Category: Travel

LAS VEGAS … TOP 10 Suggestions, Activities and Tips

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Las Vegas is NOT just a gambler’s haven. There is a multitude of activities 24 hours a day/night to keep the adrenaline going.

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I travel to Las Vegas three times a year and my husband and I are not what you would call gamblers. We play the penny slots and $5.00 blackjack tables. We set aside $150.00 in an envelope and that is our ‘loss’ money. I know, Las Vegas will not get rich on our investment! Winnings go in a separate envelope for an exquisite dining experience. Believe me when I say…”When I play and I have reached the point of doubling my money…off I go to the cashier box to claim my winnings. We don’t come home big winners but that is not why we go to Las Vegas.

Here are my Top 10 Suggestions for Las Vegas.

  1. The Gambler. You will always find a slot or game table wherever you go in Vegas. Set you ‘loss’ limit and have fun.
  2. The Shopper. Find accommodations on the strip near the Fashion Mall on the Strip. Most large hotels/resorts also have shopping arcades.
  3. The Water Lover.  Check on-line for ‘resort pools Las Vegas’ and select your pool of choice. Be aware of the season you are going. Most pools are outdoors and in the cold are not open.
  4. The Buffet Guru. Take your pick…breakfast, lunch, dinner. Check for specials or coupon books. Some buffets have discounts.
  5. The Walker. Wear broken-in, comfortable shoes, slacks or shorts and a top.  No shoes…no inside! Leave the high heels and stilettos at home or wear only when going out to dinner.
  6. The Luxury Traveler. Take a limousine from the airport to your hotel. In the evening, have dinner reservations at a hotel on the strip, get all dressed up for an evening out and ride in style.
  7. The Spa Experience. All of the large hotels have gorgeous, luxurious spas to relax and unwind. Try the Mirage, Ceasar’s Palace, Venetian, Wynn or Mandalay Bay to name a few.
  8. The “Hotel” Experience. Check websites for hotel room discounts or call the hotel and ask for their specials. Join the Members Clubs like MLife and others online before you go. At Check-In be friendly, upbeat and smile. When they are assigning your room ask if there is a possibility for an upgrade. A smile can do wonders.
  9. Take the monorail for a day or two. Your feet will thank you.
  10. Use the room safe. Do not bring expensive jewelry or anything you would want to lose.

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Here are my Top 10 Activities for enjoying Las Vegas.

  1. Walk thru the large hotels. There are beautiful gardens (Bellagio), Dolphins and Animals (Mirage), Grand Buffets (Wynn +), Shopping and Show Arcades (Ceasar’s Palace..The Forum), a replica of Venice with gondolas, opera singers, mimes, restaurants and shopping (Venetian),  Medieval life (Escaliber), outdoor beach (Mandalay Bay) or chandelier  lounge (Aria). Take your time and walk through each resort. Everyone is different.
  2. Take the Linq, a very slow moving ‘ferris wheel’ with glass enclosed pods. Ride during the day or at night for the ultimate night view of the strip. You can also have the bar experience while riding.
  3. The Mirage has a free nightly show featuring their iconic volcano. An Ahhh, wow, moment. Stake out your position on the sidewalk in front of the Mirage entrance for the best video, pic views.
  4. The Bellagio has a free nightly show of dancing waters. An Ahhh, wow, moment. Center front on the sidewalk.
  5. The Paris has an elevator which takes you to the top. An excellent evening meal overlooking the strip is ideal for a romantic dining experience.
  6. New York, New York is a touring hotel with restaurants, cafe’s and a fast-moving roller-coaster.
  7. Circus Circus has rides and entertainment for the young and old.
  8. The Stratosphere is a tall needle pointed hotel with a roller-coaster at the top. The atmosphere for an evening drink or meal is breathtaking.
  9. Fremont Street, downtown Las Vegas is a long avenue with casinos and shops on two sides and above an evening light show on the arched ceiling. You can zip line above visitors in the middle of the street. Entertainment of all types are seen on the stages or in the street. Beware with children..some performers are scantily clothed!
  10. Cirque du Soleil. Presently six different productions are showing. LOVE by the Beatles at the Mirage in the newest production.

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Here are my TOP 10 TIPS to prepare for the Las Vegas Experience.

  1. Do your research before you go. Google..www.LasVegas.com. This website will tell you everything you need to know with links to Hotels, Shows, Restaurants and Events.
  2. Spend time finding the hotel that you can explore and adore the surroundings. Every hotel is different and room prices fluctuate according to convention seasons.
  3. Attending a convention? Most offer room discounts at the convention site hotel. Also, check out the “Conventions Schedules” to see which hotels will be hosting large expos. Unless you are attending a convention, look at alternative accommodations. The wait time for elevators will be long.
  4. Check the weather report for the days you will be in Las Vegas. Summer can be in the 100’s (extremely hot), Fall and Winter seasons cool (will need slacks and jacket). Always carry an umbrella. just in case. Bring sunglasses, swimsuit and cover and medications. There are Walgreens and CVS pharmacies on the strip. Buy your sunscreen and other necessities there. This saves room in your suitcase.
  5. Watch your purses, cameras and wallets! Be aware of your surroundings. Large groups of people gather at stop lights and it is crowded.
  6. You do not need a car. Some hotels are now charging for parking. Take a shuttle or cab from the airport, use the monorail or buses on the strip to downtown. There are tours which go outside the city and it may be a money saver to tour rather than rent a car and pay all the fees and taxes that are incurred. Don’t forget the hop on-off bus passes.
  7. There are kiosks of half-price tickets for shows and dinners that open at 10:00 a.m.  Check your free city map for locations on the strip.
  8. Get a Players Card at each hotel. Place them on a key chain. You place the card in the slot machine or on the table to collect points. If you play long enough you may get a ‘comp’.
  9. Room service can get pricey. Stay out of the mini bars! Buy your drinks, water (stay hydrated), quick snacks or sandwiches at Walgreens. A cheap throw away cooler can save you money and the ice at the hotels is free!
  10. Leave room in your suitcase before you leave home for souvenirs…Before you buy that ‘huge, tall’ drinking glass, ask yourself “Is this going to fit into my carry-on or suitcase?”2013-07-04 10.21.550811162144 (1)DSC00850

Final Thoughts of having a great time in Las Vegas. Plan ahead and only visit a Wedding Chapel if you are sober, have previously made all your preparations, have any necessary paperwork with you and you have spent time selecting the perfect ring! In other words, this is not a spur of the moment commitment.

Always remember,”What Happens in Vegas, Stays in Vegas!”

 

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Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

The Mirage in Las Vegas, a Tropical Paradise

In the center of the Las Vegas Strip is the Mirage Resort, a virtual Tropical Paradise.

Entering the resort, head left to check-in which is quick and easy. They will charge an additional “resort fee per day” and place a $300.00 hold on your credit card. The resort is a MLife resort. I highly recommend joining (for no fee) and the rewards program will provide a discount on rooms. MLife is also represented at other resorts 25 in all.

The entry to the casino is through a domed, multi-waterfall, lush garden of palm trees and flowers. This area is a must photo op stop, both during the day and evening.

Proceeding down the lush carpeted area you will be winding through slot machines, table games and restaurants. The room elevators are located to the left with three floor designated rooms/wings. The six elevators allow for quick transfer to your level without stopping on every floor. There are numerous availability of rooms, suites, lanai rooms of one, two or three bedrooms villas and a penthouse. Check under HOTEL for a description of each room. Also included are Dinner and Show Packages and Air and Hotel Packages.

The Beatles LOVE Cirque Du Soleil has revealed a new production in 2016. The show is housed at the Mirage. Music, historical video tapes and outstanding floor and air routines provides a non-stop musical adventure featuring the Beatles. Check under ENTERTAINMENT for Boyz II MEN, comedians and other performers. The Mirage Sports Book VIP Seats puts you where the action is.

The Secret Garden and Dolphin Habitat is the area to see bottlenose dolphins, white tiger, lions and leopards. Interaction with the Dolphins is a memorable experience.

There are 16 restaurants from Blizz Frozen Yogurt, Pizza, Coffee, Brazilian, Japanese, Burger bars, Delicatessens, Still the sports haven, Italian, Heritage Steak House, Fin with Asian decor, as well as, private and group dining. There are 8 venues for NIGHTLIFE entertainment.

The Casino provides everything from the hot new games to race & sports book, slots, table games, poker, tournaments. Play the MYVEGAS for opportunities for rooms, show, meals and more.

The Spa at the Mirage is relaxing, quiet and inviting atmosphere and provides a wide selection of services. The sauna, steam room and four whirlpools will release the stress and tension. The relaxation music will send you to a different world and the flavored waters, tea and fruit will replenish your body. Individual lockers, showers and make-up room are available.  Check under AMENITIES for a listing of all their services and specials.

The Mirage’s iconic Volcano erupts in the evening hours to present a spectacular show. Stand directly in front of the entrance Mirage building signage for the best view.

The Mirage Pools located at the back of the huge resort are simply “paradise at it’s best” with rock waterfalls, palm trees, dining center, comfortable loungers, drink service, towel station and last minute pool needs shop. There are cabanas for daily rental, adult luxury pool and the dolphin bar.

website:www.themirage.com

1-800-374-9000     3400  S Las Vegas Blvd.    Las Vegas, Nevada  891109

Article and Photos….Mary Ann Olson

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Quebec….Canadian French City

Find the best deal, compare prices, and read what other travelers have to say at TripAdvisor

Quebec is a Canadian city with European charm. This world heritage treasure is a UNESCO site city. Cobblestone streets, horse-drawn carriages, outdoor cafes, singers, artists adorn the streets. Old Quebec’s open-air art gallery, the Rue du Tresor attracts locals and visitors daily. At the top of Cape Diamond, a stroll along the Dufferin Terrance overlooks the St. Lawrence River.

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The distinct landmark, the Chateau Frontenac, is the most photographed hotel. This centuries-old architecture overlooks the city. Construction began in 1892 and has been expanded several times over the years. In 1926, a fire destroyed part of the building.

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Located next to the Chateau is the Dufferin Terrace. Here riding the toboggan run is a favorite activity. Adventure seekers move downhill at speeds of up to 70 km an hour.

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Quebec has fortified walls and imposing gates, a Citadel with changing of the guards at Artillary Park and fortresses.

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The Quartier Petit  Champlain is the place for window shopping. The areas boutiques, restaurants, shops and art galleries line the cobblestone streets. This area is a magical fairyland scene with holiday decorations and twinkling lights during the Christmas Holiday season. Colorful, decorative shops and sophisticated designer and artisanal boutiques line the streets along with souvenir shops and cafes. The Rue Saint-Jean has the European vibe! Here clothing boutiques and unique purchases are found. There are over 10 streets and neighborhoods for strolling and shopping.

The St. Lawrence River which cuts across Quebec has played a role in the city’s economic development. Harbor and trade activities flourish here with cruise ships docking in the New Port of Quebec. This public market place finds a park and bicycle paths for exercise. The nearby Aquarium of Quebec provides outstanding views of the waterway. The Promenade Samuel-De Champlain located at the water’s edge is an outstanding walk.

The Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupre Shrine is located north of the city. More than a million visitors are welcomed every year and is a place for ‘miracles’ over the past 350 years. The Shrine is a neo-
Roman style with a golden statue of Saint Anne. This Shrine in the Cote-de-Beaupre region has glorious stained windows with high pillars and ceilings.

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The Montmorency Falls Park is a natural phenomenon at 83m high. The best views are from Parc de la Chute-Montgomery and experience the spray and force of the falls. Gondola rides cross the falls.

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The Plains of Abraham are the lungs and heart of Quebec City. Here was the scene of the 1759 battle between Wolfe and Montcalm. Today, it is one of the world’s largest and finest urban parks. Whether you are walking, picnicking, cross-country skiing or bicycling, this is the place to meet up with friends. At the 400th Anniversary, Paul McCartney and Celine Dion performed at the event which is celebrated every June 24.  The Musee national des beax-arts du Quebec, a short distance away, is renowned for its exhibits of Quebec art.

Parliament Hill is the location that Quebec’s National Assembly convene. The Fontaine de Tourny was awarded a gold medal at the Paris World Far in 1855. Today, it stands as a legacy of Quebec’s 400 anniversary celebrations. It has 32 water-themed sculptures with 43 jets which is lighted in the evenings.

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Located in the countryside, are historic churches, farms and heritage homes. These can be seen while traveling from one village to another. During the season, fresh strawberries, apples, breads, wines, ice ciders, liqueurs and other local delicacies can be purchased.

Outdoor activities are extensive. Hiking, canoeing, fishing, camping, kayaking are enjoyed among the breathtaking atmosphere. During the winter months, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, skating and dog-sledding provide cold weather activities. Racing down the slopes on ski hills is a competative sport. Also, not to miss is North America’s only Ice Hotel and the world’s biggest winter celebration – the Quebec Winter Carnival and the largest winter playground in America – Village Vacances Valcartier.

Accommodations include hotels, motels, cottages, condos, apartments, bed and breakfasts and campgrounds. At present, there are 293 possibilities.

Quebec is a foodie’s paradise! World renowned chefs prepare world class gourmet dishes. Traditional Quebec cuisine, French cuisine, First Nations cuisine use local products in many signature dishes. Chocolate and candy factory shops make mouthwatering delights. Image result for quebec city

Visiting Quebec, visitors can create their own discount passports. Discounts on accommodations, activities and dining are available.

Travelers website:    www.ville.quebec.qc.ca

 

To:  College Young Adults going on the cruise.

Just a few tips to get you ready to cruise

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Drink packages…..there are normally at least possible….the ‘drinks’ packages:  1) beer, soda, water (yes you do pay for water on the ship….

Bring a water bottle with you and do refills from the cold water dispensers in the buffet area..free!  It would probably be more economical to purchase the “drink special of the day…the kind with little umbrellas” or get a bucket 6-8 pack bucket (someone charges it on their room card  and everyone re-imburses that person for the beer ‘they drank’..(do the math) that night before bed!! (amazing how some people have  tendencies to forget L DO limit the alcohol….being sick in the tiny little bathroom is NO FUN! You spent $$ to have fun on ship and go on excursions so don’t miss out of the adventures just because you drank too much.

2) Phones… put on AIRPLANE mode unless you want a huge  bill…check with your service company for ‘out of country fees’. Text messages will cost you also.

SKYPE…If your parents want a daily update……Make sure you are sober when you log-in for visiting ‘mom and dad’!

3) Internet packages are rather expensive….best bet…most ports have a Starbucks or similar store.  You can google locations for the ports you will be visiting.

4.) ONE Carry-on ONLY!!! Hey gals only flip-flops, running shoes for fitness room and ONE pair dress shoes….no more! Limit make-up…. Most of the time you will have sunscreen on and an SPF lip gloss, waterproof mascara and eyeliner. 2-3 swimsuits, 1 cover, 2 shorts, 3 tops, sundress, 1 workout outfit, curling iron (if you want). They have hairdryers in rooms.

GUYS…(skip makeup)….otherwise same as gals… except 1 dress slack, long sleeve white shirt and tie. Dress jacket if you have one. Dress shoes if you have them. Don’t waste $$ on tux.

5) SUNSCREEN WITH SPF. Most self tanners don’t have this and you will be sorry the next day…. Benedryl pills are handy if sunburn.

6)  Watch out for one another…..Always safety first!!!!  Never go anywhere by yourself!! (Gals use bathroom facilities together..gossip time … but guys too.)

Above all have FUN and Behave Yourselves (I am a parent – Had to give you the ‘talk’)

 

Cruising

My husband and I have cruised 15 times. Cruising allows us to travel to numerous destinations on one trip.  We unpack once and no driving. All our meals are prepared with no cooking. The ship entertainment during the evening is very good, some cruises better than others. Activities are numerous including pool activities, game rooms, computer classes, ship tours or just relaxing with a good book reclining on a lounger. Below are the cruise lines we have sailed on.

Carnival – Liberty (Mediterranean), Fascination (Caribbean), Imagination (Caribbean)

Norwegian – Sky (Caribbean), Pearl (Caribbean)

Royal Caribbean – Brilliance of Sea (Mexico)

Holland American – Zuiderdam (Alaska). Oosterdam (twice) (Mexico)

Princess – Royal (Southern Caribbean), Ruby

Bahama Breeze (Bahamas)

Celebrity – Constellation  (European Wine Cruise)

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Most of our cruises were 7 days and the European 12-15 days. Here are some recommendations I have about cruising.

  • Packing.  One suitcase and one carry-on and backpack with camera equipment.  1 dress or suit, dress shoes, 3 shorts, 5 tops, 1 slacks, 2 swimsuits, 1 swimsuit cover, 1 flip-flops, basic make-up, hair products, walking shoes, undergarments, lightweight sweater and rain poncho. Large zip lock bag (adapters for phones, computer, kindle and an 3-4 plugin extension cord). Zip lock bag medium (highlighter, notepad, pens, pencils and paper clips). Zip lock (all medications – keep in your backpack, car keys, passport/visa, small evening purse and crossover purse, credit card(s), cash (small bills). In a plastic flat binder keep travel documents (hotel, cruise papers , suitcase tags, itinerary and copy of travel insurance policy-highly recommended!). Do Not Bring Valuable Jewelry.
  • Prior to leaving home. Go on-line and fill out your ‘document information’. Make copies and bring with you. Leave a copy of your itinerary with a family member or friend. Make a copy of your passport and driver’s license.
  • Stateroom. There will be a safe to keep your camera, passport, medications and other necessities in. The bathrooms are small in size and closet space and hangers are limited. There is shelving to place clothing on in the closet. Suitcases are placed under the bed. Inside rooms are very dark so bring a few nightlights. Balcony rooms have more open space, bring a bungee cord so the doors do not slam. There is 24 Hr. room service. Hint- pre-order any in-room breakfasts the evening before. Let your room steward to remove any product in the small refrigerator if you do not plan using them. Then, you can place your carry-on water, and 1 bottle of wine each in there. Anything you need inform your room steward.
  • Dining. You have already selected your dining option when you checked in. There will be Specialty Dinners outside the dining rooms at an additional cost. The beverage packages are available if you consume a wide selection of wines or specialized coffees every day. Hand sanitizers are located throughout the ship especially when entering the buffets and restaurants. Use them to stay healthy.
  • Spa. Every ship has a spa. This is where I ‘invest’ some of my time. I normally purchase the week pass to use the facilities. It is a quiet, serene area for total relaxation. I use the heated thermal recliners, steam room, sauna, and walk in thermal pool. Fruits, juices, tea and water is normally available in the waiting room. The messages and other treatments  usually have specials throughout the week.
  • Fitness. The equipment varies on the ships. Classes are available for a fee. There are free health presentations during the day. Proper attire is required. Workout clothes and shoes.
  • Excursions. These can be booked before your cruise. During the cruise, there are morning meetings discussing the tours available on the following day and information regarding shopping.
  • Photo gallery. Photos are taken at embarkation, dining, formal nights, activities and at each port.
  • Shopping. Sales are frequent and you will see women flocking to the walkways to select their purchases. Reminds me of Black Friday sales. The shops have clothing and any necessary products you may have left at home and can’t live without.
  • Lounges and bars. Many large sitting rooms and atriums have seating to socialize and have a drink.
  • Pools, Hot tubs and outdoor activities. Some cruise ships have a designated area for adults and another for children as well as large water slides, climbing walls, golf, basketball court and chaise loungers for relaxation and poolside activities.
  • Remember to have FUN…..you are on a CRUISE!!!!

 

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Destination Florida

Palm trees, beaches, sun, shelling describe a vacation for the entire family. The Atlantic and Gulf Coasts offer up unlimited opportunities for ‘fun in the sun’.

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When it comes to holiday vacation destinations many families head to the Southern states.

There are the Orlando Parks, shopping, restaurants and Many people!

For a quieter, yet active time, head for the beaches. Sand, surfing, swimming or just lounging, it all is far away from the cold and snow!

There are thousands of beach communities throughout the state. The farther south you go the warmer it gets.

Accommodations are available in all price ranges. During the holidays, normally moderate to extra luxe. Staying at a beach property is ideal. Park your car at the resort and just walk onto the beach. No driving!

Restaurants are within walking distances from most resorts. Many have on-site eating establishments. If you book accommodations with a small kitchen, you can prepare some meals in your room and save money for shopping!

The local newspapers will have a listing of all holiday activities in the area. Believe me, you will not become bored!

It is advisable to check out travel sites for availability of resorts to book ahead. Also, call the resort to confirm your reservation if you book on-line.

If you are flying, get to your airport early to avoid long lines at security and so that you do not miss your flight. One carry-on only! Remember to ‘roll’ your shorts, tops, swimsuits, and only take necessary items.  You can buy your flip-flops and suntan lotion when you arrive. The less you bring the better. You will not find yourself waiting for your luggage at baggage claim (and find out it was lost!).

Have a great time in Florida, my home state!!!