Thursday, May 31, 2012

I'm naming names

Can a post 9/11 flight be fun? Yes, if you're flying USAir with flight attendants David (top in duty free sales) and Mitch. So entertaining that I look forward to my return.


What do u call a red-eye flight, 5 hr layover, another 3+hr flight sitting 3 abreast? Worth it. Puntacana, DR

No, This Isn't a Typo

This is a first but I just found best US airport bathroom ever - Charlotte, NC, Terminal B, gate 8. Airport attendant Felicia greets all with a "Good morning ladies, welcome to Charlotte. I have the bathrooms all nice and clean for you." Made my day after an all-night flight.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Panama?? Hat

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Panama hats are made in Ecuador.  The misnamed headgear was popular with workers who built the Panama Canal; when Theodore Roosevelt visited the site, he named the hats.  The photo is a Panama hat, which was made in Ecuador, but for sale in Puerto Rico.  Now, that's international!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Happy Memorial Day

Photo by Cynthia Dial
How do we adequately thank those men and women who selflessly gave their lives for our wonderful country?  My answer: thank those who have returned when you see them in person; pay tribute to those no longer with us by visiting their graves on Memorial Day.  We paid tribute today at Rosecrans National Cemetary overlooking San Diego.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Quote of the Day

Photo by Cynthia Dial
"In America, there are two classes of travel: First class, and with children." Robert Benchley

Thursday, May 24, 2012

$pectacular Travel

What do you think about this unique “Inside the Russian Space Program”?  It's being offered exclusively by the award-winning Russia travel specialists MIR Corp.  The trip is happening only once October 9-18, 2012 and offers intimate access to Russia’s space program, including optional cosmonaut training and zero gravity flights.

Inside the Russian Space Program 2012 - Witness the manned launch of the Soyuz spacecraft on its way to relieve the crew of the International Space Station, while enjoying unparalleled access to VIP viewing areas and briefing sessions. Back in Moscow, take in the classic sights before you witness the live Soyuz-International Space Station docking at Mission Control Center, an event that very few get to experience in such an intimate way. Explore the MIR Space Station simulator; visit the Soyuz-TMA integrated simulator and the ISS mock-up. At the massive hydro lab, learn how crews acquire the skills to walk in space. If you've ever dreamed of space travel, here is your chance.

Photo by Cynthia Dial
And all for just $14,000 per person. Check out MIR Corp for details.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Road Trip Survival Guide USA Weekend

Your GPS is programmed for the family’s summer vacation. But detours and distractions abound. Can everyone arrive at the destination with a smile? These tips lead to a great getaway.

Don't leave home without ...

• Enough snacks so a missed meal won’t cause a tailspin.
• Chargers for all electronics.
• A garbage bag for trash and zip-seal bags to stash wet bathing suits, protect e-readers and keep bottles of wine from leaking all over your suitcase.
• Headphones for everyone to allow individual listening.
• Earplugs.
• Clipboard and paper.
“Our girls use them to draw and to make quizzes about our trip,” says Jenny Rosenstrach, author of Dinner: A Love Story . “It keeps them busy and is a nice keepsake.” Don’t forget old standbys like joke books and Mad-Libs.

If there's a road trip with kiddies on your summer calendar, this link's for you.

USA Weekend's Road Trip Survival Guide

Monday, May 21, 2012

Travel $aving$

Check out Marriott's "Soak up the Savings" which can be booked through May 31 but are good from June 1 - Sept 30. A sample of the rates follow:
Photo by Cynthia Dial
Aruba Marriott Resort & Stellaris Casino Rates from $215 - $317
Renaissance Aruba Resort & Casino Rates from $182 - $301
Curacao Marriott Beach Resort & Emerald Casino Rates from $149 - $179
Frenchman’s Reef and Morning Star Marriott Beach Resort Rates from $159 - $329
CasaMagna Marriott Cancun Resort Rates from $119 - $179
CasaMagna Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa Rates from $79 - $139
JW Marriott Cancun Resort & Spa Rates from $219 - $279
Grand Cayman Marriott Beach Resort Rates from $139 - $206
St. Kitts Marriott Resort & The Royal Beach Casino Rates from $109 - $189

Paradise by Marriott

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Act quick

Having my foie gras fix (before CA's July 1 ban) at Addison restaurant, San Diego's top restaurant at The Grand Del Mar, headed up by Chef William Bradley.

San Diego Today

Solar eclipse San Diego

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Travel Advisor's Top 25 Destinations

Travelers' Choice 2012, The World's Top 25 Destinations
Photo by Cynthia Dial
Take a peek at the Traveler's Choice list.  It's a fun list to compare to your own travel experiences; and if you haven't visited to give you ideas for additions to your personal bucket list.  After checking it with my travels, I have 7 to go.  So I'd better get moving.  Bye for now.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012


Photo is of Mannekin Pis in Brussels, Belgium, who has about 100 different costume changes. Being from Texas my family and I (Sandra Anderson, Mom & Dad) loved his cowboy outfit. We thought he dressed just for us!

Where, oh where, in the world is this?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Quote of the Day

Photo by Cynthia Dial
“Eat well, travel often.”
Apropos having just returned from Puerto Rico's annual food festival, Saborea.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Fun Facts about Cruise Lines

Most Popular Cruise Lines
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each cruise line in the given month)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Carnival Cruise Line
2. Luxury: Oceania Cruises
3. River Cruises: Viking River Cruises
In second place is Royal Caribbean International for premium/contemporary, Seabourn for luxury and AmaWaterways for river cruises.

Photo by Cynthia Dial

Most Popular Cruise Ships
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each ship)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Carnival Dream (Changed from Oasis of the Seas last month)
2. Luxury: Queen Mary 2
3. River: American Queen-Great American Steamboat Company
Next in popularity are the Carnival Conquest for premium/contemporary, Oceania Riviera for luxury, and the Viking Emerald for river.

Most Popular Cruise Regions
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each region)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Caribbean
2. Luxury: Mediterranean (Changed from Europe last month)
3. River: Europe
Next in popularity are North America for premium/contemporary, Europe for luxury, and North America for river cruises.

Most Popular Cruise Departure Ports
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each departure port)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Fort Lauderdale, FL
2. Luxury: Istanbul, Turkey
3. River: Amsterdam, Netherlands
Next in popularity are Miami, FL for premium/contemporary, Civitavecchia, Italy for luxury, and Budapest, Hungary for River.

Most Popular Cruise Ports Visited
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each port visited during cruise itineraries, excluding departure ports)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Nassau, Bahamas
2. Luxury: Kusadasi, Turkey
3. River: Vienna, Austria
Next in popularity are Cozumel, Mexico for premium/contemporary, Dubrovnik, Croatia for luxury, and Regensburg, Germany for river cruises.

Most Popular Countries Visited
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each country visited during cruise itineraries, excluding countries of departure)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Bahamas
2. Luxury: Greece
3. River: Germany
Second are Mexico for premium/contemporary, Italy for luxury, and Austria for river cruises.

Most Popular Cabin Types
(Based on the total number of quote requests for each cabin type)
1. Premium/Contemporary: Inside Cabin
2. Luxury: Balcony Cabin
3. River: Balcony
Hottest Months for Cruising
(Based on the most requested months)
1. Premium/Contemporary: June 2012 (Changed from April 2012 last month)
2. Luxury: August 2012
3. River: September 2012 (Replacing July 2012 last month)
More cruise tips and cruise trends

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Carmel Valley Life

“I’m a wife, mother, journalist and addict – a travel addict – because for me, travel is like breathing, I can’t live without it.  I say my office is the world, and in actuality, it is.  As a travel journalist I’ve visited all seven continents, 60 countries, countless cities and innumerable countrysides, where I’ve attempted Argentina’s tango, canoed in the Amazon and ridden a Harley-Davidson throughout Melbourne, all for a good story.” Please continue reading

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Torrey Pines First

After 7 years of beginning each morning by walking Torrey Pines, I experienced a personal first today -- a whale sighting. We early morning walkers were greeted by two whales frockling about 50 yards from the shore.  Photo by Cynthia Dial

San Francisco, San Diego, San Juan

One Journalist, Three San's, Three Weeks

Photos by Cynthia Dial
As a travel journalist, my #1 on-the-road rule is flexibility.  Sure I travel a lot and not every destination is one to which I hope to return, with even some visits to my favorite destinations falling short of expectations.  But when my travel stars align and I’m treated to three weeks of memorable moments, I can only rejoice.  Rejoice and recount (briefly).

Here goes:

1st week, San Francisco.  I walked the city.  Cable cars were frequently full and a taxi cab seemed too common, so I hiked the hills like a billy goat . . . down Nob Hill, up Russian Hill, down
Lombard Street
, up Coit Tower.  Most stops translated to food/drink treats and included Buena Vista’s Irish Coffee, a Ghiradelli Sea Salt Chocolate bar, cup of North Beach cappuccino with Italian cookies and a Chinatown lunch.  I long ago lived in the city, I love the city and I left my heart there.

2nd week, San Diego.  Every time I fly home to San Diego, bypassing downtown’s skyscrapers, paralleling the picturesque harbor and landing in almost-always-perfect weather, I applaud my husband’s and my decision to move here over 20 years ago.  So I take advantage of the So Cal lifestyle.  Here’s what I always enjoy, including April’s 2nd week:  morning hikes at Torrey Pines State Reserve from the beach up to the golf course (it’s my daily exercise); an evening at the beach for sunset with our beach chairs, friends and food; and Little Italy’s Annual Festival which meant a fun-filled Sunday.

3rd week, San Juan.  Confession: I’ve been to San Juan twice, both as a passenger from a cruise ship and both times I liked San Juan, but I didn’t love it.  So when the opportunity arose for a more comprehensive peek at the Puerto Rican haunt, it was with mild enthusiasm that I returned to the island.  However, not being one who refuses to admit that I was wrong, I admit it.  I was wrong.  This is the Puerto Rico I found.  An island proud of its creation of the Piña Colada—there are several claims to its birthplace; so we set out to taste them all (please note, it’s research).  A culinary capital of pork, roasted-on-a-spit whole suckling pig—for real pork lovers, it’s worth the 30-45 minute drive from San Juan to “La Ruta del Lechón,’’ also known as “Pork Highway” to sample the product at eatery after eatery (all informal).  Tip: ask for the crackling (the crisp, cooked-to-perfection skin).  The list goes on and on: the quaintness of Old San Juan, shopping in Olé (store specializing in authentic Panama hats), sampling java in Ciales (Puerto Rico’s coffee region), breakfast at La Bombonera (known for powder-sugar-dusted ham and cheese sandwiches called Mallorcas) and if timed right, attending Saborea, San Juan’s annual beach-fronted, mouth-watering food festival.

So, three cheers for the three San’s of my recent life—San Francisco, San Diego and San Juan.  Question: Santa’s not officially a “San,” is he?