Tag Archives: #wifi

Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

Disney’s Polynesian Villas and Bungalows are a touch of the exotic wrapped in luxury at the Walt Disney World resort.  Disney Vacation Club added Villas and the over-the-water bungalows this year, making the Polynesian one of the hottest properties at Disney World.
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
Polynesian Hotel Lobby
We had the chance to stay in a studio villa at the Polynesian in June, and wanted to share our impressions.  There are four Disney Vacation Club (DVC) buildings at the Polynesian: Moorea (waterfront), Pago Pago, the newly-opened Tokelau, and of course, the Bora Bora over-the-water Bungalows.
All the main buildings have only studios (as opposed to other DVC accommodations that have studio, 1-,  2-, and even 3-bedroom configurations).  These were converted over from previous Polynesian hotel rooms.
Polynesian Moorea Building
Polynesian Moorea Building

Continue reading Hotel Review: Disney’s Polynesian Villas, Tips and Warnings!

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Surprising Ups and Downs We Encountered During our River Cruise — an Avalon Impression Review

 

The Avalon Impression (2014) is a beautiful new ship in the Avalon fleet.  I am reviewing this as a ‘hotel’ because it is your floating hotel along the rivers of Europe.  Our cruise sailed from Budapest, Hungary to Amsterdam (14 days) in August 2015, and was filled with many surprising ups and downs.

Avalon Impression
Avalon Impression
The Small Ship Difference

This was our first river cruise.  We had been on many ocean cruises, ranging from 3600 passengers to ‘small ships’ of about 650 passengers.  This was much smaller.

The Avalon Impression holds about 166 passengers — there were 150 passengers on our sailing.  The Impression has 67 Suites, and 16 outside staterooms with windows (lower, Indigo deck)

The front desk reception (also your Security team), knows each passenger by name and stateroom number.  There is a lost and found, where things that are lost might actually get found!

You get to know your fellow passengers with only 150 people on board.  River cruise passengers tend to be friendly, social people who want to get to know you.  If you don’t enjoy meeting new people, then river cruising will be more challenging for you than ocean cruising.

Avalon Impression Panorama Suite
Avalon Impression Panorama Suite, photo from the Avalon Waterways Website
Suites and Bathrooms

The Panorama Suite cabins are large with beds that face French balconies that open up almost wall-to-wall.  This French balcony design maximizes your personal cabin space, Continue reading Surprising Ups and Downs We Encountered During our River Cruise — an Avalon Impression Review

Hotel Review: Park Lane Hotel, London

 

This is the first in my series of Hotel reviews.  It is a pleasure to share about our favorite hotel in London: the Park Lane Hotel, a Sheraton hotel, in central London near Buckingham Palace. 

Overall rating: 5 out of 5

Last stay: May 2015

Overall rating system:

1=poor
3=average
5=great
6=exceptional (rare ranking)

NE = no experience

Price — 5. SPG points
Hotel Location — 5, Mayfair area across from Green Park. Tube station: Green Park. 
Front desk check in — 6. Tea, coffee, juice and cookies with free Wi-Fi in waiting lounge — the Willow room, whilst the hotel is under construction
Room size — 5, Executive room
Room cleanliness / repair — 5
Style/ design impression — 5
Bed comfort — 5. Extra comfy Sweet Sleeper bed.
Bath robe / slippers — 2 plush robes with slippers
Quality of Toiletry amenities — 4, standard Sheraton line toiletries
Views — 5. Views of Big Ben and Westminster Abbey over tree tops of Green Park.  Room 710

Continue reading Hotel Review: Park Lane Hotel, London

10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for the Savvy Traveler

 

Smartphones are indispensable in our daily lives.  While in our country, I can check the weather, plan a route home that avoids traffic, research restaurant reviews, and update my Facebook account (not while driving of course) without thinking twice about how to connect to a network.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have shared in previous blogs (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel and 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘Airplane’ mode while out of the country.

Therefore, it is very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here, I share some more apps I have found particularly useful while traveling.

Currency App Pic

Currency – (Free) or XE Currency (Free).

Having a foreign exchange app is important to understand how much you’re actually getting for your dollar.  Before traveling, check the exchange rate of the countries that you will be visiting.  Updated currency exchange rates can be updated with a Wi-Fi connection while abroad.  Right now, the euro is incredibly low against the US dollar.  Time to go to Europe!! Continue reading 10 Must-Have Smartphone Apps for the Savvy Traveler

8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

Smartphones have made our daily lives immeasurably more convenient.  Using GPS to map a route to the closest Starbucks, using Google to research Risso’s dolphins, uploading your pictures to Instagram – sometimes we may take the ease of obtaining information for granted.

Having the right smartphone apps can enhance your travel experiences.  As I have discussed in a previous blog (7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel), it is wise to leave your smartphone in ‘airplane’ mode while out of the country.

It is therefore very important that phone apps used while overseas work offline, or with Wi-Fi.  Here is a list of communication apps I have found particularly useful.

Google Apps

1.  Google Translate:  (FREE) Much improved, Google Translate can translate between 90 languages, and read aloud phrases in the chosen language.  In addition, Google Translate now uses your smartphone camera to read written signs, and can instantly translate them on your smartphone screen.

This feature works instantly between English and: French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, and Spanish.  This app translates 36 total languages when you take a picture of the signs.

I used Google Translate Continue reading 8 Must-Have Smartphone Communication Apps for Travel

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7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel

 

Part of what I love about international travel is seeing a new perspective, and interacting with people from different cultures.

As Americans, we are often sheltered in our understanding of the world, and our role in it.  Traveling internationally as cultural ambassadors and seeking to understand local customs helps us better understand who we are, and better appreciate the blessings that we have in our lives.

Experiencing new countries’ cultures has helped me connect with people by finding common ground.  After traveling through Istanbul and Kusadasi in Turkey, I was able to connect with a Turkish hotel clerk in Boston.

It was wonderful seeing his eyes light up when I mentioned that I had been to his home country, and truly enjoyed my experiences there.  Over the years, I have had similar connections with many others.

Why do Americans not travel internationally as much as people from other nationalities?  Continue reading 7 Tips to Save Your Cell Phone During International Travel