Archive for April, 2012

Avalon Waterways announces new ships, new itineraries for river cruising for 2013; $1000 off ‘Book Now’ deals

April 26, 2012

Melk Abbey in Austria has a perch above the Danube River is visited on Avalon Waterways' new 'Austrian Highlights & Bavaria" itinerary © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

On the heels of announcing two new Suite Ships in Europe and Avalon ChoiceSM – an entirely new concept in river cruising – for 2013, Avalon Waterways is also unveiling plans to add five new itineraries (plus a new themed cruise) to its roster of cruise options.

“Our choice cruise options will now include more journeys through northern Holland, Austria, Central Europe and Germany,” said Patrick Clark, managing director of Avalon Waterways. “In addition, we’re giving cruisers the chance to discover the divine tastes and incredible flavors of northern France on a new Culinary Cruise. And, in Asia, we’re adding an exciting new cruise along China’s mighty Yangtze River, aboard two new ships.”

NEW EUROPE CRUISES:

Thanks to increased demand for “passion travel,” Avalon Waterways is expanding its popular wine-, music-, art-, legacy- and holiday-vacations to include a NEW! culinary-themed cruise, available on two itineraries for 2013: Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches (departure 1029; priced from $2,399) and Grand France (departure 1022; $4,999).

“On this cruise, travelers will enjoy cider, wine and oil tastings,” Clark said. “They will also visit a calvados distillery and a farm that produces the delicious Pont l’Evêque and Liarot cheeses. In addition, a local chef will prepare for guests a menu of regional specialties while sharing tips for food preparation.”

Another sure-to-be-hit for those interested in cruising Europe is Avalon’s 8-day NEW! Tulips of Northern Holland vacation, priced from $2,449. “Every year, our traditional Tulip Time Cruise sells out,” said Clark. “Now, we’re giving our travelers who love the beauty and history of Holland’s tulips a chance to combine some well-known sights with off the beaten path experiences.”

Originating in Amsterdam, on this itinerary, cruisers will enjoy the region of “North Holland” where tulip fields abound before cruising farther north to the region known as “Friesland,” famous for its black and white cows. They’ll sail across the Ijsselmeer and take a walking tour of the small town of Hoorn. They will also visit the ZuiderZee Museum in Enkhuizen, the Batavia shipyard in Lelystad and a windmill outside the fishing village of Volendam, with even more excursion choices in Arnhem and Rotterdam.

Other new European cruises for Avalon for 2013:

  • NEW! Austrian Highlights & Bavaria: On this 9-day cruise vacation, travelers will visit Austria’s capital, Vienna, as well as charming small towns like Melk, Dürnstein and Grein before heading into Germany’s Bavaria. This new vacation also includes time in Munich and a visit to Oberammergau. Priced from $2,579 land/cruise (priced from $1,849 cruise-only).
  • NEW! Capitals of Central Europe: With both 10- and 12-day options, this itinerary focuses on Europe’s splendid capital cities – Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest – as well as the many small towns that dot the landscape along the way. Priced from $2,939 land/cruise (priced from $2,299 cruise-only).
  • NEW! Highlights of Germany: On this 13-day journey from Munich to Basel, Avalon guests will visit two of King Ludwig’s most famous castles: Newuschwanstein, the inspiration for Sleeping Beauty’s castle, and Linderhof. They will also enjoy a beer tasting in Nuremberg and exploration throughout Regensburg, one of Germany’s best-preserved medieval cities. Itinerary visits also include UNESCO World Heritage sites in Bamberg and Würzberg. Priced from $4,129 land/cruise (priced from $3,399 cruise-only).

NEW ASIA OFFERINGS:

In 2013, Avalon Waterways is introducing two new ships in Asia – The Century Legend and Century Paragon – and adding a fourth itinerary (a Small Group Discovery vacation): 15-day NEW! Enchanting China & the Yangtze River, priced from $3,629.

According to Clark, on this new itinerary, travelers can experience China in-depth. They’ll visit world-famous sights in Beijing, Xi’an, Lijiang, Shanghai and Hong Kong, including such must-see sites as the Forbidden City, Great Wall, Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs, Terracotta Warriors, Yu Yuan Gardens and Stanley Market. We’re also offering them amazing, immersive experiences such as attending a special cloisonné and lacquer workshops, a noodle-making demonstration, calligraphy class, rickshaw ride through Beijing’s hutongs and a sampan ride on Hong Kong’s harbor.

“In 2013, our travelers can choose from a 4-to 24-day cruise as well as a cruise-only voyage or an extensive cruise-plus-land journey,” said Clark. “We have put together more than 100 cruise package possibilities on the greatest waterways in the world with hundreds of guaranteed departures to fit cruisers’ interests in Europe, Egypt, China, Southeast Asia and the Galápagos Islands.”

DEAL ALERT: Right now, Avalon Waterways is offering travelers a few ways to save on its 2013 cruises including offering up to $1,000 off per couple on “Book Now Sailings” as well as an early airfare price guarantee for Europe sailings. For details, click here.

To book an Avalon Waterways vacation or request brochures visit a preferred travel agent or by calling 877.380.1535. For more information,  visit www.avalonwaterways.com.

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New-York Historical Society Presents ‘New York Cool’ Free Concert Series

April 25, 2012

In the spring of 2012 the New-York Historical Society will present New York Cool, a free concert series highlighting musical history makers, past and present. Made possible through the generous support of Bank of America, this seven concert series features hip, well-known and emerging names from across the spectrum of classical, jazz and popular music genres, performing in our Robert H. Smith Auditorium for free on Friday evenings. A unique combination of live music, art, history and culture, New York Cool will attract a young, cool and dynamic new audience to the New-York Historical Society.

This season’s performers include Jay Leonhart, his family and friends, all prominent members of the New York jazz scene; rockers The London Souls; vocal group Just Friends; the Beijing Guitar Duo; Ahn Trio, who blend classical music with a twenty-first century sensibility; and the Ted Rosenthal Quintet, who will perform music from Images of Monk.

With the completion of our new Robert H. Smith Auditorium, the musicians will have the opportunity to perform to an audience of up to 420 in a state-of-the-art facility featuring a 75-foot-long high definition screen. All performances will be first come, first served, and refreshments will be available for purchase. Concertgoers will also have a pre-performance chance to view our Robert H. and Clarice Smith New York Gallery of American History, a 3,400 square foot space featuring New York Rising, a permanent installation centered on the themes of America’s and New York’s founding.

Performances

 

Friday, April 27, 2012, 6:30 PM JAY LEONHART, HIS FAMILY AND FRIENDS
Jazz great Jay Leonhart (bassist) is joined by his family and special friends who are prominent members of the New York jazz scene. Together, they will perform an electrifying program of music from some of New York’s finest jazz composers.

Friday, May 4, 2012, 6:30 PM THE LONDON SOULS
The London Souls (Tash Neal and Chris St. Hilaire) have been nothing short of a best-kept secret among New York City concertgoers since the band’s formation in 2008. Their debut album was produced by Ethan Johns at London’s renowned Abbey Road Studios and captures the spirit of the band, offering an exhilarating fusion of blues and rock and roll. The London Souls’ unique reinterpretation of classic hard-hitting rock and roll recalls elements of the past with a boundless energy that will hypnotize and amaze.

Friday, May 11, 2012, 6:30 PM JUST FRIENDS
Since its inception in 1989, the vocal group Just Friends (Shelton Becton, Gail Blanche-Gill, A. Makea McDonald, Nedra Olds-Neal, Michael Neal and Jamet Pittman) has cultivated an enthusiastic following in the New York area. They have appeared on HBO and at the Riverside Church and have performed with the Dance Theater of Harlem, Alice Parker and Melodious Accord and Canadian Brass.

Friday, May 18, 2012, 6:30 PM BEIJING GUITAR DUO
The Beijing Guitar Duo, composed of Meng Su and Yameng Wang, is widely acclaimed for its outstanding technique and artistic musicality. Their first duo album, Maracaípe, received a Latin GRAMMY nomination for the featured work “Maracaípe,” written and dedicated to them by composer Sergio Assad. In addition to their performances in the United States, the coming concert season takes them to guitar centers in countries such as Holland, Ireland, Croatia and China.

Friday, May 25, 2012, 6:30 PM AHN TRIO
Hailed as “exacting and exciting musicians” by the Los Angeles Times, the three sisters of the Ahn Trio (Lucia on the piano, Angella on the violin and Maria on the cello) have earned a distinguished reputation for embracing twenty-first century classical music with their unique style and innovative collaborations. The Trio has recorded six albums and has performed for President Obama at the White House, in all fifty states and in over thirty countries.

Friday, June 1, 2012, 6:30 PM TED ROSENTHAL QUINTET
The Ted Rosenthal Quintet, with jazz stars Brian Lynch (trumpet), Dick Oatts (saxophone), Martin Wind (bass), Quincy Davis (drums) and Ted Rosenthal (piano), perform music from Images of Monk, Rosenthal’s award-winning album. The suite of Thelonious Monk’s pieces creatively “deranged” by Rosenthal takes a fresh look at Monk with daring arrangements and creative soloing without losing sight of Monk’s swing and wit.

Founded in 1804, The New-York Historical Society is one of America’s pre-eminent cultural institutions. Dedicated to fostering research and presenting history and art exhibitions and public programs that reveal the dynamism of history and its influence on the world of today, it is recognized for engaging the public with deeply researched and far-ranging exhibitions, such as Alexander Hamilton: The Man Who Made Modern America; Slavery in New York; Drawn by New York: Six Centuries of Watercolors and Drawings at the New-York Historical Society; Grant and Lee in War and Peace; Lincoln and New York; and The Grateful Dead: Now Playing at the New-York Historical Society. Supporting these exhibitions and related education programs is one of the world’s greatest collections of historical artifacts, works of American art, and other materials documenting the history of the United States and New York.

New-York Historical Society, 170 Central Park West, New York, N.Y.; for information, 212-873-3400, www.nyhistory.org.

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Loews Philadelphia Hotel Package Showcases Bruce Springsteen Exhibit at National Constitution Center

April 25, 2012

Just in time for summer travel, fans of Bruce Springsteen staying at Loews Philadelphia Hotel and reserving the “Bruce Springsteen Exhibit Package” will enjoy the celebration of freedom at the National Constitution Center. From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen – never before seen outside of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum – features more than 150 artifacts of the award-winning New Jersey rocker.

Located only six blocks from the hotel, the National Constitution Center is the first and only nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to the U.S. Constitution and features exhibits that explore the story of “We the People.” Springsteen’s distinctive brand of blue collar rock gives voice to the struggles of the working class, veterans, immigrants and other groups whose unique stories add to the definitions of “We the People.”

The Loews Philadelphia “Bruce Springsteen Exhibit Package” includes:

  • Overnight deluxe accommodations for two
  • Two tickets to From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen at the National Constitution Center
  • Admission to the Center’s main exhibition, The Story of We the People, and viewing of the award-winning Freedom Rising, a 360-degree theatrical production at the National Constitution Center.

This exhibition, From Asbury Park to the Promised Land: The Life and Music of Bruce Springsteen, takes a comprehensive look at Springsteen’s catalog, from such early bands such as Child, the Castiles and Steel Mill through his work with the E Street Band and as a solo artist. Visitors will have the opportunity to view more than 150 artifacts, including the Fender Esquire guitar from the cover of Born to Run, the outfit Springsteen wore on the cover of Born in the U.S.A., numerous handwritten lyric manuscripts, posters from all phases of his career, and various honors including his Academy Award for the song “Streets of Philadelphia.”

From Asbury Park to the Promised Land offers a unique perspective on our First Amendment freedoms, the meaning of the American dream and the role of artists in politics and protest,” said National Constitution Center President and CEO David Eisner. “And, of course, Bruce Springsteen strikes an even deeper chord here in Philly, where the love of Bruce runs almost as deep as the love of freedom.”

Available through September 3, the “Bruce Springsteen Exhibit Package price starts at $179 based upon double occupancy. Rate is subject to availability and change and is not available to groups of ten or more. For information about Loews Philadelphia Hotel, or to reserve a room please call, (888) 575-6397 or visit on-line at http://www.loewshotels.com.

The 581-room luxury Loews Philadelphia hotel is a combination of historic architecture and modern amenities in the landmark PSFS building. Located in the heart of Center City, one Philly’s most influential neighborhoods, the hotel is walking distance to the Pennsylvania Convention Center, Reading Terminal, many historic attractions, museums, theaters, shops and restaurants. SoleFood Restaurant is a fusion of seafood and cutting edge culinary expertise, presenting seafood inspired dishes at breakfast, lunch and dinner.

The National Constitution Center is the first and only nonprofit, nonpartisan institution devoted to the most powerful vision of freedom ever expressed: the U.S. Constitution. Located on Independence Mall, at 525 Arch Street, in Historic Philadelphia, the birthplace of American freedom, the Center illuminates constitutional ideals and inspires active citizenship through a state-of-the-art museum experience, including hundreds of interactive exhibits, films and rare artifacts; must-see feature exhibitions; the internationally acclaimed, 360-degree theatrical production Freedom Rising; and the iconic Signers’ Hall, where visitors can sign the Constitution alongside 42 life-size, bronze statues of the Founding Fathers. The Center houses the Annenberg Center for Education and Outreach, the national hub for constitutional education, which offers cutting-edge civic learning resources both onsite and online. Freedom is calling. Answer it at the National Constitution For more information, call 215.409.6700 or visit www.constitutioncenter.org.

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Magdalena Grand Beach Resort in Tobago Introduces Silver, Gold, Platinum Destination Wedding Packages

April 25, 2012

The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort (www.MagdalenaGrand.com) in Tobago adds a Caribbean twist to the symbolism of the traditional wedding band by offering engaged couples a tranquil destination wedding with the choice of the Silver, Gold or Platinum wedding packages, which start at $1,129 per couple.

Couples looking to combine their wedding and honeymoon at the Magdalena Grand can take advantage of the resort’s complimentary Silver wedding package with the minimum purchase of a seven-night stay in a one-bedroom oceanfront suite.

Magdalena Grand Beach Resort welcomes guests to paradise by offering luxurious wedding packages that allow couples to truly embrace every second of their dream day.

The resort’s Silver Wedding Package is priced at $1,129 and includes:

© Complimentary wedding coordinator for the ceremony and reception

© Roundtrip transportation to and from local authorities

© Minister fee and legal fees

© Marriage license (additional fees apply for any Trinidad and Tobago national)

© Decorated wedding arch located on the beach or in the humble gardens

© A single tier 10″ wedding cake

© Romantic candlelit room on the night of the wedding

© Bride and groom T-shirts

For couples looking to relax with a celebratory champagne breakfast in bed the morning after the wedding, Magdalena Grand offers the Gold Wedding Package comprised of all the amenities provided in the Silver Package plus a bridal bouquet and boutonniere and a photo album with 24 prints for $1,299 per couple.

Magdalena Grand Beach Resort’s top-tier package, where the ultimate wedding celebration is provided, is the Platinum Wedding Package for only the most celebratory couples. The Platinum Package features all elements of the Gold and Silver Packages, plus a romantic candlelit dinner for two with a bottle of wine, a performance by a steel pan soloist during the ceremony and a day cruise for two for only $1,499 per couple.

“Tobago is a hidden treasure with its natural beauty and Caribbean warmth, making it the perfect lovers’ paradise,'” said Nikolas Eastwick-Field, principal, efm Hospitality Solutions, the resort’s operator. “Magdalena Grand Beach Resort truly captures the romantic essence of a beachfront destination wedding creating unforgettable memories for the newly betrothed,” Eastwick-Field added.

Couples interested in taking full advantage of the romance of Tobago and for those who have already tied the knot, Magdalena Grand offers a unique Renewal of Vows package for $799 per couple. This package, exclusively for those who have shared memorable years together, includes:

© A dedicated wedding coordinator

© Minister fee and marriage certificate

© Decorated arch with local blooms

© Bouquet and Boutonniere

© A wedding night, candle-lit room to create a sensual mood and celebrate the special day

© Champagne breakfast in bed the morning after

Packages are added to the cost of the room and include all taxes and services charges with additional extras available upon request (payable locally).

Newlyweds and couples can enjoy the resort’s 22 one- and two-bedroom oceanfront suites, each with its own private balcony, private Jacuzzi and parlor containing a pull-out, double sofa-bed. The resort’s two-bedroom suites have both a king-size and two double beds while the resort’s one-bedroom suites include the option of either one king-size or two double beds. The property also offers 178 deluxe ocean front rooms with the choice of a king-size or two double beds. Room rates start at $280.50 per room, per night (reflecting a 15% discount available until July 15, 2012), based on double occupancy.

All of the resort’s beautifully appointed rooms feature spacious marble bathrooms with shower and tub; deluxe toiletries, bathrobes and slippers; pure cotton linens; central air conditioning; ceiling fan; iron and ironing board; salon hair dryer; mini refrigerator; coffee/tea maker; safe; High-definition flat screen I.P. televisions with satellite programming; complimentary wireless Internet access; and I.P. telephones.

The resort offers a full range of facilities and activities including three swimming pools – including an adults-only pool; a Dive Center with its own training pool; an 18-hole PGA-designed Championship golf course; pitching and putting greens; driving range; day and nighttime tennis; and daily guest activities program. Guests can ride bicycles as well as well as take advantage of a variety of off-property excursions.

The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort offers several restaurants, bars and casual dining options including the Pembois Buffet, the resort’s main restaurant; Kali’na fine dining restaurant; Robinson Crusoe Pub; Tavaco Lounge Piano Bar (situated in the lobby); Salaka Grill, a poolside and beachfront grill and Li’l Nylon Pool, a swim-up pool bar. In the coming weeks the resort will open Benné Café, a gourmet pastry shop and café.

Guests can choose from two meal plan options, which are added on to the cost of a nightly stay. The MAP is $65 per person, per night, with tax and service charges included and provides breakfast and dinner. The Full American Plan (FAP) is $100 per person, per night, with tax and service charges included and provides three meals daily.

On-property amenities include room service from 6 am until 10:30pm; concierge service; business center; 24 hour fitness center; full-service beauty salon and massage therapists; tour desk; convenience store, gift shop and secured parking.

In addition, children can enjoy the resort’s complimentary Club Cee Cee Kid’s Club, available to children four to 12 years old. Guests under four years of age are able to attend with a parent or adult. Club Cee Cee features arts and crafts, movies, books, board games, nature activities and video gaming systems. Outdoor activities are also available.

The Magdalena Grand Beach Resort is a 15-minute drive from A.N.R Robinson International Airport in Tobago and is situated on the 750-acre Tobago Plantations Estate, a gated community of luxury villas, condos and bungalows.

For more information, call the resort directly at 1-868-660-8500 or toll-free from the U.S. at 1-866-353-6222. Email info@MagdalenaGrand.com or reservations@MagdalenaGrand.com for reservations. visit http://www.MagdalenaGrand.com and find the property on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/MagdalenaGrand and on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/MagdalenaGrand.

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Montgomery Gentry Teams with Tim Gunn of ‘The Revolution’ for ‘Fashionable Journey’ Through Nashville Hotspots

April 25, 2012

Manuel, often referred to as the “Rhinestone Rembrandt,” in his signature showroom at 1922 Broadway in Nashville, where glittery couture is hand-made for country music stars © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com

Country music duo Montgomery Gentry, who are never shy on style, play host to TV’s fashion expert Tim Gunn, taking him on a “fashionable journey” through Nashville’s hottest clothing stores for an episode of ABC’s ‘The Revolution”. The episode, showcasing the sights and sounds of Music City, is scheduled to air on Thursday, April 26 on ABC (check local listings and times).

Troy Gentry, whose style is best described as “country chic,” introduced Gunn to Aimee Johns at Flavour for Men (1522 Demonbreun Street, Nashville), who guided him through the latest styles of Music Row. Flavour Clothing for Men & Women is known for its unmatched client service and for carrying a large number of creative lines from New York to Los Angeles including Hudson, AG Jeans, Theory, John Varvatos, L.A.M.B., Hale Bob, Joes Jeans and 7 for all Mankind, to name a few. As one of the few boutiques in Nashville that will host private shopping opportunities to include in-store or in-home appointments for those who request it, Flavour is often frequented by Gentry, as well as many other country stars including such notables as Carrie Underwood, Luke Bryan, Blake Shelton, Reba McEntire, Kellie Pickler and more. (Flavour, www.flavourclothing.com, 615-254-2064).

After visiting Flavour, Eddie Montgomery, whose style can best be described as “traditional,” introduced Gunn to Morelia Ceuvas, daughter of famed costumer and artist, Manuel. Often referred to as theRhinestone Rembrandt,” Manuel (whose signature showroom is located at 1922 Broadway in Nashville), is known for making Johnny Cash the “man in black,” Elvis’ signature gold lamé suit, the garments Bob Dylan wore when performing for the Pope, and countless other stars including (but not limited to) members of The Rat Pack, Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger. His work within the entertainment industry is world-renowned and received special recognition by the Country Music Association. The shop, Manuel American Designs, also known as Manuel Exclusive Clothier or simply Manuel’s, is a staple not only of Nashville but of Americana history. (Manuel’s, www.manuelcouture.com, 615-321-5444).

See also: Nashville: Where the Heart & Soul of Country Music Beats Strong

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AmaWaterways Celebrates Jewish Heritage on the Danube with 2012 Themed Cruises

April 25, 2012

Vienna's Judenplatz, the historic Jewish Quarter from the middle ages, where there is the Jewish Museum, and the Holocaust Memorial. AMAWaterways has introduced a 2012 series of Danube River cruises oriented around Jewish Heritage © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

From visiting the oldest synagogue in the world to touring Europe’s charming cities, AmaWaterways celebrates Jewish history with two of its most popular cruises: The Legendary Danube Jewish Heritage and Blue Danube Discovery Jewish Heritage. The themed cruises will journey across four countries on the Danube River on the AmaDolce, AmaLegro and AmaWaterways’ newest ship, the AmaCerto.

“This itinerary provides a glimpse into the rich history of the Jewish community in Europe,” said Kristin Karst, AmaWaterways’ executive vice president and co-owner. “AmaWaterways is thrilled to offer our guests this unique opportunity to explore Jewish ancestry while enjoying a relaxing and luxurious experience onboard our ships.”

AmaWaterways’ Jewish Heritage itineraries highlight the beautiful sights and sounds of the Danube River with visits to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, and extensions in Prague and Budapest. The itineraries include shore excursions to well-known World War II sites, historic Jewish synagogues and sightseeing tours in some of Europe’s most beautiful cities. AmaWaterways’ 2012 Jewish Heritage cruise itineraries are as follows:

The Legendary Danube Jewish Heritage– The 11-night itinerary starts with two nights in Prague, Czech Republic with a tour of Josefov, the former Jewish ghetto which is now the second largest Jewish museum in the world. Passengers will next enjoy a stop in Karlovy Vary, famous for its Bohemian Spas. Passengers travel to Nuremberg, Germany to embark on the Danube River onboard AmaWaterways’ newest ship: AmaCerto. In Nuremberg, passengers visit Zeppelin Field and view Hitler’s Party Rally grounds and Justice Palace where the war crimes tribunal sat in 1946. Passengers then cross the Continental Divide on their way to Regensburg to explore Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. The itinerary includes excursions to the oldest Jewish Ghetto in Germany; the Regensburg Synagogue; Jewish Cemetery “Judenau” and Oscar Shindler’s House.

Passengers also visit Austria’s beautiful cities such as Passau, Linz, Melk and Vienna. The itinerary includes excursions to Salzburg, the setting for “The Sound of Music,” and a Benedictine Abbey tour in Melk. In Vienna, travelers enjoy excursions to the Jewish Museum, Judenplatz; Sigmund Freud’s House; Jewish Cemetery and the Jewish Quarter in Vienna’s 2nd District. Also available is a Vienna city tour and an optional Mozart and Strauss concert.

Ending in Budapest, Hungary, passengers explore old Buda and modern Pest which includes sightseeing stops at the Sankt Stephen Park where travelers visit the statues of Raoul Wellenberg and Gabor Sztehlo, both credited with saving thousands of Hungarian Jews during World War II. Other excursions include visits to the Jewish District, 1956 Hungarian Revolution Tour, and a visit to the Parliament building still bearing bullet holes from the Soviet intervention. Travelers will also visit the “House of Terror,” a feared location of the Hungarian secret police. North American travelers can book this special itinerary now with a U.S. departure date of July 22, 2012.

Blue Danube Discovery Jewish Heritage – The 13-night itinerary starts with two nights in the beautiful and historical city of Budapest. Passengers explore Sankt Stephan Park and the Jewish District for a walking tour featuring stops at the Dohany St. Synagogue, the Old Jewish Cemetery and the Tree of Life. Passengers also visit the distinctive Fisherman’s Bastion, the Royal Palace, St. Stephen’s Basilica and the famous Heroes’ Square before embarking onboard the AmaDolce or AmaLegro.

Cruising along the Danube River, passengers stop in Bratislava, Slovakia to visit the tomb of Chatam Sofer, Bratislava’s most famous Rabbi. Passengers can take a walking tour of Bratislava to visit landmarks such as the Old Town Hall, Mirbach Palace and the Gothic St. Martin’s Cathedral. Other shore excursions include the Bratislava Communist Tour to discover bizarre architecture of the “Slovensky Rozhlas” (Slovak Radio;) a visit to Liberty Square; visit to the memorial and cemetery for fallen soldiers of the Russian Army that helped liberate the city during World War II.

Traveling form Slovakia to Austria, passengers stop in Vienna, the country’s capital. Excursions include visits to the Jewish Museum, Judenplatz, Sigmund Freud’s House, the Jewish Cemetery and Jewish Quarter in Vienna’s second district. Additional stops in the itinerary include Melk, Linz and Salzburg, the setting for the “Sound of Music;” Regensburg, home to Oscar Schindler’s House; Nuremberg, where passengers visit Zeppelin Field to view Hitler’s Party Rally grounds and Justice Palace where the war crimes tribunal sat in 1946. The itinerary ends with two nights in Prague, Czech Republic with a tour of Josefov, the former Jewish ghetto. North American travelers can book this special itinerary now with U.S. departure dates of August 2, October 14 and October 25, 2012.

AmaWaterways’ AmaCerto, AmaDolce and AmaLegro ships carry a maximum of 148-164 passengers that incorporates the most advanced river cruise ship design including Twin or French Balconies in the majority of its spacious staterooms and suites, which range up to 350 sq. feet. Passengers will enjoy gourmet dining with free-flowing local wine at the multiple fine dining venues available onboard. The ships also feature a sun deck; fitness center and spa; complimentary Internet and Infotainment system in all staterooms plus ship wide Wi-Fi. For passengers wanting to explore the serene paths along the rivers, the ships offer a fleet of bicycles onboard (capacity controlled).

Other themed cruises available: Romantic Danube Wine Themed, The Legendary Danube Wine Themed, The Enchanting Rhine Wine Themed, Provence and Spain Wine Themed, Christmas Time Cruise and Christmas on the Rhine.

For more information on AmaWaterways, visit www.amawaterways.com. To book, contact a local travel agent or visit www.amawaterways.com, like on Facebook and follow on Twitter.

See also: Jewish Heritage Preserved in Vienna, Austria and slideshow

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www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

Australia Tops Zegrahm Expeditions’ Survey of Adventure Travelers’ Favorite Destinations for 2013

April 25, 2012

Australia is the most popular place for adventure travelers for 2013, according to a survey by Zegrahm Expeditions, a leading adventure travel company for the past 20 years, When asked to share regions of most interest, 63 percent of survey participants listed Australia, making the island-continent the top adventure travel destination for 2013.

“Based on the findings of our travel trends survey, we introduced a number of new itineraries to Australia and the Pacific regions for 2013,” stated Jon Nicholson, President of Zegrahm Expeditions. “I am pleased to report that pre-reservations for these itineraries are selling exceptionally well, and overall pre-bookings are equal to or exceeding our most popular itineraries in 2012.”

The survey also revealed a number of other areas of interest for travel in 2013. Adventure travelers reported that 57 percent would like to visit Asia and 49 percent listed Central and South America as a top choice. In contrast, the Middle East was the area of least interest with only 34 percent expressing interest to visit the region. (Respondents were asked to check all areas of interest so percentages don’t add up to 100%.)

Featured Itineraries in 2013 Include:

• Rain Forests & Reefs – Belize to Costa Rica: 15-day journey departing March 8, 2013, aboard the Island Sky

• Australia’s Kimberley: 15-day journey departing September 12, 2013, aboard the Caledonian Sky

• Tasmania, Sub-Antarctic Islands & New Zealand: 20-day journey departing November 25, 2013, aboard the Caledonian Sky

• Wild Mongolia: 18-day overland adventure departing August 20, 2013

• Circumnavigation of Sumatra: 19-day journey departing January 2, 2013, aboard the Clipper Odyssey

• Vietnam & Cambodia by Ship: 19-day journey departing January 27, 2013, aboard the Clipper Odyssey

In addition to the destination findings, Zegrahm learned that 20 percent of adventure travelers usually travel solo. Zegrahm is offering lower single rates in 2013 on all ship-based itineraries.

For the complete 2013 expedition schedule, or to learn more about Zegrahm Expeditions, visit www.zeco.com or call 800-628-8747.

Seattle-based Zegrahm Expeditions Inc., founded in 1990, is a leading adventure travel company specializing in small-ship expedition cruises, tours, and safaris to remote and intriguing destinations around the world. Led by expert guides and lecturers, Zegrahm itineraries are carefully crafted and all-inclusive, feature deluxe accommodations, and operate in all seven continents. For more information, visit www.zeco.com.

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Surf City USA Publishes New Dining Guidebook

April 25, 2012

Surf City USA – the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau (HBMVB) announces publication of their all-new, all-inclusive Dining Guide for the city of Huntington Beach.

“This dining guide is very unique in the sense that it reflects the funky, and eclectic nature of Surf City USA and offers the reader an insider’s look into HB dining,” explains HBMVB Board Chair and Shorebreak Hotel General Manager Marco Perry. “This mini-magazine reads as if your good friend were referring you to their favorite place to enjoy a meal – unlike most dining guides that read more as paid restaurant listings accompanied by ads.”

Insider scoops on favorite diners and restaurants come from Huntington Beach locals in the “Meet the Locals” section, and from Surf City chefs (who even share some of their favorite recipes) in “Compliments of the Chefs.” Readers will get “Grab and Go” ideas for the perfect picnic, and find inspiration on – “Setting the Scene” for an Old School, Surfside, Cool & Contemporary, or Romantic experience.

With multiple new and trendy restaurants arriving on the dining landscape, Huntington Beach is on the fast track to dining acclaim. From high-end steak, seafood and martinis, to hidden gems popular for their burritos or sandwiches, Surf City dining satisfies discerning “foodie” palates.

The first ever Huntington Beach Dining Guide, including a list of over 275 Surf City USA restaurants, is available at the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitor Bureau office, the HB Visitor Information Center (located at the base of the Huntington Beach Pier), and at various restaurants and hotels throughout the city. An online searchable page-turning version is also available at http://www.surfcityusa.com.

The Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau is the official destination marketing organization of Huntington Beach, Surf City USA®. One of Southern California’s premier coastal destinations, Huntington Beach is the ideal location for a California family vacation, or relaxing weekend getaway.

With 10 miles of wide-open white sand California beaches, Huntington Beach is a destination of choice for vacationers and business travelers alike. To plan your Surf City USA® vacation, or to learn more about Huntington Beach, visit the Huntington Beach Marketing and Visitors Bureau website at www.SurfCityUSA.com or call 800-729-6232 for a free Visitors Guide.

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Pennsylvania Farm Vacations Put Families in Touch with Roots

April 20, 2012

When Bonnie Schubert told one of her farm vacation guests about a cow that had not been bred and, therefore, was not in milk production, the guest replied “No problem; my milk comes from bottles, not cows.”

Yet another guest at her Hummerhaven Farmstead in Millerstown, Pa., when offered the opportunity to pull some carrots from the garden for her family’s meal, responded, “No thanks, I don’t use carrots that grow in the dirt. My store sells clean ones in plastic bags.”

Have Americans lost their roots? Have they really become so disconnected with where their food comes from?

The 18 members of Pennsylvania Farm Vacations would offer a resounding “Yes!”

Many farm vacation hosts have been welcoming hard-core urbanites, suburban dwellers and exurbanites to their farms for almost five decades, and one thing has become clear over the past few years – fewer and fewer people know the origins of their food.

“We just try to add some common sense to guests’ worldly wisdom,” Bonnie says. “We try to have fun and kindly explain what life on a farm is all about. So when a grandmother from upstate New Jersey wonders if her grandkids can collect eggs from the rooster, my response is. “Well, you can try. And then I explain that roosters don’t lay eggs, hens do.”

At most farm vacations, visiting “farmers” typically are encouraged to try their hand with chores. At Weatherbury Farm in Avella, Washington County, those tasks include pumping water by hand at the pump, feeding farm animals and collecting eggs for the next day’s breakfast. At Rocky Acre Farm Bed and Breakfast in Mount Joy, Lancaster County, wannabe farmers can help milk the cows – the farm has more than 650! – and feed the calves.

Chores always include a time for questions.

Frequently guests will say “I have learned more in the last hour than I have learned in a long time,” says Sally Hassinger, owner of Mountain Dale Farm in McClure, Snyder County.

“The realization of how good fresh, whole, real milk tastes has been a continuous feedback,” says Kathleen Fields of Flint Hill Farm and Education Center in Coopersburg, Lehigh County. “Comments like, ‘I never knew that is what milk tastes like! It is really good!’ are some of the responses. Families who come and work along with us for a morning or afternoon are pleased that they and their children are relaxed, tired and ready for a nap after lunch or early lights-out after dinner.”

Farm vacation hosts are particularly happy to educate children. Weatherbury Farm encourages learning about farming by providing families with a packet of information about farming and a chance to earn a certificate for completed chores and tasks. More than 1,300 children have graduated from the farm’s program.

Carrie Megginson of Buckland Farm in Clearville, Bedford County, said one recent guest — Melissa Breitbart of Cedar Rapids, Iowa – wrote to say her daughter “has re-enacted how a chicken lays an egg to just about everyone she gets a chance to tell.”

Education about food production also comes in more subtle ways. Guests at all the farm vacations are treated to breakfasts made from home-grown ingredients. At Sun and Cricket Bed and Breakfast near Pittsburgh, owner Tara Bradley-Steck serves up dishes made with serviceberries, apples, blueberries, rhubarb, potatoes, onions, zucchini and herbs – all grown on the farm.

“I stroll through our garden or orchard, pick what I need, and then whip it into a dish that I serve an hour or so later. Not only is everything fresh, but it also reflects the season,” Tara says.

Bunny Yinger dips into her grandmother’s recipes to make mouth-watering jams, sauces and dressings from fruit and vegetables grown on their Berry Patch Farm in Lebanon County.

Clearly, guests never go away hungry – or stressed – after spending time at one of the state’s farm vacation destinations.

For more information or to make arrangements to visit one of the member farms, contact Marcy Tudor, PFVA manager, at 888-856-6622 or visit www.pafarmstay.com.

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www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin

Virgin Vacations Introduces Cruise Vacations with Holland America Line

April 20, 2012

Venice is one of the destinations on Virgin Vacations' new cruise vacation packages featuring Holland America Line © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Virgin Vacations has introduced a collection of 32 cruise vacation packages featuring Holland America Line. Travelers can choose from cruise or air-inclusive packages offering savings of up to 30% on air fare alone.

Available year round, the cruise packages give travelers a head start by providing a stay of one- to three days at the port city of embarkation, prior to cruise departure. Travelers can choose from itineraries to the Mediterranean and Adriatic Seas, Northern Europe, Panama Canal, Hawaii, Alaska, and the Mexican Riviera.

Europe spring and summer cruise packages range from 9- to 17 days. With spring-summer air fares to Europe alone costing $1,400-$1,700, Virgin Vacations’ new packages are priced from $929, or $2,119 with air fare from New York for a one night Amsterdam hotel and 7 Day Southern Norwegian Fjords Cruise package in May. Mediterranean cruise vacation packages, such as a one-night Rome hotel and 10-day Eastern Mediterranean cruise in mid-May begin at $1,099, $2,169 air inclusive from New York.

Prices are per person, double occupancy, and include first class hotel accommodations with breakfast, hotel to port transfer, and cruise with all meals. Air prices include all taxes and fuel charges. Optional sightseeing tours are additional, as are cabin and hotel upgrades.

 

For more information contact http://www.virginvacations.com

Sample Mediterranean cruise packages

Travelers who haven’t yet made summer plans can still find space on any of 7 different Mediterranean cruise vacation itineraries through early fall, with a choice of starting in Rome or Barcelona. Below are sample packages available with or without air fare.

Western Mediterranean

From Rome: 13 days: 1 night Rome, 10 night cruise

Beginning in Rome with an overnight at the first class Hotel Genova, and a free morning, Virgin Vacations passengers transfer to Civitavecchia, where they board the MS Noordam for ten nights cruising the Mediterranean. The itinerary calls at 7 different ports, with a full day at each, plus an overnight and extra half day anchored in Barcelona. First port of call is Livorno, where travelers can visit Florence for the day. Rounding out the itinerary are visits to Monte Carlo, Monaco; Palma de Majorca, Spain; Tunis, Tunisia; Trapani, Sicily and Naples before returning to Rome.

Regular departures are available through September 23, with prices beginning at $1,199 cruise vacation for May 26 departure, and ranging to a high of $1,699 for the June 15 package. Air-inclusive packages from New York begin at $2199, May 26 departure, and range to $2979 for the June 16 departure. Add on air fares begin at $347 from Los Angeles; $483 from San Francisco. Cruise line taxes and fees, plus 2 Euro per person Italian city tax per hotel night in Rome are additional, as are optional tours, shore excursions, and gratuities.

Eastern Mediterranean

Barcelona to Venice: 15 days: 1 night Barcelona, 12 night Mediterranean cruise, from $1,449 hotel-cruise, $2,679 with air fare

This package begins in Barcelona and ends in Venice, beginning with an overnight and morning in Barcelona before a transfer to port for 12 nights aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam. Following a full day at sea, the first port of call is Livorno, in Italy’s Tuscany region, before calling at Rome, Naples, and Messina, Italy. Another full day at sea leads to stops in Nafplion, Katakolon, and Corfu, Greece; and Dubrovnik, Croatia. Venice is port of call for a final afternoon and night.

Included are hotel and breakfast in Barcelona, hotel-port transfer, all meals while on cruise, and full day stops at all ports of call except Venice (1/2 day and overnight). Travelers can choose from two hotels in Barcelona and three different departure dates:

  • July 4 : hotel-cruise from $1449, $2689 with air fare, New York
  • August 9:  hotel-cruise from $1449, $2679 with air fare
  • September 21: hotel-cruise from $2069, $2969 with air fare

Add-on air fares from Los Angeles start at $241 per person, $193 per person from San Francisco. Airport transfers, shore excursions, gratuities, Holland America taxes and fees are additional.

For more information, visit Virgin Vacations’ Holland America Line Cruise Vacations, or contact your travel agent. Virgin Vacations is also on facebook.

To learn about Virgin Vacations’ destinations, visit www.virginvacations.com.

For more travel features, visit:

www.travelwritersmagazine.com/TravelFeaturesSyndicate

www.examiner.com/eclectic-travel-in-national/karen-rubin