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Travel Editor
Sharon Marshak

What is club level at a hotel?

Some hotels and resorts offer “Club Level” rooms that generally cost more money, and these rooms are always worth looking in to. Most of the time club level, or concierge service, will include a continental breakfast that is only for club or concierge level guests. Many hotels also offer nightly snacks, upgraded bath amenities, and other little perks that might make your stay even more enjoyable.

I recently stayed at the Grand Hyatt in San Francisco’s Union Square, and booked their Grand Club Room. When I stepped foot into the room I was greeted with an amazing view of the city and the bay beyond. ...
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Setting Sail for Alaska

Have you been dreaming about an Alaskan Cruise adventure? Now is the perfect time to start turning your dreams into a reality. The Alaska Cruise season is amazing, but short. It lasts from May until September, and if you want the best deals try for the cruises that depart in the beginning or end of the season.
It is a good idea to put your cabin on hold in December or January, especially if you have a large group or family. The cruises do sell out, especially in July and August. The suites, cabins with balconies, and cabins that can accommodate 3 or 4 people sell out first. ...
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San Francisco Aquarium of the Bay

Aquarium of the Bay
Address: PIER 39, The Embarcadero at Beach,
Phone: 1-888 SEA DIVE

A unique marine nature center featuring over 20,000 aquatic animals from the San Francisco Bay and surrounding waters. Walk through 300 feet of crystal clear tunnels just inches from sharks, skates, octopus, bat rays and other amazing marine animals. Visit a re-creation of Northern California's rocky shore line and touch leopard sharks, bat rays and sea stars. Daily special events include animal feedings, naturalist presentations and Behind the Scenes tours. Open year round except for December 25. ...
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There Are Other Places

Yes, California is notoriously beautiful, and yes the hills of the Tri-City Area are delicious to ponder, teddy bear brown one season, emerald green the next. But there are other places that can be equally beautiful. And if you are somewhere else, then you can (or should) leave your business and your worries behind, even if for only a few days.

I'm in the western mountains of Virginia this week, living in an old farmhouse with six other women, all writers. We’ve been meeting here for years, and most of us come back each summer after summer after summer.

It's hot here and it's humid. ...
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New SFO Terminal

The new SFO terminal has opened, with Virgin America, American and other airlines departing from a bright, clean, spacious terminal with plenty of high-end shops. Kiehls, Mango, Peet’s, ExpressSpa, Napa Market, plus glitzy dress, jewelry and tech shops are all there for you to use up your vacation money before you even get going. Get a $3.50 yogurt or a $4.00 coffee to hold you while you wait to board. I wonder if just the freedom of getting through the security line, before being herded into the boarding lines, releases a shopping spree endorphin?

Hey airlines! How about Including tips for flying with babies in the pre-takeoff announcement. ...
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Host Country

You’re not always the traveler. That’s right. Sometimes you’re the destination, the host country, the place to go. In that case, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your guest is comfortable, that his or her needs are met. Let’s go over some of the little things that guests really appreciate, especially when they’re staying in your home where they can’t ring for service.

1. A wastebasket in every room.
2. A box of tissues in every room.
3. A bedside reading light that doesn’t take a gymnastic move to turn on and off.
4. Bottled water or a water glass if your tap water is good.
5. A local map if they’re going to be driving or walking in the area. ...
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iPhone the Camera

Your smart phone, iPhone, is almost always with you. Learn to use it, to take advantage of its capabilities. Some folks take wonderful pictures of themselves with their phones. I tend to take crooked headless photos of myself. So practice with your smart phone camera. Then when the time comes, you'll be ready to get that great shot.

David Pogue did a great article on iPhone camera apps in the April 28 New York Times. He compares a host of new apps that provide special effects and/or instant connections to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and email. Some of the best apps are free and if not free, the cost is minimal. ...
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Flying Tips & Opinions

Having just finished 2 legs of a 3 leg vacation, I can only say that how America dresses to fly is still appalling. Tight jean shorts, tee-shirts that expose rolls of flesh, multiple bangles clanking on arms and necks, underarm exposure, and tobacco-reeking jackets, all are a danger to yourself and others. And by danger I mean discomfiting, if not nausea inducing. Add to that highly spiced take-out meals and I'm surprised that the FAA hasn't intervened.

The Independent Traveler, a blog site at http://tinyurl. ...
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Flying, Crying and Business Travel

It seems that corporations are spending again, on air travel. I have mixed feelings about that. According to the NY Times Travel section on May 5, airlines are ecstatically ramping up their Business Class services with lay-flat seats, airport lounge refurbs, better food and wine, and plenty of hand-holding to get the business passengers from here to there. At the same time, prices are NOT dropping, the cost of fuel is rising, planes are full, i.e. crowded, and the rest of us don’t have a chance of being upgraded.

IMHO, there’s something undemocratic about balkanizing air travel - herding all of us into different class rooms. ...
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Don't Get Left Behind

Every week, almost, there is a Travel story in the Tri-City Voice Friday Edition. Did you go to Mombasa with us? Were you in Livermore Valley for wine-tastings? Did we lose you on the Chinatown Tour? If so, you can go to, and see these issues online. If you miss that boat, enter Travel in the Search Articles box and get Google to find it for you.

It's more fun, though, to have the TCV in hand each Friday, so take a trip around town and pick one up! When you "get home" from your travels, recycle the paper or pass it on to a fellow traveler. Thanks.

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New Stories in Friday Travel editions

If you've missed a few editions of TCV, you can go the the web archives and look up stories by subject or author. In the last few weeks we've had stories on vacationing in Mombasa, Kenya, and day tripping in Niles and San Francisco.

Coming this week will be the Livermore Valley Wineries. After that, read about touring Chinatown.
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Eating Out & About

Lately I've had some wonderful meals at outlying neighborhoods. That is, not in the Tri-City Area, but in Berkeley and San Jose. So just a note, in case you're traveling those byways.

In Berkeley, Angeline's Louisiana Bistro is as close to authentic New Orleans food as I've found since leaving that amazing city. I shared a dinner of fried catfish, hush puppies, Brussels sprouts, potato salad and beignets with a good friend. We each had a glass of Syrah, and the bill was $33. It was delicious in that NOLA sweet/spicy kind of way, not too greasy for fried food, and certainly worth the trip. We'll go back.
2661 Shattuck Ave. ...
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To Bump or Not to Bump

Remember when they said "Never Volunteer"? Well some travelers make a game out of volunteering - to be bumped from their seat on an overbooked airline flight. The New York Times has an on-line story ( about flight gamers who reap big voucher rewards for giving up their seat. Some even parlay the vouchers into another bump and double their "money."

With more and more airlines reducing the number of flights, even to popular destinations, the chances of overbooking and bumping become more probable. ...
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Safety Fun in the Air

Check out the new New Zealand Air safety video, featuring Richard Simmons.

Copy and paste into your browser to go to the YouTube video -

If you've seen a great safety video on a flight lately, let us know.

Email a link or your comments to

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Social Shopping Can Yield Travel Deals

Popping up all over the web, and becoming very popular, are social group shopping websites. The most well known seems to be, but there are lots of others such as and These sites and services can be fun and introduce you, through discounts, to new restaurants, spas, eyewear, garden supplies, almost anything, targeted to your hometown area.

But there's another use for them and that is finding deals in places you will be visiting on vacation. For example, last week-end I was in Las Vegas. Before I went, I registered with Groupon and entered Las Vegas as my location. ...
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Note from the Road

From Nick Stein, Producer of Border Wars:

In Brownsville, TX Holiday Inn Express.

Is this a great country or what???

Pancakes In a Minute

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Look for Upcoming Travel Stories

Half Moon Bay - A Dog's Life
Read it in the March 11, 2011 Friday issue of the Tri-City Voice

See more pictures of Sidney at Half Moon Bay!

Coming soon to your TCV Travel pages:

A Revolutionary Birthday - Uprising in Egypt

Mombasa - A Trip to the Beach
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What does Holiday Inn Smell Like?

Have you noticed that personal hygiene products (soap, deodorants, shampoos and shower gels) have ambiguous if not ridiculous aroma names? For example, Parisian Evening, Matterhorn, Denali Park, Icy Sport, Glee (well, maybe not Glee).

What are these smells? In my experience, Parisian Evening might have notes of diesel fuel with a brief undertone of poodle poop. Denali Park? Oil spill mixed with pine cone covered by hoary frost. This could be a new game, like Dictionary. Which leads me to a fun little article on Budget Travel's blog, entitled "Which hotel toiletry products do you snag for the road?"

You can find it at: http://current.newsweek. ...
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What's New in Travel News

Arthur Frommer’s Budget Travel for February continues its Secret Hotels series with Paris, following January’s 9 Best Secret Hotels in the World. If traveling abroad is a little too rich for your blood right now then read through Disney Made Easy by Stephanie Adams, who practically grew up at Disney World. Closer to home, there’s an article on The New Wine Trail, an oenophile’s walk through Sonoma County.
Budget Travel rarely disappoints. Each issue has a listing of current deals in the United States and abroad, plus humorous stories about the “best laid plans” going wrong. The website seems to carry the stories from the last month, plus new tips and news, at www. ...
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They don’t make magic carpets anymore, and if they did you’d probably have to pay a fee for each suitcase and extra legroom. Air travel is no longer elegant and it’s a long flight from San Francisco to Istanbul, but it was worth every minute of stale air and leg cramps. We left SFO on a Monday afternoon, changed planes in Munich, and landed at Istanbul Airport on Tuesday night; our driver from the Sultanhan Hotel met us outside baggage pick-up. We had arrived on time and with all our bags, quite proud of ourselves!

The Sultanhan Hotel sits at the corner of Pierre Loti Square, in Old Town, within walking distance to the main drag. ...
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Coming to a Computer Near You

The on-line Travel Page of the Tri-City Voice is up and running, ready for reading, resources, researching and your input. Here you'll find Travel Tips for packing, making reservations, airport check-in and security, new destinations, cruises for families, singles (gay or straight),or traveling with your pet. We’re aiming to provide you with helpful and informative descriptions, bargains, cheap thrills, and luxurious getaways.We'll also be running some of the Travel articles you may have read in the Tuesday or Friday Tri-City Voice, with a "side" of live hyperlinks. You'll find helpful or interesting links to magazine articles, public services, and international sites. ...
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