Monday, June 26, 2017

Stuck in an Airport?

Want to avoid airport delays? Who doesn’t.

Regarding delays, AARP looked at the top 50 airports in the US. Here are some of the findings.
For summer travel, Newark Liberty International in New Jersey was the worst for delays in the summer months. Others included LaGuardia in New York, San Francisco International, JFK in New York, Logan in Boston, O’Hare in Chicago, Philadelphia International, Miami, Ronald Reagan in DC, and John Glenn Columbus International in Ohio.
Planning on traveling through any of those this summer?

How about the best for on-time arrivals?
Kahului and Honolulu International, Salt Lake City International, John Wayne in Orange County CA, Phoenix Sky Harbor, Portland International in Oregon, Seattle-Tacoma International, San Jose, MSP in Minneapolis, and McCarran International in Vegas are your best bets.
The data used? Arrival data opposed to departure data was used because a late departure can still mean an on-time arrival if the pilot can make up the time in the air.
Happy flying…

Thursday, June 22, 2017

TSA Screening Updates

Traveling this summer may be a little different as you go through security. You may be required to remove your Kindle, paperback book, food, and any other tech items larger than a cell phone from your carry-on bag. This new procedure is being tested at 10 airports, reports the TSA.
Why? Several reasons. Passengers are cramming more and more stuff into their carry-on bags and backpacks. This tight packing makes it harder for the agents to properly screen the bags. Therefore, more bags have to be hand screened. This all takes time to ensure proper screening.
The airports where this is being tested are Boise, Colorado Springs, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Boston, LA, Lubbock, San Juan, Las Vegas, and Phoenix.
You will need to remove those items and place them in a bin. Passengers with TSA pre-check may be exempt.
According to the TSA, this should shorten time in the security line as not as many bags will be hand inspected.

Monday, June 19, 2017

La Cave Des Climats

The Cave des Climats is located at 35 rue de Verneuil in Paris’ 7th Arrondissements.

With an abundant cellar of wines to choose from, tastings, and food to compliment, this is a spot to gather to taste some new and different wines, or to linger with friends as charcuterie becomes dinner.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Upper Lake...Eat, Drink, Relax

We all look for different things when we travel. Relaxation, unwinding, and some pampering? Cruising on a lake? 

Maybe tasting award-winning wines is on your list. Or, looking out the window at some olive trees while trying scrumptious oils made from the olives on those trees.

Maybe you don’t want to plan out too much…just get away and have a great time! If any of these seem like an ideal way to spend a week end or longer…head to Lake County in northern California.

First, think about where you want to stay. The Tallman Hotel in Upper Lake is definitely high on my list. Completely restored, its wide verandas and welcoming garden beckon you to take a deep breath, grab a glass of something refreshing, and relax. If that doesn’t do it, wait until you see your room. All 17 guest rooms have custom-designed furnishings and amenities to please. Some include fully restored period and antique bathroom plumbing fixtures, some have private patios with Japanese Ofuro soaking tubs, and some are spacious suites. We opted for a room with the soaking tub…and we were rejuvenated as we lounged in the tub. What a way to start or end your day!

If you’re into history, talk to the owners. Bernie and Lynne purchased the hotel, which was originally built in the 1870s. Not only had it sat vacant for over 40 years, but it survived at least one fire, different owners, and was in serious disrepair. It’s not that way now.

The charm of the Old West architecture combined with the comforts you’d find in many upscale hotels makes this hotel unique and a destination spot.  Want dinner or drinks? Head next door to the Blue Wing Saloon with its casual California fare, signature cocktails, craft beers, wine, and entertainment.

If you’re ready to explore the area, grab a map of the wineries and decide where to go first. Boatique Winery combines the owners’ two passions…high-quality wines and rare, antique boats.  Set at 2266 feet, amidst alpine and oak forests, and in the shadow of Mt. Konocti, you’ll gaze out over 47 acres of rolling vineyards. In this Red Hills Appellation, Malbec, Petite Sirah, Cab, Petite Verdot, and Sauvignon Blanc thrive. Ahhh…great tastes.

Chacewater Winery and Olive Mill is another place you don’t want to miss. Family owned, they produce award-winning wines and olive oils. Listen to their story, taste the wines, learn about different olive oils, and soak up the sun on their property and you’ll never want to leave.

If spending a day on the lake is what you’re looking for, you can hire a guide or rent a boat. Our guide showed us around the lake, pointing out dozens of different birds as we neared the shore. Apparently, birders from all over the world come here at different times of the year just to see the birds. Since the lake is large in area, with plenty of shoreline and grassy areas to nest, it is on a flight path for many different types of birds.

The best part…you feel like you’ve entered a magical place and time. Put it on your list to visit. You’ll be glad you did. And, you’ll probably be making plans to return.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Cite du Vin

La Cité du Vin in Bordeaux, France, proudly marks its first birthday having welcomed 425,000 visitors from 150 countries.

The official press release gives information here:

As well as the permanent tour, the rich cultural programme offered throughout the year by the Fondation pour la culture et les civilisations du vin (Fondation CCV) which operates La Cité du Vin has also enjoyed great success, in particular the first temporary exhibition Bistro! From Baudelaire to Picasso from 17 March to 21 June, which welcomed 31,500 paying visitors up to the end of May. La Cité du Vin has therefore established itself in the local and national cultural landscape to become a place where Bordeaux comes to life. With foreigners making up 27% of tourist visitors, La Cité du Vin has also demonstrated that it enjoys an international reputation. In addition, a quarterly barometer has shown that visitors have been extremely satisfied.

Recently I was one of those 27% tourist visitors.

Stepping foot inside, my first impression is that this could be overwhelming. With over 3,000 square feet of information, exhibits, and short films…that’s a definite possibility.

Vineyards around the world are highlighted and explored. Wine history through the ages, the metamorphoses of wine, terrior and what it is, Bacchus and Venus, food and drink, and the city of Bordeaux are all a part of this museum.

Then, there was my favorite part…The 5 Senses Buffet. Hundreds of glass jars, each containing a different scent, filled an entire room. Each jar had a bulb-like device you could squeeze, which delivered that scent through a tube. Smell it and try to figure out what it was. Your audio device or a small screen near each jar, gave you hints, questions, and finally the answer. How did I do? Remarkedly well. There were a few that I knew, but couldn’t quite place. Then, there were ones where I had no idea…old books, aged linen, old flowers.

It proves everyone can enjoy wine…from the first smell to the taste. Fun!

We spent several hours there and could have spent more time. This is not some boring museum…even if you aren’t a wine connoisseur.

But, really…you are in Bordeaux, France!     

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Review...Travel Purse

For those of you who travel with a purse, what do you look for in the ideal purse?

Should it be roomy enough to carry guide books, a camera, or a small notebook? Or small enough for only the basics? Does RIFD protection (radio frequency identification) matter to you? Would you like it to be a cross-body bag?

How about anti-theft?

For me, I look for many of those features.

While it doesn’t need to carry my camera, I want it large enough to carry a small notebook, my wallet, phone, and other essentials. Even though my wallet is RFID protected, I think it’s still a good idea for my purse as well. Sure, I could add a piece of foil…but this way I don’t have to. And, the entire purse is protected.

At the same time, I don’t want to carry a large purse. I certainly don’t want one where everything falls to the bottom and I have to dig through it to find anything. I want organization when I travel.

I want to be able to wipe it off if something gets spilled on it, without it staining the fabric. Yet, I want it to look classy enough when I wander the streets of Paris by day and when I go out to eat in the evening. When I’m traveling…I take only one purse.

For me, it should have ‘feet’ or something on the bottom, so it doesn’t sit on the floor if I need to place it there. The shoulder strap should be comfortable, yet not easy for a would-be thief to cut it and grab it off my shoulder.
Recently, I found one that I thought had all of those features.

Arden Cove is a brand founded by two sisters born in San Francisco. They put their heads together to come up with a purse and other bags that are functional, durable, and stylish. Their anti-theft waterproof crossbody bag is the one I tried for a couple of recent trips.

This purse had almost all my requirements. I’ll use it on the next trip.

Check it out at

Monday, June 5, 2017

Gratuity Guide

Many travel books and websites offer gratuity guides. While they’re not all exactly the same, most don’t vary much.

These are recommendations some taken from a variety of sources.

Hotel Shuttle Driver: $1 to $2 per person or $5 per party

Valet: $1 to $5

Bellstaff or Porters: $1 to $5 per bag, especially if you have heavy bags

Concierge: Varies, depending how involved or how much you ask for

Housekeeping: $1 to $5 per day

Room Service: Check to see if it is already added. If not, add 15 to 20%

Waitstaff: Check to see if it is already added. If not, add 15 to 20%

What do you tip? Does it vary from trip to trip or do you try to keep it the same? Are there times when you don’t tip, based on poor service?