Posts Tagged With: hotel

Königswinter, Germany

Old castle-like buildings in lively green mountains; scenic views as far as the eye can see; the ultra-relaxing Steigenburger Grandhotel; fresh, stingingly sweet and pure cherry juice; quiet, quaint and non-touristic town full of welcoming smiles; Rhine river flowing by; succulent Italian gelato ice cream and charm flowing through every corner. Königswinter, Germany is an enjoyable destination where you can take a break from chaotic tourism and just breathe some fresh air with the locals.

View from Steigenberger Grandhotel.    Steigenburger Grandhotel.  Raspberry Gelato Ice Cream.  Rhine River flowing by Köningswinter, Germany.  Königswinter, Germany. Königswinter, Germany

Categories: Germany, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Las Vegas – Special Feature!

Viewers, I’ve got another special post for you today, something new and different to spice up this travel blog!

I’m very proud and excited to say that I’ve teamed up with the legendary Travel Enthusiast, Former Orbitz Director of Communications and proud Mom : Kendra Thornton to share our knowledge, tips and experience about one amazing, energetic and vibrant city; a city that has something for just about everyone out there: Las Vegas!

First, Kendra will share her take on the city with us, then shortly after, I will share my tips, advice and secrets about the city.

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Kendra:

Hot Spots for Family Fun in Las Vegas

I love to travel, and these days, I usually bring my family along. When planning a family vacation, I always look for locations with something that my kids will enjoy along with my husband and me. One of our favorite spots to enjoy time together as a family is Las Vegas. It seems that this desert oasis always has something new and fun for us to do.

1. Miniature Golf

My husband is a golfer. The kids and I prefer the miniature version, and Las Vegas has plenty of options for us. We especially enjoy playing 18-holes at KISS by Monster Mini Golf. The glow-in-the-dark course features animated replicas of rock-and-roll memorabilia. The kids love putting into the giant Gene Simmons head. As an added attraction, the course also features a huge saltwater aquarium made by ATM of Animal Planet’s show Tanked.

2. Sharks

In Las Vegas, you can swim with sharks in the middle of the desert. My oldest loves sharks, so when I found out about Shark Reef at Mandalay Bay, we had to visit. The water park features North America’s only predator-based aquarium. Here, you can view moray eels, rare golden crocodiles, piranhas and 15 species of sharks. The kids and I also participated in the 45-minute shark dive.

3. Adult Beverages

Of course, Las Vegas has plenty of adult beverages. When traveling with my girlfriends, I once took the Sommelier wine class at the Michael Mina Restaurant. Guests get to explore the nuances of eight different wines. You’ll learn about the effects of soil and climate on grapes. This is a great way to spend date night as well as an awesome activity to enjoy during a Las Vegas bachelorette weekend.

4. Museums

Those who love to learn can have a great time in Las Vegas. My family enjoys taking trips to quirky museums. My personal favorite is the outdoor Neon Museum just off the strip. It displays the history of the city in lights with a park-like atmosphere and design. My kids love spending time at the Discovery Children’s Museum. Also of interest is the National Atomic Testing Museum.

Las Vegas is always good for a good time. I’ve enjoyed traveling there on business and with friends. Now I enjoy taking my family and exposing my kids to some of the wonderful treasures there. With so many places to stay and things to do it can get a bit overwhelming. Sites like Gogobot make it easy to read user reviews so you can better plan your trip. I hope you can enjoy this great vacation spot as well.

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Jordan:

Spontaneous Fun & Hidden Gems of Las Vegas

Las Vegas is always a blast, no matter who you go with, it has something for everyone. Myself? I am pretty open-minded and like to try just about anything, especially if it’s a new experience! I’m going to share with you some advice, tips and hidden gems of Las Vegas that I hope will be at some use for you. Here we go:

1. Restaurants

At one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, how could Las Vegas not have some of the world’s greatest restaurants?
One of my most memorable restaurant experiences was eating at “Gordon Ramsey’s Pub & Grill” at “Caesar’s Palace”.
If you’re feeling a little more on the Breakfast or Dessert side, then you HAVE to try the Crepes at “Le Creperie” in “Paris”. I’m going to let you in on a little secret as well… If you’re looking for a delicious meal that is a little more budget friendly, then look no farther than “Tony Roma’s” on Fremont Street. Seriously, Tony Roma’s! You can get a Steak and Lobster for $11.99 or a Prime Rib for $8.99. You can find details on this special here: Tony Roma’s on Fremont.

2. Entertainment / Shows

I’ve been to Las Vegas twice and without a doubt, my favorite thing to do is see the shows. There are shows that will suit anybody’s interest here: Comedy, Cirque du Soleil, Concerts, Burlesque, Magic and so on. Lots of famous people host their performances here: Shania Twain, Madonna, Carrot Top, David Blaine, Kris Angel, Penn and Teller.
Buying tickets for shows can really add up, so here’s a little tip to nab yourself free tickets and even a free dinner to go along with; walking down Las Vegas Blvd, you’ll notice that there are several individuals trying to grab your attention to sell “Timeshares”. Most of the time, you probably ignored them and walked right by them, but here’s the secret… If you decide to take the free tour that they are promoting, you will land yourself free or highly discounted Dinner and Show tickets; this is no scam, it is actually true! The catch is, you have to spend a few hours listening to their sales pitch and viewing the units, building and property that they are attempting to sell to you. At the end of the tour, a highly skilled sales associate will personally try and sell you a Timeshare – all you have to do is politely decline and then, VOILA! You will have your free Dinner and show!

3. Fremont Street

Most people are attracted to the Las Vegas Blvd strip and frankly, I don’t blame them! With the bright flashing lights, energy, music, street performances, erupting fountains and state-of-the-art architecture, who would not want want to be around all of that? What people need to know though is, Fremont Street is the “original” Las Vegas and it boasts a magic of it’s own. Let me tell you what’s special about Fremont Street! First off, you’re going to find MUCH better deals in this area, probably because they want to take the crowd away from the overpriced Las Vegas Blvd.  When you’re not playing at the Casino, you’ll find that it’s quite easy to find 1-2$ beers, 3$ Margaritas, 10-15$ meals at sit-down restaurants and best of all, the slots are known to be more “loose” on Fremont Street.  If you walk a few blocks up, you’ll find yourself in front of some original and unique bars and restaurants, for example: “Insert Coins” a video-game based bar – you basically pay to play arcade games with friends while sipping away at your favorite drink. How about “Heart Attack Grill”? A restaurant where all the staff are dressed in Nurse outfits and serving you the most unhealthy food that is known to man.  There is actually a large scale just outside of the restaurant that lets you weigh yourself, if you weigh over 300lbs, then you get to eat free!
Looking for cheap daiquiris? I’ll tell you where to get the cheapest in all of Vegas! Two words… “La Bayou”. It’s a small Dive Bar & Casino located on Fremont Street. You can fill up your meter long drink-holding device for pennies compared to the other places out there. The cool thing is, “La Bayou” uses the traditional-style “quarters” to play in their slots and when you win, spits quarters back out at you. Ever heard of those? They are small circular pieces of metal before the “cash receipts” were used in slot machines. A new piece of History for you!

4. Shopping

Las Vegas is probably right up there with London, Paris, New York and so on for it’s shopping scene, it can also get expensive very fast if you don’t have the budget for it. I found that I had the best shopping experiences at both the North and South “Premium Shopping Outlets”. There are literally hundreds of stores to choose from, it really does take a full day out of you. One of my favorite stores would have to be “Under Armour” which is located at the “South Premium Outlets”. If you’re shopping for luxurious brands, then you have nothing to worry about, Las Vegas Blvd is boasting with a nearly-unlimited amount of stores and malls to visit and it’s impossible to see it all in one day. For souvenirs, it’s always fun to check out the “M&M Factory” or the “Coca-Cola Factory”.

We hope this post was informative and fun to read as it was for us to write it!

If you wish to follow Kendra, you can do so by clicking the following link: @KendraThornton – she has a wealth of travel information to provide for you, so definitely check her out!

Please follow me for more adventures, travel tips and advice!

[This collaborative post was written by: Jordan Ilareguy & Kendra Thornton]

For more exciting articles on Las Vegas, visit GPSmyCity.com!

Categories: Destinations, Las Vegas, Nevada, Travel, Uncategorized, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

To Hostel or not to Hostel?

That is the question!

When I mention the idea of staying in a “Hostel”, what comes to mind? Believe it or not, plenty of people out there in the world think it’s a cheap, scummy and dangerous place to stay; well, let me see… Cheap? Yes, most certainly! Perfect for those that want to budget travel! Scummy? Not if you research into where you will be staying and ensure that there are well-written, unbiased reviews. Dangerous? I don’t believe that there are any dangerous places out there, just travellers that are not using their head, intuition and common-sense. Please don’t base the idea of staying or not staying at a Hostel on the movie: “Hostel”. A movie is a movie.
A stay at a hostel can be as good or as bad as you want it to be, it all boils down to preparation and travel research, but sometimes, even for the well-educated and avid traveller, you will sometimes bump into the inevitable. With proper research and travel skills, you can highly reduce that chances of staying at a crummy hostel and making the best of your trip!

I’ll list off some Pros and Cons for you to weigh out:

Pros

  • Hostels are much cheaper than almost any other kind of accommodation out there. I stayed 8 nights in Cracow, Poland for 140$ USD!
  • Hostels are generally located in the heart of the best districts, usually in better locations than most Hotels!
  • Hostels often offer free Wi-Fi and sometimes even a free Breakfast!
  • Hostels often offer private rooms for just a few dollars more, for those that simply cannot sacrifice a bit of privacy.
  • Hostels will provide you with information and ideas of what to do and see in the area that you’re visiting; not only the major sights, but all the local hotspots as well!
  • Hostels often have a common-room, where you can socialize and meet other travellers just like yourself!
  • Hostels may give you a discount if you own a “Hostelling International Membership” card. (Imagine that! Cheaper than the cheap price you’re already paying!)

Of course, there are so many more “Pros” that I could list, but that should be good enough for now. Time for some “Cons”!

Cons

  • You may have to sacrifice some privacy. (Are you really going to spend all of your time in your room anyways?)
  • The bathrooms are usually shared. (You share the bathroom in your house and you share the bathroom with several other employees at your workplace, what’s the difference?)
  • It might be difficult to get some sleep if people are snoring. (The “Ear Plug” is a wonderful invention!)
  • You run the small chance of running into a hostel that is not properly maintained in several manners. (Don’t you run that risk staying at a Hotel you’ve never been to? Besides, that’s where doing your research comes in; read unbiased reviews!)
  • You run the risk of your goods potentially getting stolen if you are not provided with adequate storage facilities with appropriate security features for your gear to be stored while you’re out exploring. (Again, read the reviews. Travelling is an art and you will learn through experience).

    If you have the money, you want the posh lifestyle and don’t have a budget to worry about, then by all means, take the luxury hotel situated in the heart of the city, but if you’re on a budget like me, which is probably most people reading this blog, then you’re going to want to find options that won’t have your wallet screaming in agony.

Here’s what I do:

  1. Enter the URL: www.hostelworld.com
  2. Enter the City and Country you will be travelling to and of course, the respective dates with the amount of people that will be staying.
  3. Click “Search”
  4. Several results will show up, displaying a list of several different Hostels that you can choose from; the best thing to do at this point is to sort all your results appropriately. Click on the drop-down box right next to “Sort by:” and select “Overall Rating”.
  5. Now, all your results should be sorted by the best rated Hostel to the least rated Hostel. Check them out one at a time to ensure that the room that you want is available for the dates that you specified, the Hostel is located in the part of the city you want to be staying in, the price is affordable and the ratings are good. Always keep a keen eye as to what kind of Hostel you may be staying at, as some are themed and even oriented towards “Partying”, which may not be the type of Hostel you want to stay at if you’re trying to get a good night’s rest!

I’ve always used www.hostelworld.com for all my hostel needs. The thing I like about the site is that they provide accurate, unbiased reviews about the Hostel that you could be potentially staying at. Also, when you do decide to reserve your room/bed, you only have to place down 10% over the internet and then pay the remaining balance once you arrive at the Hostel. You also have an option, for just a few dollars more, you can protect yourself from losing your money if a cancellation on your booking is required. You will get credited the balance on the website to be used towards another Hostel in the future.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I’ve stayed at Hostels all over the globe and I’ll tell you from first-hand experience that again, with some experience and research, you will find yourself enjoying your stay at Hostels, whether you’re staying in a private room or a shared dorm. I personally, won’t choose to stay in a Hotel again unless I absolutely have to. The most important thing is that you have to keep an open-mind and with an open-mind, you’ll be a happier person in the end.

Last weekend, Amy and I stayed at a Hostel in the heart of Toronto, the “Entertainment” District to be exact. The name of the Hostel was called: “The Clarence Park” Hostel. We booked a private room that had it’s own bathroom and for 40$/per person/per night, you can’t beat it! We basically stayed 3 nights in the heart of Downtown Toronto for 240$ and the room was PRIVATE! No shared Bathroom either! If we chose to stay at any hotel in Downtown Toronto, 3 nights would have easily costed us 450-600$!

Here’s a snap of the place we stayed at:

The Clarence Park Hostel - Private Room

The Clarence Park Hostel – Private Room

As you can see, the room itself is basic, but very cozy, clean and acceptable! The bed is King-sized, there’s a television (which you can’t see in this photo) mounted onto the wall with cable facing the bed. There’s a desk, comfortable chair, balcony and a private bathroom. In the bathroom, you have the essentials: Toilet, sink and shower. There’s no bathtub, but again, think of the money you’re saving, you’re getting the absolute essentials at rock-bottom price in the heart of Downtown Toronto! A very expensive city to live in. The room itself was very quiet with the balcony door closed; we had no problem obtaining a full night’s rest, every single night!

At the end of the day, you should consider trying out a Hostel, what do you have to lose? Nothing, because you’re actually saving, big time!

Keep an open mind, explore, have fun and always try something different and new!

Categories: Hostels, Travel, Travel Tips | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Vegas Conclusion

It was an awesome full seven days in Vegas, but now I’m back to my home, sweet home and back to the training cell to get back up to the standards.

On Saturday, we were flying home with Air Canada, which apparently is the airline that represents Canada, but personally, I think they shouldn’t be, I wasn’t impressed with their regulations and service one bit.
When I was booking the flight online, the website gave me the choice to select the seats for both Amy and I, so naturally, I chose two seats directly beside each other so we could sit with each other. Upon arrival at the airport, we printed out our tickets only to find out that we were positioned on two different ends of the aircraft. I decided to speak with an Air Canada representative that was working at the gate we were going to enter for our flight, I told her about the dilemma and she responded with: “Oh really? Yeah, it happens sometimes” with a really piss poor attitude. She looked away and we continued to stand there and didn’t do anything about it. Fortunately, another Air Canada representative standing next to her overheard the conversation she had with us and intervened to give us a helping hand. He was very polite and managed to resolve the problem that we had.
When we were leaving Las Vegas, we were dealing with Air Canada again. Arriving at the airport, I walked over to the self check-in kiosk to receive our boarding tickets and baggage tags, only to find out that we were being charged 52$ total between the both of us to check-in just one piece of baggage each. Apparently, when flying outside of Canada, there is no longer any baggage allowance when flying with Air Canada, you have to pay for each individual piece. Seriously, there is not many people who choose not to check-in any baggage on an international flight. It’s absolutely ridiculous. They don’t even allow any baggage allowance for serving Military members. As far as I know, Westjet allows two pieces of checked baggage and then if you’re Military, you’re allowed four pieces.
I urge you, from my own experience, to take Westjet or another airline when flying within Canada, unless you prefer to pay extra and unnecessary expenses.

If you want to save money on your Vegas vacation, stay in “Old Vegas”, which is Fremont Street. You will eat cheaper, drink cheaper, slots are more loose, accommodations are cheaper and there is plenty of entertainment and energy all around you. The “New Vegas” strip is overpriced in every way that you can imagine, but if you insist on staying on the “New Vegas” strip and don’t want to pay 8$ per beer, then you have the option to buy your own beer at any convenience store and drink it wherever you wish, as well, a hidden casino / hotel gem on the “New Vegas” strip, believe it or not is the “Best Western Plus”, where they are selling 1$ bottled Michelbob beers and 2.50$ Heineken beers; it is pretty much smack-dab center of the strip too. For cheap eats, go to the “Earl of Sandwich” inside “Planet Hollywood Casino and Resort”, there is also a delicious smoothie and panini cafe called “Tropical Smoothie Cafe” just before “Planet Hollywood Casino and Resort” that is very fair priced for a filling meal.

We spent entire Sunday just unpacking and relaxing, nothing special… We’re back to the grind with working out and eating healthy; man, oh man did my body feel like a bowl of spaghetti after today’s workout, I’ll slowly get back into routine though.

Back to the wonderful life of flying the world, stay tuned!

Here are some snaps from our last day in Vegas:

Exotic Habitat behind Flamingo Hotel.

Exotic Habitat behind Flamingo Hotel.

Tribute to Bugsy Siegel, founder of the Flamingo Hotel.

Tribute to Bugsy Siegel, founder of the Flamingo Hotel.

Amy, Jordan, Andre and Jen at the top of the Stratosphere, about 107 floors high.

Amy, Jordan, Andre and Jen at the top of the Stratosphere, about 107 floors high.

Amy and I at the top of the Stratosphere, about 107 floors high.

Amy and I at the top of the Stratosphere, about 107 floors high.

Jen and Optimus Prime

Jen and Optimus Prime

Categories: Las Vegas, Nevada, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Las Vegas: Day 5

Man, oh man… I’m exhausted. Amy and I spent a full day and night all over the city, didn’t come back until 3am.

We started the day off by visiting the massive M&M store, which extends a full four floors upwards. Each floor is just loaded with an abundant of M&M merchandise, it’s actually a bit overwhelming! They have a “candy station” where you can compile a bag of your favorite M&Ms with your favorite colors and the price of the bag is determined by the weight. It’s a bit pricey, about 11.99$ per pound.
If you’re a Coca-Cola fan, well, you’ll be happy to hear that is a monstrous Coca-Cola merchandise store directly beside the M&M one, selling the Coke label in just about every single product you can imagine!

We were bummed to find out that the “Sega Gameworks” arcade located beside the M&M factory was undergoing complete renovation. I’m not sure if they actually closed down and they’re opening up something else or if it is just renovation.

We picked up some M&Ms then walked over to “New York-New York” where we rode the roller coaster located on the top of the hotel; damn was it ever an adrenaline-pumping thrill! It’s about 14$ a person or 25$ for an unlimited all day pass, but if you’re Military, you only have to pay half price for each ticket. So take advantage of that!

We hit up Fremont Street again to play up the slots, get some more frozen drinks at “Le Bayou” and watch some live entertainment. It never gets old because there is always new performers doing something different than what you have already seen. We went over to the video game bar-arcade called “Insert Coins”; the music was pumping and I was so excited to get in, but then that idea went down the drain because they won’t allow you to enter the bar with a backpack on and they didn’t have any place for me to store it, so looks like Amy and I will have to try at it again tonight without the backpack.

Time to get some grub!

 

Categories: Las Vegas, Nevada, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Las Vegas: Day 3

I thought I was all shopped out, but Amy and I really wanted to visit a few particular stores they had at the “South Premium Outlets” that they didn’t have in the North. The store I really wanted to visit, which I didn’t even know existed as a store was “Under Armour”. No other brand beats Under Armour when it comes to breathable, dry and comfortable workout clothing, but you sure do pay the price for it. Everything that we purchased at the Under Armour outlet was half the price of what I would have paid in Canada, plus I got a Military discount on it all.
The difference between the North and South outlets are, obviously, the stores, but also, it was a nice surprise to see that 90% of the stores in the South outlets were inside a shopping mall-like structure with lots of natural sunlight pouring in and A/C. All the stores in the North outlet are accessed from outside, there is no mall. The North outlets can be overbearing, temperature-wise, due to the intense heat that you get here.

At 7PM last night, Amy and I attended a show at the “Wynn” hotel, it was called “Le Reve” (The Dream) by the famous “Cirque du Soleil”. These tickets were expensive, over 100$ for each ticket, but I have to say that this show was an absolute masterpiece. I’ve never seen such wild acrobatics in my life, and theater display. It actually felt like I was sucked into another world, it didn’t feel like I was watching a theatrical production, I was sucked into a “dream”. I highly recommend this show to anyone visiting Vegas.

After the show, Amy and I toured several hotels and casinos, as each one is a architectural masterpiece to be admired. We toured the: Wynn, Encore, Palazzo, Venetian, Treasure Island, Mirage, Best Western Plus. I think out of all of then, I enjoyed the “Wynn” and “Treasure Island” the best, but there are still several other hotels we haven’t even toured yet, so my opinion will probably change soon.

Keep in mind, drinks are expensive on the strip, almost every hotel charging about 6-8$ for a single bottle of beer and even more for an imported one. Amy and I wandered in the the “Best Western Plus” on the strip last night, a Casino probably less visited than the other big names on the strip. They were selling beers for a 1$ bottle domestic and then 2.50 for an imported (Heineken). The Best Western Plus is pretty much located in the center of the strip too.

Today, Amy and I are going to check out the “Paris” hotel and have some Crepes for a late Breakfast. After that, we’re catching the SDX to Old Vegas (Fremont St.) to explore the older and original casinos and hotels. Our money will go much farther there, not only for drinks, but for food. I saw ads displaying 10$ steak dinner in that area of town, compared to Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant on the strip called “Steak”, which is 50-100$ per entree, at bare minimum.

Here are a few snaps from last night:

Wynn Hotel

Wynn Hotel

La Reve

La Reve

La Reve

La Reve

Near Treasure Island

Near Treasure Island

Palazzo / Venetian

Palazzo / Venetian

Categories: Las Vegas, Nevada, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Las Vegas: Day 1

Unfortunate to hear about the plane crash in San Francisco yesterday; thankfully Amy and I were not on that plane, we are safe and sound in the vibrant city of Las Vegas!

We’re currently staying at the Flamingo Hotel & Casino right smack-dab center of the new Vegas strip. We haven’t had enough time here yet to explore the entire premises of the hotel, but I’ll tell you what our initial impressions/experiences were:

45 minute wait in the hotel check-in line (Although, I think that is common with most hotels here)

The room itself appeared to be in good order, until we noticed two missing lightbulbs. Also, the white on the bed appeared to have some darker stains on it and the pink bed cover seemed a bit faded. There is no fridge in the room but we do have a beautiful view! We do have to keep in mind though that that is one of the older hotels on the strip and a tad less expensive than the other newer luxury hotels.

Last night, we went to see a show called “The Mentalist”. It’s a magic/illusionist show starring “Gerry McCambridge” who also wrote script and starred in the the television series “The Mentalist” a few years back.

His illusions were impressive! A few volunteers from the audience were chosen to take part in his act and I happened to be one of the lucky ones that he randomly selected. Blindfolded and never had met before, he was able to tell the audience about things in my life that only people that were as close as friends or family would know. He even mentioned things about Amy too. How he did it? I have no idea… Apparently it’s all in “illusion”, but I mean, what he was doing was pretty much reading my mind. Man, we have so much more to learn about in this world.

Today, Amy and I are heading off to some Outlet Stores in the North-end of Vegas, where we’ll do some shopping for a new wardrobe. For those of you that don’t know, “Outlet Stores” in the United States are the best places to find your favorite brands of clothing at bargain prices. You will never find deals like it anywhere else and that’s guaranteed!

Here are some quick snaps I took from my phone last night:

Bellagio Fountains, moving to the music of Celine Dion.

Bellagio Fountains, moving to the music of Celine Dion.

Las Vegas Strip

Las Vegas Strip

Categories: Las Vegas, Nevada, Travel, United States | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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