How Was the Trip to L.A.?

June 12, 2006

 In our special Girlfriend Getaways issue, we coached four friends from Idaho going to Los Angeles to celebrate turning 40. The women tell us they had a fantastic time. "We gawked, gabbed, and giggled our way through L.A.," says Tracie Finney. "We noted many times how our husbands would never go for the things we were doing."

Trip highlights included taking a Starline bus tour through ritzy neighborhoods where the stars live, a face-to-face run-in with Tim Allen while he was promoting The Shaggy Dog, shopping in Beverly Hills, "lots of laughs" at Menopause: The Musical, and a taping of Ellen DeGeneres's talk show. "We stayed at the Chamberlain West Hollywood," says Tracie. "Loved that hotel. The room was lovely, comfortable, and quiet. The staff was beyond friendly. If we had a question, they had an answer."

On their final day, the women headed to Venice Beach, where this picture was taken (from left: Tracie, Allison, Dalene, and Debbie). "It was a very successful trip," says Tracie. "We have tons of great new memories. Thank you again!" 

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    Table of Contents: July/August 2006

    Highlights from the July/August 2006 issue: My Shanghai Is Better Than Yours As the editor of, Dan Washburn has learned far more about Shanghai that we ever could hope to, so we've invited him to tell us the best places to eat, shop, and play Plus: Download the Shanghai listings (PDF) Secret Hotels of the Amalfi Coast Reid Bramblett scoured Italy's cliffside villages--and the island of Capri, while he was at it--for million-dollar views at hundred-dollar prices Rome Snap Guide Slide show: The Amalfi Coast Why Drive Yourself Crazy? Excruciating commutes . . . Three-dollar gallons of gas . . . The never-ending quest for a parking space . . . You need a vacation--from your car. In these four friendly cities, you can walk everywhere you want to go Maps of walkable cities 20 Tips Find out why you might want to a pack a shoe organizer, contact lens case, or light stick on your next trip Trip Coach: Europe A couple from Madison, Wis., asks for our help planning the pit stops on their motorcycle tour around Europe New Hotels in New York City Midmarket brands are opening sleek hotels all across Manhattan, delivering a quality of life most new arrivals take years to achieve Map of new hotels in NYC Why Haven't You Heard of the Lavezzi Islands? There are no hotels on the Lavezzi Islands. No cafes, either. Not even a single toilet. And that's precisely why people come. Made in Uruguay A growing community of designers is bringing new life--and style--to Montevideo's Ciudad Vieja This Just In! Sleep with the fishes at the National Aquarium in Baltimore, play free golf when staying at a Hilton Garden Inn, and cruise for $24 per night on EasyCruise in Holland and Belgium Climbing Cape Town Hikers on a new cushy three-day trail can expect to encounter at least one tablecloth along the way Plus: Download the Cape Town Snap Guide Urban Treasure Hunts Looking to explore a favorite city and meet interesting people? Go on a newfangled treasure hunt Discount Airlines in Mexico Low-fare carriers are transforming the way travelers zip around Europe, Asia, the U.S.--and now, Mexico Outdoor Gear: On Sale By midsummer, companies are already looking to the next season, unloading warm-weather inventory at steep discounts Keep Your Dog's Tail Wagging American Kennel Club staffers offer tips for traveling with your pet Finally, a Tent With No Assembly Required See how the Quechua 2-Seconds Tent works Photo Solutions While some digital cameras are loaded with gimmicks you'll never use, a few new ones have genuinely practical tools. Get the Most Out of Your African Safari It's a big trip in terms of time, planning, and money--so before heading into the lion's den, conduct a bit of research Trip Coach: Planning an African Safari To Boycott or Not to Boycott The truth is, there are pros and cons to visiting countries with sketchy human rights records Maximize Your iPod The ultimate on-the-go gadget can do a lot more than just play tunes Road Trip: The Catskills In the Borscht Belt, organic greens are beginning to trump Shecky Greenes. But if you skip the summer classics--like hiking and tubing--the joke's on you 40 Best Vacations The real deals right now True Stories Travel is stranger, funnier, and more heartwarming than fiction. Plus, a chance to win round-trip Business Premier Class tickets to New Zealand from Air New Zealand or four nights at the Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, a RockResort in Colorado. What $100 Buys in...Nevis The Caribbean island is almost always mentioned in the same breath as its sister, St. Kitts--and yet Nevis has a spirit entirely its own.

    True Stories

    New Prize: Luxury in Colorado If yours is the best response before August 31, you'll win four nights at The Lodge & Spa at Cordillera, a RockResort in Colorado. The chateau-style lodge is on a private mountain. Prize includes accommodations, two lift tickets to Beaver Creek Resort, and two massages at The Lodge's spa. Valid December 1, 2006, to April 1, 2007. Subject to availability, nontransferable, nonnegotiable. Blackout dates apply. For more information on RockResorts: How to enter E-mail or mail to True Stories, Budget Travel, 530 Seventh Ave., 2nd Fl., New York, NY 10018. We can't return photos. Read the full guidelines. April's winner The winner of the April contest is Nicole Andersen of Santa Barbara, Calif. Her prize: business-class airfare for two to London, courtesy of MAXjet. While studying abroad in Beijing, I visited the Badaling section of the Great Wall. In a strange twist of fate, I became the tourist attraction. The locals marveled at my long blond hair and asked me to pose for countless photos. One vendor approached me and commented on my "golden" hair. I smiled and nodded. "Golden hair," she said. "I buy." I gave her a strange look and declined. She started offering me money. Not wanting to give up my hair, I kept refusing. She got agitated and walked away. I was heading back to the bus when she came chasing after me, brandishing a pair of scissors and yelling, "Golden hair! Golden hair!" Needless to say, I ran faster than I had in a long time. May's winner The winner of the May contest is Carol Banning of San Pedro, Calif. Her prize: a seven-night trip to the Eastern Cape of South Africa, courtesy of South African Airways Holidays. While in the Czech Republic, my husband and I drove to a small city called Cesky Krumlov, where we checked into the Hotel Renesance. The next day we visited the castle, tasted the cuisine, and sampled many local beers. As a matter of fact, we did a pretty good pub crawl before calling it a night. Try as we might, however, we couldn't find our hotel. We thought we knew where it was located, and which cobblestoned streets led there, but the only place that resembled the Hotel Renesance was named Leonardo. After four trips around the block--and much head-scratching--we went up to the door and tried our key. It worked! While we were cavorting around the city, the Hotel Renesance got a new name! Someone didn't get the memo about being jolly On the Rome subway, my wife and I were seated across from a rather rotund woman. From what she was saying to her companion, we determined her to be German. The car was crowded, as they often are in Rome, and as we reached the next stop, she tried to "scusa" herself past a large group of people--but she couldn't quite squeeze by. "Maybe she should try it sideways," I laughingly said to my wife, in a voice that turned out to be too loud. The German woman glared at me and said, "I haft no sidevays!" Richard J. Cinquino, Philadelphia, Pa. That, or your husband has a bit of explaining to do My husband and I booked a cabin in an eco-resort in Belize. When we arrived, there were chickens running loose around the grounds. The owner explained that they were his insect exterminators. That night we kept all of our windows open, and in the early morning, I heard a chicken squawking close by--very close. She was in our bed! And she loved being petted. When we got up, we discovered that she'd laid an egg. Thea Platt, Shelburne, Vt. It is a heck of a view As my travel partners and I were lining up for group pictures at Machu Picchu, a llama wandered in to be part of the scene. But no amount of cajoling or coaxing could make him face the camera--he just wanted to admire the view. Somebody got the idea to turn us around and take the picture that way! Dave Shelly, Wichita, Kans. Picking a fight My first night out in Rio ended at 4 a.m. Everything was as I'd dreamed--beautiful and friendly Cariocas, great music, superb dancing. Being a young man, I figured I'd be safe walking to my hotel alone. With the threat of a knife, however, five young thugs emptied my pockets. I was shaken, but my vacation would go on. (I had travelers checks back at the hotel.) Then I realized a far bigger horror! Their loot included my Afro pick. This was too much to lose! All fear of these adolescents vanished. I yelled a loud "yo" and simulated the motion of picking my hair with my comb. One boy ran back and returned it--along with my credit cards. Neville C. Hughes, New York, N.Y. You can find more True Stories in the July/August 2006 issue of Budget Travel magazine.