Get Away With Fran

November 11, 2009

Disney Cruise Line and Mickey on the streets of New York

Filed under: Cruise — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 4:44 pm

Dr Oz

Sailor Mickey will hit the streets of New York this Thanksgiving, or more precisely, fly above, during the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. His appearance is a promotion for Disney Cruise Line - making its debut in the parade this year – just as it opens bookings for its new ship, Disney Dream (which debuts in January 2011, and boasts the first water coaster at sea).

Mickey will be some 61 feet tall, 33 feet wide and 48 feet long, and dressed in red shorts, a nautical blazer and yellow shoes. He’ll also sport a sailor’s cap above his prominent ears. Mickey will be perched on a giant ship anchor, and some 70 volunteer handlers will guide him down the parade route.

This year’s parade can be seen on TV on Nov. 26 (unless you happen to be in the Big Apple to see it live).

Of course, Disney being Disney, you can also buy a plush version of Sailor Mickey at Macy’s stores and online. If you miss the parade this year, Sailor Mickey will also be back in 200 and 2011.

And BTW, Mickey last appeared in the parade as Bandleader Mickey back in 2000.

November 10, 2009

Searching for (chile) heat in Albuquerque

Filed under: Food,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 11:17 am

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I am just back from five days in Albuquerque where I went to challenge my palette with chile, and to explore the general culinary scene (eating lots of things like tamales, above). As a bit of a novice to that scene, I assumed I would be raving about experiencing the kind of fiery moment where the cartoon character takes a bite of something and smoke comes out the back of his head.

But no, I did not once look like Yosemite Sam – though keep in mind I do like spicy food and probably can tolerate it more than the average gal (it’s a biological fact, BTW, that men can tolerate hot spice better than women). Chile, I learned, can be as multi-layered as fine wine, and does not necessarily have to be spicy.

Chile in New Mexico should not be confused with the Texas chili (a stew with meat and beans). Here chile is an ingredient or a sauce, and comes in red and green varieties (the green generally more subtle than the red).

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But my favorite foodie find was not a sauce or tamales (surprisingly since I love them), but green chile bread at the Golden Crown Panaderia (above), a neighborhood bakery with the most enthusiastic father/son baking team I’ve ever come across. (more…)

November 9, 2009

Remembering the fall of the Berlin Wall

Filed under: International,Travel Advice — Tags: , , , , — admin @ 10:06 am

BerlinWall

Back in 1961, the leaders of East Germany probably didn’t imagine that the foreboding wall they were putting up around Berlin – to keep East Germans in – would someday be a big tourist attraction.

But visit Berlin in 2009, as I did a couple of months ago, and you’ll find remnants of the concrete barrier – and the culture of GDR (German Democratic Republic) – are very much part of the tourist scene in Berlin.

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Fall of the Wall, and through the end of the year there are special exhibits highlighting the Wall years and peaceful revolution that led to the fall of the wall and end of the GDR (including at Alexanderplatz, the square in the heart of the city).

The wall that divided the city was really two walls, separated by a “death strip.” Border crossings allowed those from the West to enter the East, but East Germans were not allowed to leave. Hundreds died trying to flee.

In the euphoria that followed the breach of the wall in 1989, much of the concrete was dismantled (pieces of the Berlin Wall now reside not only in Berlin but around the world including in New York). But there is still plenty in Berlin to remind travelers and locals alike of this chapter in world history. (more…)

October 29, 2009

Oasis arrives and Disney Dreams

Last night I dreamed about being on a cruise ship with the Pirates of the Caribbean (my favorite ride at Walt Disney World). No, I do not ordinarily dream about Disney (though I will confess to some dreaming about pirates, aye aye captain). But today I head to New York to hear what Disney Cruise Line has in store for its two new cruise ships, the first of which, the Disney Dream, is under construction at Meyer Werft in Papenburg, Germany, and due to debut in 2011.

Because we’re talking Disney, there are rumors of course – like that the ships will boast a huge amount of space both indoors and outdoors dedicated to kids. Whether that’s true and what will be in that space (grass? rides? pirates?) is top secret.

Meanwhile, the world’s largest by far cruise ship Oasis of the Seas was officially delivered to Royal Caribbean yesterday in Finland. That means the final payment of the $1.9 billion was made, and the ship is soon to head across the Atlantic for its official debut in Miami on Nov. 20. And yes, I plan to be in Miami too getting a first look.

The Oasis is bigger than a bread basket – in fact as big as an aircraft carrier – with 220,000 tons of space to explore along with the 5,400 other passengers.

I’m packing heels for New York and Disney. For Oasis, I think I’ll bring sneakers.

October 28, 2009

Architecture travel fantasy in Illinois

Filed under: Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , , — admin @ 2:21 pm

hs-chicago-avenue

I am a bit of an architecture geek. No, I’d never try creating anything, but I do admire the work of others – and have been known to go out of my way when traveling to see the latest and greatest, and old and historic.

So I think it’s super cool that the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust is again serving up its Architecture Fantasy Camp in 2010

Drafting_room1_(HB)

The camp program takes place at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in the very drafting room where the master worked in Oak Park, Ill., with a program very much designed for non-architects. Dates are March 5-8; June 13-16; August 1-4 and October 3-6, 2010.

As part of the program, which BTW I think would make an excellent holiday gift for any Wright fan, (more…)

October 26, 2009

Air France passengers get new class with more space

Filed under: Airlines,International — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 2:00 pm

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Air France passengers on AF 023 from New York to Paris yesterday got to see something new. They were on the first flight equipped with the line’s new Premium Voyaguer cabin, which is not quite business class but gives passengers deeply reclining seats with 40% more space than coach.

Christine Ourmières, Vice President and General Manager of Air France and KLM in the U.S., cut the ribbon yesterday officiallyinaugurating the new cabinon the Boeing 777-200ER.

I met with Ourmières recently in Boston, and she was gleeful about the new service. The seats are separated by a curtain, so really are a new class – in addition to coach, business and first.

You can reserve the new seats online- from about $1,303, or about twice the cost of a discounted economy ticket from New York to Paris (but substantially less than the cost of business class). The seats are being added this year on other long-haul routes from the U.S. and Paris as well.

Speaking of Air France, a few years ago I wrote a column on their Phoenix Project, which basically is a (more…)

October 23, 2009

Whiskey dreams and Ireland

bushmills_bottles

The other night I had very unusual dreams involving Leprechauns and such that I can only credit to the fact I went to a Bushmills Irish whiskey tasting at the brand new Post 390 restaurant in Boston. I am beginning to understand why Jim Morrison was such a fan of the stuff. I did not quite hallucinate, but…

First let me admit I know very little about whiskey. I’m much more a vodka gal. But my whiskey education included learning the fact I actually rather like the Bushmill 16 year, with a little water and ice, especially when accompanying a gussied up version of meatloaf – Post 390′s is veal, beef and pork, stuffed with ham and Fontina cheese and topped with a slightly sweet Marsala sauce. Yum (and my favorite dish of the evening). But I digress.

Colum_Egan I am newly intrigued with Irish whiskey and just may have to head to Ireland to discover more. There could probably be no better guide than Colum Egan, my host at the tasting in Boston and the Master (more…)

October 21, 2009

Stressed in Boston – but maybe a Princess Cruise will help

Filed under: Cruise,Travel Advice,U.S. — Tags: , , , , , , , — admin @ 5:58 am

Even travel writers have off days and I was having one yesterday. But today I woke up with a new, and better, attitude because it turns out I live in one of the most stressed out cities in America. So I am not alone.

My epiphany came courtesy of Princess Cruises, which has released the results of a Harris Interactive survey it commissioned on – get this – Life Balance (gee, can you tell the cruiseline is based in California?).

My city, Boston, tops the list of  places where people’s lives are not in balance, as in, we are crazy stressed out or, presumably, lead unbalanced existences. More stressed out than Beantown, is Chicago and Houston and rounding out the list is Los Angeles and San Diego.

Cities where people are more mellow. or at least claim to have balance in their lives, are Miami, Minneapolis, Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Dallas/Fort Worth (hot and lively, boring, boring, crazy lively, boring, so go figure).

The survey, according to the surveyors, finds “Americans continue to strive for the ultimate life balance, which includes juggling work and personal priorities” but concludes “only approximately one-quarter of people in the U.S. actually have achieved this goal.” Gee, and you thought (more…)

October 13, 2009

Around the world in 26 days and in luxury style

Petra

If you have $29,995 handy, 26 free days and want to see the world and/or are looking for a perfect holidaty gift, check out the “trip of a lifetime” being organized by AHI Travel in Chicago.

The “Grand Journey Around the World” tour visits eight countries on three continents, stopping at nine UNESCO World Heritage sites (including Jordan’s Petra, in photo, above).

You also fly in business class, stay at world-famous hotels (including the Peninsula hotels in Asia) and do tours with only 20 fellow passengers. Nice.

You start off flying from the U.S. to Japan, and do Kyoto and Tokyo before flying on to Beijing, Bangkok, Dubai, Cairo, Jordan (Petra), Jerusalem and Germany’s Rhine Valley – yes, an odd but interesting assortment of exotic and not.

Some meals are also included as are gratuities and other extras. And you can even earn more than 25,000 frequent flyer miles on Star Alliance carriers (not a reason to spend $29,995, of course, but add it all up and it’s a pretty good deal).

Departures for the tour are August to October 2010.

October 9, 2009

Bermuda and U.S. Virgin Islands – Book now and snag a bargain

Filed under: International,Travel Advice — Tags: , , , , , — admin @ 12:39 pm

Bermuda

Act fast and you can get a great deal that will allow you to explore the pink sands of Bermuda (one of my personal favorite islands) at a bargain price, and at the fancy Fairmont Southampton Princess, no less.

The hotel is holding a 7-day sale, with rates from only $149 per night if you book by 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 13. And that’s an amazing deal. They are even throwing in breakfast for two (plus kids eat free), complimentary golf on the resort’s championship course, and free access for kids to the resort’s Explorer’s Club camp. And here’s the best part: The offer is good Nov. 1 to Apr. 16, including holiday periods. When booking, use promotional code PTLZ. (BTW, that’s lovely St. George’s in the photo.)

STT_BeachOverlook1[1]

Speaking of deals, the U.S. Virgin Islands is enticing travelers with a $.25 room promotion. Yup, a quarter, with a maximum of three nights at that price. The Cent-sational Promotion is sensational (despite the cutesy name), and honors the fact there’s a new U.S. quarter in honor of the USVI. Participating hotels include Bolongo Bay on St. Thomas, the Carambola on St. Croix, the Marriott on

(more…)

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