Travel Peru

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When many people think of the country of Peru they envision exotic landscapes and rich culture.  What many people don’t realize is just how vast this county really is.  It has everything from the lush Amazon Rainforest and the jagged Andes Mountains, to posh 5 star resorts along the coast of the Pacific.  Did you know that the country of Peru is one of 10 mega-diverse countries containing 84 of the 114 life zones and 8 bio-geographical provinces? Or that Lima, Peru is the 5th largest city in the Americas?  Learn more about this fascinating travel destination here.

Activities of Interest:

Peru-FestivalCulture:  Many of the rituals, festivals, and ways of life remain from pre-Colombian time.  Take part in unique experiences such as the “Danze de Tijeras”, a rhythmic cultural dance, or immerse yourself in the Andean culture by learning about their rituals of making offerings to Mother Earth and the Mountain Spirit.  The country is also known for cultural crafts such as reed water crafts and authentic fine textiles.

Adventure:  Peru has many adventure opportunities for those adrenaline seekers out there.  Explore the beautiful range of landscapes that the county offers by going mountaineering, trekking or rock-climbing.  Another local favorite is “potholing”, also known as cave exploring.  But a word of warning: beware if you have a fear of spiders:  Some Peruvian caves are home to Amblypygi, a species of arachnids that can get up to 23 inches!  They are not the cutest creatures, but no worries, they are harmless to humans!

ancient-peruAncient Peru:  Twenty thousand years of civilization, architecture, and history.  Take in the Chavin de Huantar, an impressive architectural complex from the Chavin culture with 3000 year old temples and sculptures made of stone.  Or explore Cusco City.  On a walk through the streets of Cuzco, the great walls and palaces built by the Incas exhibit the colossal architecture of the capital city of Tahuantinsuyo. Other popular destinations of ancient Peru includethe  Cumbemayo Archaeological Complex, Qenqp places of worship, dinosaur remains of Querulpg, the Koncanch Temples, and much more.

Modern Day Peru:  Peru is known for its incredible landscapes and rich culture, but this country has even more to offer.  Peru also have an exhilarating nightlife, limitless entertainment, and exquisite and tremendously diverse cuisine.  If you are looking for a more relaxing vacation getaway visit the white sand beaches, 5 star resorts, or tranquil spas.lima-peru

Whether you are an adrenaline seeker, a history buff, an exotic cuisine connoisseur, or you are just looking to relax in a tranquil spa getaway, Peru might just be the destination for you!  Learn more about travel opportunity in this diverse county by contacting a vacation travel consultant today!

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Escape to Sunscape!

As Mother Nature becomes unfriendly and the temperatures become chillier, there is no better time than now to book a getaway to paradise. Experience the stunning beach, extremely favorable weather, and beautiful all-inclusive resort that is the Sunscape Dorado all at an incredible price! Enjoy non-stop roundtrip air from Milwaukee to Ixtapa, Mexico, roundtrip airport/hotel transfers in Ixtapa, and numerous activities and thrilling entertainment while at the resort. Book now with Fox World Travel and Apple Vacations so that you too can ESCAPE TO SUNSCAPE on April 3-10, 2015! Book now!

Escape-to-Sunscape

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The Wonders of Hungary

Bonny, of our Oshkosh Fox World Travel location, recently went on a memorable trip to Hungary and the Czech Republic. Hear about part 1 of this event-filled journey here!

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After hosting five foreign exchange students (4 past, and 1 currently) all from East/Central Europe it was with great excitement to visit and tour their countries. And with what better tour guides than Adam #2, Julia # 3, Daniel #4, and Dominik #5. (Matej #1 was away in India).

Picture1Our arrival into Budapest was seamless and we were exchanging hugs with Julia’s family within twenty minutes. Besides participating in some local fishing, visiting Julia’s father’s bee farm, eating a lot of fish (carp) soup, one of the family rabbits, and trips across the border to Slovenia for ice cream, some of our Hungarian highlights were:

Budapest

Budapest in hungary 1BUDA is the former capital of the Kingdom of Hungary and on the west bank of Danube River and is mostly wooded and hilly. Notable landmarks include the Buda Castle and the Citadella. PEST is the eastern, mostly flat part of Budapest that includes the inner city and the Hungarian Parliament. Eight bridges cross the Danube in Budapest, connecting Buda and Pest.

Chain Bridge

Chain bridge Budapest HungaryThe most famous one is the Chain Bridge. It was the first permanent stone bridge to cross the Danube in Budapest and only the second permanent bridge to cross it on its whole length. The bridge is almost a quarter mile long, and it became the symbol of Budapest. It is often photographed because how beautiful it is especially in the night when it is illuminated by lights on the top and bottom of the pillars.

Liberty Bridge

The shortest of all the bridges is the Liberty Bridge. It was originally named after the emperor Francis Joseph. It was built in 1896, and two years later it was open for tram transportation. Unfortunately, like every other bridge, it was blown up by the retreating Nazi troops on January 16 1945. Soon after the WWII ended, the bridge was reconstructed and renamed to Liberty Bridge.

Elizabeth Bridge

cz_prague_bridges1-1This bridge was named after the queen Elizabeth, the queen adored by the Hungarians. Unfortunately, on January 18th the bridge was destroyed by the retreating Nazi troops. The bridge remained unreconstructed for a while after the WWII ended until 1960. It was decided to rebuild the whole bridge because of the massive damage it was done to it. To this date, it is the most elegant bridge in Budapest due to its modern architecture and its snow flake color.

The Budapest Parliament was built during the millennial celebrations of 1896. The building was designed by Imre Steindl who was partially inspired by the Palace of Westminster. The outer walls are decorated by statues of Hungarian monarchs and military commanders. The interiors consist of huge halls, over 12,5 miles of corridors, a 96-meter high central dome, and 691 room. The whole building can be toured when the Parliament is not in session, and taking pictures is allowed.

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Buda Parli 2

Hősök tere (Heroes’ Square) is one of the main squares in the cities. There lie two important buildings, Museum of Fine Arts and the Palace of Art. In the middle, stands the Millennium Memorial which was built in 1900 to commemorate the thousand year anniversary of the foundation of the state by St. Stephen I in 896. Városliget (Hungarian: city park) is the biggest park in Budapest and the main entrance from the Heroes’ Square.

The Statue of Liberty on Gellert Hill was erected in 1947 by the communists when Hungary became independent from Nazi regime, but the Hungarians grew to love it so much that they kept it even after Hungary became an independent country in 1989. The only change was to remove the old communist slogan for the new: “To the memory of those all who sacrificed their lives for the independence, freedom, and prosperity of Hungary.”

Cesky Krumlov castleBuda Castle is one of the most visited places in Hungary. The castle was torn down and rebuilt many times in the history. The became a symbol of peace between the Hamsburgs and the Hungarian nation. Unfortunately, it had fallen a victim to the bombings during the World War II when the whole interior burned. The last renovation was done when the Communists came in 1968. The castle used to be where the royal family lived, and its massive walls have defined the panorama of the city for centuries. This is why it is still so popular among the tourists.

The Matthias Church, budapest Matthias Churchofficially ‘Church of Our Lady’, was built in 1015 at the heart of Buda’s Castle District. It used to be the second largest church of medieval Buda and the seventh largest church of medieval Hungarian Empire. The church also has the Ecclesiastical Art museum inside of it which stretches from medieval crypt to the St. Stephen Chapel. It contains great number of medieval stone carvings, sacred relics, and the replicas of the Hungarian royal crown and coronation jewels.

St. Stephen’s Basilica which is the third tallest building in Hungary. It belongs among the top visited places in Hungary. The basilica has been an important music building ever since its consecration in 1905, and it hosts concerts every Thursday. Every Friday has to offer also “mini” concerts which are about 15 minutes long.

Lake Balaton

lake balaton 4We took a ferry across the “Hungarian Sea”, the people’s name for the 50-mile long lake with silky green-yellow water in the middle of Transdanubia. The color of the lake reminded me of the Caribbean.

Lake Balaton is one of Hungary’s most precious treasures and most frequented resorts. It is also the largest lake in Central Europe.The most common places to stay around the lake are Siófok, Keszthely, and Balatonfüred.

Tihany

Is a small town that is mostly known due to its monastery which serves today as a history museum of the abbey and Lake Balaton. The building itself has a great value because of its history and architecture. The best view of Balaton is from the monastery. In the past, the town was also famous because of its echo. Many poets had written poems about it, but due to the change in landscape it cannot be heard anymore.

Lenti – Street Market

Its existence so near the Slovenian and Austrian borders, and the cheaper prices in Hungary, meant and still means that many people travel there for shopping, for clothes in particular.

marketSo for a small town you will find an amazing range of shops, many selling clothes, shoes, handbags, but also some selling linen and household goods (and ordinary shops too, of course).  Although the Hungarian currency is forints many shops and traders accept euros.  I purchased some of the most beautiful handcrafted tablecloths, runners and doilies…for really cheap!

Redic

RedicJulia’s hometown of Redic was just a few miles from the Slovenian border. Her home was self sustained with gardens, grape vines, chickens, rabbits, ducks, a fish pond, and raised bees for three types of honey.

terezaJulia’s family was so gracious and hospitable. We met her sisters, grandparents, and many other family members and friends. We toured her boarding school, walked around Lake Velenia where Julia spent time during her summer breaks, fished in her backyard, kept watch of the family ducks, shopped in her local grocery store. One of the most memorable moments was meeting little cousin, Tereza. She was shy at first, but we bonded over drawing and coloring and teaching Tereza, and her older sister, the names of the crayon colors in English. By the end of our stay, I was treated to my own personal performance of Do-Re-Mi /Do-A-Dear, from the Sound of Music. Afterwards, her new name was Gretl and it was very hard to say good-bye.

Our last full day in Hungary Dave and Julia’s father went fishing. Julia, her mother and I went to the Lenti Thermal Spa where Julia’s sister taught water aerobics. This was a very large indoor spa, with swimming, medicinal, and wellness pools.   I overheard many languages spoken while soaking in the thermal pool. This was a destination retreat for many Europeans.

Our final evening with Julia’s family we were served the catch of the day   – Carp. It was served as soup and as a whole filet complete with tail.   So as they say, “When in Rome….”.

fish soup fish soup2

The following day Julia’s parents drove us back to Budapest for one last tour of the city and farewells till next time!

farewellStay tuned for part 2 of Bonny’s trip to be posted next week!

Learn more about planning your very own European Adventure here, or Contact Your Vacation Travel Specialist Today!

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5 Tips for a Long Flight

Traveling can lead you to many exciting destinations, but the long flights to get there can be less exciting. No one looks forward to sitting next to strangers in an uncomfortable seat Airplane orange landingfor hours. Long flights can leave your muscles feeling achy and you feeling exhausted and moody. Fortunately, there are simple ways to make those long flights a little easier on your mind and body without emptying out your wallet. If you have a long flight in your future, consider the following 5 tips to help you get a better start to your vacation.

  1. Choose an aisle seat: This may depend on what airline you are flying on, but some allow you to choose a seat at the time of ticket purchase, or you can choose your own seat once onboard the plane. Having an aisle seat on a long flight makes it much easier to use the restroom when needed or to stand up and stretch without bothering anyone sitting beside you.
  2. Stand up and move around: Once the flight is at a safe altitude and the pilot turns off the seat-belt lights, feel free to get up and stretch out. Sitting in a small airplane seat for hours can easily make your body restless and achy.
  3. Eat healthy food before your trip: Trying out a new Mexican restaurant the night before your long flight may not be the best idea. Airplane bathrooms are very small and often have a line to wait in. Hence, an upset stomach is not what you want during a long flight. Eating healthy foods can reduce the chances of your stomach acting up, which will make for a more enjoyable flight.
  4. Get some sleep: One of the easiest ways to pass the time on a long flight is to sleep! To avoid disturbances, be sure to pack a sleeping mask and earplugs to try to drown out the distracting noises.
  5. Adjust your sleeping pattern before your trip: One of frequent flyers biggest complaints is jet lag. One way to help avoid this is to start adjusting your sleeping pattern at home. Learn your destination’s time zone and being getting into that sleeping pattern. It may feel odd sleeping during the day, but it will pay off when you get to your destination and aren’t feeling sleep deprived. Adjusting your eating pattern is also helpful before traveling. For some, it can be difficult trying to eat at abnormal times you aren’t used to. Planning ahead and adjusting your eating pattern can be a very helpful pre-planning tip.
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Adventures in Aspen

Dawn, of Fox World Travel, recently went on a trip to Aspen, Colorado. This getaway included everything from a fishing tour, to a private party at playmate, Barbi Benson’s, mansion. Hear all about Dawn’s trip here!

We stayed at the lavish St. Regis Resport and Spa. This amazing property is situated in st regis aspenAspen just steps away from the signature ski slopes that Aspen is famous for.   It is also within walking distance to downtown shops and eateries, right in the heart of the historic town center of Aspen. The building stands majestically at the base of the slope looking like a castle.

The interior of the property is as grand as the first impression that we had driving up. Librarystr244gb.103155_xx Marble floors, dark oak woodwork, and exquisite crystal chandeliers are located throughout the property. The rooms are beautifully decorated with custom furnishings and very comfortable bedsstr244gr.119376_xx. str244gr.133407_xxThe views from the rooms are breathtaking.   The guest rooms are also outfitted with spacious marble bathrooms which included large claw-foot tubs and stand-alone showers. We enjoyed the extra special touch of turndown service every night upon returning to our room.

The property also houses the stunning Remède Spa which is open seven days a week. One thing this spa currently features is an innovative new spa treatment: Farm to spaMassage Table. This concept uses locally-sourced and natural ingredients to engage all of the senses in a multi-dimensional five course spa experience including a 30 minutes glow scrub, a 60 minute customized massage, a eucalyptus warm compress, scalp massage, and a body butter application. You even leave the spa with a complimentary salt-scrub made fresh, just for you!

It is a very invigorating experience to say the least. That is one thing we found of interest – from dining to the spa – the St. Regis is very interested in supporting the local economy and utilizing local products and ingredients. St. Regis Aspen’s outdoor heated pool and three outdoor hot tub areas were a treat in and of themselves. The warm waters in the pool allow for year-round enjoyment. The view is breathtaking as you look out over the mountains on the backside of the hotel.

Dining at the St. Regis was another special treat. The Executive Chef crafted local recipes Shadow Mountain Loungeand utilized seasonal ingredients. There are several restaurants and lounges on site to choose from.

Aspen Outfitting Company offers the area’s only Certified Guide Program. They have their headquarters in the St. Regis. We spent a beautiful afternoon fishing on one of the local waterways with an extremely knowledgeable guide who provided us with great tips and strategies to try to land the big one. Unfortunately, we didn’t pull anything mountable in, but we each did have the opportunity of landing several smaller trout. It was a very enjoyable afternoon. Don’t worry about having to bring poles and gear. They provided everything we needed. Part of our fishing package also included a wonderful boxed lunch catered by the hotel. Aspen Outfitting Company holds exclusive leases on the area’s largest selection of private water. Fishing opportunities are available year round. The guides are local and very familiar with the surrounding waterways. We found each has their “favorite lucky spots”. The company also offers recreational activities to include Clay Target Shooting, Pistol Shooting and Upland Bird Hunting.

dawn fam

The peak of Aspen Mountain is 11,212 feet. We rode the Silver Queen Gondola to the top of the mountain. The views were stunning as you are able to look about for miles in all directions. If you are a skiing enthusiast your ride to the top of Aspen Mountain in the Gondola will give you access to over 75 trails. For those of us who aren’t skiers, we can still ride the Gondola with the purchase of a “foot pass” sold at the ticket office. At the top of the mountain is the Sundeck Restaurant where we listened to live music and enjoyed lunch. There is a very large deck where you can sit outside if weather permits. While we were there, the place was being set up for a private Moonlight wedding function at the Sundeck Restaurant that evening. The Sundeck has a very rustic feel and is a great location to lounge or have a private function like the one that was being set up.

dawn fam 3Because we were so close to the downtown area and Aspen’s pedestrian malls we took a walk around to see what could be found. One thing we noticed right away is that these shops were more dedicated to local artisans and wares. We saw very few “chain” retailers. Choices for shopping ran the gamut from consignment to Prada, local artists’ wares to fine art.  There were several areas where local musicians were playing or singing to the crowds milling about.

We were told there are over 100 dining options in the immediate area to include restaurants, coffee shops, lounges or delicatessens. There were many culinary options to choose from and something for everybody’s taste. Something that is very popular is the Farm to Table menus. There are also many options of microbreweries. Even while we were there in April many of the outdoor patios were open and being utilized. Finbarr’s is a modern gastro pub that we attended an event at on Saturday night. This pub is owned by a local Aspen resident. True to its name the atmosphere was very Irish. But this pub also is well known for its sports bar atmosphere as well we had a very rowdy crowd watching the Badgers game that night. Finbarr’s is well known for their Fish & Chips, Shepherd’s Pie and other Irish classics along with their gastro pub menu offerings. Finbarr’s features 9 beers on tap including Guinness and Smithwick’s.

On our final night in Aspen we were invited to a private party at the “Copper Palace”, a futuristic house owned by Barbi Benton (former playmate) and her developer husband copper palaceGeorge Gradow. The house got its name for the seven miles of copper used to cover walls, architectural features inside and outside of the house. This house is located right in Aspen and was completely and utterly amazing. It is comprised of five copper pods connected by various stairways.  The building is over 25,000-square-foot, set on 40 acres and cantilevered in sections to provide views from all areas of the house.

Each pod was unique and distinct of the other both in décor and function. Included in the grand scheme a 1,500 square foot disco, a custom-designed 29-person couch that cost $100,000, a 40-foot steel pocket door that opens to reveal an 80-person ballroom, a theater, a gym and two heated lap pools, office space, a dark room, a master bedroom (with a revolving bed) offering views of Mount Sopris and the Roaring Fork Valley, a projection room and so much more. Each room is flamboyantly hand decorated by Barbi Benton.

Aspen is picturesque, natural beauty with something to offer not just ski enthusiasts, but travels of all interests.  Learn more about the destination here or Contact a Vacation Travel Consultant today.

Some photos courtesy of St. Regis Aspen online and Aspensajourner.com

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Spain & Portugal Travel

Spain is a mix of old and new, modern and traditional and offers something for everyone. For the tourist, Spain may be defined as Spain - Barcelonabullfights, massive cathedrals, world-class art, Muslim palaces, vibrant folk life, whitewashed villages, and bright sunshine. Yes, you’ll find those things…but this country’s special charm lies in its people and their unique lifestyle. From the stirring sardana dance in Barcelona to the sizzling rat-a-tat-tat of flamenco in Sevilla, this country creates its own beat amid the heat.

Nestled between Spain and the Atlantic Ocean, Portugal contains striking landscapes ripe for exploration, from the exceptional beaches of the Algarve to the lush vineyards of the Douro River Valley. Beyond the Algarve’s cliff-flanked beaches, Portugal is a country of bucolic landscapes and culture-rich cities. The distant strains of fado music, scents of Portugal - Rossio Squarefreshly grilled fish and a party-loving spirit suffuse the Moorish alleys of Lisbon and Porto’s medieval Ribeira. But don’t stop there. Head inland to stroll cork and almond forests, sip port in the Duoro’s tumbling vineyards and hike in the Peneda-Gerês National Park’s Lake District. Everywhere you’ll be greeted with a heartfelt bemvindo (welcome).

Words from our Vacation Travel Consultants:

“Explore a hidden gem as a side trip from Madrid: Escorial & the Valley of the Fallen. This is an all day tour, but one not to be missed! Escorial was conceived by Philip II as a monastery but now the Royal Pantheon has become a symbol of the greatness of the Spanish Empire. Visit the Basilica, Royal Palace, Royal Pantheons, Infantes Pantheons and the Chapter Rooms. You will also have the opportunity to visit The Valley of the Fallen, a monument built as a memorial of those who died during the Spanish Civil War in 1936.” -Lynn Timmers, Vacation Travel Consultant & Branch Manager

“I have been to Central Portugal (Lisbon, Lieria and Cascais) and loved it. It’s full of winding streets and steeped in history and charm. The coastline is amazing. The food was not my favorite, however, the wine was delicious! I was totally impressed with the pottery – there were three basically different styles coming from the South, Central and Northern regions…the delicate, ornately painted pieces, the all-green leaf pattern pieces and the heavier clay-type pottery.” -Connie Rogers, Vacation Travel Consultant

Are you interested in traveling to Spain or Portugal? We have two custom Select Group Vacations traveling to this area in 2015. Our first being a land escorted tour: Northern Spain traveling July 10-21, 2015; and second a river cruise: Portugal, Spain & the Douro River Valley traveling August 5-16, 2015. For more information on these two trips, contact a Vacation Travel Consultant at 888-369-8785.

*Photos from 2013 Select Group Vacations Trip to Portugal

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Receive $1500 per Couple Air Credit on Select 2015 Departures!

Avalon Scenery; Rhone River; France; Europe; river cruise; river cruising;Receive a $1,500 per couple air credit on the following select spring 2015 Avalon air-inclusive  Europe river cruises!  Learn more about this special offer here or Contact a Vacation Travel Consultant today.

  • Tulip Time – 8 days Amsterdam/Amsterdam

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  • Tulips of Northern Holland – 8 days Amsterdam/Amsterdam
  • Magnificent Europe – 15 days Amsterdam/Budapest
  • Romantic Rhine – 8 days Amsterdam/Basel
  • The Blue Danube Discovery – 13 days
  • Budapest/Prague Capitals of Central Europe – 12 days
  • Budapest/Prague (or reverse 10 days)
  •  The Legendary Danube –11 days

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    Prague/Budapest

  •  Burgundy & Provence -11 days Paris/Cote d’Azur (or reverse)
  • Paris to Normandy’s Landing Beaches – 8 days Paris/Paris
  • Blue Danube to the Black Sea –14 days Bucharest/Vienna (or reverse)
  • Austrian Highlights & Bavaria – 9 days Vienna/Munich

*Exclusive Promotional Offer for Select Agency Partners. Book a select 2015 Avalon Waterways air-inclusive Europe rivercruise to receive the $750 per person air credit. Must be booked, under deposit and discount applied between August18 and September 30, 2014 for travel in 2015. Not applicable on instant purchase air. Air credit will apply to the perperson air price and is non-transferable. Offers not valid with any other offer except Journeys Club Repeat Traveler benefit. Applies to new 2015 bookings only and offer will not be applied to pre-existing bookings. Offer may be withdrawn

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