Travel Deals 12.12.2008

Kinda slow off the mark this week. Sorry, it’s been a doozy and the pickings looked slim.

Cruise Pricing

Anyone out there interested in cruising?

Eewww, no, not that kind of cruising. The big boat kind.

Vacations To Go reports that all of the major cruise lines are doing away with their fuel surcharge for the 2009 sailings. Huzzah, I say! To look at their site, you do have to give an e-mail address and they will send you two weekly newsletters, one for cruises, one for resorts. I think it’s a great resource, or at least a good jumping-off point. And the deals available on cruises are staggering (not just on VTG). Unlike an airline, it is not in the cruise ship’s best interest to sail half-full because they depend on people signing up for excursions and tipping for the line and the crew to make money. So they will slash the price of a cabin as much as needed to get bodies on the boat. We found our cruise a good way to sample lots of different areas we had yet to visit.

Europa hin- und zurück

Lufthansa is running a special for roundtrip flights within Europe for 99€, inclusive of taxes and fees! Look for your home airport and see where the deals take you. Move fast on this one – the offer ends on Sunday, Dec. 14. But you can fly starting today and going all the way to Oct. 30, 2009! Blackout dates probably apply, but it doesn’t say so specifically (as far as I’ve looked, anyhoo).

That’s pretty much it. Like I said, slim pickings, but I expect a pickup in the next couple of weeks. Let me know if you’ve seen any killer deals.

Get the $%&? off my lawn!!

I feel like an elderly grump.

Why, you ask? Because I don’t understand ‘the Twitter.’ It looks like glorified text messaging/IMing to me. I see everyone’s Twitter plug-ins on their blogs and I read up on it at Wikipedia, but I still didn’t get it. So I established an account. After it mined my e-mail contacts for people I know on Twitter, I went and looked at their Twitter pages.

I am still missing something.

Can someone explain what’s special/better/shinier about Twitter? I’m really feeling like I’m missing the boat on this one.

Hotel Sully Saint-Germain

The Joint

Hotel Sully Saint-Germain
31 Rue des Ecoles
75005 Paris – France

http://www.sully-saint-germain-hotel.com/

Sarah

We reserved this hotel due to the price, location and wireless connectivity. Well, two out of three ain’t bad. The price was fixed and the location (a short walk from the Maubert-Mutualité Métro station) was ideal. The design of the lobby and the rooms is quite attractive. The basic double room is fairly small by American standards, but has lots of storage space (closets and drawers, etc.).

Unfortunately, the promised internet was not accessible in the rooms. To use it, you had to bring your laptop and other materials down to the lobby, then jockey for position with the rest of the hotel guests set up for surfing. We like to bring our laptop with us to help with planning our outings, so reliable, room-accesible internet is important to us. We were a little disappointed on that score.

There were a couple of other odd occurrences. There was a brief power outage one evening – about 30 seconds with no lights. Not a big deal to us, but we did overhear another couple complaining to the concierge about another outage the previous evening that happened while the woman was in the shower. So I guess that happens with some regularity. Also, on the morning of our checkout, I couldn’t get the water temperature to cooperate. It started out normal, but then started switching between burning hot and freezing cold. It made rinsing my hair an adventure.

The breakfast included in our rate was adequate, except for the coffee (it was dreadful). The elevators are extremely small, so occasionally taking the stairs is the best option. Generally, it was a pleasant experience. It is by no means a luxury hotel, but as a place to sleep, shower and keep your stuff while you’re out experiencing Paris, the Sully Saint-Germain is a good choice.

Cliff

Sarah hit all the points I’d make. Location was the most important aspect for me — it’s an easy walk to the Ile de la Cité or the Louvre or just hop onto the #10 Metro line to get out to other parts of the city or a bigger train station.


Travel Deals

I seem to get flooded with travel bargain e-mails on Wednesdays and Thursdays. I’ll scan them and post the most interesting-looking ones. Airfare deals tend to be my focus, but I’ll keep an eye out for hotel/rental car/cruise offers as well.

AirBerlin

They’re having an Adventskalender sale event. Everyday a new deal, looks like a lot of 2-for-1 ticket bargains. We really like AirBerlin – no frills, but the fares tend to be reasonable and Nürnberg is a hub for them, so you can get to nearly all of their destinations from there. And the Nürnberg airport is very quiet and very accessible, even if you don’t have a car. Look at each day for the terms & conditions (travel period, booking period, etc.).

British Airways

Fare and hotel sales available here. This looks helpful for long-haul flights. The prices listed on the page reflect roundtrip fares from Hamburg, so the prices will fluctuate for flights originating from different German airports. Booking period is Nov. 27 – Dec. 8 and travel period ranges from Nov. 27 to Mar. 31 2009. I have no complaints about BA, other than the high probability of having to transfer at Heathrow (*gack!*).

Corinthia Towers Hotel

Going to Prague anytime soon? Maybe you should, because you can stay at this very swanky joint for only 70€/night. Corinthia is part of the Wyndham chain and they’re pretty nice – in the same league as Hyatt or Westin. The info page from Travelzoo is a little more forthcoming about the terms than the hotel booking page itself. You have to book by Dec. 17, there are blackout dates on Dec. 31 and Jan. 15-16 and the deal is good until Feb. 28. Unfortunately, I can’t see when the beginning of the stay period is. You might have to figure that out via trial and error on the hotel’s site.

Those look like the best picks to me. Got any tips on other sweet deals? Please feel free to post them in comments! I love finding out about other people’s favorite travel resources.

Sautéed Green Beans

My mom made this years ago from a magazine recipe – Good Housekeeping or Southern Living, probably. I decided I wanted to make it for Thanksgiving this year, but she didn’t have the recipe anymore. I remembered the ingredients and the cooking method, so I just started making up the proportions. I think it turned out rather well.

1 lb fresh green beans
1 tsp salt
1 red bell pepper, sliced into strips
1 large shallot, sliced thin
2-3 T butter
1/2 tsp lemon pepper

1. Trim the ends off of the beans and give them a good rinse. Add the beans and salt to a large stock pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil and simmer briefly – 2 minutes for very crisp beans, 5 for well-cooked. Drain beans and set aside.

2. Bring a large skillet to medium high heat. Melt butter in pan and add bell pepper and shallots. Cook until pepper softens and shallot is transparent, then add beans and the rest of the butter. Turn heat down to medium low and stir beans frequently, until heated through. Add lemon pepper and serve.