Friday, October 12, 2012

Food, of course.

With apologies (or thanks) to the lovely magazine, AFAR, I "borrowed" this intriguing question:

If you could fly anywhere for a meal, where would you go?


Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Closing the Deal

When you ask people to shell out $3,000 for a 10-day tour of London and other parts of England, you'd better give them some good reasons why they should.

That's why our college is offering a free Information Session for a tour we've scheduled for March 15-24, 2013.  The Tour is Beatles-focused, with stops at all the famous Beatles "haunts," including Abbey Road, and a couple of days in Liverpool, the lads' birthplace.

Since not everyone is a Beatles fan, we've thrown in sidetrips to Stratford-Upon-Avon and Oxford.

The Information Session will be October 9 (which, coincidentally, is John Lennon's birthday).  If you're interested, more information is here.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Time Out

I know I shouldn't, but, honestly, I could easily spend all morning reading Time Out London.

Just try to resist its charms.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

My Perfect Day in ________.

If you're a New York Times reader, you've probably run across this feature in the Travel section.

I so enjoy having other travelers  suggesting what sites they'd take in, where they'd stay, where they'd eat or drink a pint.

So, I'm "borrowing" this idea for Parkland and our travel tours.  Calling it "My Perfect Day in _______."

Since so many of you have traveled to London, will you let us know what your "perfect day in London" would look like?  Our Beatles Tour is scheduled for March 2013 and we'll have several days in London.

We'll post your suggestions here on our blog and on Facebook.

Many thanks.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Sunglasses at night

Can hardly wait for Parkland College's BEATLES TOUR.  Even though the tour isn't until March 2013, I'm already worrying about my "travel-readiness."  I enjoy travel, but it takes me a long time to bounce back from jet lag.  By the time I'm feeling human, the tour is nearly over.

You can find all kinds of articles and so-called "remedies" for jet lag.  Here's a recent one from the New York Times, that, frankly, I intend to test. 

This music video, which reminds me of the days long ago when I actually watched MTV, seems appropriate.  The key, I think, is to have really cool sunglasses.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Goodbye, Pete Best. Hello, Ringo Starr.

NOTE TO READERS:  Parkland College is sponsoring a Beatles Tour in March 2013.  We'll visit London, Liverpool, and a few spots in-between.  For a complete tour itinerary, go here.

I came across this rare film footage of the Beatles playing "live" in the famous Cavern Club.  Beatles fans will recognize the Cavern Club as the sweaty, grimy, noisy music venue where the Beatles and so many other Liverpool bands honed their skills.

This clip of the Beatles features Ringo on the drums.  Just a week earlier, Pete Best, the Beatles original drummer (and favorite of countless female fans) was ousted from the group.  The lads preferred Ringo, as did the band's new record producer, George Martin.  Mr. Martin was not keen on Pete's drumming.  Brian Epstein, the Beatles' manager, was given the task of telling Pete Best he no longer was a Beatle.

The video clip is from 1962.  By the next year, the Beatles would be the toast of the United Kingdom and other parts of Europe.

On December 10, 1963, CBS News showed the US audiences a newsclip of the Beatles.   A few months later, in February 1964, seventy-three million Americans watched the Beatles perform on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

As for Pete Best, some very interesting info here.

Can't help wondering, would the Beatles have been as successful with Pete Best instead of Ringo Starr?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"Not the Tour Type"

I've certainly said that about myself; "I'm not the type who travels on group tours."  Oh, no, I like to do what I want when I want.  Plus, why would I want to travel with a bunch of strangers?

But like a lot of things in my life, I've changed, or at least, modified, my opinion.  Travel tours can be the easiest, safest way to see places you've always dreamed of going.  Happened to me: I dreamed of visiting London since I was a child.  I have no idea why it took me so many years to get there.  When I did arrive in London for the first time in my life, it was with a Parkland College-sponsored tour (for community folks, not a Study Abroad type thing).

What worked?  The only thing I had to do was get a passport, pay for the tour, pack my bag, and show up.  I didn't have to worry about airlines, hotels, what to see, or how to get there.  And, I had plenty of "free time," if I wanted to wander London on my own.

I don't recall the exact price for the tour, but I considered it a good value.  Sure, I could have made all the arrangements on my own, probably found a cheaper hotel and better airline deal (maybe not), but the point was, I didn't want to handle all the details.  I enjoyed being able to soak up the pure experience of travel.

Which brings me to this question: Why don't more people take advantage of these types of tours?  Especially tours such as Parkland's which typically are smaller in size (20-25 travelers) than some of the large tour businesses.

Maybe it's because some folks have heard stories about "tours gone wrong."  Knock wood, the tours I've gone on have been free of mishap (that's not to say that you might have to be a little flexible sometimes and adjust the itinerary due to weather or unforeseen circumstances).  And, yes, you might get what I like to call a "character" on your tour.  You know, the one person who is just a bit "quirky."  Hey, that's the roll of the dice.  I can attest to having made new friends on tours and enjoying wine and lively conversation in Spain, Scotland, Italy, and, of course, a pint or two in London pubs. 

Travel is so personal.  Each person approaches his/her journey in a different way.  Isn't it nice, though, to be able to share your experience with folks who you might otherwise have never met?  I think it is and I never thought that I would end up "the tour type."

Do you have any tour stories? 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Broadway Magic

Tickets to see a Broadway play are included in the price of our New York City Arts Tour (October 4-7,2012). For full details on the tour, visit Choosing which play to see is like a game. Do we choose a musical or a drama? Will people want to see something that's been around a long time, e.g. Lion King or something new? Here are two plays, both receiving excellent reviews, that we're considering: A new kid on the block, that's up for several Tony Awards:
And a stirring, emotional drama that has brought even the toughest men to tears:
What's your choice?

Dreaming in French

A new book by Alice Kaplan caught my attention. Its title is Dreaming in French. A quick blurb says the book is about how living in Paris influenced three young women, at different times, who each in her own way went on to become famous: Jacqueline Kennedy, Susan Sontag, and Angela Davis. I'm intrigued. Here's a review.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Leaving Paris

A few weeks ago, a diverse group of community folks from the Champaign-Urbana area of Illinois, took off from Chicago on a Parkland College-sponsored tour of Paris and Loire Valley in France. The tour was a success (it's Paris, for God's sake). In the coming days, this blog will feature photos from the tour and travelers' observations and recollections of their journey. In the meantime, take a look at this blurb about a soon-to-be-published book about another American's musings about living in Paris. Actually, it looks like a good read.

Friday, March 16, 2012

The excitement of the journey

This afternoon I bade "safe travels" to the 20 folks who are going on Parkland's tour to Paris and the Loire Valley. Some of the folks have never traveled overseas; others are seasoned travelers.

Having been fortunate to have gone on a few of Parkland's previous tours (London, Scotland, Italy, and Spain), it's fun to recall that thrilling anticipation of experiencing a different culture.

On my first trip to Europe, our tour went exclusively to London. Since childhood, London has fascinated me (previous life?). I love the history, the literature, the pubs, the people. To say I was a tad excited about seeing London for the first time in my life is, yes, an understatement.

One of my fellow travelers during that first London trip was a friend from Parkland. England was familiar to her; she had even taught a semester at Canterbury. She understood my excitement and shared my love for all things British.

As I think back, I am grateful to her for not thinking me silly for my awe at actually getting to see my beloved London. When our plane arrived at Heathrow and we disembarked go through Customs, baggage, the whole international bit (this was not that long after 9/11), I really couldn't take it all in.

We were met by our tour guide and we loaded everything onto a motorcoach to head to our hotel. On the way, the driver gave us a mini-tour of the great City.

When we stopped near the Thames, we could get off the coach to take photos and scan the view. All I remember to this day is that I looked up and there was Big Ben.

And I cried.

The rest of the trip was wonderful. Nothing will ever come close, though, to those first moments of pure joy.

That, my friends, is what travel is all about. Go. Anywhere.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Autumn in New York

So happy to announce this new Parkland Tour: New York City Arts & Culture weekend, Thursday, October 4 through Sunday, October 7, 2012.

My gosh, where to even begin with a visit to New York City (especially if you've never been there before). Here's a fun "starter site" from Lonely Planet on visiting NYC.

Early October should be a beautiful time in the City. How about a stroll through Central Park ...

This tour includes a guided tour and tickets to the Museum of Modern Art ...

You'll see a Broadway play ...

(check back for news on which one)

Of course, you'll have to eat ...

Even Mayor Bloomberg and British Prime Minister Cameron have time for a hot dog.

Actually, a slice of NY pizza sounds good, too.

Let's see. You'll also have tickets to visit the remarkable Metropolitan Museum of Art...

You, of course, won't want to miss the the incredible Guggenheim (designed by Frank Lloyd Wright) ...

A little shopping would be fun. Bergdorf, anyone?

Your hotel is right in the heart of Times Square. You'll enjoy the comfort, convenience, and "no worries" by being part of a small, community-based tour, led by an experienced tour host who really knows New York City (especially the art and the culture).

We'll be posting more about the tour soon. It's a wonderful way to enjoy one of the world's truly great cities.

Friday, March 2, 2012

How to Pack for Travel

Final installment of Martha Bowser-Kiener's terrific tips on "traveling light." Here goes:

* Make a list of what you'd like to take on your journey. Think about what your daily activities will be and what you'd like to wear for them.
* Lay everything out on your bed (preferably NOT the night before you travel) and start paring down what you'll actually pack.
* Make sure each item of clothing can be worn w/at least 3 others.
* Should you "roll & stuff" or "fold & stack?" A combo of these packing techniques will be your best bet.
* Pack by feel, not sight. Find and use those "nooks & crannies" in your suitcase.
* Ziplox bags come in handy. Use them!

And here are some of Martha's tips for what to pack in your carry-on bag:

* All of your "irreplaceables," i.e., travel documents.
* Something to read/do on the flight.
* Necessary meds.
* Basic toiletries, such as hand cream, toothpaste, eyedrops, etc.
* Underwear, clean shirt, socks, something to sleep in--just in case your luggage is delayed/lost.
* Healthy snacks and water.
* Extra ziploc bags.

OK, now it's time to take these tips to heart. Find a place you've been dying to see and go. Now.

Safe travels.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Packing for International Travel

Promised to continue sharing these excellent "Travel Light" tips from our Parkland colleague, Martha Bowser-Kiener. She has led numerous international tours for us in Community Education, as well as Study Abroad tours. She knows what she's talking about.

Here are Martha's suggestions for What to Pack:

* Consider the size and weight of every item you pack. It makes a difference. For example, jeans are great, but they're heavy and hard to wash/dry while traveling.
* Take things you wouldn't mind leaving behind. Hint: I often shop for travel clothes at Goodwill or tak old socks, etc.
* Take clothes you feel comfortable wearing--and that you can layer & mix/match.
* DON'T take anything you would hate to lose or have ruined on the trip.
* Take multi-purpose items, for example: mild shampoo can also be used to wash clothes and/or body wash; scarves can do double-duty as belts, and so on.
* Pack clothes that follow the "3-color rule: neutral + 2 coordinating colors."
* Take 2 pairs of shoes (plus sandals, if you wish).

* For toiletries, keep everything in multiple small, throwaway containers and pitch them as you empty them (hotel freebies are great!).
* Keep in mind: most hotels have hairdryers and irons. Some travelers even buy low-cost Euro hairdyers while abroad.
* Never leave on a trip without travel-size bottles of Febreze and a stain remover.

Next time: How to Pack.

Friday, February 17, 2012

How to travel light

Our friend and colleague, Martha Bowser-Kiener, has led many of our college's travel tours for the community (she also leads Study Abroad tours). So, it's a sure bet that Martha has learned a trick or two about packing for overseas travel.

Martha has graciously shared her "Travel Light" tips with us. Here are a few (there will be many more in future blog posts):

* A good suitcase is your best ally. If you're purchasing, closely look it over for packing potential.
* I prefer a medium-sized rolling suitcase, with multiple sections separated by plastic; I also like large duffel-style bags that can be rolled or worn as a backpack (hands-free is good).

*Also take one small bag to use as a flight carry-on/day pack.
* Consider taking an additional fold-up bag in your luggage, just in case you end up with extra "goodies" to bring home!

Next time: What to pack

Thursday, February 9, 2012


Just received a travel magazine I'd not seen before here in our office. AFAR. Gorgeous photos, great design, interesting, well-written articles.

Take a look here.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Paris on the Internet

Some travelers prefer to just hit the road without any set plans. I admire them, but I'm not one of them. As we (our dept. at a Midwest community college )plan for a Spring 2012 community tour to Paris and the Loire Valley, I am searching the Internet for information that our travelers might find helpful.

All I can say is, "Wow." I don't think that's a French word, but I am amazed at the amount of blogs written about Paris and all of France. Look at this one. Sure, you can find (and use) loads of websites such as Rick Steves, Lonely Planet, and such. The Paris Blog carves its niche by giving us Paris from the perspective of Americans actually living in the City of Lights.

Fun reading (and dreaming).

Oh, and it's a good idea to take a look at the recommended blogs, usually on the side of the blog you're reading. One good thing leads to another.

Friday, January 20, 2012

What to see in Paris

My college, Parkland, has a tour going to Paris in March. Thought I'd share this fun Paris City Update for the folks on our tour (so they can plan their shopping:). But let's face it, for those of us not going to Paris, it's impossible not to read what we'll be missing.

C'est la vie!

Friday, January 13, 2012

UK Travel Perspective

Don't know about you, but I love checking out travel websites. Lonely Planet is a good one; I periodically check the travel at WSJ; The New York Times, certainly, has valuable travel info.

Here's one from across the pond: The Guardian newspaper's online travel website. See what you think of it.

Friday, January 6, 2012

"...nigh impossible to resist."

Here's the New York Times' review of the Broadway musical, "FELA!"
The show went on to win the Tony Award for "Best Musical."

Off to see it in Chicago on March 31, thanks to Parkland College.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

"When good Americans die, they go to Paris."

Who else but Oscar Wilde? The quote is from Wilde's 1893 play, A Woman of No Importance.

Except for the dying part, I'd love to go to Paris. An opportunity is coming up this March for a tour, but the timing is just not working out for me.

When I do finally get to Paris (trying to stay positive), one of the first places I'd like to visit is Shakespeare and Company. It's a bookstore, first opened in 1951, that has become a haven for authors, readers, and lovers of literature. The bookstore's original owner, George Whitman, died December 14, 2011. My gosh, just reading Mr. Whitman's brief bio on the the bookstore's website here makes you want to read an entire book about him (wonder if there is one).

Lots of "ghosts" at Shakespeare and Company. At least they knew how to write.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Wander up I-57

Sure, I want to travel to places thousands of miles away (and I have been fortunate to visit Australia, Italy, England, Scotland, and Spain). But I can't always afford an international trip.

Sometimes you just need to go down the road a bit. Day trips can be wonderful. For example, in March, our college is offering a day tour from Champaign, Illinois to Chicago, to see the Broadway musical, "FELA!" What I know about this musical is that it is the story of the Nigerian musician and activist, Fela Kuti, and the musical won Broadway's top award, the Tony.

So, by hopping on a luxury charter bus heading north on I-57, I'll be transported to a far away, unfamiliar land, Nigeria. I'll learn a bit about the culture, the politics, and best of all, the music.

Wanderlust doesn't have to be expensive or difficult. You can make it happen. For a day.