Kalin’s Chronicles: Florida Beyond Theme Parks

I love visiting Orlando, Florida.  It’s the capital of theme parks in the United States with Walt Disney World, Universal Studios, Seaworld, Gatorland, and more.  But there’s a lot more to see in the Orlando area than theme parks.  About 30 minutes north , along I-4, is Sanford, Seminole County; where tourists can enjoy outdoor adventures by land, air, and sea…

Start out at the Historic Sanford Welcome Center for a one-hour Historic Downtown Walking Tour, to learn about the history of the city.  For a more extensive workout, take a walk along the 14-mile Seminole Wekiva Trail which will take you through parks, recreation, and retail areas.

To get a bird’s eye view of Sanford’s wildlife, head over to the Central Florida Zoo and Botanical Gardens and zip through the trees on Zoom Air, with 100 tree-top challenges and zip lines for the whole family.

All of that action will work up a healthy appetite for lunch; and Shula’s 347 Grill has just the ticket.   Named for the coach with the most wins in NFL history, the restaurant is known for its steaks, seafood and desserts.  Don’t leave without ordering the Key Lime pie. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: Florida Beyond Theme Parks

Kalin’s Chronicles: Literary Tours

eatprayloveReading is one of my favorite things to do. And I find that if a book is turned into a movie it usually can’t live up to the way I imagined the characters in the book. However, I find it very exciting to visit a city where a book is based. And tourism boards are banking on that trend with “literary tours” that highlight the sites of popular books and movies.

One of my favorite literary tours is Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil in Savannah, Georgia. I took the tour in the 90’s a few years after the non-fiction book came out. The bus drove us by Mercer House were the real-life murder happened, to restaurants where the characters hung out, and to Club One where real-life character, The Lady Chablis, entertained us with her drag show. I even got her and other real-life characters to sign my book.

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Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

It seems that women have more rules to adhere to than men when it comes to world travel.  This can be very frustrating — especially for women from the United States.  I’m a fan of Sex in the City, but I was appalled by Samantha’s disrespecting the culture of Abu Dhabi in the Sex in City 2 movie.

So you won’t get dubbed “The Ugly American,” I’ll provide a few tips throughout the year on cultural etiquette in international destinations.  We’ll start with Japan…

I love Japanese culture – especially their emphasis on spirituality.  But I had a bit to learn about their cultural etiquette while reporting on tourism in Tokyo.  I noticed that the Japanese were always speaking to the male members of my crew instead of to me.  I was the only black member of the crew, so I thought it was my race.  But then I found that in the Japanese culture women always defer to the men in the group. It’s customary to bow when you greet people.  And if you’re doing business, you should also present your business card to the person – always with both hands. Continue reading Kalin’s Chronicles: World Travel Etiquette – Japan

Kalin’s Chronicles: Girlfriend Getaways – Part 2

Girlfriend GetawayEditor’s Note: In her last post, Kalin introduced us to Girlfriend Getaways and shared her experiences from her most recent getaway at Birmingham’s Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa. In the conclusion of Girlfriend Getaways, Kalin talks food, painting parties and of course, shopping.

The next day we did breakfast at Niki’s West, a historic restaurant that’s popular with the locals. We all enjoyed their delicious biscuits and omelets. If you go, get there early because they fill up fast. And if you’re late for breakfast, just hang around for the lunch buffet. As we were leaving we could already see the lunch line forming as the delicious foods and homemade cakes were being put out for the buffet. After breakfast, we walked off a few calories at The Shops of Grand River, where we shopped at stores like: Jones New York Outlet, DKNY and Wilson’s Leather Outlet (contact the Birmingham Convention and Visitors Bureau for a book of coupons). (Photo: Girlfriends enjoying conversation at Ross Bridge Resort)

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Kalin’s Chronicles: Girlfriend Getaways

Ross Bridge SpaAs Valentine’s Day approaches, I want to speak to my single Women at 40. If you don’t have a significant other in your life, don’t sit around feeling sorry for yourself. Take charge of your own experience by gathering a few friends together for a Girlfriend Getaway. It’s a wonderful way to spend quality time with the special women in your life. I recently spent an enjoyable weekend with my girlfriends at the Renaissance Birmingham Ross Bridge Golf Resort and Spa in Birmingham, Alabama www.rossbridgeresort.com.

The 21,000 square-foot resort is surrounded by beautiful greenery and lakes, as well as an 18-hole golf course. The weather was a bit too chilly for a game of golf, but we did get in some wonderful relaxation treatments at the Spa at Ross Bridge. One girlfriend got the Deep Cleansing Facial, which she said left her skin feeling extremely clean and smooth. My other girlfriend got the Caribbean Therapy Body Scrub and massage, which gave her skin a feeling of being polished. I got the Swedish Massage with Aromatherapy, which was so relaxing I almost melted off the table. Afterwards, we all took a soak in the Jacuzzi and relaxed by catching up on magazines we hadn’t read, and on each other’s lives through great conversation. I could tell it was something we all desperately needed, and it was hard for us to leave the spa. (Photo: Spa at Ross Bridge)

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