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Women Writers Worldwide Share Travel Secrets 2008...

When in Rome...

Looking for a friendly hotel with good service, near bargain prices and a great location in Rome? The Hotel Giuliana, mere steps from the Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and blocks from the Rome Termini Station and the Rome Opera House, is it. Within hours of arriving, it felt like home. The bubbly English-speaking host, Senora Gina, had arranged for efficient airport pick-up and within minutes of her courteous driver carrying my suitcase to the second-floor lobby (of a home previously occupied by a noble family), there were hugs, suggestions of heading to the neighbourhood outdoor market for lunch fixings, help with Internet and telephone, the loan of a guidebook and offers for help with anything I might want while staying in my spotless, tiny single room. Breakfast was served each morning just off the lobby: fruit, yogurt, croissant, cheese, juice and superb coffee; trattorias, gelaterias, pizza places in the neighbourhood. Meanwhile, Gina and her staff generally went out of their way to make sure that all was well.

Though some of the rooms can be noisy (this is Rome after all), I was able to siesta in the afternoon, and felt totally safe going out day or night for local theatre, meals, sightseeing, shopping and yes, church. Nearby Santa Maria Maggiore, named after Our Lady of the Snows, is one of the supremely artistic and impressive Vatican churches. Crowds may be lined up at St. Peter’s, but stroll further up the street to attend a music-filled Mass in the hushed cathedral along with myriad local nuns and neighbourhood senoras. It’s an experience. Special hotel rates in November 2008 start at 65 Euros for single room with bath, from 80 Euros double; less in December. 24-hour front desk service. Tel: 0039 06 4880795.

Kate Pocock is a Toronto-based family travel writer and photographer, and teacher at Ontario's Fleming College. Website:


Swap homes with more confidence...

So you saw the movie 'The Holiday' and you’re curious to try home swapping—but you’re nervous. What if you break something in your host’s home? What if you get there and the 'lovely three-bedroom home with ocean view' turns out to be a basement flat next to a weedy pond? Certified Home Exchange Clubs ( tries to put your mind at ease when you exchange your house with strangers. It’s not a home-swapping service per se; it works with various home-swapping agencies to provide extra services, such as mediation to help resolve swaps gone awry and a code of conduct.

Ottawa-based travel writer Laura Byrne Paquet shares other tips on 'travelling like a local' at her website,


Unwanted merchant attention in Turkey...

On my first morning in Istanbul I chanced to overhear two American psychologists discussing the problem of unwanted attention from shopkeepers and carpet salesmen. One man offered his companion the following tip which I used throughout my travels In Turkey and found to work reliably: The best way to deflect unwanted attention, he advised, is to turn the tables on shopkeepers and literally ooze graciousness and good manners. "Yes, I am certain your carpets are the most beautiful but I will have to stop by another day" I would sing out in response to offers of tea and visits to the interior of their shops, all the while flashing a dazzling smile as I glided past. The trick is to be so sweetly gracious that you outdo these master's of good manners, hospitality and salesmanship. By usurping their techniques and adopting their suave manners as my own, I ended up feeling quite delighted to have foiled an ancient game of seduction and rather than feeling irritated and intruded upon, I walked the streets feeling quite delighted with my discovery.

Diana Cohen has finished a memoir, 'Making Limonada', which tells the story of her young family growing up in a small Mediterranean fishing village during the last year's of Francisco Franco Fascist regime. The story captures a time and place and a sweetness of life that has been lost forever from modern-day Spain. Website,


To and from Germany by train ...

If you're travelling to or from Germany to another European country, you should check out the great offers from German Railways. By making a reservation at least two months in advance, you can get a 50% discount on both first and second-class fares. Example: Milan-Frankfurt, 220 euros becomes 110 euro.

OK, so it's a 09.25 departure from Milan central station, with a change at Basel, arriving in Frankfurt at 17.53. Eight whole hours. But, consider the time taken to get to the airport, including costs, the two-hour minimum check-in time, the time spent walking those endless corridors at Frankfurt (one of the world's largest airports) from where the plane lands to where you finally get to the taxis that will ferry you downtown (another 30 minutes or so depending on whether it is rush-hour or not). So, how much time do you really save by taking a 60-minute flight? And, to be candid, I can think of worse ways to spend my time than being cosseted by Deutsche Bahn, all the while being treated to splendid views of the Italian, Swiss, and German countryside. Check out their site, all of it in English, at

P.S. Request a non-cell phone carriage so you won't be hassled by those people who spend their train journeys babbling into their portables. With airlines now making it possible for people to make in-flight calls, even that advantage of plane over train is about to go out the window!

Roberta Kedzierski, who lives between Milan and Lake Lugano, is a travel journalist and guidebook writer. Her recent credits include an update of 'Dorling Kindersley's Top10 Milan and the Lakes'.


Eclectic shopping in Calgary, Canada...

If you’re travelling to Calgary and you love to shop, don’t miss the historic neighbourhood of Inglewood, just east of downtown. Close to major attractions such as Fort Calgary and the Calgary Zoo, Inglewood’s main street is packed with décor, fashion and accessory boutiques, and boasts some of the finest dining in the city — including Rouge (for dinner) and Nectar Desserts (for a lovely afternoon or evening break). Vintage glass art, funky consignment clothing and hand-picked designer fashions are just some of the offerings here. (

Yvonne Jeffery is an award-winning travel journalist based in Calgary, Alberta. Her latest book, 'The Everything Family Christmas Book', is an October 2008 release. (


Women will appreciate freighter travel...

Fred Cherney is a freighter travel expert and a member of the Journeywoman Network of classified advertisers. In a recent email to our office Fred wrote, 'I was wondering if your women readers were aware of another safe method of travel for women on their own? Passenger freighter travel is still alive and offers women on their own a safe method of travel whether across the ocean or around the world. Crews tend to adopt passengers and keep an eye out for them. In most cases, singles can avoid paying single supplements. If there is a supplement, it is usually very small. If your readers would like any more information on passenger freighter voyages, please let me know. I'll be happy to supply it'. Email: Website:

Evelyn Hannon is the editor of


Stay Hydrated in the heat...

Most of my favourite travel places -- Hong Kong, Cairns, Bangkok, Borneo -- are hot and humid. And since I like to be out and about on hiking trails or on the beach, I drink a lot of water to replace the gallons dripping off of me. But drinking too much water can dilute your body's salts and sugars, says my doctor, especially for those who also taking a diuretic. To help keep all your lovely electrolytes in balance, he gave me this tip, which I pass on to you: Add an extra spoon of sugar to your cup of tea, shake a bit of salt on your food, or add a spoonful of sports drink crystals to your water bottle.

Karen Zabawa is a freelance travel writer and the editor of Snapshot Journeys. Website:


Save the zippered bag...

Whenever you buy a sheet set or new pillowcase, save the zippered bag it came in. Far sturdier and roomier than a Ziploc, they're especially perfect for keeping your travel journal, pens, glue stick, watercolors, and all the ephemera (pamphlets, ticket stubs, wine labels, etc) you plan to include in your journal. Before a trip I've actually been known to go to Ross, TJ Maxx or Marshalls to buy cheap pillowcases, just to score these perfect travel bags. (They're perfect for makeup, too!)

Lavina Spalding is a San Francisco professional freelance writer and editor. She is the author of "Writing Away: A Creative Guide to Awakening the Journal-Writing Traveler" (Travelers' Tales, Spring 2009). Website:


Bonus Book Box #7
Serve The People...

Serve the People, a stir-fried journey through China by Jen Lin-Liu has been rated tops by Zagat. As a freelance journalist and food writer living in Beijing, Jin Lin-Liu already has a ringside seat for China's exploding food scene. When she decoded to enroll in a local cooking school with nary a measuring cup in sight -- she jumped into the ring herself. In 'Serve the People.'Lin-Liu gives a memorable and mouthwatering cook's tour of today's China as she progresses from cooking student to noodle-stall and dumpling-house apprentice to intern at a chic Shanghai restaurant. Through the characters Jin Lin-Liu meets the reader is presented with an unforgettable slice of contemporary China.

Publisher: Harcourt Books ISBN: 978-0-15-101291-6 Website:


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