Wilderness At The Smokies is Not Just for Kids
April 24, 2014 – 5:32 am | No Comment

Although Pigeon Forge and Sevierville are often family destinations, there’s a lot of fun for a couple to discover and will see that the choices are nearly endless with lodging of all types, sizes, budgets and themes.

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Santiago Chile is the Ultimate Road Trip for Couples
May 25, 2014 – 5:47 pm | Comments Off
photos courtesy of Bill and Bonnie Neely

photos courtesy of Bill and Bonnie Neely

Our guest post comes from Bill & Bonnie Neely of: Real Travel Adventures Ezine - Your free online monthly travel magazine with hundreds of features and photos on travel to anywhere.

We have wanted to see the bottom of the world for years, and we almost went as travel writers six years ago when we had the possibility of traveling on a cargo ship from South Africa in two of the twelve tourist spots they allowed. At that we wanted to go also to Antarctica so that we could say we had been on every continent. But in the meanwhile we read several horror stories of the dreadful difficulties for ships and planes making that treacherous crossing. We changed our wishes when one friend who went there said, “It’s only ice and penguins.” So we decided on Patagonia only.

Bill studied several expensive tour itineraries and then contacted Say Hueque Tour Company in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and asked them to plan an economical trip for us to see the best highlights of Patagonia. We received the planned itinerary and made our plane reservations. We couldn’t find out much about Patagonia, and we later learned that it is because the area has featured commercial tourism only in the last 15 to 20 years.

December 5, 2013, finally arrived. I had not liked the idea of driving 350 miles to Houston to catch a plane instead of flying out of Dallas, which Bill arranged in February because it was the best price and schedule, but how very fortuitous that was became on December 5 a terrible ice storm hit Dallas and Paris, Texas, where we live, and made national news. We could not have gotten out of either place. The airport was closed and the storm was disastrous; however, we did not find out until we had already flown four and a half hours to Panama City and then seven and a half more hours toSantiago, Chile, arriving at midnight there (three hours later than Texas.)

We were met by a van with a nice driver who knew no English. We had requested to stay in places in which we would mix with local tourists instead of American or luxury hotels. Our language challenge began…We quickly dug our college Spanish out of the recesses of our brains! We checked in to the Monte Carlo in Santiago and fell quickly asleep. Our rooms were quite unique and the elevator tiny, reception area and bar plain, but adequate, except all the showers left much to be desired.

After a good night’s sleep we had our first Chilean breakfast buffet in the hotel and found a large array of good foods included in the modest price of the room. We set out to explore the city park just across the street and the historical central square of the city and appreciated how well located our hotel is. I was looking up as I walked through the city streets and suddenly, painfully fell literally on my face after banging both knees on a two-foot high large pole in the center of the sidewalk. It hurt a lot and many men rushed to help me up. I inwardly was afraid I could not do the hiking we planned. After assuring all that I was fine we walked on, settling on a bar, Rez, for a sandwich lunch.

The waitresses, whom we nick-named “butter-butts,” had the legendary, dream girls of South America figures and were barely covered top and bottom! We enjoyed our first of MANY ham and cheese ( jamon y queso) experiences! Everyone raved about Chilean beer.

B55e180e00We then had a guided walking tour of the Constitution Square and government buildings. We walked past the Presidential Palace called “La Moneda.” We climbed hundreds of stairs to see the oldest cathedral, Santa Lucia, built on the site where original Mapucho Indians gave birth. (How did women in labor get to the blessed, sacred hilltop? We barely made it! ) The hilltop offered great views of the city of seven million people. The park is a historic monument and many city people enjoy outdoors in this lovely setting.

We had a LONG ride in heavy traffic to the “market,” which turned out to be a factory tour. Bill and I at first were furious and felt we might be conned daily with factory tours (like in India.) But when we arrived there we were very glad to be introduced to the local lapis and copper items were beautiful, and we girls each happily bought precious souvenirs. We were introduced to pisco sours, the typical Chilean drink, and we all wanted more! Tired, we had delicious dinner in our Hotel Monte Carlo at the little bar restaurant, Cosa Nostra, and had our first Chilean stew, which we found delicious. Many of the hotels and small inns have a fixed menu dinner for nominal prices, and we took advantage of each of these since it prevented taxi service and late nights. Dinner hour begins at 8 P.M. in Chile, and after long days of sight-seeing we always prefer early sleep.

We only had one full day in Santiago but were impressed with the beauty and cleanliness everywhere. All the locals made us feel welcome, and there were not armed soldiers on the streets, as in so many other Latin countries. Instead we saw mounted police on horseback, and they were very friendly. New ones were being commissioned in a large ceremony in front of the majestic Santiago Cathedral. When we commented on this we were told, “We don’t fear terrorism since we don’t sell arms or start wars.” Wow! There was almost no air pollution and we were happy to have beautiful, sunny weather about 90 degrees…their summer. Crime is very low there and we always felt safe.

Divine BBQ and Gospel Music in Sevierville, Tennessee
May 13, 2014 – 6:07 am | No Comment
Divine BBQ and Gospel Music in Sevierville, Tennessee

Our favorite restaurant in Sevierville, Tennessee still cannot be beat at Tony Gore’s Divine BBQ and Gospel Music in Sevierville, Tennessee.

California – Nevada Roundup: May 2014
May 3, 2014 – 8:23 pm | No Comment
California – Nevada Roundup: May 2014

Here’s a roundup of things to do in California and Nevada this Spring.

Shreveport – A Good Bet
April 4, 2014 – 2:55 am | No Comment
Shreveport – A Good Bet

It’s always exciting to find a new travel destination; Shreveport is a good bet.

The Pigeon Forge Area’s Museums Are Not Just for Kids
March 25, 2014 – 10:16 pm | No Comment
The Pigeon Forge Area’s Museums Are Not Just for Kids

For couples, the Pigeon Forge and Sevierville area of Tennessee is a traveling paradise that isn’t just for kids. While fabulous shows, spectacular views, excellent dining, and thrilling rides are only part of the excitement in the region you shouldn’t over look the area’s excellent museums.

Napa Valley’s True Treasure is in Calistoga
March 17, 2014 – 11:36 pm | No Comment
Napa Valley’s True Treasure is in Calistoga

It’s a good thing all the goodness of Calistoga is within a pleasant stroll of just a few quaint downtown blocks. It’s hard to not overindulge in Napa Valley’s best treasure.

California Roundup – March 2014
March 8, 2014 – 12:18 am | No Comment
California Roundup – March 2014

The full-service Viejas Casino and Resort, owned by the Viejas Band of Kumeyaay Indians, is an ideal blend of shopping, dining, unwinding and entertainment.

California Connection: February 2014
February 26, 2014 – 5:44 pm | Comments Off
California Connection: February 2014

The theater season is in full swing and two of my favorite venues have wonderful lineups. The Civic Center has the largest seating capacity in town (almost 3,000).

Canine Travel Etiquette for Couples
February 12, 2014 – 4:46 am | Comments Off
Canine Travel Etiquette for Couples

Many couples who enjoy road-tripping are also dog owners who take their dogs on road trips or shopping excursions, but neglect proper etiquette and consideration.

California Roundup – January 2014
January 14, 2014 – 4:13 am | Comments Off
California Roundup – January 2014

Anza Borrego State Park, larger than Rhode Island, is ranked by National Geographic as the best state park in California. Drop by the Anza-Borrego Desert Natural History Association for guides, maps, etc.

Road Trip Fresh Goodness in McClean, Virginia
January 7, 2014 – 7:48 am | Comments Off
Road Trip Fresh Goodness in McClean, Virginia

Whenever our road trip excursions in the Virginia area, stir up an appetite, we will look forward to a repeat visit. There are currently locations in Vienna and Arlington, VA as well.