1. A FEMALE GUIDE INTERPRETER IN SAINT PETERSBURG RUSSIA -- writes Editor Evelyn Hannon -- I've just returned from Russia and had the great pleasure of meeting Eugenia Snopkovskaya, a guide that made Saint Petersburg and its complicated history truly come alive for me. Eugenia speaks English perfectly, she is conscientious, she sprinkles her history with anecdotes and makes learning a pleasure. I give her a huge Journeywoman Gold Star. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
2. WOMAN-OWNED B&B IN NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND -- writes Pam in Winnipeg, Canada -- My husband and I just recently completed a trip to beautiful New Zealand and although the country enjoys a reputation of being a travel destination for young adventure seekers, we found plenty to do and see as 60+ travellers. We stayed in a wonderful B&B in the art deco city of Napier on the east coast. Pam, who owns The Chateau Avignon, treated us like family, made a delicious breakfast of fruit crepes, yogourt and juice and engaged us in conversation about N.Z. history, flora and fauna and politics. The rooms were beautifully appointed and Pam also caters to single women travellers. Use the web site www.chateauavignon.co.nz to contact her or the phone /email provided there. Highly recommended both for comfort and price.
3. TEST YOUR WARDROBE BEFORE YOU TRAVEL -- writes Gail in Charlotte, USA -- I'm planning a trip to Spain in the Fall. I know it's early, but I enjoy planning ahead of time. I am a very light traveler, never checking bags. It is sometimes hard to know how my ensembles will work on the road, so I am currently trying out the clothing i plan to take with me. I put on my outfits and my walking shoes and go on adventures here in Charlotte to see how they look and feel after hours of walking and exploring. I'm getting to know my city well and testing my travel wardrobe at the same time. It's a win-win!
4. LATIN AMERICAN ART IN ISRAEL -- writes Debra in Toronto, Canada -- On a recent trip to Israel I was introduced to the magnificent Ralli Museums in Caesarea. My favourite was the building (there are two, plus a wonderful sculpture garden) full of Latin American art which is dedicated to the memory of the Jewish communities of Spain and Portugal wiped out in 1492, and to that of Salonica destroyed in 1941. Free entrance is a bonus. My only disappointment was that picture taking is not allowed.
5. PACK SOME SALT -- writes Toni in Gonubie, South Africa -- Journeywomen, nothing beats the relief that the humble old table salt in a bit of warm water brings to a sore throat (gargling), blocked sinuses or for soaking tired feet after a day of sightseeing. Pour a little bit in a ziplock bag and leave it in your suitcase between travels. If you don't use it the first time around it's always there and comes in very handy.
6. REAL MEXICAN FOOD AT REAL MEXICAN PRICES IN PUERTA VALLARTA -- writes Michèle in Victoria, Canada -- Just back from two weeks in Puerto Vallarta. As always, when travelling, one can spend a little or one can spend a lot. Here is a great tip for eating cheap at the Marina. Look for Rosa Mexicana - a family-owned and run restaurant that is open from early morning until just 5pm, and again at 7pm until 10pm. The early restaurant serves a fabulous Comida Corrida (menu of the day) of three courses: a soup or salad, a choice of three main dishes, a small desert and a small jug of Aqua Fresca (kind of fruit water but make sure that the water is purified) all for 60 pesos (approximately $5 Canadian). Not only is the food wonderful, you get to watch as your tortillas are made by hand. The evening opening serves tacos only and I wasn't able to try this offering. You will find Rosa Mexicana by the Whale Sculpture on the corner of the main drag across the street from the Starbucks and down a block. Buen provecho!
7. YOUR BANK'S LOCAL NUMBER ABROAD -- writes Eleanor in Toronto, Canada -- If you plan to use credit and debit cards abroad always let your bank know beforehand. When you do phone your bank and credit card companies to tell them they can expect to see usage in the places you'll be visiting, ask them, also, for a local number to call in case of unforeseen difficulty. This will help to resolve matters more quickly than contacting your financial institutions back home.
8. CHEAPER AND VERY CHEERFUL DINING IN BARCELONA -- writes Elizabeth in Barcelona, Spain -- When visiting my city try to avoid the many tourist trap restaurants that are all over the city. My favourite restaurant that really offers value for money in a modern, trendy setting is Magnolia Restaurant in the El Barri Gotic area of the city. I was there two weeks ago and had a three course meal including a glass of wine for just over 15 Euro! This is gourmet-style food - highly tasty and beautifully presented. And the portions were more than enough. I'll definitely be back there soon.
9. MAKE USE OF GOOGLE MAPS -- writes Susan in Ottawa, Canada -- On my first trip to Paris I arrived a day before the five other women I'd be enjoying the city with. That meant I'd have to find my way from my hotel to the apartment we were renting. I'm not a solo traveler by choice so I like to remove some of the stress in advance when I know I'll be on my own for part of a trip. First I went onto Google Maps and looked up the directions. After checking the Metro route and closest stops, I used the Google Maps' Street View feature to 'walk' from the Metro stop to the apartment building. Being a very visual person, this gave me a great sense of comfort. When I made the trek for real, it was familiar and I knew I was going the right way. I also used this feature to check the area around my hotel for Metro stops, cafés, etc. P.S. There was another bonus for using Google Maps. I also looked at an alley as an alternate route to the apartment so one day when we were coming back from our day's adventures, I suggested the alley instead of the main street and we discovered a tiny pizzeria there. A few nights later a few of us went there for supper and had a fabulous evening - the food was great and the atmosphere pure Paris. Bonus!
10. I LOVED THIS BOOK ABOUT INDIA -- writes Laura in London, England -- I am a single JourneyWoman 55+ who is travelling to Nepal and India this Fall. I recently read a book called, 'India- One Man's Personal Journey Round the Subcontinent' and wanted to let other travellers know about it. It's a Harper Collins book underwritten by the BBC. The author is Sanjeev Bhaskar, a British actor and journalist who travels to India searching for his father's roots. In doing so he touches base with many of the important and colourful cities in India. It is a wonderfully written, funny account of Sanjeev's journey and misconceptions. It gave me such good insight into the India of today and covers many of the areas north, south, east and west. See if you can find it.
11. HELP IN HIKING EL CAMINO DE SANTIAGO -- writes Tammy in London, Canada -- Hiking El Camino in Northern Spain is an experience I will cherish for the rest of my life. My adventure was made so enjoyable because of the excellent tour company my travel agent used in Spain. The director's name is Iņaki Olaiz Iraizoz. He arranged for transport of our larger pieces of luggage from one accommodation to the next, set up meals at each accommodation (including a special gluten-free, vegetarian meal plan for me), hired a Spanish-English guide to walk with us, and arranged travel (with sightseeing) on the two days we had to travel by bus to cover the middle section of the trail. Iņaki was a fantastic organizer and advocate for us. He was always very fun, cheerful and helpful no matter the issue, no matter the time of day, no matter what! I highly recommend him to anyone who wishes to walk the entire Camino or even part of it. Inaki himself does not speak much English but there is a woman he shares the business with named Ursula Leon, who does. She was the middle-woman to answer all of our questions before we left and she also met up with us a few days while on the trail. Email: email@example.com Web: www.crlisten.com
12. THIS LOVELY HOTEL IN ROME IS A BIT PRICEY -- writes Martha in Chicago, USA -- There is a lovely hotel in Rome that I highly recommend. Hotel Art, on Via Margutta, a very quiet street one block off Via del Corso and a block from the Spanish Steps, is a lovely place to relax after a day of touring in Rome. Each floor is a different, vibrant colors: red, blue, yellow or green. The staff is extremely helpful and there is a wonderful breakfast included. While a bit pricey, it is well worth the cost for the comfortable rooms, the helpful staff and above all, the very quiet location only steps from shopping, restaurants, a subway stop, the Borghese Gardens and Piazzo del Populo. You have the feel of a real neighborhood on the tiny, narrow street where window-boxes of flowers are everywhere. I will definitely stay at Hotel Art again. Website: www.hotelartrome.com
BONUS TIP -- I want to thank Journeywoman for advice about a hotel in Barcelona -- writes Anne-Marie in Kampala, Uganda -- That means that my tip is not a tip but an endorsement. Here's the story --> I found myself booked for four nights in Barcelona and searching high and low for a hotel that was not a box and that was reasonable. I did all the usual searches and eventually found a Journeywoman reference to Hostal Oliva. Hurray for that recommendation. They promised an 'old style elevator' and that was a big enough selling point to know that I wasn't going to stay in a box-hotel. It was a lovely little place - wonderful location - lovely lady that takes care of it - excellent price - and did I mention the old style elevator? I stayed in both a double (with ensuite) and single (with shared bathroom) - and had no complaints. I'd stay there in a heart beat again!
EDITOR'S NOTE: The tip about Hotel Olivia appeared in our November 2012 newsletter (that's why it's a good idea to save your newsletters). It went like this ...
CLEAN, QUIET HOSTEL IN BARCELONA -- writes Ann in Garden Bay, Canada -- From information on the internet, I booked a room at the Hostal Olivia in Barcelona. I was buzzed into the ornate entrance on the corner of a block of up-scale shops. After taking the quirky lift to the fourth floor, I was met by the hostel owner. She unlocked the door and I knew I'd found the right place: clean, quiet, and with a palpable air of grace. The lovely owner spoke little English, and I spoke little Spanish, but we managed to get by in French as she escorted me to my little single room complete with tiny renovated bathroom. I had no view, but that didn't matter - my priorities were cleanliness, quiet, and safety. Hostal Olivia is a quick walk to the metro and a short stroll to Placa de Catalunya and a huge Apple store, where online connection is free. Highly recommended. Website: www.hostaloliva.com
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