Monthly Archives: July 2012

Tips for using taxis in Europe

When people ask me about the scariest situation I’ve ever been in, I think back to a taxi ride I took to the Moscow airport in the early ’90s. A no-neck guy who looked like a classic Russian mafia thug picked me up in a beat-up old car and drove for an hour down puddle-filled alleys and past derelict apartments buildings. All I could think about were those movie scenes where the good guy is taken down to the river bank to be shot. Instead, the no-neck pulled up to the airport, shook my hand, and said, “Have a good fly.”

Many Americans are wired to assume that taxi drivers in other countries are up to no good. And I’ve always said that if you’re going to get ripped off in Europe, it’ll probably be by a cabbie. But I’ve also found that most drivers are honest. Sure, scams happen. But with the right tips and a watchful eye, you’ll get where you want to go without being taken for a ride.

Dishonest cabbies often lurk at airports, train stations and tourist spots ready to take advantage of tired travelers. At Prague’s main train station, cabbies at the “official” stand are a gang of no-good thieves who charge arriving tourists five times the regular rate.

If you don’t want to worry about getting conned the minute you arrive at a new destination, hop on public transportation. At Prague, opt for the Metro instead of a taxi. Recently, I took a speedy train from Rome’s airport to the train station downtown, then caught a bus to my hotel. It took me less than an hour to get from the airport to my hotel and cost 31 euros for the train fare and a handy week-long transit pass. A taxi alone would have cost 50 euros.

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How to take great landscape photos on your travels

Last week, in the new series How I Shot My Summer Vacation, professional photographer Tim Fraser taught us how to take dramatic sunrise/sunset photos.  See a gallery of reader-submitted photos here. This week, it’s all about landscapes.

Landscapes are easily my favourite photographic pursuit. They can also be one of the more grueling photos to take, depending on how determined you are to get that perfect picture. And getting that perfect picture means going the extra mile – but isn’t that what makes it worthwhile? You want something to hang on your wall, not just something you’ll throw up quickly on TwitPic.

I tend to follow two pillars that go hand in hand in elevating your picture from snapshot to spectacular: preparation and perspective.

While it’s best to have your camera handy in case that pristine picture appears before you, often it’s not that easy. Great photographers have an ability to prepare for what they are shooting. They stare, analyze and anticipate.

READ MORE: How to take great landscape photos on your travels

Yoga on the beach and playing in the ocean: the best of Baja

New Trip:  Baja Kayaking & Yoga on the Beach Retreat
Dates:
Oct 28-Nov 2, Oct 28-Nov 4, 2012; Jan 27-Feb 3, Mar 31-Apr 5, Mar 31-Apr 7, Apr 7-14, 2013

Why this trip:  Novice sea kayaking and snorkeling Loreto Bay UNESCO World Heritage site with twice daily introductory yoga – fully catered and guided – just bring yourself!

LORETO, BAJA CALIFORNIA  — Master yoga instructors, in conjunction with Sea Kayak Adventures Inc. are offering new Yoga and Whales tours in Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico that combines daily yoga, kayaking, snorkeling, with a little adventure, suitable for novices, and fully catered.

Each sea kayaking day begins with a yoga session on the beach led by our certified yoga instructors.  Then participants will accompany naturalist guides on nature hikes, whale watching, snorkeling and sea kayaking outings depending on the trip.  Additional activities will include treks along deserted beaches, exploring uninhabited islands and star gazing. Each evening begins with a restorative yoga session while guides prepare happy hour – margaritas on the beach at sunset!  No prior kayaking or yoga experience is necessary.

The October & March/April tours give novices an opportunity to sea kayak and snorkel to their heart’s content in the Loreto Bay National Park, in the Sea of Cortez. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Company owner Terry Prichard, states “One third of the world’s marine mammals live in the Sea of Cortez.  On most tours October through April our tour groups view dolphins, sea lions, fin whales and if very lucky the elusive plankton-eating whale shark or the blue whale, which is the largest animal ever to have lived on earth.”

The “Gray Whales of Magdalena Bay & Kayaking Combo with Yoga Jan 27-Feb 3, 2013” tour are perfect for those whale lovers who want to get eyeball to eyeball with a baby gray whale from a motorized skiff and stay at a safari style basecamp in the heart of gray whale congregation – hear the whale blows at night from your cozy tent!

The itineraries “cherry-pick” the best parts of the park’s uninhabited islands to camp and explore, according to Prichard.  Participants stay at comfortable camps situated on secluded island beaches, and can choose to do daily yoga as the sun rises or the sun sets daily over the tranquil waters.  Yoga is always optional. Naturalist guides will do all the cooking and camp chores as well as teaching the basics of sea kayaking and leading nature walks. “Just leave all the details to us,” smiles Prichard, adding, “our yoga tours are wildly popular so these will fill up quickly.”

The tours departs from Loreto and includes airport transfer upon arrival, two nights’ hotel in Loreto, two or three nights’ safari-style camping, all guided activities, all meals while camping, daily yoga sessions, all taxes, all land transport and naturalist guides.  Small groups; gourmet food!  Price:  $1050 for the Dec 4-9, 2011 tour and $895 for the Feb 10-14, 2012 tour.  Airfare to Loreto, meals in town, gratuities are not included.  Alaska/Horizon Air provides a direct 75-minute jet flight Los Angeles LAX to Loreto LTO once daily.  Tour itinerary includes the fly-in, and fly-out dates.

 

To plan your trip today:

All About Travel
6104 Northwest 63
Oklahoma City, OK 73132
info [at] allabout-travel.com
405.384.3880

About All About Travel

Opened in 1978, All About Travel is located in the Oklahoma City area.  We are a family owned and operated company that has strived to provide our clients with the highest quality of service for more than 30 years.  Our agents can arrange all your travel needs from the individual hotel and/or car reservation to an around the world cruise.  Nothing is out of reach.

We can help plan your honeymoon, your destination wedding or the much needed getaway for two.  Don’t forget about your business, we can handle all the travel needs for your company as well.  Anything from an airline flight and hotel for a meeting or all the planning needed for your next company-wide seminar.  We can arrange hotel space for all attendees and meeting rooms for all purposes.

Our agents travel to many destinations on FAM trips (Familiarization trips) these trips are designed by tour operators and cruise lines to make certain that travel agents are up-to-date on popular destinations and cruise ships.

So the next time you need to, or better yet, want to travel…Let us help, it’s what we do.

Airlines make record $22.6 billion from fees, report finds

U.S. airlines bring in more revenue from fees for bags and other products and services than do the world’s other carriers, a new report released today reveals.

United, Delta and American finished in the top three — each generating billions in ancillary revenue outside airfares last year, according to the report by IdeaWorks, a consultant specializing in ancillary revenue and brand development.

The report analyzed financial filings of 50 airlines worldwide and found they combined to bring in $22.6 billion of ancillary revenue last year.

That’s a 66% increase from ancillary revenue reported by 47 airlines two years ago.

“It’s clear that airlines recognize the importance of ancillary revenue and are developing increasingly innovative ways to generate it,” says IdeaWorks President Jay Sorensen.

Many airline passengers, though, are annoyed at buying a ticket and paying extra for services and products that once were free. The extra fees initially were charged by low-fare carriers but have now become a priority for all airlines — and essential for their profitability.

Read more: Airlines make record $22.6 billion from fees, report finds

Oklahoma’s native rocker, Tyson Meade Records an Album in China

Oklahoma’s native rocker, Tyson Meade of Defenestration and Chainsaw Kittens fame is recording a new album.

Meade has spent the last five years running a boarding school in Shanghai, China.

Tyson has been home, in Oklahoma, the last couple of months.  While in Oklahoma he has been performing in order to raise money for his upcoming recording project.  Tyson recently played to a packed house at The Chouse in Norman,  VZD’s in Oklahoma City, as well as Dwelling Spaces in Tulsa and brought back lots of early 1990’s memories to his friends and fans alike.

The last time his band, the Chainsaw Kittens performed was in 2009 at the first annual Norman Music Festival. The band stopped performing full-time in 1996.

From Tyson’s Kickstarter page for the project:

Meade walked away from a full-time career in the music business in 1996 (just briefly popping up here and there since that time) after feeling like his creative well had run dry. “I had lost my inspiration to write songs,” he explains. “Maybe the fire was gone. Maybe I no longer thought of the process as being inventive or mysterious. Maybe I thought I was no longer doing this for the purity of music. For whatever reason, I stopped writing music.” 

For a complete change of focus and pace, Meade began teaching grammar to international students at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City. Shortly thereafter, Meade relocated to China, a country whose culture had always fascinated him. He settled in to a college prep position teaching at a boarding school and was eventually appointed Dean of Students there. He was incredibly moved by his experience as a teacher and slowly the desire to play and write music returned. One of his students in particular, a boy called Haffijy who played violin, was especially impressed with his teacher’s musical past. “I played Haffijy some of my songs from my music days and he quickly wrote parts for them,” Meade recalls. “Not only did he write parts, he played with such love and honesty that I was touched immeasurably. Birds chirped in some sort of Far East Disney way.” 

Meade was eager to explore a further musical collaboration with Haffijy. “I became very curious as to how he might score a song still in development, one that I had no preconceived notions about, one that I had just written — though I had not written any songs in some years at that point,” Meade says. “I was now driven to write a song.” 

The result was “Stay Alone” (listen here: http://tysonmeade.bandcamp.com/), which became the catalyst for the entire China project.  Meade played the song for some of his Western music friends, including fellow Norman-based, alt-rockers the Flaming Lips (who covered the Chainsaw Kittens’ “She’s Gone Mad”), Jimmy Chamberlain of Smashing Pumpkins, Maria McKee, and Other Lives (Meade has previously collaborated with Other Lives’ Jesse Tabish and the Flaming Lips’ Derek Brown on a project called Winter Boys).  After hearing “Stay Alone,” these friends became interested in being a part of this unique, cross-cultural project and have agreed to contribute to this record as well.

Tyson Meade’s Kickstarter page (please help fund this project): http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/tysonmeade/tyson-meade-records-an-album-in-china?ref=live

All About Travel has teamed up with Tyson to share with you his progress while recording the new album. We hope to share with you some video and photos as the process is underway.

We will be flying him from Seattle to Hong Kong next month to start his project.

Tyson Meade @ Dwelling Spaces in Tulsa – July 19th

To plan your trip today:

All About Travel
6104 Northwest 63
Oklahoma City, OK 73132
info [at] allabout-travel.com
405.384.3880

About All About Travel

Opened in 1978, All About Travel is located in the Oklahoma City area.  We are a family owned and operated company that has strived to provide our clients with the highest quality of service for more than 30 years.  Our agents can arrange all your travel needs from the individual hotel and/or car reservation to an around the world cruise.  Nothing is out of reach.

We can help plan your honeymoon, your destination wedding or the much needed getaway for two.  Don’t forget about your business, we can handle all the travel needs for your company as well.  Anything from an airline flight and hotel for a meeting or all the planning needed for your next company-wide seminar.  We can arrange hotel space for all attendees and meeting rooms for all purposes.

Our agents travel to many destinations on FAM trips (Familiarization trips) these trips are designed by tour operators and cruise lines to make certain that travel agents are up-to-date on popular destinations and cruise ships.

So the next time you need to, or better yet, want to travel…Let us help, it’s what we do.

ESCAPE THE SUMMER HEAT – KAYAK WITH ORCAS IN COOL BC CANADA

Come join us in cool British Columbia this July, August and early September on a guided sea kayak trip to view orcas and eagles!  Camp at our exclusive basecamp in and go to sleep to the sound of orca blows!
Why this trip:  It’s the only orca preserve in the world; the “Jane Goodall”of orcas (scientist Alexandra Morton) has studied these unique salmon-eating orcas for years; the single best time and place in the world to paddle with orca families; perfect for novices new to sea kayaking; we provide all gear and naturalist guides.

TELEGRAPH COVE, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA — Sea Kayak Adventures, Inc. invites outdoor-minded folks to join its three to six-day fully guided paddling trips through the wilds of British Columbia’s Johnstone Strait off northern Vancouver Island.  This narrow sheltered orca freeway is world renowned for its summer congregations of hundreds of “killer whales” following the salmon runs funneled from the sea into this specific area.  In fact, Canada is the first and only country in the world to establish and maintain an orca preserve there.  The Michael Biggs Robson Bight Orca Preserve is set aside specifically for these unique northern resident orcas, found nowhere else in the world.  Researchers flock here to study these orcas.

Participants will paddle two-person sea kayaks through the glacier-carved waterways between Vancouver Island and the rugged mountains of mainland British Columbia.  Along the way, they’ll get close to wild orcas, as the strait is a traditional gathering place for these whales. Guides scan the calm waters for spouts and point out whale behavior.  Bald eagles dot the towering trees along the shore, feasting as do the orcas on the prolific salmon runs here.

The group will also explore the area’s rainforest on foot, visit the ancient First Nations village of Memquimlis to view its totem poles and remains of a traditional longhouse, visit orca researchers and hopefully glimpse a black bear from their kayaks.  Each night, they’ll camp on secluded island beaches where they can also watch orcas from their tents.

Trips depart from Port McNeill on northern Vancouver Island, BC Canada – weekly July through early September 2012 (3 to 6 days paddling; $995-1395/person).  The price includes all camping and kayaking equipment, meals, kayaking instruction and guide services.  Youth get 10% off above prices.  Tax and airfare not included.

 

To plan your trip today:

All About Travel
6104 Northwest 63
Oklahoma City, OK 73132
info [at] allabout-travel.com
405.384.3880

About All About Travel

Opened in 1978, All About Travel is located in the Oklahoma City area.  We are a family owned and operated company that has strived to provide our clients with the highest quality of service for more than 30 years.  Our agents can arrange all your travel needs from the individual hotel and/or car reservation to an around the world cruise.  Nothing is out of reach.

We can help plan your honeymoon, your destination wedding or the much needed getaway for two.  Don’t forget about your business, we can handle all the travel needs for your company as well.  Anything from an airline flight and hotel for a meeting or all the planning needed for your next company-wide seminar.  We can arrange hotel space for all attendees and meeting rooms for all purposes.

Our agents travel to many destinations on FAM trips (Familiarization trips) these trips are designed by tour operators and cruise lines to make certain that travel agents are up-to-date on popular destinations and cruise ships.

So the next time you need to, or better yet, want to travel…Let us help, it’s what we do.