Archive for the ‘Historical Vacations’ Category


Trip of the Week: Amsterdam & London

Congratulations to Laurie from Ringoes, N.J., our second winner of Trip of the Week and recipient of a Frommer’s day by day guide to Hawaii.

Laurie and her husband have never been to London or Amsterdam, so they built out this excellent European Trip on TravelMuse to help them along the way.

Amsterdamn and London2

I asked Laurie a few questions about her upcoming trip and here’s what she had to say:

Why are you taking this Trip?

My husband and I have not been to either Amsterdam or London and would love to see both cities.  We think it would be thrilling to see the vast histories and cultures of both places and hopefully relax on an overnight boat ferry in between.

What are you most excited about seeing/doing?

I am very interested in seeing the castles of England and having traditional tea. I also think it will be fascinating to see the houseboats in Amsterdam and, seasonally permitting, the famous show of tulips.

Any other interesting facts/considerations about the trip?

Luckily my husband and I enjoy similar activities on vacation and would both be excited to shop in the many boutiques and markets, try the various cuisines, take copious photographs, and peruse the art and history of various museums.

Hope you both have a blast, Laurie! All of us at TravelMuse wish you safe and exciting travels.


Tell us about your Trips and you could be featured in Trip of the Week–win one of the new Frommer’s Day by Day Guide Books and be entered to win a FREE, luxury Trip for 2 to Waikiki!


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I just got back from my first-ever excursion to Santa Fe, New Mexico, and I am still in awe. Few U.S. cities have the character, history and uniqueness that the City Different does. So in honor of my trip (and to prolong my vacation high), I present you with eight amazing attractions you must check out while visiting Santa Fe.

The view from the top of Tent Rocks. Photo: Jessica Skelton

The view from the top of Tent Rocks. Photo: Jessica Skelton

This open-air international marketplace is a blast to stroll around in. You can pick out unique Santa Fe souvenirs (pottery, turquoise jewelry, art), grab a bite at the café or visit the animal barn. My favorite part of Jackalope? The prairie dog village—amazing.

Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument
Hiking at Tent Rocks was easily one of my favorite parts of going Santa Fe. It is an extremely easy hike and the scenery is unlike anything I have ever seen in my life. It’s called Tent Rocks because the rock formations are shaped like cones—a product of volcanic eruptions and severe wind and rain.

The Lensic
I was lucky enough to catch a three-minute film festival at the Lensic while I was in Santa Fe. Originally opened in 1931 as a vaudeville stage, the Lensic is a non-profit performing arts center that features both national and local acts. If you can’t manage to sneak in a play or a film, it’s still worth poking around this historic and gorgeous venue.

The Santa Fe Plaza

At the center of the historic Plaza there is an incredible tree-lined park. It’s a great place to people watch and first-rate shops and restaurants are just steps away. I really enjoyed strolling through the Plaza at night, when the tress are adorned with lights.

St. Francis Cathedral. Photo: Jessica Skelton

St. Francis Cathedral. Photo: Jessica Skelton

Georgia O’Keeffe Museum

The Georgia O’Keeffe museum opened in 1997 and has quickly become one of the dearest treasures to the City Different. The museum’s permanent collection of O’Keeffe’s work is larger than any other in the world. It also features art work from many other established artists.

Canyon Road

Once a residential area for early Spanish settlers, Canyon Road features some of Santa Fe’s most upscale shops, galleries and restaurants. Being a frugal traveler,  I didn’t buy anything while I was there, but I enjoyed the walk and looking at all of the art galleries.

Palace of the Governors

The Palace of the Governors is registered national historic landmark that features an extensive collection of Santa Fe and Southwest history. Outside, Native Americans line the walkway selling arts and crafts-a tradition 400 years in the making. This is a great place to pick up unique gifts for everyone back at home.

Saint Francis Cathedral
I’ve always been captivated by a city’s churches. They possess a timeless quality that really allows you to a deeper look into culture and tradition. Erected in the late 19th century, the St. Francis Cathedral was built in a Romanesque revival style. Past the beautifully sculpted doors, there are vast stained glass windows, beautiful arts and an alter like I’ve never seen.

Plan a trip to Santa Fe On TravelMuse.

Check out my trip plan to Santa Fe.

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A Guide to Dublin in Honor of St. Patrick’s Day

There is a lot more to Ireland than just St. Patrick’s Day, Guinness, corned beef, leprechauns and pots of gold. Plan a trip to Ireland’s bustling capital city, Dublin, where you can explore all the facets of Irish culture. From outdoor adventures to literary pub crawls and everything in between, Dublin will enchant the whole family.

The River Liffey. Photo: fazen

The River Liffey. Photo: fazen

Getting Your Bearings
The River Liffey runs through Dublin, dividing the north and south of the city. The south is historically the wealthier area of town, and it contains some of Dublin’s most famous sights. Lounge in St. Stephen’s Green and wander up and down Grafton Street, but don’t overlook the area just north of the river. This part of Dublin includes the General Post Office, the grand and imposing Customs House and one of Dublin’s newest landmarks, the Spire of Dublin.

Historic Dublin
Get acclimated to the city and its history by taking a 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour. This will take you throughout the city center, exploring landmarks that played a role in the 1916 Easter Rising. Another fascinating (yet gruesome), historic spot is the Kilmainham Gaol, where those captured in the Easter Rising were held and some were executed.

Dublin Museums
Dublin boasts many fine museums and galleries, including the National Gallery of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and the Chester Beatty Library and Gallery of Oriental Art. All three of these attractions are a wonderful, and best of all, they’re free!

Dublin Outdoors
The east of Ireland enjoys some of the country’s best weather, making Dublin a great place to enjoy Ireland’s outdoors. St. Stephen’s Green is a lovely park in the middle of the city.

Irish Castles

While Ireland no longer has royalty, it still has some breathtaking castles. In the city, you will find Dublin Castle, the former seat of British-appointed rulers. Dublin’s suburbs have some beautiful castles as well: The Dalky Castle & Heritage Center is worth a visit, as is the Malahide Castle.

Tour the Guinness St. James' Gate Brewery. Photo: Pierre Phaneuf

Tour the Guinness St. James' Gate Brewery. Photo: Pierre Phaneuf

Brew Tours
The Guinness Storehouse is a great place to start. The Storehouse, often mistakenly called the Guinness Brewery, is located behind the iconic St. James Gate, just west of the city center. Once inside this modern attraction, the self-guided tour teaches you about the history of Ireland’s most famous drink, from how it’s made to its groundbreaking advertising history. If you fancy something a bit stronger, take a tour of the Old Jameson Distillery.


Catching a play is a great way to sample some Irish culture. If you are in the city in late September and early October, don’t miss the Dublin Theatre Festival, one of Europe’s oldest theater festivals. If your stay in Dublin doesn’t coincide with these dates, check out the Abbey Theatre. This renowned theater features classic Irish and international plays and is an obvious destination for drama aficionados.

Literary Dublin

Ireland has a long and proud literary history, and Dublin is its most prolific city. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker all hail from Ireland’s capital. Fans of Ulysses can retrace Leopold Bloom’s journey through the city, or if you want someone else to do the work for you, join a Literary Pub Crawl to see famous literary sights throughout the city while you enjoy a night out on the town.

Plan a trip to Dublin on TravelMuse, and may the luck of the Irish be with you.

Read More Articles About Dublin on TravelMuse:

Dublin’s Pubs and Grub
Irish Greens: Dublin Outdoor Attractions
Dublin Shopping: Irish Crafts to Guinness Souvenirs
Literary Attractions in Dublin

Post adapted from “Irish Enchantment: Dublin’s Top Attractions” by Candace Driskell.

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Everyone can get down with the green on St. Patrick’s Day 2010. Festivals are held all over the world, so whether you’re planning a trip to Ireland, staying stateside or even escaping to the sunny Caribbean, you’re bound to find a celebration worthy of wearing your green. Here are TravelMuse’s top nine St. Patrick’s Day events:

Guinness glasses dance in the streets of London to celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Photo: zorilla

Guinness glasses dance in the streets of London to celebrate the feast day of St. Patrick, the patron saint of Ireland. Photo: zorilla

1. New York City
Since 1762, New York City has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a huge parade. This year it kicks off at 11 a.m. at 44th Street and Fifth Avenue. Don’t look for floats or balloons; this is a true marching parade, with dozens of bands, pipers and the like from the United States and Ireland.

Plan a trip to New York City on TravelMuse.

2. Boston
Boston beats New York City as the oldest St. Patrick’s Day celebration in the United States, with the first one held in 1737. This year’s parade of floats, marching bands and pipers starts on March 14 in South Boston.

Plan a trip to Boston on TravelMuse.

3. Savannah
Now celebrating its 186th year, the city of Savannah offers up one of the largest events in the United States, with 400,000 people expected to attend! The St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off at 10:15 a.m. on March 17 with bands, floats and plenty of green.

Plan a trip to Savannah
on TravelMuse.

4. Chicago
For more than 40 years, Chicago has actually dyed its river emerald green for the annual Irish fest! This year, look for it to happen on March 13 at 10:45 a.m. The downtown one is always held the Saturday before St. Patrick’s Day and kicks off at noon.

Plan a trip to Chicago
on TravelMuse.

5. Montserrat
St. Patrick’s Day in the Caribbean? Sure! It makes sense when you find out that Montserrat recognizes the date as a national holiday and many citizens have Irish heritage. A full week of St. Patrick’s Day events is planned from March 13 to 20, with, of course, the biggest celebration on March 17.

Plan a trip to Montserrat on TravelMuse.

6. Dublin
Ireland started its St. Patrick’s Day Festival only in 1995 (it was mainly a religious holiday before that). Now the hugely popular event in Dublin is a six-day affair (this year, it’s March 12 to 17), with a parade on the final day. Over the course of the festival, more than 4,000 performers will entertain about one million people with music, street theater, carnivals, comedy, street performances, dance and a treasure hunt.

Plan a trip to Dublin on TravelMuse.

7. Toronto
Toronto’s 22nd Annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade is scheduled for March 14. There’s a full slate of Irish step dancers and pipe-and-drums bands who will march. The night before, put on your formal attire and attend the Grand Marshall Ball to dine, dance and bid in a silent auction.

Plan a trip to Toronto
on TravelMuse.

8. Sydney
Sydney’s big parade kicks off the St. Patrick’s Day 2009 celebration on March 21. After the parade, a variety of entertainment, crafts, food and children’s activities are offered in Hyde Park.

Plan a trip to Sydney
on TravelMuse.

9. London
London celebrates all week, but the main events are the parade and a festival, both on March 14. The parade kicks off at noon from Hyde Park corner. The festival also starts at noon and runs until 6 p.m. Trafalgar Square hosts the main stage, but events also happen at Leicester Square and Covent Garden. Sample Irish food, dance, crafts and music.

Plan a trip to London
on TravelMuse.

Adapted from “Top 10 St. Patrick’s Day Events” by Kim Foley Mackinnon.

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Also called “Lunar New Year,” Chinese New Year is the most significant holiday in Chinese culture. Although China has been using the Gregorian (or solar) calendar since 1912, the country still follows the lunar calendar for traditional holidays. Traditionally, the festival begins on first day of the month of the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th. From scrumptious food such as jau gok (the main Chinese New Year dumpling) to customary red packets filled with money, this holiday is just a small window into China’s rich and fascinating culture.

If the events of Chinese New Year spark your interest in the customs, traditions and history of China, why not plan a trip to explore the country for yourself.

Sunset at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Photo: Robert Prior

Sunset at the Forbidden City in Beijing, China. Photo: Robert Prior

Top 5 Beijing Sights

The Forbidden City
Home to 24 emperors during the Ming and Qing dynasties, the massive Imperial Palace, better known as the Forbidden City, still stands as a shrine to China’s imperial past. Plan two full days if you want to see the entire complex, but the major highlights such as the great halls and the imperial gardens can be seen in one day.

Tiananmen Square
Flanked by the main gate of the Forbidden City (which is emblazoned with an enormous portrait of Mao) at one end and the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall (his mausoleum) at the other, Tiananmen Square, the world’s largest public square, is a monument to communist rule and architecture.

The Summer Palace
Starting as a quiet garden, this expansive palace on the outskirts of Beijing was completely rebuilt by the Empress Dowager Cixi after a ransacking by the Anglo-French forces during the Second Opium Wars. The Summer Palace’s serene, lakeside complex offers innumerable walkways, gardens, and temples for visitors to see. Keep your strength for the trek to the monumental Tower of Buddhist Incense which offers a stunning view of Kunming Lake and the distant Beijing skyline.

The Great Wall
Originally built to keep out the invading Mongol forces, the Great Wall has come to symbolize China itself. There are eight portions of the wall open to the public, ranging from the rugged at Simatai to the tourist friendly at Badaling. Kids will love the roller coaster like system to get up and down the mountainside at Badaling, as well as the opportunity to feed the bears in the bear exhibit at the entrance.

Lama Temple
I’ve seen many temples during my travels but this one blew them all away. Said to be the most important Buddhist temple outside of Tibet, this collection of temples offers shrine after shrine, with each more impressive than the last. The Lama Temple culminates with the towering Maitreya Buddha, which is registered in the Guinness World Records as the world’s tallest Buddha.

* Adapted from Miranda Young’s “Beijing’s Top 10 Sights.”

For more tips and advice, read related articles on TravelMuse:

Plan a trip to China on TravelMuse.

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NYC Walking Tour: The Wall Street Experience Financial Crisis Tour

For my final post on TravelMusings, I leave you with information about a great new walking tour company in New York City—The Wall Street Experience.

Andrew Luan is your guide on this journey through the canyons of New York’s financial district, arguably the most important financial center in the world. And he’s a tour participant’s dream—an inside expert. He has lived and worked on Wall Street for years, most recently at Deutsche Bank (until he was one of thousands laid off due to the financial crisis), where he was a vice president trading structured credit bonds and collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), a type of asset-backed security that has been blamed for the industry’s troubles.


In front of Federal Hall, looking at the original J.P. Morgan building. (Photo: D.M. Airoldi)

Luan offers four types of tours, but the signature Financial Crisis Tour ($45, 2 hours) is the one to take if you’re interested in insider information about what factors led to the financial collapse; how and when those on The Street realized it was imminent (months before it actually happened); perspective on the culture inside a large investment house; and how the industry and area might look in the future.

You’ll also get easy-to-understand explanations of CDOs and tranches, securities, ratings—Luan says Standard & Poor’s gets paid by the very companies it rates, making for a conflict of interest—asset, credit and equity markets and more, with copies of actual reports, charts and graphs, and bond sales sheets used by traders and analysts.

The tour starts at 15 Broad St., in front of the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE). Today only 10 percent of the floor is now used for trading, with the remaining 90 percent taking place online. Our group also learned that the equity asset class traded at the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) represents just $10 percent of the $100 trillion financial market industry.

You’ll see several of the area’s other key financial sites—including the Merchant’s Exchange, Bank of the United States (the first bank to collapse during the Great Depression), J.P. Morgan & Co., Deutsche Bank, AIG, Goldman Sachs and, of course, the Federal Reserve—as well as many historical attractions. Be sure to check out the marks on the original J.P. Morgan location, made from dynamite when the building was bombed in 1920, and I learned that Maiden Lane was so named because it used to be a stream where young women came to wash clothes.


Andrew Luan showing equity market charts used by analysts and traders. (Photo: D.M. Airoldi)

Luan is a font of knowledge—not just about the finance industry and historical attractions, but also of architecture—and he clearly enjoys sharing his insights to help people better understand the finance industry, Wall Street and human behavior, at least when it comes to investing. He even hands out laminated cards to remind participants of the lessons learned on the tour. “My goal is to give visitors a real understanding and sense of Wall Street, while also providing a historical context,” says Luan, who developed the tour after having given an informal one to visiting friends and family members who kept recommending it to others.

One thing I would like to see added to the tour is the ability to enter some of the buildings we learn about, not just view them from outside. But I know that’s a tall order for an industry and area of New York City that requires high levels of security. Otherwise, the Financial Crisis Tour exceeded my expectations, with Luan sharing more insider info than I thought would have been possible, taking us to an extra site that isn’t typically included and sticking around for any additional questions from participants.

“This is just about the best walking tour I’ve ever taken,” said Harriette Shakes of Palo Alto, Calif., who was in my group. I have to agree.

The Wall Street Experience, Financial Crisis Tour. Cost: $45 per person + tax, 2 person or $90 minimum; children under 15 free. Hours: Mon., Wed., Fri. at 10 a.m.; Sat. at 1 p.m.

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