Friday, September 21, 2012

Tennessee Memories: TN Valley Railroad Museum

The state of Tennessee has so much to offer! After living in Chattanooga for 5 years, I'm still discovering new places to visit. Thanks to our boating buddy/physical motivator/tour guide Debbie (and the perks from her job), we are introduced to more attractions. Case in point - a train ride and a tour of the Tennessee Valley Railroad Museum Wednesday morning.

We took the Missionary Ridge Local, a 6-mile round trip train ride to East Chattanooga, where we stopped for a guided tour of the railroad restoration shop. We learned about the turntable, a device used to turn locomotives around; to see it in action was quite exciting. On the train ride back, we sat all the way in the back so we could easily walk to the outside platform to see the train emerge out of the Missionary Ridge Tunnel. That was cool.

Trivia: How many states border the state of Tennessee? See answer at the bottom of the page.

World traveler Julie, and tour guide Debbie checking out a train
Grand Junction Station, where we began our train ride

conductor demonstrating the workings of the turntable
tour of the railroad restoration shop
the light at the end of Missionary Ridge Tunnel


Next stop - a superb lunch at 212 Market Restaurant, one of my favorite restaurants in downtown Chattanooga. It was recommended by a boater friend, and we celebrated a surprise birthday party here the first week we arrived in Chattanooga. And have been a fan since. Every bite Debbie and Julie took of the delicious food elicited oohs and ahhs, so I'm sure they really liked it too.
Lunch at 212 Market
Lamb & vegetable soup
pork medallion on a bed of buttermilk mashed potatoes

Chimichuri steak wrap
Care to share your favorite restaurants?

Trivia answer: 8 - N. Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Virginia

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The Bonnaroo and CMA Festival in TN Favorite Destinations: Memphis, Tenneessee Christmas lights at Gaylord Opryland Hotel, Nashville, Tennessee

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Travel Deals: Amsterdam, Paris, Bruges


I get the Travelzoo's Top 20 Travel Deals newsletter every Wednesday. The travel deal that caught my attention is:  $1400 including airfare (from New York City), 2 nights hotel both in Amsterdam and Paris and 1 night in Bruges, Brussels. If I haven't already gone to Amsterdam and Paris this past spring, I would jump on this enticing deal. You can check out the details and the fine print at Travelzoo's Top 20 Travel Deals. These days, you have to sign up before they show you the page.

The iconic Eiffel Tower

A pastry break at Le Bon Marche

One of many canals in Amsterdam

I’ve booked trips with Travelzoo previously, and was quite happy with the experience. The only catch on this travel deal is that it’s only for five days. I would strongly recommend extending the trip to at least a week, and if feasible, a tad longer.

On our spring jaunt to Paris, we paid $1200 for the airline ticket alone, and forked out another $200 for the Thaly train ticket to Amsterdam. With the European Central Bank bailing out one country after another, I’d bet the Euro will continue its downward trend. Not that the US dollar is faring any better (I was stunned to find our trusty dollar worth only 90 cents in Vancouver, Canada last month!), but at least you’d get more bang for your buck in Europe.

So if you’ve always been dreaming about visiting Paris, now is your chance to make your dream a reality. You have until Sep 26 to book this travel deal. But don’t wait too long, because the earlier you book, the better your chance of getting the deal.

And one more thing, I don’t work for Travelzoo. I just like to share information. Have you discover any fabulous  travel deal you’d like to share? Feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your stories, deal or no deal, on places to eat and travel, here and abroad. Happy travels!