Thursday, November 29, 2012

Around the World Holiday Lights

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Speaking of Vienna, guess which city tops National Geographic's list of World's Best Places for Holiday Lighting? To check out the top 10, go here.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Insider's Golf in San Diego

Hey lady golfers, this article's for you.

The reason the pro tells you to keep your head down is so you can't see him laughing.
Comedian Phyllis Diller

For many women the best way to approach golf is with humor (confession: I am one of those women).  But after my introduction to golf at The Grand Del Mar, my game transformed from funny to fun. 
Click here for more.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Insider's San Diego

Finally, a great cup of cappuccino in San Diego. Found at Cafe Secret in Del Mar.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

International Airport Food

In honor of America's busiest travel day, here's a list of the world's best 31 airport restaurants, as ranked by The Daily Meal. Note: It was a "delicious" 6-month process.
Photo by Cynthia Dial
1. Porta Gaig (El Prat del Llobregat, Barcelona)
2. Salt Lick BBQ (Austin-Bergstrom International Airport)
3. Tortas Frontera (Chicago O'Hare International Airport)
4. Bubbles Seafood & Wine Bar (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)
5. Obrycki’s (Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport)
6. Crust (LaGuardia Airport, New York City)
7. Five Guys (Dulles International Airport, Washington, DC)
8. Custom Burgers by Pat LaFrieda (LaGuardia Airport, New York City)
9. Encounter (Los Angeles International Airport)
10. Legal Sea Foods (Boston Logan International Airport)
11. Pink's Hot Dogs (Los Angeles International Airport)
12. Brasserie Flo (Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport)
13. Plane Food (Heathrow Airport, London)
14. Tagliare (LaGuardia Airport, New York City)
15. Versailles Restaurant (Miami International Airport)
16. Piquillo (John F. Kennedy International Airport, New York City)
17. Icebox Café (Miami International Airport)
18. Union Jacks Bar (Gatwick Airport, London)
19. Kim Choo's Nonja Kitchen (Changi Airport Singapore)
20. Airbräu Brauhaus (Munich Airport)
21. Globe@YVR (Vancouver International Airport)
22. La Moraga (Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, Costa del Sol, Spain)
23. Cat Cora’s Kitchen (San Francisco International Airport)
24. Altitude (Genève Aéroport, Geneva)
25. Columbia Restaurant Café (Tampa International Airport)
26. One Flew South (Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport)
27. Anthony’s Fish Bar (Seattle Tacoma International Airport)
28. Tacañon (Benito Juarez, Mexico City)
29. Dutch Kitchen Bar & Cocktails (Amsterdam Airport Schiphol)
30. La Pausa (Ministro Pistarini International Airport, Buenos Aires)
31. Tadında Anadolu (Istanbul Atatürk Airport)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Quote of the Week

Photo by Cynthia Dial
“The shortest path to oneself leads around the world.” 
Count Hermann Keyserling

Monday, November 19, 2012

Friday, November 16, 2012

Quote of the Day

Photo taken in Myanmar at a local school
February, 2011
“Our happiest moments as tourists always seem to come when we stumble upon one thing while in pursuit of something else.”
Lawrence Block

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Hiking Off the Pounds at Mountain Trek

If your New Year's resolution, yet again (like mine), is to get into shape here's a fun way to do so. Check out my article on Mountain Trek, a British Columbia hiking spa, in the current issue of Travel Squire. Go here for details.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Travia . . . By State

Photo by Cynthia Dial
Arizona: Is the only state in the continental U.S that doesn't follow Daylight Savings Time.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Solution: Travel Crises

Over the course of my many years of travel, I've been pickpocketed in Guatemala, lost my passport in Athens and confronted by a protest in the hills of rural Ecuador which blocked our tour bus from proceeding.  And from these experiences I've learned that the secret is to meet every challenge (and trust me, if you travel, you will have them) with common sense and a sense of calm.  Along those lines, I found the following article in National Geographic Traveler most beneficial.  If interested, keep reading.

You can’t safeguard against every travel upset. But what’s the worst move travelers make? They leave home unprepared, says Alex Puig of International SOS, a U.S. company offering emergency evacuations. Here’s a primer on how to bounce back gracefully from a trip gone awry.

I’ve Been Robbed

One recent survey named Barcelona as the top pickpocketing destination, followed by Rome, Prague, and Madrid. Regardless of your locale, always watch your things when in a new place. Carry a throwaway wallet or decoy purse containing daily cash and old photos but nothing that would make you hesitate to hand it over in a holdup. Keep a credit card and cash in an inside pocket.
1. Hand over the fake wallet.
2. Notify the police.

My Passport’s Gone

When it comes to your most important carry-on—your passport—practice triple redundancy: Keep a color copy in a safe place (such as your hotel room), leave a copy with someone trusted at home, and scan a copy as an electronic document and store it in “the cloud” (try DropBox or Google’s Drive). Copies of the passport ID page, airline tickets, driver’s license, and credit cards can also help verify your identity.
1. Contact your embassy or consulate immediately.
2. Alert your airline and travel insurance company if you need to change your travel plans.

Credit Card: Denied

Your American credit card may lack a microchip used for security internationally, or your credit card company may cut you off due to its fraud-detection system. Before leaving home, let your credit card company know of your travel plans to ensure the fraud algorithm doesn’t shut down your spending power. While you’re at it, ask your bank about getting a card with a microchip and PIN number, the type accepted in places such as Europe. In 2013, most major U.S. credit card companies are moving to a “smart card” system—cards with a microchip and signature.
1. Call the international toll-free number on your credit card.
2. Switch to debit or cash.

Is That a Riot Ahead?

It may be tempting to lose yourself in a demonstration—especially if it’s newsworthy—but resist the urge and avoid the vicinity of strikes, protests, and mobs.
1. Leave the area of the riot as quickly as possible.
2. Do not take photos. A foray into photojournalism could place you in more danger.
3. Return to your hotel. Or go to the nearest embassy or consulate. If the violence spreads, leave the country.


From iffy time-shares sold to resort guests to that “special” offer on Thai jewelry, scams have long lured distracted travelers. Beware of pitches made in places frequented by tourists, such as famous landmarks, airports, and train stations.
1. Notify the police.
2. If you used a credit card, dispute the charge.
3. Report the scam online (Facebook, Twitter) to warn others and put the scammers on notice.

When Natural Disaster Strikes

If you’re staying where a disaster such as a tsunami is a possibility, get familiar with warning signs, such as the sirens that warn of an approaching wave.
1. Heed any official warnings.
2. Ask before acting; it may be smarter to stay put than to evacuate (such as during a hurricane, when seeking shelter is often wiser than trying to outrun the storm).
3. Leave the area as soon as it’s safe to travel.

As seen in National Geographic Traveler.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Thank You Veterans!

Veterans:  Thank you, thank you, thank you! 

Photo by Cynthia Dial
A special thank you to my father, Melvin Waters, who served in both the Pacific and European theaters and who helped evacuate Bergen-Belsen concentration camp at the end of WWII.  

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Insider's Mexico

TJ border wait, typically between 1 to 2 hours. Tip: bring water, something to read and patience.

Insider's Mexico

U.S. - Mexico border fence.

Insider's San Felipe

Sea of Cortez's ribbon of salt.

Insider's San Felipe

San Felipe's prime draw: the beach.

Insider's San Felipe

San Felipe's El Cortez. Harrison Ford's stayed. Why? It's low profile.

Insider's San Felipe

San Felipe 20th Annual Shrimp Festival. Great entertainment like dancers.

Insider's San Felipe

San Felipe 20th Annual Shrimp Festival. Great artisans like glassblowers.

Insider's San Felipe

San Felipe 20th Annual Shrimp Festival. Great wines like Piluchas Wine.

Travia . . . by state

Alaska: One out of every 64 residents has a pilot's license.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012


Photo by Cynthia Dial
Texas is the only state that allows its residents to cast absentee ballots from space. This is because the Houston Space Center is home to most of the United States' astronauts.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Insider's Mexico

FYI when traveling in Mexico, trust your watch, not your I-phone, for the time. Mine is one hour off in San Felipe.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Insider's Mexico

FYI new pedestrian crossing into Tijuana. You can no longer enter on South side of I-5.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Insider's San Diego

Having had my share of facials, massages, wraps, you name it, in the course of research when writing about spas, I admit that praise from me with respect to these pamper treats comes less frequently than in my novice years.  However, today's microdermabrasion at ASerenity Skin & Body begs an exception.  Operated by Anke Stoner, an experience at this spa is a testament to tranquility. Decorated in soft, soothing greens, I floated from the lounge to aesthetician Nicole's treatment room for an hour-plus of skin revitalization.  Here's my critieria when seeking a spa treatment: no steam & cream choice for me but rather a no pain/no gain selection.  But Nicole hit the right balance -- relaxing, yet beneficial.  She first asked what I sought from a facial, then examined my skin and made her recommendations, with which I concurred.  After all, she's the expert.  Was I happy?  Most definitely.  Best part: I walked out with a glow.  To learn more, go to