My biggest surprise in 2012? Wishing that I could spend more time in Belgrade, Serbia – and that I’d love to return
Cafe on Knez Mihajlova, Belgrade, Serbia

In the age of instant info, it can be hard to be truly surprised when you visit a city for the first time. Chances are, someone has already blogged, tweeted or Facebooked their favorite spots – and that’s just within your social networks. Never mind all the tips and tricks and photos that appear on […]


2012 in Review: Worst Experience

by Chris on December 29, 2012

Worst travel experience in 2012? You know, things really weren’t so bad (save for TSA incompetence)
TSA at Dulles

Looking back on my 2012 travels, I feel fortunate. Very few problems cropped up on my 132 nights on the road, certainly nothing as bad as my husband getting pickpocketed in 2009, the Mexican projectile vomiting episode from 2010 or the New Zealand flight from hell last year. So now it’s down to nit-picking. I missed […]


This week’s Photo Friday is a picture of a Christmas tree inside Heidelberg Castle in Germany, one of the stops on my recent Viking cruise down the Rhine
Christmas Tree at Heidelberg Castle

This is the latest in a series of travel photos inspired by #FriFotos on Twitter. The theme of this week’s Photo Friday is FESTIVE. I’ve recently returned from a Christmas Market cruise on the Rhine, traveling on the Viking Aegir. I’ll be writing a review of the ship for the website Onboard – one of my […]


Photo Friday: This week we celebrate the #FriFotos CURVES theme with a video of a flamenco dancer performing at Las Tablas, Madrid.
Flamenco dancers at Las Tablas, Madrid

Usually, Fridays are reserved for travel photos inspired by #FriFotos on Twitter. But the theme of this week’s Photo Friday is CURVES, so I thought it was a perfect time to show this clip from a flamenco show at Las Tablas in Madrid.   Madrid is a late night town – and I knew when I was […]


Free desktop wallpaper for November 2012: The Romanian Parliament building, one of the world’s largest buildings created by dictator Nicholae Ceausescu.
November 2012 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper: The Romanian Parliament

This is the November 2012 offering for our desktop calendar series – always free and available for iPad too!  Get your November 2012 Desktop Calendar Wallpaper! We took this photo of the Romanian Parliament in Bucharest on the final stop of our Eastern European tour on Grand Circle’s River Adagio. Built by Communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in […]


Life lessons I learned on my Grand Circle river cruise, where the average age of the passengers was 70.
Fellow passengers on River Adagio

On my most recent assignment, I took a river cruise down the Danube on the River Adagio, a ship run by Grand Circle Travel. Founded by the same woman who created the AARP, the line caters to retirees and mature travelers. My husband Don and I were the youngest passengers on board, by several decades […]


A look at Vidin, Bulgaria, a town full of Communist art and communist architecture.
Monument of the Resistance, Vidin, Bulgaria

At first glance, the countries of Eastern Europe that lie along the Lower Danube might seem like an unusual choice for a vacation. But while the line that Don and I traveled on wasn’t exactly age appropriate, we ended up having a great time and learning quite a bit. I’ll be doing a series of […]


Canary Island Insider: Lanzarote’s Changing Image

by Julie Cliffe-Jones on July 21, 2012

Interested in the Canary Islands? The island of Lanzarote has been bucking the Spanish archipelago’s reputation as a party destination.
Playa Blanca in Lanzarote

My knowledge of the Canary Islands is limited to what I’ve heard about rowdy hen parties and British beach getaways. But Julie Cliffe-Jones, along with her husband Mike, have created a website that highlights the charms of Lanzarote, which has been changing its image over the years. Here’s her Val Luxe take on her home.  […]


Spa-ing it up, Scottish Style

by Andy on July 14, 2012

While you might not expect Scotland to be a hub for spa travel, there are a surprising amount of choices if you’re looking for a getaway. Guest poster Andy Hayes gives us the rundown.
Night view of Edinburg

My friend and fellow Value Luxury writer Andy Hayes is an expert on Scotland (he wrote the book on it. No, really). You don’t usually think of Scotland as a spa destination, but he’s uncovered a few finds for those heading north of Hadrian’s Wall (hint: The Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the famed monster theater festival, […]


Context Travel runs walking tours all over Europe and in several cities in the United States and China. Guest writer Natalie Pompilio takes a look at two tours in Florence, Italy.
Context Travel tour guide in Florence

By Natalie Pompilio, contributing writer I know Florence, or Firenze, pretty well.  Besides having studied there for a year in college, I’ve returned about 5 times, twice as an informal tour guide for family friends. I can give a decent tour, filled with stories about San Miniato, the Medici and Michelangelo. So I approached Context […]