another Gem found near the edge
Discover Free Audio Guides for Your Travel Destinations
January 30, 2018
I first learned about Rick Steves on a backpacking trip through Europe with my sons in 2003. His travel book Europe Through the Back Door was an invaluable resource and ultimately led us to Gimmelwald – a very tiny village in the Swiss Alps.
Ah, Gimmelwald I yearn for your clean crisp air and mountain stillness.
Ok, enough reminiscing, you want to know about free audio tours, right?
During a recent tour of Italy and France (too cold and snowy for a return to Gimmelwald) I found Steves to be a very helpful sort once again. As I listened to his free audio tour of the Uffizi Musem, I began to believe he was walking right beside me providing fascinating bits and pieces about the famous artists and their work, with his sometimes corny sense of humor. A sideways glance reminded me he was hidden away in that little box in my hand. He was with us, nonetheless.
The free walking tours I discussed in my last article On a Budget? Or Even if You're Not (See #TurtleTuesdayTravelTips January 23, 2018) are spectacular. You don’t want miss them. But, those al fresco tours of Florence and Paris were fully enriched once we stepped inside the Uffizi Museum (the Medicis Renaissance era office building) and again while visiting the Louvre(medieval fortress, turned palace of Charles V, turned museum) plugged in with Rick Steves.
So how does this free thing work?
What You Need.
- a smart device of your choosing,
- headphones connected to that smart device. But you knew that
- a free app
Download the free app and you’re on your way to Steves’s guided tours of many European destinations. You choose your destination. You won’t be disappointed.
We left the Uffizi and Louvre museums awed not only with what we saw, but remarkably more educated about many extraordinary works of art.
“But what about the rest of the world?” You ask
Yes, I wondered that too. An Internet search produced a free audio tour website called iaudioguide.com. I haven’t tried it yet, but many worldwide destinations including the Americas are included.
Steves’s area of focus is Europe and I find his products exceptional. If you use iaudioguide.com let me know what you think. I’ll weigh in once I have a chance to use it.
Bottom line. There are lots of free resources out there to help as you Explore the Edge. Just as I found, first you’ve got to know they exist.
Enjoy the Journey
On a Budget? Or even if you’re not.
Discover Free Tours in Many Destination Cities.
January 23, 2018
You find yourself standing in the middle of a city you have always wanted to visit – Rome, Florence, Paris, Athens. Or maybe closer to home – New Orleans, New York, Boston, Chicago. You have three days and a bucket list of 15 must-sees. So, now what? What’s the plan?
#TurtleTuesdayTravelTip: Find free tours.
We were half-way through a whirlwind three-week tour of Greece, Italy, and France when my husband and I met two college students at a Rome bus stop. They told us to check out the free tours when we got to Florence.
“Free?” we asked incredulously. We had just spent $100+ to tour the Vatican. (It was an excellent tour by the way) But Free!
“Yes, free,” They replied in unison, laughing at each other.
Since we were headed to Florence, Italy, within hours, I searched the Internet to find out if this was indeed true. "
Ok, what’s the catch?" I wondered.
But, sure enough, there were tours every day – gratuities gladly accepted (this was hardly a catch). Look for the footprints on the web page.
We rode the train to Florence in the evening and arrived at the designated meeting spot in front of Santa Maria Novella church to walk the “Renaissance Tour” the next morning. An incredibly affable and knowledgeable guide led a small group of us around the old city in the rain. We were well prepared with rain gear and umbrellas, so of course returned to walk the “Medici Tour” with another guide in the afternoon. He was just as knowledgeable and interesting as the morning guide.
The tours provided us an overview of Florence and the contributions of the Medici family in less than three hours, leaving plenty of time to return to points of special interest, eat at incredible trattorias and ristorantes, and enjoy the beauty of this most remarkable city. The birthplace of Renaissance Europe gave us goosebumps at every turn as we walked in the foot paths of Michelangelo, Leonardo di Vinci, Dante Alighieri, Donatello, and so many others who molded a new Europe in the 15th and 16th centuries.
A few days later, we took advantage of the free tours in Paris and were equally thrilled. Notre Dame Cathedral, the river Seine, and the Latin Quarter came to life on a rainy French day.
We left Europe a little wet, but with a much deeper understanding and appreciation of the cities we visited. That would never have happened had we fumbled around as planned. Thank you to our friends in Rome. By the way, I don’t believe in coincidences. We were at the right place at the right time to discover this wonderful treasure.
Taking a trip to a place you’ve never been? First, check to see if free tours are offered – gratuities gladly accepted of course.
Enjoy the Journey
Staying deBugged on a plane
December 20, 2017
I am posting this #TurtleTuesdayTravelTip on #WhaleWednesday because I think it needs attention at this flying time of year.
A forewarning. This post has nothing to do with Whales, or Turtles for that matter.
But TravelTip…most definitely.
The Problem: How to avoid bugs on a plane, or as my paramedic daughter calls it, an airborne petri dish.
I began flying regularly to Chicago when my first grandson was born four years ago. Each time I arrived well, and left sick.
The Cause. You guessed it. Flying organisms. Invisible microbes. Fearsome infectious Klingons. A phalanx of combatants ready to to do battle slicing through your immune system with lightening precision.
The Tip. I began carrying disinfectant wipes with me when I travel. Before I sit down and buckle up, I wipe everything I might touch. Yes, everything – the arms, the tray (both sides), the buckle on the belt, my headrest, the headrest in front of me, any knob or button – everything.
Voila! The next time I flew I stayed well and returned home well. The gnarly Klingons had been averted.
Recent Trip and another Tip. Recently I flew from Chicago to Athens Greece, connecting in Stockholm Sweden. My meticulous wipe down resulted in a healthy me for the next two months.
Then came the assault. I flew home on Turkish Airlines with my husband. Four hours from Paris to Istanbul. Twelve hours from Istanbul to Chicago. Sixteen hours in a petri dish packed like sardines.
I became distracted, felt bullet-proof after two months, and did not properly prepare. Yes, I wiped everything down, but used baby wipes. My disinfectant wipes had been carelessly packed away. Hacking, coughing, sneezing, the bugs began to swarm. I dubbed the onslaught the Whirling Dervish and prepared for the worst. We have been home now for four weeks and the Dervish is not yet vanquished.
Note to self and to you. In addition to the wipedown, add a mask (or light scarf covering both nose and mouth) and apply lavender or frankincense oil. Both are antibacterial. Many Asians on the plane wore masks. I believe they had the advantage.
Another solution: Airlines should supply or sell masks.
Until next time...
Explore the Edge and Enjoy the Journey
Where to Stash Your Cash
August 22, 2017
The Story. Many years ago I traveled with a group of students to study in Greece. After the semester we split into small groups to travel Europe. Unfortunately, some of our number did not get to enjoy the journey they had pIanned. As they slept in a train station, their backpacks were stolen. Without money or their passports, my friends could not continue.
Travel Tip. You may not be able to avoid theft in some areas of the world, including travel in the U.S., but a good tip is to plan ahead and “divide and conquer” as Phillip II of Macedon once said. Travel with small denominations and divide it up. Keep your passport and sufficient cash on your body, hiding it in separate locations: socks, underwear, the inside pockets in your jeans, under the inner sole in your tennies. And how about these flip flops? Who thinks of these things?
A money belt is a definite and some are more discreet than others. Some money belts today have RFID protectors to thwart those high-tech thieves. Wear a money belt.
A Final Word. Make sure you have a back-up credit/debit card should one be lost or stolen. And leave those cards, and other wallet items, you will not use on your journey at home.
Planning ahead will make your journeys more joyful. After all you do want keep on Exploring.
Until next time, Happy #TurtleTuesday
And continue to #ExploretheEdge
The File Drawer
A tip for packing a suitcase and then FINDING your stuff
August 15, 2017
The Problem. Packing for a trip is not for the faint of heart. Being human, we need our stuff. And all that stuff doesn’t necessarily fit into a suitcase that airlines will allow, nor the trunk of a car for that matter. Humans often face a conundrum when they try to get their stuff from here to there. The hunter-gatherer days must have been much less stressful.
To the Rescue. As a Boomer I have at my fingertips (more or less, and oft times its less) a magnificent resource – a teenage granddaughter who knows all the tips and tricks about … well, let’s just say the stuff she knows falls well outside my areas of expertise. She’s wired.
Hey Kylie, remember when you went to Chicago and your suitcase looked like a file drawer? Will you help me do that?
The excellent result of the file drawer method of packing is this. When you’re on the road, moving from place to place, and never unpacking that suitcase completely, you can see everything at a glance. Your jeans aren’t buried under your shirts which are buried under your swimsuit, pajamas, and underwear. Under Kylie’s tutelage I learned how to fold everything into neat squares and then stack them neatly into an easily identifiable horizontal arrangement.
Using this excellent filing system, I filed my shirts and blouses in a row from light to dark on the left side of the suitcase. My pants are filed from dark to light on the right stacked neatly against the last shirt moving to the right. Other miscellany is rolled and packed in the front. Voila’! Three months of stuff in a single suitcase. The picture I found to illustrate is packed in columns. Mine, as I described is packed in rows.
Get the picture? If not go find a teenager. She’ll help you out.
In the meantime…Happy #TurtleTuesday and continue to #ExploretheEdge.
Exploring the Edge on the Cheap
August 8, 2017
You want to explore that exotic destination hassle free, and you want to fly cheap. If you’re flexible you’re in luck. Just fly when others don’t. Who are the Others you ask? They’re the business travelers and they tend not to travel on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. If you can, you should be looking for flights in the middle of the week. You can even find a cheap flight on Thursdays if you can book two to three months out. Those cut- rate last minute airline deals don’t exist anymore according to Ashley Halpern of New York Magazine. Instead, airlines up the ante to get the most out of those last minute business travelers, and you too if you don’t plan ahead.
Oh, also try to book your flights on Tuesdays. It seems to be our lucky day.
Until next week, get out there and see it all.
I used JustFly in May to find a ticket to Athens, Greece. Fair price, fair rules for cancellation.
August 8, 2017
The sea turtle is special in my life. She swims the seas freely leading to many discoveries in both the physical world and the spirit world.
Since I will search far and wide to find travel tips for you, my crew aboard this journey, I’ve invited my friend to come along. In fact, she will lead the way.
She loves #TurtleTuesday and suggested it would be a great day for #TravelTips. I’m sure you can guess why. Anyway, today is the first issue of #TurtleTuesdayTravelTips
Enjoy the journey.