Just Got Back: Cuba

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Marjorie Agriss, Luxury Leisure Travel Agent

Where did you Just Get Back from? Cuba

When were you in Cuba? October 2016

Words to describe what you felt when you first arrived:  Thrilled – I was so excited just to be there!

Provide 1-3 sentences that highlight your experience: Havana could be any city in Spain or Southern Europe. Similar buildings, churches and squares. The smaller towns are moderately interesting. The highlight is the people who are fantastic. There is a reason the government insists on a people-to-people visa.

Was there anything that stood out to you about your trip? Everywhere we went on tour we had government escorts with us. We later found out that we were being observed, making sure the right things were being said, and done. It’s truly a case of ‘big brother ‘ and you can really feel the repression.  It wasn’t scary or anything just a reminder that you’re in a communist country.

Where did you stay? I was on a sail boat cruise, the IST Panorama II, but the last night we stayed at the Hotel Nacional de Cuba in Havana.

With whom would you recommend staying at this hotel / resort? Probably not families with children, yet. It is not very comfortable so clients must be made aware. Even the supposedly ‘deluxe’ sailboat – and the best way to see Cuba is by cruise – is at best 3 star. This is not the kind of trip where you will be seeing an ‘Eiffel Tower’ or a ‘Coliseum’, but will have a fascinating learning experience. It’s all about people to people.

Tempt us- Name the most special place you discovered on this trip:  The Island is very lush and green and beautiful. The towns are in disrepair so you have to close one eye to appreciate the charm of which there is plenty. However, I loved Hemingway’s house!!  In every town including Havana music combos set themselves up on a random street corner so the air is very festive and people start dancing in the street as they walk! It is so fun!

I can’t stress enough the importance of meeting and talking to local people because it absolutely makes the Cuban experience. We learned so much about their recent and very sad history and how they desperately want to be able to welcome Americans with open arms and have a free flow of culture and friendship between us.

What’s the best time of year to go in your opinion? It’s the Caribbean so best months are December to April, when it is drier, cooler, and less humid.

If you’re interested in traveling to Cuba, contact Marjorie at marjorie.agriss@altour.com

Source Link: Just Got Back: Cuba

 

Just Got Back: Ireland & Scotland

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Linda Dean, VP-Retail Branch Operations

Where did you Just Get Back from? Ireland and Scotland

When were you in Ireland and Scotland? June 2016

Words to describe what you felt when you first arrived:  Excited, I couldn’t wait to get out there and see and experience what all these wonderful towns had to offer.

Where did you stay?  

Ireland –

  • Merrion Hotel – Dublin
  • Killarney Park hotel – Killarney
  • Ashford Castle

Scotland –

  • Fairmont St. Andrews
  •  Scotsman Hotel – Edinburgh

With whom would you recommend staying at this hotel / resort?  Merrion would be great for business or leisure and for couples or families with older children, did not see any young children there. Killarney would be great for couples, multi-gen and families, great little walking town. Ashford Castle best for couples and families with older children although plenty to do for all ages. Fairmont St. Andrews good for couples, multi-gen and families. Scotsman Hotel better for couples or families with older children.

Tempt us- Name the most special place you discovered on this trip:  Falconry at Ashford Castle would have to be my favorite activity. My favorite restaurants were Matt the Thrasher, Gastro pub in Dublin, George V at Ashford Castle (Ireland) and Monteiths Kitchen and Cocktails and Balmoral Hotel (Scotland).  The food was simply terrific!

What’s the best time of year to go in your opinion?  We went in June as one of the travelers was a teacher. It was a great time, still a little chilly but not bad. Would suggest late May before the crowds get there or late August-early Sept. Have to be prepared for rain whenever you go.

Anything else to add? We did a Private Chauffeur drive vacation with Brendan Vacation for the four of us. We had a spacious van that comfortably accommodated the 4 of us with seats left over plus all our luggage and 2 sets of golf clubs. Drivers were a wealth of information as we traveled from place to place, provided bottles of water for us and stopped for lunch or a snack if we were hungry. Breakfast was included with our room daily. At the end of each day we would discuss our itinerary for the following day and talk about any changes we might want to make, total flexibility. It is the only way to see these beautiful countries, we would have missed so much if one person had been driving and another trying to read a map the whole time. Not to mention the amount of time we would have wasted getting lost. Book early though as Ireland and Scotland are extremely popular right now.

If you’re interested in traveling to Ireland and Scotland, contact Linda at linda.dean@altour.com

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Source Link: Just Got Back: Ireland & Scotland

Just Got Back: Puerto Rico

Colors of San Juan

Bright, pastel colors of houses in a neighborhood of San Juan, Puerto Rico

Jill Young, Europe and the Caribbean travel consultant at The Travel Authority

Where did you Just Get Back from? Puerto Rico

When were you in Puerto Rico? April 2016

Words to describe what you felt when you first arrived:  Fascinated—I was interested in exploring how the U.S. territory is similar and dissimilar to my corner of mainland USA.

Where did you stay?  The Caribe Hilton, a 3-star hotel in the heart of San Juan. Built in 1949, this was the first Hilton in the Caribbean, and it’s widely believed the lobby bar at this property was the birthplace of the Piña Colada. The hotel has undergone major renovations since, giving it a modern feel.

With whom would you recommend staying at this hotel / resort? This is a good property for singles, couples, and families who aren’t looking for the finest accommodations, but would like a nice, clean, comfortable, and safe base from which to explore San Juan and the rest of Puerto Rico. There is a small protected beach here that is ideal for children and weak swimmers, as well as a great pool area. From this hotel, excursions to El Yunque rainforest, Old San Juan, and Bioluminescent Bay are easily-arranged.

Tempt us- Name the most special place you discovered on this trip:  Castillo San Felipe del Morro—a 16th century Spanish fort that must be included in any visit to Old San Juan. A guided tour will give you insight to Puerto Rico’s rich colonial history, as well as some of the best views of San Juan at the top of the fort.  Also, you can’t go to Puerto Rico without taking an excursion to the bio-luminescent bay. Tiny micro-organisms in the water glow when touched, causing the surrounding water to glow blue. Nighttime kayak excursions into the bay are the best way to see this phenomenon.

What’s the best time of year to go in your opinion?  December through April has the best weather, but it’s also high season. I recommend early May—still good weather, but fewer crowds. Fall is the least expensive time to go, but be sure to buy ‘cancel for any reason’ travel insurance, as it is also hurricane season.

If you’re interested in traveling to Puerto Rico, contact Jill at jill.young@thetravelauthority.com

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Source Link: Just Got Back: Puerto Rico