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We made it! 2021 is behind us and 2022 is here.
With all of the ups and downs of the previous twenty-two months, it is hard to believe all that has been delayed and cancelled. And yet, there have still been moments of deep enjoyment in our lives and we hope and pray the same can be said of yours as well.
As we look ahead at this new year, we may not know exactly what to expect or what this year will hold. But know that we are journeying through this year with you and are here for you in the bumps and bends of the road. We hope to have the enjoyment of helping you dream and visit that location you have been eyeing or take that much needed rest this year.
When you're ready to make those dreams a reality, give us a call.
There are so many Christmas traditions in America--some with roots in Germany or Puritan culture and some made popular through commercialism and story telling. We thought that it would be fun to share some of the origin stories to five Christmas traditions so you can share it with those around you this holiday season!
Nicholas was born around 280AD in Lycia, now modern day Turkey. As the story goes, Nicholas lost both of his parents as a young man and decided to use his inheritance to help those around him. He is credited to giving money to a father who needed dowries for his three daughters, stopping a violent storm to save three sailors and even reviving the lives of three boys who were brutally murdered by a butcher! Because of his reputation, he is known as the patron saint of children, sailors, wolves and even pawnbrokers. His fame grew in the Middle Ages as his story reached Europe and the Dutch translated his name to Sinterklaas and most likely brought the tale to the Americas when they migrated to the Hudson River Valley. By the 1800s, cartoonists were depicting St. Nicholas as a portly dutchman with a white beard, delivering his gifts to homes in a flying sled--the image we most likely think of today. Much of the world celebrates the life of St. Nicholas on the approximate date of his death, December 6 by leaving gifts in your loved ones shoes or exchanging them the way you might on Christmas.
The earliest versions we know of date to 1903 in Germany with a publisher who wanted a way for children to be able to count down to Christmas (I'm sure it was created to give a more visual answer to the seemingly incessant "how many more days until Christmas?" question children love asking). Originally, the doors or windows on the advent calendar could be opened to contain Bible verses, poems or a small gift. Today, advent calendars can be based on any theme a company or product desires--from socks and chocolate to wine and nail polish--making it a fun and festive countdown for anybody on your Christmas list.
This fun, yummy and albeit messy Christmas traditions again lies in German history with the story of "Hansel and Gretel," written by the Brothers Grimm. As the story goes, two children are walking along in the forest and stumble upon a house made of gingerbread and candy where an evil witch lives. While I wouldn't suggest this as the story to read before making your own gingerbread house, it's fun to know where it all began. And if you opt for a smaller activity and want to decorate gingerbread cookies instead, you can thank Queen Elizabeth I who first made this tradition popular.
the nutcracker ballet
One of the must-sees of the Christmas season is the Nutcracker ballet, which premiered in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1892. It is the combination of the beautiful work of composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa. It was brought to England in 1934 and made it's way to San Francisco in 1944. With performances across the nation beginning in the 1960s, it is now a beloved must-see Christmas tradition.
Want to guess where candy canes come from?? If you guessed Germany, you are right! They really knew how to promote new holiday traditions. These peppermint treats date back to 1670, when a choirmaster in Cologne, Germany wanted an easy distraction for his younger singers. Though sweets are not usually a welcomed notion in the church services, this choirmaster added a hook to the traditionally straight peppermint sticks to pay homage to the Christmas story, appeasing the church board. These red and white striped candies didn't arrive in the United States until 1847, when a German-Swedish immigrant in Wooster, Ohio placed one on a tree. When the automated candy-cane making machine was created in the 1950s, these sweet, minty candies solidified as a permanent Christmas treat, becoming the No. 1 non-chocolate candy sold in the month of December.
We wish you a merry christmas and a happy new year!
Did you learn something new about one of your family's Christmas traditions? We hope you enjoy celebrating this holiday season and being with your loved ones as you share stories and traditions with one another.
It is hard to believe that Thanksgiving and the start of the holiday season is beginning this week! We know that you may have friends or relatives who began buying all of their holiday gifts months ago, but if you're like us, you may just be getting started!
During normal years, this seemed easy enough. Head downtown to your local shops and purchase something unique for a friend or maybe you shop online for convenience of having something shipped directly to that relative who lives in another town or state. However, one of the added frustrations to the pandemic and global marketplace this year is the reality that our supply chain infrastructure is delayed at almost every turn. This means that while you used to be able to just go to a store or online site and find your gifts with relative ease, this year there may be a more limited supply and inventory.
But there is one gift that is still easily accessible and fun to gift--TRAVEL!
In addition to many people having a pent-up wanderlust from all of the pandemic stay-at-home orders, they might also be looking for something to give or receive rather than physical gifts.
Maybe instead of buying another Christmas tie or newest tech gadget, you could gift your family a cruise or adventure for everyone. Instead of asking for another piece of jewelry or cooking gadget, you could ask for a beachside getaway. Better yet, you could buy a fun, unique piece of jewelry in one of these beautiful locations!
When you look back on past holidays and celebrations, we're betting that many of the gifts you've received aren't even around anymore. Things get broken or lost, clothes don't fit, electronics become quickly outdated. And those things move to the back of your memory. But with travel, nothing is more memorable. Travel memories are long remembered and appreciated even after the trip is over. And at least this year, you won't need to worry about your gift being stuck on a container ship somewhere far away.
READY TO GIVE THE GIFT OF TRAVEL?
If you're like us, you've watched the summer fade into fall. While the change in seasons is always welcomed in the hottest parts of the North State, we're missing the long days lounging by the waters and soaking up the sun.
Our friends at Down Under Answers have some terrific Tahiti Specials that we want to share with you. So while the colors change and leaves fall, let's not just dream of the sunny days--let's travel to these idyllic locales!
With turquoise lagoons, sugary-white sand beaches, dramatic volcanic peaks and vanilla scented air, it is easy to see why the islands of Tahiti are known as the Islands of Love. Offering stunning sunsets, romantic beach walks and some of the best diving in the world, Tahiti truly is a destination for romantics at heart..
Moorea Overwater Experience from $2,799pp
5-night air and land inclusive vacation
Stay in a Tahitian Overwater Bungalow on a 5-night vacation to Moorea including breakfast and dinner. The natural beauty of Moorea is nothing less than breathtaking with pristine, secluded beaches, lush mountains and deep valleys, complemented by a kaleidoscope of contrasting colors - the perfect backdrop for a Tahitian vacation.
Blissful Bora Bora & Taha'a from $3,999pp
7-night air and land inclusive vacation
The island of Taha’a is captivating. Slanted palm trees rise above pristine white sand beaches, crystal clear waters and overwater bungalows. This charming and quiet island sweeps you deep into the typical Polynesian's easy-going life and is the perfect destination to combine a stay on Bora Bora.
Islands of French Polynesia from $4,659pp
8-night air and land inclusive vacation
With this island-hopping itinerary you will visit the most beautiful islands in French Polynesia - some are well known, some are "best kept secrets". From the quiet beauty of Taha'a, to the stunning mountain views of Bora Bora and the natural beauty of Moorea - you will have a truly amazing experience.
ready to experience the beautiful islands of Tahiti?
Prices are quoted in USD and are ‘from’, per person, based on double occupancy. Single supplements apply. Advertised price valid for departures January 7, 2022 - March 31. 2022 Other travel dates available but are subject to seasonal surcharges. Prices are current at time of posting (11/2/21) and may differ when you book your travel and are not guaranteed until full payment is received and processed. All pricing is strictly subject to availability. Packages must be booked by December 12, 2021. All prices, itineraries and routing are subject to change without notice. Please call for our current prices. CST: 2074974-50
As if it could not get more complicated to travel internationally:
As we are entering into fall, normally the most glorious time to travel….. But…. of course, for the past 2 years it has not been normal.
Things were opening up for European travel from the US traveler this summer both for the vaccinated and unvaccinated. Till the EU decided to change it all up on August 31, 2021. The change was a recommendation and each of country can take the recommendation or create their own rules of entry for US citizens.
Some countries have totally shut down for leisure travelers such as New Zealand and Sweden regardless of vaccination status. Others such as Italy are allowing vaccinated travelers with Covid testing 48-72 hours before arrival in the country.
That is the operative phrase – before arrival. So be aware of your hours before arrival when you are scheduling your covid test. It may not be when your plane leaves but when you arrive at your final destination country. The other complication can be your transit airport. Since England is no longer a part of the EU – if you are flying British Airlines through either of the London airports timing might change when you need to do your covid test.
Example: Flying directly from a US airport to Italy the current Covid testing time requirement is 72 hrs. before arrival in Italy. If you are transiting though London Heathrow it becomes 48 hrs. due to Italy's restrictions for the United Kingdom.
Some of the countries are now requiring forms to be filled out before you arrive. Many of the airlines are using the app https://www.myverifly.com/#/ to collect all the information that is needed or direct you to site where you will need to fill out the country information. My favorite site to see what individual countries are requiring is Sherpa Travel Restrictions.
In an ever-changing travel landscape, it is important to have someone that is a trusted partner to help evaluate and build your travel vision into a reality. Give us a call or email we would love to help.
We’re all tired of being cooped up and with widespread distribution of vaccines, everyone is looking forward to a summer getaway. It looks like many people this year are saying “Beach please!” and with good reasons: You spend more time outdoors where it is easier social distance.We’ve all been indoors for too long and the Vitamin D that sunshine brings is even better when mixed with Vitamin Sea.Beach vacations offer a wide variety of activities and interesting food options. Here are some tips from our friends at SceptreVacations to make sure you pack like a pro for a seaside (or lakeside) escape:
First, Get Organized
With a variety of activities, you need to think about how to organize your bags to make the most of your space. Packing cubes and compressions bags can help you save both space and time. They make unpacking easy as you can just slip them straight into the drawers of your hotel dresser.If you are having a more mobile vacations where you are driving from one spot to another, compression also means fewer bags to load and unload at each stop. Plastic storage bags that can be sealed are your friends as well. Especially for things like extra masks and liquid containers of your favorite sunscreen or apres-soleil balm.
Your Basic Beach Packing LIst
If your goal is to settle on the beach and just chill. Here is the minimum list of things to bring along:
If you are planning on doing some exploring, sight-seeing or enjoying some evening dining away from you hotel you will want to also take:• Comfortable walking shoes
• An umbrella
• An underwater digital camera (if you find yourself snorkeling or diving)
• Self-filtering water bottle
• An insulated cooler bag
Pandemic Era Basics
Even with vaccines becoming widespread, masks are not going away any time soon. While the ability to social distance may allow you to uncover your face for some of the time (nobody really wants the “raccoon face tan” that wearing a mask full time could bring), you will be required to wear a mask in any settings where people gather.
Here are what you need to bring with you:
Washable Reusable Masks
Many travelers may think they will pick up some masks when on vacation. After all, they are pretty much available everywhere. But vacation destinations could be swamped by lots of people thinking the same thing and supplies could become limited.
DISPOSABLE MASKS IN SEALED PLASTIC BAGS
A few extra masks will come in handy if you don’t have time to wash and dry all of your reusable masks after a day at the beach and before an evening out.
SANITIZERS AND WIPES
It’s always a good idea to have some sanitizing gel on hand to quickly make sure your hands are easily cleaned. Wipes are rapidly becoming must have travel accessories as wiping down any area you will be touching over time such as airline seat backs, hotel faucets and doorknobs, and that TV remote).
COPIES OF YOUR DOCUMENTATION.
It is always wise to have a photocopy of your passport when traveling overseas.It is also a good idea to take clear photos of your documents and keep them on your phone. Having a copy has helped many people if they lose their original when it comes to getting a temporary replacement at a local consulate.In this day and age where proof of vaccination, negative Covid test, or existence of anti-bodies could make the difference between entry and denial for various venues, having an extra copy could save the day. If you are traveling as a couple, make a copy and keep one in each other’s carry-ons.
Ready to say 'beach, please!'?
Navigating the new challenges of COVID travel may seem like a daunting task. But with a little careful planning (and the help of your wonderful travel agent) you will be rewarded with your long-awaited paradise! Our friends at Centrav pieced together some of the top things to be mindful of when traveling in the age of COVID.
1. Missed connections
Missed connections are difficult during any trip, but they can be even trickier during the COVID era. If you miss your connecting flight and get stuck in a country that was not your final destination you might not be able to leave the airport. Build in a little extra time than you normally would in order to make all your flights. Know the COVID regulations for every country and city on your itinerary, not just your final destination
2. Schedule changes
Schedule changes are right up there with missed connections. However, in this case, airline schedule changes are totally out of your (and your travel agent’s) control. What causes airline schedule changes? In a normal travel climate, schedule changes happen due to weather, staffing issues, mechanical failures and so much more. It’s complicated coordinating thousands of flight times, codeshares, and routes. Add COVID to the mix and things just get more complicated. As the demand for travel increases, new flights are added regularly. This causes everything to shift a bit. You can avoid frustrations by checking your flight status frequently and arriving at the airport early.
Check out Centrav's full guide to airline schedule changes here
3. Different/changing COVID travel regulations
COVID travel regulations don’t just change by country. They change by province and even by city. We should know this well from observing the state mask mandates here in the US. But it is important to remember that other countries are also working through the details just like we are. One city at your destination may not have mask requirements while another not only requires masks but requires a specific kind of mask. Write down every place you will visit and double-check requirements as you approach your departure date. Things can change at any time.
4. Added paperwork
Lots of paperwork! Every destination is requiring different information to make sure they can host travelers as safely as possible. Whether it’s COVID test results, health screening forms, vaccination records, or an account of where you plan to go during your stay, every trip will require more paperwork than in the past. No one loves to do paperwork, but it’s important to keep in mind that your host country is only doing this to make sure they can continue to welcome tourists all year long. No one wants travel to shut down again! The best way to handle the added paperwork? Research and read the fine print to know what you need. Keep printed copies AND digital files as a backup.
5. Advanced reservation
While most tourist sites and restaurants have been open in the United States for a while, many countries around the world have been slower to ease back on restrictions. Because of this, you may find things like restaurants, entertainment, and excursions operating at a very limited capacity and or allowing tourists by reservation only. This might prove to be very helpful if you love to plan your trip out anyway. But if you are more of a spontaneous traveler, it might take a little extra planning.
Have questions about booking your next travel adventure??
GREECE: OFF THE BEATEN PATH
Enjoy a wine tasting on a beach on Mykonos. Race your friends during a private sport event at an ancient stadium. Find peace and serenity at the Oracle of Delphi. There’s a lot more to Greece than the Acropolis and tantalizing cuisine.
INSIDER’S GUIDE TO ITALY
Do you feel like traveling to Italy but want to stay clear of the crowds? Italian travel specialist Dino T. explains how you can do just that during this Q&A session, giving you travel tips and insights to have an authentic Italian journey.