Friday, January 29, 2016

Australia: It's Unique In So Many ways

It's a long way to the "Land Down Under" but definitely Worth the Trip

Australia isn't easy to describe because it just takes too many adjectives.  This vast country is affluent, multicultural and laced with natural splendor.  There's plenty of sunshine too so sunblock and hats should be on your list of items to pack.  I remember seeing school playgrounds filled with children who were all wearing hats and thinking the Aussies must be pretty smart as well as being very unique. 

Australia:  It's Unique In So Many Ways

Mainland Australia is the world's largest island -- but smallest continent.  The sixth-largest nation after Russia, Canada, China, the United States and Brazil, it is also the only continent that is governed as a single country.  Sometimes informally referred to as an 'island' continent, surrounded by oceans, its ocean territory is also the third largest in the world - spanning three oceans and covering around 12 million square kilometers.

It has its own currency, the Australian dollar which comes in denominations of $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes.  The colorful notes depict famous Australians both past and present.  It has 5, 10, 20 and 50 cent coins and one and two dollar coins as well.  In fact, with the weak Australian dollar, anything you spend there this year will be value for your money.  Gas prices are lower too; perfect timing for a great Australian land trip.

Bondi Beach
Most Australians live in cities along the coast - 89%, in fact.  Sydney - the largest city --is a glamorous collection of beaches (Bondi Beach is a personal favorite), along with boutiques and bars and many wonderful sights.  Melbourne is all arts, alleyways and Aussie Rules Football (quite a spectacle with 18 players per team).  Brisbane is a subtropical town on the way up.  Adelaide, on the southern coast, is the new wine country, and has some of the longest producing vineyards in the world.  Perth, called the most isolated city on earth, is basking in the glow of major investment and is now a boomtown.  When you go there, take time to meet a quokka, the world's happiest animal.  Canberra, formerly the humdrum capital, is having an undeniable moment thanks to its rich culture scene.  Darwin is a tropical northern frontier town, while Hobart is a chilly southern sandstone city; quite different from each other.

There is so much to see in Australia!  Wine lovers can take a drive through the Yarra Valley, one of Australia's best pinot noir producers.  Or take a spectacular drive on the Great Ocean Road to visit beach towns like Apollo Bay and spot kangaroos on the way to Australia's oldest surviving lighthouse at Cape Otway.  The pinnacle of this trip is a pilgrimage to the Twelve Apostles:  monoliths weathered by the wind and ocean.  And if you drive about 90 minutes south of Melbourne to Phillip Island, you can visit the home of Australia's penguin parade.  At dusk, thousands of penguins come ashore.

Try to explore everything the country has to offer:  sail and scuba at the Great Barrier Reef; take a visit to the Outback; savor the Aussie "lifestyle" and don't forget to try the flat white (coffee, that is!).  I'm sure you'll agree that Australia is not only unique, but beautiful, wonderful, vast, interesting and definitely, definitely, worth the ride!

Next week...New Zealand!

Friday, January 22, 2016

A top U.S. destination for 2016: Alaska

Where Will You Have Been in 2016?

At Reid Travel, our first New Year's Resolution is to introduce our clientele to new vacation adventures.  So, after some brainstorming and New Years' celebrating, we've come up with a few things that we expect will inspire your own wanderlust in 2016.  Not to worry, we'll have more suggestions in future posts -- after getting in some treadmill time.  

First of all, we realized that there are some extraordinary adventures right here on our own continent, where we have shorter flight times and no language barriers.  At the top of that list is our very own ALASKAAlaska has more choices by land and sea than ever before.  Think about exploring rainforests, kayaking through narrow fjords and paddling along calm inlets.  There's lots of interesting native culture to learn about there as well.  Think about hiking across a glacier and seeing North America's highest peak - Denali, or the ultimate favorite:  driving a team of Alaskan Huskies as you fly across the snowfields.

When you get back from cruising the Alaska waterways, please consider visiting Seattle, the "Emerald City".  There you can meander through Pike Place Market and venture to the top of the Space Needle for breathtaking views.  As they say in Seattle:  "we dare you to do all there is to do in Seattle."

And how about extending your vacation with a pre or post trip rail journey through the magnificent Canadian Rockies?  We promise you a ride through the most beautiful places in Western Canada.  You could have two days onboard the luxurious Rocky Mountaineer in Gold Leaf Service as you travel from Vancouver to Jasper.  And afterward you can travel to Lake Louise and Banff via one of the most scenic highways in the world. 

It's a glorious adventure to think about; but there's more!  If you visit our website or give us a call (800-248-8404), we will give you a chance to WIN AN AIR-INCLUSIVE 5-NIGHT CANADIAN RAIL VACATION FOR TWO ON THE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER!  Yep, and we can guaranty that your odds will be way better than you get with the lottery. 

Wherever you decide to go, give us a call.  As your Travel Specialist, we will create your perfect vacation and you'll travel like an insider!  

Monday, January 18, 2016

2016 Summer Olympics in Rio!

To ease travel for the 2016 Summer Olympics, Brazil will allow U.S. tourists to enter the country for up to 90 days without a visa.Despite U.S. passport holders being some of the most powerful (yes, powerful) when it comes to travel, American's can't just come and go as they please.  But tourists traveling to Brazil this summer are now in luck:  In the hopes of drawing people to the country for the 2016 Summer Olympics, held in Rio de Janeiro from August 5-21, Brazilian officials have announced they are temporarily waiving visa requirements for travelers in the country from June 1 through September 18.  In addition to U.S. tourists, the visa waiver also applies to citizens holding passports from Japan, Australia, and Canada.

Why the sudden generosity?  Call it common sense - and a nifty tourism strategy.  Brazil's economy is in a deep recession, and an increase in travelers would both ease logistics in and out of the country surrounding the Olympics and provide a much-needed financial boost.  Brazilian Tourism Minister Henrique Eduardo Alves has high hopes for the three month initiative, saying that the goal is for leisure travelers from the four countries to increase by 20 percent.  Flights to South America have been on the rise this year, and Brazilian airline Azul made an all-you can fly fly pass available in country as added incentive to visit.  But outside of this visa-waive period, getting to Brazil can typically be a hassle:  U.S. citizens still have to make an appointment at their nearest Brazilian consulate; arrive with a valid passport, extra photo, completed application and copy of their round-trip ticket; and cough up the $160 fee.  Now you won't have to trek to a consulate to apply for a visa - saving yourself time and cash that can be better used on beachside caipirinhas.  What's Portugese for "thank you"?

The giant Christ the Redeemer statue looks down over Rio de Janeiro