Fall Foliage Around the World

The Northeast (and southeastern Canada) receive a lot of acclaim for their fall foliage, and rightfully so, because it’s spectacular. But it’s not the only game in town. Last year we took a glance at the top places around the country to peep leaves. This time around, we look at the best international spots for fall foliage.

Western Canada

The Canadian Rockies pack just as much as punch as those in the U.S. Banff and Jasper national parks are full of color against a backdrop of slate-grey mountains with snow-capped peaks. All those pictures you’ve seen of Lake Louise? Imagine it draped in gold and orange. Vancouver’s Stanley Park is an urban oasis, and in autumn, maple, cottonwood and red alder trees change colors right next to the harbor.

Japan

Typically leaves begin changing in the northern islands and mountains first, and the colors roll south as autumn progresses. If you time it right, you can follow the changes down through the country. The best times are usually late October through late November. Japan Rail offers passes coordinated with the forecasts. There aren’t many sights better than Mt. Fuji ringed by beautiful foliage in the first days of November.

The Alps

From the eastern reaches of France, through northern Italy, Switzerland, Bavaria, Austria and on to the Julian Alps of Slovenia, there are about 750 miles of mountains dividing Europe. Italy’s Dolomites shine yellow and gold in the autumn sun. Reds and yellows light up the valleys of Switzerland contrasted against bright blue lakes. The Tyrol region features distinctive churches in the high passes surrounded by trees in metamorphosis. It’s capped off by Lake Bled in Slovenia, with an island in a lake with mountains all around. Pure magic.

Russia

Moscow celebrates fall with the Golden Autumn harvest festival featuring carved pumpkins of all shapes and sizes. St. Petersburg is full of parks and gardens that become glorious in golden autumn. In Russia’s east, Lake Baikal and the taiga forest of Siberia range from yellow to orange to red, making for breathtaking landscapes. The towns of the Golden Ring northeast of Moscow are evening more charming with an autumnal tint.

New Zealand

So you’ll have to wait until our spring to take in the amazing colors of New Zealand’s fall. But it’s worth the wait. The show starts in early April on the South Island, creeping north as the season progresses. Central Otago and Queenstown turn, rolling up along the path of the Southern Alps then hitting Queenstown and moving on to the North Island before May sees the leaves turn to brown and begin falling off the trees.

3 Tips for A Better Experience to a Trip to Rome

If you plan to tour the Eternal City, you want to find out what you need to do to have a more enjoyable travel experience.  Rome is a gorgeous city, one of the most adoring cities to visit.  Being in Rome feels like being in a huge museum.  The streets, the churches, and the buildings all breathe history.  While there is everything reason to visit Rome, sometimes the city is crowded.  To get the most of your trip to Rome, you can use these three tips:

  1. Skip the Lines at the Attractions

When you have two or three days to tour Rome, and you want to explore as much as you can, it can be a little tricky because much of the time may be spent standing in line at the entrances.  You can skip the lines at attractions like the Vatican museums and Colosseum.  It doesn’t make sense to spend 4 hours queuing at the Vatican museums only to have two minutes to see the well-known ceiling painting by Michelangelo at the Sistine Chapel.  There are skip-the-line tours that DMC Travel Tailor can arrange for you so you can save time.

  1. Outsmart The Crowds

You can visit places like the Vatican late in the afternoon when most people have already toured the place.  You will find huge crowds in the morning, so consider going to other places like Trastevere and come back around 6 PM and you will get inside St. Peter’s Basilica in a few minutes.  If you are visiting the Pantheon, do it half an hour prior to closing time.  The attraction is pretty crowded, but some minutes before closing it is less crowded.

  1. Tour the Little Know Parts of Rome

If you want to avoid the crowds when visiting Rome, it’s advisable that you head in the opposite direction than where most people are going.  There are must-see places, but it doesn’t mean that there aren’t other beautiful and exciting attractions to see in Rome.

These tips will help enhance your experience when touring Rome.  To plan your trip to Rome and other top destinations, you can contact Stefany at DMC Travel Tailor at info@dmctraveltailor.com.

The Travels of Ernest Hemingway

Sunday marked the 120th anniversary of the birth of Ernest Hemingway. The Nobel Prize-winning author lived a life as full of adventure as any of his characters, and he traveled the world in pursuit of a good story throughout his life. “Papa” left his mark on several places, and they left their marks on him, appearing as characters in their own right throughout his works.

Northern Italy

Hemingway was the first American wounded in Italy during World War I as he had joined the Red Cross after being rejected from the U.S. Armed Forces because of poor eyesight. He was bringing supplies to soldiers on the front line at Fossalta di Piave when he was wounded in a mortar attack. He spent six months recuperating at a military hospital in Milan and fell in love with a nurse, inspiring the plot of “A Farewell to Arms.”

Spain

Hemingway’s first novel, “The Sun Also Rises,” popularized the San Fermin Festival and running of the bulls that is an annual rite in Pamplona. His nonfiction work “Death in the Afternoon” details the culture of bullfighting in Spain, and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” dramatizes events of the Spanish Civil War, during which Hemingway worked as a foreign correspondent.

Paris

After World War I, Hemingway and his first wife moved to Paris, where he began his writing career in earnest and hung around with the likes of Gertrude Stein, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and James Joyce. It was this time in Paris between the world wars, living in the Latin Quarter that Hemingway really came into his own as a writer and voice of the “Lost Generation.” The posthumously published memoir “A Movable Feast” chronicles this time.

East Africa

Though he suffered near fatal injuries in successive plane accidents in Africa later in life, Hemingway’s 10-week safari in 1933 had such a profound impact that it inspired his works “The Greens Hills of Africa,” “The Snows of Kilimanjaro,” and “The Short Happy Life of Francis Macomber.” He and his second wife toured around what are now Kenya and Tanzania, marveling at the abundance of wildlife.

Cuba

Hemingway spent several winters in Cuba, raising cats and possibly hunting German U-boats in the waters around the island. He returned to Cuba after working as a foreign correspondent during World War II, when he was a witness to the D-Day landings in Normandy. His time in Cuba inspired “The Old Man and the Sea,” which he wrote in eight weeks and for which he won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and which was cited as a major factor in his winning the Nobel Prize in literature.

Top Ballooning Experiences

There are few experiences more romantic and breathtaking than gliding over a beautiful landscape in a hot air balloon. It’s just enough adventure without veering into the more heart-pumping extremes of hang-gliding or sky-diving. Any kind of thrill ride that allows you to drink Champagne during it is our kind of excursion. These are some of the best places to take part.

Albuquerque

The annual Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta takes place in October and this year will feature 550 balloons. Dawn launches and twilight balloon glows take advantage of the crisp autumn weather and unveil the whole of the Rio Grande Valley as the changing light plays off the mountains and valleys. The highlight of the nine-day festival is the mass ascension, when all participating balloons take off at the same time, filling the sky as far as the eye can see.

Tanzania

Safari from a whole new perspective with a balloon ride over the Serengeti, where you can the large scale interaction of the whole ecosystem of animals from a bird’s eye view. Watch as predators lie in wait for their prey, which is constantly on the lookout to protect the herd. It’s like a game of chess with the ultimate stakes. The endless plains and Maasai villages dotting them are great as well.

Myanmar

Thousands of temples and pagodas built hundreds of years ago sit silently among the trees in the golden city of Bagan, which served as the capital of the first empire to unite the lands that became Myanmar. The Irrawaddy River snakes its way past the city, with islands galore breaking up the flow. It’s the only way to check out all the architecture without spending years trekking from temple to temple.

Tuscany

Those rolling hills look even better from a thousand feet up. The walls of medieval hilltop cities seem so easy to breach by just dropping in from above, and you’ll get a taste of just how many acres of vineyards and olive groves there are discover. The beauty of the region is timeless, and flights usually comes with prosecco, cheese and olive oil tastings. Hard to say no to that.

Cappadocia

The Turkish region is littered with “fairy chimneys,” spire-like rock formations that jut out from the earth. Some even houses and churches carved into them. There are also orchards and vineyards to glide over. Cappadocia is so lovely that more than half a million people go ballooning there each year, accounting for most of the world’s annual rides.

A Family Reunites in Southern Italy

The vast majority of the 4 million Italians who migrated to America in mass migration at the end of 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries came from the Mezzogiorno in southern Italy. Their descendants have spread throughout the U.S. especially the Northeast. As heritage travel has surged in popularity in recent years, Largay preferred partner Lush Experiences has put together this sample itinerary exploring Naples, the Amalfi Coast and family history.

Imagine your children are getting older and you want to give them the opportunity to explore their Neapolitan background, possibly meet some distant relatives. As your Largay Travel advisor thinks about connecting you with relatives in Italy, you gather as much information as you can and your advisor reaches out to Privilege Italia to take advantage of its Italian Ancestry program. Working in the “family business” all their lives, Mario and Francesco Staiano are the owners of Privilege Italia, and as cousins truly understand the importance of your roots, and the impact that connection with your heritage means.

Tracing Your Roots

Through extensive research, Privilege Italia traces your family’s lineage and discovers your family came from a small town in Campania, just outside of Napoli. Privilege Italia finds relatives who still live in this town, a true Italian journey takes root. Privilege Italia then crafts an itinerary that let your family experience the authenticity of the region through the eyes of your relatives, from understanding the culture and treasures of the historic city of Napoli to a walk through the mysteries of Pompeii.

The journey begins in Napoli, where your driver takes you to your home in the very heart of the city, the Virtuoso-preferred Romeo Hotel Napoli. Across from the port on the Bay of Naples, the Romeo is the ideal location to explore the city and the islands of Capri, Ischia and Ponza. Your family ascends to the top-floor Beluga Bistrot and Terrace for a welcome cocktail toast with commanding views of the bay and Mt. Vesuvius. After an afternoon of relaxing poolside, you meet your newfound relatives for a very special dinner at the hotel’s Michelin-starred Il Comandante restaurant. An evening filled with laughs and authentic Neapolitan cuisine by Chef Salvatore Bianco ensues as the family reunites.

Exploring Napoli’s Rich Culture

The next day you take a light walking tour to discover the city and your Neapolitan roots. Your expert guide takes you past imposing fortresses and castles along the water to the famed Pantheon-styled Basilica, with plenty of time to admire the Greek columns and beautiful sculptures and paintings inside. You pass museums, cafes and countless monuments that reflect a 3,000-year melting pot. The final stop is the Naples National Archaeological Museum. Enter this converted 17th century palace to spend the afternoon studying prehistoric artifacts, coins and ancient works of art, as your guide shares the stories behind them. This serves as the perfect primer for the next day’s activity, a trip to Pompeii and the Amalfi Coast.

Before leaving Napoli, you venture out of the city to your ancestral hometown, sharing a meal at a local restaurant with your new Italian family.

Pompeii & the Amalfi Coast

The next morning, you say goodbye to the Romeo and Napoli and depart for the picturesque Amalfi Coast, and the Virtuoso-preferred Hotel Santa Caterina. On the way, enjoy a guided tour of the famed archeological ruins of Pompeii, located just 30 minutes from the hotel. After a morning walking in the sun with your expert, it is time to cross over the mountain to the Amalfi Coast.

Once you arrive at the edge of Amalfi town and the dramatic location of the Santa Caterina, you are instantly in awe. Owned and operated by the same family for over 110 years, the hotel is a symbol of relaxed luxury on the Amalfi Coast. Walking across the hand-painted ceramic tile floors of the lobby, you are drawn to the outdoor terrace overlooking the perennial blue of the Mediterranean Sea and sky. It’s the perfect place for a welcome cocktail while your family is mesmerized by the view of the town and the beautiful waters. A casual dinner at the hotel’s seafront restaurant, Al Mare, gives you a taste of the sea and goes perfectly with the extensive wine menu with the sound of the waves crashing below.

The next morning you take a walking tour of the charming town, filled with authentic ceramic shops, and of course the famous limoncello made with local lemons. The highlight is a walk up the steps to the beautiful Amalfi Cathedral in the main square. Back at the hotel, relax by the sea-front pool, take in a signature spa treatment, walk through the gardens or enjoy the view from the terrace. With one final meal at the hotel’s fine dining restaurant, it is time to say goodbye and close the chapter on an incredible Italian journey of discovery.

Top Travelogues

There is a seemingly endless number of travelogues to choose from to inspire your journeys. Let’s be honest, it’s the best topic to write on. Travel transforms people, so it’s no wonder that it makes for such good stories. Plus, from time immemorial, tales of faraway lands have captivated the human imagination. Here are a few we love to read for your next flight.

The Innocents Abroad, Mark Twain


Chronicling Twain’s trip around the Mediterranean in 1867 with a group of Americans aboard the chartered ship Quaker City, the book is cobbled together from newspaper columns Twain wrote about the journey. Twain contrasts the attitude of America, where everything is new and history is being written in real time with the focus on the past he encountered in Europe and the Holy Land. He also critiques tour guides, recognizing what makes a good one and what doesn’t, something we all can learn from. He does it all with the humorous insight only he possessed.

Travels with Myself and Another, Martha Gellhorn


Perhaps most well-known as the third wife of Ernest Hemingway, Gellhorn was a talented travel writer and war correspondent in her own right and has a journalism award named after her. She and Hemingway (the titular other) fell in love while covering the Spanish Civil War, and Gellhorn covered conflict from then to the U.S. invasion of Panama in 1989. This memoir highlights some of the not-so-great aspects of travel — the tediousness of getting from Point A to Point B, the havoc travel can wreak on the digestive tract — along with the awe: “I saw, drugged with sleep and shivering, the great African sky which I have been seeking — a riot of stars, velvet black, felt as an arch, and the air seeming to glint with starshine,” she recounts.

A Year in Provence, Peter Mayle


Mayle and his wife moved to Provence, and this book details the first year. For every beautiful meal washed down with the perfect wine pairing, there is a cold wind or a harsh lesson in the relatively lax work ethic of handymen. All in all, it’s a lighthearted fish-out-of-water account that conveys the lesson that life is better when you take it easy, even if your projects might never get completed. There are more important things than working your fingers to the bone to meet the constant deadlines of the modern workaday world.

West With the Night, Beryl Markham


Markham grew up in colonial Kenya (then British East Africa), where she began her flying career as a bush pilot and befriended Karen Blixen, author of Out of Africa. In 1936, she became the first woman to fly solo westward across the Atlantic, after several predecessors had died in the attempt. The westward transatlantic flight is harder because the wind is against you. When her fuel tank vents iced over, she crash-landed in Nova Scotia. West With the Night details these experiences in lively prose. A telltale anecdote about Markham’s rebellion against social norms, an ex-husband of hers tried to claim he wrote most of the book, despite evidence that Markham submitted a partial manuscript to a publisher before meeting him.

The Travels of Marco Polo, Rustichello da Pisa


If you have to be imprisoned, hearing some good stories to pass the time is as good as you can hope for. As cellmates go, Marco Polo might have been the best. While they were locked up together in Genoa, Polo shared tales of his travels with the author Rustichello, who wrote them down. While there is likely some embellishment, the book is a vivid account of Polo’s journeys through Asia, including service at the court of Kublai Khan. It went as viral as anything could in the days before the printing press, inspiring countless explorers.