This is a collection of posts from countries and states, cities, hotels, airports, parks and museums where I have traveled on Loyalty Traveler trips in the past few years.
October 4-18, 2017
San Jose SJC – London LHR – Prague PRG –Warsaw WAW – Nice NCE (train to Monaco) – Athens ATH – Sofia SOF (train to Plovdiv) – Athens ATH – Prague PRG.
15 day trip flying British Airways from San Jose, California to Prague.
I stayed in Prague 4 nights, Warsaw 1 night, France and Monaco 4 nights and Bulgaria 4 nights.
LOT Polish Prague to Warsaw for 20 hours and Nice, France. After a few days in Monaco and Nice, I flew four flights on Aegean Airlines as a fast-track strategy to Star Alliance Gold elite with travel from Nice to Athens to Sofia to Athens to Prague. The second week of my trip included an afternoon in Athens, four nights in Sofia and Plovdiv, then back to Prague for the last two nights from October 4-18, 2017.
Cost for my October 2-week Prague trip
Airfare cost: $601
$367 British Airways San Jose, California to Prague (AARP discount ticket).
$101 LOT Polish Prague – Warsaw (overnight) – Nice, France NCE.
$77 Aegean Airlines Nice NCE – Athens ATH – Sofia, Bulgaria SOF.
$56 Aegean Airlines Sofia SOF – Athens ATH – Prague PRG.
Hotels cost: My cost was $405 + 69,000 hotel points and free night in 6 programs for 11 reward nights and 2 paid nights for 13 nights on my 15 day trip.
11 reward nights
- Best Western Nice So’Co – 8,000 points for 1 night in Nice, France
- Clarion Prague City – Choice Privileges 24,000 points for 3 nights in Prague.
- Radisson Alcron Prague – Club Carlson Free Friday night for 1 night.
- InterContinental Warsaw – IHG Rewards Club Points & Cash stay 30,000 points + $30 for 1 night. Points & Cash reward night qualified for 1 of 3 Accelerate Fall 2017 tasks for 30,000 bonus points. I will complete the other two tasks on a hotel stay in London in December 2017 with one paid $80 night.
- Riviera Marriott La Porte de Monaco, Cap d’Ail, France – Marriott auction win at $115 in Nov 2016 for 2 nights in Deluxe Sea View room.
- Sofia Hotel Balkan, Bulgaria – Starwood Preferred Guest 4,000 points for 2 nights at SPG category 2 hotel for two weekday Cash & Points nights at 2,000 points + $35 per night.
- Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium Hotel, Plovdiv, Bulgaria – Wyndham Rewards redeemed for 1 GoFast reward night at 3,000 points + 24 EUR/$28 USD.
2 Paid Nights for $160 at Wyndham brand hotels earned 15,000 bonus points with Masterpass promotion.
- Days Inn Nice Centre 67.50 EUR /$80 USD for 1 night earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points.
- Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium Hotel 67.50 EUR/$80 USD for 1 night earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points.
Total cost would be about $700 if no hotel points and needed to buy them.
Total cost based on published room rates would have been $1,500+ for 13 nights.
Since I balance earning and burning points on my trips, my actual out-of-pocket expense for 13 nights was about $290. My costs for hotel points and Marriott auction had been paid for many months and years ago.
Daily expenses: Averaged about $20 per day in CZK, PLN, EUR, BGN for food, drink and ground transportation.
Prague-French Riviera-Bulgaria Trip Report
Aug 20, 2017 date of $367 SJC-PRG round trip ticket purchase for 15 day Europe trip October 4-18, 2017.
British Airways flight, Cathay Pacific LHR Terminal 3 lounge, Prague Airport bus and Metro to Vinohrady district. Stayed at Clarion Prague City.
Photo walk on brisk October afternoon through Prague’s Vinohrady and Zizkov districts to TV Tower and city’s largest cemeteries.
Hotel stay in junior suite using Club Carlson Free Friday earned in July’s promotion.
Wandering streets of Prague took me to a true nightlife party street in the middle of a mostly residential area of Nove Mesto on a Friday evening. Perhaps best of all is a Best Western hotel is located right in the middle of the pub/club street.
Warsaw is a city where I could have a good time in the right circumstances. Unfortunately, I mostly didn’t have a good time this trip.
InterContinental Warsaw convenient for WAW airport train great room view of central Warsaw. Strange receptionist interaction when she demanded I return my room key card at check-out.
Free walking tour showed me most of Old Town’s sights in 90 minutes. Rainy and gloomy day.
Nice airport bus to city train station for an 8,000 points reward night at nearby Best Western So’Co. Good ‘shabby chic’ deal and 15 minutes walk to beach. Nice Airport is currently constructing the tram line.
French Riviera sunshine created a real change of scene from Central Europe. After 3 days of cold autumn October in Prague and Warsaw, the remaining days of my trip in France, Greece, Bulgaria and Prague were nearly all clear skies with daytime temperatures in low 20s C/low 70s F.
Tip: If going to Marriott La Porte de Monaco Cap d’Ail by train, do not get off at Cap d’Ail train station unless you have arranged for transportation. Rural stop and over 2 miles to Marriott. Marriott has a free shuttle service to Monaco train station.
Marriott Riviera La Porte de Monaco on the waterfront Hotel is basically in Monaco city across the street from the country border in a mostly residential area of Fontvieille with a shopping center supermarket ten minutes walk. Great location. I stayed 2 nights in a Deluxe Sea View (yacht parking lot view) with a $115 bid in a Marriott charity auction I won in 2016.
Le Rocher is a cool small town and located on the same rock of Monaco where the royal palace is located. Small lanes between low rise buildings creates crowded streets in the day when loads of tourists are around. This is a cruise ship tour favorite for the city.
Le Rocher felt very cool as I was one of the few visitors walking around at sunset on an October Monday evening.
Monaco is about 4 km from France west to France east along the coast. I spent about six hours walking and checking out the coastline from Marriott La Porte de Monaco to Le Meridien Beach Plaza near the eastern border of Monaco.
11 EUR beer check-in to check out the beach and hotel on my walk across Monaco.
67.50 EUR for one night paid with Masterpass earned 8,500 Wyndham Rewards points. Even received an upgrade room with a balcony. Good deal as solo traveler.
I had forgotten the Promenade along the beach in Nice was the location of the Bastille Day 2016 terror attack as I enjoyed the vibe of people around me in the city. Terrorism never crossed my mind in Nice.
Loved the window seat view flying over Italy to Corfu and the landscape and sea views to Athens. My regret was not taking a window seat for the Athens to Prague flight the following week when our aircraft flew over Albania and Montenegro mountain scenery and island views off Croatia’s coast.
First ever trip into Athens on a 4-hour layover at ATH before my flight to Sofia, Bulgaria. Takes 45 minutes for Metro from airport to Monastiraki on 18EUR round trip ticket. Monastiraki is a major square with neighborhood ancient ruins, flea market stalls, shops, restaurants and bars.
Feeling marble is a reference to the grand staircase of this 1950s Soviet architectural classic hotel in the focal point center of Sofia. SPG category 2 reward nights are the real deal here.
Bookstores, parks, churches, cheap pubs and restaurants are some aspects of the Sofia experience. I like laid back vibes and I feel Sofia is a pretty laid back and safe place to hang out in the center of the city.
Fell in love with Plovdiv immediately. Great place to chill out among Roman ruins, long pedestrian street, parks and Old Town.
Second 67.50 EUR paid hotel night for Masterpass payment 7,500 bonus points + 1,000 stay points. Second night of 2-night stay on GoFast 23EUR + 3,000 points.
Plovdiv has lots of street cats. Old Town on a day with abundant sunshine provides an architectural delight.
Kapana district of Plovdiv is known for art, music and pubs.
Rooftop bar for a beer, music and great views of Sofia.
Stayed three nights at Clarion Prague City at the beginning and end of my trip for 8,000 Choice Privileges points per night. One of best loyalty program deals in Prague.
Over tourism in Old Town Prague and Mala Strana castle district prompts tourism officials to encourage visitors to Prague to visit other districts of the city. This gorgeous day was spent walking from Vinohrady and across Zizkov to Vitkov Hill with its tremendous views of the city. Karlin is a former industrial area of Prague undergoing urban gentrification. Restaurants, pubs and Karlin Forum for rock concerts are reasons to visit Karlin.
Clarion Prague City walk to Metro to airport bus to Prague Airport Terminal 1. Prague Terminal 1 MasterCard Lounge before British Airways LHR flight.
San Francisco SFO – Copenhagen, Denmark – Stockholm, Sweden – Amsterdam, Netherlands – Prague-Pilsen-Brno, Czechia – Bratislava, Slovakia – London, England – San Francisco SFO (22 days-6 flights-20 hotel nights-6 bus trips)
Copenhagen, Denmark: Skt. Petri Copenhagen Choice Hotels Ascend Collection
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Loyalty Traveler Lost and Found in Amsterdam
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre hotel review
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam design for social living
Amsterdam, Netherlands: Amsterdam beer, bud and burger joints
Amsterdam and Prague Hotels: 2 stays earned 1 Free Friday Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam and Park Inn Prague
Prague, Czechia: Pickpocket stole my wallet on Prague Airport Bus
Prague, Czechia: Park Inn Prague hotel review
Prague, Czechia: Best Western Hotel Kinsky Garden Prague truly boutique
Prague, Czechia: Hotel review Clarion Prague City reward stay
Prague, Czechia: Vyšehrad, Prague far from the madding crowd
Pilsen, Czechia: Marriott Courtyard Pilsen CZ category 1 reward stay
Pilsen, Czechia: Pilsen Czechia photoessay
Brno, Czechia: Holiday Inn Brno, CZ PointBreaks stay
Brno, Czechia: Brno by beer
Brno, Czechia: Brno Bones in Europe’s Second Largest Ossuary
Bratislava, Slovakia: Review Radisson Blu Bratislava Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia: Walk to Bratislava Castle Slovakia photo essay
Bratislava, Slovakia: Bratislava Slovakia photo essay part 2
Bratislava, Slovakia: Category 1 Park Inn Danube Bratislava Slovakia opens Oct 1, 2017
Bratislava, Slovakia: Trip Report Regiojet Bus Bratislava to Brno Airport
London, UK: Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow hotel review
Hotel Loyalty: Loyalty? Yes! Loyal? Not so much for my hotel travel
Hotel Loyalty: My two Club Carlson Free Friday Nights posted today
Airline Loyalty: Aegean Silver elite and 17,000 miles to Star Alliance Gold
Oakland, California – Barcelona, Spain – Warsaw, Poland – Gdansk, Poland – Krakow, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden – London, England – San Jose, California
Trip Planning: On the Level $255 round trip Oakland to Barcelona (March 18, 2017)
Trip Planning: Low cost flights and nights for our Poland trip (June 12, 2017)
Trip Planning: Be Aware Level Airlines $85 checked bag fee (June 13, 2017)
Level Airlines $149 one way ticket Oakland to Barcelona trip report (June 16, 2017).
Poland Trip Report – Where my hotel loyalty lies (summary of hotel stays, room cost and points earned).
Gdansk, Poland: Dluga Street (ul. Dluga) Gdansk, Poland
Gdansk, Poland: Gdansk Poland pub crawl in beer photos
Gdansk, Poland: European Solidarity Centre museum Gdansk, Poland
Gdansk, Poland: Radisson Blu Gdansk Hotel Review
Krakow, Poland: Radisson Blu Krakow Poland $102 rate earned 14,858 points
Travel Planning several moves ahead (thoughts on my travel style).
San Francisco – Reykjavik, Iceland – Vilnius, Lithuania – Kaunas, Lithuania – Klaipeda, Lithuania – Riga, Latvia – Stockholm, Sweden – Oakland, California
Trip Planning: De-Icing my Iceland plans
Trip Planning: Filling in the Gap Home on $70 WOW one way fares to Europe
Trip Planning: I’m on a low budget to Iceland and Baltics
Reykjavik, Iceland: WOW Air $70 SFO-KEF flight review, YMMV.
Reykjavik, Iceland: Budgeting 2 days in Reykjavik, (pr)Iceland
Reykjavik, Iceland: Luggage Storage in Reykjavik for tourists
Reykjavik, Iceland: Hotel Review Hilton Reykjavik Nordica
Reykjavik, Iceland: Iceland has tourism problems due to cheap flights
Vilnius, Lithuania: Ramada Vilnius Lithuania Hotel Review – notably luxurious for brand
Vilnius, Lithuania: Make Everything Great Again – Trump murals in Vilnius, Lithuania
Kaunas, Lithuania: Hotel Review Best Western Santakos in Kaunas Lithuania
Best Western and Hilton: I won’t be fooled again by hotel gift cards
Kaunas, Lithuania: Park Inn Kaunas Lithuania is Club Carlson Category 1 gem
Kaunas, Lithuania: Carefree Alus in Kaunas, Lithuania
Klaipeda, Lithuania: Radisson Blu Klaipeda, Lithuania Club Carlson Category 2 reward stay
Klaipeda, Lithuania: Sculpture in Klaipeda, Lithuania
Lithuania: Images of Lithuania
Riga, Latvia: Park Inn Residence Riga Barona has kitchens
Riga, Latvia: Riga in Photo Detail
Stockholm, Sweden: Flygbussarna connections to Stockholm’s four airports
Stockholm, Sweden: Walking Stockholm 4 days after April 7 terror attack
Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm photo walk Sodermalm, Langholmen, Kungsholmen
Stockholm, Sweden: Stockholm Attack 2017 Memorial Sites images
Stockholm, Sweden: Clarion Hotel Stockholm trip report
Stockholm, Sweden: Three Stockholm Hotels at 10,000 Choice Privileges points per night
San Francisco SFO – London – Amsterdam – Sofia, Bulgaria – Gdansk, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden – Oakland OAK
- Best Western Bonum Gdansk, Poland $39 suite
Copenhagen, Denmark – Malmo, Sweden – Prague, Czechia – Wroclaw, Poland – Krakow, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden
- WOW Air SFO to Copenhagen $69 my best low fare deal to Europe ever
- Quick takes on Prague
- Ten mile walking tour around Prague (part one)
- Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (Part Two)
- Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (part 3 Old Town)
- Park Inn Prague Hotel Review
- Hotel U Medvídků Brewery Prague
- Hospůdka U Voraře, my Prague local pub
- Cat’s Meow – Wroclaw predatory Polish cutie on a Saturday night
- Wroclaw Poland walking tour
- Radisson Blu Wroclaw hotel review
- Holiday Inn Krakow $100 night earned 23,500 points + $75 rebate
- My $75 IHG Priceless Experiences MasterCard turned into 20,000 points
- This week’s airline and hotel changes make last week’s Europe trip 26% more expensive
Vienna, Austria – Bratislava, Slovakia – Krakow, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden
Krakow, Poland medieval fortress
Loyalty Traveler Travels – November 2016
New Zealand – North Island Auckland and Napier
London – Slovakia – Austria trip report, September 2016
- Slovakia on my mind
- My late summer trip Kosice, Slovakia to Salzburg, Austria
- Hotel Review Holiday Inn London Commercial Road (East End London)
- London East End impressions from a one day stay
- East London Canal Walk Holiday Inn Commercial Road to Wapping, St. Katherine Docks and Tower of London
- Wizz Air London Luton to Kosice, Slovakia
- Two cozy days in Košice, Slovakia
- Kosice, Slovakia – The Singing Fountain Spievajúca fontána
- Hotel Review DoubleTree Kosice
- Hotel Review Suite Boutique Hotel Chrysso Kosice Slovakia
- Lomnické sedlo, Slovakia – Roof of the High Tatras
- Hiking High Tatras Slovakia
- High Tatra Peaks Slovakia on a Clear Sky Morning
- Grand Hotel Stary Smokovec Slovakia 1904, Historic Hotels of Europe
- Slovakia as a tourist destination? I’m lovin’ it!
- See the world through ‘We Are Happy From’ videos
- Levoca UNESCO World Heritage Site medieval town
- Hotel Review U Leva Hotel, Levoca
- Spis Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site 12th century castle ruin was one of Europe’s largest castle complexes
- Slovakia recap after 10 days
- Bratislava, Slovakia highest SPG reward redemption rate I recall finding (I had a reservation here, but ended up canceling to stay two nights at DoubleTree Slovakia for 4,000 HHonors points + 30 EUR).
- Hotel Review DoubleTree Bratislava Slovakia
- Bratislava, Slovakia where you can afford real life one hour from Vienna
- Slovakia and Austria cheap travel on buses and trains
- Hotel Review Ramada Salzburg City Centre
- Salzburg – Mozart was here
Stockholm, Krakow, Copenhagen, Stavanger, London
Over 100 beers and 100 miles walked in 16 Days European Vacation
- Stockholm price of food and beer
- Summer postcard beautiful Djurgården, Royal Game Park of Stockholm
- Stockholm, I’ll be back, but probably not stay
- Krakow, Poland Europe’s Best Travel Bargain (Sep Update: I learned Slovakia is even better value).
- Krakow Cost of Food and Drink
- Scenes from Krakow, Poland a new city in my Top 5 Places to Visit
- Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre great location for tourists
- Copenhagen is cooler than Stockholm and half price
- Hotel Review Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger, Norway
- July still life stroll through Stavanger, Norway
- United paid me $400 to stay in London
- London Walking Tour in 8 to 10 hours from LHR, introduction
- London Walking Tour Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in 1 to 2 hours
- London Walking Tour Trafalgar Square party, Leicester Square theaters, Chinatown food
- London Walks Lost in Sexy Soho
- Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel July 2016
Florida Road Trip Orlando to New Orleans and Louisiana Tour
- Rough Start for Drive Out of Florida road trip to New Orleans
- Orlando to Pensacola road trip notes and photos
- Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Pensacola West–Navy Base on PointBreaks
- Beautiful Sweet Home Alabama driving U.S. 98 and U.S. 90
- Gulf Islands National Seashore at Ocean Springs Mississippi
- Road Trip Photos Gulf Coast Mississippi to New Orleans 9th Ward
- Dispatch from New Orleans-Huge Ass Beers, NOLA Gay Pride, June Mardi Gras
- Hotel Review-Hyatt Regency New Orleans
- Airline History: Why Delta Air Lines HQ was in Monroe, Louisiana until 1941
- Best Western Low Rate Guarantee success and Cracking Hotel Confusion in Krakow
Amsterdam Shadow Wall to Post-Wall Vilnius, Lithuania
Kelley wanted Belgium and I wanted Vilnius. I capitulated and almost gave in to her desire for a trip to Ghent, Belgium. Until I purchased tickets for us to fly from Amsterdam to Vilnius, Lithuania. She was not too excited about my decision… until terrorists rocked Brussels ten days before our trip to Europe and Kelley suddenly liked the idea of flying from Amsterdam to Vilnius, Lithuania and staying out of Belgium. New York Times published a story this week about the chilling effect fear of terrorism has had on tourism and entertainment for restaurants and hotels in Paris.
The big upside to this trip is we visited some new places and Kelley loved Vilnius as a tourist destination for leisurely walks and afternoon lounging in city cafes. We had no issue with finding people all over the city who spoke English. This has been a major change I have noticed since first traveling to Dresden, Germany and Czech Republic in 2000, when I still frequently encountered many places where few people spoke English.
Some 25 years after the break up of the U.S.S.R., Vilnius has its eyes and culture facing westward, yet Russia and Belarus are still on its borders. The culture in Lithuania is strongly nationalistic as a small country with significant central European history.
If it were not for having spent a couple of hours in Amsterdam and Vilnius airports waiting for flights, I might have remained totally unaware of the U.S./NATO military build-up in the country. Nearly every American we encountered over six days was U.S. military, and there were very few Americans we came across in Vilnius. While not apparent from being a tourist on the streets of Vilnius, where life is not too different from many other European cities, and nicer than many European cities, the presence of a buildup in U.S. military and NATO forces in Lithuania indicates post-Cold War Baltic states and Poland military relations between Russia and the West are heating up from all the friction being generated.
Old Town Vilnius
- Greetings from Vilnius, Lithuania (April 8, 2016)
- Photo Walk around Vilnius, Lithuania (April 9, 2016)
- Five Star Ramada Hotel & Suites Vilnius, Lithuania (April 10, 2016)
- Voguish Vilnius Vacation trip report overview (April 13, 2016)
- Flight Review Norwegian Stockholm to Oakland for $211 one way (April 14, 2016)
- More impressions of Vilnius, Lithuania (April 15, 2016)
- Hotel Review: Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre on Wyndham Rewards GoFast rate (April 7, 2016)
- Andaz Amsterdam Suite Upgrade on Hyatt Points + Cash rate (April 16, 2016)
- Hotel Review Crowne Plaza Vilnius PointBreaks stay (April 18, 2016)
- Review Chic Holiday Inn Vilnius (April 19, 2016)
- Review Quality Airport Hotel Stockholm Arlanda 10,000 points Choice Privileges reward night. (April 21, 2016)
Winter 2016 Travels ’bout Dam Time
Flew Norwegian Air Oakland, California to Amsterdam and flew back on American Airlines starting two round trip American Airlines tickets from Amsterdam to Las Vegas for trips to Amsterdam in February and Amsterdam and Vilnius, Lithuania in April.
- Norwegian Airlines Oakland to Amsterdam $276 one way via Stockholm
- American Airlines and British Airways $422 round trip Amsterdam to Las Vegas (two trips on low fare tickets)
Monterey to Amsterdam January 2016 trip report 1
- Flight Review: Norwegian Air OAK-ARN
- Best Western Premier Amsterdam Hotel Couture hotel review
- Best Western Leidse Square Amsterdam – Isn’t guest recognition the whole point of a hotel loyalty program?
- Loyalty Programs Work: I am underpaying for Holiday Inn Leiden
- Pilgrimage to Holiday Inn Leiden
- Pilgrim History and more in Leiden, Netherlands
- Amsterdam British Airways Lounge Review
- American Airlines Flagship Lounge London Heathrow
- Flight Review: AA LHR-LAX 777-300ER Business Class using my first SWU upgrade
Monterey to Amsterdam February 2016 trip report 2
InterContinental Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam
11. Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam
12. W Amsterdam Hotel – After drinking up at W Amsterdam rooftop bar, go downstairs for toilets
13. Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam
16. American Airlines London LHR – Chicago ORD business class
17. The Venetian, InterContinental Alliance Resort
Washington D.C. (Hilton Worldwide sponsored trip) – December 3-6, 2015
- Introduction: Thanks Hilton. Nice week to be in Washington D.C.
- Hilton@Play in legendary International Ballroom Washington Hilton
- Washington Hilton rooms with a view
- American Airlines flight photos AAbove the California Storm
Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Value for Frequent Guests
London and Sweden Thanksgiving Week November 2015
- Using Sweden for cheap flights to California in 2016
- My Club Carlson 2-for-1 Sweden deal where 2 nights cost less than one
- aa.com observations booking paid and award tickets between California and Europe
- IHG Rewards Club made Thanksgiving in London affordable
- Trip Report Monterey MRY–London LHR AAdvantage 20K economy award: Horizon Air segment MRY-LAX
- AA LAX Flagship Lounge Monterey MRY–London LHR trip report
- American Airlines Flight 108 LAX-LHR economy class on B777
- Bed time at InterContinental London Park Lane
- Review of Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park
- Review: Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
- Factor Hoppa in transportation cost at Holiday Inn London Heathrow T5
- Remembering London
- British Airways hand baggage only fare trumps Oneworld Emerald elite benefits
- British Airways Goldilocks transatlantic temperatures LHR-SFO
- Review: British Airways LHR T5 Galleries First Lounge
- Burning and earning in London with IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Sep 1- Dec 31, 2015
- IHG Accelerate tasks not updating. Time to Worry?
American Airlines Executive Platinum Challenge with three trips to Europe
- My fantastic American AAdvantage elite fast-track offer (June 22, 2015)
- Cost of flying 30,000 AAdvantage flight miles
- Thoughts on my AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge
- Nested tickets for more AAdvantage EQM California to Scandinavia
- Staying in the Alps with Best Western, Choice, IHG and Wyndham points.
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum Challenge 39,294 EQM booked for $1,583
- American Airlines Executive Platinum Challenge routing ticketed and six intra-Europe flight choices
- Oneworld American-British Airways Scandinavia to California under $400 round trip fares
- Loyalty Traveler strategy for low cost flights to European airports
- What $385 in Choice Privileges points bought me in Europe
- How much did I spend for ten IHG reward nights in Europe?
- Go for EQM or EQP? American AAdvantage ExPlat Fast-Track
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum 30K Challenge – Day 1 California to Dusseldorf 5,956 EQM
- My account has been upgraded to AAdvantage Gold after 6,000 EQM this week
- AAdvantage Elite Challenge – Day 9 – Platinum after 13,205 EQM
- American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 17–19,221 EQM
- American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 20–25,668 EQM
- AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track diary Day 22
- AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track Diary Day 26 – Ready, Set, Go to London and Paris
- Bags and stuff I traveled with to Europe
- First Confirmed Upgrade as AAdvantage Executive Platinum
- AAdvantage Executive Platinum Diary Day 35 – the nightmare ends or is just beginning?
Malmo, Sweden (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 1)
- First impressions of Malmo, Sweden
- Humanitarianism is the serious side of Sweden
- Sweden 2.8 beer is great at Scandinavian average prices
- Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo, Sweden food alone worth 8,000 points
Brno, Czech Republic (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 1)
- Impressions of Brno, Czech Republic
- Moravian Karst caves near Brno and why you will never see a tour like this in the USA
- Price of travel in Brno, Czech Republic
- Outside looking in Brno, Czech Republic
- Holiday Inn Brno, Czech Republic
- Student Agency cheap bus travel in and out of Czech Republic
Bergen, Norway and Harstad in Arctic Norway (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 2)
- Get high with the locals in Bergen, Norway
- AAdvantage Elite Challenge – Day 9 – Platinum after 13,205 EQM
- Rain forecast for Arctic Norway trip this week
- Oslo Airport Never Odd or Even
- 68.8° N in Harstad, Norway
- American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 17–19,221 EQM
- Clarion Collection Hotel No 13 Bergen with dinner at Hotel Oleana
- Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus Harstad, Norway
- Arctic Norway and whales
- Clarion Bergen Airport modern style
- American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 20–25,668 EQM
Hotel Arcticus, Clarion Collection – Harstad, Norway
London (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trips 2 and 3)
- Battered by rain in Battersea London
- Tiny Room Comfort Inn Westminster London
- Back in LHR British Airways lounge
- AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track diary Day 22
- AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track Diary Day 26 – Ready, Set, Go to London and Paris
- Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4
- Feeling lucky punk? Definitely not in LHR Terminal 4 Security
Paris and Clermont-Ferrand, France (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)
- Feeling Paris under full moonlight
- Liberté and free nights in Paris
- InterContinental Le Grand Hotel, a storied institution of Paris
- Price of food and beer in France
- Cheap RoissyBus Transportation Paris CDG to Paris Opera
- Paris Orly by Air France bus
- Feeling connected to Paris, City of Light (post-Paris terrorist attacks)
- Clermont-Ferrand impressions are authentic France
- Streets of medieval Montferrand
- Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand France PointBreaks extended stay
- You can call me Reeshard
- Necessary to improvise in France today
- Normally I would not kiss and tell, but when in Lyon
Geneva, Switzerland (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)
Copenhagen, Denmark Oct 2015 (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)
- You may find yourself traveling to Copenhagen Airport. Part 1 – Are you experienced?
- Copenhagen Get Your Mind Together then come on across
- Copenhagen on the waterfront
- Freewheelin’ Copenhagen Dealin’
Monterey Peninsula Year of the Whales December 2014 – August 2015
Whale of a show at Point Lobos (Aug 29, 2015)
Humpback whales bubble netting off Carmel Beach in July (July 26, 2015)
Summer fog season returns in California (May 30, 2015)
Too cute harbor seal pups and sea otter pup turns 50 days old (April 18, 2015)
Rare sea otter twin pups at Point Lobos State Reserve (Feb 27, 2015)
Gray whale migration passing by Monterey (Dec 27, 2014)
Boston, Copenhagen and London July 2015
- Delta Bags on Time 20 minute guarantee claim for 2,500 miles
- InterContinental Boston History Walking Tour
- WOW Air. My worst low fare deal to Europe ever!
- WOW Air Boston to Iceland flight review
- Blondes in Black in Hot Copenhagen
- Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen views and brews
- Skt. Petri Hotel Copenhagen, Nordic Choice Ascend Collection
- RyanAir CPH-LTN $63 and two carry-on bags for free
- London 7 July Memorial Hyde Park Ten Years After
- Please sir, do not take photos of our hotel security cameras
- So much owed by so many to so few, London 75th Anniversary Commemoration of Battle of Britain
- Treasures of the Natural History Museum London
- Six nights at The May Fair London for 210,000 Club Carlson points
- Into the ‘Free’ Nights at InterContinental London Park Lane
- Alternative London in Camden Town
- London Royal Parks offer country in the city
- Rock history and a view at Holiday Inn London Camden Lock
- Camden Market London and Music Venues in Rock History
- Cost of food and transportation in London
- RyanAir flew us LTN-CPH with no bag fees again
- Am I in the Copenhagen loyalty program?
- WOW Air Review Part 2 Copenhagen to Boston
- Marriott’s Custom House Boston
- Marriott Long Wharf Boston
- Free Boston Rocks Outside the Box
- On the Waterfront at InterContinental Boston
- What $385 in Choice Privileges points bought me in Europe
- My $80 Boston Marriott Copley Place room with breakfast
- Boston Walks – Back Bay to Harvard Yard
- Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill surrounded by history
Disneyland Anaheim family trip June 2015
- Hacking Choice Privileges Reward Nights for Anaheim Disneyland
- Family time at Disney Anaheim and the Original Road Trip
- Military discount tickets for Disneyland Anaheim and DisneyWorld Orlando
- Wyndham Rewards for Disney Anaheim hotel discounts
- Budget Disneyland stay at Quality Inn Placentia-Anaheim
- Anaheim Marriott on an auction stay
After the U.S. Travel Association IPW 2015 Orlando convention May 30-June 3, 2015, I rented a car from Avis for a six day road trip out of Florida to Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee. I visited Daytona Beach, Jekyll Island Georgia, attended a blues festival in Savannah, stayed at a beach hotel on Tybee Island, hiked in Congaree and Great Smoky Mountains National Parks, weirded out in Asheville, explored expansive Biltmore Estate, hiked to several waterfalls in western North Carolina and experienced one of the most amazing drives in the USA on the Blue Ridge Parkway across western North Carolina into the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Drove through an incredible rain storm to attend a theater dinner show in Pigeon Forge for professional bluegrass performances and family fun comedy show.
Loyalty Traveler Road Trip Orlando to Knoxville June 4-9, 2015
- Drive out of Florida rental car deals April and May 2015
- CostcoTravel.com $11 rental car drive out of Florida road trip (April 10)
- And I call this work visiting Orlando
- Welcome to Gator Country Florida
- WaltDisneyWorld in synchronization
- SeaWorld Orlando and marine mammal intelligence on cue
- Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes for locally sourced experiences
- Orlando to Knoxville road trip in 1,100 miles–my outline of destination articles.
- Daytona Beach, Florida – Babes, Bikes and Speed at Daytona Beach
- Jekyll Island, Georgia from historic country club to State Park This article was accidentally published when I had only described the Jekyll Island Causeway. Rather than delete it, I left it posted and the story of the transformation of Jekyll Island from historic country club to Georgia State park continues in the post below.
- Jekyll Island, Georgia History and Jekyll Island Club Hotel
- Best Western paid me $11 for my Georgia hotel night
- Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Hospital, Jekyll Island, Georgia
- Westin Jekyll Island, Holiday Inn Resort and Quality Inn Jekyll Island
- Savannah, Georgia Historic Buildings and New Hotels
- The Brice, Savannah, a Kimpton Hotel
- It’s Tybee Time on Savannah Georgia’s Barrier Island beach
- Fort Pulaski National Monument and Civil War history in Savannah region
- Tall Trees at Congaree National Park, South Carolina
- Footloose and roaming Asheville, North Carolina
- Biltmore Estate is more than a Gilded Age mansion, Asheville, NC
- View from Inn on Biltmore Estate
- Asheville Vibrant Craft Beer Scene
- Chasing Waterfalls in DuPont State Forest, Western North Carolina
- White squirrels, black bears and waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
- Appalachian Highlands on Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
- Vast forest in Great Smoky Mountains National Park thanks to Rockefeller
- Out of Great Smoky and into DoubleTree Park Vista Gatlinburg
Vancouver and Vancouver Island: Victoria, Tofino and Sooke, British Columbia April 2015
- Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee free night approved Expedia claim for Vancouver (April 6)
- Strike 3 on best rate guarantee claim for Park Inn Vancouver (April 9)
- Missing Hyatt’s best rate guarantee phone service (April 9) – approved Hyatt best rate guarantee reduced room rate from $239 CAD room rate to about $99 USD after tax for Hyatt Regency Vancouver.
- Best Western gives dumbest reason ever for Best Rate Guarantee claim denial (April 8)
- 2 of 6 hotel best rate guarantee claims in Canada approved. What worked and what did not work. (April 11)
- Hotel Review: Radisson President Hotel Vancouver Airport (April 19)
- Richmond, British Columbia for an Asian experience around YVR (April 19)
- Perfectly comfortable at Comfort Inn Downtown Vancouver (April 20) upgraded on my free hotel night.
- Hyatt Regency Vancouver $99, my 420 brg rate
- 420 Vancouver Experienced (April 21) Here is what happens when 25,000 people are allowed to illegally buy cannabis and smoke in public in downtown Vancouver during a tolerated annual festival.
- Into the Spirits of Earth Day 2015 Vancouver Island, British Columbia (April 22) a drive through old growth trees with several bald eagles sighted.
- Victoria, British Columbia First Nations murals surround toxic waste site (April 23)
- Vancouver to Victoria transportation for $23.20 CAD ($19 USD) by Skytrain, bus and ferry. (April 25)
- Quality location at Quality Inn Downtown Inner Harbour Victoria, British Columbia (April 26)
- Tofino is the end of the road for adventure in British Columbia wilderness (April 27)
- On the Beach at Best Western Tin Wis Resort Tofino, British Columbia (April 28)
- Victoria to Tofino driving slow roads on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (April 28)
- Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Vancouver $99, my 420 brg rate (April 29)
- Can’t see the forest for the missing trees in Vancouver Island logging photos (April 30)
- Go west from Victoria for Best Western Premier Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke (May 1)
- Beacon Hill Park Victoria a British Columbia Pacific Northwest garden (May 3)
- Earned 50,000 Club Carlson points on last paid stay of $150 (May 6) describes points earned for Radisson Vancouver Airport stay on April 18.
- Fairmont Vancouver Airport Best Airport Hotel in North America (May 6)
Amsterdam, Netherlands February 2015
- Lost in Amsterdam, unLucky stolen wallet too
- I Amsterdam
- Discover Amsterdam with tram tickets
- Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam
- Words and pictures of Andaz Amsterdam
- My best friend in Amsterdam is Albert Heijn
- Amsterdam XXX, prostitution and coffeeshops
- KLM economy to Europe with adult IFE
- Get lost walking Amsterdam canals
- Amsterdam cyclists fought Rijksmuseum and won
- Hotel Review Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
- Debra Hill, my favorite living artist in Amsterdam
Dublin, Ireland February 2015
- Beer or Points? Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport
- Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport Northwood, butterflies are free
- Radisson Blu Dublin Airport amazing fruit bowl amenity and shower fail
Salt Lake City, Utah and Park City Sundance Film Festival January 2015
Alaska Airlines Ski the West promotion motivated me to fly round trip between San Francisco and Salt Lake City two times in two weeks in January 2015. For under $100 each, I purchased two round trip tickets and spent 8 nights in Salt Lake City and two nights in Park City during the 2015 Sundance Film Festival. That was a great party with several opportunities for free Stella Artois as the official beer sponsor of the festival. I used my free Alaska Airlines ticket in April 2015 for San Jose SJC to Vancouver YVR for $85 in taxes.
- Alaska Airlines Ski the West Fly 2, Get 1 for tax only CA, OR, WA residents
- Alaska Airlines First Checked Bag Free for January flights
- Alaska Airlines economy flights, Club Carlson midscale hotel and Salt Lake City domestic tranquility
- A Pagan in Temple Square
- Country Inn & Suites West Valley City Fire False Alarms
- Club Carlson 46,000 points on 3 nights $250 stay
- Salt Lake City mountain vistas
- Courtyard Salt Lake City Downtown free stay during $400 rates at category 3 hotel
- Making TRAX around #SLC
- Eyewitness Report – Beer seen in Utah
- Radisson Salt Lake City Downtown
- Quiet Hyatt Escala Lodge Park City Utah
- Sundance Film Experienced
- Stella Artois Buy a Lady a Drink for water.org
- Snow Monkeys in Park City Pools
- Sundance Film Festival 2015 Park City poverty jet setters
- Waldorf Astoria Park City
- Racing Alaska Airlines 20 minutes checked bag guarantee
San Diego December 2014
- Hotel Review Andaz San Diego
- On the Waterfront at Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
- Cool San Diego in Warm December (Gaslamp District and Point Loma views)
- Alaska Flight 261 Memorial Port Hueneme California (Near Oxnard, north of Los Angeles)
- But we stayed at a Holiday Inn Express last night (and earned one free night) – Holiday Inn Express Port Hueneme is great location near beach.
London-Ireland November-December 2014
This post contains a series of 28 articles related to our trip to London and my week in Ireland in late November-early December 2014. My ticket was SFO-London-Dublin with British Airways and included RyanAir from Dublin back to London Gatwick. My wife Kelley flew American Airlines from SFO to London Heathrow. I stayed two nights in Athlone, Ireland before flying to London for seven nights and then back to Dublin for four nights.
These articles relate to buying an airline ticket in October during a low fare sale from San Francisco to Dublin, Ireland when tickets were around $500. Once a great airfare is detected, the clock ticks with little knowledge of how long the deal will last. Deciding to spend $2,000 for a trip to Europe is one of the thrills and headaches of travel. And $2,000 is an economy budget week for London.
Kelley had an $800 American Airlines voucher and her ticket was $835 for San Francisco to London. I took advantage of the low Ireland airfare to stay in Ireland a couple of nights before Kelley arrived in London during Thanksgiving week and I stayed four nights in Dublin after a week in London.
The articles below cover the planning period of our trip from the day the low airfares to Dublin were published to my ticket purchase and hotel planning. I bought tickets about five weeks before travel.
One of my primary objectives with hotels in London and Ireland was earning two free nights from IHG Into the Nights promotion by staying in an IHG brand in two different countries outside the USA. The other main objective was taking advantage of the Club Carlson Visa card member benefit of one free night on stays of two nights or more in London. I booked three 2-night stays in London at The Mayfair, Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street and Radisson Edwardian Mercer Street. I also used Club Carlson’s 2-for-1 weekend rate for two Radisson Blu hotels in Ireland.
SFO-DUB under $500, SFO-Europe under $750 (Oct 14, 2014)
Finding Dublin Deep in the Heart of Taxes (Oct 16, 2014)
London hotel rates and competitive set hotel pricing (Oct 19, 2014)
London with Club Carlson points and Club Carlson credit card (Oct 20, 2014)
Geography for 18 Club Carlson hotels in London (Oct 21, 2014)
Club Carlson London hotels TripAdvisor rankings (Oct 22, 2014)
British Airways LAX-LHR A380-800 in World Traveller Class (Nov 21, 2014)
A day in Athlone, Ireland (Nov 22, 2014)
Irish dancers at Radisson Blu Athlone, Ireland (Nov 23, 2014). Hotel review and this article includes a visit to Sean’s Pub, Ireland’s oldest pub according to Guinness World Records.
Estate Life at Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Dublin (Dec 13, 2014) Hotel Review.
Dublin footsteps of Bono, Michael Collins and Oliver Hardy (Dec 1, 2014) A day hike from Radisson Blu St. Helen’s Hotel in south Dublin along the coast to Dalkey, Ireland.
James Joyce slept here and Ulysses begins here in Sandycove, County Dublin (Dec 2, 2014) Part 2 of coast walk.
Bray to Greystones Cliff Walk in County Wicklow Ireland (Dec 2, 2014) One of Ireland’s most popular coast walks.
Bono and Enya’s neighborhood Killiney, County Dublin (Dec 14, 2014) Photos of the coastal village of Killiney, the so-called Beverly Hills of Ireland.
Holiday Inn London Gatwick for IHG Into the Nights (Nov 24, 2014)
Radisson Blu Edwardian Mercer Street London convenient for LHR arrival and departure (Nov 25, 2014). Hotel review.
Live Well for Less at The May Fair London (Nov 26, 2014) Grocery shopping in London.
Ritzy enough for The May Fair London (Dec 4, 2014) Hotel review.
Radisson Blu Bloomsbury Street London location by British Museum (Dec 6, 2014) Hotel review.
My Square Foot London Edition (Nov 27, 2014) Descriptions of small rooms in London hotels with focus on Radisson Edwardian Bloomsbury Street.
Gatwick to Heathrow in 3 hours for £8.10 with Oyster card (Nov 30, 2014)
London Gatwick Airport ATM Bad Exchange Rates (Dec 12, 2014)
St. Paul’s Cathedral London on Paddington Trail (Dec 11, 2014)
Can London teach America art tourism? (Dec 16, 2014) Piece about public art displays in London with London buses and Paddington Bear temproary exhibits.
Norway September 3-17, 2014 Trip Posts
Norway for two weeks on a budget with a $541 United Airlines round trip ticket SFO-OSL and $300 spending cash for the trip.
Climbing hills for a few days in Bergen was the highlight of my trip. While Norway is expensive, in top three countries worldwide for cost of living, the hotels I picked for stays provided most of the food I wanted to eat. I only needed $25 or about 150NOK for food and I spent about $275 for train and bus tickets and a plane ticket to travel OSL (airport) – Oslo Central-Larvik (southeast Norway)-Sandefjord TORP Airport – BGO Bergen (Norwegian Air) – Express Bus Bergen Center – Bergen Line to Oslo (bus/train) – OSL (airport).
There was no corporate or tourist board sponsorship for this trip. My objective was to find out what value Choice Privileges have in Norway. Answer: Terrific value. Sweden and Norway have about 170 Nordic Choice Hotels. The focus of my trip was checking out Nordic Choice Hotels with stays at six hotels and site visits at four other hotels in Oslo, Bergen and Larvik and also a visit to Clarion Collection Hotel Atlantic, a unique hotel/whaling museum in Sandefjord, the whaling capital of the world a century ago on the southeast coast of Norway, 75 miles south from Oslo.
I redeemed 216,000 Choice Privileges points for 13 nights with $6,000+ in hotel stay value. Most of the points were purchased at a rate around $4.00 per 1,000 points through U.S. Travel Association annual Daily Getaways promotion, generally held between April and June each spring and limited to U.S. residents. Loyalty Traveler – Daily Getaways Choice points are good deal for Europe Hotels (May 14, 2014).
- Oslo, Norway walking on a summer day (Sep 6)
- Hotel Review Clarion Royal Christiania Oslo, Norway (Sep 6)
- Hotel Review Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo, Norway (Sep 7)
- Think before you eat whale meat (Sep 8)
- Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9)
- Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway (Sep 10)
- Hotel Review Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade (Sep 10)
- Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11)
- Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13)
- Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights (Sep 12)
- USA Branded Bergen (Sep 12)
- Oops! Radisson Royal Bergen hotel damaged Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Sep 12)
- Walk like a Norwegian up Floyen in Bergen (Sep 13)
- Think before you eat Norwegian farmed salmon (Sep 13)
- Biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen (Sep 15)
- Clarion Collection No 13 Bergen, Norway (Sep 15)
- Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel – Part One (Sep 16)
- Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen – Part Two (Sep 16)
- Bergen Line to Oslo, 500 km by train (and bus) – Part One (Sep 18)
- Bergen Line to Oslo 500 km by train part two (Sep 19)
- How I stole 2 nights at The Thief Oslo with points (Sep 23)
- Hotel Review The Thief Oslo Room 603 (Sep 23)
- The Thief Oslo by design (Sep 24)
- Clarion Collection Folketeateret Oslo is recommended Nordic Choice Hotel (Sep 27)
Road Trip Posts from $105 one-week rental car deal Jacksonville, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia May 3-11, 2014
Three objectives for trip.
1. Visit Savannah, Georgia and learn about open container drinking, but it turned out to be a record breaking anticyclone heat wave in early May and I could not walk around outside drinking anyway.
2. Visit Charleston, South Carolina and learn more about the southern perspective of the Civil War. Charleston blew my mind with its beautiful and old architecture. The historic center of Charleston is a seaport relic. By chance, I found myself at Sullivan’s Island and learned a deeper history than expected.
3. Outer Banks, North Carolina Ocracoke to Kitty Hawk via North Carolina State ferries and on Highway 12.
- Jacksonville and the St. Johns River (May 4)
- St. Augustine, Florida: History in Black and White (May 5)
- Hotel. Casa Monica St. Augustine, Marriott Autograph Collection (May 6)
- $15 to $20 per day in May for one-way rental cars out of Florida (May 7)
- Notes from the Atlantic Intracoastal Road (May 9)
- If I’m Ever Back This Way (May 9)
- Images of Historic Charleston South Carolina (May 10)
- Hotel Review: Savannah Andaz Suite (May 11)
- Road tripping Highway 17 St. Augustine to Savannah, Georgia (May 13)
- St. Simons Island of Georgia’s Golden Isles (May 14)
- Hotel Review: Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, Marriott Autograph Collection (May 14)
- Southern City in Green: Savannah’s 22 Squares (May 17)
- Savannah’s ’Crown Jewels’ Monument Squares (May 18)
- Red wolves, alligators, dolphin and birds at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge South Carolina (May 24)
- Hotel. Historic Charleston, SC 1853 The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel (May 25)
- British Cemetery Memorial Service Ocracoke Island, North Carolina Outer Banks (May 26)
- Hotel. Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah, Marriott Autograph Collection (May 31)
- Road Trip to DoubleTree Atlantic Beach North Carolina and Ocracoke Island (June 1)
- Three lighthouses of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (June 5)
- Hotel Review: Florida Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront (June 6)
- Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Savannah (June 7)
- Meeting History on Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina (June 8)
- Sullivan’s Island, SC is perhaps the most significant historical site in the USA you never heard of (June 9)
- Hotel Review: Charleston Marriott South Carolina (June 12)
- One location, many memorials — Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina (June 14)
- Ocracoke, the ferry island on North Carolina’s southern Outer Banks (June 15)
- Pilgrimage to Wright Brothers National Memorial (June 22)
Iowa and Chicago for #IPW 2014 (April 1-8, 2014)
Iowa sponsored tour
- Iowa, more than a four-letter word? (April 2)
- Hey L.A., looks like Fenelon Place Dubuque beats Angels Flight for shorter incline railway (April 3) – historic funicular in Dubuque, Iowa by Mississippi River rivals Los Angeles historic funicular.
- Hotel Julien Dubuque and Al Capone Suite (April 4)
- Bald eagles and eaglets in Iowa (April 5)
- Iowa Farm Country Shopping
- Iowa Ag Tours–Embrace the Tractor (April 14)
- Hotel Review: Upgraded, Hilton Garden Inn Ames, Iowa (Free sponsored hotel night on Iowa tour)
Chicago for U.S. Travel Association #IPW 2014
- 360 Chicago Views (formerly John Hancock Observatory) (April 7)
- Historic Renaissance Blackstone Chicago (April 8)
- Inn of Chicago, Ascend Collection one night for free – successful Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claim. (April 12)
- Palmer House Hilton history of Chicago’s oldest hotel (April 14)
- Hotel Review: Chicago Downtown, Autograph Collection, Marriott brand hotel (April 15)
- Field Museum, 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and Ferris Wheel
Minneapolis, Minnesota February 13-21, 2014
- Beating Priceline again with a Minneapolis Hyatt Suite BRG (Feb 10, 2014)
- Hyatt Regency Minneapolis hotel review (Feb 19)
- Largest hotel fitness center I’ve seen (Hyatt Regency Minneapolis) – (Feb 17)
- Hilton Minneapolis in pictures (Feb 21) Photo essay from visit to 821-room downtown Minneapolis hotel. Hilton has two other higher rated hotels in city.
- Chillin’ Minneapolis for Valentine’s Day (Feb 14)
- Freezin’ for a Reason with Cupid’s Undie Run Minneapolis (Feb 15)
- Bridging the Great Divide in Minneapolis (Feb 15)
- Craft Beer Revival in Minneapolis (Feb 16)
- Down by the river Minneapolis, then and now (Feb 17) is a story about the city’s industrial past of timber and flour mills and urban renewal of the Mississippi riverfront.
- Depositing Points in the Westin Minneapolis BANK (Feb 18) The Westin Minneapolis BANK restaurant occupies a former bank lobby and the wine is stored in a bank vault.
- TripAdvisor #1 attraction is Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Feb 22) A fine art museum founded in the gilded age of Minneapolis. Well worth time to visit.
- Hotel Ivy Minneapolis, Starwood Luxury Collection in photos (Feb 28, 2014)
- Radisson Blu FireLake Grill House, Mall of America and Minneapolis
Detroit, North America International Auto Show (Jan 9-15, 2014)
Ford Motor Company invited me to be their guest in Detroit for the auto show. By chance I stayed two days at The Henry, an Autograph Collection hotel of Marriott before the start of the Ford event and I spent one day at the Henry Ford Museum. Great museum.
- Ford Clay Modeling exhibit featuring Ford technician-artist modeling a Ford Mustang on site at 2014 North America International Auto Show Detroit.
- From Monterey to Detroit NAIAS flying United on Ford’s Dime (Jan 9, 2014)
- The Henry, Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan (Jan 10)
- Aviation History at the Henry For Museum – Part 1 (Jan 11, 2014) I did not know that Ford Motor Company was one of the powerhouse manufacturers of aircraft in the 1920s – until I went to the Ford museum.
- History of Early Commercial Aviation at Henry Ford Museum – Part 2 Travel Remembrances of Things Past – discovering my life memories in Henry Ford Museum exhibits kind of blew my mind with the realization that I am getting old.
- Detroit in my Pictures – a few snaps of Detroit.
- World’s First Airport Hotel, historic Dearborn Inn, a Marriott Hotel (Jan 16)
- Intro to Dearborn Ford Land and #FordNAIAS (Jan 16, 2014)
- Hotel Review: Westin Metropolitan Detroit Airport (blogger disclosure: Ford Motor Company paid for two nights at Westin DTW hotel for attendance at North America International Auto Show.)
- Fox Theater Detroit was world’s first theater built for speaker system sound when it opened in 1928.
Sierra Nevada Mountains
- Mark Twain’s legacy in Calaveras County, California jumping frogs at Calaveras County Fair (May 24, 2014)
- Rafting the Tuolumne River Wilderness (May 24, 2014) 18 miles with Sierra Mac River Trips on Tuolumne Scenic and Wild River downstream from Hetch Hetchy Reservoir, Yosemite National Park.
- On the Road to Earth’s largest tree in Sequoia National Park (November 3, 2013)
- Yosemite Rim fire reaches #7 in California wildfire size (August 27, 2013)
- The Rim Fire burned into October 2013 and became the 3rd largest wildfire in California history since 1900.
- Yosemite Valley Waterfalls (May 19, 2013)
- Eastern Sierra Snow, Rock, Volcanoes and Pink Floyd (May 18, 2013)
- Bottom to Top of California in Six Hours (May 17, 2013)
- Lassen Volcanic National Park California (July 22, 2012)
- California’s Feather River National Scenic Byway (July 19, 2012)
- Hotel Marysville Peach Festival (July 18, 2012)
- Carson Pass Highway 88 over the Sierra Nevada to Monterey (Sep 29, 2011)
- Yosemite’s Tioga Pass Road across the Sierra Nevada Mountains (July 13, 2011)
- Yosemite lodging south entrance along Highway 41 (May 16, 2011)
- Yosemite Valley (May 17, 2011)
- The mountains are calling and I must go (May 15, 2011) – description of Kings Canyon National Park and Highway 180 drive.
- Chasing Mavericks in real life Jan 24, 2014 – Mavericks Invitational Surf Contest announced as waves of 30+ feet hit California. (Jan 23, 2014).
- Pacific Coast Highway on the Winter Solstice (Dec 22, 2013) Photos and description of Highway 1 coast drive from Monterey to San Diego.
- Outside Lands San Francisco Golden Gate Park (Jan 4, 2014)
- San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf tourist zone (Jan 2, 2014)
- My Monterey: April is seal pupping month, keep off their beaches (April 25, 2014)
- Whale Watching Tours Monterey Bay (Dec 6, 2013) Photos of several humpback whales on boat tour from Monterey Old Fisherman’s Wharf.
- Manifest Destiny, nature and fog in July on the Monterey County Coast (July 15, 2012)
- Tour of California Cycling Came to Monterey County (May 20, 2011)
- Wild Cat Adventure at Ventana Inn, Big Sur
- The People’s Mansion at Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, Big Sur California (Sep 23, 2013)
- Hearst Castle – La Cuestra Encantada (Dec 28,2013) [San Luis Obispo County on Highway 1, 60 miles south of Big Sur].
- Too Cute! Elephant Seal Pup (Dec 21, 2013) [San Luis Obispo County at Piedras Blancas, 4 miles north of Hearst Castle]
- Monarch Butterflies of Pacific Grove (November 8, 2013)
Point Lobos State Reserve
- Hiking the Million Dollar View from Hyatt Highlands Inn at Point Lobos State Reserve, California (July 28, 2013)
- Gray Whale Travelers Have Arrived Near Monterey (Dec 16, 2013) First day sighting gray whales from coast at Point Lobos during 2013-14 migration to Baja California.
- Mission San Antonio de Padua in the Valley of the Oaks, Monterey County (Sep 24, 2013)
- Pinnacles National Park west side entrance (April 18, 2013)
Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Mountains
- The Hill that Saved Santa Cruz Mountains Redwoods (Nov 16, 2013)
- Historical story and photos of Big Basin Redwoods State Park and Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.
- Once They Were Giants in The Forest of Nisene Marks State Park, Aptos, California (Sep 15, 2013)
- Capitola–California’s Original Beach Resort (May 25, 2013)
- Old Town San Diego for history and food (Dec 30, 2013)
- Coronado Beach in a Dry December (Dec 27, 2013) San Diego area beaches.
- Driving Death Valley National Park on Halloween (Nov 8, 2013)
- To normal crazy Venice Beach, California – with love (August 6, 2013)
- I gambled and won! Fairfield Inn Tehachapi, California is great Marriott Rewards Category 1 hotel award. (July 20, 2013
- Sheraton Delfina Santa Monica Photo Review (July 17. 2013)
- California’s hottest day in 100 years? (June 29, 2013) Death Valley National Park hit 129F, the hottest temperature since the world record July 11, 1913.
- Disney California Adventure Park fun in the sun (July 4, 2012)
Hawaii – What a Trip 1977 – Oahu Brothers and Sisters in Arms (Aug 10, 2013) Flashback story my teenager beach bum life on Oahu.
Loyalty Traveler Destination Posts March 2013 – Europe Ten Winter Days and Nights Overview:
- Europe in 5 cities for 50,000 AAdvantage miles + $168 (March 17)
- European Beer Economics (March 25)
Trip Planning for Flight Award Ticket on American Airlines.
- ITB Berlin and AA Europe award ticket layovers (Feb 2, 2013).
- Under 24 hours in Zurich, Oslo, Helsinki, London (Feb 10, 2013).
- Tourism: Zurich is for the birds (in a good sense) (March 5)
- Tourism: Lost in the supermarket Swiss style (March 5)
- Zurich Airport: Danke Air Berlin and That’s Right (You’re Not From Texas) (March 7)
- Travel Conference: ITB Berlin 2013–travel the world in a day (March 7)
- Travel Conference: Journey into Africa at ITB Berlin 2013 (March 11)
- Tourism: Affordable Berlin transportation, museums and food (March 11)
- Tourism: Night Walking through Berlin Blocks (March 11) – Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
- Tourism: Berlin blocks II (March 24) – Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe.
- Tourism: Alexanderplatz Berlin (March 12)
- Tourism: Berlin in 4 photos (March 13)
- Tourism: Berlin (Don’t) Tear Down this Wall (March 18)
- Tourism: Berlin Wall East Side Gallery murals (March 18)
- Tourism: Treasures of Museum Island Berlin (March 20)
- Tourism: Street scenery in Berlin (March 28)
- Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Berlin Alexanderplatz (March 12)
- Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Berlin Hotel Review (March 12)
- German History Museum, Berlin – Diversity Destroyed 1933-1938 (to come)
- Tourism: Hunger in Oslo. Prices? What Prices! (March 13)
- Tourism: The King’s Royal Guards in Oslo (March 18)
- Tourism: Oslo Winter Walkabout, Hotel Rates and Points (March 21)
- Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Plaza Oslo Norway (March 19)
- Tourism: Cool Helsinki warms my heart (March 14)
- Tourism: Helsinki Cathedral Finland (March 31)
- Hotel Review: Hotel Kämp Helsinki, Starwood Luxury Collection (March 21)
London, United Kingdom
- Tourism: Urban Foxes of London (March 15)
- Tourism: London Eye ferris wheel views (March 27) – press trip.
- Tourism: Palace of Westminster London (April 6)
- Tourism: Revisiting St. James Court Hotel, London (now Taj 51 and Crowne Plaza St. James) (March 23)
- Tourism: InterContinental London Westminster Hotel (March 25)
- Hotel Review: Park Plaza Westminster Bridge London hotel review (March 26)
February 2013 Chicago, Illinois
- Art Institute of Chicago (March 30, 2013).
- Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago Mansion House room style (March 31). Press Trip.
- Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Aqua Chicago Hotel Public Spaces (March 30). Press Trip to Carlson Rezidor Full Service Sector conference.
- Press Trip: Carlson Rezidor Full Service Brands Conference 2013 Chicago (March 4, 2013).
- Monterey in springtime, California sea lions (March 26, 2013)
- Moss Landing, Elkhorn Slough and Sea Otters (Jan 20, 2013)
- San Francisco Panorama (Jan 21, 2013)
- Monterey County Wineries and Hotels: Carmel Valley Road (Jan 29, 2013)
- Wild California Condors of Big Sur (Dec 12, 2012) I photographed two condors feeding on beached sea mammal corpse.
- Crossing the Mojave Desert to Las Vegas (Jan 7, 2013)
- Building the Dream on Las Vegas Boulevard and #NMX (Jan 9, 2013)
- Caesars Palace Las Vegas Experience #NMX (Jan 16, 2013)
- Gordon Ramsay Pub & Grill in Caesars Palace (Jan 17, 2013)
December 2012 SPG Amex Stars trips
- Westin Princeville Ocean Resort Villas (Dec 5, 2012)
- St. Regis Princeville, Kauai (Dec 8, 2012)
- St. Regis Princeville, Kauai–Part 2, Really (Dec 11, 2012)
- Hilton Miami Downtown hotel review (Dec 26, 2012)
- Miami Light, Camera, Refraction photo essay (Dec 26, 2012)
- Where and What is Bal Harbour, Florida? (Dec 31, 2012)
- St. Regis Bal Harbour – The Hotel (Jan 2, 2013)
- St. Regis Bal Harbour – The Room (Jan 3, 2013)
- Once in a Blue Moon Marriott Autograph Collection, Miami Beach (Jan 11, 2013)
- Conrad Miami (Jan 26, 2013)
September 2012 was a travel month for me with trips to Manhattan-New York, Barcelona, Spain and a hosted Costa Brava tour (60 miles north of Barcelona) after the TBEX Europe conference in Girona, Spain. SPG Amex Star trips and New York. Airfare, hotel stays were free courtesy of SPG Amex Stars gig. Thoughts are my own.
- Experiencing US Open Tennis with SPG Amex(Sep 10, 2012)
- Manhattan Upper West Side Stories(Sep 10, 2012)
- Hot Summer in Fun New York(Sep 11, 2012)
- Westin New York at Times Square(Sep 12, 2012)
- Circumnavigating Manhattan Island on Circle Line Cruise(Sep 15, 2012) – media free trip from Circle Line Cruise.
- Circumnavigating Manhattan on Circle Line Cruise – Part 2(Sep 16, 2012) – media free trip from Circle Line Cruise.
- Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week Experience(Sep 18, 2012)
- My hassle-free stay @W New York Union Square (Oct 5, 2012)
- Loyalty Traveler walks to Wall Street and finds democracy past and present (Oct 19, 2012)
Barcelona, Spain and Travel Blog Exchange TBEX12 Europe, Girona, Spain with 4-day Costa Brava Tourism post-conference sponsored trip. Barcelona
- Oh My Gaudi, I’m in Barcelona(Sep 18, 2012)
- Street life in Barcelona and La Mercè Festival(Sep 19, 2012)
- W Barcelona Extreme WOW Suite(Sep 19, 2012)
- Tranquilo life in Poblenou, Barcelona(Sep 27, 2012)
- Best Western Alfa Aeropuerto Barcelona(Sep 30, 2012)
- Parc Güell: Gaudi’s vision in the hills of Barcelona(Oct 1, 2012)
- Four Points Diagonal Barcelona on the Poblenou(Oct 3, 2012)
- Holiday Inn Express-City 22 Barcelona(Oct 9, 2012)
TBEX12 Girona, Spain and Costa Brava Tourism Board sponsored tour
- Catalunya Castells Human Towers–TBEX12 @CostaBrava(Sep 20, 2012)
- TBEX Girona, the Pyrenees and Beaches of Costa Brava(Sep 24, 2012)
- Walking Costa Brava at Lloret de Mar(Sep 25, 2012)
- Traveler Impressionism in Costa Brava, Spain(Sep 29, 2012)
- Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava–Blue Paradise(Oct 11, 2012)
- Hotel Diana, modernist boutique in Tossa de Mar, Spain(Oct 12, 2012)
- Gastronomy–The Science of Eating Food @Club-Hotel Giverola, Tossa de Mar, Costa Brava(Oct 15, 2012)
- Mountaintop defenders of Castell de Montsoriu in Arbucies, Spain(Oct 17, 2012)
- Lloret de Mar, down by the seaside in Costa Brava(Oct 23, 2012)
- Sant Pere del Bosc Hotel & Spa–Lloret de Mar, Spain(Nov 6, 2012)
- Balneari Prats Hotel & Spa, Caldes de Malavella, Spain (Nov 10, 2012)
Where I’ve been in Europe (22 countries): England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Netherlands, Belgium, France, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Luxembourg, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia.
Where I’ve been in Asia-Pacific (7 countries): Singapore, Thailand, Bali, Indonesia, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand.
Where I’ve been in the Americas (15 countries): All USA, except North Dakota and South Dakota, Canada, Mexico, Guatemala, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Colombia, Venezuela, Argentina, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Bahamas, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands and Dominican Republic.
Where I’ve been in Africa/Middle East (0 countries): Not that big on list of places I want to visit.