Italy's Endless Experiences

Posted by Tammy Murphy

February 6, 2018 at 11:34 AM

ITALY 
What to see AFTER your first visit
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The key to visiting a city, no matter where it's located, is to visit with a local and not JUST a tour guide.  You MUST have a tour guide who is passionate about sharing their unique stories and activities and who is in contact with local realities and artisans. You will be AMAZED at how much more personal your experience will feel when guided by a person who is thoroughly connected to a city - 360 degrees from every angle.
 
Italy is a lot more than Rome and Tuscany.  From the Hills of Langhe to the trulli of Puglia, going through the culinary haven of Romagna, you will find fewer tourists and wonderful land to discover.
 
Puglia (above)
Summer dreaming . . . 
walking along the seafront in Otranto, breathing the salty breeze, watching a sailboat bobble in the bright blue bay, you may catch yourself thinking "NOW this is the real Italy!" 
 
This little travel secret is being discovered more, but you still won't find hordes of tourists here.  This is Southern Italy, minus the masses.  Puglia brims with pristine cove, sandy beaches and charming villages Wait, did we mention the FOOD of SOUTHERN Italy . . . wide variety of seafood, fresh tasty vegetables, rich olive oil, and of course, basil and oregano.  The best Italian olives come from this region and are often marinated in garlic oil with crushed chili.
What do you think of NO LINES, NO HASSLE, NO CROWDS.
Just sun and sea and genuine Italian hospitality. 
 
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Basilicata
With over 11,000 years of history, Basilicata spans a total of 3,860 square miles, located at the "insole" of Italy's boot between Puglia to the east Campania to the west, and Calabria to the south. 
 
The region's history of poverty contributed to its unique cuisine which is gaining significant recognition in the last several years.  Artisan Luganega sausages, fresh pasta made from water, salt and flour (omitting the usual eggs present in the rest of Italy's pasta), and abundant use of seasonal vegetables and legumes are prominent in the cuisine allowing it to highlight local flavors.
 
Sassi di Matera is one of most highly visited UNESCO World Heritage Sites visited in the region.  It is a city of caves  and was used as the backdrop location for Mel Gibson's movie, "The Passion of Christ".  Moving along to the area of Vulture Melfese... is drawing wine enthusiasts showcasing its high-quality red, Aglianico, while the small town of Bernaida, the former home of Francis Ford Coppola's grandfather and current location of his newly-opened Villa offers another great experience.  And natural Beauty lovers are enamored with the miles of coastline and national parks in Maratea watched over by the2nd largest statue of Christ in the world.   Last but not least, Pollino offers travelers a bit of everything, a national park, prehistoric cave drawings and burial sites and unique vacation spots such as the thermal springs in Latronico.

veneto.jpgVENETO 
Venice will tug at your heartstrings, but stay awhile, there is more to Veneto than Venice.

I had the pleasure of taking an authentic journey to the Veneto Region - beyond Venice last year hosted by my Italy partners that I love so much.  I can barely remember the names of all of the towns visited, but I was WOWED by it's rich artistic, historic and culinary heritage, not to mention the beautiful Italians that greeted us at each town.  We stayed in a variety of places ... hotels at city-center hotels, a Castle, a Relais, Villas.  And the regional cuisine in each town was more than a meal but a true EXPERIENCE.  We also were invited inside residences for a private viewing of amazing art, surprised by an opera singer in our villa, toured olive oil farms, wineries and watched the cheese-making process. 
Stay tuned for a more in depth view of our times visiting Padua, Volpolicella, Verona, Lake Garda, Vicenza, Bassano del Grappa, Asolo and Treviso.

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Savoring Sicily
 
Enjoy an intimate voyage through Sicily, the largest island in the Mediterranean.  Sicily boats stunning seascapes, historic towns and charming countryside.  Fed by rich volcanic soil, Sicily also produces some of Italy's finest wines.  A journey through Sicily includes authentic food, private guides and behind-the-scenes access to Sicily local traditions and people.

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Sardinia
When you opt for a private tour, we can give you a real cultural immersion.  We  hand pick local  guides are born and raised in the destination.  You will discover some amazing, but virtually unknown, places that would be hard to find on your own.  It is something you will remember when you buy tortellini from a local shop, but it's another thing altogether when you discover the best tortellini you've ever tasted and buy it from a little shop, which the locals go, just around the corner from the one where all the tourist stop.  THIS is something you will not only remember but will share with your friends and family for years to come because it is a personal connection you've made with ITALY!

Which ever your style, we hope you will TRAVEL far and wide and explore this beautiful WORLD!!

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Avoiding Crowds & Creating Experiences

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 25, 2018 at 9:56 AM

Enjoying Europe Through The Back Door
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For those of us who cherish authentic experiences, avoiding the crowds is an essential part of enjoying our travels. Of course, there’s some irony in being a traveler who complains about all the other tourists cluttering up the landscape, because of course, we’re all contributing to the crowd! The best-known places are always going to draw lots of people, and usually with good reason. So how can we see the sights without feeling like we’re stuck in a herd of camera-toting sheep? I take great pride in carefully scheduling a great travel plan...designed to minimize crowds and time in line and maximize your enjoyment. Here are our top ten tips for avoiding the worst of the vacation crowds:
 
  • Hire a local guide
    • My very first suggestion is to splurge on a private guide, if your budget will allow. A guide knows when the busiest places will have lulls in the crowds, and exactly where to go to soak in a city’s ambiance without being joined by thousands of others with the same idea. I have several well-vetted private guides all over Europe that I use frequently for my clients. You will get so much more out of sights when you see them with a local guide who can make the history come to life. Your tour guide really DOES know it all!
  • Skip the line!
    • Did you know you could do this? A major benefit of using a travel professional who specializes in Europe (like yours truly) is that they often have the ability to help you skip right past a 2-hour long line-up and whisk you inside the attraction you’d rather not wait to see. Some of the most important spots with “skip the line” privileges are the Louvre and Eiffel Tower in Paris, the Vatican and Colosseum in Rome and the Accademia (to meet Michelangelo’s amazing David) in Florence.
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  • Take advantage of jet lag
    • What does that mean? Imagine you managed to stay up until 8pm after an overnight trans-Atlantic flight. Now it’s 5am the next day and you’re wide awake. Get out of bed and go for a wander through near-empty streets as the city quietly stirs. Enjoy a coffee alongside locals on their way to work. Early morning can be a magical time to explore the streets of Europe. 
  • Travel off-peak
    • Have you ever been to Paris in August? The locals have fled the city for their summer vacation, leaving the tourists to take it by storm. A lot of stores, cafes and restaurants are closed. Consider traveling in your destination’s shoulder season (April, May and September-October) – and avoid school holidays like the plague! If you are worried about taking your children out of school, get over it (shh, you didn't hear that from me) ! A family trip to Europe will contribute so much more to their future than a “Perfect Attendance” award in 6th grade.
  • Do your research and plan museum visits accordingly
    • Many museums have “free” days once a month; these are always going to be busy days, and best to avoid. Some major attractions (e.g. London’s Tate Modern) stay open late one or two nights a week; visiting the gallery during these extended hours tends to offer a quieter experience.
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  • Investigate “alternative” destinations
    • Everyone talks about the big ticket destinations – Rome, Paris, London, Prague – but there’s much magic to be found in Europe’s smaller cities. For instance, if you’re looking to experience Dutch culture, Leiden or Haarlem are beautiful and less crowded alternatives to Amsterdam. (I can suggest some great alternatives to the hustle-bustle where you will get the authentic “feel” of the country you are visiting)
  • Benefit from local insight
    • Talk to the locals to learn about what’s popular with people who live in the city, rather than what’s popular with people who visit it. A good way to incorporate this wisdom into your trip-planning is to use an experienced Travel Professional who specializes in Europe. Many of the suppliers we use to construct your vacation actually live in the destination you are visiting and can give us some great “insider” tips.
  • Choose attractions off the beaten path
    • Just because it’s there, doesn’t mean you have to visit it; you won’t get a failing grade for skipping the supposed “must-sees”. You can visit London without going to Buckingham Palace (maybe); You can experience Italy without snapping a photo of yourself holding up the Leaning Tower of Pisa. There’s way more to a city than its icons, so let the icons draw the crowds, while you ferret out more unique ways to spend your time.
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  • Stay in locally owned smaller hotels that are centrally located
    • Choosing a smaller hotel in a more residential neighborhood with easy access to the places you want to visit is a nice way to escape the crowds at the end of the day. You didn’t travel all the way to Europe to stay in a Holiday Inn or Best Western, did you? Plus, the owners and employees are super helpful in suggesting some little-known jewels for restaurants and sightseeing.
  • Be aware of cruise ship dockings
    • If you’re staying in a port-city, find out when the cruise ships dock – then hightail it out of there! And if you’re one of the people debarking from the ship, see Tip #1...then hightail it out of there with your private guide! Today’s megaships can dump 3000 people off in Rome...all at the same time and all heading for the same sights. Plan carefully.

Whatever your travel personality, we can help you identify it and plan accordingly.  We want you to have the best EXPERIENCE possible on your next dream trip,

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New Year, New Resolutions, & New Vacations, Right?

Posted by Justin Murphy

January 18, 2018 at 6:30 AM

Why I haven’t left the house in three days...
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Is everyone with a camera  a photographer? Is everyone with a blog a journalist?  Likewise, is everyone with a computer a travel expert? The difference in each instance is years of training, experience, vetting products and relationships, and a little dash of intuition. 
 
January is typically the busiest time of the year for travel professionals.  Why?  I guess families get together over the holidays and discuss their travel plans for the next year...then when the kids go back to school, they pick up the phone and call their local, friendly travel expert. That’s great for me, as a business owner, but also tends to be a very busy time as my “To Do” list typically grows each and every day. I wake up with my list of trips to research, documents to deliver, travel articles to write, emails to return, social media ads to post... usually leading to more new ones added than old ones crossed-off when I leave my desk at the end of the evening. Complaining? ABSOLUTELY NOT! I absolutely LOVE  it! It’s my passion! So please permit me to explain a little bit and hopefully clear up some misperceptions of what I do:
 
1.   When I first meet with a prospective new client, I am used to all of the usual questions; "Why should I use a travel agent?", "How do you get paid?", "What can you do for me that I can’t do for myself online?", etc. I have been asked these questions countless times. 
 
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Here’s the thing...you don't ALWAYS need a travel expert ...if you want to book round trip air from Charlotte to Buffalo and stay in the Holiday X on the corner of1st Avenue and Main Street, you probably don’t need me!   I  am an expert in custom-crafting vacations that are going to provide you with the EXPERIENCES you are longing for. I don’t just “book travel”.  It ALWAYS  amounts to some well-researched (and vetted) advice on which Caribbean all inclusive or which Hawaiian island is the right fit for your dreams. THEY ARE ALL VERY DIFFERENT!  It involves literally hours upon  hours of detailed planning, research and jigsaw-puzzle precision to put together a 10 day custom European journey through 1 to 3 different countries for a couple or family who want to immerse themselves into each culture with art or culinary classes. I am happy to go to any lengths necessary to craft that perfect EXPERIENCE for my clients...it’s what I do! And it turns out to be a gift of mine!
 
2.  If you send me an email that says “I found a deal online for a week in Jamaica at the XYZ resort for $599...Can you beat it?”   I’m going to let out a big sigh and pour another glass of wine.  First of all, how can we know that the XYZ resort is a good fit for you?  Secondly, we  have no idea what the good "deal" includes.    Nine times out of  ten, I have learned that if SOMETHING looks too good to be true, always is.     I've had clients that saw a great price online, then once they pressed the button with their "on-line travel agent" realized the advertised price was "PER ADULT"  and did not include tax and the tiny print had some language about "or comparable".    Please don't fall victim to "steps from ... the beach, city center" etc. literally I see these and I know its over "a mile of steps from".  
 
Saving money is great, and I'm all for staying within budget and getting a good value for my own travel dollars, but don't reduce  your vacation experience to being treated like a commodity. When an item is a “commodity”, there are no differences between the same item sourced from different places – except price.  I really do have your best interests in mind...trust me to do what I do best and find you the perfect fit and the greatest value for your precious vacation time and budget.
 
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3.  Finally, keep this in mind...when you hit the “Buy now” button online and purchase that vacation from an invisible travel agent, you receive confirmation numbers and that's the end.  Are there any unique experiences included?  When you give me, or any other hard working travel professional, the “go ahead” to book that same vacation (often at the exact same price, or better), you receive your travel documents, destination information, restaurants recommendations and sightseeing suggestions or reservations, along with the promise that we have YOUR BACK until you return home from the trip ... and even beyond!  If anything goes wrong on the trip, we are that extra security blanket and advocates for YOU and YOUR well being.    Try getting Mr. Orbitz or Expedia to pick up the phone at 6:00 a.m. to argue with the French hotel desk clerk about the noise level, or lack of air conditioning in your room!  That my friend is "VALUE" for your travel dollar.  
 
Ultimately though, it amounts to WHAT is important to you.  If you want LIFE ENRICHING or CHANGING experiences, it probably can't be found with a "BUY NOW" button.
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Perks of Packing Like A Pro!

Posted by Justin Murphy

December 7, 2017 at 6:30 AM

 

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The Benefits of Packing Light – especially on an itinerary where you will be moving and changing locations a good bit – cannot be underestimated. In fact, it can be the difference between an enjoyable vacation and a miserable one! You will never meet anyone who says “I wish I had packed heavier” when they return from a journey. Rick Steves, the Public TV European travel guru, only allows the members of his escorted tours to bring 1 carry-on size piece of luggage per person...even when the tour is 3 weeks long! Can’t be done? Yes it can...and it should! I’ve done it myself, and schlepped all over Europe with my kids with one carry-on each for a month!
Admittedly, I was ready to make a big bonfire and burn the clothing in that carry-on when we returned home from our journey, but the advantages outweighed the disadvantages by a huge margin!
Every morning we would dress quickly in whatever outfit was clean and appropriate for the day. I started thinking of my wardrobe as my “travel uniform”. We were there to learn and expand our horizons...not worry about what we were going to wear. Doing a little laundry along the way won’t kill anyone – in fact, it can be a real adventure!
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1. We could move quickly from place to place....No worries about big suitcases and where we would fit our luggage on the train or bus or taxi. A lot of European hotels have no elevator, so lugging heavy bags up and down stairs can be a real bummer.
2. Having too much luggage “marks” you as a typical tourist. Con artists figure you’re helpless and you become a serious pickpocket or scam target.
3. We saved enough money in checked luggage fees to treat ourselves to some special “extras”. We also saved time by not having to wait around at baggage claim. We were off and starting our adventure while everyone else was standing around waiting for the bags to arrive.
4. Here are my suggestions for cutting back on the amount of “stuff” you think you need on your next trip:  Spread out everything you think you might need on the living room floor. Pick up each item one at a time and ask yourself “Will I really use this enough to justify carrying it over the Swiss Alps?” (or wherever you are heading) When in doubt, leave it out!
 Don’t pack for the worst-case scenario...Pack for the best-case and buy yourself out of any jams along the way. Risk shivering for a day rather than taking a heavy jacket. Buy a cheap umbrella from one of the many street vendors who "miraculously" appear when the drops start to fall. If you think it “might come in handy”, it should stay home.
 Pack exactly the same whether you’re traveling for three weeks or three months. Rather than take a whole trip’s supply of toiletries, take enough to get started and replace them along the way. Believe it or not, Europeans use toothpaste, lotion, hair gel, soap and (sometimes) deodorant! It’s fun to go into a general store and stock up on local brands on the fly!
 Invest in a good quality piece of luggage that fits your needs. Rick Steves offers a few options in his travel store at www.ricksteves.com/travelstore that are reasonably priced and come with or without wheels. If you are healthy enough to carry your bag, do it...suitcases on wheels don’t get along with cobblestone streets very well....
So weed out the unnecessary, pack your bag and go walk around the block a few times to get a good idea of what you will be dealing with. You will thank me later! Remember, in your travels, you’ll meet two kinds of tourists – those who pack light and those who wish they had
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If you're interested in a perfect, no worry vacation, email us justin@viptravelexperience.com tammy@viptravelexperience.com
I would love to make your dream come true.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, #RiverCruise, experiencesnotthings

Adventures Await Where The Anchor Drops

Posted by Justin Murphy

November 30, 2017 at 6:02 AM

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From fields covered in tulips in April to December's decadent Christmas markets, hundreds of riverboats sail along Europe's abundant, historic rivers and canals, which span thousands of miles. A European river cruise is one of the best and most efficient ways to explore inland Europe, stopping at many ports, towns, cities, and villages that traditional big ships usually can't access.

What makes a river cruise so different from an ocean cruise is emphasis and immersion into the destinations visited. Every day a new port is featured so there are no days at sea. Multiple guided tours are included to go out exploring a new and enlightening city. With this focus, it's nice that river itineraries in Europe feature a diverse mix of intriguing ports.

 Have an “in-Seine” experience in Paris sailing down the Seine River. Roll down the Rhine River from Amsterdam to Frankfurt. Drift down the Danube River to see the best of Budapest, or even take a merry little Christmas cruise. charles-bridge-743669_960_720.jpg

Though most river cruises have the reputation for being adapted to the elder generations U by Uniworld is changing the game offering a cruise line geared toward the younger generations with an age range of 21-45 years. This new line will market and intrigue the next generation of travelers to expand and broaden what experience they can enjoy without the backpacks and hostels. They’ve thought of everything in that you can even rent mobile hot spots for the day so no more outrageous international data plans to worry about. No need for a special converter either because the ship is outfitted with European, American, and USB electrical outlets.

The excursion choices vary depending upon activity level, interests, and destination. Most of the adventures and tours are complimentary, from an evening bike ride along the Danube, a “Midnight in Paris” evening stroll, a canal cruise in Amsterdam, vineyard hikes, castle visits, and so much more. Also if you’ve adventured a little too much or stayed out a little to late and don’t want to explore around the port a certain day there are numerous on board activities offered. Sip wine while you paint on the top deck, take a mixology class and concoct something just for you, relax and center yourself with a yoga class, or have a special culinary experience with the chef’s cooking class. 

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To travel is to fully immerse yourself in another culture. What better way to do that than by trying out authentic port specific foods? River cruising many of your on board meals will be inspired by the local fare of the cities you’ll visit, made from ingredients that were sourced just miles down the road. If you happen to be hungry for something a little closer to home you’ll have classic options, comfort food choices and plenty of vegan, vegetarian and various healthy dining choices as well. Uniworld steps it up a notch with their partnership with VizEat to enhance the authenticity to eat like a local and taste the city and share a meal in the home of a U Host. It’s where authentic home cooking meets immersive travel.

I’m hoping this will open the market to other river cruise lines gearing some of their boats to younger generations as well. These cruise itineraries are great for college graduation gifts, girlfriend getaways, young groups, and even the solo traveler with the social and intimate feel of this smaller boat and crew.

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If this sounds like your perfect, no worry vacation, email us justin@viptravelexperience.com tammy@viptravelexperience.com
I would love to make your dream come true.

Are you looking for the perfect travel destination?  We would love to help you with travel tips and more.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel, #RiverCruise, experiencesnotthings

Savor the Wine & Linger Around Tuscany & Piedmont

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 24, 2017 at 7:00 AM

Savor the Lands & Wine in Tuscany & Piedmont

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Enjoy the beauty of Italy in autumn.  Imagine how happy you will be --sipping a glass of Brunello at a foliage-filled vineyard in Tuscany!  Relax in your charming Tuscan hamlet with a beautiful view overlooking medieval buildings perched on a hill conveniently located between Florence and Siena, amidst the rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany.
 
A little excerpt of 6 night small group (15 people) departure:
 
The the later afternoon, you will enjoy a welcome apertivo --including prosecco and Tuscan appetizers.  After relaxing at the accommodation, head to dinner at an esteemed Michelin-rated restaurant in the heart of Tuscany.
 
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Montepulciano & San Gimignano

Enjoy breakfast at your hotel then meet you English speaking driver and sommelier.   Enjoy your day of wine tasting and exploring Tuscany's hilltop towns.  You will be surrounded by enchanting views of the valleys dotted with vineyards, cypress trees and rolling green hills.

Enjoy free time  exploring the charming stone streets to this historic Tuscan town.    Savor a light lunch paired with a private tasting of regional wines at a small batch winery.  Enjoy a guided tour of a historic family-run vineyard with a member of the family followed by a tour of their spectacular estate and cellars.  

Montalcino & Brunello Wine
Your English speaking driver/sommelier will pick you up after a leisure breakfast for a full-day excursion through the stunning Val d'Orcia.
 
Val d'Orcia  boasts some of Tuscany's most picturesque towns - medieval stone hamlets that have remained untouched by modern development.  Begin in scenic Montalcino, a beautiful fortified town known for its production of Brunello wine.  Stop at your first winery known for its astounding exploration (and tasting!) of the world famous wines.  Enjoy leisure lunch at an authentic ristorante nearby.

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Piedmont 

After breakfast, meet your private driver and transfer to Italian region of Piedmont.  Along the way, stop at one of the most influential wine-producing family wineries.    Enjoy a private visit through historic vineyards surrounding the estate and go behind-the-scenes accessing the cellars typically closed to the public.  Tour concludes with a wine tasting and light lunch featuring regional food products. Continue on to your hotel and pause for free time in a seaside town along the spectacular Italian Riviera in Liguria.  From your deluxe accommodations, enjoy sweeping views of the vineyard-draped valleys and snow-capped Alps in the distance.  Settle into your rooms and enjoy a welcome apertivo - including local cheeses, salumi and prosciutto.

Le Langhe

 

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After breakfast. Meet your private driver and wind through the enchanting hills and valleys of the Langhe wine country.

Your first stop will be at a winery recognized as producing some of the finest wines in Piedmont.

Your day continues on to the scenic city of Alba, located high on a green hill, overlooking the vineyards below, Alba is famed for its prized white truffles and fine foods.  Stroll the stone streets to enjoy a lunch at world renowned Michelin-starred-restaurant.  Enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to tour the restaurant's kitchen after the meal.  After lunch, enjoy free time in Alba before heading back to the hotel to relax before the evening hands-on cooking class.  Meet local Italians -- learning about their culinary traditions and passion for slow food.  Learn how to make fresh pasta from scratch as well as some other Piedmontese delicacies.  Enjoy your creations for dinner --paired, naturally with local wines... transfer back to accommodation.

Barolo and Barbaresco

After breakfast at the hotel, meet your driver to explore the wine areas of Barolo and Barbaresco.  Start your day in Barolo located in a hollow of hills covered in vineyards and dominated by a majestic castle dating back to the 10th century.

pienza cheese store-1.jpgIn Barolo, you will tour the historic cellars and a tasting of their wines.  Following your personal tasting and visit, you will enjoy an authentic Piedmontese lunch at La Cantinetta in Barolo.

After some free time in Barolo, continue with another wine tasting in the late afternoon at a winery that has been owned by the same family since 1896 specializing in full-bodied red wines with dark plum and cherry undertones (oh, my fav).   Enjoy your tasting and exclusive visit then continue on to your accommodation.  You will have time to relax and freshen up before the closing dinner at a gourmet restaurant to celebrate a wonderful week in Tuscany.


If this sounds like your perfect, no worry vacation, email me tammy@viptravelexperience.com
I would love to make your dream come true.

Are you looking for the perfect travel destination?  We would love to help you with travel tips and more.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel

Grab Your Girlfriends and Get Away!

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 16, 2017 at 6:45 AM

Girlfriend Getaways

One of the fastest growing travel specialties is the "Girlfriend Getaway" and it is easy
to understand why. After all the stresses of everyday life, there is nothing quite as
enjoyable and relaxing as getting away from "reality" with those true friends who
allow (and even encourage) you to totally be yourself without fear of judgement. Of
course, the same goes for men, although they may not admit it as freely. A few days
away with the "buddies" on the golf course can be more valuable than hours of
therapy! Here are a few suggestions for creative escapes:
 
A little Retail Therapy?
Most women love to shop, so why not combine a
weekend in the "big city" with great shopping, dining and entertainment
options? New York City and Chicago come to mind first, but there are many
amazing options out there that are centrally located and served by convenient
airports.
 
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Why not check in to a Spa or Yoga retreat for a wellness weekend?
A little
pampering never hurt anyone,
and you might even come home with some
new healthy habits, and feel a couple of pounds lighter...both good things!
 
"What happens in Vegas Stays in Vegas"...you know the old tagline! In addition
to gambling, Las Vegas offers amazing dining, shopping and live
entertainment...and most resorts have ridiculously gorgeous pools and spas!
This destination works well for both genders...great for male-bonding
getaways too!
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A few days spent wine tasting, or possibly signing up for a culinary boot-camp
can be fantastic options for girlfriend getaways! Because wine and good food
are ALWAYS a good idea!
 
A sports-related trip works well for both girls and guys too!
What about a
fitness retreat for those who love to exercise? Or a golf weekend at an amazing
resort with tee times daily? Or a scuba diving trip in the Caribbean? All it takes
is a shared interest and some planning!
 
All-Inclusive Resorts and Cruises are natural fits for this type of travel, where
your biggest decision for the day might be whether to order champagne or a
martini...or whether to sit by the pool or on the beach. Who wouldn't welcome
some mental "down time"
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So, think about YOUR ideal getaway....who do you need to spend some time with?
Most of us have those folks in our lives who we are long-overdue for a meaningful
visit.
 
Why not let VIP Travel Experience help you plan that all-important trip
soon...One of my favorite quotes is from Buddha:
 
"The Trouble is...you think you have time"
 
 
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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel

Tantalizing Tuscany

Posted by Tammy Murphy

November 9, 2017 at 6:30 AM

TANTALIZING TUSCANY
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When you hear "TUSCANY", beautiful scenes of Under the Tuscan Sun are likely dancing in your head ... Chianti countryside of rolling vineyards, amazing sunsets setting over Florence and the Ponte Vecchio, a hot air balloon floating over the hilltops of rolling olive farms.  Tuscany is not exactly a secret among travelers as millions flock to Tuscany each year.
 
The rolling hills of Tuscany are home to sprawling vineyards, charming medieval hill towns and enchanting villages overflowing with history, culture and legend.
 
Tuscany pretty much sells itself, but like many other Italian hot spots, it can be a blessing and a curse.  Hotels book up many months in advance, popular, authentic tours sell out.  Please don't risk missing the authentic Italy.  Enjoy these beautifully charming towns after the day crowds  leave... this is when the villages come alive.   If Tuscany is on your radar for 2018, now is the perfect time to plan.

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Chianti

Sip Chianti and break bread in family-run wineries' private cellars, or vineyards. Taste pecorino cheeses at the farms they are made.  Stroll ancient paths while mesmerizing these medieval towns.  Or partake in a cooking class with a local nonna.

Monteriggioni (Siena)
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There are so many the little hilltop hamlets tucked into the countryside near Siena.  The beautiful little jewel, Monteriggioni is immaculately preserved and is actually a walled castle surrounded by towers.  Travelers may arrive via a 700 year old pilgrimage path to gaze at the beautiful vineyard draped valley below of farms and olive groves  below.
This is Tuscany as you always imagined it.
 

Radda in Chianti (Siena)

Relax and enjoy the sun setting in the comfort of the veranda of your private Tuscan villa while a real-live nonna prepares, cooks and serves a delicious lolieveta.jpgTuscan meal.  Explore the countryside on bikes or have a driver pick you up to explore this charming town encircled in medieval walls and winding stone streets with panoramic views of the Tuscan Wine Country.  Radda is easily reached from Florence or Siena and is a perfect scenic stop on wine tour or an idyllic base to explore the surrounding countryside.

Barga (Lucca)

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Picture-perfect Barga in the mountains of North Tuscany is perched between snow-capped Apennienes (Tuscan Alps) woods and rushing rivers.  Active travelers enjoy hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing.   History lovers will enjoy its perfectly-preserved Romanesque church, while others will cherish this sweet escape surrounded by natural beauty. Barga is a day trip from Lucca, but worthy of a stopover.

Pienza (Montepulciano)

Renaissance fans will appreciate Pienza located in the rustic Val D'Orciapienza cheese store-1.jpgregion.  Framed by green valleys, sunflower fields and lush vineyards, food-loving travelers may enjoy wine tasting tours to Montalcino and Montepulciano.  And did I mention cheese lovers . . .  

Florence

Enjoy free time to explore the cultural treasures of Florence, including Michelangelo's "David." Day trip and discover some of  Italy's best-kept secrets. Enjoy fabulous local wines and the region's famous cuisine.  Venture beyond the same old sights, beautiful as they are.  VIP Travel Experience helps you access the Italy that most tourists never experience--immersing yourself in the people and places beyond the postcard.  No matter how many times I travel to Italy, I always leave longing for MORE. 


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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel

Adventures Await

Posted by Justin Murphy

October 26, 2017 at 11:36 AM

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Adventures don’t have to bring you half way across the world hiking miles upon miles up a mountain, or have you climbing glaciers seeking one of a kind thrills. Adventures are something that takes you out of your comfort zone and places you in a new, thought provoking environment to learn, see, and do things you never thought were possible for you.  We have trusted suppliers that  offer all without costing an arm and a leg.

Whether it is thrill seekers, family vacations, cultural immersion, or marine exploration we have access to it all! We have divided tours into many sections to offer diverse and immersive EXPERIENCES for everyone! 

Firstly their “18-to-thirtysomethings” tours target the younger generation that were freshly bitten by the travel bug. Youth is a limited-time offer. Squeeze more out of yours with fast-paced and affordable adventures designed for young travelers. Explore the world by day, stay up all night, and do it all over again tomorrow someplace new with friends you’ll want to hang on to forever. You’ve got the rest of your life to take it slow. Live fast now. These tours target young professionals that can’t spend insane amounts of money, but want to experience and immerse themselves in a foreign environment to learn and grow together in a small group setting. 

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A very different, but equally appealing travel style they offer is Local Living. Be where you belong. Have you always dreamed of getting immersed deep inside one of the world’s greatest and most out-there destinations? Now you can. Local Living tours send you undercover in some of the world’s most interesting places to discover life as it’s lived every day by a local. Unpack once at a central location like a Tuscan farmhouse, an Icelandic home, or even a rustic lodge in the Amazon jungle and discover how the locals live with the help of a connected guide who knows the area best. 

Want the rush and thrill from an adrenaline boost? Active adventures let you explore

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and learn all about a destination from kayaking creeks to trekking up mountaintops.  Active adventures get you closer to the destination by letting you hike, bike, and multi sport your way through it. We provide the equipment, the experts, and the opportunity; all you need to provide is the energy. On your mark. Get set. Go…Active. 

Adventure knows no age limits. I’m going to say it again: Adventure knows no age limit. That is why we help determine your travel style fit for the whole family with all sorts of multi generational activities. Just because you’ve settled down and had kids doesn’t mean your adventuring days are over and done with. Family trips open up the world of adventure travel to kids age six and up by letting them experience their planet on their own terms. Everything is new and exciting when you’re a kid. Travel with yours and discover your world for the first time all over again.

Another awesome travel style they offer is for all those water lovers out there. If you swim like you have gills and enjoy seeing what the great wide ocean has in store this Marine travel style is just for you! Sea-ing is believing. There’s adventure aplenty out there beyond

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the shore, but unless you have flippers, you’ll need a ship to find them. Marine tours are designed for travelers of all stripes, from experienced cruisers and sailors to landlubbers who’ve never set foot on a boat. And they go just about everywhere there’s water. If you can float there, you can go there. Set Sail and set your sights on the horizon this will be an unforgettable journey. 

Lastly, these next two are a little more on the higher end with a more luxurious feel. The private tour and national geographic journeys styles will have a little more tailored to fit and let you experience so much more. With a step up in accommodations, meals, activities, and tours these styles will impress any client. 

Private Tours: Your world, your terms

Group travel is a great way to discover your world with people you’d otherwise never meet. But some adventures are best enjoyed with a group of your own choosing. Get your group of four or more and let fun begin by selecting your trip! There are two ways you can go about it: Go off-the-rack by selecting any  existing Adventures group departure OR you can block it off for your group’s private use. Or step it up a notch and go for a more tailored fit. If you want to personalize your trip to really individualize and make the most out of it you can enhance any existing G Adventures itinerary with some great add-ons. Add on a few days; upgrade accommodations; add in some fun activities.

 

National Geographic Journeys: Experience the world with an enhanced adventure from

National Geographic Journeys are a collection of truly unique tours designed to take you deeper and further into the cultures and habitats of the places we explore. They offer more inclusions, greater hands-on exploration, interactions with local experts, and the freedom to roam, all within the structure and safety of traveling in a small group. With these tours you get to explore more.

The feel of freedom; we include plenty of free time for you to do anything you wish on your adventure. Learning all you can with each tour including opportunities to learn about our world through unique interactive experiences with local experts like historians, marine biologists, photographers,  chefs, and others. You have the power to change the world.  Let us arrange your travel with National Geographic Journeys and you help fund community development initiatives worldwide, in addition to supporting the National Geographic Society’s non-profit work in conservation, exploration, research, and education.

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Topics: #viptravelexperience, travel planner, planning the right trip, why use a travel agent, Best Vacation Value, #group travel

Alaska: Adventure Into The Last Frontier

Posted by Justin Murphy

September 21, 2017 at 8:00 AM

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Alaska is a destination rising to the top of everyone’s bucket list. Its immense, ethereal beauty is simply magical. It entices the eyes, yet calms the heart. Alaska is a destination for one or for all. It offers adventure, tranquility, and culture that are comparable to few. Alaska can best be described if you break it into 5 regions. The Far North, Interior, Southwest, Southcentral, and Inside Passage.

The Far North is the white wonderland of Alaska. Think game of thrones “beyond the wall”. It is extremely cold here in the winter and there are zero

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hours of sun light in December. As you visit Alaska’s far north you’ll cross the Arctic Circle. Some say that many pilots give the plane a slight jiggle letting their passengers know they’ve crossed into the arctic circle so don’t be weary if you think there’s a tad bit of turbulence. This region is home to the Inupiat Eskimos, many who still carry on a subsistence way of life and still preserve their history verbally from generation to generation, which is the prime reason the far north is mostly cultural/historic attractions. Some cities in the far north are Nome, Barrow, and Coldfoot.

Next, the Interior is Alaska’s heartland; Where you’ll see the continent’s tallest peak, Denali, and endless expanses of icy tundra. The national forests are teeming with wildlife and bird life ranging from the grumpy old grizzly bears fishing salmon from the rivers, to 

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stately herds of caribou to the state bird, the Willow Ptarmigan. It is a very unique place where you can experience the sun at midnight in the summer or the magical northern lights during the winter. Wildlife can be seen anywhere you look from the highway that runs by Denali National Park by visitors traveling to and from Anchorage and Fairbanks.The Interior is the original birthplace of Alaska’s Athabascan Native Americans. The interior is a steadily growing tourist destination, which offers anything you could possibly imagine to the wide-open expanse of the hill country, to the urban settings of the ever-growing cityscape. Some cities in the interior are Fairbanks, Fort Yukon, and Denali National Park.

Alaska’s Southwest is for those with a naturalist travel personality, there are few places on earth that compare with the wonders of Southwest Alaska. 

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Brown bears rumble along the stunning hills and plains, and over 240 bird species call Alaska’s Southwest region home. The region’s diverse terrain ranges from a landscape of volcanoes in Katmai National Park created by the eruption of the Novarupta volcano in 1912, to the windswept Aleutian Islands that created a 1,000-mile sweep toward Asia. This regional is famous for the wildlife viewing (especially bears). Some cities include Kodiak, King Salmon, and Dillingham.

Southcentral Alaska is home to over half of Alaska’s population. It provides a plethora of 

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activities including world-class fishing, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Along with mountains and 

lakes, southcentral offers the advantages of remote wilderness, but the convenience with itbeing linked via roads. World-class rainbow trout and salmon are abundant, beckoning anglers to toss out a line. Southcentral includes all the luxury travelers seek, while serving as a gateway to the wilderness experience as well. Some cities in southcentral are Anchorage, Seward, and Cordova.

Lastly, but certainly not least is Alaska’s Inside Passage. It was sculpted by the astounding force of massive glaciers crashing together millions of years ago, Alaska’s Inside Passage 

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possesses wildlife-filled fjords and lavish island scenery — viewing bald eagles, sea lions, porpoises and whales. Its mountains are flowered with encompassing forests. The Inside Passage Alaska is home to native Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian Indians whose history is reflected in the towering totem poles surrounding the areas. It is perfect place to adventure and Eco tour. It is also the most popular destination for Alaska cruising. Some cities include Sitka, Juneau, and Ketchikan. 

Wrapping up, you see Alaska has a place for everyone, and everyone should add a place on your bucket list for Alaska. Those whose interest were piqued today can call or email today for inquiries into your Alaskan adventure into the Last Frontier.

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