Tag: "vacation"

Where would you go on solo holiday?

A while back Sharon wrote a travel plan for visiting Anguilla alone. Rereading that plan got me thinking and now I’ve been thinking about solo travel for the past few days. Mainly because I am jealous. I’ll be home with the dogs while my wife visits family in Korea about a month from now. She takes lots of vacations from me (admittedly she deserves them for putting up with me). She took that trip to Hawaii, she has been to Beijing, she has been to Hong Kong (that one is even since I went to Hong Kong without her).

My wife is usually meeting friends or family. I also want to meet some old friends that I don’t see often. But when it’s my turn to take a trip without wifey, I think I might do something by myself. Visiting friends and family is good too, but so is alone time and meeting new people. There are certainly places for it in Europe. They have tour operators specializing in singles holidays for solo travelers where they give you more structure or more free time depending on what you want. Some people take these holidays year after year, and each time they meet some new people an see some familiar faces from previous trips.

It may be a result of too much studying, but I might try to start off by writing objectives for a solo vacation. Then I would plan activities that align with those objectives. Just like I would while writing training materials to make sure trainees achieve their goals. Although I certainly realize it may be a little sad that I am trying to plan a vacation based on the instructional design process I am studying in school.

I will meet new people.
I will meet a friend I haven’t seen in a while.
I will move and shake and exercise and be active.
I will see something new and beautiful.
I will spend some time alone.

I think my solo vacation will be a European one. I have a friend who promised to take me swimming in the Danube in Vienna. She would probably introduce me to some locals. That takes care of objective 1 and objective 2. And the swimming helps with objective 3. Plus I have never been to Vienna so there is objective 4. After a few days in Vienna, Rothenburg is next.

Rothenburg is a walled medieval city. All the stone buildings here should also be beautiful and I’ve never been to Rothenburg. I like medieval towns and I think I could walk around for a few days and relax while taking in the sights. This would achieve the fifth objective, spending some time alone. I probably have to avoid certain times because Rothenburg is a tourist destination. I have nothing against tourists, but I don’t like crowds.

Riding a bike around Anguilla sounds good too, but I don’t know anyone there and it would be fun to meet at least one old friend and one new friend during a solo holiday. Where would you go on a solo holiday? Would you try to meet new people, old friends, or be by yourself? Would you see something new or see something again? How much physical activity would you aim for?

Vacation Destination – Mallorca in the Mediterranean

The island of Mallorca (Majorca) off the coast of Spain was chosen for several scenes in the sci-fi movie Cloud Atlas, released in 2012. The film is based on David Mitchell’s book of six interwoven stories. Tom Hanks, Halle Berry, Hugh Grant, Susan Sarandon, and other members of the cast experience success and failure while traveling from the past to the present and beyond to the year 2300. We are reminded of Orwell, Melville, and Huxley, as the Cloud represents the changes and adaptations of the characters within a predictable pattern, the Atlas of human nature.

Of course most of us will be walking around Spain rather than traveling through time. The warm, usually mild climate in April, May, and June is perfect for walking holidays in Spain and attracts travelers worldwide, as well as members of the Spanish royal family and many artists and celebrities who visit or live on the island. Filming locations for Cloud Atlas included Port de Sóller, a small village away from the tourist areas, Sa Calobra beach nearby, the cliffs at Cap de Formentor, and Puig Major, the highest mountain on Majorca for the post-apocalyptic scenes. We will focus primarily on Palma the capital, as most visitors arrive at the airport here.

Things to See & Do:

Bellver Castle is an excellent example of 14th century architecture with 3 towers, a moat, and central courtyard. Besides a great view of the city below and the Bay of Palma, the castle has a museum of artifacts, the Despuig Classical Sculpture Collection, and the chapel of St Mark.

Hours: Daily. 8am-8pm, Oct thru Mar. 8am-9pm, Apr thru Sep. Sunday hours vary. Admission: Adults, $3.50, Students & Seniors, $1.50, Under 14 Free. Guided group tours free.

Pueblo Espanol was originally designed as a small village replica of famous architecture and artisan workshops. After changing ownership, however, the original atmosphere has changed into a place to hang out with discos, cafes, and fast food outlets as the main attractions.

Open: Daily, 9-7pm. Admission: $6.50 & $4

Visitors enjoy walking around the interesting old historical center within the city walls of Palma. There are many small shops, sidewalk cafes, and art galleries, with some of the best shopping along the Passeig des Bom and Avenida Jaume III. Shop at Antiguedades for locally made jewelry, Arte-Facto for handicrafts, or at the Placa Major underground shopping mall. Produce, fish, and craft markets open early at 6 or 7am, 6 days a week; Olivar indoor market receives positive reviews.

Spend some time at the small museum featuring the collection of the wealthy banker Juan March. Here are permanent displays of 70 paintings by Picasso, Dali, and Miro, the masters of contemporary art, as well as temporary exhibits by over 50 national and international artists.

Hours: Mon-Fri, 10-6:30pm, Sat – 10:30-2pm, Closed Sun. Free admission.

High on a hill above the city is the majestic Sa Seu cathedral, which was originally built as a mosque in the 13th and 14th centuries by Jaume I. Officially completed and consecrated in 1601, the cathedral is a national historical monument. Rebuilt after the 1851 earthquake, it features 4 towers, lots of stained glass, sculptures and paintings of the saints, and symbols of the Marian Litany. Sa Seu has the largest Gothic rose window in the world, over 100 meters square divided into 24 triangles representing the Star of David. This impressive structure includes 16 interior chapels, an Alms House, tombs of Mallorcan kings, a 9-bell tower, and a ceramic mural by famed Miquel Barceló. Gift shop of religious art, souvenirs, and other memorabilia.

Hours: Apr-May & Oct, Mon-Fri, 10-5:15pm. Jun-Sep, 10-6:15pm. Sat,10-2:15pm.

For something different, take the wooden train built in 1912 from the Plaza d’Espanya in Palma to Sóller. Travel through tunnels and citrus groves; stop at any one of 10 villages along the way. Runs 5 times a day every 2 hours, 1-hour rd trip about $22. The tram runs every 30 minutes from Sóller to the seaside port on the Bay. Cost: $11 rd trip.

Travelers will find numerous beaches along the Palma coastline–at popular tourist resorts including the Playa de Palma, Peguera, and Camp de Mar, as well as more secluded beaches at Illetes, Andratx, and Cala Mayor. Majorca is more than beaches, however, as there are numerous caves in the mountains to explore. Visitors to the Caves of Drach at the village of Portocristo enjoy a gondola ride beneath multi-color lights in the huge chambers while listening to a classical concert on the Martel, Europe’s largest underground lake.

Hours: Daily. 10-5pm, Apr thru Oct. 10:45-12, 2-3:30pm, Nov thru Mar. Admission: Adults, $15, Under 7 Free.

Accommodations:

Castillo Hotel Son Vida ranks among the best in luxury class for its location, service, and numerous amenities. Guests have a choice of elegant guestrooms or suites, even an option for a personal butler at an extra charge of $150 a day. There are 4 outdoor pools and one indoor at the Arabella Spa onsite, 4 tennis courts, and golf courses nearby. Interchangeable dining arrangements at 3 different luxury hotels. Rates: From $250 (incl breakfast).

Hotel Gran Melia Victoria on the waterfront has an excellent location near main attractions and town center. There are 3 restaurants, outdoor pool and fitness center, indoor pool, and a casino in the lobby. Rates: Std room – From $140, Seaside room – From $178. Buffet brkfst, $26; Half board, $73.

The Puro is a reasonably priced hotel with guestrooms and suites, a spa, sushi nights on the rooftop terrace, and good food in a somewhat Bohemian atmosphere. Probably fun for young couples; the bar/lounge and DJ music next door is a popular nightspot. Rates: Avg $200/night

If you prefer getting out of the city, there’s a beautiful hotel about 40 miles away at the Cap de Formentor where some of the cast of Cloud Atlas stayed. The Barceló Formentor offers guests numerous amenities including 6 restaurants, piano bar in the gardens, horse and bicycle trails, mini-golf, tennis, and sailing. Rooms and suites have satellite TV, wi-fi, and iPod connections, as well as splendid views of the mountains or the sea. The hotel is closed from November to 21 April, but reservations can be booked for 2012. (Small pets accepted.)

Rates: Sea view – $314, Mountain view – $222

Dining: A variety of food and tapas (popular for lunch and late afternoon snacks) can be found at La Boveda, Cellar Pages, and seafood at La Lubina near the harbor. Most cafes are open for lunch, closed for siesta. Among the recommended restaurants in Palma are Caballito de Mar near the town center, and the very elegant, expensive Chopin for French and international gourmet cuisine located near the cathedral square. The Aramis for Italian/Mediterranean and Opio in the Puro Hotel for Asian atmosphere and food receive good reviews.

Nightclubs: Pacha’s overlooking the yacht harbor is probably the best-known club. Open 10pm-6am, summer admission about $27. Tito’s is open daily from 10pm, and the Garito Club opens at 7pm, with DJ and live music, admission is free.

Transportation: International flights, train and bus service between villages. No bridges from the mainland, but ferries operate daily from Barcelona and Valencia. 8-hour trip, rd trip $90 and up. Cruise ships dock at Palma regularly.

Sharon L Slayton

$400-600 off your next vacation: my new preferred travel rewards credit card

Actually, it’s $440 off your next vacation with the Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – $89 Annual Fee Card. I know. I must be crazy. What’s with the annual fee?

Well, the annual fee is waived the first year and it only takes 3 months for you to get the nice bonus – as long as you spend $1,000 in your first 90 days as a cardholder.

My plan is to get the card and pay for health insurance (about 3 grand next time it comes due). That qualifies me for the bonus 40,000 miles. You could redeem these miles for something other than travel but then you get a poor value. And it just so happens that I like to travel.

So I have 40,000 bonus miles plus about 6,000 miles from the usual card rewards (2 miles per dollar spent on the card is pretty good). 46,000 miles and counting – then when you redeem for statement credit on travel charges you get a 10% mileage bonus. So there’s another 4,600 miles (this bonus 10% back would have to be redeemed after the other rewards so may not apply to the one vacation I’m talking about – you might have to use the bonus miles for a future statement credit). 1 mile = $1 in statement credit for travel charges (as I said before, redeeming for anything besides travel charges probably isn’t worth it).

My wife and I plan a little trip in the $500-600 range and use the Barclay’s card to pay for it, earning another 1000-1200 miles in the process. We then use all those miles to pay for the vacation by applying them to the statement. The 500 – 600 dollar trip ends up costing almost nothing.

With the annual fee card, you get the better bonus and there’s no fee the first year. But if you plan on keeping the card forever and don’t care about the biggest possible upfront bonus, there is a no annual fee version: Barclaycard Arrival World MasterCard – No Annual Fee Card. This no fee card still gives you 2 miles per dollar spent. You can still get 20,000 bonus miles, too. But I’m greedy and I have to go for 40,000.

Just keep in mind that this is a limited time offer and I don’t know when it ends. You need to act soon, but not too soon – it would be best if you have a big expense coming up in the next couple months that, when you pay, will qualify you for the bonus.

This information should be accurate for the annual fee card, but make sure you read the fine print before you start using the card.

Money Math Matters

Annual Fee: $89 (waived the first year)
Foreign Transaction Fee: $0
APR: Intro 0% APR for first 12 months, then var 14.99%/18.99%
APR for Balance Transfers: 14.99%/18.99%
Balance Transfer Fee: 4%
APR for Cash Advance: 25.24%
Cash Advance Fee: 5%
Late Fee/Returned Payment Fee: $35
Over Credit Limit Fee: $0
Penalty APR: 27.24%, may apply with late payment

Rewards

Bonus: 40,000 miles after spending $1,000 in first 3 months [20,000 miles after spending $1,000 in first 3 months]
2 miles per $1 spent on every purchase [2 miles per $1 spent on travel & dining, 1 mile per $1 spent on all other purchases]
Miles Worth: 1 mile = 1.10 cents (accounts for 10% back upon redemption), less when redeeming for cash back, merchandise, or gift cards
Rewards Limit: None
Rewards Expiration: None
Redeem Rewards For: Travel expenses such as airline, hotel, cruises, train, car rental, etc. Redeem miles through statement credit towards travel purchase. Do not transfer with frequent flyer programs.
Get 10% miles back when redeeming for travel

Fringe Benefits

Free TripIt Pro mobile travel organizer subscription (normally $49/year)
$0 Fraud Liability Protection
Purchase Protection: Yes, price drop protection
Travel Insurance: Yes. Up to $200,000 travel accident coverage, reimbursement for delayed baggage, and trip cancellation coverage.
Extended Warranty: Yes
Customer Service: 24/7 MasterCard Global Service

St. Patrick’s Day Ireland vacation sweepstakes from Ancestry.com & Great Value Vacations

The contest is open to U.S. residents 21 and older and can be entered by visiting Ancestry.com’s Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/Ancestry.com until March 21, 2013.

I’ll be entering because Ireland has always been pretty high on my list. I even have some Irish ancestry. And naturally, we’ve talked about Ireland on this site since we’re all about dreaming up possible vacations here:
Solo travel plan for Ireland
, movie tourism in Ireland, and Dublin travel plan to list a few.

So here are the details for the contest: Great Value Vacations, in partnership with Ancestry.com, offers an Ireland Coast to Castle Sweepstakes. One lucky winner will receive an unforgettable Irish vacation for two, as well as a custom suite of Ancestry.com products and services including a 1-year Global Explorer membership, Ancestry DNA kit, Family Tree Maker 2013, and research with Ancestry.com’s ProGenealogists.

2013 marks the year of The Gathering, a year-long celebration of all things Irish during which Ireland and its people are welcoming the Irish diaspora, as well as anyone with a love of Ireland to visit. Great Value Vacations is making it possible for one lucky winner and a companion to take part in what has been dubbed “the people’s party.” In addition to the vacation, the winner (whether of Irish descent or not) will have the opportunity to research their roots using a variety of products and services donated by Ancestry.com.
The Ireland Coast to Castle Vacation includes:

Round-trip economy class air
1 night at the 4-star Croke Park Hotel, Dublin
4 nights at winner’s choice of more than 1,000 Bed & Breakfasts located throughout Ireland
1 night at the 5-star Adare Manor, Limerick
Automatic rental car for the duration
House of Waterford Crystal Tour
Full Irish breakfast daily

According to Great Value Vacations’ Brand Manager, Laura DeMaio, “The Irish people have always held their ancestry in high regard, so in addition to a luxury Irish vacation that provides travelers with the flexibility to visit the regions they most want to see, we’re delighted to include a variety of Ancestry.com products that will enable the winner to research their roots prior to the vacation, and then based on those results, select Bed & Breakfast accommodations located in the region(s) they’re most interested in visiting. Of course, the sweepstakes is open to all U.S. residents, not just those of Irish descent.”