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Romantic Travel Ideas - Valentine's Day
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Girls Getaway to Sarasota
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Hangover Cures from Around the World - Daytime TV Show  

hangover cures Whether you over-celebrate Cinco de Mayo, Mardi Gras, New Years Eve or your very own birthday, chances are you will suffer from a hangover at some point during 2013. For common cures from around the world, watch this Daytime TV Show segment with advice from The Getaway Girl, Casey Wohl.  

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Angela Newell of Lakeland, FL submitted this photo of her Fourth Annual Girls Getaway Cruise to Cozumel.
Pictured left to right: Julie, Amy, Holly, Angela, Missy, Betsy and Stacey.
Romantic Travel Ideas With A Twist For This Valentine's Day

Valentine's Day usually means chocolates, red roses and a dinner for two, but travelers might want to think outside the candy box this February. Often described as "trips of a lifetime", who better to do a volunteer vacation with than the one you love? Here are some volunteer travel ideas in some of the most exotic and romantic destinations around the world.

Romance on the River in the Amazon: The vast Amazonian forests of northeastern Peru harbor an incredible diversity of wildlife. Pink river dolphins and caimans still swim these waters, while extraordinary birds fly through the canopy. Uakari monkeys abound along the Yavari River and manatees swim in the lakes of Samiria. Help to conduct a survey of the area's biodiversity to develop sustainable conservation strategies for the region. Illegal timber companies, pet traders, and hunters have decimated wildlife in other areas of the Amazon, lending urgency to the conservation of these nearly pristine reserves. Prices start at $2775 for 8 days.

TLC in Trinidad and Tobago: This tropical island off the coast of Venezuela is known for its vibrant ethnic diversity and rich cultural events. It is also the site of one of the most important nesting beaches for endangered leatherback turtles, enormous reptiles that can weigh a ton and dive deeper than many whales. Each night under swaying palms and bright tropical stars, volunteers patrol the beach with the staff of Nature Seekers. Volunteers will tag, measure, and weigh these turtles, which can grow as long as 2 meters/6.5 feet and weigh up to 900 kilograms/2000 lbs. Prices start at $2825 for 12 days.

Art Allure in Italy: Volunteers stay at an 18th century Roman Hunting Lodge as they explore the Puglia regions of Southern Italy. Helping to restore ancient frescos and sculptures, volunteers will have a hand-on experience in a place entrenched in history and culture. Prices start at $2889 for a 3-week sojourn.

Meet the Gods of Greece: Based in the charming Greek village of Vonitsa on the Amvrakikos Gulf, volunteers help researchers conduct daily surveys on the area's bottlenose dolphins. Dolphins have permeated the Greek culture since ancient times. Countless artwork and several myths celebrate their strong and intimate bond with humans. In recent times, however, dolphins have almost fallen into oblivion. Volunteer teams will search for dolphins and record information on their numbers, group composition, behavior, movement patterns and interactions. Prices start at $2575 for 8 days.

The Love Boat of Africa: There must be something in the water at Mercy Ships as over 150 of their volunteers have hooked up, with a few weddings being performed at sea too. Mercy Ships was founded in 1978 and is the world's leading non-governmental, ship-based charity. Working with Mercy Ships, volunteers will be part of a mission to bring hope and healing to the world's forgotten poor through delivering medical care and developmental programs with integrity and compassion. Prices start at $263 for 14 days.
Upcoming Events

Feb. 8: Daytime TV's Cowboy Show
On this special cowboy-themed Daytime TV show, watch The Getaway Girl® Casey Wohl highlight some of the top Dude Ranch Getaways where you can get in touch with your inner cowboy or cowgirl on your next vacation to a working ranch.  For channels/times, visit

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only a page," St Augustine said.  Travel undoubtedly helps us in ways we cannot always quantify.  It helps us understand ourselves and others, it provides a sense of accomplishment and empowerment, and it helps connects us to the world.  How will travel impact you this year?  Let us know by emailing 

Girls Getaway to Sarasota
As a native Floridian, I had been to Sarasota, but had not spent much leisure time there.  So when an opportunity came up for me to experience a Girls Getaway to Sarasota, I took that chance. I arrived in Downtown Sarasota for lunch with my friend Heather at Patrick's 1481 that is located on Main Street.  The Downtown area has something for everyone....from upscale and luxurious to hip and trendy, fining dining to casual al fresco dining, and some of the best people watching anywhere.  Downtown's Main Street offers a quaint a charming small town vibe.   We had a lovely outdoor lunch at Patrick's, then it was offer for a few hours of beauty at Diane K Salon & Spa just a few blocks down the street.  

After I got my "hair did," it was time to check in at the Ritz Carlton - Sarasota.  The Ritz served as our host for the weekend.  Always ready to impress, the Ritz provided a waterview room and their Signature massage that completed my day of R&R.  

After some down time, I was ready to get my drink on at the Exclusive Winemaker Dinner at Ceviche, which is located in the historic Times building, originally constructed in 1925. The 4-floor restaurant features an incredible roof-top bar with views of the water and unforgettable happy hour sunsets. Our five-course meal, which was paired perfectly with ceviche winemaker-chose wines, included paella, ceviche, tuna, stuffed quail, tabla mixta, beef tenderloin and flan.  WOW...what a  meal!  This Winemaker Dinner was the kick off event for the Annual Forks & Corks Food & Wine Festival that takes place in Sarasota each year.  The event is sponsored by the Sarasota-Manatee Fresh Originals, which is a not-for-profit organization, founded in 2003, of more than 50 locally owned, independent restaurants in Sarasota and Manatee counties. Member restaurateurs are dedicated to preserving the culinary heritage of the Suncoast.

The next morning was an early one as we traveled to the farmers market Sarasota Farmers Market to stroll through the stands of locally farmed produce and crafts.  We all loaded up on some fresh coffee and grabbed a bite to eat to get our day started.  We found there is something for everyone as this market is a weekend ritual for locals and visitors alike.   

We then visited O'Brien Family Farms, a diversified company that engages in both the retail and wholesale agricultural operations that has been in the agriculture business since 1946.  They grow yellow squash, Florida sweet onions, golden zucchini, zucchini, melons, cucumbers, sunflowers, strawberry field eggplant, tomatoes and specialty peppers such as cubanelles, poblanos, jalapenos, banana peppers, strawberries, blueberries and more. They hand-pick the crops daily and sell them in the on-site retail location.  They provided a tour of this family-owned operation,  a sample some of their strawberry shortcake and an opportunity to pick some fresh berries.

Our next stop, during our argitourism tour, was Dakin Dairy Farm.  As a multigenerational Florida dairy farming family, the Dakins produce superior quality, wholesome, farm fresh dairy products from healthy cows using environmentally sustainable practices and state-of-the- art methods.  They also offer farm tours that provide a unique experience and memories that will last a lifetime. Visitors learn "Where Milk Comes From," get to watch milk travel from the cow to the bottle, and taste fresh Dakin milk.  Kids love the hay ride, corn maze, petting zoo area, picnic/playground, fossil dig and pig races.  

After our morning spent on the farm, it was time for lunch to savor some of the agricultural products we had seen.  The Forks & Corks University Wine Luncheon took place at Michael's on East where four courses were designed and prepared by local, independently-owned restaurants and paired with wine from tres leches around the world.  Our palette was tantalized by the Root Beer Braised Short Ribs served over Cheesy Stone Ground Grits presented by Crow's Nest, the Seared Scallop with Chipotle Slaw finished with Grilled Pineapple Relish presented by Bijou Cafe, the Mini Crab Fritter and Cactus Salad with Queso Blanco presented by Savory Street and Tres Leches presented by Ceviche as the Grand Finale!    

Following lunch, we attended the afternoon educational session sampling and learning about the "BIG Reds" from the most popular growing regions of the globe for the "Big, Red & Beautiful" panel discussion and tasting.

After a lot of wine, we wanted to visit Siesta Key Beach.  Famous for its white sandy beaches, clear warm waters and authentic beach town feel, the 8-mile, barrier island of Siesta Key attracts visitors as a favorite place for barefoot sunsets.  We just had to put our toes in the sand of what Dr. Beach named the #1 Best Beach for 2011.

jack dusty It was hard to believe it was time to eat again, but we were all excited to dine at the Ritz Carlton Sarasota's new restaurant, Jack Dusty.  Who is Jack Dusty, you ask? The restaurant's name harkens back to nautical lore and was an 18th century short-hand term for the naval store clerk. "Jack" referred to the additional national flags flown at the bow of a ship and later became a general term for sailor (Cracker Jack). "Dusty" comes from "Jack of the Dust" who was once the Purser's steward working in the bread room, handling the flour. The Jack Dusty, under the "Purser" was responsible for doling out the daily lot of rum, or "grog" to sailors on board ship. In later years, the Jack Dusty was assigned the task of meticulously maintaining the inventory of the ship's rum and food stores. Today, Jack Dusty is a symbol of camaraderie and community; festively gathering together to enjoy a good meal and drink.  Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, Jack Dusty was recently re-designed to be a restaurant the locals would love to visit that just happens to be at the Ritz Carlton address.  It's upbeat and trendy atmosphere lends itself well to the various clientele, from local hipsters to hotel guest and families.  First, I was blown away by the restaurant's Naval Brown Bread.  I usually don't eat bread at restaurants, but the delightful aroma and clever presentation lured me in.  Three slices later, I took a photo of the recipe on the cutting board in hopes that I can re-create this at home.   For appetizers, our table shared the Crab & Fried Green Tomatoes, Fried Gator Tots, Crab Cakes and Fried Calamari.  For dinner, I had the Bigeye Sashimi Tuna and Tomata and Burrata Salad.  It was all impeccable, and I was hoping to have room for even more food.  Just when I thought I could not eat another bite, dessert was served that included Fried Doughnut Holes, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Chocolate Cake Jar, Build Your Own Ice Cream Sandwich and an assortment of fresh sorbets.  Our overall dining experience was amazing, and I cannot wait to introduce more people to the delightful Jack Dusty.

Later the next morning, we traveled to the 20-acre John and Mable Ringling Musem of Art, for the Forks & Corks Grand girls at grand tasting Tasting presented by The Sarasota -Manatee Fresh Originals.  The Grand Tasting featured signature dishes from the area's top chefs, along with a vast array of wines and beers presented by guest vintners and breweries. More than 100 wineries-and about 75 individual winemakers-participated this year.
Some of my top food picks were the Pork Belly with Sweet Soy Drizzle and Edamame Fried Rice presented by Madfish Grill, Tommy K's Minced Chicken & Lettuce Cups presented by PattiGeorge's, the Gnocchi Bolognese presented by 15 South Ristorante, and the Pickled Oyster Shooter with Jalapeno-Horseradish Infused Vodka and House Prepared Sangrita presented by Sietsa Key Oyster Bar.    

During the four-hour tasting, we explored the museums grounds, visited the Circus Museum and Ca d'Zan (Home of tightrope John Ringling) and the impressive galleries of priceless art all donated to the state by John Ringling.  The Circus Museum was my favorite as they have artifacts from the actual Ringling Brothers circus, as well as a room where you can try out your own circus skills such as tightrope walking, fitting into a clown car and acrobatics on top a horse....all of which I had to try out.

The Circus Museum celebrates the American circus, its history, and unique relationship to Sarasota. Established in 1948, the museum was the first in the country to document the rich horse history of the circus. View colossal parade and baggage wagons, sequined costumes, and a sideshow banner line that document the circus of the past and of today. The cornerstone of the Circus Museum's Tibbals Learning Center is the world's largest miniature circus, The Howard Bros. Circus Model. The model is a replica of Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus from 1919 - 1938.  It was created over a period of more than 50-years by master model builder Howard Tibbals.

Also impressive and interesting is the Ringlings' dazzling palatial mansion, which is a tribute to the American Dream and reflects the splendor and romance of Italy. Described as "the last of the Gilded Age mansions" to be built in America, Ca' d'Zan has 56 rooms filled with art and original furnishings. In 1924, construction began on Ca' d'Zan, which means "House of John" in Venetian dialect. The house was completed just in December 1925, at a cost of $1.5 million.  In April 2002, comprehensive restoration and conservation was completed on Ca' d'Zan that spanned six years and $15 million.

Just before a food coma set in, it was time to leave Ringling, the Forks & Corks Festival and Sarasota.  I was impressed, and will be back once again.  Thank you to VISIT Sarasota and the Ritz Carlton Sarasota for a fantastic visit in your lovely city. "May all your days be circus days!"
Thanks for reading, and we hope to see you soon.  Safe travels!      
Sincerely,    Casey Wohl, The Getaway Girl®
Author of the Girls Getaway Guide series, as well as
Travel Correspondent for the Daytime TV Show & Heartbeat Radio for Women