At Extraordinary Adventures, we say that we plan "Culturally authentic, locally immersive European travel for the curious, middle-aged explorer - alone or with friends, but always on their terms." But, what does that mean? In this and the next few blog posts, we're going to explore what that means and how that creates an extraordinary adventure for YOU!
Let's begin at the beginning, shall we? What do we mean by "Culturally Authentic?" To understand that, we need to break that phrase down further.
What is "culture?"
Even if the human species is genetically the same, the expression of those genes is influenced by our parents, our schooling, our community, the ambitions we strive after, and even the weather and the landscape we're surrounded by growing up. Clearly, those are not the same everywhere on our planet.
The Italians differ from Germans who differ from the English who all differ from Americans, and so on. We're not raised the same, our schools are not the same, and our communities vary. We may grow up in frigid climates or more temperate ones. We may live by rivers and valleys or bogs and crags. If you scratch the surface of some countries, you'll find a Nordic past. While in others, you'll find a Roman one.
Those influences play a huge role in the things we desire to achieve. Those achievements, combined with the achievements of others, collectively become our culture. Moreover, that which we seek for entertainment varies and together that, too, helps make up our culture. After all, it's only half an adventure to explore the great histories of nations. You must also enjoy the modern ways the people eat, drink, sing, dance, love, and play.
To us, the cultural differences are a big part of what makes traveling to foreign lands so extraordinary. We work very hard to not place you in American-style hotels. We seek out quintessential experiences so you'll come home feeling like you traveled to an extraordinary land. Do you really want to go to Italy and hit up the nearest Starbucks? No knock on Starbucks, but YOU'RE IN ITALY!!! Go to the small cafes that locals go to. Drink the local flavors and strike up a conversation with an Italian. Meet the owner and appreciate that you're given back to the local community. (More on that in the next part.)
If you want the McDonald's/Starbucks/Holiday Inn experience, we may not be the best travel agency for you. We would never presume to tell you what to enjoy or how to travel, but that's not our niche. We focus instead on the Irish pub, the Austrian Biergarten, and the English B&B. If you want to experience authentic culture, that's how you do it.
It's not all just stuffy museums. It's those, but it's also city parks, nightclubs, street food, and climbing the steep hills to explore ancient castles. (You'll get a little exercise in so you'll be able to eat and drink more!) It's about people, not just things and places. European architecture is incredible, but a chat with an old Scot is enchanting! The Louvre has breathtaking art, but yelling "Prost!" at the Oktoberfest in Deutschland will be a cherished memory for life!
A bit of advice: when you go to Europe, don't bring America with you. Open yourself to the new and different. Don't say, "But, that's not how we do it in America." Try it their way! They've been doing it far longer than we have, and they've made it work. More than that, they've made it extraordinary!
I hope the idea of "culturally authentic" is as appealing to you as it is to us. If so, then we're the right travel agency for you, and we'd feel privileged to plan your next extraordinary adventure!
Next week, we'll explore "locally immersive." Stay tuned...
"Trier is a southwestern German city in the Moselle wine region, near the Luxembourg border. Founded by the Romans, it contains several well-preserved Roman structures like the Porta Nigra gate, the ruins of Roman baths, an amphitheater just outside the center and a stone bridge over the Moselle River. The Archaeological Museum displays Roman artifacts."
"The Porta Nigra is a large Roman city gate in Trier, Germany. It is today the largest Roman city gate north of the Alps."
"Trier and its amphitheater resembled many Roman cities of its time in that many infamous gladiatorial contests occurred there. The theater which was dug into the side of a hill was erected around the 2nd century A.D during Antoninus Pius' rule. It could accommodate approximately 20,000 spectators and was built into what was the cities wall. When Constantius Chlorus moved to Trier, Germany around 293 he renovated the amphitheater."
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What's "Soft Adventure Travel" anyway? I'm glad you asked!
I think if I had said "Adventure Travel," you would have a picture in your mind of what that is. Hiking, biking, camping, snowboarding, skiing, scuba diving, white water rafting, etc. But, there is an implication that to participate in Adventure Travel, you have to be very physically fit. I know I wouldn't try climbing a straight-faced cliff! I'm just not that fit.
Soft Adventure, on the other hand, can be about those activities as well, but it's those activities and others in a far more approachable way. Soft Adventure is also not just out in nature. Hiking through cities as opposed to taking cabs is one way you can remain active while taking in the sights. Another is cycle tours. Yet another is a segue tour. Yes, even a segue tour is Soft Adventure. You're getting out there! You're moving and exploring. You're not just sitting on a beach with a Piña Colada or in a spa with a glass of Champagne. (Not that I don't love that too!) In fact, Soft Adventure could even mean riding in an ATV or yacht.
Unlike Adventure Travel, Soft Adventure Travel is more about the exploration than the physical exertion. It's about getting off the beaten path. It's about not going to the tourist traps. It's about getting out of your comfort zone. It's about experiencing new sights, sounds, taste, smells, and feelings - not the plastic existence of our normal, everyday lives.
Take some of my own travel experiences. We hiked up to Cochem Castle in Germany the hard way. We only found out later that there was an easier way to get up. Oh well. Adventure! Or, how about Smithsonian hopping in DC? Talk about a workout! But, we also took a yacht exploration adventure around St. Maarten. I was totally relaxed that, but it was still Soft Adventure Travel.
You know, when you think about it, really all I'm saying is that if you take any ordinary vacation and amp it up in the right ways, you can have an EXTRAordinary Soft Adventure Travel experience. So, how do you amp it up? Hire me and find out!
One caveat, though. If you have health concerns or mobility issues, Soft Adventure Travel may not be right for you. Not to sound like a drug commercial, but do please check with your doctor first before engaging in any activity that could lead to you hurting yourself.
This week's "Travel Tip," will come as no surprise to those who know me. This week's tip is to learn at least a little of the native language of the people you're visiting. As many of you know, I learned to speak German because I knew I was going to Deutschland. Did I have to? No, but I wanted to for several reasons.
So hop on Amazon and buy yourself a phrasebook. Google Translate works wonders for on-the-go assistance, but wouldn't it be nice to surprise a local with a saying or two in their language? It was for me!
To view the show transcript, click on "Read More"