Author: Hali Wallach
City #2: Warsaw, Poland (Poorman’s Europe)
After our trip to Warsaw we understand why some of the polish people have unofficially adopted Krakow as their capital city. Since most of Warsaw was rebuilt after WWII you’d expect it to be a very modern, progressive city, but that was not our experience at all. Even though the buildings are all relatively new, they don’t look like it. Most of them are dirty, covered in graffiti, and look like they are about to crumble to the ground.
One very favorable aspect to mention about traveling to Warsaw, is how affordable it is. The cost of food, local goods and mass transit in Warsaw is cheap!
You can get around the city, purchase local products and/or eat like a King/Queen for next to nothing.
I personally recommend that you go to a Milk Bar for good cheap eats!
When shopping for global name brands, expect to pay the same as you would in the states, but buy items local to the region and your money will go a lot further.
Author: Stacey Goodale
Family Travel Specialist
Taking your children on their first overseas trip to Europe may seem like a challenge, but with a little planning, you and your family can have a wonderful experience.
Consider making a packet of fun worksheets about the country to which you are visiting. Although many planes have wifi, it is best to pre download any movies or apps on your devices and don’t forget your portable charger. Bring lots of snacks, too! Airplane food may not cut it when it comes to keeping your kids’ stomachs full and happy.
Because we field a number of questions regarding whether US Citizens can travel to Cuba we thought we’d lend a little clarification.
In 2014, an executive order loosened the restrictions on traveling to Cuba. This order made it legal for Americans to travel to Cuba without having to go on an escorted group tour.
In 2017, the current administration announced they were going to roll back all the regulation changes, but as yet nothing has been put in place and no details have been confirmed.
This means that right now you have a number of options for visiting this culturally intriguing Caribbean island including traveling independently. However, as Cuba has been isolated from much of the world for centuries, its tourist infrastructure is still developing.
Author: Hali Wallach
A little bit about me to give you a perspective of where these reviews are coming from:
Why we chose Croatia, Poland and Austria – I was invited to a wedding in Vienna. My travel partner was interested in going to Poland to trace his roots because his grandmother was from a town outside of Krakow. Since we were going to Krakow, we figured we would also go to Warsaw since it is the capital and the other “major city” in Poland. We also wanted to go to the beach for some R&R. We were thinking of adding Romania, but Deirdre recommended Croatia which is known to have amazing sun, scenery and beaches. Ultimately the wedding in Vienna was called off but we still decided to go anyway since we had already started planning the trip.
CITY 1: Dubrovnik, Croatia (Middleclass Europe / Currency = Kuna)
The town of Dubrovnik is located on the Adriatic Sea and is definitely a nautical town. Their claim to fame is that Game of Thrones is filmed there and they have tons of GOT paraphernalia all over the shops. I wouldn’t say Dubrovnik is super expensive (nothing like Vienna), but is it certainly NOT cheap (like Poland).
Barcelona is an amazing and vibrant city that is definitely worth adding to your wanderlist! Its architecture spans over 2000 years and includes its renowned modernist buildings inspired by Antoni Gaudi. This fantastic architecture, combined with the charm of the city's trendy restaurants, narrow winding pedestrian streets, and the sunny Southern Spanish climate and beaches, makes Barcelona an excellent vacation destination. Just be sure to consult a knowledgeable travel adviser who can help you to find a legitimate vacation accommodation that best suits your needs.
The proliferation of illegal apartment rentals has forced the city of Barcelona to go after popular apartment rental sites like Airbnb and Homeaway for allowing unlicensed properties to be rented on their websites. This is a matter of quality of life for the local citizens. Since landlords can earn five times as much renting to tourists rather than residents, sharp rent increases have driven residents out and the city center has become depopulated. The Barcelona City Council considers this irresponsible
At the National Gallery of Art you will find a painting of the idyllic valley of la Paiola, by Camille Corot, titled "A view from Volterra". But why not enjoy this amazing view in person? If you’re dreaming of a Villa in Tuscany, we know a lovely 12th-century farmhouse built on the pre-Roman ruins of an Etruscan villa that sits in a valley above 70 acres of olive groves with its own burbling stream.
This beautiful secluded property has a wood burning brick oven as well as an outdoor terrace and patio both fully furnished and perfect for dining al fresco or just watching the sun set.
But, if you want the Tuscan Villa experience without the seclusion, you can relish in the best of both worlds with a beautifully restored Villa featuring Tuscan antiques and ceramics situated in the open countryside just outside Florence.
Olive groves and cypress trees pave the way to this estate located within walking distance of a restaurant, just 1 mile from local towns and markets, and less than 10 miles from Florence.
This villa shares an outdoor pool with a neighboring villa and is easily accessible via train or bus. Both stations are a 5 minute drive from the villa. And you can easily branch out from the nearby train station to explore Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre, and Venice.
Many clients inquire as to the best time to travel to Tuscany? I find that Tuscany's best travel months are April, May, June, September, and October when you will generally find the most pleasant weather. However, this is also peak period for this region when the area is at its busiest and most expensive. I tend to prefer late May and early June before the crowds swell enormously or mid to late September when the crowds are dying down a bit. In July and August when temperatures hit the high 80's and 90's the summer heat can be grueling in some areas, making this a good time to head for the coast or find a shaded river bank.
Tuscany as a destination is quite popular so our best advice is to plan early to avoid disappointment. And through our trusted partners we have access to properties you won't find on internet travel clearinghouse sites. If you’d like assistance with a custom itinerary to help you discover the beauty of Tuscany contact Enlighten Excursions at 301-384-1519.
Caribbean Islands Open for Business!
The Caribbean is a vast sea filled with more than 7,000 idyllic, sun-drenched islands. While recent hurricanes have damaged a few islands, a full 70 percent of Caribbean destinations were not impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and are open for business as usual. And many that took a glancing blow or sustained minimal damage are open now as well.
Even more remarkable is that over 50% of the tourist accommodations on the most severely affected islands like Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have reopened and are welcoming visitors.
Whatever activity you wish to pursue in paradise, you’ll have many destinations and many resort options from which to choose. Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitt's, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos represent just a handful of the Islands we illuminate for our customers with authentic itineraries. Contact Enlighten Excursions to plan your Caribbean getaway.
by Stacey Goodale
Let’s face it— when most of us think of a Disney vacation we think long lines, overcrowded and hot parks, screaming kids and character meet and greets with Mickey, Minnie and lots of princesses.
What you probably don’t think of is an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, private tour at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding for a behind the scenes peek at pandas in their natural habitats, or glamping in style in a luxury tent in Yellowstone.
Yet, these are just a few of the unique offerings that Disney has with their Adventures by Disney Vacations that will keep you away from the long lines and crowded parks and have your kids screaming with excitement instead.
These 5-star vacations provide culturally immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that prove all vacations are not created equal. What makes an Adventures by Disney trip unique is the care and attention that is put into every aspect of your vacation from the moment you start.
Each Adventures by Disney trip includes 2 Adventure Guides, along with local experts, that ensure that you and your family become a part of the story. These guides give you a sense of connection to the people, culture and traditions of your destination. During an Adventures By Disney vacation, you don’t just see the sights, you participate in local traditions and activities. You can greet buddhist monks at a traditional “alms gathering” rite or paint boomerangs with the aboriginal Tjapukai tribe in Australia.
Each trip offers both guided time and time to tour on your own, as well as separate activities for kids and adults. Everything from your hotels and luggage, to your transportation and admissions is taken care of so that you can focus on the experience rather than the travel details. Because these trips carry the weight of the Disney name, you’ll bypass lines, have unique and unexpected experiences and personal attention that other small group tours can’t offer you.
Adventures by Disney has tours within to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America, as well as European River and Ocean cruises. Take an African Safari to see the Big 5, hike to Machu Picchu in Peru, dive into the refreshing waters of the Aegean, or mush your sled across the snow with an Iditarod dog sled tour. With Disney constantly adding destinations, you're sure to find one that is right for you.
Don’t have children? Or just want to get away on your own? Adventures by Disney offers adult-only itineraries to many of their destinations.
Right now Disney is offering a Book Early and Save for 2019 promotion.
Contact Stacey Goodale for more information on how you can book one of these exceptional vacation adventures!
Destination weddings offer this unique opportunity to gather everyone who matters most to you and spend quality time on a once in a lifetime vacation. Jamaica is a popular destination wedding spot because it offers a myriad of fun activities and unforgettable experiences. We tried to put together the top 10 list of things to do, but we struggled to even cull the list down from 20! So, we landed on 12!
There are just untold opportunities to learn about Jamaica’s rich and vibrant culture, and to meet some of the friendliest people in the world. So, if you’ve decided on Jamaica for your destination wedding, consider these memorable Destination wedding group adventures.
1. Tour the Luminous Lagoon: Located in Trelawny, Jamaica, the luminous lagoon is one of the most brilliant in the world, and home to millions of dinoflagellates. These microscopic organisms give an eerie glow at night, outlining objects in the water. Take your guests on the 45 minute tour, and let them jump out in the water and swim with their bodies surrounded by the luminous green glow. They will never forget it!
2. Hike the Blue Mountains: Observe nature at its finest, taste the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee, stop for lunch and enjoy breathtaking mountain views and magnificent waterfalls.
3. Explore the Green Grotto Caves: Explore the pristine waters flowing from depths of the Green Grotto Caves on the Northern Coast of Jamaica.