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FREE is GOOD! Part 3 of a 3 part series

Posted: July 1st, 2013 by

Macy's 4th of July Parade flickr image by Joyce Andes

Macy’s 4th of July Parade
flickr image by Joyce Andes


Why not Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the birthplace of our country? You might head over to Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing for the Philadelphia Orchestra Neighborhood Concert or simply watch the fireworks at the Philly 4th of July Jam.

If Philly is not on your mind, perhaps the beauty of the Smoky Mountains is calling your name – so head over to UNC’s Kenan Memorial Stadium in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, to hear live music by Kenny Mann and Liquid Pleasure, and a spectacular light up the sky fireworks display. You don’t want to miss the watermelon eating contest as well . . .

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Flickr image by NYC Marines

Nashville “Music City” 4th of July celebration is a must attend event . . . “ If there’s one thing Nashville knows how to do, it’s throw a party.” . . . . “Get ready for a day full of FREE LIVE MUSIC (including The Band Perry), family fun and incredible fireworks in the heart of downtown Nashville, Tennessee at the Lawn at Riverfront Park.”

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Flickr image by Curtis Palmer

Why not “Spend the Fourth of July in the Nations Capital and celebrate with fireworks and festivals,” featuring an Independence Day parade with marching bands, patriotic floats; and then there’s the 90-minute music extravaganza with a “rousing rendition of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture” and live canon fire!

Want to learn more, look at the links at the end of the blog.

flickr-byjustinday.jpg

No doubt your town or city has something planned, so why not grill up those hamburgers and hotdogs, then head on down to the fireworks display where the echo of ooohs and ahhhs can be heard as we celebrate America’s birthday! For more details on these events check out these websites:
http://www.townofchapelhill.org/index.aspx?page=514″
http://www.visitmusiccity.com/july4th/july4th_eventdetails
http://washington.org/article/10-ways-celebrate-independence-day-washington-dc

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Holiday Madness Is Here!

Posted: November 2nd, 2011 by

Diyas (oil lamp) during Diwali-wikipedia

This is just a crazy time of year. According to Hallmark, there are 8 major holidays crammed into the short time span from October 31- December 31. That averages out a holiday every 11.5 Days!  Some of these holidays have been celebrated since the pilgrims first set foot on these shores, while others are recently recognized in the United States. For instance, although Diwali has been celebrated in India for centuries, it has only recently gained popularity as major holiday in this country. 8 Major Holidays in 92 Days- 2011:

October 31- Halloween

November 11- Veterans Day

November 13- Diwali

November 24- Thanksgiving

December 21- Hanukkah

December 25- Christmas

December 26- Kwanzaa

December 31/January –1  New Year’s Eve/Day

Many people plan to visit friends and family or take a much needed vacation for at least one of these holidays, making this one of the busiest travel times of the year. Families are able to take advantage of school breaks and take the kids to visit Grandma, go to Disney World, enjoy a cruise or hit the slopes. Hotels, cruise lines and tour companies all offer holiday specials this time of year. With a little advance planning, the savvy traveler is able to take advantage of some great deals.

What are your plans this holiday season?

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For affordable lodging and a good Night’s Sleep on your holiday vacation

I Resolve To . . .

Posted: January 10th, 2011 by

We can thank Janus, a mythical king of early Rome (153 B.C.) for what some consider the beginning of the tradition of new year’s resolutions.  Fact is, the Romans named the first calendar month after Janus, the god of beginnings and the guardian of doors and entrances.  Thus, Janus was always depicted with two faces, where the one on the front of the head was always looking forward, and the one on the back of the head was looking backward at the same time.

New Year’s resolutions can be traced back 4,000 years to ancient Babylonians, when they might have resolved to return borrowed farm equipment.

 Along with resolutions there are other traditions associated with the new year, such as food.  Greens, like cabbage or collards depict money where black eyed peas are said to bring good luck, and hog jowls or ham signify luck or prosperity.  Italians might eat lasagna, while Austrians may serve green peppermint ice cream in the shape of a cloverleaf.  Almost every culture has some type of food they traditionally serve on New Year’s day.

Non edible traditions vary as well.  For instance, in Wales, at the first toll of midnight the back door is opened and closed to release the old year and lock out bad luck; whereas at the twelfth stroke of the clock, the front door is opened to welcome in the new year and shepherd in good luck.  In Japan, homes are decorated in tribute to lucky gods.

Toasting in the new year in Paris - Flickr photo by viZZZual

There is also the new-year toast, which can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans who shared wine from a common pitcher where the host drank first to ensure the wine was not poisoned.  Champagne has since become the toast of choice in the modern world.

Music has played its part in new year celebrations as well, and the song Auld Lang Syne became the song of the day after it was published in 1796, although there were several variations of Auld Lang Syne all the way back to the early 1700’s.

Perhaps the most famous New Year's Eve celebration is in Times Square in New York - Flickr photo by Paul Mannix

New Years is also the oldest holiday celebration and the only holiday celebrating the passage of time, as well as associated with making new year resolutions. 

I resolve to go white water rafting in West Virginia with my teen-aged son, as well as go horseback riding in the Virginia mountains and catch some major site-seeing in new York City.   One of my colleagues has stated she resolves to take a cruise to the Caribbean, Cayman Islands and Cozumel, while another wants to visit at least one small seemingly unknown tourist venue and one major tourist attraction in 2011.  

Flckr photo by katerha

Resolutions are not necessarily all about diets, or losing weight, quit smoking, etc, but can include fun things like seeing the beauty of nature, travelling throughout America and experiencing what the World has to offer in a variety of ways.  

What do you resolve to do in 2011?

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Only 15 More Shopping Days Til’ Christmas . . . .

Posted: December 9th, 2010 by

Heralding in a new Holiday Shopping Season - Christmas Tree in front of Macy's - Flickr photo by Pravin-kumar

What a familiar statement that is.  Not to worry as there are numerous shopping opportunities; what with mega malls, discount outlet shopping centers, strip malls with large department stores and discount stores galore in most every city around.  If you are like many folks and simply don’t want to fight the crowds or just get out, you can turn on the tube and seek out gifts for everyone on Home Shopping Network and QVC or other similar TV shopping networks.  Plus, technology has pushed the envelope when it comes to shopping on the Internet.  New or used, you name it and you can find it on a variety of websites.

Some of our readers will remember planned shopping excursions, where for weeks you mapped out your trip to the big city to buy Christmas gifts.  It normally required an overnight stay in a hotel or nearby inn and often included a special meal at your favorite out-of-town restaurant.  Up early in the morning to beat the crowds with a shop until you drop attitude . . . then laden with gifts galore you return to your home-away-from -home; tired, but pleased that you found that special gift for Aunt Mary, Cousin Jane and Grandpa.

Going to the big city for shopping was a treat - Flickr photo of Washington, DC at Christmastime by ktlerconk

Part of the phenomenon of Christmas shopping from afar was the gaiety of sparkling tinsel and twinkling lights, seeing a larger than life Christmas tree and simply being part of the bustling Christmas shopping crowd.

Today, there are more reasons to leave the sofa or laptop to shop – mega malls are not just filled with retail establishments but many house amusement parks, hotels, and are considered tourist destinations.  Here are some stats when it comes to these mega shopping opportunities.  Eight of the 10 largest malls in the world are located in Asia, so if you really want a shopping experience of a life time you might want to travel to Dongguan, China, where the South China Mall is said to be the largest mall in the world.  This mall has it all; a replica of France’s Arc de Triomphe, working wind mills, a theme park, and has a whopping 7.1 million square feet of space to its name. 

If you want to ride the waves or experience the thrill of a towering roller coaster, then Cevahir Istanbul in Turkey is the place to go.  Considered the largest mall in Europe, Cevahir features a wave pool, roller coaster and several IMAX theatres plus a bevy of shops to meet the needs of even the most persnickety shopper.

Rollercoaster shown is in the West Edmonton Mall, Alberta, Canada - Wikimedia photo

Mall of America, Flickr photo by cliff1066

For those U.S. shoppers who want to be a little closer to home, then the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada might just be the ticket for the whole family.  With 3.8 million square feet of shopping and entertainment space, including a casino, skating rink, water park, a petting zoo and other attractions, this mega mall rivals some of the best and largest.  Let’s not forget the Mall of America, located in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where forty million visitors a year visit to shop at more than 500+ stores, visit the Underwater Aquarium Adventure, Lego Imagination Center and Dinosaur Walk Museum or party hardy in one of their seven nightclubs.

The town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Lifesize nutcracker in Rothenburg Christmas Store - Flickr photo by Alaskan Dude

Not into mega malls, and simply want to get caught up in the spirit of Christmas?  Dating all the way back to the 14th century is Germany’s Christkindlmarkt experience; a must do and see in towns like Dresden and Nuremberg.   Also, the Medieval town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber is famous for its Weihnachtsmarkt.  Even if you don’t buy a thing, just touring this romantic town, whose history goes back as far as 970 AD, with its uneven cobblestone streets, aged half-timbered houses and an imposingly thick wall of stone that surrounds the city, will leave you with a feeling of good will and cheer.

Last but not least are those home-spun Christmas -bazaars, put on by churches and non-profit organizations galore, where crafters and artisans of all kinds put out their one-of-a-kind treasures or cloned home-made articles of all types.  You won’t want to miss these delightful, in-your-backyard shopping opportunities, where often times this is where you find that special gift found no where else. 

Happy holidays everyone – and happy shopping to you!

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