Travelscope's Blog

First, Fully Digital Hotel to Open in Northern Europe
It’s in the heart of one of the most historic neighborhoods in London. But this hotel has become a symbol of the future of travel.

ibis Styles London Gloucester Road is in Kensington, within easy strolling distance of some of the English capital’s favorite landmarks, like the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Natural History Museum, shopping at Harrod’s and of course, its highest-profile residence, Kensington Palace, where Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge and their three children live, alongside other members of the Royal Family.

Surrounded by British tradition, it’s making history of its own as the first, fully digital hotel in Northern Europe.
A suite of digital technologies has reinvented making guests feel welcome, by connecting them to actual, human members of the hotel’s teams, and fulfilling their needs during their stay, from arrival, to getting into and out of and using your room, to food and beverage service, payment and departure.

The pandemic has re-shaped our expectations of cleanliness and sanitization and physical distancing. The digital hotel elevates your ability to maintain those health requirements.

But digital systems at hotels aren’t new. Some contactless features began before the pandemic, and will be appreciated by guests long after.

The digital eco-system at this hotel includes features such as online and mobile check in, in hotel payment, the ‘Accor Key’ –a digital key solution, digital F&B services and guest relations via Whatsapp throughout your stay.

It’s all about choice. Do you want to speak directly with reception? Or would you prefer to go straight to your room?
When you are short of time, a digital solution can save you precious minutes. Other times, when you want that ‘face to face’, personal touch, it’s available too.

(Above Image via Accor, top image via Accor video)

“This is not about robots or faceless technology, this is about the smart integration of innovative, customer-facing technology at pace and at scale. Technology is part of our daily lives and is now fully part of our hotel experience–and with this important step, we give our guests the opportunity to adapt their hotel stay according to their preferences,” hotel management says.

It’s all run through your smartphone. ibis Styles London Gloucester Road now has digital keys where guests can open your room door with just a wave of your smartphone. Each guest will have an ‘Accor Key’ that will allow room access, entry to meeting rooms for business or event guests, and floor access from elevators. No more scrambling to find where you put your room key! We bet your smartphone never leaves your hand even – especially? – when you are traveling.

Through the user-friendly Accor Key, you’ll also be able to order a meal remotely from your room, and since it’s fully integrated with your hotel account, you can pay up front to your method of payment or charge your dining to your room and pay on checkout.

You can also chat to your desired member of the hotel team through the common messaging app WhatsApp to make any special requests before and during your stay, making pre-arrival requests and helping to facilitate your needs and queries during your stay.

Accor has also extended its existing Fast Check-Out (FCO) functionality to all guests, allowing you to check-out via the smartphone app. And expenses can be managed too: a PDF invoice will be sent to your email.

This hotel in London may be the first, fully digital hotel in Northern Europe – but it won’t be the last.

Accor has announced the global roll-out of “Accor Key” and an objective to equip 20,000 hotel doors in 2021 and all new hotel openings beginning this summer. The complete digital hotel experience in the British capital is the first step to similar implementation over the next five years in at least half of Accor’s North and Central American hotels, which include economical brands like ibis, through Novotel and Mercure, to Pullman and Swisshotel, through to luxury brands like Fairmont, Sofitel, and Raffles.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon





Meet the Stingray Whisperer of the Bahamas
They are the laid back cousin of sharks, majestically pre-historic looking, and spellbinding in footage ‘flying’ through the ocean on ‘wings’.

Stingrays are not as dangerous as their name implies, and for one eco-tour operator on Grand Bahama Island, they live up to their nickname: ‘angels of the seas’.

Keith Cooper is known throughout the island as the ‘Stingray Whisperer.’ Keith has been working with stingrays for over a dozen years and has actually developed a personal bond with a number of stingrays who make their home in warm, Bahamian waters.
 
Visitors to the Bahamas can get a taste of Keith’s magical relationship with stingrays – and maybe create a little magic of their own.
 
The ‘Stingray Whisperer’s’ company, West End Ecology Tours, has a signature 'Stingray Experience Tour' that gives you an opportunity to safely interact with these misunderstood sea creatures in their natural element.  
 
Well aware that in many parts of the world, stingrays are in danger of extinction, Keith’s company - and the Stingray Experience Tour - is dedicated to the conservation and preservation of the eco system and the stingrays themselves.
 
Their name sounds intimidating, but most stingrays are curious and inquisitive rather than threatening. Like their cousins, the sharks, stingrays are built of cartilage instead of bones. Unlike sharks, they don’t rely on sharp teeth, but instead, spines on their tails for protection. And they are truly unique in the sea in their elegant, winged form and movement.

The truly off the beaten path adventure of Keith Cooper’s Stingray Experience Tour takes place on a deserted island or a shallow water cay off Grand Bahama Island.
 
A maximum of six guests are on each tour, and before stepping out of the boat, Keith explains the guidelines and rules to the visitors that make the tour an entirely safe, memorable and ecologically sustainable experience for the visitors.
 
The number of stingrays that participate on tour could reach up to 16. After establishing their presence, visitors are allowed to touch, feed and even snorkel with the stingrays toward the end of the visit. This provides a fantastic opportunity to see the stingrays flap their wings as they glide like 'angels' through the water. It ensures that each visitor has an up-close and intimate encounter with a misjudged 'angel' of the sea. 
 
Keith says there is no magic formula to attract the stingrays he has bonded with, that gather round when he arrives. He says rays have a remarkable capacity to remember, and over time, they have learned to feel comfortable with him. The Stingray Whisperer has named some of these rays according to their colourful and indvidual personalities. There is 'Hugger,' 'Big Momma', 'Dark Chocolate,' 'Scarface,' and 'Lunatic,' to name a few. His relationship with some of these rays dates back as much as 12 years.  
 
What makes the tour so unique is that it’s more than observing the rays, along with the colourful fish and other marine life snorkeling in the stunning azure waters. You also have the intimate experience of feeding and getting to know these lovely and friendly creatures.
 
Keith and his team take extreme care not to exploit or overfeed the animals. This is an educational tour carefully crafted taking considerable precautions to protect wildlife. 
 
Meeting the Stingray Whisperer might be just one day of your trip to the islands of the Bahamas. But you’ll create a lifetime of memories up close and personal with the ‘angels of the seas.’
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images of West End Ecology Tours courtesy of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism & Aviation

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 



Cruise Ships: New, Improved, and Coming Soon
The latest designs, innovations, and features, in a sparkling white cruise ship gliding over the waves. If that’s not enough to get you excited about taking a cruise on a new ship, there’s always ‘new ship smell’.
 
A new cruise ship may not have a distinctive scent like a new car, but knowing you’re among the first to experience a new entry to the world’s fleet of cruise ships is a not-to-miss sensation.
 
Not every new ship comes ‘hot off the press’. Some ships are remade during their lifetimes, and their mystique begins afresh.
 
Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s cruise expert, lists the ships to keep your eye out for right now, whether new, improved, or coming soon.
 

NEW

 

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas


The latest addition to this mega-cruise ship fleet is the 25th Royal Caribbean ship, and its second Quantum Class ship.
Vacationers of all ages are in for a combination of Royal’s signature, over-the-top cruise experiences plus 12 all-new and first-to-brand experiences including:
 
  • All-new pool deck to enjoy the sun and stars in style– Two decks, two open-air pools, four whirlpools and Splashaway Bay, anchored by a Quantum Ultra Class first – The Lime & Coconut bar
  • Action-packed top deck – Returning guest-favorites include the gravity-defying SkyPad virtual reality bungee trampoline adventure, FlowRidersurf simulator, skydiving with RipCord by iFly, and the iconic North Star all-glass observation capsule that boasts 360-degree views from 300 feet above sea level.
  • SeaPlex – The next-generation of a longtime Quantum Class favorite, this SeaPlex is the largest indoor and outdoor activity center at sea.
  • One-of-a-kind entertainment –Teched-out venues combine immersive technology, unparalleled special effects and world-leading performers and aerialists take the stage alongside six agile Roboscreens for a multidimensional live show.
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar and Teppanyaki – Two Royal Caribbean restaurants new to North America join the many dining options on board.
 
After an inaugural summer season sailing bubble cruises from Israel in the Eastern Med in 2021, Odyssey sails to Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean cruises including calls at the cruise line’s private island beach experience Perfect Day at CocoCay.
 

IMPROVED

  

Paul Gauguin Cruises’ The Gauguin

 
Paul Gauguin Cruises is the longest-continually sailing luxury cruise line in the South Pacific with its ship The Gauguin, which has emerged from drydock, after intensive environmental upgrades, making her more protective of this precious and sensitive setting.
 
In addition, all her staterooms, suites and public spaces have been renovated in a chic and fresh vision of Polynesian style to enrich her 322 guests' experience sailing the islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji and the South Pacific.

Every detail of The Gauguin's renovations reflect her South Seas home, including décor, artwork, Polynesian cuisine in the restaurants, onboard enrichment and cultural activities led by the ship's troupe of Tahitian entertainers. The refurbishment enhances the historic woodworks and adds local lagoon shades, green and natural tones, organic patterns and woven textiles, exotic panoramas and traditional artwork.

In addition to the renovation, the onboard lifestyle has been enhanced, with a new, virtual museum of over 150 paintings of artist Paul Gauguin, wifi, and all-inclusive experience, including dining in all three of the ship's restaurants.
 
Sailing on the renovated ship, guests have exclusive access to the line's private island and a private beach in Bora Bora, where you can embrace the natural wonders of the South Pacific through marine activities off the ship.
 

COMING SOON


Oceania Vista


By recently naming its upcoming ship The Vista (artists' renderings below and top), this culinary-and destination-focused cruise line looks to the future of cruise travel. The 1200-guest ship is the first of two new Allura Class ships on tap for Oceania, and will be the line’s 7th ship when it sets sail in 2023.

 
Like its sister ships, the new Vista will be a designer-inspired, intimate ship, with residential-inspired suites and staterooms, and dramatic and glamorous public spaces like the Grand Dining Room, which soars almost two decks in height and pays homage to the 'beautiful age' of early 20th-century Parisian society through its contemporary interpretation of Belle Époque. 

 
Guests will also be wowed by Vista's nine additional best-in-class culinary experiences, and several unique firsts that will re-define Oceania’s already acclaimed dining and guest experiences.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.









One Trail Walk Takes You Across the 2 Highest New Suspension Bridges
The Golden Skybridge features not one, but two expansive suspension bridges connected by forested trails – right at the edge of two legendary mountain ranges.

Visitors embark on a 3k (nearly 2 mile) nature walk weaving throughout parkland and across two new, spectacular suspension bridges – the two highest pedestrian suspension bridges in Canada, and believed to be in all of North America.

You might call this new experience ‘Golden’. The mountain town of Golden in southeast British Columbia sits amidst six Canadian national mountain parks. Known to outdoor adventurers as the ideal basecamp to explore some of the country’s greatest outdoor landscapes in the Columbia and Rocky mountains, Golden is on the Trans-Canada highway. 

And now, with the Golden Skybridge experience opening in time for summer travel in May, 2021, visitors traveling between Calgary or Banff in Alberta, and BC’s Okanagan wine country or Vancouver on the west coast, have a new reason to stop for a while in Golden.

One of the bridges sits a dramatic 130 meters (427 feet) from the ground, and the other is 80 meters (262 feet) above the ravine underneath. Measured from the ground below (rather than height above sea level as some other suspension bridges do), that puts these Golden Skybridge pedestrian suspension bridges in 1st and 2nd places for the whole continent.

That’s a whole lot of air under your feet – not once, but twice in a day.

To put it in perspective, world-famous Niagara Falls is 176 feet high. So you’ll be walking well above the height of Niagara Falls across the lowest suspension bridge – and more than double Niagara Fall’s height when you cross the highest suspension bridge!

The bridges are no slouches for length, either, with the tallest spanning a 154 metre (over 500 foot) chasm, and the shorter bridge slightly shorter, but still coming in at 139 metres (or 455 feet) long –surpassing in length as well as height other famous BC suspension bridges: Capilano in North Vancouver, and the Cloudraker Skybridge at Whistler.

Just imagine the dramatic, 360 degree views of expansive alpine vistas the Golden Skybridge experience offers up. The scenery even showcases a roaring waterfall that itself is a higher drop than Niagara: 61 metres (200 feet) down to a mountain river in the deep canyon below. Viewing platforms on the trail provide guests with many other opportunities to take in the picturesque landscapes surrounding you. 


The scenic trail across the country’s – and likely the continent’s - two highest suspension bridges isn’t the only adventure at the new destination. For the more daring, the Golden Skybridge will also feature a tandem bungee swing and a 1200 metre (nearly 4000 foot) zipline spanning the canyon, both opening later this summer. The attraction’s owners say a canyon swing and axe-throwing venue (a nod to the lumberjack heritage of the mountains, no doubt!) are also planned.

It seems like an ideal scenario for outdoor travel lovers as well as multi-generational family travel. All members of the family can enjoy the scenic trail with its vistas and suspension bridges, then less active family members can relax at the outdoor courtyard and café at the attraction’s base for some well-deserved pre-and post-trail walk rest, relaxation, and refreshment - as others tap into their inner adrenaline-junkies ziplining and bungee jumping. And who doesn’t want to burn off some pent-up frustration with a little axe-throwing?
 
What a way to bond together while breathing in pristine mountain air and absorbing brand-new mountain vistas. Even frequent explorers of Canada’s western mountain parks and the region will gain new perspective and a new appreciation of the incredible, alpine beauty in Golden, BC.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Photos: Golden Skybridge by Pursuit


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Yes, You Can Cruise Again - This Summer! Here's How.

No sailing in American or Canadian waters yet? No problem! That’s what at least three cruise lines – so far - are saying.


Plus, some other lines confirming they’re able to start cruising despite restrictions.


Especially if you’re one of the millions of people in the US and Canada who have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 – or will be soon – you could be on the deck of a ship as early as June, enjoying the feel of sea breezes wafting over you. 


Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s cruise expert, explains.

Offshore Cruising


At least three cruise lines have given up waiting for the slow wheels of bureaucracy to overturn cruise bans in US and Canadian waters. Instead, they’ve announced plans for offshore cruising. 

And chances are, we’ll be seeing more.

Ships that once sailed from the States into the Caribbean now have new homeports in the islands.

They’ve come up with new itineraries eager cruise travellers will love, and health and safety measures that will make guests confident to cruise again. These cruise lines, or their sister cruise lines, have already been sailing successfully in other places around the world, and are putting those practices to good use for returning guests from North America.

Crystal Cruises

Beginning in July til at least October, the ultra-luxury Crystal Serenity will be homeporting in The Bahamas, just 50 miles off Florida. 

(Courtesy Crystal Cruises)

The Serenity will be cruising two series of 7-night cruises. One series sails round trip from Nassau, and the other, round trip from Bimini. They’re bubble cruises: all-Bahamian itineraries that keep returning cruisers close to home, and all within a single jurisdiction, without risk of border closures.

Pre-and post-cruise land/hotel stays are also available, and cruisers will also be able to enjoy the famous private island oasis The Beach Club at Bimini, as well as experience four other idyllic Bahamian islands, most of which have until now only been accessible to private yachts, like Harbour Island, ‘The Nantucket of the Caribbean’, Great Exuma, renowned for its swimming pigs, San Salvador Island, and Long Island.

Celebrity Cruises

The newly renovated Celebrity Millennium will homeport in the island of St. Maarten from the first week of June through at least August. 

(The Retreat on the Celebrity Millennium; Top Photo Courtesy Celebrity Cruises)

The Millennium will sail 2 series of 7-night cruises in ‘modern luxury.’ One itinerary features two other Dutch Caribbean islands: Aruba and Curacao, as well as Barbados. The other itinerary includes Tortola, St. Lucia and Barbados.

Celebrity will offer a range of curated tours at every port of call, and the cruise line is also offering small group or private tours for guests preferring to explore the destinations with only members of their family or travel bubble.

 

Royal Caribbean

Mega-cruise ship line Royal Caribbean is launching new homeports in the Caribbean for two of its ships this summer, both beginning their new itineraries in June, and sailing at least through August.

Adventure of the Seas will homeport in Nassau, The Bahamas, and Vision of the Seas will homeport in Bermuda. 
Both ships’ itineraries call at Royal’s acclaimed private island Perfect Day at CocoCay, with 13 waterslides including the tallest on the continent, a tethered balloon ride, floating cabanas, beaches, and the largest freshwater pool in the Caribbean.

(Royal Caribbean's Perfect Day at CocoCay)
 
Guests on Adventure of the Seas will have two, back-to-back days at CocoCay, as well as quality time exploring Grand Bahama Island, The Bahamas and Cozumel, Mexico.
 
Vision of the Seas guests spend a full day at CocoCay, and an overnight amongst the pink sands and colourful homes of homeport Bermuda.
 

But It’s Not All Offshore North America


Royal Caribbean has also just announced its first Mediterranean series of summer sailings open to vaccinated guests from all countries. Beginning in July and running through at least October, Jewel of the Seas will homeport in Cyprus for the first time, and sail 7-night cruises along the captivating coastlines of Cyprus and Greece, calling at culture-rich cities and idyllic islands, including Limassol, Athens, Greece and the Greek islands of Rhodes, Crete, Mykonos and Santorini.

And Celebrity will also sail in the Mediterranean this summer, homeporting the brand-new Apex in Athens, Greece, sailing 7-night cruises beginning in June: one itinerary to Greek islands like Santorini, Mykonos and Rhodes as well as Cyprus; and another to Greek islands as well as to the Israeli ports of Haifa and Jerusalem, Israel.

Some other cruise lines are also sailing in North America this summer, with ships small enough they’re exempt from restrictions imposed on larger ships, and can sail from their regular homeports in American or Canadian waters.

US river cruise lines American Cruise Lines and American Queen Steamboat Company have begun their seasons of sailing in American waterways including itineraries along the Mississippi and Columbia rivers.

UnCruise Adventures focuses on American coastal waters, including Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, and 2021 is no exception, thanks to the intimate size of its ships.  

Lindblad, with roots in Sweden and a long-term partner with National Geographic expeditions, also expects to be sailing with its fleet of small ships in Alaska by June, as well as on itineraries in Galapagos and Iceland.

Canadian-based St. Lawrence Cruise Lines and Le Boat offer Canadian options in the Great Lakes region this year.

Expect to see more, all-new homeports and itineraries coming up this year, as more and more cruise lines continue to find alternative ways to restart cruising.


Your favorite, expert travel advisor can help you navigate all the exciting new choices, and keep you up to date on health and safety protocols and requirements.

 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
 
Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.










4 Top Reasons to Make a Vacation Rental Your Next Holiday - Plus Booking Tips
Vacation rentals were the fastest growing type of holiday accommodation even before the pandemic. With types of rental homes ranging from urban apartments to beach villas, farmhouses to ski chalets or even castles, the trend towards non-hotel stays is likely to keep growing as travel picks up again. 
 
Here are the top reasons why you might be thinking about a vacation rental soon.
 
And we share a couple of tips to help you get the best rental experience in a travel space with increasing choices of listed properties and a newly-professional approach to villa rentals. 
 

Privacy and Space… All Together

 
It used to be romance was the big motivation for privacy, but in today’s world, being secluded has health benefits, too. Physical distancing is a new priority we are looking for in our lives – and it counts doubly when we are in an all-new environment. 
 
Post-pandemic, ‘new normal’ lifestyle aligns with private accommodation’s main features of privacy, and a full house for you and the members of your travel ‘bubble’, a new twist on multi-generational travel.
Add on professional standards of cleaning and care, and it’s the perfect post-pandemic stay.
 

Comforts of Home

 
All that, and hospitality, too. One of many people’s reasons to book a private accommodation is to feel at home – even when you’re away.
 
For families, that could mean the convenience of on-site laundry. Active travelers might look for bicycles or other outdoors or fitness equipment. A hot tub or pool you don’t have to share. Even a barbecue for laid-back meals together.
 

Catering to Everyone’s Tastes and Schedules

 
Are you traveling with people with food sensitivities, allergies, or just plain picky eaters? Someone who MUST eat breakfast as soon as they get up… but others who don’t touch food til nearly noon? Just not ‘up to going out after a day of sightseeing or at the beach?
 
Restaurant dining every day can become really stressful, really fast.
 
Having a kitchen at hand during your holiday can ease a lot of food stress, allowing people to make most of their meals at their own convenience, with ingredients they know and can verify… it can even save you money to eat mostly things you prepare yourself, while splurging on a few meals ‘out’ that you are really looking forward to.
 
Plus, you’ll be able to take advantage of the incredible, local product ‘finds’ you’ll discover at the local markets.


Living Like a Local

 

It seems the more famous the city, the more removed the ‘attractions’ are from the ‘real people’ who live in the destination, whose lifestyle is what’s drawing you to the area.
 
In a private vacation rental, you’re an honorary resident, living temporarily in a residential area, not usually a commercial one.
 
That means you’ll be closer to and immersed in the ‘authentic’ shops, markets, restaurants and hang-outs where real locals live their lives.

2 Tips for Booking a Private Vacation Rental:

 
1. Make sure you're staying at professionally managed properties; your vacation is not the time to be dealing with an amateur renter or uncertain standards of health and cleanliness.
 
2. Work with your travel advisor. You may not know, but just like your travel advisor can help connect you to the perfect match of other types of vacations, they can also help you find the perfect vacation rental, perfect space for your needs, desired destination, amenities and budget.
 
Many travel agencies now offer vetted, quality vacation rentals like they do other types of travel – and you’ll know you’re getting the advice, legwork, and ongoing support of a qualified travel professional, allowing you to focus on enjoying your holiday.
 
In other words, the best part of any vacation.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host of BestTrip TV
 

Photos courtesy HVN

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

3rd 'Lady Ship' Announced for New Cruise Company on International Women's Day
Cruise lovers haven’t even had a chance to sail aboard the first ship on this new – and much anticipated – cruise line. The Scarlet Lady launched a year ago just moments before the travel shutdown, and guests are still waiting to find out what it’s like to cruise the adults-only, Virgin Voyages way.


 That hasn’t stopped Sir Richard Branson’s disruptor cruise line from continuing to build its fleet of what – in a twist of British cheek – it’s calling ‘lady ships’. So of course, they seized upon International Women’s Day to unveil the ‘Resilient Lady.’

“Virgin Voyages is announcing Resilient Lady on International Women’s Day to symbolise the spirit of its Lady Ships, and to celebrate women and their achievements, strength, leadership and resilience. Resilient Lady has a bright future ahead of her, as Virgin Voyages’ second ship to sail the Mediterranean (after her sister ship Valiant Lady),” the cruise line said in its announcement.
 
The Resilient Lady is due to launch in the summer of 2022, and will be identical to her two sister Lady Ships.


Nearly 3000 passengers will sail in Branson’s ‘rebel luxe’ style, with more than 20 included restaurants, (no buffet and no ‘main dining room’) champagne on demand at the push of a button, the first tattoo studio at sea, tables in suites designed to dance on, not a Broadway show to be found, but instead, a music festival-like lineup of all-new completely original Events & Gigs developed by some of the world’s most-talked about producers, directors and artists, and a‘detox/retox’ lifestyle the celebrity CEO has made famous.


When cruising starts again, Virgin Voyages’ first Lady Ship, Scarlet Lady, resumes her inaugural season from its Miami homeport on long-weekend-type itineraries that include a late-night call at the cruise line’s new private beach resort in Bimini, the Bahamas, an Ibiza-style/ music festival inspired experience with DJ’s and bonfires on the beach.

Valiant Lady, Virgin Voyages’ second ship, is scheduled to debut in 2021, embarking on three different itineraries from her homeport in the heart of Barcelona. All her itineraries in the Western Mediterranean include overnight and late night stops across some of the hottest destinations in France, Italy and Spain, like Ibiza, Monte Carlo, Marseiile, Malaga, Gibraltar. So ‘sailors’ – what Virgin Voyages calls its guests - will have the flexibility to take in a big night out, a chilled beach day, bohemian markets, or a serene spa.
 
“Sailing in the Med is such an extraordinary experience, and we’re so excited to bring the adventure of a Virgin Voyage to this beautiful place,” Sir Richard Branson says.
 
Where Valiant Lady sails the Western Med, the Resilient Lady focuses on the Eastern Mediterranean in two itineraries that give guests a rebel-luxe experience of Greek island-hopping sailing from her Athens homeport. Imagine exploring the most famous Aegean Sea’s islands of Santorini, Rhodes, Crete and Mykonos, with an overnight stay in that legendary party destination as the ship remains docked in a premiere location with access to the island’s picturesque promenade. On the ship’s other itinerary, she sails west from Athens to the Adriatic, including an after-closing-time departure from Dubrovnik so sailors will have plenty of time to experience the rich history of Croatia during the day and take part in the active nightlife, before scenic sailing to Kotor, Corfu and Argostoli.
 
With the announcement of the Resilient Lady, Virgin Voyages has charted a course for forever-young ‘sailors’ to replace jet-setting trips to famously ‘island party’/ music festival destinations with its new style of marine travel that brings 3000 like-minded new friends to the party with them.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Virgin Voyages








World's Longest River Cruise Set for 2023

46 nights. 7 rivers. 14 countries. You’ve heard of ocean ‘World Cruises’. This is the first of its kind for river cruising and may be the start of a whole new river cruise travel trend.

 
The longest-ever river cruise itinerary is the perfect way to refill a love for cruising that’s been running dry since the pandemic. AmaWaterways calls it the ‘Seven River Journey Through Europe’, and it sails in 2023.
 
Similar in spirit to ocean ‘World Cruises’, this river cruise version is different in a couple of ways. Almost all ocean World Cruises depart in the New Year, sailing for months on a single ship. The Seven River Journey Through Europe departs June 1st at the height of fine weather in Europe. And instead of a single ship squiring guests around the world, guests on the Seven River Journey are taken on seamless overland transfers between four AmaWaterways ships
 
The first leg of the Seven River Journey sails the Seine round-trip from Paris on the AmaLyra. Switch to the AmaKristina for a cruise from Lyon to Tarascon, France on the Saône and Rhône rivers, then on the AmaPrima on the Rhine, Moselle and Main rivers between Switzerland, Germany, France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands. The final leg of the epic, nearly two-month long river cruise odyssey concludes on the AmaVerde on the Danube river, sailing through Germany, Austria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
 
Experienced river cruise travelers may have experienced ‘back-to-back’ river cruises before, but this is an entirely new experience. 144 guests take the entire journey together, developing deep friendships during this extraordinary exploration of the heart of some of Europe’s greatest history, culture, architecture, culinary and wine regions.

 
The cruise brings the destinations to life through more than 130 complimentary excursions including all-new tours and exclusive experiences that include 17 UNESCO World Heritage sites and local epicurean experiences. Picture yourself and your travel companions sailing through the romantic city of Paris, venturing to the historic D-Day landing beaches of Normandy, being treated to an exclusive visit to Lahneck Castle in Germany, and visiting off-the-beaten-path wonders in countries such as Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania.
 
On board the four AmaWaterways river ships, in addition to fine dining and hand-selected wines at every meal in multiple onboard venues, a Wellness Host offers a variety of core strengthening, stretching and yoga classes, and all of the amenities AmaWaterways’ guests have come to love.
 
The company has also included features often found on luxury and small ships embarking on World or Grand cruises, like complimentary laundry and portage services, as well as included gratuities and a dedicated Cruise Manager to accompany and guide guests throughout all 46 nights, 7 rivers, 14 countries and 4 ships.
 
When the company teased the Seven River Journey Through Europe on social media, the response was so overwhelming, it seems certain to become a new and growing tradition for AmaWaterways in future cruise seasons. Other river cruise lines may well launch their own versions, too.
 
But at the moment, there’s only one chance to be part of cruise history and the first Seven River Journey Through Europe, so our tip is to check your travel calendar and consult with your travel advisor soon.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy AmaWaterways

Why 'Coming Home' is the Best Way to Discover Your Irish Ancestry

St. Patrick’s Day finds most of us rooting around in our closets for a green sweater to fulfill the ‘wearing of the green’ on a day that they say ‘everyone is a little bit Irish.’ For more and more people, it’s also about finding your roots, even right at the source in the Emerald Isle.

 
Tourism Ireland says there are 70 million people dispersed around the world who can claim Irish ancestry. In the US and Canada, it’s one of the top heritage nationalities. 1 in 10 Americans has Irish roots, and even more - 1 in 7 – Canadians. Do the math and it means about 35 million Americans and 5 million Canadians are at least a little bit Irish. 
 
The population of Ireland itself is only about 5 million – so North American Irish outnumber the Irish in Ireland by about 8 to 1! That’s a lot of people who feel the call of their roots in Ireland.

Maybe you’re one of them, or think you are.
 
Your first big clue might be your last name. From Murphy, meaning ‘sea warrior’, O’Brien for the decendents of the famous, Viking-vanquishing King Brian Boru, O’Connor, indicating ‘lover of hounds’, Ryan, ‘little king’, or the oldest known Irish last name, O’Clery, dating all the way back to AD 916 and maybe even holding the distinction of being the earliest recorded surname in all of Europe, Irish surnames abound.  Not to mention Kennedy, perhaps the most storied Irish family name in North America, and then there’s all the ‘Fitz’s, meaning ‘son of’, as in Fitzpatrick, Fitzsimmons…
 
If you’re lucky enough to have an Irish last name – or a grandparent with one – that will get you started on your Irish ancestry quest.
 
The good news is that, with 70 million people with Irish blood around the world, there are a lot of people who’ve laid a lot of ancestry sleuthing groundwork to help you.  
 
Online databases can get you started. Tourism Ireland suggests, “A good starting point is the Irish Government website www.irishgenealogy.ie, which has records of births, baptisms, marriages and burials from a number of counties. The National Archives website contains early 20th-century census returns while www.rootsireland.ie has over 20 million records from the various county genealogy centres on the island of Ireland. Simply key in your name and the journey begins.”
 
You might be amazed at what you discover. Then there’s nothing like being ‘boots on the ground’ to unearth more information at the source, and to inhale your heritage with the air you breathe. Experts recommend in-person visits to Ireland’s National Library, National Archives and General Register Office in Dublin or, if your history points to Northern Ireland, visit the Public Records Office in Belfast.
 
If you already know the county in Ireland your ancestors hail from, you can narrow your search more, and many county genealogy centers have professional genealogists with local expertise.
 
And if you’re interested in your Irish family heritage but don’t have the time to do all the digging yourself, there is also the option to commission the Association of Professional Genealogists in Ireland to help. They’ll find not only your ancestors, but also living relatives.


Imagine walking in the footsteps of your forefathers and mothers in your ‘home’ county, seeing gravestones marked with the names that you may have known in your family for generations, and even getting to meet long lost cousins on distant shores your ancestors left over 150 years ago.
 
When you ‘come home’ to Ireland to rediscover your roots in the Emerald Isle, you find new memories for a lifetime, possibly new family, and certainly more meaning in the green shirt, pint of Guinness, and Irish music playlist you enjoy once a year on the day of the patron saint of Ireland.

 

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Ireland.com

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'Pandemic Pivots' in Travel We Hope Will Stick Around Forever

Necessity is the mother of Invention, they say, and the pandemic, while it has shut down travel, has also inspired some innovations we love – and are hoping will stay with us long after travel is back to full swing.

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, producer/host of Best Trip TV
 

The Cabins at Mountain Village 

The Town of Mountain Village in southwestern Colorado, is just outside the legendary ski resort of Telluride.

So what better ‘pandemic pivot’ to allow visitors to safely enjoy the town’s restaurants – and reinforce the feeling of being on an alpine vacation - than a collection of gondolas retired from a ski lift and up-converted into private dining cars?

(Photo by Ryan Bonneau provided by Town of Mountain Village)

At the beginning of the ski season, the town ordered 20 re-purposed cars and set them up in clusters in plazas around town in the vicinity of over a dozen restaurants. Each gondola accommodates a bubbled group of 4-6 people in ski gear comfortably, 8 in a cozier squeeze.

The Cabins aren’t tied to any individual restaurant. Gondolas are available on a first-come, first-served basis. The town has QR codes to its ‘Dine Outside’ web page inside each car, so diners can settle themselves at their private table, then access neighboring restaurants’ take-out menus to order their meal.

One town official told me both visitors and residents love The Cabins. “They are very popular, it’s difficult to find an open cabin during prime dining hours. Several friends of mine with children have reported their kids are the biggest fans of The Cabins and they have to coax them out when it’s time to go home.”

(Photo courtesy of Town of Mountain Village)
 
So popular are the private dining gondolas, the town has installed 5 more. And while the original intent was to provide a creative solution to allow local restaurants to serve diners during the pandemic winter, The Cabins have become such a signature of the town’s alpine lifestyle, they’re set to become a year-round feature of a visit to the Town of Mountain Village.
 

360° Dome Dining in Banff

There’s a new concept in private dining in the Canadian Rockies, too.

For over 130 years, the world-famous Fairmont Banff Springs hotel has been the legendary landmark of the historic, alpine resort town of Banff, Alberta in the heart of UNESCO World Heritage site Banff National Park.


Canada’s “Castle in the Rockies” now has a new, outdoor, private dining venue. The 360° Dome evokes iconic imagery of Canadian winters and shelters up to six guests from the elements as they enjoy panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies and the ‘Castle’ from its terrace.

Inside, the 360° Dome is designed for two to six bubbled guests with rustic luxe elements of winter chic for a couple to indulge in a romantic, gourmet dinner, a group of friends visiting over wine and charcuterie in the afternoon, or a family enjoying an extravagant brunch.
(Two above photos courtesy of Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel)

The hotel teased the fine dining menus designed by the Fairmont Banff Springs’ Executive Chef. Family-style brunch includes make-your-own mimosas, eggs benedict and buttermilk pancakes, wine and charcuterie platters feature housemade preserves and cured meats paired with locally-sourced cheese and Canadian wine, and the indulgent five-course dinner features locally-inspired flavours and ingredients, including the Brant Lake Wagyu Beef Carpaccio and the Long Bone Bison Short Rib.

The 360° Dome at Canada’s ‘Castle in the Rockies’ may be a fixture of the winter season, with open outdoor dining taking over when spring weather permits. But its warmth and character in the winter months transform the necessity of bubble dining into a story full of charm.

Clockwork At Home

Another Fairmont Hotel, the Royal York in Toronto, has debuted ‘Clockwork at Home’. 

If the Fairmont Banff Springs hotel is Canada’s ‘Castle in the Rockies’, its big city counterpart is a castle in the heart of the country’s biggest metropolis. The epic hotel shares the French chateau design characteristic of the Fairmont hotels across Canada that were born as a chain of luxury rail hotels. Opposite Toronto’s Union Station, the Royal York was once the tallest building in the British Empire, and remains the elegant grand dame of hospitality in the region.


A spectacular re-imagining for its 90th anniversary just before the pandemic introduced a glamorously updated lobby bar. Clockwork is centered around a new statement timepiece, replacing the spiral staircase clock in the lobby that has been a recognized meeting place in the city for years. 

Inspired by its legacy as a railway hotel, the Royal York’s Clockwork marries modern elegance with vintage luxury train carriage style, right down to Pullman car style banquettes. Clockwork is a swanky and stylish bar for champagne and oysters, or a perfectly crafted cocktail over sparkling conversation.

(Above three photos courtesy Fairmont Royal York)

With the hotel closed, Clockwork’s mixologist has bottled up his creative juices into craft cocktails Torontonians can order online, pick up in the afternoon, and recreate the swanky atmosphere of the Royal York during a stylish evening at home. 
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon




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Drink a Cocktail Made by the World’s 1st Human-like Robot Bartender at Sea
He mixes drinks, but doesn’t stop there. ‘Rob’ the robot bartender also speaks 8 languages, tells jokes and even dances too!
 
When we can cruise again, you won’t want to miss the world’s first humanoid – and interactive – shipboard robot bartender, who will make you the perfect cocktail to toast your return to cruising and travel.
 
When MSC Cruises launches its newest flagship this spring, it will have at least one exclusive feature.
 
The futuristic MSC Starship Club lets cruise guests feel like they’ve walked into a sci-fi movie as the sidle up to a bar that would look right at home in a space ship.  MSC tells us the Starship Club was half a decade in the making, the result of experts in robotics and automation, digital media, interior design and of course, mixology and entertainment.

 
After placing your order in one of the bar’s ‘vertical digital cockpits’, you can watch as Rob shakes up your order from a menu of 16 signature ‘cosmic cocktails’ – alcoholic and kid-friendly – or a beverage of your own creation using dozens of ingredients including spirits, juices and syrups, mixes and garnishes.
 
Meanwhile, an LED ticker tape strip above the robotic island tracks the status of your drink. And the 3D holograms and immersive digital art wall add to the atmosphere.   
 
Just like any good bartender, Rob’s got a ‘schtick’, chatting to guests, sharing jokes and responding to guests with human-like facial expressions and hand gestures – even dance moves.
 
When Rob is not preparing cocktails, he’s working the room. His AI programming gives him the ability to recognize guests passing by, greet and striking up a conversation with them.

 
The MSC Starship Lounge is just one of the 21 indoor and outdoor bars on board the 6300-guest Virtuosa, along with 11 dining options including a new concept for MSC: Indochine, with fusion Vietnamese/French cuisine.
 
Virtuosa and her sister ship Grandiosa are the two largest ships in 18-strong MSC Cruises' fleet. So there’s plenty of room for five spacious pools and one of the biggest and most elaborate waterparks at sea.
 
The Virtuosa will also be home to the longest LED dome at sea over top of the Galleria Virtuosa of a dozen boutiques and places to gather, lounge, sip and enjoy live entertainment.

And for those who like a quieter, more intimate cruise experience, the MSC Yacht Club is a luxury ‘ship within a ship’ with 24-hour butler service, private access to suites, dedicated restaurant, lounges, pool, whirlpools and spa space.
 
The ship will also be highly equipped with cutting-edge technologies and environmentally conscious capabilities.
 
After completing short cruises in the Mediterranean, Virtuosa will be deployed to Northern Europe in summer 2021 with a range of itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images: MSC






  Every 10 Years, This ‘World’s Fair’ of Flowers Upstages Netherlands’ Tulip Time. Don’t Miss Floriade 2022
 
If you thought Tulip Time in the Netherlands was the ultimate garden travel experience, you haven’t heard about Floriade.

Horticulture is famously the Netherlands’ most ‘colorful’ industry. The country sells half of the world’s ‘floriculture’ products and over three-quarters of the world’s flower bulbs. It’s number one in greenhouse horticulture and leads global exports of cut flowers, ornamental plants and even trees.

One of the most magnificent Dutch travel experiences is an early spring – ‘Tulip Time’ – visit to Keukenhof, the world’s largest spring flower garden featuring 7 million spring bulbs including over a thousand varieties of tulips alone. But even this experience – marvellous for visitors as it is – is actually a functioning, outdoor trade show exhibiting the best and latest bulb varieties for buyers from around the world.

Tulip Time, where a drive through the southern provinces of the Netherlands reveals fields of blooming tulips as far as the eye can see, and Keukenhof garden tours, luckily take place every year.

Floriade happens only 10 times a century.

Some call it the ‘World’s Fair’ of horticulture, and the next one is in 2022, just in time for travel-hungry people to ensure their post-pandemic travel plans include the opportunity for a once-in-a-lifetime collection of vivid memories.
 
Floriade is the largest public event in the country, drawing 2 million visitors over six months between April and October to its vast displays of almost any plant that grows, in stunning gardens, installations, pavilions and greenhouses.

 
The exhibition moves around, with this Floriade taking place in a purpose-built, ultra-modern, 150-acre ‘garden city’ built on land reclaimed from the sea near Amsterdam.
 
The theme in 2022 is ‘Growing Green Cities’, with exhibitors from the Netherlands and around the world displaying green solutions and next-generation innovations and inventions for enjoyable, liveable and sustainable urban centers. 
 
Like the term ‘World’s Fair of Horticulture’ suggests, Floriade offers 40 inspiring country presentations which will also house a spectacular greenhouse complex, a cable car over the Floriade park, pavilions with sustainable innovations and a vibrant arts and culture programme. An electric scale-model train moves visitors around the vast site, and a 35-meter high, 850-meter long cable car provides an incredible view of what will seem like the Garden of Eden below.

 
Other highlights of Floriade include: an international collection of plants, flowers and trees and 14,000 bulbs organized alphabetically ‘A to Z’ in nearly 200 sections of a vast arboretum like you’re walking through a plant encyclopedia, Alice in Wonderland style.

A visit to Floriade includes culinary experiences, entertainment and culture, and the intersection of horticulture and art, like the ‘life artwork’ project ‘Bobbing Forest’ consisting of 20 recycled sea buoys from the North Sea, planted with Dutch Elm trees even as they ‘bob’ in the water, which you can view from the cable car or on a tour boat that departs from a waterside terrace.

The theme even has a double meaning, since the site is set to become a new urban district once the expo closes. Its name will be ‘Hortus’, meaning ‘garden’ in Latin, and some future homes have already been built that will serve as pavillions during Floriade and in a perfect ‘green’ re-purposing, revert to homes afterwards.

 

How To Floriade

 
Like many other ticketed events, it pays to be part of an escorted group with guaranteed access and no need to line up with people waiting for tickets.

Amsterdam is the jumping off point for both Floriade and the Netherland’s spectacular spring flower garden Keukenhof. 

It’s also a hub for land, ocean, and river travel, which means there are options for people of all travel styles to immerse themselves in the breathtaking beauty and inspiring innovation of Floriade.

Here are a few of our favorites:

LAND TOURS:


Check out: Trafalgar 

Trafalgar’s guests on tours like Amsterdam Explorer and Best of Holland will spend a full day at the Floriade, and “Dive Into Culture” and discover what it would be like to live in a city which is built with environmental sustainability at its core. You’ll explore the location's three districts, each with their own theme – Food, Health and Energy, and the ‘Green Island’, along with live entertainment, cultural shows and culinary delights. In addition to Floriade, you’ll cruise the canals or bike through Amsterdam, taste cheese in Gouda, learn how pottery is made in Delft, and taste exquisite chocolate.
 

 RIVER CRUISES

 
Check out: Uniworld, Avalon Waterways, Tauck, Scenic and Emerald Cruises

Luxury, boutique river cruise Uniworld is including Floriade as a ‘Choice Excursion’ on three of its 2022 itineraries, including the new Dutch Delight, as well as European Jewels and Remarkable Rhine and Historical Holland cruises on the cosmopolitan, richly elegant River Empress ship. Uniworld guests will have enjoy a full day excursion to Floriade, where you will stroll the expansive arboretum, sample healthful foods and learn about developments in sustainable architecture and energy.
 
Ultra-luxury river cruise line Tauck includes the Floriade experience on select Rhine River cruises in 2022. One of the things that sets the cruise line apart are its ‘Tauck Exclusive’ private shore experiences, which in this region of Europe, can include things like a pre-opening visit to the open-air Zuiderzee Museum; a private evening at the acclaimed Mauritshuis museum, where you will view masterpieces by Rembrandt, Vermeer (including his iconic Girl with a Pearl Earring) and others and have dinner with live music for you and your fellow guests only; a cruise on the IJsselmeer aboard a century-old sailboat; and tease for, “a special Dutch treat at Floriade 2022.
 
Avalon Waterways is offering travellers on 8-day Active Discovery in Holland & Belgium, and Tulips of Northern Holland sailings (as well as a number of Rhine and multi-river cruises) the opportunity to sail, enjoying the only open-air balconies in river cruising with floor to ceiling, sliding glass windows facing your bed, then stop and smell the roses at Floriade, a featured, included excursion, giving guests the chance to join the celebration of phenomenal flora in all its finery and fill their senses with color, fragrance and fantastic food.
 
Scenic has increased its 2022 departures for Windmills, Tulips and Belgian Delights cruise, and for cruises from April to October, you’ll visit Floriade. The luxury river cruise line will also offer a two night extension to visit Floriade to Danube, Rhine and multi-river cruises between end of April to October that take care of all your planning and logistics for you, and allow you to spend as much time at Floriade as you like.
Sister line Emerald Cruises has similar options.
 

OCEAN CRUISES


Check out: Crystal

Ultra-luxury Crystal cruises include Floriade on sailings on their legendary ocean ships calling in Amsterdam, including London-roundtrip Gardens and Gateways, as well as London-Stockholm and Copenhagen-Reykjavik.
 

ASK US ABOUT THE BEST WAY FOR YOU TO FLORIADE IN 2022.

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon



Images/ renderings courtesy Floriade

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The 'FOMO' Guide To Travel in 2022
Social media has an acronym for it: FOMO, or ‘Fear of Missing Out’.
 
Over the last year, we’ve been missing out on a lot. A lot of get togethers, events, family celebrations… and a lot of travel. Finally, it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, with travel starting to pick up this year, and gaining real speed in 2022. 
 
If you’re anything like us, you feel like you have a lot of catching up to do.
 
In addition to all your favorite travel experiences, the 2022 calendar of events is packed with events and natural phenomena that are always worth the trip. 
 
  • The return of live music and theater worldwide.

  • All the famous races, from the Kentucky Derby by horse, to one of the Grand Prix by car, the Tour de France by bicycle, and the America’s Cup at sea.

  • Carnivale. Wimbledon. Day of the Dead.

  • Fashion Weeks, Christmas Markets, St. Patrick’s Day parades.

  • The Great Migration of Africa’s Wildlife on Safari, Cherry Blossom Festivals, Wine Harvests
 
In normal times, these things happen every year. Whether you’ve enjoyed them often, or they’re still entries on your bucket list, if we’ve learned anything from a canceled year, it’s to seize the moment and do it while you can.
 
But there are even more reasons to travel in 2022, and this is where FOMO sets in. Next year has an extraordinary abundance of events that only happen a few times in a century. Once in a lifetime? Maybe not. But your FOMO instincts should be tingling.  
 

Mark Your Calendar

 
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed, and now the Summer Olympics take place in Japan in 2021, but the Winter Olympics are still on schedule for February 2022 in Beijing.
 
The World Games is a quadrennial event too, one that allows athletes to compete in dozens of sports uncontested at the Olympic Games, including acrobatic gymnastics, karate, orienteering, tug of war, waterskiing, and squash. They are held between Olympic Games. With the Summer Games bumped from 2020 to 2021, the 11th World Games were also rescheduled to July, 2022, in Birmingham, Alabama.
 
August 2022 brings another multi-nation, multi-sport games that take place every four years. At the upcoming XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, 5000 athletes from dozens of countries compete in 20 summer sports that bring together the former members of the British Empire.
 
That’s not all that’s happening for sports fans in 2022. 
 
One sports event held every four years is the most widely viewed and followed in the world – beating out the even the Summer Games. The FIFA World Cup brings whole economies of diehard soccer fans to a standstill, and the fan culture in bars and cafes – and for some fortunate fans, in person – is legendary. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held over nearly a month at the end of the year in Qatar, the first time for it to be held in the Arab world.
 
World Expos (formerly known as World’s Fairs) showcase the excellence of nations in arenas other than sports - like technology, agriculture, design and architecture, energy, ecology and more, with vast displays and events held for months twice a decade. Inventions like the telephone, color TV’s, touch screens, Ferris wheels and even ice cream cones were unveiled at World’s Fairs, which also debuted landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Seattle’s Space Needle. Expo 2020 was postponed, and now takes place from October 2021 through April 2022 in Dubai with the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’
 

FOMO Tip:

 
No matter what’s on your travel list in 2022, we have one big travel tip: book early.
 
With people using their stored-up travel credits, and everyone looking to make up lost travel time, some events and blocks of tickets are already selling out.
 
If you have a Fear of Missing Out of any once-in-a-lifetime trip in 2021 or 2022, now’s the time to start planning your trip with your travel advisor.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Image: Getty

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Kiss the 'Love Boat' Goodbye
If you remember Saturday night TV dominated by a double-header of feel-good, travel-inspired shows, with the ‘Love Boat’ followed by ‘Fantasy Island’, this is the end of an era.

The ‘Love Boat’ is sailing off into the sunset. Princess Cruises’ most famous ship, the Pacific Princess, has left the fleet.


Princess Cruises tells us that, in its years at sea, the Pacific Princess sailed, “more than 1.6 million nautical miles, including 11 unforgettable World Cruise voyages and countless cruises to exotic locales.”

But its real legacy is pure fiction.

The Pacific Princess popularized modern cruising to millions of TV viewers through its star role as the ‘Love Boat’. In the romantic comedy/ light drama by feel-good TV producer Aaron Spelling, the zany antics of Captain Stubing and his team, as well as shipboard lifestyle aboard the Pacific Princess, became part of TV viewers’ lives for 250 episodes and 3, hour-long popular TV specials years after the series wrapped.


The series was based on a non-fiction book ‘Love Boats’, written by real-life cruise director, Jeraldine Saunders.
Long after the wrap of the ‘Love Boat’ TV series, its spirit sailed on, with an enduring relationship with Princess Cruises, which continued to invite the ageing cast to ship naming ceremonies and events.

As recently as 2015, Pacific Princess sailed a ‘throwback cruise’, recreating the cruise line’s very first itinerary to the Mexican Riviera in celebration of the 50th anniversary of Princess Cruises. Cast members sailing with this special cruise included Gavin MacLeod ('Captain Stubing' and Princess Cruises Ambassador), Fred Grandy (Gopher, the chief purser), Ted Lange (Isaac, the bartender), Bernie Kopell (Doc, the ship’s doctor), Lauren Tewes (cruise director, Julie) and Jill Whelan (Vicki, the captain’s daughter). Together with the guests, they celebrated the role the show played in Princess Cruises’ five-decades-long history introducing the cruise line – and cruise vacations – to an audience of millions.


For that cruise, Princess debuted a featured, Valentine’s Day cocktail ‘The Isaac’ in honour of the character of Isaac the bartender and his scarlet jacket. Actor Ted Lange, even demonstrated ‘The Isaac’ (and revived his signature ‘grin-and-point’ move) in this video, complete with era-appropriate funk soundtrack.

“Most people don’t know that while I was serving up drinks on the Love Boat, I also became a licensed bartender in real life,” said Lange. “If a bartender recognizes me, he or she always wants me to try their special drink. Now, I’m excited for everyone to try my special drink and I know they are going to love it. Like the song says, “come aboard, the Isaac’s waiting for you!” 


Enjoy ‘The Isaac’ at home to celebrate your own Valentine’s Day, the legacy of the Love Boat, and a return to cruising!
 
‘The Isaac’ Ingredients:
2 oz white rum
2 oz pomegranate syrup
½ oz fresh lime juice
splash of club soda
lime slice(s)
2 pineapple leaf spears

Preparation:
Fill highball glass with 2/3 ice or desired amount of ice. Into a cocktail shaker, add ice, white rum, pomegranate syrup and lime juice. Shake and strain into highball glass, filling just to the top of the ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a fresh lime slice and two pineapple spears.
 
True fans of the ship will be able to rediscover the Pacific Princess under a new name. The ship has been bought and added to the fleet of boutique cruise line Azamara.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon












Why a Trip to Canada's Northwest Territories is a Girl's Best Friend
Canada’s Far North is one of the world’s Last Frontiers – and a true polar travel experience. The country’s Northwest Territories extend from the 60th parallel into Arctic Ocean islands all the way to the North Pole.

At half a million square miles, the Northwest Territories is six times the size of the UK, but has only about 45,000 residents.

Boreal forest thrives at the southern end of the NWT, which thin out before disappearing after the ‘tree line’, with tundra and ice stretching across islands in the Arctic Ocean.

Unsurprisingly, the region’s breathtaking natural wonders, wildlife, and the culture of its native peoples draw intrepid visitors above the 60th parallel.

Celestial Wonders Heighten Your Senses


Capital city Yellowknife is the Northern Lights capital of the world. The aurora borealis dance autumn and winter, 200 nights a year in the crystal-clear dark skies of the NWT. Nature’s ultimate light show is a life-changing experience for visitors from around the world.

Midnight Sun and White Nights at the height of a summer that lasts only a few weeks. During mid-summer, the sun barely sets, creating an other-worldly experience.
 
Polar Nights are at the opposite end of the spectrum, with a winter that’s dark almost around the clock, especially above the Arctic Circle where the sun does not rise for nearly a month!
 

Larger Than Life Places Capture Your Imagination


Expedition cruises through Canada’s Northwest Passage follow a fabled route through the Arctic from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean, visiting some of the world’s most remote communities and seeing rare scenery along the way.

(Virginia Falls, Nahanni National Park Reserve Photo Credit: George Fischer/NWT Tourism)

Virginia Falls takes your breath away at nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls and four acres in size. It's the centrepiece of Nahanni National Park Reserve, which is one of the territories’ UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Kraus Hot Springs – geothermal springs and pools are found in a number of places in the mountains of the NWT, but Thermal pools are common in the Mackenzie Mountains of the Northwest Territories. Kraus Hot Springs may be the most famous, as they are a popular stop for paddlers right on the shore of the South Nahanni River.
 
Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada's largest National Park, the 2nd largest in the world, and another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Its most famous resident is in its name, but the park is home to a vast richness of far north biodiversity.
 
(Buffalo in Wood Buffalo National Park, Photo Credit: Darren Roberts/NWT Tourism)

Great Slave Lake in the North Slave region is the deepest Lake in North America with over 2000 feet of mysterious depths.
 
Great Bear Lake is the largest lake in Canada, with an area larger than the entire country of Belgium. It’s a fisherman’s dream, and holds the world record for biggest sport-caught Lake Trout that weighed in at 72 pounds! 
 
Speaking of sports, NWT’s Ulukhaktok has the most Northern golf course on the planet. In Florida, golfers sometimes have to make way for gators. In NWT, watch out for wandering muskoxen!

 

The Souvenir that’s ‘Forever’


One NWT attraction isn’t about its stunning geography. It’s about sparkling geology.

NWT is the home of Canadian diamonds. Only developed as a viable industry beginning in the ‘90’s, Canada is now one of the world’s top 10 diamond producers, which it says is an ethical alternative to so-called ‘blood diamonds’.

Just how much bling are we talking about? Tens of millions of carats of diamonds are extracted each year, worth billions of dollars.

The largest diamond found in the NWT to date is a whopping 552-carat, extremely rare, yellow diamond the size of an egg! It was found in 2018, blowing away the previous record for a Canadian diamond, a 188-carat white specimen called the ‘Foxfire’ found in 2015 that was worth an estimated $10 million.

Canada’s three diamond mines are in a remote corner of the NWT. Yellowknife, hundreds of miles southwest of the mines and the largest city in the NWT, is the hub for the diamond industry.

(Canadian Diamonds. Fischer/ NWT Tourism)

You can’t visit an actual mine, but Yellowknife’s NWT Diamond Centre has interpretive displays where you can learn about the geology of the fire and ice of Canada’s Far North that resulted in deposits of the delicate, but virtually indestructible stones we value so highly. You can also watch diamond cutters at work, transforming rough stones into rare gems.

It’s also where you can treat yourself or your sweetheart to a sparkling souvenir of your visit to NWT – and symbol of your love.

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 

Top Image: Wood Buffalo National Park Dark Sky Preserve Photo Credit: Peter McMahon/NWT Tourism

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This State's 'For Lovers', and Even has a Seductive Local Cuisine - Recipe Included!
The catchy saying is known around the world and has even been inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.

‘Virginia is for Lovers’ debuted over 50 years ago, explaining to readers of ‘Modern Bride’ why they should honeymoon in Virginia.

Over the next half-century, ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ has come to mean a lot of different things to different people. It’s not just newlyweds who love Virginia, nestled between Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains.

Ways to Fall in Love in Virginia


Virginia is the cradle, the battlefield, and the bedroom of American history. Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the first permanent English colony in the New World.

(Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Monticello/ J Looney)

Right next door to Washington, the ‘Commonwealth’ is home to the estates of eight early Presidents, as well as hallowed battlefield and military sites.

Places like Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains are fabled backbones of Virginia’s natural history. Lush with flora and fauna they are host to fables and current-day outdoor activities, from trail to mountain biking, epic hikes with breathtaking views, camping and backpacking.


Descend from Virginia’s heights to sea level, and you collide with history again, along with current-day thrills.
The rich waters and shores of the Atlantic in Virginia are not only where those first English colonists landed. Today, Virginia Beach holds the Guinness World Record for the longest pleasure beach in the world. Sandy shores stretch for 35 miles, which are also the northern-most warm water beaches on the Eastern Seaboard.

Humans aren’t the only ones who love the fertile waters of storied Chesapeake Bay.

‘Virginia is for Lovers’ takes on new meaning when you discover the state’s most famous local seafood. Oysters thrive in eight different coastal regions in Virginia, each giving a different complex flavor and texture to the mollusk that’s widely considered an aphrodisiac due to its suggestive appearance and abundance of zinc.

This food of love tastes best in proximity to the state’s bay breezes, salt water, sunshine and dockside views, and travelers can join Virginians eating oysters in the state year round, at traditional Chesapeake Bay oyster roasts, marquee events like oyster festivals, as well as at local wineries and breweries and of course, fine dining restaurants.


We may not be traveling to Virginia right now, but we can still infuse a little Virginia love into our own stay-at-home Valentine’s Day or any day we want to share some love, with this delicious oyster recipe, shared with us by Virginia’s Hotel Roanoke. 

With a prestigious AAA Four Diamond Designation testifying to the quality of its dining and hotel experience today, the Tudor-style Hotel Roanoke dates back to the latter half of the 19th century, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We bet local, fried oysters have been on the menu since the beginning. Here’s an upscale version to change up a romantic evening at home.
 

Hotel Roanoke’s Fried Oysters with Crab & Caper Beurre Blanc

Serves 2 as a light, shared treat
·     4 Fresh Medium-size Oysters
·     1 cup Ground Cornmeal
·     1 cup Buttermilk
·     Micro-Arugula
·     Deep-fat fryer
Beurre Blanc:
·     1 tsp Chopped Garlic
·     ¼ Cup Chopped Onion
·     1 cup White Wine
·     1 cup Vegetable stock
·     2 cup Heavy Cream
·     2 Tbs Hard Butter
·     ½ cup Lump Crabmeat
·     ½ cup Capers
·     Salt & Pepper to taste
To make Beurre Blanc, place garlic, onion, white wine, and vegetable stock in pot. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add heavy cream, bring to the boil and reduce until sauce consistency. Turn off heat, then whisk in hard butter a little at a time until fully incorporated. Strain, then add crab and capers. Season to taste. Leave until needed (covered in warm place).
Heat oil to 360 F. Dip each oyster into buttermilk (coat thoroughly) then into cornmeal, shake off excess, then carefully drop into hot oil. Fry until golden brown (1-2 minutes), drain dry. To serve, place a little sauce in bottom of one or two plates, and then top with Oysters and a few sprigs of micro-greens.
 

Enjoy with someone you love, and dream of traveling again soon!

 
 
Images Courtesy www.virginia.org/

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Check Out These Pinup Pooches on the TSA's First Downloadable Calendar
We love airports, don’t you? After a year without travel,  we can’t wait to see the bustle, feel that unique buzz of people excited to be off on a new adventure in a new place…

Of all the sights and sounds of a busy airport, the one that’s guaranteed to make you smile is the earnest, adorable faces of hard-at-work security dogs.

We may not be going to the airport and heading off to new destinations right now, but the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is taking a small detour from its serious mission of airport safety, and has found a way to share some of the endearing sensations of the airport with travel lovers at home. 

For the first time, the TSA is making its annual TSA Canine Calendar available to the public as a digital download.
The calendar features 13, real TSA explosive detection canines from airports around the USA, one for each month, and one for a look ahead to 2022. In addition to a heart-melting image of a TSA Canine, there are some fun facts about the dog and the program.

Rea, pictured above from the calendar, for example, is October’s TSA Canine. She is a German Shepherd who works at San Francisco International Airport. Her favorite treat, we learn, is rawhides, and she enjoys hiking and any toy ‘stuffed with a squeaker’.

TSA Canine teams across the country submit photos to celebrate National Dog Day in August, and this year’s 2021 calendar pups were chosen from dozens of entries.

It’s a fun face on the agency’s somber business of safety, and gives us a glimpse inside one aspect of travel we might not otherwise think about.

The TSA has more than 1,000 specially-trained dogs, teamed with human handlers, deployed around the country, with their super-hero sniffing abilities contributing to security and screening.

TSA Canines are chosen from seven breeds of large dogs, from German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers, German Short-haired Pointers, Wirehaired Pointers, Vizslas, or Belgian Malinois. 300 canine candidates complete their 12-16 weeks of intensive training every year in the TSA’s Canine Training Center in San Antonio, Texas.

There, the dogs learn to adapt to busy airport environments and work with their human handlers to detect specific scents. They practice working in different areas of airports including a mock terminal, an airport gate, a checkpoint, the interior of an aircraft, light rail station and cars, cargo facilities, parking and open air spaces, as well as baggage claim, where most of us as passengers see their focused, energetic work.

TSA Canines at the training center also learn to work in different transportation environments in addition to airports, including bus, ferry, rail, maritime ports and mass transit.

Wherever you cross paths with a TSA Canine, their friendly doggy faces are a welcome sight. The dogs are trained to be sociable in their public duties, but they are working to keep you safe and the TSA reminds us not to try to pet or feed any of the dogs on duty. 

We’ll just have to gaze at their irresistible puppy dog eyes in the TSA Canine Calendar to admire them… and dream of our return to travel.

6 Reasons Why Travel is the 'Best Medicine'
Are you missing travel?  Evidence tells us that travel benefits us more than getting a fresh tan, new social media posts of us having fun in some exotic location, or even new stories to entertain our friends and family.

When we had the privilege of unrestricted travel, we took for granted all the benefits it brought, including real benefits to our health that research was beginning to reveal.

The old cliché that laughter is the best medicine could really be said of travel. Maybe not quite a magic potion, like the fun image above suggests, but something that explains how our missing travel is not just nostalgia.

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host of BestTrip TV, explains 6 reasons how a return to travel will help our health as well as our enjoyment of life.

Recently, I was the guest expert invited to speak about ‘Travel in the Age of COVID’ on a radio show and podcast called Aging Better in Uncertain Times, and it encouraged me for a couple of reasons.

Not only did the conversation between me, broadcaster Gord Martineau and Dr. Fabio Varlese include valuable information about how to stay healthy while traveling, which you might expect, we also talked about why travel itself is a pursuit that’s good for us.

It inspired me to gather some of the latest information that makes the health ‘case’ for travel. It…

1. Boosts Your Immune System

My farmer grandfather used to say every kid should ‘eat a peck of dirt’ before they were 10 to stay healthy. Granddad was on to something. Research shows being in contact with new bacteria can help develop stronger antibodies, make your gut stronger, and build your body’s resistance to diseases.

Of course you should continue practicing hand hygiene on the road, but studies suggest exposure to new environments help make our bodies adapt and makes us stronger.


2. Increases Our Activity

Working from home likely isn’t doing much to help us achieve our goals to move more. Travel does.
A new environment encourages us to get out and experience it, whether it’s walking the streets of a new city, along the beach of our resort, cycling through vineyards, or even trying a more active or extreme sport. Movement is health, and nothing gets us more active than a new destination.

3. Strengthens Our Hearts

First they told us moderate amounts of wine and chocolate were good for our hearts. You can add travel to that list, too. Life doesn’t get much better than this, does it?

Heart health and travel has been studied in both women and men. Reportedly, women who vacation twice a year are substantially less likely to suffer a heart attack than women who travel only once every few years. Men who skip an annual vacation are at a 20% higher risk of death overall, and that jumps to a 30% higher chance of dying from heart disease.

Another, long-term study revealed that women in their middle years who travel more have less likelihood of having heart problems 20 years later, and the same study found travel also helped with blood pressure.


4. Supports Our Brains

We want our brains firing on all cylinders now… and protected from ailments like dementia in our later years. Happily, travel helps our brains throughout our lives.
 
New experiences, which are the essence of travel, including new scents, sounds and minor challenges like navigating a different town or language, give our brains a workout, and that is good for creativity and mental health in the short term, and the new connections we build in our brain as a result of processing new sensations help reduce the risk of dementia and even Alzheimer’s in the long term.
 
Researchers say the more engagement and immersion we have in a new location and culture, the more our brains have to adapt, and the more powerful the brain stimulation results.
 

5. Reduces Stress and Depression

This one is a no-brainer. You can tell – and research agrees – that taking a vacation makes you feel less anxious, better rested, and lifts your overall mood. Studies confirm these effects linger for weeks after our return home, reinforcing how important regular vacations are for our mental well-being. 

One study revealed 90% of people showed significant stress reduction after just the first couple of days of a vacation, along with a more positive outlook on life.

Another showed that women who vacation twice a year are less likely to suffer from depression than those who take a holiday less than once every couple of years.

6. Increases Happiness

I don’t want all this good news about the health benefits of travel to actually depress you, considering we can’t do all the traveling we want right now.

You’ll be happy to hear that even planning a trip provides a direct increase in happiness. Anticipating your vacation, one study shows, is much more powerful than the anticipation of acquiring objects. 

So planning a trip during our pandemic downtime can help us stay cheerful and happy until we can travel again. Crack out the guidebooks along with that wine and chocolate and here's to your good health!
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Top Image courtesy Open Jaw

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The White House Milestone Travelers and History-Lovers Are Celebrating
Amid political drama, it’s easy to forget that 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC isn’t only the address of one of America’s branches of government - or a family home, America’s original work-from-home venue before WFH became a ‘thing’.

The White House is also a global symbol of the historic roots of democracy. And it’s one of the pre-eminent museums of the history of the United States.

It wasn’t always that way. This year, the White House Historical Association celebrates its 60th anniversary.

Six decades doesn’t seem very long, considering the history of the site. While the Republic began in the 18th century and the current White House dates back to the early 19th century, prior to 1961, the White House was no museum. It was treated as a rather ordinary executive mansion – one that changed occupants every four years, without any permanent caretaker of its legacy.

When the Kennedy administration moved into the White House, famously elegant and history-minded First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy discovered a hodge-podge of furnishings and design. One observer even noted much of the White House at the time contained non-descript ‘department store furniture’!

She immediately made it her mission to transform the White House into a museum of the history that had taken place within its walls, and a repository of the legacy of the ‘People’s House’ that would tell future generations the story of the building of a nation through the art, artefacts and furnishings that touched and reflected the lives of the nation-builders and two centuries of presidents and their families.

To assist her in her mission, she established the White House Historical Association. Entirely with donated funds, they scoured America and the world, tracking, recovering, acquiring and restoring, or re-creating art, furnishings and décor items that reflected the history of the White House.

Just a year later, on Valentine’s Day in 1962, the First Lady gave a televised tour of the White House Restoration that had record-breaking viewership and won the notoriously shy First Lady an Emmy award for her on-camera appearance.  You can watch a clip of the tour here.

Her own legacy, the White House Historical Association, provides continuity throughout successive administrations, continuing to preserve and share the history and legacy of this living museum, even acquiring new pieces to reflect that history continues to be made even today. Since its founding, the Association has invested over a hundred million dollars – still entirely donated - to maintain and expand the White House as a museum.
 
You couldn’t call the White House ‘shabby’ now. Vivid colors in rooms with names like Blue Room, Green Room, Red Room, the sheen of gilded vases and clocks and frames that date to the earliest days of the Republic, sparkling chandeliers, a piano given by Theodore Steinway to FDR carved from mahogany with American eagle legs, iconic portraits of Presidents and First Ladies all the way back to George Washington, the State Dining Room that’s the country’s most exclusive dinner invitation, and a whole room dedicated to crystal, flatware, and china, used by nearly every President, as well as state china designed for different administrations provide something to inspire every visitor to the White House.
 
The White House today sees a million visitors each year in addition to the dignitaries, heads of state and culture and business who are welcomed through its doors. 
 
The 60th anniversary of the White House Historical Association coincides with a year of disrupted travel, but thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can still take a virtual tour of the White House, indoors and outdoors. Don’t miss the Vermeil Room, where portraits of First Ladies, including White House Historical Association founder Jacqueline Kennedy, hang in honor.


To celebrate its anniversary, the White House Historical Association has issued a new logo with the image of the White House South Façade in 1961; a signature book ‘Designing Camelot: The Kennedy White House Restoration’; a special tribute to Mrs. Kennedy in addition to the annual luncheon to mark her July 28th birthday; and new episodes of the Association’s ‘The 1600 Sessions’ podcasts that bring experts and luminaries into discussions about the defining times and people who made history the White House.

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Image: National Parks Service

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The Best Place In Britain to get Your 'Bridgerton' Fix
The steamy, historic-fantasy Netflix series ‘Bridgerton’ couldn’t come at a better time to brighten our stay-at-home winter blahs. We aren't surprised it's shattered Netflix viewership records.

Bridgerton is an early-19th century, light-hearted romp of an historic romance on steroids. Bridgerton follows the intrigues of the young Bridgerton family and their high society friends, enemies and potential mates, their scheming mamas, and the revelations of Lady Whistledown's scandal sheets.

It's fantasy and eye candy of the highest order, with impossibly beautiful and sexy and famously diverse cast members, all outfitted in lovelier-than-life, Empire costumes that wouldn't look out of place on a runway, set against the sumptuous backdrop of British Regency-era elegant, lofty neoclassical architecture and sets with sweeping staircases, rooms where pastel silk walls match light-as-air upholstered furnishings and decadent carpets, all under glittering chandeliers.

(Above and top; courtesy Netflix)

Some of the most spectacular Bridgerton interiors (like the Bridgerton and Featherington homes) were purpose-designed and built sets.

But much of the series was filmed in the very real English city of Bath, where you can still capture the spirit of Bridgerton on your travels. Its natural, therapeutic springs were discovered by the Romans and became a feature of high society English life during the Regency era (immortalized in the works of Jane Austen). That sparked a building boom that transformed Bath, which retains an abundance of graceful period architecture and connection to Regency England today. 

(Courtesy Bath and North East Somerset Council)

Our friends at Visit Bath have revealed a list of Bridgerton filming locations you’ll want to explore on your next trip to Britain.
 

Royal Crescent

One of Bath’s – and England’s - most iconic landmarks, Bath’s Royal Crescent is a breathtaking backdrop for filming. The Crescent – built between 1767 and 1775 – is arranged around a perfect lawn overlooking Royal Victoria Park and forms a sweeping curve of 30 protected, historic terraced houses.
 
You won’t miss it in Bridgerton or want to miss it in your own social media posts.

(Visit Britain/ Joanna Henderson)

No.1 Royal Crescent

The exterior of No.1 Royal Crescent is used as the home of the Featherington family, where Lady Featherington schemes to find husbands for her three daughters in competition with the beautiful Bridgertons. In real life, No.1 Royal Crescent is a museum which has been decorated and furnished just as it might have been during the period. The rooms feature historic furniture and objects that reveal what life was like for Bath’s fashionable residents, both upstairs and downstairs.
 

Bath Street

Bath Street, with its cobblestones and colonnades lining both sides of the street, appears in the first trailer for the show and is used for several street scenes. At the end of Bath Street is the Cross Bath and Thermae Bath Spa. That’s why this area is known as the Spa Quarter, where the region's natural, underground springs bubble to the surface at a temperature of 46 degrees F.
 
Unadorned by shop signs and capturing eighteenth-century Bath perfectly, the street easily slips back into a vision of its historic past.
 

Abbey Green

Tucked away behind the Roman Baths, you’ll find The Abbey Deli (previously called Pickled Greens), on Abbey Green. You’ll quickly recognize its typically-Georgian/Regency bay windows. In Bridgerton, the café stands in for the Modiste – a dress shop where much intrigue unfolds.
 

Beauford Square

Beauford Square, used for more street filming, is a square of two-storey cottages built in 1730. The south side is formed by the original frontage to Theatre Royal Bath, and in the center is now a small rectangular lawn, enclosed with wrought iron railings.
 

The Assembly Rooms

Bridgerton’s fictional high-society events and lavish balls, where the characters dance and socialize, share and create gossip, require equally grand and elegant sets. 
 
Bath’s real-life Tea Room and Ball Room of the Assembly Rooms make perfect, grand backdrops for the sumptuous ball scenes full of glamorous and vivacious costumes and hairstyles. In a sense, they return to their own roots, when the venues were the social epicenter of Georgian Bath. When they are not in use as meeting and event spaces today, you can visit them and imagine yourself twirling and romancing the evening away.
 
Bath’s Assembly Rooms are home to spectacular, original Whitefriars crystal chandeliers and the largest eighteenth-century room in the city.
 

The Guildhall

The Banqueting Room at the Guildhall was also used for ball scenes in the series. The elegant Georgian venue, with grand staircases and elegant plasterwork, ornate gilding, historic paintings and soaring ceilings.

(The Holburne Museum, courtesy Visit Bath)
 

The Holburne Museum

The exterior of the Holburne Museum stood in for Lady Danbury's grand home in Bridgerton. On the impressive approach to the building, its elegant façade and gardens hint at its real-life grandeur and history as an elegant hotel.
 
Wander around Bath, you feel transported back to the Regency era of England and to the fictional lives and lifestyle of the Bridgertons. You can almost imagine someone passing you one of Lady Whistledown’s society-shaking gossip pamphlets!

(Courtesy Visit Britain/ Simon Winnall)

#DreamNowTravelSoon


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Look Ma, No Hands!  Unmanned Air Taxis to Launch in Singapore
It looks like something out of a science fiction film, but it could be the way you get your very next aerial tour of Singapore.

In a world first, after two years of tests and collaboration with the island city-state and a decade of development of its technology, ‘Volocopter’ is set to make no-pilot air taxi services a reality.

While other cities around the world experiment with driverless cars as a stepping stone to unmanned taxi service, Volocopter has unveiled pioneering ‘Urban Air Mobility’ (UAM) in this South East Asian destination.

Volocopter air taxis are helicopter-like, 2-person craft that take off and land vertically. They are emission-free and, according to the company, a quiet way to take passengers directly to their destination.  With no pilot.

In this video, you can see the historic, Volocopter air taxi demonstration flight in the very heart of Singapore, with the triple towers of the city’s iconic Marina Bay urban resort in the background. It gives you a sense of what UAM will look like flying through the skyline – and can you imagine the view for the two people inside?

Volocopter says it expects its first route in Singapore to be a tour for visitors to the city. The touristic route  of its southern waters would include views of the Marina Bay skyline usually reserved for the elite in their private, piloted helicopters.

While pilots for aircraft file flight plans, unmanned Volocopter flights would be something like train trips, with pre-determined routes and stops or stations.
 
That’s not all. The company envisions routes with terminus stops linking to follow-on connections that could eventually include cross-border flights.  At that volume purely touristic and awe-inspiring UAM crosses over to the realms of business travel and commuting for residents, enhancing regional movement and significantly improving everyone’s travel experience to Singapore's closest economic centers. 
 
Believe it or not, Volocopter says its autonomous air taxis will be operating in the next three years. At launch, it might be a one-of-a-kind, bucket list ride in one of the most spectacular cities and futuristic skylines in the world, a high-tech version of a balloon ride over the other-worldly landscape of Cappadocia, a camel ride in the shadows of the Great Pyramid, or a rickshaw ride through the back lanes and courtyards of historic Beijing.  
 
Ultimately, Volocopters may bring a whole new dimension to the lifestyle and travel experience of urban centers around the world.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Image: Volocopter GmbH

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Snuggle Up In the World's Largest Log Cabin
It’s made of an astonishing 10,000 western red cedar logs, and ‘logs in’ at a whopping 4-million cubic feet of volume.
Fairmont Le Château Montebello lays claim to being the biggest log building on the planet. A massive lobby and rotunda anchor four wings extending out in a star formation that’s painted dramatic black on the outside, but retains its natural warm shade on the inside.


Phenomenal, 70-foot log rafters support the atrium lobby, with a central, three-story stone fireplace, a mezzanine overlooking the stunning space, and a 3rd-floor balcony with a perspective over the wonders of its pristine, old-growth forest surroundings.

This incredible building is topped by half a million hand-made cedar shakes, and boasts over a hundred miles of carved wooden mouldings.


The best part? It’s not the private, waterfront retreat of a reclusive billionaire. As one of Canada’s iconic, former railway, ‘castle’ hotels, any visitor to the Montebello region of Quebec near the Canadian capital of Ottawa, can experience this riverfront resort in the midst of a 300-acre forest reserve.

Unlike many of its sister historic Fairmont hotels which evoke French chateaux in Canada’s great urban and wilderness destinations, Château Montebello stands alone as a breathtaking example of contrasting castle grandeur in rustic style.

The resort is an incredible architectural and construction feat, and an astounding vision of hospitality, with a rich history.
 

Historic Pedigree

 
The property dates back to the 1600’s, part of the original land grants from the French King to settle ‘New France’.
 
In the late 1920’s, its new owner envisioned an exclusive, private wilderness retreat for the country’s political elite from nearby Ottawa and business leaders from Montreal only a bit farther away. Original club directors included the Premier of Quebec and a host of nation builders: the presidents of the National Bank of Canada, the Bank of Montreal, the Royal Bank of Canada and the Canadian Pacific Railway. 
 
Which may be why, despite the onset of the global economic crash in 1929, the project went ahead. A special spur of the CPR rail line was built to bring deliver the massive logs to the site, and 3500 workers and artisans worked 7 days a week, around the clock using unprecedented electric lighting at night to complete this visionary ‘log cabin’ in a mind-boggling 4 months.  
 
On Canada Day, July 1st, 1930, the private members’ club opened, with a grand masked ball as its spectacular launch on the world’s social scene. 
 
For the next 40 years, the who’s who of the Canadian elite played, networked, dined and celebrated family milestones at the club and its waterfront, wooded 300 acres. Non-Canadian club members included European royalty like the Netherland’s Queen Juliana and Princess Grace of Monaco, and a glitterati of guests included international and Hollywood royalty, even US President Harry Truman who expressed a desire to fish his ‘first Canadian trout’ on his visit to Ottawa in 1947.
 

From Private Club to Luxury Resort

 
In 1970, the club re-opened as a resort and bucket list destination for any discerning traveler. Now, Fairmont Le Château Montebello is known world-wide for its one-of-a-kind setting as well as rustic-chic flair, warm French-Canadian hospitality and cuisine.
 
Other buildings have been added to the resort, including a separate log cabin, accessible by underground tunnel, with a 75-foot indoor pool – the largest in Canada – at the foot of totem poles that support the roof.
 
Vast spa, sauna, and fitness facilities enhance the 40+ on-resort activities surrounding Chateau Montebello. Swim and sunbathe next to the pool or river. Boat in to the marina. Play 18 holes of golf, a match of tennis, or try your hand at iconic Canadian winter activities like dog sledding, curling, ice-skating or cross-country skiing. In the warm spring and summer months, or during vivid autumn colors, you can hike and cycle tranquil woods and paths.

 
The resort brings holiday celebrations to life, too. Imagine a traditional Canadian Christmas within the vast log walls and beams, and the tastes and sights of a Quebecois maple sugar shack experience in early spring.
 

90th Anniversary


Fairmont Le Château Montebello celebrated 90 years as a one-of-a-kind landmark of architecture and hospitality on July 1st, 2020. The pandemic has postponed, but not canceled, celebrations, which have been rescheduled to Canada Day, July 1st, 2021.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Images courtesy Fairmont Le Château Montebello

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8 New Cruise Ships You Missed in 2020 - And Why to Sail Them Soon
Can we hit the reset button on 2020? Usually, at the beginning of each year, we look forward to new ships guests will be among the first in the world to experience in their inaugural seasons.
 
But in 2020, more than a dozen new cruise ships sailed out of their shipyards only to sit empty, waiting for cruising to resume to welcome guests on new cruising adventures.
 
BestTrip TV’s Lynn Elmhirst provides her list of favorite vessels from the class of 2020 you’ll want to turn back the calendar and add to your ‘new ship’ cruise collection.
 

American Cruise Lines’ Jazz and Melody

 
This cruise line floated out not one, but two ships during COVID, which paused, but didn’t quench travelers’ thirst to rediscover America by water. American Cruise Lines welcomed American Jazz and American Melody in 2020. They are the 3rd and 4th ships in ACL’s ‘Modern Series’.
 
No paddlewheels here. The American Melody and Jazz feature clean lines and contemporary elegance with a grand, multi-story atrium, a patented opening bow and retractable gangway, elevator access to all decks, and sweeping expanses of glass and panoramic views.


175 guests enjoy 100% private balcony, spacious accommodations, indoor and outdoor dining with world-class gastronomy using local ingredients; numerous lounges; several open-air & shaded sundecks; Library; Chart Room; Game Room; Fitness Room & Yoga-Wellness Studio. Not to mention the inclusions like cocktails before dinner, wine and beer with meals, itineraries with complimentary shore excursions, and daily entertainment and destination enrichment.

The ships' inaugural sailings in 2021 are on the fabled Mississippi.
 

Regent Seven Seas Splendor

 
Regent’s Seven Seas Explorer has been called the most luxurious ship ever built – and early in 2020, her sister ship, the Splendor, was set to take on that mantle herself.

Splendor is the second ship in Regent’s ‘Explore Class’ of lavish ships. But after a spectacular naming ceremony by godmother, former supermodel Christie Brinkley, the Splendor’s inaugural season came to a halt.

When it begins a new inaugural season in 2021, the Splendor’s 750 guests will finally get a chance to experience this all-suite, all-balcony ship some have called a ‘work of art’. The ship boasts more than an acre of Italian marble, 500 crystal chandeliers, a multi-million dollar art collection, and among the largest balconies at sea.

Returning Regent guests will enjoy the new iterations of favorite, included restaurants, and Italian restaurant Sette Mari at La Veranda debuts over-water alcove seating that extends over the ocean.


A new gourmet Culinary Arts Kitchen and a first-of-its-kind globally inspired spa for Regent featuring treatments and techniques from across cultures also make their debuts on this Regent ship inaugural season guests have waited a year to experience.
 

Virgin Voyages’ Scarlet Lady

 
It was the first ship of a brand new cruise line, fronted by the famous entrepreneur who added cheeky fun to air travel - and was set to upend the definition of cruising. 
 
Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Voyages came out of the gate strong early in 2020 with the launch of its 2800-passenger Scarlet Lady. But only a few media and travel advisors experienced the Scarlet Lady’s ‘rebel luxe’ style of cruising in Europe as the ship was en route to its Miami homeport - before the pandemic brought the ship’s triumphant inaugural season to a halt.


Virgin Voyages expects to re-launch mid 2021, welcoming guests who’ve been waiting over a year to experience the ship’s more than 20 included restaurants, champagne on demand at the push of a button, the first tattoo studio at sea, tables in suites designed to dance on, and ‘detox/retox’ lifestyle Branson has made famous.

The Scarlet Lady sails on shorter, long-weekend-type itineraries that include a late-night call at the cruise line’s new private beach resort in Bimini, the Bahamas, an Ibiza-style/ music festival inspired experience with DJ’s and bonfires on the beach.
 

Celebrity Cruises’ Apex

 
Mid 2020 saw the delivery of the second of Celebrity Cruises’ 3000-passenger Edge-series ships in a virtual ceremony. It then sailed to join other Celebrity ships waiting off America’s coast for cruising to resume.

 
The Edge, and now the Apex, have one of the most unique ship designs at sea. A bright orange, cantilevered venue called the ‘Magic Carpet’ appears to cling to the side of both ships as it travels up and down to different floors, operating as a lounge or dining venue or even a tender launch area at sea level.
 
In addition to the Edge’s trademark ‘Magic Carpet’ re-appearing on the Apex, other Edge features like ‘Infinite Veranda’ staterooms, nearly 30 dining venues, outdoor plunge pools and a luxurious, exclusive ‘Retreat’ lounge, restaurant and outdoor space for suite guests reappear on the Apex.

Silversea: Silver Origin and Silver Moon

 
A two-fer of new ship deliveries for this 6-star cruise line in 2020, so afficionados of Silversea’s European, ultra-luxury cruising style have lots to look forward to in 2021.
 
Silver Origin is Silversea’s first newbuild specific to a destination, and it will sail year round in the Galapagos.
 
They’re calling it ‘the most elegant ship ever to sail the Galapagos’. It also marks the most environmentally conscious ship the cruise line has ever built, mindful of the uniquely-sensitive Galapagos islands. It’s an ultra-luxury vessel designed for deeply experiential exploration of the Galapagos with a team of Ecuadorian expert guides, an interactive ‘basecamp’, and 8 Zodiacs.

Just 100 privileged guests on Silver Origin will enjoy all-suite accommodations with ‘Horizon Balconies’, its signature butler service for all, 2 restaurants including local Ecuadorian cuisine, and state of the art technology as well as the simple, primal warmth and social interaction of a fire pit in the Explorer Lounge at the end of a thrilling day ashore (pictured, top).  
 
Silver Moon is a sister ship to the Silver Muse, expanding outdoor spaces and re-imagining public spaces including restaurants and guest-favorite indoor gathering space and evening piano bar, Dolce Vita.
 
Understated luxe décor and amenities embrace the Silver Moon’s 600 guests in comfort, and dedicated butlers, stocked in-suite bar, 24-hour in-suite dining make your suite on the Silver Moon feel even better than home.

 
The Silver Moon also debuts the line’s new culinary enrichment programme, S.A.L.T., which is an acronym of ‘Sea and Land Taste’.  It gives guests the opportunity to explore a range of destination-focused gastronomic experiences—both on-board and ashore. Three new venues: a restaurant, test kitchen and bar, form a hub of culinary discovery on Deck 4 of the Silver Moon as part of the S.A.L.T. program.
 

Princess Cruises’ Enchanted Princess

 
Princess Cruises’ 5th Royal-class ship was delivered in a low-key way in the fall. When the Enchanted Princess sails in 2021, 3600 passengers will get to experience all of the cruise line’s latest innovations and amenities, including all of its ‘Medallion’ wearable digital device conveniences as well as the multi-story atrium Piazza, glass ‘SeaWalk’ and 80% balcony staterooms.

 
The Enchanted Princess also boasts some unique features, including a new suite category called Sky Suites with Princess’ largest private balconies, located at the top of the ship and giving their guests a view of the ship’s ‘Movies Under the Stars’ from their suites. 
 
In addition, the new ship has a new concept Sanctuary, with more private cabana capacity, and a Wakeview pool at the aft of the ship. 2021 will also see another sister ship, the Discovery Princess, sailing its own inaugural season.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon


Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.
 
 
Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

6 Tips for Planning Your Post-COVID Wellness Vacation
This January, two powerful forces for wellness travel converge: yearly New Year's resolutions to become or rediscover our best selves, and this year, the pandemic that's both kept us from traveling, and for many, fostered a lifestyle that may not have kept us at our peak.

In the travel era BC (Before COVID), wellness travel was already one of the most popular, and growing, vacation styles.
Since COVID, the idea of wellness travel has taken on a new dimension – now, ALL travel has a ‘wellness’ element as concerns about staying safe and healthy have already transformed how we travel. 

Wellness travel means many things to many people, from extreme diet or fitness programs, meditation, yoga or other mind and body practice retreats, even a luxury resort with wide-ranging spa treatments that restore and renew and reset us even as we delight in an escape to a beloved destination.

COVID has added to our range of wellness vacations, with interest in programs designed to boost our immunity and elevate our self-care to thrive under the intense pressures of the times. 

And COVID has offered us new ways to approach wellness travel. Work from Home and School at Home have inspired people and families to consider months-long escapes to dream destinations, where they can participate in local activities and resort wellness programs that don’t have to end after a few days, but can become core elements of daily life abroad.

If a wellness retreat or wellness vacation seems like an ideal post-COVID trip for you, here are my top 6 tips for making it a success:

1. Homework:

As in, work with your travel advisor to do yours. It’s really important you find a program that exactly matches what you hope to achieve and how you hope to achieve it. Make sure the program’s goals match your goals, and how they are going to help you achieve them matches how you want to develop yourself – and spend precious vacation time.

And of course, make sure every point of your journey has comprehensive health and safety plans and follows best practices to protect your health – the very foundation of any wellness vacation.

2. Be Open to New:

These times have broken the mold of our daily lives, why not shake it up when it comes to your approach to renewing your mind, body, or spirit? New treatments and ancient therapies are more commonly available and a wellness vacation is an ideal time to try something new as you’re immersed in the charms of a new destination.
  

3. Location:

There are wonderful and interesting health and wellness resorts, retreats, cruises, and spas all over the world, but you should choose a vacation that’s a reward for you in and of itself. Someplace that is a dream for you to travel to, so when your program is getting tough, or your muscles are a little achy, you can interact with your destination and experience that as your reward and boost your spirits to keep up with your wellness program.

4. Check on qualifications:

Verify the qualifications of the wellness practitioners where you’re going, as well as their record of success. You’re putting your health in the hands of people you’ve never met, and almost all fitness or fasting or therapies or treatments come with risks. Make sure you’re in the hands of experts who know what they’re doing and they’ve done it lots of times before.

5. Do your prep work:  

Cold turkey is one approach. But it might be painful. So if there’s prep work you can do to be primed for your wellness program – from starting to cut out sugar, or beginning or increasing your regular fitness or wellness regimen, it can only help you achieve your desired results.

6. Travel with a wellness buddy:

You know you’ll meet great, like-minded people at your wellness retreat, but it’s amazing to have someone with you who you know will be there to support you. It’s not always easy getting to the top of the hill, or maintaining that juice fast, or dealing with overwhelming emotions of a wellness retreat, so it’s nice to know you have someone to lean on and share strengths to achieve the change you’re looking for.

It also means that when you go back home, you have that person who’s had the same experience, and they can help make sure you take all the practices and techniques you’ve learned home with you along with the memories of a travel experience that we’ve all been waiting on for so long.

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 

By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV
 
Image: BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



3 Luxurious Ways to Experience the Travel Event of 2021 - the Antarctic Solar Eclipse
A year from now, one of the travel events of our lifetime will be over.
 
Not only will 2021 see the return to travel we’ve all longed for; on December 4th, 2021, a total solar eclipse will take place.

A total solar eclipse, where the moon passes between the Earth and the Sun, completely blocking out the sun for a short period of time, is as mystical and as primal an experience for us modern humans as it has been for all of our ancestors before us through time immemorial.

Antarctic waters are the only place in the world with 100% visibility of this awe-inspiring astronomical event. The remote site also means no ‘light pollution’ from surrounding human population centers will interfere with the full impact of the eclipse.

And luckily for travelers, December is Antarctic summer, when waters are most navigable.

Luxury expedition cruise lines with ice class ships for navigating polar seas have planned sailings to view the Solar Eclipse as no one else in the world will be able to see it, in exclusive, deluxe lifestyle.
 
One life-changing event. 3 ways you can be in the right place at the right time.
(Image: Silversea)

Silversea

 
This ultra-luxury cruise line has three of its polar expedition ships sailing in Antarctic waters for the Solar Eclipse.
 
The Silver Wind sails on November 20th for 22 days from Buenos Aires, Argentina, returning to Ushuaia, Argentina. The Silver Explorer sails 13 days round trip from Ushaia on November 26th, and the Silver Cloud sails round trip from Ushaia for 11 days on November 30th.

Be on deck with fewer than 250 guests as the brilliance of Antarctica is plunged into darkness, and gaze amazed as the changing light and sharpening shadows highlight Antarctica’s beauty.

The line’s onboard Expedition Staff is highly educated in everything from penguin spotting to taking the perfect glacier photo.

Silversea’s one-of-a-kind combination of exploration and ultra-luxury mean air and pre-cruise hotel, gratuities, multiple restaurants, in-suite and ship-wide wine and spirits, butler service and in-suite dining, shore excursions with guided zodiacs and parkas are included.

(Image: Silversea)

It means you’ll be enjoying small group adventures by day, the magnificent Solar Eclipse, and sharing experiences with like-minded new friends in the lap of luxury by night.
 

Atlas Ocean Voyages

 
This new cruise line’s first, luxury, small expedition ship launches in 2021. The Antarctic Solar Eclipse will be part of the World Navigator’s inaugural season. With its ‘new ship’ smell still fresh, and the very latest in environmentally friendly technology that uses less fuel and disturbs the sea floor and wildlife less than other ships, it allows guests to get closer to Nature and protect it, too.

(Rendering: Atlas Ocean Voyages)

During your 12-night voyage round-trip from Ushuaia, departing on November 28th, 2021, you and fewer than 200 guests will be treated to roundtrip airfare, gourmet dining and top beverages, butler service for all suites, enriching classes, and complimentary adventures in select destinations.

Get up close and personal with the masses of seabirds, seals, and whales of the region’s waters and shores. Long, summer days close to the South Pole give you ample time to kayak or paddleboard some of the clearest waters in the world as they reflect the ice-blue sky and glaciers back at you.

On December 4th, you’ll be sailing through icy waters, and be able to see the total solar eclipse against a backdrop of mammoth icebergs.

Ponant

 
This French cruise line’s newest ship is also the first, luxury hybrid electric polar-class vessel. Ponant is known for its refined, French design, onboard ‘art of living’ and commitment to cuisine alongside robust environmental and authentic expedition credentials.
(Image: Ponant)

Your regional flights to and from Argentina’s ‘end of the earth’ jumping off point, Ushuaia are included with your voyage as Le Commandant-Charcot departs on November 30th, 2021 on its 15-day, once-in-a-lifetime expedition sailing to the Antarctic during the total solar eclipse. 
 
Just over 250 guests will make the ‘badge of honor’ sailing from Ushuaia through the Drake Passage en route to the Antarctic’s Weddell Sea ice pack on December 4th. You’ll be able to disembark the ship onto the ice pack where, according to Ponant, “the pristine white creates a high-pressure zone that will allow for clearer skies”, a rare privilege enhanced by naturalist guides and on-board scientists.
 
In addition to viewing the eclipse, guests can participate in expeditions for scientific activities like water sampling and visiting research stations, explore by hovercraft, hot air balloon, and snowmobile and polar diving, and enjoy expert seminars that make their experiences even more meaningful.
(Image: Ponant)

If experiencing the Antarctic was on your bucket list, the Solar Eclipse in December of 2021 will make the trip of a lifetime truly legendary.
 
Imagine seeing the total Solar Eclipse over the pure, clear skies of the most remote continent, experiencing rare wildlife and epic scenery, and raising a glass to your life-changing journey embraced in luxury and comfort.
 

#DontMissThis

 

Top, Solar Eclipse Image by Jan Haerer from Pixabay
 
Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.