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Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, April 2005 Issue

Travel Savings Alerts
P.O. Box 91033
Columbus OH 43209
ISSN: 1542-801X, Copyright © 2005 
All Rights Reserved.

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Heavenly Style
This bracelet is as beautiful as a heavenly vision. For some, the bracelet represents each layer in the foundation of heaven, a meaningful, spiritual reminder.

The 7" long bracelet is made from pearls and crystals that represents sardonyx, beryl and chalcedony, stones mentioned in the Bible. The 12 genuine multi-colored crystals beads and freshwater pearls are each separated by pewter spacer beads. Each crystal bead is faceted to bring out its color and sparkle. Rarely found in stores or jewelry shops, we sell the Heavenly bracelet for only $29. Order here from AAA Jewelry Outlet.

In This Issue:
Liberty Goddess Marianne, Mobile, Alabama

  • USA3000 Coming to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale
  • Nordique All-Inclusive Russia from $1739
  • Seabourn 2nd Week Fr.ee from Monte Carlo
  • Mexico Travel Alert
  • Buenos Aires From $599
  • Summer “Salida” Rates at Casa Del Mar
  • Dunn's River Resort Fresh Look, Special Value
  • Best Western, Mastercard Offer Fr-ee Night
  • LTU New York Intro Rates
  • Avis Fr-ee Weekends
  • Tokyo Station Offering Fr.ee Concerts
  • EU Reinforces Air Passengers’ Rights
  • April & May in Paris from $649
  • American Express Caribbean Wide Savings
  • Fly Fr*ee, Save $400 Am. West Steamboat
  • Product Review - Mobile Edge Case
  • $99 to Hawaii after Trip To Asia, South Pacific
  • Grand Hotel Early Opening, Special Rates
  • Mosey around Mobile, AL by Nicki Chodnoff
  • 30% More Fr.ee Admissions with SF Card

  • USA3000 Coming to Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale

    USA3000 Airlines, a low-fare, full-service airline, offers new services to Orlando and Fort Lauderdale.

    Service to Orlando’s McCoy International Airport from Chicago O'Hare International Airport starts from $59 one-way plus taxes. Flights are available for booking from May 3, 2005.

    Service to Fort Lauderdale from Baltimore/Washington starts at $59 one-way plus taxes. Flights are available for booking from May 2, 2005.

    Every USA3000 flight includes fr.ee meals with entree choices, special meal requests, nominal fees for headsets for movies or short selections and multiple audio channels for listening.

    USA3000 offers low fares with simple fare rules: No roundtrip ticket purchase or Saturday stay is needed, a one-year extensions is offered if you are unable to make the trip as originally purchased, and name changes are also possible.

    USA3000 or 877/872-3000.

    Nordique All-Inclusive Russia from $1739

    Nordique All-Inclusive Russia from $1739 -- Nordique Tours offers an all-inclusive, escorted, eight-day/six-night tour to Russia from $1,739 per person, double occupancy. Departures are scheduled from New York May 10 through Oct. 10, 2005 and feature visits to Moscow, Tver, Novgorod and St. Petersburg.

    The package includes roundtrip economy airfare to Russia with tour escort, six nights in first class hotels (Hotel Cosmos in Moscow, Hotel Beresta in Novgorod and Hotel Pulkovskaya in St. Petersburg), daily breakfast and dinner, airport transfers and luggage handling, sightseeing with English-speaking guide and cultural performances in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

    Upgrades to business class are available for an additional cost. Airfares from most major airports to New York City range from $50 to $200 roundtrip. Single supplement charge is $340.

    An optional five-days/three-nights Golden Ring pre-tour to Vladimire and Suzdal from Moscow is available for $595 and must be purchased in conjunction with the Essential Russia trip.

    Nordique Tours or 800/995-7997.

    Tinsel Chains Below Wholesale
    We still have 16-inch long, sterling silver tinsel-style chains. We must liquidate the 1.3mm wide chains that retail around $49. Now you can buy these chains below wholesale: $9.99 per chain -- when you purchase 2 or more chains, plus shipping and handling. Click here to order..

    2nd Week Fr-ee Seabourn Monte Carlo

    Seabourn Cruise Line gives you luxury for less this summer on its all-inclusive, all-suite ships. You can sail a second week fr.ee when you cruise roundtrip from Monte Carlo aboard the 208-guest Seabourn Legend.

    The Second Week F.ree offer is available on four Monte Carlo departures: July 10, Aug. 7, Sep. 4 and Oct. 2, 2005. Fares for the 14-day voyages are equal to full fare for seven-day cruises between Monte Carlo and Barcelona and start from $5,996 per person, based on double occupancy of a 277-square foot ocean-view suite.

    The itinerary includes stops at Cannes, Marseille and St. Tropez, Sanary-Sur-Mer, Port Vendres, Le Lavandou and the island of Porquerolles. The Spanish visits include a full day in Barcelona, Mallorca, and Menorca, Valencia and Palamos.

    Passenger will receive two fre.e Seabourn shoreside experiences during the two weeks. At Valencia, you’ll experience a private concert and cocktail reception in the courtyard of the Monastery of Santa Maria de El Puig. In Port Vendres, you’ll enjoy a tour of the Royal Castle of Collioure, followed by cocktails in this one-time summer residence of the Kings of Mallorca.

    Seabourn Cruise Line or 800/929-9391.

    Mexico Travel Alert

    Use Extra Caution -- The State Department issued a warning about travel to Mexico due to the security situation along the Mexican side of the U.S.-Mexico border in the wake of increased violence among drug traffickers. A number of U.S. citizens have been reported kidnapped or missing along the Texas-Mexico border, especially around Nuevo Laredo. The U.S. consular office issued a warning to be especially aware of safety and security concerns when visiting the border region. Exercise common-sense such as visiting only the legitimate business and tourism areas of border towns during daylight hours and avoiding red-light districts and neighborhoods where drug dealing occurs.

    Between Aug. and Dec. 2004, 21 U.S. citizens were kidnapped or listed as missing. Nine people were later released, two were found dead and 10 are still missing.

    Officials are concerned about the alarming rate of kidnappings across Mexico including “express” abductions for quick-cash ransoms. FBI officials said some of those returned alive were held captive for days or months. Abductors demanded ransoms as high as $100,000.

    Officials continue that some of the missing are innocent victims others are probably involved with drug traffickers. At crossings on the 2,000-mile border, millions of dollars’ worth of drugs are smuggled north by truck and train among legitimate goods. The leaders of several major criminal organizations have been arrested, creating a power vacuum. There is a war among Mexican drug lords vying for control of the drug trade. Drug gangs sometimes kidnap victims to raise money after a business setback or a major drug bust.

    Buenos Aires From $599

    FlySouthVacations offers a six-night air-inclusive vacation package to Buenos Aires from $599, which you must purchase by May 19, 2005. The package is good for travel through June 10, 2005.

    The Buenos Aires special includes roundtrip airfare, roundtrip transfers, six night’s hotel accommodations, breakfast daily, hotel taxes and service charges. Airport taxes and fees are in addition to the price. Sightseeing options start from $15.

    The $599 package leaves from Miami. Packages from other gateways include $674 from Boston, Newark, Washington-Dulles or JFK; $749 from Atlanta; $799 from Chicago, Denver, Los Angeles or San Francisco; $899 from Las Vegas, Phoenix, New Orleans or Houston; $949 from Seattle or Portland.

    FlySouthVacations or 800/234-5245.

    Face-It Luggage Tags -- Your Face on Your Luggage
    There's no mistaking your luggage with the NEW Face-It Luggage Tag. The durable, laminated tag displays your face and the phrase "This Face Belongs With This Luggage."

    A Face-It Luggage tag makes it less likely for a stranger or thief to walk off with your luggage and helps you recognize your luggage at a glance in hotels or airports. Face-It tags are also available for briefcases, portfolio books, backpacks, sporting equipment, musical instruments, bicycles and more. Face-It Luggage Tags

    Summer “Salida” Rates at Casa Del Mar

    Located in the Cabo San Lucas hotel corridor, the 56-suite Case del Mar Beach, Golf & Spa Resort offers a summer 'Salida' package with savings up to 40 percent.

    The package includes a fourth night fr.ee on stays of four nights. Stay for seven nights or more and get the sixth and seventh nights fr.ee. Every guest receives roundtrip airport transfers; $25 per stay credit on spa treatments; $25 food credit at the beachfront grill; fr~ee transportation to Cabo San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo; 25 percent discount on green fees at Cabo Real Golf Course; fr^ee use of the tennis facilities with equipment, fitness center, sauna, steam room and spa Jacuzzi.

    Summer rates are valid for travel June 1 to Oct. 31, 2005. Deluxe ocean rooms are $245 per room, per night, based on single or double occupancy and $295 for a one-bedroom suite. Taxes and gratuities are additional.

    Located at the tip of Mexico's Baja California, the 56-room hacienda-style resort features arches, cobbled courtyards, tiled fountains, authentic Mexican hacienda architecture combined with an infinity pool and lush tropical gardens.

    All rooms have a ocean view with terraces or balconies, air conditioning, ceiling fans, sofas, bathrooms with Jacuzzis and separate showers, television, telephones, mini-bars, safes and other special amenities. One and two bedroom suites with kitchens are suitable for couples, families or groups.

    Casa del Mar or 888/227-9621.

    Dunn's River Resort Fresh Look, Special Values

    Sandals Dunn's River Golf Resort & Spa offers special savings after completing a $10 million renovation project.

    Sandals commemorates the moment with a celebration sale, offering 40 percent off published rates for bookings and travel through Feb. 9, 2006. Sandals 40% off Celebration Sale can be booked until further notice. All-inclusive rates begin at $177 per person, per night with a three-night minimum stay.

    Sandals Resorts or 800/726-3257.

    Best Western, Mastercard Offer Fr-ee Night

    Best Western and MasterCard International have teamed up to put members of the hotel chain's Gold Crown Club International (GCCI) loyalty program on the fast track to a fr.ee night's stay.

    Through May 15, 2005, GCCI guests who stay three times at any Best Western hotel worldwide can earn a fr*ee night toward a future stay. If you pay with a MasterCard when staying at a Best Western, you can earn a fr!ee night after two separate qualified stays.

    To be eligible, GCCI members must be residents of the U.S., Canada or the Caribbean, and register online or by phone prior to their first stay.

    You will receive a global fr.ee room night voucher at the end of the promotional period which will be valid for six months from the date of issue. A maximum of three vouchers per person is permitted. The fr-ee night award is accepted at more than 1,500 Best Western hotels around the world any day of the week with no blackout restrictions.

    Best Western or 800/WESTERN mention promotion code MCSTAY.

    Kutztown Festival -- July 2 - 10, 2005
    America's Premier Folklife Festival features 200 juried craftspeople, 2,000 locally made quilts for sale or auction, antiques and collectibles, folklife demonstrations, entertainment on 6 stages, children's entertainment and scrumptious food including Pennsylvania Dutch dinners, an ox roast and farmers' market. Be sure to visit. Kutztown Festival or 888/674-6136.

    LTU New York Intro Rates

    Starting May 2, LTU International Airways offers flights from $348 per person, roundtrip to Duesseldorf, Germany from JFK Airport in New York. This new nonstop flight will operate from JFK's Terminal 4 all days except Wednesday.

    The $348 mid-week rate to Duesseldorf is good through June 2. From June 3 to 23, the rate increases to $448 roundtrip and $528 from June 24 to Sep. 11, 2005. Rates do not include security fees and taxes. Travel to Duesseldorf on Friday, Saturday and Sunday costs $25 additional each way. These fares apply only to tickets purchased in North America.

    No minimum stay is required but the maximum stay is generally one month. Some fares permit a stay of 45 or 90 days. Seats are capacity controlled and may not be available on all dates. Travel must be completed by Oct. 28, 2005, due to seasonal nature of the flight. Tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.

    LTU also provides service from Fort Myers, Orlando, Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto and Calgary.


    Avis Fr-ee Weekends

    Through June 25, with the new Avis "Weekender" promotion you will receive a coupon for a fr.ee weekend rental if you complete a qualified rental of five days or longer. You can earn up to three fr.ee certificates valid for travel through Dec. 16, 2005.

    To participate in the program, you need a valid Avis Wizard number. Fr*ee rental certificates will be mailed to you after completion of one rental. Rentals of five consecutive days or longer, from the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands qualify. Fr*ee rental certificates may be redeemed at all participating locations in the United States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands, but are not redeemable at Newark, LaGuardia and JFK airports or at any metropolitan NY location.

    Avis or 800/722-5909.

    Tokyo Station Offering Fr.ee Concerts

    The main entrance of Tokyo Station on the Marunouchi side (the Imperial Palace side and a major business district) incorporates a huge dome-like hall that is a landmark attraction and the main station lobby.

    Between 1987 and 2000, nearly 250 fr^ee concerts were staged in the spectacular hall, attracting large numbers of people. The concerts were halted to allow for new construction and renovation. The construction work is complete and the fr^ee performances are back, making Tokyo Station the only station in the world doubling as a concert hall.

    Announcements of the concerts are carried in local publications.

    Protect Luggage with Baggage Guard Seals

    The pre-numbered, one-time use plastic padlocks are the perfect way to protect your luggage since they cannot be reinstalled once removed. That feature lets you instantly know if someone tampered with your luggage. Yet when TSAs at airports need to inspect your luggage, Baggage Guard Seals can be easily removed. A package of 10 Baggage Guard Seals is still only $9.95.

    Click Here to Order from On The Go Publishing.

    EU Reinforces Air Passengers’ Rights

    The European Union has created rights to protect air passengers in the event of denied boarding, flight cancellation, long delays or lost baggage.

    If you are denied boarding or your flight is cancelled, the airline operating your flight must offer you financial compensation and assistance.

    When there are too many passengers for the seats available, an airline must first ask for volunteers to give up their seats in return for agreed benefits. These must include the choice of a ticket refund with a fr*ee flight back to your initial point of departure or alternative transport to your final destination.

    If you are not a volunteer, the airline must pay you €250 for flights less than 1,500 km, €400 for flights between 1,500 and 3,500 km and €600 for flights more than 3,500 km. Compensation or refunds may be in cash, by bank transfer or check or, with your signed agreement, in travel vouchers, and must be paid within seven days.

    If your flight is cancelled, the airline must compensate you at the same level as for denied boarding, unless it gives you sufficient advance notice and offers alternative transport close to the original time.

    Compensation may be halved if you are not delayed more than 2, 3 or 4 hours, respectively. The airline must also give you meals and refreshments, hotel accommodation when necessary (including transfers) and communication facilities. When the delay is 5 hours or more, the airline must offer to refund your ticket (with a fr*ee flight back to your initial point of departure, when relevant). If you do not receive these rights, complain immediately to the airline operating the flight.

    You may claim up to 1,000 SDRs (equal to about 1.2 Euros) for the destruction, damage, loss or delay of your baggage on a flight by an EU airline. For damage to checked-in baggage, you must make a claim in writing within seven days of its return and 21 days of its return for delayed baggage.

    You may claim damages caused by injury or death resulting from an accident on a flight by an EU airline, anywhere in the world. You have the right to an advance payment for immediate economic needs.

    You may claim damages from a tour operator if they fail to provide the services you booked within the EU, whatever your destination. These rights apply to failure to provide any flight included in your package. If the tour operator does not provide a significant part of the package booked, it is obliged to assist you and make alternative arrangements, including travel, without extra cost to you.

    The Regulation applies to all flights, including charters, operated by European airlines from or to a European airport and to any flight departing from the European Union.

    To receive a fr*ee pamphlet describing E.U. passenger air rights, click here to send an email.

    April & May in Paris from $649

    April and May in Paris has it all: perfect weather for sightseeing; attractions and nightlife going full tilt; and the tourist hordes have not yet arrived. TourCrafters makes Paris affordable with their four-night “Paris Special” for $649 from Apr. 1 to May 26.

    The package includes roundtrip air on Wednesdays and Thursdays from New York and Boston, four nights at the Hotel Kyriad Republique (close to trendy, historic Marais District) daily breakfast, hotel service charges and taxes.

    TourCrafters’ “Paris in an Apartment” package starts at $767 from Apr. 1 to May 26, and includes midweek roundtrip air from New York and Boston plus five nights in an apartment chosen by TourCrafters. You can pick the neighborhood you prefer: near the Champs-Élysées and Arc de Triomphe, the Opéra Garnier and great shopping on the Right Bank, near St-Germain-des-Prés in the Left Bank’s fashionable 6th arrondissement.

    The 10 day “French Riviera and Paris Special,” starts at $999 from New York and Boston. From Apr. 1 to May 21, it includes roundtrip transatlantic air fare on Mondays, five nights at the Hotel Comté de Nice in the center of Nice, four days’car rental, air transportation from Nice to Paris, four nights in Paris at the Hotel Kyriad Republic, daily breakfast, hotel service charges and taxes.

    All prices are per person, double occupancy, are subject to availability, and do not include airport taxes. Reservations must be paid for within 72 hours.

    Add-on prices from other gateways includes: $73 from Washington, $145 from Atlanta, $102 from Miami, $120 from Orlando and Tampa, $80 from Chicago, $66 from Detroit, $70 from Denver, $74 from Dallas, $132 from Houston, $102 from Los Angeles and San Francisco, $84 from Seattle.

    TourCrafters or 800/482-5995.

    American Express Caribbean Wide Savings

    Statement credits of up to $150, a Vacation Values Card with savings up to 30 percent on car rentals, excursions, cell phone rentals, dining, greens fees, shopping and a preferred exchange rate are featured in American Express' "Beyond the Beach" Caribbean program. Available at 17 destinations, the program is offered for travel through Sep. 30, 2005. Bookings must be made by June 30, 2005.

    "Beyond the Beach" is available to travelers who book qualifying vacation packages with any American Express travel office or affiliate using their eligible American Express Card. A qualifying vacation is a purchase valued at $2,000 or more per booking which comes with a $100 statement credit. Gold, Platinum and Centurion charge card members who book a package of $2,500 or more receive a $150 statement credit.

    Other exclusive features include buy-one get-one-fr*ee offers, a year subscription to Travel & Leisure magazine and double membership reward points.

    Participating destinations include Anguilla, Antigua, Aruba, Bahamas, Barbados, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Curacao, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Turks and Caicos, Cancun, Cozumel and Riviera Maya in the Mexican Caribbean.

    American Express Company.

    Fly Fr,ee, Save $400 on American West Steamboat

    Book now and American West Steamboat Company offers a savings of up to $400 per couple and fr,ee air travel to Portland from major gateway cities aboard the 161-passenger sternwheeler Queen of the West's "Three Great Rivers" cruise. Cruise dates include: June 18 and 25; July 2, 23, and 30; and August 6, 13, and 20.

    The seven-night itinerary takes you on the Columbia, Snake and Willamette Rivers to the Oregon Trail and Multnomah Falls. Highlights include the Columbia River Gorge Discovery Center, Mount St. Helens, the Tamastslikt Cultural Center, an onboard regional wine tasting and a trip to Lewis & Clark's Fort Clatsop.

    Cruise rates start at $3,479 and include daily shore excursions, fine dining and live entertainment in the price of the cruise.

    American West Steamboat Company or 800/434-1232.

    Cheap Tix Chart
    Buy Tickets at a Discount -- Special ticket outlets sell discounted day-of-performance tickets to theaters productions, films, and sporting events. Discounts can be 50 percent or more. On The Go Publishing’s UPDATED Cheap Tix Chart, still only $14, lists outlets in the U.S. and eight foreign cities that sell discounted, day-of-performance tickets. Click here to order the Cheap Tix Chart from On The Go Publishing.

    Mobile Edge Computer Carrying Case -- Product Review by Nicki Chodnoff

    When I hit the road, a notebook was part of my travel gear. But the hassle of added security at the airport with notebooks put me back in the paper and pen age. When I heard about the Mobile Edge computer carrying case for women, I thought I’d give it a try.

    Mobile Edge’s Tote collection makes a computer case look more like a large pocketbook. I tried the micro-fiber Ultra Tote (suggested retail $99.99) with a leather band around the top. Features include a SafetyCell removeable computer section, zippered interior pocket, detachable cosmetics pouch and an outside pocket.

    What makes this tote appealing for travel is that the padded computer section can slip in and out of the tote after detaching from the Velcro strips. Their literature states the totes are designed by women for women. I found it difficult pulling and tugging at the Velcro strips to release the computer compartment out of the tote. I just don’t have the hand strength it requires. Apart from that difficulty, the computer compartment is well designed with a cell phone slot and a zippered cosmetics pouch.

    When you pull out the computer section, there is yet another zipped pouch and cell phone compartment (you can use it for business cards).

    A durable zipper closes the whole tote, which keeps prying hands out and your things inside when flinging your tote into the overhead compartment. The outside pocket is deep enough to hold tickets, notes and anything else you need to access easily.

    When on a leisure trip, I switched gears with the Mobile Edge Ultra Tote. Apart from its large size and ability to hold lots of stuff, the padded computer compartment is the ideal place for your camera or camcorder. The Ultra Tote also offers anonymity. It doesn’t look like a camera or camcorder bag, which brands you a tourist and an easy mark.

    Hardware and materials in the tote are tough and durable. My Ultra Tote has been tossed around, had luggage thrown on it and been stepped on by clumsy passengers. Though scuffed and dirty at times, the Ultra Tote is still good-to-go for its next journey.

    Style doesn’t come cheap, Mobile Edge cases cost from $60 to $170, compared to about $50 for a higher-end black nylon laptop carrier. You also get choice. Mobile Edge offers seven colors and materials including suede, faux crocodile and leather.

    If the price is within your budget, and especially if it can do double-duty as a camera bag, I give it a thumbs-up.

    Mobile Edge or 714/339-1400.

    $99 to Hawaii after Trip To Asia, South Pacific

    Pleasant Holidays offers a $99 roundtrip airfare to Hawaii after you book a holiday to Asia or the South Pacific.

    The terms of the promotion are as follows: Book any five-night air and land vacation through Pleasant Holidays to Tahiti, Fiji, Australia or New Zealand during April, 2005 and receives a voucher for a roundtrip ticket from Los Angeles or San Francisco to Hawaii on ATA Airlines for $99, plus tax. One ticket issued per person, per booking. Travel is valid anytime during 2005 and must start within 12 months of the departure to Asia or the South Pacific.

    Sample five-night vacation rates include: Hong Kong from $799, Tahiti from $1129, Fiji from $1239, New Zealand from $1299 and Australia from $1379.

    Pleasant Holidays or 800/448-3333.

    Grand Hotel Early Opening, Special Rates

    The Grand Hotel, the icon of Mackinac Island, Michigan, opens its Millennium Wing and Masco Cottage two months earlier than ever in its 119 history.

    Rooms during the early opening period will cost $119 per night through May 5 at the Millennium Wing and Masco Cottage. The rate includes a fr.ee continental breakfast basket in your room. If you want to eat on- property, the Jockey Club restaurant on the first tee of the golf course, across the street from the Millennium Wing, will provide food and beverages during the early opening period.

    The 42-room Millennium Wing was added prior to the 2001 season and Masco Cottage opened prior to the 2003 season.

    Throughout the season, on select dates, the hotel also offers a special package that includes breakfast and five-course dinner daily, gratuities and baggage handling charges, and discounts on ferry boat tickets. The special package is priced at $179 per person, per night, based on double occupancy or $283 for a single occupant per night.

    Grand Hotel or 800/33-GRAND.

    Mosey around Mobile, AL -- photos and article by Nicki Chodnoff

    Goddess of Liberty MarianneMobile, AL gets far less attention that its younger sister, New Orleans. Yet Mobile shares many of the same attractions and attributes. Alabama's oldest city from the period of European settlement was founded in 1702 by French naval officer Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, Sieur de Bienville, who went on to discover New Orleans in 1718.

    For example, how do you compete against the revelry and notoriety of Mardi Gras in New Orleans? Mobile doesn’t try, yet its claim is impressive. Mobile is where Mardi Gras started in the United States, shortly after the city was founded. The oldest “mystic” societies are here. The balls, parades and parties are here, but in a more family friendly and less crazy way. Some of the festivities start in late-January and don’t die down until Ash Wednesday.

    Mobile likes to think of itself as a gumbo culture, a blend of ingredients added to the social mix through times when the region was ruled by the French, English, Spanish, the Confederacy and the U.S.

    Though some people still remind visiting “Yankees” about the War of Northern Aggression, these people are in the minority. Southern hospitality seems the prevailing attitude.

    Since it has such a long and varied past, when it comes to history, Mobile delivers.

    One of the best places to get the big picture on the city’s history is the Museum of Mobile, housed in a National Historic Landmark building, built in 1857. The building has its own history. Museum Director George Ewert said the facility originally served the city as an open-air market where meat was butchered and water tanks held fresh seafood. While people bought their food downstairs, the country's oldest continuously operating city hall was functioning upstairs. Now all museum, permanent exhibits start 300 years ago with the Paleo-Indian era. Ewert said “you discover Mobile’s history through interactive exhibits and artifacts that tell the stories of Mobile’s disasters, diversity, recreational activities, and local industry.” Children can get their hands on history in their own interactive gallery devoted to the Southern Market. Take the time to view the items in the halls and on the walls. Furniture, antique silver and artwork are among some of the artifacts on display. Not to be missed is the doll house collection made by a talented local resident. By far, the most striking item in the museum is the two-story tall statue of Marianne, the French goddess of liberty. The model for our Statue of Liberty, she once stood at the court house across from the museum and now prominently fills a light well where, by climbing the steps you can get a close-up look of her delicate features.

    Costumed Guide Walter CalhoenAcross the street from the Museum of Mobile is Fort Conde Historic Museum, a replica of the historic 18th-century French fort that houses the city’s Visitor and Welcome Center. “The fort protected Mobile for nearly 100 years, from 1723-1820,” explained guide Walter Calhoen. “It served as a defense against British and Spanish attack on the strategic location of Mobile and its Bay, the eastern most part of the Louisiana colony.” History seeps from every nook and cranny. The fort was named Fort Charlotte, in honor of King George III’s wife, when Mobile was an English possession from 1763 to 1780, and again in 1813 when U.S. troops occupied the fort. Spain ruled Mobile in the intervening years and the fort was renamed Fort Carlota. In 1820, Congress authorized the sale of the fort since it was no longer needed for defense. The current fort is about 1/3 of the original fort recreated in 4/5-scale. Costumed guides such as Calhoen offer insight into the historic events of Mobile’s early days with artifacts, a Black heritage display, fire muskets and cannons.

    Oakleigh Historic Complex is the city’s official Antebellum house museum with three different museums on site. The beautiful T-shaped Oakleigh Period House Museum is a Greek Revival villa built in 1833 by Mobile merchant, James W. Roper. Bricks used in the walls of the ground floor were made by slaves from clay dug on the property. The main portion of the house is of wood. Costumed guides create the experience of 19th century Gulf Coast living in a house filled with antiques, original furnishings, portraits, silver, china, jewelry, interesting kitchen implements, and toys. More importantly, they tell the tales that bring buildings and objects to life. For instance, President James Garfield had his first mint julep on the porch and local artist Boudisque charged Mobile’s elite to be in his paintings. One half-completed Boudisque hangs in the first floor foyer. In addition to the Oakleigh House, the Cox-Deasy Cottage, circa 1850, is a raised Creole Cottage, typical of the modest middle-class city dwellers along the Gulf Coast. It is furnished in simple 19th century pieces of good quality. The third property houses the Mitchell Archives and assists researchers of Mobile history.

    Bragg-Mitchell MansionThe Bragg-Mitchell Mansion ranks as one of the Gulf Coast’s grandest antebellum mansions, with its 16 white fluted columns. Built in 1855 by Judge John Bragg, the mansion was a hub of polite society when Mobile was a thriving cotton port. Restored at a cost of more than $1 million, this home is lavishly appointed with period furnishings, artwork, and decor. Highlights of some its 18 rooms are 15-foot high ceilings on the first floor, lovely double parlors off the front hall, a lavish dining room, gleaming stenciled moldings, and grounds with Mobile's trademark live oaks and azaleas.

    Located in West Mobile in 720-acre Langan Park, the striking lakefront location of the Mobile Museum of Art is impressive. Equally impressive at the largest art museum on the Gulf Coast from Tampa to New Orleans, is that it is entirely free. Expanded to 95,000 square feet in 2002, the museum’s permanent collection of more than 6,000 objects includes regional artists, contemporary crafts and American paintings from the 1930s and 1940s. Their permanent Riddick glass gallery is exceptionally interesting.

    Bellingrath GardensBellingrath Gardens - Soft drinks provided the means to establish this lovely home and its gardens. In 1918, Walter Bellingrath, owner of Mobile’s Coca-Cola bottling company started a rustic fishing camp 20 miles southwest of the city. Bellingrath’s wife got her hands on it, hired an architect and spent the rest of her life and an enormous sum of money improving it into a country estate. Her inspiration came from gardens the couple visited in England and the Continent during their 1927 European tour. Bellingrath once remarked: "Look what a wife could do to a perfectly good fishing camp." The gardens game first. When the public came to see the results in 1932 and overwhelming crowds arrived, the Bellingraths opened their gardens to the public permanently. The 15-room mansion came three years later. Bessie Bellingrath spent more than 40 years furnishing the home with antique furniture, rare porcelains, fine china, silver, and crystal. Her collection includes Meissen, Dresden, and Sevres. Of course, there’s a collection of Coca-Cola bottles and silver Coca-Cola trophies Bellingrath won. In 1967, the garage was refitted to house the Delchamps Gallery of Boehm porcelain, touted as the world’s largest display. In addition to viewing the home and gardens, you can take a quarter-mile stroll on the bayou's ecological boardwalk or a 45-minute scenic cruise on the Fowl River.

    Civil War Re-enactor at Magee FarmThe unassuming raised Creole cottage at Magee Farms belies the important events that occurred under its roof. On the National Register of Historic Places, and now about 15 minutes from downtown Mobile in Kushla, Alabama, the farm was the site of the last surrender for the Confederate Army. “On April 29, 1865, Confederate General Richard Taylor, who commanded the Army of the South, met with Union General E.R.S. Canby,” said Jim Golden, curator of the house museum. After a 20 minute meeting, the last army of the South surrendered its 12,000 troops. General Canby, gracious in victory, had his band play Dixie rather than Hail Columbia. Then both generals adjourned to dinner. Golden explained that what once was the school house now serves as the museum with many Civil War era artifacts including General Taylor’s battle flag. The farm keeps the spirit of the South alive through Civil War re-enactments, held every third Saturday of the month. The second Saturday of the month is reserved for “Old Farm Days” when old farm equipment is displayed. The last Saturday of the month features Gospel music.

    Gulf Coast Exploreum Center and IMAX Theater - This is the home of hands-on science. Children and adults can play and learn with a plethora of interactive exhibits. You can make music on a electronic harp, learn about pulleys and leverage while hoisting yourself high in the air and watch magnets at work as bits of metal filings dance to the beat of various kinds of music. From time to time, they feature gang-buster traveling exhibits such as the Dead Sea Scrolls, on display during my visit. After all the interactive exhibits you can change the pace by watching an Imax movie at the adjacent theater.

    It’s my guess that stout and stogie-puffing J. Oliver Wintzell was entertaining, judging from the amusing sayings decorating his restaurant on historic Dauphin Street. People come to Wintzell's Oyster House for the food - it's darn good - and they walk away with an experience. It’s hard to guess how many placards with witticisms plaster the walls. They are staggered closely floor to the ceiling on every single available space, even on the menus. It's entertaining watching patrons reading sign after sign. Some chuckle, others roll their eyes. Most elbow their dining companion and point out a few choice sayings.

    You gotta eat and it’s always good to go where the locals do. Saucy Q Bar-B-Q, on Government Street, is a good choice for people who love Bar-B-Q. The tender meat practically falls off the bone and the sweet, tangy sauce has a hint of spice. Thankfully, tables have plenty of paper towel or napkins at your disposal. In between bites, expect owner Elbert Wingfield to ask about your meal. Throughout your meal, you’ll see him grinning and chatting with customers, making sure meals are up to par.

    Mobile Bay Convention & Visitors Bureau or 800/5-MOBILE.

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    Visitors to San Francisco and the Bay Area will enjoy more of the city’s and region’s attractions at one low price, thanks to the new edition of the Go San Francisco card.

    The all-inclusive smart card attraction pass now includes fr-ee entry to nearly 50 attractions; discounts on additional tours, shows and events; and savings of up to 20 percent on dining and shopping. The card cost will remain $49 for a one-day adult card, with prices as low as $19 per day on multiple day cards.

    The list of new attractions include: the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Legion of Honor; California Academy of Sciences - Steinhart Aquarium; Six Flags Marine World; Bay Area Discovery Museum; full-day Wine country, Monterey and Carmel tour; Bay City Bike Rentals; San Francisco walking tours; attractions in Napa and Sonoma Valleys; a Taste Downtown Napa pass; and fr-ee admission to wine, food and arts center COPIA.

    Visitors can purchase the Go San Francisco Card online or included in some hotel packages and weekend getaways. Locally, the card is available at the Red and White Fleet ticket booth on Fisherman’s Wharf or at the San Francisco Visitor Information Center just off Union Square. Each card includes maps and destination tips.

    Go San Francisco Card.

    PLEASE NOTE: All links are sent as clickable links. Some email programs such as AOL, Yahoo, & Hotmail change the links so that they are not clickable. If you have problems clicking on a link, just copy and paste the link into your browser.

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    Information & Credits

    The Travel Savings Alerts Newsletter, P.O. Box 91033, Columbus OH 43209, edited by Nicki Chodnoff, is published monthly.

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