Prague is one of the most visited cities in the world. Its wide range of attractions include the Jewish Quarter, Old Town Square (with the Astronomical Clock), Charles Bridge, and Prague Castle. The city has been a cultural, economic, and political hub in central Europe for over 500 years. As a first timer to Prague, my main interest was getting up to Prague Castle.
We stayed at the Intercontinental Prague, which is what I almost always recommend to clients. There are definitely cheaper places to stay, but the Intercontinental has the best possible location in Prague. It's on the river, and is just a short walk to Old Town Square. It's also easy to walk up to Prague Castle from the hotel.
I really only had one full day in Prague, we arrived late in the afternoon after taking a Deutsche Bahn bus from Nuremberg. The bus ride was actually quite nice. It was a double-decker with free wi-fi, and the ride through the German and Czech countryside was scenic. With only a half-day to start in Prague, we walked to the Old Square and through the Jewish quarter. It's definitely an easy city to walk around and take in the sites as you go.
On my only full day, we headed straight for Prague Castle after breakfast. From the Intercontinental, you cross a bridge, ascend a relatively long staircase, and you're in a park with an overlook that lays out the entire city in front of you. The castle complex is through the park, but when we were about halfway there, the sky opened up and it started raining. Really, really hard.
And rained some more.
Fortunately, there happened to be a festival in the park on the way to the castle. We got under under a circus-style tent for about two hours and waited it out. From there, it was just a short walk to the castle.
Prague Castle is a large complex of structures built at different periods with varying purposes. The President's official residence can be found there today, and the complex has served as the seat of power for the King of Bohemia, Holy Roman Emperors and past President's of Czechoslovakia. The most striking building is St. Vitus Cathedral. You'll see from the pictures I post below; it's nearly impossible to get the entire structure in one frame.
As you walk up to the Castle, the first thing you see are security checkpoints; you can't forget that this site is an active, major governmental facility. After you get through the checkpoints you cross a bridge over a steep valley. In typical European fashion, a ceremonial guard stands watch at the historic entrance to the castle.
The first courtyard after the gate...
Take a left, walk through a second row of arches, and look up.
St Vitus Cathedral: Exterior
St Vitus Cathedral: Gargoyles
St Vitus Cathedral: Interior
After leaving the Prague Castle complex, we quickly walked through the Royal Gardens. It was still drizzling rain, so I didn't stick around long, but there was an interesting fountain in the garden. I'm sure there's a rich story rife with symbology for every figure on the fountain, but without a guide, I didn't get any context.
Since we stayed at the Intercontinental, it was a quick walk back down the hill, cross a bridge, and we're at our temporary residence in Prague.
Prague at night is wonderful. We walked along the river on the cobblestone sidewalk. Prague castle is illuminated at night giving you an elegant, picturesque skyline.
I got a small taste of Prague. From the villages, towns, and cities I experienced on this trip, Prague is most definitely the city I'm most anxious to get back to.
The next morning, we flew from Prague to Stockholm on SAS. Since my sister lives in Stockholm, I got to spend a few days in the city with native guides. I won't be making a post here on Stockholm, I didn't take too many pictures, and other than walking around Ostermalm and Gamla Stan, we didn't see much I'd really encourage tourists to experience in Stockholm. We ate at some awesome restaurants and got to experience a couple parts of the city I hadn't seen before, along with a little bit of the Stockholm night life.
Our last stop before disembarkation in Nuremberg was the Franconian city of Bamberg. The city is built across seven hills along the river Regnitz. Each hill is topped with it's respective church. In medieval times, Bamberg was often labeled "The German Rome".
Known for it's beer, Bamberg has ten independent breweries producing thirty different ales. Most are powerful, dark brews, but the true Bamberg specialty is their Rauch-bier or 'smoke beer'. This rendition of an ale has a distinctive smoky flavor derived from its malt being roasted over beech-wood. It's a unique flavor, and it reminded me of some of the smokier Scotch Whiskey's. You can't experience Bamberg without having a Rauch-bier in old town.
Walking along the Regnitz in the eastern part of town, you'll see what the locals call "Little Venice"; a row of quaint, historic homes, traditionally occupied by the local fishermen. The photo above is from this portion of town. The hanging planters with red flowers, and well-cultivated, small garden areas in their 'backyards', on the river, present a delightful photo op.
After we walked along the river, and passed Little Venice, we headed up the hill to Bamberg Cathedral or Bamberger Dom St. Peter and St. Georg. The cathedral was completed in the 13th century and is the seat of the Archbishop of Bamberg. It was included in the "Town of Bamberg" UNESCO World Heritage site in 1993. Initially, the building was founded in 1002 by King and Emperor Heinrich II. The first two structures burnt down in the 11th and 12th centuries to be later reconstructed in the Romanesque style with four large towers.
Alongside the cathedral is the Bishop's Palace or Neue Residenz. The exterior of the building looked very James Bond-ish to me, and our local guide said several movies had been filmed there. We didn't have an opportunity to go inside, but after walking through an archway under the structure, we walked out into the Bamberg Rose Garden. Honestly, I have never seen so many roses in one garden. We didn't have much time to walk around, but it's a must see in the summer.
Bamberg was definitely distinctive from the other stops on our river cruise. From Little Venice on the Regnitz, to the Rauch-bier, Bamberg has a noticeably different feel from other cities like Rudesheim and Bernkastel-Kues. My time there was bittersweet because it was our last stop before getting off the ship, and I could sincerely have stayed onboard Avalon's Visionary for quite awhile longer.
Next up, Prague!
Wurzburg was probably the largest city we visited on our river cruise with a population around 125,000. It's the capital of lower Franconia. The city was completely destroyed during World War Two, but it's been entirely rebuilt. The citizens of Wurzburg are truly resilient; the architectural gems of this important regional center have been restored and recreated.
The most significant building in the city is Residenz, a stunning 18th century palace rivaling Versailles and the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg. The structure played home to the Prince-Bishops of Wurzburg and their administrative facilities during the late 1700's and early 1800's. The building is essentially a central wing with two side wings. The central portion of the building, facing the town, has an abundance of exterior decoration.
Security is very strict inside Residenz, pictures are not permitted (so I don't have much to show you, but I'll do my best to describe what I saw). After entering the building, you turn left, and there's a massive, baroque style staircase. This served as the first part of the formal reception area. It's really hard to get up these stairs because all you want to do is stare straight up. This is probably the biggest, pre-2oth century, column-less room I've ever seen, and on the ceiling above is the world's largest fresco.
The fresco was created from 1750 to 1753 by the Venetian painter Giovanni Battista Tiepolo with help from his son, Giandomenico, and the master stuccoist Antonio Bossi. The fresco features the four continents (known at the time). Each is represented by an allegorical female figure with an animal.
We went past the top of the staircase and through the next immense doorway where we entered the White Hall. This is a large room used for receiving guests of the prince bishop. It features stucco work done in the rococo style by Antonio Bossi. I don't think I've seen any 3D artwork as elaborate as this. There are realistic looking curtains hanging in the high corners of the ceiling, but they're stucco, not cloth. Nearly everything in the room is white or light grey, so the details of the stucco work really stand out. Most of the decorations are rocailles, with a large amount of military items represented as well. After trying to take in the scope of the astoundingly detailed stucco work, our guide took us into the Imperial Hall.
I thought the Imperial Hall was the most interesting of the large rooms we saw in Residenz. This room's primary function was to receive dignitaries, including newly appointed Emperors on their way to Italy. The high, vaulted ceiling is adorned with stucco work marble, gold stucco trim, and fresco's by Tiepolo. The stucco work and fresco's were created in conjunction to give the impression of three dimensional figures coming out of the walls and ceiling. For example, there are painted people with stucco legs sticking out of the wall creating the illusion the entire figure is three dimensional. From the Imperial Hall, there are corridors going each direction and when all the doors are open an enfilade is created; you can see the entire length of the building, in each direction, from the Imperial Hall.
Our guide took us into the Imperial apartments to the right of the Imperial Hall. All of these rooms contain stylized tapestries displaying Asian scenes, primarily Chinese. The most impressive room in the apartments is called the Spiegalsaal, or Mirror Cabinet. The room is completely covered in mirrors with gold trim. The apartments were almost entirely destroyed in WW2, they've been authentically restored to their original splendor. One of the apartments has not been restored, but rather documents the destruction and restoration after the war. Seeing the sheer scale of destruction at the Residenz, and Wurburg overall is breathtaking. Exiting to the rear of the building, we walked into the formal gardens.
Wurzburg Residenz is fascinating. From the opulence of the worlds largest fresco, the unrivaled stucco work, and the massive restoration undertaking, this palace is one of Europe's finest gems.
Miltenberg is on the Main river next to the Odenwald Forest. There are many half-timbered houses that have been masterfully restored. Most of these buildings are from the 15th to 17th centuries, and our guide was clearly very proud of the maintenance and restoration of these buildings. The town is rife with taverns, and many local villagers were enjoying beer from their local brewery all along the main road. Our guide loved to mention which buildings and businesses the local brewery either owned or managed.
In Miltenberg, our cruise director set up three different guided walks: 'Gentle Walkers', a group to see just the town, and a hiking group that would go up the mountain to the castle. If you know me, you know I'm never going to miss a good hike. So we joined the hiking group, and after our stroll through the main part of town, we walked through a narrow archway in the old city walls, and found ourselves in the forest. An easy ascent of maybe a mile, and we were at the inner walls of Miltenberg Castle with a spectacular view of the town and surrounding area.
Some light hiking up to the castle
The Witch's House
After walking back down the mountain, we passed by the Jewish cemetery, and re-entered town through an arch in the medieval town wall. One of the first structures to our right was what our guide called "the Witch's House". Apparently, they kept witch's here until their execution.
The first stop after our castle-viewing through the Rhine Gorge was the town of Rudesheim. On our approach to the town, we passed by...... a few more castles.
Rudesheim am Rhein, as it's known to German's, is one of the most well-known German wine towns. The area has been home to vineyards for over two thousand years. The Roman's initially introduced grape cultivation here; the region's climate and soil are ideal for producing wine.
Overlooking the cozy, laid back town is the Niederwalddenkmal.
This is a monument commemorating the unification of Germany, built in the 1870's and 1880's. It features a thirty four foot tall statue of Germania holding the recovered crown of the emperor in the right hand and the Imperial Sword in the left.
The guided tour part of our time in Rudesheim was at Siegfried's Mechanical Instrument Museum. This museum houses a large collection of mechanical instruments, spanning four centuries of history. In size, they range from the hand-held music boxes to the orchestrion, weighing tons. They've got a unique collection of self-playing violin's and string instruments, including the Hupfeld Phonoliszt Violina, the Poppers Violinovo, and the only known original example of a Hupfeld Violina Orchestra. It's definitely the kind of museum you rely on an expert guide to talk you through the highlights, explain the context, and even "play" the instruments for you. This has got to be one of the most unique museums I've seen.
After Siegfried's, the cruise director met us and offered a specialty coffee tasting, courtesy of Avalon. Rudesheim has their own coffee drink made with Asbach Uralt brandy, and brown sugar cups mixed into coffee. They even use a special cup designed for this beverage specifically. The brandy is flambeed and stirred while the sugar dissolves. A topping of whipped cream and vanilla sugar are added, and a garnish of chocolate flakes are sprinkled across the whipped cream.
As our ship pulled into the dock, I noticed some cable cars going up the hill over the vineyards. So we actually skipped the coffee tasting, and took the cable cars up to the park with the statue of Germania overlooking the river, and the town itself. Even though there was a little rain, the view was spectacular, and the ride over the vineyards was definitely one of my favorite parts of this entire trip. Rather than taking the cable cars back down, we opted to walk through the vineyards and back down to the river before boarding the ship.
There's nothing like walking down ancient stone pathways through a vineyard.
Outside of extended, long distance travel, I thoroughly enjoy experiencing a new town over a weekend. This year I've had weekend getaways in Athens, Baltimore, and Boston; this time I got off the beaten path and headed for the town of Valdosta, Georgia.
Valdosta is only twelve and a half miles from the Florida border, and about sixty five miles from Tallahassee, Florida. Getting there is actually really easy. Only Delta flies into Valdosta, from Atlanta. For those of us in the Raleigh-Durham area, a flight from RDU to Atlanta with about an hour and a half connection, a quick concourse change, and a thirty minute flight to Valdosta is all it takes. The airport in Valdosta has one gate, so it's a breeze to get into and out of. I stayed at the Holiday Inn, which was relatively new and definitely a good, moderate option. Another good choice would be the nearby Hilton. Most people will want to rent a car, but Uber is definitely available in Valdosta. Fortunately for me, I have dear friends in Valdosta who were willing to drive me; there's nothing like having a native local-guide!
There's a charming downtown area in historic Valdosta. We had an outstanding lunch at Steel Magnolia's, a truly southern restaurant with an authentic and exemplary lunch menu. At our table, there were orders of Pulled Pork Deviled Eggs and Pulled Pork & Pimento Cheese Wontons as appetizers. For the main course, there were orders of Fried Green Tomato Sandwich, Philly Cheese Steak, and the Blackened Grouper Sandwiches. All of which were really great, and I'm kind of disappointed in myself for not taking pictures of all the food and posting it on Instagram.
After lunch and our walk through the downtown area, we headed for the Grand Bay Wetland Management Area. This wildlife refuge is about 8,500 acres of land owned and managed by both the state, and (licensed by) the US Air Force (Moody Air Force base is nearby). About 3,000 acres of the area consists of upland pine and hardwood forest ecosystem, while nearly 5,500 acres are cypress/gum wetlands. The area is used for regulated hunting and fishing, along with an education center where school groups are taken to learn about the wetland ecosystem.
For tourists like us, the draw of Grand Bay is the boardwalk through the wetland. With tannin laced, dark brown to black swamp water up to the slats of the boardwalk, you can walk through the cypress swamp, underneath the hanging Spanish moss. The swamp has flowering lily pads throughout the gnarled pneumatophors of the cypress trees. While alligators are present, they are pretty hard to see. Lucky for us, there was about a six foot alligator just next to the boardwalk (don't worry, there's fencing along the boardwalk, so they can't quite getcha). At the end of the boardwalk, there's a tower, with an easily climbable staircase to the top, so you can get a great view of the overall area.
Before my flight out on Sunday, there was one last Valdosta classic I had to enjoy, "Breakfast in a Cup"! There's a great fast food chain in Valdosta called Zacadoo's, and they've got a classic southern staple, served in a unique way. Any stop through southern Georgia, or Tallahassee, and you've got to get breakfast at Zacadoo's. Their "Breakfast in a Cup" is everything you need and a little more: grits, eggs, and sausage, layered in a cup. Their grits are outstanding and they go great with the egg and sausage. A perfect Southern breakfast.
Valdosta is a charming Southern town with a great downtown area, warm weather, exciting wildlife, hospitable people, and amazing food.
It was rainy and foggy as we went through the Rhine Gorge. The valley is dotted with castles along the way, to the extent the locals think nothing of a 700 year old defensive structure overlooking their village.
This post will pretty much just be dreary pictures of hillsides, small towns along the river, and castles from a distance.
Castles in the Fog.
Bernkastel is a small, wine growing town on the banks of the Moselle river, about 30 miles down the river from Trier. The town is somewhat unique because it wasn't damaged during World War Two; there are original 16th century buildings still standing. You will find narrow, cobblestone streets, with real, live grape vines strung over the alleyways. Across the river, you'll find the town of Kues, and the towns are often referred to singularly as 'Bernkastel-Kues'.
The highlight of Bernkastel is the wine, and of course, the vineyards. The wine is grown on steep slopes, with Reisling representing the bulk of wine produced there. According to our guide, the best and most popular brand is Bernkastelar Doktor from the Dr H Thanisch vineyard. Apparently, there was a town doctor that cured someone with his wine, so the name stuck. Directly behind the town, our guide led us to what she called the 'suburbs', literally a three minute walk from the town center. This was the road running directly below the sloped hills, covered in grape vine. Here you will find the heavy, metal (I think brass) doors to the cellars that go directly into the hillside.
The day we were in Bernkastel there was light drizzle to steady rain, so the Nikon stayed in my room and I took pictures with my cell phone. There was heavy fog, which gave our time in the town an interesting feel.
With a castle watching over the town, and fog gently rolling across the hilltops, we walked under the grapevine arches through narrow cobblestone alleys.
The first stop on our river cruise was Trier.
Trier is an ancient city, situated in a vine covered, red sandstone valley along the Moselle river. The city was founded by the Celts and taken by the Romans in the 1st century AD. Trier is likely the oldest city in Germany.
There were two guided sightseeing tours offered. The first included the Ponta Nigra or Black Gate, the basilica, and some free time in the town square, while the second included the Roman Baths, the basilica, and the Black Gate. I really enjoy learning the history of a place, so I opted for the Roman-centric excursion.
Our first stop were the Roman Baths. The complex seemed surprisingly large for any bathhouse, whether it was built today or in 15BC. The ruins had been well-excavated, but I'd estimate less than 10% of the original stonework was still present. There were plenty of original roman arches and brickwork though to give a sense of the architecture. You can still walk down into the basement hallways, which was my favorite part. Our guide pointed out a distinct tool mark in one wall, we would've never noticed it if we didn't have an expert guide.
After we saw the Roman bathhouse, we walked through a garden with a huge hedge that had arches cut into it along the winding pathways. We turned a corner and the hedges opened up to reveal the Bishop's residence; a pink building, with ornate white statues surrounding it. The residence is actually on the backside of Aula Palatina also known as Constantine's Basilica. After admiring the flowers and landscaping or the bishop's lawn, our guide took us into the basilica.
Aula Palatina was commissioned by Constantine I at the beginning of the fourth century. It's still an active church, and has seen renovation and rebuilding through the centuries. In the 19th century, Frederick William IV of Prussia had the basilica restored to its original Roman state. The buildings roof burned during an allied air raid in 1944, and when that damage was repaired it was not fully restored, so today you will see bare brick on the interior walls.
We exited the basilica and made our way for the Cathedral of St Peter. This is the oldest cathedral in Germany, and its outer walls are ornately decorated with additions from every era since the cathedral was constructed. The cathedral was initially placed on the foundation of Roman buildings, and it was later destroyed by the Franks, rebuilt, destroyed by the Normans, and rebuilt again.
The town square is very close by, and we walked through it on the way to Ponta Nigra, or the Black Gate. This is the only major, original section of Roman wall left in Trier, and the third monument in the UNESCO World Heritage site.
As our ship sailed past Trier for the next town, we sailed under the Roman bridge, its footings were placed in the second century. This is the oldest bridge in Germany.
Aula Palatina & Cathedral of St Peter
Ponta Nigra & Roman Bridge
The highlight of my time in Brussels was the Autoworld museum.
This was honestly one of the best museums I've ever seen, and I've been to a ton of museums. The collection itself is noteworthy, and it wasn't just good because I like cars. Not only do they have pieces from all over the world, the 1800's to present, but they've got many with original paint, windshields and tires. This summer there was a special exhibit, "70 Years of Ferrari".
I put together a slideshow-video of the entire experience, it's a bit lengthy (at 17min), and I'm no video editor pro, but you can see almost the entire collection.
I'll post a few picture galleries here as well.
Ferrari Special Exhibit
Brussels is a lovely city. It's easier to get to than many Americans think. We flew on a direct flight from Charlotte to Munich overnight, and on to Brussels from there. Lufthansa was our carrier, and they were quite good. I felt like the seats in economy weren't quite big/soft as the physical seats on Delta's long-haul aircraft, but that isn't an objective statement (could have easily been in my head). After our arrival, we walked around Cinquantenaire, which is a large, public park in the eastern district of the city. We stayed in the Holiday Inn Brussels - Schuman, which is a moderate hotel, but in a great location.
Cinquantenaire is a lovely public park in Brussels. There were many locals in the park enjoying the sun, playing soccer and badminton, and relaxing with a bottle of wine. The weather was really nice to a North Carolinian in the summer; it was about 70 degrees in the afternoon with a gentle breeze. The centerpiece of Cinquantenaire is a large arcade with two halls. One side is the Royal Military History Museum, and the other is Autoworld. We spent nearly four hours inside the Autoworld museum enjoying the collection of priceless, mostly irreplaceable automobiles from around the world. Once I get all my pictures sorted, I'll make an individual post just on Autoworld.
From Brussels we traveled through Luxembourg by train and bus. The train was quite nice. We purchased Global Rail Passes so that we had some flexibility. I was especially grateful we decided to get the first class passes because there was a large group of kids between seven and ten that were quite loud in the second class car. The first class car was nearly empty, very quiet, and quite relaxing. The train ride wasn't all that scenic, but we passed small towns in Belgium and Luxembourg as well as a few industrial areas. Once we got to the Luxeumbourg City train station, we jumped on the bus to Remich, on the banks of the Moselle river.
We boarded the river cruise in Remich, and set off for German wine country.
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. My mom went on to run the agency for most of my life, and does to this day. 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 in the travel industry, Avery's higher education mainly consists of Environmental Biology and Anthropology; his knowledge in both greatly influence his travel.