As travel agents you’re especially aware of what today’s travelers seek. Standard one-size-fits-all tours are out; today’s traveler wants to step into local culture, do what locals do, experience the local scene and taste the local flavors. Especially the latter, as travelers realize that local foods and culinary traditions are a vital key to understanding local cultures.
Your clients may not have considered Germany for their foody travels, perhaps thinking that German food begins and ends with knackwurst, dumplings and sauerkraut. They may be surprised when you tell them that Germany ranks 4th in the world for the number of restaurants with 3 Michelin stars. They will find a full range of dining choices, from the traditional hearty Gasthof favorites to brilliantly conceived dishes to delight the most sophisticated palate.
From William Shakespeare’s Elizabethan plays to J.K. Rowling’s magical fantasies, Great Britain’s literary heritage is monumental. London, England’s capital, and the surrounding countryside have nurtured scores of celebrated authors and provided fictional settings for their poems, plays and novels.
On a one or two-week visit to England, start with a few days in London exploring famous literary haunts of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Then head to Bath and neighboring Hampshire county to follow in the footsteps of beloved writer, Jane Austen, author of such classics as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
Enjoy two destinations for the price of one! Azores Airlines provides non-stop service from USA and Canada gateways, with continuing service on to mainland Portugal. From the US, it is just a 5 hour flight until your clients will have the opportunity to hike to the rim of an ancient volcano, admiring crater lakes of emerald green or deep blue, sipping wine grown in lava fields while dining in a seaside village, or watching an exquisite sunset over the Atlantic. And, after having from one to seven-days to discover the Azores, we then take them on to mainland Portugal to discover the delights of Lisbon and Porto. For those that want to get to the mainland, Azores Airlines brings a new way - the Azores Way. Fly direct if you have no time, but, flying direct means you’ll miss the Azores. With up to 3-flights per day on to Lisbon, and a daily-fight to Porto, moving beyond Azores just became so much easier with the new Stopover program.
It’s impossible not to like Madeira, the Portuguese island that stands alone in the Atlantic, closer to Morocco than to the mainland of Portugal. It has something to please almost every client, whether their passion is hiking, beaches, gardens, sea adventures or food.
What foodie could not love a place that grows more than seven different varieties of passionfruit (each with a different flavor) and is surrounded by fresh seafood. Chefs combine the largess of tropical fruits with the morning’s catch in infinite and creative ways. The island cuisine will surprise (and delight) food-lovers for its fresh and inventive style.
It could be argued that leisure travel began with pilgrimages. Long before Medieval pilgrims began making the arduous journey to Rome or Santiago de Compostella, Christians had traveled to the Holy Land. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land began as early as the fourth century, and by the 12th century there were already travel guides listing the important sites in Rome. Christians aren’t the only pilgrims, or the first. The Hajj, for Muslims, dates back to the time of Abraham - about 2000 BC. The earliest reference to Hindu pilgrimages is from 1500 BC.
JAX FAX recently returned from a trip to the Czech Republic which is commemorating the centenary of the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia. To mark this occasion, our trip focused on themes connected with the period of the First Republic (1918-1938), i.e. the twenty years between World War I and World War II.
The Black Forest National Park is one of the famous primeval woodlands in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. With extensive habitats for many plants and wildlife species, this stunning treasure borders the Rhine valley. It is a sanctuary of ancient trees that are filled with folklore. These gentle, giant spruce trees loom upwards to the heavens, providing an aura of tranquility that add to the Black Forest mystique.
Medieval hill-towns like Assisi, Orvieto, Perugia and Spoleto perch high above lush valleys. Family-owned vineyards produce world-class wines and age-old olive groves yield fragrant extra virgin oils. From local farms come organic pork and lamb, lentils and chickpeas. Thick forests of oaks, elms and chestnuts shelter the region’s prized black truffles.
Known as “Italy’s green heart,” Umbria tempts all the senses. But it also transports the soul. The region’s misty blue hills inspired the likes of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, St. Benedict, and St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers. Today, visitors explore rock-bound hermitages, hilltop shrines, and cathedrals adorned with frescoes by Giotto, Luca Signorelli, and Perugino, who schooled the great Renaissance painter, Raphael.
An eye-catching walled Old Town, topped by terracotta roofs and framed by azure waters and rugged mountains, helps earn Dubrovnik its nickname “The Pearl of the Adriatic”. The entire medieval-walled city is a pedestrian zone and UNESCO World Heritage Site, with polished stone streets lined by a treasure trove of Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture. No wonder Game of Thrones shot so much of its footage here. (Game of Thrones tours are popular with fans).
On a recent Windstar Cruise from Athens to Venice, my 23-year-old daughter and I were thrilled to have 12 hours to explore the city. Our plan was to climb the City Wall, shop a bit and then hit the beach and maybe take a short boat ride to one of the offshore islands before returning to enjoy the ship’s drop-down watersports platform. As it turned out, we never could tear ourselves from the town itself. We were enchanted by its beauty and fascinated by the diverse museums that were tucked into every corner.
With 18 sculpted peaks that soar above the tree line to heights of over 3,000 meters, expansive high meadows that change with the seasons, and meandering river-carved valleys, the beauty of Italy’s Dolomite Mountains is astounding. Here, small colorful villages with onion-domed churches and flower-box adorned chalets are tucked into the mountainsides and cows and horses graze on hillsides too steep to plow.