Monday, June 29, 2009

New TSA Rules

New TSA (Transportation Security Administration) rules began being phased in on May 15th.

They require all airlines operating within the U.S. to collect the full name, date of birth and gender of each passenger. Allegedly, the new rules were put in place to help prevent the problem of misidentifying passengers with those who have similar names and are on the 'terrorist watch list'.

It may take a few months for all of the airlines to be able to integrate this information into their systems. Once that is accomplished, this new rule will apply to all airlines that fly into, out of, or over the U.S.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Review: Views From The Left Seat

I subscribe to this blog and was SO glad to read a new post.

The author is a commercial airline pilot and the posts are from his perspective. They are well written and sprinkled with his excellent, and interesting, photographs.

I think this blog should be on the Subscribe list of anyone who flies. Take a look. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Views From The Left Seat

Sunday, June 21, 2009

How to save money at motels

I recently found out one way to save money at a motel. At least at a motel in the Marriott chain.

We drove up to a Fairfield Inn and I approached the desk to check out the rate. Normal rate was $139. AAA and AARP rate was $132. I really wasn't happy with the price but the weather, which had prompted us to stop in the first place, was lousy.

I went outside to my husband, who was waiting in the car, and told him the rate. I then came back in and asked 'Is that really the best you can do?".

The desk clerk asked me if I was a 'senior'. Since I over 60, I said 'Yes'. She could give me the 'senior rate' of $118!!

Now I know.... In the future, I'll be sure to ask for a 'senior rate'.

Kettle Creek, Potter County, PA

My husband is a fly-fisherman. A while back he picked up a book entitled, something like, 'The best 100 trout streams in the U.S.'. He seems to have, now, made it his mission in life to fish as many of them as possible.

This is turning out to be less difficult than he originally thought as a significant number of them are just a few hours from our house, in central Pennsylvania.

Near the Grand Canyon of Pennsylvania, just west and south of PA Rt 6 (which runs along the northern part of the state), are loads of trout steams, many of them Class A. We decided to take a week and spend it in the area.

After my husband narrowed down the possible locations to use as a base, it was now my job to find accommodations. And did I get lucky!

I found Kettle Creek Adventures. Run by a lovely couple, Dave and Brenda, Kettle Creek Adventures offers accommodations in their beautiful home. Located just across the road from Kettle Creek, their new, huge, lodge-in-the-woods offers both B&B and self-contained accommodations. We opted for the B&B and had our own room, private bath and were treated, each morning, to a fantastic custom made breakfast.

From their wrap around deck we were able to watch wildlife in the evenings and mornings, and Dave, a licensed guide, gave us directions to great fishing hotspots.

As readers of this site know, we typically do not go back to the same place twice. We made an exception here and are returning to Kettle Creek Adventures next year.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Review: Cape May, New Jersey

Just returned from our second visit to Cape May, New Jersey. The last time we went was October, 2007. It was just my husband and I at that time and the purpose was to do some bird watching. Cape May is on the Atlantic migratory bird flyway. Cape May Point State Park is a great place to watch for the birds of prey. There is a wooden overlook with benches and lots of spotters to help you identify the birds that are seen.

That September we had a mix of weather, everything from chilly to an 80 degree day. It was a very nice place to visit so we decided to take our grandchildren there this past week, just as they finished school.

Being June, the motel prices are a lot higher than they are in October. Not only that, the base room price covers only two people in the room. Over two, the additional charges ranged from about $15 pp to $22 pp. I finally found a place to stay in the area I wanted (all the way at the end of Beach Avenue) and we had to send in the cost of one night for a non-refundable deposit.

Well, I don't know if it was because it was just the third week in June or the weather, but lots of motels had vacancies. If I was to come again at this time, I think I would come without a res and try to negotiate a better rate at one of the many places with a Vacancy sign up.

As for the weather, it certainly was not what I would have expected for mid-June. We had very cool weather and even pouring rain (fortunately on the day we were leaving anyway).

In spite of that, our 7 and 9 year old grandchildren had a great time. We hiked at the state park and we managed to grab an afternoon with some brief sunshine for them to play in the surf.

We ate dinner at Lucky Bones, which was very good. To keep the restaurant check in line, they offer a lot of sandwiches. We also ate at Mangia, Mangia. The food was excellent, the service was lousy and the bill was high. There are lots of pizza places. Charlie's Place on Beach Avenue offers a reasonably priced menu.

Lots of restaurants open for breakfast and lunch but not for dinner. And lots of restaurants just not open. We were wondering if it was still too early in the season. We even saw an ice cream place still closed.

I highly recommend Cape May as a family destination. Just keep in mind that Cape May, like any seashore community in the summer, can also be an expensive destination.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Costa Rica Entrance Fee

Contrary to the information I had for an earlier post, Costa Rica has not implemented the plan that would have added a flat fee of $15 to all air tickets.

I don't have information, though, as to whether or not it did drop the 3% hotel tax. If anyone has any information on that, please let me know.

Free e-guides

I found a site offering some neat, and FREE, e-guides. They open in a .pdf file and you can then print them off to take with you.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Clever Use of Color

If you've got the time, take a look at the Orange Country website.

I love the orange county web design. I think it’s neat how orange, the name of the county, is used throughout the site.

Just thought this was a pretty good way to 'remind' people of the name of the county they are looking at.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Travel Quotes

I'm a member of Twitter. I found a site called TravelCash that I was curious about. Read a bit and found these quotes some which I found quite interesting and some which gave me a chuckle. Thought I'd pass some along:

Kilometers are shorter than miles. Save gas, take your next trip in kilometers. – George Carlin

If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay at home. - James Mitchener

Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. - Paul Theroux

Remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable - Clifton Fadiman

A journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it. - John Steinbeck

Monday, June 1, 2009

Review: Celebrity Infinity

First, I must start off by saying this is not my personal review. It is from a letter written to ITN (I posted a review here: International Travel News), a great newsletter that I subscribe to. The writer took a cruise on Celebrity's Infinity in April, 2008.

The traveler had booked a suite with balcony at a cost of $8,328 per person. To say they were very disappointed is putting it mildly. In a nutshell, the writer described the Infinity as an "outdated and dysfunctional ship".

Their complaints ranged from a broken toilet (that took 4 days to fix), water in their Jacuzzi that was "black and brackish", to a TV that didn't work right and ceiling lights that kept burning out.

They felt their veranda sliding doors looked like they had never been cleaned and the chaise lounge, on their veranda, looked dirty and worn.

And that was just the cabin. The letter continued with complaints about the dining room (both food and service) and the spa (service). And the fact that a letter, with pictures, had been sent to the CEO of Celebrity and the client received no response.

As it usually does when it receives letters like this, ITN sent a copy to Celebrity Cruises and also received no reply.

I've sailed with Celebrity (although many years ago) and the trips were great. I sure hope this ship isn't a sign of deterioration of the line. If anyone has any additional information on this ship or Celebrity, I'd love to know. You can email me or just leave a Comment.