What to Know Before You Go…Chapter 2

Chapter 2  The Internet, Web Resources, and the Travel Agency

As you start your trip planning and you are trying to determine where you want to go, use the Internet. There are a number of travel sites, but the best way, in my opinion, is to use Google and put in such things as “vacationing in Australia, or Europe, or France, or the Caribbean, etc”. Many site will come up and you can take your time and look at all of the many places that you can see and things that you can do. On our recent trip to Australia, we knew we were going to Cairns as our first step on our journey, so my wife Googled Cairns. From Cairns, which is north on Sydney, we were able to go out to the Great Barrier Reef, rode the train up to and through the Rain Forest, then rode the Skytrain back down over the Rain Forest to sea level, and back to the city of Cairns, which in itself is well worth seeing. We found all of this on the internet….then went to our agent, who had also suggested these attractions, and made the ticket arrangements.

And, you can use a site like Expedia to get an idea of flights into almost any destination in the world. They will give you prices and times, although the prices are often on bad connecting flights , or bad times, but it gives you a very good idea of when and where you can go. Trip Advisor is another good one, as this give first hand experiences from travelers.

These sites, and many others, are great for travel information, but not always good for ticketing. As I have said, and will say many more times, the local travel agent can get the same, if not better, price….they can give you the experiences of other travelers, and they can do the “hard work” for  you, such as the reservations and ticketing. That is their job. But, you can do the pre-planning by using the Internet to get your general idea of where, when, why, and what you want to do.

A word about the Travel Agency. Only the good ones have survived the Internet. And they have survived because they can offer a service that the Internet cannot. As with almost any professional services these days, you can get almost any service on the web. But, you get what you pay for. I have planned and taken trips using nothing but the internet, with sites like www.hotels.com, and  www.expedia.com, and they were good trips. But, for the most part, I was “flying by the seat of my pants”. And, when all said and done, did not save a penny. Now we use an Agency exclusively. And, a couple of other factors as to why to use an agency….(1) some are specialists, like with Cruise Lines…(2) many of the agencies are really experienced. :Been there done that”  is true for many and this experience is passed on to you…..(3) Your individual travel agent in an agency will become “your good friend”, and they will have your interest foremost in their mind as they plan for you. This is that valuable factor…and can make the difference in your travels.

Next section is entitled….”Make a List”….and this is one of my favorites, for many do not do this until they get someplace and say, “I should have made a list of these things to bring”. Stay tuned.

Cairns to Sydney….flight day…day #4

This morning we awoke to a bright sunny morning in gorgeous Cairns and headed to a mid morning flight to Sydney. The Cairens Airport is almost like new…clean and neat as can be…very orderly and well organized….and a very simple security system….and after a short coffee break we were on Virgin Australia bound for Sydney. We were met at the airport by the transfer service and got to the Marriiott at the Quay by 4 PM….waited for Carrie and kids to arrive at 6…and then set off for the evening. After a quick dinner we headed down to the pier area which is about 3 blocks…and board  the Manley Ferry…a 15 minute ferry ride to Manley Island…going right out past the Opera House while it was still light. We spent about an hour walking around the quaint island of Manley…down to the beach…then back on the Ferry…and back towards the sparkling lights of Sydney and the lit up Opera House. As it looks on my web page…really nothing like it in such a magnificent setting right on the water at Sydney Harbor. Breathtaking at night….and a beautiful building all the time. Literally a landmark for Sydney for decades.

Sydney is a beautiful city…the setting right on the water is beautiful….and  Quay and the nearby Rocks area are both old and new….with high rise buildings looking down on history …..   Just a wonderful city, and we are just beginning to have 3 days here before we board the ship.

The plan is to have a “quiet day” here…as Carrie has been going strong….as have we…so we will stay in the downtown area and just enjoy the Rocks and the Quay…should be fun.  More to come.

 

 

Viking Cruises….Ocean and River

Effective January 1st…I am the Redding agent for Viking Cruises, and am very pleased with this opportunity. We just completed our 3rd Viking Cruise…and I am now “a believer” in Viking. They are great. No wonder they are consistently rated #1 among the Cruise lines.

Viking Cruises, both in their Ocean and River Cruises, offers cruises where you truly explore your destination-through its food, culture, countryside, and customs. You learn about the lands through which you travel via informative talks that bring history to life through cultural adventures, in-depth pre-trip materials, and on-demand programing-all designed to help you experience the most from your travels.

So, just send me an e-mail at    ron@ronlargenttravel.com   and I will get you brochures, information, details on the Cruises, both Ocean and River…and we will go from there. Viking is a winner.

Vienna, Austria….Day 6…Tuesday

Vienna, Austria……ship was delayed in the locks leading into Vienna on Monday night…and we first heard about it early Tuesday morning with the daily announcements. Apparently late Monday night the winds picked up on the Danube and by the time we got to the locks….too high to go through….so we were put on hold in the River for about 2 hours….there were then additional delays and finally cleared the locks at 5 AM…which made us about an hour late to get into Vienna. In that it was a full day, plans were changed and we proceeded to dock at another town about an hour drive away from Vienna. We then boarded Viking buses…and off we went into Vienna, through beautiful farm lands and small towns…arriving about 10 into Vienna.We then had the included panorama tour of Vienna, as well as the walking tour of the Old City….a magnificent old city with gorgeous buildings….just a beautiful place to see and walk through, etc.

Being late, Viking decided to give us a 25 Euro credit per person for lunch….and we ate behind St Stephens church at a great restaurant….finishing up by 2 when we met up again, and then went on the optional tour to the Schonbrunn Palace.

The Palace is a showplace for Emperoress Maria Theresa and the Hapsburg Dynasty….and I cannot say enough in this blog about her and her reign…and I bought a book at says it all, including her 16 children. A powerful woman like Queen Victoria in England……Maria Theresa being the daughter of Charles VI. The Hapsburg Dynasty in Central Europe in itself is a Masters Thesis…what a fascinating story of reign for 650 years. This is a MUST visit….

Back to the ship for dinner…then on to our Optional Concert of Mozart and Strauss by the Vienna Residence Orchestra. This is a small chamber orchestra obviously hand picked as they put on quite a show of music and humor to this private concert. Just a thrilling and fun performance with soloists, ballet dancers, and a great orchestra….a fun evening and well worth it…even for non-music lovers.

Back to the bus by 11…a great day in Vienna…one of the World’s Great Cities…and the 2nd one we have been part of on this trip…the other Budapest.

More to come……

 

Budapest and on to Viking River Cruise

We had decided early on to do some “catch up” on our last day so started off by going to the old Train Station that Audy had remembered. Still there and still old…but a new section built on as well as a huge underground West End Mall…that runs back under the entire busy traffic corner. Then went across the street to the Libri Department store…found a good cap for me and some clothes for Audy…great prices.

Back to the hotel to pack and get ready to board the ship…and left the room about 4 PM to taxi to the boat dock about 1/4 mile away. The greeting from Viking starts at the curb when they get your luggage and take it directly to your room (we had it all labeled in advance)….and immediately felt at home and very comfortable. The folks at the front desk were perfect…check in took maybe 2 minutes.

These Viking River Cruise boats, which are also called shipped, and referred to as a ship by the staff…..are specially made long boats made in Germany…and made for this specific purpose…to transport people up and down and around the Rivers of Europe and the world. Initially designed for the European Rivers…they now are used worldwide, and have become very popular. Viking River Cruises was one of the first to do this…and they are the largest fleet now, and voted #1 by a number of Travel rating services. Clearly #1 at this stage for us.

The first night was introductory…dinner at 7, etc…an outstanding briefing on what was planned for Monday….just a great professional opening experience to start the Viking River Cruise.

Monday started with an early sit down or buffet breakfast in the restaurant, and they only have one big restaurant, but there are options for sit down or buffet, and very well laid out. At 8 we exited the ship and boarded the Mercedes Benz busses for the 4 hour Budapest Panorama Included Tour. . Very well done, and saw areas, such as the Hero’s Square, that we had not seen before…and ended up on Castle Hill at the Matthias Church. This in itself is almost worth the trip to Budapest, but the guide gave us a complete tour of the magnificent church, which sits on the top of the Buda hill overlooking Budapest and Hungary, for that matter. Photos, of which I have many, will attest to both the indoor and outside grandeur. I know this will sound like a record, but one of the most outstanding churches we have ever seen, or been in.

So, in Budapest, 2 magnificent churches, St Stephens Basilica and Matthias Church….the overwhelming Parliament Building right on the river, and the Castle Hill area and Gellert Hill overlooking the Danube River….which is the center of the entire area as it goes under the 9 massive bridges, including the historic and famous Chain Bridge.

The 4 hour bus tour ended up about 30 miles to the north, where we caught up with the Ship and re-boarded….lunch was ready…and off we went up the River…and the days activities on the Ship began. A full schedule from lectures  to a Champaign welcome party to the Captains briefing …all very well done.

Our room is more spacious than and on the Cruise Ship….and each room has a full glass window-wall to view the river and the villages and cities  that we pass. The beds are comfortable; the rooms are so quiet….the bathroom is plenty big, and the storage areas are great.

At this point, for us…this is the nicest set up we have had on the Cruises…can’t wait for the rest of today.

And, Viking Cruises will be added to my list of Cultural Events and Activities that I will be emphasizing…as this is among the very best way to fully appreciate the culture and history of Europe and the world for that matter….this will sell, as it has over the years, and I am happy to be part of “this world”.

After the trip I will start listing the upcoming Viking Cruise Ship trips, programs, tours, etc…and having been on 3 of them within the past year…can give first hand experience thoughts…so stay tune…all for now…Tuesday morning, Dec 12th……

 

Very Special Events in 2018

Make This Christmas Last

A couple of years ago, Carlos gave his daughter Sabrina and her family a trip for Christmas. Other gifts given such as video games are no longer popular; clothes no longer in style; gadgets no longer cool. But trip photos are still on our phones and memories are still in our hearts and we’re still sharing laughs remembering the good time we had.

Add sports to the trip equation and it gets even better. A friendly family rivalry. Your wife is a Rafa fan; you’re a Roger fan. Your best buddy roots for Spieth; you’re still pulling for Tiger (by the way, did you watch the Hero World Challenge tournament this weekend – way to go Tiger PLUS did you see Rafa there cheering him on?).

Below is a list of trips to sporting events Ron Largent Travel, through our partnership group, is offering in 2018. We can customize any trip and if there is an event that isn’t on our calendar, no worries … we can make it work too!

This Christmas, share with the ones that your care for, and make your gift last!

GOLF

The Masters, Augusta GA: April 2 – 8

Open Championship, Carnoustie Golf Links, Scotland: July 16 – 22

Ryder Cup, Le Golf National, Paris France: September 25 – 30

Scotland or Ireland Golf: you pick the dates!

TENNIS

Australian Open, Melbourne Park, Melbourne Australia: January 15 – 28

BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells CA: March 5 – 18 (head with us to Palm Springs and warm up after a cold winter!)

French Open, Stade Roland Garros, Paris France: May 27 – June 10

Wimbledon, All England Club, London England: July 3 – 16

US Open, Flushing Meadows, New York: August 27 – September 9

Laver Cup, Chicago IL: September 21 – 23

email me for further details on any of the above…… ron@ronlargenttravel.com

 

 

 

 

The holidays are right around the corner and RON LARGENT TRAVEL has everything you need for the sports fanatic on your list!
We’ve left no stone unturned in search of the Ultimate Gameday Experience and are now offering you the first chance to secure these limited, once-in-a-lifetime sports experiences!

EXPERIENCE YOUR ULTIMATE GAMEDAY
Super Bowl
Start game day off with a game of catch with NFL royalty before The Big Game! This exclusive experience will include pregame hospitality at Club PRIMESPORT, an opportunity to play catch with an NFL legend…all before watching The Big Game while SEATED BESIDE the NFL Legend!
The Ryder Cup
The best golf competition in the world heads to Paris in 2018 as the Ryder Cup teams square off on Le Golf National for international bragging rights! PRIMESPORT is your source for access to this once-in-a-lifetime event…and we’ll Level Up your experience with access to play Le Golf National a couple days after the tournament ends!
DAYTONA 500®
Experience the 60th Annual DAYTONA 500 on Sunday, February 18 like no other fan with a pre-race party at the PRIMESPORT VIP Midway Suite and a private meet & greet with 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Champion Kyle Busch!
The Ultimate New York Sports Experience
Travel to the Big Apple for the ultimate sports weekend! Your weekend will include private transportation to/from the airport, in addition to tickets and private transportation to each of these stellar matchups: Rangers vs. Kings (NHL) on Friday, Knicks vs. Thunder (NBA) on Saturday and Giants vs. Eagles (NFL) on Sunday!
Los Angeles Football Experience
Prepare for your ultimate football weekend with a pregame party and pregame field access, all before taking your seat to watch the Chargers vs. Raiders on Sunday, December 31 and the CFP Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual on Monday, January 1!

THESE CAN BE YOURS AT THIS HOLIDAY TIME….EMAIL FOR DETAILS, ETC….
ron@ronlargenttravel.com

 

 

Visit the amazing cities of Russia and witness the greatest soccer tournament in the world! The 2018 World Cup will take place in cities spanning the country of Russia. Top Destinations include St. Petersburg and Moscow. We have been providing exceptional World Cup travel packages, lodging accommodations and match day experience since 1994. All travel packages can be customized to suit your travel dates and budget. e-mail for details, prices, dates, accomodations, etc…. ron@ronlargenttravel.com