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...
It seems like COVID and the travel bans will never end. It's incredibly frustrating for those of us who suffer from wanderlust. We've been armchair travelers for too long. There are just so many websites you can look at and places you can dream about. It's time! We're ready to get out there!
We want to see new sights! Sunsets over the Alps. Ancient Druid ruins and modern-day German architecture. Rivers that rush on seemingly endlessly. Foreign faces and children at play. Street art and the fancy-schmancy stuff in The Louvre,. History that's been made and history in the making.
We want to eat new foods! "Uh... what's that? I'm supposed to put that in my mouth? Hmm? Oh well. Here goes!..... YUM!" And, we want to drink new drinks! Coffees and teas and wines and beers and spirits. Bubbly waters and flat. We want to experience them in new surroundings - tradition-filled pubs, unique cafes, trendy nightclubs, and renowned restaurants.
We want to smell new smells! The fresh morning air in a faraway Austrian village. The rain in the Irish countryside. The sweet smells of baguettes and pastries gently drifting out from French patisseries.
We want to hear the sweet sounds of babbling brooks and the energizing sounds of roaring ocean waves. We want to immerse ourselves in concert halls and sporting events and be carried away by the moment's vivacity and power.
But, Europe won't yet let us Americans enjoy all of that. So, what are we to do then? Continue our armchair dreams or adjust and adapt?
Perhaps we could look at our own country for what's great about it. What does America offer us that is similar in ways to those which we yearn for in the Old World?
They have the Alps. We have the Rockies. They have the Danube. We have the Mississippi. They have the Schwarzwald ("Black Forest"). We have the Tongass National Forest.
We may not have castles, but we sure have our share of grandiose manor houses. Our churches may not be a thousand years old, but they're hundreds. Their history is undeniable and unparalleled, but that doesn't mean we don't have our own.
Don't be stopped just because Europe says no to us. Dream your dreams, and then let's make them real right here in the good old US of A!
Your next Extraordinary Adventure can start today!
Message me and let's get started.
This week's "Travel Tip" is don't cheat your feet!
When it comes to your feet, DO NOT skimp out! If there's one article of clothing that's vital to the success of your trip, it's your shoes. Just bite the bullet and dig deep into your wallet. But, it's not just about spending money. It's about buying right!
As is often the case, my wisdom came at a price. I was stupid once and learned from my mistakes. Now you are the beneficiary. Like that old saying...
"Good Judgment Depends
Mostly on Experience,
And Experience Usually Comes
From Poor Judgment."
To make my long Washington, D.C. story short, suffice it to say that I paid a lot of money for the wrong type of shoes and my feet were absolutely killing me the entire time!
Fast forward to England and, armed with the experience of my poor judgment, I made a wiser decision. I Googled and learned. Then I went to REI, got help, and bought the right pair of shoes for my feet and for the type of walking I'd be doing. It made a world of difference!
I don't want to offer specific advice because everyone's needs are different, but I will ask you to consider the temperature and precipitation in your destination, as well as the weight of the shoe. Consider also getting a shoe that rises above your ankle. That said, any further advice I'll let you get from the professionals.
"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."
Have you been on a Viking River Cruise yet? If not, you're missing out on something special!
Simply put, there's no better way to get closer to your destination than via a riverboat. Not a coach bus, not a train, not even a rental car. Contact me to learn more.
Ballooning over Cappadocia, Turkey - known for its distinctive “fairy chimneys” (tall, cone-shaped rock formations) clustered in Monks Valley - is EXACTLY what we mean by an EXTRAordinary Adventure! Have you been yet? Tell us about it! Share your travel story!