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20 Sep 2008

Amsterdam

Amsterdam is a beautiful city. The beauty stems from its many canals that criss-cross this quiet capital of the Netherlands. This is also why Amsterdam is often referred to as "Venice of the North."

The people are tall, bonde, and almost everyone speaks English. You will be hard pressed to find a friendlier population in all of Europe.

Amsterdam is a great walking town, and a shoppers paradise. Enjoy the various neighborhoods, especially the romanticized Jordan districts and its chique Nine Streets (which house shops you will find nowhere else).

Amsterdam is also loaded with museums. Two must-sees are the Van Gogh Museum, and the Anne Frank House.

The city seems to have more than its fair share of young (almost hippie-like) people. This can be attributed to Holland's long liberal tradition that makes soft drugs legal and easily accessible. To most Americans, it is amazing to see how truly ordered the Dutch society is given its many freedoms.

Also not to miss is the Red Light district, Amsterdam's prostitution mecca, where girls are on display in windows like living mannequins. It is the real deal and quite a tourist attraction. They have somebody for everybody.

All that being said, where else but Amsterdam would you find a giant sculpture of well defined male genetilia?









16 Sep 2008

Hard Rock Poker Room Grand Opening

Saturday night, I went to an invitation only grand opening of the Hard Rock Casino Poker Room.

In true rocker style, the Poker Lounge at the Las Vegas Hard Rock Hotel and Casino hosted an official grand opening, which included a flashy red carpet and a star-studded tournament.

It was a great event attended by who's-who of the Poker World. The gentleman on the left is Las Vegas' Mayor Oscar Goodman. Standing next to him is the immortal Godfather of Poker Doyle Brunson.

Read all about it only at CardPlayer, the Poker Authority. We can make this happen for you. That is the JETSETWAY.









13 Sep 2008

Cruises

My preferred method of vacationing is cruising. I like the floating hotel concept, as it is possible to visit many places without packing, unpacking, and all the wasted time and effort getting from one hotel to another. These days it is even a bigger deal because of all of the airport hassles and delays.

I have been on 64 cruises, 33 ships and 16 cruise lines. All but two were in the last 20 years. I will be speaking in depth over time as to which ones are best for whom. I will tell you my favorites and why they are so.

During the last several years, I have booked all of my cruises through Deborah Walsh who owns Cruises Worldwide, http://www.cruisesworldwide.com. I recommend her highly.

As in many industries, small travel agencies sell their small size as an advantage because of things like personal service. On the other hand, large travel agencies also sell their size as an advantage, because they have clout. The best thing about Deborah is that she has both. Coupled with her attitude and ability to perform makes her a natural.

Let me explain. Deborah's business is small, and you will get her personal attention. Virtually all of her business is cruise business, and all of it is with the luxury lines. She is important to them (and is an extremely likeable person).

Additionally Deborah is a member of Ensemble Travel Group which is a group of agencies that have tremendous buying power, and are able to provide VIP perks regularly.

Use her and you will be happy.









11 Sep 2008

Crete, Greece

Crete is very beautiful. Unfortunately we just had a day to spend there. We hired a taxi who drove us around the island and educated us on life there.

Tip - A hired taxi is often a great way to learn from a local, and far more enjoyable than a formal tour.

Historically, Crete was the center of the Minoan civilization, the oldest Greek and European civilization. While it keeps its own local cultural traits, like music and dialect, Cretans openly identify themselves as Greeks.

Today, Crete's tourism infrastructure caters to all tastes, including a very wide range of accommodations. With a mild climate, the island straddles two climatic zones (the Mediterranean and the North African), falling mainly within the former. The atmosphere can be quite humid, depending on the proximity to the sea, and winters are fairly mild.

Given that Crete is known for tourism and great beaches, it made sense for us to find a great beach and just hang-out, taking in all the beauty.

 









09 Sep 2008

Alexandria, Egypt

Alexandria is a beautiful city inhabited by beautiful people. We hired a taxi with an (almost) English speaking driver and had him drive us all over town. What a delightful day.

 

Unlike Syria (where we had just visited), it was clean, vibrant, and full of life. Named after Alexander the Great, this city has a population of 6,000,000 and is an interesting mixture of old and new. Their library is world famous beautiful modern architecture.  The port facilities are lovely. Egypt’s last king, Farouk, lived at Montazah Palace here until 1952.

  

Culturally it is, of course, very Muslim, and at noon daily, virtually everything stops for prayer. Although I am not thrilled with my picture, it was telling to see the modern girls walking hand in hand with their boyfriend in modern garb, but also with proper, yet modern, head covering.  There are no automatic stop lights. The lights are manned individually.