Saturday, March 30, 2013

See Delectable Destinations Around the World


Pastry display in Vernon, France
Would you love a road trip but can't get away this weekend?  For some delectable destinations, try "The Secret Door" instead, and you'll see the world without leaving your desk.

Click on the "door" of this website and be transported to some sweet spots around the globe--to the Grand Canyon; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Museo De Cera in Madrid; Heron Island, Queensland, Australia; or a thrift shop in Austin, Texas.  Move around the area using the arrows, and, when you get bored, click on the door again to be whisked to a new location.


Thursday, March 28, 2013

NEWS FLASH Low-Cost Train in France!


France is unveiling a new train service, Ouigo (we-go), this Monday that will compete with  low-cost airlines like Ryanair. 

Eurostar - London to Paris
The first page of the website is only available in French, but once you input your departure and arrival cities and travel dates, you are taken to a new page where you have the option to switch to English for the remainder of the transaction.  

A ticket from Lyon to Marseille in mid-April costs only €15, and I've read about promotional tickets from Paris to the south of France for €10.  Of course, passengers sacrifice a few luxuries for these low fares.  Anything beyond one suitcase costs an extra €5 and use of a power outlet is €2.  Still the rates are hard to beat.  

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

What if I break my leg in Europe?

Venice
Boomers, You Can Do It! Part 3

"Not only can you travel independently to Europe, but you can do it much more cheaply and easily than you thought possible."

I always hope that sentence will galvanize my listener into action so that he'll race to buy my book, Europe on a Dime: Five-Star Travel on a One-Star Budget, and start planning a trip. After all, the book holds your hand, step-by-step, so you can plan a European experience that is easy on the budget.  Truly, Europe on a Dime practically makes the reservations for you!

But no matter how sincerely I promise to walk people through the process, it's never quite that easy to convince them.  No matter how tantalizing the thought of traipsing down the Champs d'Elysee or cruising the canals of Venice, there's usually a "yes, but...." counter to my promise of cheap and meaningful travel.

So, it's time to face those "yes, buts...." in the next few blog posts.  We're going to take a look at the fears which keep people rooted to their La-Z-Boy recliners when they could be sauntering down exotic cobblestone alleys instead.  We'll confront the objections head-on in hopes that everyone will soon feel confident enough to plan a European trip.

I think one of the fears that keeps people firmly at home is the Heart Attack Fear.  It's an illogical one because all European cities are equipped with excellent hospitals staffed with doctors who can care for you as well, if not better, than the doctors here in the US.  Your chances of perishing from a medical emergency would be far greater in one of the remote areas of the United States with no quick access to a hospital, yet no one avoids visiting Yosemite National Park, hiking in Alaska, or fishing in the remote wilds of Montana. 

In other words, fishing in Montana is far more hazardous than strolling the streets of Rome.  If you would take a trip to San Francisco or New Orleans without a qualm, you can go to Europe with confidence.  And, once again, I know from personal experience that all difficulties can be handled if you remain calm and approach each part of the problem in a step-by-step fashion.

It was about eight miles outside of Venice, Italy, that the bubble gum I'd been chewing lifted off the crown on my back molar and left a stub of a tooth in its place. I was grateful I hadn't absent-mindedly chewed the crown into smithereens or swallowed it, but that knowledge didn't make me feel any better about the gaping void in my mouth.  And I couldn't imagine eating with a missing molar.  That's what upset me the most.  There are plenty of things I was willing to sacrifice, but missing a meal in Italy wasn't one of them.

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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

What if disaster strikes while I'm in Europe?

Boomers, You Can Do It!  Part 2
Irish Countryside

"Not only can you travel independently to Europe, but you can do it much more cheaply and easily than you thought possible."

I always hope that sentence will galvanize my listener into action so that he'll race to buy my book, Europe on a Dime: Five-Star Travel on a One-Star Budget, and start planning a trip. After all, the book holds your hand, step-by-step, so you can plan a European experience that is easy on the budget.  Truly, Europe on a Dime practically makes the reservations for you!

But no matter how sincerely I promise to walk people through the process, it's never quite that easy to convince them.  No matter how tantalizing the thought of traipsing down the Champs d'Elysee or cruising the canals of Venice, there's usually a "yes, but...." counter to my promise of cheap and meaningful travel.

So, it's time to face those "yes, buts...." in the next few blog posts.  We're going to take a look at the fears which keep people rooted to their La-Z-Boy recliners when they could be sauntering down exotic cobblestone alleys.  We'll confront the objections head-on in hopes that everyone will soon feel confident enough to plan a European trip.

I think one of the fears that keeps people firmly at home is the Disaster Fear.  What if something terrible happens like a lost passport, stolen wallet, or a car accident?  While everyone has resources here at home to cope with these traumas, most of us worry about handling a disaster in Europe.

The truth is that the skills you use to solve problems here will stand you in good stead in another country.  If you are resourceful in your home country, you won't have difficulty finding ways to easily solve whatever problem arises in Europe.  Handling a major problem would not be your choice, of course, and most likely nothing untoward will ever happen to you on any trip, but allowing that fear to keep you trapped at home is a serious mistake.  You can cope if you need to.

I have had a flat tire in the Brittany area of France and a few other physical disasters I'll discuss in another post.  But I knew I could cope with all those problems because of the first trip I made to Ireland fifteen years ago when disaster struck not once, but three times. 

After my friend and colleague, Jane, spent a week with her boyfriend in Pennsylvania, she and I were to meet at JFK Airport in New York City for our charter flight to Ireland.  There, at Shannon, the largest city on the Ireland's west coast, a rental car and seven nights at B and B's were part of the irresistibly inexpensive package.

The first disaster occurred when Jane did not show up at the airport.  After I arrived from North Carolina, I waited for hours.  No one answered the phone at her boyfriend's house, and, in this era before cell phones, I had no other way to reach her.  Had she been in an accident on the way to the airport?  Did she miss the plane?  Had her boyfriend had a heart attack? Did she have a heart attack?

I stood there, adrift in a sea of people who were striding purposefully along the airport corridors.  I was the only one who couldn't move, seemingly moored in place by the stream of never-ending announcements on the public address system, none of which told me to go to a courtesy phone for a call from Jane.

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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Boomers, You Can Do It!

Each window in our Normandy rental could have been a still life painting.
"Not only can you travel independently to Europe, but you can do it much more cheaply and easily than you thought possible."

I always hope that sentence will galvanize my listener into action so that he'll race to buy my book, Europe on a Dime: Five-Star Travel on a One-Star Budget, and start planning a trip. After all, the book holds your hand, step-by-step, so you can plan a European experience that is easy on the budget.  Truly, Europe on a Dime practically makes the reservations for you!

But no matter how sincerely I promise to walk people through the process, it's never quite that easy to convince them.  No matter how tantalizing the thought of traipsing down the Champs d'Elysee or cruising the canals of Venice, there's usually a "yes, but...." counter to my promise of cheap and meaningful travel.

So, it's time to face those "yes, buts...." in the next few blog posts.  We're going to take a look at the fears which keep people rooted to their La-Z-Boy recliners when they could be sauntering down exotic cobblestone alleys.  We'll confront the objections head-on in hopes that everyone will soon feel confident enough to plan a European trip.

I think one of the fears that keeps people firmly at home is the Money Fear.  They don't believe a trip to Europe can be accomplished for $98 a day per person (assuming two people are traveling together).  Oh, they wouldn't come right out and call me a liar, but, they've done a bit of homework and have studied the AARP, Globus, Tauck, Grand Circle, or Costco travel ads, and have seen that organized tour trips cost $200-500 per day per person. So, how on earth can I promise $98 a day and still insist that the accommodation will be even more comfortable than a four-star hotel?  Surely, think the skeptics, if I'm not lying outright, I must be stretching the truth. 

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