Thursday, March 31, 2011

Welcome to Corfu

The island of Corfu lies in the lonian Sea, midway between Greece and Italy. The island has a long and colorful history. Colonized by the city state of Corinth, Corfu has been ruled by the Romans, the venetians, the French and the English. Corfu Town boasts fortresses bearing the insignia of the Venetian Republic, and esplanade lavishly planted by the French during the Napoleonic Wars and an English cricket pitch.

Although Corfu is certainly a Greek island, it lies between Italy and Albania in the Ionian Sea. The entire history of Corfu and the Lonian group of islands is very distinct from the rest of Greece. Among many the foreign influences here are British, French and especially Venetian.

A walk through the Old Town is a real treat. Most of the protective walls have been demolished, but the narrow, winding streets remain. Tiny squares, high arcaded houses, and richly decorated churches are everywhere, each one unique.

The most important cathedral is the Church of St. Spyridon, the island's patron. The 16th century church, with its tall bell tower, houses the silver coffin of the saint, an early martyr-bishop from Cyprus. Nearly half the boys bor on Corfu are named Spyridon, after the patron.

During world war 1, it was the home of the Serbian Government in exile, as well as the refuge of the battered Serbian army as it reorganized for the Salonika Front.


Achilleion Palace
This elegant neo-classical palace was originally built for Empress Elisabeth of Austria and was later owned by the Kaiser.

The French planted the palm trees in Corfu's main square, which also boasts an English cricket pitch dating from British rule.

Church of St. Spyridon
The 16th century church houses the remains of the island's patron saint

The coves near this cliff top village offer some of the finest scenery in the entire Mediterranean.

Monastery of the Virgin Mary
The 12th century monastery features a museum with fantastic shells, whale bones, icons and religious books

Mon Repos Palace
Built in the 17th century, this palace with its extensive grounds has become a museum.

Shopping in Corfu revolves around traditional handiwork. You will find good buys in:
Handicrafts - Numerous Greek items, especially pottery
Reproduction - Hand-painted icons of Byzantine originals
Gold - Ancient and Byzantne designs
Textile Rugs and embroidered linens

The best place to shop is in the town of Corfu, approximately two miles away.

Tazatziki - Well known appetizer made with yogurt, cucumbers and garlic
Pastitsio - A baked dish of minced lamb and macaroni
Moussaka - minced meat and vegetables served with rich cheese
Gemista - cooked tomatoes or peppers, usually stuffed with ground lamb

Wine is a centerpiece of Greek life. Retsina, a strong, aromatic resonated wine, is the national taste. You may prefer the kokkino (red) and aspro (white) wines, which are inexpensive and quite satisfying. Ouzo, a clear licorice-flavor liqueur, is the favorite aperitif. Sip it slowly over a plate of mezedes or appetizers
You will also want to try - Brandy (Botrys and Metaxa), Mavrodaphne (a heavy dessert wine)

suggested tipping is 10-15 percent for good service

Yes...................Malista or Ne
Thank You.........Efharisto
Good Morning....Kalimera

Welcome to Venice

One of the most beautiful cities in the world, lies at the head of the Adriatic Sea in the salt water Laguna Veneta. Resplendent with graceful palaces and churches, the city is built on 118 small islands and laced with a unique network of canals and bridges. In St. Mark's Square bells chime, violins play, shoppers stroll, lovers embrace, and visitors take it all in over cappuccino in a congenial cafe.

The city of Venice has always considered itself to be "married" to the sea. Overseas commerce and investment made the metropolis wealthy and powerful, and much of the city's unique charm comes from the reduced noise and slower pace of life along the canals. But don't be deceived; the Venetians are second to none in their astuteness, vigor and capacity for hard work. Venice was founded originally by refugees from the mainland seeking a safe haven from the Huns, then later from the Franks between the 5th- and 8th-centuries.

Today Venice spans 118 islands, with a well planned web of 150 canals and 400 bridges. Although the motorboat, or vaporetto, is well accepted today, the gondola is the more traditional means of transportation.

the local transport system for Venice are the vaporettos. There are numerous landing stages and ticket booths along the Grand Canal and around the Venetian Lagoon. Local currency will be needed to purchase tickets for the vaporettos.

Venice offers a dazzling array of shops and window displays. You'll find good buys in: Glass Famous Murano glassware Jewelry Beauitful pieces in all varieties; finely crafted gold and silver Fashion Rich leather goods and fine silk scarves, shawls, blouses and ties. Lace Handmade by the women of Burano Distinctive gifts Paper-mache theatrical and carnival masks; velvet gondolier slippers with rope soles; and gondolier straw hats with colored bands. The best places to shop are along with Merceria, around the Rialto and on the Strada Nuova.

Banks: most banks are open Monday through Friday from 8:30am to 1:30pm

Museums: Hours and closing days vary greatly, but most are open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 1pm. Some reopen in the afternoon and are open Sunday as well.

Shops: Usually open from 9am to 1pm and from 4 to 7:30pm and are closed Sunday and Monday morning. Many tourist oriented shops, however are open all day, every day.

Post Office: the main branch at Rialto Bridge is open Monday through Saturday from 8:15am to 4:30pm.

Pasta e fagoli - Classic first course of thick bean soup with pasta

Risotto - A creamy rice dish cooked with vegetables or shellfish

Bigoli - A local favorite, this pasta is made of whole wheat and usually served with a salty tonno or tuna sauce; its often an accompaniment to fegato alla veneziana, Venetian style liver and onions.

Tiramisu - A heavenly venetian dessert made of creamy cheese, coffee and chocolate with pound cake

Drink specialties: Venice is a great place for wine tasting. Visit some of the citys many wine shops, where you can enjoy a sample along with cichetti, assorted tidbits which are often a meal in themselves.

White Wine - Tocai and Pinot from the Friuli region, both dry; Prosecco, a naturally fermented sparkling wine; and Cartizze, considered by many to be a superior  Prosecco

Red Wine - Merlot, Cabernet, Raboso and Refosco. It is always recommended that you drink bottled water while in port.

suggested tipping is 10 percent for good service

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Road Trippin'

New Mexico
New York
South Carolina
North Carolina
New Jersey
Rhode Island

Always a fun 'game' while taking a road trip through the states... the challenge is can you get all 50 states!
List above is from my travels in June 2010 after i graduated, went down to Florida for a break. Recieved 36 states out of 50 just from the drive from Lousiana to Florida, back to the Condo. Only 14 more to go!

I was surprised to have recieved the top east states and Alaska but i did.... Driving back to Florida a couple days before July 4th from Lousiana, and just before the tunnel it was backed up for miles, so i started writing down the states of the passing cars. If you do not know what the Tunnel is, it is the Tunnel in Mississippi on route to Florida, you actually drive under the water, two lanes. so we went from a 3 lane highway to a two lane tunnel. So you can see how fast it got backed up and being the long weekend in the states!!

I will be keeping an eye out for the remaining 14 states when i am in Los Angeles this summer...

Try this game, it is not as easy as it looks but it will help the time go by :)

Vendors (Europe vs. America)

Does not matter if you are in America or Europe. There are Vendors everywhere trying to get you to buy stuff you just do not need...

I was at West Edmonton Mall  and I got stopped by a vendor, a guy trying to get me to buy a new straightner so he showed me how his brand works by doing a 5 strands of my bangs. Like come on.... if you are going to show me your brand and want me to buy it... do more than just a strand of my hair!

Another Vendor by the hudons bay company tried to stop me, but i kept on walking and politely said no thank you and she got snooty.... Like ya i definately want to talk to you now lady!

It works in Europe so it should work in America right? Only difference I found was that you can blow the vendors off in europe and they do not get snooty....  Sure if you have nothing better to do and just need to waste time then feel free and make the Vendors day.

European Vendors

  • You can blow them off by just keep on walking and say 'no thank you' in italian and they will not get rude, they just move onto the next tourist (as shown in the picture, there are a lot of tourist at the Spanish Steps).
  • They get in your face, but still know when to back off.
  • They make you try things (ex in pictures bottom right: my brother and mother was walking by and the vendor got my brother to put his wrist out, to show his handmade bracelet and he ended up purchasing it) now that is how you sell....
  • their assertive.
America Vendors

  • They get rude when you blow them off, as you walk by and say no thank you.
  • They do not get in your face, half of them look bored to death sitting on their stool waiting for something to come along... not good sales tactic!
  • not at all patient
  • some push you too far to buy it after you say no.

Hostel in London, England

A like all of you traveling with contiki, you are wanting to spend a few days before or after your tour in the city of London. Or even if you are not and just backpacking through europe with a friend or on your own .... We are all searching for reasonable priced accommodation. I have read many hostels with bad reviews. But remember how many bad reviews out there, there are some good positive ones out there that aren't said. People remember the bad more than the good, and if had a negative experience they are more likely to spread the word more. Ratio of having a negative experience 1:10 (one person telling ten people) and the ratio of having a positive experience 1:5 (one person telling five people) it is much lower... so just keep that in mind when searching for a Hostel in a european city!

One Hostel in London, England after a long time searching and reading many many reviews.. I have come to find one that i liked... Ace Hotel (Kensington) located at 16-22 Gunterstone Road, West Kensington, London, England. - centrally located in a trendy neighbourhood in London. Victorian style houses, a good location for tourists at a budgeted good value price and standard. Rated at a 3 star hostel! There are many bars and restaurents close by. Five minutes away from Court Station and West Kensington station and if travelling from Heathrow airport it takes approximately half an hour with the Tube. The price of this hostel was 12.43 in Pounds so i went to google a converter, and it came to 16.67 CAD. Not bad for a average rating of 79% and with the majority of the reviews being high. - I would stay here next time I am in London. is where i have been looking for hostels around the globe.  Hope this helps!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Welcome to Kusadasi

Get ready to Bargain when you start to shop... Bought a shirt and when got back aboard the cruise ship, another person had same shirt but they got it for less.

From the city of Kusadasi, travel back into ancient times at Ephesus (one of the most fascinating archaeological sites available to the modern day traveler.

The beautifully restored ruins are so evocative, it is easy to imagine the days when Ephesus was the capital of Asia Minor and a major commercial center. View teh marvelous facade of the Library of Celius with its graceful columns and porticoes. Climb the steps to the top of the Great Theater and imagine yourself in the audience when St. Paul made his famous speech to the Ephesians.

You can even visit several of Christendom's most holy sites. The house where Mary, the mother of Jesus, spent her last days and teh Basilica marking the tomb of John, Jeasus' most beloved disciple, are held in veneration by Christian pilgrims from around the world.

a few years ago, Kusadasi looked like any other sleepy fishing village. There were only a few buildings of note. Casillo de Santa Catalina, a Genoese castle dating from the 13th century, was later used as a base by the pirate Barbarossa and his brothers.

The local Bazaar has also grown to be one of Turkey's largest markets for leather goods, jewelry and oriental rugs. Only the Grand Bazaar in Istanbul is bigger. The entire town has been transformed into a center for tourists, with access to Ephesus and the entire Ionian coast.

A visit to Ephesus will put you in touch with some of this area's most stunning ancient ruins. There is an Odeon, or small theater, with a capacity of 1,400. It was also used for public meetings of the city council. The Magnesian Gate and Town Hall are near at hand.

The impressive Library of Celsus stands at the foot of the main street. Its stately two level facade is being carefully restored. The interior walls were designed to display 12,000 scrolls in niches, which protected them the humidity. The Temples of Domitian and Hadrian are impressive and the Great Theater (which is still in use) seats 25,000 spectators.

Harbor street - also known as the Arcadian Way - connected the port district with the center of town. Beautiful colonnades on both sides and marble pavement made a dazzling first impression on visiting dignitaries. It was one of the rare ancient streets to be lit by lamps at night.

Even in the abandoned state, Ephesus remains an awe-inspiring city, in an amazing setting. The Ionians lived well and wisely. Even those who live in great luxury today must tip their hats to these imaginative people.

Throughout Turkey, bargaining is expected. As a general rule of thumb, start at about 60 percent of the asking price and be prepared to pay about 75 percent. You will find good buys in: Alabaster and Onyx: A wide variety of uniquely carved objects Pottery hand-painted Kutahya pieces
Clothing: Authentic and modern outfits, slippers and leather goods
Jewelry: colorfully handcrafted necklaces, bracelets and earrings
Carpets and Textiles: beautiful designs in all shapes and sizes

The food in Turkey can be a real pleasure, especially if you like seafood. A few recommendations:
Athopot Salatasi: a cold octopus salad, often with shrimps, tossed in olive oil, vinegar and parsley
Dolma: The general name for a variety of stuffed dishes, one of the best being mussels stuffed with rice, pine nuts and currants
Grilled Fish: Try palamut (baby tuna), lufer (bluefish) and levrek (sea bass)

Drink specialities: the national drink is raki, which is similar to Greek ouzo, made from grapes and aniseed. There are also a number of good local wins in Turkey. They are:
Villa Doluca: white and red
Kavaklidere: white and red

suggested tipping is 10 percent for good service

Thank you................Tesekkur ederim

Monday, March 28, 2011

Do it yourself or Travel Agent?

It is a very common misconception that travel agents cant find the lowest price and you can find them on your own - well at least in some cases that is true. Such as, booking airfare!! But when you are booking a cruise, travel agents tend to be best at finding better pricing. The secret....Cruise lines tend to be connected to travel agents.

If you are booking air on your own, just be sure to know the peak season and have patience, it does not come overnight recieving the better airfare. Like expecting air prices to be a little higher than usual, take summer for an instance it is a given when all the students are out of school and families take their family trips. Spring break is another peak season to be aware of along with other major holidays.

  • Book your flights and fast. Flights over the festive season can go fast, so hurry up. 
  • Avoid the busiest days of the holiday season which tends to be a day before and then a couple days after. 
  • The quieter days to travel are usually christmas day because most people would rather be celebrating the day instead of being on a flight or stuck at an airport for that matter.
  • Cheaper flights - if you want to save a bit of a money and do not mind flying on christmas day it is worth looking at this day to travel on.
  • check in online, airports tend to be busy over the festive season it will be less stressful and more enjoyable to enjoy the airport facilities, having a meal or drink before your flight instead of being stuck in the lineup waiting to be checked in moments before your flight departs.
  • Check the weather network before you depart as there is a larger chance of bad weather accuring.
  • See if you can travel with just carry on - so you do not have to stress over if the airline loses your luggage.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Welcome to Livorno

My Trip: May 2007. Cruise

Livorno or "Leghorn" is the principal town in the province of the same name, which lies in the region called Tuscany. Livorno serves as your gateway to the cities of Florence and Pisa.

meaning "the Flowerling" is the jewel of the Renaissance. From the Piazzale Michelangelo there is a Splended Panorama of the skyline. It is easy to pick out the pointed tower of the Palazzo Vecchio, and the Cathedral's massive dome, designed by Filippo Brunelleschi.
This Cathedal, the Duomo, that symbolizes the wealth and power of Florence in its golden age. It took 14 years to build, and was paid for entirely by the clothmakers guild. Brunelleschi built the huge, lanterned dome using a revolutionary method that was later copied for St. Peter's in Rome and St. Paul's in London. The Roof is supported by high gothic vaulting, and the interior of the dome is adorned with a fresco of the last supper and beauitful stained glass. In the Cathedral Museum is a Pieta created by Mechelangelo at the age of 80, which he left unfinished; the face on Nicodemus is Michelangelo's own.

Just off the square is the Uffizi Gallery, one of the worlds finest museums, with representative works of nearly every Renaissance master.

Not far from the Uffizi is the Ponte Vecchio, a 14th century bridge spanning the Arno.

On the far side of the river is the Pitti Palace, another large and rich gallery located alongside the delightful Boboli Gardens. The Pitti is home to no less than 11 masterpieces by Raphael.

The Best known buildings in Pisa are gathered around the "field of miracles," the familiar trio of Cathedral, Baptistery and teh Campanile or Bell Tower. This Campanile is the world famous leaning tower, now inclined 14 feet to one side due to the settling of the subsoil. The fame of the Tower shouldn't distract you from the overall beauty of the other buildings which are built in the highly original Pisan style. Note the tiers of arcades, together with geomtrical decorations based on lozenge shapes. The Beautifully decorated cemetery, or Campo Santo, contains 53 cartloads of earth that the Crusaders brought from Jerusalem.It is said that Galileo, a native of Pisa, used the Cathedral to study the movement of the pendulum and the Leaning Tower to work out his laws of gravity and accleration.

*There are local artists that wander these areas, one tried to draw me!!

The 16 century walls are largely intact, making the city one of the best examples of Renaissance fortification in Europe. The Interior of the city is also pleasant, since it is flat, not hilly and because the old grid of Roman streets makes it easy to find your way. You can also see where the old Roman amphitheater stood at the Piazza del Mercato; the stones have all been taken for other buildings, but the oval shape remains.

San Gimignano
If you want to know what the 14th century looked like, come to San Gimignano, the town of fine Towers. Today's distinctive skyline boasts 14 tall towers, but there were 76 at one time. Back in the day, each one represented a noble family's stronghold against other factions in the city. And of course the height of each tower represented a certain prestige, as well as a military edge. You'll find 7 of them around the main square, including the oldest, on the Mayor's Palace. A law of 1255 banned any tower being built taller, but everyone ignored the law. The tallest today (175 feet) is at the Palace of the People, wher eyou can get a fine view of the countryside. The Municipal museum here is also worth a visit.

Like many Tuscan hill towns, Volterra began as a typical Etruscan stronghold: a high plateau about an hour from the sea. Today the wealth of the fine artifacts in the local museum recalls that stunning culture.

The central Piazza dei Priori is one of Italy's finest squares, surrounded with austere palaces, and delightful shops. From the Palace of the Priors, there are good views of a well preserved Roman theater. Don't neglect the local sculptures in translucent white alabaster...the descendants of the old Etruscans are not far away!

Window shopping is a delight in Florence. You will find good buys in:
  • Leather Gloves, belts, purses, wallets and boxes of all shapes and sizes
  • Gold and Silver, simple jewelry like gold and silver charms are quite reasonable. Also look for napkin rings, photo frames, cruet sets, sugar bowls and candlesticks.
  • Ceramics and Glassware, Ceramic ornaments and innumerable statuettes for every taste
  • Inlays and Mosaics, A Florentine specialty; look for small "pictures" of birds, flowers and landscapes; for trinkets, try the colorful, glass handmade mosaic broaches, pendants, bracelets and rings
  • Fashion; Florentine designers rival those of Paris and London
The best places to shop are along the Ponte Vecchio and in the area around teh church of Santa Croce.

The majority of shops in Florence are open Monday through Friday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm and from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm; and Saturday from 9:00 am to 1:00pm; shops are closed on sunday and on special holidays.

Local Cruisine
Florentines are proud of their robust food. Recommended items:
  • Prosciutto crudo con fichi - this local fave is an appealing appetizer of raw ham and fresh figs
  • Pappardelle - a tasty pasta dish of broad noodles served in season with hare sauce
  • Bistecca alla fiorentina - this usually mammoth-sized, charcoal-grilled T-Bone steak served with lemon is a specialty
  • Cacciucco - Red Mullet or other fish cooked in tomatoes, onion, garlic and red wine, served on croutons
  • Zuccotto - A liqueur-soaked, chilled sponge and chocolate cake
The local wine, Chianti, is red and light and can be drunk with almost anything.

White wines - Vernaccia di San Gimignano, an excellent dry wine; Montecarlo, and Bianco del-l'Elba, a mellower wine

Vinsanto - A small glass of this deep amber-colored sweet "holy wine" is the perfect end to a meal.

Tipping - suggested tipping is 15% to 20% percent for good service

Some useful words
Please..........Per favore
Thank you...Grazie
Good morning........Buon Giorno

Welcome to Mykonos

My Trip: May 21, 2007. Cruise.

Mykonos The Birthplace of Apollo, Mykonos Shines Like a Diamond in a Sapphire Sea
  • The most beauitful icons on the island are in the Church of Agia Kiriaki. You may find the charming Square of the Three Wells - local legend has it that unmarried girls should drink from each of the three, in order to find the right husband.
  • There was always a danger of invasion by pirates, so the town and harbor are compactly built for defense. You may hear that the tight, winding maze of streets was designed to confuse invaders, but it also does well to break the effects of the strong winds coming in from the Aegean.
  • A good place to start a walking tour is the square dedicated to local patriot Mando Mavrogenous. (Mando was a wealthy young woman during the Greek war of independence, who fit out two ships at her own expense. They inflicted a stunning defeat on a large band of Algerian corsairs).
  • The tiny island of Delos is only a short ferry ride from Mykonos but reveals a stunning tradition as a religious center for the Ionian Greeks.

Mykonos is the best island in the Cyclades for shopping. You will find good buys in Jewerly Gold: Works in ancient and Byzantine designs Folk Items Numerous Greek Handicrafts, especially pottery reproductions Hand painted icons of the Byzantine originals Also rugs and embroidered linens.

Public Services

Post Office: located at Lakka Square, open weekdays from 8:00am to 2:00pm

Banks: Open Monday through Friday from 8:00am to 2:00pm

Museums: Vary greatly but most are open Wednesday through Monday from 9:30am to 2:00pm. Some are also from 4:00pm to 7:00pm. The Archeological Museum of Mykonos is located very close to the old port area of Mykonos town, above the Yachting club.

Shops: Open from 9:00am to 10:00pm

Proper Attire
Please wear proper attire ashore when planning to visit churches, cathedrals and other scared places. Shorts for both men and women are considered improper. Women should also cover their bare shoulders.

Local Cuisine
Food specialties eating is a lively social activity in the Cyclades.
Recommended foods include:
  • Tarmosalata - Smoked fish roe
  • Keftedes - Spicy meatballs
  • Dolmades - Vine or cabbage leaves wrapped around savory rice and sometimes mincemeat, often served with an egg and lemon sauce
  • Also, be sure to try the islands traditional almond biscuits
Drink specialties
The wine from nearby Santorini is a Greek favorite, particularly Boutari in both Kokkino (red) and aspro (white).

Ouzo - a clear, licorice flavor liqueur, is the favorite aperitif. Sip it slowly over a plate of mezedes or appetizers. You'll also want to try:

Brandy - Botrys and Metaxa

Mavrodaphne - A heavy dessert wine

suggested tipping is 10 percent for good service

Some useful words
Yes..................Malista or Ne
Thank you.......Efcharisto
Good Morning.....Kalimera

Food around the world...

We all know the second best part of traveling the world is trying the different favorite dishes of each country. Such as we all know there is no place like Italy for the BEST pizza ever! That is a given.

Naples, Italy - Pizza with EVERYTHING ON IT. My Second-Cousin told them to put everything on it and by george they did. And yes that is french fries and hot dogs on the pizza!

Share the best dish you've tried and in which city/country.....
  • @amockorange said March 24, 2011: Best pizza in Rome is in an alley just outside the Vatican

  • Dutch Stroopwafles (Syrup Waffles) in Amsterdam - their little round waffles with caramel in the middle.
  • Buena Vista Cafe, San Francisco California - Best Irish Coffee.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Financing Your Travels.

I found this tip (Tip#1) really interesting, I got it off of I can not remember who or i would totally without a doubt give them credit.

Tip #1. Cut out a picture of where you want to go out of your Contiki Brochure and tape it to your credit card(s) and debit depends on how much of a spender you are. And every time you go and "use" your debit or credit card you will come face to face with the picture and it will make you think twice...

Tip#2. Make a budget sheet of your weekly and monthly expensives and then include in your trip and airfare to see how much you will need to save. It will be a eye opener for sure, showing you where your money is going and might force you to make some changes.

Props to the people who can work three jobs...

After you reach a $1000 saving limit, treat yourself to something you would enjoy. Like a new pair of shoes, a new outfit, a movie and dinner, whatever that will make you feel special. It will make saving up for that trip much more fullfilling and easier. By setting rewards at different intervals of saving money you will feel much happier and better :)

Tip#3. Freeze your credit card, fill a plastic bag with water and throw your credit card into the bag and place it laying down in the freezer. After a couple days you will forget about it. It works! Or if you have control on not to use it, just simply take it out of your wallet and place it somewhere in your filing cabinet, inside a certain file that you do not normally go through on a daily basis. This works too!

Saving is not a easy task.. especially with all the expenses you may have!

Tip#4. You may not like this tip some of you people, but you could always move back into the parents house while you do your year or two of traveling to cut down on expenses. I know it is no fun but you've got to do what you got to do. Right? Just set a end date of when you want to be out of their house, then it shouldn't be to bad. good luck if this tip is for you.

Tip#5. Set your banking accounts so there is no or little access you can remove money from through your debit card. example; I can only access one account from my debit card. It is nice this way, because you can control on how much money you can spend.

Tip#6 Have too much stuff and find yourself not using it as it is just collecting dust in your basement. Get together some friends and have a Garage sale, price things a dollar or two higher so you have room to bargain down with your customers. Great way to get rid of some stuff and make some money at the same time.
I want to hear your tips.... Email me. Twitter me. or Post a comment at the end of this post. Thanks in advance.

Other Tips:

Laura M Bailey Stop eating out, stop drinking booze at bars (both are way over priced) and don't go clothes/shoes/ etc shopping. You probably have everything you need and unless an item is falling apart it doesn't need replacing! I saved 10gs in 7 months! Hard saving plus those cut backs!

Tori Taylor Ross Crazy, but when I was contiki saving I would buy all of my groceries with coupons and on sale. I would slash my food budget by half that way and put what I had originally budgeted in the travel fund. What I did buy, I put on a cash back credit card and paid it in full every month. After about 9 months to a year, I had a enough in cash back to absorb some of the booking price hit and then paid the trip off with my grocery savings.

It's really cold here. let's go find a beach!

Three full days of spring and so far *looks around* .... nothing but snow, snow and more snow. What is mother nature trying to pull on us, at least give us some sunshine so there is something we can smile about. This is starting to get really depressing, although alberta is known to have the worst winters in canada but that is inexcusable.

So while the snow keeps falling day after day, I keep searching for a escape getaway. why couldn't contiki have last minute deals on airfares also and not just trips.

It is cold enough for frosty the snowman to be living comfortable. Have you ever wondered if there was a magical hat that could bring a snow man to life? wouldn't that be cool if there was - you could have a best friend to hang out with each day. But beware of men that will want to steal his magical hat. ha!

You know what I have not yet done or even tried, making a sandman "snowman" made out of sand. OMG i am so going to try that this summer when in los angeles and, Milsa, Stephanie and I are laying in the sunshine soaking up the sunshine on Venice Beach. Stay tuned for the Picture.

Beaches around Edmonton are not sandy beachs but snowy beaches at the moment so those will not do. Australia beaches might be good go as when canada and united states are in winter, their in winter.

Corfu, Santorini Greece. Croatia? California? Florida?

Where should we go?

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Contiki Tourmates.

Hi Contiki Peeps.... So you are about to set off on your next tour (or for some your first) and you are probably traveling solo and you will not know anyone when you arrive. No worries. You can "meet" up before you all set foot on the airplane and arrive at the destination of the tour.

Contiki Discussion Forum

I met one of my Tourmates so far through the Contiki forums, He is from Toronto Canada. And then we added eachother to facebook. Contiki Forum is a great inital meeting spot ;)

But love the new Layout they created for the Discussion Forum on the website, much nicer than before. Great work!

Facebook!/Contiki &

Met two of my Tourmates, from the San Francisco New Years group I had made, one from america and the other from australia, Melbourne.

Another Tourmate created a group for all the San Francisco New Year Tourmates plus Tour manager to join and keep in touch.

From today on, we still keep in touch. When Brooke gets back home in Australia I will start to plan my BIG Australia trip.... don't worry Contiki you will be apart of it <3


I have not yet met any Tourmates through twitter yet but I have met quite a bit of contiki passengers that are traveling with contiki for the first time. Never know maybe one day we will do a tour together.

If you have, please tell us your story...

So start getting out there and meeting your Tourmates... and have fun on your Tours!!!

And cannot forget about all you Contiki peeps I met last month  in Calgary at the VIP Euro Bash... Love you guys :) ... tweeting wicked contiki tweets ever since my trip, and then this party shows up and we got to meet eachother <3

Changing Flights.

Just spent an hour this morning switching my flight for this summer so now i am just spending a week in Los Angeles and not going to Florida. Going to try and squeeze in another Contiki.

The lady on the other line at Continental was very helpful and did everything she could to make it possible. Thanks the merger of United and Continental, giving them more options of flights for their customers. Although it was a little wait to get someone on the phone and a little longer when she called the Rate desk to make something work for me.

Ended up getting Air Credit from Continental for future trips that I plan on using soon! Should be in the mail soon; and a better flight back. I am flying from YEG to SFO then onwards to LAX. The same way back, that is great!

Props to Continental!
Excellent Service.

I would not have gotten this excellent service if i had used Expedia!!

Monday, March 21, 2011

VIP Contiki Euro Bash

February 24, 2011 in Calgary.
It's new Have You Done It? Campaign.

some 200 industry partners made it out for the event, and ME the contiki passenger made the drive down from Edmonton to attend this marvelous event ;) but again who would turn down a contiki party!

There is no messing around when Contiki throws a party! ;)

 Located on Opus on 8th downtown Calgary. 

Night before in Calgary before for the Bash, Emily tweets me and asks me to phone her while she and the rest of the contiki team were sitting around having cocktails informs me they had offered to pay for my hotel room for the night! Love you guys :) Thank You. Your Awesome.

Arriving at the party I made my way through the crowd to the back of the room to take pictures with the greek girls with the Contiki backdrop. As I pushed back to the VIP area I started talking to Monica and from onwards that is when everyone started recognizing me. My 'famous contiki tweets'.  Love you guys :)

Hope I am keeping up my outstanding contiki tweets....

Brad making sure some important people were getting recognized...

new Have You Done It? campaign Videos;
and the video that has reached over 30k viewers

Party Continues... Contiki Style...
Jenni, Josie and Kate

Sheralyn and Kate

Emily and Kate (And she did happen to be the one who invited me)

Josie and Kate

Kate and Monica

Kate and Jenni

Brad, Kate and Emily

So Contiki... definately feel free to invite me to more of your parties. Ok? Thanks.

Shoutout To: @ContikiB @ContikiJosie @ContikiJenni @Ms_ContikiEmily @ContikiPR @ContikiMoniki @ContikiBerri

xx Kate

VIP Euro Bash Calgary Feb 24, 2011
Opus on 8th

Pricing Airlines

Today I found another Tour that I would LOVE to do. Easter in Amsterdam with Contiki for four days. Starting and Ending in London, England. So i decided to search some flights and compare all the airlines i could think of, so here i go....

Continental Airlines leaving April 20 and returning April 26 at a price of $1424.30 and when i add on $345 the cost of the tour, grand total comes to: $1769.30

Air Canada leaving and returning the same dates at a price of $1429.31 with a grand total of; $1774.31

* was the same as Air Canada for their cheapest flight. And highly recommend not to book flights through expedia. It is quite difficult trying to deal with when your flights change or get cancelled.

Like what happened to me for an example, I had booked my flights well in advance using expedia because it was a good deal. Well it was a good deal but a pain in the butt. first my flight coming home from LAX got switched and they automatically put me on a new flight connecting across north america so it took me +1 day to get home which was ridiculous. Got that all figured out and fixed. It is best to to go directly through the airline it self when booking your flights.

Delta leaving and returning the exact same dates at a price of $1385.97 with a grand total of; $1730.94

Although i went to and got a flight flying with delta at the cost of; $1192.00 with a grand total of $1537.00 leaving and returning the exact same dates.

United Airlines leaving and returning the exact same dates at a price of $1382.31 with a grand total of; $1727.31

**All flights with one stop.
*if you know anymore airlines or have any thoughts, leave a comment.

It sure does pay to do your homework to making sure you are getting the best deal possible, if your not doing it then no one else will. The Airlines does not care, they want to get paid so they will be more than willingly to take your money if you aren't pay attention.

Another idea if you ever fly overseas into Europe, fly into a country somewhere that is the cheapest and then book a secondary flight through or ... pricing are in pounds though but you can easily find a converter: You can get a round trip flight costing $100-$200 dollars within the cities in europe.
*i have not done so myself yet but I will definately keep that on top of my list of options when booking my european contiki trip.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Leaving Los Angeles

After i got back from the beach January 3,2011 i paid for the airport shuttle to come pick me up at the hostel and take me to the airport as to finding my own taxi to the airport.

January 4, 2011: Now the sun comes out and wants to play and be friendly with the weather as i head off to the airport.
Used the Hostel Airport Shuttle to take me to the airport as it would have been better then hailing a cab. Although I do not mind California cabs, they get you to your destination so fast making it cost inexpensive.

Culver City area of Los Angeles. This is where my Friend Stephanie lives. Taken from the Van (Shuttle). We made one stop before the airport at a Holiday Inn picking up three other guys from Toronto, they were in LA for some sport thing.

Los Angeles Mountain Scene. Lovely isn't it! Also taken from Shuttle.

City of Angels. Wait for me I will be back, you can make my 24th birthday a memoriable one. Lets try and top New Years if that is even possible. But it will be fun trying.
Thank you Contiki for getting me to California <3

The Beach. Santa Monica, California.

At the end of a shopping spree in Los Angeles, went to drop off my new clothes at the hostel and repacked my suitcase so it would ALL fit. And then I went out for a last walk down to the beach and just sat there until sunset. (the plan was to get food and take it down to the beach and eat it but saw no food worthy to eat)Wish i had someone to share it with, next time! ;) I was ready to go home, it was a busy week but super fun so what better way to end your visit sitting on the beach breathing in the air and surroundings and soaking in the sunshine. Although it was a bit breezy, chilly.

I was at 1436 2nd St, International Hosteling Santa Monica. Take a Right walking out from the Hostel and that becomes Santa Monica Blvd, then take another right you come to Ocean Ave - you walk through a park called Palisades Park. Walk over a walking over pass over the Pacfic coast highway which brings you to Santa Monica Beach.

Houses along the Beach, very colorful.
Lifeguard stand I ended up sitting on facing the Pacific Ocean in the sunshine. Shhh you were not suppose to sit on them but no one else around. I felt almost like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen when they used to sit on their lifeguard stand apart of their show; So Little Time! I know that probably sounds corny but who cares.

#14 lifeguard stand, now known as mine ;) he he. Should have signed my name on it. he he!

I, Facing the Pacfic Ocean standing on the Lifeguard Stand #14.
From middle of the Pier onlooking Santa Monica Beach, Isn't it beauitful! I could have stayed there ALL day sitting on the sand and onlooking the ocean just letting in my surroundings. Just wonderful! 

Or you can take a right exiting the Hostel which brings you to Broadway Blvd, continue straight to Colorado Ave and swing a Right and keep walking straight comes the edge of the Palisades Park and then continue onwards until you come to the entrance of the Pier.

On the Pier. Oh my i can not believe i am on the Santa Monica Pier. :)

Sunset from Santa Monica Pier / Beach. Beautiful.

Can not explain how else i was feeling... just alot of smiling going on in my head that is for sure and the fact i was tired from partying new years 2011. Perfect Sunset for a fresh start <3 2011.

Shop - Santa Monica, California.

January 3, 2011: after waking up at 10am and taking my walk i wondered by Santa Monica shopping strip malls. It was very quiet, not many people out and about as it was rainy and cloudy, and of course a monday. I am from Canada so this little Los Angeles cold was nothing to me.

I was at 1436 2nd St, International Hosteling Santa Monica. Take a Right walking out from the Hostel and that becomes Santa Monica Blvd, then take a left and you come to Third Street Promenade - take a right and that brings you to Broadway Blvd and Santa Monica Place (shopping center). All amazing stores you will not be disappointed!!

Must visit these stores:

If you do not want to sleep in bunk beds and share a room with seven other people, the Holiday Inn Hotel is two blocks right (Colorado Ave and 2nd street). But the hostel is okay, I had nothing to compare it to as i had never stayed in a hostel before but it was a place to sleep and cheaper than the Holiday Inn that is for sure.
Second level of the shopping mall, i want to call it. Is it even called a shopping mall even if it is outside sort of? I think so, so we will call it a shopping mall.
Oo Oo See that movie poster top picture to the left!! The Tourist, with Johnny Depp. Great movie if you have not yet seen it!! Great ending, you will not expect it.

There is even a Louis Vuitton Store. I wandered in there and got super excited. You ladies know what i mean, guys will not understand. I was tempted to buy a wallet, although the cheapest thing in the store were the wallets at like $300-$500. I am kicking myself in the buttocks each time i am thinking about it, I should have bought a Louis Vuitton purse!

Expensive Store. Their Clearance rack consists of $200.00. When i saw these large figures i turned around and walked right back out of the store. Although if cash is no worries to you and you are in LA to shop till you dropped then be all means go ahead and enter these doors just let these words from me not scare you when you see some of those price tags...

Arizona Street - Finished half of the strip mall and more to go. I was in heaven. Although i was avoiding the stores that we had back home in Canada because I can always go to those stores. I was in Los Angeles and I wanted to experience LA style. There was some tshirts in some stores, that were $100 and they were just plain white tshirt nothing fancy to them. That is Los Angeles for you.
Shopping in San Francisco was cheaper than Los Angeles. But I still did not shy away from the stores or even purchasing clothes for that matter. I had my Visa and that is all that i needed, right girls!

Middle of the shopping strip but the left side. (Third Street Promenade)

Middle of the shopping strip but the right side. (Third Street Promenade)
It was a monday and clearly not many people were out shopping as they were working and the children were in school, and the weather did not help much either.

See you soon..... Los Angeles <3

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Streets of Santa Monica, California.

January 3, 2011; It was a rainy gloomy day as i woke up at 10am and started my day in La La Land where i first went for a walk. Not sure where i was headed I just let my feet take me wherever. Nothing was quite open yet as it was still a little early.

There was alot of construction of buildings and plans of future buildings to be built in the surrounding areas. The Picture below, so cool seeing all the tall palm trees line up in a row down the street. Just like the movies, but 100% way better.
The only scenery of Los Angeles I have seen were pictures and in movies, So really I did not know what to expect. But it i give it two thumbs up and a passing grade. Defiantely can not wait till i return. And Stephanie I promise you this time i will make time for you, my friend.
See i was suppose to meet up with my friend Stephanie that lives in Culver City, LA but i was still recovering from my hangover from New Years Eve and I just ended up going down to the beach sitting in the sunshine on one of the lifeguard stands taking in my surroundings, surreal i made it to the west coast. (Sorry Stephanie. Love you)
Now i have seen the Pacific Ocean, as i saw the Atlantic Ocean when i was in New York some years ago for my 18th birthday. But that is for another blog entry.

I should have rented a car for the two days i was in Los Angeles it would have been way better or even a bike, nah! A car would have been better.

The sun started to show up by mid-day.

Train and Bus to Southern California.

The bus was running a little late in the early morning, picking us up in San Francisco. Bus left at 6am in the morning. Now that is one great way to see the State of California. By Bus.

Arrived in Santa Barbara around 1pm and the Train was late and pushed back to 2:45pm. The Train finally arrived and got settled in my seat and got food, which I hadn't ate since January 1 at breakfast. So i grabbed some yogurt, OJ and snacks at the food bar.

And then the train was delayed some more because there was a tree branch on the tracks which they had to go clear so that pushed us back a couple of minutes. The wonderful world of Traveling eh!

Another great way to see the State of California, By Train. We robe by the ocean side for a bit and then inland the other half. So you could say i got to see it all.

While all this time, it was raining quite some amounts. But at least it was rain and not snow where I am from. There was about five-six stops in between before mine. So i got to see the backside of California towns from the train view.

A stop along the way to my destination. I would have to go back in my facebook status's to read my updates of which stop is which. I will have to do it another day. I would love to rent a car next time in California and only in California and just drive through the state stopping everywhere possible.

The State of California Landscape from the Train.

I arrived to my destination, Van Hays, California. And the Bus is delayed. Greatness! The joy of traveling. It was getting dark fast, so i ended up texting anyone possible back home if near computer to grab me a phone number to a LA Taxi service. Because I did not want to wait for the bus until 9pm and by then it would have been VERY DARK and not safe.

So i called a cab. And it came rather quickly. Not your usual cab, usual meaning, yellow and easy indication it was a cab. No this was a private own company i am assuming. But it got me to my hostel and that is all that it mattered. It ended up costing me 50 bucks but that was better than waiting at the bus depot waiting for the bus. and Plus i got to see  LA TRAFFIC AT RUSH HOUR. oh boy! First San Francisco and then Los Angeles. Now i have seen it all. ha! Red Lights of cars from miles. It was not to bad, quick you could say.

Arrived safely to the hostel and checked in. Although it is sure a different atmosphere Los Angeles at night than during the day, i was hoping to arrive during the day. As i set bags into room and then went to go find computers to check email and update facebook saying i have arrived. By this moment, i was missing all my new friends back in San Francisco. Now i have never been in a hostel before so this was my first. Shared a room with 7 other ladies.

I was still recovering from New Years, it was a long hangover or so i told myself but maybe parts to do with missing all my new friends back in San Francisco.

It's time for me to get some Shut eye so i can have some energy to shop till i dropped the next day in Santa Monica. ;)

January 2, 2011
Santa Monica, Los Angeles.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

New Years Eve - San Francisco, California

Could life have gotten any better this evening, December 31, 2010. Probably not.
This was our Dinner Cruise for the evening, dinner was wonderful as usual and free brooze. So really could it have gotten any better than this? Probably not.

As we were standing in line it started to rain a little, of course I forgot my jacket had a hood on it. Silly me. Until Jeff was like why not put your hood up, and he put it on my head carefully without ruining my hair. what a nice guy eh!

However some of were not as fortunate to having a hood on their jacket. As Brooke did not have a hood she had to push her jacket over her head like this in the picture to keep her hair from getting wet.

Nice head band right. I picked it out when we went shopping at Forever 21.

As we got closer to the gate and onto the boat, there was a photographer that took a picture of ALL of us in the group. Now I do not know where the picture, It probably stayed in San Francisco.

It was a All you can eat buffet. Our tables were at the back by the bar ;) and the door leading outside where most of the group watched the fireworks. But Brooke and I ended up away from the group. Brooke ended up with Adrian at the back of the boat and I ended up with Robb upstairs. Do not ask me how that happened, me climbing stairs. I remember grabbing my jacket because it was breezy out and next minute i was arm in arm with Robb upstairs of the boat watching the fireworks taking LOTS OF PICTURES of the fireworks.

Picture: The Finale of the fireworks, there was overly too many pictures that i took almost of every firework they lit. I just had my camera on set and i kept pressing the button and it kept on taking picture after picture. Great quality eh!

Afterwards I had to make my way downstairs, with a drink still in my hand. No i was not drunk, i only had 5 drinks in total that night. They were strong drinks but I did not have that many, only five. I promise you that. I can even name all the drinks i had to prove to you: Vodka and OJ, Champagne, and Three Life is Good drinks. so that comes to a total of Five!
Got safely in doors of the boat and the hugs started coming, HAPPY NEW YEAR HUGS and more picture taking.

Brooke and Adrian was in the line for getting another drink when i grabbed Brooke and Monte for a Photo Op. Monte was our Tour Manager. He was alot of fun.

Something I did that I never have done before, I slowed danced with Robb. Now i was told it was not very long. Which was a shocker to me. I was not feeling to well after the fireworks and i was pulled onto the dance floor. I was pulled onto the dance floor alot throughout the night. By Monte and Robb.

I was taking a bathroom break and in line i got to talking and made a friend in the line, a local. She wanted me to go into the mens washroom with her as the ladies had a huge line up. But i do not know why I did not budge. I so would have too. Why is that.... ladies washroom always has a HUGE line up anywhere you go but the Mens washroom there is never a line up? just a question to make you ponder upon.

Now there was alot more pictures from that evening but I do not want to spoil all the fun by showing them all. I will leave you all in awe!

Around 3am the boat docked and we got off, half the group went their own way back to the hotel and the rest followed Monte. Yes i was in the group that followed Monte back to the hotel. Just would like to add another Thanks to Monte and Robb for lending me their arms while walking back to the hotel. Wouldnt have made it back to the hotel without you guys. Thanks.

I remember there was talk about going out and party some more but it was 3am and everything was closed so we ended up going upstairs into someones hotel room and continue the party. I dropped my things off in my room. Went to hang out in the hallway. The Pot smell in the hotel was making me sick and Corey ended up holding me for a few minutes and then i was dragged off by Robb walking back to my room to sleep....

Morning after, HAPPY NEW YEAR. January 1, 2011. We went for breakfast and i should have stayed in my bed and slept instead of going out for breakfast with the gang but I went. After i went out to scout out where i would catch the bus and then I met up with Trina, Doug and tagged along with them for a few minutes but I needed to get back to the hotel and sleep so i ditched and hailed a cab to take me back to Hotel Whitcomb.

I ended up skipping the last evening of the tour because i was so tired i just couldnt function properly so i got my money back and went to bed and woke up the next morning to catch my cab to the bus depot. To catch my bus to Santa Barbara.

Picture: Deets (Details) of what and where we went each day on the tour. Signed Monte. BEST NEW YEARS EVER <3 THANK YOU CONTIKI <3

Dedicated to all my New friends i made and hope to see you soon. Miss you all <3

December 31, 2010 & January 1,2011
San Francisco New Year 10/11

Bike Tour - San Francisco, California

Bike n' Roll San Francisco. 353 Jefferson Street San Francisco, California. Next door to In N' Out Burger.

It was a jammed packed day New Years Eve Day, December 31,2010. Alcatraz in the early morning which took us approximately two hours. Brooke and I somehow wandered away from the rest of the pack while on the island so we were left to take the second boat back to the mainland in time for the Bike tour.

Brooke and I were going to go grab a quick bite to eat at In N' Out Burger but it was so busy we wouldn't have enough time to get the food and eat it so we went to subway. So you could say we were "IN n' OUT" of the burger joint. ha! Oh come on that was funny. ha!

It was a tremendous way to see another side of San Francisco. But boy those hills are tough to climb. Our Guide he started us off with a nice small hill which was great but that second hill came and half of us ended up walking it.

Rode past some yacht clubs which had boats in the water, was quite jealous because i wanted go sailing. After the Big hill we got to ride on some flat ground all the way till the Golden Gate Bridge.

Picture: I was unsure how this picture was taken to be honest. I may have tried to take a different picture of something else not sure of what but this is even better. Shows you we actually were on bikes and rolling around San Francisco, Ken and Trina are in front of me and of course the tour guide.

Picture: Trina and I. The other albertan. What a small world eh, we live an hour away from eachother and we never knew eachother before the tour. 

Who here reads Danielle Steele books, and is a fan of hers? Well do i have good news for you... See that mini version of the white house on top of the hill. Yes you have guessed it, it is Danielle Steele's house.

Also Robin Williams lives in San Francisco and no we did not get to see any famous faces. Not that kind of trip, was more interested in the city.

Here is another interesting fact that i learned: San Francisco has more dogs than children. Also i bet you did not know this, that there is not a single graveyard in the city of san francisco. Now do not ask me where they bury people.

Before we Rode across the Golden Gate Bridge, we stopped for a photo op.... "Whats that in the sky? Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No it's ENDORPHIN MAN!!!!" quoted Doug Leonard. A fellow traveller from Toronto, Canada.

Only thing that made it tough riding across the bridge was the wind, if we did not have the wind it would have gone alot better. But I made it!

The end of the bike tour.... raising the bikes in the air saying we've made!

Robb and Mandie ended up biking back to 353 Jefferson Street to return the bikes while the rest of us rode the ferry back. Their nuts! ha!

After we got back to the mainland, Monte (our tour manager) wanted everyone to go to Buena Vista for the best Irish coffee ever. But some of did not because time was getting close to the moment we had to leave for the New Years Eve dinner cruise and of course us ladies wanted to get ready, shower, make up. You know all that girlie stuff.

So Cameron and I shared a taxi back to the hotel, as it would have been a long walk back to the hotel.

December 31, 2010
San Francisco New Year Tour