Sunday, September 15, 2019

Balzac's Paris

Novelist Honoré de Balzac's home
Photo copyright Peter's Paris
Add this to your list of off-the-beaten-track sights to see in Paris, courtesy of my favourite Paris blog...

"The house where the novelist Honoré de Balzac (1799-1850) lived for some seven years (1840-47) has recently been reopened after some restoration works. This is where he finalised a large part of his famous “La Comédie Humaine”, some 91 stories, novels, essays… How many have you read? I have only read one, “The Père Goriot” (Old Goriot). Balzac always lived beyond his means and, as he now and then had some unwanted visitors, he was happy to live in a house with several exits, including to the small narrow street on the back side. We are in the Passy area of Paris, in the 16th arrondissement, and this old little house is now surrounded by fashionable apartment buildings..." [read more on Peter's Paris].


Balzac's statue in
the Cimetière
du Père-Lachaise
To visit
The Maison de Balzac is located in the 16th arrondissement at 47, rue Raynouard (nearest métro and RER stations are Passy and Avenue du Président Kennedy) - open daily except Mondays and holidays (admission free)/
Maison de Balzac - Paris Convention and Visitors Bureau
Maison de Balzac Profile and Visitor's Guide - Trip Savvy
Back to Balzac - Literary Traveler


To learn more
Balzac's Paris - a Guided Tour - University of California
Balzac's Paris: History and Modern Walking Tout


Sponsored content (mine!)
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Saturday, August 31, 2019

A step back in time to La Alberca

La Alberca's Paza Mayor
Perhaps the most enchanting step back in time I took on my 2009/2010 Europe trip was the village of La Alberca in Spain. I was staying nearby while volunteering at Pueblo Inglés (from which I have many memories but have not written much, except a brief post, Consulting My Pillow in La Alberca).

In Spain, every village has its own distinct design. My friend
Lisa Ch, sporting the La Alberca village ring we both bought there
(this pic from later that year, when we reconnected in NYC)
Anyways, it was with interest that I stumbled across this enchanting post by a traveller who has been there more than once, and though that I'd share it.

"When my parents came to visit in Madrid last year, they brought with them some of my old photos, a box of a few hundred slides I’d set aside years ago. It was a random sampling of the uncounted thousands of Kodachromes and Fujichromes I have sitting in the not-so-archival environment of my parent’s damp basement in Toronto.

There are a lot of things I prefer about digital photography over film, but film has digital beat when it comes to looking at old photographs. You get to hold the actual original thing, for starters, and you can see it without having to plug anything in. Slides can’t be perfectly copied in a keystroke, they’re one of a kind. And for that same reason, you see them only once in a while. They get put into deep storage and get forgotten about until they surface sometime later, like artefacts from the past.

Photo copyright Spain by Mike Randolf
There was one slide in particular that caught me eye. I took it out of the plastic sleeve and held it up to the window. My uncle Miguel had died the year before, but in the image, taken some twenty-five years ago, he looked not much older than I am now. We were in a village called La Alberca with my aunt and an old woman we met while wandering around..." [read more on Spain by Mike Randolf].

It's a great story.

Mike also has some great photos, they are really worth a look.


Saturday, August 24, 2019

Sunset for the Travelling Boomer



The Travelling Boomer is signing off.
Photo copyright Paul Marshman
It was with a mix of both disappointment and understanding that I read the following announcement on one of my favourite travel blogs:

"For the past five years, I’ve been regaling you with stories about the pleasures of travel on this website. But today that comes to an end, and for a very good reason: it’s called climate change. Right now, the world is facing a climate crisis that threatens the future of all of us. And unfortunately, one of the things making it worse is travel. So I can’t in good conscience keep inviting you to go travelling and add to a problem that’s killing this planet..." [read more on the Travelling Boomer].

Paul is a brilliant man and has contributed so much the world of travel, but I think he has hit the nail on the head.


Thank you, my friend - and client - for all you have done. I look forward to learning about your next venture.

Monday, November 26, 2018

You'll need a new Brussels map

Ceci n’est pas une rue.
Brussels honours artist René Magritte with a new street name.

If you love Brussels, and are planning a return trip, you'll need a new street map. Here's why:

"If you could name a street in your hometown, what would you choose? Belgian citizens had the opportunity to mull just that question as part of an initiative to name 28 streets, squares, and walkways in the Belgian capital’s Tour & Taxis district*. The city crowdsourced the names as part of an ongoing regeneration project in the Tour & Taxis district—a formerly industrial area now set to become one of the city’s cultural and residential meccas. After receiving nearly 1,400 suggestions from the public, the final list was chosen by a jury of city officials, historians, and the site’s property developer, Extena...""[read more on Quartz].

*The district is named after the famous Thurn and Taxis, a German noble family that was a key player in European postal services until the fall of the Holy Roman Empire.

Street name signs in Brussels are in Flemish and French.
There have been more going up lately.

"Once a railway station and inland port, the district was a maze of warehouses, customs buildings and post and telegraph offices. By the early 1990s the area had fallen on hard times: lorry transport had rendered rail freight lines obsolete, while the introduction of a European customs union and harmonisation of standards drastically reduced incoming goods..." [read more on The Guardian].

"Did you know that the site once served as the largest freight station of Europe? The historic buildings were years ahead of the rest of Europe. The architects and engineers combined beautiful Belgian architecture with the most innovative technologies of the time. The result? Buildings that still have all modern facilities with an attractive, historic flavour..."read more on the official website].

"The eclectic mix of new names chosen by Brussels residents range from Passage de la Kriek, named after a famous Belgian cherry beer, to Ceci n’est pas une rue (This is not a street), inspired by the art of Belgian surrealist Rene Magritte. “To give a street a name, it gives it a certain identity,” Kris Verhellen, CEO of the Extensa development group which owns the former transport hub in the north of the city..." [read more on Reuters].



The new Brussels street names - and what they mean

  • Allée des Douanes: Customs Alley
  • Ceci n’est pas une rue: This is not a street (honouring Belgian artist René Magritte)
  • Chemin du Bonheur: Path to Happiness
  • Chemin d’Un Monde Meilleur: Path to a Better World
  • Drève des Rêves: Drive of Dreams
  • Drève du Parc: Park Drive
  • Drève Maritime: Maritime Drive
  • Drève von Thurn und Tassis: Tour and Taxis Drive
  • Mer des Pavés: Sea of Cobblestones
  • Passage de la Caricole: Passage of the Caricole
  • Passage de la Frite: Passage of the fries
  • Passage de la Praline: Passage of the Praline
  • Passage de la Kriek: Passage of the Kriek (Belgian beer)
  • Passage du Chicon: Passage of Chicon (a Belgian cheese and endive dish)
  • Passage du Cuberdon: Passage of Cuberdon (a Belgian candy)
  • Passage du Speculoos: Passage of the Speculoos (a Belgian spiced cookie)
  • Passage du Stoemp: Passage of the Stoemp (a Belgian vegetable dish)
  • Place de la Musique: Place of Music
  • Place des Choukes: Place of Choukes (a Belgian term of endearment)
  • Place des Grands Hommes Place of Great People
  • Quai des Brumes: Quay of the Mists
  • Rue Chantal Akerman: Chantal Akerman Street (a famous Belgian feminist and avant-garde filmmaker)
  • Rue des Entrepôts: Warehouse Street
  • Rue du Méandre: Meander Street
  • Rue Isala Van Diest: Isala Van Diest Street (Belguim's first female medical doctor)
  • Voie 1: Way 1
  • Voie 2: Way 2


The Brussels city flag
To learn more
Tour & Taxis District - official website
Belgians chose “This is not a street” as one of 28 new Brussels street names - Quartz
Beer, chips and historic women inspire new Brussels street names
New names of the Tour & Taxis streets - Brussels city website
Ceci n’est pas une rue: Brussels to adopt whimsical new street names - The Guardian
Brussels Honors René Magritte & Other Painters With Bizarre Street Names - The Travel

This post was published previously on my citytravelbug blog


Sponsored content (mine!)
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Saturday, November 3, 2018

My late picks - November 2018

Flexible schedule? If you can get away last minute, here are some interesting sailings this month that still have space ~ and good deals!

Check out these escapes to warmth as the northern lands grow chilly...

South Pacific from Tahiti!


November 11, 2018

15-Nights

Sailing from Papeete (Tahiti) to Auckland on Holland America's ms Maasdam

Very nice South Pacific cruise, offering great value.

Ports on this sailing include: Papeete, French Polynesia - At Sea - Rarotonga, Cook Islands - At Sea - Alofi, New Zealand - International Dateline - Vava'u, Tonga - At Sea - Savusavu, Fiji - Suva, Fiji - Dravuni Island - At Sea - Nuku`alofa, Tonga - At Sea - At Sea - Auckland, New Zealand
View the itinerary

Interested? Please contact me for a quote.


Great Middle East cruise!


November 11, 2018

15-Nights

Sailing from Rome to Abu Dhabi on the Celebrity Constellation

A great choice if you'd like to disembark in Abu Dhabi

Ports on this sailing include: Civitavecchia (Rome), Italy - Catania, Italy - At Sea - Piraeus, Greece - Suez Canal, Egypt - Suez Canal, Egypt - Al 'Aqabah, Jordan - At Sea - At Sea - At Sea - At Sea - At Sea - Muscat, Oman - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
View the itinerary

Interested? Please contact me for a quote.


New Orleans cruise


November 25, 2018

11-Nights

Sailing roundtrip from New Orleans on the Norwegian Breakaway

Wrap your Caribbean cruise with a little New Orleans jazz!

Ports on this sailing include: New Orleans, Louisiana - At Sea - At Sea - Ocho Rios, Jamaica - Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - Roatan, Honduras - Belize City, Belize - Harvest Caye, Belize - Costa Maya, Mexico - Cozumel, Mexico - At Sea - New Orleans, Louisiana
View the itinerary

Interested? Please contact me for a quote.


3 weeks in the Caribbean


November 25, 2018

21-Nights

Sailing roundtrip Tampa on Holland America's ms Rotterdam

Lovely, relaxing 3 week long cruise... claim your deck chair!

Ports on this sailing include: Tampa, Florida - Key West, Florida - At Sea - Puerto Santo Tomas de Castilla, Guatemala - Roatan, Honduras - Costa Maya, Mexico - At Sea - Tampa, Florida - Key West, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - San Juan, Puerto Rico - St. Thomas, Virgin Islands - St John's, Antigua and Barbuda - Castries, Saint Lucia - Soufriere Bay, Saint Lucia - At Sea - Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles - Oranjestad, Aruba - At Sea - Georgetown, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands - At Sea - Tampa, Florida
View the itinerary

Interested? Please contact me for a quote.


Panama Canal


November 30, 2018

14-Nights

Sailing from Miami to Los Angeles on the Norwegian Star

A surprisingly affordable Panama Canal opportunity

Ports on this sailing include: Miami, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - Cartagena, Colombia - Panama Canal - At Sea - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - At Sea - Acapulco, Mexico - At Sea - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - At Sea - Los Angeles, California
View the itinerary

Interested? Please contact me for a quote.



==============================================

Cup of black tea None of these your cup of tea?

I'm happy to help you plan an adventure wherever you'd like to go.

Please contact me to begin the planning process.



Related resources
Roberta's picks - hand picked by me
Vancouver cruise opportunities - hand picked by me
Solo-friendly picks - a list of ships with single staterooms
Transatlantic cruises - the best itineraries, picked by me

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Vancouver Spring Panama Canal saillings

Sailing the Panama Canal on the Coral Princess
Did you know that you can take a Panama Canal cruise from Florida right to Vancouver? No flying on your way home... doesn't that sound lovely?

In the spring, there are usually only NORTHBOUND Panama Canal sailings to Vancouver, but this year there are two (2) SOUTHBOUND Panama Canal sailings from Vancouver... so take your pick!

You can choose between sailings from 17 to 22 nights - there is even an 28 night sailing that includes Alaska!

April 9, 2019: Island Princess - 22 nights
April 9, 2019 - NORTHBOUND SAILING
22 Night Panama Canal cruise on the Island Princess
Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - Cartagena, Colombia - Panama Canal - Fuerte Amador, Panama - At Sea - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - At Sea - Huatulco, Mexico - At Sea - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - Los Angeles, California - Santa Barbara, California - At Sea - San Francisco, California - At Sea - Astoria, Oregon - Victoria, British Columbia - Vancouver, British Columbia
Book with me now!

April 11, 2019: Emerald Princess - 22 nights
April 11, 2019 - SOUTHBOUND SAILING
22 Night Panama Canal cruise on the Emerald Princess
Itinerary: Vancouver, British Columbia - Victoria, British Columbia - Astoria, Oregon - At Sea - San Francisco, California - At Sea - Santa Barbara, California - Los Angeles, California - At Sea - At Sea - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - At Sea - Huatulco, Mexico - At Sea - San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - At Sea - Fuerte Amador, Panama - Panama Canal - Cartagena, Colombia - At Sea - At Sea - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Book with me now!

April 13, 2019: Oosterdam - 21 nights
April 13, 2019 - NORTHBOUND SAILING
21 Night Panama Canal cruise on the ms Oosterdam
Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - Cartagena, Colombia - Panama Canal - Fuerte Amador, Panama - Fuerte Amador, Panama - At Sea - Caldera, Costa Rica - Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - Puerto Chiapas, Mexico - Huatulco, Mexico - At Sea - Manzanillo, Mexico - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - San Diego, California - At Sea - At Sea - Victoria, British Columbia - Vancouver, British Columbia
Book with me now!

April 18, 2019: Volendam - 20 nights
April 18, 2019 - NORTHBOUND SAILING
20 Night Panama Canal cruise on the ms Volendam
Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - Cartagena, Colombia - Panama Canal - At Sea - Caldera, Costa Rica - Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - Puerto Chiapas, Mexico - Huatulco, Mexico - At Sea - Manzanillo, Mexico - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - San Francisco, California - At Sea - Victoria, British Columbia - Vancouver, British Columbia
Book with me now!

April 20, 2019: Coral Princess - 18 nights
April 20, 2019 - NORTHBOUND SAILING
18 Night Panama Canal cruise on the Coral Princess
Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - Cartagena, Colombia - Panama Canal - Fuerte Amador, Panama - At Sea - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - At Sea - Huatulco, Mexico - At Sea - Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - Los Angeles, California - At Sea - At Sea - Vancouver, British Columbia
Book with me now!

May 1, 2019: Oceania Regatta - 28 nights
May 1, 2019 - NORTHBOUND SAILING
28 Night Panama Canal cruise on the Oceania Regatta
Itinerary: Miami, Florida - Havana, Cuba - Caribbean Sea - Caribbean Sea - Colon, Panama - Panama Canal - Pacific Ocean - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - Pacific Ocean - Acapulco, Mexico - Pacific Ocean - Mazatlan, Mexico - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - Pacific Ocean - San Diego, California - Pacific Ocean - San Francisco, California - Pacific Ocean - Astoria, Oregon - At Sea - Sitka, Alaska - Hubbard Glacier, Alaska - Juneau, Alaska - Wrangell, Alaska - Ketchikan, Alaska - Inside Passage - Vancouver, British Columbia
Ask for a quote - or book with me now!


May 16, 2019: ms Amsterdam - 17 nights
May 16, 2019 - NORTHBOUND SAILING
17 Night Panama Canal cruise on the ms Amsterdam
Itinerary: Fort Lauderdale, Florida - At Sea - At Sea - Cartagena, Colombia - Panama Canal - At Sea - Puerto Corinto, Nicaragua - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - Huatulco, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - San Francisco, California - At Sea - Victoria, British Columbia - Vancouver, British Columbia
Request a quote - or book online now!

June 30, 2019: Queen Elizabeth - 21 nights
June 30, 2019 - SOUTHBOUND SAILING
21 Night Panama Canal cruise on Cunard Line's Queen Elizabeth
Itinerary: Vancouver, British Columbia - At Sea - At Sea - San Francisco, California - Los Angeles, California - Los Angeles, California - At Sea - At Sea - Cabo San Lucas, Mexico - At Sea - At Sea - Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala - At Sea - Puntarenas, Costa Rica - At Sea - Panama City, Panama - Panama Canal - At Sea - Oranjestad, Aruba - At Sea - At Sea - Fort Lauderdale, Florida
Contact me now for this rare Cunard opportunity!

Please contact me if you are looking for a fall Panama Canal sailing, or even 2020 - I have the information you need, and am always happy to help.

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Friday, October 19, 2018

Squid Ink: Tattoos at sea

This caught my eye today.


I thought it was brilliant, and I would do it. As long as the seas aren't too high. How about you?

"It was only a matter of time. But you can now add getting a tattoo to the list of things you can do on a cruise ship. Start-up cruise line Virgin Voyages has announced that its first vessel will have a tattoo parlor – an industry first..." [read more on OpenJaw].

The aptly named Squid Ink is being designed in partnership with World Famous Tattoo Ink.

"Virgin Voyages said the idea was following in its ethos of the “Modern Romance of Sailing,” with the inspiration behind Squid Ink “steeped in the traditions of sailing” with many historians crediting the expansion of tattooing to British colonial sailors who picked up the concept from aboriginal tribes while exploring the South Pacific..." [read more on TTG].

“Tattooing is a time-honored seafaring tradition, and we’re continuing that legacy with rock and roll style by bringing some of the best ink artists to sea,” Virgin Voyages CEO Tom McAlpin said in a statement. “Our sailors are looking to make lifelong memories, and we think there's no better way to commemorate their first voyage with us than with a souvenir they'll never lose track of...” [read more on Travel Pulse].

“The World Famous Tattoo Ink family has been working with
sailors, pirates and rock stars for more than 50 years."
Lou Rubino of World Famous Tattoo Ink and Soho Ink
World Famous Tattoo Ink's Lou Rubino Jr., who is also the creator of Manhattan's Soho Ink and Freshly Inked Magazine, will handpick Squid Ink's two permanent full-time tattoo artists.

Squid Ink will also feature a rotating line-up of guest artists, including:
  • Arlo DiCristina - surrealist tattoo artist
  • Jime Litwalk - illustrative specialist
  • Sarah Miller - star of Spike TV’s Ink Master
Squid Ink services will include:
  • Exclusive voyage commemoration tattoos designed by World Famous Tattoo Ink
  • Body piercings
  • Permanent makeup treatments using vegan-friendly Perma Blend pigments
Artist's rendering of Squid Ink
“As global acceptance of tattoos and body art continues to grow, partnering with Virgin Voyages gives us the unique opportunity to bring colour to places people might have never thought possible before. We couldn’t be more excited to leave our mark on the sea travel industry,” says Rubino.

Reactions so far are mainly positive, though the move does have it's detractors. "We have to wonder if this won't be much more popular at the end of sailings though, as while tattooing over sunburn doesn't sound like fun, you really shouldn't go into the ocean after being freshly inked either, says Cruise Habit's Billy Hirsch.

In another industry first, Virgin has announced that it will not only hire staff with visible tattoos, but will encourage crew to also express themselves freely through tattoos, if they so wish. That alone should convince anyone doubting how different Virgin Voyages will be. 

"To date, the cruise industry's big tattoo moment came last year when Adolfo Perez, senior vice president of sales and trade marketing at Carnival Cruise Line, got a tattoo on his upper arm saying "Travel Agents Rock" at a Carnival Agentpalooza agent event in New Orleans..." [read more on Travel Weekly]


Related resources:
Lasting Memories: Virgin Voyages Ship To Feature Tattoo Parlor - Open Jaw
Inked at sea: Virgin Voyages ship will have tattoo parlor - Travel Weekly
Virgin Voyages Adding Tattoo Parlor to Scarlet Lady Ship - Travel Pulse
Virgin Voyages ship to have its own tattoo studio - TTG
Virgin Voyages Gives Cruises Another Way to Remember Their Sailing - With Tattoos at Sea! - Cruise Habit
Get a tattoo on board Virgin Voyages - Virgin.com
Got Ink? Thank a Sailor - Virgin Voyages

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