Thomas Jones IV
Allison & Andrew Friedman
Allyson & Andrew Jaffe
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"We travel, initially, to lose ourselves; and we travel,
next to find ourselves. We travel to open our hearts and eyes and learn more about the world than our newspapers will accommodate. We travel to bring what little we can, in our ignorance and knowledge, to those parts of the globe whose riches are differently dispersed. And we travel, in essence, to become young fools again- to slow time down and get taken in, and fall in love once more."
Here's our August newsletter. Read on to hear all about our recent family trip to Switzerland, some new resorts to check out in the Caribbean this winter, a fantastic way to create lasting souvenirs on your next trip with Flytographer and one of our favorite places on the planet: the Adirondacks.
Enjoy reading and, as always,
Lisa & Steve
News from the Road:
Start with Swiss chocolate and fondue. Add stupendous 13,000-foot snow-capped peaks and long emerald green valleys dotted with long lakes and far too many waterfalls to count. Spice it up with medieval city centers that are now UNESCO World Heritage sites, castles that inspired the likes of Lord Byron, and churches dating back to the 13th-century. Then top it off with one of the world's best train systems, user-friendly, almost always on time, and simple to travel anywhere in the country. No wonder our daughter, Melanie, said this was one of her favorite trips after spending 12 days in Switzerland last month.
We flew into Zurich and quickly made our way to the French side of Switzerland to dine on patisserie in Montreux, visit that glorious castle on the waters of Lake Geneva, Chateau de Chillon,
and peer out at the awe-inspiring Mont Blanc from the balcony of our hotel. The next morning, we took the Golden Pass, one of Switzerland's classic train rides from Montreux to Bern. Along with the Chocolate Tour and the Glacier Express, the Golden Pass is one of this country's signature train rides.
We boarded the train in Montreux in the morning and soon were riding far above the shores of Lake Geneva, making stops in small mountain villages as hikers and bikers wandered off into the hillside.We stopped in the glamorous skiing resort town of Gstaad, before switching trains in Zweisimmen and taking a far more modern train to Bern.
We adored our three days in Bern, literally climbing
inside the famous clock tower to see the inner workings of the circa-1530 Clock Tower, spending a day on an electronic bike in neighboring Emmental Valley (where we tried our first fondue),
visiting the apartment where Albert Einstein lived when proving his Theory of Relativity, and seeing the sinuous building Renzo Piano built to house the works of local artist, Paul Klee.
Our favorite activity in Bern was swimming in the Aare River.
Every afternoon, we would walk down the hillside from our wonderful hotel, the Bellevue Palace, to a green park where dozens of people lined the river catching rays. Then we would walk on a paved path upriver with a long line of folks who dragged their tubes, rafts, and dry bags. Pick a spot to jump in the cool water and off you go with the strong current. The hard part was finding a place on the shores that you could stop and pull yourself out.
From Bern, we took a train to the small mountain resort town of Kanderstag, where w
e would start our 6-day adventure with Backroads. It would end up being as close to perfection as it gets in the world of travel. It wasn't merely the stunning Alps scenery around every bend or the two exceptional group leaders, Agata and Gosia, who led the 6-day jaunt seamlessly with a confident dose of professionalism and buoyant personalities. The families on this trip were wonderful, all yearning for a dose of adventure to celebrate a momentous occasion like a son or daughter soon leaving for their first year of college. After a week of hiking, biking, and kayaking together, swapping anecdotes about our lives, I consider them all friends.
But the real reason I think this trip excelled was the itinerary. I've been on two other Backroads trips, biking around the Big Island and a multisport trip to Costa Rica, and spent far too much time in shuttles or transfers to the next destination. Switzerland, especially the Swiss Alps, is blessed with an intricate network of trains, gondolas, and ferries that can connect the traveler with
endless opportunities for high adventure right outside your hotel doorstep. You never have to travel far.
Our first gondola ride took us from Kandersteg up 5,500 feet to Oeschinensee, a glacially carved lake filled with cobalt blue waters. We hiked along the
shoreline, passing under countless waterfalls, as we rose some 1,000 feet to a mountain hut. We peered up in awe at 12,000-feet Blümlisalp and its fresh coating of sparkling white snow atop its jagged-edged peak. A worthy introduction to these majestic mountains and their lofty altitudes. I would spend the rest of the week looking up at the staggering beauty every chance I had.
Where Backroads really excelled on this trip was its design of bike routes, which no rider could possibly emulate. Biking from Kandersteg to Thun took place on an intricate network of narrow backcountry roads and bike trails. We started with an exhilarating downhill run comprised of three hairpin turns. We were soon on a small road that only people who lived on the street could drive. It snaked through a velvety green valley where tall peaks stared down from either side. We passed the requisite cows and the jingling of cowbells, and small villages where chalets were lined with
colorful dahlias and red geraniums in planters. Soon we were crossing over grated bridges where you could peer down below at the rushing rapids of a river before taking a bike trail through heavy forest into the town of Thun. We dined on pizza at an Italian joint and then strolled the old quarter before taking the train onward to Grindelwald, our home for the next two nights.
Grindelwald is one of the gateway towns to the heart of the Swiss Alps. Grab breakfast at your hotel, wander over to the gondola, take it to the third stop, First Peak, and suddenly you're at 7100 feet staring at a regal
wall of high peaks wearing a crown of fresh snow. Or you can't see anything, which was the case the moment our Backroads group arrived at First Peak, completely socked in with clouds. We strolled around the Cliff Walk, a metal bridge created by Tissot that hugs the precipitous cliffs as you look down and are thankful for Swiss engineering. Nearing the end of this little
walk, the clouds lifted and we were witness to this magical disrobing, like a curtain opening at the start of a Broadway play. To the east was mighty Wetterhorn wearing a toupee of whipped clouds, while straight across from me was the north face of Eiger. Stunning. Absolutely stunning.
As much as I savored being nestled in the Alps at Grindelwald, spending the last two nights at the classic Grandhotel Giessbach was the perfect way to end the trip. Close to Interlaken but far away from the crowds, we were nestled on the serene shores of this glacially carved lake hemmed in by the mountains. As if the scenery wasn't exquisite enough, the balcony of our room overlooked a powerful waterfall that tumbled down the hillside.
We would spend our last day biking on a bike path that led to the town of Meiringen, known for their meringue cookies (which, of course, we sampled at a bakery) and the town where Sherlock Holmes was staying when Professor Moriarty finally caught up with him at nearby Reichenbach Falls. Backroads did an excellent job from start to finish and this is one trip I will happily recommend to others.
Hotels We Love:
New Resorts in the Caribbean
With the success of Kimpton's first property in the Caribbean last winter, making its debut on Grand Cayman, it seems like all the upscale brands are launching in the Caribbean this winter or taking over well-known properties like the new Belmond Cap Jaluca. Here's the ones that intrigue us:
The first luxury beach resort in St. Kitts and the first Park Hyatt hotel in the Caribbean region is slated to open on November 20. All 78 rooms and 48 suites will overlook the golden beach of Banana Bay at the foot of the island's rolling hills. Each room's décor will showcase views of the Caribbean Sea and the islands beyond, with luxurious touches such as private balconies and terraces, local artwork, rain-showers and deep soaking tubs. Premium suites will feature private rooftop swimming pools and sundecks. The property will also be home to three signature restaurants, a destination resort spa and wellness center.
Open this past spring on St. Lucia's southeastern coast, less than a 10-minute drive from the international airport, is Serenity at Coconut Bay. Ideally suited for a romantic getaway like an anniversary or honeymoon, the adults-only, all-inclusive boutique resort offers 36 suites ranging from 1,200 square feet to 1,900 square feet with plunge pools, soaking tubs, glass-enclosed rain showers, in-suite check-in and checkout, aromatherapy oils, stocked wet bars and mahogany king beds. Amenities include butler service, complimentary WiFi, 24-hour room service, reservation-free dining at the signature Greathouse restaurant with Caribbean-themed cuisine using local ingredients, and a 3,000-square-foot pool with an 85-foot lap pool at its center.
After closing for 18 months, the Rosewood Little Dix Bay will reopen on December 1, returning the classic property to its original grandeur. On the western side of the property, seven new one bedroom suites with plunge pools will replace the former Ocean View Rooms. Three new Two Bedroom Suites will also be added, which will be set amongst the resort's gardens just steps from the beach.
If you yearn for the lavish Havana of Hemingway's day, set foot in this new Kempinski resort set in a late 19th-century building that was once Havana's first European style shopping arcade. Located in the heart of Old Havana, the opulent 246-room hotel is the first modern luxury five-star hotel in the city. Expect a rooftop terrace and swimming pool, spa managed by Resense, three restaurants, and, of course, a cigar lounge.
if you're hoping to get to the Caribbean this late fall or winter!
Deal of the Month:
Ama Waterways River Cruises-PRIVATE SALE!
River cruises are super popular right now. Why? What's not to like about sailing serenely down a river and visiting all kinds of fascinating cities, towns and villages along the way without the need to pack and unpack and deal with trains, planes and automobiles.
River cruises carry up to 160 passengers and the vibe on board is relaxed and elegant. AmaWaterways is one of the more popular river cruise companies and we are pleased to announce that they are offering a private sale for our clients: It's a 2 for 1 Cruise Fare Sale.
Here are just a few of the select sailings from October 2017 to March 2018 that are on sale:
- Paris & Normandy-sails October 12-19: Cruise Only $3599, Reduced Rate $1800 per person
- Europe's Rivers & Castles-sails October 12-19: Cruise Only $3299, Reduced Rate $1650 per person
- Taste of Bordeaux-sails November 2-9: Cruise Only $3199, Reduced Rate $1600 per person
- Enchanting Rhine-sails November 4-11: Cruise Only $2999, Reduced Rate $1500 per person
- Romantic Danube (wine cruise)-sails November 15-22: Cruise Only $2799, Reduced Rate $1400 per person
- Melodies of the Danube-sails December 25-January 1: Cruise Only $2899, Reduced Rate $1450 per person
Riches of the Mekong
-sails several dates in January and February:
Cruise Only $3099, Reduced Rate $1550 per person
The fine print: Bookings need to be made between August 10th and September 30th. Offers are based on double occupancy and are valid on select sailings only. The sale is not applicable to suites. Solo travelers will receive their single supplement waived on applicable departures on most cabins. Port charges, land programs, visas, roundtrip airfare and gratuities are additional.
as soon as possible to find out about availability and these amazing rates for our members!
Tried & True Travel Tips:
Are you often struggling to get that perfect photo of yourself in front of a monumental sight on vacation? Do you go for the awkward selfie (I always manage to take one that documents me at my most unflattering angle)? Do you ask a stranger and smile nervously as they fuddle around with your precious camera or smartphone? The days of blurry vacation photos and double-chin shots are over! Thanks to Flytographer!
Nicole Smith began
over four years ago because she believes that photos are the best travel souvenir you can buy. It's memories that will bring back the feelings and experiences you had while on that favorite trip, not things. I
n this "I take a photo, therefore I am" age, it has been a huge success.
Smith has built a network of hundreds of local photographers on six continents. Travelers connect with the photographers in advance of their trip via the website and plan a photo session. Pricing is from $250 for 30 minutes to $650 for 2 hours. With each extra half hour increment, the number of photos and shooting locations increase. If you want a proposal photo, just add $100 to the cost. A photo session is a great gift for newlyweds to use on their honeymoon.
Here's a few shots from their blog showing the results of some recent Flytographer photo sessions...
A mother and daughter in London:
Proposals in Reykjavik, Iceland:
and in Venice, Italy:
Where are you going next?
It's that time of year where my mind instinctively turns to the playground of my youth, Lake George, and the Adirondacks, where Lisa and I will happily be for a couple nights at the end of the month.
If you've never visited this region of the world, book a room at the Sagamore and savor the vistas of the mountains and the long rambling lake.
If you want to escape the August crowds and get lost in a more remote section of this vast state park, grab one of the cabins at the
on Blue Mountain Lake or one of the 17 guestrooms at
Friends Lake Inn
. Hike the mountains, canoe or boat the lakes, breathe in the piney air. You'll quickly understand why it's been a salubrious retreat for over a century.
Let us know if you want us to help you plan your trip to the Adirondacks. We know it well! Contact