Posted by: gardner310 | December 5, 2012

On the Road Again…


The entire day today was spent on the road, about 8 hours in total.  Covered a lot of miles with a lot of traffic.  Nice scenery called to me and I stopped a couple of times to take some photos while driving through typical Italian tacky beach towns.  What is it about beach towns that tacky seems to follow them around the world?


Ravenna Castle


In Ravenna, my stop for 2 nights, I experienced a “pay it forward” moment.  I stopped to ask directions to the hotel from a young gentleman by his home.  He called his young pretty wife out from the house because her English was better than his.  She told me she would take me there and hopped in the car.  We had a lovely conversation in our two languages while she directed me through town on all of the sensa unicos, one way streets. She got me to a parccheggio, parking lot, in front of the nh Royal Hotel, a couple of blocks from my own place, and she hopped out and walked home after a wave goodbye.  How nice was that?

The Galletti Abbioso is an old abbey converted into a hotel.  My room was on the small side but because of the way they used the space, my bathroom was almost as big as the room.  Free internet here, too.  I had such good luck with this on the trip, such a difference from the last time I visited when I was always looking for an internet cafe to catch up with email.

Posted by: gardner310 | August 14, 2012

Support the Bamboo Challenge Grant! – Pandas – explore

Put a smile on your face by watching this short video and help the pandas by replanting their food source.

Support the Bamboo Challenge Grant! – Pandas – explore.

Posted by: gardner310 | July 30, 2012

Date a Reader

I love this, of course, I am a reader. Have been one since I was 7 years old and got my first books for Christmas. I read everything, anything. Wise advice, this. For all of my twenty-something Facebook friends, take heed and pay attention to the readers.

#reading #dating #romance #books

stagnum memoriae

Date a girl who reads. Date a girl who spends her money on books instead of clothes. She has problems with closet space because she has too many books. Date a girl who has a list of books she wants to read, who has had a library card since she was twelve.

Find a girl who reads. You’ll know that she does because she will always have an unread book in her bag. She’s the one lovingly looking over the shelves in the bookstore, the one who quietly cries out when she finds the book she wants. You see the weird chick sniffing the pages of an old book in a second hand book shop? That’s the reader. They can never resist smelling the pages, especially when they are yellow.

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Posted by: gardner310 | July 26, 2012

Are You Addicted to Travel?

I found this on the site, and just thought you would enjoy the quiz.  It is probably no surprise that I tested out as having the addiction.  As commented, however, I plan to change nothing until ill health stops me in my tracks.   For 2013 my current plans, which are always subject to change, are Caribbean in January, Alaska from May to August, South Pacific and South America in the fall, Dubai for a conference in April and a friend’s wedding  in Hungary or Romania in late August.  Are you joining me in my “addiction”?


Ice climbing in Alaska 2011

“You know you’re addicted to travel when ___.”

1. “… you have more miles in the air than you have on all your vehicles combined!” — Janet K.

Helloooo, upgrades!

2. “… the projected period of your next big trip is slated to be longer than the amount of time you anticipate being retired.” — Mike

Holy cow! How long is his trip?

3. “… you sleep with your passport.” — @kasiainparis on Twitter

Does it have its own pillow?

4. “… you live out of your suitcase even when ‘home.'” — Judi E.

Closets are overrated … and who needs hangers, anyway?

5. “… you can and have given tourists directions in London, Paris, Tokyo — or any other places you don’t live in.” — Bruce

Bonus points if you can do it in the official language.

6. “… you’re planning one trip while on another!” — @missyfarrenPR on Twitter


7. “… you already know the airport codes for airports you’ve not yet visited.” — Jo Ann Slate

It helps to make flashcards.

10 Simple Tips for a Smoother Trip

8. “… you can pick up your luggage and guess, within a few ounces, the weight.” — Barbara Calder

Great news! She just saved a lot of money on her baggage fees.

9. “… you start collecting small, clear plastic bags for check-in.” — @MonicaSarkar on Twitter

Next week, on “Hoarders”…

10. “… you sit down at your desk and reach for the seatbelt.” — Alan G.

Imagine his confusion if he actually found it.

11. “… waking up at home feels strange.” — Jeff

Only if you went to sleep elsewhere.

postcards12. “… your cubicle at work is covered in postcards.” — @DanielleRauch on Twitter

Because a little coworker jealousy never hurt anyone.

13. “… you think about getting a small airplane tattoo for your ankle.” — Diane

But did she go through with it?

14. “… you always have at least two bags at home: one in ‘unpack’ mode and one in ‘packed and ready to go’ mode.” — Bruce

Let’s just hope he never accidentally grabs the wrong one.

15. “… you know which customs agents to avoid!” — @MayDayTravel on Twitter

One too many Cuban cigars, eh?

16. “… the only reason you work is so you can afford to upgrade your next trip.” — Marvin

And cash in your “sick” time so you can actually go on it.


#travel #packing #iceclimbing

Posted by: gardner310 | July 20, 2012

In Vino Veritas

I recently returned from Napa Valley. It was not my first time there but it had been a while and it was the first trip with girlfriends. It was the first time I had time to take pictures and visit certain wineries and I can say I would go back tomorrow.

Our tastings including Cakebread, Sterling, Castello di Amorosso, Peju, Nickel and Nickel,Reynolds and V Sattui. The weather was hot and sunny so the cellars provided not only wine but cool shelter. We had a lovely lunch at Meadowood Resort at the Grill and we took the Wine Train for dinner one night. There wasn’t one bad moment during the entire trip. Our accommodation was a 2 bedroom unit at Silverado Resort, a lovely golf resort.

Whether you go as a couple or with a group of friends, you will have a wonderful trip. Honeymoon, anniversary or simply a food and wine adventure – works for all.

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Posted by: gardner310 | July 13, 2012

Afraid to Take a Vacation?

I just read an article in my fitness club magazine about people who can’t /won’t go on vacation due to too much anxiety about leaving work behind. As a travel agent I find this disturbing 🙂 The writer, Annie Perrin, is an executive life coach. Taking time off can be unnerving to many people who may be worried about their jobs or how their absence is seen by superiors. She says there are some barriers to overcome:

Fear of falling behind. You worry about not being able to catch up when you get back.

Pride in overwork. Vacation sabotage by thinking your exhaustion is admirable to others.

Confidence in connection. Taking time off leaves you feeling insecure about your role and value in your organization.

Adrenaline addiction. Action makes you feel important and indispensable.

More-work worries. We have to cram in hours of work in order to be ready to leave which results in departure dread.

There are strategies for success.

Reevaluate downtime. Studies show that vacation is critical to good job performance.

Decide what’s really critical. Plan what you need to handle and what you can to delegate before leaving.

Set boundaries. Leave the work behind. If necessary set a time to check in, then put the phone and laptop away.

Build in transition time. Schedule a day before and a day after vacation to pack, then unpack and settle back in gently.

Develop a kick-back habit. Keeping a white knuckle grip on your desk is doing you no favor. Practice taking time to relax and rest during the week. Next time around the vacation won’t be so scary.

To find out more about the importance of vacations, search for “No-Vacation Nation” at

My tag line on my business card is “See the World Before You Leave It!”. Vacations provide the means to do it.


On vacation in Napa Valley with friends.

Posted by: gardner310 | July 7, 2012

“Single” Destinations

Since I have been working on a cruise ship I have met a lot of people traveling as a single.  Cruising is a wonderful way to travel without a partner or friend.  There are, however, other options to consider if you don’t have a travel partner or prefer to be more on your own.  I found a list through ASTA, the American Society of Travel Agents, that suggests options based on the type of traveler.

1.  Best for upmarket and elderly:  Caribbean

2.  Best for foodies and culture vultures:  Rome or Paris (escorted tour)

3.  Best for historians:  Great Britain and Northern Ireland (group tour)

4.  Best for sun lovers and island exploration:  Greek Islands cruise (escorted)

5.  Best fly and flop:  All-inclusive in Mexico or the Caribbean

6.  Best for party goers:  All-inclusive such as Hedonism II and III in Jamaica

7.  Best for animal lovers:  Kenya, beach and safari (escorted tour) or Galapagos cruise

8.  Best short break:  Ft. Lauderdale or New York (group tour)

9.  Best for adventure addicts:  Hiking, biking, whitewater rafting, diving in Costa Rica (escorted)

10.  Best for scenic beauty:  Switzerland by train (escorted)

There remains the usual issue of single supplements if you want your own room, some companies are willing to work on this with what is called a guaranteed share.  They will charge a reduced single rate and try to get you a roommate.  You need to be flexible and willing to accept your roommate and their habits but it will save you money.  If you don’t end up with a roommate, you get the room as a single for no extra cost.

The best advice I can give is to see a qualified travel agent who can help with the best selection and help to get the best value.  Don’t let the lack of a travel companion keep you home.

See the world before you leave it!

Posted by: gardner310 | April 27, 2012

Tips for Traveling with Kids

Top Ten Family Travel Secrets

from Ensemble Travel Group

  1. Play the Family Card – Ask for all-inclusive resorts, family specials, play area supervision (kid’s club), babysitters, and extra amenities.  Choose non-stop flights and a room with a fridge and microwave.
  1.  Planning & Packing Panache – Ask questions about your destination prior to departure.  Print out packing lists so you remember essentials such as: spray sun block, baby powder for removing sand, first aid kit, wet wipes, etc.
  1.  Look Mom, No Hands – Backpacks and rolling carry-ons encourage kids to carry their own stuff.  Inside every bag, include a copy of your itinerary and use Ziplocks and mesh laundry bags to contain things.
  1.  Go Light on Entertainment – Opt for 2 or 3 versatile toys and lightweight electronic devices pre-loaded with books, music, puzzles, games and movies.  Being along some surprise items to distract little ones if they get antsy.
  1.  Master Supply & Demand – When calculating snacks, formula and diapers plan for 5 more hours than your itinerary demands so you don’t get caught short if there’s a delay.
  1.   Use Your Digital Know-How – Instead of paper, carry hotel details and other information on your smart phone.  Supply younger kids with digital cameras and older kids with journals and cameras so they can document the trip.
  1. Aim for an Outcome – Start each day with a specific outcome in mind.  What do you want your children to learn, experience, do?  For total buy-in, be sure to involve your kids by asking what they would like to do.
  1. Keep It Together – In crowded areas remember the sandwich rule: parent, child, parent.  If the group gets separated (by a closing elevator, for example) there’s a parent on either side.
  1. Come On, Get Happy – To sidestep tantrums and sibling squabbles factor in naps and downtime for little ones.  Older kids and teens may need time alone to explore.  Be sure to talk about where they’ll be going and use cell phones and walkie-talkies for periodic check-ins.
  1.   Make Learning Fun – To make adult-oriented tours fun, turn them into treasure hunts in which kids look for specifics, like a “lady with a red hat” or a “baby in the clouds”.


With older children, think about doing some geocaching in places where you can combine exploring with exercise and learning.  It is electronic treasure hunting that takes you through cities and some beautiful outdoor spaces all around the world.  Go to and check it out.  My personal recommendation!

Posted by: gardner310 | February 10, 2012

Indonesia, A Country of Contrasts

Sitting Buddha, Semerang

I cannot tell you how excited I was to visit Indonesia. 13,000 islands comprise this country of such contrasts and beauty.  We work with so many Indonesians and think so much of them, it was wonderful to finally see their homeland and on this trip to actually meet some of their family members. Holland America allows each crew member to invite a certain number of family members on board to visit and enjoy the ship. The crew have contracts of 10-12 months so many have not seen their families in quite a while, depending on where they are in their contract. One of the guys got to see his newborn baby. Michael and I helped out with the check in for these families and it was heartwarming to see the reunions.

We visited Jakarta, Semerang and Bali. I went on tour in Jakarta and Semerang then just wandered in Bali since we

Jakarta street artist

did not have a lot of time after the family check in. Jakarta is a huge city with major traffic issues and overcrowding but we did see the highlights – memorial monument, puppet museum, and archeological museum.  Prior to our arrival there was much flooding so many residents were washed out and living in the streets.
Semerang provided me the opportunity to visit Borobudur, a major archeological site. This is one of those “do not miss” places. It is a huge rock carved by the Buddhists in the late 800’s. When you can climb to the top you reach nirvana so I climbed.  I figured this would be the only time I may get there in this life or the next. Nirvana is


described in the Oxford dictionary as “ a transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, nor sense of self, and the subject is released from the effects of karma. It is the final goal of Buddhism”. It is truly worth the trip, which was over two hours each way from the port with a police escort. Take the shore excursion since it is the only way you will be guaranteed to make sail away time.

Bali conjures up lush tropics, mountains, rice fields and beautiful people. All true.

Lunch view, Bali

What a stunning island it is and we only saw a small bit of it. We had but a few hours to explore the town of Candidasa, about 10 minutes shuttle ride from the port. We passed the rice fields at the base of the hills and the stunning shades of green were amazing. With only a couple of hours, we walked the street (singular), checked out the shops, passed many, many vendors all selling wood carvings, batik, metal sculptures and post cards. I bought a dress and a lovely piece of batik for a total of $15. The best part of the day was an Indonesian lunch at a beachfront restaurant, Pandan, with a couple of beers and free fast Internet. Yet another place to return for an extended stay. The longer I travel the more places I want to revisit.

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Posted by: gardner310 | January 27, 2012

Some Green Living Tips

Precycling is a Great Way to Reduce Waste

The best way to reduce solid waste is to buy less and to recycle/reuse what you buy. Another way to reduce waste is to Precycle. Precycling begins when you decide to purchase or use an item. You are reducing waste when you select items that generate less waste or can be reused instead of an item that has a high manufacturing/transport cost or cannot be reused.

Here are a few examples:

Concentrated products: Products such as washing detergents are widely available in concentrated forms, packing as much punch as their water heavy counterparts. Concentrated products reduce packaging, weight and as a bonus – less transport related emissions.

Electronic magazines/newspapers: It takes electricity to view magazines and newspapers online, but you save the energy to produce and transport them. Plus you do not need to recycle the paper afterwards.

Plastic Wrappings: Buy/use less plastic wrap. A reusable container with an airtight lid that can be used for many years is a better choice. Aluminum foil is also a better choice since it can be recycled and will breakdown in our lifetime unlike plastic, which is ageless from a human perspective.

Junk Mail: Junk Mail is not just costly because of trees/paper manufacturing/ink manufacturing, but from the transport costs of mailing it to you then you sending it to be recycled or worst putting it into the solid waste stream. Stopping Junk Mail saves in many ways including your time. Click below for some tips to getting rid of it.

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