Friday, December 19, 2008

Branson Missouri...Enjoy a Smoky Mountain Christmas...and Get a Branson Hotel

Branson Missouri has slowly crept into the conscienseness as being a destination resort. Branson has been heralded as one of the greatest cities to in having the most shows and theaters. Well if you happen to be in the Branson area there is a great celebration that the people from this charming town of the Ozark Mountains Celebrates each year. It's called the Smoky Mountain Christmas Celebration. The general time line of this celebration begins the day after the pumpkins are put away from Halloween and culimnates on New Year's Eve. This year, 2008 marks the 20th Annual Celebration of this Festival

Let's take a look at some of the great things to take part in at Branson's Smoky Mountain Christmas Celebration.

Silver Dollar City - This is a Theme Park in the area that offers rides, entertainment, shows and great food. Further, the park is modeled and themed for 1880's America. During the Smoky Mountain celebration the theme park turns into a winter wonderland. Every night during the Smoky Mountain Christmas Festival, Silver Dollar City puts on a wonderful Christmas Parade that includes floats that have over 100,000 Christmas lights combined on them. Imgaine pulling that line of lights out of a knot.

DollyWood - Named after the famous entertainer Dolly Parton, this theme park is just as wonderful for the Smoky Mountain Christmas Celebration. This year Dollywood's theme is Babes in Toyland. This is a wonderul musical that has over 20 people in the production and is backed by a tremendous professional orchestra. The show is put on every night and will run to January 3rd 2009.

Last on our tour of Branson's Christmas Bonanza is the Shepherd of the Hills Trail of Lights. I can honestly say words don't do it justice, because it really is amazing. The drive is called the Magical Christmas Wonderland and takes the tour of the entire city up to what is called Inspiration Tower.

This weekend you might be able to find some great Branson Hotel Deals. The average rates I'm seeing right now fora stay starting tomorrow, December 20th, are about $100 a night. Remember I said average, which includes the higher end properties. One of the more incredible spots is the Chateau on the Lake in Branson. Another solid property to visit is the Radisson Hotel Branson. Both hotels are offering rates in the neighborhood of $129 and $69 respectively.

For more information about the Smoky Mountain Christmas or for more information about Branson Missouri and all there is to see and do check out the link provided.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Christmas in Italy...Traveling to Rome During the Holiday Season..

Rome Italy Vacation and Travel Our gregoreous and happy go lucky purple ape, known to many you affectionately sure does love to travel. Oddly, as he was reviewing the posts to his blog he realized that he has neglected to talk about the beauty and style of destinations outside of the United States. Once again, trying to maintain a theme of reflecting on the holiday season our simian friend thought it would be fun to discuss both traveling to a destination outside of the United States and doing so doing the Holiday season. That is, what kind of traditions, fun, events, etc, etc, could the would be traveler find should he or she venture to a foreign land during the holiday season. We chose the beautiful and ancient city of Rome Italy.

If any of you out there have family or friends of Italian desent, or have the priviledge of being so, you can all attest that the traditions, feast and events surrounding the Holiday season for the Italians is bright, fun and festive. Oh, yeah, and the food is just incredible. Venturing outside to Italy itself does offer a slight variation on the traditions and foods one might find in an Italian American household or party during the Holiday season. If you do happen to go on a Rome Italy Vacation, and it is during the festive holiday season here are somethings to expect. What one has to remember is that Rome, as a city, is ancient and much of the traditions for Christmas date back to the actual Roman Empire era or antiquity. One of the traditions that was very common in Italy, but I have reccently found out, is that during the Christmas season the Holiday is ushered in by festivities including fifers, or to best translate, musicians that play a bagpipe type of instrument. The sound carries through the city and really offers a "feel" to the season. As I mentioned, sadly, this tradition is fading from the scene. Now unlike the United States, in Italy a decorative Nativity scene is the focal point of decorations in homes and around the city. Another difference in Italy is the legend of Santa Clause. Children in Italy still look fondly to Christmas to venture to sleep and but look to a female version known as La Befana. This Christmas gift giver is said to fly around on a broom but their night comes on the day of January 6th for the Feast of the Epiphany. The day to celebrate the arrival of the three Wise Men visiting baby Jesus.

There are many other great traditions, but you can see for each country a little something different and wonderful is a part of the tradition. If you happen along to Rome Italy, be sure to enjoy all the holiday has to offer.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Top Ten Office Holiday Party Offenses...

Holiday Office Party TipsWell here at the holidays are in high gear. Sure the economy has been sluggish but the Ape himself has made his way to the offices more than usual the past few weeks just to offer some extras encouragement. I'm sure I don't have to say that everyone loves him here. Travel Ape brings with him quite a bit of exuberance, spirit and fun. Well we're preparing for the annual Holiday Party, and it occurred to me, there's probably no one event that could be the death nail to many on the job when it comes to these events. So I figured I'd offer my own bit of advice when it comes to going to the office holiday party. I hope these tips help.

The first bit of advice is whether you're required to go to the office holliday party. Sure to most employees, the office party is nothing more than an extension of work and therefore an extension of the politics, the rules and everything else that goes along with work. To some extent, sadly enough this is true. We can't always hope that the workers that work for us, will behave like adults. Party's are associated with fun, drinking and to some degree letting loose. So when it comes to the choice of attending or not attending, just know this...just go..unless there is some unforseen God awful thing that has come up and you can't attend, there is no way around management not looking into the fact that you're not there. They have put the time, effort and money to try and show their appreciation for you so by not showing up you're giving them a big flag as to what you feel about the company.

The second bit of advice is for God's sake don't go to the party on an empty stomach. This is just a big no no and as an adult when it comes to drinking. A full stomach sops up sooo much. Eat things like breads or pasta, or even a few glasses of milk, if your lactose tolerant. Poor Travel Ape isn't thats why I bring that fact up.

The third is dress attire. Why I even have to mention this is beyond me, but being around the world of business long enough and having attended my share of Office Holiday Party's I've seen some big missteps in this area. I'm not saying go out and rent a tux or go pay $5000 for a gown that one would wear to the Presidential Innagural Ball, but just be smart about it. No jeans..Maybe some offices are laid back and sure enough ours are here at but put on a pair of kahki's if your a man and no t-shirts. The same goes for the ladies. A pair of nice slacks and a conservative button down shirt or sweater works great.

The fourth is try your best to have fun and not do business. This is definitely not the time to pitch to your supervisor, upper management, the CEO or Chairman your next great idea. The Holiday Office Party really is meant for just that..a time to break away from the drudgery of the daily grind in the office or work place and try and have time to mix with co-workers on a different level. By the grace of God if you happen to run into a whale of a client while stopping at the convenience store on the way to the party that's 100% sure thing, contract in hand and is worth big money to the firm, that might be the exception to this rule.

The fifth is a combination of a few helpful hints...Don't get drunk, don't hook up and don't dance like you're at a Hedonism Resort. The first bit of advice should be paramount, because it is no doubt the catalyst that usually leads to the other two fopaux's I mentioned. Remember you work with these people and probably outside your immediate family are the people you have to deal with more often day to day than anyone. I've heard horror stories where employees that have had steller careers for years at a firm, all to just smudge their reputations because of one night of one or two stupid acts.

The long and short is, I'm sure to most that have read the above, that common sense would seem to be enough. Sadly enough, and history has shown us, that it isn't enough. So for those of you that already know these rules of the Holiday Office Party kudos to you. Maybe you'd like to pass this post along to friends, collegues or family that you feel might find the suggestions helpful.