Perhaps it’s just the company we keep, but a lot of friends made the New Year’s resolution to travel more in 2019. If you are one of them, we thought we’d help you out by offering our thoughts on some destinations to check out this year.
The islands are gorgeous, and there are way more to see than the old standbys most tend to flock to. If you have the chance to visit Rhodes or Patmos on a cruise, they will open your eyes to a whole different side of the Greek Isles. Many visitors to Greece tend to spend a day or two in Athens then head straight for the islands. But the mainland features the great sites of classical Greece. See the birthplace of the Olympics at Olympia, the Sanctuary of Apollo at Delphi and the ancient ruins of Mycenae that helped spawn Western civilization.
Don’t get us wrong, we love a beach vacation as much as anyone. But with great food, great places and an exchange rate of nearly 20 pesos to the dollar, colonial Mexico is worth a visit. Mexico City is home to the world’s 11th- and 13th-ranked restaurants (plus another in the top 100) and the beautiful Soumaya Museum. San Miguel de Allende is both an artist’s and an art lover’s dream, you should see before it gets too popular, and Puebla is a culinary capital with a downtown that is one big World Heritage site. Queretaro’s baroque architecture is a thing of beauty, and Oaxaca preserves key components of pre-Spanish cultures.
Most of the major cities Down Under are located on the eastern and southern coasts. There’s a whole lot of Outback separating Adelaide in South Australia from Perth, the capital of Western Australia. Perth, the fourth-largest city in Australia with about 2 million inhabitants, is the gateway to the Margaret River wine region, succulent seafood and black truffles just as good as any you’ll find in Europe. These factors contribute to Perth having the most restaurants per capita of any Australian capital and a great bar scene.
A safe destination and a gem of the Middle East, Jordan is inviting visitors to trek the Jordan Trail — about 400 miles traversing the country from Um Qais to the Red Sea — from March 1-April 13. If that’s too much for you, concentrate on such magnificent sights as Petra, an ancient city carved into cliff sides, and Wadi Rum, a valley with an otherworldly feel containing traces of culture from prehistory to the Roman era. Spas along the Dead Sea and resorts in Aqaba along the Red Sea will help you relax whether you brave the trail or not.
A trip to the “Arctic Riviera” will open your eyes to one of the last truly off-the-beaten-path spots on Earth. The people of East Greenland didn’t have contact with outsiders until the turn of the 20th century, and the area is still an isolated wonderland of Northern Lights and calving glaciers. Subsistence hunting is still very much a way of life and one that becomes harder to maintain as temperatures continue to rise and change the environment for animals and the people who rely on them to live.
South Africa is the perfect blend of wild and sophisticated. A few days in Cape Town and the Cape Winelands reveal a magnificent culture, while a safari shows off the spectacular wildlife you expect on a trip to Africa.
Stefany got to see the beauty firsthand on a recent study tour with African Travel. The journey began in Franschhoek in the Cape Winelands with a night at the boutique Le Quartier Francais. The hotel has the feel of a bed and breakfast with stunning mountain views from the pool area. Among the other properties in the Leeu Collection, Leeu Estates has magnificent views of vineyards and mountains, really providing a wow factor, while the 12-room Leeu House has a charming homey ambiance.
Each property is conveniently located near the wineries at La Bourgogne Farm and Haute Cabriere. The charming La Bourgogne offers tastings at a picnic out back with pleasant views, while the larger Haute Cabriere has grand views and allows guests down into the wine cellar for some hands-on learning.
About an hour from the Winelands, Cape Grace Hotel across from the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront is a revelation. Views from the rooms are either of the harbor or Table Mountain. Each floor has different decor while maintaining an overall nautical theme. Tastings with a whisky expert can be arranged, and the wonderful Pinotage served is South Africa’s signature red wine. Virtuoso guests can have their own lockers to store wine or liquor. The service is excellent, and it’s possible to reserve a BMW car service with advance planning. Michael, the Cape Town guide, even managed to get them to the top of Table Mountain despite inclement weather that threatened to shut down the cable cars.
A day exploring the Cape Peninsula is a must, but be sure to dress in layers so you can enjoy the seaside views in comfort. A stop at Boulders Bay gave a preview of the amazing wildlife South Africa boasts, as a colony of African penguins calls the beach home. There are now 3,000 of the penguins thanks to a conservation effort that started with a single pair of breeding birds in 1982. Twelve Apostles Hotel & Spa on the peninsula offers panoramic views.
From the Cape, the group headed out on safari. The first stops were Lion Sands River Lodge and Kapama Karula in the country’s northeast. They also saw the Tree House at Lion Sands, a great escape for honeymooners, and the upscale Lions Sands Ivory Lodge. Morne, the safari guide at Lion Sands River Lodge, was fabulous. His passion for the animals and sharing them with guests was on full display. He really got into the game drives, cutting his way through trees to make sure the group saw lions. He has a deep knowledge of the wildlife and their habits, helping to maximize the game-viewing experience. They even came across a leopard that got up close to Stefany’s feet! Every day was a new adventure!
Kapama Karula was breathtaking. The service, the food, and the decor all had a wow factor that made the stay so memorable. The guide here, Elmero, was just as passionate and knowledgeable as Morne. He made sure to explain the animals’ behaviors, which added a great deal to the game drives. They even pursued a leopard through the bush at night! All in all, it was a wonderful experience, and one DMC Travel Tailor is happy to specially arrange with valued clients.
Click here to watch the highlights of Stefany’s South Africa adventure:
Is Africa on your Bucket List? If so, reach out to Stefany at firstname.lastname@example.org to start planning your African adventure.
As we say goodbye to 2018 and welcome in 2019, we have a lot of travel plans for the coming year. We’re celebrating 50 years of helping clients make their travel dreams come true, and along the way we’ve picked up some favorite New Year’s Eve traditions from around the world. Here’s wishing you and yours a happy and healthy 2019. Use some of these tricks from other cultures to ensure a prosperous new year.
At the clock hits midnight, Spaniards eat a grape at each chime. The 12 grapes represent good luck in each month of the coming year. After midnight, the party really begins, as Spaniards take to the streets and pass around bottles of cava. In large cities, especially the capital of Madrid, they gather in the main squares and celebrate deep into the night. As the sun rises, they drink hot chocolate and eat churros before heading to bed for most of the day. Sounds like something we can get behind.
It being summertime and water being such a big part of Brazilian culture, a lot of New Year’s traditions are centered around the ocean. Flowers and floating candles are put to sea as offerings to the goddess Iemanja, a water deity from the Yoruba religion brought to the Americas by African slaves. Some people jump over seven waves, making a wish with each hop. Others eat seven raisins and keep the seeds in their wallets to encourage money to grow. Most wear white as a symbol of peace, mixing in green for health, yellow for money, red for passion and purple for inspiration.
The Japanese hold bonenkai parties to forget the old year’s troubles and leave them in the past. The traditional meal is soba noodles to promote a long life. Watching the sunrise on Jan. 1 to greet the new year is a popular pastime. Temples and shrines attract visitors from across the country by the millions from Jan. 1-3, when most businesses are closed. People send out cards to friends, loved ones and co-workers that are marked for delivery on New Year’s Day, and the first three days of the year are spent with family.
In Cape Town, people head up to the top of Table Mountain before a night on the waterfront. There’s a sunset concert at Kirstenbosch National Botanical Garden on the slopes of the mountain, and the last tram back down to the city is at 9:30 p.m. Fireworks light up the Victoria & Alfred Waterfront at midnight, and afterward revelers head to all-night beach parties by candlelight. A day outside the city in the Cape Winelands is also a terrific getaway, and it stays light out until around 8 p.m.
The evening starts out rather tame, with a speech from the queen at 6 p.m. Things get progressively more rowdy, as Danes meet friends for a big late dinner after a snack of cod with mustard sauce at home. It’s one of the six nights a year shooting off fireworks is legal, and Danes make the most of it. At midnight, they smash old dishes on the doors of friends. While cleaning up in the morning might not be the most fun thing in the world, a big mess means you have lots of friends who love you enough to trash your house.
We’re smack in the middle of the cooking season. Thanksgiving has come and gone and with it the first round of feasting. Maybe you’re still working your way through leftover stuffing or making soup with turkey stock. If you haven’t already started, you may soon be deep in the throes of making Christmas cookies and other goodies. With Hanukkah underway, perhaps you’ve already churned out several loaves of Challah or several batches of latkes. Whether you’re trying to keep your skills sharp on vacation or learn how it’s done in a different culture, you’ll love these cooking classes with Virtuoso partners.
Eatwith lets you start your morning by meeting an Italian grandmother in Florence’s central market, shopping for ingredients that you’ll make into a wonderful meal that afternoon. Spend time discovering Florence with a local and stop off for a nice glass of wine or coffee before getting down to business. Learn how to make homemade pasta from recipes that have been passed down for generations. Cap it all off by enjoying a meal that tastes even better because you had a hand in it.
Soak up the sights, sounds and smells of a Moroccan souk with ShoreTrips. Sample lamb, couscous and seafood, deciding what should go in your dish. Once your menu is set, head to your host’s home and dive into making authentic appetizers, main courses, even desserts. Your host’s family will arrive just in time for dinner, sharing snippets of their daily life and engaging in cultural exchange.
Eatwith takes you on a tour of the world’s largest fish market. There will be big, beautiful fillets of tuna, live shrimp jumping and octopuses wriggling. Take the catch of the day to your guide’s house, where you’ll learn the ancient art of sushi making. Your guide will help you make rolls and nigiri and share the secret of the perfect slice. Enjoy a bowl of miso soup and a healthy dessert along with as much sushi as you can handle.
Discover the history of pre-Columbian cultures through the food of the Peruvian capital. Lima Tours immerses you in a culinary experience that gives you the flavor the country. The chef shares the history, geography, and biodiversity of Peru’s regions, then instructs you on how to make a proper ceviche. For the main course, you’ll make lomo saltado, a stir-fry loaded with beef, vegetables, and French fries. By then, your mouth will be watering and you’ll get to devour your creation.
Train under a Michelin-starred chef in the French foodie mecca. Book a cruise that is a Virtuoso Voyages sailing, and you’ll be able to visit the famed Les Halles, dedicated to cooking legend Paul Bocuse. Chef Philippe Lechat will show you around, introducing you to the cooks who make the magic happen. Sample a local specialty to get the taste down, then spend an hour making the main course. Don’t worry about dessert, the chef will handle that. You get to kick back and savor the fruits of your labor.