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Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Sweet Endings – Traveling for Dessert 7.6.11

Book coming soon! Has Shereen Travels Cheap helped you save money through the blog, Facebook or Twitter? Would you like a free book copy? I’m looking for positive quotes for my book cover (or maybe the inside) and need your help! Leave a comment – or use the email me button on the right – with your quote, your first name and your location (city/state or city/country) and if I choose yours as one I use, I’ll contact you to get you a free copy of my book!

So, you all probably know by now how I love eating on vacation. Heck, I love eating at home, too, but on vacation it seems more special and exciting. Plus, there are usually new cuisines that are local to where I’m traveling. And, since calories don’t count on vacation*, I often have dessert. It’s not something you have every day and it can also really end your awesome meal on a high note. It also gives you a chance to try sweets from a different region, which can sometimes be completely different than what you’re used to. Like in London, we had to try sticky toffee pudding and in Ecuador we had the chance to try eucalyptus ice cream. The verdict? Sticky toffee pudding = yummy! Eucalyptus ice cream = oddly soapy tasting. I wouldn’t recommend it.

So, while you don’t always get something super delicious, you can at least say you tried it and have a fun new experience to tell your family and friends (or readers!) about. I like to try something new as much as possible, so when I see something on a menu that I’ve either never tried or never heard of, if it’s not something I would find disgusting, I’ll try it! Of course, sometimes if you can’t particularly read a menu (as in you’re in a foreign land), you might get a surprise, like raw egg on your pizza, but that’s to be expected. Chalk it up to bad luck and order something else if you don’t share or trade with someone else.

Let’s look at some deals and desserts from around the globe!

*Okay, I know this isn’t true, but with all the walking I do on vacation, it should count for something. Coming home weighing the same or a few pounds lighter confirms that I’m at least doing my part to exercise off those extra carbs and sugars.

Kao Niaow Ma-Muang – Sweet Sticky Rice with Ripe Mango and Coconut Cream might be something you see in a lot of Thai restaurants. It’s a common dessert and I find that most Thai desserts tend toward the fruity side of the sweet spectrum, making them fairly healthy, but still a fun end to a meal. If you can’t go to Thailand, you can make it yourself.

Take advantage of SniqueAway’s amazing offer to stay a Lebua at State Tower in Bangkok. Room rates start at just $85 per night for a balcony suite, which means you can get a great view of the city and also have a separate bedroom and sitting room. Lebua has the world’s highest al fresco restaurant called Sirocco, plus there’s a beautiful pool (and kid’s pool!), Skybar, a café, fully equipped fitness center, complimentary daily breakfast, free WiFi, shuttle bus service to Saphan Taksin Station and more! It was even used as one of the filming locations for The Hangover Part II. All suites have a kitchenette, in-room Internet access, large floor plans and balconies. So, when you’re not enjoying the cuisine provided on-site or around Bangkok, you can grab some groceries and make a bit of your own cuisine. Book by 7/11.

Crepes – This probably isn’t the most popular of the French desserts, but it is one of my favorites and one I found stalls for on many a street corner in Paris. You can get a variety of delectable fillings from strawberries to chocolate, fold it up and eat it while you stroll through the city. Of course, you can also get them in restaurants and enjoy them sitting down. Crepes aren’t hard to make, but they do take practice to master. You don’t need to have a fancy crepe pan like I do though – I can guarantee you it won’t make you a better crepeier! (yes, I made that word up.) Here’s a recipe to get you started.

Get your crepes right from the source and leave the baking to professionals and take on the best part – eating them! TopTable is will get into that fabulous French restaurant or café with 2-for-1 deals and special pricing/menus for reservations made through them. It’s free to sign up and book tables and on top of your discounts, you get points for each reservation you complete, which brings you closer to free dining certificates!

American Airlines has last-minute international getaways on sale. Jump on a plane next weekend and get your travel fix! Book by midnight on July 10 and start your trip between July 12 and July 15, returning by July 20! Make sure you pack your passport!

You’re going to need to plan some stuff to do in between eating crepes, so don’t forget to pick up your Paris Pass before you go. Gain entry into many attractions and museums, such as the Musee Dorsay, Arc de Triomphe, Palace of Versailles and the Louvre. Skip the ticket queues, pay one price for everything on the list and also get a 120 page guidebook and discounts for dining, shopping and transportation.

Flan – Not known for their overly sweet desserts, flan is a perfect example of Mexican meal-enders. A soft custard that is topped with caramel. It can be vanilla flavored, but also coconut or fruit is common. The word “flan” actually comes from France and you can find the dessert in many other countries as well. Try your own hand at it with this simple recipe.

American Airlines would like to help you realize your flan-devouring dreams with their all-inclusive resort event. Choose 3-, 4-, or 5-star resorts in Cancun, Puerto Vallarta or Los Cabos from just $461 per person. This includes a flight and 4 night’s lodging. Of course all your food, drinks, entertainment and some activities are also included, so you won’t even have time to worry about being bored! You can even add more nights if you want. Book early for best deal availability.

If you live in Southern California, Hotwire has a 3-night Mexico cruise for 20% off. Cruise to Ensenada from $349 per person.

You can also take advantage of Mexico with CheapCaribbean's all-inclusive packages. 4-nights lodging (with food, beverages, entertainment and more) and RT airfare from $399 per person.

Download a TripLingo language app. Today (7/6) you can get each language app for just $2.99. Regular price is $9.99. TripLingo apps allow you to communicate like a native and get by in all situations when you aren't fluent in a language.

Lamington Cake – Australia knows how to do dessert! The lamington cake is a vanilla sponge cake filled with jam and rolled in chocolate and coconut. It pretty much has everything in it a dessert can have. Depending on the size, this might be a good one to share with a friend. Make it at home if you’re dying to try it before you get a chance to head to the land down under for the authentic version.

Get $500 off vacation packages with AAVacations. Use promo code SYD500 to save off your trip deal that includes flight and hotel, plus any activities you choose. Sydney packages per couple can start as low as $2,800, which is almost as much as just the airfare would cost you if you booked it separately. Book your package by July 31 and travel now through May 31, 2012 to take advantage of this offer. Hold a koala, dive off the Great Barrier Reef, drive the Australian Wine Trail, see the Sydney Opera House and eat lamington cakes to your heart’s content!

Plan to visit to Melbourne with my budget OneNote! Great money-saving options in the city for one day or MORE. You can also see my blog post on using OneNote for your travel planning.

Baklava – I love the sticky crunchiness of baklava! Good thing my in-laws are Greek and make this for many occasions. Although filo dough layered with chopped nuts and honey doesn’t sound all that hard to make, and it isn’t, it’s so much better when someone else makes it. Traditionally, it’s made with walnuts, but I’ve also had it made with almonds and it’s just as delicious. If you don’t have a local place to get it or you want a whole batch to yourself, here’s a great recipe.

Budget Travel is offering its readers a fantastic deal on Greece. $700 for a 7-night trip to the Greek Isles. Spend 2 nights at the 4-star Golden Age Hotel in Athens and 5 nights at the 4-star San Marco Hotel on Houlakia Bay in Mykonos. Your package also includes round-trip island transfers, ferry transfers from Athens to Mykonos, Mykonos to Athens flight, daily breakfast, hotel taxes and travel insurance.

It's going to be a book soon! That's right, my book is finally going to be available for you to purchase. This leads me to ask you two things:
  • What tips are most useful or interesting to you? Leave a comment on this post to let me know.
  • Have I helped you save on a trip? If so, I'm looking for positive comments to use on my cover. Use the "email me" button or leave a comment with praise, your first name and where you live (city and state). If I end up using your awesome comment, I'll contact you for your other details and send you a copy of my book when it comes out! It will also be available on Kindle, if you would rather have that version. 

Want to see your trip photos on my blog?  I can always use great pictures, especially from my readers. Use the email me button on the right to send me a few of your favorites. I'll credit you if I use them! (Make sure you include what or where it is.)

Help me make it to 1,500 Facebook fans and be a winner! I'm giving away travel games for your summer trips. They are fun and help pass the time. Here's what you need to do: "Like" Shereen Travels Cheap (if you haven't already) and enter to win the travel games giveaway. Then, suggest Shereen Travels Cheap to all your Facebook friends and tell them they can enter to win, too. When they enter, they enter your name as the one who referred them and you get another entry for each friend who names you! When we reach 1,500 fans, 2 lucky winners will be chosen via Random.org.

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