Loyalty Traveler Travels

This is a collection of posts from countries and states, cities, hotels, airports, parks and museums where I have traveled on Loyalty Traveler trips over the past decade. My trip reports focus on cost of travel, hotel and flight reviews and destination descriptions and impressions.

Cost of air and hotel travel in 2018.

My 2018 Flights in Review $3,300 for 18 tickets flying 75,000 miles (April 26, 2019).

How I earned Star Alliance Gold elite for $1,400 in 15 flight segments (April 4, 2019).

Deconstructing 85 hotel nights in 2018 by loyalty program points redemption value (April 13, 2019).

My Europe under $600 round trip ticketing strategy for summer and Christmas (April 24, 2019).

Past 3 IHG Rewards Club promotions 16 nights for $1,000 with 50,000 points remaining (May 6, 2019).

All in for 267,000 Choice Privileges points at $1,368 (May 20, 2019) – Daily Getaways 2019 and KidsFirst Auction buys allowed me to stock up on the hotel currency I find most valuable for my travels.

Kids First Fund May 15 auction items include United miles, Choice and Wyndham points and more (May 7, 2019). This auction and one last November were some of the cheapest ways to buy hotel points in 2018-19. I picked up 45,000 Choice Privileges points for $230.

SAS over northwest Iceland

Summer 2019 trip Copenhagen, Czech Republic, Poland

My IHG Accelerate Summer 2019 tasks posted May 1 (summer plan is earn 30,000+ points on $440 spend for 5 nights).

Marriott Europe 30% off flash sale May 3-6 for stays June 14-Sep 16, 2019 (May 3, 2019). This sale allowed me to book a Westin hotel for $73 with breakfast included.

Flightshaming myself into 1,000 miles of bus and rail travel in Europe this summer (May 5, 2019).

May 6-13, 2019 Las Vegas

Allegiant Airlines Monterey’s cheapest flights for tiny packers (May 15, 2019).

Four benefits flying United Basic Economy domestic as Aegean Gold elite (May 15, 2019).

March 29-April 8, 2019 Copenhagen, Denmark; Malmo, Sweden; Prague, Czech Republic; Oslo, Norway

Air France-KLM-Priority Pass lounge SFO International A gates (March 31, 2019).

Flight Review SAS Scandinavian SFO to Copenhagen – my Star Alliance Gold qualifying flight (March 30, 2019).

Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo, Sweden is nice Copenhagen hotel substitute (April 1, 2019).

Clarion Hotel Prague Old Town at 8,000 points per night review (April 8, 2019).

Exploring Prague Old Town streets (April 10, 2019).

St. Vitus Cathedral Prague Castle (April 18, 2019).

The Art of Noticing Prague (May 9, 2019).

Best Western Amedia Prague $39 night earned free night (April 19, 2019).

Why finding a robot in Prague Airport is apropos (April 17, 2019).

My wife survived 8kg carryon limit flights to Europe. This trip, but the next? (April 9, 2019).

Early spring walk through sunny Oslo (April 21, 2019).

The Thief Oslo steals any negative connotation of Choice Privileges (April 11, 2019).

Beer segregation in SAS Lounge Oslo (April 25, 2019).

Oslo vs. Prague price comparison (April 9, 2019).

Prague Castle and St. Vitus Cathedral seen from across the Vltava.
March 16-17, 2019 Murphys California and Prague, Czech Republic Best Western hotel stays earned one free night

Why I booked a hotel room I don’t plan to sleep in Best Western Prague Amedia $39 – (March 14, 2019).

Into the green foothills for tiny Murphys, California big Murphys Irish Day 2019 (March 21, 2019).

Best Western Cedar Inn & Suites Angels Camp, California half-way to free night (March 26, 2019).

That’s no stranger! She’s my wife.

Feb 27-March 8, 2019

San Francisco to Barcelona, Warsaw, Crete, Warsaw, Stockholm, SFO 

IHG Rewards Club ‘Free Nights. Faster.’ promotion Jan 15-Apr 30, 2019 (Jan 7, 2019).

Winter in Crete on my final push for Star Alliance Gold (Jan 23, 2019).

March travel fulfilling nights IHG, Best Western and Choice (Feb 24, 2019).

Flight Review 2 days only United SFO to Barcelona special nonstop (Feb 28, 2019).

Trip Report – Ryanair Barcelona to Warsaw Modlin WMI $52 (March 3, 2019).

IHG Free Nights. Faster. Stay 1 Holiday Inn Warsaw City Centre (March 4, 2019).

IHG Free Nights Faster – Stay 2 InterContinental Warsaw $129 earned 12,997 points (March 6, 2019).

Going for Gold Flight Review Aegean Airlines Warsaw-Athens (March 2, 2019).

Laid back in Chania, Crete (March 7, 2019).

Trip Report – Porto del Colombo Hotel Chania, Crete $39/night (March 12, 2019).

Chania, Crete harbor walk to lighthouse (March 19, 2019).

Tracking Aegean flight path Chania to Warsaw with my iPhone photos (March 7, 2019).

Holiday Inn Express Warsaw Airport has been a windfall for cheap IHG bonus points (May 23, 2019).

IHG Free Nights Faster – $291 earned 60,000 points with 3 nights in Warsaw (March 9, 2019).

IHG Free Nights Faster final tally 60,757 points earned on $291 for 3 nights (March 18, 2019).

Tourist photo walk Warsaw City Center (March 10, 2019).

Choice Privileges 10,000 points (1 night) – Clarion Hotel Sign Stockholm a transit stay 10K per night deal (March 14, 2019).

Price of Travel – Poland, Greece, Sweden comparisons (March 25, 2019).

Venetian (and Egyptian) Lighthouse – Chania, Crete, Greece


Dec 24, 2018 – Jan 7, 2019 London, Windsor, Amsterdam, Fort Lauderdale

15 days in London, Windsor, Amsterdam and South Florida trip report overview (Jan 9, 2019).

AA free bet seat roulette San Jose to London Gatwick $536 round trip for Christmas (Dec 27, 2018).

12,000 Choice Privileges points (1 night) – Review Comfort Inn London Buckingham Palace Road for 12K points (Dec 28, 2018).

Windsor Castle and The Long Walk (Jan 2, 2019).

Windsor Castle 3-hour self-guided tour in photos (Jan 22, 2019).

The King and Castle Windsor, England (Jan 10, 2019).

Norman Gate Windsor Castle

Wyndham Rewards – 15,000 points (3 nights) Ramada Apollo Amsterdam – Happy New Year 2019 fireworks video from Amsterdam (Jan 1, 2019).

IHG Rewards Club 20,000 points (2 nights) – Review: Holiday Inn Express Amsterdam City Hall (Jan 24, 2019). This hotel changed to 35,000 points late 2018.

Amsterdam Light Festival Nov 29, 2018-Jan 20, 2019 (Jan 30, 2019).

Amsterdam Sweets Hotel with 28 Bridge houses (Feb 6, 2019).

World of Hyatt 8,000 points (2 nights) – Review Hyatt Place Fort Lauderdale Airport & Cruise Port (Feb 14, 2019).

Absorbed by Light – Amsterdam Art Festival Edition #7


Oct 15-26, 2018 London – Cluj-Napoca, Romania – Windsor, UK – Reykjavik, Iceland

Trip Intro: SFO to London, Romania, Iceland 12 days $1,000 plan (Aug 23, 2018)

Best in cheap class Icelandair SFO-LHR flight experience


My room over the stars at Hotel Indigo London Leicester Square

Dakota Johnson on BFI 2018 London Film Festival red carpet for Suspiria.

Cluj-Napoca, Romania

  1. Roaming Romania on $27 Wizz Air London-Cluj ticket
  2. Initial impressions on Cluj-Napoca, Romania
  3. Images of Cluj, Romania
  4. My booking.com hotel reservation with no ***king room upon arrival, yeah!
  5. Hampton Inn Cluj-Napoca, Romania 29,000 points for my 6-night stay
  6. Cluj-Napoca, Romania closer than imagined
  7. Gee Wizz, what a flight mess Cluj Romania to London Luton
Cluj Welcoming

Windsor, UK

  1. Clarion Collection Harte & Garter Windsor castle view room review
  2. Tourist Pub Walk around Windsor and Eton

London Heathrow LHR

  1. LHR Terminal 2 Plaza Premium Lounge
  2. London Heathrow Terminal 5 to Terminal 2-3 free train transfer and LHR Underground exhibit

Reykjavik, Iceland

  1. My 72 square feet with REK Inn Reykjavik Iceland $57 room
  2. Harpa Concert Hall imagery Reykjavik, Iceland
  3. Price of dining in Reykjavik at 21 restaurants on Laugavegur and Austurstraeti

My 10 nights in London, Romania and Iceland for $380

Harpa Reykjavik

Sep 29-Oct 3, 2018 Atlanta

  1. Frontier San Jose to Atlanta $48 all-in fare and how I saved $47
  2. Review: JW Marriott Atlanta Buckhead for $35.50 per night
  3. Review $23 night at Marriott Atlanta Century Center/Emory Area
  4. Choice Privileges 6,000 points stay Inn at the Peachtrees Atlanta Downtown
  5. Walking Down a Dream – Atlanta’s Sweet Auburn Historic District
  6. Museum walk Atlanta Center for Civil and Human Rights
  7. The Club Airport Lounges
Grave site for Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King

July 17- Aug 6, 2018

Vienna, Ceske Budejovice, Cesky Krumlov, Prague, Oswiecim/Auschwitz, Krakow 

Vienna, Austria

Vienna is a city of museums, cafes and parks in summer.

  1. Getting around Vienna U-bahn, tram and airport transportation (July 21, 2018)
  2. Advisable to bring cash when dining in Vienna (July 23, 2018).
  3. Review Comfort Hotel Star Inn Vienna Schoenbrunn (July 24, 2018).
  4. Garden walks are free at Schönbrunn Palace, Vienna’s top tourist destination (Aug 12, 2018).
  5. *The Prater Vienna beer gardens and amusement park
  6. *Museum of Military History Vienna

Ceske Budejovice/Cesky Krumlov, Czech Republic

  1. Wien to České Budějovice by train, bus, train, bus, beer, train, bus in 5 hours
  2. Clarion Congress Hotel České Budějovice junior suite reward stay
  3. Colors of České Budějovice on a summer Sunday
  4. Cheapest and most expensive EU countries
  5. Have you been to Český Krumlov? Well, I have
  6. *Cesky Krumlov video
  7. *Ceske Budjovice video

Prague, Czech Republic

  1. Clarion Hotel Prague City cool location, not so cool in hot summer
  2. 5 Staré Město-Old Town Pubs in Prague
  3. Prague Airport Terminal 2 Menzies and Erste Premier lounges

Krakow, Poland

  1. Hotel Indigo Krakow Old Town great location for tourists near train/bus stations, Stary Kleparz market stalls and 5 minutes walk to north side of Krakow Old Town.
  2. Stary Kleparz Market Krakow for shopping deals
  3. Towering over Old Krakow, Poland
  4. Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre platinum upgrade
  5. 3 restaurants I like in Krakow, Poland
  6. Hilton Garden Inn Krakow is 20 minutes from anywhere in town
  7. DoubleTree Krakow Poland or Hilton Garden Inn as best Hilton hotel choice?
  8. Our hot night 10K deal at Hilton Garden Inn Krakow Airport Unfortunately, Hilton Honors raised the price on nearly all European hotels that were 5,000 and 10,000 points. HGI Krakow went from 10,000 points to 20,000 points in mid-September 2018. Good news is Hampton Inn Krakow is still 10,000 points, although it was 5,000 points in summer 2017 when I stayed there.

Oswiecim, Poland / Auschwitz Concentration Camp Museum

  1. Hampton Inn Oswiecim on a trip to Auschwitz
  2. Auschwitz-Birkenau tour in photos
  3. Tour of Auschwitz slideshow video
Český Krumlov, Czech Republic

June 10-26, 2018 Copenhagen, Kaunas, Klaipeda, Sopot, Warsaw, Krakow, Rome

Copenhagen, Denmark

Our trip to Europe in June involved flying San Francisco to Zurich on United, then Swiss Air to Copenhagen, Denmark with stays in a couple of Nordic Choice Hotels.

  1. Copenhagen Metro and public transportation
  2. Comfort Hotel Vesterbro Copenhagen review
  3. Where Nordic Choice Club points are better deal than Choice Privileges
  4. *Copenhagen sights
  5. Skt. Petri Ascend Collection is a 20K hotel deal

Lithuania – Kaunas, Klaipeda, Curonian Spit National Park

  1. Park Inn Kaunas hotel review
  2. *Radisson Blu Klaipeda hotel review
  3. Vilnius eclectic spring
  4. Kaunas on the Russian Front for World Cup kick off
  5. Images of Klaipeda, Lithuania
  6. White storks of Lithuania
  7. 5 interesting observations from Lithuania

Poland – Sopot, Krakow

  1. Sopot Marriott Resort & Spa on Poland’s Baltic Sea Beach
  2. Sheraton Sopot Poland and our LOT in life
  3. Sopot, Poland Baltic Sea beach resort town
  4. Pack a helmet for Best Western Plus Old Town Krakow
  5. Flying Ryanair and Wizz Priority cheap tickets with two carryon bags
  6. What is EU261 compensation? Our $290 checks for canceled June 2018 LOT Polish flight


Ryanair from Krakow to Rome, Italy for the end of of our trip turned out to be more pleasurable than I anticipated with so many sights and enjoyable pubs in Roma for watching World Cup football matches. Summer heat and summer crowds did not detract much from our wonderful experiences.

  1. Rome Termini Station cheap trains to Fiumicino FCO or Ciampino CIA Airports
  2. Best Western Artdeco Hotel Rome central city location
  3. Rome is a walkable city for sights
  4. Walking Rome – Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain
  5. Walking Rome – Villa Borghese Gardens
  6. Best Western Rome Airport FCO and a walk in Fiumicino, Italy

Travel Budget

There were airport lounge visits in Warsaw and Munich that I have not covered in posts.

  1. Copenhagen, Lithuania, Poland and Rome 9 hotels trip using points in 6 loyalty programs
  2. Cost of travel Copenhagen and Rome vs. Lithuania and Poland

February 16-24, 2018 Amsterdam, Netherlands

I took advantage of a November 2017 British Airways sale to buy $416 round trip tickets San Jose SJC to Amsterdam for the February 2018 trip.

  1. Oneworld LAX, SFO, SJC to Amsterdam, France, Italy, Germany $400s
  2. Ramada Apollo Amsterdam 15,000 Wyndham Rewards points saved $500 – This stay turned out to be our last killer deal for Amsterdam due to Wyndham Rewards changing GoFast cash and points rates from 3,000 points + a fixed rate ($63eur after tax for Ramada Amsterdam) for an Executive Premier high room category to a floating cash rate equivalent to 65% of the Best Flexible rate. These means those $70 Ramada hotel nights in Amsterdam increased to about $170 per night + 3,000 points or else spend 15,000 points for a GoFree reward.
  3. Amsterdam’s green parakeets
  4. Problematic Regency Club upgrade at Hyatt Regency Amsterdam

January 22-29, 2018 Key West, Florida

Monterey MRY – Las Vegas LAS – Miami MIA – Key West/Everglades – Miami MIA – LAS – MRY

No bag fees Allegiant $39 Monterey to Las Vegas for Frontier $37 Miami flight

End of the road in Key West

Best Western Hibiscus Motel Key West great location

Day drive through Everglades National Park

Best Western Premier Miami Airport

2017 Year-End Loyalty Summaries

My Incredible IHG Accelerate Year in Review

Club Carlson $1,300 for 24 nights my great value year in review

2017 Flights in Review $3,870 for 95,647 miles on 16 airlines in 16 countries through 26 airports

Loyalty Traveler 2017 in Review: 86 hotel nights in 9 programs

December 24-Jan 5, 2018

San Jose SJC London LHR/London Southend SEN – Prague PRG – Copenhagen CPH – Toronto YYZ – San Francisco SFO

13 day trip flying British Airways SJC to London LHR, FlyBe London Southend SEN to Prague, Czech Airlines to Copenhagen CPH and Air Canada to SFO.

London 3 nights, Prague 7 nights, Copenhagen 1 night.

My last AA elite LAX Flagship Lounge visit

Cheapest pint in London? Days Hotel London Waterloo Review

Boxing Day tourists in East End London

Moxy London Stratford cool space by tube station

Crossing Greenwich Meridian at Holiday Inn Express London Stratford

London to Southend Airport for FlyBe to Prague

Clarion Prague City 10,000 Choice Privileges points reward stay

Prague Old Town Square Christmas Market

Park Inn Prague New Year’s Eve reward stay

Radisson Blu Alcron Free Friday reward stay

Ramada Prague Airport

Prague living on $50 per day for two, hotel extra

Wyndham Rewards Visa Checkout 3,000 points post after London and Prague stays

AC Bella Sky Copenhagen stay earned free MegaBonus night

London, Prague, Copenhagen, 5 chains, 8 hotels, 11 nights

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.

Monaco-Le Rocher


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.

Albania coast and Corfu


Prague-French Riviera-Bulgaria Trip Report

British Airways SFO/SJC/OAK to Budapest or Prague $350-$380

Aug 20, 2017 date of $367 SJC-PRG round trip ticket purchase for 15 day Europe trip October 4-18, 2017.

Trip Report Day 1 SJC-LHR-PRG

British Airways flight, Cathay Pacific LHR Terminal 3 lounge, Prague Airport bus and Metro to Vinohrady district. Stayed at Clarion Prague City.

Trip Report Day 2 Prague Vinohrady Light and Dark

Photo walk on brisk October afternoon through Prague’s Vinohrady and Zizkov districts to TV Tower and city’s largest cemeteries.

Olšanské hřbitovy-2

Art Deco at Radisson Blu Alcron Prague

Hotel stay in junior suite using Club Carlson Free Friday earned in July’s promotion.

Rad Blu PRG art-1

Trip Report Day 3 Prague party street Křemencova Nové Město

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.


Trip Report Day 3 Warsaw Bright Lights, Big City

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.

IC Warsaw-sign

Warsaw Old Town Day 4 Sunday

Free walking tour showed me most of Old Town’s sights in 90 minutes. Rainy and gloomy day.

Mały Powstaniec

Best Western Nice So’Co

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.

BW SoCo-3

Cap d’Ail French Riviera walking tour Day 5

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.

Cap d'Ail-3

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.

Marriott room view-1

Le Rocher – The Rock of Monaco after the crowds

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 Ville-4

A walk across Monaco, Cap d’Ail France to Roquebrune Cap Martin, France and back

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.

Monte Carlo casino garden view

Le Meridien Beach Plaza Monaco art, beach, beer

11 EUR beer check-in to check out the beach and hotel on my walk across Monaco.

LM Monaco-1

Days Inn Nice Centre, France conveniently cheap

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.

Days Inn 6th patio

Nice in snapshots

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.

Nice Love

Aegean Air Nice to Athens in photos

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.

Corfu, Greece

Monastiraki Athens on Aegean 4 hour ATH layover

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.

Athens ruins 5

Sofia Hotel Balkan Luxury Collection feeling marble

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.

Sofia Balkan ext2

Sofia, Bulgaria paper dreams in print

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.


Plovdiv cool vibe, warm October night

Fell in love with Plovdiv immediately. Great place to chill out among Roman ruins, long pedestrian street, parks and Old Town.

Plovdiv Roman-1

Bulgaria Ramada Plovdiv Trimontium impressive for the brand

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.

Ramada Plovdiv-1

Old Town and cats of Plovdiv

Plovdiv has lots of street cats. Old Town on a day with abundant sunshine provides an architectural delight.

Plovdiv Old Town-2

Enjoy the Colors – Plovdiv Street Art

Kapana district of Plovdiv is known for art, music and pubs.

Plovdiv wall-4DSC_0004

Sense Hotel Sofia, Starwood Design Hotel

Rooftop bar for a beer, music and great views of Sofia.

Sense cathedral view

Clarion Prague City great Vinohrady location

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.

Namesti Miru

Prague Walk Vitkov Hill, Zizkov and Karlin

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.

Vitkov hill view Vitkov Zizka Monument

Prague Airport MasterCard Lounge Terminal 1

Clarion Prague City walk to Metro to airport bus to Prague Airport Terminal 1. Prague Terminal 1 MasterCard Lounge before British Airways LHR flight.

PRG MasterCard-4

Prague is too expensive, flying to Hawaii instead

No Paradise

July 2017

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)

My July in Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Czechia and Slovakia July 5, 2017

SAS flying over San Francisco

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

Czechia: Impressions after 9 days in Czech Republic

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: Buyer Beware National Express bus London Stansted to London Heathrow

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

June 2017

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)

Trip Planning: How I avoid low cost airline bag fees

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).

Warsaw, Poland: Holiday Inn Express Warsaw Airport $58 night earned 34,828 points

Food: Cheap Eats Dining in Poland

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

Club Carlson loyalty still great 2017 value

Krakow, Poland: Hotel review Hampton Inn Krakow Hilton Honors category 1 reward nights

Flight Review British Airways 787-9 economy Row 43 H-J London LHR to San Jose SJC

Travel Planning several moves ahead (thoughts on my travel style).

April 2017

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

Travel Budget: Pale Blue Eyes Trip Overview: $327 SFO to Iceland, Lithuania, Latvia, Stockholm

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

Reykjavik, Iceland: Flight Review Wizz Air Keflavik Iceland to Vilnius Lithuania whole lotta drinkin’ goin’ on

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

LithuaniaImages of Lithuania

Wyndham Rewards 3x points March 7-May 25 looks like great deal for me

Riga, Latvia: Days Hotel Riga VEF $60 stay earned 4,188 Wyndham Rewards points

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


February-March 2017

San Francisco SFO – London – Amsterdam – Sofia, Bulgaria – Gdansk, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden – Oakland OAK

  1. Kensington, London touring Pubs and Thrift Stores

  2. My Square Foot–Holiday Inn London Kensington unkingly quiet

  3. Amsterdam Winds and Windows

  4. Park Plaza Amsterdam Vondelpark 66 stairs to room 36

  5. First impressions of Sofia, Bulgaria

  6. Free Sofia Tour Walk Winter Night

  7. Rocking out in Sofia

  8. Best Western Bonum Gdansk, Poland $39 suite
  9. Trip Report Aegean Airlines Gold elite status progress

  10. Cool Gdansk, Poland is hot tourism destination

  11. Flygbussarna connections to Stockholm’s four airports

  12. IHG Accelerate 2017 Achieved 44,323 points on 2 stays for $317

  13. Club Carlson 70,000 points earned, $470 hotel spent on 8 nights

  14. My London flight plan cranks up wife’s stress level to 11 after she misses flight

  15. Trip Report Stockholm NYO to Clarion Hotel Sign to Arlanda ARN

  16. My Aegean Miles+Bonus Blue Card arrived

January 2017

Copenhagen, Denmark – Malmo, Sweden – Prague, Czechia – Wroclaw, Poland – Krakow, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden

  1. WOW Air SFO to Copenhagen $69 my best low fare deal to Europe ever
  2. Quick takes on Prague
  3. Ten mile walking tour around Prague (part one)
  4. Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (Part Two)
  5. Ten Mile Walking Tour around Prague (part 3 Old Town)
  6. Park Inn Prague Hotel Review
  7. Hotel U Medvídků Brewery Prague
  8. Hospůdka U Voraře, my Prague local pub
  9. Cat’s Meow – Wroclaw predatory Polish cutie on a Saturday night
  10. Wroclaw Poland walking tour
  11. Radisson Blu Wroclaw hotel review
  12. Holiday Inn Krakow $100 night earned 23,500 points + $75 rebate
  13. My $75 IHG Priceless Experiences MasterCard turned into 20,000 points
  14. This week’s airline and hotel changes make last week’s Europe trip 26% more expensive

December 2016

Vienna, Austria – Bratislava, Slovakia – Krakow, Poland – Stockholm, Sweden


Krakow, Poland medieval fortress

Trip Report: Los Angeles to Vienna First Class lounge dining British Airways A380 Economy Class

Trip Report: Vienna, Bratislava, Krakow 11 hotel nights for $500

Trip Report: Expatistan Cost of Travel Vienna, Bratislava, Krakow, Stockholm

Best Western Premier Q Hotel Krakow, down by the River Vistula

Krakow Poland is so cheap, even I eat out and take taxis

Hotel Indigo Krakow review

Trip Report: Krakow, Poland is happening city for Christmas

Trip Report: Christmas Season in Bratislava

Trip Report Bratislava Christmas Markets

Trip Report: Vienna Snow Day, White Night

Trip Report: Los Angeles to Vienna First Class lounge dining British Airways A380 Economy Class



Loyalty Traveler Travels – November 2016

New Zealand – North Island Auckland and Napier


Flying to New Zealand tomorrow Qantas $238 round trip SFO-AKL

Qantas Economy San Francisco-Sydney-Auckland hurtling through space and time

Qantas First Class Lounge Sydney Airport

Photo walk around Parnell Auckland

Hotel Review Quality Hotel Auckland Parnell

Hotel Review Econolodge Auckland City Central 6,000 points reward stay

Econolodge Napier, New Zealand – coolest Econolodge anywhere

Sunrise-sunset Westshore Beach, Napier, New Zealand

Napier, New Zealand earthquake history created Art Deco city

Over 1,000 tourists stuck in Kaikoura, New Zealand after 7.8 earthquake


September 2016


London – Slovakia – Austria trip report, September 2016
  1. Slovakia on my mind
  2. My late summer trip Kosice, Slovakia to Salzburg, Austria
  3. Hotel Review Holiday Inn London Commercial Road (East End London)
  4. London East End impressions from a one day stay
  5. East London Canal Walk Holiday Inn Commercial Road to Wapping, St. Katherine Docks and Tower of London
  6. Wizz Air London Luton to Kosice, Slovakia
  7. Two cozy days in Košice, Slovakia
  8. Kosice, Slovakia – The Singing Fountain Spievajúca fontána
  9. Hotel Review DoubleTree Kosice
  10. Hotel Review Suite Boutique Hotel Chrysso Kosice Slovakia
  11. Lomnické sedlo, Slovakia – Roof of the High Tatras
  12. Hiking High Tatras Slovakia
  13. High Tatra Peaks Slovakia on a Clear Sky Morning
  14. Grand Hotel Stary Smokovec Slovakia 1904, Historic Hotels of Europe
  15. Slovakia as a tourist destination? I’m lovin’ it!
  16. See the world through ‘We Are Happy From’ videos
  17. Levoca UNESCO World Heritage Site medieval town
  18. Hotel Review U Leva Hotel, Levoca
  19. Spis Castle UNESCO World Heritage Site 12th century castle ruin was one of Europe’s largest castle complexes
  20. Slovakia recap after 10 days
  21. 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).
  22. Hotel Review DoubleTree Bratislava Slovakia
  23. Bratislava, Slovakia where you can afford real life one hour from Vienna
  24. Slovakia and Austria cheap travel on buses and trains
  25. Hotel Review Ramada Salzburg City Centre
  26. Salzburg – Mozart was here


Krakow, Poland

July 2016

Stockholm, Krakow, Copenhagen, Stavanger, London

Over 100 beers and 100 miles walked in 16 Days European Vacation

  1. Headed to TBEX Stockholm today

  2. The Rave outside Radisson Blu Strand Stockholm

  3. Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Waterfront Stockholm

  4. Stockholm Clarion Hotel Sign great deal on points, convenient airport train access

  5. Stockholm price of food and beer
  6. Summer postcard beautiful Djurgården, Royal Game Park of Stockholm
  7. Stockholm, I’ll be back, but probably not stay
  8. Krakow, Poland Europe’s Best Travel Bargain (Sep Update: I learned Slovakia is even better value).
  9. Krakow Cost of Food and Drink
  10. Scenes from Krakow, Poland a new city in my Top 5 Places to Visit
  11. Holiday Inn Krakow City Centre great location for tourists
  12. Copenhagen is cooler than Stockholm and half price
  13. Hotel Review Clarion Hotel Energy Stavanger, Norway
  14. July still life stroll through Stavanger, Norway
  15. United paid me $400 to stay in London
  16. London Walking Tour in 8 to 10 hours from LHR, introduction
  17. London Walking Tour Buckingham Palace to Trafalgar Square in 1 to 2 hours
  18. London Walking Tour Trafalgar Square party, Leicester Square theaters, Chinatown food
  19. London Walks Lost in Sexy Soho
  20. Hotel Review: Radisson Blu Edwardian Heathrow Hotel July 2016

June 2016

Florida Road Trip Orlando to New Orleans and Louisiana Tour

  1. Rough Start for Drive Out of Florida road trip to New Orleans
  2. Orlando to Pensacola road trip notes and photos
  3. Hotel Review: Holiday Inn Express Pensacola West–Navy Base on PointBreaks
  4. Beautiful Sweet Home Alabama driving U.S. 98 and U.S. 90
  5. Gulf Islands National Seashore at Ocean Springs Mississippi
  6. Road Trip Photos Gulf Coast Mississippi to New Orleans 9th Ward
  7. Dispatch from New Orleans-Huge Ass Beers, NOLA Gay Pride, June Mardi Gras
  8. Hotel Review-Hyatt Regency New Orleans
  9. Airline History: Why Delta Air Lines HQ was in Monroe, Louisiana until 1941
  10. Best Western Low Rate Guarantee success and Cracking Hotel Confusion in Krakow

April 2016

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

  1. Greetings from Vilnius, Lithuania (April 8, 2016)
  2. Photo Walk around Vilnius, Lithuania (April 9, 2016)
  3. Five Star Ramada Hotel & Suites Vilnius, Lithuania (April 10, 2016)
  4. Voguish Vilnius Vacation trip report overview (April 13, 2016)
  5. Flight Review Norwegian Stockholm to Oakland for $211 one way (April 14, 2016)
  6. More impressions of Vilnius, Lithuania (April 15, 2016)
  7. Hotel Review: Ramada Apollo Amsterdam Centre on Wyndham Rewards GoFast rate (April 7, 2016)
  8. Andaz Amsterdam Suite Upgrade on Hyatt Points + Cash rate (April 16, 2016)
  9. Hotel Review Crowne Plaza Vilnius PointBreaks stay (April 18, 2016)
  10. Review Chic Holiday Inn Vilnius (April 19, 2016)
  11. 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

  1. Flight Review: Norwegian Air OAK-ARN
  2. Best Western Premier Amsterdam Hotel Couture hotel review
  3. Best Western Leidse Square Amsterdam – Isn’t guest recognition the whole point of a hotel loyalty program?
  4. Loyalty Programs Work: I am underpaying for Holiday Inn Leiden
  5. Pilgrimage to Holiday Inn Leiden
  6. Pilgrim History and more in Leiden, Netherlands
  7. Amsterdam British Airways Lounge Review
  8. American Airlines Flagship Lounge London Heathrow
  9. 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

1. Allegiant Airlines low cost nonstop flights between Monterey and Las Vegas.

2. SLS Las Vegas, Starwood Hotels Tribute Portfolio

3. American Airlines LAS-PHL in First Class

4. PHL lounge reviews British Airways First and American Admirals Club

5. American Airlines Philadelphia – Amsterdam Business Class and Economy Class Seats Comparison

6. Radisson Blu Amsterdam location is perfect for poke and toke

7. Hotel Review – Amsterdam Radisson Blu Hotel

8. InterContinental Amstel Hotel, Amsterdam

9.  Cost of food in Amsterdam at Albert Heijn and Marqt

10. 75th Anniversary of the Amsterdam Strike 1941 against Nazi persecution of Jews.

11. Dutch Resistance Museum, Amsterdam

12. W Amsterdam HotelAfter drinking up at W Amsterdam rooftop bar, go downstairs for toilets

13. Rembrandt House Museum, Amsterdam

14. Oude Kerk AmsterdamSecond most famous dead woman of Amsterdam – Saskia Rembrandt’s gravestone in Oude Kerk Amsterdam.

15. American Airlines Flagship Lounge London Heathrow

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


  1. Introduction: Thanks Hilton. Nice week to be in Washington D.C.
  2. Hilton@Play in legendary International Ballroom Washington Hilton
  3. Washington Hilton rooms with a view
  4. American Airlines flight photos AAbove the California Storm


Loyalty Traveler – Hotel Value for Frequent Guests

London and Sweden Thanksgiving Week November 2015


  1. Using Sweden for cheap flights to California in 2016
  2. My Club Carlson 2-for-1 Sweden deal where 2 nights cost less than one
  3. aa.com observations booking paid and award tickets between California and Europe
  4. IHG Rewards Club made Thanksgiving in London affordable
  5. Trip Report Monterey MRY–London LHR AAdvantage 20K economy award: Horizon Air segment MRY-LAX
  6. AA LAX Flagship Lounge Monterey MRY–London LHR trip report
  7. American Airlines Flight 108 LAX-LHR economy class on B777
  8. Bed time at InterContinental London Park Lane
  9. Review of Holiday Inn London Regent’s Park
  10. Review: Holiday Inn London Bloomsbury
  11. Factor Hoppa in transportation cost at Holiday Inn London Heathrow T5
  12. Remembering London
  13. British Airways hand baggage only fare trumps Oneworld Emerald elite benefits
  14. British Airways Goldilocks transatlantic temperatures LHR-SFO
  15. Review: British Airways LHR T5 Galleries First Lounge
  16. Burning and earning in London with IHG Rewards Club Accelerate Sep 1- Dec 31, 2015
  17. IHG Accelerate tasks not updating. Time to Worry?
  18. Radisson Blu Uppsala Club Carlson Gold elite 2-for-1 stay


American Airlines Executive Platinum Challenge with three trips to Europe
Sep-Oct 2015


  1. My fantastic American AAdvantage elite fast-track offer (June 22, 2015)
  2. Cost of flying 30,000 AAdvantage flight miles
  3. Thoughts on my AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge
  4. Nested tickets for more AAdvantage EQM California to Scandinavia
  5. Staying in the Alps with Best Western, Choice, IHG and Wyndham points.
  6. AAdvantage Executive Platinum Challenge 39,294 EQM booked for $1,583
  7. American Airlines Executive Platinum Challenge routing ticketed and six intra-Europe flight choices
  8. Oneworld American-British Airways Scandinavia to California under $400 round trip fares
  9. Loyalty Traveler strategy for low cost flights to European airports
  10. What $385 in Choice Privileges points bought me in Europe
  11. How much did I spend for ten IHG reward nights in Europe?
  12. Go for EQM or EQP? American AAdvantage ExPlat Fast-Track
  13. AAdvantage Executive Platinum 30K Challenge – Day 1 California to Dusseldorf 5,956 EQM
  14. My account has been upgraded to AAdvantage Gold after 6,000 EQM this week
  15. AAdvantage Elite Challenge – Day 9 – Platinum after 13,205 EQM
  16. American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 17–19,221 EQM
  17. American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 20–25,668 EQM
  18. AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track diary Day 22
  19. AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track Diary Day 26 – Ready, Set, Go to London and Paris
  20. Bags and stuff I traveled with to Europe
  21. First Confirmed Upgrade as AAdvantage Executive Platinum
  22. AAdvantage Executive Platinum Diary Day 35 – the nightmare ends or is just beginning?
Malmo, Sweden (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 1)


  1. First impressions of Malmo, Sweden
  2. Humanitarianism is the serious side of Sweden
  3. Sweden 2.8 beer is great at Scandinavian average prices
  4. Clarion Collection Hotel Temperance Malmo, Sweden food alone worth 8,000 points
Brno, Czech Republic (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 1)


  1. Impressions of Brno, Czech Republic
  2. Moravian Karst caves near Brno and why you will never see a tour like this in the USA
  3. Price of travel in Brno, Czech Republic
  4. Outside looking in Brno, Czech Republic
  5. Holiday Inn Brno, Czech Republic
  6. Student Agency cheap bus travel in and out of Czech Republic


Bergen, Norway and Harstad in Arctic Norway (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 2)


  1. Get high with the locals in Bergen, Norway
  2. AAdvantage Elite Challenge – Day 9 – Platinum after 13,205 EQM
  3. Rain forecast for Arctic Norway trip this week
  4. Oslo Airport Never Odd or Even
  5. 68.8° N in Harstad, Norway
  6. American AAdvantage Executive Platinum challenge–Day 17–19,221 EQM
  7. Clarion Collection Hotel No 13 Bergen with dinner at Hotel Oleana
  8. Clarion Collection Hotel Arcticus Harstad, Norway
  9. Arctic Norway and whales
  10. Clarion Bergen Airport modern style
  11. 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)


  1. Battered by rain in Battersea London
  2. Tiny Room Comfort Inn Westminster London
  3. Back in LHR British Airways lounge
  4. AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track diary Day 22
  5. AAdvantage ExPlat fast-track Diary Day 26 – Ready, Set, Go to London and Paris
  6. Hilton London Heathrow Terminal 4
  7. Feeling lucky punk? Definitely not in LHR Terminal 4 Security
Paris and Clermont-Ferrand, France (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)


  1. Feeling Paris under full moonlight
  2. Liberté and free nights in Paris
  3. InterContinental Le Grand Hotel, a storied institution of Paris
  4. Price of food and beer in France
  5. Cheap RoissyBus Transportation Paris CDG to Paris Opera
  6. Paris Orly by Air France bus
  7. Feeling connected to Paris, City of Light (post-Paris terrorist attacks)
  8. Clermont-Ferrand impressions are authentic France
  9. Streets of medieval Montferrand
  10. Holiday Inn Clermont-Ferrand France PointBreaks extended stay
  11. You can call me Reeshard
  12. Necessary to improvise in France today
  13. Normally I would not kiss and tell, but when in Lyon


Geneva, Switzerland (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)
  1. InterContinental Geneva has the views
  2. Flying Swiss Airlines Geneva to Copenhagen


Copenhagen, Denmark Oct 2015 (AA ExPlat challenge Europe Trip 3)
  1. You may find yourself traveling to Copenhagen Airport. Part 1 – Are you experienced?
  2. Copenhagen Get Your Mind Together then come on across
  3. Copenhagen on the waterfront
  4. Freewheelin’ Copenhagen Dealin’

Little-Mermaid-1.jpg Christiania.jpg

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

  1. Delta Bags on Time 20 minute guarantee claim for 2,500 miles
  2. InterContinental Boston History Walking Tour
  3. WOW Air. My worst low fare deal to Europe ever!
  4. WOW Air Boston to Iceland flight review
  5. Blondes in Black in Hot Copenhagen
  6. Radisson Blu Royal Copenhagen views and brews
  7. Skt. Petri Hotel Copenhagen, Nordic Choice Ascend Collection
  8. RyanAir CPH-LTN $63 and two carry-on bags for free
  9. London 7 July Memorial Hyde Park Ten Years After
  10. Please sir, do not take photos of our hotel security cameras
  11. So much owed by so many to so few, London 75th Anniversary Commemoration of Battle of Britain
  12. Treasures of the Natural History Museum London
  13. Six nights at The May Fair London for 210,000 Club Carlson points
  14. Into the ‘Free’ Nights at InterContinental London Park Lane
  15. Alternative London in Camden Town
  16. London Royal Parks offer country in the city
  17. Rock history and a view at Holiday Inn London Camden Lock
  18. Camden Market London and Music Venues in Rock History
  19. Cost of food and transportation in London
  20. RyanAir flew us LTN-CPH with no bag fees again
  21. Am I in the Copenhagen loyalty program?
  22. WOW Air Review Part 2 Copenhagen to Boston
  23. Marriott’s Custom House Boston
  24. Marriott Long Wharf Boston
  25. Free Boston Rocks Outside the Box
  26. On the Waterfront at InterContinental Boston
  27. What $385 in Choice Privileges points bought me in Europe
  28. My $80 Boston Marriott Copley Place room with breakfast
  29. Boston Walks – Back Bay to Harvard Yard
  30. Wyndham Boston Beacon Hill surrounded by history

Disneyland Anaheim family trip June 2015

Orlando to Knoxville road trip in 1,100 miles–my outline of destination articles.

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

  1. Drive out of Florida rental car deals April and May 2015
  2. CostcoTravel.com $11 rental car drive out of Florida road trip (April 10)
  3. And I call this work visiting Orlando
  4. Welcome to Gator Country Florida
  5. WaltDisneyWorld in synchronization
  6. SeaWorld Orlando and marine mammal intelligence on cue
  7. Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes for locally sourced experiences
  8. Orlando to Knoxville road trip in 1,100 miles–my outline of destination articles.
  9. Daytona Beach, FloridaBabes, Bikes and Speed at Daytona Beach
  10. 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.
  11. Jekyll Island, Georgia History and Jekyll Island Club Hotel
  12. Best Western paid me $11 for my Georgia hotel night
  13. Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Hospital, Jekyll Island, Georgia
  14. Westin Jekyll Island, Holiday Inn Resort and Quality Inn Jekyll Island
  15. Savannah, Georgia Historic Buildings and New Hotels
  16. The Brice, Savannah, a Kimpton Hotel
  17. It’s Tybee Time on Savannah Georgia’s Barrier Island beach
  18. Fort Pulaski National Monument and Civil War history in Savannah region
  19. Tall Trees at Congaree National Park, South Carolina
  20. Footloose and roaming Asheville, North Carolina
  21. Biltmore Estate is more than a Gilded Age mansion, Asheville, NC
  22. View from Inn on Biltmore Estate
  23. Asheville Vibrant Craft Beer Scene
  24. Chasing Waterfalls  in DuPont State Forest, Western North Carolina
  25. White squirrels, black bears and waterfalls in Pisgah National Forest, North Carolina
  26. Appalachian Highlands on Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
  27. Vast forest in Great Smoky Mountains National Park thanks to Rockefeller
  28. Out of Great Smoky and into DoubleTree Park Vista Gatlinburg

Vancouver and Vancouver Island: Victoria, Tofino and Sooke, British Columbia April 2015

  1. Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee free night approved Expedia claim for Vancouver (April 6)
  2. Strike 3 on best rate guarantee claim for Park Inn Vancouver (April 9)
  3. 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.
  4. Best Western gives dumbest reason ever for Best Rate Guarantee claim denial (April 8)
  5. 2 of 6 hotel best rate guarantee claims in Canada approved. What worked and what did not work. (April 11)
  6. Hotel Review: Radisson President Hotel Vancouver Airport (April 19)
  7. Richmond, British Columbia for an Asian experience around YVR (April 19)
  8. Perfectly comfortable at Comfort Inn Downtown Vancouver (April 20) upgraded on my free hotel night.
  9. Hyatt Regency Vancouver $99, my 420 brg rate
  10. 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.
  11. Into the Spirits of Earth Day 2015 Vancouver Island, British Columbia (April 22) a drive through old growth trees with several bald eagles sighted.
  12. Victoria, British Columbia First Nations murals surround toxic waste site (April 23)
  13. Vancouver to Victoria transportation for $23.20 CAD ($19 USD) by Skytrain, bus and ferry. (April 25)
  14. Quality location at Quality Inn Downtown Inner Harbour Victoria, British Columbia (April 26)
  15. Tofino is the end of the road for adventure in British Columbia wilderness (April 27)
  16. On the Beach at Best Western Tin Wis Resort Tofino, British Columbia (April 28)
  17. Victoria to Tofino driving slow roads on Vancouver Island, British Columbia (April 28)
  18. Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Vancouver $99, my 420 brg rate (April 29)
  19. Can’t see the forest for the missing trees in Vancouver Island logging photos (April 30)
  20. Go west from Victoria for Best Western Premier Prestige Oceanfront Resort Sooke (May 1)
  21. Beacon Hill Park Victoria a British Columbia Pacific Northwest garden (May 3)
  22. 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.
  23. Fairmont Vancouver Airport Best Airport Hotel in North America (May 6)

Amsterdam, Netherlands February 2015

  1. Lost in Amsterdam, unLucky stolen wallet too
  2. I Amsterdam
  3. Discover Amsterdam with tram tickets
  4. Park Plaza Vondelpark Amsterdam
  5. Words and pictures of Andaz Amsterdam
  6. My best friend in Amsterdam is Albert Heijn
  7. Amsterdam XXX, prostitution and coffeeshops
  8. KLM economy to Europe with adult IFE
  9. Get lost walking Amsterdam canals
  10. Amsterdam cyclists fought Rijksmuseum and won
  11. Hotel Review Andaz Amsterdam Prinsengracht
  12. Debra Hill, my favorite living artist in Amsterdam

Dublin, Ireland  February 2015

  1. Beer or Points? Holiday Inn Express Dublin Airport
  2. Crowne Plaza Dublin Airport Northwood, butterflies are free
  3. 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.

  1. Alaska Airlines Ski the West Fly 2, Get 1 for tax only CA, OR, WA residents
  2. Alaska Airlines First Checked Bag Free for January flights
  3. Alaska Airlines economy flights, Club Carlson midscale hotel and Salt Lake City domestic tranquility
  4. A Pagan in Temple Square
  5. Country Inn & Suites West Valley City Fire False Alarms
  6. Club Carlson 46,000 points on 3 nights $250 stay
  7. Salt Lake City mountain vistas
  8. Courtyard Salt Lake City Downtown free stay during $400 rates at category 3 hotel
  9. Making TRAX around #SLC
  10. Eyewitness Report – Beer seen in Utah
  11. Radisson Salt Lake City Downtown
  12. Quiet Hyatt Escala Lodge Park City Utah
  13. Sundance Film Experienced
  14. Stella Artois Buy a Lady a Drink for water.org
  15. Snow Monkeys in Park City Pools
  16. Sundance Film Festival 2015 Park City poverty jet setters
  17. Waldorf Astoria Park City
  18. Racing Alaska Airlines 20 minutes checked bag guarantee

San Diego December 2014

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.

Planning Phase

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)

Comparing hotel reward value in London among different hotel programs (Oct 20, 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)

Club Carlson Gold elite 2-for-1 rates scarce availability in London and Dublin (Nov 3, 2014)

Where the hell is Athlone, Ireland and why am I planning to go there? (Nov 12, 2014)

Trip Report


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 Seans Bar, 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)

London touring

Diana, Princess of Wales Memorial Fountain for the public Hyde Park London (Dec 7, 2014)

St. Paul’s Cathedral London on Paddington Trail (Dec 11, 2014)

Canals of Paddington London

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).

Bergen seen from Mount Floyen
  1. Oslo, Norway walking on a summer day (Sep 6)
  2. Hotel Review Clarion Royal Christiania Oslo, Norway (Sep 6)
  3. Hotel Review Clarion Collection Hotel Bastion Oslo, Norway (Sep 7)
  4. Think before you eat whale meat (Sep 8)
  5. Six days in Norway and $6 spent on food (Sep 9)
  6. Hotel Review: Farris Bad, Ascend Collection Larvik, Norway (Sep 10)
  7. Hotel Review Farris Bad Kaupang Suite upgrade (Sep 10)
  8. Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord offers whaling culture experience and beds too (Sep 11)
  9. Hotel Atlantic Sandefjord, Clarion Collection (Sep 13)
  10. Oslo Sandefjord Torp Airport low cost flights (Sep 12)
  11. USA Branded Bergen (Sep 12)
  12. Oops! Radisson Royal Bergen hotel damaged Bryggen UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Sep 12)
  13. Walk like a Norwegian up Floyen in Bergen (Sep 13)
  14. Think before you eat Norwegian farmed salmon (Sep 13)
  15. Biked, hiked and psyched about Bergen (Sep 15)
  16. Clarion Collection No 13 Bergen, Norway (Sep 15)
  17. Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen, TripAdvisor #1 hotel – Part One (Sep 16)
  18. Clarion Collection Havnekontoret Bergen – Part Two (Sep 16)
  19. Bergen Line to Oslo, 500 km by train (and bus) – Part One (Sep 18)
  20. Bergen Line to Oslo 500 km by train part two (Sep 19)
  21. How I stole 2 nights at The Thief Oslo with points (Sep 23)
  22. Hotel Review The Thief Oslo Room 603 (Sep 23)
  23. The Thief Oslo by design (Sep 24)
  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.

Bodie Lighthouse, North Carolina Outer Banks
  1. Jacksonville and the St. Johns River (May 4)
  2. St. Augustine, Florida: History in Black and White (May 5)
  3. Hotel. Casa Monica St. Augustine, Marriott Autograph Collection (May 6)
  4. $15 to $20 per day in May for one-way rental cars out of Florida (May 7)
  5. Notes from the Atlantic Intracoastal Road (May 9)
  6. If I’m Ever Back This Way (May 9)
  7. Images of Historic Charleston South Carolina (May 10)
  8. Hotel Review: Savannah Andaz Suite (May 11)
  9. Road tripping Highway 17 St. Augustine to Savannah, Georgia (May 13)
  10. St. Simons Island of Georgia’s Golden Isles (May 14)
  11. Hotel Review: Bohemian Hotel Savannah Riverfront, Marriott Autograph Collection (May 14)
  12. Southern City in Green: Savannah’s 22 Squares (May 17)
  13. Savannah’s ’Crown Jewels’ Monument Squares (May 18)
  14. Red wolves, alligators, dolphin and birds at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge South Carolina (May 24)
  15. Hotel. Historic Charleston, SC 1853 The Mills House Wyndham Grand Hotel (May 25)
  16. British Cemetery Memorial Service Ocracoke Island, North Carolina Outer Banks (May 26)
  17. Hotel. Mansion on Forsyth Park, Savannah, Marriott Autograph Collection (May 31)
  18. Road Trip to DoubleTree Atlantic Beach North Carolina and Ocracoke Island (June 1)
  19. Three lighthouses of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (June 5)
  20. Hotel Review: Florida Hyatt Regency Jacksonville Riverfront (June 6)
  21. Hotel Review: Hyatt Regency Savannah (June 7)
  22. Meeting History on Meeting Street Charleston, South Carolina (June 8)
  23. Sullivan’s Island, SC is perhaps the most significant historical site in the USA you never heard of (June 9)
  24. Hotel Review: Charleston Marriott South Carolina (June 12)
  25. One location, many memorials — Fort Moultrie and Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina (June 14)
  26. Ocracoke, the ferry island on North Carolina’s southern Outer Banks (June 15)
  27. Pilgrimage to Wright Brothers National Memorial (June 22)

Iowa and Chicago for #IPW 2014 (April 1-8, 2014)

Iowa sponsored tour

  1. Iowa, more than a four-letter word? (April 2)
  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.
  3. Hotel Julien Dubuque and Al Capone Suite (April 4)
  4. Bald eagles and eaglets in Iowa (April 5)
  5. Iowa Farm Country Shopping
  6. Iowa Ag Tours–Embrace the Tractor (April 14)
  7. Hotel Review: Upgraded, Hilton Garden Inn Ames, Iowa (Free sponsored hotel night on Iowa tour)

Chicago for U.S. Travel Association #IPW 2014

  1. 360 Chicago Views (formerly John Hancock Observatory) (April 7)
  2. Historic Renaissance Blackstone Chicago (April 8)
  3. Inn of Chicago, Ascend Collection one night for free – successful Choice Hotels Best Rate Guarantee claim. (April 12)
  4. Palmer House Hilton history of Chicago’s oldest hotel (April 14)
  5. Hotel Review: Chicago Downtown, Autograph Collection, Marriott brand hotel (April 15)
  6. Field Museum, 1893 Chicago World’s Fair and Ferris Wheel

Minneapolis, Minnesota February 13-21, 2014

Mill City Museum tells history of when Minneapolis was the milled flour producer for the world.
  1. Beating Priceline again with a Minneapolis Hyatt Suite BRG (Feb 10, 2014)
  2. Hyatt Regency Minneapolis hotel review (Feb 19)
  3. Largest hotel fitness center I’ve seen (Hyatt Regency Minneapolis) – (Feb 17)
  4. 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.
  5. Chillin’ Minneapolis for Valentine’s Day (Feb 14)
  6. Freezin’ for a Reason with Cupid’s Undie Run Minneapolis (Feb 15)
  7. Bridging the Great Divide in Minneapolis (Feb 15)
  8. Craft Beer Revival in Minneapolis (Feb 16)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Hotel Ivy Minneapolis, Starwood Luxury Collection in photos (Feb 28, 2014)
  13. 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 trimotor airplane (1920s) – Henry Ford Museum
Ford clay modeling mustang
Ford Clay Modeling exhibit featuring Ford technician-artist modeling a Ford Mustang on site at 2014 North America International Auto Show Detroit.
  1. From Monterey to Detroit NAIAS flying United on Ford’s Dime (Jan 9, 2014)
  2. The Henry, Marriott Autograph Collection Hotel in Dearborn, Michigan (Jan 10)
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Detroit in my Pictures – a few snaps of Detroit.
  6. World’s First Airport Hotel, historic Dearborn Inn, a Marriott Hotel (Jan 16)
  7. Intro to Dearborn Ford Land and #FordNAIAS (Jan 16, 2014)
  8. 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.

California Travels

Sierra Nevada Mountains

Rafting Tuolumne River Wilderness with SierraMac.


Highway 1 south of Big Sur, California
Highway 1 south of Big Sur, California

San Francisco

Pier 39, San Francisco

Monterey County


Humpback whale in Monterey Bay, California

Big Sur

Hearst Castle, San Simeon, California

Pacific Grove


Point Lobos State Reserve

View from Point Lobos south along Big Sur Coast. Hyatt Carmel Highlands is visible near center.
View from Point Lobos south along Big Sur Coast. Hyatt Carmel Highlands is visible near center.

Monterey County


Santa Cruz and Santa Cruz Mountains


Southern California


Northeastern California

Remote Modoc County, Burning Man, Oldest Petroglyphs, Captain Jack and the Modoc Indian War (August 18, 2013)

HawaiiWhat 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:

Trip Planning for Flight Award Ticket on American Airlines.

Zurich, Switzerland

Berlin, Germany

Berliner Dom seen from my suite at Radisson Blu Berlin.

Oslo, Norway

Oslo Dom
Oslo Dom – Oslo Cathedral

Helsinki, Finland

Hotel Kamp suite, Helsinki, Finland

London, United Kingdom

Room view from Park Plaza Westminster, Carlson Rezidor Hotels

February 2013 Chicago, Illinois

Radisson Blu Aqua Tower Chicago
Radisson Blu Aqua Tower Chicago

Monterey County/California

Las Vegas

December 2012 SPG Amex Stars trips

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.

Barcelona, Spain and Travel Blog Exchange TBEX12 Europe, Girona, Spain with 4-day Costa Brava Tourism post-conference sponsored trip. Barcelona


TBEX12 Girona, Spain and Costa Brava Tourism Board sponsored tour

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.


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