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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

"You sail with humility every time, with open eyes. Nothing is clear"  Captain Etienne Garcia, Le Boreal

The polar Arctic, the polar opposite of the Antarctic,  the differences might surprise you.

Check out this article by Arnie Weissmann with Travel Weekly about his Abercrombie & Kent trip through the Svalbard archipelago above the Arctic Circle

and then see his follow up Climate change, front and center in travel

"The full Sprectrum of travel experiences reflects the wide range of human desire and longing, from simple rest and relaxation to potentially life-changing, revelatory epiphanies. An Arctic trip certainly has the potential for procuding the latter"  Arnie Weissmann


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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

"Sedona as a whole is a vortex with the energy spread throughout like a bowl"  Dennis Andres

Seconds before my aunt Louise died of a a previously unknown brain tumor she turned to my mother and said, "Papa wants his black goin to church hat, the one with the wide red band that he lost in the flood" , my mom nodded and smiled as one does with those off their rocker.  Upon leaving the hospital an apparently homeless man approached us to ask if my mother had some work he could do to earn a meal, he was wearing an old black stetson hat with a (you guessed it) wide red band and it looked like it might has been retrieved from flood water.  Now you're wondering what this has to do with travel?  The short answer is nothing; but it's a fun story, legend in my family, and I like telling it plus it provides a nice segue to my recent visit to Sedona, AZ, where the ghosts are mischievous and spiritual activity is abundant.

Sedona is nested amid unique red sandstone formations considered sacred to Native Americans, an area made famous by the spiritual elite of the 80s.  Some believe the surreal red rock formations were placed there by Aliens.  Some say it's the center of the vortexes that radiate the earth's energy.  The area attracts art collectors, outdoor enthusiasts, spiritual seekers, artists and healers from all over the world and travelers looking for a a cool unique vibe.  While there you can utilize the services of clairvoyants, psychics, breath work practitioners or chakra attunement.  Visit Shaman, Reiki,Christian, Buddhist or Energy healers. Have your astrology, tarot, aura color, past life or numerology read.  engage in activities such as yoga, tai chi, quigong and of course, Vortex Tours.

Sedona's not just for new agers though, it's also a world class art destination that inspired artists such as Max Ernst and the sculptor, Nassan Gobran.  Artistic presence is evident all over town, from the Sedona Art Center to enchanting sculptures scattered around various parking lots.  An outdoor lovers paradise, with opportunities for hiking, rafting, mountain biking, horse-back riding and 4 wheeling tours. 

Go for the scenery!  Go for the art!  Go for dinner with views like nowhere else on earth. Go for the multitude of characters drawn here, a few of which are hyper sane humans (as in really in touch with what's important while we inhabit this planet), some seem just like you and me, whatever your reason for going you won't be bored!

Must Sees: 

Chapel Of The Holy Cross, Slide Rock State Park, Oak Creek Canyon, Cathedral Rock, Buddha Beach

Resorts of Note: 

Enchantment Resort, L'Auberge, El Portal

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Not sure what an Embassy really is?  Well, it's not just another building full of bureaucrats.  In many ways, the U.S. Embassy is your 911 when overseas.  Whether you've lost your passport, need to evacuate the country, or someone back in the U.S. needs to get in touch with you, the U.S. Embassy is your point of contact for assistance in many different situations. During a natural disaster, political upheaval, or other emergency, consular officers assist American ciitizens with transportation, evacuation, and in keeping them safe.  This is just one of the many reasons that we encourage you to register your trip before you depart. Registration is free, confidential, and can be done online.


If you're in a serious legal, medical, or financial trouble, the U'S. Embassy offers a variety of services.


It's worth noting why we advise you to get travel insurance.  Obtaining medical treatment and hospital care abroad can be expensive, and medical evacuation to the U.S. can cost more than $50,000.  U.S. medical insurance is generally not accepted outside the U.S., nor do the Social Security Medicare and Medicaid programs provide coverage for hospital or medical costs outsid the U.S.

If an American citizen becomres seriously ill or injured abroad, a U.S. Consular officer can assist in locating medical services and informing family or friends.  If necessary, they can also assist in the transfer of funds from the U.S. However, payment of hospital fees and all expenses are solely the responsibility of the traveler.

Ask your travel professional about coverage.

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I am from a small Caribbean Island and for a number of years I traveled and arranged small group charters to nearby Islands.

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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs
A Room with a View

I did not fully appreciate it until years later when I left the Island of Montserrat and lived in England and the United States.

Travelers were demanding the room with the better view and hotels and resorts around the world have been reaping the benefits, charging a hefty sum for the 'better view".

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New clients sometimes enquire, "what can Travel Agents do for me that I can't do for myself"? My typical responses are generally something like, "we tailor the trip to suit you, because your dreams and desires weren't forged on a factory line neither should your hard won vacations." "Who's got your back when your flight from Milan to Rome gets cancelled."? "Who will advise that the area in Viet Nam you're wanting to visit was damaged by last years typhoon."?  "And did I mention we've got people!  everywhere!"  I could go on but you savvy travelers already know all this and that's why you call us.  However, this link about Virtuoso Advisors is really fun, informative and not nearly so wordy.

So for your enjoyment.   20 Truths about Virtuoso Travel Advisors

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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

Bush Flying in Papua New Guinea

part 2

 "A traveler without observation is a bird without wings."  Moslih Eddin Saadi

From two of my globetrotting clients who recently traveled to Papua New Guinea come two wonderful videos. Several villages tucked away in folds of the lush mountains of New Guinea bear daily witness to a glorious landscape.  Flying into small villages in New Guinea is not for the faint of heart as the Bush pilot aptly demonstrates. In the second video, check out the dude under the big cap over the big hair carrying an axe- see the glint of a smile - until he notices the camera.

Are you ready for an adventure?

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U.S State Dept. lifts Egypt travel alert and Egypt is readying for long needed tourism

Per Michelle Baran with Travel Weekly, extensive  irrigation projects will soon allow cruising to overnight passengers once again after a long 20 year wait. Click on link for Michelle's full article.  Egypt opens stretch of Nile River between Cairo, Luxor to cruising

For those who hunger for ancient temples and antiquities, towns that have survived since the fourth millennium BC, monasteries and Coptic churches, they'll find that an Egyptian Nile experience will provide ample rewards.

Egypt has more history than nearly anywhere else in the world, take Wadi el Hitan or 'Valley of the Whales", a desert that was once an ocean over 23 million years ago, now a UNESCO Heritage site.  If visiting this place and others wonders of Egypt doesn't give you goose bumps you'd better check your pulse for signs of life.  

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With questionable job numbers and rising gas prices, it’s easy to write off travel and other leisure activities these days. But the numbers say otherwise.
Earlier today, Peter joined the team at CBS This Morning to report on Virtuoso’s Travel Week.  This is one of the largest, most prestigious gatherings of the travel industry, taking place every August in Las Vegas. This is a serious B2B event where CEOS, ministers of tourism, ambassadors and some of the biggest travel agents in the world gather to do some pretty serious business.

Read full article...

Trave Taking Off Despite Economy - A CBS This Morning Report

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Hi - I was recenlty interviewed in a recent article in the Nashville Post. Here is the article!

Nashvile Post, July-August 2012

Not long ago, most Nashvillians who traveled outside the United States opted for locales that, though beautiful and interesting, were also predictable and not particularly adventurous.

Those standard destinations included — and were almost exclusively limited to — Italy, France Mexico (the touristy coastal areas, no less) and the United Kingdom. Sunbathing in Cancun, riding a gondola in Venice, marveling at the Eiffel Tower in Paris... all joyous and memorable — and all experienced seemingly by millions of folks millions of times.

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Is there anywhere in the world more identifiable than England?  What is it about that island, its history, its landmarks and literature that keep us so enchanted and attached?  We start in childhood with “London Bridge is Falling Down” and it grows from there.  For those of us truly smitten by all things English, we even have our own classification – Anglophiles.  So what is the best therapy for this affliction?  Go and explore England! 

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So it’s February, the days are gray and cold and flowers are few.  You begin to hear of Mardi Gras from some, but you already have your plans for a celebration without beads!  You are on your way to the French Riviera with its pristine waters and soft sandy beaches to celebrate a centuries old tradition, Bataille de Fleurs.   

You will get there for Carnival to take in the spectacle of the fabulously decorated carriages and floats, and be showered with petals during the Battle of Flowers, the final parade of Carnival.   But you will find yourself staying for the food, museums, architecture and the sensory experiences offered by the sand and surf to the south and the fields of flowers to the north.

france-flowers-500x375Grasse, a community just north of Nice, is a natural habitat for many of the most sought after flowers for fragrances.  May Rose, Jasmine, Lily and Lavender grow naturally in the warm climate.  Happily for the region, the fashion of the 1600’s caused a move from the malodorous industry of tanning to the industry of fragrance when a tanner in Nice offered a pair of jasmine scented gloves to Catherine de' Medici.  Scented leather became the rage and Nice became the home to the most renowned Houses of Perfume in the world.

Nice MarketIf you can be an early bird on at least of couple of days of your vacation, you can wander down to watch the open markets fill their booths with the flowers and produce of Provence.  Pick up some fresh bread and fruit and wander the streets to soak in the sun and history of one of the loveliest places on the Mediterranean.   Then take your trip north to visit Grasse and the farms that grow all of the flowers that are used for the best known fragrances in the world.   There are entire farms of May Rose and Jasmine strictly devoted to creating the world’s most popular fragrance, Chanel No 5. 

The rich history, architecture, cuisine and beauty of Nice are waiting for you, but if that is not enough…Monte Carlo is only 8 miles away!

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If you are looking for a vacation defined by luxury, then you want to consider Prague.  Often called the “Pearl of Europe”, Prague protects many of the world’s most historic sites, beautiful architecture and oldest customs. 

As the many castles and palaces will show, Prague knows luxury.  This city boasts 27 five star hotels, many of which are historic structures.  The service, grandeur of the design and lavish furnishings will have you thinking that you are a guest of royalty.

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Are you having to settle for watching the exciting finish to The Masters every year from home on your television ? Not sure how or if you'd be able to even get tickets to The Masters ?  Boy, do I have the answer to your golfing prayers!

From now until May 15, I can save you up to $ 1000 on golf packages for The Masters that give you passes to the 3rd and 4th rounds for 2013, access to VIP areas, luxury accommodations and of course, a few rounds of golf on some of the best local courses.  For all you corporate folks, I can set up small group experiences for your clients (and who wouldn't be your best friend after being treated to a VIP weekend at The Masters ?!)

I have access to several package options for The Masters 2013 so please contact me now for more information.

After all, what's better than Sunday at Augusta National ?!

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Posted by on in Belle Meade Travel Blogs

What a great way to spend a few winter days!  No snow plows or dreary days.  No hustle or bustle.  Just drifting from island to island taking in the sun is the cure for the winter doldrums.  OK that’s the first day; so what else can you do?

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A luxury cruise can be an exhilarating experience.   And with luxury, there is no such thing as one size fits all.  Just consider all the different kinds of ships.

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You have 7 days and you’re looking for a unique experience.  If you answer yes to any of the following questions, then a cruise on the waterways of Europe is an experience you’ll never forget.     

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Belle Meade Vacations’ goal is to create memorable travel experiences and to give our clients the best value and serivce for their money.  Whether you’re interested in a weekend to Atlanta,  a World Cruise or anything in between , we take extra care of the details so that you have the travel experience that’s perfect for you !

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