Travel: Articles

Travel Tips from the Experts: Samantha Brown & Rick Steves

This year’s Travel & Adventure Show brought together the best in travel experts including two of my favorite, Samantha Brown and Rick Steves.

Attending the show in Washington, DC, I listened in to both of their talks and here’s some of the tips I picked up…

Samantha Brown

I love Samantha for her approachable style and friendly personality. Meeting her in person was a treat … she’s the same person you see on tv.

Samantha Brown

When we lived in Europe, we downloaded many of her shows on iTunes before visiting places like Athens, Venice, Zurich, Salzburg and more.

Samantha shared her ‘go to’ resources for travel…Frommers and Rick Steves. And she loves using travel agents to take care of the details.

Current apps she’s using in her travels…

  • Flight Aware
  • Pocket Earth: offline maps and travel guides
  • Google Translate: It works offline and get this…it now has a Word Lens, just point your camera to a sign or text, like a menu, and it translates the text without data connection!!
  • Rick Steves: He’s got tons of Audio Tours you can download on his website and a full Audio Europe Series on iTunes.

Rick Steves

Rick Steves’ presentation was on his very useful Europe Through the Back Door.

One of the best things about Rick Steve  as a travel resource is that he and his team update their tours, guidebooks, info every year. They are constantly doing the hit and miss work so you don’t have to. Then they share the hits!

Rick Steves at the Travel Show

Among the great facts and stories Rick shared, here were some of his useful tips…

  • Get your hands on the travel info in the way you like to travel. It can be Rick or any resource.
  • Travel as if you’re a local or temporary European. That’s what his resources and tours provide. It’s not high end, fluffy stuff. It’s real get the authentic experience stuff.
  • Always go to the Tourist Information Office and ask what’s going on today / tonight.
  • He always gets a local guide for 4 hrs in a.m and at night to get a real flavor of the city. Check his resources or ask the local Tourist Information Office.
  • Art should be fun. Know enough to get excited about it. He’s got some great new guides on art.
  • Always be sure to do something the locals do.
  • Find a restaurant with a hand-written menu. You know everything is fresh and the menu was created that day.
  • Have a picnic. Go to the local shops and pick  up the specialties for a lunch or dinner picnic.
  • Know the word for bed and breakfast in the language where you are. You can find great, local, inexpensive places to stay.
  • And don’t wait in line for entrance / tickets. Always do your research in advance and get tickets to the key sights.

Be sure to check out his website. As Samantha said above, there are great videos and audio tours on his website for free. And he offers what look to be amazing guided tours if you don’t want to do it yourself.

Happy Travels as we head into the fabulous Spring and Summer travel season!

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KeeKee Lands in Athens, Greece …My Newest Children’s Book

KeeKee has landed in Athens, Greece! It’s the third book in my award-winning children’s picture book series KeeKee’s Big Adventures.

Athens_Book_Cover_site

I started Grape Occasions to share my love of travel, wine and spas with you. My love of travel started at a young age when my mom was a flight attendant. It opened my eyes and ears to the world, and with KeeKee’s Big Adventures, I want to do the same for children.

KeeKee is the adventurous calico kitty who travels the world in her hot air balloon. Her first stops were Paris, France and Rome, Italy. Now, Opá! It’s Athens, Greece.

Join KeeKee as she explores the sights, sounds, and tastes of one of the oldest cities in the world. Young readers will share KeeKee’s delight as she makes new friends, discovers exciting places, and immerses herself in the fascinating Greek culture. And, they’ll have fun with the kid-friendly pronunciation guide and glossary in the back of the book, along with a unique and charmingly illustrated map of Athens.

KeeKee’s Big Adventures sparks curiosity and inspires appreciation for our great big wonderful world! It’s a book you can share with your children each day or evening and take a little trip to Greece!

The books are available at local bookstores, on Amazon and on the KeeKee website. And check out our website for details about eventsfun activities for kids, and The KeeKee Club!

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Virginia Wine Country: Washington Post Travel Feature

Today’s Washington Post Travel section is all about Virginia Wine Country! What a treat to see, and about time in my opinion. If you still have the chance, grab it as the photos are beautiful and there’s lots of great info. If not, here’s a list of the articles with links to enjoy online.

The articles calls out many of the great ones, including some of my favorites…

And here’s a handy chart they included to help in your Virginia Wine Country exploring.

Cheers to all the great things Virginia Wine Country has to offer!

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The Grand Canyon Winery: Travel Far. Drink Local.

On our recent trip to the Grand Canyon, we made a stop in Williams, Arizona. Not only because it was on Historic Route 66, but it’s also my husband’s last name! What a cute, funky town that takes you back to what Route 66 must have been like. It reminded me of Radiator Springs from the Cars movie.

The few blocks of this historic route pack in gift shops, restaurants and we stumbled upon The Grand Canyon Winery Tasting Room.

This antique feel bar and tasting room offers wine and beer tastings, wines by the glass and bottle, and beers. The Grand Canyon Winery is a local Arizona winery owned and operated by the Kennelly family of Northern Arizona. The tasking room offers their line up of wines and other wines from Arizona.

I had a great tasting of whites and reds…Grand Canyon Winery’s Rambler White, Traveler White, Traveler Red and Voyager, as well as other wineries Sand Reckoner 2 and Stronghold Mangus. It was cool to see what these grape varieties that are doing in Arizona, from Zinfandel to Sangiovese to Chenin Blanc.

As a Rosé fan, one of the wines on the shelf that caught my eye was the Sand Reckoner 2012 Rosé. I bought a bottle to take to our Grand Canyon visit. And it turned out to be my favorite.

2012 Sand Reckoner Rosé

Region: Cochise County, Arizona
Variety: 73% Nebbiolo, 23% Sangiovese, 4% Zinfandel
Aroma: Raspberries and lime
Taste: Ripe strawberries and raspberries
Price: $22
My thoughts: First time I’ve had Italian grape varieties grown in Arizona! Enjoyed their Sand Reckoner 2 I tasted in the Tasting Room as well.

And love the tasting glasses I bought there too. Perfect sipping size.

Should you find yourself in Williams, Arizona, and if you’re going to the Grand Canyon you definitely should, stop by the Grand Canyon Winery Tasting Room for a tasting and pick up some bottles to go. It’s a great opportunity to drink local!

 

 

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Explore Rome in My Second Children’s Book

KeeKee has landed in Roma! The second book in my children’s picture book series KeeKee’s Big Adventures is here!

I started Grape Occasions to share my love of travel, wine and spas with you. My love of travel started at a young age when my mom was a flight attendant. It opened my eyes and ears to the world.

For the last 30 years, I’ve continued my travel adventures including living abroad in Amsterdam for four years. That’s where the idea for KeeKee’s Big Adventures was born…sharing travel adventures with children and their parents, grandparents, aunts, babysitters (you get the picture).

KeeKee is the adventurous calico kitty who travels the world in her hot air balloon. Her first stop? Ooh là là! Paris, France! And NOW? Mamma mia! It’s Rome, Italy!

Join KeeKee as she explores the sights, sounds, and tastes of this beautiful and historic city. Young readers will share KeeKee’s delight as she makes new friends, discovers exciting places, and immerses herself in the fascinating Italian culture. And, they’ll have fun with the kid-friendly pronunciation guide and glossary in the back of the book, along with a unique and charmingly illustrated map of Rome.

KeeKee’s Big Adventures sparks curiosity and inspires appreciation for our great big wonderful world!

It’s a book you can share with your children each day or evening and take a little trip to Rome!

And check out our website for details about events, fun activities for kids AND join The KeeKee Club!

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