Are Travel Guidebooks passé?

Earlier this year the venerable “Frommer’s” travel guides were purchased by Google and soon thereafter it was announced that they would discontinue publishing the travel guides in book form.  Word on the street is that Google was mainly interested in the social media followers of Frommer’s, not in publishing guidebooks, so they sold the publishing rights back to Arthur Frommer and the good news is that he will continue to publish the books. 

A frommer's guide book from 2000
Even an older guide book can have a lot of great information….and you can probably pick them up cheap at a used book store.

So are guide books still useful?  Well, let me give you my “two cents”.  Guide books are still a great planning tool: you can lay them out on the table, flip from page to page and share with one another much easier than if you were on a computer or tablet.  Also, you can highlight items that are of interest to you.  Even an old guide book that might seem out of date can provide great insights you may not find on a website.

Once you’re on the road, a guide book can be invaluable to you. Although most travel websites are now adapted for mobile use, and there are many apps available as well, there are times when a guide book is more convenient, especially if you have bookmarked or highlighted pertinent pages when planning.

So bottom line…..both guide books and travel websites together can help you plan the trip of a lifetime. Hint….check out our website first!

We offer reliable guidebooks that are carefully selected for Catholic travelers.  Together with secular guide books they are a great resource. If we can quote Rick Steves, he said something like “$30 tools for $3,000 experiences.

Vatican Museums will be closed August 15 for the Feast of the Assumption

Since August 15, the Feast of the Assumption, is a Holy Day, the Vatican Museums will be closed that day. However, the archaeological sites in Rome will be open.  So if you will be in Rome on the 15th  that means you can visit the Colosseum, the forum, etc. since Rome is part of Italy and does not necessarily observe the religious holiday.  

The Vatican, obviously, is its own country and therefore has its own rules. The Vatican Post Office will also be closed, but both will be open again on the 16th.  Major Basilicas (including Saint Peter’s) and Churches will be open and probably crowded due to the feast day.  

And one other note:  Pope Francis will be at the Papal Summer residence at Castel Gandolfo that day.  Whether he will make a public appearance or not is unknown, but our guess is he probably will.

What happens to your travel plans when Feast Days Change?

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Imagine traveling to Knock, Ireland to celebrate the Feast of Our Lady of Knock only to find out you got there on the wrong day!

How could this happen?  Well, the “silent apparition” of Knock took place on August 21, 1879.  But, since August 21st  was already assigned to Saint Pius X, there was no special date set aside for Our Lady of Knock on the official calendar.

In June of 2011 the Congregation for the Divine Worship set the date of August 17th as the Feast of Our Lady of Knock with a special Memorial Mass.  This falls within the dates of the national novena in honor of Our Lady of Knock, which is from August 14th-22nd.

However……

Mass at Our Lady of Knock
Here you can see Mass being celebrated in the Apparition Chapel at the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock. The only part of the original Church is preserved on one wall of the chapel.

in Knock, they celebrate the Feast Day on the actual date of August 21st.  So if you plan to be there on the Feast Day…and we highly recommend it if you can…..then keep that in mind.  For more information check the official website of the Shrine of Our Lady of Knock.  If you time it right you can watch Mass live from the Shrine.

To hear the song “Our Lady of Knock, Queen of Ireland” sung by Irish singer Dana, click here.  It gives a great presentation of the apparitions while you listen to her beautiful voice.  Gives you goosebumps!

 

Looking for a Sunday Brunch in Rome?

Picture breakfasting in Italy! Those of you who have been to this magnificent country before perhaps found the traditional Italian breakfast of a hard roll and coffee somewhat disappointing.  But, good news, due to popular demand from tourists, some hotels have begun offering a ‘reinforced breakfast” that includes cereals, eggs, etc.  

And we were truly ecstatic when we recently discovered that Cafe Pompi, a popular local Roman restaurant, offers a fantastic Sunday Brunch.  Their specialties are poached and scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, toast, butter and jam, baked beans, tasty sausages, pancakes, fluffy muffins, donuts, yogurt with cereal, fruit salad, all invariably accompanied by orange juice and a steaming cup of coffee.  The cost is pretty reasonable for an Italian brunch of this quality: about 10 Euros.

But if you don’t happen to be here on a Sunday morning, then consider stopping here some time for their famous Tiramisu, which is their main claim to fame. Many consider it the best they have ever tasted.  You can get all kinds of flavors, but their original is still a big draw.

I can’t decide whether I want the brunch or the Tiramisu, but I am not in Rome that often, so I’ll have both!

They have a couple of new locations, but we recommend the original one at Via Albalonga 7 in the San Giovanni neighborhood. Open Tuesday thru Sunday 6:30 AM to 1:30 AM.  Metro to Re di Roma stop and two minutes walk to restaurant.  The restaurant is south of the Termini Train station. 

Been there?  Please let us know how you

By the way, we are not compensated in any way for this review.  Just wanted to pass this on to everyone.

Traveling on a budget

 

Traveling on a Budget

With so many great Catholic destinations around the world waiting to be visited, you can be sure that you have many trips ahead of you if you want to see as many as possible. However, making so many trips does mean that you’ll have to spend big money on the usual travel expenses.

Fortunately, there are ways to save money while traveling. Some require thinking a little outside of the box, but they generally just involve being creative and seeing how far you can stretch your money on your travels.

Traveling 

The actual act of transit is an unavoidable expense; you are going to have to get there one way or the other, after all. However, unavoidable expense doesn’t have to mean unavoidably expensive.

The first thing you can do when planning your trip is to be flexible. Costs of travel vary significantly depending on what time of the year, what day, and even what time of day you’re traveling, so being open will give you the best possible chance of snagging a deal you’re happy with. If you are flying to one country, open up the search parameters and see if there are any other nearby airports that you can fly to as you can always get a connecting bus or train to your eventual destination once you land in the country.

Alternatively, if you are planning to visit several Catholic destinations during a single trip, then a cruise that stops at multiple ports is the best way to travel without spending money on many flights. This works particularly well around the Mediterranean, as the destinations are close by and there are plenty of cruises that go around there. Cruises vary in destinations and who they cater to ( i.e. retired couples vs. young families) so do your research to determine which is the right trip for you.

Accommodation

After travel, accommodation is the next biggest expense you’re likely to have. With hotels in the most popular tourist spots running at up to hundreds of dollars a night, it’s important that you think smartly about the standard, location, and type of accommodation you book. One of the best ways to avoid spending big money is to travel the modern way and rent a vacation rental from a private individual; there are a number of websites that have such listings available, so see what’s on offer to find a place that is perfect for you. These types of accommodation typically give you much more space for much cheaper than traditional hotels, so you can make big savings if you’re lucky.

If you would prefer to stay in a regular hotel, then one of the best ways to save money is to keep an eye out for any deals the hotel is offering (kids staying for free, free dinner/breakfast) and, again, to stay flexible (hotels will be more expensive on the weekends and during holidays/events). If you’re feeling adventurous, using a website that allows you to book a room in a “hidden hotel” can save you up to 70% of regular booking prices. The only catch is you don’t know which hotel it is you’ll be staying in until you’ve booked it, but that’s also part of the fun.

Seeing the Sights 

Sightseeing is another expense you need to account for. After all, there’s no use travelling all the way to the Vatican, for example, and not seeing all the great sights that are there! One way to save money is to see if your destination has a version of Citypass, or an equivalent, that gives you access to a number of sights for one fixed price. While the initial cost can seem steep, you’ll easily save a lot of money if you plan on visiting all the sights that it lets you in for. Also keep an eye out for any free entrance days at some attractions will not charge admission at specific times/days. The Vatican Museums, for instance, can be visited for free on every last Sunday of the month.

Eating

Another compulsory expense that doesn’t need to be as expensive as you’d think; all you need to do is think about where you’re eating. Meals in heavily tourist areas will cost a lot more money than meals in a restaurant a little bit away from the center of town, in a place where the locals typically eat. If possible, try to buy basic breakfast and lunch supplies in supermarkets and make them yourself.

Blog article  contributed by Susie Main

 

Looking for a Catholic Guide in Rome?

We are often asked for recommendations, especially for tour guides. One of the problems when you arrange for a tour guide in a city like Rome, is just how Catholic are they? Do they practice the faith, or are they just Catholic in name only?

Here is a response we had from one tour operator.  We pass this along for your discernment.

“Hello from Rome!  Thank you,  thank you very much for your e-mail.

Yes, most of our tour guides who cooperate with us are practising Catholic.  I am running this company since years and the one who takes care of most of the Tours.

My family and I are strict Roman Catholics and we are well known for this too. It does not mean only going to Church every Sunday but a way of living 
which is according to what our Faith recommend.

I wish you all my best and God Bless you. Buona Domenica ( Happy Sunday!)”

Cristiano Pellegrini
Rome Travels Srl
IT Mobile: +39-328-474-1982

 

 

 

 

Valuable Resources for Traveling with a Special Needs Child

Guest post by Rebecca Moore

5 Valuable Resources to Make Traveling with a Special Needs Child Less Stressful

kids-playing-863613_960_720Traveling is stressful regardless of circumstances, but traveling with children can be even more so. When your child has special needs, you may feel that traveling is overwhelming. Fortunately, programs and resources are available to make traveling with your child easier and more enjoyable for the whole family.

1. Kids Fly Safe: Reassure Yourself of Your Child’s Safety

Worrying about whether or not air travel is safe for your child is a concern many parents share, particularly with very young children. CARES is a company that produces a special aviation harness, not unlike the buckles found on a child’s car seat.

With children between 22 and 44 pounds, typical airplane seatbelts do not offer the range of protection they offer adults. This can be nerve wracking and may add to your stress. With CARES’s line of products, flight can feel much more secure for both you and your child.

2. SpecialGlobe: A Travel Site with Your Needs in Mind

SpecialGlobe is a site that allows you to book custom tickets and hotel rooms with special needs children in mind. Their custom itineraries include such things as nearby hospitals, suitable activities, where to find trained aides, or even what destinations provide special equipment you may need. Furthermore, the site allows parents to share experiences and tips so you can get a firsthand account of a destination from a parent like yourself.

3. Special Needs Travel Mom: Bloggers with Experience to Share

The most reassuring type of resource is one written by someone in your position. A vast number of parents write blogs about life with special needs children and, often, there will be a section on travel. One such blog is Special Needs Travel Mom, which offers tips, experiences, and links to further resources. Reading someone else’s successful experience can often be the best way to reduce the anxiety and stress of an upcoming trip.

4. Family Vacation Critic: Find the Best Vacation

Websites like Family Vacation Critic can provide lists of ideal travel destinations for children with special needs. With the research already done for you, the only stressful thing left is to pick a place. These lists often include places that host specific organizations. Splore, for example, is an organization in Moab, Utah that aims to provide outdoor fun for people of all ages and abilities. It is not the only one of its kind. Groups like this are cropping up everywhere with a goal to make the world a more fun and accessible place.

5. Basic Planning Sites: Don’t Forget the Basics

When caring for a special needs child, those needs are likely your top priority. While those are extremely important to consider when traveling, the basics shouldn’t be overlooked. Find the website of your airline; learn what useful features it has for you to ease your journey. Look at a seat map and be sure you are seated with your child, as some flights may not book seats together. Find a site withpacking tips so you can feel confident that you haven’t forgotten anything. And lastly, research your destination. Knowing all there is to know about where you are going will resolve much of your travel anxiety. Arriving in a location armed with a mental map of the nearest hospital or ASL travel guide is guaranteed to diminish your anxiety.

 

Traveling is both stressful and exciting. With the rapidly advancing world of special needs accommodations, travel with your child can be fun and rewarding rather than nerve-wracking.  With the right resources and preparation, you can focus more on the excitement.

 

Rebecca Moore fractured her ankle in a bike accident in March 2015. Temporarily disabled, she soon felt isolated from her peers and was crushed to realize this is a common problem for people with disabilities. She went on to create AbleRise.net with a friend in an effort to provide more disability resources and make the world a more caring place.

 

Image via Pixabay by marianaviolante950

 

 

Sailing from Galveston on weekend of December 1st?…Enjoy Dickens on the Strand

 
Galveston, Texas is a popular cruise ship port for many.  If you will be sailing from the port of Galveston the weekend of December 1, 2, 3, then you will have the opportunity to participate in the Dickens on the Strand celebration that takes place that weekend.

 

Handbell concert at Saint Joseph's Church
Handbell concert at Saint Joseph’s Church

One of the most interesting activities is the handbell concert held in Saint Joseph’s Church.  No longer a Catholic church, it was was de-consecrated in 1968 and many of the interior items auctioned off; however, the Galveston Historical Foundation bought the building and many of the statues and other features so that it now closely resembles the Church that it was before.

For more information about Dickens on the Strand click here