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Being a Travel Agent!

I love traveling! And I love writing! So it is a win/win to combine both loves. However I want to make sure that those reading my blog are not confused since the name of my blog is different than the travel agency where I work!

Once Upon A Time Vacations is the agency where I work. I am what is called an Independent Contractor but it is through Once Upon A Time Vacations. I specialize in luxury travel plus Disney, cruise and group travel.

Long before I became a Travel Agent I started a blog called Disney with Children. And when I began my career in early 2014 as a Travel Agent most of my bookings were Disney World. As I have expanded to bookings all over the world I realized I needed two blogs-one for Disney, and one for everything else.

So bbvoyages.com was born. BB stands for my initials, and voyages invokes, at least to me, the allure of travel: culture, new experiences, romance and amazing adventures.

My hope is bbvoyages.com will entice you to explore the world. There is a great big world out there with so much to see, learn and experience. And I make it easy for you-all you have to do is email me at beth@onceuponatimevacations.com or call me at 917-494-1343 so we can start planning your next adventure wherever it may take you!

 

 

Searching for Eloise

As a little girl I was fascinated with the story of Eloise by Kay Thompson.

Eloise, the little girl who lives in The Plaza! It is probably where I got my love for staying in hotels. My life and my work have afforded me some extended stays in hotels which always makes me feel like Eloise.

When I had a little girl I couldn’t wait to read her Eloise. And to my great delight I was able to actually show here where Eloise lives.

The Plaza hotel has a whole area devoted to Eloise. It is a fantasy come true for children and adults alike who have been charmed by Eloise.

Whenever I am in NYC I always make a stop at The Plaza to the Eloise area, usually more than once!

Did you read Eloise as a child?

Hamilton: An American Musical

Hamilton: An American Musical-the hottest ticket on Broadway!

Last summer when I was in NYC I tried to get tickets by entering the lottery. Many shows on Broadway have lotteries where if you are lucky you get a reasonably priced ticket. As I was splitting my time between NYC and New Jersey I only entered a couple of times, and did not expect to win. I didn’t!

Between Summer 2016 and my next time in NYC-Decemeber 2016 I looked at different ways to get a ticket. There was always the show me the money way. Or more like give the money for a ticket. If I was willing to spend over $1000 dollars I could get a crummy seat. I couldn’t bring myself to do that.

In the Fall 2016 tickets for summer 2017 were released. I didn’t buy any because I wasn’t sure when I’d be in NYC.

In December I considered the cancellation line. Many shows will sell tickets the day of that have been cancelled, or maybe held for family/friends of those in the show. Because Hamilton is such a hot ticket people start lining up as early as 3/4am to try for cancellation tickets. I get cold in 70 degree weather, there was no way in December that I could stand outside for hours for the possibility of getting a ticket.

Summer 2017

Being here for 5 weeks I decided to go to the Box Office and see if within the 5 weeks I would be here there was any single ticket for a reasonable price. I also figured I could see how the cancellation line was looking.

I wandered by July 4th weekend about 3:30pm. The street was deserted. Usually there is a huge crowd outside the theater of people lined up for cancellation tickets. I walked in and a woman asked if she could help me. I asked where the cancellation line was lined up. She said all tickets had been given out. Then she motioned to the box office, and said I could ask if there were any left. I went up and asked if they happened to have 1 ticket for that evening. The woman asked, just one. I said, yes just one!

She said she had 1 for 229 dollars. I did not ask any questions, and just said I’ll take it. It could have been in the rafters for all I knew. I paid, and left.

I was in shock. I did not have to stand on line, wait for hours in extreme weather, pay the equivalent of a designer handbag. I literally walked up, asked for a ticket, and got to see the show the same day.

I took out the ticket to see where I was seating. It most definitely was not the rafters. It was 2nd row on the aisle.

Seeing the show was wonderful, and a little surreal. I literally could not believe I walked up and bought a ticket.

The show will be coming to Orlando in 2018/19 and I am looking forward to seeing it again, this time with the whole family?

Sugar and Candy!

The few days I had with Julia we packed a lot in. There were a number of shows that we saw together. Julia has a lot of friends still in NYC. She misses seeing them on a regular basis. So with one of the shows we brought one of her friends with us!

I wanted to make it extra fun. We were going to lunch before the show. Times Square isn’t known for having the best restaurants, which is unfortunate. Most are overpriced and just ok food. I had been seeing a lot of friends posting pictures of Sugar Factory. It looked really fun so off I went with the girls.

From the minute we walked in we were wowed. Beautifully decorated, and definitely sugar was all around!

First we sat down for lunch. The girls saw everyone drinking big, fun, colorful drinks, and it goes without saying they each wanted and got one.

As we sat down for lunch I had gotten a call from a client that I had to help. I agreed to the drinks without even looking at the price. Just in case you happen to be distracted when you walk into Sugar Factory note-those drinks are 30 dollars each. That is right-I spent 60 dollars on 2 drinks, and because as you can see the two drinking it are underage it did not even have alcohol in it. But I didn’t know until I got the bill, and the smiles were all I needed to make it worth the price.

The food was actually very good, and while the drinks are beyond outrageous in price everything else is actually reasonable.

After lunch it turns out the girls had not had enough sugar. And this was Sugar Factory! So they went to the candy bins in the front, and each filled a bag with assorted candy.

It was a great start to what was a wonderful day. I was happy I had chosen this as the lunch spot. The smiles were non stop!

Question: What is the most you ever spent on a drink?

East Side, West Side, All Around the Town!

The few days I had with Julia we had planned out a few activities.

We were staying on the East side. Our first stop was on the West side at the American Museum of Natural History. Julia loves that museum, and she really wanted to go with me. It was pretty quick and easy getting there by subway, even with having to transfer.

We opted to purchase tickets to two of the special exhibits: Cuba and Mummies. Both were fabulous exhibits. With Cuba the details, decor and information was amazing. I am sure that at some point Julia and I will go to Cuba, so this was a great introduction.

Before going to the Mummies exhibit we explored some of Julia’s favorite areas, which included the room with the blue whale. I think that is a must stop for everyone!

The Mummies exhibit was very informative. We learned that it is a very intense process in creating a mummy. Unfortunately they did not allow pictures. Julia showed her displeasure about this rule.

The Mummies exhibit has very low dimmed lights. When we finished it took a moment to adjust to light!

We left the museum to get some pizza before heading to the lower East side. Julia is fascinated with learning about her ancestors. I thought she would find going to the Tenement Museum very interesting. We chose the Sweatshop Workers tour which shows how immigrants balanced work, life and family in very cramped living areas.

Unfortunately we were not allowed pictures inside on the tour, but I did take a picture of the outside.

It was so bright outside it was hard to get a good picture!

Being on the tour we worked up an appetite. We headed to Economy Candy which was nearby. It is a candy store that has every kind of candy imaginable.

 

I guess she was really hungry!

After visiting Economy Candy we headed back to our hotel. It was a busy day, and we still had theater that night.

 

 

 

 

Weekends are for Reading!

I am in NYC for the summer. I love being here because I feel so inspired-to be active, to be productive with work, and also to read.

Very close to where I am staying is Strand Book Store. Unfortunately I no longer buy actual books, as I am obsessed with my paper white kindle. However I still love looking in book stores, and have been frequenting this one almost daily. They have a huge selection of used books-most priced $1 to 2 dollars. I have been having a great time stocking up for Julia who is 9-she still reads actual books.

I kicked off my NYC reading list with Do Not Be Alarmed by Maile Meloy.

The book was mentioned in a recent copy of People magazine.  It centers around two couples who each have two children. They go on a cruise for the holidays. While on the cruise the children are kidnapped. I did have some hesitation about reading it. I cruise 2-3 times a year with my 9 year old daughter-I was afraid it would freak me out. But the story is so well told that I could not put the book down.

Definitely a great book to throw in your beach bag, or download to your kindle.

Do you prefer reading an actual book or on a kindle or some other device?

All About Broadway!

My mom and my grandmother Julia started taking me to Broadway shows when I was 4. My mom and I started taking Julia, who is named for my grandmother, to Broadway shows at age 4. Tradition!

Now at age 9 Julia has seen more Broadway shows than some people have seen in a lifetime. She is very fortunate. She truly loves seeing shows. So when I was planning out the few days the three of us would have together I started thinking about shows we would see. Julia of course was included in the discussion.

Since January she has been listening to the music to Dear Evan Hansen. She really wanted to see the show. Unfortunately by the time we had our dates confirmed the prices for the show were crazy high, over $300 a ticket.

My mom suggested The Jimmy Awards. The Jimmy Awards is like the Tony Awards for the best of the best high school students who perform in high school musicals. My mom has always wanted to go. I looked at her like she was nuts. But Ben Platt was the host. And she showed Julia You Tube videos of past Jimmy Awards. Julia was sold by seeing the You Tube videos. I was sold on Ben Platt being the host. I ended up having to apologize to my mom for ever doubting her because we had such a fabulous evening. Between the musical acts and Ben Platt-it was a wonderful evening. We are going to try to be in NYC next year to see The Jimmy Awards.

We also had tickets to Come From Away, Anastasia and The Great Comet.

Tuesday night my mom, Julia and I all went to see Come From Away. Words do not do this show justice. It tells the story of the planes that landed in a small town in Newfoundland on 9/11, As someone who was in NYC when 9/11 occurred it was fascinating to see what the people on these planes were experiencing who did not have any knowledge until they got off the plane how enormous the tragedy was that had occurred. All they knew was that there had been an incident.

Julia did really like the show, but it is recommended for children 10 and older so definitely take that into consideration when taking young children.

 

On Wed. we had originally just bought 3 tickets to Anastasia. I felt bad I had not been able to get tickets for Julia to see Dear Evan Hansen. She loves Josh Groban ever since hearing him sing Evermore in Beauty and the Beast. My mom and I discussed it, and we decided I would take her and a friend to Anastasia. We bought two tickets to The Great Comet so she could go with my mom. Josh Groban is no longer performing in The Great Comet, but he was the night my mom and Julia were going to see it. I had seen The Great Comet back in December, and knew they would both love it. It is a one of a kind theater experience. It is immersive, creative and engaging. The Great Comet is based on a small part of War and Peace. My mom may be the only person who has not only read the book but truly loves the story.

It was a great few days with my mom, Julia and Broadway shows. We are hoping to do it again soon.

Question: Have you seen any of these shows? If yes, what did you think?

Welcome to NYC-Your Bags Will Come Later!

We are in NYC for over 5 weeks-we arrived on June 25th.

The schedule is for most of July my daughter will be with her father-but for the 25th to the 29th my daughter, my mom and I were all together-having a girls NYC trip!

None of us pack light. We just accept it. Maybe I should try and get Julia to break the cycle, but it is a lost cause. However I did know we needed to streamline somewhat so we each took a rolling checked suitcase. And we each had a rolling carry on. I find rolling carry ons make taking electronics much easier. Between the two of us we have laptops, phones, kindles and iPads.

Julia had asked for some new luggage so I did indulge her with a matching set from American Tourister.

We arrived early, and went straight to baggage claim. I flagged down a Skycap because even though for us we were streamlined we still had two rolling carry ons, we were going to have two rolling checked bags and I had a big shoulder bag. Why not make it easier? Thank goodness I did that.

My bag came out quickly, and then we waited, and waited. The Skycap asked if we were just waiting for 1 more bag. I said yes. He asked if it was ok to take my claim ticket and go check something. I had a bad feeling, which only got worse when I heard an airline worker telling another passenger a number of bags had been taken off and put on a later flight.

The Skycap returned and confirmed what I suspected. Thank goodness for him-seriously. He whisked us off to a claim area that was much less crowded. We had no wait while we made our claim. The rep assured me that the bag  was on a 5pm flight and would be delivered. She then told us we were able to go shopping for items as long as we kept it to a reasonable amount.

Our hotel was 8 blocks from Bloomingdales. We dropped off our carry on luggage, said hi to my mom who had comes a few days earlier, and made our way to Bloomingdales.

We finished up relatively quickly so we decided to celebrate by heading over to Dylan’s Candy Bar.

 

We definitely found some sweet treats. And while our first few moments in NYC started off on a sour note due to the delayed bag, it definitely ended on a sweet one.

Question: Have you ever had your bags delayed?