Le Tour de France

If you’ve been noticing a fair amount of cyclists on the way to work today you’ve been a victim of the July craze that is the Tour de France. The Tour de France is the ultimate annual cycling event in the world. Taking place in France every July, the 23 day competition takes the riders through a rigorous 3,500 mile course hitting every terrain the country has to offer. The race typically goes through one stage a day for 20 days and consists of over 150 riders. A stage can be anywhere from 50 to 300 miles in one day, ending with a sprint through Paris to the finish line.

This year America’s Lance Armstrong is trying to make a comeback and win an unprecedented 8th Tour de France. Armstrong is the all time leader with 7 wins which he won consecutively from 1999 to 2005. Armstrong is the prototypical hero to millions; surviving from testicular and brain cancer to win one of the most grueling physical competitions multiple times.

During the tour there are so many stops and checkpoints, making your stay in any region will most likely give you a look at the race from the roadside. Locals come out of their towns to celebrate the event and cheer their countrymen on. If you’d ever had the urge to participate in a foreign national pastime, this is fairly easy to assimilate into. Some mainstay hotspots on the tour include Montpellier, Marseille, Monaco and Paris. Go to the official Tour de France website to keep up with Lance, and check out any of the cities you’d like to visit.

World Cup 2010

Hey adventurous traveler, I know you’ve been waiting for a chance to visit South Africa. What may seem a year away is just around the corner if you want to SAVE MONEY. The U.S. Soccer team is making headlines by making it to the finals of the Confederations Cup.

This is the last major international Soccer tournament leading up to the world cup. Take your family to South Africa for the 2010 FIFA Soccer World Cup, or just yourself, if they are unwilling to go. For the first time ever the largest single sporting event in the world is taking place on the African continent. Enjoy an Olympic style atmosphere for half the cost by attending the most watched sporting event 30 years running.

The South African government has spent over 2 billion dollars renovating new sporting facilities, public transportation and local historical tours. This is the perfect dream vacation for friends but especially families. In between enjoying the matches, take your family out for a Safari that the kids have been nagging you about for years. Now you have an excuse to travel to Africa in a safe environment surrounded by gentle folk from around the globe.

Like the Olympics this opportunity only comes around every four years. If you wait until the international buzz about the world cup is upon you, you’ll be out of luck to find tickets to the matches.

Don’t get beat to the punch, this is your chance to score tickets for any match you prefer. The world cup lasts two weeks, so whatever your schedule is, you will find time to be a part of this global party. 3 million tickets will be sold, but not all of them will be available to the public, so booking your flights and hotels now will save you at least 500 dollars.

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Staycations with Anthony Bourdain

We have the latest scoop on his first U.S. episode of the new season of Anthony Bourdain’s show, No Reservations.

Anthony Bourdain is the renown gourmet chef, author and television personality. While attending Vassar College he became interested in cooking and went on to graduate from the Culinary Institute of American in 1978. From there he went on to run various restaurant kitchens in New York City including: Sullivan’s, One Fifth Avenue and Supper Club. Because of his family’s French heritage and his study of classics in culinary school, his role in the restaurant catapulted him to the role of executive chef at Brasserie Les Halles in Manhattan. From there Anthony went on to become an acclaimed culinary writer.

The Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, his first book debut, led to a television offer. Bourdain went on to write two more books and produce the food network series before landing his Emmy nominated show No Reservations. In its fifth season, “No Reservations” travels the world seeking out the not so popularized eating havens of today. Like our gonzo journalists here at HotelReservations.com, Tony seeks out the cheapest and best experiences before the rest of the world has caught on. He secretly works for us…:)

The first episode of this season airs July 13th in Chile. But in relevance to our endeavors, check out the 3rd episode on July 27th on the Travel Channel to check out some great eating staycations to help you become the ultimate connoisseur of underground U.S. culture. Tony will be traveling to Baltimore, Detroit and Buffalo. Although you may be imagining a grey cloud hovering over these cities in between the crime and traffic, the old hard working cities of the eastern U.S. have a culture and vibe that cannot be re-created by resorts or newly booming cities.

Food, art, architecture and personality are aspects that take years to develop in a dense city. This is certainly why everyone loves to travel to Europe; there is a vibe and culture of honesty that surrounds you when you walk along cobblestones. When a new resort is opened up most of the attractions are new, and have been put there just to attract tourism. When you step into Buffalo or Detroit, the food and places of entertainment have survived years of bad economies and emigration. This honing of a city is what gives the bricks the same dark hue that you see on the shops of European towns. So please, go check it out before the episode airs so you are ahead of the curve. Catch a ballgame, eat some American pastime and catch some local music. I don’t have to tell you how cheap it is to visit these cities, you already know. Safe Travels until next time.

4 Festivities for Your 4th of July

National Independence Day Parade – Washington D.C.

If you’re into large crowds then viva the July 4th with the masses and head to D.C. for the largest annual 4th of July parade in the country. Every year, Washington D.C. fittingly sets off Independence Day with a bang that’s highlighted by a parade of elaborate floats stretching down Constitution Avenue. With more than 25 bands and 400,000-yes 400,000 spectators, there will be plenty of opportunities to indulge in entertainment. Plus, this celebration has the all day factor.

Why travel somewhere else for just two hours of fireworks?

After you’ve scoped out the parade explore the sights and museums then head over to the Capitol Building where the National Symphony Orchestra will perform to the tune of the largest televised fireworks exhibition in the country.

Plan to arrive the night before to prep for the crowds and plan to stay for at least two nights to recover from the fun. Don’t rent a car, the streets will all be closed off and driving in the district is hell anyway. Take a taxi and book a hotel somewhere close by, like the Hilton Garden Inn on 14th street; this will give you a mere 5 block walk down to Constitution Avenue. There is no better reminder of diversity in America, than this 4th of July fiesta. Whether, you like to Fiesta, Partay, or Petit Fete…come to DC, for the ultimate Partay.

Boston Harborfest – Boston Massachusetts

20 years ago, Boston Harborfest began as a humble festival with 30 events. Today, the 7 day celebration has grown to more than 20 concentrated events and is considered “THE” national Independence Day celebration in the country. The Boston Harborfest showcases the Maritime and Colonial vale of the revolution. Critics have heralded it as one of the best family celebrations to attend because of its vast array of booths, activities and entertainment. Events take place in the historic district and on the waterfront but the main events held exclusively on Boston’s City Hall Plaza. Because of its colonial heritage, the festival trumpets, the austere aura of archaic American culture that has fizzled out over the last couple centuries. The immersion into colonial Americana is completely outfitted with opulent revolutionary war costumes. Tours reenact the American revolution regularly. I guarantee the 4th of July will move up a notch on your top 3 holiday places to celebrate list. Otherwise, send me an email and tell me why YOUR local holiday celebration takes the cake.

Summerfest 09′ – Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Welcome to the self proclaimed “World’s Largest Music Festival”. Summerfest begins the week prior to the 4th and is the culmination of events and concerts that ushers in summer. This cornucopious music-fest is one of the best annual music event on the planet. If you don’t believe us, you might listen to the Guinness Book of World Records, that has made the same proclamation about Summerfest, the event has comedy acts, shopping vendors and of course, fireworks. Known as the “Big Gig”, Summerfest takes place in Henry Maier Festival Park and has been an annual tradition since 1968. Everyone who is a real musician has taken part, including the Grateful Dead, Sting, Prince and Eric Clapton, all whom have graced the main stage at this ultimate celebration. The 11 day playbill featuring over 700 bands that culminates in the the ultimate fireworks show on the 4th of July. If you’ve been looking for something more than your standard-issue snap, crackle and pop fireworks show, then Summerfest 09? may just be your calling.

Macy’s Firework Celebration – New York, New York

40,000 shells at a rate of 1,200 explosions per minute is a lot of sparkle that is a kaleidoscope you must see to appreciate. Take a gander at some of the photos and see if you can wrap your head around the cacophony of colors crackling in the summer sky of New York City. Save this piece of endless summer memory for your scrapbook and experience the ultimate July 4th fireworks bonanza, and try to attend Macy’s Fireworks show and parade on the Hudson River.

This global event is complete with NBC coverage, featuring international performers and the ultimate in fireworks. Besides, it’s New York, and everybody needs a good excuse to get away to the Big Apple. If you are looking for a crowd then New York is the place to be-fireworks or not. The show sets the Manhattan skyline ablaze as skyscrapers reflect and intensify the explosions overhead and the familiar smell of summer sulfur fills the night sky.

We must warn you about the patriotic themed scores that will trumpet in the background, bringing flashbacks to emotional movie moments, which has brought many to tears. You won’t catch me crying, but, if we run into each other, I will have a box of tissues ready for you.

The best views for this year will be between the 23rd and 59th blocks of Manhattan’s west side. These public spots will fill up quick so get there early to snag a good patch of real estate.

New York City parking guru “Gridlock Sam” says the best viewing area will probably be south of 42nd Street along the pier by the Circle Line. Other prime West Side public viewing spots include:

Dewitt Clinton Park (Access from 11th Avenue)

Pier 54 (Limited access from 14th St.)

Pier 84 (Limited Access from 44th St.)

Needing a more upscale location to enjoy the show? There are plenty of premier venues in up for grabs. Try the Chandelier Room at the new W Hotel in Hoboken (New Jersey). If you’re feeling really ambitious the 86th Floor Observatory at the Empire State Building is selling tickets for $125 dollars per person. And our third pick would have to be the Hudson Terrace located off the west side highway (621 West 42nd St.) for $125 dollars you can get an all you can eat gourmet buffet and for $75 dollars more you get a private cabana for 15 to watch the show in private (ish) luxury.

Check out some of the top 10 4th of July hot spots!

1. Boston

2. Cape Cod, Marthas Vinyard, Nantucket

3. Chicago

4. Mount Rushmore

5. Philadelphia

6. Queen Mary 2 (docked in Long Beach, CA)

7. San Diego

8. San Juan Island

9. U.S. Virgin Islands

10. Washington D.C.