Category Archives: Rent a car

Rent a dream machine for the New Year’s Eve celebrations

See the world flash by this holiday season ————————————————— Pascal-P / Flickr / CC BY-NC

 

The great thing about the holiday season is that you can afford to be ostentatious and rent a luxury car that’s a little above your normal means. Let’s face it, everyone like to impress that special person on a holiday date. For the New Year’s Eve celebrations, try three of our dream cars – all available from our vendors – and you certainly won’t regret it!

Porsche Boxster

Perhaps you’d like to show off to your girlfriend by taking her for a spin in a great sports car on New Year’s Eve? You can rent a vehicle you couldn’t normally afford to drive, like the new Porsche Boxster, a car that would normally set you back 90 000 dollars!

Porsche Boxster

 

 

The new Porsche Boxster is a mid-engined two-seater roadster. The first-generation Boxster was introduced in late 1996 and heavily influenced by the 1993 Box. The latest Boxster has all the trimmings of previous models but with more power, lower weight and great take-off. You can reach 60 mph in 4.2 seconds and 109 mph in 12.7 seconds. Yeah, man!

It’s a thrilling car to drive. When you hit the throttle, you hear a great roaring sound, a kind of intoxicating howl that is a real ego boost. The Porsche Boxster is also known for its amazingly fast gear changes.

Features include radio, CD, bucket seats, central locking, cruise control, satellite navigation system, power brakes, electric mirrors and tilt steering.

All in all, it’s a special car that will remind you of your younger, wild days!

 

The Porsche Panamera

The Porsche Panamera is a luxury four-door saloon; it is front-engined with rear-wheel drive, although four-wheel drive versions also available.

The Porsche Panamera

The Porsche Panamera production model was first unveiled in Shanghai in 2009. In 2011, hybrid and diesel versions were launched. In April 2013, a facelift to the Panamera was announced, launching again at the Auto Shanghai show. A plug-in hybrid version, the Panamera S E-Hybrid, has just been released into the U.S. market.

A nice aspect to the Panamera is that you can open the hood and still see engine components, just like in the old days. It goes from 0 to 60 mph in 5.8 seconds. The extra head room, even in the back seat of the sedan, allows plenty of space even for a strapping 6 foot 4 guy. It’s a functional car but with far more room than a traditional sedan.

Features include radio, CD, bucket seats, central locking, cruise control, electric mirrors, sunroof and tilt steering.

 

BMW M3 Convertible

A convertible, 414 horsepower, with extraordinarily seductive fittings, this BMW is able to negotiate all corners and conditions. It may be the most enjoyable and exotic car you will ever drive.

BMW M3 Convertible

Your friends will be completely blown away if you take them for a whirl in this vehicle. It has all the finely sculpted, elegant seats and great finish associated with previous BMW models but the BMW M3 Convertible will simply go anywhere faster and more safely. Just point the steering wheel where you want to go and let the car do the rest. All in all, it’s a superb example of thoughtful dynamics and craftsmanship.

Features include radio, CD, anti-theft device, bucket seats, central locking, cruise control, dual mirrors, satellite navigation system, power brakes, electric windows and tilt steering.

So go ahead and rent a luxury car from our vendors for the New Year’s Eve celebrations . You certainly won’t regret it!

Family togetherness over Christmas

Christmas is the time when the whole family gets together … and argues.

Cia de Foto / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

That’s an old joke that will resonate with many people as we approach the holidays. How could it be otherwise? You are seeing relatives whom you haven’t seen all year. Perhaps you spoke to them on the phone or emailed them but you haven’t actually sat down in the same room together. And the phone and email can be an impersonal form of communication – perhaps more about fact-finding and exchanging pleasantries. But in a way it’s easier to have a good relationship with them over the phone than face to face.

One big unhappy family? 

It’s only when you actually see them that the tensions start rising again. For example, you suddenly realize that everything about your brother’s manner and appearance annoys you. He has a habit of rubbing your nose in the fact that he has a better job than you and earns considerably more. He is too ostentatious about his wealth and you resent it bitterly –especially as it’s been yet another tight year financially for you. Not that you’ll ever go hungry or anything but you have to be careful about what you spend.

You get along OK with Mom but she has never really approved of your wife. Again, there’s a bit of socio-economic tensions. Circumstances mean that your wife works in Walmart. You resented it bitterly when your mom asked her – “Did you always want to be a shop assistant?” You’re still trying to work out if it was vindictive or just one of her infamous slip-ups. Probably the latter but it still rankles.

 

Your very practical brother-in-law

Also, you just realized that your brother-in-law will be there. You and he always clash about politics. You’re a liberal and he’s a conservative. What annoys you is that he’s so damn practical. If anything needs doing round the house, he’s just a dab hand with any tools or any piece of machinery. If your car needs a tweak he’ll be under the bonnet as fast as you can say “Michael Moore” – you two always end up arguing about him. And when he drinks…he always reminds you that you’re an airy fairy dreamer and a hopeless idealist. You know what really hurts? In your heart of hearts, you know he’s right!

Hey, they’re your family…

And then there’s your dad. It’s no secret that his recent stroke has made him a bit funny in the head. You’re a bit wary of him making comments on racial lines because your wife is of Indian background. And … hey, wait a minute, take a deep breath and calm down!  This is supposed to be an enjoyable occasion!! So don’t anticipate disaster. And don’t forget that your sister will be there. You always got on with her just swell, as they say.

The logistics

So how will you get there? The distance between Indianapolis and New Jersey is just too great. You’ll certainly not going to drive all the way there. On the other hand, you will need a car once you get to New York. That’s vital, if only because you’ll be staying there for a whole week and you’ll need a car to get you and your wife away from other family members when they get on your nerves.

Justin in SD / Flickr / CC BY-NC-SA

You will need a site that can do everything for you – book your flight and secure you the best car rental rates.

So stop worrying about whether you’ll have a row with your family. You probably will but…hey…enjoy the tension! You’ll have a whole year in which to recover.

 

 

The eternal thrill of Vegas

Just the name “Vegas” evokes instant images – monster shopping malls, marauding mobsters, gold-plated towers and sybaritic splendor. Above all, of course, gambling…the 24-hour playground of those enjoying the pulsating thrill of a possible windfall of unearned earnings or…betting everything on one last desperate, doomed dice roll at 4am.

wbeem / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Jaundiced observers may see Vegas as a monument to artifice, greed and sleaze. Others see it as the most exciting city on planet earth. One fact speaks for itself; the city attracted 40 million visitors last year alone. And although the economic crisis has taken its toll on this extraordinary Nevada city, it’s still home to 15 out of 20 of the world’s largest hotels.

It’s no coincidence that Vegas has featured in so many movies, whether it’s Presley’s Viva Las Vegas or the Rat Pack’s Ocean’s 11 – moving on to Martin Scorsese’s sizzling profile of organized crime, Casino. Who can forget the psychopathic, pen-wielding mobster played by Joe Pesci? Be careful if he’s on the phone in any casino near you…

Or the doomed drunkard played by Nicolas Cage in Leaving Las Vegas? It’s a place that, of course, has its dark side, but only if you choose to see it so. It’s also the city of dreams, the ideal setting for a wedding or a romantic getaway.

Vegas may be designed to bankrupt the foolish gambler but it need not be that way. Set a ceiling on your spread and stick to it, down to the last nickel. If you lose, fair enough.  If you win, don’t get greedy. The “odds”, that elusive term common to gamblers, may ultimately be against you, but gambling IS fun. So if you like to bet on which raindrop will reach the bottom of the window first (although there’s little of that in Vegas) or in the words of former mayor Oscar Goodman – a fierce custodian of the city’s reputation – “which way a cockroach will move”, then this is your mecca.

Great perks accompany gambling in Vegas. Drinks in most casinos – the yard-long margarita being a particular favorite – are complimentary. So when you get to the fruit machines, take time to enjoy a good slug and don’t pull that handle too frequently. The biggest ever slot machine jackpot was 39 million dollars but be prepared to fall a little short of that. Of course, if you’re mega-rich and prepared to risk colossal sums, then, as Piers Morgan once proved in a documentary, a casino can take a million dollars off you very quickly!

A car is a great way to see Vegas. Don’t think about hiring a limo. That’s a cliché in Vegas and nobody will notice you. Parking is free almost everywhere and gas is cheaper here than in neighboring California. So a Las Vegas car rental will not break the bank.

Fancy going on a gondola in a replica Venetian canal? Or a trip up the Vegas version of the Eiffel Tower? Or staying in an Egyptian pyramid? You’re in business. Vegas caters to your every whim, especially if you’re a good customer. Are you pining for a mountain of caviar? It’s at your door, sir! Doubtless, certain establishments would deliver the Taj Mahal to your room if they could transport it!

And you’re in great company. The Venetian, which now occupies the site of the old Sands Hotel and Casino, was where the original Rat Pack – principally Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis – played to sellout audiences in the early 1960s. Howard Hughes and Tony Curtis were also former residents. Nowadays, you may find the likes of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears prepared to officiate at your party … for a price!

Werner Kunz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Go down Vegas’ strip and you will see what was once the world’s largest hotel, the MGM Grand (3799 Las Vegas Boulevard) the New York, New York Hotel and Casino (3790 Las Vegas Boulevard) and – just opposite at number 3785 – M & M’s stores – four floors of chocolate fun – and Caesars Palace (3570 Las Vegas Boulevard), the Monte Carlo Hotel and Casino (3770 Las Vegas Boulevard) and the Trump Tower (2000 Fashion Show Drive – Las Vegas Strip) with its 24 carat-gold windows.

Werner Kunz / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

You can easily pay 25,000 dollars a night for the best accommodation in the city. But there are many places within the reach of mere mortals. Avoid coming on weekends when room prices spiral. Keep a cool head and enjoy yourself. Of course, if you ever get really fed up with the glitz, the desert is nearby. Just don’t bump into Mr Pesci; he may be disposing of a corpse or two behind those rocks!

 

Hertz: Innovations, Convenience and Low Rental Rates

Hertz has been a household name in the rental car business for decades. Ever since it was founded in 1918 by Walter L. Jacobs, the company has continued to grow rapidly, and today it operates at close to 8000 locations in 145 countries worldwide.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the Hertz Corporation is the second largest US car rental company in terms of sales, as of the end of 2012.

Last May, its executives announced that its corporate headquarters would move from New Jersey to southwest Florida. The company is building a $68 million campus in Estero, but until it is completed in 2015, many of its employees will work from a leased location in Naples, Florida.

Its core business ethic has remained the same over the last century – aiming to deliver a first-class service while keeping its rates competitive and ensuring the company keeps abreast of new trends in technology. Underpinning the Hertz philosophy is its commitment to hard work and securing the loyalty of its customers.

Back in time

Hertz Rent-a-Car 1956 / Kemon01 / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

At the age 22, Jacobs started his business with a dozen Model T Fords in Chicago. He repaired and painted them himself. Within 5 short years, his enterprise began to generate annual revenue of about $1 million. In 1923, Jacobs sold the business to John Hertz, who was then president of Yellow Cab and Yellow Truck and Coach Manufacturing Company. The rental business, later called Hertz Drive-Ur-Self System, was bought out by General Motors Corporation in 1926. It changed ownership several more times, but Jacobs continued to serve as president until his retirement in 1960. Striving to be the best rental car company it could be, today Hertz is constantly on the move. Here are some of the company’s latest perks to make its customers happy.

iPads, anyone?

Photo Source: Denis Schaal / Skift

Not long ago, Hertz announced that it would be adding iPads and other touchscreen devices to 800 of its retail stores and some airports in North America. The initiative is called “Road Trip by Hertz”. The iPad station, equipped with four tablets, is meant to reduce queuing times. In addition, customers can find all the local area information they need; there are pre-loaded travel apps and iPad-powered apps to make reservations by choosing the lowest Hertz rental rates. Kids can play games while they’re waiting for their parents, and the latter can check emails, print boarding passes, recharge their mobile devices, or simple pass the time until their flight. At some locations, iPads are offered for rent, but the general idea is for all global locations to be converted to this format by 2015.

Keeping it green and clean

Always wanted to see what a Tesla Model S electric car felt like, but your wallet was too thin for it?

Do not despair. As of late September 2013, Hertz has added Tesla Model S electric cars to its Los Angeles and San Francisco airport locations. Most likely, soon at a location near you. The prices are still high – $500 per day plus $0.49 a mile after 75 miles, but think about the good you will be doing to our planet. The Tesla cars are part of Hertz’s Dream Cars program and share the upscale top spot along with Lamborghini and Ferrari.

Hertz 24/7 rental plan

In the name of customer convenience, this “game changer” plan, as the company calls it, began rolling out last July. It is meant to make renting a car as easy as picking a sandwich at a local deli. Customers would be able to rent a car 24/7, for as long as they want without the constraints of normal business hours in the standard locations. The plan also includes rapid expansion as Hertz revealed that it intends to have up to 12,000 locations in the US alone – including at parking lots outside Walgreens and Low’s. Cars could be rented via computer or any mobile device with an improved and easy to use booking system. Hertz estimates that, by 2016, “self-service” vehicles will be accessible by the majority of the population.

Avoid Carmageddon: Five reasons to rent rather than own a car

Opting for cheap rental cars has many advantages over long-term car ownership. And we’re not just saying that to get you to rent one. The facts speak for themselves. Here are some good reason to favor renting.

1. To reduce congestion

 

Saf’ / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Space on this planet, believe it or not, is NOT infinite. Yet our overwhelming desire to get into our own vehicle, along with our continuing gravitation towards cities, is creating alarming urban gridlock. By 2035, the world is predicted to have 800 million vehicles on the road, twice the current number. And, by mid-century, it is estimated that up to 75 per cent of the world’s population will be living in cities.

This creates the prospect of even more traffic in our cities. That means real practical problems in getting to work and supplying food and essential goods. Remember the recent 11-day traffic jam in China? Is this the way ahead? It will be if we all own cars and use them every day. Ironically, William Ford, current executive chairman of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of legendary car-maker Henry Ford, believes that action is imperative to prevent a humanitarian crisis: “We see global gridlock as an issue of human rights, not just one tied to business and economics,” he says.

Rent a car for just a few days a week and it will alleviate the burden. Think of the environment. Think green.

2. Save money

Try to make do without a car for most of the week if you live in a city and watch yourself save the pennies. The American Automobile Association recently estimated the annual cost of owning a vehicle at about 9000 dollars, based on an assumption of 15,000 miles of annual driving. Use public transport most days and you won’t have to worry about paying for petrol. You will also save on wear and tear costs associated with owning a car; New York drivers can easily spend between 50 to 200 dollars a month on car maintenance alone.

 

Michel Filion / Foter / CC BY-ND

 

If you rent a car and it breaks down, then the car rental company has to help you. Plus you are putting mileage on a rented vehicle, not your own, and renting a car has a set charge, so you know all the costs from the beginning. Try just using a rented car on weekends, for trips out of town or to big stores.

 

3. Upgrade on special occasions

If you don’t own a car and only want one for that special occasion, then you can choose a cool model for that prestigious business convention or that high-class jamboree in the Hamptons. Or perhaps you would like a bigger car than you would normally buy (or could afford) to drive all the children to that camping trip or sporting occasion? A rental car can convey a special image and allows you to experiment with new models. Even with cheap rental cars, you will be driving a new or nearly new vehicle.

 

IceNineJon / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

4. Owning a car restricts you

Own a car and the tendency is for all travel to be within driving distance. Imagine the following scenario. You live in New York and you have to attend a convention in Charleston. If you own a car you may be tempted to drive all the way to Charleston. You arrive frazzled and you never had the chance to do the reading you wanted to do in preparation. If you rent a car, you can fly to South Carolina and then hire a car.

And rather than having to worry about your own car back home, why not dispense with it altogether? A rented car also takes you to places you often don’t normally go to. Hire that special car – a jeep or SUV – and you can deal with that treacherous terrain and venture to places off your usual beaten track.

 

5. Get fit

Do you really need a car all the time? You may instinctively say “yes”. But it’s not a good idea to get too dependent on your car. I remember some bulky neighbor of mine who lived in the same block as me, but several hundred meters down the street, once driving to my home for an engagement. All of 300 meters!

Do you really need the car to make that trip to the grocers to get a few items? Just try walking to work or to the deli. When you abandon your sedentary lifestyle, you will get fitter…and the roads will get lighter!

Are EVs the way to revive the three E’s?

Being the economy, the environment and the energy sector…

In Brooklyn Bridge Park, New York, the heart of one of the world’s busiest cities, a quiet revolution is taking place. So quiet, in fact, that if you closed your eyes you might not be able to hear the traffic. You see, park rangers are riding around on solar-powered electric vehicles (EVs), a move forecast to save hundreds of thousands of dollars in gas and electricity costs over the next 25 years.

So imagine the benefits if motorists worldwide did likewise. And this may be more feasible and more lucrative than you think…

JaulaDeArdilla / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Energy (in)dependence

We live in an era when America’s leaders constantly fret – understandably – about reliance on foreign oil. Those who underestimate the challenge should remember what happened in 1973 when OPEC nations quadrupled oil prices, triggering massive inflation in the West. We all want to avoid a recurrence of that nightmare. So, just as the electric light transformed our homes a century ago, making candles and smelly oil lamps redundant, could EVs do the same for today’s cities?

Big city dwellers know the problems all too well. When I was a kid, I was struck by a message I once say on a London street – “Let’s all make the world a better place and throw away our cars”.  Living in a city well served by its public transport, you could understand the graffiti, especially when you started wheezing while walking around the capital.

Ben Amstutz / Foter / CC BY-NC

 

Kinder to ourselves…

Motor vehicles are major polluters, not only through road emissions but also through refueling, manufacturing and disposal.  Some experts even believe that car pollution is linked to certain cancers. Perhaps the link to other illnesses, such as asthma, is more substantiated. Leave the big city for the countryside and you feel the difference immediately.

Of course, some green-minded activists manage to live without a car. As we get older, however, we find that coping without a car gets harder. Perhaps we have several children and move to the suburbs. In such cases we find that it’s increasingly necessary to have a vehicle at our disposal, at least some of the time.  But, if you don’t need to own a car all the time, and your conscience pricks you at the thought of renting a conventional motor, have you thought about renting an EV? You just need to find an agency with the best car rental rates.

jurvetson / Foter / CC BY

 

…and the environment

Electric car batteries pollute the atmosphere far less than internal combustion engines. Granted, they are not entirely pollutant-free because most electricity is generated by burning fossil fuels. But EVs recharged from coal-powered electric generators cut carbon emission roughly in half. And those recharged from hydropower and nuclear plants reduce carbon emissions to less than one percent of those produced by internal combustion engines.

 

…And the economy

Then there is the reduced cost to drivers, proved by the example of the Brooklyn Park Rangers. New York taxi drivers who use hybrid vehicles also report annual savings of thousands of dollars. For many motorists, environmental considerations and spiraling petrol costs mean that EVs will probably become more popular.  Although EVs still have drawbacks, notably battery costs and recharging times, the benefits are stark.

Eco-friendly cars run on electricity or a combination of electricity and hydrogen-based fuel. Not only do they reduce a driver’s carbon footprint, EVs are constantly being re-designed to reduce pollution and waste. As a result, these cars often require less maintenance than gas-powered vehicles.

EVs are definitely good for the three Es. So it’s perhaps curious that, although electricity has transformed our lives in so many ways, most transport still beats to the drum of the internal combustion engine. We still spit fumes into the sky round the clock in cities everywhere, guzzling up one of the world’s most precious commodities in the process. Perhaps one day EVs will make out cities as sanitized as our homes. Here’s hoping…

 

 

 

Easy like Sunday morning for today’s business travelers

You shudder when you hear that this year’s convention will be held in New Haven. How well you remember the last time you made the 4400 km round trip from Miami in December, 25 years ago.

You anticipated disaster from the beginning as you pondered all the complicated permutations. And for once you were right. You spent a whole day gnashing your teeth, wondering why your CEO chose such an out-of-the-way place. But then you found out that most of the bigwigs in your business are based in New York or Boston. So New Haven was a convenient mid-point. For THEM – not for you, of course!

You (well, actually, it was your secretary, Mavis) spent hours on the phone to flight companies, car hire firms and hotels, working out all the finer details. Mavis had to make 20 phone calls before she finalized anything. And then you had to tell her to start everything from scratch because the final cost broke the expense account ceiling.

bark / Foter / CC BY


Nightmare of 1988

This is nothing compared to the inconvenience of the trip itself. It was something out of Planes, Trains and Automobiles. In fact, you suspect that the famous movie starring John Candy was somehow based on your own experience. When you arrived at the conference you were utterly exhausted. You didn’t even have a mobile to tell them you would be five hours late for your presentation!

You didn’t know who to sue first, the company that booked your flight but refused to reimburse you – even though your plane got diverted to Washington because JFK was snowbound. OR the rental company whose car heating system broke down when temperatures plummeted to minus 10. OR the hotel who didn’t realize they had inadvertently double-booked your room. In the end you decided to sue EVERYONE.

You opted out of several trips to New Haven for the convention since then, citing the most far-fetched excuses. But this year there’s no getting round it because YOU have to make THE keynote address. Oh, and you are now deputy CEO of the entire company.

Sweet dreams in 2013

Yup, that was life back in 1988. Fast forward a quarter of a century. You don’t know how lucky you are. You don’t need Mavis at all. And you certainly don’t have to make 20 calls to individual travel companies. All you need is a website that can multi-task – fix your hotel accommodation, flight and car hire, all at once by aggregating information from multiple online sources. A site that will tell you the best and lowest car rental rates for your needs and arrange everything for you as a complete package. A site that offers multiple search engines, including the main rental car search, but also more besides, providing a complete travel planning tool.

Now, that trip from Miami to New Haven. No, don’t start twitching! It really is easier. You can get the best rates, at travel times of your choosing, on one site by collecting information from various travel and commercial companies like Expedia and Priceline. This can be done within a few seconds. If, for example, the aggregator finds that the best deal is through Expedia, you often find you can follow this up with a special deal on a hotel.

The site gives you a detailed breakdown of the vehicles on offer – economy, compact, intermediate or SUV etc – and lists all the prices offered by car rental firms. It gives you detailed information on the daily rate and the gizmos in your hired vehicle. You can plan the entire trip within minutes and do it all on your own!

thetaxhaven / Foter / CC BY

Thanks to the all-in-one package planner, you get a detailed and economical itinerary breakdown – instead of the mental breakdown you had to endure when having to go through different companies in the past. And, when you’re done with the convention, you can book a nice winter getaway because you can also check vacations and cruises on the same site. See, life really did get easier!

 

 

 

Drive to the Dukes in Newport and Huntington Beach

Early autumn – with daytime highs still hitting the seventies – is a great time to hit the beach in southern California. The Pacific offers an endless expanse of wonderful coastline. Some of the wilder fringes to the north are too bracing at this time of year, such as the rugged coastline of Big Sur, but head below Los Angeles and you’re still in business. So let’s follow the sun…

nate2b / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Endless surf

Have you thought of taking a Huntington Beach car rental? With its eight-and-a-half mile sandy beach, it’s an ideal place to take a long walk or just hit the surf. By the beginning of autumn, it’s fairly quiet and the beach is still dream-like because construction is, thankfully, prohibited without consent.

Huntington Beach has four different beaches: Northwest, West, Southwest, and South. Northwest is Bolsa Chica State Beach (3.3 miles), the West consists of “The Cliffs” or “Dog Beach”, Southwest consists of everything north of the pier, operated by the City of Huntington Beach.

The long walk…to the end of the pier

The resort is home to the fifth longest municipal pier in California (1850 feet), one that celebrated its centenary in 2004. It’s strewn with souvenir and fishing stores. Walk to the end of the pier and reward yourself with a tasty burger, shake or fries at Ruby’s Diner which also offers great ocean views. The pier is wheelchair-friendly, has excellent lookout points and is a wonderful photo opportunity. Just bear in mind that skateboarding, pets and skating are not allowed.

Huntingdon Beach is best known for its surfing and the consistency of its waves. Why not visit the Surfing Hall of Fame where legends of the foam are celebrated? Perhaps the most famous was Duke Kahanamoku (1890-1968), a Hawaiian surfer who was also a five-time Olympic medalist.

Tai Gray / Foter / CC BY-SA

 

Star- spotting

Feeling star-struck? Don’t go to Hollywood because you’re liable to find yourself staring at huge electronic gates and bougainvillea – unless you board a helicopter, that is! Why not visit nearby Newport Beach, hangout of many screen icons? Believe it or not, not all movie stars choose to live in Malibu or Beverly Hills.

Newport Beach is an upscale community with palatial homes lining the shore. Perhaps the city’s most famous resident was John Wayne (1907-1979). “The Duke” – as he was known to his legions of fans – lived in a house at the end of Bayshore Drive and apparently used to wave at the flotilla of passing boats from his terrace. He also owned a yacht – The Wild Goose – on which he would cruise around nearby Catalina Island.

You can get a good view of some stars’ homes by taking one of the local harbor tours. The bay, nestled between Balboa Peninsula and Balboa Island, is lined with yachts and celebrity mansions. Recent famous residents of Newport include sex sirens Bo Derek and Michelle Pfeiffer.

Many homes have summer vacation rentals (during the peak summer period) or, alternatively, you can just rent a little cottage. If you really want to enjoy a stylish overnight stay, you could consider the Balboa Inn (pictured), where you almost have your foot in the water, or Doryman’s Newport Beach Hotel & Inn.

gcmenezes / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

The beach itself is always abuzz with volleyball and water sports and boasts a nice boardwalk. If you’re bringing the kids, they will have a ball at the nearby Balboa Fun Zone where they can enjoy the Great Ferris wheel and the bunjee jumping. (And if they really haven’t had their fill of fun, you can always take them to nearby Knott’s Berry Farm where there are even more attractions!)

You can take the morning ferry ride to Catalina Island or charter your own boat if you like. And you can watch fishermen bringing in sea trout and crab at the famous Dory Fleet Fish Market every morning between 7am and 9am.

Southern California has so many wonderful beaches. All you need to enjoy the sites in Huntington or Newport is a cheap car rental. But don’t think this is a reason to avoid walking to the end of Huntington Pier. You can’t spend all your time behind the wheel no matter how good your car is!

 

 

The Bronx: A neighborhood reborn

New York is a great city to visit. It seems to have enjoyed a renaissance since the late 1980s onwards and, to be honest, a walk around New York now feels safer than a stroll in many parts of London. The Big Apple has always been a crowd-puller, of course, even in its darker days. People have always enjoyed THE great sites: Radio City, Times Square, Central Park, Broadway, the Empire State building and the Statue of Liberty.

kevin dooley / Foter / CC BY

But for a while, especially between the late 1960s and about 1980, the city had a rather seamy air. Movies picked up on this too. Take Midnight Cowboy, for example, the story of a naive Texas hustler who comes to New York and ends up in a freezing tenement. Or Death Wish, which seemed to depict the city as a den of sadistic, violent gangs. Both films seemed to indicate how quickly “the American dream” can turn into a nightmare.

When things were a little rougher…

As for the Bronx, just the mention of the name conjured up images of poverty, drug-filled alleyways, rocketing crime, spiraling unemployment and a powerless police department. Perhaps the area’s reputation reached its nadir around 1980. Around that time I remember seeing a Paul Newman movie called Fort Apache – the Bronx, which really played up the image of a neighborhood under siege. Inner city groups complained about the film. But it was simply reflecting the times, in particular the depressed mood after a spate of arson attacks committed by slum landlords eager to pick up insurance rather than attempt to refurbish or sell.

 

Inner city resurgence

Thankfully, it’s all in the past and the area has been transformed. Rejuvenation in the form of significant construction started in the 1980s and crime rates started to fall. The area also got a boost from the “Ten-Year Housing Plan” whereby community members worked to rebuild the social, economic and environmental infrastructure by creating affordable housing.

The reputation of New York as a whole also improved dramatically. Perhaps Mayor Giuliani played a part too with his policy of zero tolerance and better local policing. 911, although a horrific event, showed New Yorkers coming together in a show of unity that few other cities can match.

wallyg / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

And the Bronx has experienced substantial new building construction in the new millennium. Between 2002 and June 2007, 33,687 new units of housing were built or were under way, and $4.8 billion has been invested in new housing.

Attractions galore

The area also has a great many sites which a Bronx car rental will enable you to enjoy. The neighborhood is home to the New York Yankees, one of the leading baseball franchises. The original Yankee Stadium opened in 1923 on 161st Street and River Avenue, a year that saw the Yankees bring home their first of 27 World Series Championships. The stadium has seen some of baseball’s greatest players, including Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Joe DiMaggio.

Other places well worth a visit include the Bronx Zoo, the largest in New York, and numerous off-Broadway theaters. There are also many great parks and open spaces, like Pelham Bay Park and Crotona Park. And, unlike Manhattan, for example, it’s easy to get a parking space and it’s also less congested.

Mark Morgan Trinidad A / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

The area also has an action-packed cultural program to entertain you in the fall. You could watch the Bronx River Upper River Run on Saturday September 14, between 9.30am and 1pm. If you have a child with special needs – and you are thinking of relocating to the city – you could try Finding Your Inner Sherlock – a reference to the famous London detective. This workshop will help you identify your child’s specific educational and emotional needs, and find the support you deserve. This event – on September 16 between 5.30pm and 7pm at 7 West Burnside Avenue, Bronx – will help you to find and access NYC services and programs to help your child reach their full potential.

All in all, the Bronx is now a great place to be. You just need to use a reliable car rental firm to get you there.

 

 

 

 

 

White House Down? Only in the movies…

 

The Big Apple may be the most vibrant city in the US – the city that never sleeps, the city where “if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere” – but, personally, I think Washington is a more beautiful city. Not only do you have, naturally enough, the White House (home to the most powerful leader in the world and, no, I don’t mean Vladimir Putin!) but you also have such monuments as the Lincoln Memorial, the Vietnam Memorial and The Washington Monument. So choose the best Washington D.C. car rental and let’s start our tour of this great capital.

 

Justin in SD / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

I well remember my first trip to the east coast. I saw the Statue of Liberty and got all gooey about that. But it’s nothing compared to the White House and the other historic buildings of Washington, not to mention the magnificence of The National Air and Space Museum which took me a whole day to tour.

I visited Washington in 1987 when Ronald Reagan was besieged by the Iran Contra affair. Somehow seeing the White House in the flesh is different from seeing it on TV. Those grand speeches over the years suddenly echo in your mind. LBJ in 1968: “I shall not seek, and I will not accept, the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” Or Richard Nixon’s farewell speech to the White House press corps in 1974. “Only when you have been in the deepest valley can you know how magnificent it is to be on the highest mountain. Always remember: Others may hate you. Those who hate you do not win unless you hate them. Then, you destroy yourself.

Perhaps the most awe inspiring monument is the Lincoln Memorial. Unlike The White House, you can get up close and personal.  The building contains a large seated sculpture of Abraham Lincoln and inscriptions of two well-known speeches by Lincoln – The Gettysburg Address and his Second Inaugural Address. In fact, the memorial has been the site of many iconic addresses, most notably Martin Luther King‘s “I Have a Dream” speech of August 28, 1963. A visit here on the 50th anniversary of the speech would be really appropriate.

The most poignant monument, however, one that really stops you in your tracks, is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Located to the north of the Lincoln Memorial, it is free to visit and open 24 hours a day. The memorial includes the names of more than 58,000 servicemen and women who died in the Vietnam Conflict, the event that divided America like no other and one that is carved forever on the country’ national consciousness. The memorial also includes “The Three Servicemen” statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial. Another place to pay your respects to the fallen is the Arlington National Cemetery, visited by more than four million people each year. Special graveside services and ceremonies commemorate veterans and historical figures. Among the famous people buried here are war heroes Lee Marvin (1924-1987) and Audie Murphy (1924-1971).

Washington is a beautiful city to look at any time of the year. In the spring it looks picture-postcard perfect thanks to the magnificent cherry blossom trees. Once the intense heat of the summer has evaporated, it’s a great time to explore. You can take a nice ride around Georgetown, one of the city’s oldest neighborhoods and one that served as a major port and commercial center during colonial times. Now it’s a vibrant community teeming with upscale shops, bars and restaurants.

terratrekking / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

If you’re a film fan, then this year’s AFI Latin America film festival, between September 19 and October 9 and just a short drive from downtown Washington, is for you. Highlights this year include: Viola, an Argentine spin on Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night; The Future (Il futuro), Chilean filmmaker Alicia Scherson’s adaptation of a novel by celebrated author Roberto Bolaño, set in Rome and starring blast from the past Dutch screen star Rutger Hauer. Remember him as the creepy psycho from The Hitcher? Then there’s The Dead Man and Being Happy (El Muerto y Ser Feliz), a road movie across the Argentine countryside.

 

Il Fatto Quotidiano / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

 

You can see the whole program here.

Any visit to Washington will provide you with some unforgettable memories. Just remember to use the best Washington car rental firm.