Thursday, May 29, 2014

Otay Mesa Border Crossing - Mexico

Otay Mesa border crossing. #travel #travelpics #traveltips #mexico #border #otay #otaymesa

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Travel News - Mexico - Los Cabos - Resorts

Travel News: Los Cabos, home of the fab Las Ventanas, is scheduled to open five additional top-notch properties in 2015 including Thompson Cabo San Lucas, The Resort at Diamante, Park Hyatt, The Ritz Carlton and JW Marriott.

Photos by Cynthia Dial
#loscabos #mexico #lasventanas #resorts #mexicoresorts #travel #traveltips #travelnews #travelingcynthia

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Travel Quote

"It is better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times."
Asian proverb
Photo by Cynthia Dial

#travel #traveltuesday #travelquote #traveltips #travelingcynthia #travelpix #travelpics

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Wines of Provence - Marine Room - San Diego

After a lunch in San Diego at the Marine Room featuring the Wines of Provence, I not only enjoyed the food and drink, I also learned a thing or two.

* Rosé is France's #1 wine.
* 88% of the production of Rosé is in Provence.
* Color is the most distinguishing characteristic of Rosé.

Here's a peek of my lunch. 

You'll see the first course: Trilogy of Lobster, Cobia and Steelhead served with 2012 Caves d'Esclans, Les Clans,
Côtes de Provence.

Here's a look at the second course too: Braised Kurobuta Pork Cheeks accompanied by 2013 Domaine Sorin, Terra Amata,
Côtes de Provence and 2013 Commanderie De La Bergemone, Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence.

Photos by Cynthia Dial

#winesofprovence #wine #wines #rosé #roséwine #travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia

Monday, May 19, 2014

Culinary Institute of America San Antonio

My debut as a chef at San Antonio's CIA, Culinary Institute of America. Confession: a one time experience. #cia #ciasanantonio #VisitSanAntonio #CulinariaSA #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

San Antonio - Culinaria - Pearl Brewery - Cured

Delish platter found at Cured at the Pearl Brewery during San Antonio's Culinaria. #CuredAtPearl #VisitSanAntonio #CulinariaSA #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

San Antonio - Briscoe Western Art Museum

Lots of one of a kind exhibits in San Antonio's new Briscoe Western Art Museum. #briscoewesternartmuseum #VisitSanAntonio #CulinariaSA #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

San Antonio - Culinaria - Boiler House

The chocolate finale of the delicious outing at San Antonio's Culinaria Winemaker Dinner at the Boiler House was presented like a gift. 

@BoilerHouseSA. #VisitSanAntonio #blackbirdvineyards #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

San Antonio - Culinaria - Passion Chili Margarita

The kickoff to San Antonio's Culinaria is a Passion Chili Margarita at Eilan Hotel. Just the right amount of heat. Cheers! #margarita #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia #CulinariaSA #VisitSanAntonio #eilanhotel

San Antonio - The Alamo

A trip to San Antonio scores incomplete without a selfie at the Alamo. #alamo #sanantonio #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

San Antonio - River Walk

My 'Must' stop when in San Antonio is always the River Walk. #Riverwalk #VisitSanAntonio #CulinariaSA #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia 

San Antonio - Culinaria - Boiler House

My first delicious outing at Culinaria San Antonio: Blackbird Vineyards Winemaker Dinner at Boiler House. #VisitSanAntonio #blackbirdvineyards #travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia My first delicious outing @CulinariaSA @BoilerHouseSA

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Travel Bucket Lists

Fifth annual travel attitude survey reveals that Americans are looking to step outside of their comfort zones to achieve their travel bucket lists. According to the survey, 48 percent say vacationing to see new places is important to them.
My daughter, Kathryn Dial Hanson, fishing for piranha fish in the Amazon
Photo by Cynthia Dial

What activities top today's travel bucket lists?

Flying first class (30 percent)
Researching their heritage (26 percent)
Setting foot on all seven continents (24 percent)
Taking an African safari (21 percent)
Hiking a famous trail or mountain (18 percent)
Visiting a place in every time zone (17 percent)
Filling every page of their passport (17 percent)
Bungee jumping or sky diving while on vacation (14 percent)

Curiosity and ambition abound with today's millennial travelers. As compared to those 35 and up, millennials (18-34) have a greater sense of adventure and stronger desire to experience every bucket list item included in the survey. The most notable differences come with the adventurous activities, including setting foot on all seven continents (37 percent vs. 17 percent), bungee jumping or skydiving (26 percent vs. 6 percent) and hiking a famous mountain or trail (29 percent vs. 11 percent). But, with everything from taking a safari to researching their heritage, travelers want more out of their vacations than just a pretty beach. 

Excerpted from

#travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #bucketlists #bucketlist

Friday, May 9, 2014

Rental Cars - Most Expensive - Least Expensive

Nowhere in the United States is renting a car more costly than in New York City according to a new survey. In coming up with the rankings, the survey compared 50 main destinations in the USA based on their car rental rates over the past 12 months.

In New York City, travelers had to pay an average of $76 per day for the cheapest available rental car. That's significantly more than they had to shell out in the second-place finisher, Detroit. An average daily rate of $69 secured Detroit the number two position. It bears noting that each destination's main airport was chosen as the Pick Up and Drop Off location by the survey.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, the least expensive U.S. car rental city is Orlando, with an average rate of only $25 per day for the most affordable car. Among the cheapest destinations are also Los Angeles, San Diego and Las Vegas, where the average daily rate fell below $30, according to the survey.

It must be highlighted that the established prices are average rates, and costs tended to fluctuate heavily for some destinations. For example, in Miami on some days during the off season, travelers could find a rental car for less than $20 per day. Meanwhile, during the high season they may have had to pay $60 or more. In New York City, the price range was a bit less volatile, settling in around $60 to $110 per day.

The following table shows the 10 most expensive U.S. car rental destinations. The prices shown reflect the average daily rate for the cheapest available car in each locale over the past 12 months. Each respective city's airport was chosen as the Pick Up and Drop Off location. 

1. New York City $76
2. Detroit $69
3. Memphis $67
4. Baltimore $65
5. New Orleans $63
6. Buffalo $62
6. Kansas City $62
6. Boston $62
9. Charlotte $60
10. Houston $59


Thursday, May 8, 2014

2014 BRIDES Best Honeymoon

Travel tease: What is the top pick in '14 BRIDES Best Honeymoons? Here's a giveaway pic.
Photo by Cynthia Dial

#travel #travelpics #traveltips #travelingcynthia #bride #brides #honeymoon #honeymoons 

Monday, May 5, 2014

Québec City's Celebration of Winter

My January arrival to Québec City was anything but the warm welcome I received the previous summer. Don’t get me wrong, the province’s unmistakable hospitality and friendliness were in full force. But at a temperature of 8 F, gone were window boxes bulging with flowers, sidewalk cafes streaming with patrons and street performers surrounded by revelers—all perks that beckoned me back. Instead I found a city, not in hibernation, but teeming with excitement for the snowy season. Once again it overflowed with perks, just different perks.
Quebec, Canada, Winter, Carnival, Celebration, National assembly, Travel, Travel tips, Winter travel

Greeted by a white wonderland, Québec City was in a festive mood. The frivolity and high-octane activity reflected its excitement for a 60-year-old tradition—Québec Winter Carnival. Comprised of 17 days of annual celebration, this is when the city is transformed to a magical, cold-climate playground.

Meet Bonhomme Carnaval. You can’t miss the forever-smiling, 7-foot-tall snowman decked out in a red carnival tuque, arrowhead sash and large black buttons. As the official Winter Carnival ambassador, he lives at the North Pole and is purportedly revered by children more than Santa (“because he’s real,” his tiny fans say), he pops into and out of around-the-city events by limo and his identity is a high clearance secret. Paying additional homage to Bonhomme, festival goers wear their own red hats and sashes, and a photo-op with the treasured icon equates to Carnival’s E ticket.
Bonhomme, travel, traveling cynthia, snowman, blog, snow, travel tips, winter, quebec winter, Canada
Photos and video by Cynthia Dial

Attracting 700,000 visitors this year during one of the harshest seasons in memory, a local resident explained its annual timing and continued popularity. “Winter Carnival happens at a time of the year when we need to remember to get outside. Winter is something we were born with—it’s in our DNA.”

To a Southern Californian and fair weather fan like myself, Carnival gave a new vision of winter, a different perspective. Offering more than 200 activities, here’s only a sampling of the choices on my dance card:

Loto-Québec Zone – Located city center near the stately National Assembly, this was the site of Opening Night. Renowned as the world’s biggest winter celebration, Québec Winter Carnival was launched with fireworks and the Coronation of Carnival’s Queen alongside her king, Bonhomme. Also the setting of Bonhomme’s Ice Palace, the Zone housed his 40-foot-high castle abode. Created over three weeks using 300 tons of ice, it provided a peek into the beloved celeb’s life, revealing his dining room, shower and kitchen stocked with exclusively cold items, including ice cream, popsicles and chilled soup.

Part deux – Now, onto Place Desjardins and the activities on the Plains of Abraham, the historical scene of battle and one of the world’s most prestigious parks.

Battle of the Dukes – Putting the exclamation point on Winter Carnival was its kick-off snowball fight for “kids” 18 and above. Going for a Guinness record to stage the world’s largest snowball fight, Bonhomme sounded its start and snow missiles began to fly.

Ferris Wheel and Bumper Cars – While a ride on the Ferris wheel delivered a soaring perspective of both Québec City and Carnival’s overall fun, the event’s bumper car ride had a bit of a winter twist--electric bumper cars on a 30-by-60 ice rink.

Snow Sculptures – The Plains of Abraham was converted into a plein air museum, where seven teams of future sculptors, 10 national and 12 international sculpting teams competitively chiseled creative life into blocks of ice, transforming them into art.

Horse-drawn Sleigh – Whether desiring a romantic ride through the snow beneath a woolen blanket or seeking good ol’ family fun, a step into the carriage provided a step back into time.

Uniprix Ice Slide – Rounding out the activities, the 400-foot ice slide appealed to adventure-seeking participants ready to have a high-speed go at an extreme sporting option.

Sugarbush – Appealing to everyone’s sweet tooth was the chance to twirl maple syrup onto a Popsicle stick, roll it into fresh snow, and voila, it’s maple taffy.

More must-see, must-do activities – Thrill seekers watched 200 snowmobile racers brave the challenging circuit specifically designed for Carnival. Among the most competitive sportsmen were racers who paddled and pushed their canoes across the frozen St. Lawrence River in the Icy Canoe Competition. Eighty venturesome Speedo and bikini clad bathers joined Bonhomme to frolic in the snow as participants of the Qualinet Snow Bath. And there was ice fishing, dogsledding, a hockey tournament and two night parades. Complete with floats, dance troupes, costumed characters and marching bands, lively revelers cheered the parades’ passersby with toots from Carnival’s traditional red trumpets.

Rounding out the city wide celebration was the 2014 addition of Carnival Streets. With eight streets representing eight distinct areas, more fun ensued from their made-in-Canada activities, including such events as curling tournaments and lumberjack competitions.

The reality of Winter Carnival’s activities is that all are out-of-doors and all are in well-below-freezing temps—situations where comfort can be questionable. But my discovery of a regional secret, Caribou—a hot alcoholic combo made with brandy, vodka, sherry and port—required only a nip or two to temper the temperatures. 

Hôtel de Glace – I would be sleeping on the job if I didn’t share my arrival night’s lodging in the Ice Hotel. Imagine an 11 p.m. check-in after a five-hour flight to a climate as close on the thermometer to 0 F as my San Diego home was to 70 F at my departure. When I tallied the score—my driver wished me “good luck,” guests stay no more than one night and my quest for a hotel employee who himself had slept in the glacial abode was unsuccessful—I questioned my wisdom for overnight adventure.

The mandatory tutorial shared the scoop: “We’ll teach you what to do and what not to do to have a good time.” Tips included the expected: dress in layers, wear no cotton and go to bed completely dry. But it was the unexpected that I’ll remember. Rule 1: If you’re wearing leather boots, stuff them with socks after setting them aside for the night. A woman who didn’t awoke to frozen footwear, necessitating her to be carried from her ice room to reception where her boots were blown dry to room temperature. Rule 2: Don’t set anything—keys, jewelry, cameras—on the solid ice bedside table. Its heat will cause the item to melt into the frozen furniture.

Fortifying myself with a vodka cocktail served in an ice glass in the Ice Bar, I braved the outdoors to be warmed by the Jacuzzi, adhering to Rule 3: Before retiring, get your body toasty warm. Settling into Room 16, I slept within an Arctic-rated sleeping bag atop a wooden frame upon a carved-from-ice bed. Upon rising I congratulated myself and mentally crossed the surreal scene from my checklist; but when viewed from the perspective of sunrise the elite event became an extraordinary one, for it unveiled a six-week, 50 person and 30,000 tons of snow endeavor of Disneyland proportions.

Mardi Gras meet Winter Olympic Games. This visit took me beyond cafés and croissants to an oh-so-different destination, a cold weather cool one where Carnival was the epicenter of activity.
Winter’s Québec City. The right time. The right place. It matters. Joyeux Carnaval!

Québec Winter Carnival 2015: January 30 – February 15. 

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#quebec #quebeccity #quebeccitywintercarnival #winter #wintercarnival #canada

Thursday, May 1, 2014

American's Top 2014 Summer Destinations Based on Airfare

2014 Top Summer Destinations

As Americans gear up for summer vacation, new research reveals that low airfares are propelling travelers to choose the following international destinations for this season’s getaways: 
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Photo by Cynthia Dial
1. Cancun, Mexico; 
2. London, United Kingdom; 
3. Paris, France; 
4. Rome, Italy; 
5. Dublin, Ireland; 
6. Montego Bay, Jamaica; 
7. San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico; 
8. Oranjestad, Aruba;
9. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic; 
10. Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

Here’s the inside scoop.  Average roundtrip airfares to the Caribbean are 4% less than the same period last year.  In contrast, the overall cost of a roundtrip flight to Europe is 6% higher than last summer, with flights to Athens (Greece) and Dublin (Ireland) the best bets for budget seekers who want to travel across the pond. data compiled by eTurboNews

#2014topsummerdestinations #travel #traveltips #travelingcynthia #cancun #london #paris #rome #dublin #montegobay #sanjosedelcabo #aruba #puntacana #puertovallarta #mexico