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Secrets of the Best Travel Photography

Thursday, November 7th, 2013

Beautiful sailor girlCapturing those special travel moments perfectly can be an elusive enterprise.

Cameras and the art of photography have certainly come a long way since the days of black and white photos and the cliché tourist vacation albums.

The most advanced cameras can be overwhelming with all of their setting options, lenses, and lighting tools.

But what about travelers with simply a point-and-shoot digital camera, or a smart phone?

Here are just a few photography tips to shed light on frame-worthy photos:

1. Tell a story. Make an effort to feature the place, people, and things in your photo to lead the viewer’s eye around. For example, the photo on the left not only captures the ocean and coastline in the radiant amber sunset, but also includes the sailboat and many interesting features aboard the vessel, as well as the silhouette of a beautiful sailor adjusting the mast lines and holding a sun hat. Great photos have great composition.

2. Get closer. Avoid digital zooming whenever possible. Physically get closer to the subject, because backgrounds can be too distracting if the subject is too far away. But don’t get too close, as that may lead to distortion.

3. Get in the action yourself. Capturing engaging photos starts with including yourself, not setting yourself apart from what is going on. Viewers don’t want to see photos reminiscent of lab results – they want to feel like they are right there with the subject and a part of the scene themselves. A lot of times candid photos while engaging with people doing something turn out better than the stereotypical posed shots.

4. Lighting. You can get better quality outdoor photos by utilizing natural lighting at sunrise and sunset for lower contrast and pastel color vibrancy when the sun is near the horizon. There also tends to be fewer crowds at major attractions to obstruct your frame line. You can turn a mundane scene into something magical if you time it just right.

5. Expect the unexpected. Part of traveling is knowing that you may not have control over everything that happens. Transportation delays, bad weather, closed attractions, etc. Learn to improvise and make the most of circumstances. Are there interesting indoor locations and things to do? Have you talked to the locals to find out their favorite hot spots? Going off the beaten path of your plans can lead to more interesting opportunities. Being flexible and creative will make your trip and photography much more enjoyable.

Want to learn more secrets of the art? Join one of our amazing Photography Tours around the world and capture your travel tales!

Top 10 New Year’s Eve Activities Around the World

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Celebrate New Year’s Eve in Style with Reserve123.com Tours & Activities

New Year’s Eve is right around the bend, which means it’s time for party people around the world to get ready before time runs out! For the serious celebrators, there are some awesome activities worldwide that simply can’t be missed.

Almost everywhere in the world people will stay up late to see the old year out and the new year in with church bells ringing, fireworks, countdowns, music and merriment. As the clock nears midnight in every time zone, these top 10 cities will push the limit of festivity. Ringing in the new year on any of Reserve123′s New Year’s Eve Tours & Activities is a fantastic experience. Celebrate the New Year in style with spirited parties, cruises, bonfires, fireworks, and much more. (more…)

Happy Halloween from Alcatraz Media!

Wednesday, October 31st, 2012

Everyone at the Alcatraz Media & Reserve123 Atlanta Headquarters would like to wish you a ghoulishly great and frightfully fun Halloween! We had a pretty sweet lil’ office party and enjoyed candy, cupcakes, and laughs at costume choices throughout the day, and decided why not share a few fun highlights with our awesome travel pals? Here are a few of our favorite costumes!

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Dra and Nicara

Nicara and Dra looking fabulous

First up we have Nicara, one of our lovely Reservations Agents, as Little Red Riding Hood. Don’t let her sweet smile deceive you though – she totally destroyed that Big Bad Wolf, all by herself.

Next to her is Dra, one of our awesome Group & Charter Sales Support agents, as a crossplay of Alex DeLarge from the film “A Clockwork Orange,” a 1971 film that was written, directed and produced by Stanley Kubrick, adapted from Anthony Burgess’s 1962 novella A Clockwork Orange about a dystopian, future Britain.

(more…)

Reserve123.com Now Offering Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Flex Tickets from New York

Monday, October 15th, 2012
Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Flex Tickets

Visit the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island!

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Reserve123.com is now proudly offering Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Flex Tickets from New York!

Your Flex Ticket provides the roundtrip ferry ride from Battery Park and access to Liberty Island and Ellis Island, including the grounds of Liberty Island and the Ellis Island Immigration Museum.

Each official Statue of Liberty ticket is valid for one person for a one-time use and includes an audio tour.

You will choose the date of your planned visit, but you will have the “flex” option of attending on another date, as long as it’s no more than 180 days from the validity start date printed on the ticket.

The best part? Multiple daily departures make it easy for an impromptu visit to Lady Liberty. We all know that sometimes traffic, weather, and just our busy daily schedules can get in the way of tour plans. With our Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Flex Tickets, you have the most “freedom” to go when it’s best for you!

Did you know that Lady Liberty will be celebrating her 126th birthday soon? The Statue of Liberty, ‘Liberty Enlightening the World,’ was a gift from France to the United States and was dedicated on October 28, 1886. The National Park Service’s theme for the 126th anniversary is “Honor History, Envision the Future.”

A Lady likes to feel special on her birthday. Enjoy an unforgettable trip to see the universal symbol of freedom and democracy. This is a must-see American attraction. You can visit Reserve123.com or our affiliate website New York Tours for more information including photos, important notes, ferry departures, and frequently asked questions. Show your appreciation for the most famous lady of them all with our Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Flex Tickets from New York!

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island Flex Ticket from New York

See the Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island with our Flex Tickets from New York

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”
- Emma Lazarus

Reserve123 Customer Review September Winner!

Thursday, October 11th, 2012
Grand Legends Tour by Bus from Rapid City

Feel like you’re in the Wild West on our day-long Grand Legends adventure through the Black Hills of South Dakota, including Mt. Rushmore, Crazy Horse Memorial, and more.

It always makes our day to give our travel friends the very best.

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Wanda from Ridgeland recently shared her experience with us after she took our Grand Legends Tour by Bus from Rapid City. Check it out:

“REALLY enjoyed our tour with John with him on Sept. 19th. He was knowledgeable and really informed about the history of the area and answered all our questions cheerfully. Even when we bugged him. Since I’m diabetic I had to plan my snacks carefully. But had a great time and learned a lot. Thanks for the tour and for John!!!!!” – Wanda W.

She gave us the feeling of a warm baked apple pie in our hearts. Thank you for this monumental tour review. For taking the time out of her busy schedule to write us a thoughtful note, we rewarded Wanda with an awesome $25 Reserve123 Gift Card!

You could win too, travel friends. Choose from more than 12,000 tours, attractions and activities in thousands of destinations throughout 160 countries on www.Reserve123.com and then submit a review to us.

Wanda is our Reserve123 Customer Review Contest Winner for September, and we’re now accepting Customer Review submissions to select an October Winner – it could be you!

It’s as easy as 123. ;)

Explore the magnificent Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial

Explore the magnificent Black Hills and Mount Rushmore National Memorial on our Grand Legends Tour from Rapid City!

Reserve123.com Activities Cards at Sam's Club

Monday, September 17th, 2012
Reserve123 Sam's Club Activities Cards

Reserve123.com is proud to sell our Activities Cards in participating Sam’s Club locations around the United States!

Reserve123.com – the worldwide leading resource for booking more than 12,000 tours, attractions and activities in thousands of destinations throughout 160 countries – and Sam’s Club, the nation’s eighth largest retailer and a leading membership warehouse club – have joined forces to promote popular tours, activities, and attractions offered by Reserve123.com at participating Sam’s Club retail locations nationwide. Discover tons of fun things to do at a Sam’s Club near you!

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Reserve123.com Activities Cards

Reserve123.com Activities Cards

“Our goal is to provide Sam’s Club members with unique activity offerings and excellent customer service in all 650 locations across the country,” said Ryan Windsor, President of Reserve123.com.  In addition to the discounted tours and activities specified on the Activity Cards, Sam’s Club members will also gain access to the entire database of products, as well as travel information, hotel directories with online booking, airline tickets, rental car reservations, and private group and charter services.

Some of the activities and attractions being offered at Sam’s Club include a Sea Screamer Dolphin and Thrill Ride experience from Clearwater, Pirates Dinner Adventure and Treasure Tavern dinner show tickets in Orlando, Sawgrass Recreation Park tickets, complete with an Everglades airboat ride, South Beach Miami Segway rentals, a selection of cruises from Jacksonville, and A Ghostly Experience Walking Tour from St. Augustine, just to name a few.

Reserve123 Sam's Club Activity Card

2 Adult Tickets to Pirates Dinner Adventure or Treasure Tavern and 1 VIP Dine4Less Card: Dining Discounts For 4 Adults for 30 days

Reserve123 Sam's Club Activity Card

2 Adult Tickets to the Adult Sunset Cruise or Morning Eco Cruise from Jacksonville and 2 Adult Tickets to A Ghostly Experience Walking Tour in St. Augustine

Sam’s Club has already started offering the Reserve123.com Activities Cards at their retail locations in Sanford, Riverview, Jacksonville, Tampa, Lakeland, Coral Springs, Vero Beach, and Fern Park, Florida.  Additional locations within Florida will be online in the following months, along with clubs in Georgia, California, Illinois, and Texas.

Customers who wish to purchase our Activities Cards will find them at participating Sam’s Club retail locations in the gift card section.  Look for the Reserve123.com display pallets, complete with informational pull cards describing each activity offer.  Customers who purchase these cards are able to gift them or personally redeem them online at the Reserve123.com website.  The process is simple.  Customers are provided with their E-Tickets after selecting a date and time for their activity and providing a few basic details, such as the names of the passengers.

For more information about Reserve123.com Activities Cards, visit http://reserve123.com/redeem-activities-card.

Reserve123 Activities Cards in Sam's Club

Have you seen us in the stores? Be sure to look for Reserve123.com display racks in participating Sam’s Club locations!

Disa and Lauren Take San Francisco – Part 2

Tuesday, August 28th, 2012

No one escapes from Alcatraz… except for the notorious Lauren and Disa!

Welcome back, travel friends! Click Here for the awesome first half of our adventure – Disa and Lauren Take San Francisco – Part 1!

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Day 4 and 5 of Disa and I’s adventures in the misty City by the Bay included the epic Monterey & Carmel Tour by Bus from San Francisco on Thursday, then on Friday the Chinatown Walking Tour in San Francisco, then cruising to explore the infamous ex-federal prison of Alcatraz Island, then going on an enchanting San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise around the beautiful bay at sunset. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the virtual tours.

Thursday:

  • The Chronicles of Monterey: The Sea Lion, the Sandwich, and the Nautical Globe. The Monterey & Carmel Tour by Bus from San Francisco is a fully narrated 11-hour tour that departs from and returns to San Francisco. This tour showcases California’s natural, rugged Central Coast. As we made our way south-bound from San Francisco, we passed by M5 Industries, which is the headquarters for Myth Busters, a science entertainment TV show on the Discovery Channel. The Fire Station is close by for a reason. ;)

Yours truly took every photo opportunity to capture the beauty of the scenery

  • As we continued our journey past Daly City, Half Moon Bay, Santa Cruz and beyond to the right of our luxury coach we could see the gorgeous rocky coastline with a few nice sand beaches and tide pools. Something interesting that we learned is that the reason Monterey has such a wealth of marine life is because of Monterey Canyon underwater, which descends over two miles – twice as deep as Arizona’s Grand Canyon – and is home to giant kelp forests and a myriad of sea creatures. I would love to go scuba diving there someday! We could also distantly see (and mainly hear) several sea lions off on the rocks further from the shore.

Just a taste of the seaside scenery on the journey to Monterey, California

  • When we reached the famous Cannery Row in Monterey, we were welcomed with vistas of scenic piers, tons of cool little shops, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and seaside restaurants. You might see sailboats in the marina or kayakers. After reading the sumptuous menu posted outside, we decided to dine for lunch at Louie Linguini’s. I was pretty super excited about this seafood pizza, and for good reason. Salmon, crab and shrimp! I’m a seafood hound. Disa ordered the Spinach Salad, Goat Cheese, & Bacon Sandwich. Absolutely delicious. I seriously wish I could eat there every day now! :D

Decisions, decisions… everything was delicious at Louie Linguini’s in Monterey!

The Fisherman’s Wharf of Monterey, and our fantastic view from Louie Linguini’s

  • After our seaside escapades in Monterey, we were on our way southbound again along the famous scenic 17-mile road. We traveled through Pebble Beach, learning about the highly exclusive and outrageously pricey golf courses on each resort, and enjoying the views of really, really ridiculously good looking houses and estates along the coastline. There is a great variety of architecture to see, and interesting stories you’ll hear aboard the tour. We also stopped to see this natural anomaly, the “Lone Cypress Tree” growing where it is said that no Cypress tree *should* ever grow. Another of the mysteries of the Universe…
  • Finally, we arrived at the beautiful seaside village of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Yes, they do prefer the whole city name said correctly, so get it right. The city is known for its amazing art galleries, bakeries and restaurants, and of course there are the miles and miles of white sand beaches. We enjoyed a leisurely stroll down Ocean Avenue to explore the fabulous shopping turf of the wealthy. It is here that you will find the first gallery of Thomas Kinkade, the Thomas Kinkade Gallery in the Garden. You pass by the cottage door, follow the stone walkway, and into a beautiful garden exhibit with a very fine collection of the world famous painter’s masterpieces. It reminded me of one of my favorite books, The Secret Garden.

Sound like a local by saying the city’s full name, Carmel-by-the-Sea!

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a dream come true for art, food, and beach enthusiasts

Re-energizing with caffeine in a scenic courtyard near Ocean Avenue

The Orignal Gallery of Thomas Kinkade, The Garden Gallery Cottage of Carmel

  • We concluded our adventures south of San Francisco driving back through Silicon Valley, but first stopped at the lovely, historic Mission San Carlos of Carmel. It is the second mission in upper California, and is still home to a Catholic parish. We arrived just before the church bells gonged the evening time.

Photo Op Stop at the historic Mission San Carlos of Carmel by the Sea

Friday:

  • We started the day off with a fascinating and very informative walking tour through Chinatown, on the Chinatown Walking Tour in San Francisco. Our tour guide, Linda, gave us an excellent historical, cultural, medicinal, and culinary overview of Chinatown. This tour is definitely another “must-do” in San Francisco! Chinatown is like a city within the city filled with mysterious sights, where an ancient culture from the other side of the world survives and flourishes with remarkable authenticity. I loved the pagoda-style architecture of the buildings and shops ranging from martial arts weapons displays to Hello Kitty merchandise. What a cool place to shop and explore!

Linda explained the rich history behind this mural and many buildings

Awesome martial arts weapons display at a shop in Chinatown

Chinese School passes on the language and cultural traditions of generations

  • Linda told us that a majority of the people in Chinatown today are actually Christians, but you will still find many Authentic Buddhist Temples. From the street, we wound our way up a narrow, steep staircase to a beautifully adorned temple. Inside we saw entire walls decorated with red ribbons with the names of deceased loved ones written in gold. For many residents, deceased loved ones may not have been buried nearby or inaccessible in the East, so a ribbon serves as a token of veneration. Chinese Ancestor Worship is the belief that deceased loved ones possess the ability to influence the fortune of the living. Gifts of oranges or flowers are customary, or simply time spent remembering and honoring those dearly departed. Tangerines and oranges sound like “luck” and “wealth” in Chinese, respectively. That is why you will see many oranges as gifts for good fortune.

Buddhist Temple adorned with lanterns, gold antiques, and incense urns

  • Inside the temple, we found dazzling altars adorned with red lanterns, priceless gold antiques, incense filled bronze urns, and more. I was even given the unique opportunity to be a test guinea pig for the traditional Chinese Fortune Sticks and the Chinese Yin-Yang. For the Chinese Fortune Stick (or Divination Sticks), I was handed a circular wooden container filled with many long, flat wooden sticks with a different Chinese symbol at the end of each. Linda asked me to think of any kind of life question that I wanted an answer for, and concentrate on it, then to tilt the container and shake it until only one fortune stick fell out. Sure enough, only one stick fell out. Linda looked up the meaning of the fortune stick and gave me a small slip of paper written entirely in Chinese, and told me I could have the note translated more in depth with a Chinese expert, but basically it meant that research is important to me. I can’t argue with that – I love me some science! Next, Linda handed me two pairs of wooden moon blocks (jiaobei) which she said symbolize the Chinese Yin-Yang. She said the objective is again to ask it a question (aloud or not), and then drop the blocks. You hold the pieces together, flat sides facing each other, and drop them to the ground. How the blocks fall determines the answer. If it lands with both flat or rounded sides facing up, the answer is no. If one side lands flat and the other rounded, the answer is yes. I asked “Will it rain today?” Yin-Yang: one side landed flat and the other rounded, so the answer was yes. It did not rain in San Francisco that day, but I also failed to specify *where* it would rain, so it definitely rained somewhere in the world!

I volunteered to test the Chinese Yin-Yang at the Buddhist Temple

Honoring ancestors is a special way of remembering deceased loved ones

  • Next stop: the Golden Gate Fortune Cookies Factory!! The sweet aroma of the freshly made fortune cookies is sure to lure you in whether you can read the Chinese store signs or not. Inside, you will find fortune cookies of all shapes and sizes, and watch as cookies are made right in front of you.
  • Linda gave us each delicious circular samples of the freshly-made fortune cookies. Yum! You can even order custom fortune cookie messages there at the factory. I wish I’d had time to return to order some fortune cookies with custom messages… with the lyrics to “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen, so I could pass them out to my friends, just to drive them crazy. *evil laugh* :D

Our next stop was at the Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory with a free sample!

At Golden Gate Fortune Cookies you can even order custom fortune messages

  • We also stopped at Stockton Street Food Markets, where you will find an amazing variety of local and exotic foods. This is the place to be to buy the freshest and cheapest produce, meats, live seafood, and dried herbs.

Stockton Street Markets offer the freshest and most exotic foods in the Bay Area

  • After our journey through Chinatown, we walked to In-And-Out Burger at Fisherman’s Wharf for lunch, because it’s just so delicious. After another glorious round of double-double cheeseburgers, we proceeded to walk off the calories to Pier 33 for our second tour of the day, and the most famous sightseeing attraction of San Francisco — Alcatraz Island!!!

The Guard Tower looms ominously high over former prison grounds

Al Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelley, and other famous inmates

  • Alcatraz was a federal penitentiary that operated from 1934 to 1963, riddled with mysteries and dark mystique. Once home to the likes of Al “Scarface” Capone, George “Machine Gun” Kelley, and Robert “The Birdman” Stroud, the Federal Bureau of Prisons used the facility as a maximum security prison. It housed prisoners too notorious or dangerous to be held elsewhere. Alcatraz was closed in 1963 due to its expense. The trip includes the ferry ride to the island and an amazing self-guided audio cell block tour, complete with actual interviews of former guards and inmates. Alcatraz is still known today as one of the world’s most legendary prisons.
  • Here’s a fun fact: Juan Manuel de Ayala was the first Spaniard to document Alcatraz Island in 1775. He also charted San Francisco Bay, and named the island “La Isla de los Alcatraces,” which translates to “The Island of the Pelicans.” You will still find Alcatraz covered with a countless number of seabirds, although the California Brown Pelican is not known to nest on the island today. Instead, you are likely to see hundreds of Western Gulls, and, if you are lucky, you may get a glimpse of pelagic cormorants, California gulls, pigeon guillemots, or black oystercatchers.

Alcatraz is a sanctuary for a variety of seabirds, most prominently Western Gulls

  • If you’re more of a nature lover than a mystery or history buff, walk along the Agave Trail. The trail begins near the ferryboat landing on the east side of Alcatraz Island and continues to the southern tip of the island. The Agave Trail passes through a protected bird sanctuary and features beautiful plants and flowers. This trail also offers fabulous views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge.

This is how a typical cell would look upon a prisoner’s arrival to Alcatraz

I’ve been bad. On the plus side, now I can polish my Cell Block Tango.

  • Alcatraz was well known for having an excellent menu compared to other prisons. Warden James Johnston believed that good food in the cafeteria would help to quell dissension among the prisoners. So why was the Mess Hall regarded as the most dangerous place of Alcatraz? Imagine angry, hungry men with knives (even with steak knives, when the menu called for such) gathering together three times a day… A few food and fist fights broke out occasionally, but the armed guards on the outside catwalk rarely ever had to break the windows with their rifles, and never had to fire warning shots or release the tear gas canisters.
  • One bad-tempered incident occurred when Warden Johnston was attacked while standing routinely near the Mess Hall door and beaten up by inmate Burton “Whitey” Phillips. Phillips was later sent to the Treatment Unit in Cellblock D for the assault – a dark, barren cell of Solitary Confinement, also known as “The Hole.” He didn’t leave the Treatment Unit until years later when Warden Johnston retired.
Alcatraz Mess Hall Food Menu

The food quality at Alcatraz was regarded as the best in the prison system

The Mess Hall of Alcatraz was considered to be the most dangerous place.

  • I highly recommend reading the story of the Alcatraz Spaghetti Riot of 1950. Inmates had to find cunning, creative ways to communicate for an organized anarchy under the constant supervision of the prison guards. The inmates were rebelling because they were tired of bland spaghetti. Personally, I think the inmates may have been a bit spoiled. Red velvet cake on the menu?! Dang, prisoners ate great back then. Perhaps the riddles inspired by the hit mystery-thriller FOX TV show “ALCATRAZ” can shed light on the mystery… I would also recommend reading the story of the Battle of Alcatraz.

Guards’ recreational office near the Lighthouse of Alcatraz Island

The iconic Lighthouse of Alcatraz Island, now a museum that can be toured.

  • Disa and I escaped from the sinister clutches of Alcatraz in time to return to our secret hideout and freshen up for our charming sunset dinner cruise along the bay aboard the San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise. We were so lucky that it was a clear night without the dense fog rolling in yet. Very pretty sunset. Cheers to an amazing week in San Francisco!
San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise

Aboard the San Francisco Dinner Dance Cruise with dazzling sunset views

Lovely dinner cruise views of the Golden Gate Bridge and more around the Bay

Amazing views of Alcatraz Island and the ferry for the Night Tour

Beautiful sunset as we passed by Alcatraz Island on the Dinner Cruise

  • What you get on this amazing dinner cruise? A sightseeing yacht cruise (Fri. – Sat. is 3-hours, Sun. – Thurs. is 2.5-hours), a 4-course seated dinner, coffee and tea, live entertainment and dancing, scenic San Francisco Bay views, and available for purchase are soft drinks, wine, beer and cocktails from the full-service bar. Truly a magical evening out for any occasion along the scenic Bay as you watch the sun set, the stars come out, and the city lights of San Francisco glistening next to the water edge, all while enjoying an amazing 4-course dinner and dancing to live entertainment.

Our Appetizers were South American Scallop Ceviche with Fried Plantain Chips

2nd Course: Fontina, Leek & Carrot Tartlet with Champagne Shallot Vinaigrette

Disa ordered the Roasted Chipotle and Garlic Marinated Bone In Pork Chop

I ordered the Salmon Moqueca with Peppers, Red Coral Rice, & Black Beans

For desert, we had these super cute and delectable Blueberry Pies!

Marvelous views of the Golden Gate Bridge and a passing Sailboat out in the Bay

Another gorgeous view of the Golden Gate Bridge at sunset in the Bay

That concludes our overview of amazing adventures in The Taking of San Francisco with Disa & Lauren. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading and seeing some of our journey as much as we enjoyed being there. Stay tuned for more pictures and new videos as we continue to share our experiences throughout Reserve123′s social media networks. You’re going to love seeing even more of our trip photos and the video magic we captured on each tour!

Are you ready to plan your own adventures to the City by the Bay? We want to earn your business with the best customer service around. Book your tour tickets online and save or call us toll free for assistance with reservations at 800-410-8233 or at our local phone number which is 678-320-2200. Did you know that Reserve123 also offers a San Francisco Hotel Directory, Rental Car Services, and even Airline Tickets? Leave everything to your travel friends at Reserve123.com and we guarantee that just as Tony Bennett so smoothly serenaded, you’ll leave your heart in San Francisco. ;)

Disa and Lauren Take San Francisco – Part 1

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Lauren & Disa have escaped from Alcatraz and are wanted across San Francisco!

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It’s true. Lauren & Disa have taken over San Francisco. Be afraid! We are so excited to be here. As you know, Reserve123.com is headquartered in Atlanta where we both live. Reserve123 sells over 11,000 tours, attractions, and activities in over 550 destinations and 85 countries. Disa and I had the fortunate opportunity to visit beautiful San Francisco, one of our favorite city markets. We are visiting for a whole week and have taken several amazing tours so far! Our mission is to get as many pictures and videos as possible to share with our travel friends on all of our social media networks. Here are the chronicles of our adventures in the charming City By the Bay – Part 1!

Monday:

Wax Museum Recreation of the Triple Self Portrait by Norman Rockwell

  • After the Hop On Hop Off Tour, we took the exciting and informative San Francisco Bay Cruise. We boarded the ferry boat and set out toward the Golden Gate Bridge from Fisherman’s Wharf. Along the way we passed Fort Mason, the Marina District, St. Francis Yacht Club, and the Presidio. We enjoyed excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge (as much as we could see through the fog rolling in) and cruised very close to the Marin Headlands and past Angel Island and around Alcatraz.

On board the San Francisco Bay Cruise with the narrative audio headsets

Great views cruising around Alcatraz Island on the Bay Cruise

  • After the Bay Cruise, we had dinner at House of Nanking. Very popular chinese restaurant. They can only seat about 25 people inside, and there was about a 30 minute wait outside (and it was cold outside by that point), but SO worth the wait!! This was the appetizer we ordered, the Sizzling Rice Soup with chicken. Fantastic! I think we liked that even more than our entrees. And I ordered a lemonade, and Disa ordered the “Hot Blossoming Flower Tea” – she said it was really good and mildly sweet like honey, and the flower bud actually started to bloomed in the tea for about 5 minutes! Pretty cool to see. By the way, we had this amazing view at night.

Charming night view of the city and Bay Bridge in San Francisco

Tuesday:

  • We were picked up for our Bus Tour of the Wine Country from San Francisco, and set off to explore California’s world-famous premium wine making region. On this excellent tour, you’ll not only get to taste the wines of Napa and Sonoma, but also get a taste of several different winery styles, from boutique to large-scale wineries. You’ll learn how wine is made and enjoy the lovely vistas of rolling hills dotted with vineyards. Which wineries you visit will vary, but we enjoyed visits to the Madonna Estate, Sutter Home, and the Sebastiani Vineyards & Winery. We also stopped at the beautiful Sonoma Square, where we had a delicious lunch at The Plaza Bistro and also enjoyed a variety of cheese samples and sumptuous gelato at The Cheese Factory!

On the Wine Country Tour in the vineyard of Madonna Estate in Napa

  • After the Wine Country Tour, we took a break to recharge our phones and camera batteries, then went to dinner at the famous In-N-Out Burger at Fisherman’s Wharf. So fantastic… God Bless America for our cheeseburgers in Paradise. Then we decided to go for a walk along Fisherman’s Wharf, and happened upon a great saxaphone player doing a street performance. Even though it was getting a little too cold for two Georgia Peaches, it was so serene getting to listen to him play with the sound of the waves in the bay nearby, amidst the night life bustle and neon lights.

Wednesday:

  • Redwood Rings from 909 A.D.

    We were picked up for our Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour by Bus from San Francisco, then after check-in we headed to the enchanting redwood forest. Muir Woods is located about 17 miles northwest of San Francisco, across the Golden Gate Bridge. Marvel at the tremendous size of the giant redwoods at John Muir Woods. The average age of the redwoods at Muir Woods is between 600 to 800 years, with the oldest being over 1,200 years old. On the Wine Country Tour the previous day, we learned that we can thank the cool fog throughout the San Francisco area and beyond for the perfect environment to create Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Redwoods. Muir Woods has a magical feel to it, and you could easily spend all day there exploring. It reminded me of Fern Gully, and I’m pretty sure that Smurfs might live there too… There is also a great rustic gift shop filled with all kinds of artisan crafted redwood carvings and unique souvenirs. Then we continued our journey on to drive through Sausalito, home to some of the country’s wealthiest citizens. Sausalito is located just north of the Golden Gate Bridge, on the south-eastern tip of Marin County. If you specifically request a stop in Sausalito, you may be dropped off there and can return to San Francisco by ferry (at your own expense). We then continued back across the Golden Gate Bridge with a nice stop for photo opportunities at The Marin Headlands, a hilly peninsula at the southernmost end of Marin County overlooking the famous bridge.

Enchanting redwoods and ferns abound at Muir Woods National Monument

Muir Woods is definitely a Must-Do for every visitor to California

  • After the Muir Woods & Sausalito Tour, we had lunch at the Boudin Bistro (an amazing sourdough bread bakery with a factory museum and excellent restaurant & bistro) then headed back to our abode again to recharge our phones and camera batteries, then took advantage of the second portion of our San Francisco 48 Hours Open Top Double Decker Hop-On & Hop-Off Bus Tour to explore more of the city, with special stops at the Golden Gate Bridge Visitor’s Center, Ghirardelli Square, and a mighty hike up the super-steep Russian Hill to Lombard Street – home of The Crookedest Street in the World! Amazing views and sightseeing. My favorite was Ghirardelli Square, getting to watch the world famous chocolate being made, seeing the many specialty shops, and tasting new chocolate samples! We got to taste their new Gourmet Milk Sea Salt Escape. Yum!

The famous Ghirardelli Square is filled with decadent treats in San Francisco

Enjoy watching as chocolate is made right in front of you at Ghirardelli Square

  • After the Hop On Hop Off Tour, we went to dinner with our new friends Kimberly and Tina, who manage operations for the Hop On Hop Off bus company, and we ate at a Mexican restaurant downtown called Tres. Great taqueria food – especially the fish tacos!

Disa striking a pose with a fantastic view of the Golden Gate Bridge

That concludes Part 1 of our adventures thus far in the Fog City. In the meantime, visit us at http://Reserve123.com/tours/city/san-francisco or at http://www.Alcatraz.us/ to plan your travels in San Francisco and beyond. Book your tour tickets online and save or call us toll free at 800-410-8233 for assistance with reservations. We also offer an excellent selection of hotels in our San Francisco Hotel Directory, featuring a fantastic selection of hotels, exceptionally low rates, and the convenience of being able to book your hotels and tours in one place.

Click Here for the amazing second half of our adventure – Disa and Lauren Take San Francisco – Part 2!

The California flag flies over beautiful Sonoma Square in the Wine Country

Skyward Tours Around The World

Friday, August 10th, 2012

“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” — Leonardo da Vinci

Just as Leonardo so wisely wrote over 500 years ago, so is true today of the inspiration of soaring through the vast skies. Don’t limit your ventures to land-locked excursions, travel friends. Airplane Tours and Helicopter Tours really are worth every penny (and more) for the unbeatable thrills and the amazing memories you’ll treasure for a lifetime. We hand select the very best airplane tour operators around the world, with a focus on safety. We are sure you will find our airplane tours are the very best available. Climb aboard and let your dreams take flight!

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Seaplane Flight over San Francisco

On our Champagne Seaplane Flight over San Francisco, you will board the seaplane and head out to the coast. As you sip your champagne and watch the sun head toward the horizon, this romantic flight cruises down the coast and over the Golden Gate Bridge and over San Francisco. Sights (weather permitting) include: Mill Valley, Mount Tamalpais, Pacific Coast, Golden Gate Bridge, Downtown San Francisco, Bay Bridge, Pier 39, Alcatraz Island, Angel Island, Tiburon, Belvedere, and Sausalito.

Scenic Airplane Flight from La Spezia Italy

We would also recommend our Cinque Terre Scenic Airplane Flight with Lunch from La Spezia Italy. Enjoy a flight which takes you first over the beautiful Gulf of Poets with stunning views of the villages of Tellaro, Lerici and Portovenere and their impressive churches and fortresses. You will also see the islands of Palmaria and Tino with its beautiful lighthouse, which is closed to the public and spectacularly visible only during this flight. And then you will reach the area of the Cinque Terre! This stunning experience offers strong impressions that will become the highlight of your trip! After the flight, a delicious light lunch with an assortment of local specialities in the cozy Osteria awaits.

Seaplane Sightseeing Tour in Dubai

Our Seaplane Sightseeing Tour in Dubai provides incredible views of Dubai’s most iconic landmarks including The Palm Jumeirah, The Burj Khalifa, The World Islands, Burj Al Arab, Historic Dubai Creek, Port Rashid and much more. The tour ascends to 1,500 feet to give you an aerial view of the world-famous hotels, The Palms Jumeirah Beach Hotel and Burj Al Arab Hotel.

Come fly with us in one of the many cities that we serve. Book tickets online and save or call us toll free at 800-409-3192 for assistance with reservations, group bookings, and private airplane charter services. We look forward to providing you with excellent customer service.

We’ll close with this jazzy evening helicopter ride in New York City. Cheers! ;)

Alcatraz Media Trivia Game at the Atlanta Headquarters

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Atlanta Office Headquarters

We all had a great time in the office last week with our Trivia Game! This was a game to see how well we know each other.

The object of the game was for everyone (or a decent amount of people) to write something interesting about themselves that not many others would know. Whoever could match them most facts to people correctly would win!

This was a tough challenge. We have a lot of cool, ambitious, unique, & talented employees here at Alcatraz Media & Reserve123. Everyone was speculating and second-guessing all week… Now, all the answers can finally be revealed!! :D

 

Here are all of the facts followed by the correct answers for our trivia game:

1. I was the first person in US history to reverse an adoption.  Answer: Lia

2. I tried out for the 1992 Olympics (Event 400 yard Dash). Answer: NiCole

3. When I was born I had a long vertical scar on my neck. My mother had surgery on her neck when she was a child and carried that scar on her neck all of her life, until I was born. Her scar disappeared when I was born! Answer: Barbara

4. I like to collect currency from different parts of the world. Answer: Raimari

5. I have the physical challenge of Cerebral Palsy. Answer: Rachelle

6. My family breeds Boykin Spaniels. Answer: Ben

7. I turned 15 while on a mission trip to Honduras & Nicaragua. Answer: Michelle

8. I had a poem published in a book when I was 13. Answer: Sheria

9. I can interact with people from all walks of life without judging. Answer: Sonya C.

10. I won the “Delta’s World Adventure Challenge with Carmen Sandiego,” which was a geography / essay writing contest in 1995 based on the kid’s game show on PBS. In my story, V.I.L.E. crook Wonder Rat stole the AJC news building in Atlanta and hauled it off to Australia! Answer: Lauren

11. My dream job title is “Commissioner of Major League Baseball.” Answer: Fauve

12. I was the first female newspaper carrier in my home town. Answer: Theresa

13. I once dated movie & TV star Delta Burke (before she or I became very famous). Answer: Tony

14. I learned to drive a stick shift when I was about 12 years old. Answer: Disa

15. I have written over 300 poems and am currently looking to publish a poetry book by this time next year. Answer: Charisse

16. I was a 4-time representative for the Piano State Convention. Answer: Modesty

17. All of my doctors are shocked that I’ve never had a cavity. Answer: Dra

18. When I was little I wanted to be a Killer Whale Trainer at Sea World. Answer: Jason

19. I am a scraper, which means I like to make scrapbooks. Answer: Darlene

20. I take Brazilian jiu jitsu during my free time. Answer: Siran

 

We were TIED for a top winner, so we used a names list randomizer to choose.

• Rachelle (11 correct answers!)
• Sonya W. (11 correct answers!)

And… The winner was………… Sonya W.!!!

Sonya chose a great gift card to Target.

 

And Honorable Mention went out to:

• Rachelle (11 correct answers)
• Michelle (9 correct answers)
• Sonya C. (8 correct answers)
• Theresa (7 correct answers)
• NiCole (7 correct answers)
• Tamesha (6 correct answers)
• Sheria (6 correct answers)
• Modesty (6 correct answers)

Great job everyone! We may have to do this game again soon… ;)


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