My Travel Agencies Blog
Santa Barbara Bed and Breakfast - Cheshire Cat Named in Top 10 Romantic Inns List
SANTA BARBARA, CA – Historic Cheshire Cat Inn of Santa Barbara recently made the 2014 list of Top 10 Most Romantic Inns nationwide featured on  This marking comes as no surprise as this award winning Santa Barbara Bed and Breakfast has been a long favored getaway destination. 
Among the finest accommodations in Santa Barbara, each room follows along the same whimsical inspiration as the inns name, bearing titles like the Dormouse’s Room, the Mad Hatter’s Room, the Duchess’s Room, and the White Rabbit Balcony Room.  Guests can expect to find the same kind of storybook charm and romance throughout the inn couched in such amenities as gourmet breakfast, afternoon wine & hors d’oeuvres, and in-room Jacuzzis. Cheshire Cat Inn has also partnered with Santa Barbara fine dining restaurants Louie’s and Downey’s to offer an unparalleled vacation package to impress even the most discriminating tastes.

Travelers looking for the perfect place to honeymoon or rekindle passions will certainly find it here nestled in Santa Barbara’s Mediterranean climate, sidewalk cafes & boutiques, and waterfront adventures.  In fact, many of the town’s best offerings are right within walking distance to the inn.  Guests can even book an in room massage as part of their ideal romantic getaway

About: Cheshire Cat Inn is made up of three Queen Anne Victorians, a Coach House and three cottages, originally constructed in 1894.  Fountains, gazebos, and lush flower gardens abound.  Many of the rooms have fireplaces, refrigerators, and private balconies, and all are decorated with English antiques, and the coziest, most romantic of linens and accessories. Rates range from $194 - $429. For more information or to inquire about specific dates, visit their website, see their Facebook page, or call (805) 569-1610.

Bad Säckingen, Germany (by mike_tec)


Bad Säckingen, Germany (by mike_tec)

World’s most expensive city is …

Singapore has dethroned the Japanese capital to become the world’s most expensive city in 2014, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s latest Worldwide Cost of Living survey.

The bi-annual report, which ranks 131 global cities, credits currency appreciation, solid price inflation and high costs of living for Singapore’s dubious new distinction.

"Car costs have very high related certificate of entitlement fees attached to them, which makes Singapore significantly more expensive than any other location when it comes to running a car," says the report.

"As a result, transport costs in Singapore are almost three times higher than in New York. In addition, as a city-state with very few natural resources to speak of, Singapore is reliant on other countries for energy and water supplies, making it the third most expensive destination for utility costs."

Singapore is also the priciest place in the world to buy clothes.

Last year’s title holder Tokyo, dropped from the top spot to sixth — tied with Melbourne, Geneva and Caracas.

Tokyo’s decline is due to the weaker yen, says the EIU.

MORE: Inside the world’s most expensive hotel rooms

World’s 10 most expensive cities to live in 2014

1. Singapore

2. Paris

3. Oslo, Norway

4. Zurich, Switzerland

5. Sydney

6. Caracas, Venezuela

6. Geneva, Switzerland

6. Melbourne

6. Tokyo

7. Copenhagen, Denmark

Asia also has the world’s cheapest city on the list.

Down at the other end of the 131-city survey, the EIU lists Mumbai as the world’s least expensive city to live in. The Indian capital, New Delhi, is third cheapest.

"Although India has been tipped for future growth, much of this is driven by its large population and the untapped potential within the economy," says the EIU.

"Income inequality means that low wages proliferate, driving down household spending and creating many tiers of pricing that keep per capita spending low.

"This, combined with a cheap and plentiful supply of goods into cities, as well as government subsidies on some products, has kept prices down, especially by Western standards."

MORE: The world’s best city is …

World’s 10 least expensive cities to live in 2014

122. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

123. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia

124. Panama City, Panama

124. Bucharest, Romania

126. Algiers, Algeria

127. Damascus, Syria

127. Kathmandu, Nepal

129. New Delhi

130. Karachi, Pakistan

131. Mumbai, India

The Worldwide Cost of Living survey is released twice a year by the EIU.

It compares more than 400 individual prices across 160 products and services in 131 cities, including food, drink, clothing, household supplies and personal care items, home rents, transport, utility bills, private schools, domestic help and recreational costs.

In total, more than 50,000 individual prices are collected in each survey.

"The cost-of-living index uses an identical set of weights that is internationally based and not geared toward the spending pattern of any specific nationality," says the EIU. "Items are individually weighted across a range of categories and a comparative index is produced using the relative difference by weighted item."


CNN: Escape to Arizona for a girls getaway
Calling all ladies! The stunning landscapes of Arizona create the
perfect spot for an adventurous girls vacation. No, I’m not suggesting you plot a “Thelma & Louise”-type western
getaway and wildly escape from your men and the police. Instead, relax
with your favorite girlfriends (legally) and soak up the beauty of the
mountainous landscape and all the experiences the area between
Sedona’s famous Red Rocks and the Grand Canyon has to offer.

This spring, two girlfriends and I met in Phoenix to start our western
road trip. Check out our itinerary, and use it as a guide for ideas on
building your western trip. Phoenix to Grand Canyon (233 miles)

We flew into Phoenix, but this wasn’t a trip about big cities, so we
high-tailed it out of the Valley of the Sun in our rented Nissan Rogue
and drove 4½ hours north along Interstates 17 and 40 and Highway 64 
toward the Grand Canyon. As we traveled along these scenic highways, the vegetation changed
from saguaro cactuses to tall pine trees. The towering San Francisco
peaks near Flagstaff were a highlight of the dramatic scenery along
our route. The peaks are a volcanic mountain range and provide a
number of recreational opportunities, from snow skiing to hiking.

Grand Canyon We arrived at the southern entrance to the Grand Canyon, just north of
Tusayan, right before sunset and had our cameras ready. The park
guides said Hopi and Yavapai points are some the best places to view a
sunrise or sunset, and they didn’t lead us astray.

For dinner, we dined inside the park’s Bright Angel Lodge (which is
just a few feet from the canyon rim) at the Arizona Room. The
restaurant specializes in hand-cut steaks, and fish and chicken
inspired by flavors of the Southwest. One of its signature drinks is
the Prickly Pear Margarita, which includes Hornitos Reposado tequila,
prickly pear cactus syrup, lime, Triple Sec and sweet and sour mix.
Both the food and drinks were excellent. We stayed outside the park, where rates are generally cheaper, but we
admired El Tovar Hotel, the park’s priciest and most famous lodge.
Built in 1905, famous guests over the years have included Theodore
Roosevelt, Bill Clinton and Paul McCartney, to name a few. The hotel
was also featured in the 1983 Chevy Chase film “National Lampoon’s

The following morning, we met our tour bus outside the Bright Angel
Lodge for a guided view of the national park. (We used the Grand
Canyon’s official website to find our tour operator.) Our bus ride
covered 52 miles in a little under four hours as we traveled east from
the lodge along the rim of the canyon. The tour stopped at Lipan
Point, touted as the most scenic viewpoint on the East Rim drive. The
Watchtower, designed in the 1930s by famed architect Mary Colter in
the style of the ancestral Puebloan people, also offered stunning —
even soul-enriching — views of the canyon. The Grand Canyon offers endless opportunities for exploration, beyond
what we discovered during our 24-hour visit. Thousands of visitors
each year hike the park’s various trails, bike along the Greenway
trail and paved roads, enjoy airplane and helicopter tours, and brave
rafting trips and mule rides.

Grand Canyon to Sedona (119 miles): The diverse landscape during our southbound road trip between the
Grand Canyon’s South Rim and Sedona kept us busy with our cameras. In
Coconino National Forest, the scenery ranges from deserts and
ponderosa pine forests to volcanic peaks. Elevation in Coconino ranges
from 2,600 feet to 12,633 feet at the summit of Humphreys Peak. A
snowstorm caught us during a small portion of the drive, but we ended
the journey with sunny skies in Sedona. I’d never seen such extreme
climate changes in a 120-mile trip until this excursion.

Sedona area Sedona’s main attraction is no doubt its stunning array of red
sandstone formations, enveloped in the area’s celebrated spiritual
energy. The Red Rocks provided a truly awe-inspiring backdrop for our
outdoor adventures.

But first, shopping — naturally a part of many girls trips, and ours
was no exception. Sedona is filled with art galleries, boutiques, New
Age metaphysical shops, antiques and even an outdoor shopping mall. Be
sure to pick up made-in-Sedona cactus jellies, Native American crafts
or even healing gemstones during your visit. Our first big adventure (beyond shopping) was a two-hour off-road tour
in an open-air Jeep. Our professional driver, who doubled as an
informative tour guide, showed us geologic formations and some of the
trademark Red Rock formations. There are numerous outfitters who
provide Jeep tours, and prices vary, depending on the type of
excursion you select. We decided to bundle our Jeep tour with a
1½-hour horseback riding trip near the banks of the Verde River in
Cottonwood, Arizona.

During our horseback riding adventure, in a place ironically called
Dead Horse Ranch State Park (none of our horses died on this trip, by
the way!), we rode under cottonwood and sycamore trees and enjoyed the
panoramic views of Mingus Mountain. We finished our excursion with a
picnic lunch near the horse arena, which was included in the tour
package. Back at our hotel in Sedona, we hopped into our trusty rental car and
wandered to an amazing piece of architecture — the Chapel of the Holy
Cross. From some angles, the chapel looks as though it’s rising from
Sedona’s famed rock formations, and many comment that the structure
has “universal appeal” because of its unique design. Construction of
the chapel was completed in 1956 to wide acclaim, and it was designed
by Marguerite Brunswig Staude, a former student of legendary architect
Frank Lloyd Wright.