Amanda Anger

Amanda Anger

Monday, 05 November 2012 16:47

Coral Sea Splash Resort

Book It Now!

El Salam, Nabq Bay, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Tel:  +2 069 3710 611

The Coral Sea Splash Resort in Sharm El Sheikh is home to the newest and most prestigious waterpark resort in the fashionable Nabq area on the Red Sea. The Boomerango attraction is popular for those seeking water recreation in Egypt's arid climate.

 

If Switzerland is in your vacation plans this winter, but lift passes are stretching the budget, Badrutt’s Palace Hotel has the solution. The ‘Grande Dame’ of St. Moritz invites guests who stay more than one night to ski for free this winter. Guests at The Palace will receive a complimentary ticket, for all mountain railways, cable cars and public transport in St Moritz for the duration of their stay. Valid from December 1, 2012 to April 1, 2013. Contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Following a multi-million renovation, Tampa’s premier luxury hotel welcomes guests and locals alike to celebrate Thanksgiving Day with two brunch buffets at its award-winning restaurants

Having just completed a $16 million makeover, Grand Hyatt Tampa Bay has much to be thankful for this holiday season.  The fully revamped 442-room hotel stands ready to welcome holiday travelers and local Tampa Bay residents with not one but two bountiful Thanksgiving brunch buffets at its award-winning restaurants Oystercatchers and Petey Brown’s.  This year’s special holiday menus will feature not only traditional comfort foods and classic favorites but also fresh, locally grown produce as part of Hyatt’s new sustainable and locally focused food and beverage platform, Food. Thoughtfully Sourced. Carefully Served.

At Petey Brown’s featured dishes will include the traditional tom turkey, Nutella and banana French toast, a raw bar, made-to-order omelets and pasta, seasonal charcuterie selections, an array of homemade desserts and unlimited mimosas for diners ages 21 and older. Comfortably placed within the hotel’s grand lobby, the restaurant offers casual American dining in a relaxed, unpretentious setting, perfect for families to gather together and leisurely enjoy time with one another just like home.  As a special treat for families on Thanksgiving, the restaurant will additionally offer an activity room to keep the kids entertained, complete with a face painter and balloon artist.  Served from 11:30 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., the special Thanksgiving Day buffet at Petey Brown’s is $40 per adult and $16.50 per child (ages 6 to 12), plus tax and service charge.  Kids ages five and younger eat free.  Advanced reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 813-207-6783.

Tucked away from the hotel in the middle of a 35-acre wildlife preserve, the perennial-favorite Oystercatchers restaurant will be serving up a decadent holiday buffet with additional menu enhancements such as an array of artisan cheeses, a full dessert room with chef-created desserts to order and complimentary Bloody Marys and mimosas for guests ages 21 and older.  The restaurant additionally features patio seating and stunning bay views.  From the comfort of their table, diners will be able to gaze upon the natural beauty of this unspoiled hideaway and may even have the chance to spot egrets and herons as they roam around the shore.  Served from 10:30 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the Thanksgiving Day buffet at Oystercatchers is $65 per adult and $25 per child (ages 6 to 12), plus tax and service charge.  Kids ages five and younger eat free.  Advanced reservations are encouraged and can be made by calling 813-207-6815.

For hotel information or room reservations, visit grandtampabay.hyatt.com or call 813-874-1234.

Iconic Canal Street Landmark Completes $50 million Renovation and Celebrates Milestone with a Series of Anniversary Events for Guests, Clients and Local Community

 

In November, Sheraton New Orleans will Debut Exclusive Jack Robinson Photography Exhibit and Re-open the Rodrigue Gallery

 Sheraton New Orleans today celebrates its 30th anniversary with the unveiling of new signature Sheraton services and amenities at the recently renovated landmark hotel. A perennial favorite with meeting planners and travelers, Sheraton New Orleans has completed the majority of its $50 million revitalization project, resulting in a fully transformed lobby, refurbished guestrooms, brand-new Sheraton Club Lounge and new Sheraton food and beverage options. Additional renovations to the hotel’s meeting facilities and public spaces are slated for completion in late 2012.

 

Sheraton New Orleans will commemorate its 30th anniversary year with a series of events, starting with the November 29th opening of an exclusive exhibit of Jack Robinson photographs of 1950s New Orleans, followed by a fundraiser on November 15th to celebrate the re-opening of the hotel’s Rodrigue Gallery. A seven-time winner of the Successful Meetings Pinnacle Award, Sheraton New Orleans was selected as a one of the Top 100 Meeting Hotels in the United States by Cvent in 2012.

Sheraton New Orleans is delighted to celebrate its 30th anniversary by bringing to life the quintessential Sheraton experience at this freshly renovated, award-winning property,” said Jim Cook, General Manager.  “One of our legacy assets in the Sheraton convention hotels portfolio, Sheraton New Orleans offers newly improved facilities and a warm, welcoming atmosphere enhanced by all the latest Sheraton signature offerings.”

Special offers for meeting planners and visitors will be available October 30th, 2012 through the end of 2013.  Group offers include exclusive Anniversary Menus, AV Discounts, and SPP Bonus points.  For individual guests, packages for three night stays are enhanced with food and beverage gift certificates and discounted parking. More information about these offers is available at www.sheraton.com/neworleans.

Sheraton Social Hour will debut at Sheraton New Orleans on December 6th, when the hotel officially re-opens the newly refurbished Pelican Bar. Travelers and area residents will be invited to enjoy weekly tasting events featuring Wine Spectator 90+ rated wines as well as offerings from Sheraton Selects Premium Wine Menu. 

The highlight of the refurbished lobby at Sheraton New Orleans is the Link@Sheraton® experienced with Microsoft® - the signature social hub where travelers can stay connected with instant access to information and technology for work, leisure and social networking.  This active, yet relaxing space boasts comfortable new seating, new carpeting, lighting, water feature, wireless connectivity and direct access to the hotel’s Starbucks coffee shop and Pelican Bar. Other improvements to the lobby include the recent installation of high-speed efficiency elevators and new revolving doors.  Design of the feature space is intended to mirror the experience of a French Quarter Courtyard with elements of stone and mosaic flooring, authentic gas lanterns, and an all new water feature designed to portray a sugar kettle.

Spectacular views of the Mississippi and the city are available from the hotel’s newly refurbished executive suites on floors 9-49 and Governor’s suites on floors 48-49. All of the hotel’s 1,100 guestrooms and suites have been fully renovated and furnished with an oversized work desk, custom-designed ergonomic chair, high-speed Internet, LCD flat panel television, MP3 docking station and the signature all-white Sheraton Sweet Sleeper® bed, designed to meet AAA’s Five Diamond Award® criteria.  Bathrooms have also been refreshed with new vanities, backlit mirrors and a collage of local artwork. 

 

Another improvement to Sheraton New Orleans is its brand-new Sheraton Club lounge, where club members can enjoy dramatic scenery of the Mississippi River from its floor-to-ceiling windows. In addition to new carpeting, wall coverings, furniture and lighting, the lounge offers upgraded amenities, as well as complimentary breakfast, beverages and evening hors d’oeuvres.

 

The hotel’s recently opened fitness facility has met with rave reviews. Sheraton Fitness programmed by Core Performance™ is the brand’s revolutionary new health and fitness program designed exclusively for Sheraton guests through its partner Core Performance.

 

For more information on Sheraton Hotels & Resorts, please visit www.sheraton.com or www.facebook.com/Sheraton.  Follow Sheraton on Twitter, @SheratonHotels.

 

About Sheraton Hotels & Resorts

Sheraton helps guests make connections at more than 400 hotels in 70 countries around the world and recently completed a $6 billion global revitalization and is now in the midst of a $6 billion global expansion over the next three years. Sheraton is owned by and is the largest and most global brand of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc., one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1,112 properties in nearly 100 countries and 154,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and ElementSM. The Company boasts one of the industry’s leading loyalty programs, Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG), allowing members to earn and redeem points for room stays, room upgrades and flights, with no blackout dates. Starwood also owns Starwood Vacation Ownership, Inc., a premier provider of world-class vacation experiences through villa-style resorts and privileged access to Starwood brands. For more information, please visit www.starwoodhotels.com.

With sunny days, cool evenings and an abundance of the most spectacular Halloween events in Orlando just minutes away, Rosen Centre is the perfect haunt for visitors to “Stop for a Spell” and ex-FEAR-ience a spirited adventure this Halloween.

Guests who “Stop for a Spell” at Rosen Centre will enjoy a beautifully appointed guest room, daily complimentary breakfast for two, complimentary WiFi and more from just $134 a night, plus tax. Just ten minutes from Orlando International Airport, the hotel also will provide complimentary transportation to select area theme parks currently featuring spectacular annual Halloween events and to the most popular shopping, dining and entertainment options, located just minutes away.

The Rosen Centre “Stop for a Spell” package starts at $134/night, double occupancy, not including taxes and is offered through Oct. 31, 2012 (based on availability). The package includes:

  • Breakfast buffet for two daily at the Rosen Centre’s Café Gauguin
  • Two complimentary tickets daily to the I-Ride Trolley (daily on-going service to shopping, dining and entertainment within the International Drive tourist district)
  • Complimentary self parking
  • Complimentary use of the fitness center

The package also includes amenities that are always complimentary at Rosen Centre:

  • Complimentary internet/WIFI in guest rooms and public areas
  • Complimentary daily scheduled transportation to Universal Orlando, SeaWorld Orlando and Aquatica and Wet ‘n Wild (reservations required)

To book the “Stop for a Spell” package, call 800-204-7234 or visit www.rosencentre.com. Package is subject to availability and does not apply to group, meetings or special event business and cannot be combined with any other promotion or offer.

Just ten minutes from the Orlando International Airport and the area’s most popular theme parks and shopping venues, Rosen Centre is located at 9840 International Drive, Orlando, FL 32819. Guests enjoy nine restaurants and lounges including Everglades featuring Florida-themed steak and seafood, Banshoo Sushi, 98Forty Tapas & Tequila, as well as the fitness center featuring state-of-the-art equipment, a heated tropical pool. Rosen Centre has been designated a Two Palm Green Lodge — one of only three in Central Florida and twelve in the state — by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection. For more information, visit www.rosencentre.com or call (800) 800-9840

 According to some reports, traveling businesswomen are not pleased with the fully loaded carbohydrate meals they must choose from when flying. Are businesswomen today really more diet-conscious than ever before? Does the airline industry cater mainly to men like it's still the "Mad Men" era? Is the female demographic being overlooked or ignored? Are you, male or female, unhappy with your inflight meal options? Read the article and let us know what you think!

 

 

Survey results of female business travelers, their experiences with inflight meals, inflight purchasing habits and issues woman travelers face in relation to inflight meal options.



According to an October 25, 2012 report from travelpr.com, 76% of women surveyed fell that airlines are not doing enough to cater to their needs

maiden-voyage.com, the business travel network for professional women and inflightfeed.com (dedicated to highlighting pre order and buy on board airline meals) ran an independent survey among professional women around the world to find out what women really want from airline meals. 

Let's face it, airline meals seem to always get a bad rap and everyone who has ever traveled on an aircraft will have an airline horror meal story. However, what if you're a female traveler? Is the inflight meal experience different for women who travel regularly for business? Apparently so according to our survey results...

Over 100 women (who travel regularly for business or pleasure) were surveyed in relation to their inflight eating habits, special meal requirements, purchasing habits and their favorite airline meals.

Of the women surveyed, 76% stated that meals were either too heavy in carbohydrates or suited more to male consumers. What about those women who travel on low cost or airlines who do not offer free food? Only 20% said that they purchase something on board an aircraft and over 40% of women stated that they pre-plan their meals for their flight. This is a huge opportunity for airlines to improve their buy on board offering further.

Carolyn Pearson, CEO of maiden-voyage.com confirms that "female business travelers are typically are more diet conscious than ever. They are more likely to buy a healthy snack before boarding a flight because they cannot be sure what will be on offer on-board. Airlines could increase their inflight revenues by ensuring that they offer healthy options but also make their passengers aware before they shop elsewhere."

Nikos Loukas from Inflight Feed explains "Airlines tend to look at passenger demographics on each route in order to work out what will be offered on their buy on board menus. Unfortunately in many cases carbohydrate heavy options and unhealthy snacks tend to win."

It's worth noting that many of the survey participants felt that buy on board products were expensive, offering little choice and many times items were already sold out. However it's not all doom and gloom. Mary Kirby-Editor in Chief of the Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) media platform explains that "Virgin America offers some great buy on board options that are healthy, delicious and well-priced. I also love the menu options and wide variety that is available on FlyDubai."

The Winners

Of the airlines mentioned in the survey Asian carriers such as Malaysia Airlines, Singapore Airlines and Korean Air fared very well with their inflight meal offerings. However it was two UK airlines that ranked well and it found that 20% of respondents ranked Virgin Atlantic airline food suitable to their needs and 14% stated that British Airways was their favorite. Of the low cost airlines easyJet was recognized as being the leader in buy on board snack options for women. 

TIPS

Sometimes it's about where you sit!

If you happen to be flying low cost, didn't prepare your snacks and didn't have time to purchase anything in the airport what can you do? "Sit closer to the front of the aircraft" says Loukas, most inflight services commence at the front of the aircraft and move towards the rear of the aircraft. "You really have no hope in getting your first choice if you're sitting close to the back of the aircraft" 

Pre-Order

The survey results revealed that only 10% of respondents have paid to "upgrade" their meal, with 41% stating that they would pay an extra $10 to upgrade their meals. Pre-order meal options on airlines are on the increase, passengers can now purchase a business class style of meal whilst sitting in economy class. These meals are certainly a class above those generally dished out to economy class passengers therefore if you want to indulge or have a culinary inflight dining experience, pay to upgrade your meal! Some of the airlines offering upgrade options include: KLM, Air France, Delta Airlines, US Airways, Air Berlin, Sun Express, Austrian Airlines, Monarch, and Jet2. 

Order the special meal

Many people these days are ordering special meals even if they do not follow a strict diet or lifestyle choice diet. A savvy 56% of female travelers' surveyed pre-ordered a special meal in the hope of receiving something that is more palatable, and it's worth noting that those ordering a special meal are served first.

Do a bit of research

Some airlines are really trying hard to impress us with amazing inflight meal options. Do a bit of research before you travel you may actually be surprised at what's on offer. Skywork airlines in Switzerland will serve you a meal based on the destination you are flying to, very creative indeed and a lovely experience. Therefore, if you're flying from the UK to Switzerland they will serve you a local Swiss dish option. Flying to Italy? Expect an Italian inspired dish to get your trip started before you even arrive.

Kullaflyg (A Swedish based airline) offers only organic inflight meals to passengers, everything is sourced from local producers and created fresh daily. Unlike other airlines Kullaflyg offers their organic inflight range to passengers in economy class. Their breakfast options consist of a choice of sandwiches made from locally freshly baked bread or Greek yogurt with homemade muesli. If those dishes don't tickle your fancy you can also choose from a wide range of organic egg options which are served with caviar cream. 

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 19:37

When Travel Gets Tiring

Hello again!

As discussed in my first post, people who travel often can start to focus on the hassles of traveling instead of the excitement and joy it can bring. After a while, constant travelers would rather be at home enjoying the stability of not having anywhere to go. Quotes from the film The Accidental Tourist elaborate:

"While armchair travelers dream of going places, traveling armchairs dream of staying put."

The fact is that sometimes traveling is just plain tiring.

"Oh, travel...it's just red tape, mostly, ticket lines, customs lines..."

We have to deal with post-9/11 security measures, some of which are Big Brother-esque, like the TSA body scanners. We can't bring drinks onto planes unless we spent money on them after having gone through security. Then there's the lack of leg room, dry air, airborne illnesses, crying babies, small talk, and disappointing meal and entertainment options on international flights. We have to wait in seemingly endless lines at customs in foreign countries - it once took me two hours to clear customs at Heathrow! It was the holidays... We have to arrange for transportation to and from airports and train stations that isn't always reliable - I once waited from 11:30pm to 1:15am for a hotel shuttle to pick me up in Toronto. We have to deal with jet lag, unfamiliar beds and sub-standard lodging conditions, and unhelpful staff once we've finally reached our destinations. And if there's a language barrier, well, good luck. We have to exchange our money for theirs and try to work out the exchange rates in our heads...

Sometimes traveling presents more hassles than enjoyment. When this occurs, how do we avoid the fatigue that follows?

1. Take everything with a grain of salt. Remember that most people on the planet don't have the opportunities that you do. Remember that tomorrow is a new day and you can start fresh. Remember that missing your plane is really a minuscule problem compared to the child in the Ukraine who's growing up malnourished in a dilapidated orphanage. Don't lose your perspective.

2. Remember your purpose and celebrate the small victories. Are you there to have fun? Then focus on the great memories and look for ways to laugh at the crap you're dealing with. Are you there to work? Then celebrate your productivity. If you accomplished your work or leisure goals, you followed your purpose for taking the trip to begin with. Don't let the negative stuff take that away from you.

3. When life gives you lemons, make lemonade! So you missed your flight. Bad day. But hey, now you have a chance to go to that museum or beach or theme park you didn't have time for! Or you could sleep, get some work done, skype people you haven't spoken to in a while, catch up on your favorite TV shows.... the possibilities are endless! I know, I know, sometimes you just want to be home already! Trust me, I've been there. It's in that state of mind when you have to refer to numbers 1, 2, 4 & 5.

4. Hassles come with the territory. You can't escape the airport security. You can't escape the exorbitant food and beverage prices. You can't count on other people to live on your schedule, and you can't count on a perfect night's sleep. You can't count on beating traffic or the crowds, and you can't count on your experiences living up to your expectations. Sometimes, life happens. But you'll be able to take the knowledge you gained from a bad experience and apply it to your next trip. Next time, you'll be more prepared, or at least you'll be less shocked.

5. The one thing you can count on is the fact that your trip will end. The good stuff will be over, and you'll wish it wasn't. The bad stuff will be over, and you'll be glad it is. Either way, stay positive and make the most of your time away from home!

Check out some websites for tips on how to slow down, get more sleep and avoid jet lag:

http://www.seeknewtravel.com/can-you-get-tired-of-travel/

http://www.independenttraveler.com/travel-tips/travelers-ed/10-ways-to-survive-a-long-haul-flight

http://www.ehow.com/jet-lag/

http://inspiringtravellers.com/2011/04/18/tired-travel-sleep/

"It's mystifying why all hotels throughout the world choose only the most abrasive fabrics for their bedspreads."

In the film The Accidental Tourist, a travel guide book author mentions something nearly everyone in the industrialized world knows about - the hotel bedspread.

Even the occasional traveler knows about hotel bedspreads. They're rough on your skin, ugly in color and pattern; They're mentioned in movies, TV shows, and books, and your parents probably told you not to play on them when you were a kid. Germaphobe or not, you've probably been concerned about a lack of cleanliness in a hotel room at least once. No one's excited about sleeping on stained sheets or using sticky remotes or showering in a moldy bathroom.

Now, personally, I don't worry all that much about dirty bedspreads - it's a fact of life to me that you'll never really know if they've been washed or what previous occupants have done in (and to) your room. I don't sleep on top of the bedspread, just in case, but I don't rip it off the bed and stick it in a corner, either. If a bedspread was stained or smelly, however, I'd probably stuff it in the closet, but I don't recall ever coming across one that bad in 15 years of travel.

Ok, so you've got kids or are prone to illness or you actually believe cleanliness is next to Godliness - that's fine. Travel expert Peter Greenberg, says on Oprah.com, "Now, in most hotels, you can assume that the sheets and blankets have been washed. But what about that bedspread? Every time I enter a hotel room, I do not stop; I grab that bedspread and toss it into a corner. Then I never look at it or think about touching it again! (Read the article here)" Another option, according to Liz and Jay Fleming of TheStar.com, is to bring your own bedspread/comforter (see their recommendation here) with you when you travel.

Aside from purchasing a black light and seriously psyching yourself out, here are some tips to ensure your hotel room is up to your cleanliness standards, from Good Morning America & ABCNews.com (Video below!):

  1. To avoid potential contamination, keep personal belongings off the bedspread, including your luggage. (Don't put luggage on your bed when you return home, either - you don't want to contaminate your bed if you picked something up on your travels)
  2. The first thing you do when you enter the room - inspect it. Don't unpack or relax until you know you won't find any surprises throughout your stay.
  3. Remove bedspread from bed. You can ask the front desk for more blankets if necessary.
  4. Check for bedbugs. Although the bugs themselves are small, you will be able to see evidence of their presence. Look through the sheets, pull back the sheets and check the baseboards and the creases in the mattress - rust-colored stains, dark-colored debris or residue could mean bedbugs!
  5. Bring a small packet of sanitizing wipes for the television remote, door knobs, telephone, etc.
  6. Wash your hands and use hand sanitizer sparingly to avoid picking up germs.
  7. Check travel websites and reviews to give you a heads-up about what other travelers are saying about your lodging.

You can read the full article and watch their videos here.

See other websites's tips for What Not to Do at Your Hotel and How to Find a Clean Hotel Room

Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 19:30

In Bruges, Act Like a Local

Bruges is beautiful. It's small, but there's a lot to see and do. I spent my first day wandering around the city, letting my feet take me where they would. After having explored so many European cities, I  wasn't concerned much about getting lost. A map in my purse added to my peace of mind... But I knew Bruges was small and surrounded by a large canal, so I would be aware if I reached the outskirts of the city. Bruges is a proper tourist city, but it has managed to keep its small-town charm with the locals in mind rather than existing for the tourist.

 

Fun fact: Tourism in Bruges has increased 10% since 2008 when the film In Bruges was released.

 

My hostel was amazing, and I was given a cool "tourist" map of the city when I arrived. The map told me that I shouldn't use the map, but that I should try to "Act Like a Local" because "Yeah, yeah, we know, Bruges is like a romantic movie: full of lovely canals, swans, medieval houses and pretty churches. But wake up: it's a place where people live and we don't drive in horse carriages. Time to start acting like a local!" Oh, and give them a break on the spelling and grammatical errors - English isn't their first language.

 

How to Act Like a Local according to the "Use It free map of Bruges for Young Travellers"

 

1. Throw away this map: it's much more fun to get lost in the little medieval streets of Bruges without knowing where you're going.

2. There's only 20,000 people living within the old city walls. that means that on really busy days, there's more tourists here than locals. So stop asking us the way to the Belfry. Just look up, and you'll probably see it. If you want to know the way to Chocostory (Chocolate museum), Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk (Church of Our Lady where Michelangelo's 'Madonna with Child' is housed) or Begijnhof (Nunnery), ask the guys driving the horse carriages or the tourist boats: they get paid for it.

3. Use your bicycle to run over tourists. It's what we do as well. Kamikaze bicycles are for rent all over town.

4. If you don't want to die on your bicycle: watch out for those horse-carriages. Most horses don't know the traffic rules.

5. If someone from another city - Ghent for example - claims to be 'more authentic' than Bruges smile and walk away. They're jealous.

6. West-Flemish, the dialect in Bruges, is the most powerful dialect around. To summarize it: just pronounce only half of the sounds. For example, "pannenkoeken met chocolade" should be pronounced as "pannekoe'e me cho'ola". Ask help from any real local.

7. Invite us for a beer: "Hoa je mee e pint'che schell'n?" (literally: "Let's go peel a beer") Ask a local for the exact pronunciation. No one else in Belgium will understand you.

8. Never steal a Belgian beer glass. It's annoying, and only tourists do it.

9. The local symbol of Bruges is a bear. Nobody cares. But incidentally, the word "bear" is also used for everything that is good. Try the pronunciation of "berecool", "beresjiek" and "eht bere joene" with a local.

10. Take a chill pill. The Bruges population is really relaxed. The best place to enjoy life horizontally is in our pretty parks.

11. Always complain that Bruges is dead. There is no graffiti, no skating, no good shopping area, and there is no decent music club in the city center. (Ithaca's European cousin?)

12. If somebody else complains about the same things, shout "kerel, oed je mulle!" (= shut up) and say that it's not true. There are lots of great bars! Great music scene! Great young people!

13. Drinking in public places is allowed in Belgium. So feel free to buy a beer from the nightshop and pick your view on a nice-looking canal or in one of our pretty parks. However, the sale of alcohol in Bruges' nightshops is forbidden between 23:00 and 7:00 from May till September. The city council says it's because of too much drunk tourists, but the bar owners just think of it as good business.

14. Women's rights are important. Guys buy rounds of beer, and so do the girls. Make sure to always ask what your friends would like to drink, or you will end up tipsy but lonely.

15. Choose the right football team. Usually Club Brugge (blue and black) is the better team and Cercle Brugge (green and black) is the proud underdog. But over the last years things aren't as clear anymore. Cercle had some really successful years, and Club hasn't won national championships since 2005. But basically, both of them sucked, the last year.

16. Don't believe the Swiss - we have the best chocolates in the world. However, most young Belgians just buy big bars from the supermarket. We only eat the top-quality small ones (called pralines) when we visit our sick grandmother or something. If you have the money for souvenirs, go ahead and give us one too please!

17. Hide this map. Some of the places mentioned here are really the last hidden secrets in Bruges, and we like to keep them that way. So pretend that you're a local (by saying only 'bere' for example) when you visit spots like the De Kalvarieberg (football bar), Medard (cheap pasta and waffles) or Cafe Vlissinghe (the oldest bar in Bruges).

Questions to piss off the locals:

*Oooh, I know this tower! It was built for the movie 'In Bruges', wasn't it?

*When does Bruges close?

*Where is McDonald's?

*Why is no one wearing their lace uniform?

 

I visited most of the tourist hotspots and recommended places on the map. My second day, I did an In Bruges walking tour with a local eccentric and South American tourists. It was fun and interesting, and even though we visited most of the places I had come across on my own the previous day, it helped me get to know the town even better. After the tour, I hung out with the guys from Uruguay and Argentina, climbing the belfry, having lunch, visiting the nunnery and getting lost on our way to the old city gate - we actually ended up outside the city! But I knew my way around by that point and navigated us back into the safety of the city where I was nearly run over and given the death stare by a cycling local.

 

The country of Belgium seems to be split by culture bound by language - If Belgium were to be dissolved between France and the Netherlands, French-speaking Belgians would prefer to join France, and Flemish-speaking Belgians (Bruges) would rather join Holland. It adds to an interesting culture.

Wednesday, 31 October 2012 19:16

Catch a Broadway Show for Less - Guest Blog!

 

In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, everyone's in a New York state of mind - at least, all the news sources seem to be. Pictures and videos of flooded subways, empty streets, destroyed homes and submerged vehicles suggest you probably don't want to be visiting Times Square anytime soon. But isn't New York City the greatest city on Earth? NYC will certainly recover from this natural disaster, and you can do your part to help.

One way is to donate to the Red Cross.

Another way is to boost the city's economy with your tourism. When the water recedes and life returns to normal in the Big Apple, you may be inclined to pay a visit to America's most populous city. When you do, Broadway will be waiting with open arms, strong voices, and flamboyant costumes. And even though you'll want to support the local economy, you'll probably be on a budget.

So here's what our first guest blogger, Andrea Woroch, advises:

There are two things you absolutely must do when visiting New York City: go shopping and take in some live theater. Unfortunately, both experiences be fairly expensive. While you can always window shop to save money, tickets for Broadway Shows can put a severe strain on your travel budget.

Happily, there are several tips and tricks that can land you a seat without too much financial damage. Here's a sampling.

1. Hit Up the TKTS Booth
This booth is located in Times Square and sells tickets for 25-percent to 50-percent off the face value. It takes a bit of planning, but it's well worth the savings. Besides, you were going to visit Times Square anyway, weren't you?

2. Wait Until The Morning of the Show
Many theaters reserve some excellent up-front tickets for sale early in the day of the performance. Check what time these tickets go on sale, then arrive about an hour early to stand in line. Keep in mind the line grows shorter the longer the play is into its run. This doesn't hold true, however, for extremely long-running shows, like "Cats" and "The Lion King."

3. Check Online for Tickets
You may be able to bypass that queue on the morning of the show by looking online first. Broadway.com posts last-minute deals on the day of the performance starting at 10:30am EST. Requests are accepted until 4:30pm EST and can land you 25-percent off popular shows like Wicked.

4. Take Time in the Middle of the Day
As with movie tickets, tickets for matinee shows are offered at cheaper prices.

5. Attend Broadway on Broadway
Go for free with the annual outdoor Broadway on Broadway Concert Series, being held this year on Sept. 9.

6. Stand Up
Head to the box office for standing-room-only tickets. Your feet might get sore during the show, but you may end up paying as little as $25 per ticket.

7. Avoid the Great White Way
Forget the big-time shows and take-in an off-Broadway production. The tickets are much cheaper and you'll find some excellent productions. Plus, many Broadway shows go off-Broadway after their debut so you can catch those popular shows for less. Also know that many popular shows tour the nation, so you can catch an award-winning production and avoid the hassle and cost of a trip to the Big Apple. Check with your local performing arts center or visit the Broadway show's official website for tour details.

8. Use Gift Cards
Ticketmaster offers discount gift cards through such websites as GiftCardGranny.com. With gift cards, you can purchase tickets from the comfort of your home and still save.

9. Check Out a Preview
Usually, attending a preview show is as good as hitting a production during its standard run. You'll save on tickets and get a jump on the crowds.

10. Use Your Student I.D.
Save on last-minute (aka "rush") tickets by using your student I.D.

11. Attend Kids Night
Kids Night on Broadway offers free admission for children ages 6 to 18, with one full-paying adult in attendance. This event only happens once a year, so make sure you check the website for the scheduled date.

12. Watch for Daily Deals
Keep an eye on discounted gift certificates to various shows on Groupon, Living Social and Dealery.

13. Register for Special Deals
Theater Mania Insider offers an e-newsletter that allows you to check out user reviews, keep up with the latest shows, and take advantage of special discounts. A Playbill Club membership also offers special promotions.

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Andrea Woroch is a nationally-recognized consumer and money-saving expert who helps consumers live on less without radically changing their lifestyles. From smart spending tips to personal finance advice, Andrea transforms everyday consumers into savvy shoppers. She has been featured among top news outlets such as Good Morning America, NBC's Today, MSNBC, New York Times, Kiplinger Personal Finance, CNNMoney and many more. You can follow her on Twitter for daily savings advice and tips.

For all media inquiries, please contact Andrea Woroch at 970-672-6085 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

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