Updated the Review System for My Site


Yesterday my programmer, Andrew, and I worked on upgrading the property review system for the website. The previous version of reviewing a property was fairly simple; you could write a review and give it a rating.

The upgraded version includes a lot more bells and whistles. In addition to the main review section, you can now upload 10 photos from your trip and write a caption for each of the photos.
We spent the day working on the sizing and layout of the photos. And also included the star rating of the property on the city page. So the visitor / traveler can see the stars rating.

After the system was in place, I went back and found photos taken by travel bloggers who I asked to visit various listings on the site. I uploaded their photos under my name and referenced their trip to the property.

I am going to list the properties where a travel blogger visited.
If you want to see the photos: click on the property link, then click on the review section

Katzenthal Alsace France
https://www.vacations-abroad.com/france/alsace/katzenthal/7263/default.aspx

Siena Tuscany Italy
https://www.vacations-abroad.com/italy/tuscany/siena/2760/default.aspx

Whistler British Columbia Canada
https://www.vacations-abroad.com/canada/british_columbia/whistler/1472/default.aspx

Screenshot of Whistler B&B property with new review & photo function.
Screenshot of Whistler B&B property with new review & photo function.

Sunshine Coast British Columbia Canada
https://www.vacations-abroad.com/canada/british_columbia/sunshine_coast/1474/default.aspx

If you have any suggestions on what you would like to see in a review. Let me know in the comment section below.

Next Stop for Anna was Whistler British Columbia

Anna let's us know she arrived safely at the B&B in Whistler.

Anna’s next stop was the very popular ski resort of Whistler, where she stayed at a cozy little B&B on Vacations-Abroad.com.  It was the perfect opportunity for her to practice her yoga, catch up on her reading and explore the rivers and mountains of Whistler.

The rooms were cozy and filled with antiques.
The rooms were cozy and filled with antiques.
The living area was comfortable furnished with plenty of books to read.
The living area was comfortable furnished with plenty of books to read.
There was a great outdoor area that was surrounded by massive ferns where you could dine and enjoy your surroundings.
There was a great outdoor area that was surrounded by massive ferns where you could dine and enjoy your surroundings.
Rivers and Mountains and the beautiful outdoors.
Rivers and Mountains and the beautiful outdoors.
Anna practicing her yogo on a submerge tree trunk.
Anna practicing her yoga on a submerge tree trunk.

Experiencing the culture of the Quebecois


One year I decided to move to Quebec Canada. San Francisco had gotten more expensive and the novelty and beauty of Northern California were becoming passe. And I had another motive for moving. I had fallen in love with a Frenchman who was moving to Quebec. So off I went, leaving my friends behind, to a small cabin I found on the internet which I rented for 1 year. I had my new business, the travel site “Vacations-Abroad.com” and it did not matter where I lived. I was now working on the internet. I could work from anywhere.

My cabin was located in the outskirts of the village of St Jovite, 1 hour north of Montreal at the edge of the Mont Tremblant ski resort. The road where I lived had a river and small waterfall running along one side of the road, with small cottages on the opposite side. The neighbors were hardly ever around and only showed up on the weekends or during the summer to enjoy the scenery or go skiing. The cabin was very rustic with a wonderful wood burning fireplace. And a main bedroom downstairs with two smaller bedrooms upstairs in the loft. I had two cats “Blackie” and “Violet” which I had brought from San Francisco. It was so peaceful and beautiful and I took a lot of photos of snowflakes.

I made friends easily, as the Quebecois were very friendly. I would knock on the doors of the local “B&Bs” and “Holiday Cottages” and got to become friends with many of the owners who joined my site. One of my neighbors and friends was Geraldine and her husband who owned cottages and a bed and breakfast just down the road from where I was staying on Lac Superieur.

During the winter season, I had parties during the full moon. The light from moon would reflect off of the snow and the landscape was transformed. The scenery appeared to be surreal and absolutely beautiful. Everyone would dress warm and we would go hiking in the mountains behind the house with a glass of wine in hand. My new friends would tease me about the bears in the hills, and that we were probably disturbing the bears that were hibernating. After that I became more aware of the signs of bears; such as claw marks on the doors of the cabin. Upon additional review I moved out of the lower bedroom into the loft area in case any bears decided to visit the premises unannounced.

Driving in those snowy conditions was always risky for me. I was amazed at the locals driving ability to go zooming down the icy roads as if they were ice skating. And they never wrecked their cars. I was a different story. Once I flipped my car going around a corner and another evening as the roads iced up I careened into the side of a hill. But it was that accident where I met one of my best friends in Quebec. As I was off on the side of the road, a couple in a van stopped to see if they could help. Francois and Eva, stopped and helped me get my car out of the ditch. Francois was French Canadian and his wife Eva, was native Cree. They lived in Montreal and had a small summer cottage on one of the smaller lakes in the area.

Francois, Eva and I became good friends and one summer Eva invited me to accompany her during her trip to visit her family on the shores of Lake Mistassini. Her family lived on the Cree Reservation which was situated on the shores of Lake Mistassini in the far northern region of Quebec.  It was at least a 10 hour drive north from Montreal to the Reservations.  So during that summer, Eva and I took a trip north. The scenery changed as we drove further north. The trees seemed smaller and stunted due to the extreme weather. And as we drove along the highway, swarms of locust had arrived before us and many of the trees were without leaves and the highway was littered with dead locust.

mistalke2

We finally arrived at Lake Mistassini, the largest fresh water lake in Quebec and home of one of the largest Cree communities. I learned about what it was like for Eva to grow up on the reservation. Diapers for the children were made from the moss growing along the shores of Lake Mistassini. And the children grew older they were separated from their families and sent away to a residential school system. The children were uprooted from their families and sent to a school so they could be indoctrinated with another culture instead of their family history.

mistlake4.jpg

Lake Mistassini was beautiful.  At times it seemed as if you were floating in the clouds because you could only see the cloud reflections in the lake and the shore had disappeared from sight. The beauty of the lake left me in awe.

My Favorite Quotes About Airplanes and Flying


1) When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it. – Henry Ford

2) That’s the thing about flying: You could talk to someone for hours and never even know his name, share your deepest secrets and then never see them again.
― Jennifer E. Smith, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight

3) When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return. – Leonardo da Vinci

4) To most people, the sky is the limit. To those who love aviation, the sky is home. – Anon

5) There are two emotions in a plane: boredom and terror. – Orson Wells

6) If God had really intended men to fly, he’d make it easier to get to the airport. – George Winters

7) When you think about flying, it’s nuts really.  Here you are at about 40,000 feet, screaming along at 700 miles an hour and you’re sitting there drinking Diet Pepsi and eating peanuts.  It just doesn’t make any sense. – David Letterman

8) I think it is a pity to lose the romantic side of flying and simply to accept it as a common means of transport. – Amy Johnson

9) I fly because it releases my mind from the tyranny of petty things.
–  Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

10) Lovers of air travel find it exhilarating to hang poised between  the illusion of immortality and the fact of death – Alexander Chase, U.S. journalist

My 2017 New Years Resolutions

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year - Linda Jenkins

Thinking and planning ahead for 2017.  Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions for 2017?

Here are mine.  Let’s check back at the end of the year and see how I progressed.  What are your 2017 Resolutions?

  1. To have a happy and joyous year filled with lots of friends.
  2. Write 2-3 blog posts each month.
  3. Get my vacations-abroad.co.uk and vacations-abroad.ca up and working.
  4. To visit at least 1 country I have never visited before.
  5. Get mobile site for vacations-abroad.com, vacations-abroad.co.uk, vacations-abroad.ca up and functioning.
  6. Carry a notebook with me to keep track of ideas that float through my brain.
  7. Approach at least 5 venture capital firms for funding.
  8. At least once a month do something really fun.

The Blues Festival in Mont Tremblant Quebec


Mont Tremblant is a national park that is located one hour north of Montreal.  There are numerous little villages in the area.  It is a popular destination in the summer because of the lakes and in the winter people enjoy skiing.  During the summer they have the Mont Tremblant Blues Festival.  This video includes aerial shots of the area as I rode in a small plane with a videographer hanging out the windows trying to get the perfect shot of the beautiful countryside.  We also spent several days walking around the Blues Festival and the local villages to capture the atmosphere of the area. Enjoy!

The Tuscan Landscape Is Absolutely Beautiful

Montepulciano Tapestry

The Tuscany landscape is one of the most beautiful sites in Italy.  Rolling landscape of plowed fields, old and ancient hill towns, and churches everywhere. To view larger images, click on the thumbnails below. Planning a vacation to Tuscany Italy?  Find the perfect vacation rental or boutique hotel in Tuscany (click here).

Meet Glee Lamb, world traveler and owner of a townhouse in Nice France

Having dinner with Glee Lamb at the il Giallo Osteria & Bar Restaurant in Dunwoody Georgia

I met Glee Lamb several years ago here in Atlanta through the ASA (Atlanta Symphony Associates) a group which helps support and raise money for the Atlanta Symphony.  Recently we got together with our significant other for an enjoyable dinner at the restaurant il Giallo Osteria & Bar in Dunwoody

As a follow up to our dinner I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to learn about what motivated Glee to purchase a house in Provence France and all the details involve.

The outside of the village house in Nice France.
The outside of the village house in Nice France.

1)      How long have you owned the property?

Bought it in 2004.

2)      What made you decide on the location?

A Florida girl, I loved the seaside, so why not the French     Rivera?  Palm trees, the Mediterranean, the beautiful medieval hillside village with a 14th century castle at the top and my little “village house,” complete with a balcony that affords a view of the ocean, dotted with sail boats.

3)      What was the condition when you bought it and did you renovate it?

It was built in the 1600’s and was quite in shambles when I bought it.  I,  first, hired a mason to re-tile the floors and he later became my “contractor.”  I named it “Le Perchoir,” which, in English, means “The Perch.”  

4)      What are your favorite things to do when you stay at the property?

Restaurants, Sights, Activities etc. Visit neighboring towns of Vence, St. Paul, Nice, Saint Jean Cap Ferrat, Villefranche, Eze, Monte Carlo, St. Remo, Antibes, Cannes, Grasse, Aix-en-Provence…. all within between 15 minutes and 2 hours away.  Love the many open-air and antique markets, the wines, the cheeses and the sumptuous array of fresh vegetables and fruits….and seafood.

5)      What is your favorite memory about the property?  

Living among the French in the village and going down the hill to the bakery for a baguette and croissants every day, I feel French, myself.

6)      How often do you go to the south of France and stay in your property?  

At least once a year, in-between visits from lots of interested friends and travelers who come to rent Le Perchoir.

A cozy sitting area in the village house in Nice.
A cozy sitting area in the village house in Nice.

Additional Questions About Your Love Of Travel:

1)      What are your favorite destinations to visit beside the South of France?

Spain, Corsica, Italy, Vietnam, India, South Africa, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland, Hong Kong, England and, of course, anywhere in the USA!

2)      What is your most memorable experience during ANY of your travels?

Bungee jumping over Victoria Falls (200 yards decent) on my 70th birthday and riding on an elephant up to a palace in Jaipur, India.

3)      Is there a place that you have not visited but would like to visit?  Where do you dream of visiting?

I have a very fun traveling companion who makes “destination lists” with me all the time and they change daily. Today, our list includes: Hawaii, Alaska, Bali, Bordeaux, France, a transatlantic crossing on an ocean liner.

4)      What are your favorite activities to indulge while on vacation?  

The joy of discovery…..  traveling on our own vs. in groups, visiting historical sites, walking around and finding quaint little restaurants, shopping in local stores to find useful memorabilia to take home as mementos and for presents and…..  looking forward to coming home again. 

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The bedroom filled with plenty of books to read in the evenings.

 

The French Riviera in Nice France
The French Riviera in Nice France

Be sure and visit Glee’s property in Nice Provence France >>>>

My Love Affair with the Mayans

Visiting a Mayan village in Guatemala

I had developed one obsession and that was my love of indigenous cultures and their art.   To me their culture was wrapped in symbolism and mystery.  I had read numerous books about the Mayans and other indigenous cultures.

I have made two trips to Guatemala. The 1st trip was for the experience and the 2nd was totally business.  My first trip to Guatemala was because I wanted to visit the Mayan culture that I had read so much about.   This article is about my initial experience.  It occurred during a time when Guatemala society was still turbulent because of the military control of the government.  My second trip I went on business and the atmosphere in Guatemala had totally changed and was less turbulent.

At the time of my initial trip, I had an office on Union Street in San Francisco, and the woman who had the leases for the offices encouraged me to take the plunge.  She also had a friend from Guatemala and gave me her telephone number to contact; to help calm my jitters.

So I called her.  She was from Guatemala and had just returned with her husband from a trip to Lake Attilan.  She told me that it was very dangerous to go.  That during their last trip, she and her husband were robbed by bandits who had surrounded their car.  The bandits had lots of guns and really intimidated them.  She told me it was dangerous to go, but I went anyway.

When I arrived in Guatemala City, the first thing I noticed was the armed guards standing in front of the retail stores.  And I was told that it was for my protection.  I left Guatemala City and headed towards Lake Atitlan, an area known for the numerous Mayan villages located on the shores of the lake.  You could tell you were entering “Mayan Country” because each villages was surrounded by cornfields, which is considered sacred in Mayan traditions.   I also noticed the Mayan women sitting out in the open alongside the road, weaving their intricate designs into beautiful fabrics.  Lake Atitlan and the numerous Mayan villages that were located on the shores of the lake were very peaceful and beautiful.  And you would catch glimpses of the Mayan women hand washing their clothes in the lake.  There were numerous tourists visiting the area also.

After spending a few days at Lake Atitlan, I decided I wanted to see more of Guatemala and I took a bus and headed further into the interior to explored some of the villages.  During the trip, I also met a woman from Belgium who was using the money she received for an art grant to travel.   And we decided to travel together for safety.  So we hopped a bus and headed further into Guatemala.  Riding the bus took us away from the tourist areas and into the areas that were populated by the farmers.  And every man that climbed on the bus carried a large machete that they used for working in the fields.   When they entered they were required to lay their machete in a pile at the front of the bus.  So a pile of huge knives were rattling as we rode along in the bus.  But no one seemed to pay any attention to our presence.

We headed all the way up to the Guatemala border with Belize.  At the border the police searched our belongings and I was standing and watching the police and warning my new friend to watch the police to “Make sure they do not plant drugs in our backpacks”.  When the guards heard me say that, they just laughed and they quit searching our bags.

Getting from the border to the next town was a bit of an unusual experience.  There was a taxi, but this taxi was a pickup and all the workers climbed into the back of the pickup with their machetes.  I preferred that area, rather than sitting up front with the driver, because my escape would be easier.  And the day laborers looked non threatening as they jumped in the back of the truck.  In fact they, seemed tired and exhausted from their work and barely noticed my presence.

Once we crossed the border the scenery changed.  The atmosphere was more Caribbean than Mayan and we immediately found a place to rent and began strolling through the villages.  At this point, I was not feeling safe, so we struck up a conversation with a male student from the Netherlands.  He was very easy going and polite and the three of us decided to band together.  After strolling through the village we all three went back to the hut that was to be our accommodation.

That night we slept in a tropical hut, but I  was unable to sleep. I was wide awake all night and I could hear the dogs in the distance continually barking.  So I lay there, all night, listening to the sounds.  Sometime during the middle of the night I saw the vague shadow of our door open and I jumped up and started screaming and threw myself against the door.  I woke everyone up and they wondered what was going on.  The next morning we found that all the cabins had been robbed.

I decided I had had enough and head back to Guatemala City and my flight back to the USA.

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