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Dazzling London Theatre Performances At Christmas Time

Winter is the perfect time to visit the ‘big smoke’ with the numerous shopping streets selling everything from sweaters to mulled wine, and for its historic and infamous Theatreland. The options of shows are boundless, with classic musicals such as Wicked, Billy Elliot and The...

London Tower Bridge
Three Major Airlines Put Europe On Sale

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of their joint transatlantic partnership, British Airways, American Airlines and Iberia Airlines have launched a terrific winter sale. British Airways is quoting fares as low as $86* round-trip from New York (and major east coast airports) to London....

Boston Tea Party Martini
Three Cheers for the Boston Tea Party Martini

To kick-off the celebration of their new Boston restaurant (and with a nod to their neighbors The Tea Party Ship), Smith & Wollensky created the perfect signature cocktail for their new restaurant - The Boston Tea Party Martini....

Crescent City Cooking
Garlic Soup a New Orleans Classic

We were staying at the Dauphine Orleans Hotel on Dauphine St. just across the street from the famous Bayona Restaurant. A leafy courtyard first attracted us as we strolled past; the adjacent old stone house had been converted into a restaurant. Only later...

Paris By Pastry – Exquisite Madeleines

There are so many iconic French foodie experiences, it's hard to know where to begin.  Surprisingly it's often the simplest ingredients executed to perfection that produce the tastes we crave long after returning from a trip to France.  While many famous French confections ooze with...

How To Find Budget Airlines in Europe and Beyond

Where do you turn to find low cost airlines that fly between London and Rome? How about Madrid to Munich? Soaring fuel costs promise that this summer will see air fare prices higher than ever before. It's time to pull out all...

Favorite Cheap High-Quality Hotels in Top European Cities

ParisWe’ve selected our favorite inexpensive accommodations in three of our favorite European destinations, London, Paris and Budapest to help you stretch your vacation budget.

When you think about the term ‘cheap accommodation’, what comes to mind? Visions of dingy shared hostel dorms with iron bunk beds and thirty people to each bathroom? Subsistence meals from all-you-can-eat buffets? Poor security and sketchy neighborhoods?

These types of lodging certainly exist, but cheap doesn’t automatically mean substandard. If you want to save stretch your budget when traveling, there are plenty of youth hostels and cheap hotels available that will give you a great stay.  Here are some of our favorite top value hotels and hostels: 

6 of London’s Best Hidden Attractions

The dilemma for visitors to London is that by the time they’ve enjoyed the ‘must see’ attractions, they’re left with little time to experience the hidden gems that the city has to offer.

Beyond the historical buildings, markets and West End theatre, there is a vast number of lesser known sites of interest that can easily be missed if you don’t seek the council of a local. Luckily for you, dear reader, your author is a born and bred Londoner – 30 years to be precise – and spend much of my time exploring the city’s nooks and crannies, both for work and leisure.

Gathering all of my London knowledge, I’ve come up with a list of six of the city’s best lesser-known attractions.

Coronet Cinema – For most tourists, going to the cinema is not necessarily on their list of things to do. But London is home to some truly unique picture houses. One of the finest is the Coronet Cinema in Notting Hill, west London. A major part of the London arts scene, this cinema dates back to the late 19th century and specializes in non-mainstream movies. 

Paris On Our Mind – Tried and True Paris Tips

Paris cafe for breakfastHere are some Paris travel tips that will make  your journey safe, comfortable and fabulous. I’m always spouting, “When you see a super great deal – make yourself drop everything and go!”  That’s exactly what happened to us last month when Linda and I had the opportunity to fly off to Paris at a fabulous promotional rate.  We had a little over 2 weeks to pull our trip together, so we focused in right away.   Here’s what we did:

#1  A Quick Brush Up On Our High School French
Linda found a terrific language learning program – EarWormsLearning.com.  Despite the crawly name, the concept is amazing.  They believe that you learn better, faster and with more recall when you learn with music.  So their language lessons come with music playing in the background.  We loved it and listened on our iPods all the way to Paris.

30 Words French TranslationAnd for extra reassurance, we picked up a quick translation guide – 30 Words ($9.95).  These are terrific passport sized accordion folded translations of tourist phrases that are waterproof and tear-proof – perfect for toting around.

Paris Greeters Program – Meeting The Friendly French, No Kidding

Paris Greeters, a volunteer organization of amiable Parisians who look forward to welcoming visitors to their city are changing the impression that Paris is a less than friendly city, one tour at a time, every day.

As Linda and I make our away across the city from the broad perfumed boulevards of the Champs Elysee to the gritty, lyrical lanes of the Left Bank,  we are giddy with anticipation.  We are about to meet a new friend that we met a few weeks ago online thanks to the Paris Greeters organization.  Our Paris Greeter / guide, Laurent, has volunteered to show us his city on this particular Saturday afternoon.  We’ve been in touch by email to set a time and place to meet, discussed our mutual interests, and exchanged photos so we can recognize each other outside the Metro station.

Within minutes of meeting we are talking, laughing and already appreciating the nuances of Left Bank neighborhoods and seeing French culture through new eyes.  Beyond a litany of Louis’ and their royal accomplishments (how DO they keep 18 Louis straight?) we stroll by a Pierre Herme´ pastry shrine  (you really can’t call it a bake shop when there are 50 people waiting in line to get in the door!); Paris Market - Wild Asparagusthen on to Gelati D’Alberto where the iced delights look like rose blossoms, and  of course we can’t resist ogling the decadent cheeses and fragrant produce at an open market.  Oh to be a Parisian on market day! Laurent schools us on choosing restaurants to dine in, “NEVER enter a restaurant that has ‘French Cuisine’ on the sign or menu”, he admonishes,  “they are just for poor unsuspecting tourist!”

World's Most Luscious Food Markets

Local food markets give a glimpse into the soul of a destination.  The crops that local farmers grow and the culinary creations that food artisans produce speak to the history of the location and the traditions of its citizens.  Nothing is more pleasing and engrossing than roaming among the stalls of a neighborhood farmer’s market or the grand food halls of a metropolitan city.  In China I was almost afraid to look (bugs on a stick?!), in Vancouver the smells and colors were dazzling, in Hawaii I found vegetables I had never seen before in my life, and the markets in Rome and Paris were sensuous.  Now that it’s harvest time around the world, don’t miss the opportunity to visit a luscious food market wherever you roam – here are some of the world’s favorites:

Americas
New York
Chelsea Market, a hub of foodie activity
San Francisco
Ferry Plaza Farmers Market, large Organics Markets, operates 3 times per week
New Orleans – Crescent City Farmers Market
, Uptown and Downtown fabulous fruits
Seattle – Freemont Sunday Market
– more than fruits & veggies – treasures of all description
Hawaii – Hawaii Farmers Markets Online, several gorgeous markets on every island
Vancouver – Granville Island Public Market
, The ethnic diversity of Vancouver makes this market a sensory explosion
Mexico City –
Mercado de la Merced, nirvana for chili pepper lovers – every color of the rainbow!

5 Fun and Surprising Outdoor Activities in Paris

Beach It In Paris – yes, Paris!
Each July and August since 2002, Paris creates its own beaches right along the banks of the River Seine (by the Pont Neuf, Notre-Dame and Pont au Change).  Industrious crews bring in over 3,000 tons of sand to create an urban beach right along the city’s beloved Seine River, for all Parisians (and visitors) to soak up some rays and participate in (my favorite activity) – eye popping people watching!  But it doesn’t stop with sand – we’re talking palm trees, chaise lounges, umbrellas, hammocks, wifi, games and books, grassy lawns and raised decking – a sun lovers paradise for sure!  Find all the details at Paris Plage
Swim The Seine, really – no pollution involved
A number of giant swimming barges (floating swimming pools) have been anchored along the banks of the Seine creating the illusion of being able to swim in the river.  Perhaps the most notable is the Josephine Baker, where a 25 meter pool can delight 375 swimmers at once.  After your refreshing swim, relax in the cafe, on the sun deck, or work out in the gym facilities.  Their sliding roof makes this spot perfect on any day, in any weather.  Here’s where you can find all the info on the Josephine Baker Swimming Pool.

World’s Best Chocolate Vacations!

For everyone who loves chocolate as much as I do, it's time to plan a vacation swirling with chocolate tours and adventures. Nothing matches the euphoric lift after munching on a creamy chocolate delight. Here are eight destinations for immersing yourself in...

It's the Guy's Turn for a Father and Son Getaway

Move over gals, it time for the guys to get away for a few days of male family bonding. Mother/Daughter “girls getaways” have become all the rage – so it’s only fair that we propose a memorable Father/Son summer escape. The good folks at AAA Southern New England suggest a sports-minded mini-vacation that will guarantee memories to last a lifetime.

Babe Ruth PhotoYou may have heard that the Baseball Hall of Fame is coming to Boston this summer! The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, has created a traveling exhibit that will be at the Boston Museum of Science until September 1st. Over 500 exhibits of treasured memorabilia include: record-breaking home run bats of Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, and Mark McGwire, Curt Schilling’s bloody sock from game two of the 2004 World Series, and the hat worn by Mike Lowell when he was the 2007 World Series MVP.

If you’re in for some great entertainment and a spirited discussion, plan to get tickets for the August 9th visit by Red Sox legend “The Spaceman” Bill Lee for his spirited discussion of the Art and Science of Pitching.