Travel Expert and Radio Talk Show Host Stephanie Abrams - Traveling Feet Shownotes
Traveling Feet - May 02, 2009 - Shownotes & Audio Archive

Stephanie Back Early from Mexico, Grand Esmeralda Wedding in Mexico Cancelled Due to Swine Flu; Tourism in Brescia, Italy; The Converted Villa, Hotel Piccolavela, on Lake Garda, Italy.

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Hour 1

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Stephanie is back prematurely from her trip to Mexico. She had gone to Acapulco for Tianguis, Mexico's foremost tourism event. She was booked to travel afterwards to Cancun for the wedding of the son of a “Travel with Stephanie Abrams” listener at Blue Bay Resorts Grand Esmeralda.

Stephanie went from the good hands of the Crowne Plaza Pittsfield in the heart of the Berkshires to the good hands of the Crowne Plaza Acapulco in Mexico. It was her first time staying in the Diamond zone of the city, an area that surrounds Acapulco Bay. Read her blog entry on the amazing view she had, a factor, she says, that makes all the difference in a trip. Her room at the Crowne Plaza Acapulco had almost 600 square feet of terrace space.

The Acapulco trip was fabulous but cut short because of the presence of Swine Flu. Stephanie is no stranger to states of emergency. On September 11, 2001 she flew on a TWA flight from Newark to St. Louis that was continuing on to San Antonio, Texas. There were two men on board who were later discovered to be carrying box cutters. Every other flight that was hijacked on 911 had a total of four men controlling them. The absence of two people from the group (who Stephanie hypothesizes missed the flight) may be the only reason that TWA flew. The men were eventually captured and it was their arrest that allowed FBI agents to discover the apartment in Patterson, New Jersey where 911 planning took place.

On Sunday, after broadcasting that weekend from the Crowne Plaza Acapulco, Swine Flu started to receive major media attention. Stephanie was still planning on flying to Cancun on Wednesday. Aeromexico has a booth at the newly developed convention center at Tianguis and Stephanie arrived there Monday to arrange a flight. As she was confirming the flight with a representative an earthquake hit. It lasted 30 seconds and registered 5.6 on the Richter scale. Nothing fell down and nobody got hurt. Like new builds in California in recent decades, Mexico designs its buildings for earthquakes. The earthquake's epicenter was 50 miles north of Acapulco, so what Stephanie experienced was just the fringe of the event. Click here to read her blog entry on the earthquake.

Once the wedding was cancelled, Stephanie and her husband decided to fly home. All Aeromexico flights have stopovers in Mexico City. This presented a difficulty for her return flight home. Stephanie received overwhelming support from others, including the Managing Director of the Crowne Plaza Acapulco, to help her leave the country.

Stephanie states in her last blog post on her trip to Mexico, “Once the travelers advisory is lifted, Mexico will once again take its rightful place as a leading destination for travelers.” Click here to read about her take on Swine Flu and her premature departure from Mexico.

Fun Facts:

Tianguis comes from an Aztec word referring to an open market place.

Guests Include:


Hour 2

Topics Include:

The earthquake Stephanie experience while in Acapulco worked its way up the coast and has since been felt in California. As the earthquake hit, the US issued a travel advisory against trips to Mexico. The bride and groom of the Blue Bay Resort Grand Esmeralda wedding were already on their way to Cancun. The wedding plans were cancelled but the couple remained in Mexico with six friends who decided to fly to the resort anyway.

In order to avoid Mexico City, Stephanie booked a Continental Airlines non-stop flight from Acapulco to Houston with a connecting flight to Newark. Stephanie was not so much concerned about the threat of illness at the Mexico City Airport but more so the hassles she would face while there. After arriving in Newark, Stephanie and her husband needed to get to the JFK Airport to pick up their car. She called the Big D. Brown Limousine company and was shuttled to JFK in style. The cost was only $20 USD more per person than a taxi ride fare.

Click here to see Stephanie on YouTube being interviewed at the 2009 New York Times Travel Show by a New York television station. While at the show Stephanie met Rima Bahliss, the Head of the International Department of Bresciatourism. Stephanie says 2009 may be the year the she returns to Italy. She has invites to Florence, Venice and most recently Brescia.

The town of Brescia is an hour and half by car from Milan and 40 minutes from Verona. It is a historic city mixed with aspects of modernity. While she was the Executive Vice President of a travel company Stephanie was in negotiations with Coin, the second largest department store in Italy. Stephanie was in Brescia for a Coin grand opening in 1998.

Brescia is the site of many significant medieval structures like the Santa Giulia monastery, a world heritage site known also as the San Salvatore Museum. There are also many Renaissance structures such as the 15th century Brescia Castle and the Capitoline Temple at the Piazza del Foro, built by Vespasianus in 73 AD. The city has a thriving downtown center with great restaurants and retail located on streets of antiquity. There are numerous sites of cultural importance within Brescia and it is also close to the Alps and Lake Garda, an area that has an abundance of vineyards and lemon trees.

For more information visit

The Hotel Piccolavela in Lombardy, an region in southern Italy, was built in the early 19th century. It was converted from a villa to a hotel in the late 1900's. The property has a fabulous (and of course authentic) Italian restaurant and 40 guestrooms, many of which have views of the lake. It is the most historic accommodation in the area and is a great site for golf and wine tasting.

Lake Garda is 20 minutes from Brescia, an hour from Milan, and is accessible by car, train or bus. Stephanie suggests contacting the people at Eurail and purchasing a pass for either traveling exclusively in Italy or throughout Europe.

For more information visit

Fun Facts:

An easy trick for converting Celsius to Fahrenheit is doubling the Celsius number and adding 30.

Guests Include:

Rima Bahliss, Head of International Department, Bresciatourism.

Marco Polettini, Owner, Hotel Piccolavela, Lake Garda, Italy.

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