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Category: Vacations

Got an awesome national park memory? Share it with us

Posted on January, 20 2016

Ever waited out a snowstorm under a sequoia? Or fallen asleep to the howls of wolves in Yellowstone?

As the National Park Service turns 100 this year, we are seeking your favorite park-related memories.

Your recollections will be included in our coverage of this important celebration of some of the world’s most amazing destinations. National parks, preserves, recreation areas and other units are all in play.

Maybe these photos of Yosemite in snow and other national parks will jog your memory.

Please keep submissions to 100 words or less, and include your full name and the city where you reside. The approximate date of the experience should be included too.

Send to Travel@latimes.com, with PARK MEMORIES in the subject line.

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Category: Vacations

Web Buzz: Take a small private tour of Paris through walkmysteps.com

Posted on December, 28 2015

Let a local help you uncover the richness of the City of Light.

Name: www.walkmysteps.com

What it does: The website offers private small tours of Paris with licensed local guides that want to help you to discover the city. Available in eight languages.

What’s hot: The tour size is capped at a number that varies — sometimes only six persons, other times four. Some tours allow as many as 10 people. With that kind of attention, you can be sure that all your questions will be answered. One tour might take you to explore the famous sites of Montmartre as well as its hidden stairs and alleys. Another might take you on a half-day private tour of the Louvre. Walk My Steps has seven tour categories: Architecture, Family Tours, Food & Wine, Monuments, Museums, Street Art and Walking Tours.

What’s not: The pricing is a little confusing. It seems as if each tour has a flat-rate price of 200 euro. But underneath that price it says, “From 20 euros per person.” It appears to coincide with the number of people in the group.

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Category: Vacations

Listen to this ‘Jingle Bells’ made with seat belt clicks and other aircraft noises

Posted on December, 26 2015

Forget the dogs barking out “Jingle Bells.”

Portuguese airline TAP, which turned 70 years old in 2015, has come up with a clever version of the classic Christmas song. It uses the click of seat belts, the snap of tray tables and other aircraft sounds.

OK, maybe not every single note comes from the plane, but it’s still kind of cute.

Crew members in the video are real TAP employees, and the song relies on everyday noises heard on an A330 airplane.

Since TAP’s “Jingle Bells” launched Dec. 1, it has received more than 240,000 views on Facebook and 25,000 views on YouTube.

So give a listen — even the “occupied” lock on the bathroom door plays a role.

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Category: Vacations

Here, from Mexico, is what to ask when entering any new room

Posted on December, 23 2015

Tepoztlan is a mystical Mexican mountain town that doesn’t get the appreciation it deserves. It’s only about 30 miles south of Mexico City, yet it’s got a lazy vibe, hippie inclinations, gorgeous buildings from centuries past — including the church ceiling shown here — and a pre-Columbian ruin at the end of a hiking trail. More than one person has called it the Sedona of Mexico.

I visited in 2007 (and wrote this). Staring at the ceiling above was one of my favorite moments there. Ever since, I pay special attention to the ceiling whenever I walk into a grand old building, especially a church, temple or mosque.

It doesn’t have to be the Sistine Chapel. If it’s the sort of place where people might like to cast their eyes heavenward, there’s a good chance that some Old World artisans climbed up on scaffolding and did some amazing things. If it’s not feasible to lie down and give their work a good, long look, then lay your camera down on the floor, get yourself out of the way and shoot straight up.

You can always count on travel to teach you something — but what? Travel is the substitute teacher who didn’t get the lesson plan, the adjunct lecturer who goes off on Bukowski, the grad assistant who trashes your poetry, then hands out red velvet cupcakes. If only you’d had a clue what was coming, right?

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Category: Vacations

Before you plan your next trip, watch Sonia Gil of ‘Sonia’s Travels’

Posted on December, 21 2015

Sit back, relax and learn how to make travel easier.

Name: SoniaGil.com

What it does: Sonia Gil is a passionate, language-loving, animated traveler who offers practical travel tips using down-to-earth video blogs on YouTube.

What’s hot: Sonia’s tips are incredibly useful and quick to watch. The “How to Travel” section is ideal for inexperienced travelers or those who need to build their confidence. Topics include how to work out while traveling, how to survive long flights, best advice for packing, traveling with pets, traveling solo and much more. Sonia and “Sonia’s Travels” — the name of her YouTube channel— are addicting.

What’s not: At first glance, the “Trending” links near the top of the website confused me. I thought maybe they were topics trending off-site as ads. But nope, clicking through I found that they were simply shortcuts to hot topics and more videos on her site.

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Category: Vacations

Surfers can stop surfing the Web thanks to Surfguide.com

Posted on December, 14 2015

Cowabunga, dude! The surf spots are reeling here!

Name: Surfguide.com

What it does: The website offers an interactive map of surf spots and camps around the globe. Surfers can search for an ideal destination based on surroundings (remote, village, town or city) and types of service (surf school, surf resort or boat trip) that only they would know to ask about.

What’s hot: There are so many ways to find the right surfing destination for your next adventure that you just might get “noodle arms” checking out all your options. Do you like a particular water temperature, swell size, break type or want to find a remote spot to surf in Europe that’s cheap and safe? Chill out and use the global map or filters to narrow the search results to suit your surf style. This guide also considers surfers of all abilities. I particularly loved the descriptions of the different regions when I zoomed in using the map. Even better: There’s a calendar tool bar that can be adjusted for surf, weather and wind conditions based on the time of year you want to travel.

What’s not: I wanted a blog on featured surf spots that I could access from the main page. You can find destinations by filtering and digging, but I wanted a little instant gratification because it has great filters such as Girls Camp, Party People, Focused Surfers, surf spots with video analysis and more.

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Category: Vacations

San Diego County has an underappreciated wine scene: Here are 9 spots to try

Posted on November, 23 2015

When I told a friend that I was going wine tasting in San Diego, she replied, “Have fun — the wineries in Temecula are great!”

Close, but no cigar: Temecula is in Riverside County. It’s a common mistake that gives San Diego County’s thriving wine scene short shrift when compared with its northern neighbor.

The county’s collection of wineries takes many by surprise, but it was way ahead of the curve, with winemaking dating from the 1820s. The northeast corner of the county, in particular, is full of vineyards, most of them mom-and-pop operations. There are a few large ones as well, drawing visitors to the dry, hilly terrain.

Unlike that younger upstart Napa, you won’t encounter busloads of tourists; instead, you’ll find mostly intimate, friendly boutique wineries. There’s an emphasis on experimentation by passionate winemakers growing a wide selection of varietals.

To get you started, here’s a sampling:

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Category: Vacations

If you pick hiking over shopping on Black Friday, you get in free to 49 California state parks

Posted on November, 21 2015

There’s a bargain to be found in the woods this holiday season.

The San Francisco nonprofit Save the Redwoods League is offering free passes on Black Friday — Nov. 27 — to redwood parks from Monterey and Santa Cruz to the North Coast.

The idea is to offer individuals and families a chance to start a new Black Friday tradition by walking among big trees instead of big-box stores, the organization says.

Big Basin Redwoods State Park near Santa Cruz, Andrew Molera State Park in Big Sur and Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park in Crescent City are among the 49 parks on the freebie list for one day only.

The alternative Black Friday movement started with outdoor retailer REI, which in October decided to close its 143 stores nationwide on that day and encourage Americans to #optoutside.

More than 900,000 people have signed on to the company’s online campaign.

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Category: Vacations

Download entertainment on the go with Amazon Video app

Posted on September, 14 2015

With this app, you can add a worthy pre-departure task to your to-do list.

Name: Amazon Video app

Available: On iPhones, iPads, Android phones and tablets, Fire devices

Cost: Free app. Amazon Prime membership $ 49-$ 299

What it does: Download the free app in your preferred app store, sign into your Amazon Prime account, select movies and TV episodes to download free, rent or purchase, and then watch offline on your iPhone, iPad, Android device or tablet.

What’s hot: Your hotel TV doesn’t have channels you want to watch, and you don’t want to pay an arm and a leg to rent a movie. If you’re an Amazon Prime member (or want to become one), you can watch its movies and TV episodes through its app. This opens up a new world for travelers who like to have their entertainment with them at all times. Simultaneous downloads are a plus. My favorite feature was in Settings. Go to “Download Quality” and select from “Good, Better or Best” default download qualities to save time and storage. You can watch your downloaded movies on international soil, but if you forget to download them before your trip, you can add content (over the Internet) in countries where the app is available (currently the U.S., Britain, Germany and Austria).

What’s not: Make sure you have plenty of space on your device to store the movies. I did not. Although it was great that I could simultaneously download one adult drama and one kid-friendly movie, my iPhone would periodically stop when it ran out of room. I had to delete some apps so I could continue downloading. I hope future versions will include a page where I can monitor the progress of my downloads in one place instead of opening each individually.

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Category: Vacations
Category: Vacations
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