Monthly Archives: February 2014

Spring Break Planning 2014

You might think that I am a little too old for spring break but truthfully, I’ve grown very accustomed to it after working for the school system for over two decades.  A good friend of mine is still working for the school system and has asked me to go on a spring break trip with her.

We looked at several possibilities.  We both like cruising though we didn’t have too many choices that fit entirely within her time off. Additionally, the air fare would be more expensive because this was prime time.  We quickly scratched the idea off our list.

cruise in caribbean

We then looked at taking a road trip.

road trip 1

We thought of Branson, MO only because neither of us had been there before.  After looking at the drive, we decided we didn’t want to drive 1,000 miles spending two full days on the road.

branson

Now we are thinking about staying on the East Coast but heading south for  warmth.  We are thinking about driving to Charleston, South Carolina for a night or two.  We’ll have low country boils, southern charm and hospitality, visit Ft. Sumter, take a carriage ride and enjoy what the city offers.  I’d love to pick up another sea grass basket at the famed City Market.

charleston sc

From there we will drive to St. Augustine, Florida which is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement and port in the continental United States.  We’ll be following in the footsteps of Ponce de Leon looking for the Fountain of Youth!  We’ll visit the fort and walk around the historic area.  This will be the furthest that we’ll go.

st. augustine

We’ll turn around and begin our trek north stopping off at Fernandina Beach on Amelia Island, take a boat ride on the river as we sail past some of the barrier islands.

amelia island

Continuing north we’ll spend the night in Savannah where we hope to get a bite to eat at The Lady and Sons Restaurant.  Regardless of what your feelings are about Paula Dean – she is a good cook!We’ll explore the river area and hopefully get to drive out to Tybee Island stopping at the Crab Shack on our way out there.

crab shack

Eventually we’ll have to come home.  If you have any suggestions for our Road Trip, please send them my way.

 

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Passport DC – Visiting Embassy Row, May 2014

If you visit Washington DC in the spring time then you might want to take part in Passport DC 2014.  According to About DC this is an annual celebration of international culture that showcases embassies and other cultural organizations with a wide range of performances, talks, and exhibits. In addition to embassy open houses and events, several Washington, DC museums participate in Passport DC with special programming.”

photo credit: washington.org
photo credit: washington.org
  •  May 3 from 10:00 am to 4:00 pm is an Around The World Embassy Tour that highlights embassies in Africa. Asia, the Middle East, Oceania and the Americas
  • May 10, 2014, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m. will be the Shortcut to Europe: European Union Embassies’ Open House. The Embassies of the European Union and the Delegation of the European Commission to the United States will open their doors to the public
  • May 17, 2014, 10 a.m.-7 p.m  Asian Heritage FestivalThe festival offers a variety of activities including musical performances, a multicultural marketplace and art exhibits.

Participating embassies are:

Embassy of Afghanistan
Embassy of the Argentine Republic
Embassy of Australia
Embassy of the Republic of Azerbaijan
Embassy of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh
Embassy of Barbados
Embassy of Belize
Embassy of the Plurinational State of Bolivia
Embassy of the Republic of Botswana
Embassy of Brazil
Embassy of Chile
Embassy of the Republic of Cote d’Ivoire
Embassy of the Commonwealth of Dominica
Embassy of Ecuador
Embassy of the Arab Republic of Egypt
Embassy of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia
Embassy of Ghana
Embassy of Guatemala
Embassy of the Republic of Haiti
Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia
Embassy of the Republic of Iraq
Embassy of Japan, Japan Information and Culture Center
Embassy of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Embassy of the Republic of Korea: KORUS House
Embassy of the Kyrgyz Republic
Embassy of Malaysia
Embassy of Mexico: Mexican Cultural Institute
Embassy of the Republic of Mozambique
Embassy of Nepal
Embassy of the Republic of Nicaragua
Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
Embassy of Peru
Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia
Embassy of the Republic of South Africa
Embassy of Serbia
Embassy of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
Embassy of St. Kitts and Nevis
Royal Thai Embassy
Embassy of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
Embassy of the Republic of Turkey
Embassy of Ukraine
Embassy of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela
Embassy of the Republic of Zambia

For a complete schedule of events please click here.

Renting a Vacation Home for a Weekend

Blogger Hubby has a BIG birthday coming up in May.  What we enjoy most is spending time with our children and our grandchildren.  My father-in-law will also be joining us.  We thought we would try do a family reunion/birthday celebration all in the same weekend.  We had several constraints that we needed to work with.  Since it would be a weekend, we wanted it to be in a location that most could drive to and for those that were flying in it would be within two hours of an airport.

We looked at Smith Mountain Lake but for Blogger Son #1, who would be driving from Washington DC, we felt that a 4 1/2 hour drive would be too far.  For those flying in, they could have flown into Roanoke, VA but the cost would be more than flying into a larger airport.  We looked into Williamsburg, VA but couldn’t find a place for all of us.  Finally, we looked at Lake Anna and that location seemed perfect for us.  At the most, it was only about one hour and forty minutes from the furthest airport and an hour from the closet airport with two other airports in between – lots of options for those flying in.

With three children ages one and under who take morning and afternoon naps and a 2 year old who takes an afternoon nap, we decided that we wanted to rent a house.  That way all the parents who have napping children can be together and find things to do.  We had looked at cabins and lodges at another location (Cacapon State Park in West Virginia) but then the mons or dads would be in a room with their sleeping babes without much to do.

Now, to find a house that had 7 bedrooms.  Yes – that was how many we needed.  We looked at airbnb, vrbo, vacation rentals and home away.  We found several that sounded great through vrbo, homeaway and vacation rentals.  We struck out with airbnb.  We reviewed what their minimum nights would be; how many could sit at the dining table; what amenities they had like kayaks, foosball, png pong table, pool table, etc.  We also read the reviews and if it was a negative review, what the response was and if it was only one bad review.  Finally we reviewed the costs.  Some charged tax, some charged a booking fee, most charged for a cleaning fee though some were more than others and the security deposit.

The home we chose seems perfect for us – always something to do no matter what the weather is.  We have room to be together, as well as our private rooms.  There are two grilling areas and I can smell the steaks and ribs cooking.  You can fish from the dock which we know that the grandchildren love to do.  The home is only about 45 minutes from Kings Dominion Amusement Park.  Additionally there is a state park on Lake Anna and they might have weekend activities.  Finally, the closest airport is an hour away and the most anyone has to drive is 90 minutes.

Want to see what we are renting.  Here it is:

Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 7.52.29 PM

 Screen shot 2014-02-16 at 7.59.21 PM

IHG Rewards: POINTBREAKS for Jan. 27 – Mar. 31, 2014

As you might have gathered from previous posts, I am a big fan of IHG – the loyalty reward program for Holiday Inn, Candlewood, Staybridge, Crowne Plaza, etc.  During their promotion of last quarter I earned over 150,000 points by meeting their promotion requirements – I could earn as little or as much as I wanted  within their parameters of their promotion.  Currently another “The Big Win” promotion is happening now and you too could earn many points.

ihg

Getting back to why I love IHG is simply because they run these Pointbreak specials throughout the year where you can stay at some of their hotels for just 5,000 points per night.  What a savings that is.  They have hotels that are participating throughout the world.

Here is the list of participating hotels for this quarter:

ALABAMA

CANDLEWOOD SUITES BIRMINGHAM/HOMEWOOD

ARKANSAS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES EL DORADO


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HOPE


CANDLEWOOD SUITES WEST LITTLE ROCK


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES PINE BLUFF

ARIZONA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FLORENCE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS GREEN VALLEY

CALIFORNIA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SANTA NELLA


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WEST SACRAMENTO – CAPITOL AREA

COLORADO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LAMAR

CONNECTICUT

CROWNE PLAZA SOUTHBURY

GEORGIA

HOTEL INDIGO ATHENS DOWNTOWN – UNIV AREA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DOUGLAS

IOWA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LE MARS


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SHELDON

IDAHO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BOISE WEST – MERIDIAN

ILLINOIS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CRESTWOOD


HOLIDAY INN EFFINGHAM


CANDLEWOOD SUITES PEORIA AT GRAND PRAIRIE

INDIANA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AUBURN-TOURING DR


CANDLEWOOD SUITES LOUISVILLE NORTH


CANDLEWOOD SUITES INDIANAPOLIS


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LOGANSPORT

KANSAS

CANDLEWOOD SUITES EMPORIA


CANDLEWOOD SUITES KANSAS CITY-OVERLAND PARK

KENTUCKY

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CAMPBELLSVILLE

LOUISIANA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES AMITE


CANDLEWOOD SUITES LAKE CHARLES-SULPHUR

MARYLAND

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ABERDEEN-CHESAPEAKE HOUSE

MICHIGAN

CANDLEWOOD SUITES KALAMAZOO


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LAPEER


STAYBRIDGE SUITES DETROIT-UTICA

MISSISSIPPI

STAYBRIDGE SUITES JACKSON

MONTANA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BELGRADE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES BROWNING

NORTH CAROLINA

HOLIDAY INN GREENSBORO AIRPORT


CROWNE PLAZA HICKORY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS HILLSBOROUGH (DURHAM AREA)


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PLYMOUTH

NEBRASKA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LINCOLN SOUTH

NEW JERSEY

HOLIDAY INN BUDD LAKE – ROCKAWAY AREA


CROWNE PLAZA MONROE SOUTH BRUNSWICK

NEW MEXICO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ALBURQUERQUE SOUTH – BELEN

NEW YORK

HOLIDAY INN MIDDLETOWN-GOSHEN

OHIO

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES DAYTON
-HUBER HEIGHTS


HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES MANSFIELD
-CONFERENCE CTR


CROWNE PLAZA CLEVELAND AIRPORT

OKLAHOMA

CANDLEWOOD SUITES BARTLESVILLE EAST


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES EL RENO


CANDLEWOOD SUITES TULSA


CROWNE PLAZA TULSA – SOUTHERN HILLS

PENNSYLVANIA

CROWNE PLAZA PHILADELPHIA-BUCKS COUNTY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SELINSGROVE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES WEST CHESTER

SOUTH CAROLINA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SPARTANBURG-NORTH

TENNESSEE

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ALCOA
(KNOXVILLE AIRPORT)


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES MILLINGTON
-MEMPHIS AREA

TEXAS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ALVARADO


CANDLEWOOD SUITES AMARILLO-WESTERN CROSSING

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES CENTER


CANDLEWOOD SUITES CORPUS CHRISTI-SPID


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES ELGIN


HOLIDAY INN HOU ENERGY CORRIDOR ELDRIDGE


CANDLEWOOD SUITES LA PORTE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES AUSTIN NW – LAKEWAY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES RIO GRANDE CITY

VIRGINIA

HOLIDAY INN PETERSBURG NORTH- FORT LEE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS WILLIAMSBURG NORTH

WISCONSIN

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BELOIT


CANDLEWOOD SUITES MILWAUKEE BROWN DEE

R
CROWNE PLAZA MADISON


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS ST. CROIX VALLEY

WEST VIRGINIA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES LOGAN

EUROPE

CZECH REPUBLIC

HOLIDAY INN PRAGUE AIRPORT

FRANCE

HOLIDAY INN MULHOUSE


HOLIDAY INN TOULOUSE AIRPORT

SLOVAKIA

HOLIDAY INN TRNAVA

SPAIN

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS CAMPO DE GIBRALTAR – BARRIOS

TURKEY

CROWNE PLAZA ANKARA

UNITED KINGDOM

HOLIDAY INN BARNSLEY M1, JCT.37


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS BRAINTREE
HOLIDAY INN COVENTRY – SOUTH


HOLIDAY INN NORTHAMPTON WEST M1, JCT 16


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SHREWSBURY


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SWINDON CITY CENTRE


HOLIDAY INN WALSALL M6, JCT.10


HOLIDAY INN DARLINGTON – A1 SCOTCH CORNER


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS LEICESTER – WALKERS STADIUM

ASIA

INDIA

HOLIDAY INN JAIPUR


CROWNE PLAZA NEW DELHI ROHINI

INDONESIA

CROWNE PLAZA SEMARANG

JAPAN

ANA HOTEL WAKKANAI


HOLIDAY INN ANA SENDAI

CHINA (People’s Republic)

HOLIDAY INN NANTONG OASIS INTERNATIONAL


HOLIDAY INN TAICANG CITY CENTRE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SHANGHAI JINSHA


HOLIDAY INN DATONG CITY CENTRE


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS TIANJIN CITY CENTRE

MIDDLE EAST AND AFRICA

EGYPT


CROWNE PLAZA RESORT SAHARA OASIS PORT GHALIB RESOR

SOUTH AFRICA

HOLIDAY INN SANDTON – RIVONIA ROAD


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PRETORIA – SUNNYPARK

ZIMBABWE

HOLIDAY INN BULAWAYO

CROWNE PLAZA HARARE-MONOMOTAPA

CENTRAL AND SOUTH AMERICA

ARGENTINA

INTERCONTINENTAL MENDOZA

BRAZIL

HOLIDAY INN SAO LUIS

CHILE

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS PUERTO MONTT

COLOMBIA

CROWNE PLAZA SUITES TEQUENDAMA BOGOTA

GUATEMALA

CROWNE PLAZA GUATEMALA

HONDURAS

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS SAN PEDRO SULA

PARAGUAY

CROWNE PLAZA ASUNCION

MEXICO

HOLIDAY INN MEXICO BUENAVISTA


CROWNE PLAZA VILLAHERMOSA, TAB.


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS NUEVO LAREDO


HOLIDAY INN ORIZABA


HOLIDAY INN TUXTLA GUTIERREZ

CANADA

ALBERTA

HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES FORT SASKATCHEWAN


HOLIDAY INN EXPRESS AND SUITES SLAVE LAKE

BRITISH COLUMBIA

HOLIDAY INN HOTEL AND SUITES OSOYOOS

ONTARIO

STAYBRIDGE SUITES GUELP

An AirBnB Success

If you remember from this post, I did not have the best experience with my first time trying AirBnB.  I knew that I wanted to try it again and I had the opportunity to do so last week.

airbnb

I headed back up to Washington DC to visit my son and his wife who had a baby a few weeks ago.  This nana needed some snuggling time with our newest family member as well as helping out the tired parents.

For me, I wanted to stay not too far from them so this limited the number of places that I would be interested in.  I didn’t need to rent an entire apartment for myself and I actually found that I preferred renting a room so that I would have the possibility of meetings others and perhaps having an engaging conversation at night when I would return.

I found one that I liked based on their profile, location and the many outstanding reviews that they got in addition to having a private enclosed parking space.  Unfortunately by the time that I made up my mind when I would be heading up to DC, they had already rented their room.  Back to ground zero.

I began looking at other locations that were on my short list.  Two were in the neighborhood that I was interested in.  I looked at the street view of the neighbor and the map where they were located.

I wrote to both of the owners with a few questions I had.  For one of the homes, I wanted to know if it was a residential neighborhood or where it was partially commercial.  For the other, I had read that it was a one hundred year old home. I wanted to know if it was warm or drafty and cool since I would be going up to DC during one of the polar vortexes that we were experiencing.  Both wrote back promptly.

I chose the one hundred year old home that was being rented by Jacob and Zach, a twenty something professional gay couple with an adorable dog.  They assured me that there wouldn’t be a problem with street parking and if I did have a problem, they had a space in the back of their home.  What sealed the deal for me was they were between the two main streets that my son was and only 4 blocks away.

I made arrangements to go over to pick up the key and drop off my suitcase.  I wanted to go in the daylight so I would know where I was heading when it would be dark.  Lucky for me they had an American flag out front which became my landmark.

Both bedrooms were on the second floor and I had a private well appointed bathroom a few steps down the hallway.  My room had a queen bed, two windows, a flat screen television, towels on the desk for me, three bottles of water, granola bars and the wifi network and password.  What more could I ask for?  Downstairs was the dining room, living room , laundry area and kitchen.  This was a very clean and neat home.  I had two evenings of getting to know Jacob and Zach and we had some great conversations.

Clearly they take their hosting seriously and we are the beneficiaries of this dedication to providing a great experience for those visitors to Washington DC.  For those who do not have a car, you are about 3 blocks from the metro.

If you are looking for a room to rent in Washington DC, I would highly recommend this location.