Nana G’s Waffles and Chicken at Atlanta Food Truck park

Visit the Atlanta Food Truck Park 
and try something NEW

My first visit to the Atlanta Food Truck Park reminded me of a summer carnival with brightly colored vendors selling an assortment of food that makes your mouth smile.

Food Trucks have taken the idea of street food to a new level.
And a re a perfect solution for solo travelers in any city you visit.

The Atlanta Food Truck ParkThe variety of food offered was wide with brightly painted truck graphics attempting to describe everything offered:  

Mighty Meatballs, Food in a Hurry, Nana G’s Chicken and Waffles, Mexican, Indian and more.The overpowering impact of so much variety requires a second and third visit to sample more of what is offered.

On this visit I wanted to meet the owners and sample Nana G’s Chicken and Waffles.    Nana G’s is already a well know favorite in the Atlanta market so it is time I found out why.

DSCN3234

nana%20g-s%20chicken%20-%20waffles%20brothers
Nana G’s grandsons, Guy and Drew share her recipes with  many hungry followers

http://www.nanagchik-n-waffles.com/

Waffles are my favorite.  I stop at diners on the route from Atlanta to New Jersey and the older the diner the better!

Waffles taste different in each location.  Nana G’s were better than any others I have ever tried!
Crisp but not overcooked.  Sweet but not artificial.   And served HOT, something many diners do not get right.
There is a variety of offerings at this bright yellow and orange truck.   You can follow the smell of sweet waffle and fried chicken!                       You are greeted warmly by the staff.

I took Drew away from the griddle for a few moments to tell me more about how Nana G’s W&B came to be.

It was time to Taste!
I had the waffle INFUSED with Bacon.   I asked Drew how this waffle was created.

Apparently “Nana was making breakfast, something she had done form many years, and there was not enough bacon for everyone that morning.  So Nana crumbled the bacon into the waffle!”     This gives the waffle a great taste to each bite.

I asked for more secrets, how the waffle is crispy but not hard and HOT.  
It is the timing:  how many minutes the waffle takes to cook, how many minutes to be sure the chicken is cooked through.   Both items finish cooking at the same time.   And the maple syrup is served HOT.

Nana G’s does private events, movie sets as well as the Food Truck Park.  

The future could include franchises, contests, waffle mix to make waffles at home.

 Could we see a Nana G’s at a location near you…….  watch out ‘chick file’.

* some photos  are thanks to www.nanagchik-n-waffles.com

Dangerous to Stay at Home more than 6 weeks

I try to travel for my blogs as often and as long as 
my budget will allow.

But I discovered it is dangerous for me to stay at the home base longer than 6 weeks.

Why?
The first two weeks are clean up and clear up the house, the yard and the billing errors.
Next I start to write from day one of the adventure until the return, approximately day 30+- so that I do not forget or miss an event that was noteworthy when it occured.

At about the 6th week my NEED to be back on the road, my DISPLEASURE with being trapped in a city I do not find interesting and my FEAR that I will not find enough time to do what I truly want to do, start to fade and the danger starts.

The danger of starting to cocoon in a familiar place
The danger of never leaving the house except for errands or necessity
The danger of beginning  to think ” I can wait to take that trip”  or  “I really don’t need to go there”.

It is far easier to stay here and do nothing than to go solo to towns/cities/countries where every day is work…… Travel adventures are not vacations.  On vacation you go/sit/see in a location.
On a travel adventure solo, you must plan, execute, search, solve problems EVERYDAY, all day.

There is a constant energy generated by travel not as a tourist.  It feeds the next event, the next day’s plan, the next challenge or experience.

How long do you stay at ‘home’ before you take your next travel adventure?

NO SOLO SUPPLEMENTS: Sacramento Bee, writes: Overseas Adventure Travel offers

Are Travel Companies Listening to the Requests of Solo Travelers?
The Sacramento Bee,  http://www.sacbee.com , has a great article today…….
“Overseas Adventure Travel launches 7 new small group adventures to meet baby boomer demand

By Overseas Adventure Travel
Published: Monday, Jul. 29, 2013 – 4:36 am
BOSTON, July 29, 2013 — /PRNewswire/ — The most traveled generation in history continues to fuel demand for adventure travel to off-the-beaten-path destinations filled with up-close, interactive experiences, prompting Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) to launch seven new small group itineraries in Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and Central and Eastern Europe, the company’s CEO Vince Cook announced today.

“As more Americans turn 50, OAT is experiencing significant growth, especially among women, who now comprise 70% of our travelers, and solo travelers, who represent 35% of all bookings,” Cook said, “With that growth, we’re finding more of our travelers have ‘been there, done that’ and are pushing us to add specific, less-traveled destinations. In response, we have created seven new adventures that take travelers to places like Bali’s enchanting islands, Central Europe’s medieval cities, and southern Africa’s captivating game reserves. Each new adventure will provide our travelers with the kind of intimate, compelling, and unique experiences of a country and its people that they have come to expect from OAT.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 94 million Americans are over the age of 50 and more than 12,500 Americans turn 50 every day. In the past three years (2011-2013), more than 116,000Americans aged 50+ have traveled overseas with OAT, with more than a third traveling solo.
To make travel more affordable for this increasing number of OAT solo travelers—80% of whom are women—OAT offers Free Single Supplements on all of its adventures, including all optional pre- and post-trip extensions. In addition, OAT’s Solo Traveler Challenge guarantees the best solo price for a comparable international adventure. Plus, OAT’s Lowest Price Guarantee ensures travelers will receive OAT’s lowest price, automatically refunding the difference of the main trip price if OAT reduces the price—up until the day of departure.

The addition of these seven new small group adventures brings the total number of OAT’s Land and Small Ship Adventures to 42, with destinations in Africa, Asia, Central and South America, Europe, the Middle East, and the South Pacific. OAT limits its Land Adventures groups to just 10-16 travelers, and its Small Ship Adventures to 16-25.

The following adventures will join OAT’s current offerings beginning as early as fall 2013:
Southern Africa: South Africa, Zimbabwe, Namibia & Botswana Explores Kruger,Victoria Falls, Impalila Island, Chobe, and Hwange 17 days from $3495 (or $206 per day)Optional Trip Extensions: Botswana’s Okavango Delta: 5 nights from $1995 Cape Town & The Cape of Good Hope: 4 nights from $1095 First departure: October 2013 (into 2014)

Best of Brazil: Cultural Rhythms & Natural Wonders Explores Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Manaus, Amazon River cruise, and the Pantanal 14 days from $5995 (or $429 per day) Optional Trip Extensions Santiago & Chile’s Atacama Desert: 5 nights from $1495 Iguassu Falls: 3 nights from $1295 First departure: March 2014

Java & Bali: Indonesia’s Mystical Islands Explores Jakarta, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Borobudur, Jimbaran, Lovina, and Ubud 16 days from $2695 (or $169 per day) Optional Trip Extensions: Northern Vietnam: Hanoi & Halong Bay: 6 nights from $1095 Komodo Island & Beyond: Land of Dragons: 6 nights from $1495 First Departure: April 2014

Jewels of Bohemia: Czech Republic, Slovakia & Hungary Explores Prague, Cesky Krumlov, Slavonice, Bratislava, and Budapest 14 days from $2695 (or $193 per day) Optional Trip Extensions Berlin & Dresden, Germany: 5 nights from $1295 Vienna, Austria: 5 nights from $1195 First departure: March 2014

Crossroads of the Adriatic: Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia & Herzegovina, and SloveniaExplores Dubrovnik, Sarajevo, Karanac, Zagreb, Lovran, and Ljubljana 15 days from $2695 (or $180 per day) Optional Trip Extensions: Tirana, Albania: 4 nights from $895 Budapest Hungary: 4 nights from $695 First departure: March 2014

Ukraine & Moldova Explores Kiev, Yalta, Sevastopol, Kherson, Odessa, and Chisinau 16 days from $2995 (or $188 per day) Optional Trip Extensions: Moscow: 4 nights from $1295 Romania: Transylvania & Bucharest: 4 nights from $1295 First departure: March 2014

Southern Peru & Bolivia: Inca Landscapes & Lake Titicaca Explores Peru: Lima, Arequipa, Colca Canyon, Puno; Bolivia: Copacabana, Lake Titicaca, and La Paz 13 days from $2595 (or $200 per day) Optional Trip Extensions: The Amazon Rain Forest of Peru: 5 nights from $995 Bolivia: Sucre, Potosi & the Uyuni Salt Flats: 5 nights from $1295 First Departure: January 2014
What’s Included: Included in every OAT adventure are accommodations; most meals; small group activities; an expert OAT Trip Leader; 5% Frequent Traveler credit toward one’s next trip; special Good Buy Plan discount; porterage for one bag; and more. In order to provide flexibility, OAT offers travelers many opportunities for trip personalization. Travelers may choose to purchase OAT’s airfare, which includes airport transfers, government taxes, fees, and airline fuel surcharges; or work with OAT and request specific airline and routings and/or upgrades; or choose OAT’s Land Tour-only option and make their own air arrangements. In addition, travelers may opt for a pre- or post- trip extension, offered on all OAT adventures, request a “break away” to spend a few days in a destination before or after their OAT trip, overnight in a connecting city, and combine adventures to create a back-to-back trip.

For more information about OAT’s adventures, please call 1-800-955-1925 or visitwww.oattravel.com.

ABOUT OVERSEAS ADVENTURE TRAVEL Established in 1978, Overseas Adventure Travel (OAT) is part of Boston-based Grand Circle Corporation’s family of travel companies, which include Grand Circle Cruise Line and Grand Circle Travel. OAT offers 42 unique, small group adventures worldwide by land and sea to Americans age 50 and older. Since 1992, the organization’s charitable arm, Grand Circle Foundation, has donated or pledged more than $97M USD to more than 300 humanitarian, educational, and cultural organizations worldwide, including about 100 schools, in 50 countries.”
SOURCE Overseas Adventure Travel

Are solo travelers less desirable to the travel industry?

  Solo travel by air……might be one of the solo friendly modes of transportation…

As I started today’s post on Does the Travel Industry Hate Solo Travelers, I began to think of what travel services are solo friendly.

1.  Airlines:  although I do not enjoy the procedure and process of flying, arriving 3 hrs early, checking in with a machine, wearing my heaviest clothing so I meet the one bag weight rule, security check in….. I don’t need to elaborate, you have all been there…. the dreaded middle seat, hot plane, smelly carry on food, delays, we can all add to this list

With all their faults and costs, the airlines do NOT charge me more for traveling SOLO

2.  Trains:  I am not charged more for a train trip in Europe.  Yes there are promotions for what I call the ark people, those traveling in two’s or families but overall I feel I am paying the same as other travelers.  Here in the USA, does AMTRAK charge solo passengers more?  I was told by an AMTRAK traveler that you pay for a ticket and can purchase a roomette for an additional cost but she is NOT charged more for using the roomette solo.

3.  Rental Cars, Ferry Trips, Bus Tickets:  these are all priced per person.  There may be discounts for the groups listed in #2.

4.  Two for One Advertising:  Next to the cruise lines this is one advertisement I receive several times a week that continues to infuriate me.    The offer is often for package tours and cruises.*  

5.  Cruises:  Perhaps the most offensive treatment for this solo traveler is the 200% solo supplement.   Paying twice as much as other passengers must aggravate other solo travelers as well.   On a recent trip several passengers expression dissatisfaction with the ‘value for the price‘ they received as solo travelers. 
*Cruises also offer 2 for 1 pricing but will not allow a solo client to pay the advertised price unless they bring another passenger.

VacationstoGo.com has a list of ‘single’ cruises (not hosted single cruises) on their web site.   Often there are several very well priced sailing.   “Or you can call for the solo price on any cruise listed”, according to the CEO, Mr. Fox.  I suggested to Mr Fox that changing the title to solo vs single cruises would be more appropriate.   Solo is NOT always single.

Several of the cruise travel agents have started to post solo prices or solo promotions.   Cunard has offered ‘no solo supplements’ and the river cruises had a special recently.  

I have been forced to check weekly for prices that may have been reduced to level, where double the price might be affordable.  Example:  if the per day price is offered at $100 a day than the cruise will be $200 for a solo…..if the itinerary is one I am interested in and the ship has amenities I want (enrichment classes) than I will consider paying a 200% solo supplement.

6. Restaurants:   Casual restaurants or diners (in the USA) seat solo clients with the only concern to leave a 4 or 6 seat table available for larger groups.  Invariable I receive the same question when I enter or sit, are you alone? 
On further reflection I expect the wait staff is not happy with a solo traveler……table used for the same length of time with 1/2 the return.

7. Hotels:   Until I heard a comment from Arthur Frommer on his Sunday radio program http://bit.ly/SjF7hx   I had not thought of hotels as having a separate policy for solo travelers. 
Pricing:   I checked Booking.com for prices for solo vs double rooms in a two cities.  Booking.com:  Rome on a Booking.com sample listed solo rooms at $10 to $20 less than a room for two.   In Philadelphia the hotel room prices do not change for one traveler!  Mr. Frommer is correct, hotel rooms are not solo friendly!
I will be doing more research on this.

8. Travel Agents:   If you know of any travel agent who wants to work with solo travelers, please let me know.   I understand commission sales (after 22 years) and working with one client limits your income.    
Apparently solo fares on cruises and package tours must be priced with the supplier, by the travel agent.   There seems to be NO central computer program that will supply a list of fares for a solo travelers on cruises.   I search 100 or more sailings a week, looking for a fare that is ‘affordable’, once I double the advertised price.

Travel agents must not be willing to take the time to do this amount of work.  They will email me or call me if they see something affordable that comes across their desks.  Often I know about a sale before they do.
  
Are solo travelers more work for a hotel?  For a cruise line? For a tour group?   Let’s address that next.

Vacations to Go no Solo Supplement River cruises

   I just received an email Vacations to Go along with I expect hundreds of thousands of other subscribers.   But did you see the sections on solo River Cruises?

 In the email there were several links to low or no single supplement crusies. This is the list of River Cruises.

 Disclaimer:  I do not sell or promote ANY travel companies, just report what I see on line.


http://www.rivercruise.com/singles.cfm

Contact Vacations to Go directly to verify all the information and availability…..

 RiverCruise.com A Division of Vacations To Go River Cruise Specialists
800-510-4002  

Discounted River Cruises?

Pay reduced or no single supplements on select departures when you book by August 15, 2013. Click on the FASTDEAL# at left for more information about any vacation. All prices are per person, based on double occupancy, in US dollars.   Click # For  More Info

European River Cruises
800-510-4002

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MANY MORE on this list and on their web site!    There is a Single Section too,  for solo travelers.

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Food Trucks: Solo Travelers need no reservation

Everyone was warm and friendly

Food Trucks, can they solve the solo traveler’s challenge of eating alone……

Nana G’s chicken and waffles is already ‘famous’

  Not all solo travelers freeze when entering a restaurant. 

            Some solo travelers do not think twice before entering a bar where no one ‘knows your name’

As a shy, solo traveler, eating out can still send a wave of dread through me.  


Food Trucks, an upscale version of street food,  allows a solo traveler to mingle, sample local fare and NEVER worry that they don’t have a companion to eat with.
     

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Now I have discovered FOOD TRUCKS

Food Trucks are not new.    Hot dog and pretzel carts even the traveling ice cream truck are part of many small towns and cities.  

 



The Food Trucks in Atlanta now offer gourmet foods, ethnic treats, comfort foods, unusual ice pop flavors, cupcakes, candy from New Orleans, meatballs:   a wonderful assortment that makes a selection difficult.

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The gathering of the trucks at the Howell Mill Food Park in Atlanta, GA
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The festival atmosphere of the Food Park encourages browsing and sampling many different foods.  Music plays from many of the colorful trucks.   Amazing how full meals can be produced from a metal box on wheels…..

   ‘Pop-up’ truck locations, posted on social media, allows followers know where to find their favorite food.    Atlanta also has a FOOD PARK.   Just off the main highway this gathering of a variety of different foods is a smorgasbord of international and local comfort foods.

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When you don’t know what you want for lunch or diner, the food park allows you to stroll among the trucks until you find the perfect meal.  Or you may have your favorite that you follow all over the city.

 In the next few weeks I will sample a variety of foods from the local trucks.   I have already tried waffles with  ‘infused bacon’ at Nana G’s, praline covered pretzels at Cjay’s  (my diet has been destroyed)   and will return to sweet Georgia Brown’s FIAH (Food in a Hurry) truck.  

The food may the ‘return factor’ but the personalities of each truck owner is far more enticing.
Watch for future profiles of who is behind a favorite food truck…

   



 Are Food Trucks the USA equivalent to
Street Food in foreign countries?

If you are traveling in a city or across the USA, there are far more choices for casual dinning:  the infamous diner,sit down fast foods and some healthy take away foods.
Americans often grab lunch while doing errands, eat in our cars and consider food as a necessity not a pleasure.  Food trucks offer tasty food, quick service and great variety without the necessity to travel far.
Shy solo travelers can find a hot meal while on business trips, vacations or exploring new  towns and cities.

Solo Fares I Find Affordable!


12 days at sea approximately $1900+  could be affordable……
call  Linda with the Solo Travelers Club …….


Message from Linda Carella
Solo Specialist  With Online Vacation Center’s 
New Solo Department

800-787-1871
contact info below







“Celebrity, sailing September 30, 2013

12 night itinerary with a base price of $1858 *plus $95.55 for an inside single occupancy cabin.
It includes a drink package that covers all alcohol, wine, gourmet coffees, 1 night alternative dining, cocktail party and 2 shore excursions. 
For $400 less, you can have the same cabin without any of the amenities.”
* fares change so check with Linda….

Mon 30 Sep 2013 Harwich, England 05:00 PM Boarding
Tue 01 Oct 2013 Paris (Le Havre), France 07:00 AM Docked
Wed 02 Oct 2013 Paris (Le Havre), France 09:00 PM Docked
Thu 03 Oct 2013 At Sea
Fri 04 Oct 2013 La Rochelle, France 08:00 AM Docked
Sat 05 Oct 2013 La Rochelle, France 06:00 PM Docked
Sun 06 Oct 2013 Bilbao, Spain 07:00 AM Docked
Mon 07 Oct 2013 Bilbao, Spain 01:00 PM Docked
Tue 08 Oct 2013 Vigo, Spain 12:00 PM 08:00 PM Docked
Wed 09 Oct 2013 Porto (Leixoes), Portugal 07:00 AM 06:00 PM Docked
Thu 10 Oct 2013 At Sea
Fri 11 Oct 2013 At Sea
Sat 12 Oct 2013 Harwich, England 04:00 AM Departure

Call Linda at Online Vacation Center for details, prices and with questions.
Linda Carella
Personal Vacation Manager
Online Vacation Center
1801 N.W. 66th  Avenue  Suite 102
Plantation, FL 33313
Toll Free: 800-780-9002 Ext 6438
Monday – Friday 10 AM – 4 PM
mailto:lindac@onlinevacationcenter.com

Solo Travelers on River Cruises: Have you tried this?

Vantage Worldwide River Voyages
FREE Single Supplement on 2013 Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales — save up to $5,400!
from $1,799* 15 $119 from $2,998*
cruise only days per day with int’l airfare†

Email-only savings for single travelers on Oct 14, Oct 28 & Nov 11, 2013 departures!

Here’s a super-singles offer for you if you’re even thinking about traveling solo on a Vantage river cruise:
Reserve any available stateroom in Categories A1 through E1 on the Oct 14, Oct 28, or Nov 11 2013 departure of Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales and your Single Supplement is FREE. That means you’ll pay the same price as someone traveling double occupancy on this beautiful fall river cruise, but you’ll have a roomy stateroom all to yourself at no extra charge — a savings of up to $5,400, depending upon the category you choose. (Sorry, this offer is not available for our Deluxe Suites.)
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Promo code: EM40420

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To take advantage of this email-only offer, call  1-800-322-6677 today. Be sure to use your Email-only Offer Code: EM40420 to obtain your savings.
2013 Majestic Rivers of Europe: Castles, Cathedrals & Fairytales

  • Email-only offer: FREE Single Supplement on Oct 14, Oct 28, and Nov 11 2013 departures in categories A1-E1 — savings of up to $5,400
  • Fall river cruising for 15 days aboard the Deluxe ms River Splendor or ms River Navigator, from only $119 per day
  • Visit Austria, Germany, Hungary, and the Czech Republic, with two full days in Vienna

Solo travel on Holland American: part 2

Solo Travel by Sea:  Value vs Price


Solo travel on a ship offers challenges, opportunities and many pleasant events.
After taking 3 other cruise lines in the past few years Holland American excelled in several areas:


Crew attitude and personality

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It took me two days before I realized that ALL of the staff in the formal dining room was male.   No women.  Although the comments from the assistant manager were rather negative, HA found that an all male crew could manage the heavy trays that are often required to serve a table of 6 or 8.   (women crew members did work in the specialty restaurants)

All of these positions are filled with crew from the same country.    Therefore there would be no language problems in this very demanding.

What astounded me was almost ALL of the staff was pleasant, smiled and asked how you were.   I know, this is their job, but many of the staff were actually interested!  Life off the sea is NEVER like this…..when was the last time someone genuinely smiled at you and meant it?

I think I became a ‘mission’ for the dining room staff.   I did not ‘bond’ with many of the other solo travelers who preferred to sit at their assigned tables  so I requested a table for 2 in a non conspicuous locations.  And if you eat at the end of the last seating there are not many other passengers still in the dining room who continue to look, stare and wonder why I am having such a GOOD TIME?

Except for one incident I was accommodated and was NOT made to feel ‘unusual’.

I worry though, do solo travelers expect staff and other workers to  “be their friends’ while cruising?      I shall have to be very careful on the next outing.

No Solo supplements? Solo Travelers Club newsletter

The solo Traveler  Club  just sent out a newsletter……   solo travelers tell me if  $250 to $400+ per day in your budget?


Thank you Solo Travelers Club for this email:   now I need to call for the solo fares….


Message from 
Linda Carella
Solo Specialist
River Cruising in Europe

Travel through the interior of Europe on one of its glorious rivers that flows past castles, medieval towns and romantic cities like Paris, Vienna and Budapest. With 150 or fewer passengers on these beautiful river boats, you’ll meet lots of possible companions on your very first day… and with most excursions 
and all your wine at meals included, it’s one of the best values in cruising. 
Call me for details on dates and itineraries with the best deals for solo travelers!

800-787-1871

Deals for Solo Travelers
Azamara Club Cruises
9-Night Northern Europe
Oceanview on the Azamara Quest
Aug 7, 2013 from $4049
13-Night Ocean Crossing
Oceanview on the Azamara Quest
November 13, 2013 from $3129
14-Night Asia
Oceanview on the Azamara Journey
December 9, 2013 from $4521
Call For More Info:
800-787-1871



Holland America Line Special Offers
Western Caribbean Cruise
7 Nights Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale on ms Eurodam
Verandah from $1398 Suite from $1798
Sailing: Oct 27, Nov 10*, 24, 2013 and Jan 5, 2014 Eastern Caribbean Itinerary on Nov 17, 2013



Eastern Caribbean Cruise
7 Nights Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale on ms Westerdam
Verandah from $1398 Suite from $1798
Sailing: Nov 9, 16*, 23 and Dec 14, 2013
and January 4, 2014


AmaWaterways Special Solo Offers
The Enchanting Rhine
7 Nights Between Amsterdam & Basel

Call for Solo Pricing!
Including $500 Off Per Stateroom,
$100 Onboard Credit, Free Upgrade

Sailing: Oct 29, Nov 5, 22 and Dec 2013


Vietnam, Cambodia & the
Riches of the Mekong

7 Nights Between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City
Call for Solo Pricing!Single Supplement Waived!
Sailing: August 19, 26 and October 7, 28, 2013
 

s on these beautiful river boats, you’ll meet lots of possible companions on your very first day…           and with most excursions   and all your wine at meals included, it’s one of the best values in cruising.
Call me for details on dates and itineraries with the best deals for solo travelers!

800-787-1871

Deals for Solo Travelers
Azamara Club Cruises
9-Night Northern Europe
Oceanview on the Azamara Quest
Aug 7, 2013 from $4049
13-Night Ocean Crossing
Oceanview on the Azamara Quest
November 13, 2013 from $3129
14-Night Asia
Oceanview on the Azamara Journey
December 9, 2013 from $4521
Call For More Info:
800-787-1871



Holland America Line Special Offers
Western Caribbean Cruise
7 Nights Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale on ms Eurodam
Verandah from $1398 Suite from $1798
Sailing: Oct 27, Nov 10*, 24, 2013 and Jan 5, 2014 Eastern Caribbean Itinerary on Nov 17, 2013



Eastern Caribbean Cruise
7 Nights Roundtrip Fort Lauderdale on ms Westerdam
Verandah from $1398 Suite from $1798
Sailing: Nov 9, 16*, 23 and Dec 14, 2013
and January 4, 2014


AmaWaterways Special Solo Offers
The Enchanting Rhine
7 Nights Between Amsterdam & Basel

Call for Solo Pricing!
Including $500 Off Per Stateroom,
$100 Onboard Credit, Free Upgrade

Sailing: Oct 29, Nov 5, 22 and Dec 2013


Vietnam, Cambodia & the
Riches of the Mekong

7 Nights Between Siem Reap and Ho Chi Minh City
Call for Solo Pricing!Single Supplement Waived!
Sailing: August 19, 26 and October 7, 28, 2013
 
 

A visit to Canterbury: Canterbury, UK

the spires of canterbury cathedral

The Canterbury Tales: *    If you read this classic in high school than you may expect a stream of pilgrims walking on the ancient walls towards Canterbury cathedral.   You will find local citizens using the walls as a very easy route without cars and stop lights, day travelers coming from the train station or the occasional runner and bike riders.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Canterbury_Tales



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An enormous structure but with perfect scale

More than 25 years ago I visited Canterbury for the first time.       My memories were of a town that made me fill as if I stepped back in time 500 years and a vesta box.    I am sorry to say I did not remember the cathedral but I did remember and still have the unusual silver box a man would have worn on a chain to carry small matches in.

So a second visit the Canterbury had the goal of seeing the cathedral and the town.
SDSCN2039the spires of canterbury cathedralDSCN2044
When the opportunity to overnight in Canterbury on my was to Dover arose, I decided to stay overnight on the cathedral  grounds at the Cathedral Lodge.
.   I think I expected monks or brothers to be in residence as they are during my stays in convent hotels in Italy where I have met travelers and nuns from all over the world.     http://hometoitaly.blogspot.com/2013/03/italy-try-convent-instead-of-hotel.html         But this is not the case at the Cathedral nor the lodge on the grounds.  The hotel is a professionally run conference center and hotel.    http://www.canterburycathedrallodge.org/?gclid=CKnF2P6Zl7gCFc0WMgodRiIABA

A short walk from the train station atop the city wall or you can leave your car in the car park outside the main door.   The friendly staff quickly checked me in and even helped me with my bags to my room since I was in the older building without an elevator:  DSCN2073   A nice large room with windows overlooking the town.  
A full breakfast as only the English can do, is included with your room.   Wifi is available in most rooms and in the library on the first floor.   A truly lovely stay.

Since I had returned to Canterbury to see the town and the church, I started with the high (main) street that was busy with shoppers and the weekly market.   I am a travel shopper.  I shop stores, markets and particularly grocery stores to see what local life is like.  

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Because I was staying at ‘the Lodge’ I had full access to the Cathedral for my entire stay.     There was no choir practice that evening so I sat in on the organ practice.   The deep sounds resonated off the walls and the soaring ceiling.   Walking in the main nave I tried to imagine a service here hundreds of years ago.      Living in a country that only goes back a few hundred years,  I enjoy visiting towns and buildings that whisper me.  All the footsteps of the generations that walked in the streets and lived their lives….. 
One overnight was NOT ENOUGH time to experience the town, meet some of the locals or enjoy all the English culinary treats:   a Sunday roast, pub grub and high tea.
I shall just plan to return.

All solo travelers are not 20 somethings:  
I met India at the check in counter at the Lodge and she kindly agreed to a short video to explain why she would not consider traveling solo……I found this interesting since everything you read is that solo travel is for backpacking, hostel stays, young travelers who want to go around the world.

Since I research and write about mature solo travel I thought this was enlightening.

Value vs price 3 weeks on Holland American

Sea Travel out on the deck



Value vs Price is one way I evaluate which long term trips I will take each year.  
Not having the resources of other travelers I consider all my options before I select 
where I will travel on 30 day trip.     My preference is to travel for long periods even if it is only one trip a year.  

To be a traveler not a tourist  I approach itineraries and locations differently than most other vacationers.       In addition to the cost of a trip, the return I receive from visiting a new country, staying in a small town, learning a skill or meeting the locals is part of the equation. 

In  place of my usual 6 weeks in Italy each year I opted to explore Northern Europe, the Baltic, an area I had never visited.    Traveling by ship  to visit 7 countries in 3 weeks was a good use of time if not the most economically way to travel.  
   

Holland America’s Baltic cruise from Dover, UK to Norway, Germany, Estonia, Russia, Denmark and Sweden gave me a small overview of countries I might wish to return to.      But did this sailing offer Value for the Price?

Although solo travelers did not seem to be the target market for this company, I did find some surprises that my other trans Atlantic crossings did not offer.    And in future posts I shall share the single feature HA has that other ships may not be able to compete with:   the incredible crew and staff on the Ryndam.


     There was limited information, before sailing, about what classes would be offered, so it was a pleasant surprise to find Microsoft based programs would be taught.   Each day, even port days,  four or more classes were taught in the Digital Workshop by Craig Lewes, the ships’ Techspert.

   Computer Classes: 

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Craig Louis, Techspert

Meet Craig Louis the Techspert teaching Microsoft on the Ryndam.     With a high level of  energy.                                                                 
 Craig taught more than 70 classes during the time I was aboard.   

For an hour every day he offered an ‘ask Craig’ event where passengers asked questions on cameras,
Microsoft programs or solutions to some of their computer problems.    

Many of his classes were standing room only.   He presented each program with a clear and concise outline.    I particularly enjoyed his dry sense of humor ‘deadpan’ response to some questions.*  I asked Craig if I could do a short profile on this blog and he sent me the following:

“ I  started with HAL back in June 2003.  So this year is my ten-year anniversary!     I originally  started with Club HAL doing the kids programming and then, because that job was only seasonal back then, I switched to doing administrative work for the Entertainment Department.
That position was abolished and replaced with new ones shortly after.            I became a Senior Assistant Cruise Director (doing a lot of stage and mic work, theme nights, bingo, supervising the Cruise Staff.   
That job lasted me about two and a half years before I went back to doing administrative work for the Entertainment Department on Grand Voyages, which I ended up doing for four years. I then took a hiatus from the company to finish my university degree (Bachelor is Sociology and Economics) and was asked to come back to HAL as a Techspert.”                                                                                                  
                                                                                                
“I started in August of 2010. I can honestly say that I think it’s the best job on the entire ship!
I just get paid to travel around the world and geek out a bit every day.         I find the greatest thing about this job is that everyone who walks through the Digital Workshop doors is there to learn. I think because of that, and because the workshops are complimentary, everyone is just in a good mood.
It’s a different environment than other places on the ship where people may complain about one thing or another. On top of that, I really love how our older generations are getting into technology and really embracing it.
It’s always great to see the faces of the guests light up when we do something like panoramic pictures of photo fusing. There are no negatives that I have found with my actual job. The only negative of the lifestyle is being away from my friends and family for extended periods of time.
Oh! My other favorite part would be all the funny questions guests ask me; granted, they’re just funny to me because they’ll use awkward terminology or have very irrational fears – does that make me sound mean?      There are just those funny moments, like when a guest starts talking to the computer instead of using the mouse or touching the screen… “*

Solo Lunch

All solo travelers on this trip were invited to meet for lunch one day for a meet and greet.   This was a great way to find the other solo travelers among the 2000+ passengers.  However, nothing additional was planed during the 21 days.   HA could consider offering designated tables for solo travelers for the entire trip.    It would be optional for travelers. 
Port tours for solo travelers could also be offered.    

Next,  Food on Holland America 

Morris dancing in London

My At Home In London  location in Hampstead was only a few blocks from the river walk.   This pedestrian path went from my Hampstead location east towards central London and West.     I hiked parts of the path on both days I stayed at property #305.   Had I stayed longer at this location I would have spent far more time on the ‘walk’ even trying to take the route to Richmond.     There were pubs along the route that were full of locals every night, spilling onto the lawn.  
As I walked the 1 or 2 miles from Hammersmith town center I heard music, not bag pipes but something I recognized and singing.   Then I saw men dancing……  something like a skipping  version of the American square dance.  

My host suggested it could be Morris dancing……..have you heard about Morris dancing?

From Wikipedia I found the history of Morris dancing:

today, there are six predominant styles of Morris dancing, and different dances or traditions within each style named after their region of orign. 

  • North West morris: more military in style and often processional, that developed out of the mills in the North-West of England in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
  • Border Morris from the English-Welsh border: a simpler, looser, more vigorous style, traditionally danced with blackened faces.
  • Longsword dancing from Yorkshire and south Durham, danced with long, rigid metal or wooden swords for, usually, 6 or 8 dancers.
  • Rapper from Northumberland and Co. Durham, danced with short flexible sprung steel swords, usually for 5 dancers.
  • Molly Dancing from Cambridgeshire. Traditionally danced on Plough Monday, they were Feast dances that were danced to collect money during harsh winters. One of the dancers would be dressed as a woman, hence the name.
  • Cotswold morris: dances from an area mostly in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire; an established misnomer, since the Cotswolds overlap this region only partially. Normally danced with handkerchiefs or sticks to accompany the hand movements. Dances are usually for 6 or 8 dancers, but solo and duo dances (known as single or double jigs) also occur

Royal Baby contest at Krispy Kreme in London

London:  


Voting about the Royal Baby
At Krispy Kreme

While looking for the Spitsfield market on my May trip to London and beyond, I was arrested by the Krispy Kreme shop at the exit from the train station…

Apparently this is a BIG campaign in the UK  http://www.krispykreme.co.uk/hot-now/

At home the Krispy Kreme is the 24 hour   ‘Hot Donut” sign store.   For those deprived of donuts on demand, the sign goes on when fresh, HOT donuts come off the assembly line.

but what stopped me at this store was the contest they are running to guess if Kate and Will’s baby will be a girl or a boy!

                                                                                                                                                                                                You buy the pink or blue donut to vote your choice……..wow……

Near Dover: tea room you MUST visit

High Tea and CAKE,  my favorite 

    How fortunate to have 6 days here to sample Tea in a number of places.  And tea must come with cake.

    I have to admire a people who take the time to sit, relax and sip their national hot beverage while EATING CAKE!  It has been perfected to an art of “temperature, origin of the tea leaves and presentation”. 

Coffee in Italy is a staple but una café is bolted not sipped.   The idea of sitting at a table drinking coffee for an hour is somewhat foreign to the Italians.

Discovering The Lavender Tea House in the south of the UK

          When i asked a greeter at the Dover dock where I was catching a ship,  “Is there a famous cake baked in this area” I had no idea she would suggest a new tea room in the next town that her daughter just opened and I would have an opportunity to visit the Lavender Tea House the following week.

           I had just been in Canterbury and found their ‘special cake’ (unfortunately they were sold out) and thought this would be an interesting theme.   Tea and cake throughout the UK, a perfect topic for my blog or a great excuse to eat cake several times a day!

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A motto I can follow

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The opportunity to visit the Lavender Tea Room in Folkestone, UK was too good to pass.     A call from her mother and a few emails had me taking the train the following week to Folkestone, a short distance from Dover, UK.     

Natalie Chessman is the owner of this charming tea room on a pedestrian street not far from the sea.   Visiting on a Saturday, the busiest day of the week, limited my time with Natalie but she was very generous to share her ideas about enjoying tea.   See the video interview below 

On a pedestrian street not far from the sea (and the train station)  the Lavender Tea Room has an outdoor patio

Your cake selection is served on English china  

How to choose what cake to try?   I selected 3 to take with me ‘so that my story would be from a personal viewpoint”.     What an enjoyable task I had in front of me….

Some of the amazing cakes, baked that morning, are on display.  
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1.
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2
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3

The  three cakes that are most popular.    I could have sampled any of the selection.  The scones were incredible and they even had a glutton free cake!

The LTR was busy when I arrived about 11 am just before the midday rush.  The pedestrian street was busy with Saturday shoppers and a small festival in one of the streets.     As soon as I entered the shop I was greeted by one of the staff members who knew I was coming and sat me down with a pot of tea!.    A lovely welcome while I waited for Natale to finish in the kitchen.

Natalie had arrived very early to mix and bake all the wonderful cakes I saw in front of me but still she gave me some time to explain the philosophy behind opening the Lavender Tea room.   
Some of topics we covered in our chat:  (If I have omitted any facts, I shall ask the owner to correct me and correct the post)
Q.   How did your interest in baking, get started, did you bake as a child?
A.  I have always enjoyed being in the kitchen and  have always cooked.                                                   My father is a very good chef and I have grown up around ‘food’

Q.   How did you decide to open a tea room
a.      A.         There was a gap in the market, I picked Folkstone because  there are a
lack of tea rooms, lots of coffee bars…. 
(A tea room) harps back to the days, I think we have forgotten , what having tea is all about.
about the ritual of having tea, spending the
time,  sharing it with friends, having a chat,
I wanted to create an atmosphere
Q.  Did you grow up with the ritual of tea in the afternoon?
a.       A.   I spent a lot of time with my grandmother and she would always have tea around 4 o’clock with a piece of cake, buttered toast and a nice pot of tea   

The shop attracts many locals for tea, lunch and even parties.  While I was there several ‘regulars’ stopped in and were greeted by first names and a cheery hello.
  Q.  Do you bake all the cakes by hand or are they done ‘commercially?
   A.  Natalie bakes all the cakes very early in the mornings….  home made cakes have no preservatives and           do not have the same texture as a ‘box mix”.   This feature makes her cakes like a treat you would have at a friends home.    
And she bakes with a Kitchen aid mixer the same one we would use in the USA.
The variety of cakes will change during the week but she told me her most popular treats are: 
Scones
Carrot cake
Lemon drizzle cake

 What might be in the future for The Lavender Tea Room?
  A signature cake for the area?   Currently they make Lavender cupcakes but were sold out this morning
  Lessons to teach others how to bake these marvelous cakes?   I would sign up for a class
  Shipping cakes as special orders?
  A cook book?
Natalie reminded me they have only been open a year, and many options are open for the future. 
 A British tour group may have some interest in adding  a stop at the Lavender Tea Room to a future tour schedule.
Today most of her customers are locals and myself the sole tourist.  If I lived in the area I would also become a regular, trying a different treat on each visit.
                   When you visit the Lavender Tea House in Kent, be sure to tell Natalie you saw her article on

                                                           MatureSoloTravel

 Click below to see their web site.
http://www.thelavenderteahouse.com/

The Lavender Tea House
Homemade Cakes, Fine Teas, Freshly Ground Coffee and Light Lunches in the Heart of Folkestone’s Old Town.

Now Open in Church Street, Folkestone . . . 
The Lavender Tea House is the destination in Kent for fine teas, home made cakes and light lunches. The perfect place to relax after a shopping trip, during your lunch break or just to treat yourself to some calm, indulgent ‘me’ time!
Sit back, relax and enjoy a pot of fine tea served with a delicious slice of home made cake. Perfect!
 
Natalie Cheeseman
The Lavender Tea House
5, Church Street, Folkestone
01303 2545215

Do Solo Travelers pay Double the cost on Cruises?

If you prefer to travel solo, should you be charged double?           

         Although cruise lines do not avidly search for solo travelers, they will ‘allow’ solo travelers to join the ARK at up to 200% more than other passengers are paying.      Cunard has recently and in the past few years offered attractive rates for solo travelers and after taking one of their Atlantic crossings, I can say they are everything you imagine an elegant British ship to be.
The pricing policy for solo travelers has become a ‘movement’ in the ever growing solo traveler market.
If you choose to travel solo or because of circumstances you are traveling solo, why should solo travelers be further restricted by price?    There are wonderful trips advertised every day and if they are listed as ‘packages  or vacations’ the price is always higher when you select your travel dates and hotels.  If you double the price of even the discounted cruises they often are $300 a day and the dream of an around the world cruise equals the price of a high end automobile!
Air travel, although increasingly  uncomfortable and expensive, still charges passengers by the seat.  Even the airlines offer promotions for your ‘companion to fly free’ or the dreaded 2 for 1 pricing.      Travel providers should be challenged on their misleading 2 for 1 advertising…..  try to buy this promotion for a cruise as a solo and you are told you will be denied travel if you arrive solo. 

What other travel services charge solo travelers more:
As far as I know rental cars do not charge solo travelers any ‘supplements’.    Hotels in the USA charge by the room but often do NOT offer single room rates.    Some hotels in Europe offer single rooms that are usually very small and not always the best the hotel has to offer.   At other times I have received a standard double room, there does not seem to be any standard.   When I travel off season I can often book 4 star hotels in Italy for the price of a single room at other times during the year.  

The cruise industry continues to charge solo travelers for enjoying the special pleasure of traveling solo
Alan Fox, the president of Vacations to Go, has one of the few web sites that lists cruises with low or no solo supplement. www.vacationstogo.com/    Recently he posted an answer to this question on his web page.    With his earlier permission to share solo cruise information, I am posting his response here.
on line question:
Q: When a cruise ship has less than a full capacity of passengers, why do they not permit someone to travel solo and not pay double occupancy? I would think that since they have to keep a full crew, even one person in a room makes more sense than having the cabin empty for the cruise.
A: Except for 6-star ships, cruise ships generally sail full year-round because cruise lines drop the rate to whatever it takes to sell out. They prefer to fill those empty cabins with two people to maximize their onboard sales and gratuities. However, lines sometimes slash the single supplement for a limited time, and we list every one of these opportunities on our site.

Alan Fox,   Chairman & CEO, Vacations To Go,  5851 San Felipe Street, Suite 500, Houston, TX 77057

Why don’t cruise lines charge solo clients double the mandatory gratuities fees and allow solo’s to travel?    The staff would not suffer financially.   And there are no guarantees two passengers in a room will spend more money on drinks, tours, the casino, alternative restaurants or shopping, other profit areas of the ship.  

I troll the cruise web sites months before I begin to plan a trip.   Vacationstogo.com will list solo supplement trips but this list does NOT include every sailing.    I have tried 4 cruise ‘agents’ with varying results.   I have never found any cruise or travel agent who is excited about working with solo travelers.   Or perhaps it is just how I travel.  I was told off by one specialty agent when I mentioned I would be traveling throughout Italy for a month before the trip and would not be able to bring ‘dress’ clothes with me. Her response was something to “Well you can’t go around the ship in sloppy pants”.       A new division of an established cruise booking site opened a ‘solo travel division’ but found the sales after I did!

So now I search any sailing to a location on my ‘bucket list’ with a posted price of $100 a day or less.   This may insure a solo price of under $200.00 a day……beyond that price you  may be able to fly business class!      If you see a great price on a solo cruise let me know at www.maturesolotravel.com

What is your philosophy on travel?

DSCN2319     Travel Philosophy, what is yours?  
When travel is no longer the 1 or 2 weeks your don’t work every year but part of your life just as integral as the need that may come over you to see the sea or the view from a mountain………one that expands your    viewpoint.                                                                                
                                                                                         
  I didn’t think I had a philosophy about travel until I finally decided to have adventures not vacations.
When I travel I try to keep this mantra in mind: Be a Traveler not a Tourist Learn Something New find a New Adventure Experience the Local Life  
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Last night I read on Budget Travel Adventures the following:   To be a better traveler, you can’t just visit a place.
You have to experience it with your emotions and soul.
Only when we go beyond what we see can we tell a travel story (through words or photos) that’s worth sharing.

I love it when a simple sentence or statement will arrest my thinking or stop the project I am working on.  
Too often we don’t take time to think.  Until I stopped working a 24/7 job I had no idea there was such an exciting ‘box of chocolates’ (from Forest Gump) out there and I will keep sampling….…..

I asked the author of Budget Travel Adventue, if I could use his motto for his blog:
http://www.budgettraveladventures.com/
Travel passionately, budget wisely, and experience more – that’s the motto of the new blog, Budget Travel Adventures.

Jeremy Branham Horsetail Falls mountains-S

Budget Travel Adventures wants to help you experience more when you travel and inspire you to be a better person.
read more about JereBranham on the above web site.                                                                                                                                                      
What is your Philosophy?

Stay in a University Dorm while traveling

Flip Flops and Pajama Bottoms

Stay in a University Dorm during Summer Travel

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http://www.halls.london.ac.uk/visitor/international/

I have been searching for alternatives to staying in a hotel when I travel.     As I find new opportunities I share them on my blog.
You may have read about staying in convent (hotels) and monasteries in Italy  (monastarystays.com)   something I have done for the past 8+ years.   Each location is a  unique experience.    I have tried an  air stream parked on a beach at KOA on  Cape Hatteras.    Far better than I expected and somewhere I would be happy to return to.   See the story at:      http://bit.ly/1a1mCVX

I have read about Universities’ offering dorm rooms for rent during summer  and/or other times the dorms are not in use.     The price is always reasonable and the locations are often in the city and near public transportation. 
Planning for a visit to London in May I started to search for Universities offering ‘rooms for rent’.    There was as a surprising number of schools participating in ‘summer rooms for rent’.    Unfortunately  many  of  the programs  did not start until the end of the of the
the school term. 
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  The  London University had rooms available and I booked a single room with full bath.      Sharing a bathroom with 25 to 50 college students would only make them uncomfortable not to mention me……so rooms with full baths were exactly what I was looking for.
The dorm I was assigned to was a short walk from the St Pancreas train station where I arrived from Dover.   After the amazing renovation of this historic station it was a treat to take a walk through the extensive shopping and dinning mall.       Cafes were noted for future meals if I needed a ‘solo friendly’ establishment.    After all most travelers at a train station are solo.
I had Goggled the walking instructions and picked up a map from the very friendly Tourist Office at the west side of the station.   It was an easy walk and more important one with sidewalks and ramps for those dragging a piece of luggage.
Arriving before 2 pm I was told to return at 2.   At 2 the small problems started.   Even after 5+ emails to assure my room was ensite, I was assigned a room with communal bath.   I have to confess to ‘loosing it’.   As I am using the buildings WIFI to find a ‘real room’ my savior Sapina arrived.   Since this was a weekend there was no one at the University housing office to help. A senior in the building was assigned to ‘fix’ the problems and Sapina did a GREAT job.   After a tour of the building I settled into my ‘dorm’ room.    Since no other ensuite   rooms were available, I was given one with a kitchen, no pots, not pans, no dishes but a kitchen.

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A single bed, small kitchenette and on the other wall a large desk area
The bath was modern and had extremely hot water!
Negative:  you only get one towel so bring your own second if you need one.
Bed was more of a cot, long term stays might be uncomfortable.
The building has quiet rules and after 11pm is very quiet.  

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The building has endless facilities:       laundry, game room, squash court, courtyard for sunny days, recreation/TV room, movie room and more. 
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An easy walk from the Russell Square tube station and the St Pancreas train station.
The room comes with daily breakfast but if you are a tourist or have an early appointment don’t plan on breakfast on a Saturday or Sunday, there is brunch and it is at 10:30!     Because I wanted to experience the breakfast I returned to the dorm to walk through the line with my other ‘students’.
Apparently many parents visit the university and often stay in the dorms so I did not look too out of place.   I think they put me in the grandparents file.     What was very interesting is that NO ONE SPOKE TO ME.    I suppose some of the students had ‘big’ nights and were not in a chatty mood.   Many were wearing sweat pants and flip flops and some of those pants looked like PJ’s.
After all these years I thought I would feel memories from the old days but I just felt foreign, both in nationality and age.

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Food hall on the lower level of the building            The atrium was bright even on the cloudy day

Rental links:
http://www.westminster.ac.uk/business/facilities-and-services/summer-accommodation

http://www.londonmet.ac.uk/accommodation/summer-accommodation/

good article on alternative housing options:
http://golondon.about.com/od/londonhotels/fr/Imperial-College-Rooms.htm

http://www.arts.ac.uk/housing/summeraccommodation/

http://www3.imperial.ac.uk/summeraccommodation

NUTS about Chocolate….

                          Chocolate night done on the Holland America Ryndam

       I remember the midnight chocolate events on the sun and sand sailings where sensible adults fight for a place at the head of a line to each chocolate…….
As far as I know chocolate is not a controlled substance.   But for me it should be….. It is a new food group in the pyramid.
The price of chocolate is not the same as a fill up for your car so what gives, why the frenzy?
 
When they announced a 10:30pm chocolate extravaganza on the first 7 days of the months’ trip,    EVERYONE ATTENDED, it was a wild time.     The event was repeated on the next 21 days and was more controlled.

 

But why would they offer Jello at a chocolate event?

Cabbage or Curry? What is this?????


Cabbage or Curry?    Who cooks for Virgin Atlantic?


                My flight to London on May 5th was amazing.    Yes I had to fly to Boston to catch a Virgin flight  to London or I could have gone to lovely downtown Newark.  The benefit was only a 6+ hour flight instead of the horrid 8+ hours it usually takes to arrive in Europe.
VSROY2
I splurged on the overnight flight and purchased an upgraded seat.  Well it was as nice as the Business Class seat at Delta.    I knew I was in OZ because the  staff was NICE, seemed to even like their jobs and the passengers.   Wow!   


But I must ask Sir Richard Branson, “What were you Thinking????”

The only choices for the dinner meal was CURRY OR some kind of meat with CAABBAGE! 
With only a 6 hour flight,  no one starves in that length of time but the smells were NOT pleasant.

On the return my seat was in the back of the bus, yes it was cramped and the flight was FULL but the staff was still wonderful.   They even filled my water bottle so I did not have to ask for water over the hours.   Shorter flights make the pain of the seats bearable.   On this flight I ordered a vegetarian meal and all was fine.virginatlantic

NOW can you please add Atlanta to you list of airports????

Solo Sale on Cunard only till June 30: Call Ron to book

Solo Sale on Cunard only till June 30:  Call Ron to book

Ron has been my source of ongoing sales that I share here.     

ronphillipstravel.com                      IMG_1341-resized-920x360
                                                              
Call: (404) 474-3851
Toll free: (877) 207-4476     
info@ronphillipstravel.com
Independent Associate of Brownell — A Virtuoso Agency

 

Ron Phillips is my Specialty Travel Expert.  
He just emailed me this GREAT savings for Solo travel.
Speak with Ron Phillips to check pricing,find a cabin and crossing date.


I took an October crossing 18months ago and it was truly an ‘experience’.  Lee Laurino

M315 27-Jul-13 NYC SOU Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing
M317N 8-Aug-13 SOU NYC Westbound Transatlantic Crossing
M318A 15-Aug-13 NYC SOU Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing
M324D 8-Oct-13 SOU NYC Westbound Transatlantic Crossing
M326A 27-Oct-13 NYC SOU Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing
M328B 12-Nov-13 SOU NYC Westbound Transatlantic Crossing
M329 19-Nov-13 NYC SOU Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing
M333 15-Dec-13 SOU NYC Westbound Transatlantic
M402 3-Jan-14 NYC SOU Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing
M404 9-May-14 SOU NYC Westbound Transatlantic Crossing
M318N 15-Aug-13 NYC HAM Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing to Hamburg
M322 22-Sep-13 NYC HAM Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing to Hamburg
M324 6-Oct-13 HAM NYC Westbound Transatlantic Crossing from Hamburg
M326 27-Oct-13 NYC HAM Eastbound Transatlantic Crossing to Hamburg
M328 10-Nov-13 HAM NYC Westbound Transatlantic Crossing from Hamburg
What

Glaiciers: Not Planning to Lick one: water for $5.00

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What is the most you                       

have paid for a bottle of water?                                                                                   

As I walked in the towns we stopped at in Norway I saw small bottles of water for $4.00 and $5.00.   I thought it was a mistake and perhaps it was for a small case of water.  But this was repeated in each town.    

In Ulvik,  the tourist office told me the water they sold was declared the ‘best’ drinking water.  the source was a glacier and since I do not plan to lick a glacier anytime soon I paid the exorbitant amount and tired it.    On my return from a short hike I stopped into the office again and told him he was correct.  That was the best water I have ever tasted and the LAST I shall pay $5.00 for….

Paid to Smile

the service industry requires workers to be pleasant and SMILE.   Especially on a ship.   You can see that some days the staff is very tired but still they smile, try to recognize you and say something pleasant.
I do think and hope that it is not only for the gratuities they receive, which is most of their salary!

What is even more difficult is trying to explain what you are asking for.   They try to satisfy every request and you just need to remember to be patient.    They work very hard at a repetitive job that starts all over again every 7 days…..  

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I was told by a staff member that many of the crew are from Bali and the surrounding islands and countries and that those cultures are ‘naturally happy’.

Well if this is true I need to speak to the Balinese crew members and find the source for this ‘joy’.  I can use this on  my travels.

Front desk staff

After an embarrassing ‘blow up’ (on my part), a comment note the ship ASKED me to respond to and a telephone call from the dining room manager I have returned to the formal dining room and have been greeted as a lost friend OR AS THE ANNOYING WRITER WHO COMPLAINS.  I am not sure which but they are all very kind and attentive.   Of course they may enjoy the laugh behind the scenes but they work hard and I shall not fault them for this.

now that is a genuine smile…

People the Travel Warrior meets

One of the best parts of solo travel is meeting people are really talk with you.

not the obligatory chat from a wait staff or tourist office but a REAL chat.

Alice
The jewelry designer in Oslo     This was my first stop and of course I was anxious to start the blog a day program.   The heavy rain did not stop me from setting off for a 6 hour walk.
While I passed through the terminal where shops and tourist services were offered I noticed the lovely silver jewelry on display.     Alice was kind enough to chat with me and tell me that she makes the rings and many other pieces herself.   There was a very interesting chain design based on what the Vikings used to tie their ropes……I hope I have this correct.

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Next stop was Deluca deli to try a typical bun offered to go with morning coffee.  Similar to a brioche with raisins or chocolate but not very sweet.
The delightful clerk told me politely I could not photograph the amazing selections of sandwiches but thanked me for asking first.   A short chat told me she hoped/planned to travel.
DSCN2100DSCN2116Rick Steve’s tells you more about De Luca…..think of it as a upscale 7/11
My visit to the tourist office resulted in a quick chat with a cheery woman (this photo does not do her justice) who shared the information on where to find a waffle.  (see other stories)

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Next day I stopped into a chemist (drug store) to see if they had the amazing over the counter tablets that stopped the flue in Italy last year.
The pharmacist worked with me directly and although he did not recognize the product I had, he looked up the contents (taking more than 15 minutes of his time) and found me a similar product on their shelf…..
Meanwhile I asked him countless questions about Norway that he happily answered.
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At the next port I found Nina at the library.   A very pretty young woman (just I am a terrible photographer) who planned to visit New Orleans because she loved Jazz.
  We started to chat while there were no clients and she told me about the ‘white Christmas’.
Everything is white.  The trees are never artificial, the lights are always clear not colored.    I was very engrossed in our conversation but library clients needed to be served.   I hope we can continue our chat online.
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Craig who will teach computer classes on the ship for the next 3 weeks.   He is my new best friend…….I hope to learn lots while traveling to the 7 countries this month.
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Several others who will have mini stories are posted elsewhere……
All this returns to my theory that the people we meet can change US but do we ever have an effect on the them?????
what do you think?

Norway Eat Waffels

I was told I Must try Waffles and Sour Cream….hmmm  better than fish in sour cream….

The tourist office told me they consider a waffle to be  like a ‘cookie’ but she enjoyed her waffle with jam and butter and a local cheese that is sweet and brown.
so I stopped at the Mission Church that has volunteers and rehabilitated clients working the café.    What a delightful woman meet me and the two Australian ladies who sat at my table.         A smile and a cheery answer to any questions…….what a lovely way to spend your day                                                                                   DSCN2168          DSCN2166                                                               DSCN2167 
                                                                                                                                                     While walking throughout the streets of Stavanger’s old town, I saw a sign for a Kafe next to the cannery museum.    With limited time I skipped the museum and entered the Kafe which was also a museum of how a home was furnished in the 1900’s.  But the reward for this spontaneous decision was to meet Lisa.   Lisa was the historian, greeter and also prepared coffees and wafels for guests.   What a great opportunity to try WAFELS a second time,  all for the story right?                                                                                          ….

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While walking throughout the streets of
Stavanger’s  old town, I saw a sign for a Kafe next to the cannery museum.    With limited time I skipped the museum and entered the Kafe which was also a museum of how a home was furnished in the 1900’s.  But the reward for this spontaneous decision was to meet Lisa.   Lisa was the historian, greeter and also prepared coffees and wafels for guests.   What a great opportunity to try WAFELS a second time,  all for the story right?                                                                                                                                            

                                                                                                                                Although Lisa prepared the wafel on an electric wafel maker there were original irons on the wood burning stove.
 DSCN2230    Here the wafels were in the pattern of a heart.    I asked Lisa to explain how they were made and she was gracious enough to do a mini movie:          and she shares the SECRET INGREDIENT she uses when making them at home.        

Hardy’s Candy store – Step back in time

Hardy’s Candy Store:  London

I thought I had walked through the looking glass into a time in London that I have only read about or seen in movies.    No, it was Hardy’s just down the street from St. Pauls.

After reading all of the Harry Potter stories I thought I had arrived at Honeydukes sweet shop.   They  did not carry Bertie Bott’s Every flavour beans or chocolate Frogs or even exploting bon bons but they did have an endless selection of  sweets that have a long history in the UK

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I entered to take a look and stayed to learn about the many, many candies.   some are recreations from by gone eras and many are sweets I have never heard of.
while browsing or gaping at the selection several patrons entered in business suits and ordered a bag of their favorite.  Was it for a child at home or was it for a snack on the train……

So much to choose from.   You could ask for any type of jelly, toffee, or sweet that you wished and the delightful candy lady knew exactly what jar to find them in.  The colors were dazzling.


When I return to London I shall have to try several with the strangest names….

View album
 
 
   
   

                                                                                                                                                                                           . 

I entered to take a look and stayed to learn about the many, many candies.   some are recreations from by gone eras and many are sweets I have never heard of.
while browsing or gaping at the selection several patrons entered in business suits and ordered a bag of their favorite.  Was it for a child at home or was it for a snack on the train……

So much to choose from.   You could ask for any type of jelly, toffee, or sweet that you wished and the delightful candy lady knew exactly what jar to find them in.  The colors were dazzling.


When I return to London I shall have to try several with the strangest names….

Meeting kind Locals: The Heart Lady

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Small Towns Have Great People!
Often I pass the monuments and museums for hours of walking the streets of a small town or city.
If I were at home I would never speak to a stranger in a shop or market but as a traveler I ask questions, inquire about life in their town and generally become annoying.
Today I am in a town of only 1,100.  That is about the size of the subdivision I live in.

This tranquil location overlooks a lake or perhaps it is the end of the fiord.  While hiking I was startled to hear birding in the fields and trees on both sides of the road.   Living in a city or large town you can forget there are sounds that do not emanate from a machine.

Today I met the HEART LADY

At the start of my hike I passed one of the only shops open since the vacation season does not start for a few weeks.  And with climate changes ever stop on this trip has been abnormally cold.    This art store is almost a co op with other local artists having products displayed but the predominant products are pottery.    

What caught my eye immediately was the hear theme throughout her work.

Gallery Ulvik in Ulvik Norway is the showcase for Ingvild Seljiseth Winters work, or the Heart Lady.
ingvild.winters@gmail.com.      There are hand knit items, jewelry, glass ornaments, paintings and many clay pieces.    It was difficult to choose what I would take home as a treasure and after selecting a ‘knitted’ wire bracelet I left for my hike.   But shopping is like hunting, you don’t want to think of the one that got away.

So on my return to town I stopped in again to pick up my heart mug.   Now I can think of Ulvik with morning coffee

Travel Warrior Taking a Ride

I hate the word cruising…… it has all the connotations you expect,  non stop eating, dressing up for dinner, bragging about the NUBMER of cruises you have taken not the unusual experiences.

I like to think of this as water transportation…… I can visit 7 countries in 1/5 the time by train or plane and not have to worry about the travel connections or dragging a suitcase behind me.

  So I keep a low profile and try to blend into the crowd of two by twos……

Yesterday there was a lunch for all the solo travelers……..what a shock………………
1.  we are all OLD
2.  mostly female
3.  talk too much
4.  not very interested in each other

Perhaps this is why we all solo travel.  I had hoped to ask that question to this group but never got beyond hello and listening to each of them speak…..

Things I do Like:
multiple computer classes offered at no cost
few children on board
kindness of the crew (so far)
excellent food, a BIG surprise after the bland selection offered by larger ships

Some Challenges
washing the deck at 5 am and splashing the windows of my room ……
getting up at 5 am
waiting until 9 pm to eat dinner so the other diners do not sit there with such pity for me on their faces
having the waiter yell at the top of his voice ‘you are alone’   while I reply  ‘yes, and glad about it’
8 formal nights
wearing the same thing every 3 days,   truly depressing


The adventure has just begun and it shall be great!

Where is Ben? the cookie man

I told the counter man I had traveled 8,000 miles for a cookie.
There was a blank stare…………
Was it my accent?
Was it the fact I did not say kilomoters?
Was it because he thought I was just another crazy?   
Ben’s cookies.
I always visit Convent gardens and 2 years ago after a long absence I returned.    There was a VERY large crowd/line at one shop.  A shop so small only 2 patrons could enter, belly up to the counter and try to select 
what treasure they would buy or how many.
Across from a cupcake store is Ben’s Cookies.
they were too busy to talk, they are always busy but you can find their info on line, just like everything else.
The fresh, warm out of the oven cookies are large and larger.   You select and then they are weighed to obtain the cost.
Try to buy just one!  Just try it.  
I may become a cookie expert just to find out if there is a better cookie anywhere.
so far my favorite is white chocolate chip…..and yours?
from their web site:
We have been making cookies since 1983 and selling them through our stores since 1984.
Our original store in Oxford’s Covered Market is still baking cookies every day. Ben’s was founded by Helge Rubinstein, author of The Chocolate Book and many other publications and an ardent chocoholic! Our cookies are sold by weight and can be bought individually or packaged in bags, boxes and tins, each bearing the logo created for us by Quentin Blake, the well known artist and first ever children’s laureate.
Ben’s Cookies currently has ten stores and will open a few more soon, so please visit us here again for more news.

Travel Warrier 3 1/2

there is no surprise if I tell you it rained today…..what do you expect in London.
and once you are wet there is nothing to stop you from pressing on.   You can not sit in a hotel or B&B all day just because it is raining.

Instead of choosing a museum to hide out in I went to join a walking tour in the ‘City’.     As usual plans change and mostly with a nice surprise.
As I made the inevitable wrong turn I was too late for the tour but stumbled on St. Paul’s cathedral.   I don’t write about the wonderful sites, monuments and churches you can visit all over the world.  There are other better sources for this information, companies with the resources to spend months gathering information.    But my topic this week was where a shy solo traveler might eat lunch or dinner.    I try to find one hot meal a day but when you find it difficult to go into a ‘sit down restaurant’ your choices are limited.
Cakes are as good as they look