What great international experiences have you had 
that aren’t available at home?

by Eliza Myers 16. August 2013 23:06

We asked our staff, "What great international experiences have you had 
that aren’t available at home?" Here is what they had to say!

"One thing you just don’t find in America very often is a group of monkeys hanging out in the shade near a 400-year-old mausoleum. This incredible encounter happened to me in India, a country with many alien experiences for Americans, including its distinctive cuisine, traffic and occasional snake charmer. At the Tomb of Itmad-ud-Daulah in Agra, I not only got to marvel at an elaborate tomb that became the precursor to the Taj Mahal, but also got an up-close encounter with about 15 monkeys who regarded me with little concern as I snapped photos."

— Eliza Myers,
Online Editor



"Long dinners! I know it sounds simple, but at home I always feel rushed. Even on a domestic vacation, I don’t want to linger over dinner because I feel like its rude to take up a table when another party could be seated. Our international friends embrace and encourage spending the time to relax, socialize and fully enjoy the food as an experience."

— Stacey Bowman,
Director, Advertising Sales



"My family lived in Germany for four years when I was a young child, and I was in awe of the beautiful castles and Old World architecture throughout the country, sights that you definitely don’t see in America. I returned to Germany a few years ago and took a river cruise with Avalon Waterways down the Rhine River. It was just as impressive to me as an adult as I remembered it from my childhood."

— Kelly Tyner,
Director, Sales and Marketing



"I know it’s not for everyone, but my favorite international travel memory will remain walking the streets of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, by myself while on liberty from the USS Elmer Montgomery in 1973."

— David Brown,
Art Director


"A dozen or so years ago, a few of us went clubbing at a very haute disco on the Champs d’Elysee in Paris. A local VIP walked us past dozens of people in line and got us in. Last and only time I ever partied like a rock star in Paris."

— Mac Lacy,
Publisher



"Walking on the Great Wall of China fulfilled a lifelong dream for me. I remember looking at pictures of the Great Wall in atlases when I was a child and wondering what it would be like to see it one day. In 2011, I found myself overwhelmed by the feeling of standing on the wall outside of Beijing, experiencing one of the world’s most amazing human feats firsthand."

— Brian Jewell,
Executive Editor



"Obviously, a Kenyan safari will generate amazing experiences not available in the United States, such as seeing the “big five” — lion, African elephant, cape buffalo, leopard and rhinoceros  — in their natural habitat, viewing Mount Kilimanjaro in fading daylight, taking a hot-air balloon ride over the Serengeti and going inside a mud hut in a Maasi village.

"Among my many other distinctive international experiences are England’s Stonehenge, Amsterdam’s canals, market day in a small Italian village, Roman ruins in the south of France and dining on salmon cooked on the deck of a small cruise ship in British Columbia’s Princess Louisa Inlet. My most poignant international experience was looking out over D-Day’s Omaha Beach from the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, France, with its row after row of white crosses and Stars of David."

— Herb Sparrow,
Senior Writer

 

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Staff Soundoff

Great local restaurants and watering holes

by Eliza Myers 21. June 2013 19:00



We asked the staff of The Group Travel Leader, "What's a great local restaurant or watering hole that you've discovered on the road?" Here are some wonderful places to keep in mind when you're on the road.


"Best dive bar hands down goes to Veets Bar in downtown Mobile, Alabama. It’s cold beer, live music and bartenders with so much personality that they should have their own reality show. Veets is the real deal."

— Stacey Bowman,
Director, Advertising Sales



"Meers is the only thing that remains of a once bustling mining town called Meers, Oklahoma. The restaurant serves the best burgers I’ve ever had, and the atmosphere is great. Check it out at www.meersstore.com. Now, I am starving."

— Donia Simmons,
Creative Director



"I’ve tried, and I agree: You can’t go home again. Likewise, I’m beginning to think you can’t find good barbecue anywhere but home. I’m from Paducah in extreme western Kentucky, where I grew up eating barbecue unlike any I’ve had anywhere else. When I go home and especially when I’m visiting with old friends, barbecue is essential. If you’re ever in or even near Paducah, I recommend Harned’s Drive-In, home of old-fashioned barbecue and the friendliest, most energetic carhops around. I’ll have a large/hot, please."

— David Brown,
Art Director



"Throughout my years of travel, I have had the opportunity to eat at some terrific locally owned restaurants. Here are three that stand out in my mind: Felix’s Fish Camp in Mobile, Alabama, has the most amazing shrimp and grits. Steel Restaurant and Lounge in Atlanta is known for its signature Chilean sea bass — and it’s to die for. Local Gastropub in Memphis, Tennessee, has an avocado stuffed with crabmeat on the appetizer menu. It’s so fantastic I made a meal out of it."

— Kelly Tyner,
Director, Sales and Marketing



"Sometimes, the best trips are trips home. My favorite local joint is Ferrell’s Hamburgers in Hopkinsville, Kentucky: hand-patted hamburgers on a 50-year-old grill, 10 seats at the counter. The only thing green about this place is the waitresses’ aprons."

— Mac Lacy,
Publisher



"I had a fantastic lunch last fall at Nellie’s, a small local joint in Las Cruces, New Mexico, that serves authentic New Mexican food. My heaping plate of chicken enchiladas came smothered with some of the most amazing green chile sauce I’ve ever tasted, and topped with a fried egg. I had never eaten enchiladas with an egg before, but the experience was so blissful that I now order a fried egg on top every time I go out for Mexican food."

— Brian Jewell,
Executive Editor



"George Street in Newfoundland, Canada, has not just one great local bar but several fun hangouts all in a row. The two-block district is said to have the most bars and pubs per square foot of any street in North America. I loved meeting all of the friendly Newfoundland locals at spots like Trapper John’s and Lottie’s Place, and hearing their recommendations for which pub I should try next."

— Eliza Myers,
Online Editor

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Staff Soundoff

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