Thursday, April 30, 2015

Travels: Wash Your Clothes

Do you know how to wash your clothes in a sink when traveling? If not, it would be a good idea to practice at home. Why practice when all it is is water and a little soap?

Because...first, you'll know how much soap you need. It's probably not as much as you think. Second, you'll know how long it takes for that shirt or pair of pants to dry. Who wants to put on a wet pair of underwear or pants? And, you'll know if your favorite shirt wrinkles like a shar-pei or if it looks presentable.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Travels: Souvenirs

When you travel, do you look for souvenirs to bring home or look for that special piece to bring back to your house sitter? Where do you look?

I realize tourist stands and trinkets are everywhere, but I want something special..something unique. Where do I find it?

One place I look is the local grocery store. Yep...the grocery store. For one thing, it's a great place to get an overview of the local culture pretty quickly. You can see what is popular here compared to at home, you can find cheaper snacks, and you see some pretty interesting branding. You might know what the container is supposed to say at home. Even written in a different language than you're used to, it's fun to see what is on the label.

Another thing to find is kitchen utensils. Check out what gets used in this country compared to what you use. Small utensils make great gifts for friends that like to cook.

Many grocery stores have gifts and cards as well. Check them out...

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Travels: Spontaneous Travel

Recently I read about some new apps you can use to book your entire trip shortly before you go somewhere. Check these out. I haven't tried any because I usually book a lot further in advance. But, they just may work!

The website Adioso lets you browse fares from your departure city to anywhere in the world and sort by price. With Kayak's Explore app you can look at airfares on a global map to see how far your money can take you. This app, Get They Flight Out, puts the cheapest day of fares from Orbitz, Travelocity, and others on an easy to scan interface.

I also read about the site,, which sells heavily discounted packages. Apparently you can join the site for $50 and save even more money. Not sure...haven't tried it.

If you've tried these or any others, let me know how they worked.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Travels: Planes

Have you ever thought about checking to see what type of airplane you will be flying in? How about seat configuration or seat location? Want to know if the plane is noisy or smooth?

Here are some things to think about, especially if your flight is a long one.

Noise...takeoffs are usually noisy anywhere in the plane. Get to cruising altitude and the noise you hear is not from the engines, but from the turbulent airflow around the cabin. Rear mounted engines, however, produce the most noise. But, rear seats in a plane with wing mounted engines will typically be the noisiest. And, of course, newer planes with newer engines will be less noisy.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Travels: Cheap Travel

Is there such a thing as cheap travel these days?

That depends on how you travel. Check out these tips to see if any help you save a few dollars on your next trip.

Did you know there is a 24 hour booking window for flights? Let's say you've booked a flight and you come across a cheaper one in a couple of hours. Make use of the 24 hour window and cancel the first one.

That window gets larger when booking rental cars and hotels. Most rental cars are totally refundable up to the day of picking up the car. It would be a good idea to check their policy when booking.

As for hotels, ask what their refund policy is when you book the hotel. Some sites will tell you what their policy is...but always ask when booking directly through the hotel.

Want cheaper fares, rooms, etc.? Travel in off peak or shoulder season. If summer is the busiest, most traveled time...think about going in spring, fall, or winter.

Walk. Get an idea of where you want to go, have a map or an app, or just set out to wander the city. Walking is cheaper than taxis and public transportation.

Think about renting an apartment or vacation home instead of staying in hotels. Many times the price is a whole lot cheaper. You can also eat some meals in...stop and get pastries and fruit to have with your coffee for breakfast. Most times you can do laundry in the apartment, which means you can travel lighter. Ask if they have any specials or perks when renting. The vacation home we rented in Monterey comes with passes to the aquarium, saving us some money.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Travels: Check Out This Event

Agatha Christie’s Courtroom Drama
 May 1- 2, 8-10, 15-17, 2015
​ Wells Fargo Center for the Arts
50 Mark West Springs Road, Santa Rosa, CA

A young man accused of an elderly woman’s death has only one alibi: his wife. Will that help or hurt his defense?  Witness for the Prosecution, a drama based upon one of best-selling crime writer Agatha Christie’s short stories will be performed by North Bay Stage Company at the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts East Auditorium in Santa Rosa. Show times for this three week engagement are May 1, 2, 8, 9, 10, 15, 16, 17.

Published originally as Traitor Hands (Flynn’s Weekly, UK) in January 1925, it reached America in 1948 in the collection The Witness for the Prosecution and Other Stories.

“The twists and turns of the plot keep the audience in suspense and provide challenging roles for the actors,” says John DeGaetano, artistic director for North Bay Stage Company, a resident company of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts.  

The cast includes Frances Rennie, Laura Davies, Len Auclair, Len Improta, Marcia Schwartz, Margaret Griffin, Margie Loesch, Matt Witthaus, Rebecca Allington, Robert Zelenka, Sam Cardenas, Stephen Cannon, and Tim Shippey. Crew includes stage manager Becky West, costumes by Jamie Smith and set design by Darius Hamilton-Smith.

According to DeGaetano a courtroom drama production of this nature,  produced by Kathy Taylor and directed by Carl Hamilton “hasn’t been done for quite some time in our area.”

North Bay Stage Company is a resident theatre company of Wells Fargo Center for the Arts. Upcoming productions the 2015 Grand Gala June 18thLes Miserables in-Concert June 30 andWest Side Story July 17 through August 2. For details:

Witness for the Prosecution show dates are May 1, 2, 8, 9, 10*, 15, 16, 17*, 2015 (8pm, or *Sunday Matinees 2pm). Tickets are $26 and can be purchased at , by phone at 707-546-3600 and at WFCA box office (open 7 days, noon to 6pm.)

Monday, April 20, 2015

Travels: Raise Your Glass and Toast

Did you ever think how the custom of raising your glass and toasting another person came about? Or do you just hold up your glass and say 'cheers' or 'salute' or some other phrase or word?

Here are some things, some etiquette, and some strange facts I read from a couple of other posts...

Toasting apparently came from the Latin word tostus, which means parched or roasted. The Roman custom was to throw a piece of charred and spiced bread into the vessel of wine to improve the taste of the wine. Hmmm...

At a party, the host or hostess is supposed to be the first one to toast the guest of honor. If, of course, there is a guest of honor.

If you are the guest of honor, you aren't supposed to drink to yourself.

When you toast another person, always look them in the eye. Otherwise you might gain seven years of bad luck.

Since I'm of Norwegian heritage I thought maybe I'd learn why the Scandinavians say skol when toasting. Apparently, it comes from the word for skull. And, at one time that was a popular drinking vessel. Yuk...

The Greeks would have the host drink from the communal pitcher first to show it was good wine.

Clinking glasses means scaring away evil spirits, according to some legends. Others say it is to offer a personal touch.

Use the best wine for toasting...when everyone still can taste the quality.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

Travels: Pay Versus Wait

If you're traveling to Paris and want to visit the newly reopened Musee Picasso Paris, be prepared to wait at least an hour to get in.

Don't want to wait that long...yet you really want to see it? Think about becoming a member online ahead of time. It's more expensive. The daily admission is only $12 USD and the membership is $34 USD. But, if time is important to you or if you only have a few days and don't want to spend precious time in line, it might be worth it. You won't have to stand in the queue. Since your membership is good for a year, you can always go back and visit again.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Travels: Overpacking Solutions

Pack for the worst case scenario? Pack in case the weather turns bad? What if you run out of clothes? What if you need all your gadgets?

With a little pre-planning, this doesn't have to be you. Check the weather report and look at weather on the Internet before you pack. Sure, it doesn't hurt to throw in an umbrella if rain might happen in May in Paris. Or, you could buy one on the street. If the weather forecast for Rome in June is high could probably only pack one long sleeved shirt or light jacket. No need to have two sweatshirts, a long sleeved fleece, and a jacket.

What if you get somewhere and you find you really do need something you left at home? There's a good chance you can find a shop and buy whatever it is you need.

Laundry issues? Pack a small bag of laundry soap or use your hair shampoo and wash out some clothes in the hotel sink. Or, check before you rent a vacation home or apartment to see if there is a washer. Pack clothes that wash and dry easily.

As for gadgets, we are all addicted to our favorite ones. They can be useful when traveling. Check the website of the hotel or vacation home to see what they have included. You may not need to bring your hair dryer, chargers, adapters, or converters.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Travels: Overpacking

Do any of these sound like you?

I must plan for the worst case scenario.

I must take all types of clothes in case the weather changes.

I must take plenty of clothes in case things get dirty.

I must take all my gadgets.

I don't have time to plan, so I must take everything.

If you answered YES to any of the next post to see what you can do.

Friday, April 10, 2015

Travels: Drinking the Water

You may have heard from me on this blog or from another travel site about drinking water in countries where you wonder if it's safe.

If so, you already know that if you have any's best not to drink it. Therefore, it's also best not to have ice cubes in your drinks or eat foods that are soaked in water. Keep your mouth closed when you shower and use bottled water when you brush your teeth. Have trouble keeping your mouth closed when you shower? Try this trick...

Cover your lips with lip balm before you shower. This will help repel water from your lips. Put some mouthwash in your mouth before you shower. The alcohol in the mouthwash will help counteract any water that accidentally makes it past your lips. No mouthwash? Try a sip of tequila!

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Travels: Security Lines at the Airport

When you're approaching the security line at the airport are you all prepared with your ID and boarding pass ready, your shoes easy to remove, the bag with any liquids handy, your computer case unzipped and ready to place in a separate bin, and your jacket already removed?

Or, do you fumble around with everything at the last minute?

Recently, I watched a couple in the line next to me create a mess for security and the people in line behind them. I'm not sure if they don't travel much or what...but it was painful to watch. And, I can't even imagine being behind someone like that. It's so much easier for everyone, including yourself, if you do a little pre-planning and getting ready. Security is the same at all airports.

Thank goodness I only had to watch from a distance! Since I am a member of the trusted traveler program, I go through the TSA Pre line where everything is easier. That works for me.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Travels: Interacting with the Locals

Do you frequent the bars, coffee shops, or restaurants recommended by a guide book? Or, do you seek out the places where the locals go for their morning coffee?

If you're in a local spot, ask questions. Where is the best place for lunch? Do they have any tips for visiting an interesting part of the city?

Who may find things you didn't know existed.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Travels: Be Prepared

Do you have a travel bag with essentials packed and ready to go? If you travel very much, it's a good idea.

While I use a packing list, I also have my essentials already in a bag and ready to throw in my suitcase. I refill any containers that may be getting empty after I get home from the last trip.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Travels: Flight Tracking Apps

When traveling, do you use flight tracking apps? If so, which ones work well for you? Do you pay for ones or use the free version?

Or, do you sign up for alerts from the airline? Whatever you choice, it's a good idea to find at least one that works for you.

Letting you know about flight delays, cancellations, gate changes, when you can check in online, and more are all ways to help keep your travel running smoothly.

Travels: Sausalito, California

Great day in Sausalito, California...