Posts Tagged ‘History’

Shereen Travels Cheap in Portland

Friday, October 12th, 2012

Shereen Blogs for the “Budget-Minded Travel Enthusiast”

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A couple of weeks ago, the lovely Shereen and her husband decided to give our service a try. She’s got tons of wonderful travel tips and activity recommendations for many of our favorite cities, but living in the Portland area, she opted for a ride on the Portland History Boat Tour. It’s amazing how we can live in a city yet know so little about its historical undertones. This was the case for Shereen. Although she’s lived in the city for roughly 15 years, the tour proved to be a highly informative selection.


“We learned very interesting facts about where we live, like how all 9 bridges over the river are completely different and why each was built the way it was and when. We also learned about the island that is used by the city for rock and gravel, the new construction along the river and the history of our city’s importing and exporting.”


Views from the Water

We’re so glad Shereen and her husband enjoyed the tour, and we hope others are also encouraged to be a tourist in their own city. Sometimes we get so intrigued by attractions that are miles away and forget the goodness right in our own backyard!

You can read Shereen’s full post here, and make sure to add her to your travel list on twitter: @Shereentrvlschp.

Architectural History Walking Tour in Asheville

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Forward to the Past! Explore the art, history and architecture of Asheville.

Forward to the Past! Explore the art, history and architecture of Asheville.

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Asheville was dubbed the “Paris of the South” in the early 1900′s for establishing itself as an artisan city with unique style and architectural flare. The history of migration to the mountains of Western North Carolina has brought with it a spectrum of influences in the development of Asheville. Architectural styles range from the earliest settlements of the Native American villages & hunters to the Colonial farmers & loggers to the later desperadoes & Art Deco designers.

Our Downtown Architectural History Walking Tour in Asheville offers your more than just a tour - a new perspective. Enjoy stories and anecdotes relating to architecture, history, art and several of Asheville’s unique neighborhoods. Tours are custom designed to highlight your group’s specific interests. Hear stories about desperados and deco architects. Learn how downtown developed and reinvented itself to be the city of arts and entertainment it is today.

Several tour itineraries take visitors inside places of interest such as Pack Place, the First Baptist Church, St. Lawrence Basilica, the Grove Arcade, Smith Mc Dowell house, the Grovewood, and more. Discover the charms of mountain life and unique architecture that can only be found in Asheville.

Mural in "Chicken Alley" - Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Mural in Chicken Alley – Downtown Asheville, North Carolina

Barcelona, The City of Counts

Thursday, April 19th, 2012
Parc de la Ciutadella Fountain. Photo via

Parc de la Ciutadella Fountain. Photo via

Known as the Ciutat Comtal (The City of Counts), Barcelona is a gorgeous, diverse landscape loaded with history, legends, and stunning art lore. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia and the second largest city in Spain after Madrid.

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If you’re new to the city, I would start out with the Barcelona Cycle & Tapas Tour. There is no better city on the Mediterranean to explore by cycle. In a short time you get an overview of some of the iconic sites and of hidden places. The cycling is along flat ground and your efforts are well rewarded with some delicious tapas! Your English speaking guide will give you a good introduction to the story of Barcelona, stopping every couple of hundred meters to share stories, myths and slices of the city’s history, as well as exciting local suggestions for other things to do in Barcelona. An ultimate Barcelona travel adventure you will not forget.

There are many popular sightseeing hot spots, from the Roman ruins and the medieval city to the Catalan modernist neighborhoods with their characteristic buildings arranged in square blocks with cut-away corners, and their tree-lined streets and broad avenues. The city’s outstanding artists include Picasso, Dalí and Gaudí. Our Artistic Barcelona Tour – Gaudi, Modernism & Gothic Architecture – will show you many of the famous, iconic masterpieces of Barcelona.

Barcelona Sightseeing will introduce you to the best of the city in style. Book tour tickets online and save or call us toll free at 888-782-4156 for assistance with reservations, group tour bookings, and private charters.

Santa Maria del Mar. Photo via

Santa Maria del Mar. Photo via

Park Güell Entrance. Photo via

Park Güell Entrance. Photo via

Walk This Way – Walking Tours Around the World

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

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Let’s face it – you’ve got it, and it’s time to flaunt it. One of the best ways to discover the hidden secrets of any locale while traveling is to get off the beaten path and explore for yourself! Whether you choose to blaze your own trail or let the local’s in the know show you the secret hot spots, Walking Tours are not only as good as it gets for up-close encounters, but also very affordable and excellent for your health. Score. So polish your stylish catwalk and get ready to turn heads while traveling! Check out Reserve123′s top picks of some of the most unique walking tours around the globe.

Stroll through the Rainforests of Hawaii

Stroll through the Rainforests of Hawaii

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Oahu Mountain Rainforest Walking Tour from Honolulu – Journey to the scenic mountains high above the shimmering waters of Pearl Harbor to a place that time has passed by. In this beautiful setting we walk into a forest that includes Hawaiian honeycreepers, scarlet-flowered Ohia and majestic Koa trees. This tour involves 4 miles of walking over a 3.5 hour time span; appropriate for moderate fitness level. Includes free Honolulu hotel pickup and return. These tours are limited to just 14 participants to provide a personal touring experience, so order early to ensure your space!

See the natural & creative beauty of Queenstown

See the natural & handmade beauty of Queenstown

Art & Nature Walking Tour in Queenstown New Zealand – Soak up nature and art on this walking tour through Queenstown. Meet local art communities and gain inspiration from their work. Learn about some of New Zealand’s unique plants on a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Gardens. Meander past buildings and sites steeped in local history and wrap up a pleasurable morning spent walking with a delicious lunch on the waterfront. Life doesn’t get more relaxing than this.

Go to the Movies in London

Watch? LIVE the Movies in London!

London Film Walking Tour – Come along on a two hour guided walking tour through famous London film locations, TV studios, ancient streets, pubs, churches and other places of historical interest taking in the River Thames, The Strand, Fleet St and into the City of London. You’ll be able to stand at the same London film locations that were used in films such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Da Vinci Code, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Mona Lisa, Four Weddings and a Funeral and more!

Discover the dark, buried history of Rome

Discover the dark, buried history of Rome

Skip the Line: Crypts & Catacombs Tour in Rome – Are you brave enough to see the Rome Catacombs? Become Indiana Jones as you discover imperial and early Christian Rome by peeling back layers and millenniums of history. Descend into the Eternal city’s underground burial chambers, its long winding catacombs and its crypts. Go below and beyond to a time when Christianity was considered a simple cult whose members were executed as pagans and buried as martyrs. The one and only tour that takes you to crypts and catacombs from different historical eras, in diverse locations and with varying styles!

You're in for a treat in Boston

Get a Taste of Boston at Beacon Hill

Boston Chocolate Walking Tour of Beacon Hill – If you’ve never taken a decadent chocolate walking tour, you’re in for a treat (lots of them actually). A friendly, outgoing expert guide will whisk you off into a world of exotic imports, closely guarded recipes and intimate tastings. The destinations are always carefully selected from the very finest each city has to offer – artisan chocolatiers, celebrated restaurants and more.

Book your Walking Tours now easily with – don’t let loads of fun and great savings pass you by! And don’t forget your camera. ;)

Top 5 Things To Do in Memphis for New Year's 2012!

Thursday, December 29th, 2011

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Happy New Year 2012!

Happy New Year 2012 from Reserve123!

Fare Thee Well, 2011… Now it’s Time to Ring in the New with 2012! Break out your goofy 2012 glasses, confetti, and noise makers and get ready for the big count down.

Have you ever experienced New Year’s Eve in Memphis? If not, you are missing out, my friend. Check out’s Top 5 Things To Do in Memphis for New Year’s 2012!

5. Memphis Cocktail Walking Tour – As any Memphian can tell you, the best way to experience the city is with a drink in your hand! This two-hour walking tour goes beyond the bars of Beale Street and visits historic downtown drinking establishments and favorite local taverns to sample some true Southern charm. From classic Southern cocktails and rare Tennessee whiskeys to delicious martinis, you’ll enjoy a unique taste of Memphis!

4. Mojo Music Bus Tour in Memphis – The Home of the Blues comes alive on this city tour aboard the only Music Bus in Memphis. Rock the streets on the coolest ride in town and see Beale Street, Sun Studio, Stax Records, the Lorraine Motel, movie locations and more, while hearing music performed live. It’s the only tour in town that puts Memphis music history in the hands of real musicians – 90 minutes of high-energy fun!

Visit with The King

Visit Graceland, Home of The King

3. Graceland Music Attractions Pass – Enjoy a sightseeing day tour to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. PLUS – you get admission to the Rock N Soul Museum, the Stax Museum of American Soul Music, and the Sun Studios Tour. See Graceland with its fabulous displays of Elvis memorabilia, including the audio tour. Tour two of Elvis’ airplanes. See the Sincerely Elvis exhibit and the Elvis Presley Automobile Museum. A shuttle will take you across Elvis Presley Boulevard to enter Elvis’ 14-acre estate. With the new digital audio guide featuring the voices of Lisa Marie and Elvis, you will enjoy a specially-produced audio tour presentation and even more information on specific exhibits.

Explore the History of Memphis

Explore the History of Memphis

2. Historic Memphis Walking Tour – What better way to start your day than with a leisurely stroll through tree-lined downtown Memphis. Your guide will unfold the story of this rowdy river town and its inhabitants – tough frontiersmen like Davy Crockett and Sam Houston; dashing Confederate soldiers and Civil War spies; gamblers, speculators, and fancy ladies who arrived by steamboat and train; gangsters and machine bosses fueled by Prohibition-era greed. Along the way, you’ll see sweeping views of the river from the rooftop of the beautiful Madison hotel, along with stately architectural landmarks, such as Court Square Fountain, the Lincoln American Tower, and much more.

Hard Rock Cafe Guitar Drop!

Hard Rock Cafe Guitar Drop in Memphis!

1. Countdown on Beale Street – On December 31st starting at 7:00 PM hordes of people will flock to Beale Street for the city’s biggest New Year’s Eve party! As the locals say, it’s time to “bury your blues” to start the New Year with a clean slate.

Bands will start playing in Handy Park at 7:00 PM, and there will be a guitar drop at the Hard Rock Cafe at Midnight! Expect the bars to be packed and the party to overflow into the street. New Year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Style!!

Swing on by Memphis Tours now to book your tour reservations and hotel accommodations. Happy New Year from Reserve123!

Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA

Monday, November 21st, 2011

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Plimoth Plantation

Plimoth Plantation 

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You’ve seen grade school student Thanksgiving plays, you’ve read about them in your textbooks, and you’ve probably have seen a Charlie Brown special about it, but when you visit Plimoth Plantation, you’ll experience the most realistic account of the pilgrim life.

The Plimoth Plantation is a living museum that offers a variety of activities for visitors to see and do on the pilgrim life. The 17th Century English Village is part of the Plimoth Plantation and is a recreation of the small colony that took place near the Plymouth Harbor.At this site, the year is 1627 and visitors can explore the town and watch and interact with ‘role players’ who act, speak, and dress from the colonial era. You can watch them do daily tasks such as cooking, planting, blacksmithing, and animal husbandry.


A woman doing daily errands. 

If watching someone sweeping a house with a homemade broom doesn’t get you excited, the coolest part of this attraction is the interaction. You can ask the ‘pilgrims’ any questions about their religious views, education, parenting, and even their relationship with the Native People. All the recreations are built on first-hand or second-hand records, accounts, and articles from that time period. It is truly a place that prides their authenticity and really feels like you stepped back in time.

The real life exhibits also feature the lives of the Wampanoag Homesite. Unlike the English Village, the Wampanoag Homesite has modern day Native People dressed in traditional clothing. They can give you the modern perspective of the Wampanoag people. You are more than welcome to ask questions about their history, their traditions, music, or dance.

Another popular activity at the plantation is entering the Mayflower II replica. From the solid oak timbers to the hand-colored maps, the details of the ship have been meticulously hand-crafted to make sure visitors feel like they’re entering the real Mayflower.


Visitors talking to pilgrims and Native People. 

Other than their interactive exhibits, there is a craft center where you can meet modern day artisans who use 17th century tools and materials to create objects from that time period.You can visit the rare breeds animals program where you can see many historic breeds of sheep, goats, and cows. There is also the Plimoth Cinema!Interestingly enough, the plantation screens foreign and independent films at their orientation theater during the late afternoons and evenings. It is Plymouth’s #1 Art House Cinema!

If you’re interested in visiting the Plimoth Plantation, hurry and reserve your tickets today. They’re open from late March to November, but they get especially busy near Thanksgiving. Please visit our website or call us at 800-745-1925.

- Kris

1st picture is from this website.
2nd picture is from this website.
3rd picture is from this website.

Lauren's Hometown Must Do – Oakland Cemetery in Atlanta, Ga

Friday, November 18th, 2011

I asked Lauren for a quick response on what she thought was a must do in her hometown. In typical Lauren fashion, she went above and beyond and whipped up this little feature on Atlanta’s Oakland Cemetery:

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Oakland Cemetery

I’m from Atlanta, and my favorite MUST DO in the city is to visit Oakland Cemetery. First of all, it’s free for entrance & self-guided walking tours, and second of all, it’s only a few miles from countless other famous attractions in the city, such as the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca-Cola, and much more.


Marsh’s headstone

I realize that visiting a cemetery might sound morbid, but it is actually very peaceful, scenic, and filled with amazing architecture. Oakland Cemetery is the oldest cemetery, as well as one of the largest green spaces, in Atlanta, Georgia. Founded in 1850 on six acres of land southeast of the city, Oakland remains one of the oldest historical plots of land in Atlanta, most of the rest of the city having been burned in 1864.

See the dying Lion of the Confederacy monument (which looks very similar to the famous Lion Monument in Lucerne, Switzerland). Shop in the intriguing Bell Tower Building (which looks almost like a castle in the center of the cemetery). Visit the grave of Margaret Mitchell Marsh, author of Gone with the Wind. Explore the many miniature-cathedral-like Mausoleums, many complete with polished stone, multi-colored stained glass windows, steeples, gargoyles, and gates.


the interior of a mausoleum

A beautiful array of flowers, trees, and walkways make Oakland Cemetery a place hard to leave. You might see someone painting under in the cool shade of a magnolia tree, someone else reading a book on a stone bench loveseat, another discussing the exotic flowers throughout, and still more enjoying the ghost walking tours through the cemetery at night. At the end of your visit, I would recommend heading straight across the street to the Six Feet Under Pub! They have fantastic seafood, drinks, and much more. Don’t miss out on the true “spirit” of Atlanta while you are here.

- Lauren

Discover Chicago’s Hippest Shopping Tour

Thursday, September 1st, 2011

Photo by hjbphoto

Photo by hjbphoto

Reserve 123 offers shopping tours? What?! That’s right. Your dreams have come true. We know that any woman (or a fairly confident man) will say that he or she doesn’t need a tour guide to show them how to shop. However, your mind will be changed on this special tour through the Windy City, where you will not only get VIP treatment, but also get to look like a cool in-the-know local in the process.

One of the coolest things about our Bucktown & Wickerpark Shopping Tour in Chicago is that it’s not your typical tour. You won’t have a flock of people in Hawaiian shirts and sun visors. It’s a tour that shows you all of the well-known and local secrets that Chi-town really has to offer, and the little quirks you would miss without a guide. Put your map away and make life easy for yourself with a savvy local Chicago guide, which means more fabulous shopping time for you, and less time looking baffled with a map on the sidewalk.

Your new best friend (guide) will walk you around Bucktown and Wickerpark to visit all the hard-to-find boutiques. You’ll also be able to visit local chocolate shops and coffee houses to see where real Chicagoans hang out and be one of them. You’ll also get shopping discounts (10%-25% of all boutiques), feeling-like-a-million-bucks champagne toasts, and sample sales. Yup, sample sales – which means dresses that you thought you could never afford, can now be in your closet. Rule.

Some things that are good to know:

  • A walking tour to boutiques exclusive to Chicago.
  • Requires 2 people, which means it’s made for you and your BFF!
  • It can be a 2 hour tour to a 3.5 or 4 hour tour.
  • Neighborhood Trivia!
  • Delicious treats from local cafes (optional and not included in the cost of tour)
  • Shopping for something specific? Tell us in advance and we’ll see what we can do!

To book this tour, go here. To see more Chicago tours, visit this page.

For shopping tours all over the world, check out our stylish line of shopping tours at Reserve123! Shop til you drop here:

- Kris

Italian Frescoes and why it’s best to learn

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

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As you know, we have two resident bloggers at Alcatraz Media — Lauren and me. I was reading Lauren recent post about Florence. When I saw that mentioned the Fresco Tutorial Tour in Florence.
My eyes grew wide when I found there was a workshop like this in Florence. I was in Florence, only for a day, but I would have jumped at the opportunity to learn more about frescoes.

To really enjoy art is to also have some understanding of how it was made. Many Italian Renaissance artists painted frescoes, so to enjoy Florence, especially, is to really appreciate the art of frescoes.

A real fresco is called buon fresco which is just pigment crushed into water on a thin layer of fresh lime mortar or plaster. Fresco secco, though very fun to say, is done dry plaster and uses a binding medium like egg, glue, or oil. There is also fresco secco on top of buon fresco, which is cool too if you’re into that kind of thing.

Here is just a few of my favorite frescoes, why their noteworthy to me, and where you can find them:

One of the best examples is, of course, Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The Last Judgement may be one of the most frightening and awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen.

He also painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling which means he covered over 5,000 square feet of frescoes, and that’s buon fresco. Michelangelo was the man.

My all time favorite is Fra Angelico’s Annunciation. It’s located in a corridor of the San Marco convent in Florence. I didn’t get a chance to see it, but would have sold my sister to. It’s perfectly located that when you look at it, the sun’s light looks like it’s in the fresco.

Massaccio’s The Trinity is located in the Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The fresco is known to be one of Massaccio’s finest work. A lovely example of chiaroscuro, the fresco brings a depth that only the best Renaissance artists can do properly.

Renaissance artists reignited the passion for the arts and curiosity in science, and to learn about frescoes or even see one of their frescoes will be understanding one of the world most important cultural revolutions.

If you’re ever in Florence, try this workshop. Knowing the artists and the medium in which they convey their messages will make your trip to Italy like you’re in a completely different world.

Firenze… che bella città!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

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Florence (Firenze in Italian) is the capital cityof the Italian region of Tuscany, and iswell known as la bella cittá, meaning “the beautiful city.” Florence is the city to fall in love, explore the incredible art and architecture of the city, and live life to the fullest. And gelato should be involved in there somewhere too.

If you are new the the city, I would recommend the Evening Introduction walking tour to learn the layout of the city and see many popular landmarks with an expert local guide. Begin the walk in the late afternoon, when the city tends to be a bit calmer, with the potential for a gorgeous sunset during your explorations. Your guide will talk about everything from art to architecture, food to festivals, and everything in between. This Florence tour also provides the opportunity to go over any logistical questions (using the public transport system, buying stamps, etc.) and pick your Florence guide’s brain for local favorites for dining, drinking, shopping, and special events.

Next, grab a friend and hop on vintage Italian Vespa scooters for our Ice Cream & Wine Tasting Tour in Tuscany! Explore the gorgeous landscape without the restrictive itinerary of a bus or car. Your experienced guide will take you along the rolling hills and valleys of picturesque Tuscany. Enjoy tasting more than 140 different types of wine, sample tasty pork and cheese products, as well as Chianti, Grappa, Vin Santo, Olive Oil, and homemade ice cream. Delizioso!

If you’re interested in learning how some of the world’s greatest artwork was created, then it’s back to the drawing board for our Fresco Tutorial Tour in Florence Italy. This interactive workshop provides both an informative lesson in the history of fresco and a hands-on experience with the materials and techniques of fresco creation. This is a Florence travel experience not to be missed! Whatever your interests are during your visit, Florence Tours is the perfect place to make your vacation dreams a reality. Ciao for now! ;)

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