Thursday, September 2, 2010

Countdown to Oasis of the Seas cruise

Excitement level beginning to ramp up a bit as we count down the days to our Western Caribbean cruise onboard Royal Caribbean's newest, the OASIS OF THE SEAS.

Pre-cruise planning has come a long way since our first cruise over twenty years ago.  Now we are able to take advantage of checking in online, as well as making reservations for show times, specialty restaurants, and shore excursions before we ever leave the house to head towards our departure port of Fort Lauderdale.

That sure beats standing in line with a few hundred of my newest friends at the Guest Relations desk, attempting to book all that stuff under the old first come, first served mode of operation.  TECHNOLOGY ROCKS !!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"I LUV AUSSIE" Promotional Sale Underway !!

MY TRAVEL AGENT in conjunction with our travel partner DOWNUNDER ANSWERS announces the "I LUV AUSSIE" promotion.

Travel to Australia to experience all that the land Downunder has to offer. Experience Australia's iconic cities with this limited time promotional offer that offers excellent value and huge savings.

Package prices available for travel from 10/11/2010 - 11/23/2010 and from 1/30/2011 - 3/22/2011. Seasonal surcharges and blackout dates may apply. Ask for details on upgrades, packages, and other deals available.


Click on the "I heart Aussie" icon above to browse through the variety of packages available under this promotion. Once you decide which package you prefer, contact MY TRAVEL AGENT at (800) 388-7477 so that we may help you finalize your trip.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

Traveler's Night In - a Twitter party !!

For those of you who:

A) love to travel, and B) participate in the online phenomenon known as Twitter, allow me to introduce you to something that combines the two -- Traveler's Night In !!

Traveler's Night In is a weekly Twitter party, or "Tweetup", brought to you by the travel enthusiasts at  They pick out a different travel related topic each week, tweet out 10 questions (one every 10 minutes), then anyone who wants to participate can tweet back answers, questions, tips, experiences, etc.

Find out more about Traveler's Night In by clicking on the following link:

Traveler's Night In

The party happens every Thursday from 3:30 PM to 5:00 PM Eastern Standard Time -- prepare yourself for an informative, entertaining, creative, dynamic, and VERY interactive discussion, all conducted in Twitter messages of 140 characters or less.

For those of you who miss the party, one of the participants (@adventurouskate) posts a recap of the latest Traveler's Night In tweetup on her website, including all ten questions from that day's topic as well as some of the best answers from the participants.  For a sample, click HERE.

Every single time I've participated in this event I've learned something new, laughed out loud a lot, and met some interesting new people who love to travel as much as I do ........  CHECK IT OUT !!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Summertime Tree Trimming !!

This isn't really a travel related post, but since I believe in rewarding exemplary customer service, let me tell you about what happened over the weekend .....

We have several large eucalyptus trees just past the block wall of our back yard, which provide us with a little bit of shade, a little break from the wind when it's gusty, and a little bit of privacy from our neighbor's backyards on the other side of the street.

Saturday afternoon Paula was watching TV in the back bedroom when she witnessed one of the larger branches split off from one of the trees and come crashing down into our backyard.  No one got hurt, and there was minimal damage to the backyard landscaping.

The branch was a little too big for me a deal with by myself, plus I don't own a chainsaw to cut it up, so Monday morning I called the local City of Chino Hills Public Works Dept.

Within an hour of my call, two of the local supervisors were at our house to assess the damage, and within an hour after that, a crew was onsite removing the fallen branch.  For good measure, they decided that the tree the branch had fallen from was too close to our backyard block wall, so they completely cut it down as well.

 All of this was accomplished in a completely safe and VERY professional manner, for which we are very grateful.  THREE CHEERS to all the Public Works guys who helped us out with this little dilemma, and as a twenty two year resident of Chino Hills, it's great to know that my city listens and responds quickly to requests from its citizens. 

Sunday, July 25, 2010

3rd Annual GHCC Fundraising CRUISE

Yes, that’s right, I said CRUISE !! Help raise money for the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce just by joining us on the 3rd annual GHCC Fundraising Cruise, sailing from Sunday, January 30, 2011 to Sunday, February 6, 2011.

The first two GHCC Fundraising Cruises found a spirited group of travelers exploring the Mexican Riviera, day tripping to La Bufadora to watch the spouting marine geyser, sailing past the craggy arches of Land’s End at the tip of Cabo San Lucas to watch the sunset over the western Pacific horizon, and enjoying the casual ambience of days at sea aboard two magnificent cruise ships.

Sunset while passing the famous arch at Cabo San Lucas
This year, we’ve decided to follow a new compass heading and dip our toes into the Caribbean Sea. Sailing out of Galveston, TX, we will basically be making a counter-clockwise lap through the western Caribbean, with stops at Cozumel (on the Yucatan Peninsula), Grand Cayman Island, and Jamaica. Each of these outstanding destinations features “can’t miss” attractions, whether you decide to jump in the water, go on an adventure in the tropical landscape, or follow the time honored tradition of cruisers worldwide and “shop till you drop “.

We will be sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Voyager of the Seas, which at 138,000 tons will be the largest ship that the GHCC has sailed on. In addition to the usual cruise ship amenities, it has a full size basketball court, golf simulators, an inline skating track, an onboard Promenade lined with bars and shops, and an ICE RINK !! I suppose since the godmother of the ship is Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt, an ice rink seems very appropriate !!

Sun & fun on the pool deck of a typical Royal Caribbean ship
Special rates have been negotiated for this cruise, starting at approx. $675 per person for an inside cabin up to approx. $910 per person for a cabin with a private balcony. And don’t forget, for every cabin sold, a contribution will be made to the GHCC – so come and sail with us !!

Best cabins typically sell out first, so don’t delay, call today …… even if you are “on the fence” about participating in this fundraiser, you can put down a REFUNDABLE deposit of $500 to secure your cabin today !!

Contact Paula Harness of MY TRAVEL AGENT at (800) 388-7477 for all the details.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Encounter at LAX

Over the holiday weekend Paula and I headed to LAX to pick up my sister Karen, who was flying home from London after just completing a Baltic cruise on the Oceania cruise line.

We decided to go a little early to check out one LAX landmark that we had never been to ..... the Encounter Restaurant in the iconic theme building at the center of the LAX property.


It's pretty simple to find , we walked over from the parking structure opposite Terminal 2 and in a couple of minutes, we were heading up in the SMALL elevator (max. capacity = 5) to the 2nd Floor.

On the way up, the piped in music in the elevator sounded like something out of a Star Trek movie ..... we weren't planning "to boldly go where no man has gone before" ...... The decor of the restaurant is in line with the space age, futuristic design of the building, sort of like we had walked into an episode of The Jetsons (including a few lava lamps, actually working !!).

We only had time for drinks prior to my sister's arrival time, so we sat at the bar and watched a few planes land while Paula sipped on an apple martini, and a Sprite for me (designated driver).  We did peek at the menu, most entrees are $20-$30, which seemed a little pricey for the venue, but you DO have a marvelous view if you choose to have dinner.

Recently I spotted an article in the Los Angeles Times that the Observation Deck (one level above the restaurant) has just completed a significant renovation and would be re-opening to the public, on a limited basis, on 7/10/10.  I'm sure the views from one deck up would be even more spectacular than those from the restaurant.

All in all, not a bad place to hang out if you need to kill some time at LAX ............ or if you just like to watch planes come and go !!

Monday, May 31, 2010

ATE 2010 convention in Adelaide

This morning I went to the Central Market for a quick breakfast roll and coffee. Then I took the free city tram down to the convention center for the first day of the Australian Tourism Exchange convention. I have 30 appointments to visit 15 minutes with various products (hotels & attractions) of Australia. Time to get to work!

Sunday, May 30, 2010

McLaren Vale

Yesterday was a pleasure day. We drove to an area known as the McLaren Vale, a wine region. We started the day doing a corporate painting. This was very fun and most of us said we would do something like this at our next get together. We then stopped at Lloyd Brothers, olive growers. Next 4 stops were wineries. The second one, The Producers, we actually blended our own blend of wine. McLaren Vale is known more for their red wines which I do not personally drink but I took a sip or two. In addition to wine tours, this area also has art tours. After our six stops in the region, we go back into the city around 7pm.

This morning we did a two hour walking tour of Adelaide. This city is very easy to get around and the main city area is pretty compact. If you were in the center square (Victoria Square), you would only be a 10 minute walk in any direction to the main attractions. Tomorrow starts the actual Australia Tourism Exchange convention so time to start work.

A VERY photogenic koala !!

After being the last ones to board the Murray Princess yesterday, we were the first ones off today. We disembarked at Murray Bridge. We then drove into the Adelaide Hills region to a town by the name of Hahndorf. This town was settled by Germans. Once again our group helped the economy by shopping. We drove a little out of town into a nature reserve, Cleland. Since it was raining we did not get as much time to explore the park but our guide did take us (between the drops) to see the dingo, Tasmania Devils and have my picture taken with Belle. She was a fairly large koala, I believe she's about 3 years old.
We then went back towards Handorf to a winery, The Lane, for lunch. Since we were enjoying ourself so much, we were late leaving and that caused us to cut our time short at the South Australia Museum when we did arrive in Adelaide. The museum closes at 5pm sharp.

Busy day

This morning we had an early start to make up for lost time yesterday. We drove around Blue Lake in Mount Gambier, although this time of year it is changing from blue to grey. It will not change back to brillant blue until November. We then left Mount Gambier and went into the wine region of Coonawarra. Had a stop at Chardonnay Lodge to see their new addition of rooms. Our next stop was at the Naracoorte Caves, World Heritage Listed due to the extensive fossil record of the park. The lunch stop was at Willalooka Tavern, an unexpected delight. A little late, we arrived in Mannum to board the Murray Princess paddlewheel boat for our overnight stay. Normally passengers either do a 3 night or 4 night option. This is a very relaxing way to hear about Australia history and socialize with Australians from various parts of the country. Being a historical paddlewheel, this does appeal to the older generation.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Broken Tooth

This blog entry was written two days ago but I could not post it since we did not have internet access.

5/27/10 --  This morning we left Warrnambool and stopped in Port Fairy. Did a site inspection (walk through) of a B&B by the name of “Oscar”. We found ourselves waiting past the departure time. Some agents were doing show & tell on their purchases when Jeff, one of the organizers, came and informed us that the bus driver broke a tooth. He was in so much pain that he actually passed out. They found him a doctor and we were going to have to adjust our itinerary and stay longer in Port Fairy. It was a cute town so nobody really minded. We helped their economy by shopping and having lunch there. Around 2pm, the bus driver was cleared to drive. We then continued into South Australia. It was funny because when we did cross state lines, the sun came out. John, our representative from South Australia, said he arranged the sun. Of course being Fall here, it did not last. Went to dinner at an old restaurant and new B&B by the name of The Barn in Mount Gambier, where we spent the night.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Great Ocean Road

Well, yesterday we left Melbourne under blue skies. Our first stop was in Torquay, Victoria's surfing capital and a major vacation resort town. While there we also stopped at Bells Beach, where they hold an annual international surfing competition. I had been here in 2006 but I still took pictures again. This time there were no surfers in the water.

Next was the drive along the Great Ocean Road. This is considered one of the best coastal drives of the world! I have some good shots. As we moved west, the weather became a little more overcast. After visiting the amazing Twelve Apostles, (only 8 standing) we made stops at Loch Ard and London Bridge. Spent the night in Warrnambool and had dinner at Flagstaff Hill. They do a re enactment of the Loch Ard shipwreck.

Today we continue our drive west, leaving the state of Victoria and arrive in South Australia.

Yarra Valley

We have had rain since we arrived here but that has not stopped us. Yesterday was a full day! It started with breakfast at 7am but that was OK since I woke up around 5am (having gone to bed by 9pm). Then we were off for a drive through Fren Tree Gully to the Dandenong Ranges. Stopped at Grant's picnic ground just outside of Belgrade. Feed several species of birds. After having some Devonshire tea, it was on to the Puffing Billy, Australia's oldest operating steam train. Next stop, the Yarra Valley. Now, I have been to Fergusons and  Rochford wineries before but who is complaining when the day's hard work is tasting great Australia wines! Of course they saved the best for last, Domaine Chandon. Although I have done this tour before, it is always great spending the day drinking Australian sparkling wine.

Dinner was at a great restaurant located at Federation Square. Tjanabi Restaurant's menu reflects the traditions of Melbourne and Victoria's great regional produce.

Today will be another long day but looking forward to it. Here in Melbourne it is looking like it will be a beautiful day with blue skies.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Leroy Haynes Charity Golf Tournament

Got the opportunity yesterday to participate in a charity golf tournament benefiting the Leroy Haynes Center at the Red Hill C.C. Good friend and long time MY TRAVEL AGENT client Tom Fagan invited me to join his foursome, and although we didn't exactly light up the course with a barrage of birdies, we definitely enjoyed a beautiful SoCal afternoon out on the course.

The Leroy Haynes Center provides educational resources for developmentally challenged children, and is an outstanding organization that we are proud to support.

One of my raffle tickets won me the chance to participate in the "$100,000 Hole-In-One Shootout" after the tournament but I yanked my five iron shot left of the green and won ............ absolutely nothing.

By the way, if you would like to combine some golf with your next Australia trip, we can help set that up for you. Paula and I have posted rounds at Noosa Springs, The Vintage Club, Hope Island, Pacific Dunes, and Sanctuary Cove, where we actually raced along side a mob of kangaroos while in our golf cart !!

MJ Harness

Get Packed Travel Corp.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Start of trip

Well I left last night from LAX on what was supposed to be a non stop flight to Melbourne. Because of winds, we had to taxi to a different runway to fly out and then burned more fuel fighting the winds so rather then running out of fuel, we landed in Brisbane. About 3 hours late, we finally arrived in Melbourne. Went to the Eureka Tower today but I was not brave enough to go out on the Edge. Had Colonial Tramcar dinner. Ready to get some sleep. More tomorrow.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New and improved website !!

Wow !! After what turned out to be a LOT more work than I had originally anticipated, MY TRAVEL AGENT's new and improved website is ready for the public.

You can find our new site at

We've gone from our old website that contained FIVE pages to one that now has just under SEVENTY pages of information. Again, I had no idea this project would evolve into something this big.

Our goal with this new website is to improve how we interact with our clients, and also to give you some information about the destinations that we specialize in.

Like all good websites, I'm sure ours will continue to evolve. Keep up with us by checking back periodically for new blog posts, new special deals, and updated information.

Happy traveling, and we hope to hear from you soon .......

Mike Harness
Chief Executive Officer

Get Packed Travel Corporation