Saint Michael’s, Maryland

The Inn at Perry Cabin a beautiful hotel located about 80 miles from Washington DC. It’s a perfect weekend retreat especially since we can bring our dog with us. 

A very dog friendly hotel

The main. hotel

The dog menu

A happy customer

A terrific view

Beautiful Prague

Prague in April was beautiful. It was my third visit so it was much easier getting around. The weather was fantastic about 65 degrees or (18 Celsius).  It was perfect walking weather and Prague is definitely a walking city.  

One of the great things about Prague is that’s it’s still cheap compared to the rest of Europe. A delicious three course lunch with a glass of wine at the Four Seasons was only $18.  And beer is cheaper than water.  

Some photos from my walks

                               

March Visit to Cologne, Germany

In March we had the opportunity to drive to Cologne from Dusseldorf.  It’s about 45 minutes south and a very nice drive on the autobahn.   The Cathedral can be seen from nearly every point in the city center and from many places elsewhere: The magnificent Cologne Cathedral hovers above the roofs and chimneys of the city. Once we reached Cologne it is very easy to find parking by the Cathedral (Kölner Dom). 

Construction started in 1248 but was not finished until 1880.  In 1996 it became a UNESCO Heritage Site.  The stained glass windows have more than 11,500 panes of glass.

The Cologne CathedralThe Cologne Cathedral

The interior is stunning

The interior is stunning

4711 is a traditional German Eau de Cologne that has been produced since 1799.  The flagship store is next to the Cathedral.

The Original Cologne from 4711

The Original Cologne from 4711

No visit to a city in Germany is complete without a coffee and Baumkuchen.  Cafe Reichard is one of the cities oldest and is located right next to the Cathedral.

A wonderful Coffee

A wonderful Coffee

Cafe Reichard

Cafe Reichard

Keukenhof in Holland the Flower Basket of Europe

In early May with the luck of the Irish on our side we found ourselves in Amsterdam for a few days.  As we arrived in Holland we quickly learned that the prime season to visit Keukenhof ends in late May.  So we took a 45 min taxi ride to the gardens.  There are many ways to get there but we found that taking a taxi was by the simplest method.   We were also able to purchase entrance tickets directly through our hotel concierge.

Keukenhof means the “kitchen garden” in Dutch and was started in the 15th Century.  Countess Jacqueline of Bavaria gathered fruit and vegtables from the woods and dunes for her kitchen of Teylingen Castle. Subsequently, Keukenhof Castle was built in 1641, and the estate grew to an area of over 200 hectares.

Keukenhof is used as a showcase for the Dutch floricultural sector, with 7 million spring-flowering bulbs displayed. It only lasts about 8 weeks in April/May of each year.

It is just a lovely place to walk, breathe, admire beauty and forget the headaches of life.  Here are a small number of the pictures I took.

Entrance to KeukenhofThe Gardens The Gardens The Gardens   The Gardens The Gardens The Gardens The Gardens

My Review of the Waldorf Astoria in Amsterdam

“Wonderful Luxury One of a Kind Property!!!!”

We absolutely loved the Waldorf!!! We stayed there for 3 nights in May 2015.   It is a wonderfully renovated property that is very well located right on the canals. You can walk anywhere within in 15 minutes.

Our room was so beautiful—the property has only been open for a year and its so elegantly done. It has nothing to do with the older conservative original Waldorf in New York. Its more of a boutique hotel with about 60 rooms. The bathrooms are huge with marble floors and separate shower and tub.

The service was through and through very very warm and friendly.

And the restaurant was simply delicious!!!

Our only mistake was staying only 3 nights—we should have stayed 7 at least.

I would absolutely love to go back.

Here is the entrance of the property.  You can see the original features

Here is the entrance of the property. You can see the original features

The Beautiful Lobby

The Beautiful Lobby

Located on the ground floor you can have drinks or an afternoon tea

Located on the ground floor you can have drinks or an afternoon tea

How to Choose Your Airline Seat Using SeatGuru

Do you want to know if you have a good seat before flying.  Remember not all seats are the same.  Some allow for more leg room or incline.  Some are close to bathrooms.  And who wants to get the dreaded middle seat.  So what can you do?  I have found a website that I use before EVERY FLIGHT.  It is called Seat Guru.  It is a free service.  Here is what a sample looks like

So lets say that you are flying on United Airlines.  One the Home Page on the Left Side there is a listing of Airlines.  So you would choose U-V-W.  Click on United. Then you will see

Now just enter your flight number and airline.  It will let you know what type of plane you are on.  It is important to realize that just because United flies for example from New York to Los Angeles each day they may not use the same plane type for each flight.   For those of us hoping for an upgrade you may want to select a flight with more Premium Economy or First Class seats.

Seat guru will show you the seat that you are in on a seat map.  it will also tell you if you have a Good Seat or a Bad One.

How to Find the More Perfect Hotel Room

I have discovered a website that I love called Room 77.  What Room77 does is allow you to see what kind of hotel room you are going to get and the view from that room.  So you type in the city and name of the hotel where you are staying and it will show you the view from that specific room.  Because we all know that not all hotel rooms are created equal.  Who wants to look at a Wall when you could look at a park.  What I have done is write down the rooms I like before arriving.  This way prior to the Front Desk employee giving me the key I can suggest the rooms I would prefer.  Usually they will assume I have been to the hotel before and will provide better service anyways.

Dominique Ansel: An Outstanding Bakery in Soho

I recently visited Dominque Ansel, a bakery in Soho.  I love this Bakery.  It is very relaxing and just exudes a great energy.  The kind of place you would love to hang out in.  It is very casual with Coffee served in paper cups.  But the coffee is fantastic and the bakery is amazing.  All the products are baked on-site which is rare these days.  I loved their Croissant, Cannele, and Madeleine.  I definitely love this place and highly recommend it.  They are located at: 189 Spring Street (between Sullivan and Thompson) New York, NY 10012.

Mileage Manager

I have been using Mileage Manager for the past year.  I find it to be a very convenient and inexpensive way to manage my airline, hotel, credit card and car rental miles in 1 place.  It is very simple to use.  You simply add the user name and password for each frequent flyer program you belong to.  It then gives you a summary of all your frequent flyer programs as well as the points needed to get to the next status level.  They also alert you of mileage bonuses.

Hotel Review Four Seasons Florence

The Four Seasons Florence is an absolutely amazing hotel.  The rooms are beautiful and overlook a 11 acre garden. The elegant hotel is comprised of two historic buildings, which opened two years ago after extensive renovations and are on either side of the hotel’s private 11-acre park. The whole property is absolutely fantastic, from the gorgeous grounds and pool to the beautiful spa.

The staff is very attentive and the cuisine was wonderful.  The restaurant was so good that ate at least once per day in the hotel restaurant.

The location is about 5 minutes walk from the center.  It is located in a residential area  which is nice an quiet.  I preferred the location then being at one of the touristy hotels located near the Center.

Vonage Mobile–Essential for Frequent Travelers

If you are an international traveler mammoth mobile bills are a common pain. Vonage Mobile has an irresistible worldwide calling plan which promises to cut down your bills drastically. All you need is a Wi-Fi signal to turn your iPod Touch into a phone.

Blackberry or iPhone models can also take advantage of this. The special US – Canada rates of 1 cent a minute is unbeatable.

Vonage Mobile is a free application from Apple. All you need is a headphone set and a wireless connection to make your iPod a phone. You may also download it from Vonage Mobile websites when using phones.

For the frequent traveler, Vonage’s world mobile plan offers unlimited calling to 60 countries for a nominal monthly charge of $24.99. You may have to pay per minute rates ranging from 2 cents to $13.92 depending on the country you want to call. The call quality is generally good, depending on the wireless signal and microphone used.

Lulu Lemon Backpacks

Lulu Lemon makes an excellent backpack. I used it for the first time yesterday traveling from Washington DC to Frankfurt. The bag is a good size and has tons of pockets. The beauty of the bag is that each pocket is well thought out and color coded for phones, ipods, cables, wallets, keys etc. Each pocket has a magnet that closes the pocket easily and without a fuss. The bag also has a padded strap making it very comfortable to use. It also includes a separate pocket for a laptop that is well padded. Overall the bag gets 5 Stars.

Half Moon Bay was wonderful!!

Ritz Half Moon Bay

Ritz Half Moon Bay

If you ever get the chance to visit Half Moon Bay you should definitely take advantage of it.  The Ritz in Half Moon Bay is located with on the water where you can hear the waves crashing from your room.  We especially enjoyed Room 674 it has a view of the Golf course and Pacific.  The Golf Course has one of the greatest 18th holes I have ever played.

Take a look

Fly Clear is a service all travelers should consider

I highly recommend a service called Fly Clear if you fly a lot.  It will save you at least 30 minutes each time you fly.  Basically you no longer have to wait in a security line.  What you do is apply–as part of the application process they will ask all sorts of info about you and you will need to give finger prints (which can be done in the airport at one of their stands) so they can identify you.  Once you are approved there is a special line only for clear members ( you will provide your card and they will scan your fingerprints)–every time I have used Clear there has never been even 1 person in line ahead of me.  They have locations now all over the USA.  There is a link to the site below and please use the refer-a friend code this gives you a complimentary month of membership.  

Your Refer-A-Friend code: DSCAM1176418

Clear’s Refer-A-Friend Offer
If you love Clear as much as we do, tell your friends! Members who refer friends and family to enroll in Clear can receive complimentary months of Clear membership. For every new member you refer to Clear, we will add one free month of Clear membership to your account and to your friend’s account, too. In order to receive the complimentary month of membership, your friend must enter your “Refer-A-Friend” code on the payment page of online enrollment. For more details, please visitflyclear.com/referafriend or call Clear support at (866) 848-2415

Flyer Talk a Great Resource

FlyerTalk is an interactive community that provides up-to-date information on travel-related loyalty reward programs.  Here is an example of how I use it with the Miles and More Program from Lufthansa. Last year Lufthansa had a few promotions that were not advertised.  The promotion provided a bonus of 5,000 miles each time I flew from the Middle East to Europe in business class.  So I was able to rack up an additonal 25,000 miles.  On top of that Lufthansa had another unadvertised bonus which gave 10,000 miles if you flew 38,000 miles within a 3 month period.  So I made 35,000 extra miles by spending about 10 minutes registering for these programs.

Fly Clear Program—Excellent Time Saver

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Check My Trip

To continue with travel related theme. There is a great website called Check My Trip.

Once you have made a reservation your travel agent will provide with you with a 6 Number (Alpha-Numeric) Reservation Code. With your reservation code you simply type in the reservation number and your last name on the main page of Check My Trip. Click Enter and the next page will bring you to your Reservation. This is the exact reservation your travel agent will see. It will tell you the type of plane you will fly on and your complete itinerary including your seat assignment. You can then take this information to Seat Guru (Check the previous post) and see what kind of seat you have been booked on.