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Monday, October 27, 2014

Culture & Beauty in India: Relaxation & Reflection

Bill Lynch, a Largay Travel advisor, recently spent 10 days in India to learn more about meditation and the culture. Upon his return Bill stated, “It was a lesson in being humble...you have compassion for people that don’t have a lot. Being caring, compassionate, and humble within oneself are some core practices of mediation". 

Lynch attended the Vipassana Meditation Center in Massachusetts where he meditated for 10 days straight two years ago. After the program, Lynch got interested in teaching it. He met with Julie Wallace, the owner of Bloom Yoga in Southington, CT, and asked to start a class. He’s now been teaching there twice a week for the past year.

Here's Bill's list of the Top 5 places to visit in India...


1. New Delhi, Jama Masjid: India’s largest Mosque, which was built in 1656 by Emperor Shah Jahan and took six years and 5,000 workers to construct. In New Delhi you can also see the impressive India Gate, the President’s house and other government buildings.


2. Agra, Taj Mahal: This amazing structure was built as a tribute to the queen of Emperor Shah Jehan and is known as one of the seven wonders of the world. It’s beauty is shown as the sun rises and sets, giving off many colors.


3. Jaipur, The Amber Fort: This area took over two centuries to build and is still standing today! It is a complex collection of palaces, halls, pavilions, gardens, and temples.







4.  Dera Amer, Elephant Safari: An exciting adventure that takes place within the Elephant’s own habitat along the Aravali Range and the reserved forest. It is also possible you will encounter other animals such as wolves or hyenas on this adventure.




5. Mumbi: There are so many great things to see here I couldn't pick just one. First, there is the Gateway to India, which was the way travelers got to the Indian shores during the heyday of the British Raj. It also became the exit point of the British troops after India gained independence in 1947. There is also Crawford Market, which holds vendors of all kinds selling fresh produce, flowers, fish and exotic birds. And, the famous railway station Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, which is enclosed in the Victoria Terminus building. This is now the busy headquarters of the Central Railway where over 1,000 trains and two million passengers pass through the station daily. 



















For more information and to book adventures in India, contact Bill Lynch at bill@largaytravel.com or call 1-888-632-2660. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tours - Finding the Meaning of It All

Denise & Amanda on Lake Granby, Colorado
As we boarded the pontoon boat on Lake Granby, CO to distribute my father’s ashes on the island he requested in the Rocky Mountains at the headwaters of the Colorado River it started to become clear to us why we were really here.  I truly believe my father’s decision to place his ashes here were not as much about being there himself, as it was about getting his two daughters back to the Rocky Mountain one more time. 


 You see, our family lives in the Rockies and as children, we visited every year and it was always a huge part of our life.  As adults, however,  my sister and I just didn’t go as much.  Even without his daughters, my dad always made time to visit and Aunt Jeannette and cousins Robert and Lisa, always loved his visits.  The last trip he took was with them to Yellowstone National Park.  I truly believe that was why we were there and why he chose this spot for his ashes…….so Denise and I could remember how much we loved to visit our family and the Colorado Rockies.


One of Captain Bob's Final Resting Places

So, as we cruised across the placid lake, landed on the island while being stalked by a pair of osprey that had made their home on the island, and laid my father to rest by his parents at the top of the island by the rock, shaped like a headstone, we committed to return to this amazing place.  A place where the headwaters of the Colorado River begin, a  place that we explored as children and learned about the world and a place that my dad will forever call home.






Of course the remainder of our trip was not without lots of mishaps, reminiscing and cheesy sightseeing stops.  While traveling, we made sure to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, so we could balance on top of the Continental Divide.  Hours of game viewing, even though the biggest game we saw was a chipmonk and a field mouse.  A stop for a geocache  at the Kauffman House Museum and of course, a stop at Buffalo Bill’s Grave Site because who can resist a highway sign advertising what is sure to be amazing!


Dividing myself up at The Divide
A visit to Buffalo Bill's Grave Site
     

My last thought is this…….as I lay on the top bunk of our bunk beds and joked about how I was laying in bed with my hands on the ceiling, I couldn't help but feel how much my dad would have loved this. The crisp mountain air, the laugh of his girls as we joked about our childhood and lots and lots of stops at ALL of the tourist hot spots.  


For now we will journey home with lots of new tales and memories for our loved ones and maybe even a fish tale or two. Then two weeks from now, we will be departing again on the last Mis-Guided Tour to the Florida Keys. I’m sure having Tristan, Courtney and Suzanne along on this next journey will only add to the adventure.

We love you dad and will continue the journies of Captain Bob’s Mis-Guided Tours

Friday, September 12, 2014

The Arrival of Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tours

When my sister, Denise, and I realized that our dad had set us up for the ultimate Thelma and Louise adventure, we were already in too deep.  We were sitting on the plane on our way to Colorado to place his ashes on an island in a lake in the middle of the Rocky Mountains.   We were reminiscing about the crazy times of our nomadic childhood.  It wasn't the stories themselves that were all too funny, it was the varying perspective that each of us had as we remembered those times.

I would like to share some of the stories that truly stood out for the both of us.  I'm not sure if you will find them as amusing as we did but I hope you will be entertained non the less.

There was the time we enjoyed a week at the Hidden Valley Dude Ranch near Lake George.  We tried every activity, as it was imperative that we tried everything just once.  We were having a blast until it was time for archery, when my dad picked up a cracked arrow and proceeded to shot it directly threw his hand.  He didn't scream or cry like most normal, rational human beings might but advised us calmly that we needed to take a trip to the hospital to remove the arrow.  When we went to the lobby to ask them to call for an ambulance and my dad stood with the wood of the arrow out one end of his hand and feathers out the other and an attorney standing nearby us said, "I'll drive you to the hospital" and proceeded to hand him a business card.  Of course my father wouldn't dream of suing anyone, as that just wasn't the right thing to do in his mind but instead wrapped his heavily bandaged hand in plastic bags with duct tape so he could still participate in the greased watermelon contest in the swimming pool the next day.  Nothing would stop Captain Bob from making sure his family had a good time.

Another time that we were all body surfing at the beach in Wild Wood, New Jersey and my mom gets hit by an enormous wave which proceeds to take the top to her bikini bathing suite out to sea.  Of course my mom has no idea she was flashing the world and stood up to look for her family.  My dad spots this from about 200 feet away and is trying to wave her down to tell her what has happened  but the noise of the waves were just too loud, so she proceeds to wave back joyously as everyone from the beach applauded.

One of our favorite stories was the time that my sister Denise had received a brand new beautiful coat for Easter.  Captain Bob decides it would be great to take a unplanned spin to the Trexler Game Park to enjoy the animals.  It' wasn't until my sister started to screech when we noticed that she was pinned up to the fence of the camel area because the camel had began to eat her new coat while she was wearing it.  Fortunately or unfortunately her arms didn't come out of the sleeves so we didn't loose the whole coat, however, when we pulled it out of the camels mouth and it was covered in green slime, she vowed never to where the coat again.

There were many more great stories that I'm sure we will choose to share but the greatest joke of all was on us as we checked into our great hotel.  It wasn't the fact that the room was the size of a postage stamp with bunk beds,

the fact that we could hear the band playing in town about a mile away because the walls were so thin in our cabin or the fact that the neighbors were so close that we felt like we were in summer camp.  It was the fact that someone built a cabin on the side of a mountain with an amazing view and didn't have the brains to put a window in the room so you could see it.


What's wrong with this picture.

Tonight we had a great dinner at my dad's favorite restaurant, The Rapids
and tomorrow we will take our pontoon boat out onto the lake to put half of my dad's ashes to rest.  We will see what the day brings us but either way we know, that it will contain lots of laughs and lots of good memories.

Have a great night and here is the quote of the day.
"I'm gonna call the front desk and ask if they have horseback riding..........oh wait........there's no freakin phone in this walk in closet.  What the heck?"

Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tours....The Final Chapter

Today, my sister Denise and I will depart on a journey affectionately known as, "Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tour, The Final Chapter".  This is a trip like no other, for it's not a business trip, it's not a vacation, it's an adventure where Denise and I will distribute my father's ashes in his final resting place on an island on Lake Granby in the Colorado Rockies where my grandparents are buried and on a flat in the Florida Keys where my dad fished on a regular basis.  These were his requests, his special places and this is what we will do.

My father, Bob Quier, also know as Captain Bob, passed away suddenly last October of a massive heart attack at the age of 70.  He died in the fashion in which he lived; with a smile on his face, surrounded by friends and doing something he loved.  He was at a Giants / Eagles game in Philadelphia with his best friends Jim and Jane Joyce and their son Christopher, which he attended every year with them.  It was a game of taunting and fun and although he passed away before the game began, his beloved Giants won the game as he watched from heaven.  I can still hear him now cheering Giants, Giants, Giants for Jim's enjoyment. :-P It was a fitting passing for my father, as he never wanted to be sick or be cared for or "have his diaper by his daughters" when he got old, which he often told us.  We were devastated by the loss, but felt fortunate that he lived 70 healthy years and was fishing on his boat just the day before.  We felt lucky he made it to 70, for at age 56, he had become the longest living male in recorded history in our family due to a history of heart disease.  It's taken almost a year for my sister and I to arrange this trip and coordinate our schedules, but today we depart on what is sure to be one of Captain Bob's BEST Mis-Guided Tours.

Now you may be wondering how the name "Mis-Guided Tours" came about.  Well, growing up with Captain Bob was never dull.  It was a well deserved name for the adventures he planned and journeys we took as a family.  You see, we were a family of adventurers, but not to destinations like the plains of Africa or the tundra of the Arctic.  We were adventurers of Americana and the world of the "tourist trap".  The Chevy Chase movie "Vacation" had nothing on our family and a trip to see the World's Largest Ball of Twine was no stranger to us.  We often piled into our car to take last minute trips to Wildwood in New Jersey, Lake George in the Adirondacks and Mount Washington in Vermont to ride the Cog Railroad.  Distance and the length of the car ride were never a problem, as long as you went pee before entering the car because two rules always existed....... you NEVER asked for directions, no matter how lost you are, and you NEVER EVER stopped to use the bathroom.  We often referred to longer journeys to Florida and Colorado as "The Death March", since my dad insisted on driving through the night and only stopping once we begged for hours, unless of course a billboard told us of the largest snake in the world or a sea lion show was being offered.

There was always a mishap and a story to be told of , a hotel that should have been condemned by the health department twenty years prior and a diner for gourmet grub to be savored.  Every journey included two things;  the adventure of an unplanned stop and lots and lots of laughs.  Whether it was a llama eating my sisters brand new coat at the game preserve or my mom flipping a boat trailer in the middle of the interstate, we had the time of our lives from the inside of our car.

So today, my sister and I will depart on our journey of two.  We will reminisce of a simpler time and I will write down the memories for my kids to enjoy.  We will visit with relatives and boat out to the island where my grandparents lay and say goodbye to half of my fathers remains.  We will sleep in bunk beds because the five star hotel was sold out and only a lodge was available and we will remember the simpler days of our childhood.  I hope you join us on our adventure, as we travel across America to take the last Captain Bob's Mis-Guided Tour.

by Amanda Klimak
www.virtuoso.com/advisor/amandaklimak





Tuesday, September 9, 2014

How Disney Does New York City Right! The Disney Difference


Adventures by Disney sure knows how to show people around New York City! As a woman who grew up in the Tri-State area, I visited New York City, on my birthday, since I was 8 years old. I've spent countless days and nights visiting friends and exploring the largest collection of villages in the world and I have to say that, I think, I've seen it all in New York. Well, you can never see it ALL in NYC but I've seen most of the "touristy" stuff. 
You have to expect the best when it comes to anything with the Disney brand on it but yesterday I really experienced the "Disney Difference." Here are my "Only in New York moments" with Adventures by Disney in New York City yesterday! 

My experience started with The Ride. One of the coolest ways to see New York is this ultimate viewing motor coach with stadium seating! THE RIDE uses New York City and its renowned landmarks as the backdrop for a theatrical event that blurs the boundary between tour and performance. The city becomes a stage, and soon you can’t tell where the street ends and the show begins!

THE RIDE gives you a front-row seat to the streets of New York City in a multi-million dollar motor coach that comes equipped with state-of-the-art audio/visual technology, including 40 plasma screen TVs and over 3000 LED lights. Enjoy the performance from the comfort of one-of-a-kind stadium seating and huge panoramic windows. While navigating a 4.2-mile midtown path, our performers and native New Yorkers alike become performers for THE RIDE, showing guests an entirely new side of New York City they can’t see anywhere else.

Next, I was lucky enough to experience another very special tour of the New Amsterdam Theater.  The Walt Disney Company purchased the theater in 1998 with a 99 year lease during the revival of Time Square. We learned about the theater's history along with the amazing efforts that were taken in the 1990's to revive this infamous neighborhood and its "Only in New York" Broadway Theaters. 
My favorite part of this tour was being able to view and try-on costumes and props from Disney Theater Musicals. 
Tropical Fish Fins from The Little Mermaid
From Beauty and the Beast to the Little Mermaid and The Loin King, all access to their theater's prop room was just magical! I could live in this room...


Friday, May 30, 2014

“Did a coconut mojito really make me cry?” My visit to The Modern Honolulu

I just returned from a week in Waikiki and was fortunate enough to stay at The Modern Honolulu for my first time.  From the moment I arrived I was delighted and astonished. The Modern Honolulu defines themselves as “cosmopolitan chic," and that’s exactly what they are.  Sexy and sophisticated.  The aroma of plumeria greeted me immediately upon entry. Now I’ll be the first to admit that at the very mention of perfume (AH-CHOOO!) I sneeze uncontrollably.  But this scent was so very subtle and perfect. I found myself popping down to the lobby throughout the week just to catch another whiff. Well, either that, or to catch another glimpse of the quirky Herbie Fletcher original broken-in-action surfboard back splash.

The rooms were aesthetically divine, so crisp and clean looking; all white with a slight pop of Hawaiian color. I was relaxed just looking at the décor.  No tacky artwork or paisley bedspreads in sight. There are only 310 guest rooms in this hotel, the perfect size boutique setting that I so love.  There was a wedding occurring while I was there and it was absolutely beautiful.  You can actually have your guests sit on chairs IN THE POOL.  Talk about a unique.  (Okay, I should mention that the upper pool is a 4 inch wading pool, but the perfect WOW factor for your wedding!).

Friday, May 9, 2014

The Magical and Peaceful Bulgari Bali is the Definition of Namaste

When I arrived in Bali on January 6, 2014, I was taken back by how much tourism has destroyed the peaceful island that I had remembered when I was nine years old. Staying on the Kuta Beach area in Bali feels a bit like being in an Asian version of South Beach, Miami. Crowded with lots of tourists, loud and a little dirty, kind of neon with lots of hotels, restaurants, beach hustling locals and outdoor shopping malls. 
The next beach town close by to Kuta is called Semiyak. This area of Bali is more the American version of Kuta Beach. A little more secluded than Kuta with hidden luxury hotels off a main strip filled with small, amazing restaurants and unique, boutique shopping. 
By day three, we reach Ulawatu Beach or Dreamland Beach where my family and I had afternoon tea at sunset to celebrate my birthday in Bali. They named it Dreamland Beach because 20 years ago when Bali was filled with mostly surfers, they would come here and lay out naked after a long day of ripping through the epic waves. Que entering the Bulgari Resort ...


The Bulgari Bali is the definition of namaste to me. The resort is located about 45 minutes from the airport and is on the only part of the island where you can see the sun rise and set in the same location. When you enter the grounds, you are greeted by security and you must be on their list in order to enter the property. The gates open and the first thing you see is a temple which looks down over the cliff of hidden suites and villas over looking the ocean throughout the grounds. At the main lobby we met our guide who took us around the hilly property on a golf cart. When staying at the Bulgari, you can call the front desk to have this person take you to other areas of the resort like the spa, two restaurants, infinity pool and sun deck with luxurious and modern lounging areas or the sun cafe where we enjoyed our afternoon tea. The property has a magical Asian inspiration throughout but in tradition with other Bulgari properties, they hold true to their Italian traditions in their restaurants. The modern suites of dark woods and natural stone are situated in the cliff side, so you wake up to glass walls that can open up to your infinity plug pool over the Indian Ocean. You literally can see the ocean and its never ending waters right from your bed. Na-ma-ste

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Visit Turks & Caicos Islands Where the Hotel is More Than a Place to Sleep

There are SO many reasons to visit Turks & Caicos Islands, but I just discovered another one. The Regent Palms Hotel.  I’m sorry but for those people that say "Oh, I don’t care where I stay or what kind of hotel it is, I just need a place to sleep," they seriously need a reality check!  It does matter, to me, what hotel I stay at and I think I just about found the absolute most perfect place to stay...


Let’s just start by saying that Turks is not just your regular ‘run of the mill’ Caribbean island destination!  Everything is just a little bit more ‘special’ here….the water color is more fabulous, the hotels & resorts are more magnificent, the food tastes just a bit more delicious, the pedestrian shopping area is a bit cleaner & nicer, and the people are just SO friendly!  But, it’s not for everyone.  If you are not a beach-goer and don’t enjoy being in the sun, or you don’t enjoy water activities, then by all means – STAY AWAY!  
There is no nightlife to speak of other than their tiny little casino that mainly locals frequent, and there isn't much going on after dinner at the hotels. So get active during the day and enjoying spectacular water sport activities and having fun in the sun, then have a late dinner, and sit by a fire pit or out on your balcony with a nice glass of wine and enjoy the company of your travel companions and then call it a day.  It truly makes for an extremely relaxing time!


The Regent Palms Hotel is absolutely spectacular!  From the minute you arrive until the time of departure you are made to feel warm and welcomed. Friendly staff greets you in the lobby area with some nice cold towels and refreshing cucumber juice.  Check-in is easy, efficient and a staff member quickly escorts you to your room which is quite a bit more than a room. From the Junior Suites to the Penthouse Suites, you really can't go wrong. The accommodations are very luxurious, marble everywhere, stainless steel appliances, Nespresso coffee makers, all kinds of kitchen gadgets in the one bedroom suites that you could possibly need along with beautiful balconies, comfortable living room furniture, heavenly bedding, bathrooms that you could have a party for 20 people in, and the list goes on & on.  

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

The Best of Holiday Travel- European Christmas Markets and Austrian Delicatessen

We landed at the Munich Airport on a cold and gray day and took a transport (a bus) 2 hours to Innsbruck. As soon as we dropped off our luggage at the hotel, we headed to the Old Town area - a five minute walk - and stumbled upon one of the most beautiful streets I've ever seen. If I hadn't been so jet lagged, I would have appreciated it more!



This is the ugliest street in Innsbruck. Only kidding! There is a commercial side to Innsbruck but the old town area is what everyone comes for. It is uniquely beautiful with a mix of architectural styles and the stunning background. We hired a private guide who showed us many hidden gems in Innsbruck, shared restaurant choices and the best bars to go to. She even showed us where one of the Von Trapp descendants lives.



Thursday, January 2, 2014

Epic Family Journey to My Father's Birthplace in Indonesia

Selamat Tahun Baru! Happy New Year! The Siregar’s began their New Year on the island of Sumatra, my dad’s birth place. On the first day of 2014 we landed in Medan, Indonesia, the capital of Sumatra. 
Jennifer, Toto and Jessica Siregar at Lake Toba

This day shall also be known as the day I lost my passport, twice! Once before I left the hotel in Jakarta and once as we waited for our baggage in Medan. After a 2 1/2 flight from Jakarta we landed in Medan and we’re immediately surprised as to how modern the airport was and how many people were at the airport, at what seemed they were just hanging out there. I immediately realized I left my passport and itineraries in the seat pocket on the plane and literally sprinted back just in time! About two minutes before it pulled back to fly again. Whew!! Setting us up for the turbulent ups and downs for what lied ahead…



We met our driver/guide named Saleh at the airport. We found out the airport was newly opened in August and because of New Year holiday, many people took their day off to check out the new airport. So they were just hanging out. Well the large amount of people certainly did not stop at the airport as a 3-4 hour drive turned into a 6-7 hour road trip packed with trucks, motor bikes, rubber trees, burning garbage and lots of playing chicken on the road with other SUV's to get us to Lake Toba  as quickly as possible. There were people everywhere!