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Best Tips Submitted by Tour Operators

Compiled by Evelyn Hannon

HERE ARE THIS MONTH'S TOP 12 JOURNEYWOMAN TRAVEL TIPS -- Our fun and informative travel tips have usually come from travellers like you and me. This month's tips are a bit different. I've asked all the travel companies that have supported this newsletter with their classified advertisements to tell us about the areas that they travel to, the places that they know best. This is what they told me. Juicy tips, all.

1. LOOKING FOR THE BEST GELATO IN TUSCANY? -- That's easy. Buon Gusto in Pienza, Italy ( Via Case Nuove, 26, 53026 Pienza SI, Italy). All of the gelato is made fresh daily with all-natural ingredients. Nicola, the chef and owner, is a Gelato Chef. He only concentrates on making traditional Gelato—and he's been doing it for the last 11 years. Since its made fresh daily, you never know what to expect--flavors can range from Kiwi-Spinach to Lavender-Peach—every day is a surprise. Submitted by George Myers, Cook in Tuscany, www.cookintuscany.com

2. DAY HIKE THE RIF MOUNTAINS OF MOROCCO -- If you go to Chefchaouen, 'The Blue City' of Morocco, take a day to hike in the Rif Mountains. Enjoy the spectacular waterfalls hiking from Ankhor Village. Then, finish your day with a wonderful lunch at Auberge Dardara and enjoy their Moroccan and Mediterranean fusion cuisine. Submitted by Patty Moss, Pack A Forlk, PackAFork.com

3. EVERY AREA OF INDIA HAS ITS SPECIALTY SHOPPING OPPORTUNITIES -- For the shopper, India is a paradise! Your luxury train tour is so designed that in most places your visit there would be an opportunity for you to shop for the local crafts or specialty. The land of the Taj offers great crafts of marble inlay work. The city of Jaipur is amazing for jewelry, especially stone setting. Also famous are the traditional fabrics and carpets made from wool or from silk. Udaipur has an enviable reputation for some of the finest miniature paintings on silk or paper. However, our most helpful tip would be to indulge in bargaining. Ask! You should expect a discount of 20% on the quoted price. Submitted by Ankit Samaddar, Trinetra Tours, www.trinetratours.com/Special-Womens-Day-2019-Luxury-Train-Tour-Of-India

4. EXPERIENCE A RYOCAN IN JAPAN -- It's easy to find Western hotels throughout Japan, but for an authentic travel experience, you simply must try staying at a ryokan, the traditional eighth-century Japanese inn complete with open-air baths. Tobira Onsen Myojinkan in the lush mountains outside Matsumoto is a much sought-after, luxury escape for travelers and locals alike, offering elegant rooms with private baths and a high-class experience of traditional Japanese kaiseki cuisine, architecture, and accommodations that is unparalleled in the area. Pine and cedar forests create a gorgeous backdrop, and visitors are welcome to traverse the footpaths and visit the local mountain shrine. Myojinkan even operates their own organic farm nearby, producing rice and vegetables for the ryokan's in-house organic meals. If you've never been to Japan, or you're headed back for a return visit, you'll want to add a ryokan stay to your list! Submitted by Yolanta M. Barnes, Executive Director Sights and Soul Travels, LLC, www.sightsandsoul.com

5. DOES YOUR CREDIT CARD OFFER FREE TRAVEL INSURANCE PERKS? -- Did you know? Some credit cards offer travel insurance at no extra charge when booking a trip with that credit card. That means free travel health insurance, trip cancellation/delay insurance, and international emergency evacuation insurance. It's a great money saving strategy for travelers. Be sure to check these opportunities out by asking your credit card company. You might be very pleasantly surprised. Submitted by Steve Solosky, The Traveling Professor, www.travelingprofessor.com

6. TWO VERY COOL MARKETS IN DELHI, INDIA -- (1) Khan Market, not too far from the main business district of central New Delhi is a bustling market with a mix of boutiques, salons, book shops, permanent market stalls and a plethora of great cafes and restaurants. It is also the go-to area in Delhi for expats as there are several small specialist grocery stores stocking hard to get imported foodstuffs. Make sure to walk all the way around the market and through the two alleyways so you don't miss the middle lane and the stores in the back of the U-shaped market.(2) My other favourite neighborhood is Hauz Khas Village in South Delhi. A buzzing night-time and weekend hangout for young Delhiites, visiting Hauz Khas Village in the day time offers the addition bonus of exploring the Hauz Khas Fort situated at the southern end of the village, on the shore of Hauz Khas Lake. The fort has a number of atmospheric and photogenic 13th century ruins to explore before you head back into the village to find a bar for cool drink or engage in a little retail therapy in the very funky boutiques and fascinating knick knack shops in the village. Submitted by Debbie Kindness, Incredible India Tours, www.incredibleindiatours.com

7. FLYING TO AFRICA IS EASIER THAN YOU IMAGINE -- So many women solo travelers I meet are pulled by a deep yearning to travel to Africa but never answer the call. Why? One reason is the flight. It breaks my heart, because the reality is, "it's no big deal!" I know, because I've flown to Kenya over 25 times. Here's the reality. Hop on the first leg of your flight to Europe (London, Amsterdam, Paris). Then, expect an easy 2-3 hour layover. Next, hop on the second leg of your flight of equal length. It's usually a night flight over the Sahara, if you're going to Kenya. That's it! One of the best kept travel secrets preventing so many women from a trip of a lifetime. My favorite airlines to Kenya are British Airlines, Lufthansa, Emirates, and American Airlines. I like Economy Plus for the extra leg-room because I usually get a good 7-hour sleep! Submitted by Linda Higdon, Global Heart Journey, GlobalHeartJourney.net

8. SCHNITZEL AND SPRITZERS IN VIENNA -- You can't possibly visit Vienna without enjoying one of the city's most classic dishes, Together with 'einen Gspritztn' (a wine spritzer), they belong to the most beloved dinner amongst not only Viennese, but Austrians in general. Most tourist guides will send you to Figlmüller, undoubtedly the epitome of schnitzel houses, but in the meantime frequented almost exclusively by tourists from all over… you'll hardly find an Austrian inside. Instead, try the Esterhazy Keller, a centuries old wine cellar of the Esterhazy noble family, oozing with true Viennese charm. Not only the schnitzel is good, but the other local dishes are also excellent, making it almost impossible to choose. Submitted by Veronica Jouaneh, WheelandAnchor, wheelandanchor.ca

9. WHAT DO YOU WANT TO SEE IN INDIA? -- To explore India, borrow a phrase from the Raj: divide and conquer. Get a large map and pencil off the north, south, eastern flank, west-northwest, middle, and far eastern states. Then think timing. Far north is delightful in spring and summer; rest is best during winter. Next list your interests. Monuments, temples, history, archaeology, textiles, culinary, tea plantations, villages, markets, festivals, beaches, spas, ethnic cultures, wildlife, palaces, forts, spirituality, yoga... the list is endless but each region has its speciality, or a combination. Whether you travel solo, solo in a group, or custom, the dividends of a relationship with India – as discovered by Indiaphiles over the ages - are huge. Submitted by Shila Desai, EYHO Tours, www.eyhotours.com

10. THE FIRST SALT HOTEL IN THE WORLD -- Bolivia's Palacio de Sal Hotel is located on the banks of the majestic Salar de Uyuni, only 25km from the city of the same name, you will find the Sal Palace. It is considered one of the most exotic hotels in the world, in a natural, magical and wonderful space. Imagine it the only one of its kind to be built entirely with salt: walls, floors, ceilings, furniture, sculptures, absolutely everything! Website: www.palaciodesal.com.bo Submitted by Sunie Stockler, Stockler Expeditions, www.StocklerExpeditions.com

11. HOTEL SPA IN THE HEART OF A VOLCANIC CRATOR -- If you love spa hotels and tranquil environments add the Terra Nostra Garden Hotel to your "must stay at" list. This incredible hotel featuring Botanical Gardens and a relaxing outdoor Hot Spring Water Pool is in the heart of a volcanic creator on the Azores Island of Sao Miguel. Rejuvenate and renew yourself on your next journey. Your mind and body will thank you for it! Submitted by Melanie McIIroy, Craig Travel, craigtravel.com

12. COOK LIKE A CHEF AND CONNECT WITH A LOCAL -- Get acquainted with Tuscan cooking, an insider experience with local expert Chef Libero will take you to the finest markets in Florence and back to his restaurant, where you’ll prepare and eat lunch together under the shade of cypress trees. Tuscany is Chianti country and no lunch would be complete without sampling wine from the Villa Machiavelli estate with Chef Libero on hand to introduce it. Submitted by Angela Bokma, Trafalgar, blog.trafalgar.com/2018/02/28/dive-culture-experience-tuscan-cooking-chef-libero-florence

BONUS TIPS:

UNIQUE DINING EXPERIENCE IN MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA -- The multicultural Melbourne, Australia certainly does not lack great restaurants, and one way to enjoy an elegant dinner, served in a refined atmosphere, complete with opulent velvet and lace decor and graceful, uniformed servers is taking a Colonial Tramcar Restaurant to enjoy the amazing local foods and fine Australian wines, as you glide along the scenic streets of Melbourne in a vintage tramcar. Submitted by Yolanta M. Barnes, Executive Director Sights and Soul Travels, LLC, www.sightsandsoul.com

BEST WALKING TOUR IN MOMBAI: Mumbai Local with Mumbai Magic

BEST WOMAN FRIENDLY HOTEL/HOMESTAY IN JAIPUR: Ikaki Niwas Owner-run, safe location, away from the madness of the Old City, next to a lovely park for safe morning walks/runs/yoga Submitted by Shila Desai, EYHO Tours, www.eyhotours.com

DO NOT BUY BOTTLED WATER IN ICELAND -- Don't buy bottled water in Iceland. It's the same water that comes out of their taps. Cold and clean and tastes so good. Pack and refill your reusable bottle. It is the water my grandson and I drank from taps and fountains when we visited Iceland. And we loved it. Iceland is rightly worried about all the discarded plastic bottles impacting on their environment. Submitted by Evelyn Hannon, Journeywoman.com, www.journeywoman.com/olderadv/olderadven.html

NOT ALL CHURCHES ARE ALIKE -- You know when you are travelling and all of the churches or temples start to look the same? The Sedlec Ossuary Bone Church in the Czech Republic is anything but just another church. It is a small Roman Catholic chapel, located beneath the Cemetery Church of All Saints, part of the former Sedlec Abbey in Sedlec, a suburb of Kutná Hora in the Czech Republic. The macabre art of tens of thousands of human skeletons greet you in incredible displays or regular items from a chandelier to a family crest to a chalice. A local wood carver turned into a legend when the incredibly desirable cemetery infused with “holy soil” needed to make room for the newly dead so everyone could rest in peace. Submitted by Melanie McIIroy, Craig Travel, craigtravel.com

STILL WANT MORE? Read The Things Travel Writers Tell Each Other - journeywoman.com/BestTravelTips/ThingsTravelWritersTellEachOther.html

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