Philadelphia Flower Show – Brilliant!

 

Brilliant!

The largest indoor flower show in the nation, the PHS Philadelphia Flower Show is going to be “Brilliant!” in its 184th year.

The Crown Jewels – White Diamonds

Capturing the majestic beauty and creative inspiration of Great Britain, displays at this year’s Flower Show will pay tribute to centuries of inspiring, influential design sense of London.

Visitors will be greeted by the scent of thousands of English roses at the Royal palace gates, which open to the show’s grand centerpiece: a sculptural, digitally enhanced rendition of Big Ben, complete with an hourly light and sound show.The main exhibits will focus on Britain’s heritage and culture including Royal events, the Mad Hatter’s Tea Party, foggy London streetscapes and a floral presentation of the Crown Jewels.

It’s produced by the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society and is supported by a host of generous sponsors. Too many to list, they include: Subaru, the Premier Sponsor; the Official Sponsor, Bank of America; and dozens of others that include EP Henry, Einstein Health Network, Visit Hershey and Harrisburg, A. C. Moore, Apple Vacations, Acme, and Giant.

 

Sponsor: Apple Vacations

At the end of the day, this year’s Flower Show promises to be quite lovely, or, as the Brits would say, “Simply Brilliant!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Check out pictures and video I took this weekend of the Philadelphia Flower Show!

 

Lights, Camera, Action – London

 

London did an amazing job hosting The Olympics.  The world – wide spotlight on London will surely create an increase in tourism and rightfully so.  There are so many places to visit and things to see in London. It’s often good to focus your vacation on what is important to you before you go and plan accordingly. I wrote a previous blog on seeing the Rock – N – Roll Highlights of London.This one is for the “drama” loving traveler.

If you love the beauty, drama, mystery and romance of the theater and motion pictures, then London and the English countryside is a perfect place to take an Apple Vacation to immerse yourself in the story.

Photo Credit: Buckingham Palace from Brad Panik

Personally, “Notting Hill”, “Love Actually”, “The Holiday”, “Four Weddings and a Funeral” and “Bridget Jones” are some of my favorite movies ever.  England looks so amazing, I want to pack and go their immediately after watching any one of them.  I am also secretly hoping Hugh Grant or Jude Law greet meet me at the airport upon arrival.

Even if you don’t like the romantic comedies or “chick flicks” as much as I do, London still has plenty of notable places for movie lovers to visit.  Many Hitchcock thrillers, The X Files, James Bond, Patriot Games, Italian Job and Lara Croft were all major films that have locations in London to visit. The list is endless. There are bus tours, private taxi tours and even walking tours designed to visit many of the landmarks in these films.  If you like Hitchcock, the walking tour is highly recommended.

Currently, the biggest movie attraction in London is the new Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. It provides a unique opportunity to explore the magic of the Harry Potter films – presently the most successful film series of all time.  It is a walking tour that takes you behind-the-scenes and shows you a variety of models, sets, costumes and props used in the making of the Harry Potter films. Don’t let the name fool you, Warner Brothers Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is actually located 20 miles North-West of London and keep in mind you must book in advance. They do not accept walk ups!

Photo Credit: Changing of the guard from Brad Panik

In addition to movies, London offers some of the world’s best theater.  The London West End theaters rival Broadway.  Don’t miss experiencing the magic of a show in London. Same as in New York, deals are to be found at shows if you are flexible. TKTS is the theater ticket booth offering half price and discount theater tickets in Leicester Square. You can pick up a bargain for many of London’s top West End shows for musicals, comedies, dramas and dance. Tickets can only be bought in person at the booth, but it is a great deal if you are flexible on which show you want to see.

Right now, in London, you can see a classic like Les Miserables through the fall or the British favorites We Will Rock You (brought to you by the remaining members of Queen) and Billy Elliott.  Matilda the Musical is getting rave reviews and opens at London’s West End this October. I have seen many shows on my visits to London, and it is one of my favorite things to do. It seems appropriate; after all, it is the land of Shakespeare, right?

Apple Vacations has a new Europe brochure, featuring London on the cover, so make sure you stop at your local travel agent and ask for one so you can start planning your theatrical vacation to London.

All Eyes on the Eye

I am anxiously awaiting the opening ceremonies for the Olympics this Friday night! I am over scheduled every weekend for the rest of the summer, but not this weekend. I cleared my schedule so I can soak in all of the Olympic excitement. I really enjoy visiting London and can’t wait to see the television coverage of the athletes, medal ceremonies, competitions and simply the beautiful country.

 I saw this story today and thought that is was really timely and innovative. And, it combines 3 things that interest me right now – London, social media and The Olympics!

If you want to know the mood of the people in The U.K. – just look to the London Eye. The color of the lights on the Eye will represent the positive and negative feelings of the country, as judged by their tweets! Also, lights representing the British flag will display each time they win a medal. How super cool is that! The data is real time and will change as sediment changes. London will be having a lot of social media fun at The Olympics.

I can’t tell the story better than the Wall Street Journal so here it is:

So tell me, is the London Eye on your “to visit” list on your next Apple Vacation to London? I know it is on mine!

Must See London Olympic Venues

In 1994, I visited Norway the summer after The Lillehammer Olympics. The athletes, tourists and hustle and bustle were long gone, but venues, gift shops and welcoming people were all still there.  We were able to participate in many Olympic activities and buy Olympic souvenirs. We skated on Olympic ice at the speed skating arena – The Viking Ship. We took Olympic chair lifts to the top of the Lysgårdsbakkene Ski Jumping Arena for breathtaking views.  We were even able to test the Luge out at Lillehammer Olympic Bobsleigh and Luge Track.

So if you are not travelling to London for The Olympic Games this summer, don’t worry, you can still plan an Apple Vacation to London to enjoy some of the excitement surrounding The Olympics, just as I did in Norway. 

Plan your stay in London during the 2012 Games with Apple Vacations!

 

The Olympic Park will create a backdrop for The Games and will then be a green space after 2012 for people and wildlife to enjoy. The southern part of the Park will then focus on retaining the “festival” atmosphere of The Games for visitors, with riverside gardens, markets, events, café’s and bars.

The London 2012 Olympic Stadium will be the focal point of the 2012 Olympic Games.  It will host both the opening ceremony and closing ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games as well as many of the athletic events, which are always the highlights of the Summer Olympics.  The stadium will be a legacy for The 2012 London Games, and home to many future sporting events as well.

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is a vanity project for Boris Johnson and its billionaire funder Lakshmi Mittal, says resident Joe Alexander. Photograph: Julian Finney/Getty Images

 

The new Olympic Orbit is just yards from the Olympic Stadium. The stunning observation tower is the tallest art structure in Britain and it provides stunning views over The Olympic stadium, Olympic Park and the all of London. It will be a must-see attraction long after the games end. It is set to open after The Games as a visitor attraction, with ticketed viewing from the observation decks and as a venue for private functions. It has two observation floors, a 455-step spiral staircase, an elevator and a restaurant.

London will no doubt see a surge in Tourism before, during and even after The Olympics. I know I can’t wait to watch The Olympic Games and pick out all the places I want to visit on my next Apple Vacation to London!    

Here is the official London 2012 website where you can see photos of the new venues and learn more about visiting.

London – Why now is the time to go!

There has never been a more exciting time to travel to London. If you watched the news this weekend, you were sure to hear about Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee which is a celebration of epic proportions currently going on all across Britain. From horseracing, to concerts, to fireworks, to a flotilla down the River Thames, numerous festivities are planned to celebrate The Queen’s 60 years on the throne.

 In addition to the excitement of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee, London is preparing to host the 2012 Olympic summer Games. Opening ceremonies are just over a month away and the anticipation is building. Final touches are being put on new stadiums, public spaces and shopping centers on the city’s eastern edge. Even if you don’t have tickets to a game, there are still many new Olympic themed

 numerous festivities are planned to celebrate The Queen’s 60 years on the throne.

places to visit. Just being in the city, you will feel like you are part of the excitement. You don’t need to visit exactly during The Olympics or Diamond Jubilee celebration, to be part of the fun. London will be festive all summer long. And it’s no secret that the best weather in London, is typically in the summer – although you’d be remiss to forget an umbrella. 

Of course when visiting London, you should still visit great historical landmarks, including Big Ben, Parliament, the London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, and Tower Bridge.

 

Stay tuned for my next blog on some of my personal favorite places to visit and things to do in London. And here is a photo of my cousin who visited London recently and snapped a photo of the The Olympic countdown for us!

 

Planning a trip to London

Westminster Abbey

My wife and I are expecting our first child, so before he/she comes, I am trying to plan a trip to London with a few of my friends. Since the weather is nice in London during September, we have decided to plan a trip there. Here is our plan, for now anyway.

Thankfully, from Philadelphia, we have a few nonstop flights to choose from, on either British Airlines or US Airways. We wanted to stay somewhere in a good location, so we chose the Victoria Park Plaza. The hotel is located near Buckingham Palace, and the House of Parliament. Also, since we’ll go sightseeing, it is also very close to the Victoria Underground train station. Even though all of our meals are not included, it’s nice to know that breakfast is, so that helps. The hotel offers free wireless internet in the room, so that will make it easier to stay in touch with family at home.

Buckingham Palace

My friends and I have never been to London, but we’ve always wanted to see the Changing of the Guards at Buckingham Palace, so we’re going to book a tour for a day. The tour will go to Big Ben, Westminster Abbey, Buckingham Palace and a cruise on the Thames River. Also, while we are there, they are showing one of my favorite movies, “Back to the Future Part 1” at Greenwich Park. So we will definitely be going to see it at the Old Royal Observatory in the park.

Do you have any suggestions on what should I see and where I should go?

Changing of the Guard

If you have ever wanted to travel to London or anywhere from Rome, Venice and Paris, I recommend looking on applevacations.com and see what Apple offers. In addition to hotels, we also offer sightseeing tours and transfers to all our destinations in Europe. Also, we offer escorted tours to Italy and Greece and also an Eastern Mediterranean Cruise!

Photos courtesy of Brad Panik, Associate Director of Sales Apple Vacations