Archive for July, 2011

Thompsons Water Seal Supports National Parks with Facebook Contest

July 30, 2011

A scene in Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado. Thompson’s®Water Seal® is offering the chance to win one of five annual passes to more than 2,000 National Parks and federal recreational sites in the “Just Park It” summer contest © 2011 Karen Rubin/

No matter how delightful your deck, sometimes you need to vary your view. That’s why Thompson’s®Water Seal® is offering the chance to win one of five annual passes to more than 2,000 National Parks and federal recreational sites in the “Just Park It” summer contest.

Simply travel to the Thompson’s Water Seal Facebook page ( between now and August 15 and follow all of the instructions for completing the online form, including providing a short written entry about which National Park you would like to visit and why. Five winners will receive the America the Beautiful Pass, valued at $80, valid for 12 months. Each pass admits one car, with up to four adults, for limitless visits throughout the year. (There is no admission charge for children under 16.)

Stumped for a reason why you should enter? How about getting a chance to see:

  • The highest point in North America, Mt. McKinley at 20,320 feet (Denali National Park and Preserve)
  • The lowest point in the Western Hemisphere, Death Valley National Park, CA
  • The longest cave system in the world with more than 345 miles mapped (Mammoth Cave National Park, KY)
  • The nation’s deepest cave at 1,593 feet deep (Carlsbad Caverns National Park, NM)
  • The deepest lake (1,932 feet) in the United States (Crater Lake National Park, OR)
  • The second and third largest natural bridges in the world (Natural Bridges National Monument, UT)

The Thompson’s Water Seal VIP Program (Very Important Places) supports the preservation of structures at some of America’s premier national parks, including Glacier National Park, Grand Canyon National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Thompson’s®Water Seal®Deck & House Solid Latex Stain is also used to protect the Cave of the Winds decks at Niagara Falls State Park. Videos documenting the brand’s efforts in the parks can be seen on the Facebook page.

Spend a few minutes at Facebook, and you could spend an entire year exploring more than 84 million acres of national parks, monuments, battlefields, military parks, historical parks, historic sites, lakeshores, seashores, recreation areas, scenic rivers and trails in every state (except Delaware). You’ll return to your own backyard with a whole new world view.

Chicago Greeters offer Free Guided Walks of Hyde Park Neighborhood

July 30, 2011

Chicago InstaGreeter – a FREE visitor service that offers one-hour guided neighborhood walks by friendly, knowledgeable volunteers – takes you through the streets of Hyde Park for a perspective only a local can provide, Saturdays through Oct. 8, 10 am to 3 pm.

Residents passionate about Chicago welcome visitors to the community and share insider stories that bring the city’s neighborhoods to life. Beautiful architecture, historic landmarks, cultural institutions and President Obama’s hometown favorites – go beyond downtown and explore some of these Hyde Park gems:

  • Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House, a Prairie Style treasure, and the Gothic Style campus of University of Chicago and Rockefeller Chapel
  • Midway Plaisance and nearby Jackson Park, home to the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition
  • Hyde Park Art Center; Smart Museum; Oriental Institute; and DuSable Museum of African American History
  • The Kenwood home of Barack Obama; local barbershop Hyde Park Hair Salon; and favorite restaurants Valois and Medici on 57th

The guided visits are offered Saturdays, 10am – 3pm, August 8 through Oct. 8.

No pre-registration is needed. Visits are available on a first-come, first-served basis every Saturday.

To meet up, go to the Chicago InstaGreeter Outpost at Hyde Park Art Center, 5020 S. Cornell Avenue

Since April 2002, Chicago Greeter has been a resource for both visitors and locals by providing insider orientations during free, informal neighborhood walks. The InstaGreeter program is an offshoot of Chicago Greeter, an “on-the-spot” welcome service that give visitors the opportunity to see the city through guided walks on a first-come, first-served basis without pre-registration. InstaGreeter has launched outposts in Old Town, Pilsen and Hyde Park. There have been over 8,000 Greeter visits and 2,500 InstaGreeter visits to date, servicing visitors from more than 80 different countries. The Chicago Office of Tourism and Culture is dedicated to promoting Chicago as a premier cultural destination to domestic and international leisure travelers and to providing innovative visitor programs and resources. For more information, visit

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Four Seasons Hotels Invites Travelers to Share Summer Memories and Win a $1000 Four Seasons Gift Card with Flickr-based Photo Contest

July 30, 2011
American Eagle Windjammer, Maine

My favorite summer memory: this scene off the historic windjammer, American Eagle, in Maine. This summer, a picture could be worth a thousand dollars in the new Summer Memories photo contest from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts. To enter, upload on Flickr before Aug. 15. © 2011 Karen Rubin/

This summer, a picture could be worth a thousand dollars in the new Summer Memories photo contest from Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts.

The Summer Memories contest has just kicked off, with full details available on at Four Seasons online magazine. All entrants need to do is upload their images to Flickr at with the tag “FSSummerPics” before the contest closes on August 15, 2011.

Four Seasons will select 25 finalists and post a special Summer Memories album on Facebook and YouTube. The winner of a USD 1000.00 Four Seasons Gift Card will then be selected and announced. A Four Seasons Gift Card can be used for rooms, dining, spa, golf or anything else at any one of 85 Four Seasons hotels and resorts anywhere in the world, and has no expiry date.

Connecting with Four Seasons

Four Seasons is a leader in using social media to engage and connect guests to its hotels and resorts around the world, and to other Four Seasons fans. Four Seasons has quickly and strategically grown its active social media audiences, receiving accolades within the industry. Earlier this year, Four Seasons launched Have Family Will Travel, a vibrant blog that offers real-life travel experiences and advice for families. The company’s focus on digital media channels will continue as it relaunches later this year with experiential and interactive components that give an even greater voice to guests.

Known for its personalized, customized service, Four Seasons is utilizing new technologies to provide creative ways to market in a highly targeted fashion, and facilitate the sharing of experiences through initiatives such as the new Summer Memories photo contest.

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GuideGecko Releases ‘Cheatsheets’ for Backpackers

July 30, 2011
Backpacker at JFK Airport

Just in time for the traveling season, backpacking got a lot easier. GuideGecko, the world's leading publishing portal for travel guides, just released its first batch of official 'Backpacker Cheatsheets'. © 2011 Karen Rubin/

Just in time for the traveling season, backpacking got a lot easier. GuideGecko, the world’s leading publishing portal for travel guides, just released its first batch of official ‘Backpacker Cheatsheets’. Comprising two highly condensed PDF pages, each Cheatsheet suggests backpackers exactly where to go, how to get there, where to sleep, what to see & and do, and everything else the traveling nomad needs to know.

Cheatsheets are available for free download from The first batch covers Thailand and Bali as well as Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Vietnam and even Burma/Myanmar. The popular backpacking destinations of Australia and New Zealand are also included. For the more adventurous, there is a 4-6 weeks itinerary for Indonesia from Jakarta to Kelimutu.

“While every traveler researches his own trip, 95% end up on the same itinerary. Our Cheatsheets save you time, while giving you options to explore along the way”, says Dr. Daniel Quadt, Chief Backpacker at “Each Cheatsheet is a whole guidebook packed into a double-sided print – the font-size is optimized for the young backpacking crowd.”

More Cheatsheets for South America and other destinations will be released in the coming weeks. GuideGecko also encourages backpackers to send in updates to keep the free Cheatsheets up to date.

All Cheatsheets are available at:

About GuideGecko

GuideGecko is the world’s leading publishing platform for travel guides, offering more than 2700 guidebooks on 169 countries and 270 cities and regions around the world.

GuideGecko offers worldwide travel guides for the iPhone, Amazon Kindle and on the web. All guides are independently researched and written by professional travel writers from around the world.

For more travel features and stories about travel apps and guides, visit

Win a Week-long RV trip in GoCampingAmerica’s Summer Video Contest

July 30, 2011

Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado. Submit a short video in’s “Not Bummer Summer” summer video contest to compete for a chance to win a weeklong RV trip to any affiliated campground in the United States © 2011 Karen Rubin/

When Laura Franklin went to the Jellystone Park Camp-Resort in Williamsport., Md., she took along her video camera and not only recorded her husband and kids having fun, but interviewed them about what they liked most about the campground they visited.

“They really enjoyed the waterslides,” said Franklin, a Maryland resident and “MommyBlogger” from Better in “The other thing they couldn’t they couldn’t stop talking about was panning for jewels.”

Franklin also shot footage of her kids playing laser tag and commenting on their rental cabin. With five kids ages 6 to 14, Franklin said Jellystone Park was the perfect place for a family vacation.

“I just enjoyed that we could stay in one place and that the kids could run around like they were at home. We felt very comfortable. There was lots to do, so we didn’t have to travel anywhere else.”

Franklin is one of the first campers to submit a short video in’s “Not Bummer Summer” summer video contest and compete for a chance to win a weeklong RV trip to any affiliated campground in the United States.

“The only requirement is the video be family-friendly, that it capture the essence of having a ‘not bummer summer’ and that it be taken at a campground, RV park or resort featured on the GoCampingAmerica website,” said Kera Tomlin, GoCampingAmerica’s director of marketing.

That’s plenty of venues, considering that more than 3,300 campgrounds, RV parks and resorts are featured on the national travel planning website.
Campers are invited to upload their videos to YouTube and then submit their entry forms along with the YouTube link at All videos must be taken and submitted between June 1st and Labor Day (midnight Sept. 5th).
Video entries will be voted on through the ‘favorites’ option on YouTube between June 1, 2011 and September 5, 2011. The top two videos with the most ‘favorite’ votes that best depict a ‘Not Bummer Summer’ Camping getaway and most carefully follows the rules and regulations, will then be entered into a drawing and the first randomly drawn will be selected as the grand prize winner and the other entrant will be awarded the 2nd runner up. The third prize winner will be selected amongst the remaining top five ‘favorite’ votes and entered into a drawing and selected at random. An entrant may recommend to its camping guests, friends and families to ‘favorite’ the entrant’s video on YouTube.

The grand prize winner will receive a weeklong trip in an RV, courtesy of El Monte RV, and free camping at campgrounds. Other prizes include seven days and six nights of lodging at any GoCampingAmerica park, a $100 Camping World gift certificate, plus a $100 movie ticket certificate and other Judy Moody movie related promotional items. is promoting its video contest in connection with Judy Moody and The NOT Bummer Summer, a movie based on the bestselling book series by Megan McDonald. For more information about the contest, please visit For more information about the movie please visit

Based in Denver, Colo., is the travel planning website of the National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds.

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European Wine and Bike Tours Merge Best of Two Worlds

July 30, 2011

Dual interests of biking and wine tasting come together in Tuscany, Italy. Bike Tours Direct serves as a central resource for bicycle tours in Europe, representing more than 50 tour companies that offer more than 200 tours in 35 European countries © 2011 Karen Rubin/

Europe has long been a top destination both for travelers interested in its fine wines and for bicyclists wanting to explore countries at a leisurely pace. Increasingly, travelers are merging those two interests thanks to a growing number of wine and bicycle tours. For travelers interested in experiencing the best of European wines and country roads, BikeToursDirect offers several wine and bike tours in some of the top wine-producing regions of the world.

The trips provide special access to some of the best vineyards and wine cellars and most breathtaking cycling landscapes in the world. Offering dozens of wine and bike tours in 2011, BikeToursDirect works with locally-based tour operators who can provide special access to off-the-beaten-(bike)-path vineyards and producers.

“A wine and bike tour offers both the intimacy of a bike trip and the fun of visiting a vineyard or winery,” says Robert Heiss, co-owner of and a wine and food connoisseur who has participated in several wine and bike tours. “There is nothing like arriving at a vineyard on a bicycle—it makes you feel, just for a moment, as though you might really live in the village down the road and are just stopping by for your regular wine purchase.”

“Another bonus of exploring a region by bicycle: guilt-free dining,” says BikeToursDirect president Jim Johnson. “And nothing goes better with a fine meal than a fine wine!”

With a variety of terrain, food, wine and cycling options, bike tours in Tuscany are a top choice for cycle tourists interested in wine and cuisine. Every tour BikeToursDirect offers in the region spotlights vineyards, wine and food in some way, with several tours that have a more concentrated “wine and bike” focus. Two popular options include the “Tuscany Wine Classic” or “Tuscany’s Crown Jewels” tours, which wind through the enchanting Tuscan landscape, incorporate wine tastings at several vineyards and feature authentic Tuscan food.

“The connection you make with the countryside from the seat of a bicycle can never be replicated in a car,” says Dominick Cerisano, founder of Best Tuscan Tours, LLC and Chief Cycling Officer. “The sights, the smells, the way the Tuscan sun reflects through the vineyards—these are the sensations you can only feel on a bike. Also there are no fines in Italy for cycling after enjoying a few glasses of Chianti. You can’t do that in a car!”

“For cycling wine lovers we provide special access to the best producers both large and small,” says Cerisano. “Our on-staff sommelier can further assist wine connoisseurs with purchasing advice and even assist with expert packaging and shipping right to your home.”

Fine wine is plentiful in France, another top choice, with tours in the Burgundy, Bordeaux, Loire Valley and Provence regions that include visits to some of the best-known wine producers in the world. Bike tours in Provence are especially popular because of the unique regional wines, historic medieval architecture and landscape that inspired artists like Van Gogh, Picasso and Matisse.

Other popular choices include tours along the Mosel, Rhine and Main River Bike Paths in Germany, which feature vineyards at almost every turn.

Hungary, a country not as well known for its fine wines as other countries—due to lower exports rather than lower quality—features “Wine and Bike in Hungary’s Balaton Uplands,” which includes two or more wine-tastings and vineyard visits every day and unlimited wine with dinner!

To help cycle tourists find wine and bike tours that fit their interests, BikeToursDirect offers a “Wine and Bike” page that spotlights several popular tours. BikeToursDirect also has a TourFinder that provides a detailed search of more than 200 tours offered on its website. With just a few quick clicks, a cycle tourist can create a list of tours based on key parameters (such as a wine and bike focus, country and level of difficulty) to help narrow down the search for the perfect wine and bike vacation.

About BikeToursDirect

BikeToursDirect, now in its eighth season, serves as a central resource for bicycle tours in Europe, representing more than 50 tour companies that offer more than 200 tours in 35 European countries and is currently expanding to Asia, Africa and Australia. BikeToursDirect offers a variety of resources to help travelers choose tours and handles the entire booking and payment process. Learn more at Telephone: 1-877-462-2423 or 1-423-756-8907. Email:

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Real Life Adventure Travel Helps Demystify the Tented Camping Safari Experience in East Africa

July 28, 2011

A tented safari in East Africa (photo courtesy of Real Life Adventure Travel).

The annual peak season for the safari industry in Tanzania, East Africa kicks off now, and East Africa safari expert Real Life Adventure Travel releases their “anatomy of a tented camp” to help demystify the under canvas safari experience for travelers.

“The idea of sleeping in a tent in Africa is one that remains shrouded in uncertainty and mystery for many travelers,” said Robin Felix, North American representative for Real Life Adventure Travel. “Our focus is on authentic safari experiences, and one of the most romantic elements of this style of safari is spending the nights under canvas. Here you can listen to the sounds of the African night all around you, and feel completely connected to your surroundings while enjoying exceptionally comfortable accommodations.”

Key elements of the tented camping safari experience in East Africa include;

  • The Tent: Typically 8 x 10 or larger in size, the tents may include a writing desk, armoire, suitcase rack and of course the bed. Our favorite décor includes local crafts and hand made carpets, pillow cases and more.
  • The bathrooms: Attached at the back of the tent, the bathrooms in a mobile tented camp include a wash basin, flush toilet and shower. Depending on how mobile the safari experience is, showers may be lovely hot “bucket” showers which are filled on request by the camp staff, or in more permanent situations there will be hot running water.
  • The bed: Typically king sized and plush, these beds are a welcome sight at the end of a long day on safari. Hot water bottles slipped between the sheets before you retire for the night keep you warm in cooler months.
  • The veranda: From the shaded veranda of your tent, lounge in the safari chairs as you sip your morning coffee, or as you review your photographs from the day while enjoying a local Kilimanjaro-brand beer.
  • The staff: This is perhaps the most important, defining element of the tented camp. The staff is always on hand to draw your hot shower, wash your clothes, make up your bed for the evening and bring your hot coffee as the sun rises in the morning. Also, in the evenings around the camp fire the staff often recounts stories of growing up in Africa, sharing their love of the land and insight into their lives and communities. This is one of the best ways to learn about the real Africa.

You can visit Real Life Adventure Travel’s blog for a portfolio of great images of tented camps, real traveler tented camp experiences and more.

Real Life Adventure Travel is a Tanzanian-owned safari company specializing in custom crafted safari experiences that highlight the unique and colorful cultures of the destination.

The company is currently organizing a charity safari for early 2012. To participate in this “Adventures for Hope” safari contact Robin Felix at for an information packet, the safari itinerary and fundraising details.

For more information or to inquire about a safari in East Africa, contact Real Life Adventure Travel at or visit

See also:


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Adagio Berlin Kurfuerstendamm has a “Hot Deal” offer through Sept 3

July 28, 2011

The Adagio Berlin Kurfuerstendamm has a “Hot Deal” offer this summer, available through September 3.

If you book 4 or 5 consecutive nights during that time, you’ll get the last night of that stay for free. Accommodation in a studio for 1 or 2 peopleis 65 Euro (about $90) per night. The breakfast is optional for 12 Euro (about $18) per person per day.

The Adagio Berlin is located just a few minutes from the famous Kurfuerstendamm in the heart of Berlin and therefore is a great starting point to explore the city.

There are 133 apartments, from studios for two people up to 1-bedroom apartments for four people. All apartments have a fully equipped kitchen with crockery and cutlery, cooking utensils, dishwasher, microwave, fridge, kettle and coffee maker. All together makes them ideal for longer stays. All rooms are air-conditioned, bright and comfortably furnished and equipped with sufficient storage space.

Breakfast, free internet access, underground parking and a fitness room are also available.

APARTMENTSERVICE by Boardinghouse Consulting Berliner Allee 36 13088 Berlin GERMANY Tel: +49 (0)30 96 06 09 49 0 Fax: +49 (0)30 96 06 09 49 19 E-Mail: Web:

Park Grand London, leading budget hotel, offers discounts

July 28, 2011

London © 2011 David Leiberman/

Park Grand London, a leading budget hotel in the city, is making a stay even more of a value, offering a free night after five nights stay (advance booking is required).

When staying for 3 nights choose to stay at the Hyde Park Hotel Rooms where you can take advantage of a 15% discount on the entire stay at this four-star accommodation.

Guests will have a wonderfully comfortable stay when staying at Park Grand London. There are different cheap accommodation categories at the hotel from, which they can choose. The Devonshire Metro Single Rooms, Westbourne Double Rooms, Devonshire Metro Double Rooms and Westbourne Twin Rooms are some of the categories of Hyde Park Hotel Rooms that a guest can find to be suitable for themselves depending on their budget.

The Hyde Park Hotel Rooms are spacious and luxurious and are equipped with the latest facilities. The room ambience is perfect for luxury and comfort. Each of the rooms are designed to perfect to suit the taste of the guests. Luxury queen size beds, plush pillows, complimentary toiletries, plasma screen television, mini-bar, hair dryer, and iron and ironing board are some of the state of the art facilities, which guests can avail.

Top budget hotels near London like the Park Grand London are the ideal places of accommodation for the budget vacationers. The cheap hotel rooms ensure all guests with a comfortable and affordable stay. As a tourist one will no longer have to worry about the prices and rates related to accommodation. Guests just have to make their bookings via the Internet and then they can find all the relevant deals and discount offers at the hotel website of Park Grand London.

About Park Grand London Hotel
Comfortable and affordable that is what defines Park Grand London hotel. Guests can enjoy the tranquility and opulence offered by the hotel. Tourists can experience the strategic location of the hotel and access different parts of the city easily in a hassle free way. The unique appeal of the hotel makes it stand out from the crowd.

It offers comfortable rooms equipped with the latest features and facilities including plasma screen television to complimentary toiletries to free fruit baskets and mineral water. You also  get a good view of the city from this hotel.

The hotel comes with a no-smoking policy and to ensure nobody breaks the policy rules fire alarms and smoke detectors have been installed. For enhanced security reasons 24 hour CCTV is installed at the public areas of the hotel.

Park Grand London hotel is the heart of stylish Paddington area.
For more information contact Park Grand Hotel

1 Queens Gardens, Bayswater,

W2 3BA London, United Kingdom

Fax: +44 (0) 20 7262 5414
Telephone: +44 (0) 20 7298 9800

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Vacation Packages on Sale Sunday, July 31 for ‘Celebration of Harry Potter Films’ at Universal Orlando Resort

July 27, 2011

Universal Orlando Resort just announced that special vacation packages will go on sale Sunday, July 31st that will give guests the opportunity to attend “A Celebration of the Harry Potter Films.” © 2011 Karen Rubin/

Special Event Hosted by Warner Bros. to Feature Three Days of
Cast Member and Filmmaker Appearances, Autograph Signings, Q&A Sessions and Film Screenings

Universal Orlando Resort just announced that special vacation packages will go on sale Sunday, July 31st that will give guests the opportunity to attend “A Celebration of the Harry Potter Films.” This special event will be hosted by Warner Bros. and will celebrate a decade of movie history by allowing fans to share their love for the Harry Potter films. The event will take place from Friday, November 11, to Sunday, November 13, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, home to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

During this special event, guests can celebrate their favorite memories and stories of Harry Potter with filmmakers, cast members and fellow fans. While all theme park guests will be able to enjoy The Wizarding World of Harry Potter during their visit, only a limited number of guests and those who buy special event packages will have access to exclusive benefits such as:

  • A spectacular evening gala in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Autograph signings with stars from the Harry Potter films
  • Q&A sessions with Harry Potter filmmakers and cast members, along with the creators of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Screenings of all eight Harry Potter films – including “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2” – at the AMC Universal Cineplex 20 in Universal CityWalk. Access to the screenings can be added to the vacation packages for an additional fee.

Throughout the three-day celebration, guests will also be able to explore The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, where the wonder, excitement and adventure of the Harry Potter films come to life. They will enjoy experiences such as soaring above Hogwarts on Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, sipping Butterbeer in Hogsmeade and being inside Ollivanders and seeing a wand choose its wizard.

The primary way to participate in celebration events is by purchasing one of Universal Orlando’s special vacation packages. Packages are extremely limited and go on sale at noon EDT on Sunday, July 31. Guests can choose from two vacation package options: the Celebration Vacation Package and the Premier Vacation Package. There will be additional ways for a limited number of people to participate in celebration events. Stay tuned for more details.

For more information about the event and vacation packages, visit

See also:

Inside Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter and slideshow

Loews Portofino Bay Hotel Lets You Live Universal’s Theme Park Fantasy and slideshow

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