Wednesday, December 23, 2009

San Antonio Texas

This past weekend I visited a friend in San Antonio and spent one evening at the River Walk (also called ‘Paseo del Rio’). This network of walkways along the banks of the San Antonio River is located in the city center and is lined by bars, shops and restaurants. Due to the Holiday Season, it was nicely decked with seasonal decoration and many lights, which gave it a very festive flair. Some people walked around with presents or Santa hats, many boats on the river hosted Christmas party dinners, and some boats carried carol singers/choirs along the river.

This area might be full of tourists but it is worth a visit. Walking is probably the best way to get around, a nice alternative is one of the boat rides, or a boat taxi. More information on this can easily be looked up at And if you want accommodation by the river, try the Westin Riverwalk. Booked through Nonstop Travel you will get complimentary breakfast and an upgrade (if available).

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Join us on Facebook!

Are you on Facebook? Join us!

Nonstop Travel has created a special Facebook Fan page, and we would love for all of our clients to join in and ‘become a fan’.

See you there!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

"Best of Australia" Road Show

A couple of weeks ago Honey, Christiane and me went to the “Best of Australia”-Road show.

We talked to the representatives of Australia Tourism, Tourism Sunshine Coast, Sydney Tourism, Queensland Tourism, Hunter Resorts, Cruise Whitsundays, Let’s go Surfing in Bondi Beach and many many more.

Most impressed we were by DayDream Island Resort and Spa and once again by V Australia.

V Australia - flying nonstop into Sydney, Brisbane and now Melbourne

V Australia is Australia’s newest premium international airline with nonstop routes between Los Angeles and Sydney, Brisbane and Melbourne!
The three class boutique style airline offers 33 Business Class lie-flat beds, 40 Premium Economy club seats and 288 economy seats. The suite of in-flight products includes two in-flight bars, a "ladies only" toilet complete with piped music and Australian icons featured on subtle wallpaper murals.
All seats on the brand new 777-300ER aircraft offer personal state-of-the-art seat back entertainment with user friendly touch screen options and seat to seat 'chat' or competition connectivity.

DayDream Island Resort and Spa – located in the heart of the Whitsunday Islands and just a short ferry ride from Great Barrier Reef airport on Hamilton island to Daydream Island, or just minutes away by boat on Airlie beach away from the mainland.
Daydream Island is the Mecca for sailing enthusiasts. Also it is a great place to snorkel. You could also do a bunch of other activities like sail-boarding, jet-skiing, parasailing, coral viewing, scuba diving, volleyball, tennis, and badminton.

Please call us for your vacation now!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Iberostar Tucan Riviera Maya/Cancun

I just got back from a 5 days stay at the Iberostar Tucan in the Riviera Maya.

We flew with Mexicana on the outbound. The seats were comfortable and they still served food on the flight at no extra charge. Once we arrived in Cancun airport we were stormed by people trying to sell us a transfer or time share. We knew from previous experience that a cab ride should not be more than 60 USD to Playa del Carmen and therefore stayed persistent when it came to the taxi ride price. We opted not to pre book transfers since we were traveling with our 18 months old son and had to attend a rehearsal dinner right away upon arrival. The cab ride was about 40 mins and pleasant.

We have stayed at the Iberostar before and really enjoyed this property It was a beautiful adventure with my family while being there for one of my best friend’s wedding. The reason I use the word adventure partly can be attributed to the pathways located on the walkways towards the pools and beaches that encompass a jungle / rainforest feel. Along the walkway daily we would encounter monkeys traveling in packs swinging from tree to tree in addition to the Peacocks, Roosters, Turtles and various birds with captivating beauty!

The lobby is very nice, with small shops, parrots at the entrance and a nice bar with nightly live music. The resort is all inclusive and also features 4 specialty restaurants.

We tried to upgrade to a Junior suite upon arrival, since they are located closer to the ocean with ocean views. Unfortunately they were all sold out. But I highly recommend booking a Junior suite or even Presidential suite when traveling with children before arrival.

The Presidential suite is huge, with 2 bedrooms, a small kitchen, 3 bedrooms, a Jacuzzi on the balcony and amazing ocean views.

The standard rooms are clean and decorated in yellow and blue colors. The TV offered not only Mexican and English channels, but also a German TV channel.

Basic room service was included and the mini bar was refilled each day with soft drinks.
We were surprised by the variety of foods that the buffet offered every day. The breakfasts included a wide variety to choose from in addition to the omelet station which provided us with a made to order freshness. We tried out two of the specialty restaurants and also went to the buffet for dinner to see what they offered. All inclusive vacations are especially great when traveling with children. Our son is a very picky eater, and we had many options at the resort for him to choose from.

They even had a play ground and a big enough kids pool for all of us to enjoy our time.
The kids club entertains 4 year olds and up.
The resort was almost sold out at the time of our stay but we never had problems finding chairs at the beach or at the pool to relax on.

The hotel is also just a quick cab ride from the ferry stop to Cozumel. One evening we decided to leave the resort to check out Playa del Carmen 5th Avenue which is only 5 mins by taxi. There is a lot of shopping available to you and it’s a nice change from the resort. However I believe if you have seen it once and have done all your souvenir shopping, there is no need to see it twice.

We attended a wedding at the Tucan, which was beautifully done. So if you are intending on having a destination wedding, I can assist you in every step of the way.

We flew back on Alaska Airlines and unfortunately they do charge for any suitcase you check in. The seats felt a little bit tighter than on Mexicana Airlines, but still not bad. Food was only available against a charge and not for free.

We had a great stay at the Iberostar Tucan and if you are looking for a great hotel for anyone, this is definitely a place I can highly recommend.
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you might have regarding your next vacation.

Friday, November 20, 2009

7- night Mexican Riviera Cruise

I just returned a couple of weeks ago from the 7-night Mexican Riviera sailing aboard the Sapphire Princess.  This cruise departs out of San Pedro and it sails to Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas. I left the baby at home and took my sister and my friend Paige for a girls vacation which was very much needed after 19 months of being a full-time agent and mommy!  I did miss her terribly though and there were a lot of little ones on this cruise to remind me of her all the time. 

I live in Long Beach so we were able to take a $20 taxi ride to the port which was convenient and saved is the $15 per day for terminal parking.  Our boarding process was very short and went smoothly.  I was very surprised considering the ship was as large as a floating skyscraper and the 2700 passenger vessel was completely sold out.  We were in our rooms within an hour and we quickly headed up to the pool area where we overlooked the Los Angeles coast and toasted with champange.  Bon voyage!

We spent the rest of the evening roaming around the ship, trying to figure out where everything is.  For any big-ship cruisers, you can probably relate that the first few days are spent lost most of the time. The publilc areas are all still quite nice even though the ship is about to be refurbished again( it will begin sailing in Tahiti). I especially liked the Churchill Lounge (nice for a pre-dinner aperitif), the Sports Bar, and Club Fusion.  The decor was very tasteful in all the main areas and you could not tell that the ship is a little older.  The rooms however are a little bit of a different story.

They were a nice size and although I was very worried about three girls sharing one room and one closet, it all worked out well.  There was plenty of space.  On the other hand, I wasn't thrilled with the appearance of the rooms and you could tell they had already had several occupants in the last few years. The TV, the bathroom, the carpet, and the bedspreads were quite outdated but this is all supposed to be replaced with new linens, flatscreens, and more. We shared an inside cabin which is not my preference but it was a completely sold out sailing and that is all that was left. I grabbed the top berth and it was comfortable enough (not as nice as their competitors however that will hopefully change with the refurbishment as well). And although most people would probably complain about not having a window, I loved the darkness.We slept like babies!  If it wasn't for our daily wake-up call and room service bringing us coffee in the mornings, we would have slept all day! 

We enjoyed some other room amenities which accompanied Elite members that sail with Princess frequently.  My perks included complimentary mini-bar, laundry service, internet, evening canapes, priority embarkation and disembarkation, and more.  Although the mini-bar was nice, we also opted to buy a soft drink and juice card that allowed us unlimited non-alcoholic drinks. I think the card was about $60 but we used it all the time. You can buy a soft drink card, a juice card, a coffee card (for cappuccinos and espressos), an ice cream card, a wine package, and more.  The nickel and diming was a little annoying at first but it thankfully died down after a couple of days.  I guess you can't expect much more with the bigger cruise lines. If you want a more all-inclusive deal with high end service, you need to pay more and go with go all the way with Seabourn or Regent.  River cruises are also well-known for being all-inclusive. (I think I'm just spoiled).

We opted for the personal choice dining that Princess offers, which means we were able to dine whenever and wherever we wanted.  We knew we didn't necessarily want to eat at the same time every day and this especially worked out well with three girls all getting ready in the same cabin.  When we were in port, we were also able to take our time getting back to the ship and lounging around the pool before getting dressed up.  We made dinner reservations before 5pm every evening through the cabin steward and our tables were always ready after a very short wait.  I can't say much for the outside grills or the buffet on the Lido deck but the regular dining restaurants were very good, especially Sabitini's. This Italian Restaurant has a $15 per person surcharge but everyone has to do this at least once on their cruise if they sail on Princess. It was delightful. We ate for two hours straight. I couldn't count the courses. They gave us a taste of every dish imaginable in Italian cuisine. As soon as you thought you couldn't eat one more bite, they brought you coffee and and a plethora of decadent desserts.  I highly recommend it!

Our first couple of cruise days were spent at sea and we unfortunately were cursed with bad weather. We unfortunately were not able to enjoy too much of the pool and sun deck but we enjoyed other things like Bingo, the gym, a ceramins class, etc. On our third day, we were very ready to get off the ship and enjoy the warm, beautiful weather in Puerto Vallarta.  When we got off the ship, we befriended a taxi driver that took us wherever we wanted to go and stayed with us all day for only a tip (we gave him a good one)!  He was SOOO nice and knowledgeable and spoke perfect English. We all decided to go zip-lining in Puerto Vallarta's tropical jungle.  He took us to Canopy Tours Puerto Vallarta after driving us down the breathtaking coast. The canopy tour took about 2 hours and cost $81.  It was well worth the climb up the millions of steps to go flying through the trees.  The views were amazing. 

After that, we treated ourselves to a dip in the river and a few coronas.  We worked up a nice appetite and our driver took us to the most amazing restaurant in the old town.  PVR is filled with great little restaurants, bars, and beautiful homes with stained glass, Spanish tiles, and cobble stone streats. We toasted to a perfect day with some frozen mango margeritas followed by some of the best Mexican food I ever eaten. We were so sad to go and complained that we didn't have enough time there.  I will definitely go back for at least one week or even more.

Our next port was Mazatlan. The Golden Zone is the central place for hotels, beach, and shopping.  This is a good place to buy some souvenirs such as jewelry, pottery, purses, and more. I bought a beautiful set of Sterling earrings, a ring, and a bracelet for $25!  The beach was nice and we had lunch at one of the seaside hotels, overlooking the water and watching all of the jet skiiers and parasailers  We took a short dip in the ocean and the water was warm and perfect.  Although Mazatlan had beautiful warm water, great shopping, and very friendly people, we both agreed that it was more of a Spring Break hangout and we would probably would not go back in the future. 

And finally, Cabo San Lucas was our final stop before heading back to LA.  Unfortunately, we only had 1/2 day in port which was way too short to enjoy all of the beautiful scenery Cabo has to offer.  We tendered to the marina in Cabo and then took a $10 round trip taxi ride to the famous Los Arcos, stopping by to feed the fish and stare at all of the seals.  We then soaked in some sun on Lover's Beach with a good book and a Corona in hand.  You have to be a little careful in the water because the waves are really strong but it is a great place for snorkeling and enjoying the beach life.  Once again, the people in Cabo were extremely helpful and friendly.  Everyone always warns you about traveling to Mexico. Of course you have to be careful anywhere you travel, but everyone was so nice.  We even met some nice kitty cats!

The ports were definitely are favorite part of the cruise and I think cruising is a great way to see a lot of places.  You don't have too much time in each of the places, but you can find which places you like best.  They you can go back for an extended vacation in spots that you fell in love with.   I have already planned a trip back in December.  Viva La Mexico!

Monday, November 9, 2009

The fall of the Wall in Los Angeles

20 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall it was time to celebrate the reunification of the 2 Germany's not only in Berlin, but also here in Los Angeles.
The Wende Museum in corporation with the Berlin Sister City Committee and the City of Berlin organized the 'Wall Project' on Wilshire Blvd. in Los Angeles. For this event real pieces of the Berlin Wall were shipped over and painted by local artists. They also installed a 40 ft. wide replication of the wall across Wilshire Blvd., which was closed for this unique event. Ute Lemper, the very well known Berlin born  singer performed a few songs just before the wall was torn down at midnight on November 9th.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Oberammergau Passion Play actors visit Nonstop Trave

Nonstop Travel Owners Chris Weike and Lisa Schmitt were excited to welcome Jesus and Mary-Magdalene to their office in Torrance, CA.
In real life named Frederik and Eva-Maria, the two young actors enjoyed a whistle stop tour through Southern California to promote the Passion Play in 2010. Of course a visit to Venice Beach and Hollywood was also on the itinerary.

Off stage Frederik is a press officer for the Passion Play and Eva is a Lufthansa flight attendant. Their lives are literally on hold from May 15 through October 3rd in 2010 and one must admire the dedication they and the inhabitants of Oberammergau bring to this historical play.

Here are some of the interesting facts about the Passion Play:

1633: The Plague has a firm grip on Bavaria. The deadly disease has spread to Oberammergau and is taking its toll of the villagers. The remaining inhabitants make a vow that every 10th year they will perform the story of the events of the last days, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

For 375 years with great pride, dignity, devotion and passion they have kept their word and performed their play.

Only people born in the village or who have lived there for at least 20 years are allowed to take part. Out of the 5200 or so inhabitants about 2500 will be involved in some way with the production, whether as front of house, as seamstresses, stage hands, musicians or performers on stage. It is a true community achievement. The year before the actual performance the villagers wishing to act gather outside the theatre and stand anxiously watching the names for the lead roles being chalked onto a board. Starting on Ash Wednesday of the previous year men and women grow their hair, and men their beards, as no wigs or false beards are allowed.

2010: Against the impressive backdrop of the Ammergau Alps in a special, purpose-built theatre, seating some 4,700 spectators, the 41st Oberammergau Passion Play will take place between 15 May and 3 October. The performance starts at 14.30 and including a three-hour break for dinner, finishes at 22.30.

Whilst the audience and symphony-size orchestra is undercover the actors perform on a stage open to the elements. For all participants it is an exhausting five months. The 41st production under the direction of Christian St├╝ckl will see a revised text, new stage designs and music along with new costumes (made in the village).

For more information about the 2010 play visit our website at

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Nonstop flights from San Francisco to Duesseldorf starting in 2010

Air Berlin just announced they will have nonstop flights from San Francisco to Duesseldorf, Germany starting on the 12th May 2010.
Reservations can now be made for these flights.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

July trip- The Big Island

My daughter Genevieve is growing up fast and I have been able to sneak in a couple of trips here and there. We had our first real trip this past July when we went to the Big Island of Hawaii. She was 14 months old and she had just started walking so there was a lot of chasing and lugging during this vacation.  It was me, the baby, the baby stroller, the diaper bag, her toys, two suitcases, and a car seat.  Whew!  If any of you are traveling with a little one for the first time, please feel free to call me.  I think I'm pretty good at this now! 

We flew on United which took about 5 hours nonstop both ways.  The flight over there was horrific thanks to a couple of extremely rude flight attendants and the fact that it was my first trip alone with the baby .  I also booked the baby as a lap child and it was a very full flight.  The only thing that saved me was my upgrade to economy plus which I purchased for $49 each way. You have several inches more legroom which is great for people traveling with babies and any tall traveler.  After picking up the luggage fit for a U-haul truck (I always try to travel lightly but it never seems to work out), I was transferred over to the Hertz car rental location.

I rented a little Ford Focus which turned out to be a pleasant experience.  I chose an economy car which was sufficient for the two of us and was good on gas mileage.  I was really careful to write down every little scratch on the vehicle which is really important when renting.  I pre-paid a full tank of gas which turned out to be a great idea because the gas from Hertz was a lot less expensive than what I would have paid at the pump.  I did a lot of driving to Keauhou, the Kailua-Kona area, Waikoloa, Hapuna Beach, and all the way north to the Waipio Valley.  A tank of gas was easily filled with all of the attractions the Big Island has to offer.

I was able to visit three hotels during my stay and I saw many more from the outside.  Although it was a hard decision, I ended up staying at the Fairmont Orchid, a beautiful 5- star property. They are currently offering a 50 % disount for a lot of travel dates which is hard to pass up.  This hotel is located about 20 to 25 minutes north of the airport and it is surrounded by palm trees, waterfalls, fish ponds, and clear blue turquoise waters. I was upgraded to an ocean view room on the Fairmont Gold Floor, where you get special amenities such as complimentary breakfast, snacks, hors d'horves in the afternoon, sodas and juices, access to the lounge and library, free internet, complimentary valet parking, and the best customer service you have ever experienced in your life.  Their smiles and great attitudes were contageous and they were very knowledgeable about the island and what it has to offer. 

From the moment we arrived, they treated us like princesses.  They pampered us with chocolate goodies in our room, a CD filled with relaxing tunes, nightly turn-down services with a robe and slippers, and more.  They even gave me a "Johnson & Johnson" baby travel kit, which had all of the necessities I needed such as baby powder, lotion, baby wash, etc.  By my first breakfast, they all knew our names, how I liked my coffee, how I wanted my freshly-cooked omelette made, and they even packed a "to go" travel pack filled with cold drinks and even flash lights for any outdoor excursions that might last into the evening.  The complimentary breakfast was delicious including juicy fruits, freshly baked pastries, the local Kona coffee, and a view to die for.  When I needed some milk for the baby, even in the middle of the night, I would just walk out the lounge with her bottle, hand it over, and within 5 minutes, they delivered the warm milk in the bottle to my door.  They  also had a refridgerator in our room that was convenient for me so I could keep milk and snacks cold for the baby.  I also filled it up with some other things that I picked up at the local grocery store, only a couple of minutes away from the resort.

The room was tastefully decorated in Hawaiian colors and the white marble bathroom was gorgeous white marble.  The views were magnificent from every corner (especially from the lobby), the grounds were beautifully manicured with bright flowers, and the tiki torches filled the grounds at night, giving the property that special Hawaiian ambience.  In the evening, they had several restaurants to choose from including a great outdoor restaurant overlooking the ocean and gorgeous sunset.  Their local bands filled the air with Hawaiian music.  I liked this restaurant because it gave parents a chance to sit down and enjoy their dinner while all of the kids had a ball with each other on the beach and grass right upfront. I have to say though that although the restaurants looked very appealing, after a full day of traveling, I usually ordered room service and passed out in the heavenly king bed. The pillow and comforters were amazingly soft and inviting a we both slept like babies!

On our first full day there, we went to the Hilton Waikoloa Village which is a huge, impressive property that offers SO much to see and do.  I think this is probably my first choice for any family with kids (I will continue with this hotel visit in another blog). The second day we visited the Kailua- Kona area where we hung out with the locals and did some shopping. On another day, we went to Hapuna Beach and the Waipoi Valley. There are so many things to do on the Big Island.  I wanted to go to Hilo and I  wanted to see the volcano so I guess I will just HAVE to book another trip there. =)  I could have easily spent at least 7 to 10 nights there, giving me a couple of more opportunities to see everything I wanted to see and also to  just sit, relax, and watch Genevieve play at the beach. After five short days, it was time to go back home and I was so sad to go.  The island locals and the Fairmont team made me feel at home and I really enjoyed my stay.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

2nd bag fee introduced on some international flights

United Airlines was the first airline to charge for the 2nd bag on international flights.
We just received the news from Air France that effective with tickets issued November 1, 2009, Air France will introduce a revised baggage policy for customers traveling in Economy Class between the US and Europe.
Passengers will be able to check one bag, weighing up to 50 pounds (23 kilos), free of charge. If passengers would like to check a second bag, with the same maximum weight allowance, they may do so for a fee of $50 for all flights departing from the US or 50 Euros for all flights departing from Europe. Additionally, the fee for checked bags weighing between 50 and 70 pounds (23 to 32 kilos) will increase from 50 dollars or Euros to 100 dollars or Euros.
The baggage allowance rules have not changed for those passengers flying in First or Business Class.

We believe that it is just a matter of time, before other airlines will follow these trends.

For further information on the rules of baggage allowance we always recommend that you visit the airlines website or call us.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Holland America Line's Amsterdam Ship Inspection

Hello to All of My Clients, Co-workers, and Friends!
I am joining Chris in the blogging fun and I wanted to tell everyone about the ship inspection I just went on a couple of weeks ago. Yvonne and I recently had the pleasure of joining our sales representatives as well as some of our clients on Holland America's Amsterdam ship while it was in the port of Long Beach.

I was hoping to hide in someone's suitcase in order to join the ship on her 63-day World Voyage however I was unfortunately unsuccessful in my attempt. I was however spoiled for a few hours with an incredibly delicious five-course lunch including the best eclaire dessert you have ever tasted. The ship was beautiful, the staff was extremely well-trained, and the rooms were nice and quite roomy for ship cabins. The balconies especially were really big in the verandah suites and staterooms. I love the fact that Holland America ships are smaller and more cozy. There were no long lines and I felt as though the experience was a little more personal . 

The little things impressed me such as the complimentary bathrobes and slippers, beautiful fresh flowers everywhere, cloth towels in the public restrooms, etc. These are all little touches that Holland America adds which impresses me and certainly doesn't go unnoticed with any of their cruisers. I was even able to ask a couple of people onboard about their experience and they were really loving the cruise. I'm happily selling Holland America to my clients!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Changes to Lufthansa upgrades at check in

Since June there has been a new procedure in place for booking upgrade awards at the check-in counter. For your security, you now need your Miles &  More PIN to book an upgrade to a higher class of travel at the airport.
When making the booking, check-in staff will ask for two randomly selected numbers from your PIN in order to protect you from any unauthorized access to your mileage account. You will have received this PIN with your Miles & More account; your credit card PIN is not relevant here.

If you have forgotten your Miles & More PIN, you can request it online or by calling LH Miles and  More 1-800-581-6400.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Signature Travel Network Owners Meeting

I just finished a 3 day meeting at Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix. As you might know, Nonstop Travel is a member of the distinguished Signature Travel Network, which allows us to offer our clients more competitive rates and extra value on almost every cruise, hotel or land arrangement. Furthermore we have access to local destination specialists all over the world, who can make your vacation experience even more unique and special.

During that meeting we get to meet with all the 'movers & shakers' in the travel industry including many CEO's and Presidents of our preferred suppliers. It is always good to know the top people, especially when it comes to our clients travel needs. Just one more reason to consult with Nonstop Travel.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Princess Cruises 1 week Sale

We just announced a one week cruise SALE for all available Princess Cruises. With this cruise sale you enjoy a reduced deposit of $100 per person as well as a value coupon booklet with $325 in savings on on-board services and products. Check it out. The Cruise Sale is on until October 5.
Here are also more information about Princess Cruises. All of us have been on a Princess Cruise and we believe that they offer great quality for a decent price.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Leading Hotels of the World

Yesterday Eva and I went to a travel trade event at the famous Beverly Hills Hotel in Beverly Hills. Leading Hotels of the World invited us to for an informative evening about their properties, dinner and a few drinks.
Leading Hotels of the World is a consortia of the finest hotels in the world, offering unmatched service and luxury. Some of these hotels are also in Germany, including The Hotel Adlon Kempinski Berlin, the Hotel Bayrischer Hof in Munich and the Hotel 4 Jahreszeiten Kempinski in Munich.
We had a great time meeting with some of the General Managers of various hotels as well as Laina Pinella, Sales Manager for this hotel consortia here in the Western Region of the U.S.

Besides the work we also had some fun meeting a few of our fellow colleagues from other agencies.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

We are ready!

After weeks of preparations we are finally at the point where we can start our own blog. We will start posting information, pictures and videos about Nonstop Travel, the destinations where we have been and currently travel as well as travel related news and important updates. Feel free to bookmark us and to leave comments.

Welcome to the social media world!

Lisa Schmitt, Chris Weike & the entire Nonstop Travel Team