Monday, January 31, 2011

One Girl's Getaway to London - Camden Market

I was sad to see Beth and Gemma leave, but I was excited to continue exploring London. Everyone told me I had to check out Camden Market, so I navigated my way via public transportation to the area and met my friend, Eli, there. He gave me a great tour of the area and told me about the history and how it has evolved over the years. I loved checking out the “stalls” in the Stables Market that housed antiques, clothes, hat, collectibles, home goods and vintage clothes. There was so much to see and so much I wanted to buy, but I knew my suitcase was already bursting at the seams. One of our last stops was a boutique called Boon. While most of the dresses were not my style, I did find one that I fell in love with. After speaking with the clerk, I realized he didn’t just work there, but he was the owner of the store and designer. As I paid for my new find, Boon told me that Lady Gaga always stops to see him when she’s in town and bought eight dresses (no meat) from him.

After a late lunch at Fogg’s Restaurant & Bar (, I said goodbye to Eli and headed back to my flat to start the packing process. I had an early plane to catch to Dublin the next morning.

Although I was apprehensive about this trip due to the unfortunate circumstances that happened before I left, I could not have asked for a better trip to a more hospitable city with some of the warmest people I’ve ever met. It is true - you learn a lot about yourself when you travel alone. In hindsight, I wouldn’t have done the trip any differently. Here’s to new friends in 2011!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

One Girls' Getaway to London - My English Family

During this entire trip, I had been meeting some of the nicest people who helped me find my way, gave me directions and brought me into their circle of friends as if we had known each other for 10 years. However, Sam and Jane (Beth’s parents) went above and beyond as they took in a complete stranger (me) for one of the most traditional and family-focused days of the year - Christmas. Plus, I knew I loved Jane when I saw her Christmas tree, Tallulah. We were later joined by Gemma and Oliver (Beth’s siblings) as we opened Christmas presents (Jane and Beth had even wrapped some for me so I didn’t feel left out), watched movies, enjoyed Christmas lunch, and watched the Queen’s Speech (thanks Sam for making me stand up and salute her...alone).

I returned to London on Boxing Day with my two English sisters as Beth and Gemma came to stay with me for a few nights. Although exhausted from the trip, we rallied and joined their step brother, Beau, at a London hot spot to help celebrate his friends birthday. After this crazy night, “what happens on Boxing Day...will not be repeated.” We hung out the next day, watched chick flicks and ordered Chinese take out as we reminisced about the past few days and planned for the girls to come visit me in Florida.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

One Girl's Getaway to London - New Friends

After the sightseeing, I realized how hungry I was. I took a north bound tube (underground) to meet my friend Sharron (a fellow travel writer I met in Montreal) and her friends in the town of Cockfosters. We had a great dinner and then hit one of their favorite local bars, The Orange Tree (, which was appropriate for a girl from Florida. As more friends arrived, we enjoyed cocktails and laughed as they did their very best to teach me proper English jargon (i.e. swim costume).

The next day (Dec. 24) I caught the train from Liverpool to County Somerset, where my stop, Tiverton Parkway, was where I connected with my friend Beth (who I met on press trip to St. Lucia). During the train ride, I met the nicest young lady, Lizzie, who confessed she is obsessed with Americans and we chatted during the entire two-hour train ride about everything American. Beth picked me up and showed me around her home town. I met her friends and stopped off for a few at the local pub, then we drove to Taunton where her parents live (and where we would spend the next two nights and Christmas Day).

Friday, January 28, 2011

One Girl's Getaway to London - Sightseeing

Christmas 2010 was definitely the coldest Christmas I have ever experienced. I am from Florida and have always been with my family for the holidays in the Sunshine State. For 2010, my friend and I thought it would be fun to do a Girls Getaway to London over the holidays. We were both single and looking for some adventure this holiday season.

With the departure date a month away, my friend and I had a falling out. Alone in London is not at all bad, but alone in a foreign country during Christmas was something I had never experienced before.

While the cold weather and ruined friendship initially put a damper on the trip, I found London to be a magnificent place during the holidays! Not only is it a beautiful city, but the warmth and hospitality from Londoners more than made up for the frigidness I experienced prior to the trip.

Upon arriving at Gatwick and settling into my Wandsworth area flat, I went to the neighborhood pub with my friend Andy and ordered the Bangers & Mash. Of course these bangers didn’t disappoint, and after a few drinks, I called it a night to catch up on my sleep.

My first full day in London was spent seeing the sights aboard the Big Bus Tour (tickets can be purchased via where we saw all of London’s best attractions, such as Tower of London, The London Eye, Trafalgar Square, St Paul’s Cathedral (where Princess Di got married), Tower Bridge, Hyde Park, Haymarket, and (of course) Westminster Abbey (where Prince William will get married in April). This hop on, hop off tour was a great way to see the city. I hopped off at Hyde Park to enjoy the Winter Wonderland and get a cup of Hot Mulled Wine. I also got off at the Tower of London to see the Crown Jewels (and tons of people enjoying the ice skating rink outside.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Girlfriend Getaway - Zanzibar

This Girlfriend Getaway photo was submitted by Stacey Wittig (pictured second from left) of Munds Park, AZ. The photo was taken on a Spice Plantation tour on the island of Zanzibar, Tanzania in East Africa.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Celebrate National Wear Red Day - Feb. 4

Heart disease is still the #1 killer of women, taking the life of 1 in 3 women each year. This means women just like you - mothers, sisters, friends - are dying at the rate of one per minute. In fact, in the time it takes to read this, another woman will die from heart disease. It simply does not have to be that way. The American Heart Association, works every day to fund research and fight this killer so more women can be saved.

Celebrate National Wear Red Day on February 4, 2011, make it your mission to save lives. Together we can make a difference. For more information, visit

Monday, January 24, 2011

Tune in Every Thursday to Heartbeat Radio for Women

Anyone see this ad on the front page of today's Orlando Sentinel?

Be sure to listen to us on Heartbeat Radio for Women. You can also listen online at I'm on live every Thursday at 9:30 AM to chat about all things travel!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

The Getaway Girl® in Peabody Journal

The Peabody Hotel Group is a luxury hotel chain and management group with locations throughout the U.S. The chain provides an in-room print magazine, The Peabody Journal, which recently featured The Getaway Girl®.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Travel Destination Trends for 2011

Today’s tourists are demanding much more from their vacations. Gone are the days of a the simple sun/sand combo. Today, travelers want unique vacations coupled with customized, meaningful activities to ensure an unforgettable vacation. Tourists are looking for above-and-beyond adventures in exciting new or unexpected destinations. Here are my recommendations for some of the best places to go in 2011 for just such a trip.

Historic Gettysburg, PA makes a strong connection to everyone who visits, and experiences a very high level of repeat visitation. Starting in April 2011, Gettysburg will commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the American Civil War. Over the next five years, Gettysburg will feature battle re-enactments, living history presentations and lots of new programs and tours.
Most famous, and most visited, battlefield in U.S. This small Central Pennsylvania town attracts 3 million visitors/year where visitors learn about the historic battle, but also come to pay their respects to the soldiers who fought here.
Visitors will see 1,400 monuments and markers on the 6,000 acre battlefield, making it one of the largest collections of outdoor sculpture in the world. Each monument is a tribute to the men who fought in Gettysburg in July 1863, nearly 150 years ago.
In Gettysburg, visitors can sink their teeth into great food, including many period dishes from the Civil War era. Dining ranges from historic restaurants to great and unique taverns. Also, many great museums.
What many Americans don’t realize is that aside from history, the Gettysburg region is also famous for its apples. As one of the top apple growing regions in the U.S., the countryside north of Gettysburg is home to 20,000 acres of orchards, 25 farmers’ markets and dozens of varieties of apples. Scenic driving tours take visitors right into the heart of Apple Country.

Nestled between Mexico and Guatemala on the Caribbean coast of Central America, Belize is celebrating its 30th anniversary of gaining full independence in 2011, so its a special time to travel there. Plus, the annual Taste of Belize competition will also be celebrating its 10th year.
Belize boasts:
The longest barrier reef in this hemisphere, home to the Great Blue Hole, hundreds of islands, snorkel and dive locations.
Hundreds of ancient Maya sites both excavated and jungle-covered.
Lush tropical rainforest with many species of birds, and exotic tropical flora and fauna.
More than 10 English-speaking and diverse cultures of Belize invite you to share the country’s natural and cultural heritage.
Enjoy guided bird-watching treks, river kayaking trips and cave-tubing expeditions.
Explore coral gardens on a scuba-dive or snorkel excursion.
Climb the highest Maya temple of Belize or share the museum artifacts.
Cave tubing – Belize is home to the largest cave system in all of Central America.
Shark Ray Alley offers visitors the rare opportunity to snorkel up close and personal with docile rays and gentle nurse sharks
Blue Hole -- Visible from outer space, the Blue Hole is nearly a perfect circular hole 1,000 feet in diameter and 412 feet deep, with stalactites reaching up to 130 feet.

Florida’s Space Coast
Florida’s Space Coast is the only place in the country where you can watch a space shuttle launch live, and 2011 is the last year to experience a shuttle launch in person. There is one launch scheduled for Feb. 27, 2011 with possibly one more following that in the summer.

Even when there aren’t shuttle launches, the Space Coast offers a great chance to experience our nation’s space legacy at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex, Astronaut Hall of Fame and Space Walk of Fame. There are also unmanned rocket launches that can be viewed from the destination.

To find a schedule of shuttle and rocket launches, get tips on where to view the launches from and find links to hotel offers guest can visit

As value continues to be a major point of concern for travelers in 2011, The Space Coast offers a great value for travelers with reasonable hotel prices and low cost activities for the entire family to enjoy including – 72 miles of beach, kayaking, air boat rides, the Brevard Zoo and numerous museums

There are more than 250 square miles of wildlife refuge, where Florida’s beautiful and rare creatures live. Among the wildlife visitors can see are dolphins, manatees and a variety birds. The beaches are home to sea turtle nesting areas.

With the recent Royal Engagement, all eyes are on England these days. In addition to this recent news and preparations for a Royal Wedding, London will be hosting the 2012 Olympics and is already prepping for this monumental event, so 2011 is a great time to beat the rush.
An interesting thing about the London Olympics is how many iconic existing venues are being used in these Olympic Games. For example, the soccer final will be played at Wembley Stadium and the tennis will be played at none other than the legendary Wimbledon tennis club! Non-Sporting venues that are equally iconic are also getting involved, such as the Horse Guards Parade, the venue for the Beach Volleyball! This historic location which sees daily Changing of the Guards ceremonies and hosts the Trooping of the Colour (the Queen’s annual birthday celebration) will be filled with sand to create a beach in the middle of the city. In addition, the two contender’s for the Royal Wedding location, St. Paul's Cathedral or Westminster Abbey, are also iconic venues to visit.

Travelers visiting London in 2011 will feel the excitement of the Pre-Royal Wedding and pre-Olympic buzz, so this is a great time to visit. Before the Games and Wedding kick off, check out some of these places in person and then sit back and relish in the fact that you have been there and done that for yourself.