Friday, November 29, 2019

Barcelona, Spain

Learn how to travel as an independent woman with Dr Mary Travelbest. I want you to become the very best at travel. So please join the conversation. Ask a question, learn about a destination, laugh at my mistakes and take the travel tips with you, on the journey. Go places.

Check out this travel for women episode!

In this episode: we’ll talk about how many reservations are the right number when you travel, air, hotel, and more; Barcelona is the destination, and today’s mistake was not slowing downhill. The tip has to do with Online Travel Agencies for multiples.

FAQ How do you balance between planning and making reservations verses spontaneity and being open to what comes up?

This is a very important question for independent travel, or for any travel, really.
The times that I really want a reservation are for the holiday travel dates. It’s good to book flights several weeks ahead of your holiday travel, and really consider the consequences of playing loose with your arrangements.
Last month, I had an AIR BNB all set for me in Savannah, Georgia, but when I got there, it was not welcoming at all. In fact, I was scared as I was greeting by really loud barking dogs and no human interaction.
Most of the time, I book flights round trip, and mostly I do have a backup reservation. But it’s also very exciting to be driving across the country, or even another country, and not know yet where you’ll be staying. If you have young children, that may not be so fun, though. Restaurant reservations are always based on advice from the hostess, so check ahead of time.
Here are my factors:

Today’s Independent Destination- Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona is the capital of the Catalonia region of Spain, so it’s not really “EspaƱola” that they speak, it’s Catalan. It’s known for art and architecture. The famous Sagrada Familia church and other buildings by Antoni Gaudi are all over the city. Museo Picasso and Fundacio Joan Miro feature modern art. The history museum, MUHBA has several Roman archeological sites, and the outdoor markets are so special to taste the culture and current wares of the day.
I noticed a lot of protests going on when I first arrived, but that seemed almost normal to the residents. The 92 Olympics were here and the grounds are still available to visit. Some say it’s better than Madrid to visit since there is more to do here. I got wrapped up in dancing outside a church in a plaza with total strangers, holding hands in a circle and having so much fun.
What is the food there like? Well Paella, of course. Bombas, and plenty of other Catalan tastes to enjoy the palate. It’s a coastal city, with a beautiful harbor, convention center and neighborhoods you will love to walk through. The subway system is really easy to navigate, even with a suitcase.

Today’s Mistake
One of my really big mistakes was going downhill on a bike too fast. Even though I was on my brakes, I was going too fast for conditions. I was in Torrey Pines State Park, and the huge Torrey Pines tree had a big shadow over a tree root. And there were a lot of people walking uphill as I was going down. I flipped, and don’t remember much more until I was sitting up and unable to walk. Yes, I broke my hip. The thing that saved my life was my helmet. So don’t ride without one.

Today’s Travel Advice
When buying airline tickets for two people, you may end up paying more. Best to purchase them one ticket at a time, I found, on the Online Travel Agencies. When I only book for one person, the trip was about $50 less than when I booked for two. I think the algorithm is set to increase the price as you have more people on the same itinerary. Has that ever happened to you, too? I’m still gathering data on this one.

Today I want to bring meaning to your travel

Friday, November 22, 2019

Taipei, Taiwan

Enjoy your travel with Dr Mary Travelbest, the World's First Guide to Independent Travel, and since 1993, I've been helping you find yourself while you discover new adventures. Listen to your questions, the destination, my mistakes and also travel tips here.

Check out this travel for women episode!

In this episode: Finding the Best of…Beitou Hot Springs, near Taipei Taiwan. My mistake was not asking about Wifi in advance. Tips are how to pack like a pro.

FAQ: Where can I find the best of something when I travel? I want to sample and see what is the very best, restaurants, locations, sights?

When you are not on a tour, you need to find out your own schedules, and that is up to you. So here are some ways to make this happen:

Ask the locals you meet. If you don’t meet any, then make a point to go places where they hang out. Get to know a few locals of a similar age and interest of yours. Maybe at a laundromat, coffee shop, train station, or even a playground or park.
Use your common sense. Don’t believe everything you read or you hear. Verify if you can. Be sure to read reviews, comments and ask questions on social media. Ask on our Facebook Group, Dr Mary Travelbest and have your group members give you advice. If you don’t ask for recommendations, you probably won’t find the best, but you will find you own adventure, and that you will never regret.

Today’s Independent Destination Taipei, Taiwan

The main tourist places in Taiwan are the following?

My last day in Taipei in 2019, I visited Beitou Hot Springs, about 30 minutes north of the downtown area of Taipei. The Shinbeitou subway train takes you to the region, and you pass Shilin Night Market and the National Palace Museum region.

Get out and walk around and get to know the area for yourself. It’s easy to find food, shopping and entertainment. I ate at MankeWu H. S. Noodles
The ares is known for Red skin chicken, fried toro balls or pork ribs were on the menu

Beitou Hot Spring Park is one of the best hot spring baths in Taiwan. You’re treated to a relaxing soak in sulfurous waters of varying temperatures, said to relieve muscle pains, digestive and skin problems, and other ailments.

It was once the largest hot springs spa in Asia. Here you see stone bridges and woodsy scenery. The different five pools at the public baths were temperature controlled. The ones at the top were hottest. Admission was inexpensive, about $40 Taiwan dollars and you pay with a machine, then show your ticket, but the lines for showers could be long. Bring your appropriate bathing suits. Once an hour, everyone gets out for cleaning the water. Several modern towers face Beitou Park, with modern cosmopolitan hot springs hotels, walking distance to the Beitou Public Library and Ketagalan Culture Center.

I walked up a very windy hill past all of these Hot Springs hotels, to the entrance of the Yangmingshan National Park. You will find nude sulfur baths here, too.  Men and women are separated.

What do you see in this park?  Rich volcanic terrain that supports grassy plains, blossoming cherry trees, and an array of butterflies and birdlife. A photo stop is made at a volcanic viewpoint where you may catch a glimpse of the conical-shaped Mt Qixing, Taipei’s tallest peak at 3,675 feet (1,120 meters) above sea level.

 Millennium Hot Springs

We also visited a town called Tamsui and tried to see the Guandu Nature Park, but it was closed on Monday, so pick another day..

Today’s Mistake

Get to understand WiFi in different cities.
Ask in advance how to connect to the Wi-Fi or to create your own VPN network.
I have been afraid to ask because I did not want people to think I was a poor planner and did not think to prepare. Ask your friends, or stop in a store that sells wireless products. They will explain to you the difference between how you connect to Wi-Fi here vs. where you’re going.
Ask…because it’s probably easier than you think. If you don’t have a plan, put your phone in “airplane mode” and leave it there for the whole trip. This saves the data.
Should you get a plan to have long distance calls and data? Probably a good idea, and some wireless carriers already accept that, so ask in advance.
Others charge you $10 a day when you use it. If you are on a week-long trip, you may want to make other arrangements.

Today’s Travel Advice: Packing tips:
Bring dryer sheets with you they smell good and are useful for many things.
Lay everything out, then shrink what you need and only bring what is necessary.
Cords. You can always shop for them at the airport.
Bring power banks and charge them up in advance before the trip.
Know how to recharge.
Universal Adaptor is worth it. Bring one or two.
Samsung does not equal apple. Know your port size.

Today I want to bring meaning to your travel

Friday, November 15, 2019

San Antonio

Dr. Travelbest will guide you through San Antonio, Texas. Listen to your FAQ, the destination, my mistakes and travel tips.

Please send in your questions, too.

Check out this travel for women episode!