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...