Friday, April 22, 2011

Best tips for Cruising

Hello all my travelers, I just wanted to give you all some helpful hints for when you go on your next vacation that involves cruising.
1.  Alway be on time.  The boat is going to leave with or without you.
2.  Its not always mandatory to have a pass port when cruising.  But when you are far from home, always have it with you.
3.  When your cruise is over you are told to disembark the ship, the staff will take your luggage away and you will find it later in a ware house.  All the luggage is color coded by decks.  You will NOT physically carry your luggage off the ship.
4.  When you are going through customs, DO NOT have any electronic devices out.  The staff will threaten you to put it away or they may even impound the device.
5.  Always remember to have the time of your life.

I know I had to cut it short today readers.  Stay tuned for more exciting destinations and helpful tips for traveling.

Africa in Florida--Busch Gardens Tampa

Hello travelers, today is part 3 of my Carnival cruise vacation.  The third stop on our cruise was back to the home port of Florida.  My family and I spent 2 extra days in Tampa to soak up more sun.  One day was spent recovering at the hotel from our long journey cruising.  The next day was spent at Busch Gardens in Tampa.  The park is themed as Africa.  There are many animals and plant exhibits to interact with.  It is a really great place for kids of all ages, because it also very educational and fun at the same time.  Above are zebras from a safari ride we took.  The weather for march was very hot, it was in the 80s the entire time.  
The picture below is of flamingos on the safari we took.  The set up made me feel like George Erwin recording for National Geographic.  The birds are actually very tall when they are standing, (this picture makes them look small).  The park is broken up into different countries in Africa, and all the shops, rides and food are mimicked after the country.   

The day in Busch Gardens went very fast.  The day was hot, but we managed to make our way through the park and got to see all the sights.  The clip below is more educational about the park and it will help you get a better idea of the park layout.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Los turistas hola prójimos, asen su sombreros, estuvo en Cozumel

Today I am posting part 2 of my Carnival cruise vacation.  The second location on our cruise was to Cozumel Mexico.   Our ship docked in the port island of Cozumel. The port has many restaurants, shops and of course, bars.  We decided to take a ship offered excursion to the main land of Mexico to visit the Tulum ruins.  To do this we had to exit the cruise ship and board a small speed boat to take us across the ocean to the Mexican mainland.

The boat docked in Playa Del Carmen, which is a small resort town south of Cancun close to Rivera Maya.  The town of Playa Del Carmen had beautiful hotels that were true to the Mexican style, the buildings are white adobe with tropical vines growing up the sides.  The picture above is of Playa Del Carmen.  From there we boarded a bus for a one hour ride to the Tulum Ruins.

 The ruins are located on the shore of the caribbean sea.  The ruins were amazing, the entire time we were there all I thought of was the movie Apocolipto.  It is a wonder how massive buildings such as these ever came to exist, because they seem impossible for someone to create by hand. The temple of the winds is the building all the way to the left of the picture, with the main temple located in the middle of the picture.  The main temple was used as a meeting spot for announcements as well as sacrifices.

Tips of the day when visiting Cozumel and Mexico:
1. The island of Cozumel has many souvenir shops.  Better souvenir shops are found on the main land of Mexico.  The souvenirs from the main land are more authentic than from Cozumel island.  So if you have the opportunity, it is better on the main land.
2. Cozumel has a bar there called Three Amigos.  The bar is a lot of fun, and they sell souvenir shirts.
3.  Locations in Mexico can go from being the highest of the high, in the resort areas.  To the lowest of the low.  You could round the corner of a five star hotel and immediately enter a slum.
4.  Many people will try to do anything for a dollar.  Some may even force you to buy something from them.  They many even follow you around begging you to buy from them.  The best thing that works for me is to just ignore them, tell them your not interested.  They will eventually stop and leave.
5.***If you ever become low on cash and need to go to an ATM.  When you with draw the cash.  Remember you are with drawing the amount in Mexican Pesos.  So if you with draw 200 Mexican Pesos, you are only with drawing 20.00 in American money.
6.  We already know not to drink the water in Mexico, there is plenty of bottled water around and it is safe to drink.

One day for a couple of hours is never enough to visit and see all the sights.  Stay tuned for part 3 of my journey.  Click on the link below to view a video clip of the Tulum ruins.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ahoy fellow travelers--Were Cruising to the Cayman Islands

AAAAAAAHHHHH. The tired traveler takes a snooze.  This trip was a cruise, I am breaking the trip down into three separate blogs that are all linked together into one trip.  My family and I went on this Carnival cruise in march of 2009 during the Penn State spring break.  We sailed to the city of George Town on Grand Island in the Cayman Islands B.W.I..  The island was amazing, our excursion was to sail on a boat to the sting ray sand bar to swim with the sting rays.  (These sting rays were not dangerous)  we got to pet them and have them do different tricks for us.  I took this picture below before I took the plunge into the blue glassy water.  

After our friendly visit with the sting rays we boated back to the main land and toured the Cayman Turtle Farm.  The turtle farm houses over 15,000 turtles, it is the only facility of it's kind in the world.  There was also involvement with the smaller turtles, we got to hold them and we had a tour guide as we toured the facility.  The next location on our days journey was to the small town of Hell. "Yes , I said HELL."  The town of hell was created because of a jagged rock formation that developed over time.  Many people thought that is what hell looked like, and that is how the name of the town originated.  Today it is a tourist attraction and many novelties from hell are sold to tourists to take back home for a good laugh.  The currency of the island is called Caymanian Dollars.  The photos below is of a small souvenir show that sells gifts from hell.  I did buy a shirt from the store.  

Tips for visiting the Cayman Islands:
1: Shopping is very slim in Grand Cayman, the stores in Georgetown tend to cater to people of a higher class.  So chances of buying small souvenirs are few and far between.  So when you see any, snatch them up.
2: Be careful buying cuban cigars and jewelry made of black coral.  These items are illegal in the United States.
3: Always remember that you are a visitor in a foreign country.  You should always be aware of your surroundings, but have fun while you are doing it cause after all you are on vacation.

The cabins on our ship were very comfortable, our house keeper was the greatest.  When we entered our room every night, we were greeted by the famous Carnival towel animals.  It was the greatest because it was actually like on the commercials, it felt like we were on the commercials.  Below are few snaps of the Cayman Turtle Farm.  

Tell me where you like to travel.  Where are your favorite places to go?  Send me a comment and tell me.  Click on the link below to view Cayman's Seven Mile Beach

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Daytona Beach To Disney World--Come Explore The Sunshine State With Me

I traveled to Daytona Beach and Disney World in April of 2006.  We spent two days lounging on the beach and enjoyed soaking up the rays of the Florida sun.  We dined at a unique 50s style restaurant chain called Johnny Rockets, it was like a dinner through time.  

After the beach, there was much more fun to come.  We spent the rest of our vacation at Walt Disney World.  We decided to take one park a day, to see that we get the most of our trip.  We visited the Magic Kingdom first, we were greeted by the southern bells on Main Street U.S.A. and gazed at Cinderella's castle in front of us.  The place is so enchanting, it made me feel like I was 8, when I was really 18.  There are so many rides to ride in Magic Kingdom that you may not have enough time to ride everything .  Here are some of the better rides to ride. You have to ride all the mountains--Splash Mountain, Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain.  The Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean and Peter Pan's flight.  Also, no trip the Magic Kingdom is complete without riding the ever poplar "It's A Small World".    
Day 2- We visited The Animal Kingdom.  It is a park that is dedicated to all the Disney animal characters.  The park is more like a big zoo.  There are not many rides at this park.  There is one ride there that is my favorite ride in all of Disney, Expedition Everest.
Day 3- We took the famous monorail to Epcot.  It is a very futuristic place.  My favorite ride there is called Space ship Earth, which is actually located inside the Epcot Ball.  Other rides that should be visited is Soarin, Test Track and Mission Space.  The World Showcase is a place where you can travel all over the world in one location.  Each country has events and activities that are original to the country.
Day 4-  Our final day was spent in Disney's MGM Studios.  The entire park was themed like the days of old Holly Wood.  Characters walked around like old movie stars of the 20s.  Special rides to visit are the Holly Wood Tower of Terror Hotel, The Rock and RollerCoaster.  Special shows to see are the Indiana Jones show, The Muppet Show and the back lots tour.

The point of Disney is that no matter how many travel magazines and videos you read, you will never be able to see all of Disney in one trip.  But by limiting yourself to just seeing the most important sites, you will make your trip to Disney the best it could be.  

Monday, March 14, 2011

California Here We Come

We had just celebrated spring break, and I unfortunately didn't get to travel anywhere due to school work and just work in general.  But were all gonna go on a five minute vacation right now.  I visited southern California a couple years back now, but I still remember every image from the trip.  Our group visited all the sites from Santa Barbara to Los Angeles via the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, a highway that runs along the coast.  The picture below shows me in front of the old mission Santa Barbara.  One of the many old Spanish missions along the coast.  It was truly a site to see, (Notice the black bird to the left).  The picture at the top of the page is beautiful Malibu, the houses are right on the beach and can cost millions of dollars.  I was on celebrity watch the entire trip.  We visited the pier in Santa Monica, Sunset Boulevard, Venice beach and Hollywood.  My celebrity watch did pan out in Hollywood.  I spotted the star Monique, she was promoting her reality television show Charm school.    

The weather in California is very sunny and warm, but you never sweat because there is very low humidity and there is always a generous amount of wind coming off the ocean.  The skyline in California was cloudless every day when we were visiting.  Many people also ask me "Are there really surfers in California?"  and my answer is always "Yes", there were many surfers in the ocean when we would go to the beach.  Another California experience was when we ate at In and Out Burger.  It is something that we in Pennsylvania don't have the pleasure of enjoying. It was the best burger and fries I ever had.      

This is a picture of our plane 30,000 feet in the air getting ready to descend into LAX.  The experience that I got from So Cal is that IT IS EVERYTHING IT IS CRACKED UP TO BE.

Henry Ford Museum--Greenfield Village, lets travel to the past

Sorry viewers I have been so busy the last couple of weeks, I haven't had a chance to blog.  When I visited Michigan, our group visited the town of Deer born.  Here is where the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village is located.  Visiting museums was never a big hobby of mine, so I expected it to be boring.  I was so wrong.  After visiting there, I feel that it is truly a place everyone should visit at least once in their life.  The building resembled a warehouse that is a shrine to American history.  To name some of the few important items on display at the village was the 1961 Lincoln Continental that President Kennedy was assassignated in, the chair Abraham Lincoln sat in when he was shot and the bus that Rosa Parks rode on when she refused to give up her seat.  
The museum is truly all American and I felt much pride and astonishment as I walked through it.  I think the most amazing part of the museum is that we forget where these items in history are located (They are all located at the Henry Ford Museum). 

Greenfield Village is right next door to the Henry Ford Museum and it is just as amazing.  Every building at Green field Village was taken down and rebuilt by hand.  The village has many famous buildings.  Some being the Wright brothers home and Thomas Eddison's laboratory.  The village also offers steam locomotive rides and rides in original model T cars.  If you are looking for a quick get away, visit the Henry Ford Museum and Green field village in Deer born, Michigan.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Russ Goes to the Windy City

I know it has been a while since my last post.  But there are always places to visit, and today the traveler has a destination to visit and a story to tell.  I visited Chicago Illionis in April 0f 2006.  The weather was comfortable for that time of year.  We were able to wear t-shirts while we were site seeing.  We took in the high sights of the city and Lake Michigan atop the Sears tower.  It was 103 stories to the top.  After we walked on Magnificent Mile and took in some of the better shopping sites of the city.  While we were on the mile, we spotted Chicago's famous water tower.  We topped off the afternoon at Navy Pier.  The Navy Pier contains much to keep both a Chicagoan and the tourist happy.  There are rides, food and shopping.  There was also an interesting activity that our group did, we took a speed boat on Lake Michigan and viewed the city from the lake.  We ate dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.,  where I had delicious coconut shrimp.  Our show for the evening was at the Briar Street Theatre, and it was the Blue Man Group.  The show was truly amazing.  It is raw talent that 3 men can perform and entertain an audience without ever saying a word.  

Our second day in Chicago was an all bus tour of the city.  It was themed as an all gangster tour.  Our designated tour guide was dressed up as a gangster from the 20s.  The windows on our bus were like looking into windows of the past.  We saw many places where gangsters would hang out.  Places where undercover speakeasies were being practiced, due to the prohibition of the 20s and 30s.  We also saw the famous Rose Bud Cafe, a very special place where Frank Sinatra would visit when he would come to town.  After passing the cafe, we look to view the famous harpo studios, the home of the Oprah Winfrey show.  Unfortunately we did not get to see a show, but we were just happy to be that close. 

After we finished our tour it was time to depart for home, I watched the Sears Tower fade into the distance.  I do hope to visit Chicago again soon.  

Resources for your information:
Sears Tower (Willis Tower, still commonly known as the Sears Tower)
 The Magnificent Mile
The Blue Man Group Chicago
The Rosebud Cafe

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New York New York So Nice They Named It Twice

I visited NYC in late March of 2007.  It was a very cool day for the time of year.  It was only a one day trip, but our group got to see a lot of the city.  The photos shown here are of some of the stops along our days journey.  We visited Radio City Music Hall, unfortunately we did not get to see a show, but we got to enjoy the scenery of the great building.
We had then walked a couple blocks over to Central Park.  There we saw the tribute to the still famous John Lennon.  There were many music fans including myself who were paying there respects to the late great John Lennon.  This picture is very important to me. 

The final stop on our list was Times Square. We had decided to take a taxi there to get the full New York experience. We had arrived there right at dusk, just in time to see the beautiful display of lights.  Times Square is chock full of stores, restaurants and theaters.  When you are in Times Square, you truly feel the pulse of New york as the lights flash.  It is in Times Square where you feel that many dreams are made and come true.  We topped off our day in "The Big Apple" by eating hot dogs from a street vender.  It was truly a day one must experience in their lifetime.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Cancun, where traditional meets modern travel tastes.

     From my recent trip to Cancun in September of 2010, I was struck by how traditional elements of the indigenous population meets tourist chic. As you can see in this photo, the massage hut, known as a palapa, sits next to a modern hotel, the Crown Paradise. It is easy to see in Cancun, this combination of traditional with modern, not only in architecture but also in cuisine. The food is a mixture of American flares and Mexican spice, but always alluding to its true indigenous base. An example of this  combination is the variety of seafood pointing to Cancun's once vibrant fishing industry, mixed with a side of pasta spiced with Mexican chilis. Cancun is a nexus of traditional offerings for the adventurous and yet modern comforts for those playing it safe.