Category Archives: Landmarks

5 Things I love about … Travel

Traveling to Europe to celebrate the Millenium
Traveling to Europe to celebrate the Millenium

I inherited my love of travel from my parents.  I grew up in San Francisco which is a melting pot of several cultures.  We didn’t have the fanciest cars growing up or the latest trends in clothes, but the one thing we did do was travel.  I was fortunate to spend six weeks in Europe every summer and skied several times a year in addition to trips to several places on the west coast growing up.   We traveled on a budget, but I spent my childhood experiencing all that the world had to offer.

Helping Oma and Opa in the Garden Dresden 1971 Time with Aunt Martha in Dresden 1971

Dresden, East Germany – Visiting my Grandparents 1971

Both my parents share a love of languages and Europe.  My mother is from Germany, so I automatically grew up speaking German, and our home was a blend of German and Scandinavian cultures.  As a young twenty-something, my mother traveled as much as she could, lived in Paris for three years to learn French and ventured out to the United States to learn English and explore.  My father saw a lot of the world while in the Navy and in the Korean War.  Afterward he traveled around Europe with a friend and learned how to speak German.  Although my parents divorced when I was 8, both always continued to immerse my brother and I in different cultures.

Fun on the Beach on the Dalmatian Coast in Croatia 1971 Sailing from the Island of Brač to Split, Croatia

1971 – Beach in Brac, Croatia                                       Sailing from Brac to Split, Croatia

My husband Michael’s passion is travel.  He helped to further his travel bug by becoming an outside agent at a brick and mortar travel agency in his 20’s.  He has remained immersed in the travel business and in 2004 went into business for himself opening Elite Travel Planners.  Travel remains a passion for the both of us, and we intend to continue checking off boxes on our Travel bucket lists.

Visiting family in Finland 1974 Great Great Grandmother's home in Finland

Visiting Finland 1974                                      My Great Great Grandmothers Home

So why the history lesson about me and my upbringing?  Okay, I’ve decided to start a specific weekly blog post.  My goal is to blog about all my favorite things that I love about various places around the globe.  I hope to have a great compilation at the end of the year so enjoy.  I’d love to get your feedback as we journey along, so as I blog about all the places I love, please feel free to let me know what your favorite spots are too – especially restaurants and local hot spots!

Winsurfing in Cefalu, Sicily 1986 Walking the Beach in Maui with Dad 1975

Windsurfing – Cefalu, Sicily 1986                                    Beach with Dad in Maui 1975

5 Things I love about Travel

Getting there

There is nothing like that feeling of just having boarded the plane or just walking into my cruise ship stateroom.  The excitement of it all.  I love getting there.  This started for me when I was young.  I remember even in the car headed to the mountains to go skiing, my favorite part was usually about an hour from our destination, seeing what the countryside looked like, listening to my then Walkman and just getting excited for what lay ahead.

I always plan well – books (and now my kindle), Swedish fish, cards and a cribbage board, ipod, and of course dove chocolate. I’m famous for taking pictures along the way. I love the feeling of approaching our destination.  The excitement for a few days or weeks of being away.  Just the fact that you know you are away from the phone, mail, email and the day to day stuff that weighs you down.  There is nothing like knowing your on your way or just about to get to your destination.

Ready for a European Adventure in 1971 Boarding Overseas National Airlines in 1974

Ready for Europe 1971                             Boarding Overseas National Airlines 1974

Phrasebooks

Phrasebooks are a must if I’m traveling somewhere where English, German or Spanish aren’t the spoken language.  This is an essential part of traveling for everyone.  I love learning all the must know phrases – Please, thank you, how much does this cost, excuse me, where is the bathroom, and of course the phrase I would like… I love phrasebooks by Lonely Planet and Rick Steve’s the most.  For me they must be small and handy – something I can throw into my purse or backpack and they must have easy to find catchphrases.

Visiting my family in Dresden with my Husband 2000Windsor, England 1985

Dresden, Germany with my husband 2000                          Windsor, England 1985

Pictures

What’s the point if we can’t relive our travels!  I was so excited when the digital revolution came about.  And I have been known for going overboard on pictures (900+ pictures on an Alaskan cruise).  The beauty of taking pictures is that you get to remember the little things about your travels.  I love taking pictures of the culture, food and atmosphere. For me it helps to capture the flavor of my travels.   I used to scrapbook, but just don’t have the time to capture all the magic this way anymore.  I don’t know what I would do without Kodak and Snapfish that offer a great digital option for putting your pictures into a bound book of your travels.  For me, pictures are a must.

Skiing in Lake Tahoe 1987 Schloss Neuschwanstein in Bavaria, Germany 2000

Skiing in Lake Tahoe 1987                       Schloss Neuschwanstein, Germany 2000

Dining Out

Definitely one of my favorite things to do!  I love experiencing a different culture through food.  Now I’m not the most experimental eater, but I do love trying new things.  And one of the perks of dining out is getting to know your waiter a little for some local insight.  It’s a great way to get the scoop on that hidden gem or locale.

Dining out is a few hours of concentrated time in a local establishment.  Michael and I usually get to know the owner or manager which generates fun memories for us.  We love going back to a favorite spot either at the end of the week or next trip.  On our last trip to Sorrento, Italy we returned to a favorite restaurant and the owner came out and said Paisan – so great to see you again – there’s nothing like that!

Dinner with friends in Germany 1986 Celebrating my 30th Birthday at the Sacher Hotel in Vienna, Austria

With Friends – Germany 1986                           Sacher Hotel – Vienna, Austria 2000

Different Landscapes

For me, traveling is about getting away from home and looking out at a different landscape. There is nothing like going for a walk or run and taking in the new scenery.  Some of my favorite landscapes include the ocean (doesn’t matter which one), any beach with palm trees, Yosemite, any mountain range, classical cities like Vienna, Rome, London, Paris, San Francisco – you get the point and small quaint towns.  One of my favorite things to do on vacation is curl up to a picturesque window at sunrise with a good book.  For me, this is one of the best parts of a vacation, as at that moment I truly know that I am away from it all.

Skiing in Obersdorf, Germany 1988 Traveling the Eastern Caribbean with 40 Friends and Family

Skiing in Obersdorf, Germany 1988                           Eastern Caribbean Cruise 2007

So now you have my top 5 things that I love about Travel, what are your favorites?

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First Impressions of Paris, France

I still can not believe that I have been to Europe nearly twenty times, and this is my first time to Paris, France.  I took the high speed TGV train from Karlsruhe, Germany to Paris, France traveling up to speeds of 200 miles per hour through the French countryside.  I was excited to spend a few days in the most visited city in the world.  I knew my time was limited, so my plan was to see a few of the sights, maybe a museum and just sit in a sidewalk café and take Parisian life in.

After arriving at Gare de L’Este, I stepped onto the platform of bustling people and searched for the Metro.  I took my seat on the 7 line and a woman in gypsy clothing carrying a baby started to speak loudly to the entire car asking for money before approaching each person individually.  It seemed like something right out of a Broadway play.  Halfway down our car, a man played familiar Parisian tunes on an accordion.  It was odd, yet charming and quaint.

I arrived at my stop and was in awe of the beauty of each building as I exited the Metro station.  The architecture of just the ordinary apartment building was exactly what you expect, but yet I could do nothing but just look in amazement.  I quickly checked into my hotel, chuckled at the small room (which I expected) and off I went.  Since my time was limited and I wanted to see as much as we could, I purchased a ticket for the hop on, hop off double decker bus that travels 5 different routes through Paris.  I settled on one route – the green line, and off we went.

I enjoyed looking at some of the most famous buildings in the world, like the Louvre and Notre Dame while hearing a little information through my headset about each as we went by them.  I snapped pictures furiously so that I could capture the grandeur that surrounded me.  Within a few stops, I hopped off at the Notre Dame.  What a breathtaking piece of architecture.  I knew that I would really need much more time to take Paris in, so I planned to spend the bulk of my time in the St. Germain area on the left bank.

I walked across the Seine and found myself in the Latin Quarter.  The hustle and bustle of all the people eating in cafés and Brasseries, shopping in the quaint little shops was energetic.  I quickly found a comfortable spot and ordered lunch – three cheese fondue.  I wandered through several tiny back streets and took in the charm of the area.  After walking a bit, I headed to the Luxembourg Gardens across from the Sorbonne.  Even in the fall, the park was packed with students and tourists enjoying a sunny crisp fall afternoon.  I just wanted to sit on the bench with a good book and take in the beauty of the day and the moment.  I hopped onto the nearby orange line for the tour bus and several minutes later, found myself at the Palace de Invalids.

I strolled through a local upscale neighborhood and took in the flavor of the area surrounding the Eiffel Tower.  I found a Starbucks, which to me looked out of place, but it was packed just like home.  I don’t know why, but I was fascinated with the fact that in one block there were six bakery/pastry shops, each one with more delectable little masterpieces than the last.  I quickly realized this was quite an upscale part of town by the prices in the neighborhood shops.  Paris in itself is definitely pricey, but nearly 10 Euros for a kilogram of grapes was even for me, too high.  And definitely at least five times more than in the little produce store near my hotel.  I continued to wander along, and quickly found myself at the Champ de Mars park before the Eiffel Tower.

I had seen the Eiffel Tower from various spots in the city, but to see its majestic beauty from the ground up unobstructed was quite a sight that I will not forget.  Built for the World’s Fair, the Eiffel Tower to this day remains one of the most recognized symbols of France.  Just as magnificent from afar is walking underneath this massive steel structure.  The lines to ride or walk up were not as bad as I anticipated, but I ventured on as the sun was beginning to set. I hopped back onto the bus and returned to the Opera House where my day had begun.

Overall, my first day in Paris was filled with bustling Parisians and tourists.  I knew that if I needed a break, a quaint café was just around the corner.  I knew that if I needed a quick little bite, there were several bakeries that I could just grab a quick Sandwich – Parisian style – small baguette, filled with several vast choices, or my good old standby – a croissant.  And the wine and coffee was flowing throughout the city.  I quickly adjusted to Parisian time and was ready for my next day…

Announcing our new Name – Elite Travel Planners

We are excited to announce that we have changed our company name to Elite Travel Planners! We are a full service travel agency that can help you with all your travel needs. We will plan every aspect of your vacation from flights, transportation, hotel, resorts, cruise lines, to excursions and special desires such as golf tee times, private guides and drivers to help make your vacation a dream travel experience.

Our clients use our services for all possible types of vacations and destinations from an African Safari in the Serengeti National Park to a quick weekend getaway at the Auberge luxury spa resort in the Napa Valley Wine Country. Whether it is a 40th Birthday getaway with the girls in Las Vegas or sipping Margaritas poolside at an all-inclusive resort in Cancun, Mexico, a Family Reunion Cruise or a dream Destination Wedding on the white sands of Seven Mile Beach in Negril, Jamaica; one thing is for sure – we love to plan Travel and ensure that the little details are always taken care of.

Be sure to visit us online at www.elitetravelplanners.com. Contact us for one on one assistance with all your travel needs. And we love recommendations too! Subscribe to our blog to get any new featured information about resorts and destinations.