Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

 

Happy Independence Day

 

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Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
So what did happen on July 4, 1776?

The Continental Congress approved the final wording of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. They’d been working on it for a couple of days after the draft was submitted on July 2nd and finally agreed on all of the edits and changes.
July 4, 1776, became the date that was included on the Declaration of Independence, and the fancy handwritten copy that was signed in August (the copy now displayed at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.) It’s also the date that was printed on the Dunlap Broadsides, the original printed copies of the Declaration that were circulated throughout the new nation. So when people thought of the Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776 was the date they remembered.
In contrast, we celebrate Constitution Day on September 17th of each year, the anniversary of the date the Constitution was signed, not the anniversary of the date it was approved. If we’d followed this same approach for the Declaration of Independence we’d being celebrating Independence Day on August 2nd of each year, the day the Declaration of Independence was signed!

 

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How did the Fourth of July become a national holiday?

For the first 15 or 20 years after the Declaration was written, people didn’t celebrate it much on any date. It was too new and too much else was happening in the young nation. By the 1790s, a time of bitter partisan conflicts, the Declaration had become controversial. One party, the Democratic-Republicans, admired Jefferson and the Declaration. But the other party, the Federalists, thought the Declaration was too French and too anti-British, which went against their current policies.
By 1817, John Adams complained in a letter that America seemed uninterested in its past. But that would soon change.
After the War of 1812, the Federalist party began to come apart and the new parties of the 1820s and 1830s all considered themselves inheritors of Jefferson and the Democratic-Republicans. Printed copies of the Declaration began to circulate again, all with the date July 4, 1776, listed at the top. The deaths of Thomas Jefferson and John Adams on July 4, 1826, may even have helped to promote the idea of July 4 as an important date to be celebrated.
Celebrations of the Fourth of July became more common as the years went on and in 1870, almost a hundred years after the Declaration was written, Congress first declared July 4 to be a national holiday as part of a bill to officially recognize several holidays, including Christmas. Further legislation about national holidays, including July 4, was passed in 1939 and 1941.

Interesting to know isn’t it??

If you need help planning a trip to the US then please get in touch it would be my pleasure to help you.

Thank you

 

Booked your summer holiday yet??

Booked your summer holiday yet??

 

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If you haven’t yet managed to book your summer holiday, it’s not too late.
Give me a call for some amazing last-minute getaways, built around you.

Even if you’re sorted for 2014, I’d be delighted if you could let your family, friends and colleagues know about me.

Lots of people you know might be searching for a better way to book their holiday, but they don’t know I exist. You’d be doing them a huge favour by giving them my contact details, and letting them know about the kind of  holiday they could be enjoying very soon.

I look after my clients, from your very first enquiry until you’re safely back home. My clients book with me time and time again, because they know I listen carefully to their needs. I offer a level of choice and personal service that simply can’t be found on the high street or the internet. I believe in a friendly and exceptional levels of customer service.

 

Service with a personal touchA

So please, don’t keep me a secret!

My details are Jan Cross
Telephone Number 07738 923911 OR 02392 551082
Email: jansdreamholidays@gmail.com
Website: www.travellingthedream.com

I hope to hear from you soon.

Spirit of Cuba

Spirit of Cuba

The Spirit of Cuba Tour

Med_01 Down town Havana

This is a private tour of Cuba

Durations :9 Days / 7 Nights
Discover Cuba’s historic splendour, vibrant culture and tropical countryside. Stroll around old Havana’s beautiful squares, travel in classic 1950s cars and visit the wonderfully preserved colonial centre of Trinidad. Stay in luxury in the heart of these two most beautiful cities and discover an exotic and distinctive destination before it changes.

 

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Itinerary

Day 1 – To Havana: Fly to Havana with Virgin Atlantic. Transfer to the Saratoga Hotel for 3 nights (Junior suite). Located in the centre of Havana, the Saratoga has been restored to combine its 19th-century style with contemporary luxury facilities. (N)

Day 2 – Havana: Morning walking tour of the old town, including a visit to a cigar factory and the rum museum. This afternoon, take a panoramic tour of the city in a classic American car. (B, L)

Day 3 – Havana: Day at leisure to explore Havana or take an optional tour of the Viñales valley. Recommendations include a stop for a drink at El Floridita, home of the daiquiri and one of Hemingway’s favourite haunts. Optional evening Buena Vista Social Club performance with dinner at the Hotel Nacional*. (B)

Day 4 – To Trinidad: Travel to the Frenchinfluenced port of Cienfuegos for a brief city tour. After lunch at Palacio de Valle, continue to Trinidad and stay 3 nights at the Iberostar Grand Hotel, a small elegant property in the heart of the old town. (B, L)

Day 5 – Trinidad: Morning tour of the Valley of the Sugar Mills, the ruins of the plantations that were once worked by slaves. Afternoon tour of Trinidad’s old town, a Unesco world heritage site. (B, L)

Day 6 – Trinidad: At leisure to explore the colonial streets of Trinidad or the nearby Caribbean beaches. (B)

Day 7 – To Havana: Drive to Havana, visiting the historic town of Santa Clara and Che Guevara’s museum en route. Stay overnight at the Hotel Saratoga (Junior suite). (B, L)

Day 8 – To London: Transfer to the airport and fly to London with Virgin Atlantic. (B)

Day 9 – London: Morning arrival (N)

Meal Basis: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner, (N) = No Meals

 

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GUIDELINE PRICES:

Low season from: £1,995
High season from: £2,195

 

Note: This is a suggested itinerary, which can be tailored to suit your needs. Prices, based on two people travelling and sharing a twin-room, are intended as a guideline only and will vary according to time of year. The itinerary is based on a Monday or Thursday departure to coincide with the Virgin Atlantic schedule to Havana.

Buena Vista Social Club – Performances are on Thursdays and Saturdays and are subject to change.

Extensions: It is possible to finish your journey on the soft sandy beaches of Cayo Santa Maria with a 3-night stay at the first-class Melia Buenavista, an adults-only resort set apart from the rest of the hotels. Please enquire for details and prices.

If you would like to sample this tour please get in touch and I can check the availability for you, if you need to change the itinerary or add a beach stay on the end then just let me know.

Look forward to hearing from you.

Jan @ jansdreamholidays@gmail.com

 

Renaissance St Pancras Hotel, London

Renaissance St Pancras Hotel, London

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The California event I attended last week was held at the Renaissance St Pancras Hotel and this hotel has certainly got the WOW factor. It’s attached to St Pancras International Station making it the perfect hotel to stay in before  setting off on the Eurostar.

When you walk into the lobby it had such a great feeling to it. Although it was morning it was busy with people sat either working on laptops or just relaxing drinking tea. It stayed this way all day and by the afternoon, guests were arriving for afternoon tea. It was a warm bright lobby and I sat there for a while just taking in the atmosphere.

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The Booking office is a great setting for breakfast, snacks or dining. There is an all day menu and again is just a great place to sit and soak up the atmosphere while looking at the great architecture. This also leads straight out to St Pancras Station where there is a great array of shops.

The Gilbert Scott restaurant is operated by one of Britains most celebrated chefs, Marcus Warring, who has just been announced as the new judge on Masterchef.

I got a quick peek at the St Pancras Spa with six beauty rooms, a fully equipped gym, Steam and Sauna rooms and a relaxation pool along with the relaxation room. It certainly looked very impressive to me.

There are two different parts to the accommodation here. The Chambers and The Barlow House. I got to see one of the great Chamber Suites on my tour and oh my. When I stay at this hotel The Chambers is where I will be resting my head. You have access to the Chambers Club where breakfast can be taken, light snacks are available throughout the day. You also have access to a Hotel Butler who will be able to assist you with practically anything.

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Did you know that this is the only hotel in the world who has immigration clearance to escort you from your hotel bedroom to your train?? Pretty impressive.

Historic tours of the St. Pancras Renaissance Hotel run throughout the week and most weekends and last just over an hour. This would be a great way to see and learn the history of the hotel that originally opened in 1873

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Did you know apart from the famous staircase featured in the Spice Girls first video ‘Wannabe’ in 1996 many scenes from films have also been shot here including Batman, Shirley Valentine, Bridget Jones and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

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Next time we travel on the Eurostar I will definitely begin my trip a day early and stay here. I recommend you do too. Please get in contact with me for rates and availability.

Have you already stayed here or been here for afternoon tea?? I would love to hear your thoughts.

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh

Waldorf Astoria Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh

 

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We stayed at the Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh in March when the cold spell was still strongly present. The hotel has recently undergone a luxurious £24 million refit to bring this landmark Scottish property into line with other Waldorf Astoria Hotels.

‘The Caley’, as it is known among Edinburgh locals, is situated at the west end of Princes Street, this former Victorian railway hotel nestles in the shadow of the historic Edinburgh Castle and is just two minutes’ walk from the designer shops and trending bars of George Street.

We checked in at the new reception area, quickly and efficiently and took the lift to our room. Upon opening the door we quickly realised we were in a Twin bedded room not a Double as we should be. We rang down to Reception and was advised they would look into it and call us back which they did and we were taken to another room with a Double Bed. However this room was completely different to the first and to be honest was more of a box room. The bathroom was pretty chilly too but thought it would warm up now the room was being used. When we awoke the next morning the bathroom was icy and was so cold I was literally hopping from one foot to the next trying to keep warm. We went to reception and advised them of the situation and asked for something to be done. We were told they would certainly look into this straight away. We were out exploring the castle and sights and returned to get ready for a Gala Dinner only to find it was still freezing nothing had been done. It was too late to reiterate the situation to reception again. When we checked out the next morning I explained the situation again and was told that Guest Relations would contact me in due course. I waited 3 weeks long enough I thought, then contacted them myself.

The hotel is beautiful and had our room problems have never happened it would have been a great stay. There is clearly a lack of communication between different departments at The Caledonian. This lack of communication unfortunately made our stay unenjoyable.

The hotel features a gym with brand-new equipment, as well a wet area featuring mixed sauna and steam rooms, pool and jacuzzi. There is also a Guerlain Spa available, it’s the only one in Scotland.

The original Waldorf and Astoria hotels in Manhattan were connected by a corridor named ‘Peacock Alley’. Now, every Waldorf-Astoria has a Peacock Alley although not just a corridor now, this is the name traditionally given to the lounge area. In The Caledonian, its Peacock Alley is a huge, bright area which incorporates the former stations ticket office in. We sat in the lounge to use the free WiFi available, as its chargeable in the bedrooms. We also meet here in the evening for drinks before our Gala Dinner. I must mention The Caley Bar, even if you’re not staying in this hotel come and have a drink, they make a mean Martini!!

Overall, the hotel is in one of Edinburgh’s most prime locations and the refit of the hotel has left with a true luxurious feel to the main areas. (sadly not our bedroom though)

Would I honestly stay here again? If I could guarantee a room without the arctic temperatures in the bathroom then yes. However there are plenty of other hotels in Edinburgh and working in the travel Industry it’s always nice to try a new hotel and see what we think. Just like we did when we stayed here.

I have been in contact with Guest Relations regarding our issues during our stay and they have apologised but nothing can change that first impression. All we wanted was the room we paid for. At nearly £200 a night I would and I’m sure you would to expect a warm bathroom. If you have any problems with your room or any other aspect of your stay always let someone at the hotel know immediately so they can hopefully rectify the situation while your there. If you don’t say anything until your home it’s often too late to change.

Have you ever stayed at The Caledonian? Have you been disappointed in the room you have been allocated at a hotel. I would love to hear from you.

 

You’ll love San Francisco with CityPASS

You’ll love San Francisco with CityPASS

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The CityPASS

Meeting up with Annie, Director of Tourism Sales and Marketing of CityPASS this week was a great way to learn more about the CityPASS product.

These passes are available to purchase in the UK and a great way to save money on the Cities tourist attractions.

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The San Francisco CityPASS will give you access to the most FAMOUS attractions at ONE AMAZING price, with plenty of time to take advantage of the savings! With nine days to use all of the tickets it is perfect for a weekend or week away! CityPASS is the best deal in San Francisco, offering you admission to 5 amazing experiences!

It is all you need to see the best of San Francisco!
San Francisco CityPASS includes admissions to:
Muni & Cable Car 7- day Passport
California Academy of Sciences
Blue & Gold Fleet Bay Cruise Adventure
Option Ticket 1:Aquarium of the Bay OR Monterey Bay Aquarium
Option Ticket 2:Exploratorium OR de Young Museum + Legion of Honor
Highlights:
Plus, you will save time as the CityPASS enables you to avoid those queues.
The CityPASS comes with useful information, such as a map, hours of operation, transportation information, contact information and insiders’ tips.

San Francisco CityPass Bonus Offers!
Bloomingdale’s: Includes 15% savings all day, and a signature gift when you spend $100 or more.
AT&T Park: Includes 2 for 1 admission to the Behind-the-Scenes Tour of the San Francisco Giants home ground
GoCar Tours: Includes a second hour at half price!
Blazing Saddles Bike Rentals and Tours: $5 off the daily rate!
Pier 39 Fun Pack: Your CityPass coupon entitles you to dozens of further discounts at Pier 39!

Please Note: With the Option Ticket choice you choose which of the two attractions you prefer to visit. You do not need to decide at the time of purchase which of the two attractions you want to visit.

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The CityPASS product is also available in these cities: ATLANTA, BOSTON, CHICAGO, HOUSTON, NEW YORK, PHILADELPHIA, SAN FRANCISCO, SEATTLE, SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA, TAMPA BAY AND TORONTO.

If you want to know more about one of these cities and prices then please get in touch.

Don’t forget lots of offers to the USA are available on my Facebook page.

 

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Service

Virgin Atlantic’s Upper Class Service

Ever wondered if it was worth paying the extra to fly Upper Class with Virgin Atlantic. Well read on and I will tell you what I thought.

The whole Upper Class experience begins the moment you set foot in the Airport. We travelled from Gatwick Airport, and as soon as we began to head towards the Upper Class check in desks we were greeted by a Lady In Red!! Our passports were taken by the Check In staff and our cases taken from us, there was NO queue, there was NO stress, there was NO weighing our luggage or hand luggage. We were given our fastrack boarding passes, asked if we needed directions to the Clubhouse and away we went.

Fastrack at Gatwick is by invitation only and should by the name be fast. Unfortunately not this time. The queue wasn’t too bad when we entered but ten minutes later when we were still waiting to go through the turnstile, they were suggesting passengers go to the normal departures as it was quicker!! Suggestions to improve this, definitely more staff showing passengers how to use the gates, nobody was standing correctly and the machine sensors couldn’t pick them up.

We eventually headed to the Clubhouse. You can read my review of this here, it was so great it needed its own post!!!

When it was time to board the aircraft Upper Class passengers and Gold Cardholders boarded first. We had our jackets hung for us, our carry-on suitcases stowed in wardrobes and were offered champagne or juice before we took off.

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The cabin does have a more personal feel to it, its more casual and relaxed.

The seats which can fold down to make a flat bed were very comfortable. There was a large soft pillow and duvet stowed behind your seat. As soon as we took off my Daughter tested out the flat bed and stayed there for most of the journey cuddled in the duvet!!

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There is a 10″ entertainment screen that pops out the side of your area. Its on an easily moveable arm and the remote control is easily accessible too. You have a power point and a large sturdy tray to eat, work or play at. My son’s goal was to watch as many movies as possible. You get to use a nice pair of headphones.

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The seats on the aircraft we travelled on, a 747-400 are arranged in a herringbone shape allowing lots of privacy. It is so nice to have direct access to the aisle and not have to worry about climbing over your neighbour. You have an ottoman at the end of your seat to either put your feet up on or have a companion come and join you for a drink. I stowed most of my belongings in the ottoman as its hollow.

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Food, yum yum in this case I’ll let the pictures do the talking.

A few pictures of the views outside.

One thing I would say that dampened our experience and I must strongly advise you to check this every time is your seats numbers. I ALWAYS prebook our seat numbers beforehand if this facility is available. We did this months in advance and got four seats together. As we had an informal check in at the Upper Class Desk it never occurred to me to recheck the seat numbers and it wasn’t until we got onboard we realised our seats had been changed and we were split up. After being in contact with Virgin Atlantic Customer Relations I must warn you that that is NOT a Virgin Atlantic policy to advise customers travelling in ANY class if they change your seats for any reason. We are all aware especially those who have worked in the Travel Industry that when you book an airline ticket you are booking a seat not a seat number but out of courtesy it would be nice to be advised. Maybe its time for this policy to be changed? It would have certainly made a difference to the start of our trip. Nobody wants to spend a 9 hour flight split from their family!!

Overall we once again loved the Upper Class experience. Is it worth the extra? I would definitely do it again, if I can get a great deal on the fare or use our flying club miles. I never buy a full fare ticket, but who does nowadays??

Have you ever flown Upper Class? Was it worth it for you? Have you ever had your seat numbers changed by an airine? I would be very interested in hearing your thoughts.

USA Road Tripping In Style

USA Road Tripping In Style

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Have you ever had that dream of cruising on the open road in that little red sports car. Your hair blowing slightly in the wind under that perfect white scarf and your pillar box red lippy glistening the sun?? Me too and my dream came true on my Honeymoon when my Hubby and I got to cruise down the Pacific Highway Coastal Road., California.

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ONLY I didn’t look like this picture and I don’t have any pictures to post. Why?? Because all my pictures show my wind swept hair standing on end and my sunburnt nose!! Not cool.

So now is my chance to tell you how to do it right and in style too!!

I was made aware by Bloggers Lounge of a great travel competition that Round the World Experts are running and thought it was a great way to show you exactly what I mean.

You don’t need to spend a fortune on fashion you just need to be organised and mix n match some essential pieces. You can’t be taking those big suitcases with you. WHY?? Because the truck on these convertibles are tiny and you don’t want that big suitcase perched the back seat cramping your style do you?? Yes that was us with the massive suitcase taking up the back seat!!!  So mix n match is the plan.

Here are a few idea’s to help you.

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Or maybe these?

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Look after your face and hair too. Keep your hair in tip top condition and cover with a hat or scarf to keep that windswept look at bay. Sunscreen, you must apply frequently. We spent literally all day driving and although we applied sunscreen at intervals it obviously wasn’t enough. Keep reapplying throughout your road trip.

Here’s a few photo’s of the scenery you may see along the way.

 

It’s great fun planning each outfit and you’ll be surprised how little you actually need to take with you. Don’t forget all those cool shops along the way too, you may want to buy another bag whilst your there!!! Enjoy your trip and don’t forget to get that fab photo of you driving your convertible in style!!!

Have fun cruising the open roads and would love to see any of your pictures you take.

Lake Tahoe California & The Alder Inn

Lake Tahoe California & The Alder Inn

 

We are starting to plan our next West Coast Road trip and it has bought back fond memories of our last one in 2012.

Sometimes I think its harder planning your own trip than helping others. It takes me forever to decide on which hotel we should stay in!!! Normally the higher star rating the more guarantee of a splendid hotel.

However this time when deciding on accommodation at Lake Tahoe I trusted the reviews on Tripadvisor as The Alder Inn was rated 1st in South Lake Tahoe. Its actually classed as a Motel and believe me I hesitated for ages before booking but I’m glad I made the decision and followed the reviews. It’s family run and the advice they give us as it was our first visit to the area was outstanding.

We were checked in and shown to our room The Audrey Hepburn Room. I love these colours and felt right at home here. As you can see from the pictures everything is colour co-ordinated even the bathroom matched!!

 

The Motel is a great location for walking to the Lake, going to nearby Heavenly and seeing the outstanding views from the top of the Mountain after riding the cable car. We even watched an open air concert and saw a paddling boarding competition.

We hired a speedboat to cruise around the Lake and was so impressed we went back and did it again the next day.

You can hire bikes and follow the trail, eat ice cream at the local ice-cream parlour or just relax on the local beach.

We did it all!!!

It’s on our list to visit again on the next road trip. It’s such a peaceful place to stay and we really didn’t want to leave to continue our trip.

I will leave you with some pictures of the breathtaking views.

 

 

 


I think you will agree the pictures speak for themselves.

If you need any help planning your road trip whether its in the USA or the rest of the world then please get in touch. I’m here to help.

 

Disney News: Fastpass+ and Seven Dwarfs Mine Train

DISNEY HAS CONFIRMED THE OFFICIAL OPENING DATE FOR THE SEVEN DWARFS MINE TRAIN RIDE IS 28TH MAY. THIS IS THE NEWEST ATTRACTION AT MAGIC KINGDOM.

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FASTPASS+ IS ALREADY AVAILABLE TO BOOK FOR THE RIDE.
I SUGGEST YOU START MAKING YOUR FASTPASS+ RESERVATIONS AS EARLY AS YOU CAN THERE WILL BE SOME VERY LONG QUEUES OVER THE NEXT COUPLE OF MONTHS FOR THIS ATTRACTION.

AN EXCLUSIVE FOR FASTPASS+ CUSTOMERS IS STARTING 11TH MAY (USA MOTHERS DAY).
THESE ARE ONLY ACCESSIBLE FOR THOSE WHO HAVE BOOKED A FASSPASS+ NO WALK UPS WILL BE ADMITTED.


MEET DAISY AND DONALD DUCK AT CHARACTER LANDINGS IN DISNEY’S ANIMAL KINGDOM.

MEET MINNIE MOUSE AT THE MAGIC OF DISNEY ANIMATION IN HOLLYWOOD STUDIOS.

MEET WINNIE THE POOH AND FRIENDS IN THE UNITED KINGDOM IN EPCOT. JOIN FRIENDS FROM HUNDRED ACRE WOODS IN CHRISTOPHER ROBINS ROOM.
SO WITH MORE AND MORE BECOMING AVAILABLE ON THE NEW FASTPASS+ SYSTEM, ITS GOING TO BE HARDER AND HARDER TO CHOSE WHICH 3 ATTRACTIONS TO FASTPASS+ FIRST. JUST REMEMBER YOU CAN NOW ADD ADDITIONAL FASTPASS+ AT KIOSKS ACROSS THE DISNEY PARKS ONCE YOU HAVE USED ALL OF YOUR 3 PREBOOKED FASTPASS+

MORE DISNEY NEWS COMING SOON.