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About admin

Mary Jo Is a journalism and language arts major from the University of Minnesota. She was the travel editor for Marco Polo Travel Magazine for ten years and the editor for Travelroads.com.She has traveled extensively through Latin America, Asia, Europe and the United States as a travel journalist.

The TradeWinds Resort: Go To a Tropical Paradise

Just Let Go to Sensational Sun, Surf, Sand, and Spectacular Leisure Going-ons!

By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Welcome to the Tradewinds!

Welcome to the Tradewinds!

Go to a tropical paradise on St. Pete Beach. Slip on your flip flops, leave all your inhibitions, worries and cares behind – “Just Let Go!” Go for a walk on the beach, go down a huge slide, go nap in a hammock, go swim with the fish, go for a dip in the pool, go for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico, go to dinner or go find a hidden sanctuary. A 20-acre beachfront playground, the TradeWinds Resort is a place to escape, totally relax and have fun. The Resort lives up to its latest logo or mantra: “Just Let Go!” 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

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

A Night in Savannah

Even for One Night Savannah is Enchanting By Charlene & Richard Mixa

Savannah's Ellis Square

Savannah’s Ellis Square

Living in Florida, when heading north out of state, we basically have two choices I-75 through Atlanta or I-95 by Savannah. For us traveling I-95, is especially enjoyable with the numerous cities or islands to stop in along the way from Fernandina to St. Simons Island to Savannah. A favorite stop is Savannah with all its intriguing charm, restaurants, history and activities. Plus it’s just far enough north for a comfortable day of driving. A visit to Savannah can be several nights or just an overnight before heading back on the interstate. Sure, we could stay at a hotel on I-95, but the Southern charm of Savannah beckons us into this enchanting city. Even for just one night, Savannah provides a delightful respite from road travel and Savannah always promises something new in this ever changing southern town. Continue reading

Toronto is a Splendid Example of Many Cultures

By Mary Jo Plouf

Toronto is the largest city in Canada with over 2.6 million residents. Approximately 49% of the population was born outside of Canada, and as a result, much of Toronto consists of relatively small ethnic neighborhoods which have retained much of their original culture, language and foods. I find that one of the best and most fun ways to get to know a city is to become acquainted with the people where they live. Visit their shops and botiques, their bakeries, their churches and their restaurants.

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New Orleans, A City for All Seasons

By Mary Jo Plouf

New Orleans is like no other city in the world. It is a seamless and exquisite mixture of French, Spanish, Irish, Italian, African, Caribbean and even a touch of Native American. It is an old city which has incorporated the best of the European traditions and melded them with the time- honored  Southern hospitality of the plantation and sugar cane eras. But without a doubt, what defines the City of New Orleans best is the food and music that permeate the very foundations of the city.  Continue reading

Gainesville, Florida: A Family Destination

By Mary Jo Plouf

Gainsville is the county seat and largest city in Aluchua County, Florida. Many residents and visitors to Florida, myself included, have never considered Gainsville as a “vacation” destination. We were wrong. Gainsville can best be described as the perfect setting where nature and culture meet.  It is conveniently located in North Central Florida and has great year-round weather. For those searching for culture and history and the arts, they will find them in abundance at the University of Florida’s Cultural Plaza.  All in one location you will find the Butterfly Rainforest at the Florida Museum of Natural History, the 1700 seat Phillips Center for the performing arts, National Ballet, and the Harn Museum of Art. The Butterfly Rainforest is especially fascinating to children of all ages.

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La Cocotera Resort and Eco Lodge-El Salvadore

La Cocotera Resort and Eco Lodge

By Mary Jo Plouf

La Cocotera Resort and Edo Lodge in San Salvadore is one of Central America’s premier eco lodges.  They offer luxurious accommodations in a relaxing setting between the Pacific Ocean and a peaceful estatuary bordered by tropical mangrove forests on the other side.

The lodge, small and exclusive is located in the beautiful Salvadorian village of Barra de Santiago.  It is located only about two hours from San Salvadore, but it is a world away from the bustling city. Without a little inside information and a short trip on roads you might never discover, it is well worth the trip.  Once there, you are in for a unique vacation experience.

If you are looking for an eco- lodge far from the crowded beaches, but still directly on the ocean, this is the perfect escape.  You can take a swim in the sparkling ocean, rest in a hammock in the shade of countless coconut palms, swim in the pool, or gaze at the spectacular volcanic  peaks in the background.

Methods of Public Transportation in Southeast Asia

By Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

There are several ways to get around with public transportation in South East Asia. Vietnam has a large number of taxis, both with and without meters. It is much preferred to use a taxi with a meter and visitors should always agree on a fare before they enter the taxi. Taxis are not particularly expensive, but the fare can vary widely.  We had to learn the hard way when we were charged the equivalent of twenty dollars for a ride that should have been three dollars. Fortunately, we had booked the taxi through our hotel and they had the time and the name of the taxi company on their records. We got a refund within an hour. So actually, we learned two lessons which are invaluable throughout the world.  Always know the fare ahead of time and whenever possible book through your hotel when you need a taxi. The hotel can also give you a good estimate of what the fare should be in order to reach many popular destinations.

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The Mysteries and Delights of the Far East

By Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

Gate 1’s 17 day tour of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, is presented not as a “walk in the park” but as a sensory, visual and physical immersion in the culture of the three countries. Our group of 17 walked among the people and viewed their homes, temples, schools and places of business. We ate their food, starting with noodle soup for breakfast, fried noodles for lunch and noodles and vegetables for dinner. It was soon apparent they did not eat much meat and most of us found the diet quite healthy.

We arrived in Bangkok at 11.30 p.m. after 17 hours of travel. Our Gate1 representative was waiting to bring us to our hotel. It is no small thing that after such a long journey, our hotel, The Chaophya Park, was a deluxe refuge and relaxing haven from the rigors of travel. After a refreshing sleep, we were ready for a full day of Thai culture.

Bangkok is the capital and most densely populated city in Thailand. Traffic is out of control. Boat service on the Chao Phraya River services approximately 50,000 people daily and helps to alleviate traffic in the city center. Taxi service includes cars, motorbikes and tuk-tuks.

Our first stop was Wat Pho, which is the largest temple complex in Bangkok. It is home to the gigantic golden reclining Buddha. The Buddha is 150 feet long and 40 feet high and takes up the entire building. It is covered in gold-leaf and shines like the sun. Along the sides of the temple are 108 small bronze bowls where visitors can buy coins to deposit in each bowl and make a wish. It is more than impressive, it is amazing. Visitors are reminded that it is an active temple and proper clothing must be worn. Shoulders and legs must be covered and shoes removed.

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

photo credit: Mary Jo Plouf

We spent about an hour roaming freely around the rest of the complex which includes 394 Golden Buddhas sitting in the lotus position, a school of Thai massage and numerous small buildings and statues in a park-like setting.

In the afternoon we had our choice of visiting the Grand Palace which houses the Emerald Buddah and is still used for cultural and government functions, but is no longer a royal residence, or wandering on our own through the maze of street venders and small shops.

Late in the afternoon we returned to our hotel and availed ourselves of the nearby Thai massage facility. The Thai massage is very different from our usual massage. It is invigorating instead of relaxing and uses yoga style postures to relieve and stress and improve blood circulation. The charge was $15 for an hour and we were definitely hooked.

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