Tuesday, May 10, 2011

TBEX '11 Vancouver & Whistler, BC Canada Trip

http://www.travelblogexchange.com
450 travel bloggers and I are all a twitter as we prepare to attend the TBEX '11 (Travel Blog Exchange Conference) in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada next month. I am really excited about touring and discovering beautiful Vancouver during the conference then breathe-taking Whistler after the conference.

I discovered the  group Travel Blog Exchange on Twitter last year just before their TBEX Europe Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark. As soon as registration opened this year I quickly purchased a ticket before they sold out. Kim Mance is the founder of TBEX and host of TBEX'11. She is the travel writer and editor of Galavanting and online travel magazine and web TV series.



As one of 450 travel bloggers to descend upon Vancouver to blog about tours, attractions, restaurants, and hotels. I will be giving you tips on getting the most out of Vancouver  & Whistler sightseeing. So follow my blog as I explore Vancouver & Whistler, BC. in June.

The day before the conference starts some travel bloggers and I are being sponsored on day tours of Vancouver by Tourism Vancouver. My tour choice is the North Shore Combo, Landsea Tours & Adventure. Will I be able to walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge?

North Shore Tour
I am also the winner of the Four Reasons for Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Contest.  My prize is a one night stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver plus dinner for two at the YEW Restaurant & Bar.



After the TBEX '11 Conference, I will be hosted by Whistler Tourism with other travel bloggers as we leave Vancouver on the thrilling Rocky Mountaineer three-hour train ride to Whistler, BC. We will experience spectacular views along the Sea to Sky corridor.


Whistler is a renown ski area with world- class resorts. It was the center stage for the 2010 World Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Whistler is special because of its pristine natural environment and untamed wilderness. Whistler received its name from the marmot a wild animal that has a shrill whistle which warns other marmots of possible danger. The marmot calls can be heard throughout the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains.



Follow my blog in June to experience my wonderful adventures in Vancouver and Whistler, BC.
Like my facebook fan page or follow me on Twitter.

Have you ever visited Vancouver or Whistler, BC, Canada?

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Nominate The Skychi Travel Guide for Best Travel Blog


The Black Weblog Awards will be presented live in Los Angeles, CA on July 9, 2011. The ceremony will take place at the end of the second day of the 2011 Blogging While Brown Conference.
Blogging While Brown is the largest gathering of Black bloggers in the country and features three days of workshops, panels and networking events. Blogging While Brown attendees will be able to attend the live Black Weblog Awards ceremony with their conference badges.
The combination of the Black Weblog Awards with the Blogging While Brown Conference in one location will be a historic gathering of Black social media influentials and establish the weekend as a high profile celebration of excellence in Black social media.

Nominations and Voting

Nominations – April 18 – May 7, 2011

Voting – May 16 – June17, 2011
Live Awards – Los Angeles – July 9,2011



Please help us by submitting your nomination to:


Enter your name and email address.

Then enter http://skychitravels.blogspot.com for the following categories:

1. Best New Blog

2. Best Personal Blog

3. Best Travel Blog

4. Blog to Watch

5. Lifestyle Blog

Then click Submit.

The Skychi Travel Guide wishes to thank you for support in this nomination process.


Photobucket

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Washington, DC - U St. & Very Smart Brothas



My daughter Dani and I flew to DC for the weekend to celebrate her birthday and her sister's birthday, Sunny. Yes I have two daughters born in March. No, they are not twins. The are years apart. I was a very busy lady having babies at that time. I am a Mom of four adult offspring. One son and four daughters.

U St. Jazz Club Area

So we were three ladies, out on the town in Washington D.C.'s U St. area which is a favorite hangout for young people and Jazz Lovers. We were looking for a restaurant with a happy hour. Dani wanted to eat at Ben's Chili Bowl. So we walked by and saw a line around the corner.


Long line at Ben's Chili Bowl

Next we stopped at Ben's Next Door to find out the wait was an hour and a half long for a table. We were pretty hungry, so we decided to have dinners and drinks at Tap 'n Parlour.

Ben's Next Door

We were so glad that we ended up at Tap 'n Parlour because we joined the THREE DEEZ Birthday Party.
We met the the VSB - Very Smart Brothas: The Champ, Panama Jackson, and Liz. What a birthday present for my girls!

The Champ, Sunny and Dani

I learned about the VSB's from my youngest daughter Nessa. She is a college student. She is always talking about their famous blog at  www.verysmartbrothas.com. She loves their intellect.

Having kids is great they keep you abreast of what's going on in life. We had fallen into the THREEDEEZ Birthday Party with the famous VSB and I knew all about them from my Nessa.

Panama Jackson, Skychi, The Champ

I was so excited at the surprise that life had brought us that weekend. We celebrated the THREEDEEZ Birthday Party for Dani and Sunny's birthday. Awesome! Right!


Liz at THREEDEEZ

Now you are asking what is a THREEDEEZ? You have to read their blog at www.verysmartbrothas.com to find out what it means. I can tell you that the Very Smart Brothas: Black Men on Love, Dating & Pop Culture is humorous relationship blog. 


Your Degrees Won't Keep You Warm at Night: Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime
by Damon Young & Panama Jackson

My daughter and I  each purchased their new book Your Degree Won't Keep You Warm at Night: Very Smart Brothas Guide to Dating, Mating and Fighting Crime. They even autographed it for us. Buy your copy right now. It is a scintillating must read. I read the book immediately and could not put it down. While I was reading this book I was attracting men to me like bees to honey.
I learned a few things about men from this book. I am divorced now after a twenty-five marriage. This has come at the perfect time in my life. Very Smart Brothas are my new Love and Relationship Guru's. You have to order the book today.

After you buy their book, then vote for the Very Smart Brothas for their blog at
http://blackweblogawards.com/nominate/

...and nominate them for the following categories that they qualify for:

  1. Blog of The Year
     
  2. Best Writing In A Blog
     
  3. Best Sex or Relationships Blog
     
  4. Best Humor Blog

I just voted for them, so vote for them right now.


Somehow I have a cameo appearance in their video #ThreeDeez VerySmartBrothas.com Birthday Party.

Did you read their the book yet? What are you thoughts?  Please comment below.

Please like my facebook page and follow me on twitter.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

How to Deal with Getaway Disasters

May 2011 Issue Women's Health

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO

Nobody wants an out-of-town mishap to derail their vacation. These quick fixes from the editors of Women’s Health magazine will prevent any unexpected health hang-up from ruining your getaway.

1.         Treat a scorching sunburn
Thin skinned and easily forgotten spots like the ears and the tops of the feet often suffer the worst sunburn.  First take an ibuprofen to help curb any inflammation.  Next, hit the grocery store for some white vinegar; dilute one teaspoon of it into a pint of cold water and every few hours cover the burn for 10 minutes.

2.         Manage motion sickness
It’s hard to enjoy sailing when your heads hanging over the side of the boat.  Taking slow deep breaths of fresh air and focusing on the horizon should help. So can nibbling on some ginger candy or placing a drop of peppermint oil under your tongue.

3.         Fix a chipped tooth
For a small chip, use an emery board to file down sharp edges, just as you do to fingernail. Since cracked tooth enamel can leave nerves exposed, if you feel pain you can temporarily seal the area with Krazy Glue. For bigger chips, put broken tooth pieces in a container filled with cold milk; the sugar compounds can keep tooth cells alive for 72 hours.    


 For more tips on how to deal with getaway disasters, pick up the May issue of Women’s Health, on newsstands now, or head to WomensHealthMag.com!
You get your copy now of the May Issue of Women's Health by clicking on the photo.

 This article caught my attention because it mentioned using a natural remedy of peppermint oil under your tongue to help manage motion sickness. 

I am strong believer in natural healing. I personally use herbs, aromatherapy and essential oils to help cure sickness. 

As a flight attendant, I see many passengers experience motion sickness or air sickness. Some passengers use medication, other passengers don't use anything.
Some first time flyers find out that they have air sickness or that their stomachs can't stand turbulence. 

Before I read this article from the May Issue of Women's Health Magazine,  I was unaware that peppermint oil can help manage motion or air sickness. So I did some further research to discover more about the usage of peppermint oil. I want to share with you what I learned about peppermint oil.


"The aroma of peppermint oil is extremely refreshing, with the ability to clear the head, increase mental clarity and alertness, and sharpen the senses. Peppermint oil is also beneficial for reviving individuals following episodes of dizziness, fainting, nausea or even shock." The Encyclopedia of Aromatherapy. You can purchase the book by clicking on the photo of the book below.


Peppermint oil it not advised for "individuals with epilepsy or insomnia and should not be used topically on children under 3 years of age. Peppermint oil should be applied sparingly on those with sensitive skin, in order to avoid minor skin irritation. Furthermore, since peppermint oil promotes menstruation and reduces lactation, its use is best avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy and while nursing."


Despite these warnings peppermint oil is a valuable essential oil with a myriad of uses. Applied topically, peppermint oil is also beneficial for treating sunburn.


There are two types of peppermint oil: one that is applied to the skin and the other is digestive. Please be careful when selecting your peppermint oil to use under your tongue to manage motion or air sickness. 




Nature's Sunshine Digestive Peppermint Oil 


The quality of the peppermint oil is important. Nature's Sunshine sells only pure unadulterated peppermint oil. Other manufacturers may sell commint or menthol as peppermint oil. Don't be fooled.


Go right now to my online health store at http://www.mynsp.com/skychi to order the highest quality digestive Peppermint oil. You can be prepared to manage motion or air sickness on your next plane trip and prevent a getaway disaster.


Do you have an air sickness story to share? Please comment below.


Please "Like" my facebook page or follow me on twitter to receive more travel tips and info.



Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Art of Service- Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver

                                                   
                                             Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver


I am attending the "TBEX" Travel Blog Exchange 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia next month. I noticed that Brooklyn Nomad a successful Travel Blogger was hosting a contest. Win a Night at the Four Seasons Vancouver & Dinner for 2 TBEX Weekend | The Brooklyn Nomad www.thebrooklynnomad.com


Vancouver, British Columbia


So I decided to enter the this contest for a free night stay and dinner for two at YEW Restaurant.

Yew Restaurant 

As a flight attendant I practically live in hotels. Sometimes I stay about 15 to 20 nights a month in all types of hotels. We experience varying levels of quality and customer service. Strangely enough hotels are the very important part of our work. Rest or lack of rest can make or break a flight crew. The art of rest can be a difficult balance to maintain.

Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver Fitness Centre

One would think that because you have a nice hotel room that you should automatically be well rested. There is much more to a hotel than a room. Noisy guests, elevators, air conditioning systems, loud TV's , and very thin walls can disturb rest. Nice amenities are important too. The hotel restaurant,  Flat-screen TV,  in-room fridge and microwave, the pool, the jacuzzi, and exercise room are important amenities that I look at on hotel websites. Then there is the all in important comfortable bed with lots of pillows to rest my tired legs and feet.

Four Seasons Hotel Deluxe Executive Suite

I am a servant in the airline industry. I know and understand customer service. I appreciate excellent customer service. I am looking forward to meeting the management and staff at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver. I am open to learning from them the "Art of True Customer Service". This will be reciprocal experience for me. One can always improve their customer service skills.

 The Four Seasons Hotel has mastered this art. This year the Four Seasons Hotel celebrates its 50th Birthday. I am excited to be part of this celebration.

Some surprising facts about the Four Seasons Hotel that I noticed during my research.

  • Four Seasons Hotel is a Canadian based company. I am very familiar with the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago.
  • The first hotel opened in 1961 in downtown Toronto.
  • The Fours Seasons Hotel service culture is based on the Golden Rule

This is my winning entry.

Four Reasons 4 Four Seasons
These are my reasons to stay at the Four Season Hotel.

The Power of Personal Service

1.      To experience the service culture created by Four Season Hotel founder Issy Sharp – The Golden Rule- “We treat others – all others: customers, employees, partners, suppliers – as one would wish to be treated.” The way the employees are treated by management transcends to the way the customer is treated.


Marathon of Hope Cancer Research
     2.  Happy 50th Birthday by Advancing Cancer Research through the Terry Fox Foundation.  I love companies with goodwill. The Terry Fox Run which is supported by the Four Seasons Hotel shows that they have a good heart. 

Isadore Sharp Founder & Chairman
       
3. Isadore Sharp had a different vision: “A personal, down-to-earth hotel. Not for dukes or duchesses, but for people who want to be treated that way, and are put off by the stuffy formality of traditional grand hotels.” I love to be treated like royalty by hotel staff but I don’t like stuffy hotels. This speaks to me.

Kathleen Taylor President & CEO

4.    Kathleen Taylor – President & CEO - Personal characteristic that makes sense if you know her: “I consider myself an enabler more than a manager, but I’m also a bit of a control freak”. Woman power, I love companies with Woman CEO’s.



I will be blogging about my stay at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and the dinner for two at the YEW Restaurant. Please "Like" me on facebook or follow me on twitter.



Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Those famous white dresses?

Garden view of a Hacienda in Mexico
While on my day tour of Chichen Izta we stopped at  a hacienda for lunch and a show. My bus partner was Mexican. He seemed to be delighted that we were stopping at the hacienda for lunch. He told me there was a hacienda in his native California that had indoor and outdoor seating. This particular hacienda had an indoor  buffet style restaurant. It also had a chapel and a gift shop.

Artwork Souvenirs at Sun Moon Palace Resort
Tip: Buy souvenirs away from the resort, you will spend less for souvenirs on tours. The souvenirs were much cheaper on the tour than at the Sun Moon Palace Resort.  I bought four hankerchiefs for $1. Hat and T- shirts were $5. One of Mexican Tourist from California spent $267 on souvenirs at Chichen Itza alone. He said his wife had given him a list of souvenirs to pick up. I was amazed.

Students dancing at Hacienda Lunch in Mexico


I sat at the front of the restaurant near the stage so that I could film the students dancing. The young women wore those famous white dresses.



This is a funny video of the students dancing with bottles on their heads.


Town Square of Valladolid, Mexico 

After lunch we stopped at Valladolid, Mexico which is a small town that is known for the famous white dresses that the women wear there. There is also more shopping for inexpensive souvenirs.

Two women proudly wearing those famous white dresses

After I took the photos of the women they wanted a tip. I gave them some Nature's Sunshine Solstice Energy packets because I had spent all my cash on souvenirs. Everybody needs energy right!

My models for the day in those famous white dresses.

They were very nice about it. They just giggled and went on their merry way.

Skychi in front of Famous White Dress Fountain

In the middle of the Valladolid, Mexico town square  park is a fountain of a women wearing one of the famous white dresses.

Women wearing one of the those Valladolid, Mexico "Famous White Dress"
 You know those  famous white dresses, don't you?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Magic Johnson says American Airlines "Nobody does it Better!"


video



According to Earvin "Magic" Johnson

nobody does it better than American Airlines from


 Los Angeles  to New York

or Los Angeles to Chicago

or Los Angeles to Miami.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

How to speed through Customs & Immigrations?

Skychi at Sun Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico
At the airport in Cancun I met two American Airlines flight attendants who were also headed back to Chicago. While we were boarding the flight I overhead them talking about Global Entry, so I asked them about it. They told me they were international flight attendants so they cleared customs and immigrations at Chicago O'hare Terminal 5 on a regular basis. They recommended getting Global Entry to save time on the  line to clear customs. Global Entry is $100 for 5 years.

Vendors' children eating in Mexico
After we departed the aircraft and went down the escalator towards customs we encountered a line that was at least a mile long in the hallway before we even reached the customs hall. I had never seen the line that long. Now I understand the need for Global Entry. That line was at least a two hour wait. I can only image all the passengers who missed their connecting flights because they were stuck in that line not to mention they had to collect their luggage and recheck to their luggage to its final destination.

Museum of Art Ottawa, Canada
I just visited the Global Entry website at http://www.globalentry.gov to learn more about it. It seems that the government program is for U.S. citizens who are low-risk. There is a background check, fingerprinting and a interview. You do not need to travel a certain number of trips internationally. Families can apply for Global Entry and schedule their interviews at the same time.

Crew Eats at Sahib's in Montreal, Canada

Once you are aprroved and receive Global Entry you can enter the U.S. at major airports by using automated kiosks thereby passing the long lines for customs and immigrations. Global Entry users also have free access to other border entry programs such as NEXUS of Canada and SENTRI of Mexico.

Skychi in Chinatown at Victoria Island, Vancouver, Canada
There is also a FLUX (Fast Low Risk Universal Crossing)  border entry program for the Netherlands which allows Dutch and U.S. citizens to travel through fast lanes internationally. The Privium FLUX is a limited program with  fees of 220 Euros. The Privium Plus membership is an additional 66 Euros. These fees do not include the $100 Global Entry fee. The Privium Plus allows its members to have club lounge access, priority parking, and business class check-in even if you have coach ticket.

Arc de Triomphe Paris, France
My observations of travelers that use the fast lane at the automated kiosks that the process is faster than a flight crew line clearance. 

Flight Crew heading to airport from LAX Sheraton
Next time you are waiting in line at Customs and Immigrations watching passengers zip through at the automated kiosks consider the pros and cons for yourself. Is the Global Entry program for you?


Saturday, March 19, 2011

Will the gods shine at Chichen Itza's Spring Solstice?

Skychi in front of Observatory

This has been an unusual vacation for me. I am accustomed to planning my own itinerary. Today, I went on a full-day group tour to Chichen Itza, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. It was a completely different experience for me. I had no clue of what to expect for the day, as I had not bothered to ask about the itinerary. So everything was a surprise to me. The bus ride was two hours from Cancun to Chichen Itza. We left the Sun Moon Palace Resort about 8 am and arrived in Chichen Itza about 11 a.m. because of one rest stop along the way.

Tour Guide Sylvia in front of Observatory

There were three motorcoach tour buses from the resort with about 50 people each for about 150 people. Once at Chichen Itza some people went off to explore on their own and others followed the tour guide. I decided to stick with the tour guide so I could enjoy the history of tour. 



It seems that is is winter in Mexico but it is still 90 degrees. There are no mosquitos because it is winter. During the tour it started raining. I wondered why there were people carrying umbrellas. At first I thought it was for protection from the sun. Now I understand one should be prepared in case of rain too. Big tip it is spring so, carry an umbrella. It will protect you from the sun or possible rain.

Observatory at Chichen Itza
On March 21st is the Sun Solstice, thousands of people will gather at Chichen Itza to watch the sun pass from the front door to the back door of the Observatory. At the same time the sun will also pass through door of the main monument. The sunworshippers will wait for the snake tail to zig zag its way down to the snake head. That is if the gods are happy the sun will shine. If a cloud passes over or it rains then the Mayans believed that the gods had to be appeased with the blood of human sacrifices. It seems that men were the preferred to be sacrificed over women.

Chichen Itza 
Evidently, the gods were not happy the day of our tour because we had a downpour that started at noon and lasted the rest of the day. Happily there were no sacrifices to appease the angry gods.

Will the gods be happy on March 21st for the Spring Solstice and allow the tail of the snake
to meet the snake head?



Monday, March 14, 2011

Why are you solo?

Skychi at Sun Moon Palace in Cancun, Mexico

At breakfast this morning the waiter asked me "Why are you solo? As a matter of fact I have been asked that question several times by male waiters. I understand the culture of Mexico is one of an emphasis on  "FAMILY". I  guess they cannot understand how I be by myself or eat by myself.

Watermelon Sculpture at Mexican Restaurant


My first day at lunch at the Mexican restaurant, the waitress did not want to seat me because  I was by myself. I thought it was interesting that the single gentleman ahead of me did not have that problem. They seated him immediately.

Chef preparing my Grilled Grouper


Why are you solo?
I answered that I am a flight attendant. I am used to traveling by myself. I don't think that answer was acceptable to him. He still looked puzzled. I am certain that I am not the only woman here traveling solo. However, this does not stop the asking of the question, Why am I alone?

Fruit Station at Buffett


This question has me asking and examining myself, Why am I alone?
Upon further introspection, there are other reasons for why I travel alone. I am divorced with four adult offspring. I have yet to meet my wandering soul mate.

Garnishments for Grilled Meats


Yes, I am "soloito". I am the little alone person.

Grilled Grouper, Cactus Salad and Shredded Beets
Churro with Ice Cream & Petit Fours


This morning, I was in line at the hostess station of the Mexican Restaurant of Sun Moon Palace waiting for a table. I ran into two women that I had met the last night. The hostess rushed to seat the three of us.
Skychi with one of the Chefs of the Mexican Restaurant

That's was my "Ahh! Moment". I realized I was choosing to eat alone and be alone. The question by the waiters of "Why are you alone?" was not due to their lack of understanding. It caused me to reflect upon who I was choosing to "be" which was alone. I had met many people but I had not sought their companionship during meal time. I finally got it. The question is not so much "Why are you alone?" but "Why do you choose to eat alone?". I did not eat all my meals alone. However, I got that I did choose to eat alone several times.

Breakfast in Room
Breakfast with my roommate


Thank you for the awakening moment. Now I can shift to not be "solo". Sometimes Travel can help you learn about yourself.