Top Attractions in Tampa, Florida

Tampa

With its rich history, wealth of kid-friendly activities, and unparalleled views of the Gulf of Mexico, is an excellent place to enjoy the warm Florida sun. Because it is less popular than other Florida cities such as Orlando and Miami, you can enjoy a relaxing vacation without being overrun by throngs of tourists. This vibrant city is just steps away from scenic beaches and offers a wealth of museums and cultural activities. After you’ve booked your trip through Global Discovery Network, check out these exciting Tampa-area attractions:

Florida Aquarium

On the southern end of Tampa, you’ll find one of the most popular aquariums in Florida. The Florida Aquarium is a sprawling facility that is home to more than 20,000 marine animals and plants. The polar bear and African penguin exhibits are sure to please, and the massive shark tanks will leave you with a new sense of respect for the ocean’s majestic creatures. Along the way, you’ll also encounter sea turtles, stingrays, and moray eels. If you’re traveling with kids, be sure to stop by the Explore a Shore area, where your youngsters can frolic in water jets and careen down a water slide. There are also plenty of hands-on exhibits for the entire family.

Busch Gardens

Nearby Orlando might be the theme park capital of Florida, but Busch Gardens in Tampa offers an exciting experience for adults and youngsters alike. Roller coasters and other thrill rides await, as do tamer, kid-friendly rides. Themed areas of the park simulate the native landscapes of Egypt, Morocco, and the Congo, as well as several other areas of the world. You’ll want to check out the animal exhibits, which are inspired by the Myombe Reserve and the Serengeti Plain. Overall, Busch Gardens is significantly less expensive than the Orlando theme parks – you can even purchase flex combo tickets that include admission to Busch Gardens and several other area attractions to stretch your budget even further.

Tampa Museum of Art

Although not on par with the vast art museums of New York or Chicago, the Tampa Museum of Art is an educational and pleasant place to spend an afternoon. Here, you’ll find a wealth of Roman and Greek antiquities – perfect if you are a fan of both art and history. The permanent collection also includes Hiram Powers sculptural works, paintings by Willie Cole, and an exhibit of photography by Berenice Abbott. If you’re planning to spend a weekend in Tampa, consider visiting the museum on a Friday – after 4PM, there is no charge for admission.

Big Cat Rescue Tampa

Big Cat Rescue

Because Big Cat Rescue is an animal sanctuary, it lacks the tourist feel of a city zoo. Still, the facility’s impressive collection of felines makes it well worth a visit. You’ll have the opportunity to see snow leopards, tigers, cougars, and jaguars during your trip. The guides are quite knowledgeable and are more than willing to answer questions about the facility’s feline residents. There are also a variety of tours, including a Keeper for the Day tour, that give you the chance to learn about these majestic creatures. Keep in mind that tours must be reserved in advance.

Museum of Science and Industry

Northeast Tampa is home to the second largest science museum in the southeastern United States. Here, there are dozens of hands-on exhibits where children and adults can learn about geology, physics, and other sciences. While you’re at the Museum of Science and Industry, be sure to catch a film at the IMAX dome and take a ride on the flight simulator. You’ll also get to see the skeletal remains of a Sauropod dinosaur. Tickets can be pricey, but the admission cost is well worth the experience.

Global Discovery Network can help make your Tampa vacation affordable by providing deep discounts on flights, rental cars, and resort rooms. Your specialist can even help you book the attractions you want to see to make your trip even more enjoyable.

Exploring the Wonders of Cairo, Egypt

Cairo Egypt

With 16 million residents, Cairo is truly a vibrant and energetic metropolis. Although you might be most interested in seeing the famed pyramids of Giza, you’ll undoubtedly be taken in by Cairo’s warm, inviting vibe. The city is home to millions of expatriates and reflects a wide variety of cultures. From shopping, to entertainment, to exquisite dining, Cairo is the perfect city for an unforgettable international experience. Be sure to check out these attractions after you book your trip through Global Connections Travel Agency:

Giza Pyramids

Giza Pyramids

Of course, no trip to Cairo would be complete without a journey to the pyramids of Giza, which you can access by joining a tour or hiring a private driver. The towering pyramids are among the great wonders of the world, and offer a glimpse into Egypt’s ancient history. The Sphinx overlooking the desert is a great spot for photos. The best way to experience the pyramids is by taking a day trip – the weather is cooler and the lighting is better during the early morning hours. Take a mid-day break and enjoy a long lunch, then head back to the pyramids in the late afternoon to finish sightseeing. Limited tours that take you inside the pyramids are available at 9AM and 1PM.

Borsa Cafes

The majority of Cairo is incredibly crowded and filled with the noise of honking horns and idling car engines. When you’ve had all the noise you can take, head over to the Borsa district, which is the city’s stock exchange center. Because cars are not permitted here, you can enjoy an afternoon of quiet among Cairo’s locals. There are numerous coffee shops here where you can enjoy a steaming cup of joe and chat with other patrons in a relaxing setting. You might even find a local or two eager to join you in a game of backgammon.

Museum of Egyptian Antiquities

History buffs won’t want to miss this museum, which houses more than 100,000 Egyptian artifacts. From art, to tools, to handwares, there are more ancient artifacts than you could possibly see in a week, let alone a day. Of particular interest to many tourists is the treasure of Tutankhamen, a minor pharaoh who has nonetheless been ingrained in Western minds. The vast array of items might seem overwhelming unless you have a degree in Egyptology. Lacking the background knowledge that comes with such a degree, it might be worthwhile to opt for the guided tour.

Islamic Cairo

Although Cairo is a city of many cultures and religions, Islam has left an unmistakable mark on the architecture and flavor of this metropolis. If you want to gain an understanding of the true history of the city, spend a day wandering through the narrow streets of Islamic Cairo. You’ll encounter the arts and foods of Islamic culture, as well as well-known mosques such as Ibn Tulun and Al Azhar. Most mosques feature open areas where Westerners can freely wander; however, it is important to know that venturing beyond the designated areas is generally forbidden.

Felucca Boat

Felucca Boats

If you wander along the Nile in Cairo, you’ll undoubtedly notice the numerous feluccas lining the waters. You can hop aboard a felucca for a public tour or rent a boat for a private party. You’ll enjoy a 30 minute ride along the Nile and see the towering buildings rising above traditional buildings from centuries gone by. At the end of the ride, you can enjoy a picnic along the banks of the Nile or simply wander the lands that have captured the imaginations of Westerners for decades.

With so many things to see and do, a trip to Cairo can be overwhelming. Your Global Connections Travel Agency specialist can recommend excursions and activities tailored to your unique needs and preferences.

Top Attractions in Jacksonville, Florida

Jacksonville FL

Located along the Atlantic Ocean and near the Georgia border, Jacksonville, FL offers a vacation experience far removed from crowded Florida destinations like Fort Lauderdale and Tampa. Although this city might not offer the notoriety of more well-known Florida tourist cities, Jacksonville is the largest and most populous city in the state. This makes it an excellent destination for travelers who want a wide range of activity options. When you travel to Jacksonville through Global Discovery Vacations, you’ll want to take in at least a few of these attractions during your stay.

Southbank Riverwalk

Along the banks of the St. John’s River, you can explore the 1.2 mile riverwalk where Jacksonville tourists and locals mingle in a laid-back setting. From the Southbank Riverwalk, you can enjoy the views of the water and downtown Jacksonville. The riverwalk is also located near many of the city’s well-known restaurants, making it a great place to sample the local cuisine. Be sure to stop by the Friendship Fountain, which is among the highest spraying fountains in the world. Southbank Riverwalk also offers easy access to the Museum of Science and History.

Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art

Although the southeastern United States is not particularly well known for its art museums, this museum offers an expansive collection of works by contemporary artists including Rosenquist, Paschke, and and Hofmann. In all, the Jacksonville Museum of Contemporary Art boasts a permanent collection of more than 1,000 sculptures, paintings, and other works of art. The museum also hosts a variety of temporary exhibitions throughout the year – be sure to check the schedule before you arrive to learn about current exhibitions. This museum is an excellent place to escape the summer sun or spend a rainy afternoon while visiting Jacksonville.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens

If you are traveling with children, you’ll want to make time to visit the Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens. Be sure to follow the pine trail that leads to a petting zoo perfect for kids. Your youngsters will also enjoy a ride on the Zoo train that allows them to explore the zoo in a leisurely fashion. There are more than 160 animals in the zoo, including several species of apes, silverback gorillas, chimpanzees, and bonobos. You and your traveling companions will also enjoy the aviary, where you’ll see more than 800 birds in a tropical setting.

Jacksonville Landing

Jacksonville Landing offers a wealth of people-watching opportunities. This entertainment complex, located in downtown Jacksonville, is filled with restaurants representing a wide range of cuisines, from casual fare to upscale seafood creations. There are also dozens of shops where you can find everything from fashion apparel to antique items. Take in the views of Jacksonville or mingle with locals and tourists in the central court yard. In the evenings, you can catch live music and other entertainment in the main court area.

Fort Caroline National Memorial

When you grow tired of the busy tourist attractions in Jacksonville, take a break and visit Fort Caroline National Memorial. Here, you’ll discover the spot where the first Protestant colony in the United States was established by the French Huguenots. There is an expansive museum where you can see artifacts that provide insights into early Native American and French life in Florida. You’ll also find a peaceful nature trail that winds around the memorial. If you’re looking for a relaxing experience, load up the picnic basket and enjoy a quiet picnic in this peaceful, natural setting.

Between excursions, you’ll want to rejuvenate at one of Jacksonville’s beautiful hotels. With the help of your Global Discovery Vacations specialist, you can find the hotel that is perfect for you and your fellow travelers.

Museum Experiences in Seattle, Washington

Seattle Skyline

If you’re planning a visit to Seattle through Global Vacation Network or another travel provider, you’ll probably want to hit the major tourist attractions, such as the Space Needle and Pike’s Place. You’ll most likely want to capture your own photos of these spots to post on your social media pages and email to your friends. When you’ve grown weary of wading through throngs of other tourists, though, you might want to check out at least one or two of the city’s museums. Seattle’s museums offer a respite from the typical tourist experience and give you the opportunity to experience a different side of Seattle’s unique culture.

Pacific Science Center

If you are exploring Seattle with children, or you simply have a deep appreciation for science, be sure to visit the Pacific Science Center during your stay. Situated near the Seattle Space Needle, this museum offers hands-on exhibits to promote education and fun for children and adults alike. Spend some time at the Planetarium, where you and your fellow travelers can enjoy elaborate astronomy exhibits. The Pacific Science Center also features a laser dome, an IMAX theater, and a butterfly habitat where you can see numerous types of butterflies in an expertly designed indoor tropical setting.

Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum (locally referred to as “SAM”) was originally founded in 1933. Today, it houses more than 25,000 artworks and also encompasses the Seattle Asian Art Museum and the Waterfront Sculpture Park. Its permanent collections focus more heavily on modern art than European classical paintings; however, its temporary exhibitions more than make up for this gap. During your visit, be sure to see the museum’s collection of aboriginal Australian art.

Museum of Glass

If you have any interest in modern art, you might know that Dale Chihuly is a native of Tacoma, just a short drive from Seattle. Chihuly has become famous for his colorful, hand-blown glass sculptures that grace botanical gardens and art museums around the world. He is also the founder of the Pilchuk Glass Blowing School in Seattle and the pioneer of modern blown glass sculpture. The Museum of Glass, located in Tacoma, offers an expansive collection of glass works by Chihuly and other local artists.

EMP Museum Guitar

EMP Museum

Few people would disagree that Seattle played an important role in the development of music throughout the second half of the 20th century. Even today, many musical artists cite Seattle natives as influences. At the EMP Museum, formerly called the Experience Music Project, you can witness the development of music in the Seattle Area. Of course, Nirvana is heavily represented here – EMP Museum houses little-known musical possessions of Kurt Cobain, the grunge band’s founder. If grunge rock doesn’t interest you, you can browse the museum’s collection of Jimi Hendrix’s instruments and handwritten lyrics. Be sure to check the museum’s schedule before you go – you might have the opportunity to participate in a music workshop during your visit.

Of course, Seattle offers much more than museums – people-watching at an independent coffee shop and exploring Puget Sound by ferry are classic Seattle tourist experiences for Global Vacation Network travelers. Visiting one of the city’s museums, though, is a great way to enjoy a well-rounded vacation.

3 Things a Travel Agent Can Help You With When Traveling Abroad

art, science, loveThe steady decline in the price of travel over the last few decades now allows people with even modest means travel abroad, at least with a bit of planning. The opening up of foreign travel to more people, while good in any number of ways, also comes with the problem of people traveling abroad without the advantage of family history of foreign travel. A travel agent can help people traveling abroad for the first time in several ways.

Dealing With Local Expectations

Even in other Western societies, the differences in what the locals expect and what we take for granted in behavior can show remarkable differences. For example, failing to finish food in the US is generally shrugged off, but is considered an offensive act in France. Travel agents generally have an excellent working knowledge of the local expectations and customs at destinations they often send clients. Your travel agent can give you a number of tips regarding behaviors expected of you and customs or behaviors you might find unusual.

Special Requirements

The particulars of American law and the efforts to increase accessibility to those with a wide range of disabilities can leave us unprepared for the lack of such accessibility overseas. While many countries and businesses make an effort to improve accessibility, it is not the case everywhere. If you or someone you are traveling with requires special accommodations of some kind, such as wheelchair accessibility, your agent can do the legwork to ensure that you get booked into hotels that provide the correct accessibility. This work can prove especially difficult to accomplish on your own, as the time differences abroad and language barriers can severely limit your ability to communicate your needs.

Logistical Support

In some instances, either because of a work demand or by choice, a person will travel to a country where the political situation is murky. Traveling in countries where the political or military situation is in flux poses a unique set of challenges and also increases the likelihood that a traveler will need access to an embassy or consulate. Even under regular circumstances, you may find that you have lost your passport and require a replacement, which also requires that you access your embassy or consulate. Your travel agent should be able to provide you with the location and telephone numbers of all of the embassies or consulates in the country you are visiting before you leave. If you lose this information, they will also be able to provide it to you over the phone or via email.

Foreign travel offers a unique opportunity to explore history and other cultures, but the unprepared traveler can find the experience jolting or problematic. Your travel agent can help to prepare you for the cultural differences, make arrangements for any special requirements and offer you logistical support before and during your trip.

Travel Agents Help You Get Local

village alsacien

Have you ever gone on a trip somewhere with the intention of learning about another culture? Once you got there, did you go to the major sites and maybe stop in at a restaurant only to discover that the only locals in the entire place were staff members? If so, you’re not alone. When you travel to another country and visit the well-known sites, like Trafalgar Square in England, it’s a lot like visiting someone who is throwing a party. They go out of their way to put on their best face for company. While that can be nice, it also makes it hard to get a real feel for what a culture is like. If that’s not what you’re after, a travel agent can help you get local.

Of course, you don’t necessarily need a travel agent to get local. You can do it the old fashioned way, introduce yourself to people you meet, pray the language barrier isn’t insurmountable, and hope for the best. That method can and does work for people, but it can also be time consuming. You are, after all, a stranger in a community and that can make someone hesitant to invite you into their home or take you to their favorite haunt. What if you turn out to be rude? You get to go home. They have to live there.

This is the spot where a travel agent can really work a bit of magic. As travel agents have moved from being generalists that know a little bit about a lot of places to being specialists that know almost everything about a couple of places, their relationship with locals have changed. Agents aren’t just on a first name basis with the hotel managers in a destination, although you can expect that too. They are also on a first name basis with a lot of the locals.

In order to specialize in a destination, a good travel agent needs to go there. They need to spend time learning about the culture, about the opportunities and about the pitfalls. The best way to do that is to get to know the people who live there. Agents develop personal relationships with locals, not just in the travel sector, but people in the community who might be of interest to travelers. They’ll get to know local chefs, artists, and as many local guides as they can find.

When it comes time to send you there for a local experience, they know who to call. They know which guides will show you the real culture and community and which ones will show you around the tourist traps. They can make arrangements with their friends to set you up with one-on-one chats with those artists or a private meal with a local chef. You won’t be left rolling the dice on trying to get local. Your agent will make sure you arrive with a plan to make it happen.

Making the Best of Holiday Travel Problems

Happy woman shruggingSpend enough time traveling during the holidays and eventually you’re going to experience a problem. Your car will break down. Your flight will get cancelled. Your child will come down with some horrible sickness halfway to your destination. Here are some tips for making the best of holiday travel problems.

Take in the Local Sites

If you’re going to be stuck somewhere for a day or two while your vehicle gets repaired, there isn’t much point in staying at the hotel the whole time. In the days leading up to Christmas and New Year, there tends to be a wide range of events going on, from festivals to concerts. If you’re stuck in Chicago, you can pay a visit to the Christkindlmarket in Daley Plaza. Find yourself making an unplanned stay in Atlanta, take in the Fantasy in Lights at Callaway Gardens.

Catch up on Work

It may not be the most exciting way to kill some time, but if you have the time to kill and can access your work from the road, a delay can give you a chance to put in some serious time on your work. This can be especially pragmatic if you’re traveling alone and don’t want to spend the whole day talking on the phone to keep from getting bored. Taking this approach also means you get something to fill up the hours and you know you’ll be heading home ahead of the game.

Hit Up Local Family

With more and more families now spread from coast to coast, you might have a hospitable cousin near where you’re stuck and not even know it. Reach out to the family back home and ask if you have a relative nearby who might be willing to take in a stranded traveler for the night. This saves you the expense of a hotel room, gives you a chance to meet or catch up with family, and doesn’t leave you wishing for something better to do than order a movie on pay-per-view.

Relax

The holidays induce stress in a lot of people. The travel, the noise, and the fear that some old family squabble will rear its head again can have the tension building before you ever leave. A travel delay can give you a little window of time to decompress. Take that hour-long bath you never get at home or read that novel you’ve been meaning to get to for the last six months.

When holiday travel problems strike, there usually isn’t much you can do to avoid them. It’s usually some external force at work and you’re stuck with the results. While problems getting home for the holidays can be something of a killjoy, you can still make the best of it and arrive home late, but with a smile.

 

5 Must Know Travel Tips

My Suitcase

There are any number of things that can make an otherwise agreeable bit of travel seem deeply aggravating or downright obnoxious. Here are 5 must know travel tips to help you avoid walking away from travel with hard feelings about the trip.

Clear Plastic Bags

Even if you follow all the rules and don’t make a fuss, you might still find yourself getting picked out of line for a random screening at an airport, which means your bags will be gone through. If the idea of a TSA agent rifling through your underwear doesn’t appeal to you, consider packing them and other items you don’t want touched into clear plastic bags. It’s not guaranteed the bags won’t get opened, but there is a good chance the bags will only receive cursory inspection.

Forget Social Media Exists

Social media can be a wonderful tool for you, but also for thieves. Proudly announcing that you’re going to Hawaii, Portugal, or New Zealand makes sense and may turn up the jealousy factor among your friends. Announcing that you’re at the airport getting ready to leave the country and, probably, leave your apartment or house untended for days or weeks is foolish.

Less is More

Many people fall prey to over-packing. During travel, less really is more, in that the less you bring, the less you have to carry. Unless you’re going very far off the beaten path, odds are that you’ll be able to find a cleaning service if it turns out you do need that cocktail dress or suit more than once on your trip. Another way to cut down is to limit yourself to one check bag and one carry-on. This forces you to prioritize.

Travel Agents Can Help

Don’t discount travel agents unless you’re planning a very simple trip. Travel agents can make your life a lot easier with everything from booking to getting tickets to that sold out event at your destination. For Orlando residents, you can try a travel agent by dropping in at 6200 Metrowest Blvd. Suite 208, Orlando, FL 32835.

You Can Live Without It

With the exception of your tickets, your passport/visa, and some kind of money, (medication too if you have a condition) there is nothing you take on a trip that you can’t live without if you leave it behind somewhere. If you can’t live without it, like that one of a kind heirloom that has been passed down for seven generations, it shouldn’t be going with you.

While there is always the potential to have travel go wrong, these tips will help to steer clear of some of the most avoidable aggravations that travel has to offer.

Travel Agents Make Travel Personal Again

Family tripAt this very moment, servers in a data center are crunching and compiling data and then sending travel listings to computers all over the world. On the surface, this is very efficient and no doubt meets some standard of optimization. It is also cold, clinical and impersonal. No matter how abundant the information a travel site provides, it can never gush about a hotel chef or shoot down a hotel’s customer service claims with prejudice. Travel agents, on the other hand, make travel personal again.

Of course, like any modern industry, travel agents make frequent use of technology to streamline their services. It only makes sense for them to use computers to handle standard booking, rather than call in the same booking. What travel agents don’t do is substitute technology for real interaction with their clients.

Travel agents today cannot do their jobs effectively if they don’t like people. They can’t do anything more for you than a website without asking you questions, getting to know something about your life, and assessing the reasons you travel.

For example, if you’re a consultant or a public speaker, your main objective in using a travel agent is no doubt to free you from the constant need to make arrangements for yourself. You travel to make a living and you’re probably looking to outsource that part of your job so you can focus on doing the parts of your work that bring in revenue. Knowing this about you, your agent will focus on functional issues, such as your preferred airlines and hotels, which class you prefer to fly in, and how important cost savings are to your travel choices.

On the other hand, if you only travel for pleasure, your agent is going to ask you very different kinds of questions. They’ll want to know what kinds of experiences you’re looking to come away with from your trip. Is relaxation your prime motivator or do you want to be doing something most of time? Do you travel to do sports, such as skiing or mountain climbing? Is it critical to go somewhere new on every trip or do you have places you like to visit Spain every year or two?

Understanding these kinds of personal details helps the agent to personalize your travel experience by focusing in on the things they know are key to you getting what you want out of travel. A travel website is really only interested in when you want to go, where you want to go and how much you want to pay for it. If the personal side of travel matters to you, consider paving visit to the agents at 6200 Metrowest Blvd. Suite 208 Orlando, FL 32835.

Top 5 Reasons To Take A Cruise

Cruise ship

Travel is dream for some and a lifestyle for others, but it can also be physically taxing and expensive. A cross-country drive can sound kind of romantic or adventurous, like something from a Kerouac novel. In practice, though, it’s more likely to leave you with a sore back than any kind of spiritual awakening. Air travel, though readily available, often routes you inconveniently if you want to do it on the cheap and heaps a bevy of fees on you to make up for low ticket prices. If you’re looking to travel, here are 5 reasons to pick a cruise.

Comfort

On a cruise, you get a cabin complete with bed and a shower. You don’t have to worry about driving until you find a hotel that doesn’t look like an extra from a horror movie. You also don’t have to fret about missing your connection or falling asleep behind the wheel because you forgot to get a cup of coffee at that last gas station.

Lifestyle Options

On a plane, you’re stuck with whoever else is booked on the flight, be it the overwrought mother or the huffy businessman who shakes his head at your choice of reading material. Cruise lines offer lots of choices and you can pick one that lines up with your lifestyle, be it a singles cruise or seniors cruise.

Value for Your Money

In many ways, cruises are an all-in-one package from the moment you get on-board until you disembark. The ship is a floating hotel that also provides excellent food, multiple kinds of entertainment, and it takes you to exotic or not-so-exotic destinations (depending on your preferences) for the price of a ticket.

Simplifies Planning

Vacation planning is never just about the place you are going. It’s also about the places you are going to go once you get there. You have to hash out the details of what to hit and what to miss, which can be time-consuming and frustrating. On a cruise, you know where you’re going, when you’re getting there and when you’re leaving. The plan is already in place, leaving you free to enjoy your trip.

It’s Like a Tour

While you can certainly visit lots of places on vacation, it generally means flying somewhere and finding transport to all those other places. A cruise is a tour that lets you try out lot of destinations without committing to a single one.

Cruises offer you a range of choices at a level of comfort that is virtually impossible to replicate with any other form of travel. If you’ve tried the cross-country drive or train ride and you’re tired of planes, head out to 100 East Granada Blvd, Ormond Beach, Florida 32176 and see about trying a cruise on for size.