Thursday, December 1, 2011

MTA website judged in Top 3 at Opal Awards !!

Recently MY TRAVEL AGENT attended the 2011 Corroboree convention for Aussie Specialist travel agents from all across North America. This year the event was held at the Crown Promenade Hotel in Melbourne, and one of the signature events was the 18th annual Opal Awards Gala dinner.

Awards were given to Aussie Specialist travel agents and industry partners in recognition for innovation and expertise in selling Australia to consumers in North America.

MY TRAVEL AGENT's website was judged in the Top 3 in the category of "Outstanding Website Design by an Aussie Specialist".

We are honored to be recognized for our work in upgrading our website so that our clients can have the BEST information they can have before booking an Australian dream vacation with us.

Next year we'll be shooting for NUMBER ONE with regards to the website.  Feel free to check out our website HERE, we hope you enjoy it .....

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Too close to call

Dunaden (yellow) beats Red Cadeaux (Red) in a photo finish at Melbourne CupThe highlight of this trip to Australia was going to the Melbourne Cup! We all got dressed to the nines with our hats and fascinators. The day started with a 30 minute cruise up the Yarra River to the Flemington racetrack. We then went into the Carbine Marquee (hospitality area) for drinks and lunch. We watched some of the pre Melbourne Cup races on TVs. Just before the main event we walked over to the Lawn Stand boxes. Watched the horses walk out onto the track and load into the gates. Then they were off! Not only did I get to witness the race that stops a nation, I experienced the closest race in Melbourne Cup’s 151 year history! It was too close to call and the photo finish was amazing. It took almost as long to announce a winner (3 minutes) as it did to run the race. We then went back to the hospitality tent area to drink more while some people cashed in their winning tickets. I unfortunately did not back Dunaden, the winning horse.

Monday, October 31, 2011


Not sure if I am glad Qantas is back to flying or not. Australia is not a bad place to be stranded. I am enjoying the food and wine too much. Maybe it is a good thing they are flying or I would gain too much weight. Also another bad thing is my husband is not here with me. So, after spending the day at the Melbourne Cup (only horse race that stop an entire country), I will have to continue on my trip down to Tasmania and go home when planned on November 6th.

Saturday, October 29, 2011


Australia to me is all about the people and the animals. This blog is all about the animals. While on Kangaroo Island (South Australia) we saw koalas, 1 echinda, seals & kangaroos. Today we went to Phillips Island (Victoria) and saw koalas and the famous little penguins. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so here are four thousand words…..

Southern Ocean Lodge

After the chocolate and wine pairing, we moved back into Adelaide to take a small plane (max 30 people) over to Kangaroo Island. It is a short flight at 20 minutes. By the time we arrived at Southern Ocean Lodge, the sun had set. I was impressed with the lodge the minute we walked in. It was too dark to see the view so the lobby as the main focal point. We walked over to the open bar and had more wine before our 9pm dinner which was another exceptional meal. I am not a foodie but I cannot stop talking about the food!
Once in bed, night 3 was the first night I slept straight through for 7 hours and when I woke, OMG what a view from the rooms! I do not believe there is any stop a guest goes that does not have this magnificent view of the ocean. My roommate and I were lucky and were assigned a family two bedroom suite and she was gracious enough to let me take the room with the tub in the bath.

Our first day was spent exploring the island. We first stopped at a spot to search for Koalas. Found five in three different trees, including a mother and her child. From there we went to the Remarkable Rocks and although I had been there before and the wind was blowing, it was interesting walking around these granite boulders. We then moved over to the New Zealand fur seal colony. There were not as many as I remembered from my last trip here. We stopped at a spot for an outdoor lunch of grilled King George White fish. We did stop one kangaroo on our way out of the field heading to Seal Bay. Here there were more of those seals laying on the beach then my previous trip. I believe there were more cubs also with their cute faces. It was a full day and we continued to Little Sahara (sand dune) and Vivonne Bay (voted best beach in 2002). Looked for little penguin babies in their burrows but I had no like seeing any. We then went to a field with over 50 kangaroos for a snack and you guessed it wine! Finally back to the lodge for another great dinner.

Day two at the lodge was to spend however we wanted. I am surprised nobody set up a spa treatment. I stayed in our living room tweeting and answering emails until midday. Enjoyed lunch (had the King George White fish again but this time battered as fish & chips). Did the optional Cliff walk with a lodge guide. After that it was time to pack. Our 48 hours on Kangaroo Island were over and time to fly to Melbourne. New city – new adventure, to be continued……      

Cruise with MY TRAVEL AGENT on Memorial Day 2012 in Alaska

Come and join MY TRAVEL AGENT as we sail to Alaska over Memorial Day 2012.  Onboard the beautiful Celebrity Infinity, we'll be sailing roundtrip out of Seattle with port stops in Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, and Victoria B.C.  The flyer below gives you all the basic info, call us at 800-388-7477 to get the rest of the details and to BOOK YOUR CABIN !!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Calling all foodies !!

In my last blog I mentioned having eaten dinner last night at Appellations. What I did not mention was how great the food was! All the ingredients were so fresh and locally grown. Each course was a burst of favor, perfectly matched with a different wine. I am not a red wine drinker so they matched a white wine for me. The restaurant is an intimate small establishment (maximum seating is 48). To start we had an avocado mousse in red pepper paste triangle wrap. The asparagus with Hollandaise sauce & tarragon essence was so good. My favorite was the duck with a crisp onion side. Next course was the beef that was sooooo tender and good. Finally the meal was complete with a lemon tart with chocolate mousse on top.

Today we had lunch at Jacobs Creek Retreat and I cannot pick which meal I enjoyed more. Jacobs Creek Retreat is a bed & breakfast but you can purchase what they call the long lunch. It starts at 1pm and depending on if you do the three courses or twelve course your lunch could go on into the early evening. You can seat inside or outside under the trees. Normally they also have the different glass of wine with each course. Today we were greeted with a sparkling red wine and during lunch had the choice between two red wines. Lunch today started with sourdough bread with olive oil. They then brought out large platters with duck sausage with a chutney sauce, another platter had coral trout & a white fish, yet another platter with prawns, and final platter had beef with asparagus sauce on top & celery below. Almost forgot to mention the spinach salad with cheese and apple slices. The meal was completed with slices of mango with a nut and cream.

As if that was not enough we are now on our way to do a chocolate and wine pairing…..      

Monday, October 24, 2011

Once again MY TRAVEL AGENT heads Down Under .....

G’Day Mates: I departed LAX Friday night for my two week trip. Slept OK on the plane having a window seat to lean against the wall of the plane. Once we made it to Adelaide, checked into Oaks Plaza in Glenelg (a beach community), then went back into the city. Did a tour of the South Australia Museum. It was the last day of an exhibit that was very interesting art. There was an unmade bed as part of the exhibit. I learned I could move my bedroom to a museum and call it art! We then got fish & chips for dinner and ate in the room while watching the World Cup Rugby finals between New Zealand’s All Blacks and France. Good game and the All Blacks won.

Today was wine tasting in the Barossa valley. We started at Jacob’s Creek which I believe is the largest grape growers in the valley and then on to Rockford, a much smaller cedar door. Lunch as at Abbotford (a Bed & Breakfast). From there we moved to Penfeld’s to blend our own red wine. Not being a red wine drinker myself, I could not come up with anything I liked. We closed the day with checking out the rooms at Louise and eating a 5 course dinner with a different wine every course at Appellations.   

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Oasis of the Seas

I started this post in August and it took until today to publish the post. This trip was taken in October of  2010.  When Michael set this cruise up, the intent was to have family join us to celebrate his 55th birthday onboard. As it turned out, only my brother, David and his wife, Lynn (whose birthday was the last day of the cruise) could join us.  Friday I dropped my dogs off for my sister to babysit while we were gone. About 15 or 20 minutes into the drive to Long Beach, Michael asked if I am going to call her to check on the dogs and I realized that I forget my cell phone. Since we had time, we turned around to get it. Flying from California, we took a red eye flight non stop on Jet Blue to Ft Lauderdale. Since we landed too early to head to the ship, we ate breakfast at an airport restaurant.

Once we got to the pier, it was just before 10am. We stood in a line of about 50 people for 3 to 5 minutes when they opened the check in windows. We were all checked in very quickly and seated upstairs based on our Crown & Anchor level. We were on the ship by 11am. Since you can not get into the staterooms until 1pm, we made our way up to the Windjammer and called Dave & Lynn. They were just going through the check in process and we told them where to find us.

Being a new ship with new innovations, we had to try something new and went with the Boardwalk view balcony stateroom near the end of the ship. From our balcony to the left we saw the Merry Go Round and to our right we saw the Aqua Theatre pool. Did the usual life boat drill and sail away party. Had an early dinner and then went to bed (remember did a red eye flight!). The negative with our cabin was I could hear the 10:30pm announcer of the Aqua Theatre show.

Next day was Michael's birthday and we had lunch reservations at Giovanni's Table in Central Park. Keep in mind that this ship holds over 5,000 passengers so making reservations in advance is a must. Great food!

This cruise was the end of October - beginning of November when Hurricane Tomas was out in the Atlantic. Therefore the captain decided to change the order of the ports and full days at sea. That meant having to stand in a few lines to juggle some of our advance show reservations. Due to the size of this ship and all the options we had, this vacation was very planned ahead. We only had 3 ports but a lot to do while onboard. We ate at 3 of the alternate (paid) restaurants (Giovanni's, Izumi Asian & Chops Grille), four of the free alternate restaurants (Park Cafe, Johnny Rockets for breakfast, Sorrento's Pizzeria & Cafe Promenade) in addition to Windjammer and our traditional dining table in Opus Main Dining room. We saw the Comedy show, Ice Skating show, the High Dive show, the Come Fly with Me (a Cirque du Soleil type show) and Splish Splash comedy dive show. I watched the Dancing Waters show from our balcony. My brother Dave is the only one of us that did the Zip Line and the Flow Rider. Michael & I did the Central Park walking tour. We had drinks in the Rising Tide bar from bottom to top and back down again. We went to the Halloween party in the Promenade. We participated in activities such as a Flip video scavenger hunt.

It was the largest ship afloat at that time (the Allure was not sailing yet) but we never felt like it was too big or too many people. I belive because the ship has several small initimate places. We also enjoyed constantly finding some new.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pacific Coastal cruise

I always have good intentions. Last week I had planned on blogging everyday on my Pacific Coastal cruise, especially since I figured I would not get off at every port (Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Diego & Ensenada). Well, here it is day 7 and this is only my second blog post!  I guess since I am traveling with several people I know, I am busier than expected. Being a Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce fundraiser we have had our own Happy Hour party on the first day at sea and another one tonight for our last night onboard. Went walking along State Street in Santa Barbara, went to Ghirardelli Square and took cable car to Powell & Market to have a drink and people watch in San Francisco. Yesterday in San Diego we got off for lunch at Anthony’s. Right now the ship is in Ensenada but I am finally staying onboard. I am currently writing this on a lounge chair by the pool. Too noisy on our balcony since we are on the land side of the ship and forward by where the seals lay on the rocks. They are quite loud and talkative. Well, time to go to lunch. I am enjoying this cruise  so much I can’t believe we get off tomorrow! Good thing I went this morning to the Future Cruise desk and paid a reduced deposit to get shipboard credit on my next Princess cruise (I have 4 years to book it).

Monday, September 26, 2011

Pacific Coastal Cruise

I got onboard the Sapphire Princess on Saturday and went up to the Horizon Court for the buffet lunch while waiting for the rest of the Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce passengers to arrive. I'm in one of eight cabins sold as part of a fundraiser for the chamber. I normally explore the ship the first day but not this time, in part because we sailed away early (4pm). Sunday we arrived in Santa Barbara. I believe the most popular shore excursion was to the wineries but I just got off and did a little walking along State Street. Back onboard to relax. Went to an Animals Lovers Get Together but was not hosted so did not know who were the other animal lovers to show a picture of my dog sitting in my luggage while I was packing. Today was a full day at sea with sightings of whales and dolphins during the morning.  Still have not done the normal exploring of the ship but have experienced several of the bars, theatres and of course the casino. It is a beautiful ship although getting to the International Dining room can be an adventure since you can not go the that deck from the front and walk to the back due to the galley placement. Tomorrow is San Francisco. Will write more.

Friday, July 29, 2011


We are trying to adjust to the change in the way people communicate via social media and market ourselves in this new arena. Travel is a business that has peaks and valleys. We can have periods of time where we are constantly busy handling inquiries and sales. When it is a little quieter, it is time to do clean up work and do some travelling ourselves. Finding time to blog and tweet on a regular, constant basis has been hard but we are trying to make an effort. Since we are half way through the summer months and several clients are currently on their trips, it is time to catch up. I will blog about our last two cruises.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Christchurch, New Zealand - Earthquake Update

Just over a week ago, a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck very near Christchurch, one of the "must see" cities on the South Island of New Zealand.  The devastation caused by this earthquake severely impacts travelers bound for this destination.

NZ Civil Defense officials have assessed the condition of over 12,000 properties (largely in the central city area) and have deemed over 1,400 of these as "off limits" and in danger of collapse at any time.  The city continues to experience regular aftershocks which threaten to cause further damage.

The city center area remains cordoned off from public access as search & rescue teams forge onward with recovery operations.  Although many hotels ARE open, we recommend avoiding traveling into the city of Christchurch for at least the next two months while the recovery operation continues.

We still recommend traveling and tours to the South Island, and remind everyone that Christchurch airport, a gateway to many South Island tours, remains fully operational.

Obviously, the situation in Christchurch continues to evolve.  MY TRAVEL AGENT and our many travel partners will continue to monitor the news coming out of this beautiful region of New Zealand so that we can advise our clients properly regarding any travel plans you may have. 

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Oceania MARINA Ship Inspection - 2/23/2011

Paula & I were fortunate enough to be invited to tour Oceania Cruise Lines newest ship MARINA while it was in port this week in Los Angeles.

MARINA is a brand new ship, built in 2011, with the following specifications:

1)  Gross Tonnage = 65,000
2)  Length = 774 ft
3)  Beam = 105 ft
4)  Cruising Speed = 20 knots
5)  Total Decks = 16
6)  Guest Capacity = 1,250 passengers (double occupancy)
7)  Staff Size = 800

After checking in at the newly refurbished Port of Los Angeles cruise center, we gathered onboard in the Horizons Lounge, Deck 15, to be greeted by Oceania staff & crew, with complimentary wine, champagne, and beverages.

Our self-guided tour lasted approximately an hour, in which we were able to see all of the public areas of the ship, several categories of stateroom cabins, and all of the specialty dining rooms onboard.

Oceania then served a luncheon in the Grand Dining Room, after which we disembarked from the vessel.

Our overall impression of the MARINA is that it is a VERY elegant ship, with upscale and premium amenities in many areas.  The rooms are very well appointed, and the higher end suites are quite luxurious.

The dining room staff was very pleasant and attentive, and the food was excellent.

The MARINA is currently sailing Panama Canal and Caribbean itineraries, but will soon cross the Atlantic and begin sailing various European itineraries during the summer of 2011.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Mexican Riviera cruise on Carnival Splendor - 9/25/11


MY TRAVEL AGENT presents a special sailing on the Carnival Splendor, sailing a seven day Mexican Riviera itinerary out of the Port of Long Beach leaving on 9/25/11, returning 10/2/11.  Ports of call for this cruise are Puerto Vallarta, Mazatlan, and Cabo San Lucas.

MY TRAVEL AGENT will be including a bonus for booking this cruise through us of $75 shipboard credit to your account, for your use towards paying for drinks, shore excursions, photos, or anything else you might purchase while on this cruise.

Don't delay -- call today to take advantage of the VERY special offer !!  Remember ....
MY TRAVEL AGENT wants to be YOUR travel agent !!

3rd Annual Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce Fundraising Cruise - 9/24/11

The Granada Hills Chamber of Commerce announces that it will be holding its 3rd annual Fundraising Cruise in September of 2011.

Participants will be sailing onboard Princess Cruise Lines ship Sapphire Princess, leaving roundtrip out of the Port of Los Angeles on September 24, 2011, and returning on October 1.  The Pacific Coastal itinerary includes port calls in Santa Barbara, San Francisco, San Diego, and Ensenada, Mexico during this seven day voyage.

Specially negotiated pricing for this cruise event starts at approx. $850 per person.

This cruise vacation is open to ALL travelers, as Chamber membership is NOT required to take part in this fundraising effort.  A contribution of $50 per cabin sold will be made to the Chamber of Commerce.

Don't delay -- call today to book your cabin for this cruise !!

Blog Re-launch ??

OK, time to get back into blogging mode.  For the last few months I've been sporadically focused on expanding MY TRAVEL AGENT's social media profile, setting up a Facebook page as well as continuing to participate on Twitter as @GetPackedTravel.

Last week I realized that the last post written on this blog was FIVE months ago, before Paula & I went on our Oasis of the Seas cruise (which was great, by the way).

So, it's time to get back to blogging on at least a semi-regular basis.  I'll mention the special deals we are currently promoting, talk about the trips we take ourselves, and maybe make a comment or two about travel news items that have some effect on the clients in our five core business areas - Australia, New Zealand, the South Pacific, cruise vacations worldwide, and romantic getaways.

I've re-formatted the site a bit, with columns down both sides now, and added a little more info about how to get in contact with us.  I've also added static pages about us and our core business areas so that you readers out there can learn more about us as well.

So, for 2011, remember our motto - "TRAVEL MORE - WORK LESS".  Hope to see you out there some day .....


Chief Executive Officer
Get Packed Travel Corporation