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Archive for October, 2010

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Falling in love along the Nile

Steve and Kesa Sage in Cambodia

For some people, taking a vacation can be life changing. And I’m not talking about taking a break from the office and recharging your battery. I’m talking about finding your soul mate.

One of our reservationists recently discovered that a couple booking our Taste of China tour had first met on another one of our tours. Their relationship blossomed and they got married. Their love story is very sweet and I wanted to share it with you.

Let me set the scene.

It was November of 2007 and Steve Sage, a firefighter from Denver, was on Friendly Planet’s Pyramids and Nile Cruise program. The plane had just landed in Cairo and Steve was on his way to see the pyramids with his group tour members.

Kesa Young, from Casper, Wyo., was on that same tour traveling with her sister and niece. Kesa was jet-lagged when they landed, but she was still ready to marvel at one of Egypt’s masterpieces as the group rode the bus to the pyramids site.

Little did Steve and Kesa know that this trip was about to change their lives forever.

Steve was a seasoned traveler and experienced at taking solo trips. He had booked the tour with Friendly Planet because on a previous trip to Egypt, Steve barely had any time to experience the ancient wonders. He was eager to return and and spend time seeing the Sphinx, touring Cairo, and more.

A history buff, Kesa had always wanted to see Egypt. She often traveled alone, but this time she wanted to share this experience with family. Since none of them had visited Egypt before, Kesa’s sister wanted to book a group tour to make sure no one got lost in an unfamiliar country.

The group disembarked from the bus in front of Pyramids at Giza. Kesa, her sister, and niece explored the towering monuments that have stood for the last 46 centuries. Close by, Steve was doing the exact same thing. When they once again boarded the bus, Kesa noticed a handsome man sitting alone.

On the ride to the hotel, Kesa approached Steve and introduced herself to him. And as she describes it, she was “smitten” right away. Since Steve was alone, Kesa found it easy to keep him company at every opportunity they were given.

Kesa wasn’t the only one noticing things that first day in Egypt. Everyone in their group tour noticed the chemistry right away, and they all played an important part in kindling of their romance. Group members would suggest they sit next to each other at dinner, or encourage them to go on an excursion together. With the group’s help, Kesa and Steve spent a lot of time getting to know one another on the trip.

At the end of their nine days together, Steve was going on the Petra extension and Kesa was heading back to Casper. On the last morning of the Pyramids and Nile Cruise, Steve woke up early to have breakfast with Kesa and see her off.

They exchanged e-mails and phone numbers and went their separate ways. Kesa wasn’t sure what to expect of her new-found relationship with Steve. Would she hear from him again? Then a few days later, her phone rang.

On the other end was Steve. He had just returned to Denver and they picked up right where they left off in Egypt. Now that they were back in the U.S., Steve joked that he never thought he’d have to go to Cairo to meet a girl from Casper.

Denver was only four hours away, but Kesa had just quit her job and was moving to Chicago to attend pastry school. For the next six months they flew back and forth to see each other, and it wasn’t uncommon for Steve to surprise her with a visit at school.

When Kesa finished pastry school, she moved to Denver to be closer to Steve. After almost two years of dating, Steve and Kesa decided to tie the knot in a style the suited them best — Las Vegas on Valentine’s Day 2009.

Before taking their vows, Kesa and Steve took the plunge together out of an airplane to skydive the morning of their wedding. It might have been in the desert, but they assured me that it wasn’t warm 15,000 feet up in the sky.

Today Steve and Kesa are happily married and living in Denver. They’re looking forward to touring China with us on an upcoming departure. And this time they’ll share the full experience together.

Thanks to Steve and Kesa for sharing such a personal story. I never knew that as a group tour operator I could also play cupid. ūüėČ

Are you guilty of being an annoying airplane passenger?

Frommer’s tackles this question for you in a humorous article. I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve probably annoyed some fellow¬†passengers. But I do try my best to respect others while on a flight or in the airport.

Some¬†passengers¬†aren’t as kind though. And this articles looks at the top 10 offenses made by airline passengers. Give it a read, because you might not even be aware that what you’re doing is annoying someone else. Then leave a comment on this post and let me know what other offenses you would add to Frommer’s list.

Is the new Kindle the ultimate travel companion?

How do you like to pass the time on a long flight? I know some people like to watch movies, play Sudoku, sleep, or read. Melissa, the voice of the Friendly Planet Travel podcasts, likes to read a lot. She just took a trip from Philadelphia to Los Angeles last weekend and got to use her new Kindle 3G.

She knows that I’ve been searching for the perfect travel gear, and offered to write a guest post about her new favorite travel gadget. She thinks it’s the best invention since sliced bread. But read on to see what she says and see if you agree.


I wouldn’t call myself a nervous flyer, but I do like to stay distracted when I’m soaring 35,000 feet up in the air. The less I think about how far off the ground I am, the better. The best way to do this I’ve found is with a good book and some magazines.

I’ve been traveling a lot recently and realized how much space books (especially large, hardbacks) take up in my carry-on bag. Not to mention all the extra weight they can tack on.

I had been eying the new Kindle 3G since the day it came out, and thought it would be great gadget to eliminate carrying books on the plane. Luckily, someone was kind enough to get it for me as a gift just in time for my trip to California.

When I put the 8.7 ounce e-reader in the¬†palm¬†of my hand, I was instantly infatuated. It is so light! I’m able to hold it with one hand without that hand falling asleep. And the battery life is incredible. Turn off the WiFi and you can go a month without charging. I had two weeks to familiarize myself with it before my trip, so I started playing with my new travel gadget.

The 3G model gives you Internet access anywhere, anytime. So having access to the Amazon Kindle Store is a huge plus. You can download a preview of any book you want in the store. If you’re as indecisive as I, you’ll really appreciate this capability.

I¬†perused¬†the sections of the Kindle Store and downloaded a handful of books to preview to determine which book I wanted to read on the flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles. I was also able to download previews from my home computer. You can look at books in the store from your own computer and send them to your Kindle. It’s pretty cool and very¬†convenient.

I started reading my first book on my Kindle and was impressed that the display looks identical to a page in a book. Its contrast is set just right and it doesn’t hurt your eyes. It kept getting better from there.

You can move your cursor throughout the page to highlight text and make annotations. By far, my favorite feature is when the definition of a word appears at the top or bottom of the screen when you put the cursor in front of it.

After¬†familiarizing¬†myself with it for a few days, I chose the book I was going to read, “The¬†Accidental¬†Billionaires” by Ben Mezrich. “The Social Network” just came out, so I had to read the book that the movie was based on first. ūüėČ I also decided to subscribe to Businessweek on the Kindle, which is about $10 cheaper annually than the print edition.

So on the morning of my flight, I packed my backpack with the necessities I needed on the plane. I was astonished at how much lighter it was without all the books. I knew I was going to fill that extra space with some souvenirs from Cali. So with my lighter backpack I headed for PHL.

After I found my seat on the plane, I woke my Kindle up from its sleep and started reading. Then I realized that when we were asked to turn off all of our portable electronic devices, that meant my Kindle too. The words “Uh oh” came out of my mouth. Take off is my least favorite part of the flight for me. The loud engines, ears popping, the movement of the plane, are all things I try to avoid experiencing.

This was definitely the one downside of using a  Kindle versus a book. But I quickly grabbed a SkyMall magazine and looked at the crazy gadgets in it until we were allowed to turn on our electronics. For the next few hours I nestled in my seat and just read.

My eyes didn’t get tired. My wrist didn’t hurt. I was able to hold the Kindle comfortably for hours. And I didn’t have to reach into my backpack to grab a magazine when I needed a break from my book. I simply clicked the Home button on my Kindle to get my Businessweek.

By the time we were asked to put our tray tables up and our seat in its up-right position, I was finished my book and watching a California sunset. When I looked at the battery life, it barely nudged during my flight. It’s a¬†relief¬†to know that I don’t have to carry my charger around with the Kindle.

If you like to read and read a lot, the Kindle is what you want when traveling. I¬†know¬†some people are¬†hesitant¬†to make the shift from books, but give it a try. You might end up loving it more than you thought. That’s exactly what happened with me.

And its new pricing makes it even more tempting. You can get a Kindle with WiFi starting at $139. Or if you want coverage all the time, the 3G model is just $50 more.¬†If you’ve been using a Kindle for some time, or also just got a new one, I’d love to hear what you think about it. Leave a comment on this post and we can swap Kindle tips!

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friday’s Friendly Funny

Friday’s Friendly Funny