New York Posts

Ringing in the New Year Around the World

New Year in Times Square
photo credit: photoverulam via photopin cc

Though some cultures celebrate the New Year in late winter or early spring, most nations celebrate January 1st as the first day of the New Year. You can thank Emperor Julius Caesar, since January was named after the two faced Roman God Janus, and Caesar felt this symbolized transition from one year to the next. William the Conqueror also wanted January 1st to mark the New Year, as it coincided with his coronation, but it wasn’t until 1582 that Pope Gregory established the modern Gregorian calendar, and January 1st took firm root as the mark of the New Year.

Home Away from Home for the Holidays

Traveling for the holidays, but worried about missing out on all the festive décor, delicious food, and frosty snowflakes? Don’t worry. There are plenty hotels across the country — and around the world! –offering lots of lights, sights, treats, and sweets that will make you feel at home.

The Fairmont San Francisco

A 22-foot gingerbread house takes center stage at one of San Francisco’s most prestigious hotels. Take a stroll through the fragrant culinary concoction made from 650 pounds of candy, 12 gallons of chocolate, 7,500 pieces of gingerbread, and nearly a ton of icing. Be sure to peek through the windows at the train running through the house. After exiting this life-size Christmas staple, visit Laurel Court where guests can partake in traditional holiday foods and even a Christmas tea.

Favorite Holiday Movies – Ours & Yours!

There are many words used about our tried-and-true Christmas movies – emotional and moving and family-sweet among them – but one you hear less often is among the most crucial: repeat. Our favorite holly-bedecked films become our favorites through their annual December return, each year, to our cable channels and DVRs. Soon we can say all the lines along with the characters we love, from “Bah! Humbug!” to “You’ll shoot your eye out!” Thank their staying power, a staying power non-holiday movies can’t rightly claim, for their places in our hearts. Thank them also for being good, and fun, and, yes, moving. Here are a few of our chestnut-scented favorites.

Reduce Holiday Travel Stress – 5 Tips!

For lots of people, the holidays mean more than family, gifts, and fun… They mean TRAVEL STRESS. Usually it centers around missing a train or plane, but can include not being packed in time, not packing the right things, or getting lost in a strange place… But a few easy ‘prep steps’ can reduce the possibility of these nightmare scenarios from becoming your reality.

Since many of us are on a tight budget,  saving money is step one to reducing holiday travel stress. Several travel insider sites, including, agree that Wednesday is the best day to travel if you want a good deal. Travel consultant Peter Greenberg believes Wednesday is the best day to BUY your tickets too, suggesting that midnight is the best time to plunk down your greenbacks, due to the competitive nature of the various airlines.

Relax Maxie, no taxi! That’s another way to say have a good plan for getting to the airport. Sounds easy right? It might be if you live close to a major airport and your flight isn’t too early… But sometimes that’s not that case. Sure, you can try to convince a friend or family member to get up in the wee hours to drive you there. But sometimes that’s not an option, and that’s where we come in. At,  we offer affordable packages that let you spend the night at a hotel, and then leave your car there during your trip. Parking lots often fill up over the holidays, so the peace of mind of a guaranteed reservation is a huge stress-reducer. Get a good night’s sleep, take a quick shuttle trip to the airport, rest easy knowing your car is secure, and enjoy your trip!

Back to the pricier issues of flight and hotel. There are lots of great travel search engines (Kayak, Expedia, and Orbitz to name a few) that publish low fares and allow for comparisons among airlines and hotels. Timing is key on these sites too, as a recent search for first class tickets from LA to New York proved. Staring first with Kayak, all the one-way fares on major airlines were approximately that same price, except the first flight of the day on American Airlines, which left at a decent hour and was significantly less expensive (just over $800, vs $3,000!). Don’t wait until the last minute and hope that these fares will magically be there waiting for you; Start your search well in advance of your target travel date – The bargains may influence your plans and save you a bundle. Also, check out the chat-rooms of travel sites such as Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree Travel Forum or Fodors for great tips from fellow bargain hunters. Also check out travel books from your local library – a free excuse to start dreaming of your tropical getaway while it’s still snowing at home!

Get your suitcase out of storage ASAP. Don’t worry if your trip is weeks away. Find a spot in your bedroom and open up that suitcase. Each time you do laundry, set aside a favorite pair of jeans, seasonally appropriate attire, even spare undies. In no time you will have packed without realizing it! Bonus points for only using a carry-on, as you won’t have to stand around after that long flight or stress about the possibility of lost luggage, and you’ll save money on baggage fees. If you do have to check bags, try to carry one change of clothes in your carry-on, just in case. For more useful packing tips check out this post.

And on the eighth day, they invented earplugs. For just a few dollars, most local drugstores sell earplugs that come in a handy carrying case and cut out plane (and airport/bus/random people) noise. They are re-usable, can be rolled up into a ball, and are worth ten times their weight in gold. (Click here to compare earplug options.) If you can spend a bit more, look into buying some noise reducing headphones. While not as compact as earplugs, they can do wonders for your need to sleep.

Do you have tips that might help ease our readers’ way this holiday season? Share them in the comments!

Feast of San Gennaro

Here’s another post from Customer Service Agent Michele on one of her favorite travel memories!

A can’t miss event in the Little Italy section of New York City is the 86th annual Feast of San Gennaro, which will take place from September 13th through 23rd. This festival celebrates the spirit and faith of the Italian immigrants who began settling in this area in the 1920’s, honoring the patron saint of Naples.

There are parades, religious processions, games, musical entertainment including Italian folk music and opera, as well as more than 300 street vendors and 35 Italian restaurants that participate.   Opening day begins with the cannoli eating competition, with pizza and pasta eating competitions the following week. The performance stage on Grand and Mott Streets features concerts and radio broadcasts in the evenings and cooking demonstrations, food and wine tastings daily from 2 to 4 PM. (Read more about schedule and activities here!)

Growing up in the northeast, my family made their annual pilgrimage for an eat fest that rivaled my Nonna’s at Christmas. We began with sausage and pepper subs, worked our way through the pizza and pasta while still managing to leave enough room for the zeppoles (fried dough dusted with powdered sugar) and making a stop at Ferrara’s Bakery on Grand Street for cannolis (flaky fried pastry filled with sweet ricotta cream filling)to go. If we were lucky enough to go back for a second day, we couldn’t leave without going to Umberto’s Clam House on Mulberry Street for baked clams and linguine with clam sauce. What can I say – Italians dream about food! Although I no longer live in the northeast, every time I cook sausage and peppers for my family it brings me back to my childhood and fond memories of the Feast of San Gennaro.

The festival takes place on Mulberry, Hester and Grand Streets, from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm and stays open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.