What Makes Spain a Great Travel Destination?

January 9th, 2018 / blog / Comments Off on What Makes Spain a Great Travel Destination?

Hola! Spain is a great destination to visit for many reason, even visting multiple times. It is a country with much diversity, deep history and natural beauty. From bustling cities to charming villages, stunning beaches, natural wilderness areas, winelands and snow skiing in the Pyrenees Mountains, Spain has a lot to offer. Madrid and Barcelona are easily accessible by non-stop flights from the U.S. which makes Spain an easy European destination to reach and the currency is Euro, making it easy to combine with other nearby European countries.

Once there, travel within Spain is quite easy via rail, rental car, or even by bus. Local flights in some cases are the best way in order to save time (e.g. – Barcelona to San Sebastian or Seville). If your are adventuresome and have enough time, doing a self-drive in some areas is highly recommended and easy to do as roads are in good condition with good signage. Recently, France and Spain have collaborated to offer high-speed train travel between several cities in France to Barcelona or Madrid, making it very easy to include both destinations. A short ferry ride connects southern Spain with Morocco as well.

You can cover a lot of Spain in two weeks, but sights will need to be prioritized. If a future trip is possible, then focusing on either northern Spain (Barcelona, Costa Brava, Madrid, Toledo, Verde Coast & the Basque region) or southern Spain (Seville, Valencia, Cordoba, Granada, Costa del Sol) is preferable. A customized, seamless itinerary including local transportation can be created to suit your requirements. Unusual sightseeing such as private Flamenco dance lessons, olive oil tasting in the Lecrin Valley, a bullfight, cooking classes and foodie tours are ideas to consider including.Perhaps an escorted group tour is more to your liking?

One of my favorite hotels includes the Hostal de la Gavina on the Costa Brava north of Barcelona. In Barcelona, I recommend Hotel Claris, Majestic Hotel & Spa or Hotel Neri. The Westin Palace in Madrid has a great location and the Villa Real is another great option for Madrid. Hotel Maria Cristina is the best luxury option in San Sebastian and the Gran Melia Colon is an excellent choice for Seville. For Granada, you may want to consider reserving Hotel AC Palacio de Santa Paula, Alhambra Palace Hotel or NHCollection Victoria. I always recommend to stay in at least one Paradores property which are luxury hotels located in historic buildings – former castle, palace, convent, monastery or fortress and are sprinkled throughout the country.

Spain’s rich history was largely influenced by the Romans and Moors. As a result, Roman ruins are plentiful and beautiful Moorish architecture can be found in Barcelona and Madrid and to the south. A Gaudi architecture tour in Barcelona is recommended for clients who appreciate architecture. Both Madrid and Barcelona are home to lively outdoor markets that are well worth a visit and both are centers for the arts. Spain’s entire eastern coastline offers numerous beautiful beaches on the Mediterranean, with southern opportunites on the Alboran Sea and the Atlantic bordering its beaches to the north and northwest. Largely Catholic, Spain observes a number of religious holidays and has a lot of festivals to enjoy, one of the most well-known being Fiesta de San Fermin in Pamplona. And, of course, the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela is where four Christian pilgrimage routes culminate from various parts in Europe.

In summary, Spain is an ideal destination for solo travelers, couples (including honeymooners), families and groups.

 

What is Seat Pitch on a Commercial Airplane?

November 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on What is Seat Pitch on a Commercial Airplane?

Have you ever wondered why some airline seats have more legroom between them than others? This is largely affected by seat pitch – the distance from a point on your set to the same point on the seat in front of you. Seat back thickness can also affect the amount of legroom. Seat width also adds to comfort. If you want to check this out before purchasing your ticket, go to Seat Guru to compare.

Mobile Passport Control App

October 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Mobile Passport Control App

The US Customs and Border Protection recently approved the use of an app called Mobile Passport Control to expedite entry process into the US after traveling abroad. This free app is downloadable to your smartphone or tablet and can be currently used at 24 US airports and Port Everglades in Florida. Once you land, you simply input your specific trip information and answer certain questions thereby replacing completion of the typical Declarations form then look for the specific fast lane for Mobile Passport Control at one of these participating airports: Mobile Passport Control.

Not Showing up for Your Flight Can Have Severe Penalties

September 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Not Showing up for Your Flight Can Have Severe Penalties

Ever just decide to skip one leg of your flight, over sleep, or have car trouble on the way to the airport and miss your flight? If you want to keep the rest of your flights in tact and avoid costly penalties, you MUST contact the airline before your scheduled departure time in order to avoid the ramifications of their No Show policy. Most domestic and international airlines have a No Show policy which allows them to cancel ALL your remaining flights with NO value for re-booking. In addition, most airlines charge a No Show penalty and you are subject to current fares when re-booking your flights.

Can I Still Travel With My Electronics on International Flights?

August 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Can I Still Travel With My Electronics on International Flights?

This question has been a moving target since March, but the Department of Homeland Security announced a new policy for electronics entering the US.  As of June 28th, all airlines with inbound flights to the US are required to implement stricter measures for screening carry-on and checked baggage as well as vetting passengers before they board.  If they don’t meet the new standards, they are subject to the laptop ban currently in place for nine airlines from eight countries, or even have their airline certificate revoked disallowing entry into the US.

What does this mean to you as the traveler?  You should allow more time to go through security at international airports (3 hours) as airports and airlines work through the new procedures.  Be prepared to see more bomb-sniffing dogs, have your laptop or tablet checked by an agent and see new scanner equipment.

More About Tracking Your Luggage

July 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on More About Tracking Your Luggage

Until “permanent” bag tags are available and universally recognized at all airports, there are a number of electronic devices available to minimize worry and keep track of your luggage while traveling.  This article may help you find the best solution for you: 10 Best Smart Luggage Trackers, courtesy of Anya Jones.

Take the Mystery Out of Tipping When Traveling Abroad

June 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Take the Mystery Out of Tipping When Traveling Abroad

Unsure of how much to tip for services such as porters, taxis, dining and guides while traveling in a foreign country? This article from Conde Nast Traveler is one of the most comprehensive summaries I have found and may help on your next journey: Your Guide to Tipping Around the World

Which US Trusted Traveler Program is Right for You?

May 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Which US Trusted Traveler Program is Right for You?

Have you been considering applying for a Trusted Traveler program but not sure which one is right for your type of travel, if any?  This helpful Homeland Security website summarizes and compares each of the programs for you.  Go to:  Trusted Traveler Programs

Awesome New Feature with Google Maps

March 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Awesome New Feature with Google Maps

Google Maps just introduced their new Lists Feature that lets you save places you would like to visit on maps for easy reference.  This could be as simple as organizing all the sushi restaurants or wine bars you want to try in your hometown or restaurants to consider while traveling.  This blog explains how simple it is:  Creating Lists with Google Maps

Checking Through a US Airport Faster

February 15th, 2017 / blog / Comments Off on Checking Through a US Airport Faster

Would you like to minimize your time transitioning through or checking in at a US airport?  A privately operated service called Clear is being expanded to four more major airport hubs in the US – Atlanta, LaGuardia, JFK & LAX.  This will considerably boost its existing service in 17 airports.  As opposed to TSA Pre-Check which expedites the security screening process at many US airports, Clear expedites your identity verification process.  Simply bypass the line and go to a kiosk for fingerprint or eye scan recognition, then go to the front of the line for security screening (or TSA Pre-Check line if you also have that service or Global Entry).  Clear comes with a hefty price tag, $179 per year so it may not be for everyone.  Check it out at:  Clear.