Thursday, February 28, 2013

Germany - Austria - Hungary

Here is an itinerary that I helped building for my clients. They are planning to go Dusseldorf - Wuerzburg - Nueremberg - Munich - Salzburg - Vienna.

In this itinerary you can see hotels, means of transportation, some restaurants, and various tours and activities.


Germany - Austria - Hungary


March 2

9:15 am - Arrive to Dusseldorf

11:02 am Train Dusseldorf Airp - Wuerzburg

11:21 am: Dus - Wurezburg

(Rhine river view)
(reserved 1 night - no car garage)

Places to visit:

Old Main Bridge - you can get there from old town
Residenz - they have 30-40 minutes tour, you can read it online and decide whether you would like it or not. See
Markt Platz
Hike to Fortress Marienberg


March 3

Reservado y Pagado @ Europcar

WURZBURG - ROTHENBURG - BAMBERG - NUREMBERGürzburg,+Bavaria,+Germany&d%5B%5D=Nuremberg,+Bavaria,+Germany&d%5B%5D=Bamberg,+Bavaria,+Germany&d%5B%5D=Rothenburg+ob+der+Tauber,+91541,+Bavaria,+Germany&endPos%5By%5D=49.45052&endPos%5Bx%5D=11.08048&ipo=1&lm=r&p=itinerary

- Jacobkirche
- Markplatz
- Christmas museum (not sure if you are interested at all)
- Just going around old town is very nice

 - Go around old town
 - Interesting places to see
 - Memorial Synagogue Bamberg - just memorial
 - Old Town Hall (there are frescoes on that building)
 - Old crane
 - Old mill area
 - Walk along river
 - St. Michael Church (it is uphill, so you can see town from there)
 - Seehof Palace - palace, garden, fountains
 - Old gate to Bamberg
 - Old gatehouse
 - Little Venice (there is little resemblance to Venice though)

 - Kaserburg Castle
 - Church of Old Lady - built on a site of first synagogue
 - Beautiful fountain

Hotel Victoria - 94 euros (includes breakfast)
RESERVED @ EXPEDIA (thru your website)

7pm: Return Rent a Car

RESERVED @ EXPEDIA (thru your website)
Cortiina: 194 dollars a night (318 euro total including taxes on the hotel website).

March 5


10 am: Vive Munich Tour (Bertha)  - 6.5 hrs private tour in spanish -
RESERVED - 150 euros CASH
City tour + Third Reich Tour

March 6

Day Trip to Salzburg

9:27 am: Munich - Salzburg (llega 10:56 am)

Take luggage and leave in the station lockers

Buy Salzburg Card - 23 euros each

A trip up to the fortress is a must. The funicular railway is the best way up as it takes less than a minute (it's a steep walk otherwise). The cathedral, Mozart's birthplace, the horse pond, etc are all within a few minutes walk of each other. If you take a look on the Salzburg tourism website:
you will see lots of things to visit. Mirabelgarten is a few minutes walk across the river, anyone will tell you where it is if you're unsure.
Many people take the city tour in a horse drawn carriage.

Mozart related sightseeings

Walking route (Sound of Music theme) - 1 hour 19 minutes walking time only

1. Salzburg train station
12 minutes
2. Mirabell Garden & Mirabell Palace - the place where Maria and the Trapp children sing "Do-Re-Mi" and run through the hedge tunnel.
14 minutes
3. Residenzplatz Square - Maria crossed the square by bus on the way to the Trapp villa, leaving the convent and singing "I have confidence in me".

5 minutes
4. Felsenreitschule and Festival Halls - This is the stage on which the Trapps perform during the Salzburg Festival and Georg von Trapp sings "Edelweiss".

22 minutes

5. Leopoldskron Castle - The facade facing the lake served as one of the views on the house of the Trapp family.

6. “Sound of music pavilion” - was inside the garden in Leopoldskron Castle

20 minutes
7. Frohnburg Castle - he court and front facade facing Hellbrunner Allee served for other views on the house of the Trapp family, for example, when Maria just arrives at the villa.

6 minutes

8. Nonnberg nunnery - Early scenes, when the nuns sing "Maria".

Departs every hour @ 02 Salzburg hbf - Wien Wien Westbahnhof

Grand Hotel Wien
RESERVED @ EXPEDIA (thru your website)

March 7 - Vienna

- Old town
- Jewish museum (no tiene buen review)
- Museum Judenplatz
- Nacshmarkt (market)
- Hundertwasser House - I love how it looks
- Schönbrunn Palace. You are not fans of churches and palaces (?), but you can walk around it.
- Danube Tower @ Night

LUNCH 1:30 PM @ (confirmed by email)

Don Giovanni Opera @ official website.

After-Opera Restaurant Options


March 8 - Vienna - evening train to Budapest

Restaurant @ Vienna

Tian (vegetarian)

Departs by the even hour (2-4-6pm from Wien Meidling)


RESERVED @ EXPEDIA (thru your website)

Call a taxi- do not get one from station
- 6x6 - 36.1.666.6666 -
- City - -…
- Radio - 36.1.777.7777 -

March 9 - Budapest

Tour guide reserved with Andras. (170 day 1 + 230 day 2)

Day one March 09
09.00 pick up at your hotel
Trabant tour: Budapest's major attractions covered on a 3 hours tour
Hungarian lunch in a Hungarian home
Places left out of guidebooks-the hidden treasures of Budapest-we will be touring and seeing some places-not the Synagogue!- in the jewish district too. But if we want to do all these 3 activities on one day , there is no more time for the jewish area than 1 hour.
18:30 1 hour boat cruise
The tour ends at 18.30 at the pier, your guide stays with you until you board the ship

9:00 pm: Citadella Panorama Budapest (reserved online)

Here are some places to see and things to do in Budapest.
- famous Budapest districts - Buda, Óbuda, Pest
- Heroes' Square and the street Rakoczy, Gellért Hill and Buda hills, Fishermen's Bastion, and Parliament, Matthias Church (where Hungarian kings were crowned) and Elizabeth Bridge (as in Hungarian beauty named Sissi)
- Architectural park Vajdahunyad
- evening tour on the boat with the Hungarian Tokay wine, champagne and cocktails
- famous thermal baths - Szechenyi (from +27 ° C to +38 ° C)
- Museum of Fine Arts that has famous collection of Spanish artists such as El Greco, Goya , Murillo, Velasquez, works by Picasso, Chagall, Kokoschka and others
- try famous transparent thin pancakes "palachinki." Best sweet pancakes called "Gundel" with nut filling and can be with dark chocolate and rum.

March 10 - Budapest - evening flight to DUS (already bought)

Day 2 with Andras

Day two March 10
Danube Bend tour

09:00 pick up at hotel

- Walk in Szentendre: along trader's houses, main square, little streets on the hill above the downtown, by churches. The Szentendre tour includes a special activity too: you will visit a ceramic studio and attend an art presentation. Afterwards the artists will give you the chance to try your hands!
- Visegrád: the panorama of the Danube Bend
- Esztergom: visit to Hungary's largest cathedral in the town where St Stephen-Hungary's first king-was born. Lunch in a beautiful restaurant under gothic arches.
- A stop in Slovakia is included!

Option B: - Jewish Synagogue ( taking part of Esztergom out of day 2... Hablar con Andras y ver...

The tour ends around 17.00, we will take you back to your hotel.

8:25 pm: BUD - DUS

Carat Hotel: Reserved/Paid @ Expedia (through your website)

March 11 - am breakfast in DUS - flight @ 12:15 pm

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Shall I take vacation now?

Dear Alina,
We are a family with three kids under the age of 8. We budgeted $7K for our vacation, hoping to travel for 1 week during the spring break from New York City to a warm destination like Florida or the Caribbean. We spent a lot of time with Family Travel Concierge, as Alex was looking at a variety of options for us. Attractive destinations like highly rated all-inclusive resorts in Mexico or Dominican Republic would have cost us closer to $9-10K. We would fit into our $7K budget if we settle for a low-quality all-inclusive, but that doesn’t sound inspiring. We could find a destination that is not all-inclusive, and it would cost us around $6K, but with three kids, we would spend a lot of time and money on food. So, we decided to postpone a vacation until summer, since we couldn’t make up our minds, but now having second thoughts: maybe we should have picked something and gone sooner! Did we make the right decision?
- Undecided
Dear Un,
It sounds like you were looking for a certain level of experience for your money – the quality of your vacation was more important than just the idea of going on vacation. In the summer, you will have more choices in terms of destinations. It will be warm in the Northeast, so you can drive to a nice vacation spot, reducing your cost significantly, and if your heart is still set on an all-inclusive resort in the Caribbean, you should be able to make the trip for less amount of money compared to Spring break. Sounds like you made a wise decision! And summer is really around the corner, so hang in there, and enjoy your summer vacation!
Alina Bas, M.A., is an Executive Coach and a Life Strategist who helps leaders connect to fulfilling work and live an engaging life. She has over 10 years of corporate experience in Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership Development, and is a co-author of the book “Changes of the Heart”, offering the best coaching strategies for life’s toughest moments. Connect with Alina
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Monday, February 18, 2013

How can a family with 3 kids go to resort?

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In the past I've had clients who asked me questions: How can a family with 3 kids go to a resort? Should they always get two separate rooms at a resort, especially when they are looking for all-inclusive, somewhere warm in the Caribbean, with a decent beach. Sometimes, the children are small, and two rooms are not an option. We also have 3 kids and go for vacations a lot. So I can relate to the challenges of traveling with a big family. With a budget of $7,000 below are a few options to consider.

I've built a comparison matrix for a recent client in order to visualize and narrow down the choices. Please note that the prices (air + hotel) are not precise and reflect the value at the point of time when I had the conversation with my client. However it will give you an idea on relative prices for one option over another.

Resort namePrice# roomsFoodHow to get foodComments
Barcelo Maya Beach, Mexico$5,8001 roomAll inclusive
By special request resort can accommodate 2 adults and 3 kids in a standard room. Room is small
Barcelo Maya Palace, Mexico$6,8001 roomAll inclusive
Family of 5 can be accommodated in a Jr. Suite. Room is larger than standard room
Westin, Aruba$6,6002 roomsFood not includedOn site restaurant or walking distance/cabWith special request it is possible to get 2 connected rooms. In one there will be king bed, in another 2 double beds
The Landing, St. Lucia$6,5002 bedroom villaBreakfast included10-15 minutes by cab
Alexandra resort, Turks and Caicos$6,2002 bedroom suiteFood not includedRestaurant on site or 10 minutes by cab or shuttle to get grocery
Club Med, FL$4,9002 bedroom suiteAll inclusiveAir not included, no ocean, but excellent for kids
Club Med, Guadeloupe or Punta Cana $8,9002 bedroom suiteAll inclusiveExcellent for kids

This is just a subset of various options. Other options to consider would be Rose Hill in Jamaica, Coconut Bay Beach Resort in St. Lucia, Maya Villa in Riviera Maya, Mexico, and many more. It completely depends on needs and desires of each family. Everybody is different and has various priorities: nice beach, resort size, all inclusive option, proximity to life.

The fact that you have 3 kids (or more) should never stop you from taking vacation. We always can come up with options that would work!

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Just want to relax

Dear Alina,
We are trying to decide whether to take a cruise or go to an all-inclusive resort with our kids. We just want a relaxing, worry-free experience. How do we make up our minds?
- Just Want to Relax
Dear Just Want,
Both cruises and all-inclusive resorts have their charms, and it comes down to personal preferences. I would start with a list of things that are most important to you on this vacation. Child-friendly environment? Excellent food? Time on the beach? Make your list, and then compare ways in which the cruise and the resort that you have in mind meet your requirements on each point. For my family, motion sickness is a concern, so I prefer a stationary resort to a “moving paradise” of a cruise. Also, when you are on a cruise, you need to be mindful of the clock and make sure that you return to the ship in time, or risk being left behind! I prefer a vacation without that kind of time pressure. On the other hand, a cruise may be your ideal option if you want to visit several countries or islands on one trip. If time at the beach is more valuable to you than time at the pool, a good all-inclusive resort will be a better match for you than a cruise; if you like to see many places at the same time  a cruise might serve you better than an all-inclusive resort. And hopefully, you’ll have many vacations planned in your future, so you only have to make a decision for this one particular trip, and change your mind for the next trip. Enjoy your vacation!
- Alina
Alina Bas, M.A., is an Executive Coach and a Life Strategist who helps leaders connect to fulfilling work and live an engaging life. She has over 10 years of corporate experience in Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership Development, and is a co-author of the book “Changes of the Heart”, offering the best coaching strategies for life’s toughest moments. Connect with Alina
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Monday, February 4, 2013

The Perfect Choice

"Ask Alina", Family Travel Concierge Advice Column.

Dear Alina,
Our family needs a relaxing vacation and time together. After weeks of research, I found the perfect resort for our vacation. The resort has everything that I want: simplicity, authentic luxury, excellent food, great customer service, beautiful beach, and a top notch spa. The only thing that I dislike about this resort is that it is on a small, secluded island, and getting there involves a 30-minute water taxi ride. I just don't like this idea because it means that we are secluded. Still, this is a fantastic resort, a celebrity hot spot, and a perfect place for our family to spend time together. Alex from Family Travel Concierge researched dozens of hotels that could possibly fit my criteria, and although he found some great options, he agreed with me that the original resort that I found is the best. Now, having looked at so many options, I’m just confused. I can’t make a decision because I’m not 100% sure that I’ll pick the best resort for us. How can I be assured that I make the perfect choice? Family Travel Concierge says that a great vacation is better than no vacation, and that all of our choices look good, but I want to make sure that I make the right choice, without a shadow of a doubt. Help!

Dear Perfect,
Personally, I’m not a big fan of boats and water taxis due to sea sickness, but I can tell you that visiting Venice was unforgettable, while wearing sea-bands or chewing on ginger on a water taxi ride into the city was entirely forgettable (I don’t recall now which remedy I used). In my understanding your concern is not sea sickness , but the fact that resort is secluded. It sounds like your options are the following: 1) going to the perfect resort with a 30-minute water taxi, 2) choosing from the 2-3 great-but-slightly-inferior resorts suggested by the Family Travel Concierge as an alternative to taking the water taxi, or 3) not going anywhere at all. Perhaps, instead of thinking what your perfect match would be, consider what your biggest regret would be with any of these decisions. What would you regret more: not choosing a worse resort but without the water taxi if you go with option number 1, not picking a better resort if you go with option number 2, or not going on vacation at all if you pick option number 3? By the way, if you are not making a decision at all, by default you are picking option number 3 and missing a vacation entirely. I would have to agree with Family Travel Concierge: if you want a restful, beautiful family get-away, choosing any vacation is closer to perfect than staying home. Happy travels!
- Alina
Alina Bas, M.A., is an Executive Coach and a Life Strategist who helps leaders connect to fulfilling work and live an engaging life. She has over 10 years of corporate experience in Organizational Effectiveness and Leadership Development, and is a co-author of the book “Changes of the Heart”, offering the best coaching strategies for life’s toughest moments. Connect with Alina at
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Sunday, February 3, 2013

This week's resort picks - Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos

This week's resort pick is Parrot Cay in Turks and Caicos
  • One of the best spas in Caribbean, COMO Shambhala holistic spa
  • Excellent beach
  • Outstanding food 
  • 24- hours butler service (for two bedroom villas and higher)
  • Secluded (can be plus for some)
  • Expensive
  • Not many activities for kids (however during Thanksgiving and Christmas the resort designs special programs for kids)
  • 30-minute boat ride from Providenciales
If you can afford it and do not mind to be secluded on a small island you should try it!

Frommer's Review
This laid-back luxury resort gets a lot of press as a favored retreat of celebrities -- the place where Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner married and Bruce Willis maintains a home. It comes by its good press not from the movie stars it coddles but because its high service standards are impeccably and rigorously maintained. Even those of us not pursued by paparazzi get the same stratospheric level of service and friendly welcome that the famous enjoy. Parrot Cay defines excellence.
Parrot Cay lies on an isolated and very private 400-hectare (988-acre) island with a powdery white-sand beach. The compound features 10 white "modern colonial"-style buildings, each with a terra-cotta tile roof. Rooms have louvered doors that open onto terraces or verandas, oyster-white walls with tongue-and-groove paneling, and mosquito netting artfully draped over four-poster beds. The large tiled bathrooms are beautifully appointed with a big tub and a shower and the spa's Invigorate toiletries. The best units by far are the roomy beach houses and villas, which offer utter privacy and direct access to the beach. Beach houses have plunge pools and hardwood verandas; beach villas (one to three bedrooms) are even bigger, with swimming pools and kitchenettes.
Many come to Parrot Cay primarily for the sublime treatments in the COMO Shambhala holistic spa, the finest spa in the Caribbean, which encompasses a 613-sq.-m (6,600-sq.-ft.) space wrapped in a sea of glass that looks out over the island wetlands. In addition, the resort has an infinity pool and access to scuba diving, Hobie Cats, snorkeling, kayaks, and water-skiing. It also partners with Big Blue to provide guests diving and eco-tours. Kids are welcome, especially during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, when families come for long stays and the activities director devises such magical games as treasure hunts where the shallow waters are seeded with conch shells and messages in bottles are planted on the beach.
The Terrace restaurant, in the resort's main building, serves breakfast and dinner, specializing in Mediterranean cuisine. Lunch and dinner are served in Lotus, a torch-lit poolside restaurant with Southeast Asian-inspired cuisine (along with regular-Joe favorites like hamburgers); both restaurants also offer a healthful Shambhala spa menu.
Facilities: 2 restaurants; 2 bars; outdoor pool; 2 tennis courts; spa; fitness center; Jacuzzi; sauna; kayaks; excursion desk; library/game room w/high-speed Internet; boutique; limited room service; babysitting; laundry service; nonsmoking rooms; fishing; nature trail; snorkeling.