Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, February 2013 Issue
Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright 2013
All Rights Reserved.
Editor: Nicki Chodnoff
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Bulloch County Courthouse, Statesboro, GA
Free Admission to Callaway Gardens
|It may be winter but there are lots of things to do and see at Callaway Gardens, in Pine Mountain, GA.
If you visited Callaway Gardens before, Callaway Gardens want to show appreciation for your patronage and support for their mission to connect people with nature with a special offer. If you never visited Callaway Gardens, you can visit at no cost on special dates.
Free admission is available weekdays through February 2013. Regular admission applies on Feb. 18, 2013. The Gardens are open daily 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Callaway Gardens or 800/225-5292.
Nepal Package, 7 Nights from $1,104
|Explore the historic and natural wonders of Nepal with a seven night travel package.
The Real Deal Vacation package to Nepal includes three nights at the Hotel Shanker in Kathmandu; two nights at the Royal Park Hotel in Chitwan National Park; two nights at the Hotel Barahi in Pokhara; daily breakfast, two lunches, two dinners; a sightseeing package that includes ground transportation, entrance fees, and tours of Kathmandu, Pokhara—including a boat ride on Phewa Lake and Chitwan National Park, among others. Prices start from $1,104 per person including all taxes and fees.
- Seven nights accommodation in twin sharing rooms at listed hotel or equivalent.
- Daily buffet breakfast.
- Transportation /transfers by air-conditioned vehicle as per itinerary.
- Half day tour of Pashupatinath, Kathmandu city and Swayambhunath.
- Full day tour of Bhadgoan, Bodhnath and Patan city.
- Half day sightseeing tour of Pokhara city and one hour boat ride on Phewa lake.
- Visit Sarangkot for spectacular view of sunrise.
- Service of English speaking guide during sightseeing tour.
- All entrance fees on the spot and road taxes, parking fee, fuel charges, interstate taxes.
All hotel taxes and fees are included in the package price. A $25 Nepal visa is not included and may be obtained on arrival. The price is based on double occupancy; the single supplement is $450.
This package is a moneysaver as a three night stay with breakfast at the Hotel Shanker starts at $347 per person, two nights with breakfast at the Royal Park Hotel start at $60 per person, and two nights with breakfast at the Hotel Barahi start at $127 per person. So, the hotel portion would cost $534 per person including taxes and fees. For $570 more, this package gets you seven nights in three Nepalese locales, and includes all taxes and fees, daily breakfast, and four additional meals, plus an extensive touring package that covers all ground transportation to the three locations, and trips to some of the country's most scenic and historic sights, guided tours, and entrance fees.
Roundtrip airfare from Los Angeles or San Francisco can be added to the package for an additional $1,458 per person including taxes and fees. Extend your vacation with additional nights at the Hotel Shanker from $120 per room per night, or the Royal Park Hotel from $100 per room per night. A "Deluxe" package accommodation upgrade is available for an additional $242 per person, substituting the Shangri-La Hotel in Kathmandu, the Tigerland Safari Resort in Chitwan, and the Shangri-La Village Resort in Pokhara.
The package is available through Mar. 31, 2013.
Sayang Holidays or 888/472-9264.
Croatia, Slovenia Tours
|The 11 day Affordable Croatia and Slovenia escorted package from Gate 1 Travel starts at $1879 for accommodations and airfare.
The package includes:
- Roundtrip flight from New York to Venice. Other departure cities available.
- Airline taxes & fuel surcharges
- Nine nights’ accommodations
- Two nights in Bristol or Grand hotels, Opatija
- One night Radisson Blu Resort or Hotel Atrium, Split
- Three nights Hotel Lacroma, Dubrovnik
- One night Hotel Westin, Zagreb
- Two nights Golf Hotel or Park Hotel, Bled
- All transfers
- 11 meals: nine breakfasts, two dinners
- Sightseeing in air-conditioned motor coach
- English-speaking tour manager
- Local guides in Split, Dubrovnik and Zagreb
- Entrance fees per itinerary
The Feb. 14 departure is $1879. Departures on Feb. 21 and 28, Mar. 7, 14 and 28, and Apr. 4, 11 and 25, 2013 range from $1949 to $2189.
Land only package is available and does not include arrival/departure transfers, nor are transfers included if flight schedule does not meet specific criteria.
Mar. 7, Mar. 14, Mar. 28, Apr. 4, Apr. 11, Apr. 18 and May 2, 2013, departures stay at the Grand Hotel 4 Opatijska Cvijeta in Opatja and Park Hotel in Bled.
The Mar. 21, 2013 departure will stay at Grand Hotel 4 Opatijska Cvijeta in Opatija and the Hotel Lovec in Bled.
The Apr. 25, 2013 departure will stay at the Grand Hotel Adriatic, in Opatija.
Gate 1 Travel or 800/682-3333.
Up to 40% Off Telluride Resort Lodging
|Stay seven nights or more with Telluride Resort Lodging during select dates and receive 40 percent off your stay. The discount does not apply to stays from Feb. 16 to 22, 2013 and Mar. 2 to 23, 2013.
Discounted stays for less than seven nights are available with 30 percent off five night stays and 25 percent off four night stays.
Discounted rates are good through Apr. 8, 2013.
Telluride Resort Lodging or 800/778-8581.
New Life Hiking Spa $350 off Weight Loss Retreat
|BOOK BY FEB. 9 - - New Life Hiking Spa in Killington, VT offers $350 off the 11 night weight loss retreat in celebration of its 35th anniversary.
New Life Hiking Spa’s regular prices range from $229 to $259 per night. The price includes a room, three meals per day, fresh fruit and vegetables as snacks, one guided hike every day (three levels offered to accommodate everyone’s fitness needs), all fitness and yoga classes, one massage for every three night stay and evening lectures and cooking demos.
A special rate of $350 off the total price of an eleven night weight loss retreat or $25 per night off any length of stay is offered. All reservations must be booked by Feb. 9, 2013. Dates and restrictions are on the spa’s website.
New Life Hiking Spa is open mid-May through the end of September.
New Life Hiking Spa or 802/353-2954.
Seabourn 2013 Signature Savings Event
|Seabourn’s Signature Savings Event offers savings and value-added extras on a selection of 100 voyages on its fleet of all-suite ships throughout 2013 and 2014.
The Signature Savings selection includes cruises of seven to 21 days on all six Seabourn ships in the Mediterranean, Northern Europe, Atlantic Crossings, Arabia & India, Southeast Asia, Canada & New England, the Caribbean, and Australia & New Zealand.
Signature Savings Fares are up to 50 percent or more below published brochure fares. In addition, there are combination cruises offering an additional savings up to 15 percent for combining two or more cruises, and some combinations offer free Veranda Suite upgrades. Bookings made in Penthouse or premium category suites will earn an additional $1,000 per suite shipboard credit. Book by Feb. 28, 2013 for best selection.
Seabourn's ships carry between 208 and 450 guests in ocean-view suites. Free open bars throughout the voyage and open-seating dining add to a relaxed ambiance. Meals are served in a variety of venues, and the onboard entertainment options are varied.
Seabourn or 800/929-9391.
Marriott Rewards MegaBonus Returns with Free Nights
|Marriott Rewards brings back its MegaBonus promotion. Marriott Rewards members can earn up to three free nights for stays at participating Marriott International hotels worldwide. Members earn a free night for every two paid stays through Apr. 20, 2013.
The free night award at a category 1 to 4 hotel is achieved after each second paid stay through Apr. 30, 2013. A stay is defined as consecutive nights spent at the same hotel, regardless of check-in/check-out activity. There is a maximum of three free night awards earned with this promotion per member. Free night award will expire one year after the date of issuance. An earned free night award is good for one single or double occupancy standard room only and includes the cost of the hotel room and applicable room taxes only. An earned free night award will be added to the member's account within three to five business days after the second qualifying stay. Members electing to earn miles are not eligible for this promotion.
Members must register by Mar. 15, 2013 and can call 888/627-7468 in the US and Canada.
Participating brands include JW Marriott, EDITION, Autograph Collection Hotels, Renaissance Hotels, AC Hotels by Marriott, Marriott Hotels & Resorts, Gaylord Hotels, Courtyard by Marriott, SpringHill Suites by Marriott, Fairfield Inn & Suites by Marriott, Residence Inn by Marriott, TownePlace Suites by Marriott, and Marriott Vacation Club. Stays at hotel partner, The Ritz-Carlton, count toward achievement.
Marriott Rewards is free to join and has no blackout dates. Members can earn and redeem points at more 3,600 Marriott International hotels around the world. Members can also redeem points for frequent flyer miles, cruises, car rentals, merchandise and more.
Marriott Rewards or 800/450-4442.
Princess Cruises Wave Season Cruise Deals
|BOOK BY FEB. 15 - - Princess Cruises starts 2013 with its “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” sale for wave season. You can save on cruise prices and airfare when booking with Princess eZAir. Featured cruise deals will save you up to $1,000 per stateroom plus up to $1,000 savings per couple on airfare.
The “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” sale includes cruises in Europe and Alaska, with voyages to the Mediterranean, the Greek Isles, the Holy Land, the British Isles, Scandinavia & Russia, and Alaska. Full cruisetours of Alaska by land and sea are also featured.
Sample cruise deals include:
- Greek Isles cruise – 12 days: $2,529 balcony (was $3,029); $1,879 interior (was $2,129). Air savings: $500
- Grand Mediterranean cruise – 12 days: $3,094 balcony (was $3,244); $2,244 interior (was $2,389). Air savings: $500
- Holy Land cruise – 12 days: $2,974 balcony (was $3,624); $2,374 interior (was $2,824). Air savings: $500
- British Isles cruise – 12 days: $2,844 balcony (was $3,194); $2,144 interior (was $2,294). Air savings: $400
- Scandinavia & Russia cruise – 11 days: $2,829 balcony (was $3,129); $2,129 interior (was $2,229). Air savings: $400
- Alaska cruise – 7 days: $1,299 balcony (was $1,399). Air savings: $100
- Alaska cruisetour – Denali Explorer – 10 nights: $1,963 balcony (was $2,113). Air savings: $100
All cruise prices are per person, based on double occupancy and include government fees and taxes. The “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” sale runs through Feb. 15, 2013, and is available to residents of the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico and Mexico.
Princess Cruises “Cruise Deals & Air Steals” or 800/PRINCESS.
Cunard Savings for Transatlantic, European Voyages
|Cunard offers savings on select transatlantic crossings aboard Queen Mary 2, and European cruises on board Queen Elizabeth and Queen Victoria. In addition, savings on airfare, up to $1000 per couple, are available on select European cruises.
Fares from $999 per person, based on double occupancy (including government fees and taxes) are available for the following seven-day 2013-2014 transatlantic crossings:
- Apr. 26: Westbound, Southampton to New York, $999
- May 3: Eastbound, New York to Southampton, $1045
- May 25: Westbound, Southampton to New York, $1057
- Dec. 15: Westbound, Southampton to New York, $1057
- Jan. 3, 2014: Eastbound, New York to Southampton, $1045
On voyages to Europe of 12 days or more, Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth passengers receive up to $1,000 in savings on airfare per couple when flights are booked via the Cunard CompleteAir programme.
Queen Elizabeth's fly-cruise Mediterranean programme can extend your stay in Athens, Rome or Venice up to two days before or after the voyage calls there.
Additionally, booking a Britannia Club balcony stateroom on the Queen Elizabeth May 26 Norwegian Fjords & North Cape Explorer can save up to $1,200 per stateroom in cruise fare.
Fares are available on a space-available basis at time of reservation and do not include air travel. The offer expires Mar. 9, 2013.
Cunard or 800/728-6273.
Insight Vacations Early Bird Promotion
|Early payment discounts are often the best way to save on a trip. Insight Vacations recommends booking early to get the best deals for land and air.
For example, couples can save up to $960 with Insight's new Early Payment Discount (EPD) when applied to the Aug. 22 departure of the Romantic European trip. The discount is up to 7.5 percent when paid in full by Feb. 28, 2013 for travel in 2013.
If you traveled with Insight before, Early Payment Discounts can be combined with Frequent Traveler Discounts, so past travelers can save up to $1,600 per couple. The $1,600 savings is based on the 10 percent Early Payment Discount and 5 percent Frequent Traveler Discount applied to the Aug. 22, 2013 departure of Insight's Romantic European.
Booking early also lets you take advantage of lower air prices that typically come earlier in the season.
Insight Vacation’s groups are limited to 40 passengers and include an experienced tour director, sightseeing, many meals, and staying in centrally or scenically located hotels. Insight's reconfigured coaches offer more legroom.
Insight Vacations or 888/680-1241.
Truck Driver Safety Tips for Travelers
|A group of professional truck drivers with millions of accident-free miles offer advice on how to navigate through highway traffic and arrive at your destination safely.
- Prepare you vehicle for long distance travel: Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance before you leave your home can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road.
- Plan ahead: Before you get on a highway, know your exit by name and number, and watch the signs as you near the off-ramp. Drivers making unexpected lane changes to exit often cause accidents.
- Do not cut in front of large trucks: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.
- Be aware of truck blind spots: When sharing the road with large trucks, be aware of their blind spots. If you can't see the truck driver in his or her mirrors, then the truck driver can't see you.
- Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire repair kit and flares.
- Be aware of changes in weather: Weather conditions across the U.S. continually change - especially during early mornings and evenings with the cold. Watch for ice, snow and other weather related obstacles.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.
- Leave early and avoid risks: Leave early so you won't be anxious about arriving late and to accommodate delays. Road conditions may change due to inclement weather or traffic congestion.
- Avoid extreme weather conditions: Ice, hail and snow make roads difficult to travel. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.
- Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to insure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don't allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
- Be aware of the vehicle in front of you: Leave extra room between you and the vehicle in front so you can avoid snow and ice blowing onto your windshield or maneuver around patches of ice.
- Slow Down: With highway congestion speeding becomes more dangerous. Allow plenty of a space cushion and reduce your speed.
- Buckle up: Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.
American Trucking Association.
Combine Auto Tours Europe’s French Tours and Save
|Auto Tours Europe, the company that offers flexibility and lower costs than similar tours taken by bus, offers two French itineraries which let you explore many of the country’s best cultural and historical landmarks. When these two tours are combined, Auto Tours Europe will subsidize up to $130 in transfer costs per person.
The eight-day “Provence & the Riviera” tour explores the regions along France’s Mediterranean coast and nearby inland cities and villages. It begins in Marseille and after a day, you pick up a car and drive through the Provencal countryside at your own pace. You spend two nights in Avignon then in Nice for two nights. St. Tropez and Toulon round out the itinerary.
The nine-day “Normandy, Brittany & Loire Valley” itinerary focuses on the northwest area – Paris, Honfleur and Rouen, to name a few. Your first two nights are in Paris. The first stop on the drive is Rouen, followed by Honfleur and the resort town of Deauville. The drive to St. Malo takes in the D-Day landing beaches of Normandy. Before you spend two nights in Ambroise, you drive through the Loire Valley with its famous local wines.
Pricing ranges from $1,488 to $1,654 for Provence and $1,680 to $1,810 for Normandy. The 17-day combined trip ranges from $3,168 to $3,464 per person, based on double occupancy. Couples going together (two double rooms but one car) save more with rates 20 percent to 25 percent lower.
Auto Tours Europe allows you to decide which sites to bypass so you can spend more time on what you wish to see. Auto Tours Europe’s itineraries often match motor coach tours, but allow you to avoid the timetable that must be followed. Auto Tours Europe also gives you the freedom to choose where to enjoy a meal, skip or include shopping stops, and stop worrying about being on time.
Vehicles are supplied through Hertz and include the NeverLost GPS system, offering directions, points of interest and weather. Included are nightly accommodations in first-class hotels; daily breakfast; the Hertz rental car (Intermediate class and above) with all vehicle insurance coverage and unlimited mileage; a “Sights to See” guide; all hotel taxes and service charges; and ongoing support when required throughout the tour.
Auto Tours Europe or 866/570-1431.
Hilton Urgent Vacation Care Center Offers Contest, Discounts
|Hilton Worldwide activates its Hilton Urgent Vacation Care Center to urge people to take weekend getaways and longer vacations. Through Feb. 28, 2013, Hilton offers relief by giving Hilton Urgent Vacation Care Center visitors a chance to win one of 15 Hilton weekend getaways.
No purchase is necessary to enter or win. You must be 21 or older to enter. The contest ends Feb. 28, 2013. Fifteen (15) total winners each receive two Be My Guest Certificates each valid for one night of free lodging in one standard room and corresponding taxes at any Hilton Hotels & Resorts property worldwide. Additional terms, conditions and restrictions apply and can be viewed online. See complete Official Rules at www.vacationcarecenter.hilton.com.
Hilton Urgent Vacation Care Center features a Global Vacation Alert Level, a real-time interactive map showing varying vacation need levels by country based on collective personal diagnoses completed through the site. Other components include a recovery room dedicated to special travel offers, an overview of leisure-related survey results spanning from 1989 to the present and the latest leisure news from Hilton.
Hilton gives added incentive to make the most of your weekends all year through the Any Weekend, Anywhere sale. You can save up to 40 percent on weekend stays completed through Dec. 31, 2013, at participating hotels and resorts. Exact discounts will vary by brand, hotel and region.
Any Weekend, Anywhere sale.
Land O'Frost Family Adventure Contest
|Land O'Frost, a family-owned packaged lunch meat company, offers an opportunity for 1,500 families to win in their "Hungry for Adventure" national promotion.
Look for special codes on packages of Land O'Frost Premium in grocery stores that can be entered online for a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to either the Galapagos Islands or Alaska.
The grand prize winner will receive a trip for four aboard the National Geographic Sea Lion through Alaska to spot black and brown bears and breaching humpback whales with experienced naturalists or snorkel amid sea turtles, penguins and sea lions in the Galapagos Islands.
In addition to the grand prize trip, 1,500 first prize winners will receive National Geographic's "10 Best of Everything Families" edition book. All consumers who enter their code during the "Hungry for Adventure" promotion will gain instant access to view a special National Geographic video.
To help families get the maximum amount of enjoyment from their vacation, National Geographic's "10 Best of Everything Families" edition book offers the following travel tips for families:
- Consider Going Local: Local destinations can spark interest in active discovery. Most are low cost and many are free.
- Connect Travel with Learning: Learning happens everywhere! Consider your child's educational level and interests. It can help you plan trips that supplement school topics and introduce new ways of thinking.
- Plan Ahead: Refer to websites of your destinations before embarking on your trip. At the same time, be flexible. The best adventures can take you by surprise.
- Go to the Library: Read novels or see movies that are set in different countries if your trip takes you abroad. You'll absorb new ideas about geography, languages and history.
- Pack a Day Pack: A flat-bottomed canvas bag with pockets makes a nice travel caddy. Pack it with maps, itineraries, sunscreen, spare sunglasses and a pad of paper and pencils. Add some empty plastic bags to use as trash receptacles.
For full rules and to enter a code.
SuperShuttle Winter Sale
|SuperShuttle, a shared ride service to and from 39 airports, gives you a break with 10 percent discounts on total fare for airport transfers booked through Mar. 15, 2013. The "Winter Sale" is available on all shared ride trip fares.
Travel on SuperShuttle allows you to earn airline points and miles on participating carriers including; Delta Air Lines SkyMiles, Frontier Airlines EarlyReturns, Southwest Rapid Rewards, United Airlines Mileage Plus and US Airways Dividend Miles programs.
Supershuttle "Winter Sale".
Club Med "World is On Sale"
|Club Med, an all-inclusive brand with more than 80 resorts worldwide, offers seven-night all-inclusive getaways from $799 per person for families and couples with "The World is on Sale" limited deal. The Club Med Membership fee of $60 per adult and $30 per child is additional. The offer does not include airfare and is valid for new individual bookings.
Escape to more than 60 all-inclusive sun and ski resorts worldwide including properties in the Caribbean, Mexico, France, Switzerland, Brazil, Indonesia and Thailand. For these rates, you must book by Mar. 5, 2013 for travel on select dates through Aug. 23, 2013.
Club Med's ski resorts offer ski-in ski-out access to the largest ski domains in Europe, international cuisine and accommodations in chalets. Club Med's ski resorts accommodate every type of skier and a professional ski school for all levels starting at four years old. For non-skiers, Club Med ski villages offer activities from hiking, snowshoeing, Nordic walking, dogsledding, ice-skating and ice diving.
For sun destinations, Club Med accommodations include Club Med Ixtapa Pacific in Mexico, Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic and Columbus Isle in the Bahamas. Club Med provides activities to suit all interests while catering to families with children's programs from ages four months to 17 years old, including petit tennis, golf, sailing, circus school and Zumbatomic.
For family vacations the price is per adult, double occupancy based on a seven-night stay in a Club Room at Sandpiper Bay. You must stay a three-night minimum to qualify, a seven-night minimum if traveling to Columbus Isle.
For couples and singles the price is per person, double occupancy based on a standard seven-night stay in a Club Room at Turkoise. The offer requires a three-night minimum stay to qualify, seven-night minimum if traveling to Columbus Isle. For Turkoise all guests must be 18 and older.
A Club Med all-inclusive vacation includes everything in one price: Dining throughout the day prepared by international chefs, a full open bar with premium alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Take part in activities throughout the day and enjoy nightly entertainment every evening.
Club Med "World is On Sale or 800/ClubMed.
Spring Specials Hilton Sandestin Beach Resort
|BOOK BY FEB. 11, 2013 - - Hilton Sandestin Beach Golf Resort & Spa, in Destin, FL, welcomes spring with specials for winter-weary visitors in search of an affordable beach vacation.
With the Early Spring Break special, book your spring break stay by Feb. 11, 2013 for the season's lowest rates: from $199 per night plus upgraded beach-view accommodations for stays Mar. 1 through Apr. 30, 2013. Mention code "ES". A two-night minimum consecutive stay is required and reservations must be paid in full at the time of booking. Reservations are non-refundable and cannot be cancelled or adjusted in any way. Mention code "ES" when booking.
If you choose the March into Spring package, you receive a special rate, a room upgrade and free extras. Available Mar. 1 to 31, 2013, the package starts at $279 per night and includes daily breakfast for two, daily beach set-up and one $30 credit for food and beverage at any restaurant outlet on the property. A children's buffet is available for ages six to 12 at additional cost. Children five and under can eat free with an adult who pays for the buffet. Mention code "MH".
The Picture Perfect Fun package, for stays Mar. 1 through May 23, 2013, starts at $259 per night. The package includes upgraded beach-view accommodations, daily beach set-up and breakfast for two, plus a disposable camera. A children's buffet is available for ages six to 12 at additional cost. Children five and under can eat free with an adult who pays for the buffet. Mention code "OZ".
Reservations are non-refundable and cannot be cancelled or adjusted in any way, are based on a three night minimum consecutive stay and double occupancy. These offers are not applicable to existing reservations or contracted groups.
Hilton Sandestin Beach Hotel or 800/559-1805.
Save $600 per Couple on 17-Night India Trip
|Book by Mar. 1, 2013 and save $600 per couple on Geringer Global Travel’s 17-night Adventure and Cultural India Journey.
- Visit the Nizzamuddin tomb of famous Sufi saints, accompanied by a local NGO in Delhi;
- Jeep safari to National Park Reserve of Ranthambore to view tigers;
- Bishnoi village safari in Jodhpur to learn conservation practices
- Boat ride on Lake Pichola and join a local artist for a discussion
The trip balances urban culture, heritage sites, and rural adventure. It begins in Delhi and continues to Agra, Ranthambore National Park, the palaces of Jaipur, Nimaj, Jaisalmer, Rohet and Udaipur.
Prices start at $9,125 per person, double occupancy for travel through Mar. 31, 2013. The price starts from $9,690 per person, double, for travel Oct. 1 through Dec. 22, 2013. The price includes luxury accommodations, site entrance fees, all transport services, guided English tours, some meals and cultural activities. International airfare, airport taxes, passport and visa fees, insurance and personal expenses are not included.
Geringer Global Travel or 877/ 255-7438.
Georgia’s Highway Byways – article and photos by Nicki Chodnoff
|Many times during your travels you arrive at your destination and wind up in a tourist bubble.
Where you stay, the places you eat and things you do are only shared by other tourists. You rarely get to mingle with locals, let alone talk with them.
Travel through the many small towns in Georgia and you’ll surely break out of that tourist bubble. It’s as easy as straying from the main north/south route through Georgia, the route traveled by so many vacationers.
One of those north/south routes is scenic Highway 301. Now a pre-interstate relic, it was completed in the 1940s and, for many years, was the route from New York to Florida along the eastern shores of the United States.
Statesboro is Georgia’s largest town along Highway 301. You can easily break out of your tourist bubble and meet the locals. You’ll see the town is not just billboards and service stations. Stop at a restaurant or at an antique store and people will stop and talk.
A lot of life in Statesboro centers around Georgia Southern University. The thriving town an hour from the coast of Georgia has plenty to offer away from campus. With hot summers, mild winters and plenty of parks in the area, Statesboro is a good place to enjoy the outdoors.
The Georgia Southern University Botanical Garden allows you to experience the outdoors and long-ago life on the Southern Coastal Plain. The 11-acre garden is centered on a historical site and cultural heritage center with an early 20th century farmstead, a restored historic farmhouse and barn and the Oak Grove one-room schoolhouse, all filled with authentic relics of the era. The gardens preserve a wide array of native plants, Southern gardens, and microhabitats of the coastal plain.
Georgia Southern University Museum – The highlight of the museum is the Hall of Natural History. In my opinion the stars of the Hall are the 26-foot Mosasaur and Vogtle whale. Known as the T-Rex of the sea, the 78-million year old Mosasaur is the most complete Mosasaur skeleton found in the world. Interestingly, it was related to the snake. The 11-foot long Vogtle whale, a 42 million year old whale specimen, shows a whale in transition. It had characteristics of whales, dolphins and land mammals. There are enough dinosaur skeletons and a hands-on area for children to keep everyone in the family educated and entertained.
The Georgia Southern University archaeology students unearthed artifacts at Camp Lawton, a Civil War stockade and prison. An exhibit at the Hall of Natural History tells about the camp, built to be the South's largest prisoner of war camp, but only functioned for six weeks. The 10,299 prisoners who were watched by 900 guards were evacuated in 1864 as General William T. Sherman came close on his march to the sea. The museum's exhibit tells the story of Camp Lawton through artifacts, photographs and maps including uniform buttons, a picture frame, coins, utensils, bullets and objects fashioned by Union prisoners. www.georgiasouthern.edu/museum
While on campus, take in a show at the Georgia Southern University Performing Arts Center ceps.georgiasouthern.edu/pac. This magnet for national touring shows and local productions has it all, from plays and musicals to ballet and the symphony.
Georgia Southern University Center for Wildlife Education and Raptor Center came about from a long standing tradition. Before each home football game and at commencement, an American bald eagle named Freedom, flies over the Georgia Southern University stadium. An American bald eagle is a fitting mascot as the university’s football team is called the Eagles. Freedom has a history. He was found in Florida and had a misshapen beak so he could not survive in the wild.
To provide Freedom a home, the university created the Wildlife Education Center and the Lamar Q Ball, Jr. Raptor Center . The more than 17 acre site includes five acres of outdoor habitats where you can see how raptors live in the wild, a 12-acre Wetland Preserve and a no-barrier nature trail with an elevated boardwalk with a “bird’s eye view” of an eagle’s nest, including an eagle. The 150-seat amphitheater is used for live wildlife programs and flight shows where injured raptors like Freedom, who cannot survive in the wild, educate the public. Display animals are native to Georgia.
Like in many college towns, the arts thrive in Statesboro, and modern galleries rub shoulders with antique stores, which reflect the area's long history. The Saturday morning Main Street Farmers Market is across the street from the Averitt Center and the Neoclassical Revival 1894 Bulloch County Courthouse which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The market is a source of fresh, local produce, homemade crafts and homemade foods.
First Fridays, as the name implies, is when you can gallery hop and discover local and regional artists on Main Street Statesboro. From 5:30 p.m., merchants and restaurants are open late and offer specials to First Friday participants. A good starting point is the Averitt Center, formerly the Bank of Statesboro. Their Main Gallery offers a new fine art exhibit nearly every month
Head southwest from Statesboro, still along the less traveled byways, and you’ll come upon Meter, GA. The locals like to say, “it’s better in Metter.” Downtown Metter is home to historic buildings, including a welcome center housed in a 1928 lumber mill commissary, a domed courthouse, and a 1902 restored train depot. No matter where you go around town, you’ll find a friendly and welcoming atmosphere. Take the self-guided walking tour of turn-of-the-century homes and take a sightseeing break at what may be Metter’s best known attraction, Guido Gardens.
The gardens are always open and are an island of tranquility that can bring some peace into your day. Garden paths go past koi fish ponds. Beautiful plantings of flowers are highlighted by waterfalls, fountains, gazebos and a 24-hour chapel where you can sit for quiet reflection.
The Garden is home to the Seeds from the Sower Michael Guido Studios, production home of the world-wide Sower Broadcasts.
At Christmas, Guido Gardens hosts “Nights of Lights,” an annual display that starts on Thanksgiving. The gardens are decorated with nearly a million lights. There is no cost to stroll through the gardens or view the holiday lights.
Head southwest from Metter and you’ll come upon Vidalia, of Vidalia onion fame.
For all things onion, at stop at the Vidalia Onion Museum is a must. – ; Who would think that an onion can start so much drama. Vidalia, Ga’s trademarked sweet onion is a coveted ingredient in recipes and the cause of fistfights, court battles and counterfeiting.
So the museum dedicated to Georgia's official state vegetable, which opened in 2011, explains the science behind why onions grown in southern Georgia turn out so mild (low-sulfur soil) and provides recipes.
The museum's centerpiece is the history, through photos, newspaper clippings and videotaped interviews, that tell how a few Depression-era farmers started growing onions to supplement their cotton and tobacco harvests.
Who knew that only 20 counties in Georgia can grow and sell onions under the Vidalia name, by order of state and federal law. Each year onion farmers ship about 200 million pounds of Vidalias, valued at $150 million. There’s even an Onion Sheriff, Bob Stafford, who makes sure no one tries to pass off other onions as Vidalias. Counterfeiters who try to bag and tag imposter onions with Vidalia labels to fetch premium prices are subject to a $10,000 fine.
One corner is dedicated to TV clips and pop-culture curios such as the country song: "Sweet Vidalia/ You always gotta make me cry."
About 40 miles northwest of Vidalia, you’ll come across Milledgeville, which was the capital of Georgia until the end of the Civil War. The Old Governor's Mansion, now Georgia College & State University’s oldest building on campus, has been part of a lot of history and provides an authentic peek into the Antebellum South. Built in 1839, the mansion served as the official residence of Georgia governors until 1868. One of the most notable examples of High Greek Revival architecture in Georgia and the nation, during the Civil War, the mansion hosted parties where Confederate soldiers gave riotous speeches. The mansion was claimed by Union soldiers during the Civil War by General William T. Sherman as he marched toward the sea, when he headquartered in the building on November 22, 1864.
After the Civil War, Georgia’s seat of government was relocated to Atlanta and the mansion was abandoned. The mansion was given to what is now Georgia College & University. Rooms are restored with to-the-era furnishings. Tours give you a glimpse into a building that easily looks like it fits into a “Gone With The Wind” scene.
Agritourism will take you from Milledgeville to Haddock, GA where you have friends you haven’t met yet. Visit Marsha and Darryl Herrin at Olive Forge Herb Farm, 161 Brown's Crossing, Haddock, GA 31033 (478) 932-5737. and you leave having them as friends.
Darryl and Marsha started their business, an herb farm with 360 varieties of herbs including more than 15 varieties of Rosemary, as a haven from city life and a place to relax and appreciate nature in the woods on Browns Crossing Road. The Herrin’s named their 15-acre farm after the woman who counseled them to follow their heart.
When visiting Georgia’s only herb farm, be prepared for a time warp, the atmosphere and the Herrins seem firmly planted in the 1960s, the age of Aquarius. The farm looks like a lush Garden of Eden with beautiful and useful plants and herbs thriving everywhere.
Twenty years ago, the couple thought about retirement and had an interest in alternative medicine. The Herrin’s imagined retirement would mean sleeping all day and reading all night. Retirement didn’t last long. In less than six months, the couple went back to work. Their new work journey: to grow herbs and advocate alternative medicine.
“It was the perfect time for an herb farm because everybody was interested in alternative medicine and cleaner greener food” said Darryl.
The herb farm and their home have evolved. What started as a plant nursery evolved into gardens and a gift shop where the Herrins sell and hand make many of the fragrant toiletries, soaps, candles, teas, culinary herbs and sugars.
Their fresh herb crop is used to make special products and sold as stand-alone products. The gift shop, part of their rustic, hand built home, also features arts and crafts creations made by local artists.
Three homemade products bring customers back, consistently. Darryl’s Sweet Feet, a product that promises to smooth the skin of your feet, Satin-Sage Oil, which is made to reduce wrinkles and a homemade pain-away product are all customer favorites.
In addition to products, you can get advice. I was elated to learn about jewelweed. Darryl was positive this plant will stop the itch of poison ivy, which I seem to always get. Apply it to where poison ivy has touched your skin and you will not get a rash Darryl noted. Since it was May and I already had poison ivy rearing its itchy head, I tried it. It worked. Darryl went on to say that mix equal amounts of rubbing alcohol and moisture from the jewelweed stem and it takes away the itch. Add glycerin to jewelweed and rub it on your skin, and you won’t get poison ivy.
Customers from far and near visit with the Herrins to buy their products and just talk. You surely are out of the tourist bubble when you visit here and get to know the Herrins. And don’t expect to see a web page or online store for the Herrins or the products at Olive Forge Herb Farm. “We want to see the people that we sell our stuff to — it’s half the fun,” said Darryl.
Eat Treat - - Elements Bistro and Grill in Lyons, GA
Lyons is no more than a one light town with a two block downtown. Rich Williams of Vidalia says the directions to get to Elements Bistro are go to the middle of nowhere and turn left. If you do make the trip, Elements Bistro and Grill will surprise you. Here you find big city quality in food, ambiance and service in rural Georgia. The space is striking and includes an art gallery next door to the dining room to showcase local talent. The restaurant serves contemporary American food with a Southern twist such as shrimp & grits or chicken and Andouille pasta. The chef tries to source food locally yet is not afraid to introduce international flavors. Elements can go toe-to-toe with outstanding restaurants in Chicago or Los Angeles for half the price. In speaking with Elements diners that evening in May 2012, the consensus was sophisticated food in an unlikely locale at a great price.
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