Monday, June 30, 2014

Tour The World-Changing Panama Canal As It Turns 100

Experience this historic, engineering marvel as it commemorates its first century while getting to know amazing "Crossroads of America" with Truly Panama's dynamic collection of boutique tour packages.

Panama City, Panama - Experience the Panama Canal at its century mark of changing the course of history with a dynamic collection of boutique tours by Truly Panama, a sustainable travel tour introducing the world to the wonders of this culturally rich "Crossroads of America."

Several of Truly Panama's unforgettable tours showcase the famed waterway, which took more than three decades to construct and connect two oceans, along with other areas of this culturally rich "Crossroads of America." These include:
  • Full Day City Tour
Visit the Panama Canal Interoceanic Museum in Casco Antiguo, an UNESCO historic site commonly called the walled city. Discover the intriguing history and construction of the Canal at the visitor center located at the Miraflores Locks. Watch giant ships on their journey, see how the locks operate, and hear about future plans to expand and transform the canal. This tour includes a visit to Old Panama, founded in 1519 and looted by the pirate Henry Morgan in 1671.
  • Canal and Train Ride Adventure
Take a scenic train ride to the Colon province and visit the Gatun Locks. Observe the mechanical operations on the Atlantic side and watch in awe as large vessels travel through the narrow canal, flanked by lush jungle on either side. Visit Fort San Lorenzo, declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO, before journeying by train back to the city, going from one ocean to another through the Panama Canal Riviera.

  • Eco Tour Gatun Lake
Enjoy an amazing boat ride on Gatun Lake, which was the largest man-made lake in the world when it was created and carries ships for 21 miles of the transit across the Panama Canal. See the lush, surrounding rainforest and navigate close to massive ships as they wait to cross the Canal. Discover the area's unique species of birds, monkeys and iguanas, among other local wildlife.
  • Partial Canal Transit
Navigate across the Pedro Miguel locks as you learn about the canal's engineering, its expansion and the new Centennial Bridge. On route, admire beautiful Panama bay and the city skyline and sail under the Bridge of the Americas. Once in the Pacific you will disembark in the Flamenco Marina and transported back to you hotel.

Panama is fast gaining popularity among travelers for its rich culture, bio-diverse, protected natural environment, stable government, friendly, safe and affordable communities and idyllic, hurricane-free weather. Truly Panama creates unique experiences and memories with top-of-the-line services and expertise, offering more than two dozen unique tours in this amazing country. These range from canal excursions to rainforest, mountain and island adventures. Truly Panama can also craft custom packages and luxury yacht charters upon request. The eco-friendly company was founded by Jonathan Zelcer and his team of tourism professionals with solid domestic and international experience in the luxury hospitality industry.

For more information, call (507) 398-0541 or e-mail


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Airberlin Announces Business Class Sale For Summer Travel Starting At $3,639 From New York (JFK) To Germany Including All Fees

airberlin has launched a business class sale for those travelers looking to fly in style and comfort. The sale includes fares starting from as low as $3,649.00 including all taxes and surcharges from New York (JFK) to Germany for example and also covers other premiere destinations such as Copenhagen, Milan, Vienna and Zurich at slightly higher rates.
Germany’s second largest airline recently completed the refurbishment of its Business Class on its long haul fleet which now features FullFlat seats with a massage function, USB port, personal entertainment system featuring a 15-inch monitor and gourmet culinary selections. And as a member of oneworld®, airberlin guests can take advantage of accruing and redeeming miles on any oneworld partner airline in addition to airberlin. The sale will run through July 8th, 2014 and travel period is valid from July 1st through August 31, 2014.

To book this sale visit, contact the airline’s call center at 1-866-266-5588 or a travel agent.

Travelore News: Mokulele Airlines Announces Grand Opening Celebration For Kalaeloa Airport- Special Introductory Webfare Of $99 Round Trip Including Taxes And Fees For The New Kalaeloa-Kahului Offered

Ceremony set to take place on July 1, 15 years to the day from the closing of the former Barber's Point Naval 
Air Base John Rogers Field on Oahu.
 Mokulele Airlines has announced that it will host a grand
 opening celebration on July 1 at the airline's newest service location, Kalaeloa Airport on west Oahu, marking
 the  successful conclusion of a year of preparations. Kalaeloa is located at the former Barber's Point Naval Air
 Base John Rogers Field, and the grand opening and inaugural flight will take place 15 years to the day that the
 former base was closed and turned over to the State of Hawaii.
Mokulele Airlines Hawaii's #1 Island Hopper.
The celebration, which is open to the public, will begin with a facility tour and entertainment by Kainani & Friends.
 Jenn Boneza, TV personality for Oceanic Cable 16 and Hawaii Five-0 actress will serve as the Mistress of
Ceremonies.  Ron Hansen, president & CEO of Mokulele Airlines will welcome guests and special guest
 speakers will include Evelyn Souza, Chairperson of Neighborhood Board #24; Senator Mike Gabbard,
 Representative Karen Awana, Ross Higashi Deputy Director Airports Hawaii DOT,  and Shan S. Tsutsui,
 Lieutenant Governor of the State of Hawaii. Dignitaries from the Hawaii Department of Transportation will also
 be in attendance and Kahu Daniel "Kaniela" Akaka, Jr. will offer a  traditional Hawaiian blessing of the airport
and the plane that will make the inaugural flight July 1 will mark the beginning of Mokulele's daily nonstop service to Kahului, Maui from Kalaeloa, with six  scheduled daily flights, three each way. The inaugural flight to Kahului will depart at 1:00 pm.
 After the plane departs, closing remarks will be offered by Mokulele's executive vice president and COO Dave
Berry and a reception will follow with entertainment by award-winning slack key master Kawika Kahiapo and
 refreshments  provided by Chef Paul Onishi, of the Culinary Art Academy and Young Life Oahu High School
 Students. Kalaeloa will be the ninth airport Mokulele serves. As with most of the other airports Mokulele
 operates from,  parking is hassle-free and TSA screenings are not required. Travelers will also save time by
 eliminating the need to drive to and from Honolulu on the H1. Mokulele is offering a special introductory webfare
 of $99 roundtrip  including taxes and fees for the new Kalaeloa-Kahului route for reservations booked through
 July 31th for travel through August 30. More information is available at

About Mokulele Airlines
Mokulele Airlines, flying the skies of Hawaii since 1994, was purchased by TransPac Aviation, Inc. in 2011
 with a goal of providing high quality, low-cost interisland air service. Mokulele, which is headquartered in Kailua
-Kona, now offers more than 120 flights a day connecting Oahu, Molokai, Lanai, Maui and the Big Island on its
 fleet of nine-passenger, turbine-powered Cessna Grand Caravans. For reservations & information, visit,, contact your favorite travel agent or call 866-260-7070.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

California’s Top 5 Winery Tours

California is known for its wine producing regions. Their wines are known worldwide and whether you enjoy an occasional tipple or are a true connoisseur you can enjoy a tour of one or more of the wine growing regions. There are many private vineyards in the region, some small and intimate, others large and involved in mass production. Here are five that are worth looking into if you want to experience some truly overwhelming views as you taste their finest offerings:
Melville Winery is situated in Santa Ynez Valley and is high upon the Santa Rita Hills appellation, just 12 miles from the Pacific Ocean. The tasting room is located in a beautiful Mediterranean-style villa and the patio area surrounding is perfect for an exquisite picnic lunch whilst enjoying a glass of the locally grown Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir grapes are the speciality of Melville.
Located in Napa Valley Domaine Carneros is a French-styled estate with a wide decked patio area to show off the beautiful Carneros appellation. The winery is known for its fine quality sparkling wines. They even offer the luxury of table service allows you to enjoy bubbly flutes as well as bottles alongside matching cheese plates, luxurious caviar and succulent European-style pastries. Enjoy the wonderful views and you sup on the fizz.
Domaine Carneros
Malibu isn’t held in the same level of esteem as the Sonoma or Napa wine regions but it’s growing in popularity. Just off the world famous Mulholland Drive it sits at the crest of the Santa Monica Mountains. The 65-acre property has many attractions from wildflowers to camels to stunning views of the countryside, unlike what you usually see in LA. The eight varieties of wine on offer range from light, sweet Sauvignon Blanc and intense red Semler King. You can try every variety in the on-site tasting room.
Unsurprisingly run by former nursery owners, Flowers Vineyard sits on the Sonoma Coast. Award-winning Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are produced in the area amid views of atmospheric coastal fog, moss-covered greenery and stunning scenes. Personal guests of the residence on the property have the opportunity to tour the property while visiting, but there are no public tours/tastings.
Flowers Vineyard
The final offering on our list is once again in Santa Ynez Valley. It sets the scene beautifully with a fountain in the back, an outdoor tasting bar and a casual welcoming atmosphere. This biodynamic winery may offer the latest technologies in producing its wines but the views are as rural and classic as any other. Pinot Noir is once again a speciality at Alma Rosa and you can enjoy both the wine and the unobstructed Santa Rita Hills views from the comfort of the tasting room.
Contributed by James Mannings ,Co-Founder of Luxury Villa Rentals.
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6 Awesome Airport Nap Pods Around the World

When sleeping on the plane just won’t do it, some forward-thinking airports have created areas where passengers can unwind and relax in private. These six nap pods—including two in London—are some of the coolest we've seen.

Airport nap pods

Rooms at Sleepbox, inside Sheremetyevo International Airport, can hold a maximum of three bunk beds for people traveling in groups. Bedside tables with electrical outlets and reading lamps are provided, as are TVs and, critically, alarm clocks.

Airport nap pods

In Terminal 4 of London’s Heathrow Airport and in the South Terminal of the city’s Gatwick airport, Yotel offers either single or double beds, entertainment systems, and en suite bathrooms with rainfall showers. (Body wash and towels are provided.) For just $39, the room is yours for four hours. A full night goes for $93.

Airport nap pods

Snoozecube operates small, soundproof rooms at Dubai International Airport where travelers can power down and rest up. Starting at just $16 an hour, travelers have access to a twin bed, a touch screen TV, and Wi-F—as well as a nature-inspired mural to brighten up each pod.

Airport nap pods

The self-contained pods at Munich Airport come complete with blinds for privacy, a full bed for resting, and a work space if all you’re seeking is the necessary peace and quiet to be productive. In-pod flight information boards keep you up-to-the-minute on schedule changes.

Airport nap pods

The name says it all at New Delhi's Indira Gandhi International Airport, where Snooze at My Space offers self-contained pods that provide a $10-an-hour respite from the terminal—as well as plentiful power plugs, TV, and included Wi-Fi.

Contributed by Clarke Humphrey,

Follow us on Twitter: @TraverloreReport

Saturday, June 28, 2014

South Africa’s Top Five luxury Wildlife Reserves

Safari, wildlife, national parks, wildlife reserves – tourists and safari enthusiasts can pick from a wide selection of luxury African wildlife experiences.  Fitting the profile is a number of top luxury wildlife reserves in South Africa.  Here are the country’s top five luxury game reserves (and, in some instances, the celebrities who have enjoyed these wild luxuries!)
Arguably one of Aquila’s greatest features is its close proximity to Cape Town, merely 90 minutes drive from one of South Africa’s favorite tourist destination cities.  This game reserve in the Cape Province has succeeded in re-establishing a number of Africa’s best loved game species in this unique Cape location, including lions, rhinos, elephants, leopards, buffalo, hippos, giraffes and others.  On offer is a choice between premier, luxury or standard accommodation options while their fly-in safari option is an added luxury.  With wildlife, luxury and secluded accommodation surrounded by quiet hillsides, no wonder world icons and celebrities including Margaret Thatcher and Paris Hilton have spent time here.
Aquila Reserve
A desire to secure wildlife conservation in the 1950s led to the establishment of the Timbavati Association.  A whole lot more has been achieved and today, this conservation area shares a no-fence boundary with the western edge of the Kruger National Park.  Luxury safari services have not stayed behind and the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve offers a river lodge, mobile camps, safari camps and more.  Their Simbavati River Lodge combines the best of luxury travel with views over the Nhlaralumi River and its passing wildlife populations.  As for their wildlife, it is particularly their white lion population that excites – these are the celebrities of Timbavati as people from the across the world want to see this unique phenomenon for themselves.
3. Madikwe
There is no doubt that Madikwe is a South African safari gem.  Merely a few hours’ drive from Johannesburg lies the Madikwe Private Game Reserve – and few people know that it is South Africa’s fifth largest wildlife reserve.  With size and open space on its side, Madikwe has successfully creating a safari destination that feels continents away from the close by cities.  Madikwe has achieved notable success with African wild dog conservation – listen out for their cheerful cries at night!  No luxury is overlooked here and visitors have a selection of luxury lodges to choose from. The Royal Madikwe Safari Lodge is an awarded luxury destination and with only a capacity to accommodate a maximum of ten people, a private and luxury retreat is assured!
What would you expect from a game reserve which has been voted by South Africans as the country’s top game reserve – for ten years in a row?  Nothing less than a 5-star experience.  And this is exactly what you will find at this peaceful Eastern Cape wildlife reserve, where exclusive safaris and widely-applauded five star services are their claim to fame.  There is another practical benefit too, Shamwari is located in a malaria free zone, offering you a truly worry-free time on safari.  Shamwari is world famous – from being hosted on an Animal Planet series to being appreciated by celebrities including John Travolta and Tiger Woods.
Shamwari Reserve
Located within the famous Sabi Sands Reserve and bordering the iconic Kruger National Park, the Sabi Sabi Private Game Reserve is rightly placed for luxury and quality safaris.  And it has been doing exactly that for the past three decades.  Today, the reserve has four luxury lodges (do not be reminded of the overcrowded Kruger public camps!).  The Selati Camp, Little Bush Camp, Bush Lodge and Earth Lodge each offer is own African theme, but with luxury and the best of African hospitality running as a golden thread.  Besides being one of Southern Africa’s most talked about luxury safari experiences, Sabi Sabi has taken up prominent conservation goals – protecting the African wildlife and its environment for the future.  The Little Bush Camp lodge is especially loved as a hide-away for celebrities, with the late Nelson Mandela having also enjoyed this unspoilt piece of Africa.
Sabi Sabi
Remember these five reserves next time you are hunting for a luxury South African safari – they will impress the safari traveler or tourist looking for an unforgettable luxury bush experience.
JContributed by avier Luque  Co-Founder and Director of Your African Safari.
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New York City Tips: Don't Do These Things!

New Yorkers aren't exactly famous for being polite to tourists, but that's just because most tourists don't know how to act in the Big Apple. The good news: It's not so hard. Just follow these simple rules of conduct—from how to behave on the subway to when it's actually okay to ask for help—and you'll blend right in on your next trip! Here's the inside scoop on what you shouldn't do in New York City.
Stop in the middle of the sidewalk
The majority of city residents don't drive, so the sidewalks are like streets, with the same type of "traffic" laws. Respect them and don't stop dead in the middle of the street to take a picture or to consult your map. Instead, "pull over" to the side so that pedestrian traffic won't run into you.
Get on an empty subway car
It's rush hour on a hot summer day, and a subway train pulls up to the station with every car packed, except for a single empty one. Score, right? Wrong—odds are, that train car is empty for a reason, be it broken air-conditioning or a spilled bodily fluid. Never go in the empty subway car … trust us on this one.
Block the subway doors
New York City subways can get crowded! Respect the other travelers and move into the center of a subway car when you board a train. Don't cluster near the doors for 10 stops, making it hard for other people to get on and off the train. We promise that people will move and let you off when it's your stop.
Walk in a group that takes up the whole sidewalk
New Yorkers are speed-walking pros—they have places to be, and walking is the best way to get there fast. It's understandable that tourists want to walk slowly and take in the scenery, but please don't block the entire sidewalk doing it. Walk on the right side in small groups—and don't hold hands doing so. You'll take up the entire sidewalk and slow everyone down behind you.
Pay for a Statue of Liberty cruise
Don't waste your money on an expensive boat cruise that goes past the Statue of Liberty. Instead, take the Staten Island ferry, which is totally free and goes past most of the same sights. The ride takes about 50 minutes round-trip, and you can even purchase food and beverages onboard. Snag a seat outside, buy a cheap beer, and get amazing city views!
Neglect the outer boroughs
Sure, Manhattan is what most people think when they think of New York City, but it would be a shame to miss out on the other boroughs when you visit. The four other boroughs (Brooklyn, Queens, Staten Island and the Bronx) have their own unique charms and are definitely worth a visit. Plus, they're all easily accessible on the subway (or aforementioned Staten Island ferry). Bonus: Restaurants and shopping are usually cheaper in the outer boroughs than in Manhattan!
Eat at a chain restaurant
Most New Yorkers go out of their way to avoid Times Square—it's hectic, full of tourists, and teeming with chain restaurants. If you came to experience the city, why would you eat at the same Red Lobster that you can eat at back home? Live a little and patronize local restaurants instead of chains.

Be afraid to ask for help
New Yorkers may be rude to you if you get in their way, but they'll be nice if you politely ask them for help. Most locals pride themselves on their direction-giving skills (it's a sign that they really know the city), so don't be afraid to stop and ask them which direction is Fifth Avenue or how to get downtown. They really are friendly!
Rent a car
Real estate is pricey in New York City, and that goes for parking spaces as well. New York City has an amazing 24/7 public transportation system, so use it! Don't waste your time fighting traffic or searching for parking spaces. Take the bus or subway, UBER or hail a taxi instead. You'll save time and money and prevent aggravation—plus you'll get a better feel for the city once you experience getting around like a local.
Skip a museum because you can't afford it
It's not always advertised, but the admission price at many museums in New York City (even the big ones) is actually just a suggestion—meaning that you pay what you can afford, even if it's only a dollar. If your budget is tight, consult this list of New York museums where you can pay what you wish before deciding to skip a museum for money reasons.
Contributed by Caroline Morse,
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Friday, June 27, 2014

Business Class Is About To Get WAY Better

Business class has been a thing since the late 1970s and it's had a pretty sweet existence. And, thanks to new initiatives by several airlines, it's getting a whole lot snazzier to fly in swanky style.
Here's how:
1. JetBlue is getting faster.
jetblue mint
Mint, JetBlue's new business class, will probably make their competitors turn a nice, envious shade of green. Featuring the "longest lie-flat beds in domestic business class," four private suites, and a 15-inch flat screen TV loaded with channels, the best part of the flight might take place before you take off -- an expedited check-in comes with your ticket!
2. And Air France is following "suite." 
air france business class
Air France is upgrading their business class and will also feature seats that turn into full- length beds, as well as adding a new multipurpose area and a personal storage compartment. While we're glad there's a spot for all of our devices, we might be more excited about the cushy duvet and XXL pillow that will ensure sweet dreams and magnifique flights.
3. But British Airways isn't far behind.
British Airways is upgrading those sitting in "Club Europe" (their form of business class) with the introduction of new leather seating, a redesigned headrest, aconsole between seats to make eating and working easier, and even a tablet holder on the back of seats.
4. And this new airline promises to be business class ONLY.
With plans to fly only between Paris and Newark, the newest twist on business class only is coming from an airline calling themselves "La Compagnie." Withdesigner flight attendant uniforms, in-flight amenity kits, personal tablets,Michelin-starred meals and seats that fold all the way back, we can't wait for tickets to go on sale in the US on July 1st.
5. But Etihad Airways still might have the "World's Best Business Class."
Etihad's Pearl Business Class is a bit out of this world. Sure, the aisle seating for everyone, 6-foot beds, and your very own Food & Beverage Manager is pretty outstanding, but just wait until you land. Upon arrival, passengers are treated to the luxury of limo service with a personal chauffeur. Definitely beats that never-ending taxi line...
 | Contributed by Carly LedbetterThe Huffington Post 
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Austrian Airlines Opens Family Check-in

·         New family check-in at Austrian Star Alliance Terminal (Check-in 3)
·         165,000 children are flying on holiday with Austrian Airlines
·         Special services and many advantages for kids and families

 Just in time to mark the beginning of the holiday season, Austrian Airlines is opening their first family check-in in cooperation with Vienna Airport. Parents can calmly check in while the youngest passengers enjoy themselves in their own children’s play area, which is outfitted with red leather dice to build and stack as well as a whole lot of toys. A photo wall invites families to take funny snapshots with Austrian’s aircraft for their holiday album before departure.

The Austrian Airlines Family Check-in is located in the Austrian Star Alliance Terminal (Check-in 3). The service is available to families with children up to the age of 12 for all Austrian Airlines flights. 

Services for children and families
Generally speaking, Austrian Airlines considers serving children and families very important. Each year some 450,000 children up to the age of 12 fly with Austrian Airlines, comprising about 4 percent of the total number of Austrian Airlines passengers. Naturally, the main focus is the holiday season. In the upcoming holiday months of July and August, 165,000 children will once again fly with Austrian Airlines to their holiday destinations. For this reason, Austrian Airlines is making special services and advantages available for families to take advantage of it in the upcoming holiday season. 

Accordingly, families and children on Austrian Airlines flights can already conveniently board the aircraft before all other passengers. They can make themselves comfortable on board without rushing and can reduce stress. On board, the flight attendants will hand out toys, games and puzzles to the children. Austrian Airlines will also take extra care of the physical well-being of the youngest passengers by offering special baby and children’s menus on flights lasting more than 3.5 hours. A separate entertainment program especially designed for children which features an extensive video and audio offering (e.g. children’s songs and audio books) is available on long-haul flights. The film program which is automatically displayed on the screen during short- and medium-haul flights on Airbus A320 aircraft is also suitable for children. 

Family Fun Gate – a world of experience for children
In order to help time pass more quickly for children when waiting for flights to depart, there is a special waiting area for children at Vienna Airport called the Family Fun Gate. There are numerous play stations, for example, two slides, a climbing wall and a labyrinth with a punching bag, revolving door, and foam snakes that make children’s hearts beat faster. A diaper changing station has been set up, and seats are also available for the parents. 

JetFriends – Collect miles like the adults
JetFriends is celebrating its 7th birthday this summer. The club for kids and teens aged 2 to 18 was founded in the year 2007. Since then, it has attracted more than 35,000 members in Austria. At JetFriends, children and teenagers get their own club card, allowing them to collect miles and exchange them for special prizes. Young travel enthusiasts can find information about how to become a member at Here, interesting facts and games featuring the topic of flying await them. The relaunch of in the spring of 2014 has made the Website even more attractive for kids and teens, adding many interactive features. 

Austrian Airlines in USA and Canada
Austrian Airlines provides its customers with a route network of 130 destinations worldwide. Passengers can
take flights from either New York JFK, Washington DC, Chicago or Toronto to Vienna. On July 2, 2014, Austrian Airlines will begin its Newark – Vienna route. In Vienna, Austrian Airlines offers time-saving connections and access to over 100 destinations across Europe. In Central and Eastern Europe, the route network is particularly dense: With 46 destinations Austrian Airlines is the market leader throughout the region. Thanks to its favorable geographical location at the heart of Europe, the company’s hub at Vienna International Airport is the ideal gateway between East and West. Austrian Airlines is part of the Lufthansa Group, Europe’s largest airline group, and a member of the Star Alliance, the first global alliance of international airlines. For more information or reservations, visit

Travelore Tips: Recommended Free Things To Do In Norfolk, Virginia

This summer, travelers can enjoy many of Norfolk, Virginia’s exciting and easily accessible events and activities without having to open their wallets. With a diverse range of offerings, Norfolk has something for everyone to enjoy at no cost. Residents and visitors alike can experience culture, family fun, concerts, and festivals at one of the more affordable waterfront destinations on the East Coast. Below is a sampling of the sensational free events and activities the beautiful seaport city of Norfolk has to offer this summer:

Chrysler Museum of Art
After recently undergoing expansion and renovations, the Chrysler Museum of Art reopened May 10, 2014 with free general admission and parking to the public. The Chrysler Museum of Art’s extensive collection spans over 5,000 years and is comprised of over 30,000 objects. Museum goers can also check out The Chrysler Museum Glass Studio, a state-of-the-art facility designed to complement the museum’s comprehensive glass collection. Free daily demonstrations are presented at noon every Wednesday through Sunday. The Chrysler Museum of Art is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and noon to 5 p.m. on Sundays. For more information visit:

Hampton Roads Naval Museum
Visitors can celebrate 238 years of the U.S. Navy’s history in the Hampton Roads region of Virginia. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is an accredited museum operated by the United States Navy, and its gallery exhibits tell the courageous story of American sailors and ships in the Hampton Roads. Some of the artifacts visitors will be able to see include a 1798 18-pound cannon from the frigate USS Constellation, a Mark 7 undersea mine from World War I, and a 1944 coxswain navigation map of Omaha Beach. The Hampton Roads Naval Museum is open with free admission daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information visit:

32nd Annual Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks
This patriotic and fun celebration is held each year on July 4th at the Norfolk waterfront. Family and friends can relax and picnic with traditional all-American fare, while listening to patriotic music provided by the United States Army Training and Doctrine Command Band. In Fourth of July tradition, attendees will also be able to watch the sky light up in a spectacular fireworks display. The 32nd Annual Fourth of July Great American Picnic & Fireworks takes place Friday, July 4, 2014, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. in Town Point Park. For more information visit:

Big Bands on the Bay
Visitors and locals can conclude their summer weekends watching the sun set on Chesapeake Bay and dancing under the stars to free, live Big Band music. Big Bands on the Bay occurs every Sunday evening from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Gazebo at Ocean View Beach Park. The series concludes on August 31 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. for the Big Season Finale. To view the Big Bands on the Bay performance schedule and for more information, visit:

Fountain Field Days
Every Wednesday this summer from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., families and children are invited to TowneBank Fountain Park to enjoy some fun in the sun. Fountain Field Days offer free family programming, including an interactive fountain, children’s activities, exercise programs, lawn games, theater, dance and more. Fountain Field Days starts June 18 and concludes August 27. For more information and to schedule a visit:

Outdoor Exploration
In addition to free museums, festivals and events, Norfolk has plenty to offer visitors looking to explore the outdoors. Cyclists, joggers and walkers can enjoy The Elizabeth Trail, a nine-mile trail that runs from Norfolk State University to Terminal Boulevard. Visitors can also brush up on Norfolk’s rich history while exploring the cobblestone streets of the award-winning historic Freemason District or walking the Cannonball Trail. For culture lovers, the pedestrian-friendly Ghent District is great for discovering unique restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. Travelers who are fond of the water can bring their own kayak to one of Norfolk’s many kayak launch sites or visit one of the many public beaches, like Ocean View Beach Park.

For more information on the events and attractions listed above, visit

~ Norfolk, Virginia ~
Considered the dynamic heart of Southeastern Virginia, Norfolk attracts thousands of travelers each year to enjoy its lively downtown waterfront and 144 miles of coastline.  Offering a vibrant blend of history and heritage with contemporary attractions, outdoor adventure and the Commonwealth’s most revered cultural institutions, Norfolk is an exciting destination. Here, where the Elizabeth River meets the Chesapeake Bay, visitors will find an easily walkable downtown that offers eclectic dining options, a rich arts scene, high-end shopping and year-round special events.  For more information about Norfolk, visit the city on the Web at, or call 757-664-6620 or toll free at 800-368-3097

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Thursday, June 26, 2014

5 Recommended Things To Do In Lisbon, Portugal

A city of trams, tiles and iron funiculars, Lisbon remains a glorious European gem. It is one of the world’s oldest (and coincidentally friendliest) cities and has the honor of being the oldest capital in Western Europe. And this sense of history is ever-present. Positively buzzing and regularly drenched in sunlight, there is much to fall for in this city of design, food, beauty and style.
Lisbon view
Lisbon is a labyrinth of steep alleys, secluded corners and stunning vantage points, which are best encountered during hours of aimless wandering. Explore central Baixa, an ancient district packed with tailors, cafes and galleries all occupying prime positions along Baroque streets. Then there’s Alfama, a slightly more eclectic neighborhood watched over by cathedrals and the 7th Century St George’s Castle(which is well worth exploring). A patchwork of tile covered buildings, this area is incredibly photogenic. History lovers must make for Belém, which is full of monuments (such as Torre de Belém and the extravagant Mosteiro Dos Jerónimos) spared by the infamous 1755 earthquake. While here visit Pastéis de Belém  for the best nata in town – they’re worth the wait!
You can also stroll in and out of museums – the Museu do Azulejo (dedicated entirely to tiles) and MUDE, Lisbon’s design museum, show just how creative and inspiring Portuguese artisans can be. If you’re getting a tad foot-sore (there are quite a few hills to battle) you can always jump on the 28 tram; a Lisbon icon that glides through the city taking the same picturesque, attraction-studded route it has for over a century.
The city has plenty of offer on the clothing, interiors and antiques front. Shoppers after something from independent Portuguese designers should wander around the Praça do Príncipe Real while those in search of international designers can amble down Avenida da Liberade, which holds antique markets on Saturdays. In town Typographia offers up playful yet elegant graphic shirts and modern jewellery can found at Atelier Plumb. D’orey is ideal for those after something truly Portuguese – their 17th and 18th century tiles are truly covetable. Mini by Luna is great for childrenswear while Muse offers more grown up fashion.
Lisbon is brimming with culinary delights. Of particular note is A Travessa. Found in an old monastery this dimly lit, perfectly ornate restaurant is full of weighty wooden tables, terracotta flooring, jazz tunes and vintage furnishings (which add charm and character). The ancient brick roof and well-trodden stone entrance give the venue gravitas while the cloisters act as a summer dining haven. The fare here is exceptional and the service is incredibly friendly – the entire experience is designed to make you feel thoroughly welcome. Starters arrive piece-by-piece, elegant tapas that mix flavours rather boldly. The scrambled eggs with truffles, dished up directly from a steaming pan, are delightful while the oysters turned my companion into a seafood fan. After running for 35 years it is clear this restaurant knows what it’s doing.
Lisbon view
For something simpler you can sample traditional Portuguese offerings at A Travessa Do Fado. Here the sun-drenched courtyard is decorated with trays of produce and meals have a provincial feel – hearty creations that both entice and warm. The stuffed squid and black pork remind you why Portugal has always been on the European foodie map.
If you like your dinner with a view make for Restaurante Eleven; overlooking manicured gardens, house-dotted-hills and the distant Tagus River, this is a fabulous spot to catch a Lisbon sunset. The interior is suitably elegant – huge glass windows, leather chairs and wooden detailing (as polished as the service) – and the food is delightful. Even the tiniest morsel, creatively arranged on the plate, is succulent and flavour-filled. The focus is on well-sourced produce and their appreciation of fine ingredients really does shine through. The scallops in particular melt in your mouth, cheese tastes farm fresh and somehow the chestnut adorned pumpkin soup looks and feels lighter than air.
When it comes to lunch the Bairro Alto Hotel’s Flores do Bairro is a must. Right by the trusty 28 tram this chic restaurant, with its artistic interiors, warm colour scheme and almost retro furnishing, is thoroughly inviting. There’s even a central table that can be used for communal dining. Tableware comes with a handmade touch and fresh, seasonal seafood reigns supreme.
Wandering, eating and generally falling in love with Lisbon can be rather exhausting so it’s great to know that this ancient capital is brimming with pioneering boutique hotels. One such venue is the independent Inspira Santa Marta Hotel, a luxury hideaway with an environmental conscience. This eco friendly hotel is going to great lengths to reduce its environmental footprint (think solar panels on the roof and charity work with Pump Aid). Found on one of the oldest streets in Lisbon, this elegant hotel has a Scandinavian feel on the design front and is own spa, The Retreat, managed by Ritual Spa. For something truly decadent there is also the aforementioned Bairro Alto Hotel, which mixes old world style with thoroughly modern service.
Sometimes you just have to get out of town. Lisbon is a 40-minute train journey from Sintra, a charming township that’s home to the park and Palace of Pena and Moorish Castle. The later is a 10th Century military fort built by the Muslin populations that occupied the Iberian Peninsula. Stunning when drenched in mist or sunlight, it once acted as a control tower for the entire Atlantic Coast. Similarly, the Pina Palace is the stuff of fantasy. This colourful, tile and turret covered palace is one of the finest examples of 19th Century Portuguese romanticism. Framed by eighty-five hectares of parkland, it’s well worth a daytrip. Clearly this thriving pocket of Portugal has plenty to offer.
Pena Palace

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