Monday, June 30, 2014

Quick guide to Amsterdam

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We continue our  publishing blogs from our young guest blogger Anastassia Kostin.


Amsterdam – one of the busiest cities you can visit. Why? Not only is it the capital of the Netherlands but also the home of the bicycles, with well over 600,000 bikes!
Imagine… balmy air and the roads are clear of traffic. You ride down the cobbled roads and feel the wind in your hair as you look around at the historic buildings and cafes. Well, in Amsterdam, you can do just that! Amsterdam is extremely bike-friendly and if you prefer to bike instead of walking long distances to see all those awesome attractions you’ve come to see, then consider renting a bike! You can rent it as long as you need, with the standard rate being about 9 to 15 euros for an entire day. Additionally, Amsterdam bike rental shops are stress-free and offer discounts for groups (so bring your family along with you!) and for additional rental days so you really end up getting your money’s worth. (P.S. MacBikes are what most tourists rent, they’re brightly colored so cars can easily see you!)

Of course, the other best way to discover the beauty of Amsterdam, which is sometimes even called the Venice of the north, is to hop on of the many boats that will take you out on the canals. The best part? No walking or asking for directions is involved! Simply sit back and enjoy Amsterdam’s sights. I mean yes, the canals are right there in front of you when you are in Amsterdam, whether you’re walking on the sidewalk beside them driving, but it’s best to see them up close and personal – it’s a cool experience! As soon as you get off the train at the beautiful Amsterdam Central Station (or see it when you arrive there – it’s kind of hard to miss), and cross the street, you will immediately see many places advertising canal tours by the tourist office. They are all about the same price – ranging from about 13-22 euros per person for a day pass, so choosing the company is really up to you, although private and candlelit tours are also available. Hungry? You may like to hear that there is also a Pizza cruise, where you get your favorite pizza baked just for you, and dessert, and a Cocktail cruise with cocktails and snacks. These special tours are flexible and depend on your situation and budget. By the way, although the boats are fairly open, you will be well protected if it rains because of the glass walls, which also provide a nice panoramic view no matter where you’re sitting so you can take pictures!  
On the tour itself, you will get to see the famous crooked houses, historical buildings, major museums, mansions, house boats, floating gardens, the many bridges (there are more than 1000!) and the overall unique 17th century architecture of the city. Some canal tours offer hop on and hop off tickets so you can get off at certain stops to explore and then get back on. There are even different “routes” depending on which places you would like to visit more. Even so, most of the major attractions in Amsterdam are within walking distance of one of the canal lines. Better yet, get a canal pass! You can use it for more than one line.

With that, let’s talk about which places are a must to visit if you are not going to be in Amsterdam for that long. Number one on the list is museums! If you’ve ever read Anne Frank’s diary, then you probably know about the Anne Frank house. Come and see the rooms and the bookcase door which Anne walked through or climb the steep steps and see the covered windows which try and show how the house really was back then. Along with excerpts of Anne's original diary, video clips of interviews with Anne’s father, and the people who selflessly helped Anne, visiting the museum is truly an inspiring and even overwhelming experience. The only drawback is the long lines, which can be an up to two hours long - be prepared for those and come earlier or buy tickets beforehand if you can. Next is the Van Gogh museum, and even if you aren’t a big fan of art, you’ll love the various famous pieces of Van Gogh as you get to see them in person and story of Van Gogh’s life.  Note that that the museum closes at 5pm, so get there early, and again, be prepared for a huge line! Oh and the museum is also interactive, with wall sized prints that you can take pictures by, microscopes to see paintings up close and the techniques used to paint them , and computers where you can show off your own drawing skills. Finally, the Rijksmuseum, which you can’t miss with its big “I Amsterdam” sign. Something else that’s big is the museum itself. With a huge collection of art and artifacts from Dutch painters and history, you may have to visit more than once. Even the outside is very beautiful and this museum is truly where art, culture, and history all come together. After all those museums, make sure to stop by the Artis Zoo and the Vondelpark for some outdoor activities.

Back in the Golden Age, Amsterdam was an important stop for coffee trade. That’s probably why the Dutch love cafes so much! By the end of the day, find a café such as the Winkel 43 or Café Brecht and enjoy your koffie verkeerd (“coffee wrong” - a local speciality that is similar to a latte), and/or Dutch pastries/snacks as you read a magazine and watch people milling about.

The nice thing about Amsterdam is that it’s a small, cultural city compared to Paris, for example. Once you visit, you’ll really get a feel of what the Netherlands are like, with the people and sights closely interwined. Visit Amsterdam and see all there is to see such as the canals, bikes, architecture and museums, without being too overwhelmed!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Martha's Vineyard getaway

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This week we helped one couple with their 3 day getaway on Martha's Vineyard.
They stayed at Thorncroft Inn. Thorncroft Inn is best known as the premier romantic getaway among all Martha’s Vineyard hotels and Martha’s Vineyard inns. Situated on 1½ acres of treed grounds, one block from the Atlantic Ocean on the island of Martha’s Vineyard, this romantic bed and breakfast is truly unique and first class. Thorncroft Inn is synonymous with the most romantic honeymoon on Martha’s Vineyard. Of all Martha’s Vineyard hotels and inns, rooms at Thorncroft Inn have the most romantic features such as private hot tubs, two person whirlpools and working fireplaces. At no other Martha’s Vineyard inn can you enjoy your own private, in-room hot tub!
Restaurants near by
Larsen's Fish Market
56 Basin Rd, Dutcher's Dock, Menemsha, Martha's Vineyard, MA
Fish, #1 on tripadvisor, different part of the island, beautiful sunset, might need to call ahead of time to confirm, BYOB along with blankets and chairs

The Red Cat Kitchen at Ken N' Beck
14 Kennebec Ave, Oak Bluffs, Martha's Vineyard, MA 02557
Seafood, great reviews

Artcliff Diner
39 Beach Rd, Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, MA 02568-2600
Breakfast/Lunch, might have to wait

The Net Result
Tisbury Marketplace, Vineyard Haven, Martha's Vineyard, MA 02568
Fish Market, take out and sushi, might need to eat outside

Little House Cafe
Little House Cafe in Vineyard Haven is a sunny, cozy stop for breakfast, lunch and dinner with an international flair. Now serving dinner Tuesday-Saturday 5-9pm. With fresh & homemade favorites like fish tacos, falafels, lamb burgers, soups & salads, you're sure to find amazing flavors. Sit down or take out. Open Mondays 7:30-2:30, Tuesday-Saturday 7:30am-9pm, and Sundays 8-2
Address: 339 State Road, Vineyard Haven, MA
Tel: 508-687-9794
Email: littlehousemv@gmail.com

What to do
Island Cove Miniature Golf
https://www.facebook.com/IslandCoveAdventures?rf=206349669385274


Beadniks Island
Beadniks is an activity-based bead store…. Use your imagination, be inspired, be involved in creating unique jewelry. Beadniks is a store for everyone. Mom, Dad, kids and Grandparents can all enjoy the Beadniks experience while browsing the exotic world of beads. Our staff is trained to assist you in design and execution. Allow time to enjoy the Beadniks experience. Mornings, evenings and sunny days make for the most satisfying experience.
Open daily in 2014 season from May 23 to Oct. 12. Please visit our online store in the off-season to order from our catalog: www.thebeadgoeson.com

Address: 14 Church St., Vineyard Haven, MA
Tel: 508.693.7650
Email: mv@beadniks.com


Long Point Wildlife Refuge

Long Point offers easy hiking with a two mile trail that borders Middle Point, Long Cove, and Tisbury Great Ponds. With sheltered salt and fresh water ponds as well as an ocean border Long Point is perfect for a all day excursion. Because of its beachfront location Long Point is an extremely popular summer destination although it is also popular among bird watchers and nature lovers alike off season. Public restrooms; free admission to trustees members and children; parking admission free for the public.

Address: Edgartown West Tisbury Road (Latitude:41.3545, Longitude:-70.6379), West Tisbury, MA
Tel: 508-693-3678
Email: longpoint@ttor.org


Film & Music

Vineyard Haven, Jun 26th - Jun 29th

Music and film flow naturally together. Our second annual Film + Music Festival will bring you closer to the music you love, or introduce you to some you’ve never known. Enjoy a stimulating weekend, June 26-29 with:
• Eight Films covering all genres of music
• Screenings at 4, 7, and 9:30 pm each day (no 9:30 on Sunday)
• Opening Night reception
• Live music performances
• Post-screening Q&As with guests from the film, music, and the cultural arts world
$12 General Admission, $9 Member Admission

Address:
Martha's Vineyard Film Center, 79 Beach Road, Vineyard Haven, MA

Phone:
508-696-9369

Email:
info@mvfilmsociety.com

Website:
http://mvfilmsociety.com/festivals/filmmusic-...


Artist's Reception
Vineyard Haven, Jun 27th

Night Heron Gallery is Martha's Vineyard's only artist-owned and operated cooperative art gallery. This is our big summer opening reception featuring new work by all gallery artists.6-8 pm.  All are welcome.

For More Information:
Contact:
Night Heron Gallery

Address:
Night Heron Gallery, 58 Main Street, Vineyard Haven, MA

Phone:
508-696-9500


The truth behind Skip The Line tickets in Rome

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This blog post is shared by our partners, Context Travel.
With the competition amongst tour operators forever increasing, visitors to Rome are met with more and more tempting offers to catch their eye. Many companies promise “skip the line” tickets for the city’s top sites – the Colosseum, the Vatican Museums, the Borghese Gallery, and visitors arrive in Rome expecting to be whisked to the front of the line, cooly entering the museum without a moment’s hesitation. We’d always recommend booking tickets in advance of your trip but want to set the record straight about what “skip the line” actually means.
The non-reservation line in front of the Vatican Museums
THE NON-RESERVATION LINE IN FRONT OF THE VATICAN MUSEUMS
Let’s take the Vatican. There are essentially three lines at the Vatican: One for people who show up without tickets, one for advance-ticket holders, and one for tour operators who have an account with the Vatican. Among the first two, the line for advance ticket holders is shorter—essentially just a security line. But, there is still a line, which can be a surprise for many people. Make no mistake, though, it’s shorter; sometimes MUCH shorter. It’s always a great idea for DIY-travelers to secure tickets in advance. This is simple at the Vatican, as several years ago the Vatican implemented advance ticketing via their website.
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Tour operators with an account at the Vatican, like Context, enjoy the dual privilege of acquiring advance tickets for their participants and also entering the Vatican a half-hour before normal visitors.  We reserve tickets to the museums as soon as they become available online, so if you join our Vatican tour, you can expect a speedier entrance into the museums. On arrival at the Vatican, our docents collect the tickets on your behalf, helping you to avoid and last minute panics about booking references and entrance times. With a daily influx of around 30,000 visitors during the high season however, you may still find yourself in a line even with a reserved ticket.  However, while waiting through the security line, our docents make no waste of your time. For instance, docent Ludovica Candrilli mentions how she uses this moment to discuss “the Vatican City State: the significance of its location in Rome, why it’s surrounded by walls, and about its history, focusing on its relationship with Italy.”  Just a brief chat, a security check, and you’ll be on your way to enjoying the vast collection.
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Similarly, the Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Forum, which one enters on a combined ticket, has three different options for entry – visitors without tickets, visitors with advance tickets, and tour operators with advance tickets.  For visitors without tickets, it will be necessary to both queue to purchase tickets and pass through security.  If you are traveling on your own and want to shorten your wait, it’s possible to purchase the combined Colosseum/Palatine Hill/Forum entry ticket via CoopCulture. The additional €2 reservation fee is well worth it to gain quicker entry, but do be careful about which option you select for tickets when checking out.  Print at home purchasers will be able to print tickets, complete with bar code for entry, and skip straight ahead to the security line, while those who select to simply reserve a reservation code will need to first visit the reserved entry booth to pick up their tickets before then moving toward security.  The reserved entry booth has a far shorter line than that for visitors without tickets, so if you are not able to use the print tickets option, it’s still worth the reservation fee.
Much as with the Vatican, tour operators like Context have a special deposit that allows them to zip in quickly to pick up tickets and then queue for security. This time is always used thoughtfully, just as at the Vatican Museum, and, as Antonella Merletto reminds us, “even around 2000 years ago, it took time to get people into the Colosseum!”
Galleria_borghese_facade
Another key site where advance booking is necessary—in fact, required—is the Galleria Borghese, one of the better collections of Renaissance and Baroque art in Rome. Here, the concept of “skip the line” is completely fraudulent. Strict limits on the amount of visitors allowed into the gallery at any one time were implemented after vast restorations in the ‘90s and now everyone—whether on a tour or not—is required to book in advance. Reservations to one of the five daily entry timeslots are made either through the museum’s phone reservation service (+39.06.32810) or online booking system. This booking does not constitute a ticket. On arrival one presents the booking code and retrieves a ticket. In the case of phone reservation, where prepayment is not available, you’ll also need to pay the balance of your tickets. Of course, there’s a bit of a line—or, perhaps, scrum is the better word, especially as all entrants are required to check their coats bags, so anticipate a queue for the coat check as well. The best strategy is to arrive early – we usually recommend a 30 to 40 minute advance arrival to be sure to get everything sorted in good time.
While no “skip the line” is completely perfect and small waits may occur along the way, it’s certainly a speedier, and more relaxed, entry for a small additional reservation fee that even DIY visitors can take advantage of to make the most of your time in Rome.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Catalan Festival 2014: Giants, Dances and Human Towers

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This blog post is shared to us by our partners in Barcelona, Runner Beans, THE BEST tour company in Barcelona.
Probably one of the most common enquiries on our Old City Free Walking Tour is “where can I see a human tower being built?”. Well, as luck has it, the City Council of Barcelona is proud to show off the unique Catalan culture to visitors. Every Saturday evening during the Summer months and in front of the cathedral you can find human castles, giants, traditional dances and much more. Want to know what, where and how? Read on for the lowdown on groups and the 2014 timetable.
Human towers in Barcelona

WHERE TO SEE HUMAN TOWERS IN BARCELONA AND OTHER CATALAN TRADITIONS:

The Catalan traditions will take place most Saturdays in front of Barcelona’s Cathedral at 7:30pm from the 10th of May until the 30th of August. This is what you will see each day:

“CASTELLS” (HUMAN TOWERS)

Human Towers in Barcelona (castells)An Impressive Catalan display of a tower made up of humans. There are different types depending on the amount of people on each floor. It is considered built when a young child climbs to the top and raises their hand. Hopefully they won’t all topple down after, but if they do, the young children are wearing helmets for protection.
Dates: 17th May, 24th May, 28th June, 5th July, 19th July, 2nd August, 23rd August, 30th August

“FALCONS” (HUMAN BUILDINGS)

Falcons in BarcelonaThis groups make human shape formations such as pyramids, revolving towers, etc. Some of the structures can be pretty intricate. The music, as in the castells, is always present, although they do not go as high up as the human towers.
Dates: 31st May, 21st June, 28th June, 16th August

“GEGANTS” (GIANTS)

Giants in Barcelona (Gegants)These are large papier-mâché figures that walk around the streets. A real person is carrying it from under the skirt and different giants represent different neighbourhoods or associations. It is quite amazing to see these Goliath figures performing their own individual dances.
Dates: 17th May, 24th May, 31st May, 21st June, 5th July, 2nd August, 9th August, 16th August, 23rd August

“BASTONERS” (STICK DANCERS)

Stick dancers in Barcelona (Bastoners)I love this very ceremonial dance using sticks. It derives from a demonstration of skills with weapons in the old times. Small wooden bats are used in the jig but you still have to be pretty deft not to get your fingers clobbered.
Dates: 19th July, 26th July, 9th August

“SARDANAS”, “MOIXIGANGAS”, ETC (TRADITIONAL DANCES)

Traditional Catalan dance in Barcelona (Sardana)The most traditional dance in Catalonia is the Sardana. Everyone forms a circle holding hands as they trace their steps. Not so fashionable anymore with the younger generation, this jig is mainly performed by the proud golden oldies. During this festival, you will see older and younger together though.
Dates: 10th May, 7th June, 14th June (at 5:30pm), 12th July, 30th August

CALENDAR OF EVENTS FOR THE CATALAN FESTIVAL 2014:

10th May
Moixiganga de Barcelona (dance)
Moixiganga de Vilanova i la Geltrú (dance)
Ball de Gitanes de Vilafranca (dance)
17th May
Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia (human towers)
Castellers de Cornellà (human towers)
Gegants de Sant Pere (giants)
24th May
Castellers de la Sagrada Família (human towers)
Castellers colla Jove Xiquets de Vilafranca (human towers)
Gegants del Raval (giants)
31st May
Falcons de Barcelona (human buildings)
Falcons de Vilanova (human buildings)
Gegants de la Barceloneta (giants)
7th June
Espectacle de l’Esbart Sant Martí (dance)
14th June (5:30 pm)
Aplec Violetes del Bosc (dance)
21st June
Falcons de Barcelona (human buildings)
Falcons de Malla (human buildings)
Gegants de la Sagrada Família (giants)
28th June
Castellers de la Vila de Gràcia (human towers)
Castellers de Sant Feliu de Llobregat (human towers)
Falcons de Barcelona (human buildings)
5th July
Castellers de la Sagrada Família (human towers)
Castellers de Castelldefels (human towers)
Gegants del casc antic (giants)
12th July
Espectacle dels Ballets de Catalunya (dance)
19th July
Castellers del Poble Sec (human towers)
Castellers colla Jove de Barcelona (human towers)
Bastoners de l’esbart català de Dansaires (stick dancers)
26th July
Bastoners del casc antic (stick dancers)
Bastoners del Clot (stick dancers)
Bastoners de Gràcia (stick dancers)
2nd August
Castellers de Súria (human towers)
Gegants de Sant Andreu (giants)
Gegants del Pi (giants)
9th August
Bastoners de Gràcia (stick dancers)
Gegants de Gràcia (giants)
Tabalers Federació Diables Barcelona (drum bands)
16th August
Falcons de Barcelona (human buildings)
Falcons de Vallbona (human buildings)
Gegants de la Plaça nova (giants)
23rd August
Castellers colla Jove Xiquets de Vilafranca (human towers)
Gegants de Sarrià (giants)
Gegants de Sant Jaume (giants)
30th August
Castellers colla Jove de Barcelona (human towers)
Castellers encantats de Begues (human towers)
Colla sardanista Mare Nostrum (dance)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Israel's seas

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We always like when our clients, especially kids, share their vacation experiences. Here is the blog post  about trip to Israel written by our your blogger Anastassia Kostin.
You arrive at the Holy Land, exhausted from the seemingly never-ending 14-hour flight and the, well, passable airplane food. Relaxation, it seems, is of utmost priority. But where does one go? Well, in Israel, there are a variety of large, open body bodies of water, which inevitably call for beaches. And what better place to go to when you have 80 degree weather in the summer almost every day and 60 degree weather in the winter? Why the beach, of course! The only problem? There are plenty of them. Not to fear though, as there are three main seas, all with great beaches - the Sea of Galilee (actually a lake), the Dead and the Med(iterranean).
Let’s start with the most famous one, the Dead one. I’m sure every traveler has seen at least one picture of a person floating in that sky-blue sea, reading, or perhaps just flailing about, and thought, wow, now doesn’t that look fun! The name seems daunting, yes, however I can assure you that it is much harder to drown than it is to not. I mean, the dense, salty water (which has about 30% salinity, by the way) keeps you afloat and literally pushes your body up so you can’t sink down.
Just to be prepared, bring your own towels – both to sit on and dry off. There are little chairs, and most are occupied anyway. However, there are canopies you can sit under and use to escape from the heat. Next, BRING SUNSCREEN! (Coming to Israel, you should have some prepared either way unless you want to leave looking like a tomato). At least SPF 30+ I’d suggest, and make sure to reapply it often. Finally, this is something that applies specifically to the Dead Sea: do not get water in your eyes! It will hurt. Kind of like putting hand sanitizer on when you have a cut, just in your eyes. Yeah…ouch. Bring goggles if you are really worried (You never know, there’s always crazy, hyper children that think the sea is one big pool and splash each other continuously, unaware of others that swim by).
Now, on the other hand, I’m sure you have also heard of how mineral-rich the Dead Sea water is but did you know that it contains essential minerals for the body, such as zinc, calcium, iodine and potassium? Not just that but the Dead Sea mud (yes, you heard right – mud), has these glow-enhancing minerals that everyone – women, men, and kids – coats themselves in until they are covered with it, right on the beach. Make sure to try it out, it’s like a DIY spa treatment! Traveling in the winter? Although the sea water is warm year-round, there are plenty of resorts and hotels nearby with spas that have indoor pools featuring salt water. So don’t worry about the perfect month for traveling to Israel. It’s always, and I mean always, warm (if not downright hot).
Although there are many beaches on the Mediterranean coast, Herzliya beach is one of the best! My family’s vacation home was actually right across the street from the beach in the Herzliya Pituach area, and it was only a five minute walk. The beach is lined with numerous cafes and restaurants, all with gorgeous views. Oh, and how can one forget the two-story mall with beautiful condo buildings overlooking the bay filled with yachts, sailing into the harbor? Shoppers and those who want to try some traditional tabouli salad or pita sandwiches with hummus can walk along the warm sand from the mall at one end to all the cafes in the other. The water, however, is a bit chilly, so the best time to go would be in the morning or in the afternoon. Also, beware of stray jellyfish! Conveniently, this beach is also the center for nightlife with various music performances when it gets dark or even festivals. Altogether… beautiful views, beautiful music and beautiful sunset!
The third major beach being the Sea of Galilee, those with a limited number of days may want to visit it instead of the Red Sea. Also, did you know that the Sea of Galilee is actually a lake? Not only that but it is a historic site where Jesus had walked on water and performed some of his famous miracles. It’s famous not only for religious sites and beaches though. Many restaurants in the city of Tiberius serve seafood such as St. Peter’s fish, which comes from the Sea and is a staple food of locals. There is also the option of cycling on the Shvil Sovev Kinneret (60 kilometers), which goes around the Galilee sea, or even just taking a stroll on the beaches. Perhaps you may even want to see the 2,000-year-old Jesus Boat that is in the Yigal Alon Center. And do not worry! Walking to all these attractions will pay off. There is always the beach to relax afterwards! ;)

Finally, definitely make sure to visit the Red Sea too if you have time. I personally haven’t been there (it was a four to five hour drive from Tel Aviv) but I’ve heard many good things about it.

There are so many beaches to see in Israel – within 24 hours, you can enjoy the sunrise and sunsets at four different seas – the Sea of Galilee, the Red Sea, the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea. They are all very different yet all beautiful in their own way. So much history is associated with each of the seas as well. Visiting each one and learning about its past will definitely be an unforgettable and once-in-a-lifetime experience for any traveler. 


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Quick review for The Reserve Paradisus Punta Cana

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My clients just returned from The Reserve Paradisus Punta Cana (One Bedroom with Family Concierge). Here is their review.
Overall they didn't have WOW vacation experience. However it was good. Even though you will see a lot of things for improvement I consider this resort to be  one of top for families with kids in Dominican Republic.


Concierge/Butler
Great experience with concierge/butler. His name is Nickel. He was great satisfying any need and request that my clients had. My clients have 2 small kids and forgot to bring their stroller. Upon arrival they mentioned it to Nickel and after dinner the stroller was waiting for them in their room.
He always wanted to ensure that my clients are happy bringing extra towels, toys for beach, sweets for kids

Room
Room was fine. Negative comment - they were given a very small playpen instead of crib and it was not very convenient for the baby. Shower was OK, however water was pouring on the floor every time when somebody took shower.
On the third day they suspected bed bugs and staff completely changed bedding. My clients were not quite sure.
Turn down service was not done all the time even though they have Family Concierge service

Grounds
Very large and beautiful. It took 7-10 minutes to walk from their building to the beach. They could take shuttle, but it would take almost the same amount of time.

Buffet/Restaurants
They had good variety of food. However they went to Dreams several years ago and they mentioned that Dreams had larger selection.
Only Mexican and Aqua restaurant was good. They rest were very average.
They don't allow kids into their fanciest Passion restaurant, so my clients couldn't go there. It was surprising to my clients because that restaurants was empty all the time and it would be nice if they could eat there with kids.

Kids activities
My clients went there in May and there were not so many kids. They didn't have many activities for kids.

Beach
Beach was nice with soft sand. There were waves though and kids were not able to go to water much.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Ile-De-France Products: Parisians finding goods in their own backyard

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This blog post is shared to us by our partners, Context Travel

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WEEKLY BASKETS OF LOCAL ILE-DE-FRANCE GOODS ARE AVAILABLE AT PARIS CO-OPS.

Paris is quickly turning towards the “locavore” movement, with more and more local producers in Ile-de-France providing market to table products grown in city’s surrounding region. The eco-trend is sweeping the City of Light, as dozens of local producers are joining co-ops, making it simple for Parisians to access goods grown in the Ile-de-France region. This movement has made its way not only into the French home, but also among the culinary scene; from coffee shops to high-end bistros, Parisians are finding there is quite an abundance of products grown (nearly) right in their own backyard.

Yannick Alleno, Michelin-starred chef and famed master of French cuisine, opened the impressive Terroir Parisien, another success to add to his international restaurant repertoire. Nestled between the academic buildings of the Latin Quarter, this bustling bistro yields classic French fare with ingredients sourced exclusively from Paris and its surrounding areas. The products, as well as the recipes, pay homage to the produce and traditional plates rooted in Alleno’s native region. Adding to the vintage bistro feel, the interior of the restaurant houses a large blackboard, listing the specialties and plats du jour.  As a testament to the local sourcing, Alleno lists not only the ingredients but also the town from where they were sourced. Passionate about feeding his city on a local level, Alleno has also played an active role in the locavore movement; he has encouraged the region’s farmers to reintroduce vegetables and greens into their crop rotations, as many have reduced their produce to simply grains and cereals. Alleno once said, “My cuisine is like my city, and my city is Paris.” If you want to get a taste of authentic local plates of yesteryear, make sure stop by Alleno’s terroir, now with a second location at Palais Brongniart.
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A TRADITIONAL FRICASSÉE DE POULET AT THE TERROIR PARISIEN
This past year, newbie restaurant Holybelly has seen a great success on the burgeoning coffee scene in Paris. This cozy spot  is a great place to pop in for a cup of joe or the latest organic tea.  If you’re feeling peckish, be sure to order a bite from the completely local menu. Although both owners are French, they spent time in Australia and fell in love with the market to table movement that was sweeping the culinary scene Down Under. Eager to bring this locavore mentality back to their homeland, the barista-chef duo opening Holybelly as a testament to local, fresh ingredients sourced right outside of Paris. The menu changes each month, depending on whichever veggies or cheeses are in season–be sure to stop in for anything from kale and aged gouda salad to the French classic boudin noir!
We’re thrilled to see this local trend catching on in Paris! If you’re interested in the evolving food scene in the City of Light, be sure to check out one of our Context Food Walks, available on a group or private basis.
Le Terroir Parisien has two locations at 20 rue Saint Victor, 75005 Paris and Palais de la Bourse, 75002 Paris
Holybelly is located at 19 rue Lucien Sampaix, 75010 Paris

Kids-friendly Louvre tour

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Book your vacation through Family Travel Concierge info@familytc.com or 860-830-4009
We are offering this amazing kids-friendly Louvre tour.
 This Louvre treasure hunt was designed for families with young children (between 6 and 12 years old) to visit the Louvre museum with a licensed guide in a more kid-friendly engaging way.
Most of the time, with a classic guided tour, young kids lose attention within the first 15 minutes and only their parents are truly enjoying the visit. With this treasure hunt, a true prize competition will split the family in 2 teams. At the beginning of the tour, the guide will explain the rules and hand over 1 questionnaire with around 40 different questions/enigmas to solve and paintings/sculptures to recognize or photograph. The treasure hunt visit will go through a broad range of collections (Greek and Roman, Renaissance Italian, French), asking specific and detailed questions about many of the Louvre's masterpieces.

KEY INFORMATION

  •  Type of Tour: Private Treasure Hunt
     Duration: 2 hours
     Tour Highlights: A child-friendly treasure hunt around sculpture/painting in the Louvre Museum with a treasure hunt leaflet for each child and (a prize for the winner)
     Max. Size of your Party: 6 pax maximum (2 adults + up to 4 children maximum). Children between 6y and 12y old.
     Price: 290 EUR for a party of 1 to 6 pax + 12 EUR per adult for the entrance tickets
     Cancellation: Free cancellation if we receive your notice at least 1 week before the tour date, 100% cancellation fee otherwise