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Family Travel

Cruising into or out of Venice as a Port

By | Cruise, Europe, Family Travel, Romance, Sightseeing | No Comments

Venice, Italy – A lovely city to start or end your cruise vacation

There are not many things more enchanting than arriving to your Venice hotel in a water taxi.

Words and photos are not entirely capable of describing the emotions that you experience- the sounds, the sights, the sunshine on your face – the anticipation of visiting such an iconic destination.

Hotels-

Of course there are dozens and dozens of terrific hotels with varying levels of service. We chose the lovely Hotel Danieli located just steps from The Bridge of Sighs leading to Doges Palace and Piazza San Marco (St Mark’s Plaza) – terrific service and as convenient as it gets.

Venice is a city built on 118 islands (some small and others tiny) connected by hundreds of bridges that make up the city. The history of Venice dates back around 1600 years so as you might imagine there are some amazing examples of many different types or architectural influences including Gothic, Byzantine, Islamic & more.  Below is but 1 of many gorgeous buildings

If you are a lover of any style of art and craftmanship then a visit to Murano is a must-do. Murano is a small island about 15 minutes boat ride from Venice. Complimentary tours are available and you will not see a better array of glassworks than you will here. The island is home to hundreds of glassblowers who have different specialties. The glassblowing demonstration is amazing

but what is more amazing is the showroom which consists of room upon room with unbelievable displays of artistic genius ranging from chandeliers to wine glasses and every type of glassware in between

St Marks’s Square & Basilica along with the Doges Palace are also must-see

Water Taxis and Gondolas

Of course no trip to Venice would be complete without spending some time on the water. Whether touring by water taxi…

or enjoying a gondola ride complete with serenade…

 

these are the memories that you will carry with you for many years to come (and of course taking a few photos helps too)!

Shopping

There are more shops that you can ever hope to get to even if staying for weeks – and cafes & restaurants are also in no short supply so save up some energy for that!

After a few hours of touring and shopping then a Spritz or 2 in a cafe is not to be missed

 

In short – Venice is simply magical and unforgettable.

When it’s time for your trip to Venice (or other bucket list destination) then you know you can turn to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad for expert guidance and the best values to be found.

2 Days in Barcelona Pre-cruise

By | Cruise, Europe, Family Travel | No Comments

Barcelona – easily one of the most enjoyable cities on earth

La Ramblas – the tourism hub of Barcelona

 

There are many reasons why Barcelona is generally regarded as one of the Top 5 cities to visit in Europe….

I’m not gonna lie, flying all night then arriving in a foreign country, checking into a hotel for a quick change then off to a e-bike tour on virtually no sleep is a bit aggressive, but I’m glad we did it (not sure my wife feels the same lol). It’s either go tour and be active or go to sleep and lose several hours of exploring time. We chose to see all we could in the short time we had there

e-bike tour booked through Viator – 12 participants – a good time all around

We covered alot of ground on those bikes – From landmarks to archaeological excavations to parks to the beach and more

Interestingly the beach area in Barcelona is relatively new, and a key component of the revitalization of the city. Investments into re-imagining the city as a tourist destination rather than an industrial powerhouse led to the 1992 Summer Olympics being held in the city and they haven’t looked back – now Barcelona is widely regarded as one of the top cities in the world for tourists

 

After some sightseeing on the e-bikes then it was time to sample some tapas from one of the more famous tapas restaurants – Els Quatre Gats (4 cats) which is widely known as one of Pablo Picasso’s favorite bars

 

But on to other things….

La Sagrada Familia

If there is one thing that Barcelona is know for (besides tapas) it’s Antoni Gaudi’s masterpience – La Sagrada Familia

Construction continues at La Sagrada Familia

Imagine a work so vast that the architect knew, at less than 30 years of age, that construction would last well beyond his death. While this looks massive now, it will eventually soar to a much taller height and a much broader footprint when complete

Construction began in 1882 – they are hopeful of completion by 2026 (in honor of the 100th year anniversary of Gaudi’s death)

The inside is an homage to nature as much as it is to Jesus and to fully understand I recommend a good guide – it’s so worth the extra $$ and photos just do not do justice to this masterpiece

We booked a 3 hours guided tour of La Sagrada Familia in conjunction with a tour of the Hospital Sant Pau. Initially I was indifferent to the tour starting at some hospital, eventhough I was understanding that for there to be a tour it must be something worth seeing. That said, I was blown away. Not only was this once public hospital a masterpiece of efficiency it was also architecturally amazing and beautiful.

our Context Tours guide Zaida was both charming and an expert in the Catalan culture

Once again photos are difficult capture the overall feel but imagine that this is just one of the many separate buildings serving patients with varying illnesses

and here is a model of the fully functional hospital where the main building served as an admittance and admin building then patients were transferred to the appropriate wing via underground tunnels that were well lit from skylights strategically placed throughout the gardens filled with healing herbs and aromatic plants.

So what else does Barcelona offer?

Well…the $15.50 EU bottles of Cava at the cafe across the street from the hotel were pretty great….

and there is SO much more to relate!

For help planning your next great getaway – be it Barcelona or anywhere else amazing please consider turning to “Your friends….in the travel business” at EZTravelPad where we leverage relationships on a daily basis to help insure that you have the time of your life on each and every vacation

 

US National Parks Like You Have Never Experienced Before!

By | Adventure, Blog, Family Travel, Uncategorized | No Comments

You don’t have to Leave the US to Experience Volcanoes and Waterfalls

Imagine cruising through some of the most pristine scenery that the American West has to offer, the US National Parks and Monuments, and doing so in a style you have never even before imagined – with a group of friends – or with your entire family – riding in style with a professional driver in a tricked out vehicle called a Limo Liner.

It’s a very comfortable vehicle with leather sofas, large windows, comfort controls and also features

  • In transit WiFi
  • In transit Television

It’s an all-inclusive ride for almost a week checking out the best of the west (that’s right – a hospitality chef will be serving guests throughout the day with included wine, beer, soft drinks, coffee, tea, seasonal fresh fruits, snacks & much more)

Tour options include

  • Badlands and Wind Cave
  • Yellowstone and Grand Teton
  • Crater Lake and Redwoods
  • Salt Lake City, Moab, Bryce Canyon, Zion and Las Vegas

and several other options as well…

Of course you won’t spend the night on the Limo Liner – you will be sleeping in comfortable hotels, lodges & resorts along the way

Why in the world would you drive yourself when you can enjoy the luxury and safety of such a journey?

For much more info and to get your adventure started reach out to “Your friends….in the travel business” contact EZTravelPad today!

Paris- I Can’t Wait!

By | Europe, Family Travel, Romance | No Comments

Paris in the Spring

I don’t know how many times have I heard how wonderful Paris is in the spring…and NOW we can get there from Indy non-stop starting THIS spring at a very reasonable rate (think from around $1600+ pp for a few nights incl flights + hotel!)

Sure – figure on spending a few $$ on some amazing food & wine + tours (explaining the food and wine) but leaving home in the late afternoon and arriving in one of the world’s greatest citiesthe early(-ish) morning just in time for a full day in the city + a few more…Yes!!

Rest assured that  “Your friends….in the travel business”  at EZTravelPad are checking out the options so you can have the time of your life…no matter how much time you have!

Imagine touring the Louvre with a small group (no more than 6 people) and your Docent is this young lady…

 

Time to go!

Actually – if you can’t wait until spring and you want to join Michelle and I there for Thanksgiving come help us explore!

We’ll be experiencing things so YOU get the best advice possible!

When you are ready reach out to us

Why Kauai?

By | Adventure, Family Travel, Honeymoons and Weddings, South Pacific | No Comments

Kauai – The Garden Island

Kauai is referred to as the Garden Isle partly because it offers 3 of the 5 tropical botanical gardens in the U.S. and partly because if feels as though the entire island is a huge garden….lush, tropical and gorgeous

True, parts of the island get a tremendous amount of rainfall (the most on earth) – but other parts are much less moist and receive much sunshine as well so choosing the right area to fit your needs is a big part of crafting the best overall experience

Below is a picturesque waterfall experienced on a short hike …

 

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Kauai is a really laid back island – super friendly – a place where all of the locals seem to know each other (because there are only about 65,000 people who reside on the island…)

Cuisine can be anything from basic (food truck) to gourmet with many farm to table dining options available

Nightlife is almost non-existent so this is not a place to go party…it is a place to commune with nature, relax, disconnect…and experience some adventures

Typical resorts such as the St Regis, Marriott, Sheraton & more will pamper you in style… or out of the way resorts such as Waimea Plantation Cottages will take you back to a simpler life with few frills in 100 year old cottages originally used on the plantation and offering unmatched serenity

Landscapes are stunning…from the

Napali Coastline

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to …

The Waimea Canyon

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to the beaches around Princeville

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or even…if you can believe it…a hotel lobby!

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it’s amazing – for such a small island there really are a tremendous amount of experiences, varied landscapes, varied climate zones, etc. On an ATV excursion we went through a mountain tunnel from 1 valley to the next and in just over a minute experienced the largest rainfall differential that exists anywhere on the planet so depending on the specific location that you select your vacation could be in one of the wettest parts of the planet – or in a spot where very little rain falls…

There are numerous experiences to add into a package from the usual and traditional-

  • Luau
  • Hiking
  • Snorkeling
  • ATV Driving
  • Zip-lining

to the unusual…

  • Tubing through an ancient irrigation ditch
  • Exploring Napali coast in a raft
  • Helicopter over the Waimea Canyon

Here is a brief video depicting just a few of the adventures that can be experienced

Sure – you can do things on your own, but why?

EZTravelPad can connect you with some extra perks that you would not otherwise be entitled to, offer some complimentary advice, make your experience much easier and bring the price in at or lower than you can yourself…so reach out to us for much more info when you are ready to start planning your getaway to Kauai

Beaches Resorts Offers Sesame Street Characters & Tuck-In Service!

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Family Travel | No Comments

Sesame Street Character at Beaches Resorts Work Overtime for YOU

 

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Beaches Resorts is widely acknowledged as the leader in high quality family friendly Caribbean vacations. Why?

  • Quality
  • Consistency
  • Location
  • Repeat Business

But you probably already knew that. You also probably already knew that Beaches Resorts is the family friendly compliment to the Sandals Resorts chain, which offers luxury all-inclusive vacations for adults only (a Honeymoon and Romantic getaway favorite!).

But did you know that when you take the family to Beaches for a family vacation you can arrange for –

  • Photo opps with Sesame Street characters
  • Character breakfasts
  • and perhaps coolest of all- Character Tuck-in Service

How cool would it be? How memorable for your children? How much fun can you have? Think the parents at the PTA meeting or basketball game will get a little envious when they hear about what you did for your children?

Check it out-

Let a Sesame Street® furry friend help make your child’s bedtime wishes come true, even before their head touches the pillow! In a calm, quiet environment, one of five Sesame Street® characters will join in on some relaxing stretches, a bedtime story, and a sweet lullaby before tucking your child in for the evening.

What’s Included

One-Character Tuck-In 

  • One 15-minute session with one character

  • 5″ x 7″ commemorative color photograph

  • One Sesame Street® plush toy per child

Two-Character Tuck-In

  • One 15-minute session with two character

  • Two 5″ x 7″ commemorative color photographs

  • Two Sesame Street® plush toys per child

Characters Available*

  • Elmo

  • Zoe

  • Abby Cadabby

  • Cookie Monster

  • Grover

 

You spend so much time and effort working your tail off to provide for your family, but what do you really provide? Sure- food and shelter – security – a new bike maybe – a new Wii and Game cube and Play station and …….

This year think about providing your kids with a memory they will never forget – and that they will love you for forever, then let them play on their friend’s Wii…..

At least that’s how I see it-

So when it’s time to arrange something for youself and your family (or just for yourself) – get with  EZTravelpad “Your friends….in the travel business”

Atlantis (the resort – not the lost continent) – a Review

By | Caribbean, Family Travel, Luxury | No Comments

Atlantis is a Resort Without Compare – Truly Something Different

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All of my life I have been fascinated with the legend of the Lost Continent of Atlantis

  • Did it ever really exist?
  • Where was it?
  • Who lived there?
  • What was their civilization like?
  • What happened?

So to go to an amazing resort like Atlantis on Paradise Island in the Bahamas was not quite as exciting as considering whether a highly advanced civilization once thrived then disappeared, but after experiencing the resort for a while i was truly amazed at what DOES exist in The Bahamas

In 1994 a gentleman named Sol Kerzner purchased a troubled resort from Merv Griffin and began a 4 year process to totally remake the resort into a vision of something that has never been…an expansive resort on Paradise Island in The Bahamas featuring some of the best attractions for families of all ages….a resort featuring a marine environment of over 11 million gallons of water, 50,000 different marine animals featuring over 200 different species….lagoons and water slides and beaches and pools (oh, and a really really big casino!)

Atlantis is spectacular in scale – over 3400 rooms with varying levels of amenities designed to appeal broadly to all sorts of people interested in all sorts of things

  • Swim with dolphins
  • Swim with seals
  • Swim with stingrays
  • Golf
  • Spa
  • Fitness
  • Shop
  • Relax…..or indulge in any of dozens of other diversions….

See more in the video

 

Accommodations are varied from moderately priced

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to upscale

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to something befitting previous guests such as Oprah Winfrey or Michael Jackson

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Interested in some R&R – there are many, many choices like the pool near the Coral and Beach Towers

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or this pool and beach area near The Cove

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But so many more choices exist.

Atlantis is not something you can easily plan yourself unless you want to spend hours doing the research to determine your best fit – leave that part to a pro (a pro who will not charge any fees for their advice and expertise), like “Your friends….in the travel business” – EZTravelPad

Multi-Generational Travel is a Hot Trend for Families

By | All-Inclusive Resorts, Caribbean, Family Travel | No Comments

Multi-generational travel is one of the most popular trends in the travel industry today.

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With so many families being spread out all across the country living from coast to coast and even beyond, it is tougher than ever for families to get together to spend time, bond and reacquaint with each other.

That is why vacationing together has become such a popular trend these days.


One of the hottest trends is taking an all-inclusive trip to a family friendly resort in the Caribbean or Mexico.

 

Resort brands such as Beaches, Azul or Club Med focus primarily on quality family experiences and offer excellent activities and entertainment for family members of all ages.


At Beaches resorts the quality and breadth of inclusions is unmatched. Beaches Resorts are located in Jamaica or Turks and Caicos. Resorts feature multiple fine dining options yet still offer casual options for those who are so inclined. Water Parks and plenty of water sport activities such as snorkeling, scuba, windsurfing, sailing, paddleboarding, and more are all included in the price. On land there are even more activities ranging from lawn chess to golf and virtually everything in between – all included!

Sesame Street characters participate in activities throughout the day and into the evening. There is even an opportunity for the little ones to be tucked in and read a bedtime story by Elmo himself.


Club Med resorts are located globally in continents as diverse as North America, Asia, Africa, South America and Europe. Club Med offers the only all-inclusive resort in the United States. The Sandpiper Bay resort in Florida features tennis lessons, golf lessons, baby gym, arts studio, talent shows, hockey, zumba and even circus lessons – all for the very young.

Club Med even offers All-inclusive ski vacations in the Alps –

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Azul resorts along the Riviera Maya area of Mexico are yet another all-inclusive option for families to experience excellent gourmet dining choices. Azul Hotels redefine family vacations featuring family-oriented suites, kid’s clubs, infant equipment, child toys, and free family reunion coordination.

Nightly entertainment, mojito tastings, a la carte dining and innovative 12-course meals top off the Gourmet Inclusive® philosophy. Rooftop barbecues, s’mores parties on the beach, and 24-hour room service expand on restaurant dining.


The wonderful aspect of all-inclusive resorts is that they offer something for everyone and everything is included at one set price and often tipping is forbidden.

I cannot think of a better way for a geographically diverse busy family to reconnect and enjoy each other’s company in a beautiful and safe environment where preparing one’s own meals and cleaning up the dishes afterward is a distant memory.


At most resorts there are options for multi-room suites where a large family can share a suite with 3 or 4 bedrooms and a common living area.


The easiest and most affordable way to accomplish a multi-generational family vacation is to work with your local travel consultant who is well prepared to help put everything together in a manner that will please everyone from the youngest to the oldest.