Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes - March 05, 2011
"Travelers411" Radio Show - March 05, 2011
Tsavo East National Park, Kenya.  Photo copyright www.silverbirdtravel.com Safaris, The Great Rift Valley, Mount Kilimanjaro, and More with Uniglobe Silverbird Travel, Nairobi, Kenya; The Charming Georgian and Victorian Architecture of Bristol, England, United Kingdom; Taste a Lynnhaven Oyster in Norfolk, Virginia; How the U.S. State Department Helps Citizens Abroad; Seeing the World in Affordable, Accessible Packages with Friendly Planet Travel; Lifelong Learning from the Road Scholar Program with Elderhostel; Charming Vacation Homes in Italy from Papavero Villa Rentals; Experience Glassblowing or Umbrian Cuisine with Italy Hotline - Custom and Gourmet Tours, Rome, Italy.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

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Caroline Malinda, Managing Director, Uniglobe Silverbird Travel, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa. 
www.silverbirdsafari-africa.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show meet Caroline Malinda, Managing Director of Uniglobe Silverbird Travel in Nairobi, Kenya. Caroline has been in the travel business for over 25 years. She started out doing corporate travel management for organizations in Nairobi like the UN and government. "People wanted to go on leisure trips in addition to business, so we started putting up holiday packages," she explains. "The company has grown to a level now where we can go where the big boys are."

Bush Camping Safari. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com
Bush Camping Safari. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com

Caroline has brought Uniglobe Silverbird Travel to the 2011 New York Times Travel Show to improve the company's visibility and form partnerships with American travel agencies. "We thought [the travel show] was going to be big, but this is really big," she says. "The turnout is just marvelous." This is not Caroline's first trip to the U.S.; she went to school in Norfolk, Virginia. Thanks to her upbringing in Kenya, however, she has a passion for talking about the "beautiful product" her country has to offer.

Elephants. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com
Elephants. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com

What makes Kenya such an attractive destination? "It's the original safari country, starting back in the 1950s," says Caroline. "We're a country where, within 8 hours, you can move from the Indian Ocean to the west and Lake Victoria. As you go along, you go through so many different altitudes and climates. You can be at the beach in the sun, then come up to Mount Kenya or the Great Rift Valley and its lakes. As you go, you'll meet different cultures and peoples. Landscapes, sunsets, sunrises, game, wildlife, lakes – it's all you need in one small country."

Hiking in Kenya. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com
Hiking in Kenya. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com

Uniglobe Silverbird Travel works with clients to customize travel packages and services. "We want to work with clients and tell them what to expect," Caroline explains. "Based on our guidance and their budget, clients can choose between different options. Then we go ahead and make plans and do the ground handling of the tour. We can take you to a 5- or 6-star hotel, a lodge, a camp in the Masai Mara, or even a budget hotel. It's based on one's budget; we're sensitive to that. And we'll ensure that you get good value for your money."

Spotting a leopard on safari. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com
Spotting a leopard on safari. Image © www.silverbirdtravel.com

For example, Uniglobe Silverbird will pick up travelers at the Nairobi airport and arrange for a hotel stay before the safari begins. Caroline suggests a few nights in the Masai Mara, a drive through the region's national parks, visits to Masai villages, a stop at Lake Nakuru in the Great Rift Valley, which is famous for its flamingoes, and a few days in the foothills of Kilimanjaro. The company can also arrange for visits to Shaba National Game Reserve, where "Out of Africa" was filmed.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2898

For more information visit www.silverbirdsafari-africa.com


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Jessica McDonald, Marketing Executive, Destination Bristol, England, UK.
www.destinationbristol.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show chat with Jessica McDonald, Marketing Executive for Destination Bristol in England, United Kingdom. Jessica is an American who has lived in the UK for the past 2 years. "I married a Brit, but I chose Bristol specifically because I enjoy it so much," she says. Bristol is 1.5 hours southwest of London by train and 15 minutes west of Bath by train.

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Bristol and Bath are both famous for their Georgian and Victorian architecture. "Many people come and base themselves in Bristol, because it's larger and there's more activity," Jessica explains. "It's also well-known for its churches and cathedrals. Our Sacred Bristol offering is a tour of those. The city has a 1,000-year history, an amazing historic harbor, and plenty of other activities."

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Jessica's must-see list includes the Clifton Suspension Bridge and the Banksy Walking Tour, named for the famed graffiti artist who was recently nominated for an Academy Award, and the historic Bristol Zoo Gardens. "We have the world's fifth oldest zoo, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year," she says. "The Bristol Zoo Gardens are an outstanding conservation organization as well. So there's a range of events taking place this year, including the launch of gorillas in artistic displays throughout the city." Although the zoo is smaller relative to some newer attractions in the U.S., it continues to open new displays, like Meerkat Manor.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2899

For more information visit www.destinationbristol.com


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Erin Filarecki, Media Relations Manager, VisitNorfolk, Norfolk, Virginia, USA..
www.visitnorfolktoday.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show welcome Erin Filarechi, Media Relations Director for the Norfolk Convention & Visitors Bureau in Norfolk, Virginia. Norfolk is surrounded by water on 3 sides and is home to the world's largest naval base. As of spring 2011, the city will also be home to a new 8-mile-long light rail system that starts at the Eastern Virginia Medical School and runs halfway to Virginia Beach. Eight stops are planned, including stations at Harbor Park and the baseball field.

Aerial view of downtown Norfolk, Virginia, USA.
Aerial view of downtown Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

The Norfolk Visitors Bureau has partnered with the Virginia Beach Visitors Bureau and a Washington, D.C. culinary tour company to create Coastal Food Tours of Virginia. The tours will launch on April 1, 2011, in two locations: Granby Street, which is restaurant row, and Ghent, the historic district. Each tour will feature 5 to 7 restaurants. "It's something brand new, and we had a lot of fun picking the restaurants," Erin says. She recommends trying dishes with Lynnhaven oysters, which are traditionally harvested just off the coast of Norfolk.

Norfolk Virginia Beach.
Norfolk Virginia Beach.

"Lynnhaven oysters are like traditional oysters, but double or triple the size," she adds. "I have no idea why – they've just always grown that way. I've had oyster bisque made with Lynnhaven oysters, so at the bottom there was just one large oyster." Visitors interested in Norfolk's culinary scene can also try the Bayou Boogaloo, an annual Cajun seafood festival held right on the waterfront.

Aerial view of downtown Norfolk, Virginia, USA.
Aerial view of downtown Norfolk, Virginia, USA.

Norfolk is also known for Harbor Fest, an annual parade of sails and tall ships from around the world, and the Virginia Wine Festival in May and October. "It's the largest wine festival in the state," says Erin. "We have 30 to 35 local wineries set up shop right on the waterfront, so it's a lovely weekend. We have boaters' packages, so you can bring your boat up, dock, and enjoy the music. It takes place at Town Point Park, which is a beautiful green space that just underwent a $12 million renovation."

As for indoor activities, Erin recommends a visit to the Chrysler Museum of Art. "It's one of the top 10 art museums in the country and is free to the public as of last year," she says. "It has multiple levels and galleries and one of the largest Tiffany glass exhibits in the nation." Walter Chrysler, an heir to the auto fortune, loved Tiffany glass and collected everything from the tiniest figurines to large chandeliers and stained glass windows. Today, all those pieces are in Norfolk's museum.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2900

For more information visit www.visitnorfolktoday.com


Link to this segment

Michelle Bernier-Toth, Managing Director, Overseas Citizens Services, US State Department, Washington, D.C., USA.
www.travel.state.gov

Afghanistan.
Afghanistan.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show discuss overseas services available to U.S. citizens with Michelle Bernier-Toth of the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Consular Affairs. The bureau's role, according to Michelle, is to assist and provide consular protection and services to Americans who live abroad or are traveling. "We do everything from issuing passports and registering babies born abroad to assisting with voting or helping if you're the victim of a crime," she explains.

Afghanistan.
Afghanistan.

The bureau is also directly responsible for assisting Americans in collective emergencies, such as the current situations in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya. The State Department cannot, however, always rescue citizens who are arrested abroad. "When they travel, many Americans may not appreciate that they are subject to the jurisdiction of a foreign government," Michelle says. "So when there's a legal issue, whether a commercial issue or a crime committed, U.S. citizens are subject to local law. What we do is make sure that the citizen is treated fairly and humanely in accordance with local law. We make sure that they're treated well in detention and have access to legal counsel. We monitor the case to ensure that it moves through the system and they're being treated fairly."

Afghanistan.
Afghanistan.

Michelle suggests that all U.S. citizens traveling abroad register with the bureau online. "We have a smart traveler enrollment program where you can enroll your trip so we know how to reach you in an emergency," she says. "In Libya, for example, we're using that on a daily basis to blast out information to enrolled Americans. It also allows us to contact individuals, so if your family in the U.S. wants to contact you abroad, that's one tool we could use to try to locate you."

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2901

For more information visit www.travel.state.gov


Guests Include:

Caroline Malinda, Managing Director, Uniglobe Silverbird Travel, Nairobi, Kenya, Africa. 
www.silverbirdsafari-africa.com

Jessica McDonald, Marketing Executive, Destination Bristol, England, UK.
www.destinationbristol.com

Erin Filarecki, Media Relations Manager, VisitNorfolk, Norfolk, Virginia, USA..
www.visitnorfolktoday.com

Michelle Bernier-Toth, Managing Director, Overseas Citizens Services, US State Department, Washington, D.C., USA.
www.travel.state.gov

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Peggy Goldman, President, Friendly Planet Travel.
www.friendlyplanet.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show set off with Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel and the so-called 'Jewish mother of travel.' Friendly Planet Travel is an online travel company that specializes in exotic destinations, from Bhutan, Borneo, and Thailand to Malaysia, Ecuador, and Patagonia.

Thailand.
Thailand.

Peggy and her husband were tour operators for many years, selling group travel to Israel in the church market. "In 2000, when the intifada reappeared, our business kind of dissolved in about 6 weeks," Peggy recalls. "We were definitely not in the demographic to go on the internet, but it was either that or cleaning houses for a living." The couple used relationships in the travel industry to put together tour packages.

Malaysia.
Malaysia.

"We wanted them to be attractive and inexpensive, accessible to the average person who wanted to really explore the world," she continues. "Over time, we just started adding destinations, and today we have around forty." Having worked in the Israel market for so long, Peggy is not easily fazed by political turmoil. Of the current situation in Egypt, though, "this is a bit different," she says. "It's a bit exciting, though, and very uplifting. The way this revolution has evolved will bring people back to Egypt faster, I think."

Great Wall of China.
Great Wall of China.

Why include Patagonia? "I read about it in my personal reading," Peggy explains. "I speak Spanish and am very interested in South America, so I wanted to go and visit that area. I had so much fun over 16 days – I even put on crampons and went trekking on a glacier, despite being way older than the average person who does this. It was a thrilling experience because the water is so beautiful, so primeval."

Taj Mahal. India.
Taj Mahal. India.

She suggests that travelers take the time to fly to the Iguazu area. "There, you'll see water as the roaring, living, amazing rainforest," Peggy says. "You almost have to envision water as art. But I found the whole idea of Argentina very thrilling. That area is so pristine because it's so unpopulated and without a lot of the icons, buildings, and statues that you'd normally see in destinations. I found it to be extraordinarily beautiful because of that."

Relais and Chateaux Mizpe Hayamim Hotel in Rosh Pina, Israel.
Relais and Chateaux Mizpe Hayamim Hotel in Rosh Pina, Israel.

Why should consumers trust Friendly Planet Travel? "We've been around for 30 years and have a tremendous amount of wonderful feedback," says Peggy. "One of the most important things that makes us different is that we still like to give service. I like to think of myself as the Jewish mother of travel, so the people booking with us are like my children." Stephanie sees it as bringing the grassroots experience of a neighborhood travel agency to the internet.

Panda in Chinese zoo.
Panda in Chinese zoo.

The company also focuses on making travel affordable. "If we were packaging like everyone else, then you wouldn't need us," Peggy explains. "Other companies offer the same destinations. Sometimes their itineraries aren't quite as nice, but in principle, there are lots of ways you can buy packages to these places. We specialize in taking a destination and making it affordable. It's like buying from the manufacturer. We put together the best deals, mercilessly squeeze suppliers, add a markup, throw it out to the public, and invite them to enjoy."

Alaska.
Alaska.

Peggy offers the example of a $999 package to India that Friendly Planet Travel created. "Someone came to us and offered a fabulous deal to India on air if we could get the package to $999," she recalls. "Everyone said we were nuts; I said there must be so many people dying to see the Taj Mahal. We threw the package up on the internet, where you could buy it for an 8-week travel period. 970 people took advantage of that deal! We had to stop selling it because we couldn't get any more seats. It proved that if you can make a wonderful deal happen, people will take it. Affordable travel completely expands your horizons!"

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2902

For more information visit www.friendlyplanet.com


Link to this segment

Elaine Chu, Associate Director of Program Planning, Road Scholar Program.
www.roadscholar.org

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show hit the road with Elaine Chu, Associate Director of Program Planning for the Road Scholar Program. Road Scholar is the travel initiative of Elderhostel, which offers programs in all 50 states and 90 countries around the world. Programs range from short, themed offerings on crime scene forensics or the Battle of Gettysburg to hiking and biking trips, cruises, and vacations for grandparents with their grandchildren.

Service Learning in the Dominican Republic: Creating a Sustainable World, Program #20187 Interacting with residents in Ascension Haitian Refugee Village by E Chu
Service Learning in the Dominican Republic: Creating a Sustainable World, Program #20187 Interacting with residents in Ascension Haitian Refugee Village by E Chu.

One particularly popular program is service learning, or volontourism. "We have a number of programs in the Caribbean doing things like monitoring sea turtle eggs or doing restoration projects," says Elaine. "We have a new program in Bolivia, working with schools and teaching English, and in the Dominican Republic, we're developing a new service program based on sustainability in the northern part of the country."

Egyptian Odyssey: Cairo, the Nile and the Western Desert Program #18774 Picnic in the White Desert by S Bradley
Egyptian Odyssey: Cairo, the Nile and the Western Desert Program #18774 Picnic in the White Desert by S Bradley.

Elderhostel was founded in 1975 with the mission of offering lifelong learning opportunities to older Americans. Participants study and explore the world using college campus facilities during scholastic vacations. The organization was rebranded 2 years ago as Road Scholar, which reflects how it has evolved to include everyone from baby boomers on and offer different kinds of learning. For example, Stephanie once met a woman who had participated in a Road Scholar trip to the Yukon, where the group learned to carve blocks of ice, built an igloo, and slept there for the night.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2903

For more information visit www.roadscholar.org


Link to this segment

Patrice Salezze, Founder, Papavero Villa Rentals.
www.papaverorentals.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show feel at home in Italy with Patrice Salezze, Founder of Papavero Villa Rentals. All 4 of Patrice's grandparents emigrated from Italy, so she grew up in an Italian-American family and has been traveling back and forth since she was little.

Historic sailing ship in Italy.
Historic sailing ship in Italy.

Travel hasn't always been Patrice's career, though. "My mother and I had a 4-star northern Italian restaurant in Allentown, Pennsylvania called Appennino Ristorante," she says. "My father said we had to be first in the phone book – that's why we weren't Ristorante Appennino, which would have been correct." The restaurant opened in 1982 and Patrice and her mother sold the business in 1999.

Italy.
Italy.

Patrice then spent 3 months visiting relatives in Italy, but didn't want to stay with them. "I admit, I'm not a very good house guest," she says. "So I decided to rent. We spent 2 weeks in each place, and while we were on the trip, my mother told me I should do this for a living. And wasn't she right! When I came home, clients would call me and ask where to go in Italy. So I was giving tips on where to go and where to stay, and owners would come and offer me a commission."

Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Italy.

Despite securing a job with a publishing company in Manhattan, Patrice decided to return to Italy for another 3 month stay. "I spent 3 months of spring in the Mugello area, about 35 minutes north of Florence," she recalls. "It was perfect. You can drive into the city, but it's not touristy. I got into the whole system, where I would walk into the coffee bar and my cornetto would be sitting there."

Orvieto Cathedrale, Orvieto Umbria.
Orvieto Cathedrale, Orvieto Umbria.

After she came home and started working, it didn't take Patrice long to realize that she wanted to be her own boss again. "I know Italy inside and out, I know the people, and I speak the language," she says. "So I founded Papavero Rentals in 2003 and I'm loving every day of it." Today, the company represents about 315 villas, all of which are vetted in person by Patrice or her assistant in Italy.

Italian view of the Mediteranian Sea.
Italian view of the Mediteranian Sea.

"I go to Italy about 6 times a year and have a person who lives there, too," she explains. "If I get a call from a villa owner and can't be there in 2 or 3 weeks, she can go and say yea or nay. We have very strict criteria geared to Americans. We make sure the plumbing is good, check the showers, run the showers and taps, sit on the bed, and even make recommendations to owners. Some are a little hesitant, but we have such a good reputation now that they will usually make changes to accommodate Americans."

Italian Ruins.
Italian Ruins.

Villa rentals range from $900 a week for a 1-bedroom apartment in Rome or Florence to $175,000 a week for a huge villa with 5-star service, according to Patrice. "The best rentals are our most frequently requested: 3 to 4 bedrooms, $4,000 to $5,000 a week, with a swimming pool, at least 3 bathrooms, a beautiful yard, and a terrace," she explains. "Every owner is different and every house is different. Our requirement is that the house is very comfortable and charming; it doesn't have to be luxurious." Stephanie suggests villa rentals to families or groups of friends who want to travel together and split the bill.

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2904

For more information visit www.papaverorentals.com


Link to this segment

Sienna Reid, Owner, Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours.
www.italyhotline.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show visit Italy with Sienna Reid, Owner of Italy Hotline Custom and Gourmet Tours. Italy Hotline provides custom tours of Italy with a focus on archaeology, history, museums, food and wine, or a combination of the four. Although the company's office is located in Rome, Sienna is originally from Seattle. "I've been living in Rome for 12 years," she says. "I went there on vacation and, after a few weeks in Italy, I sold my house and everything I owned and moved back with my husband and 6-year-old son. We're absolutely thrilled to be here."

Coloseum at twilight in Rome, Italy.
Coloseum at twilight in Rome, Italy.

How did Sienna have the courage to move from Seattle to Rome? "We might have been crazy at the moment," she admits, "but we were lovestruck – all three of us. We even quit our jobs and left all that security to come here. We thought we would be here for a year or two, but it's turned into twelve." Sienna works with clients by email or phone to customize tours for each individual, whether the tour is 3 hours or 3 weeks long.

Rome at twilight.
Rome at twilight.

Her favorites include a special food and wine tour of Venice that combines a culinary tour with a visit to the Murano glassblowing factory. "You end up in the factory with the glassblowers demonstrating their craft while you have a sit-down catered lunch or dinner," explains Sienna. "And in Umbria, you can go to a beautiful country villa, visit a private cantina, taste the wines, sample the foods, and go back and learn how to cook wonderful Umbrian food. There's lots of wild boar, truffles, delicious sauces, and antipasti."

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2905

For more information visit www.italyhotline.com


Guests Include:

Peggy Goldman, President, Friendly Planet Travel.
www.friendlyplanet.com

Elaine Chu, Associate Director of Program Planning, Road Scholar Educational Travel Since 1975.
www.roadscholar.org

Patrice Salezze, Founder, Papavero Villa Rentals.
www.papaverorentals.com

Sienna Reid, Owner, Italy Hotline Custom & Gourmet Tours.
www.italyhotline.com

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