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Saturday, May 28, 2011

Air Travel by Margot Justes

Booking air fares is a nightmare, not only do prices change seemingly minute by minute but keeping track of timetables, and how many stops it will take to reach your destination adds to the frustration.

First you have to decide if you're flying economy, packed and squeezed like the proverbial sardine in a tin can, your choices of comfort are no-existent. It is assuredly less expensive to fly economy, and if you select off season travel it could be downright cheap to cross the pond. (aka the Atlantic) You may feel like a pretzel by the time you deplane, but you will be on terra firma in a new and wondrous place. That is how I look upon travel.

There are deals to be had by contacting the airlines, for instance Lufthansa notifies me anytime they have a special. I also check the vacation specials that include hotel and airfare packages.

In early spring and fall prices drop, tourists for the most part have gone home, and you can visit at leisure without fighting the crowds, and saving money at the same time.

This spring there were offers to Ireland for less than five hundred dollars round trip, not a bad deal.

One word of advice, if you're cruising, do not fly on the same day you board the ship, if there are any delays, the ship will leave without you.

If you can afford business class travel, it's not necessary to pay the full price, unless you really feel you have to overpay. Your travel agent should be able to check with consolidators to get the best business rate.

Lufthansa (I like to fly Lufthansa-great service and good prices) offers business travel deals this summer , the high season for travel. You have to book and fly by a certain time, but the price is fantastic, half of the going rate. The business fares to some cities in Europe are going for less than two thousand dollars, economy is going for about six hundred.

It takes the patience of a saint to get everything booked, confirmed and priced to your satisfaction, but it can be done. Look at the planning as part of the excitement and anticipation of your trip, and once everything is all set, you'll feel like a savvy traveler.

Next week boutique hotels or chains?

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Travel by Margot Justes

The price of travel is relative, for me I'd give up a lot to travel, with the exception of coffee and dark chocolate. In that order.

That being said, don't automatically assume that going to Europe or taking a cruise is impossible. A twelve day cruise from Rome going to Greek and Turkish Islands and Israel is expensive. As I said it's relative, but it can be had for $800 plus gratuities and tax, that will run about $1,000 total per person. Remember that it includes all the food you could ever wish for and all your entertainment.

That price is for an inside cabin, but in reality how much time will you spend in your cabin? Not much.

I love the early morning twilight as you come into port, all the lights flickering a warm welcome. I'm on deck to greet the dawn, the coffee is set-up and waiting for me.

By the second day, the waiter already knows there is an early riser who likes skim milk with her coffee and it's there for me. The skim milk offsets the chocolate calories, at least in my mind. The only time you spend in the cabin is when you're sleeping or changing clothes, other than showering of course.

For me, the days at sea are spent, reading, swimming, writing, and walking; there are walking paths set-up on the top deck, so it's just you, the water, a gentle sometimes not so gentle breeze. I prefer quiet contemplation.

For those sea going travelers who want to be continuously entertained, there are dancing lessons, art sales, the full gamut to make sure you're not bored.

When booking a cruise, you make a deposit and the final payment is usually due 60 to 90 days before departure. Up to the time of the final payment, you should watch the prices and if you see your cruise is less expensive, get in touch with your travel agent or the cruise line and you get the applicable less expensive price. I check my cruise price twice a day, morning and evening-they change like air fares.

Have I convinced you yet, that it's a possibility?

Next week, I'll cover the airfare.

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Amazing Archaeology by Margot Justes

The search is on for the remains of the Mona Lisa, researchers have localized the area where the remains of La Giaconda have rested for centuries. And the dig is on, literally.

It took archaeologists about two weeks to find the crypt in a deserted convent; they used ground penetrating radar, the same type of radar used for military purposes, only this time it was art research-pure and simple.

The hunt is on for Lisa Gherardini Del Giacondo, she is believed to have been the model for the Mona Lisa. The crypt was located underground in the St. Ursula convent in Florence. When they removed about a foot of concrete they found ancient bricks that were 35 inches wide, along with two crypts they found various pieces of pottery and old bones. The crypts are as yet untouched, that will take another few days.

The archaeologist believe that one of the tombs contains the remains of La Giaconda, as she is called in Italy. That in itself is remarkable, but there is more, they will compare the DNA with that of her children and hopefully be able to reconstruct her face and match Leonardo's painting.

The centuries old mystery of who was the Mona Lisa may soon be solved. All the theories and intellectual debate that continued for ages may soon stop, but is the identity of the model going to dilute and diminish the enigma that is La Giaconda? Or will it add more mystique and perpetuate the magic of Leonardo's masterpiece?

Till next time.
Margot Justes
A Hotel in Paris