the foot of the Acropolis had a gyro wrap for dinner, which ended with the strongest coffee I ever tasted. Once we reached our hotel, we all slept deeply.

 

Day 3 :  We woke up early,around 7am, and enjoyed a sumptuous Greek breakfast spread. Do not forget to taste the Greek Coffee that really has a distinct taste. Next, was a brief visit to the Parliament, which was a 2 minute walk from our hotel. Make sure you get to witness the changing of guards and the march. Our next stop was the Panathenaic Stadium (the only marble stadium in the world!) where the first modern Olympic Games took place in 1896. My husband and son did a sprint on the track, feeling every bit of the history within them. What felt like a 20 mins stopover, actually ended up being a 2 hour enriching experience at the stadium with a short stop at the museum in the far left side corner that displayed the original Olympic torch. By now it was midday and we wanted to cover the Acropolis museum as planned, but due to local political protest our commute to the Acropolis museum was longer than expected. By the time we reached it was 4pm and the museum was closed. After a late lunch we shopped for a while in the local stores on the streets of the ancient part of town. We walked to our hotel and later went for a local Greek Folkfore dinner show. The best part was the actors making us dance along with them, which was so much fun. This is something that should not be missed and planned the moment you land,with the help of your concierge service. We reached our hotel at 11:30 pm and called it a day.

  

Day 4: Today too, we were up at 7 am and took a day tour to Delphi which we planned only because my son insisted to visit, due to its historical significance. However, once we reached there I felt any trip to Greece is incomplete without visiting the ancient center of the earth and the Apollo temple. Our guide was very knowledgeable and explained the stories of each village or town that we passed on our way. During such journeys it is better to take a tour than drive because of the jet lag. It gave us some time to rest and I also loved the local photo and coffee stops on our way. We went through some old towns and reached Delphi around noon. Delphi was believed to be the center of the ancient world- the “Omphalos” (Navel) of the earth, and home of God Apollo. The history behind that was equally spectacular. After a visit to the museum we had a Greek lunch in the valleys of Delphi with the scent of olive and bay leaf trees in the background. We did a pullover for a brief stop at Arachova, the skiing town, for some shopping and started to head back to Athens. We reached the hotel around 7 pm and once back there, had some dinner, packed our luggage for the next day and slept.

 

Day 5: We checked out from the hotel at 4 a.m.and took a cab to Piraeus to get on a Hover speed boat to Santorini which is 5 hour ride. We had our breakfast on the boat as we sailed thorough Mykonos and finally reached Santorini at 1pm. The ride to Fira, the capital, was 20 mins. Our hotel was in Firastephani with a beautiful sunset view of the ocean, a private pool, and white washed exterior. We quickly dumped our luggage and went for a walk along the narrow alleys on the coastline and surprisingly found an INDIAN restaurant. Today was my son’s birthday so we had an extra spicy biryani lunch and walked back in the panoramic shopping district. Santorini is the supermodel of the Greek islands, a head-turner whose face is instantly recognizable around the world: multicolored cliffs soar out of a sea-drowned caldera, topped by drifts of whitewashed buildings. With its reputation for dazzling panoramas, romantic sunsets and volcanic-sand beaches, Santorini is a must visit place. In the evening, we went for a quiet local dinner within a short walk of the cliffs and spend the rest of the night gazing at the beautiful ocean.

 

Day 6: Breakfast at our private pool on the whitewashed walls was one of our most beautiful experiences. Our first stop was to Akrotiri, which is a group of prehistoric settlements that were unearthed during archaeological excavations. It was short drive from there to the top of Mount Profitis Ilias for panoramic views of the whole island. On our way back, we visited the black sand beach and spent our afternoon there and had a delicious lunch. We just had a little time to have a brief stop at a winery and back to view the idyllic Oia sunset from the Kastro — the Venetian castle ruins atop Santorini. Every tourist makes sure they visit this village and view the sunset and do some shopping. My son found a hidden old Atlantis book store and yes, we did indeed buy some book marks, not books though.  We ended the day by having dinner and catching a local city bus back to our hotel. The beauty of this whole trip is trying to commute, eat and dine just like locals to get the real essence of Greece.

 

Day 7: We woke up leisurely and then took a boat to our first stop at Santorini’s hot springs, which are on the tiny, uninhabited islet of Palea Kameni. Continuous underground volcanic activity maintains the springs’ temperature between 86ºF and 95ºF (30°C and 35°C). The sulfuric, orange-tinged spring waters that bubble up into a shallow cove off the islet’s coast are said to be curative for the skin and joints. After an hour stop, we again boarded our boat and went to a caldera atop the volcanic hill. Make sure you have good walking shoes as the trek was steep, bumpy, and quite a walk. We ended the day with a quiet cruise back to Fira.

 

Day 8: We took an afternoon flight from Santorini to be back in Athens by 1pm. We checked into a unique hotel in the Plaka district that was like a rabbit hole. We spent our afternoon visiting the Temple of Zeus (one of the biggest temples in history) and Hadrian’s Gate. We ended our day by shopping and eating delicious Greek yogurt with honey and fresh fruits that tasted so different.

 

Day 9:  By 6 a.m. we were at the Athens airport on our way back to Dallas, home sweet home, with beautiful memories of this ancient country.




Read More...

THE QUICKEST WAYS TO TELL WHETHER YOUR HOTEL ROOM HAS BED BUGS
TP4U Editor   Sep-2018   399 Views   0 Comments

It was always sweet when mom used to say stuff like, "Sleep tight, don't let the bed bugs bite." Like you really had a choice in the matter. Nobody in the history of beds or bugs has ever actually wanted those pesky little bloodsuckers chawing away on their skin all night. But, inevitably, it can happen.

In case you aren't an aspiring Gil Grissom, bed bugs are the common name for Cimex lectularius, a flat, louse-like insect that lives off the blood of other animals. Because they're so dark, they can be hard to spot, especially when hiding under furniture or in dark corners of your hotel room or hostel bunk. And while they don't transmit any diseases, they can leave nasty, itchy bites that are at best highly uncomfortable, and at worst leave you boiling all your clothes as soon as you get home.

Even nice hotels can catch a case of bed bugs, so it can pay to turn on your cellphone flashlight and have a look around as soon as you get to your room. We talked to some folks at Rentokil, who kill bugs for a living, and they told us where to look to find the critters before they find you. So, what should you scan for in your room? Saying, "I'm looking for bed bugs" is all well and good, but do you even know what you're looking for? Small, crawling insects roughly the size of apple seeds are the dead giveaway, but sometimes you can have bed bugs without actually seeing them. Juvenile bed bugs shed their outer skins five or six times, so look for what might be discarded insect skin in the areas we outline below.

Also, small blood smears don't mean somebody went all Very Bad Things in your room right before you got there. It could mean bed bugs' messy eating. You can also look for tiny black smudges that denote bed bug excretion (kinda like insect skid marks) or tiny white eggs, generally about 1mm in length.

Where else to look?.... The mattress and bed frame.: The most obvious spot to look for bed bugs is in the mattress, but spotting them is a little more involved than just picking the mattress up and looking for dark spots. Bed bugs tend to hide in the joints of the frame and along the slats. Sofas and throw pillows.: Quite often, you'll find them in other soft seats but NOT in the bed. Take a look along the seams, inside the slip cover, and along the zippers of any decorative pillow or sofa cushion. Closets and floorboards.: Bed bugs don't even need soft, cushy spaces to find a home. They can be hiding in your closet, which can ultimately lead to that unfortunate clothes-boiling we mentioned earlier to try and get them killed. Check the spots where floor boards or floor molding meet the wall. 

Night stands.: Much like with the rest of the furniture, look at the drawer seals and corners of the nightstand. Also check inside lampshades or the spots where the lamp makes contact with the nightstand. Same goes for picture frames, alarm clocks, or any other bedside decor. Luggage and luggage stands.: Take a look at the webbing on the fold-out luggage stand, especially where it wraps around the frame. And just to be safe, never, EVER put your luggage on the bed itself. Those bugs will jump right in and might never leave.

Read More...

Best Things to do in BALI Indonesia
TP4U Editor   May-2018   305 Views   0 Comments

One of the most popular travel destinations in the world is Bali. There are many good reasons why Bali is popular. It has one of the most beautiful islands which is known as "Island Of the Gods". Bali is surrounded by azure seas and edged with golden beaches. If you are looking for a relaxing holiday then Bali is one of the best places. It has a beautiful island which is set in the middle of Indonesia

Apart from sea and sand, Bali has many other places to enjoy like caves, waterfalls, museums, markets, temples. If you love history and culture then you can spend some time learning the local legends and Balinese traditions in the place of Ubud. In short, we can say, whatever you want to do, you will get it in Bali easily. One of the hardest things is to decide where to go first in Bali and what to see. Here are the best things to do in Bali 

  • Visit Ulun Danu Temple

                Ulun Danu temple is dedicated to the goddess of the lake and is situated at the edge of Baratan Lake in Bedugul in Bali. On the island, Ulun Danu temple is the quietest place. Whenever you visit this                 temple, don't forget to check out the different shrines. All the shrines are dedicated to a different god. Must also look the ornate architectural touches like carved gates. 

  • Go surfing in Kuta

                One of the famous beach in Bali is Kuta Beach. If you want to surf and want to look some waves then go to Kuta beach. The beach is over from a Sandbar, means it has rolling surf which is free of                 any reefs. On this beach, you can also rent a board and sign up for a surf lesson. 

  • Bali Treetop Adventure Park

            This is the park where you will find lots of rides which is surrounded by lush forests. It is a good park for couples, families, groups and it also has rides for small children. 

  • Have lunch at Bebek Bengilin Ubud

            BebekBengil means the 'Dirty Duck' in Indonesian. It is one of the most-loved restaurant.

  • Go muck diving in Padang Bai

            Padang Bai is in the east of Bali. It is famous for diving. Here there are seven different dive sites. You can reach here after a short boat trip.  

  • Strap on a jetpack in Tanjung Benoa

            If you want to try water sports then you must totally visit TanjungBenoa. Here you will find many different activities which will be on offer. The most exciting thing is strapping on water jetpack. It will let             you fly up in the sky to a height of 10 meters. The session lasts around 20 minutes.

  • Spend time in Sidemen
  • Buy some silver in Celuk
  • Elephant Safari Park
  • Marvel at Tanah Lot Temple

Read More...

Illinois visitor numbers hit record high
TP4U Editor   May-2018   264 Views   0 Comments

Visitors to Illinois hit an all-time high in 2017, government Bruce Rauner announced earlier. 

Nearly 114 million people travelled to the state last year to ‘Enjoy Illinois’ and give a $1.1 billion boost to the state’s economy. 

Last year’s visitor totals were 1.4 per cent higher than 2016, which also was a record year. Travellers came from all over the world for business (17 per cent) and pleasure (83 per cent).

In the past ten years, travellers visiting Illinois increased by more than 22 million, and tourism has become one of the state’s most important industries. The Illinois tourism industry supported 335,500 jobs in 2017, an increase of 18,600 jobs since 2015.

Visitors spent a whopping $39.5 billion in Illinois in 2017, according to the US Travel Association. That’s an increase of $1.1 billion or three per cent from 2016. Visitor outlays for goods and services generated $2.95 billion in state and local tax revenue, up $75 million from 2016. Tourist spending saves the average Illinois household over $1,300 in taxes each year.

“Tourism is a critical part of our economy,” Rauner said. “There is so much to see and do in our state. It is gratifying to know that so many people come here each year to experience what we have to offer.

“My hat is off to DCEO and the department of tourism for getting the word out with the ‘Up for Amazing’ campaign. 

“It is paying off smartly for our businesses and our tax rolls.”

Read More...