All Aboard! Experience a Viking River Cruise on the Romantic Danube

A Touch & Taste on the Captivating Danube River

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

The Beautiful Blue Danube in November

The Beautiful Blue Danube in November

Picturesque scenes capture the magnificence of the Danube River with elegant cities, rolling hillsides, lush vineyards, and medieval castles. A romantic river that captivated musicians, artists and poets throughout the centuries. After traveling Europe a few weeks on our own, we gladly begin our Viking River Cruise and have the Viking experts orchestrate activities to assure an historical and local experience. Our cruise promises a glimpse of beguiling Budapest, the imperial architecture and gracious culture of Vienna, riverside towns in Austria’s Wachau Valley, a high-baroque abbey, and captivating German towns. Continue reading

Enhance your Irish Adventure- Head North

By Sally James

Last year over 1.3 million Americans embraced the opportunity to visit Ireland. Yet only a relatively small proportion of these adventurers opted to enhance their Irish experience by heading over the border into Northern Ireland. Here we take a closer look at some of the delights which the region can offer and highlight why it is a must on any Emerald Isle itinerary. Continue reading

Best States for a Motorcycle Vacation

By Sally James

Vacationers on Motorcycles

Vacationers on Motorcycles

The things which make something enjoyable are, of course, subjective. Someone who loves history will wax lyrical about the old cities of Europe, which won’t interest a wilderness-yomper one jot. A ski nut will appreciate mountainous resorts the charms of which will be completely lost upon a beach bum. This subjectivity is as true of motorcycling as anything else. Some love straight, desert roads in which to roar along with the world spread out before you. Others like the challenge of a bendy forest road. Some like it warm, some hate to sweat in their leathers. As such, any ranking of states regarding their general enjoyability for bikers is going to meet with stormy opposition in some quarters. So we won’t attempt to do that. Here instead are the best states for hitting the road on two wheels according to certain criteria – namely: Warm riding weather, dry riding weather, safety, and gasoline prices.

Honda CX400 1980, Stuart, Florida

Honda CX400 1980, Stuart, Florida

Warm Riding Weather – Florida, Arizona, Hawaii, Louisiana In all fairness, this is a pretty subjective category. After all, some people might prefer the crisp tang of a Wisconsin winter to the hot humidity of a Southern summer. Feel free, therefore, to completely ignore this category and go your own sweet way! To be honest, we’ve mainly chosen these states based upon their hours of daylight and the relative paucity of chill winds. In general, the states of Florida, Arizona, Hawaii and Louisiana are the most likely to give you a good, clear run of days in which the daylight is abundant and the nasty weather keeps away. Texas isn’t far behind, but loses points for just being too damn big to gather non-conflicting data for! Don’t take it as read that these states are automatically going to roll out the climactic carpet for you, however. We all know about Florida and Louisiana’s issue with hurricanes! These states give you your best chance of consistently warm riding weather, but it’s by no means 100% guaranteed!

Vacationer from Ohio Relaxes by Motorcycle

Vacationer from Ohio Relaxes by Motorcycle

Dry Riding Weather – Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Arizona Wet roads, snowy roads, and water splattering your visor do not make for a great ride. Some may enjoy the challenge, and some may relish the chance to pit their snow chains against the ice, but those of us who like an easy life would probably prefer to hit the road on a dry day. Working on yearly averages, the driest states are Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona. However, it might be worth taking seasonal averages into account as well. In the summer, California just about manages to knock Nevada from its desiccated top-spot, while in winter you’re more likely to find dry conditions in North Dakota (which perhaps helps to account for this state’s exemplary safety record – see below). In general, though Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, and Arizona are the most consistently dry states all year round, so if you’re not a fan of slippy tires and the scent of soggy weather, it might be an idea to head West!

Safety – North Dakota, Nebraska, Mississippi You need not worry about damage (to yourself or you bike!) or theft if you head to one of these states. The roads here are smooth and well-maintained – particularly in North Dakota - which makes for an enjoyable as well as a safe ride. The accident and fatality rates for all vehicles, not just motorcycles, are commendably low in all three states (which will make your mother happy!). North Dakota notably experiences low levels of congestion, and drivers tend to be both considerate and bike-aware. Helmet laws are laxly enforced within Nebraska, which counts against them, but this does not stop Nebraskans from taking the initiative and wearing helmets out in spite of law-enforcement’s unbothered stance on the issue. Mississippi, meanwhile, are both consistent and persistent with their traffic safety laws. Thefts of motorcycles are low in all three of these states.  If you want your bike undamaged and your body unscarred, head on out to North Dakota, Nebraska, or Mississippi.

Gas Prices – Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, Kansas Gas prices zip up and down all over the USA on a daily basis, so don’t rely too much on this information in a year’s time! As it currently stands, you’ll get the most miles for your dollar in Oklahoma, Missouri, Indiana, and Kansas – but it might be worth checking before you book anything, just to make sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Airport Hotels: Are They Worth Your Money?

Airport hotelsBecause of the volatility of global economies, many people are noticing a shift in hotel rates, with downtown accommodation becoming more expensive than people can afford, giving rise to the airport hotel market, according to US.JLL.com.

Despite the convenience of the location and cost reduction from traveling back and forth from the airport in a cab, airport hotels are still considerably pricey, which begs the question whether they give travelers bang for their buck. To businessmen and women that are sticking around for a few days, airport hotels are definitely a smarter, more practical choice, but to the travelers that have got lengthy layovers, it’s a different story all together. Continue reading

Light up the Night at Winter Lights

A wonderland of lights at Winter Lights

A wonderland of lights at Winter Lights

The NC Arboretum Creates a Magical Wonderland of Lights

 By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Even the parking lot is decked out in lights.

Even the parking lot is decked out in lights.

Beautiful! Colorful! Unique! Arriving at Winter Lights is like driving in to a Wonderland of Lights. Lights of green, orange and blue illuminate the bare trees creating a magical feel in the parking lot. At the Winter Welcome Center, the Mixa family (four adults and 2 children -Lucy age 4 & Louis 5) prepare for an adventure at the Arboretum’s lighted gardens and landscapes. Winter Lights is a three-acre nightly walking tour. The handy Event Map shows 15 areas to explore. Continue reading

Louis & Lucy Explore the Enchanting Grove Park Inn

Join Us for Adventures: The Gingerbread Houses, The Cave, The Fireplace, & More!

Enchanting Grove Park Inn

Enchanting Grove Park Inn

By Charlene & Richard Mixa    

“Hello”, my name is Louis. I am almost 6 years old (just two months shy) and my little sister, Lucy, is 4 years old. At first we asked our Mimi and Papa (writers of this article): “Why do we have to go to a hotel?” It was awesome! Now my sister Lucy and I are excited to share our recent visit to the enchanting and fun Grove Park Inn in Asheville, North Carolina. We hope other kids will find exciting adventures at the Inn, too.    

It's a huge tree outside!

It’s a huge tree outside!

It’s a castle! Look at all the rocks! It’ like a fairy tale! Is Rapunzel hiding here? Does the wicked witch live here? Outside on the porch is a gigantic Christmas tree. Papa takes us in the Great Hall. It is ginormous!   The fireplace is SO BIG. I could stand in it with my hands up and not touch the top. Whoa! I see the biggest Gingerbread House ever. Hurrah, they sell Hot Chocolate, too. Up close, I confirm it is really gingerbread. Okay, I didn’t take a bite. Mommy reads a sign that the outside is all gingerbread.

We drop off our backpacks in our room. It has lots of space with two big beds, chairs, desk and even a baby refrigerator. “Lucy, look out the window. Lots of steps and a golf course.” Hurrah! We’re off with Papa to explore. Goodness! There are Christmas trees everywhere. Lucy loves the beautiful decorations. Ooh! Behind the huge fireplace is a 102 year old elevator. A lady operates the elevator and takes us up. We hop off and look around then jump back on the elevator. Wow, Papa shows us a 102 year old car! That is OLD! Continue reading

The Captivating Château Élan Winery & Resort

An Elegant Blend of a French Countryside & Southern Hospitality

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Chateau Elan Winery & Resort

Chateau Elan Winery & Resort

Lush vineyards, rolling foothills, a magnificent Chateau and an elegant Inn create an inviting and gracious southern welcome with a French flair. With a sweeping panorama of the Northern Georgia foothills, Château Élan creates a “touch of France” as a premier Atlanta destination. A unique and magnificent resort, it combines luxury and conviviality, providing leisure opportunities of championship golf, full-production award winning winery, European health spa, culinary studio, huge swimming pool, and more world-class amenities. Continue reading

Kinsale: Ireland’s Hidden Gem

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Find the “Pot of Gold” in Ireland’s Popular Holiday Resort

Kinsale Harbor

Kinsale Harbor

Castles, shamrocks, devilish Leprechauns, the Blarney stone, and a “Pot of Gold” at the end of the rainbow! All are images of a fascinating country that easily charms or bewitches visitors. IRELAND! An isle with ancient legends to uncover, amazing landscapes to explore, and enchanting villages to investigate.  Continue reading

The Grandeur of the Omni Grove Park Inn

An Enchanting Escape

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Omni Grove Park Inn & Sunset Terrace

Omni Grove Park Inn & Sunset Terrace

Memories! A fall mountain vacation 20 years ago is my first memory of visiting the renowned Grove Park Inn.   One morning we hike Chimney Rock Park followed by an afternoon at the Biltmore Estate. Before sunset, we arrive at the Grove Park Inn. A massive unique stone structure on Sunset Mountain, the Inn exudes an enchantment with an aura of being in a Fairy Tale.  Continue reading

San Jose, CA- It’s not just high tech!

 

Hotel Valencia at Santana Row

Hotel Valencia at Santana Row

Exciting Silicon Valley 

By: Charlene S. Mixa

Sunshine 300 days a year, the San Jose skyline surrounded by mountains, steep hillside vineyards, tree-lined streets, sidewalk cafes, sports venues, and quaint yet bustling small towns are all found in Silicon Valley. San Jose, the tenth largest city in the nation is exciting and trendy while still having a small town charm. The city in this wide valley creates a warm welcome. Continue reading