Tam Coc Ninh Binh, Vietnam. 2008
Last post, I formulated the plan.
Since I know what I'm doing now, I've got some awesome experiences in mind. I love museums. These days, people love talking about immersing themselves in a foreign culture while traveling; I don't think that's truly possible if you don't have any knowledge of that culture's history or environment beforehand.
Before we board the ship, I'm spending a couple nights in Brussels. I always keep day to day sightseeing relatively flexible, but I generally plan for a few major sights along with some spontaneity. There are a few museums I really want to see.
I fully anticipate our time on-board the river cruise to be an astounding experience. The itinerary I selected sails on multiple rivers, through a collection of small German towns and villages. A river cruise is absolutely the most efficient way to see this part of Germany. I'm going to write a summary of each day on the trip, and I'll post those individually here. Stay Tuned!
After we disembark, we'll train to Prague. Although Prague is today's capital of the Czech Republic, it is the historic capital of Bohemia. Prague Castle is the primary point of interest for any visitor. The castle is a large complex (750,000 square feet), comprised of churches, palaces, and halls. Initial construction began in 870. The Presidential residence is also at Prague Castle. Along with Prague Castle, the Old Town square is a must see, with the oldest operational astronomical clock in the world as the center-piece.
Brussels and Prague are both great cities to spend a couple days in. As home to the EU parliament headquarters, Brussels is a modern day mixing pot of European peoples. Belgium in general is a great destination for American tourists, often overlooked for Amsterdam and Paris as starting points for European river cruises. Prague is one of the most popular destinations worldwide for Americans. The rich history, unique culture, and concentrated wealth of museums and sightseeing opportunities make Prague a must-see city.
Needless to say, I have high expectations for these two cities and I'm confident they'll deliver.
Last post, I walked through what I wanted to do in Europe this summer.
Now I've got to figure out the best way to do it. I'm going on a river cruise through Germany, with a couple extra nights before, and a few after the sailing. There are a few museums I want to see in Brussels, and I've only driven through Belgium, without actually stopping anywhere, so that sounds good. The train through Luxembourg could be nice too; I know it won't be a Fast Train, but it should be a good way to get to some river cruise dock, somewhere.
I need to see Prague. I've sent so many clients to Prague, I really need to go myself. Not just because I tell people to go there, but because I really want to see the astronomical clock, Prague Castle, Lobkowicz Palace, the National Gallery, and the Dancing House.
Which river cruise company to go with? I've sent clients with several different river cruise brands, but who do I go with myself? I'm most familiar with Ama, Avalon, Tauck, Viking, and Uniworld; Viking Travel regularly sends folks on all of these. They all do an exemplary job and have their own unique characteristics. This is actually an easy choice for me because I'm intimately familiar with each brand. I'm going with Avalon, they are personally my favorite river cruise company for a few reasons; if you really want to know why, you've gotta ask.
Which itinerary to do? This is the single most important factor for any traveler, whether its an ocean cruise, river cruise, or escorted tour. I always encourage everyone to make the itinerary their primary concern. River cruising makes finding an itinerary pretty straightforward; there are only so many rivers in Europe. Which one do I pick? You'll see.
Now that I know the plan, I've got to put it all together.
I traveled domestically a lot in the Spring of 2017. I had tremendous experiences in New Orleans, Athens (GA), Boston, and Baltimore. I'd never been to New Orleans, nor Boston. After seeing both of those for the first time, 2017 was already a year of fresh destinations for me.
But shouldn't I do something on the other side of the Atlantic?
I didn't realize I hadn't planned any international travel for myself until sometime in June. When it hit me, I knew I had to get on the ball.
In 2016, I had an awesome trip across southern Norway. Starting in Oslo to hit the Viking Ship Museum, the Folk Museum, and the Fram Museum. We stayed in the Gabelsgate area in Oslo, near the embassies, in a wonderful little hotel, the Clarion Collection Hotel Gabelshus. We went on to Kristiansand to see Movik Fort, then all the way up to Trondheim [after an 11hr drive] to see Nidaros Cathedral. From there, we flew to Bergen and stayed in the Brygge at the Radisson Blu, right on the water. The Grand Finale of last year's trip was my sister's wedding in the archipelago east of Stockholm; that was awesome.
The whole trip was awesome.
But what can I do this year?
Let's do a river cruise through Germany.
I consider myself to be one of the most fortunate people around; I was raised in travel.
My grandmother started Viking Travel in 1979, along with my mother and aunt, and my mom went on to run the agency for most of my life. It is truly a privilege to grow up surrounded by people who are deeply passionate about sharing the world with others, and experiencing it themselves. Not only that, but my grandfather taught anthropology at UNC, and his interest in people and their cultures definitely rubbed off on me. My father was a compounding pharmacist, and his methodical approach to problem solving, and his rational, objective way of thinking, laid the groundwork for my college career in science.
I love working at our small travel agency. I get to read about, talk about, and share travel nearly 10 hours a day, 5 days a week (and sometimes 7). What a lot of my friends do in their spare time, after a long days work, I do all day, everyday; plan trips! Whether I'm planning a long weekend to unwind on a beach at an All-Inclusive resort, a river cruise to experience small towns in Europe, a two week journey experiencing the food and cultures of Southeast Asia, on safari in Tanzania, or a coastal voyage through the Norwegian fjords, I truly enjoy every minute of my 'job'.
Travel makes the world a better place. Not only do I like travel, but I think it's hugely important. The best way for all of us humans to come together and appreciate each other, is for us to see how other people live, breathe, and experience the world around them.
I've already seen a lot, but I've got a lot more to see. I'm only 30, and I've been to well over 30 countries on 3 continents. Pretty much all of Western Europe, Scandanavia, the Mediterranean, Mexico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic, and Vietnam. I'll post a slideshow of old pictures here in The Opener.
I doubt I'll write much about past travel; the focus of this blog will be my travel going forward. Everything here will be my own words, my own pictures, unless explicitly stated otherwise.
There are 196 countries on Earth today, I have so much left to experience.
Born and raised in the travel industry, Avery clings to a unique and profound drive to explore the planet's people, their cultures, history and architecture, as well as natural settings, landscapes and ecosystems. Outside of his upbringing, Avery's higher education mainly consists of Environmental Biology and Anthropology; his knowledge in both greatly influence his travel.