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  • Tulips and Waffels with hot caramel centers

    Things that can't be missed In Amsterdam: I cannot wait for my next trip to Amsterdam! I’m a little bit of a foodie, so as we were walking through one of the street markets, the aroma will never be forgotten. I HAD to find the source. Bingo, Stoopwafel! Imagine two thin waffles with caramel in the middle – and hot! Say no more, you had me at waffles. It's no secret that Amsterdam is one of the most exciting places on this Earth to visit. With its rich history, artistic legacy, intricate canal system, and abundance of museums, you will find that there is so much to do and see in the time you are there to visit. To help you come up with somewhat of an itinerary for your vacation, we've decided to write out a list of the top 5 things to do while you're in Amsterdam. 1. Take a historical canal ride. The water tours of Amsterdam are some of the most desired. Since there are hundreds of canals throughout the nation that were created just for travel, there is no reason not to give this popular attraction a try. During your gentle water ride, you'll get to view some of the country's most detailed architecture and most beautiful landscapes. 2. Take a walk through the wildflowers. Amsterdam takes great pride in its bulb flowers, especially tulips. Visit the amazingly vibrant bulb flower park in Lisse if you wish to see the tulips in all their glory. If you happen to miss the tulip season, don't worry. There are plenty of bulbed flowers that grow year-round at the park. 3. Visit one of the many spectacular art museums or history museums. We were in search of Starry Night as we visited the Van Gogh museum. You can check out art by Rembrandt, Van Gogh, or other world-renowned artists or revisit history by walking into the Anne Frank House, where you can see the secret annex where Anne hid during World War II. 4. Walk through De Wallen, the nation's red-light district. Although it's famous for some risky behavior, there is much more to the city. Try out one of the district's fine restaurants, small boutiques, or find more responsible entertainment at any of the places not lit up with red lights. For a faster way to venture through, rent a bicycle. You'll find that you can rent a bike nearly anywhere in the country. There are truly more bicycles in the city than vehicles. 5. Last but not least, you mustn't leave the country without trying some of its authentic Dutch desserts. Historically Dutch cuisine is rather bland, so while in Amsterdam you won't see "authentic Dutch cuisine" restaurants, but you will see a wide variety of authentic cuisine from all over the world. Don’t be surprised when you visit one of its coffeehouses. People travel all over the world to Amsterdam to encounter the coffeehouses in person. In Amsterdam, a coffeehouse is a place where cannabis is “served.” For the Dutch, it is simply a way to unwind, and these coffeehouses are some of the most reputable and reliable sources to enjoy a delicious bite to eat and a puff of smoke as you dine. Give me shout when you’re ready to start planning your next amazing vacation! In the meantime, I’ll be having my stroopwafel with my espresso. Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com

  • Cancun-The Sea, The Sun, and Tacos

    Exploring the Americas: An easy way to travel! When we think of America, we think of the United States. However, the continent of America has so more much to offer than we could ever think. Well, I will let you in on the secret to exploring the best getaways without even leaving the continent. If you’re from the USA, and you’ve never travelled “internationally” – maybe because you think that means boarding a long flight to Europe – news flash! There are some great destinations on the North American continent. They’re in this place called “Mexico” – a fabulous land with once-in-a-lifetime destinations in every corner of the country. And the best news? From the USA, you don’t need to take a long flight – or any flight at all if you don’t want to. You could drive there if you wanted! Imagine the bluest ocean you’ve ever seen. Acapulco, Los Cabos, and of course, we can’t forget Cancun! Cancun Resorts & Spas are hidden gems nestled right on the beautiful oceans of the Atlantic and the Gulf! Traveling has no stress at these exquisite resorts. They not only take care of you and ensure your comfortability, but they offer delicious authentic foods any time you get a craving– you ask, and they will happily get it for you. Traveling single or on a date or romantic getaway? Cancun has events to mingle and comfortably meet new people, so naturally, even the introvert can enjoy! Furthermore (yes even more!), whether you are swimming in the clear ocean or the pool, you have access to beverages, and above all, fun and relaxation! Dance and partake in water aerobics if you want to try something new or add your existing training! Cancun has no limits and caters well to its guests. They have romantic journeys and experiences that will ignite any relationship. The sophistication of the spa will allow you to feel free and ready for another day of romance and excitement. So, pack your bags, leave the kids for few days (or bring them with you), head right to the airport. Before you know it, you will have zoomed right on down to the lower part of America! Trust me; there is nothing like an all-inclusive resort. Book a journey you’ll never forget! If you want to learn more about Mexico in general, and the great travel experiences it has to offer, just send me an email and in the subject line enter: "Send me the Mexico guide" and I'll send it to you. Feel free to contact me via email at Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com, or schedule a quick chat!

  • A Journey Into the Heart of History: My Personal Encounter with the Anne Frank Huis (house)

    I have had the profound opportunity to walk through the pages of history by visiting the Anne Frank Huis in the beautiful city of Amsterdam. Right in the middle of this busy city, this remarkable site offers not just a deep dive into a poignant chapter of history, but also a stark moment of reflection on the resilience of the human spirit. Today, I want to share my personal experiences and insights about this moving historical place, hoping to inspire you to add it to your travel list. The Echoes of a Young Girl's Dreams and Fears Anne Frank is not just a name in a history book; she was a vibrant, insightful young girl who dreamed and hoped just like any of us. During World War II, Anne, together with her family and a few others, hid from Nazi persecution in the secret annex of this 17th-century canal house. For over two years, the Secret Annex served as a refuge for Anne, her family, and friends until their unfortunate apprehension in 1944. The heart of Anne’s story is best known through her diary, penned with the maturity and insight far beyond her years. Through her writings, Anne Frank has become a symbol of the lost potential of the millions of Jews who suffered similar fates during the Holocaust. Stepping Inside the Anne Frank House Visiting the Anne Frank House is an emotional experience. As I walked through the rooms of the Secret Annex, it was almost like I could hear the whispers of history. Each room is preserved with utmost care, allowing visitors to genuinely understand the harsh realities Anne and the others faced. The original bookcase that concealed the entrance to the Secret Annex, Anne’s bedroom adorned with her pictures of movie stars, and the attic where she often gazed outside, yearning for freedom – each element tells a story, her story.  The sheer size of the annex was an astonishingly small space. Why Visit the Anne Frank House? 1. Historical Significance: This isn’t just any historic site; it’s a testament to the endurance of hope and human decency in the darkest of times. It serves as an essential reminder of the brutality of prejudice and the importance of human rights.  The very things we still fight for today. 2. Educational Value: The museum is not only about preserving the past but also educating the future. It provides an insightful look into Jewish history during World War II, the Holocaust, and the impact of Nazi Occupation in the Netherlands. 3. Personal Reflection: The visit challenges you to reflect on contemporary issues, such as racism, discrimination, and what it means to stand up for your beliefs. Anne’s legacy is a call to action against oppression and a reminder of the power of a single voice. A Lasting Impression The Anne Frank Huis is more than just a museum; it's a pilgrimage site for those who believe in the power of peace, human rights, and the freedom to be oneself. We live in a time where these values are continually tested, and places like the Anne Frank House remind us of the horrors we should never repeat and the better future we strive towards. For those planning a visit, I recommend booking your tickets in advance as the museum attracts a vast number of visitors annually. Take a moment in the museum's bookstore to pick a copy of Anne’s diary or other literature; let her thoughts inspire you as they have inspired millions around the globe. Walking through the Anne Frank Huis was a moving and unforgettable experience that left a permanent mark on my heart. I encourage you to visit and experience this significant part of our history firsthand. It's not just a tour; it's a journey that changes you. Remembering the Past, Inspiring the Future The legacy of Anne Frank and the history within the walls of her home are beacons of lessons still relevant today. As we traverse through different lands and cultures, let’s carry with us the resolve to build a world marked by love, tolerance, and justice.

  • Understanding Tourist Entry Fees: Who, What, Where, When and Why.

    Undoubtedly you've heard rumbling about tourist entry fees. Although many places have had for for several years, they are becoming more and more popular as travel continues to rise. Tourist entry fees, sometimes known as tourism taxes or tourist taxes, are additional charges imposed on visitors to help generate revenue for the destination. These fees might be integrated into the costs of airfare or accommodation, or they could be levied separately, requiring payment online or upon physical arrival at a destination’s airport or seaport. You've most likely paid something similar to them when you've traveled to Europe, in the way of City Tax on your hotel accommodations. You pay these taxes when you check-out, because they don't allow online booking agencies, or Travel Agencies to charge them in advance. Why Do Destinations Charge These Fees? Destinations utilize entry fees as a financial strategy to benefit their locales in several compelling ways: Environmental Protection and Over tourism Control: As destinations grapple with the influx of tourists, these fees can alleviate environmental impacts and manage visitor numbers to maintain residents' quality of life while still harnessing tourism revenue. Infrastructure and Local Projects: Revenues from these fees also fund projects enhancing local infrastructure and transportation, which benefits both residents and tourists. For example, Spain is applying new tourist entry fees to improve housing affordability for locals and to enhance public transportation and road conditions. Event Preparation: Some regions might raise their tourist taxes in anticipation of major events to boost funds. A notable instance is France, which escalated its tourist tax to support the logistics of hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics in Paris. Destinations Implementing Tourist Entry Fees Venice, Italy: Initiating a day-tripper tax from April to July during peak weekends and special events, Venice aims to manage the surge of visitors efficiently. Not staying overnight? You'll need to pay a €5 entry fee, payable via the official Venice Access Fee website. Spain: The Valencian region, encapsulating tourist hotspots like Alicante and Valencia, recently introduced a nightly accommodation tax, the Valencian Tax on Tourist Stays (IVET), which ranges from €0.50 to €2. European Union (EU): From 2025, non-European visitors to the Schengen Area will require an ETIAS travel authorization, costing €7, valid for three years and permitting stays of up to 90 days within any 180-day period. How Gotta Luv Travel can Help: At Gotta Luv Travel, we understand navigating these fees can be overwhelming. Hence, we are committed to ensuring that all necessary entry fees are comprehensively covered when you plan your trip with us. This means zero surprises and complete peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your journey without fretting over unforeseen expenses. To Sum it Up Travel smart and stay informed! Before you embark on your next trip, consult with us at Gotta Luv Travel, and let us handle the details, ensuring a seamless and enjoyable travel experience. Whether you're venturing to Venice or voyaging to Valencia, we've got your back every step of the way! Plan your perfect trip with Gotta Luv Travel, and enjoy a hassle-free travel experience, knowing all your entry requirements are taken care of! If you have any questions travel related - schedule a quick chat with me and I'll answer them all! No fee or obligation required.

  • Unraveling the Wonder of the Eternal City

    Rome wasn't built in a day, but you sure can see a lot in a day. This is simply a highlight of the top 3 things to see/experience in Rome in a day! Rome, the eternal city, stands proudly as one of the most iconic destinations in the world. With its rich history, breathtaking architecture, and delectable cuisine, it's no wonder that Rome has become a sanctuary for history buffs, art enthusiasts, and food lovers alike. In this blog post, we'll guide you through a sample itinerary that will help you create an epic Rome bucket list and make the most of your time in this mesmerizing city. Marvel at the Colosseum: No trip to Rome is complete without a visit to the Colosseum. This grand amphitheater, dating back to AD 70-80, is a testament to the power and glory of the Roman Empire. Stand in awe as you step inside and imagine the roaring crowds and gladiatorial battles that once took place within its walls. Explore the Vatican City: Prepare to be wowed as you step foot in the smallest independent state in the world, the Vatican City. Home to the magnificent St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican Museums, and the awe-inspiring Sistine Chapel, this holy enclave is a treasure trove of art, history, and spirituality. Toss a Coin in the Trevi Fountain: Make a wish and throw a coin over your shoulder into the Trevi Fountain. Legend has it that this act ensures your return to Rome. This stunning Baroque masterpiece is a symbol of luck, love, and eternal beauty, and is a must-visit spot for capturing that perfect travel photo. Indulge in Authentic Italian Cuisine: Rome is a paradise for food lovers, and no visit would be complete without savoring the city's culinary delights. Treat yourself to a mouthwatering plate of pasta carbonara, sample crispy Roman-style pizza, and indulge in refreshing gelato. Let your taste buds embark on a journey that will leave you craving more. Conclusion: Rome, with its charm, history, and culinary wonders, continues to captivate travelers from around the globe. From iconic landmarks like the Colosseum and Vatican City to hidden gems like the Roman Forum and Trevi Fountain, this city offers a never-ending list of experiences that will leave you in awe. So, start crafting your epic Rome bucket list and embark on a journey that promises to be truly unforgettable. We hope this sample itinerary has inspired you to explore the wonders of the eternal city. Stay tuned for more travel tips, insider secrets, and must-visit destinations from Gotta Luv Travel, your ultimate guide to unforgettable adventures. ATTENTION Cruisers: Ask me how to best utilize your time in Rome when arriving in Civitavecchia. Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com

  • The Majestic Notre Dame Cathedral: A Historic Jewel in the Heart of Paris

    Step into the beating heart of Paris, and you'll find the iconic Notre Dame Cathedral radiating its storied history and captivating architecture. Towering over the cityscape, this eminent landmark stands as a symbol of France's incredible architectural and cultural legacy. Let's embark on a virtual journey, unraveling the fascinating story of Notre Dame and the allure that makes it a must-visit destination. The Allure of Notre-Dame: As you approach this grand cathedral, the majestic Gothic spires reaching toward the sky capture your attention. This masterpiece of French Gothic architecture earned its fame through intricate details, including daunting gargoyles, sculpted portals portraying biblical events, and mesmerizing Rose windows boasting intricate stained-glass designs. Imagine the sunlight streaming through these vibrant windows, illuminating the cathedral's interior with a spectrum of colors, creating an ethereal atmosphere that leaves you breathless. Notre Dame doesn't just offer visual splendors; it has countless tales to tell. Upon entering the cathedral, the spellbinding sound of one of the largest organs in France fills the air, adding to the surreal ambiance. Imagine the captivating melodies connecting you to centuries of history, drawing you deeper into the magic of Notre Dame. The History of Notre-Dame: The cornerstone of Notre Dame was laid in 1163, and it took nearly 200 years to complete. Originally built as a Roman Catholic cathedral, this architectural masterpiece was crafted with a specific purpose in mind - to serve as a place of worship and spiritual inspiration for the people of Paris. The cathedral has survived wars, revolutions, and natural elements, becoming more robust and more captivating than ever. It has witnessed countless religious ceremonies, including coronations, weddings, and funerals of historical figures. One of the key historical events at Notre Dame took place in 1804 when Napoleon I was crowned Emperor of France, a moment forever etched in French history. Beyond its religious significance, the cathedral has also played a central role in French culture and history. Today, it continues to be a symbol of national and artistic heritage, welcoming visitors from around the world to marvel at its grandeur and to appreciate the profound sense of sacredness and beauty for which it stands. Despite the devastating fire in 2019 causing significant damage, Notre Dame's spirit remains undimmed. The current renovations give you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to witness the transformation of this historic jewel, returning it to its original splendor. Why Visit Notre-Dame: While the cathedral is currently closed for reconstruction, visitors can still stroll around the vicinity, contemplate its magnificence from the outside, and explore the nearby archaeological crypt. This underground museum displays ruins dating back to the Roman period, providing insights into the city's history. Visiting Notre Dame isn't only about admiring its grandeur; it's about immersing yourself in centuries of history, artistic masterpieces, and extraordinary craftsmanship. It's about feeling the pulse of Paris, heart-moving moments enhanced by the cathedral's grandeur. Every visit to Paris may be complete but not without witnessing the remarkable Notre Dame Cathedral. It stands as both a historic testament to the past and a beacon of unwavering resilience and hope. As the cathedral undergoes restoration to regain its former glory, now is the perfect time to start planning your visit. Discover the landmark that lies at the very core of the City of Light, a sight that will undoubtedly stir your soul and leave you enchanted. Contact Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com for more information about a visit to Paris, or a river cruise on the Seine.

  • Park Güell: Prepare to Be Gaudí-fied in Barcelona's Whimsical Wonderland!

    Hey travel enthusiasts! Vicky here, ready to take you on a journey to one of Barcelona's most magical places: Park Güell. During my recent visit, I was captivated by the park's vibrant colors, intricate designs, and fascinating history. Join me as I share my unforgettable experience exploring this architectural masterpiece. As I entered Park Güell, I couldn't help but be in awe of the breathtaking landscape before me. Set amidst lush greenery and overlooking the city, the park offered a stunning panoramic view that took my breath away. Designed by the genius architect Antoni Gaudí, this UNESCO World Heritage Site (just one of the many in Barcelona) is a true testament to his visionary creativity. Walking through the park's winding paths, I discovered an eclectic mix of architectural wonders, covered in vibrant mosaics made from broken ceramic tiles - a technique known as trencadís. Gaudí's use of organic shapes and forms is evident in every structure, leaving me mesmerized at every turn. From the iconic dragon-like fountain to the whimsical gingerbread-like houses, Park Güell felt like stepping into a fairytale land. One of the most fascinating aspects of Park Güell is its origin. Commissioned by Count Eusebi Güell, a wealthy entrepreneur and Gaudí's patron, the park was initially intended to be a residential garden city. However, only two of the planned sixty houses were built, leaving the area to become a public park in 1926. Can you imagine living in a place with such architectural grandeur? At the entrance pathway of the park, you’ll notice that the pathway is lined by large round boulders. These boulders symbolize the Rosary prayer beads, a devotion closely associated with the Catholic faith. Gaudí, a deeply religious man, included these elements in his design as a personal expression of his faith. As I walked along the pathway, I couldn't help but feel a sense of tranquility and contemplation, surrounded by this beautiful representation of devotion. You will see Gaudì’s faith in everything he designed, as his creativity was deeply rooted in faith and nature. As I reached the main terrace - a mosaic wonderland overlooking the park. The serpentine bench that wraps around the terrace immediately caught my attention. Its smooth curves and psychedelic patterns made it the perfect spot to relax and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of Park Güell. Of course, Gaudí designed the bench in a serpentine design for a reason - to From the terrace, I couldn't help but admire the quintessential Barcelona skyline. The iconic Sagrada Família towered in the distance, reminding me of Barcelona's rich architectural heritage. Gaudí's influence is felt throughout the city, and Park Güell is just one piece of this grand puzzle. For those who appreciate art and nature, Park Güell is a haven waiting to be explored. The park seamlessly combines the whimsical essence of Gaudí's imagination with the tranquility of nature. From the colorful gardens bursting with Mediterranean flora to the tree-lined pathways that invite leisurely strolls, every moment spent here is a feast for the senses. As my visit in Park Güell drew to a close, I couldn't help but feel a sense of wonder and inspiration. The way Gaudí seamlessly integrated art, architecture, and nature was truly groundbreaking. It reminded me of the boundless possibilities of human creativity. If you're planning a trip to Barcelona, Park Güell is an absolute must-visit. Immerse yourself in the world of Gaudí, unlock your imagination, and discover the extraordinary beauty that awaits you in this whimsical paradise. Well, that's all for now, fellow travelers! Stay tuned for more exciting travel tales and tips from Gotta Luv Travel, LLC. Happy exploring!

  • The Danube River

    Embark on a Magical Journey Along the Danube River From the robust landscapes of Germany to the depths of Romania, the Danube River winds its way through the heart of Central and Eastern Europe. This majestic river, the second longest in Europe, serves as a liquid link connecting diverse cultures, stunning architectures, and historical treasures across multiple countries. For those who crave a blend of enchantment and history, a river cruise down the Danube offers an unmatched travel experience. Why Choose a Danube River Cruise? A Danube river cruise is one of the most sought-after travel experiences, providing a seamless blend of luxury and adventure. Imagine drifting to sleep in Vienna and waking up in Budapest. In just a week, you can pass through up to five countries, each offering a unique cultural and scenic experience. Whether you're wandering through fairytale cities like Prague or exploring the verdant Wachau Valley, a cruise on the Danube feels like navigating through the pages of a surreal storybook. Highlights of the Cruise Let's start with two of the cities you might enjoy in Germany: 1. Germany: The Gateway to History and Culture Our cruise journey often begins in Nuremberg, a city that marries medieval charm with poignant historical significance. You'll explore landmarks such as the Imperial Castle, the storied town walls, and the lively Market Square with its legendary fountain. For history enthusiasts, Nuremberg offers profound WWII sites, including the Documentation Center Nazi Party Rally Grounds. A visit to the Nuremberg Trials Memoriam and Courtroom 600 provides insights into the trials that marked a pivotal moment in world history. Here, leaders who propagated Nazi ideals faced justice, resulting in a mix of capital punishments, life sentences, and other prison sentences, with some later pardons in the early 1950s. NUREMBERG PASSAU 2. Passau: The City of Three Rivers As the cruise continues, you'll discover Passau, a picturesque city where the Danube meets the Ilz and the Inn rivers. Known for its gothic and baroque architectural styles, Passau enchants visitors with its cobblestone streets and the majestic St. Stephen's Cathedral. By far one of the most gorgeous and impressive cathedrals I have ever seen. Active travelers can enjoy a bike ride along the Danube or hike up to the Veste Oberhaus Fortress for a panoramic view of the city. No visit to Passau is complete without trying local delicacies like bratwurst (of course with sauerkraut), rotbier (red beer), and the festive lebkuchen (gingerbread). In my opinion, the icing on the cake on a Danube river cruise is Budapest (pronounced bu-da-pesht, they don't want to be called pest). The absolutely perfect place to start or end a Danube river cruise - and most definitely must add a couple of extra days. Plan Your Dream Cruise If you're ready to immerse yourself in the beauty and historical richness of the Danube River, contact me at Gotta Luv Travel. Together, we'll tailor a journey that goes beyond mere travel, crafting an experience where fairytale dreams interlace with reality. Let's turn your dream vacation into an unforgettable adventure! This cruise offers an all-encompassing experience that captures the soul of Europe, tailored to leave travelers with memories that last a lifetime. Email me at: Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com or schedule a chat below.

  • Enchanting City of Romance

    RIVER CRUISE AT THE SEINE : A TIME TRAVEL THROUGH CENTURIES ​ River cruises are a popular option for people who want to experience off the beaten track. Imagine yourself lazily sailing around the meandering paths of the most extraordinarily beautiful river Seine while sitting inside a vessel that defines comfort and luxury. A cruise along the Seine takes you on a fantastical joyride to cities known and hidden along the riverbank bringing you closer to nature. Let’s take a deep dive into one of the places that the cruise visits: Paris. PARIS: The City of Magic and Romance. Paris is a treasure trove waiting to be discovered. The city has an unrivaled allure that makes you giddy with its magical appeal. It is the most captivating mishmash of historical legacy, contemporary fashion, and luscious culinary journey. Paris also has the reputation of being the most romantic city in the world. Beyond the bedazzled city that many are familiar with, lies a Paris that’s tranquil and calm. The charming cobbled stone streets, the cafes that dot the side streets, and patisseries with the most inviting aromas. Come, explore the many facets that is Paris. ​ ​Paris is synonymous with the Eiffel Tower. The imposing structure, stretching majestically in the skies is the most visited site in the world. Initially built in 1889 as a temporary structure to mark the centenary of the French Revolution, more than 130 years later it is that iconic figure that has put Paris on everyone’s tourism list. ​ It is the most sought after sight for people who want to profess their love. Be unadventurous and climb the 700 odd steps or take an elevator to the second floor. ​ Both ways your eyes are going to get treated to the most spectacular view of France you can ever come across. Draped in the historical inheritance of Gothic architecture, Notre-Dame Cathedral stands at the very heart of Paris. Founded in 1163 by King Louis IX, the Cathedral is dedicated to the Virgin Mary. On April 15, 2019, the Cathedral suffered a devastating fire. Although the building's spire collapsed during the fire, extensive interior damage was prevented due to the vaulted cement ceilings. On December 25, 2019, the Cathedral did not host Christmas services for the first time since 1803! It is anticipated the Cathedral will be restored by 2024. ​ ​Lastly, the best part of visiting Paris is to tantalize your taste buds. France is the food capital of the world and Paris wins hands down in the culinary department, Paris is the place where the illustrious Julia Child perfected her art of cooking. Nothing can get classier than a flute of French wine and a platter of cheese. To appease the sweet tooth visit the innumerable cafes and enjoy the coffee with a delicate piece of macaroon. ​ Paris is where even the air feels magical. Sprinkle a little bit of Parisian magic on you and make unforgettable travel memories. Let's start planning your amazing trip to Paris, with a River Cruise on the beautiful Seine, or any other European travel you'd like to plan. Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com ​

  • AMSTERDAM SAYS - GOODBYE (or rather not HELLO)

    In a bold move that's causing quite the buzz, Amsterdam has decided to wave goodbye to new hotel developments and put a cap on the number of tourists spending the night. It's the city's latest strategy in their fight against the tidal wave of tourists that's been washing over the streets, turning the canal-lined paradise into a bit of a squeezy affair. Under the new scheme, Amsterdam's doors are closed to fresh hotel projects unless an old one bites the dust, and even then, the newcomer needs to be an upgrade in terms of modernity or sustainability. Green is in, folks! Plus, the city's nudging developers to look beyond the center, perhaps to places where the only traffic jams are caused by ducks crossing the canal. However, if a hotel's already got its golden ticket (a.k.a. building permit), it's business as usual. No takesies backsies there. The plot thickens with a twist on overnight stays. The city’s setting the sleepover limit to 20 million nights a year, shaving off a sizable chunk from last year's numbers. So it’s kind of like a giant sleepover party that’s exclusive but still pretty huge.  I’m not sure how they will monitor or enforce this, but there will be some empty hotel rooms, and the owners will not like that. My first visit to Amsterdam was in 2003.  It was a bit crowded, but not obnoxiously so.  Then I had a return trip in 2021, 2022, and most recently 2024.  The crowds have grown exponentially over the past several years.  In 2024 it was even off-season, and it was the absolute most crowded I’ve ever seen it.  It may as well have been in the middle of peak-season!  So it is no wonder that they want to slow the roll on tourism.  This also falls on the tails of Amsterdam limiting the number of cruise ships that can arrive on any given day.  Tourists that don’t spend the night, just crowd everything during the day, making it extremely difficult for the local residents that have apparently had enough. “Keeping Amsterdam livable is the goal,” declares the city’s government. That translates to dialing down on the tourist deluge, hitting pause on hotel constructions, and sticking to that 20 million overnight stay marker. In a side note worth mentioning, visitor taxes have hiked up to a whopping 12.5%. And yes, that includes you, luxury liner aficionados. Amsterdam isn't the only hotspot trying to cool down the tourist fever. Venice is thinking of charging day-trippers a fee and saying no to oversized tour groups. Over in Iceland, a tourist tax is in the works to back climate and sustainability efforts. Greece had a trial run limiting the crowd at the Acropolis, and Kyoto is kindly asking tourists to steer clear of certain alleys to keep the peace in its geisha district. Stateside, Hawaii's thinking of a $25 welcome charge for tourists, aiming to fund nature preservation and safety measures. All in all, it's clear that while these destinations love their visitors, maintaining the beauty and tranquility that drew crowds in the first place is tops on their to-do list. Check with me when you’re ready to book your Amsterdam experience.  Whether it’s a pre/post river cruise, or a few days of fun, I can make it happen.

  • You Don't Need Global Entry: Here's Why

    Hey there, fellow travelers! Have I got some juicy information for you today that can make your trips smoother and, believe it or not, a bit more tech-savvy. You’ve probably heard all the buzz about TSA Pre-Check, it’s like the VIP pass of the airport - getting you through security faster, with shoes on and laptops packed away. Worth the price of admission?  Perhaps, if you travel multiple times a year. What if I told you there’s a trick up the sleeve that could get you through customs even quicker, without the need for Global Entry? Fasten your seatbelts; I’m about to let you in on the smart secret of the Mobile Passport Control (MPC) app. First, Let’s Chat TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry: The Airport Fast Passes. Before diving into our secret, let’s take a quick look at the benefits of TSA Pre-Check and Global Entry - two programs that have been helping travelers streamline their airport experience. - TSA Pre-Check: - Keep your shoes, belt, and light jackets on at security. - Liquids and laptops stay packed away. - Access to shorter, quicker lines. - Global Entry: - Expedited clearance through customs when entering the USA. - Includes TSA Pre-Check benefits. - Skip the paperwork and head to kiosks for processing. Both sound pretty great, right? They absolutely are, especially for frequent flyers. If you’re striving to just get through security quicker - the TSA Pre-Check might be right for you.  However, for Global Entry, the application process, fees, and wait times for approval could be a bit of a hiccup, not to mention that not everyone flies enough to make the most out of the membership. Now for the Juice: The Mobile Passport Control (MPC) App Here’s where the game changes. Imagine skipping long lines at passport control after a long flight without needing Global Entry. Enter the MPC app, a free mobile app that offers a blend of convenience and speed, harnessing the power of technology to make your reentry into the USA as smooth as your favorite Italian gelato. The MPC app lets you submit your passport and customs declaration information through your smartphone. And then, thanks to biometric technology, you often don’t even need to show your physical passport. Just scan the QR code from your app at the designated MPC line, stand in front of the camera, and voila, you’re through passport control quicker than you can say “Welcome back!” Why the MPC App Might Just Be Your New Best Travel Buddy: - No Pre-Approval Hassles: Forget about interviews or waiting periods. - Cost-Efficient: It’s free. Yes, you heard right. - Speedy Processing: Often faster than Global Entry in practice. Not All Airports, But Maybe Yours It’s important to note that not all USA international airports are equipped with the MPC program, so it’s a good idea to check if your airport supports it before relying on it for your return journey. As of now, the list of airports welcoming you back via MPC includes: Atlanta (ATL) Boston (BOS) Chicago O’Hare (ORD) Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW) Denver (DEN) Fort Lauderdale (FLL) Honolulu, HI Houston (both airports) Los Angeles (LAX) Miami (MIA) Minneapolis (MSP) Newark (EWR) New York JFK (JFK) Oakland (OAK) Orlando (MCO) Philadelphia (PHL) Phoenix Skyharbor (PHX) Pittsburgh (PIT) Portland (PDX) Sacramento (SMF) Salt Lake City (SLC) San Diego (SAN) San Juan (SJU) San Francisco (SFO) San Jose (SJC) Seattle (SEA) Tampa (TPA) In addition to the US airports offering MPC, there are additional international airports that pre-clear you in their country prior to boarding your flight to the USA, and they offer MPC.  Those airports include: INTERNATIONAL PRE-CLEARANCE: Aruba (AUA) Dublin, Ireland (DUB) Shannon, Ireland (SNN) Bermuda (BDA) Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; (AUH) Nassau, Bahamas (NAS) CANADA: Calgary Toronto Edmonton Halifax Montreal Ottawa Vancouver Victoria Winnipeg Wrapping It Up So, do you really need TSA Pre-Check or Global Entry? While they offer undeniable benefits, especially for the frequent flyer, the MPC app provides a compelling alternative for jet-setters looking to shorten wait times getting through US Customs without any additional cost or preparation. Technology is reshaping the way we travel, and the MPC app is proof that sometimes, the smartest shortcuts are right at our fingertips. Stay savvy and smooth on your travels, and remember, Gotta Luv Travel, is always here to help make your travel experiences as enjoyable as possible. Safe travels, and here’s to embracing the future of travel together! Schedule a chat when you're ready to start planning your trip! Vicky@GottaLuvTravel.com

  • From Château to Champagne: 10 Charms of a Seine River Cruise

    Paris, the City of Lights: A Seine cruise isn't just a river journey; it's a golden ticket to the radiant city of Paris. Be it day or night, the Eiffel Tower's majesty reflected in the glistening river is nothing less than magic. It's like watching a constellation of stars gently descend and embrace the river. Unleashing the inner romantic in you is as guaranteed as the city's charm. Normandy Beach: As your river cruise navigates the Seine, you'll find Normandy Beach waiting with open arms. With the echoes of World War II still resonating, the place whispers tales of unmatched bravery. But, it’s not all about the past; the golden sand, the cerulean sky, and the serene waters demand attention too. The perfect balance of history and leisure if you ask me. Monet’s Gardens: If art and nature captivate you, Monet’s Gardens in Giverny are the perfect dock. Imagine a world where colors bloom, and rainbows take root. The gardens are an artist's paradise and nature enthusiast’s daydream. One visit, and you'll find that you have walked right into a painting woven with violets, blues, pinks, and yellows… you'll simply lose count! Chateau Gaillard: If medieval allure is your treasure, Chateau Gaillard is your X on the map. Once standing as King Richard's sturdy fortress, it’s now a blooming host to the lap of nature. The silvery river flowing lazily adds to the picturesque setting, painting a sight your eyes will remember long after the cruise. The Wine: A savoring sip of your wine while cruising the Seine – if that doesn't spell grace, I don't know what does. You'll flirt with regions such as Bordeaux, Champagne, Burgundy, and you’ll be charmed, and deeply in love. Learn, sip, savor. Wine not? River Locks: How about a fun water ride minus the gears? The river locks of Seine are thrill and art packaged together. Watch as your boat quietly rises with the lock-filling it's engineering at its smoothest and slickest! Versailles Palace: The magnanimity of the Versailles Palace quadruples when viewed from the Seine. Its intricate architecture and grand past is a journey down time. As your cruise docks at Versailles, discover royal tales impressed upon every stone of the palace.  Once you’ve have a chance to visit the Palace of Versailles, and hear the story, I challenge you to plan your next river cruise on the Danube so you can have the opportunity to visit the Schönbrunn Palace, which is modeled after the Palace of Versailles. Now, are you convinced why the Seine cruise is the adventure of a lifetime? C'est la vie- That's life. A life of rich experiences and newer horizons, garnished with a slice of French life. Convinced yet? I thought so! Email: vicky@gottaluvtravel.com

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