Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Travelers411 Travel Radio Shownotes - April 09, 2011
"Travelers411" Radio Show - April 09, 2011
Rural China Good Value and Exotic Destinations from Pacific Delight Tours, New York; Sightseeing Tours on Churches and Graffiti from Destination Bristol, Bristol, England; Visiting a Mini-Paris on the Danube at Regency Suites Hotel, Budapest, Hungary; The "Amazing Grace" Story Began in Buncrana, County Donegal, Ireland; Driving the Inishowen 100 Coastal Route with Inishowen Tourism Board, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.

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Hour 1

Topics Include:

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Larry Kwan, President, Pacific Delight Tours, New York, USA.
www.pacificdelighttours.com

Listen to this segment, commercial-free featuring: Larry Kwan from Pacific Delight Tours.
Visit the Travelers411 Pacific Delight Tours Directory Listing.

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show meet Larry Kwan, President of Pacific Delight Tours. Pacific Delight is based in New York. Larry started Pacific Delight in 1971, and Stephanie first encountered the company in the early 1980s. "We haven't met yet because they keep me behind closed doors," Larry jokes. Pacific Delight started with one tour program, called Orient Escapade. The tour went to Japan, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, with an extension to Bangkok, Singapore, and Bali.

Angkor Wat Cambodia.
Angkor Wat Cambodia.

Pacific Delight has since expanded dramatically. "We now do China – all of it – then southeast Asia, which is comprised of Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and India," Larry says. "India is one of the newest products we have right now. It's been a lot of work, but I'm very proud. The company moved about 10,000 passengers last year. We expect ourselves to deliver the best product we can. We do our best to obtain that goal because we have a good team in all our countries."

Downtown Singapore.
Downtown Singapore.

According to Stephanie, Pacific Delight has a reputation for combining a good product with affordability. "I was always amazed at the fantastic pricing for people who were not flamboyant in their spending," she says. How did the company do it? "We pride ourselves on that part of it because we do have clout in that part of the world," Larry explains. "Because of the amount of visitors we send to suppliers there, when we start negotiating, we get the best price, and then pass it on to our customers."

Thailand Thailand floating market. market.
Thailand Thailand floating market. market.

Of all the company's destinations, India is the trendiest and China the most popular right now. "China is still the most sought-after destination because of the country's history, culture, and people," says Larry. "It's even exotic, because there's so much mystery in that part of the world." The average Pacific Delight trip to China varies from 10 days to 2 weeks or as long as 29 days, depending on the client's needs.

National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.
National Taiwan Democracy Memorial Hall.

Why did the company start going to India? "It's been on our minds for many years, because it's also very exotic," Larry continues. "India hasn't been as known as a tourism destination in the past. But they've improved their infrastructure for tourism over the past couple of years. So we started looking into going there as well." Stephanie and Larry agree that India is not the kind of place where travelers can rent a car or buy train tickets and travel around the country. "You have to go with a knowledgeable tour company that can set everything up – that's a must," says Larry.

Taj Mahal, India.
Taj Mahal, India.

Pacific Delight is primarily a deluxe tour company and uses 5-star properties. There are options, however, for travelers with different needs. "Our products have gone to several tiers now because of market demand," Larry adds. "The economic climate has changed, so it's more of a price-driven market. People are looking for a good deal. So we cater not only to a 5-star clientele, but also to 4-star and 3-star, different categories."

Related Photo Galleries:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=506

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2651
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=2649
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3247

Travelers411 Directory Listing:
Be sure to visit the Travelers411 Pacific Delight Tours Directory Listing for more information, quick access to commercial free interviews and photos.

For more information visit www.pacificdelighttours.com


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

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show go to the zoo with Jessica McDonald, Marketing Executive for Destination Bristol in Bristol, England. Jessica is an American who has lived in Britain for 2 years now. "I married a Brit," she says, "but I chose Bristol specifically because I liked it so much." The city of Bristol is about 90 minutes southwest of London by train. From Bristol, it's easy to reach the rest of southwestern England. The city is just 15 minutes west of Bath by train and close to Cardiff, in Wales.

Aerial view of Bristol, England, UK.
Aerial view of Bristol, England, UK.

Bristol and Bath are both known for their Georgian and Victorian architecture. Jessica recommends that visitors base themselves in Bristol to explore the area, though. "Bristol is much larger, so many people base themselves here because there's more activity," she explains. "It's also very well-known for its churches and cathedrals. Americans love our Sacred Bristol tour, which focuses on those. The city also has a 1,000-year history and an amazing historic harborside."

Cifton, Bristol, England, UK.
Cifton, Bristol, England, UK.

Destination Bristol also offers a major city sightseeing tour, which reviews outstanding architecture like the Clifton Suspension Bridge, and a Banksy walking tour, named for the Oscar-nominated graffiti artist. For families, Jessica suggests the Bristol Zoo Gardens, the world's 5th oldest zoo and a leading conservation organization in the UK. The zoo is celebrating its 175th anniversary this year.

River Avon, Bristol, England, UK.
River Avon, Bristol, England, UK.

"There's a range of events throughout the year to celebrate, like the launch of gorillas spread throughout the city in artistic displays," she says. "It's a small zoo compared to many in the U.S.; there are no elephants because it's too small. The new exhibit this year is a meerkat manor. But we do have gorillas, monkeys, and other primates, as well as a special exhibition celebrating 175 years."

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

For more information visit www.destinationbristol.co.uk


Link to this segment

George Paldi, Managing Director, Regency Suites Hotel, Budapest, Hungary.
www.regencysuites.hu

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show see the real Danube with George Paldi, Owner of the Regency Suites Hotel in Budapest, Hungary. Regency Suites is a luxury boutique hotel and a member of Distinguished Hotels. Although the property has plenty of guests from Scandinavia and Europe, George is eager to welcome more American visitors to Budapest.

Sightseeing boat on the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary.
Sightseeing boat on the Danube River in Budapest, Hungary.

"Many Americans don't really know what Budapest has to offer," says Stephanie. "There's not enough awareness of what an incredible city it is. I went myself in November, and it's a gem! It's like a mini Paris, but easier, more affordable, and still glorious. It's amazing – the Parliament, the Chain Bridge, Castle Hill – it's like Monaco, the experience you have going up the hillside to the top where the palace is. And everything is so well done."

Budapest, Hungary.
Budapest, Hungary.

George sees Budapest as competing with Vienna and Prague, but has several reasons why visitors should choose Hungary over Austria and the Czech Republic. "I always say that in Prague, you can see the important places in half a day," he says. "In Budapest, you need three days. Vienna is a nice city, but the Danube is a dirty canal in Vienna. In Budapest, the river is so well-developed from both sides and connected by 9 bridges. So there's a heck of a lot to see there."

Budapest, Hungary.
Budapest, Hungary.

Stephanie particularly enjoyed the shopping and youthful energy of the city. "Budapest has taken streets and made them like Les Halles in Paris, all pedestrian walkway," she says. "And it's so youthful and lively – it's a lot like Dublin in that many young Americans have discovered Budapest. So there's a very lively, energetic population of young Americans. I found that incredible. How clever of them to have found it." In case travelers need another reason to put Budapest on their list, George points out that the city is celebrating the year of native Hungarian Franz Liszt in 2011.

Budapest, Hungary.
Budapest, Hungary.

Regency Suites is located in the heart of Budapest, just 5 minutes from the pedestrian street and Andraszy, the main street. The hotel has large suites with 2 rooms each that can be closed off. There are panoramic views of the city from a conference room on the top floor. "There's a huge terrace with beautiful views; it's like the basilica is right in your hand," says George. "In the evening, it's lit up after 8. So I come up, people are sitting there. I tell them I'm going to light the basilica, and then it goes on! Luckily I'm never asked to turn the lights off."

Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary.
Parliament building, Budapest, Hungary.

The hotel also offers a wellness center with Jacuzzi, massage rooms, a sauna, and a gym. Guests can choose from two bars, one of which is open 24 hours and serves light Hungarian dishes like goulash and chicken paprikas. "We have a great barman from Mauritius, one of the few foreigners in Hungary," George continues. "He always asks guests how they can be in Hungary without eating goulash. This convinces them, and then they eat it."

Related Photo Galleries:
Coming Soon!

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3248

For more information visit www.regencysuites.hu


Travel Tips:

Before taking a trip to Bristol or Bath, England, Stephanie recommends watching the film "Vanity Fair" with Reese Witherspoon. Even though the opening shots are meant to depict historic London, they were filmed in Bath.


Guests Include:

Larry Kwan, President, Pacific Delight Tours, New York, USA.
www.pacificdelighttours.com

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

George Paldi, Managing Director, Regency Suites Hotel, Budapest, Hungary.
www.regencysuites.hu

Hour 2

Topics Include:

Link to this segment

Padraig MacLochlainn, Deputy, Irish TD, Member of Parliament, Replublic of Ireland for Donegal, Ireland.
www.amazingGrace.ie
www.visitinishowen.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show chat with Padraig MacLochlainn, Deputy Irish TD and Member of Parliament of the Republic of Ireland for Donegal, Ireland. The northernmost point of the island of Ireland is actually in Donegal; the county wraps around Northern Ireland. "That particular section, up to Malin Head, is like the coastline of Maine," says Stephanie. "It's like a peninsula that you drive around, so you're always surrounded by water. It's a glorious place to remind yourself just how beautiful the Earth is."

Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.
Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.

"I'm very honored to represent Donegal, and very lucky; it's a beautiful place," says Padraig. He and Stephanie agree that although it takes a little more effort for visitors to travel to Donegal, it's worth the trip. It took a few visits to Ireland before Stephanie herself made it to that region, but she finally made the trip and ended up falling in love with Inishowen, which is part of the county.

Amazing Grace view, Lough Swilly, Buncrana, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.
Amazing Grace view, Lough Swilly, Buncrana, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.

Even if travelers don't know the area, they probably know the hymn "Amazing Grace," which was written in Buncrana, County Donegal. "The story of the hymn starts with the person who wrote it, John Newton," explains Padraig. "As the song suggests, he was a wretch – a slave trader and a pretty awful man. A ship he owned, the Greyhound, came under serious trouble off the north coast of Ireland. It was caught in a storm and running out of supplies.

Donegal Town Festival.
Donegal Town Festival.

"He started to think about religion and Christianity and turned there for help, even though he wasn't a religious or good man," continues Padraig. "Eventually, the ship limped into Lough Swilly, the lake that runs alongside the Inishowen peninsula. They survived, and that's where the song came from. Newton turned his life toward Christianity, became a wonderful man, and went on to have a massive impact on politics. He mentored William Wilberforce, who was probably the greatest parliamentarian in history."

Donegal Angry Sea.
Donegal Angry Sea.

William Wilberforce, in turn, went on to work with abolitionists to bring an end to slavery in Britain. The success of that movement helped end the slave trade around the world. Padraig encourages travelers to see the place that led to Newton's conversion. "We want to bring people to Buncrana to share in this beautiful place and find a spiritual connection, both of which are things people cherish on breaks," he says.

Horse riding on the beach at the Donegal Sandhouse.
Horse riding on the beach at the Donegal Sandhouse.

In addition to road signs pointing out locations from the "Amazing Grace" story, the town hopes to set up a library space and visitors center. "Ultimately, we want to celebrate all things connected with this hymn and what it means to people," Padraig adds. "We're really excited and want to make it open to people from around the world." To that end, County Donegal is conveniently located just a few hours from international airports in Shannon and Belfast. "You'll get a special Irish welcome even in difficult economic times," he promises. "We haven't lost our heart and soul."

Related Photo Galleries:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=543

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3249

For more information visit www.amazingGrace.ie and www.visitinishowen.com


Link to this segment

Kathleen Gill, Marketing Manager, Inishowen Tourism Board, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.
www.visitinishowen.com

Travel Expert Stephanie Abrams and the "Travelers411" Radio Show see more of Inishowen with Kathleen Gill, Marketing Manager of the Inishowen Tourism Board in Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland. John Hume, winner of the 1998 Nobel Peace Prize, described Inishowen as "Ireland in miniature," and Stephanie and Kathleen agree. "There's everything here that you'd see throughout the whole country," says Stephanie.

Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.
Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.

What's more, Inishowen is close to other wonderful parts of Ireland and Northern Ireland. "Derry is just a 15 minute drive away, and they're real neighbors," says Kathleen. "There's a great overlap with them, especially in recent times with peace in the region. To have a beautiful peninsula and historic city just offers visitors a fantastic breadth of traveling experience. So we're working very closely with our tourism partners in Derry." The common tourism efforts will be key as Derry celebrates a year as the UK City of Culture in 2013.

Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.
Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.

Things were not always so easy in the region; Stephanie refers to the story of Martin McCrossan, founder of Derry City Tours. "Martin started out doing tours of Derry, which is a walled city with an amazing history, although some of it is hard to swallow," she explains. "Then Martin realized that many people wanted him to introduce them to Giant's Causeway, the Glens of Antrim, and Belfast, because what he was doing was so fantastic.

Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.
Fort Dunree, Buncranna, Inishowen, North Donegal, Ireland.

"But Martin is Catholic and his wife is Protestant. His family and her family have ignored them, even though they've been married over 20 years," Stephanie continues. "They've never met their 2 children. He's part of a big family, and only one of his brothers will acknowledge him by saying hello on the street – and that's it. But Martin's tours are all about how Northern Ireland blossomed when all that was put behind. And when you ask why he doesn't just move to Donegal, he says it's because Derry is his home."

The Carlton Red Castle Hotel in Inishowen, Donegal.
The Carlton Red Castle Hotel in Inishowen, Donegal.

"We're not talking an awful long time ago when things were so dark," adds Kathleen. "The hope element wasn't always there. To see the changes and vibrance – that's why people celebrated when Derry was awarded the UK City of Culture. To see the resilience is great, but people don't forget, either." She also points out Derry's proximity to Donegal and how easy it is to visit both places. "There was a border with Northern Ireland, but there's no frontier now," she says. "Lots of people cross and don't even realize it."

Holiday home built around Fort Dunree.
Holiday home built around Fort Dunree.

While in Donegal, Kathleen recommends a drive on the Inishowen 100. "It's a 100-mile coastal scenic drive that brings you on the most breathtaking journey," she explains. "There are lots of opportunities to pull in and savor the view, pop into the local bar, chat to locals, and pause for refreshment. It was voted one of the top 10 coastal scenic drives in Ireland by the Irish Independent. You can take 5 days to go around and make stops in all the little seaports, with fantastic bed and breakfasts and beautiful hotels. Or if you set out early in the morning, you can do it in a day.

Malin Head, Inishowen, Ireland.
Malin Head, Inishowen, Ireland.

"En route, we have an abundance of beautiful white sandy beaches," she continues. "Many times you'll encounter them and they're deserted – all yours to enjoy. That's a big attraction, because people just love to get away from it all. The feel of the breeze and the sea air is just so refreshing and helps rebalance everyone." Inishowen also has plenty of historic sights in addition to its scenery. Kathleen recommends visits to the ring fort built thousands of years ago and the natural wildlife reserve. "The very famous whooper swan comes in, as do other migrating birds," she says. "We have basking sharks off the north coast by Malin Head, and Fort Dunree has dolphins."

Related Photo Galleries:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/album.php?albumid=543

Travelers411 Community Forums - This interview's thread:
http://www.travelers411.com/forums/showthread.php?t=3063

For more information visit www.visitinishowen.com


Guests Include:

Padraig MacLochlainn, Deputy, Irish TD, Member of Parliament, Replublic of Ireland for Donegal, Ireland.
www.amazingGrace.ie
www.visitinishowen.com

Kathleen Gill, Marketing Manager, Inishowen Tourism Board, Inishowen, County Donegal, Ireland.
www.visitinishowen.com

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