Sunday, January 25, 2015

When You Have No Time and Need to Fly One Way

It happens, and a couple of weeks ago was my time.  My parents live way across the country from me, and there was an emergency.  So, I had to go.  There was no time, and there was no alternative.  I needed a one way ticket, and I needed it right away.  What do you do?  I called Southwest.  Let me explain why.

I would be fabulous if we could just take a leap and fly wherever we needed to go, but that's not how it works.  We have to get with an airline and figure out how we can fly where we need to go.  Business travelers do it all the time, but the rest of us are only used to booking round trip travel to our vacation destination.  The truth of the matter is that sooner or later we will all have to travel suddenly for some reason or another.  We all know it costs more.  We all know that one way isn't cheap and sometimes with no notice, it's not easy.  Then what do you do?

I looked around.  I checked the vacation sites like Expedia.  I didn't like what I saw.  I didn't see any good reason why I should book with them.  I didn't see anything but a bunch of combination flights, which tend to run you all over any airport that you have a layover in.  Who needs that when time is of the essence, and you're already stressed?  So, I went away from the regular travel sites.  They're nice for vacation, but not for an emergency.

There are options such as Cheap O Air.  They aren't bad in an emergency, but they weren't what I was looking for.  One Travel is also good and fairly reasonable.  Fare Buzz is okay.  But, most sites will get you there for a fairly reasonable price, because they are flying you on more then one airline.  I don't want to run all over an airport on a layover when I'm already stressed.  That just doesn't work for me.

This was when I turned to airline sites.  One airline, one way.  After looking at all the outrageous things that most airlines offer for this situation, I looked to Southwest.  When you book round trip with no notice, you pay.  When you book one way with most airlines with no notice you pay a lot.  When you book with Southwest, you pay one way about half of what you would pay round trip with the others on no notice.  That's hard to beat in times of trouble.  So, I booked it.  I did have to go out of my way a little, but I got there for a reasonable price.

Here's the other great thing about Southwest.  Or, should I say, here's a list.  For starters, no baggage fees.  Who doesn't love that?  Onward--no hassles at the check in counter.  Moving along--no assigned seating.  I love that.  They still give you free drinks and some snacks, and they have wi-fi.  You don't have to change airlines on a layover.  If you have to switch your flight, as I did going home because of a blizzard, it's free.  They're plenty of leg room.  The staff is nice and even entertaining.  I could go on and on.  There just are no hassles when flying with these people, and isn't that what you need when you are traveling in an emergency?

This was the first time that I had to make an emergency flight.  I don't know what I would have done without Southwest.  They just make it easier.  Will this make me fly them exclusively from now on?  No.  I'm a bargain hunter, and for most of my flying needs, they are expensive.  That's a fact.  Are they worth it for comfort and reliability?  Absolutely.  I don't normally require that though.  I'm a tough traveler.  But, when stress is already at it's maximum, and you have no time, they are the only way to go.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Sorry For My Absence

I've faithfully written this blog for almost three years, and I do so enjoy it.  I will be back when I get a chance, but right now I have some family tragedies to take care of.  I will be back on this blog when I get the chance.  Thank you to all who read it, and I'll have some really great stuff in the future.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Desert Festival in Rajasthan

It's long since been called the land of kings.  This is that part of India where you will find stone temples, turbans, and men with amazing mustaches.  This is the part of India that holds adventure and romance; the place that reminds you of Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom.  Rajasthan is an amazing place to be, and Jaisalmer is one of it's amazing cities.  The architecture in Jaisalmer is ancient, worked primarily from yellow sandstone and glows gold which gives the city a reputation of being a city of gold.

The architecture in this city is truly amazing.  It was once a stop on the trade routes, it was also once the capital of the region.  The fort that overlooks the city is one of the largest existing forts in the world.  Not just in India, but in the world.   The city is home to temples turned hotel, palaces that still house royalty.  If you've ever wanted to soak up some culture, this is your spot.  Jaisalmer is located in the far west part of India, with it's connector being Jodhpur.  This is out of the way.

Jaisalmer has a man made lake surrounded by fascinating temples, and the old town has several Havelis.  Most of the Havelis are at least partially open to the public, and most of the temples are as well.  There are areas in the oldest parts of town that are full of tiny boutiques crammed in narrow alleyways, just like we've all seen in the movies.  You will not run out of things to look at.  You will not run out of buildings to wander through or shops to peruse.  This is a lively city that still thrives and a lot of that thriving is on tourism.  It is said that the lake is kind of dirty, but being a man made lake in the desert in India, that shouldn't shock you too much.


If, by some chance, you don't see enough amazing architecture in Jaisalmer, Lodurva, the ancient abandoned capital is not far away.  In Lodurva you will see  amazing Jain Temples all over and you can wander to your heart's delight.  They are full of ancient carvings, massive cavernous rooms, towers and all kinds of notable features.  The area around Lodurva is also crawling with peacocks which is a theme in most of the temples.  Rajasthan is home to one of the world's largest populations of Peacocks.

I'm an architecture buff, and I could spend all week looking at temples, palaces, forts, and havelis.  But there's more than that.  The reason that I've chosen this spot at this time is because this is peak season for travel to this region of India, and it's that time of year that they have the Desert Festival.


Jaisalmer sits on the edge of a desert.  Desert National Park and Sam Sand Dunes Park are close by, and are the most amazing part of the area.  It's just like the Sahara in places, and the folks in this area are actually desert people by nature.  Every year in January, they have a festival celebrating the desert.  The Desert Festival is that time of year when the sands of the desert explode in the colors of the native costumes that the locals wear for the festival.  Camels come to town, puppet shows abound, along with dancing, mustache contests, turban tying contests and so much more.  It's a great time to visit the area. It's something that you won't soon forget.  There are all kinds of events and contests to follow, and some really great food.  The festival or festivals go on into the month of February and are a great source of entertainment and cultural education.

And what would be the creme de la creme of the Adventure for Anyone on this trip?  You can take an overnight camel safari into the desert.  There is a guided tour that takes you out to a luxury camp where you eat like a local, participate in song and dance and other entertainment, sleep in your own luxury tent or under the stars, and see some of the most amazing sunrises and sunsets you've ever seen.  It's the experience of a lifetime, and it's all part of the experience of visiting Jaisalmer.

So, it's January, and you have no reason to go out, because you live where it's cold.  Pack your bags and go to where it's peak season for tourists, just like you who want to get away.  Come and boat on the lake, visit temples, palaces, and forts, go to a festival, see the desert up close and personal, or stop and take a look at the peacocks.  It's all waiting in the corner of Rajasthan in India in a city called Jaisalmer.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Magic...The Ball Season is Here!

Ah, 2015 has arrived along with new movies about magical forests and yes, Cinderella.  What does this make most of us think of?  Well, of course it brings about dreams of Prince Charming and bad shoes, but it makes us all think of the wonderful night we could have at a formal ball.  What is a girl to do?  For my thoughts and dreams, I say go to Vienna, Austria.

That's right, it's ball season in Vienna.  The Viennese love their classical music and their traditions and history.  Vienna has been home to some true greats like Mozart, and it's the home of the Vienna Waltz.  There's nothing like the romance of a formal ball.  There's nothing like the magic of waltzing the night away.  Here in Vienna you can go to classes to prepare for both the dancing and the etiquette of the event.  There are many schools that will help you with just that.  There are many great places to buy or rent a gown for the event.  There are great places to rent a tuxedo too.  If you want, you can hire a horse and carriage to take you to your event, and have that Cinderella experience you've always fantasized about.


There are several balls during the winter ball season in Vienna, but one of the most prestigious is the Vienna Opera Ball held at the amazing State Opera House in mid February.  Attire is strictly formal with tails only and black tuxedos only for the men.  The women dress in floor length white only gowns.  The tradition of this ball is that it is a coming out for debutantes and they take the floor first.  At the proper time, the rest join in.  Everything about this event is meticulous and steeped in tradition.  If you've ever wondered what it was like to go to a true formal ball, this is your spot.  The venue is one of the most beautiful and revered buildings in all of Austria and dates back to the days of royalty.  It's a once in a lifetime event and a great place to live out a dream that would do any bucket list proud.

Don't know how to waltz?  There are several schools for that.  Don't own a gown?  Particularly a white one?  There are many stores for that.  There are also some rental places for that.  This is not some kind of rock concert though.  This is not some disco that you drop in on.  This is one of those events that takes planning.  It requires tickets in advance.  It requires gloves, ladies.  It requires poise, grace, dress, etiquette, and social behaviors.  This is something that you will have to study for.  This is something that you will have to go to class and learn for.  Is it worth it?  Of course it is.  For that one night, you will feel like Cinderella.  You'll feel like a prince or a princess.


Vienna is one of the most romantic cities in the world.  It's full of grandeur and palaces.  It's the former home of kings and queens.  It's classy and romantic.  The ball season just exemplifies what's already in front of us with Lipizzaners, art museums, homes of famous composers and some of the most beautiful architecture anywhere.  The Danube just makes the city more amazing, and the cathedrals even more so.  You could spend a lifetime discovering the city.


If you want a truly one of a kind experience, then go to a ball while in Vienna.  Take a class, buy a gown, get a ticket and go to the Opera Ball.  Have that one magical night that you will remember for a lifetime.  Make it magic and enjoy!