1. TRY NOT TO BE SHY WHEN TRAVELING SOLO -- writes Fredi in Jerusalem, Israel -- I have a wonderful Journey woman story for all of you. My birthday was last month and I was in Bologna, Italy by myself. I went out for lunch and noticed that the man at the table next to me was also celebrating his birthday. The restaurant brought out dessert with a candle for him. I am generally shy traveling on my own but this was such a perfect opening line. I told him it was also my birthday and got blessings from everyone at the table who insisted I join them and also have a candle to blow out! Then in the evening I went for an aperitif at a bar and the table next to me saw that I was alone and included me in their toast. Again, I pulled out the birthday card and was congratulated by all. At the end we were hugging and kissing, even though they were all half my age. So my travel tip is to celebrate your birthday every day and make new travel friends whether it's your birthday or not.
2. DON'T MISS THE NEON SIGN MUSEUM IN LAS VEGAS -- writes Gray in Vermont, USA -- Not everybody goes to Las Vegas to gamble. Some like me come to explore. The Neon Museum has a great new multimedia 30-minute light show that brings non-working old neon signs to life, set to music the production details some of the history of Las Vegas. It's terrific. If you get a chance to see it, I recommend it. The museum's tours are also great, and the multi-media show is not a replacement for the tours. I recommend doing both. Extra note: the Neon Museum is an outdoor collection, so you'll have to dress appropriately for the weather. Website: neonmuseum.org
3. TAKE A PICTURE OF YOUR STOVE -- Picked up in passing via Women Traveling Together Newsletter -- This is such a good tip because we usually have so much on our minds as we head out the door we don't always concentrate fully. Ever wondered if you remembered to turn off the stove? Or lock your door? Or turn down the heat? For peace of mind during your travels, take a photo of your stove dials (coffee pot, thermostat or whatever) with your cell phone before you head to the airport. Voila, peace of mind!
4. EAT AT AN OLIVE GROVE NEAR SAN MIGUEL, MEXICO -- writes Marilyn in San Miguel de Allende -- Finca Luna Serena is a farm and olive grove (owned by Susan and Victor) about 20 minutes outside of San Miguel. We had a wonderful home prepared meal and educational adventure when we visited this year. Victor told us about their move from NYC to San Miguel and the founding of their current business. Susan explained the different olive oils and provided a tasting exercise. She has the equivalent of a sommelier but for olive oil. The cost for a wonderful three-hour experience was moderate and the food was delicious. We left after buying olive oil, tapenade and jams to enjoy at home. In order to visit the olive grove and the farm, reservations must be made in advance. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Since it is not in the city, you will need to hire a taxi (taxis are inexpensive) or ask Susan and Victor for further suggestions. Enjoy!
5. A COMFORTABLE WELL LOCATED HOTEL IN PARIS -- writes Anke in Salt Spring Island, Canada -- I travelled to France with my granddaughter and I'd like to share where we stayed in Paris. Hotel des Arts Paris Montmartre is a charming three-star, well priced hotel that was perfect for us. We were given a cozy, quiet inside courtyard-facing room which we enjoyed. The hotel is situated close to restaurants, shops, bus and two Metro stops in Montmartre. The bonus was that after the long day of walking and exploring the city, we came home to rest up in the Breakfast Room where the late afternoon treats were plenty and free - hot chocolate, fruit, croissants, coffee, tea, juices. There also was free WIFI and Internet access in the rooms. Located at 5 Rue Tholoze and close to Sacre Coeur Basilique. Website: www.arts-hotel-paris.com P.S. Thank you Evelyn for your last Journeywoman Newsletter. Even after 20 years I always find much of interest to learn from you and share...
6. LEARNING ABOUT AND BUYING RUM IN CUBA -- writes Donna in San Diego, USA -- In Cuba, Rum (Ron in Spanish) is well-priced and the price is the same no matter where you buy the bottle. I found the easiest way was to buy it is at the airport at the Duty Free Shop when leaving. The older the rum the better. I loved Canay and Santiago but Havana Club is the government's own brand. For those who want to know more there is a rum museum in Havana down by the waterfront. It offers a fun tour, but expect the groups to be very large. Did you know that Bacardi, the original success story of Cuba was ousted in the 1950s and exiled to Puerto Rico to make their rum? It's an Interesting story, that. A recommended read: 'Bacardi and the Long Fight for Cuba" by Tom Gjelten.
7. A GREAT GUIDE IN DUBROVNIK, CROATIA -- writes Kathy in Exeter, Canada -- Three friends and I travelled throughout Croatia last year. While in Dubrovnik, we decided to explore by day trips the neighbouring countries of Serbia, Montenegro and Bosnia. We had met Dragica at the ferry terminal. She drove us to our rental house in Cavtet (a small town south of Dubrovnik (beautiful, quiet alternative to the city). She was a very good driver, spoke English, friendly and kind, knowledgeable, offered good rates, was helpful and on time! The perfect qualities for a guide! Dragica is a single mom with two daughters. She is quite a business woman. She has built her clientèle over the last few years. Since then she has purchased two rental apartments in Dubrovnik. She will also help out with airport runs. She even drove from Dubrovnik to Cavtet to pick us up at 4am to drive to the airport. Contact information: email@example.com
8. CHECK OUT THIS HISTORIC HOTEL IN BOULDER, COLORADO -- writes Georgina in Toronto, Canada -- The Boulderado Hotel (built in 1909) is a beautiful hotel situated a short block from Pearl Street, a pedestrian mall hosting musicians, artists and fascinating boutiques that are mostly not touristy. The hotel entrance is welcoming, and the lobby has this amazing stained glass ceiling and the original Otis elevator just large enough for a couple, your luggage and a driver. Cosy! Staff are friendly, welcoming and service driven. And oh yes, it claims to be haunted... although I never had the experience. Website: www.boulderado.com P.S. The Hotel Boulderado appears in Stephen King's novel Misery.
9. AN EXCELLENT COFFEE SHOP AND BISTRO IN CHANG MAI, THAILAND -- writes Elaine in Asheville, USA -- We'd like other women to know about this place. For excellent coffee, friendly staff, and delicious food, seek out Chic Ruedoo coffee shop and bistro on 72, Soi Pa Prao, in the Chang Klan District, Chiangmai 50000, Thailand. Chic Ruedo is charmingly decorated. It has both indoor and outdoor seating and is surrounded by beautiful gardens. Their menu includes Thai, European and French selections. Owners Jan and Justin Ong speak English and a few other languages! A friend and I discovered Chic Ruedo our first morning in Chiang Mai and we returned everyday for breakfast or dinner or both!
10. HAVE YOU THOUGHT ABOUT VISITING VALENCIA IN SPAIN? -- writes Kathy in Boston, USA -- I've been to Spain seven times and my last visit was to Valencia. Valencia does not seem to be in the American tourist consciousness. It is a beautiful city, the fourth largest in Spain, yet I didn't meet many other American travelers. There are lots of folks from Belgium and the Netherlands, because it is only 65 Eueos for them to fly return. They all speak English and are warm friendly people. The Spanish are also very welcoming. Valencia is a flat city which makes it easier for travelers to walk everywhere. And the prices for everything including food are very reasonable. You can easily take a bus and do some very interesting day trips. I'm a slow traveler and spent 11 days there and never ran out of things to do. It is also a bike friendly city - lots of places to rent them. Senior discounts are usually available if you ask for them. Try it!
11. A GREAT BRA TO TRAVEL IN -- writes Linda in Ottawa, Canada -- I don't know if you have seen this underwear product called, Knixwear, but I recently found it and love it (no, I am not connected to the company in any way). I don't like underwire bras, and though these are sold as workout bras, they are the most comfortable bras I've every worn. The panties are also amazing, and for those who need it, there are some with built in mini pads. I just traveled through Scotland and these washed easily and dried quickly. P.S. I love the towel warmers in Scotland, they make such good overnight dryers for undies. Here is a link to the products: www.knixwear.com
12. SIP, SHOP, PRAY IN LONDON, ENGLAND -- writes Micheline in Chilliwak, Canada -- Visiting London? Here's my travel advice. Borough market is a must, you can spend time there drinking prosecco while shopping for food. Yes you can buy a glass of prosecco and walk around the market... so civilized. After that a walk along the South Bank is beautiful and then you can cross the Millennium Bridge and it leads you straight to St Pauls Cathedral. There is a charge to visit the cathedral during the day but if you arrive for 5pm vespers entry is free and if you want to stay for the whole service (1/2 hour) then you can sit in the choir stalls. Trust me it is worth it.
PLUS TWO BONUS TIPS...
I'M IN A WHEELCHAIR BUT STILL ENJOYING CRUISING -- writes Gail in Atlanta, USA -- For those in the same situation here are some tips I've learned. (1) Book early to ensure a wheelchair accessible cabin (2) Spin the Globe and Curb Free With Cory Lee are helpful Facebook and travel web sites. They can also advise about shore excursions because cruise ships rarely offer excursions for those of us in a wheelchair. (3) When you arrive at the port terminal, ask the cruise line for a representative to help you through check-in and to carry your medical supply bag. (4) Be sure to say thank you with a tip. (5) On a big ship, it may be worthwhile to rent an electric scooter if you are in a manual chair. The cruise line can suggest companies to contact. Your rental will be dropped off and picked up in your cabin. (6) If you need other equipment and don't want to carry it these rentals can be dropped off as well. (7) Enjoy and get off the ship! Roll around and enjoy your vacation.
A DORM FOR WOMEN ON PENANG ISLAND -- writes Tan Choon Hoon in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia -- For Journeywomen making a stop on Penang island, I'd like you to know there is a female-only dormitory there called Sogor Girls Dormitory. Location is at Jalan Kek Chuan, a quiet street off a busy road filled with street foods, restaurants and shops. Easy access to public transport. This is a capsule style hotel with double security door, air conditioning, free WIFI, laptop access, hot and cold water dispenser, fridge, common living room and free laundry facility. You are assigned a bed with privacy blind, a foldable table, hangers, reading light and international power sockets. Their cafeteria is excellent as well. Website: www.sogor.my
EDITOR'S NOTE: We need your input. You know 'stuff' about hotels and restaurants and shops and museums and money saving tricks that other women traveller can benefit from. Don't be a hoarder, tell Journeywoman what you know. We'd love that!