Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to Cruising, Part 1

January 26, 2015 • By



When you consider how busy people are these days, it’s no surprise that Cruising is one of the most popular modes of traveling.  Think about it.   Literally, you will have 3+ days of pure bliss on a floating resort, practically any type of food you’d like, be treated like royalty by staff, participate in daily activities like Zumba, volleyball tournaments, trivia games, try your luck in the casino, enjoy nightly entertainment from singers, ventriloquists, dancers and musicians, be pampered in the on-site Spa, eat till your heart’s content or burn those same calories at the full service gym. What’s not to like?


Add on the fact that cruise ships visit different ports and it’s easy to see why this would be a very cost effective way to get away from it all. I will admit that previously, I’d decided that my first cruise would be my last and only  recently realized that perhaps, I’d been too hasty.

If you prefer a relaxing, care-free vacation where you only need to show up and have the time of your life or just opt to relax, lounge around the pool and do nothing, cruising may be the ideal solution for you.

That sounds lovely, but everyone knows that there are a billion cruise lines.  How do I go about choosing the right one for me?  

If you asked three people that same question, you would get three different answers.  The answer is highly subjective and truly depends on the type of cruise you are looking for.   Take Carnival Cruises, for example.  They have a reputation for being a ‘party’ cruiser, however, when I was aboard the Carnival Liberty, there were 4,000 kids there.  The lovely thing is that I saw maybe two of them.  Carnival has a very good program for the youngsters that keeps them well occupied for the length of the cruise.  Therefore, families should not be wary of booking with them and singles should know that they will feel that they are almost on an adults only cruise.READ MORE

North America, Reviews

Checking out the Big Zombie Tour with Atlanta Movie Tours, Part 2

November 18, 2014 • By

Last week, I shared my experience with the first part of the Big Zombie Tour in Atlanta.  Today, I want to discuss the second part that covered location shots in the small towns of Senoia, Grantville, Newnan and Haralson, Georgia.  Senoia is roughly 50 miles away from the main tour offices in Atlanta, so you would have to either drive there on your own or use their shuttle service.

The cost of the shuttle is $30.00 RT pp and is well worth it if you are directionally-challenged as I am wont to be.  On the drive there, we decided to eat our packed lunch and were treated to episodes of The Walking Dead on the tv monitors that were installed throughout the cabin.

Once we reached the city of  Senoia, it was obvious that the main street was the setting for the fictionalized town of Woodbury:


The driver instructed us to go to the Woodbury Shoppe (where the Walking Dead store is housed) on the corner so that we could check in for the second half of the tour.  This store was a Walking Dead fan’s dream.  There was nothing that they did not sell that would not make a true fan’s eyes glaze over.  But fan though I may be, I couldn’t bring myself to splurge on the $270.00 katana sword!


Consumer Advice, North America, Reviews

Checking out the Big Zombie Tour with Atlanta Movie Tours, Part 1

November 6, 2014 • By

For as long as I can remember, I have always been a fan of the macabre.  Horror movies have always been my favorite genre.  I love the idea of being frightened out of my wits and I suspect I’m not alone in that feeling.  I’m not saying that I haven’t looked away or closed my eyes when the sacrificial lamb met their doom, I have some standards.

But, I still love the suspense, the obligatory run from the villain by the world’s clumsiest victim who can’t help falling down numerous times, then the final showdown where the evildoer meets their inevitable doom.  The formula is predictable but satisfies the essence of a good storyline.

That’s probably why I’m a big fan of The Walking Dead.  I haven’t missed an episode since it debuted in October 2010 on AMC.  It follows the lives of a group of people who’ve banded together to form a protective community in order to survive what is essentially the Zombie Apocalypse.  For me, the show is a perfect blend of unspeakable horror and one’s attempt to hold onto some semblance of humanity while trying to survive it.


Photo courtesy:

Fortunately for me, the show films in the state that I live in.  While I haven’t had the chance to meet any of its stars, I have found pretty much the next best thing:  Atlanta Movie Tours!  Located in the Castleberry Hill neighborhood of Atlanta, this company offers a 3 hour guided tour to scene locations depicted in various episodes of The Walking Dead.  The Big Zombie tour is actually divided into two separate tours.  The first tour covers all of the notable scenes that were featured in and around the Atlanta area.  The second focuses on the more rural areas of Georgia – the cities of Senoia (aka Woodbury), Haralson, Grantville and Newnan.

The tour guides are very likable actors who have all played walkers on the mega-hit which happened to score 17.3 million viewers during its 5th season premiere on October 12, 2014.  These ratings are unheard of for most network television shows, much less a ‘lowly’ cable series, so you can imagine that its popularity will continue to increase.  In fact, a companion series is scheduled to air by 2016 with one of the writers from the Sons of Anarchy acting as the show runner.

The first Big Zombie tour started with a short walk down the street.  There we stood in front of the Norfolk Southern Railway Building which was the scene where the gang had to leave a repugnant Merle Dixon handcuffed to a pipe on the rooftop in Season one.  Our guide, Patrick, mentioned that when nearby residents heard the staged ‘gunshots’, cops and a swat team were quickly dispatched.  Needless to say, no one was arrested.


North America, Travel Advice, Trip Reports

A Salute to Fall from Prince Edward Island!

September 29, 2014 • By


I first fell in love with Prince Edward Island through the narrow view of a photo lens.  Its’ vast beauty shined through whether it was the picturesque countryside or pensive seaside.   I was enamored with its quaint architecture, beautiful seashore and knew that one day I would have to bear witness to it to make sure that it was all real.

I was fortunate to get that chance around this time last October.  Fall was upon us.  The leaves had begun to change, the air was crisp and the island was only occupied by the people left behind to brave the cold weather that was yet to come.  Tourist season was well over which is what made this trip all the more appealing.

While there was public transportation, it was imperative to rent a car so that you could spend time exploring all of the nooks and crannies of the island.  There was always something incredible waiting just ahead and our impatience wouldn’t have been able to bear the constant interruptions of the leisurely island trams.

We wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big city and just relax and enjoy the wonders of nature.  We were not disappointed.  Now, a full year later, I want to share what makes PEI such a special place to visit.  Come along with me and explore the first installment of discovering the miraculous natural aesthetics of this wonderful island, won’t you?



Consumer Advice

Fire your satellite or cable company and never look back!

September 9, 2014 • By

There is no one more devoted to the idiot box than I, but that didn’t mean that I had to become one just to be able to watch the shows that I love.  If you ask me, the price of watching television has become ridiculously high without justification. The more I hear about how high the prices are for cable and satellite television, phone and internet service, the more grateful I am that I decided to make some changes a few years ago.  I was paying what could be considered a lease payment for an economy car for the pleasure of having internet, satellite TV and a land-line phone. When you consider the bazillion television channels (let’s not forget the useless music channels!) that they offer to justify charging a ransom for, you quickly realize how few channels that’s really worth watching there are.


Do this.  List all of the cable channels that you presently think that you can’t live without.  You will notice that a couple of them are offered in the basic package aka “ridiculously priced but we’ll still allow you to buy this week’s groceries” package. Next, you will find a few listed in the next package level and so on and so forth.  Soon, you will realize that in order to get every channel that you ‘desire’ you will have to purchase their top level plan or else.

This is where you begin to realize that maybe there are too many home improvement shows being produced and you can certainly live without the glut of  ubiquitous “reality” shows. You shouldn’t have to pay through the nose to be entertained.  So, I decided, along with many others, to rebel.  There is no need for these services to cost so much, I have no problem with someone trying to make a profit, but human decency should be factored in at some point. For example, Comcast has actually scrambled all local channels.

From Brier Dudley’s blog: “Over the past four years Comcast has gradually required its customers to add some kind of cable box on all of their TV sets, giving the company more control over the content the customers view and potentially more revenue from box rentals. The move also pushes customers with entry-level cable service to upgrade to digital packages, increasing their monthly bill by 300 percent or more. Yet it was endorsed last year by the Federal Communications Commission, which accepted the cable industry’s arguments that further encryption was needed for security and environmental reasons.”

This is pure evil and it’s endorsed by the very agency that should be protecting the consumer’s interest.  So, our lesson is that we have to look out for our own interests.




Travel Advice

I have decided to give cruising another chance

August 9, 2014 • By

Roughly six years ago, I took my first cruise and I can distinctly recall declaring that it would be my last.  As luck and life would have it, I am eating my words.   I think sometimes when we have time to look back on things and the resulting decisions, your vision becomes a little less myopic.

You began to realize that your position on certain things may need to be challenged. I’m a planner.  I like to make lists and stick to them.  This is not to say that I am rigid, but I like to have a set itinerary that matches the goals that I hope to accomplish while I am traveling.  I’ve been known to take copious notes about my destination and transplant them to an Outlook calendar that span the length of said trip.

Thankfully, the invention of Tripit! made my life a whole lot easier, so I was finally able to say goodbye to Outlook.  This is not to say that I can’t be spontaneous just because I’ve plotted out the perfect time to do just that on my calendar.  I can be.  I just need to make sure that I don’t miss out on important things to do while I am there.

Now, back to the cruise dilemma.  I had come to the realization that I am indeed a control freak.  I like to make my own plans when I travel and I felt the cruise director was overstepping his bounds.  Alas, I was a captive audience, so I had to participate in whatever he had planned for said cruise.  If I am honest, I have to admit that I did enjoy myself.

There was also an inexplicable relief in not having to arrange, plan and execute every aspect of my trip. I could just sit back, relax and (egad!) do nothing!  I wasn’t familiar with that reality and I didn’t quite know where to turn.  I think I was kind of mad that I did enjoy it and couldn’t really give myself credit for it.  The Carnival Liberty wasn’t half bad.  The food was ubiquitous and really good, the shows were top notch, the slot machines paid off (most of the time) and the crew was friendly and very helpful.




Requiem of a burned out travel blogger

July 6, 2014 • By

You know how it feels when you’re walking down the street and you catch a glimpse of something familiar. Something that you know without a shadow of a doubt, who or what it is. Your pace quickens as you get closer, so sure that once you’ve caught up with whatever you’re chasing, you will be greeted warmly by sturdy hands embracing you because your presence was missed too.


I feel that way about writing. As you can see from my utter lack of recent posts, I took a long break from it in order to pursue another dream that I felt was calling me. I am so happy to have done so because I don’t ever want to live with even more regrets. I will continue with it, but I am most certain and harbor no doubt that writing is where I am meant to be.

Writing has been a part of my life for almost as long as I have been breathing. It has allowed me to encapsulate my deepest fears and most hopeful dreams safely within the realm of a collection of bound pages throughout the years.


It gave life to words that I dared not utter for fear of judgment or ridicule. It was my sacred place to store all of the feelings that both haunted and elated me and I could come back to revisit them at my own choosing.


Newbie How-to's, Travel Advice

The Newbie’s Guide to booking accommodations – part 1

September 16, 2013 • By

Today marks the beginning of a three part series that breaks down the choices one has in selecting accommodations for vacations or holidays. We will begin with our most economical offerings and work our way to the more expensive options.



When it comes to finding accommodations while traveling, I’m somewhat of a pragmatist.  I don’t require 5* stays mostly because I see it as a colossal waste of money.  When I travel, I see my hotel room as somewhere to lay my head at night.  I didn’t travel so that I could stay in a room, I plan to spend as little time there as possible!  But this is just my budget conscious opinion and when it comes to securing accommodations, preferences are never one size fits all.

Still, half the fun of searching for somewhere to stay is in realizing how many strange and unusual places to choose from that will make your visit more enjoyable.  Hotels are the default accommodations of choice, but how interesting would it be to stay in a monastery, an igloo or even a log cabin?

How do you find not only standard hotel rooms but find unique places to stay while you are on vacation?

I’m on a strict budget.  What is the best type of accommodation for me? READ MORE

City Views, South America


August 29, 2013 • By

People watching.  It’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel.  It’s an up close and personal way to studying anyone but it’s particularly interesting when it’s someone in another country.

You quickly come to learn that more often than not, we have more in common than we’d realized.  There may be different methods to attaining similar goals and observing those methods can be teachable moments for us.  But the fact remains that we are not that dissimilar.

I saw these girls on their way to parochial school early one morning in Santiago, Chile.  You could hear them a mile away chattering on about things young girls love to talk about like this guy.  This could have been a scene from any-town U.S.A.  It’s a slice of life of humankind and its simplicity makes me happy to have witnessed it.


santiago schoolgirls

Travel Advice

Spotlight on: The Georgia D.O.T.’s HERO unit

August 12, 2013 • By
[box]Today, I wanted to write about one of our unsung heroes. Literally. like the old saying, you never miss your water until the well runs dry; you don’t realize the value of these folks until you need them.[/box]


It is inevitable that you will come across one of these bright yellow vehicles during the course of your rush hour commute if you live in Georgia. They are responsible for moving disabled vehicles from the highway onto the shoulder or clearing wrecks from the highways in order to facilitate a smoother traffic flow.


courtesy 11Alive news

courtesy: 11Alive news


The Georgia DOT Office of Traffic Operations Highway Emergency Response Operators (HERO) patrols Georgia’s highways 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The majority of their time is spent assisting stranded motorists who may:

  • have a flat tire
  • need a jump start
  • need transport
  • need fuel or water
  • need to use a phone

If they happen to see a car on the side of the road, they will pull up behind them to assist (providing that the driver hasn’t already left the vehicle to seek help at an off-ramp).  They are not a wrecker service, so they will not be able to tow you.  They can, however, contact a towing service for you.

There’s something comforting about knowing that should you experience a breakdown while traveling on Georgia’s highways, you can easily summon help by dialing 511, then press 1 to reach a HERO dispatcher. It’s nice to know that you will be taken care of whether you live here, visiting or are just passing through.  Caveat:  For obvious reasons, during major traffic incidents or severe weather, HEROs may not be available for routine motorist assistance.READ MORE