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Dear ActiveTravels Members,
Don't you just love this time of year? The days are long, outdoor activities abound, school's out and vacation time is just around the corner. There is so much possibility at the beginning of the summer as we anticipate beach time and family outings and picnics and outdoor concerts and more. What are you most looking forward to this summer?
Here's my list:
A big family celebration for my mother's birthday in Ogunquit, Maine
My annual visit to Wingaersheek Beach and my lobster roll at Woodman's
BBQ's and cocktails on our deck with friends and family all summer long
What's on your list? Write it down, share it on our
, tell your loved ones. Definitely make the effort to think about it. If you don't, the days blur together and before you know it, that cold chill comes back and it's back to hibernation time!
Our double issue this month covers lots of wonderful topics like Five Trips You Gotta Try in Norway, and the joys of a quick trip to the Azores. Read on to find out about our BIG announcement that we are introducing our ActiveTravels Group Trips beginning next year! We are truly excited about that. Also, if you are looking for travel that is meaningful and inspiring, look no farther than Volunteers for Peace.
appy Travels, Happy Father's Day and Happy Summer!
Steve & Lisa
Five Trips You Gotta Try:
With the low-cost carrier, Norwegian Air, expanding across North America, it should come as no surprise that Norway has experienced a surge in travelers these past two years. Who wouldn't want to be whisked away to this stunning land of fjords, colorful and charming UNESCO World Heritage cities like Bergen, and a history that dates back to the time of Vikings?
Lisa and I recently went to an all-day seminar with a dozen representatives from across Norway and these are the trips that sound the most exciting:
One if By Land: Beautiful Norway 8-Day Itinerary
With an office based in Lillehammer, the tour operator, 50 Degrees North, is our go-to choice for creating custom-design itineraries for members who want to travel independently around the country. But for those who want to leave the driving to someone else, the company is offering an 8-day Beautiful Norway itinerary. On this itinerary, a group of 10-12 people travels by mini-bus from Oslo to Lillehammer to the heart of the Norwegian fjords on this weekly trip throughout the summer. You'll be staying at distinctive boutique hotels, with the cost running $2,171 US per person. That includes 7 nights lodging, 7 breakfasts and 2 dinners, all transport, fjord cruise, and Flam railroad. Find 5 couples or a bunch of friends and we can book your own private minibus trip!
Two if By Sea: A Hurtigruten Cruise
Hurtigruten cruises run year-round in Norway and our contact there let us in on a little known fact. The best time to see the Northern Lights and the beauty of the fjords at the same time is in the October/November months before the snow begins to fall. She noted that the reflection of the snow can dilute the brilliance of the Northern Lights. In fact, Hurtigruten will
guarantee you'll see the Northern Lights
on one of their 12-day itineraries from October 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019 or receive another weeklong cruise for free! Hurtigruten will also debut a new hybrid vessel, the
MS Roald Amundsen
, in 2019. Not only will it cut fuel by 20 percent, but they can turn off the engines when coasting within the fjords and you won't hear a sound. The interior was designed by Rolls Royce so expect the finest details. The ship will be heading along
the Norwegian coast in late May 2019
on a glorious 15-day cruise that starts and ends in Hamburg, Germany. We just booked the cruise for two of our clients.
Adventures in the Mountains and Fjords,
Few places in the world can offer a landscape like the spectacular fjords of Western Norway. The pristine mountains rise steeply from the fjords with thundering waterfalls cascading down their sides. Nestled in the mountains, Myrkdalen Hotels and their sister property, Kviknes Hotel located in the striking fjord village town of Sognefjord, have created a 6-night guided multi-sport package . Bike on electric bikes into the stunning mountain terrain, hike to lonely waterfalls, and drive to the little village of Bakka to cross the beautiful Nærøyfjord in sea kayaks. Cost starts at $1,945 per person, double occupancy, and includes 6 nights lodging, transportation, guide, and most meals. Trips are available July 13, 20, 27, and August 3rd in 2018. Exact dates will be announced soon for July/August 2019.
Norway in a Nutshell, with a Stopover in Flam
Norway's most popular day tour, Norway in a Nutshell, connects Oslo with Bergen on an epic 12-plus hour journey via trains, bus, and ship across the width of Norway. It's certainly a Dream Day that brings you to the magnificent Aurlandsfjord and on the narrow Nærøyfjord, but several of our members have found it to be exhausting. That's why we recommend you split
up the trip and spend at least one, if not two nights in the quaint port village of Flam. Go for a hike straight from town or kayak on the waters, a good way to be active after a long day of travel.
Combine Norway with Another Country
on a Viking Ocean Cruise
Viking Ocean Cruises has wisely made Bergen its hub for Scandinavia cruises. Combine Bergen with Stockholm, Copenhagen, Reykjavik, London, even Barcelona on a number of cruises headed to Norway in 2018 and 2019. There's a lot to like about Viking Ocean Cruises, like new ships and the all-inclusive pricing (no extra costs for shore excursions or wine and beer). The 8-day Majestic Fjords and Vibrant Cities itinerary starts in Bergen and ends in Gothenberg, Sweden, with a chance to spend a 2 night post-cruise stay in Copenhagen. Cost starts at $4,299 per person with departures June and July 2018 and 2019.
Please let ActiveTravels know if you'd like to know more about these exciting trips to Norway.
ActiveTravels Introduces Group Trips for 2019
After years of toying with the idea of designing our own group trips utilizing the talented people we know as guides, we've finally decided to take the plunge next year! Have a look at what we are offering and let us know if you're interested to learn more.
Bike N' Brew, Stowe, Vermont
We've arranged a mountain bike and beer drinking weekend in one of our most beloved spots in New England, Stowe, Vermont. We've aligned ourselves with the Trapp Family Lodge as they are ideally located near awesome trails and they brew their own beer, offering it in their new bierhall opened last year.
Come and join us for our
Bike N' Brew Weekend Package
from May 31-June 2, 2019. Cost is $650 per person, double occupancy, for two nights lodging, dinners at the Trapp Bierhall and the Main Dining Room, two breakfasts, a tour of the Trapp and Alchemist (Heady Topper) breweries, bike rentals, and one guided ride with avid mountain biker and bierhall founder, Sam Von Trapp.
Fran Golden Cruise to Alaska
One of the most renowned cruise writers, Fran Golden, former travel editor of the Boston Herald and author of Frommer's EasyGuide to Alaskan Cruises and Ports of Call (2018), will be hosting an Alaskan cruise from June 15 - June 22, 2019. On the Inaugural Fran Golden Alaskan Cruise, we'll board the newly-refurbished Eurodam (see the latest review in Travel & Leisure)
in Seattle. Then make our way up the Pacific coast with stops in Juneau, Glacier Bay, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria, before arriving back in Seattle. Come along for breathtaking scenery and a whole lot of fun times.
VinoDivino Bordeaux Wine Cruise
Bostonians know that Vinodivino, owners of 4 wine stores in the region, take great pride in choosing the finest wines for the discerning palate of their customers. Now they'd like to apply this same eye for quality to the world of travel and introduce you to a trip that will no doubt excite your senses. They have selected the highly reputable river cruise line AmaWaterways for their Vinodivino Wine Cruise to Bordeaux, November 7 -November 14, 2019.
AmaWaterways is a leader in the river cruise industry, known for its top-tier ships that offer comfortable berths, less than half the people on other river cruises, the best WiFi in the cruis e world, and most importantly, the finest cuisine and wine. You'll board the newly refurbished AmaDolce (see the latest review in
) in Bordeaux and travel to the Sauternes wine region. Then it's on to Pauillac, gateway to the famed Médoc region renowned for producing some of the world's finest Bordeaux wines. You'll see some of the most beautiful and famous wine estates, including Château Latour, Château Mouton Rothschild, and Château Pichon Longueville. There's also an opportunity to add a 4-night pre-cruise guided jaunt to Bilbao, Spain, or a 3-day post-cruise add-on to the castles of the Loire Valley.
More group trips in the works....
We're in talks with Nancy and Tim Cushman, chefs and owners of O Ya and Hojoko in Boston, to lead a Tokyo Street Food Tour in late October 2019.
In January 2020, we'll be
heading to the Panama Jazz Festival where jazz pianist Kevin Harris will give us a behind the scenes tour of the music scene.
Frederick Ilchman, Chair of the Art of Europe, Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, is interested in possibly leading a small group trip to Venice to talk about two of his favorite Venetian artists, Titian and Tintoretto, in 2020. So be on the lookout and please join us!
if you'd like more information about any of our upcoming group trips.
Tried & True Travel Tips:
Volunteers for Peace
We met with one of our members this week to chat with her about her most recent trip to India and to Australia. She volunteers every fall in a school near Varanasi, India, and she finds it incredibly rewarding. After her time at the school, she inevitably finds another corner of India to explore. This volunteer experience is always her jumping off point before she begins the rest of her journey. We loved hearing her tales that afternoon as she spoke of the bonds she had made and the people she works with at this school.
This meeting inspired us to find a reputable organization where you too can make a difference in someone's life whether it is in India or closer to home.
If you are a teen, a 20-something, a retiree or anyone in between, Volunteers for Peace has a project for you. You can choose to help a community in need, work with animals, improve access to clean water, teach kids or work on an organic farm and much more. This wonderful organization offers over 3,000 projects in 90 countries.
All you need to do is tell them your dates that you're available, where you're willing to travel, your age and your interests and a list of available projects pop up. Here are some of the projects on their list now: harvesting olives in Turkey, helping street kids in Kolkata, India, working on a coffee plantation in Costa Rica, or assisting villagers in Hong Kong to organize a Fire Dragon Dance for their community.
Most of the projects are offered between May and September and they are often short-term projects (2-3 weeks at most). They do offer gap year projects and they work with families or school groups or religious entities to find the best volunteer experience for you and your talents and interests.
In February 2017, ActiveTravels colleague Amy Perry Basseches went on a weeklong yoga retreat to the Azorean island of Sao Miguel. She came back with such high praise for the destination that she has since booked at least a half-dozen clients to the Azores.
And they've all returned with rave reviews! Book the 5-hour nonstop flight (from Boston) on Azores Airlines to Ponta Delgada (PDL) and stay with friends who own
, a small eco-friendly, historic home turned hotel, run by the husband and wife pair of Joao and Rimi. Quinta Minuvida grows and serves local food
in the village of Rabo de Peixe, not far from Ponta Delgada. Within a five-minute walk you'll find acres and acres of green grazing cows, cornfields, farmland, and old stone walls.
On Amy's Dream Day, she woke to a simple breakfast of local bread and cheese, with several types of jam made from Quinta Minuvida's fruit trees, followed by a yoga class. After yoga, a group headed out for a hike, armed with picnic lunches. Before hiking, Rimi and Joao put a pot of meat and vegetables into the ground, a "cozido nas caldeiras," where it would cook for six hours via volcano steam (a true geothermal stew). From the trailhead at Pico do Ferro, Amy hiked high above Lagoa das Furnas (the Furnas volcano crater, filled with water) and the town of Furnas. Then it was on to the hot springs called Poca da Dona Beija for a calming soak. Lastly, the group retrieved the cozido from the ground, and proceeded back to Quinta Minuvida to dig in. It was full of chicken, sausage, pork, beef (like brisket), cabbage, kale, carrots, and taro root (like potato). The Azorean and Portuguese wine flowed. Let Amy create the same experience for you in the Azores. You won't regret it.