Scotland Continued…

Hi! I’m glad you returned to see a wee bit more of Scotland.

Let’s continue our mini-tour shall we? During my trip, there were several times where the entertainment of the evening not only included singing, dancing and bagpipes but Haggis. I did enjoy the bagpipes and the singing that went along but I couldn’t make myself try the Haggis. It’s brought in ceremoniously to the sound of the pipes and is served to everyone in attendance. If you want to know more, here’s a link for you.

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Bonne Ole Scotland

We’re Back! Sorry we’ve been missing in action. I’m happy to say that Travel Lovers has once again been voted Lynchburg’s BEST Travel Agency for the 8th year in a row. THANK YOU for being the best clients and for voting for us. We appreciate your business and support.

An Adventure into Scotland…

I’d like to share with you a recent exploration to Scotland that I made in Sept. Although Scotland may not be on your bucket list. It offers much more than the movie Brave Heart, the Loch Ness Monster, Sean Connery, and kilts. It’s history dates back to  early sites around 8500 B.C. In more modern history, the country is filled with beautiful scenery, Royal Heritage, whiskey, castles, important University’s, great golf and much more.

The capital city of Edinburgh is a must see when visiting Scotland. The city is divided into the Old and New Towns with historic Edinburgh Castle sitting  up on the city’s highest hillside on the opposite end of the “Royal Mile” from Holyrood Palace. Holyroodhouse has been the official residence of the Kings and Queens of Scotland since the 1600’s. The current Queen has lovely apartments here.

Holyrood Palace

Edinburgh Castle

The shops and sights along the Royal Mile as well as the New Town are worth an afternoon stroll. There is lots to see and I’m sure you’ll hear some bagpipes along the way.

St Andrews, the home of the modern game of golf is only about an 1 1/2 north of Edinburgh along the coastline. It’s a quaint little town and people pay big bucks to golf here. I guess it’s like the Holy Grail of Golf.

Heading up towards the North Sea, castles like Dunrobin offer tours, falconry exhibits and beautiful views of the sea and countryside.

These Highland Cows look more like Shetland Ponies than cows but you see them dotting the countryside all over the highlands. There are historic battlefields to visit as well as local farms and villages. This area gave birth to our current Highland Festivals that take place all over the eastern U.S. The locals in the highland towns are quite friendly and welcome you into the taverns and pubs. They even welcome your dogs if they are well behaved.

The Orkney Islands across the North Sea can be reached by ferry and the lands here are virtually devoid of trees due to the strong winds and winters. The city of Kirkwall has a strong Viking influence and the area has many sites of ancient standing stones dating to the Mesolithic and Neolithic Era. This is the St Magnus Cathedral in the center of Kirkwall.

Standing stone sites of Scotland.

The village of Skara Brae is an UNESCO World Heritage site and dates to about 3180-2500 B.C. It is on the largest of the Orkney Island and is right on the coastline. The village itself was built into the sand and was mostly covered in he hillside.

Part 2 of my adventure in Scotland will post a little later this week, when we pick up the tour around Inverness and travel through the Glens of Scotland, tour some castles, look for Nessie and visit the Isle of Skye. I leave you with a few miscellaneous photos of lovely Scotland. Enjoy!

The Catholic Chapel on the Orkney Island

Edinburgh by night.

The Abbey at Holyroodhouse

Stay tuned and thanks for coming by.

Wednesday’s Chat on Friday!

Dancing With the Stars!!  What has the hit TV show got to do with travel?  In 2013 the Holland America Line has been hosting “Dancing with the Stars:  At Sea”.  Guests have had an opportunity to participate in complimentary dance classes, dance with Holland America’s professioanl dancers, and compete for a chance to earn the mirror ball trophy.  At the end of 2013, each Cruise Champion, and a guest, will be invited to become a finalist on the 7 day January Caribbean Champions Cruise, where they will compete for the trophy and title of Grand Champion.  In addition to the competition, in 2014, select cruises will feature professionals and stars from “Dancing With the Stars”.  Guests on the cruise will have an opportunity to take dance lessons, meet the dancers, ask questions, and take photos, as well as attend a production starring the celebrities, complete wih costumes and routines from the TV show.  The first of the show’s professionals and stars to appear in Jan. will be Kym Johnson, Tristan MacManus, and Sabrina Bryan. 
So, if you love dancing and you love cruising, this is the trip for you!

Should you Travel to Europe with a Chip and Pin Credit Card

Should you get a chip-and-PIN credit card for Europe?
 
Published Saturday, August 17, 2013, at 10:26 p.m.
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A European credit card enjoying modern chip-and-PIN technology clearly is superior to the old-fashioned magnetic-stripe credit cards issued to Americans. But is it worth the time and expense to equip yourself with a chip-and-PIN card for your next trip to Europe? That’s a hotly disputed question.
My own one-time experience with buying a chip-and-PIN card was not a good one. To obtain a card from a U.S.-based outlet selling it, I had to fill it with a certain number of euros at a badly disadvantageous exchange rate, in addition to paying a hefty fee for the card’s issuance. On the trip for which I obtained the card, I did not have a single need to use it. When I returned to the states and revisited the card outlet to turn it in, I again had to pay a fee to get the money that had been inserted on the card.
Still, would the European card have proved useful in other possible circumstances? Consider the following: Just as we Americans have to enter a PIN into an ATM in order to get cash, a European must provide a PIN in order to make use of a credit card. The chip inside the card will permit it to be used only if a PIN is given. This prevents the card from being used by a thief who has stolen or found it. That makes the European card clearly superior to ours.
But will a European hotel, restaurant or shop accept one of our old-fashioned cards, even if we don’t announce a PIN to that merchant? In the overwhelming number of instances, the answer is“yes.” Europeans have learned how to confirm the validity of one of our outmoded magnetic-stripe cards.
I have never once been unable to use my U.S. credit cards at a broad range of European establishments. Recently, I’ve been receiving letters from readers who had problems. One of them told of traveling in a lightly inhabited countryside area of Denmark, where she attempted to use one such card in a tiny shop that rarely saw a tourist. The proprietor was totally puzzled by her magnetic-stripe card. Throughout a one-week stay in this rural backwater, she could not use her card.
Others have told of an increasing number of unattended kiosks or card-accepting machines at serve-yourself gas stations or unattended railway stations, or even in the subway stations of several European cities. Those machines do not accept a U.S. card. Even at stations where an attendant sat behind a ticket window, the time needed to use a U.S. credit card was considerable, and the attendant was sometimes irritated to have to devote time to such an old-fashioned contrivance as a magnetic-stripe card.
So I’m starting to wonder. If I am planning a trip only to large cities, and never involving rental of a car or late-night use of a train station, then I don’t feel it necessary to obtain a European chip-and-PIN card. If I am planning a free-roving trip away from the big cities and through the European countryside, then it might be the way of wisdom to obtain such a card. USAA – the military bank that civilians find it increasingly easy to use – issues them. So does a firm called Travelex, with 200 stores all across America.

American Cruise Lines Offers Grand Ole Opry Experience

August 20, 2013 6:21 PM

American Cruise Lines is offering two seven-night cruises that include tickets to Leroy Van Dyke’s Sept. 27 show at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. The Opry experience is on the Sept. 21 departure from Memphis to Nashville and the Sept. 28 cruise from Nashville to St. Louis. Van Dyke has recorded over 500 songs, including “The Auctioneer” in 1956 and “Walk on By” in 1961. The Mississippi River cruise itself will also featured musical performances by Dan Knowles and his Band, Juggernaut Jug Band, John Tomlin Band and Beale

LOVE BOAT’S LAST CALL

Farewell Pacific Princess, But Her Sister Ship is Still Sailing

By Theresa Norton Masek
August 09, 2013 4:39 PM

The iconic Pacific Princess is heading for the scrap heap, but her nearly identical sister ship, the Island Princess, is still sailing as the Discovery for Cruise & Maritime Voyages (CMV). The Pacific Princess was the main ship on the “The Love Boat” TV show from 1977 to 1986, but the Island Princess also was used in some episodes.

“It’s a shame about the Pacific Princess, but there’s still a Love Boat plying the seas,” said John Dennis, vice president of sales and marketing for Cruise & Maritime Voyages. “She’s still in great shape, mainly sailing in Northern Europe in and out of Britain, with occasional Med voyages at the end of her season.”

Dennis said “Love Boat” fans likely would recognize features of the 700-passenger Discovery, especially the funnels and the pool deck. “People who watched the show would say, ‘yeah, that’s where Gopher was.’ The funnel still is pretty recognizable, even though we have CMV on the side instead of flowing hair,” he said, referencing the Princess Cruises’ sea witch logo.

The Island Princess left the Princess fleet in 1999 and operated in South Korea for a few years. In 2002, it began sailing for All Leisure Group, which has since entered into a joint venture with CMV. Fort Lauderdale-based CMV began exclusively marketing the ship in the U.S. in February.

The Pacific Princess, now just called M/V Pacific, left Princess Cruises in 2002. It changed hands several times and then came to languish for years as the cost to renovate it skyrocketed. Reuters reported that Izmir Ship Recycling Co. acquired the M/V Pacific for €2.5 million and will break it up. Newer ships now bear the names Pacific Princess and Island Princess in the Princess Cruises fleet.

The 42-year-old ships and the TV show are often credited with helping increase the profile of the then-young cruise industry — although on the TV show, the huge cabins shown were actually filmed on a soundstage and bore little resemblance to the real accommodations.

CMV’s Discovery now is operating seven- to 15-night cruises to Norway, the Baltic, Iberia, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea through late October, when the vessel leaves service until Feb. 24. It begins its season with three 14- and 15-night “Land of the Northern Lights” cruises and then again explores the British Isles, Norway, the Baltic Sea to St. Petersburg, Iceland and more.

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We’ve Done It Again!

Once again, we were voted Lynchburg, Virginia’s best travel agency!

The reason why is because we are dedicated to helping our clients in any way we can. This starts from the finding and planning of a vacation to when emergencies arise and quick action is needed.

Last week a family who have used us to travel before wanted to send their 11 year old daughter to Germany to visit the grandparents. A week into the three week vacation she became homesick and wanted to come home, so they called me asking what I could possibly do for them. It was a little tricky to get the airlines to cooperate, due to the daughter being an unaccompanied minor, but I was able to make it work. Calling the airline directly would not have worked for these parents because their English wasn’t strong and airlines don’t like to listen to people who they feel they don’t have to.

Booking online can sometimes be easier and cheeper, but when sticky situations come up, you’re going to want an agent on your side. 

So, if you’re trying to come up with a creative honeymoon idea, a new place for a family vacation, or want to go somewhere fun on a budget give us a call (phone number on the sidebar), e-mail bea@travellovers.com, or pop on in! We’re able to help locals and those out of town!

-Bea

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