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You’ll Dream of Chocolate

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  • November 12, 2018
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Chocolate Hershey Bar


Melding Chocolate Culture with History


Milton S. Hershey School
The Milton Hershey School, a private, cost-free residential school was founded by Milton Hershey and his wife, Catherine, for children from lower-income families. The lobby mural brings to life the iconic entrepreneur and philanthropist, Milton S. Hershey.  Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Most of us love a story with a happy ending.

We’ve all heard of extraordinarily successful entrepreneurs and we can’t help but wonder how they rose above the day-to-day challenges associated with running a business. Milton S. Hershey is an individual we can admire for his dream and vision but he wasn’t an instant success.

Where can you learn more about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy?

At the Hershey Story Museum, The Hershey Company’s most recent building endeavor.

The Hershey Story Museum
Learn how Milton S. Hershey rose from rags to riches. Plan a visit to the Hershey Story Museum. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

The Hershey museum opened in January 2009 in the heart of downtown Hershey, a magical town where the streetlights are modeled after Hershey Kisses and the aroma within each building is a reminder of why chocolate is a good as gold. More than 160,000 people visit the museum every year.

The story goes that around the turn of the century, chocolate was a booming business and Milton Hershey was so inspired, he sold his caramel business and broke ground for a new chocolate factory in nearby Derry Township, his hometown. For as long as I can remember, the Hershey bar has been a symbol of chocolatey sweetness and the iconic chocolate-colored wrapper that has evolved over the years is also a reminder of days gone by. But it’s more than the chocolate that’s represented in the museum. It’s Milton Hershey’s rag to riches’ story. Walk into a grocery store or anywhere that food is sold and you’ll likely find a product manufactured by the Hershey Company. More than a century after Hershey built his factory, Hershey products are manufactured and savored around the world.

Milton S. Hershey legacy
Buttons. dials and story-board exhibits teach children about Milton S. Hershey and his legacy. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

My recent media trip to Hershey was a fascinating mix of chocolate culture. The Hershey Story Museum, 63 West Chocolate Ave., Hershey, Pennsylvania, helps to tie together the entire Hershey experience with a mix of exhibits and archives that will ignite your curiosity about the art of chocolate making and demystify the man who started the company from scratch. Where are the ingredients sourced? Where does Hershey find such large quantities of cocoa beans to mass produce chocolate? Where do the sugar and dairy that are key ingredients in many of products originate? The exhibits answer those questions through visuals and hands-on experimentation that every child and adult should experience at least once.

The Hershey Museum Cuba Exhibit
What was Milton Hershey’s relationship with Cuba? Find out at the exhibit happening at The Hershey Story Museum, Hershey, PA. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
Milton S. Hershey Cuba Award
Discover why Milton S. Hershey’s was awarded
the “Grand Cross of the National Order of Carlos Manuel de Céspedes” by Cuba’s president in 1933. Image courtesy of The Hershey Story Museum.

The “Failures to Fortunes” exhibit is one that particularly illustrates how determination can result in ultimate success. Milton S. Hershey found success while at the Lancaster Caramel Company and grew his company from there into a booming chocolate business. Each piece in the exhibits is presented so they appeal to adults and children. 

Don’t leave the museum without stopping at The Pantry Cafe for coffee, sweets and confections, a smoothie, breakfast and lunch sandwiches and salads and other treats to round out your museum experience.

Come to the museum as a family or plan a school field or scout trip to the museum. Winter can be long and boring. Check out the calendar of events here and beat the January and February blues at The Hershey Story Museum.

Chocolate World
What do you love most about chocolate? The taste, smooth texture, or the creaminess that melts in your mouth, or all of the above? I’d love to know your answer. Please leave a comment on the form below and share your thoughts on Instagram at #ChocolateWorld.

Hershey Chocolate World

The Hershey Story Museum is only a few Hershey Kiss miles away (nine minutes) from Hershey’s Chocolate World, another extraordinarily popular attraction. This one is free. You can board the chocolate making tour and find and smell the outrageous chocolate aroma throughout your tour.  Hershey’s famous characters tell the story of chocolate making that begins with cocoa beans and ends with the wrapping process.

Chocolate Hershey Bar
The M.S. Hershey timeline helps keep the evolution of Milton Hershey’s cherished business in perspective. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui
chocolate tours
Hershey’s famous characters greet you around each bend and help describe the chocolate-making process. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Find your seat on the indoor tour tram. Tours run continuously throughout the day every 30 minutes (during business hours) and it’s WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE. After you’ve learned everything you should know about chocolate making, head to the 3D Chocolate Mystery Show and by that time, oh, you’ll be ready to create your own candy bar. The fun continues with the Hershey Trolley Tour, a seasonal way to view the incredible array of attractions Hershey offers its visitors. Book your tickets in advance online for the Holly Jolly Trolley that’ll delight your children. Or stop at the Central Ticketing office to purchase tickets. Caroling, stories, and a visit from a special guest will keep you entertained and set you in a holiday mode.

I visited Hershey in late summer and early fall and arrived to find flowers in bloom and meticulously manicured grounds and a flurry of activity.  Each season brings something new in this old-fashioned town. Put down your electronic devices so you can appreciate the farmlands and rolling hills that lead to Hershey. Play a game about what you see, or count the number of cows along the way to prepare your family for the attractions that will greet them at Hershey.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

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Hotel Anthracite: Every Detail Tells a Story

  • By
  • November 5, 2018
  • Sticky
Hotel Anthracite outdoor dining

Settlers Hospitality Group Salutes Carbondale’s Heritage

Hotel Anthracite: Carbondale’s Past Revisited

Every piece of art that adorns the walls throughout the Hotel Anthracite tells a story. You won’t find a stock photo in the lobby, restaurant, hallways, or guest rooms and each piece, whether it’s a framed photograph or another medium, is in some way related to Carbondale, Pennsylvania’s rich coal mining and cultural history.

Hotel Anthracite - Kol Steakhouse
You won’t find stock photos on any of the walls at the Hotel Anthracite, Carbondale’s newest hotel. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Unwavering Service

Hotel Anthracite, The Settlers Inn, Ledges Hotel, Silver Birches Resort, and Sayre Mansion are all owned and managed by Settlers Hospitality Group, an award-winning hospitality company based in Hawley, Pennsylvania. The company’s goal is to provide their guests with a one-of-a-kind tribute to the heritage that surrounds each of its properties. I was a hotel guest at two of the group’s properties: Hotel Anthracite and Silver Birches Resorts and also treated to a fantastic full breakfast at The Settlers Inn.  The message is consistent – exceptional accommodations and cuisine and unwavering service.

“The key operating philosophy of the hotel arm of the Settlers Hospitality Group is to provide an independent and authentic lodging experience that is guest-focused, locally flavored, and pet-friendly,” Chris Simpler, Hotel Anthracite general manger, explained.

Simpler commented in detail about the hotel’s history and features as he sat across the table from me during our lunch in KOL Steakhouse, the hotel’s signature restaurant. As I sampled the OUTSTANDING Baby Greens and Quinoa Salad, topped with grilled chicken that was drizzled with a Champagne Blood Orange Vinaigrette, Simpler delved deeper into why guests will travel to stay and dine at the hotel. You’ll read more about the food details later in this article but suffice to say, the hotel has covered all the bases with style, creativity, and artistry.

Hotel Anthracite outdoor dining
Take your romantic dinner or gathering outdoors on the patio. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Simpler was born and raised in the Hudson Valley and found himself back in Northeastern Pennsylvania to partner with Settler’s Hospitality. His wife Jenna (Simpler) runs the resort side of the Silver Birches Resort, a Settlers property that celebrates the history of the Lake Wallenpaupack region.

Indoor-Outdoor Connection

Jeanne Genzlinger, the matriarch of the Settlers Inn family was the main designer and the neutral color palette she selected is an ideal backdrop for the history and outdoors’ themes. Jeff George, (artistic design), S. Robert Powell (Carbondale historian) and Juan H. Espino (artist: The Looking Glass Gallery) all played significant roles in the historical detailing within the walls of the Hotel Anthracite. The decor is the best of all worlds because as you enter the Hotel Anthracite, you’ll find historical charm effortlessly blended with modern amenities guests expect. Take note of the large chunks of official anthracite coal on display in the Hotel Anthracite lobby and the photos of the Gravity Railroad and its first locomotive, “The Stourbridge Lion.” They’re your cue that the decor is intended to educate, enlighten, and motivate you to discover more about Carbondale’s past.

“We have utilized that foundation to bring photography and recreated historical elements to Hotel Anthracite,” said Simpler.

Carbondale Anthracite Coal History
Towering Anthracite Coal immediately shine a light on Carbondale’s anthracite history. Photo courtesy of Hotel Anthracite.

Finishing Touches

Hotel Anthracite Carbondale
One of my favorite guest room features is the view overlooking one of Carbondale’s neighborhoods.

“The feeling we were going for was to bring the hotel back to emphasize what’s out the windows. The neutral palette is great to work with because you have a lot of flexibility. It’s a clean and modern look but it also fits well with the historical theme we have,” he said.

Hotel Anthracite Renovation
All rooms were recently redesigned to provide guests with all new furnishings and linens.
Hotel Anthracite business traveler
Business travelers can count on high-speed internet and an efficient work area.
Hotel Anthracite lodging
If rest is at the top of your list after sightseeing and other outdoor activities, the beds are dressed in super-soft sheets and a down-alternative comforter.

Formerly known as the Carbondale Grand Hotel and operated as a Best Western until the Settler’s group purchased and renovated the building, the Hotel Anthracite averages 15,000 stays a year in their newly-appointed rooms. The management is in tune with their guests’ needs and expectations and consequently, delivers a high-quality package. In the guest rooms, for example, guests will find all-new beds, topped with standard and king-sized pillows, towels, linens, curtains, and new sofas.   Certified botanical organic bath products are provided in dispensers rather than single-use throw-away bottles to reflect Settlers Hospitality’s commitment to conservation.

YES to Pets

Pets and their families stay in comfort with the pet program in place. Yes, the hotel has pet-assigned rooms to protect guests with allergies but Simpler said, “We always do something personal to welcome the dogs to our property.” Be sure to inquire about the pet policy when you reserve your room.

Simpler’s way of thinking about The Hotel Anthracite is, “Why not make it a great experience that people talk about.”

KoL Steakhouse Dining: A Natural, Easy Fit

Hotel Anthracite menu
Add a slice or two of protein to your Baby Greens and Quinoa salad and you’re good to go.

What thoughts does the name “Kōl” evoke? If your guess is a “play on words” reflecting Carbondale’s anthracite legacy, you’re correct, according to Simpler.

“It (the name) is a natural, easy fit,” he said. “It aligns with our history.”

Kōl Steakhouse is for diners who want a dining experience that’s different – fine dining in a casual steakhouse setting. Renowned Executive Chef Michael Bodner begins with locally sourced aged beef and then adds his own creative flair to the regional fare and daily specials.

My choice was the mouth-watering Chicken Milanese Anthracite, a moderately priced entree ($19) from the Chef’s Plates’ section of the menu. The savory breaded free bird farm chicken breast is seasoned with aromatic basil and arranged with tomatoes, balsamic, asparagus, and accompanied by creamy risotto. I said “NO” to dessert because my palette was content. My meal was a perfect-sized portion and combination of flavors.

The wine menu offers more than 100 different bottles of wine in a full range of styles and prices. A handful of local wines are available, thanks to the hotel’s sommelier who put the wine list together for all of the Settler’s Hospitality Group’s properties.  Looking for fresh, local beer on tap or in the bottle? Come to Kōl Steakhouse and quench your thirst.  The bar is stocked with a variety of liquor and chances are if you have a particular mixed drink concoction in mind, the bartender will be able to accommodate your hankering.

“You need to deliver something more – a new experience,” is Simpler’s philosophy.

View sample menus here.

“What will you do in Carbondale?”

Hotel Anthracite Carbondale
Once the weather in Carbondale turns chilly, you’ll find lodging guests and diners relaxing near the fireplace in Hotel Anthracite’s lobby. Photo by Joan Mead-Matsui

Simpler noted, “In the months I’ve been here (as manager), I’ve come to know the untapped opportunity and potential here in Carbondale is huge. Settlers Hospitality management and staff have proven that folks will drive from hours away to dine at their hotels because the experience and food are so fantastic.”

Community Partnerships = Endless Opportunities

Once you’ve taken an architectural and historical tour of Carbondale, venture into local communities and set your sights on Northeastern Pennsylvania’s four seasons. The Settlers Hospitality Group partners with local businesses in each of their hotels’ locations so guests have access to a variety of activities that range from skiing, cycling, hiking, to world-class fishing that will get your heart pumping.

Travel Tip: Hotel Anthracite is a mere 25 minutes from historic sites in downtown Scranton and less than 35 minutes from Honesdale and Hawley. Allow at least a half-day to explore each town. 

The Lackawanna Heritage Trail, a popular multi-use trail system. exemplifies how a partnership is a win-win for all businesses and visitors. You’ll find the Carbondale Trailhead literally across the street and less than a half-block away from Hotel Anthracite. Simpler says guests can borrow a bike through the  BikeShare program at the hotel and The Carbondale YMCA and ride to the New York border on a bicycle.  The trail opened less than a week before my visit and you’ll find the link to my companion story here.  Spend some time at the newly-built Riverfront Park along the Lackawanna River and stop in at The Chamber Gallery and view the latest exhibit.

Travel Tip: Buy your Pennsylvania fishing license and bring your fishing gear. The Lackawanna River is known for its assortment of cold-water and warm-water fish species. Depending on where you fish, the river is home to trout, bullhead, bass, perch, and bluegills. 

History buffs should plan a self-guided walking tour and take in the architecture. Carbondale’s array of historic buildings has helped put the city on the map. Don’t miss the historic Memorial Square, City Hall, and the Trinity Episcopal Church and its extraordinary tiffany-windows. Aside from walking, cycling, and cross-country skiing,  Elk Mountain Ski Resort undoubtedly has a trail for you, whether you’re a beginner or advanced skier. Inquire at the hotel about individual and family ski and rental packages. If you’re like me, combining business and pleasure does involve some advanced planning but your trips can be exceptional and memorable.

Conclusion: Whatever your reason for traveling, Hotel Anthracite is a first-rate lodging choice. Hotel Anthracite is a small-town treasure in Northeastern Pennsylvania and a base camp to explore a revitalized region with so much history and culture.


My visit was comped but my opinions are my own and based on my personal experience.












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Aching Travel Writers’ Feet?

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  • October 29, 2018
Callus removal

Oh, My Achin’ Feet

Get Rid of Calluses: Tips For Travel Writers 


Edited by Joan Mead-Matsui, Publisher

Traveling is one of the most beautiful things you can do for your soul but walking and standing for hours can wreak havoc on your feet.

There’s a saying: Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer. You can see lots of marvelous places, meet interesting people and do things that will leave you with memories that will likely bring a smile to your face for years to come. Unfortunately, one negative part of traveling is that it will put pressure on some parts of your body. Your feet will be no exception and you could develop a callus.

Guest Blogger Jill White
Learn how to care for your feet before, during, and after traveling from Jill White, guest blogger.

Waking up with a callus on your feet after long hours of walking or doing the physical activities can be painful. You might feel such pain on your feet that you won’t be able to put your feet on the ground.

Wearing improperly fitted shoes can result in calluses on your feet and they’re not only painful, but they also make your feet look ugly. Hence, it is important to find the right solution to rid your feet of the discomfort. Fortunately, calluses are typically not serious and they can be treated easily by several methods but the first step is to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician or a podiatrist.

What is a CALLUS? 

A callus is nothing but a thick, hard patch of dead skin. Thickening and hardening of the dead skin cells occur due to continuous friction on a particular area on your feet. It protects the skin from further friction but gives you pain. Hence, removing the callus is ultimately the best solution.

How do you properly remove a callus?

There are several home remedies, medical, and surgical treatments that are helpful in removing a callus. Contact your physician before you attempt to remove a callus or any growth on your feet or visit a podiatrist. They’re trained to treat problems safely and effectively. If a callus is not unusually severe and causing considerable pain, your doctor might suggest some fruitful home remedies.

Tips to try at home remedies for removing callus

He might suggest you try one of these methods.

Use electric callus remover: These days electronic callus removers are available. These types of removers are the small handheld machines that have an attached roller which operates on battery. When you take the roller close to the area around the callus and turn on the machine, the dead skin will be removed by the roller. This is a painless method of precisely removing the thickened dead skin of the callus. There are many affordable callus removers on the market.

A pumice stone is another effective solution and can help reduce the appearance: Pumice stone is the rock that is formed by the hardened lava of the volcano. This type of stone has a porous surface. When you rub the callus with this stone, dead cells are effectively removed. Gently rub the pumice stone on the callus while dipping your feet in the warm water. This will gently remove the callus from your feet.

Callus removal surgery: This method of callus removal is advised only when the condition turns out to be serious. A Podiatrist performs the surgery and effectively removes the callus. Sterile surgical blades can be used by the surgeons to cut the thickened skin to remove the callus. If the callus has occurred due to the friction between the longer and the smaller metatarsal bones then the surgical method is effective in the removal of callus.

Follow the preventive measures. 

It is better to follow the measures that prevent the growth of callus on your feet. Some of the useful tips include:

  • Always wear the correct shoe size.
  • Buy sensible shoes designed for walking. (Keep high heels for evening wear.)
  • Wear socks while wearing shoes.
  • Keep your feet dry.

Travel writers, journalists, and photographers often spend a lot of time on their feet. By following these simple preventive steps you will minimize the wear and tear on your poor feet so you can enjoy traveling again. A mile-step journey starts with one single step.

You can find a podiatrist in your area here.

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Fly Fishing events Fly Fishing Retreats Lifestyle Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited activities Women's Fly Fishing Retreats

Sharing Ties Through Fly Fishing

  • By
  • October 24, 2018
Women's Fly Fishing Retreat Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania’s Women’s Initiative Leadership Retreat


Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited
“Sharing Ties – PA Women’s Initiative Leadership Retreat” brought women from Trout Unlimited chapters throughout Pennsylvania for the first annual retreat. The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission partnered with PA Council of Trout Unlimited to organize the inaugural retreat held at GodSpeed Hostel, Port Matilda, PA on April 20, 21, and 22. PA Council of Trout Unlimited financed the event.

The “Sharing Ties – PA Women’s Initiative Leadership Retreat” resulted in such positive reviews from participants that plans are underway for the second annual retreat, says Amidea Daniel, Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission Youth and Women’s Program coordinator and Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited Women and Diversity Initiative Committee co-chair.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission partnered with PA Council of Trout Unlimited to organize the inaugural retreat held at GodSpeed Hostel, Port Matilda, PA on April 20, 21, and 22. PA Council of Trout Unlimited financed the event. 

Pennsylvania Trout Unlimited Women's Initiative
The retreat was so successful, plans are underway for the 2019 retreat.

Daniel said, among the participants’ comments she heard throughout the weekend were, “Loved seeing more women connecting and working together to get more diverse audiences on the water,”  “Enjoyed connecting with Heather Hodson from WA via Skype – her ideas and enthusiasm are contagious,” and “Looking forward to next year’s retreat to see what everyone implemented in 2018.” 

Daniel and Kelly Williams planned the retreat with the assistance of a steering committee made up of “energetic, passionate, and determined women” according to Daniel.

Trout Fly Fishing
Amidea Daniel hands out door prizes at an evening event held in conjunction with the retreat.


Together, they set the stage for 25 women from 13 TU chapters and 16 counties and other organizations across Pennsylvania to network, share ideas, and work together on ways to help connect more ladies to PA’s waterways through conservation projects, fishing and outreach programs. Participants identified and shared resources and ideas for new programs and events aimed at increasing future engagement among members.

“Icebreakers;” break-out sessions; the Costa SLAM Film Event; art; project and idea sharing; fishing; casting; discussing barriers and solutions to implement programs; and a guest appearance by Washington State’s Women’s Initiative Ambassador, Heather Hodson, via Skype were among the activities offered throughout the weekend.  

Daniel said she was impressed by the enthusiasm and excitement she witnessed during the introductions during the opening session.

PA Women Anglers
Leadership is one of the goals of the Pennsylvania (PA) Trout Unlimited Women’s initiative and a topic that was discussed in details at the large and small-group breakout sessions.

“Many of the women expressed excitement when they saw so many other ladies interested in connecting to Pennsylvania resources through fishing or conservation programs,” Daniel noted. “When they introduced themselves each person began to realize they are not alone in trying to get more diverse audiences interested not only in fishing but also protecting the resources we all enjoy.”

The less experienced and beginner anglers soon found mentors among the group members. Daniel said, “The few that were new to fly fishing were quickly taken under the wings of women who had experience. Lots of ideas and experiences were shared.”

Women Fly Fishing
Rachel Grube is new to fly fishing and enjoyed the camaraderie. The fly-fishing skill level ranged from beginner to advanced.

Rachael E. Grube, a Watershed/GIS specialist with the Eastern Pennsylvania Coalition for Abandoned Mine Reclamation and a beginner fly angler, was inspired by the passion so many of the women she met had for fishing and aquatic ecosystem conservation.

“Every woman there had a different story about how she became interested in Trout Unlimited or conservation in general, and I think knowing the reasons why a woman might decide to get involved is a key factor when targeting women as new members or volunteers,” Grube said via an email interview. “Everyone had new ideas about how to get even more women involved in fishing and aquatic conservation. Sometimes working in conservation can be discouraging, but hearing details about successful programs and events will allow me to plan future conservation programs more strategically.”

Check water temperature
Conservation and responsible fishing practices were on the agenda. During one of the breaks, members had a chance to fish in the nearby stream.
Trout Water Best Temperature
Before fishing, a simple test revealed the water was at the perfect temperature.
Trout Fly Fishing
Door prizes brought smiles to the participants’ faces.           
Fly-Fishing Retreat Door Prizes
Door prizes ranged from hats to gift certificates for guided fly-fishing trips.

Joan Mead-Matsui is an award-winning freelance journalist; travel writer, photographer, and fly-angler from Clarks Summit, PA. She discovered her love for fly fishing five years ago and covers her adventures on her website and several publications.  

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Affordable NYC Transportation Bus Rental Lifestyle Limousine Travel NYC Limousine and Bus Transportation Travel in Style

Travel in Style: New York City Limo or Bus?

  • By
  • October 23, 2018
NYC transportation
NYC Limousine Services
Relax and let a limousine driver show you around New York City. When was the last time someone opened a car door for you?

Make the Best Use of New York Limo Service and Have a Pleasurable Ride

Jill White is a 26-year-old blogger with a passion for writing and travel.  Read her qualitative article and find out how you can combine comfort and convenience with an age-old transportation system so you can RIDE IN STYLE.

Guest Blogger Jill White
Learn how to travel through the Big Apple in style from guest blogger, Jill White.

New York is a densely populated and beautiful destination famous for its iconic sites. It’s also well-known for its restaurants, universities, and theatres. You can accomplish your dream and ride in style in the beautiful city of New York by hiring limousines. There are many car companies in New York that offer limo services and you can hire a classic, sleek hummer limousine or a modern stretch limo and make your occasion more special. Limo services are available for working-class and middle-class people. The demand for limousine services in New York is huge and the companies are providing varieties of these limousines for the comfort and convenience of their customers.

 Special Features of Limo Service

Many limo services are designed with decent interiors and have features such as elegant upholstery especially for corporate transport. The limo service can be made use of even for wedding purposes and the well-decorated cars set the stage for a romantic environment, with floral decorations and dim lighting. The limousines are stylishly decorated on the exterior for party goers and the interior is fitted with a high tech sound system, luxury equipment, and large LCDs. Hence, party goers can have great fun.

 Airport Limo Services

The airport limo services provided in New York are excellent and the vehicles offer stress-free transportation to customers with their fleet of sedans, hybrid sedans, and SUVs. The limo services in New York are provided around the clock and corporate officials can gain their best experience traveling in these luxurious vehicles. Officials can travel in comfort and style to their home or hotel from the airport by hiring the limo services. The other transportation service that can be utilized by customers also includes bus rental services. The best feature of the limousine services is that they are updated from time to time and the vehicles are very spacious and perfect for everyone.

 Bus rental Services in New York

Looking for budget-friendly transportation services? Consider the New York bus rental services. You can conveniently access and book bus rental services online. A wide variety of vehicles is provided to people across New York City.  The cost of these services is mainly calculated based on the mileage and the number of hours used. Reap the benefits of a discount by booking for large groups in advance.

The services are made available for small and large events, and changes can be made while booking online even through a mobile device. There are buses available for 55 passengers, 49 passengers, and even 28 passengers. Many of the services can be booked easily and in minutes from anywhere. The buses can be used for corporate outings, sporting events and for school trips.


Both services are affordable and excellent transportation services available to you at competitive prices. Safety and comfort are your chauffeurs’ priorities. The priority of the chauffeurs towards their customers is their safety and comfort. Commuters can ride safely in these vehicles that ensure safety and pleasurable ride.

Publisher’s Note:

You can get NYC travel and tourism information from NYC THE OFFICIAL GUIDE by clicking on this link.




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Hershey Gardens

  • By
  • October 19, 2018

Hershey Gardens

Twenty-Three Acres of Botanical Bliss

Tour Hershey Gardens
The Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory opened in 2016. Hershey Gardens is an operating division of the nonprofit M.S. Hershey Foundation.

Step inside The Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory – the gateway to the fabulous Hershey Gardens opened by Chocolatier, Milton S. Hershey in 1937as Hershey Rose Garden. Highlighting one particular garden would be difficult because they’re all quite spectacular and open to the public 363 days a year.

So, why did Mr. Hershey want to create a garden? He was approached to sponsor a national rosarium in Washington, D.C., but Mr. Hershey decided he’d prefer to have his garden closeby to his home and heart in Hershey, PA, where he and the community could enjoy a simple rose garden. His request was simple – he wanted a “nice garden of roses,” hence giving birth to three-and-a-half acres of meticulously groomed roses. By 1944, the garden expanded to 23 acres and by 1979, the simple rose garden had morphed into six themed gardens and a name change to Hershey Gardens.

Visitors to the gardens can navigate with a map provided at the ticket office adjacent to the entrance. You can begin your garden tour at the Historic Hershey Rose Garden located behind the fountain once you pass through the lobby.

Hershey Gardens
After exiting the lobby, the first stop on your garden tour is the water fountain in Swan Lake. Shown is a view of the patio that overlooks the lake.

Themed Gardens

The Bill Bowman Garden, Children’s Garden, Herb Garden, High Point Garden, Historic Hershey Rose Garden, and the Japanese Gardens will appeal to Everyone, particularly those who have picked up a trowel and attempted to grow and maintain even the smallest garden. Hershey Gardens is a thoughtful and eloquent presentation of Milton Hershey’s passion for plants and a reflection of our fascination with gardening and the joy it brings to our lives.

You should allow AT LEAST two hours to meander through the gardens. Unfortunately, the forecast called for rain the day we visited and we were not able to spend as much time as we needed to appreciate every detail in each of the gardens during our self-guided tour. We spent the most time in the historic rose, Japanese, and M.S. Hershey Tribute Garden, but as you scroll down, you’ll find images I took throughout Hershey Gardens before we left.

Historic Hershey Rose Garden 

If you choose to follow the guide map, your first stop along the garden path will be the Historic Hershey Rose Garden, a sight to behold, even in the waning days of September. We discovered three-and-a-half acres of prolific blooming roses in a variety of colors and buds that were eager to open. Rows and rows of roses and greenery are an unforgettable treat for the eyes. Hybrid Tea, floribunda, shrub, and miniature roses are among the varieties you’ll find.


Hershey Garden Rose Gardens
The Historic Hershey Rose Garden is one of 11 themed gardens.
Hershey Rose Garden
One of Hershey Gardens theme features more than 3,500 roses and 175 varieties.

The Children’s Garden

The Children's Garden Hershey Gardens
The Children’s Garden is nature’s playground for kids of all ages.
Hershey Children's Garden
Easy-to-read labels tell the story of plants and flowers displayed in the Hershey Children’s Garden.
Hershey Gardens Children's Garden
Elements of “fun” trigger the imagination and are a reminder of Milton S. Hershey’s mission to inspire learning.

The Children’s Garden is playful and educational with an element of surprise at every turn, from the Misting (Hershey) kisses to the caterpillar-shaped living “tunnel,” each sculpture and learning station within the garden encourage children and their families to PLAY AND LEARN together.  Within the one-and-a-half acres dedicated to the children’s garden are 25 themed gardens guaranteed to entertain your child and expose them to the wonders of nature.

Japanese Garden

Simplicity and tranquility are two hallmarks of a Japanese garden and Hershey Gardens offer many of the same elements you’d see at any one of the famous temples throughout Japan. Ornamental koi darting about, Japanese Maple trees, Dawn Redwood, and giant Sequoia are modeled after a traditional Japanese garden “(Nihon teien).

Lush Bamboo Forest Hershey Gardens
A bamboo forest is one of the features of the Japanese Garden.
Hershey Gardens Japanese Garden
The Japanese methodically place their garden elements so they are in harmony with nature. You’ll find those authentic touches in the Japanese Garden at Hershey Gardens.
Hershey Gardens' Japanese Garden
Japanese gardens often include a stream or pond.
Traditional Japanese Gardens
The pond at the Japanese Garden features a variety of trees and plants that are featured in many traditional Japanese gardens you’d find in Kyoto, Japan.

M.S. Hershey Tribute Garden

M.S. Hershey’s affinity for horticulture and beauty is reflected in the M.S. Hershey Tribute Garden located above the Gazebo. You won’t mind the pleasant stroll up a gentle hill to this garden. It’s well worth the brief trek to see the newly revitalized M.S. Hershey Rose, colorful shrubs and plants, and a special seating area for visitors to relax and examine their surroundings.

Recommendation: Take as long as you need to absorb the sights, smells, and sounds around you. Listen for the nearby stream and tune into the sounds of children’s voices. If you visit during the spring, summer, or fall, look for butterflies and birds that flourish in each of the gardens. You’ll find a changing landscape altered by weather conditions from season to season but the beauty of Hershey Gardens is a year-round pleasure.

Hershey Gardens Outdoor Classroom
Children thrive in natural settings and the gardens are an ideal outdoor classroom.
Photograph Hershey Gardens
This photographer stopped to photograph the roses. There’s a photo op around every turn. Don’t forget your camera and allow ample time for each garden. The roses, alone, could take several hours to capture.


Girlfriend Getaways Hershey Pennsylvania
My lifelong friend, Pennye and I enjoyed our afternoon at Hershey Gardens. Pennye is shown on the footbridge in the Japanese Garden. Schedule a girlfriend getaway.
Swan Lake at Hershey Gardens
Hershey Gardens’ designers incorporate each season’s bounty into their decor. Fall is represented in this seasonal display on the veranda behind the conservatory and overlooking Swan Lake. Celebrate the holidays at Hershey. Details about upcoming exhibits and programs can be found online using the link provided below.

Wind your way along the path to the Bill Bowman Garden, named in honor of the former Hershey Gardens’ director; the Herb Garden with its array of medicinal, household, dye-making plants, and culinary herbs; the High Point Garden, a tribute to Catherine (Kitty) Hershey, M.S. Hershey’s wife; the Ornamental Grass Garden with fescue grasses to 20-foot high giant reed grasses; Perennial Garden, where you’ll find dazzling Daffodils, Rhododendrons, Black-eyed Susans, or hardy Chrysanthemums, depending on the season; Rock Garden, a display garden for a variety of plants; and the ever-evolving Season Display Gardens that features many favorites from 20,000 tulips to annuals.

Visit the Hershey Gardens events and programs’ calendar to see what’s currently happening at Hershey Gardens or find details on Facebook.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg lodging and attractions, visit

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 

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Hershey Butterfly Atrium

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  • October 14, 2018
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Winged and Wonderful:

The BUTTERFLIES of The Hershey Butterfly Atrium

Hershey Butterfly Atrium
Colorful Butterflies blend in with their habitats at the Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory at Hershey Gardens. The Butterfly Atrium is open year-round. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui

Have you ever found a butterfly perched on your head (or hair) or a flower? I remember a time when the butterfly population dwindled and a sighting was few and far between. Today, not so many miles away from my suburban roots, my flowering plants attract more and more each year. If you delight in watching their delicate wings gently flapping as they move from plant to plant, make it a point to add The Butterfly Atrium at the Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory in Hershey, Pennsylvania to your must-visit list.

Hershey Butterfly Atrium
One of 300 to 400 species of butterflies that dances from plant to plant at the Hershey Butterfly Atrium.

The Butterfly Atrium is the year-round home to 300 to 400 species of tropical and North American butterflies.  They spend their days drinking nectar from flowers through their (straw-like) tongues and those that don’t feast on the fruit juice find their nourishment from organic material, tree sap, and rotting animal matter.

butterfly atrium
Are you partial to the colorful species? Send a note to me with the name of your favorite butterfly.

What can you expect to find at the Butterfly Atrium?

A Plumeria tree (known for its flowers that are used to make garlands or leis; Hawaiian Ti Plant “Red Ruby” and “Red Sister,” Golden Shrimp and Jatropha plants, and a Cacao tree with its pods that contain the cocoa beans used to make chocolate.  Before you go, brush up on your butterfly facts courtesy of Katherine Serfass, Hershey Gardens Lead Butterfly Atrium associate.

What are the immediate and far-reaching environmental benefits of a thriving butterfly population?

The benefits of a thriving butterfly population are many, but one of the most important benefits is their role as pollinators. Pollinators are animals that move pollen from one part of the flower to another part. This pollen then fertilizes the plant. Only fertilized plants can make fruit and/or seeds, and without them, the plants cannot reproduce.  Although wind is also considered a pollinator, the agricultural industry depends heavily on animal pollination for crop production. We, humans, depend on pollinators, too! The food we consume results directly from the work of butterflies, moths, bees, wasps, ants, flies, and flower beetles. They are essential to maintaining a healthy ecosystem.

What are a few varieties of butterflies living in the atrium?

We have approximately 50 species of butterflies in the Butterfly Atrium at any given time, and we have USDA permits for around 500 species. The variety of species changes from week to week, but some of the more frequent varieties in the Butterfly Atrium are the Owl Butterfly, the Blue Morpho Butterfly, and the Postman Butterfly. We have four to five species of Owls in the Atrium at any given time. They are easily recognized by their large size and the eyespot on the side of their wings. The Blue Morpho is our most conspicuous butterfly variety and a fan favorite. Guests love watching their gorgeous blue, iridescent wings as they fly from place to place.  The Postman has long, narrow wings and sports a wide variety of colors and patterns.

When and why was the atrium established?

The Milton & Catherine Hershey Conservatory, which includes a year-round Butterfly Atrium and the Educational & Horticultural Wing, opened in July 2016. Before the Butterfly Atrium, Hershey Gardens had a seasonal outdoor butterfly house that was open from May to September. Opening a year-round space for butterflies allows Hershey Gardens to now be open 363 days a year and host more school groups, which speaks to Mr. Hershey’s legacy of providing educational and cultural opportunities to visitors. The Butterfly Atrium also gives visitors the opportunity to see beautiful, tropical butterflies in a lush, tropical environment any time of year: fall, winter, spring or summer.

What are a few interesting facts about butterflies every adult and child should know?

People tend to confuse the terms “chrysalis” and “cocoon.”  The two are not interchangeable.  All butterflies and moths form a chrysalis, which is the exoskeleton left after a caterpillar sheds its skin the last time. Only certain moths, those found in the silk moth family, spin a cocoon around themselves before they go into their chrysalis.

How does Hershey acquire new butterflies? Does it rely solely on in-house breeding/mating?

We acquire new butterflies from butterfly farms from all over the world.  Once the caterpillar sheds its skin the last time and exposes the chrysalis, the butterfly farmers in their country of origin will harvest them and send them to a hub in Colorado, where they are repackaged and sent here.  The native butterflies come from as far as Florida and as near as Schuylkill County, which is only about 50 miles away.

We do not have the full butterfly cycle in the Atrium because we do not have host plants. Host plants are the plants on which adult butterflies lay their eggs and caterpillars feed. If we had host plants, the concentration of butterflies and the sheer number of eggs laid by each individual would be too much for us to manage. The two stages we do have are the chrysalis and the adult, winged butterfly.

Many thanks to Katherine for taking the time to answer my questions.

Anyone with a fascination for butterflies will be captivated as, one after another, these gentle creatures go about their day.  One of the delights is watching them feast on nectar and mingle with guests. They might also land on you so be sure to check for hitchhikers when you leave the atrium.

Before or after spending time in the atrium, discover “The Amazing Lifecycle of the Butterfly” at the Chrysalis Cabinet. Hundreds of jewel-like chrysalis hang in the Chrysalis Cabinet until it’s time for them to emerge and release into the Butterfly Atrium.  This is a rare opportunity to have a glimpse at the pupal stage of a butterfly.

If you’d like to cater to butterflies in your garden, click on this link for butterfly gardening basics.

RECOMMENDATION: The butterfly garden pairs beautifully with the acres of plants, trees, and shrubs at the Hershey Gardens. My friend, Pennye and I were surprised to see roses blooming in the rose garden so late in the year. We visited Hershey on an early fall (drizzly) day on Fri., Sept. 28, 2018, and there’s so much to see – one extraordinary garden theme after another.

Stop by my website again soon or sign up for my mailing list and you’ll receive updates when I publish new articles from my media trip to Harrisburg-Hershey.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 


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Lake Tobias Wildlife Park

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  • October 12, 2018
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Lake Tobias Safari Cruiser Tour Bus

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park


Laugh and Learn With Your Family

Visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park residents take every opportunity to entertain visitors. Photos by Joan Mead-Matsui unless otherwise noted.

Prepare to fall in love with the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. You’ll never see the same scene if you visit the wildlife park one or 50 times . A personalized performance and warm greeting from the staff and residents, educational programs for all ages, and a picnic lunch together in the concession area adjacent to Lake Tobias can all be woven seamlessly into your visit.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari
Board the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Safari Tour to meet the animals who roam on 165 acres.

If you’re a parent, you already know children grow up in a heartbeat. Savor those moments with your kids and reserve a day to visit Lake Tobias Wildlife Park, Halifax, Pennsylvania. If your children are grown and you miss those carefree afternoons at the zoo, you too should plan a visit. The wildlife park  is reminiscent of an old-fashioned zoo I came to know in Northeastern Pennsylvania as a child growing up in the 1960s and 1970s. Although the former Nay Aug Park Zoo operated on a much smaller scale, weekly visits to the petting zoo and main park building cultivated a love and respect for animals that has grown stronger over the years.

I’m so pleased the Tobias family chose to carry on the tradition of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park with affordable family engagement and hands-on learning. You can thank J.R. Tobias for his vision and diligence that has spanned more than 50 years. Although this wildlife park dates back to 1965 on a tract of land where J.R. Tobias was born and raised, numerous expansion and renovations have enabled the Tobias family to continue their father’s dream by enhancing the park’s offerings and highlighting a variety of wild and exotic animals. The most notable improvements have occurred in the last 15 years with several new additions: custom-designed, expanded habitats for the tigers and black bears, African lion and baboon facility,  custom-designed Reptile and Exotics’ facility, food service areas, relocated and expanded Safari Station, J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center, and the opening of a giraffe exhibit. Plans for additional exhibits are also in the works.

J.R. Tobias Family owners
Jan Tobias-Kieffer is one of J.R. Tobias’ seven children who have chosen to carry on the Lake Tobias Wildlife Park tradition. Jan is shown inside the J.R. Tobias Museum and Education Center. 

J.R.’s daughter, Jan Tobias-Kieffer, said the wildlife park was a hobby her father could fall back on in his retirement. J.R. Tobias died in 1996 but his wife, Pauline, still lives in the homestead and six of the couple’s seven children and a grandson own and manage the wildlife park. Immediately, upon your entry into the park, you’ll notice the special care given to all the animals. They’re highly-socialized creatures that are genuinely happy to mingle with park guests. 

“My father always had a fascination with animals.” ~Jan Tobias-Kieffer




Meet the animals in person as I did on Thurs., Sept. 27, 2018, during my tour of the park. The park was at the top of my list of Harrisburg-Hershey attractions. I brought my life-long friend, Pennye Rosenfeld-Weinstein along to share in the fun. 

After dashing from my car to pick up our tickets at the Safari Station, we bought a large bag of popcorn to take with us to feed the animals we met on the safari. We made our way to the front of the line (yes, we cut in front of other visitors) so I could photograph Lenny, the Emu, classified as second-largest living bird by height and native to Australia.  Lenny was a mooch, to say the least. 

Exotic Animals Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Lenny, the Emu, didn’t waste any time when he knew popcorn was awaiting him at the gate. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Be prepared to greet the animals up close and personal at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Photo by Pennye Weinstein.
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
Thousands of children each year meet and greet the animals at Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. Their interaction allows them to learn more about an animal’s lifestyle and feeding habits. Lenny the Emu is an example of the pleasure children derive from a visit to the wildlife park.
Lenny, the Emu
Lenny spends his days hanging around by the Safari Station while waiting for guests to share their snacks.

(Recommendation: Don’t tempt Lenny or any other animal with food other than what is sold at the Safari Station and intended for the animals. Inquire at the Safari Station Snack Shop.)

Watch this documentary and learn the history of Lake Tobias Wildlife Park. The film was produced by Rutan Productions company and provided courtesy of Chip Rutan.


Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
The fleet of safari cruisers are ready for the crowds that visit Lake Tobias every year. Adventure-seekers can opt in for the 45-minute safari tour by purchasing tickets at the welcome center.

Our personal tour guide stopped numerous times along the Safari trail to allow visitors an opportunity to snap photos and greet and feed the animals. A fleet of “chop-top” safari cruisers are available to accommodate visitors who arrive at the park each year. You’ll find the hours of operation and directions to the park here.

Allow ample time to visit each of the exhibits at the park. The African Lion, American Alligator, American Black Bear, Asian Water Buffalo, Bengal Tiger, Burmese Python, Capybara, De Brazza, Monkey, Dromedary Camel, East African Crowned Crane, Eland, European Fallow Deer, Gemsbok, Grant’s Zebra, Green Tree Python, Marmoset, North American Bison, Ostrich, Peacock, Red Kangaroo, Rhea, Suri Alpaca, Tamarins, Two-Toed Tree Sloth, and the Watusi are among the animals you’ll find throughout the park. Each tour guide is well-trained and educated with an abundance of knowledge about the animals roaming the 150-acre countryside. Ask questions and expand your knowledge.

Lake Tobias Wildlife Safari
Ah, they were waiting to greet us as the tour guide navigated the safari bus along the straight and narrow trail.
Llamas and Alpacas Lake Tobias Wildlife Park
Don’t worry, “I won’t spit on you. I’m looking for attention.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Bison Buffalo
“We’re relaxing and not inclined to get up to greet you but thanks for stopping by today.”
Lake Tobias Wildlife Park Animals
“I wait for the corn treats. They’re my favorite.”

The Reptiles and Exotics Facility

Are you skittish about reptiles? The Reptiles and Exotics Facility is where you can work on your fear. If not, move on to the lizards, tortoises, tropical birds, lemurs, tamarins, and the sloth who was particularly active during my visit. Check the schedule for an educational demonstration that will round out a perfect day at the park.


where to see a sloth?
When the sloth is active, you’ll see him make his way up and down the branches.
Two Toed Tree Sloth
“Thanks for hanging around today. It’s a pleasure to meet and entertain you.”
Giant Tortoise
The crowd had time to study the GIANT Tortoise.
American Alligator Photo Information
Professional handlers and educators run the educational demonstrations held throughout the day.

(RECOMMENDATION: Take a break and enjoy a picnic lunch at one of the tables along the lake. You can purchase food at The Hub Refreshment Stand, the Grille & Grub and the Chill Zone in the center of the park or the new Safari Station snack shop or bring your own lunch.)

As the self-sustaining, family-owned Lake Tobias Wildlife Park continues to grow and attract more than 170,000 visitors each season, my readers should also be aware that this enduring and charming entity relies strictly on park revenue to feed the animals and support its educational and building programs. I know you’ll also feel the love and respect that emanates from each exhibit. As for J.R. Tobias’ children, who’ve never known a life without their animals, Jan told me she is grateful to be a part of her father’s calling.

She noted, “We always thought it (growing up in a park) was normal for us – peacocks yelling in your bedroom window, whereas our friends thought this was really cool. For us, it was an everyday thing,” Jan said.





Lake Tobias Wildlife Park is located at 760 Tobias Road, Halifax, Pa. For updated hours or other information, call 717-362-9126 Mon., to Fri., 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. or email

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit


My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 


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Air Travel Art and Culture art of travel Cruises Custom trips and tours European Travel Family Travel Lifestyle Smithsonian Journeys Travel the World Travel Tours

Journey with Smithsonian

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  • October 3, 2018
Smithsonian Journeys 2019 Trips
Smithsonian Journeys 2019 Trips
Photos courtesy of Paula Swart, Smithsonian Journeys travel expert

Preserve and Celebrate Through Travel

Smithsonian Journeys

Whether your dream vacation calls for a backpacking trip through any one of the seven continents or a personalized tour of ancient ruins or Japan’s centuries-old temples, Smithsonian Journeys primary goal is to bring the world’s diverse cultures and natural sciences to you by way of travel.

If you’re on the Smithsonian Journeys mailing list, I’m sure you’ve found the journey offerings exciting and intriguing, to say the least. I reached out to Paula Swart, Smithsonian Journeys travel expert and Karen A. Ledwin, Smithsonian Travel vice president, program management, for details about destinations and adventures that will stir your inner traveler.

Smithsonian Journeys 2019 Trip Itineraries
Photo courtesy of Paula Swart

Scroll down to see their answers.

First-Hand Learning

Paula Swart

Paula Swart’s primary role is to provide a relevant educational component to the trip experience.

Tell me about your most recent Smithsonian Journeys trip. Where did your travels take you?

Most recent trips, twice to Vietnam (overland and cruise) and one trip to Japan, the Inland Sea.

Where and when will you embark on your next Smithsonian Journeys trip?

Barge trip through Holland & Belgium September 21-29. Being a native of Holland and having traveled many times to Belgium, I have lectured several barge trips since 2013, usually in April/early May to see the flowering bulb fields.

Smithsonian Journeys 2019 Trip Itineraries
Photo courtesy of Paula Swart

How did your relationship with the Smithsonian evolve? How many trips have you taken on behalf of the Smithsonian?

I was approached in late 2016 and this will be my fourth Smithsonian trip. I have been involved in educational trips since the early 80s after studying for two years in China.

Smithsonian Journeys Trip Itineraries
Photo courtesy of Paula Swart.

What attracted you to Asian art, culture, and history and how have your experiences helped to prepare you for your trips, i.e. what do you find most fascinating about Asia? 

Growing up in The Netherlands with our colonial history in Indonesia, I experienced Asian culture from a very early age through food, art, literature, puppet performances, and storytelling, and in my professional life, I became a Curator of Asian Studies working in various Canadian museums. I am foremost interested in art, archaeology, and history, but it is always the people connections which give meaning to the travel experience. Visiting the same country on many occasions over a long period of time provides the opportunity for a deeper understanding, which in turn can be conveyed during my presentations, or if the opportunity arises write articles.

What are a few of your goals for your upcoming adventure? 

Reconnecting with the countries to be visited and to provide insightful presentations to the travelers.

What languages do you speak? 

Dutch, French, German, English, Chinese, in addition, I studied Japanese, Tibetan, and Spanish.

Travel Infusion

Karen A. Ledwin

What is the overall goal for each of the tour directors and experts you enlist?

The goal of Smithsonian Journeys tour staff is to deliver the high-quality experience our travelers expect and to ensure that Smithsonian’s mission of “the increase and diffusion of knowledge” is infused in the talks, discussions, excursions and other tour activities. See our difference on our website and the Backgrounder document for more details.

How do you choose a destination? What are the criteria?

Smithsonian Journeys has been operating cultural and educational tours for nearly 50 years and offers tours and cruises on all seven (7) continents in a variety of travel styles, including Classic Land, Cultural Stay, Small-Ship Ocean Cruises, River Cruises, Special Interest, Active, Family, Private Jet, and Tailor-Made. With such a long history in enrichment travel, a significant part of our portfolio is selected when our travelers tell us where and how they want to travel, both through sales and in their post-tour evaluations. In addition, new tour selections will often be centered around an anniversary (Leonardo Da Vinci’s 500th anniversary) or event (Chile Total Solar Eclipse) where we know our curious and worldly travelers have an interest.

What are a few of the activities your travel guests can expect to enjoy while on a Smithsonian Journeys trip?

Smithsonian Journeys tours and cruises are infused with talks, discussions, excursions and other activities – all delivering against our promise of in-depth learning and enrichment.

Do you offer opportunities to visit museums, shop?

While not the focus of our trips, during the free time people will certainly shop.

Do the trips allow time for participants to enjoy water activities or experience the peoples and cultures of a particular location, etc.?

Yes to all. One important and distinguishing feature is the inclusion of a Smithsonian Journeys Expert throughout the tour or cruise. One exception is on multi-generational Family Journeys where the focus is on interactive activities for the whole family from learning stage fighting at Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, to drawing al fresco in Tuscany. Another exception is found on our new Active Journeys where the act of walking and biking in small groups takes our travelers to smaller towns and villages, where local experts join the group in the evenings for a talk and/or the group visits their atelier, weaving center, or similar.

What are a few examples of trips that uncover the “authentic culture of each destination, providing access unavailable to most travelers?” Would you describe Smithsonian’s signature travel experiences as “off the beaten path?”

Some of our Cultural Stay Journeys are based in small towns like an Andalusian Parador in the small, picturesque town of Antequera from which our travelers explore the region. And our three week Living in Provence program allows travelers the opportunity to live like a local in an Apart/Hotel and to participate in different enrichment tracks. We find that travelers want to see the iconic sites when they visit a destination but they also take delight in combining this with an off the beaten path stop or stops along the way. For example, on many of our journeys, we stay in small, distinctive accommodations that may be family owned, and the family treats our travelers as one of their personal guests.

For more information about upcoming Smithsonian Journeys, call 855-330-1542.

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Harrisburg Lodging Harrisburg/Hershey Lodging Hotel Indigo IHG hospitality Lodging near Pennsylvania State Capitol Modern Hotels Violet Oakley Art Where to stay in Harrisburg

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey

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  • September 25, 2018
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Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey
Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey
Hip, contemporary, and friendly are words to describe the Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey. Whether you’re visiting for business or pleasure, the hotel partners with many local businesses and attractions in both the Harrisburg and Hershey areas.


Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey

Each IHG Hotel Indigo location tells a story, said Austin Meyer Whitlock, Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey sales manager. Much of Harrisburg’s rich history is reflected in the art and decor of Harrisburg’s newest lodging option, a signature Hotel Indigo, 765 Eisenhower Blvd.,  Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Hotel Indigo Harrisburg - Hershey
Austin Meyer Whitlock is the sales manager at Hotel Indigo Harrisburg -Hershey, a contemporary, hip hotel.

Hotel Indigo Harrisburg -Hershey is part of the IHG® family of brands and is best described as a contemporary, hip hotel that’s ideal for guests of all ages, but particularly those who are looking for their not-so-typical, stylish boutique lodging experience. The first Hotel Indigo opened its door to the public in 2004 across from midtown Atlanta’s Fabulous Fox Theatre. Since the brand’s debut, each of its locations has been strategically placed in neighborhoods that support its commitment to the arts and entertainment. The local influence is profound and without a doubt, what sets Hotel Indigo apart from other accommodations nearby the Harrisburg – Hershey site. You’re greeted with fusion and hot jazz music playing in the background, which inevitably sets the stage for an unforgettable stay. You’ll be dazzled by the locally-sourced ART, food, and a rich décor with a color palette and blend of texture that reaches from the lobby to each of the guestrooms.

Violet Oakley artist
Violet Oakley was an American artist and trailblazer for women’s rights.  Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey honors her work with an interpretive image on display near the lobby.

Whitlock said his favorite decor item is an interpretive image of Violet Oakley, a turn-of-the-century artist, and trailblazer for women’s rights.  The mural is located at the beginning of the hallway close to the hotel’s meeting rooms.

He explained, “Ms. Violet Oakley was the first woman to receive a large commission for the Capitol Building and although she completed many (pieces of art) she did not receive much acclaim for them until later in her life.”

Whitlock shared his thoughts about Hotel Indigo in an EXCLUSIVE email and in-person interview that culminated on Fri., Sept. 28. 

How does the Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey compare with IHG’s other properties?

I will enunciate upon this a little bit later – but the cool thing about Hotel Indigo as a brand under the IHG umbrella is that it can’t be compared to a Holiday Inn or a Candlewood. Those brands are of course well known and established, but they are built on the idea that you can have the same expectation for them no matter which one you go to. Hotel Indigo is different, each and every one is unique.

How would you describe the hotel and its overall atmosphere?

I would describe our hotel as being modern, crisp, clean and open. Here you will find shiny surfaces, angled lines (reflecting the Harrisburg bridges and architecture) comfortable furnishing, and lots of natural light.

What do you believe is Hotel Indigo’s role in the Harrisburg/Hershey communities? How do the surrounding communities benefit from Hotel Indigo?

One fun fact about the Hotel Indigo Harrisburg-Hershey is that we are the first Hotel Indigo not to be built directly in a downtown or metropolitan area. That, of course, makes us unique and gives us a distinct advantage; we are smack in the middle of two great central Pennsylvania hubs – Harrisburg and Hershey. As mentioned previously our design and inspiration come from Harrisburg, but we love Hershey here as well. You’ll see this right away when taking a look at our Grab and Go food section. We also partner with and are located near a variety of Hershey attractions. We have a great shopping center directly across the street with tons of shopping and other food and beverage options as well – and we love to give suggestions on our favorite local spots.

What is the single most interesting fact about Hotel Indigo?

As mentioned prior – the single most interesting thing about Hotel Indigo is that no two are alike – each one is built to tell its own unique neighborhood story. There is no other Hotel Indigo like our Hotel Indigo, and we work to embrace that here. From our one of a kind shades featuring a topographical map of the Susquehanna River and the Harrisburg Area to our Riverrun restaurant and bar – you won’t find another hotel like us.

What is your background and how did your position as Hotel Indigo sales manager evolve?

I joined the staff at the beautiful Hotel Indigo Harrisburg Hershey as sales manager in July 2018 and first received my Bachelors in Communications in 2015. Directly out of college I worked for a company that did B2B training programs for hotels and restaurants. There I was a production manager and worked to coordinate internal projects and facilitate training video shoots with various hotels and restaurants. This gave me a lot of behind the scenes insight into the hotel and food and beverage industries. I then went on to work for an entertainment company where I also worked with coordinating various weddings and events with a variety of different hotels and other venues. I also have a plethora of different sales experience working for a telecommunications company and doing event promotion in the Philadelphia area. I joined on with the beautiful Hotel Indigo Harrisburg Hershey this past July and have been here since!

How does your restaurant menu(s) work with the region?

By brand, 20% of all Hotel Indigo’s F&B must be locally sourced. On our menu, you will find Kunzler’s bacon, Elementary coffee, and Urban Churn ice cream – all locally established brands that anyone visiting the area will come to love. We serve Spring Gate wine and Troegs beer as well – some other local favorites.

What are a few of the perks related to your role at the hotel?

I would say that the biggest perk for me is I get to be involved in helping each and every guest in our hotel feel special and appreciated. I love people and I love hospitality and anything I can do to make someone staying with us have an even better day is a plus for me.

The number to call for reservations is 1-800-496-7361 or reach the hotel directly at 1-717-558-7676.

For more information about Hershey and Harrisburg attractions, visit

My trip was hosted and comped by Visit Hershey & Harrisburg but my opinions are my own and are based on my personal experiences. 


Check back again for “A Story to Tell: Part Two” or sign up for my mailing list and you’ll receive notifications when new articles appear.

#hotelindigoharrisburghershey #joanmatsuibesttravelwriter #joanmatsuiavidtraveler #visithersheyharrisburg

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