The Livin’ is Easy

Summer Time

 

For those of us who live on Cape Cod I think we all agree that we are blessed to be living in such a glorious place. While I am a lover of the Cape in all seasons I must admit that summer time does have a foot loose fancy free feeling about it where “the livin’ is easy.

Some signs of summer approaching for me… hearing the peepers; the opening of Captain Frosty’s; beach sticker notices; potted flowers at the entrance to the grocery stores; the return of “my” osprey in their nest in “my” marsh along with the changing colors. What are yours?

While Cape Cod is a major tourist destination for many, there are other destinations that need to be seen in the summer time.

ICELAND
has become the latest “hot” destination for travelers.  Icelandair offers a Reykjavik stopover for flights to and from Europe so many take advantage of this for a dip in the thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon or a dinner at the revolving restaurant The Pearl that sits atop six water tanks.

 

Now, having been to Iceland I suggest a more extensive experience just to see the variety of landscapes this country has to offer. The topography can instantly change from the green of a pasture land to a gray volcanic moon like atmosphere.

May I suggest a 7-night circumnavigation cruise of the island with Windstar Cruises.  I have reserved space for the August 16th 2018 departure on the 212 passenger yacht, The Star Pride. Cruise fares start at $4066 including port charges and taxes. This will sell out early so please email me or call me if you would like more information. maryjo@northisdetravel.com  508-385-4100

ALASKA
Big Ship…Little Ship? Cruise northbound or southbound? A land tour pre-or post-cruise? These are some questions that need to be answered before making your decision on how you will see this popular summer destination. Reservations should be reserved well in advance since their tourist season is so limited.

CANADIAN ROCKIES
Another visual delight destination where you will have many moments of awe.

I would like to suggest a rail journey with Rocky Mountaineer. You can combine the classic sights of Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper with a 1 night/2day rail journey to or from Vancouver.  There are different classes of on board service to choose from so let us guide you in making this choice.

 

I am having a lunch and learn get together on this travel product on September 28. More information to follow soon.

BALTIC CRUISE
Cruising is the most seamless way to see all the ports this region offers:  Stockholm, Copenhagen, Helsinki, Tallin and the crown jewel, St. Petersburg.  While there are many ships to choose from, I cruised with Azamara Club Cruises. Why? There is so much to see in St. Petersburg that you MUST have 3 days in port.  Even with this amount of time, be prepared to go, go and go. You will not be disappointed.

I know this is off topic but I want to share with you that Azamara has a wonderful Cuba cruise for next March. They spend 3 days in Havana!

Enjoy your summer months on Cape Cod but don’t forget to start making your travel plans now. In today’s world of travel, planning ahead is almost mandatory if you want to get the best.

My next venture off Cape is to France for Bordeaux River Cruise with Uniworld. I will cruise for 7 nights in early June on the Garonne and Dordogne rivers.Expect a trip review.

  1. What is the tallest mountain in the Canadian Rockies?
  2. What country has the greatest concentration of geysers in the world?
  3. What is the commonly known nickname for Alaska?
  4. By what name was St Petersburg known between 1914 and 1924?
  5. How many lighthouses are there on Cape Cod?

 

Safe travels,


and the Northside Travel Team

 

 

 

Have You Ever Eaten Flowers?

A Trip Highlight

On my recent trip to the Le Marche region of Italy, I had the pleasure of spending an afternoon in the country home of Ercole Moroni, a flamboyant internationally renowned floral designer.  From the moment we met, Ercole shared with us his love of himself and his love for us.

 

 

 

His home is situated in the rolling hills outside of the medieval town of Belvedere Ostrense and only 20 minutes away from the sea coast. A lovely setting.
Ercole rents out the full house or individual rooms to his guests who take his floral design courses. If any of you have an interest in this course, please let me know. I would go back in a heartbeat to watch you design since I would get an F!

He graciously opened his home for us to have an elegant multi course lunch with a pairing of wines for each offering.    

We began with appetizers sprinkled with edible flowers.

Then onto 2 pastas (not just one!), made by his mother.

Next, 2 entrée courses, one fish and one meat.

Are you full yet? The finale came with 2 desserts and grappa!

Now I will have to admit I ate it all! I am a self-proclaimed  carpe diem traveler and knew that my grilled chicken and sautéed spinach dinners would be at home waiting for me.

This 3 to4 hour authentic and truly unique experience finally came to an end with Ercole giving all of us a rose bouquet.

And people ask me why I like to travel to Italy!

I am going to create a trip to this region for next April. Please let me know if you would like to receive further information when the trip details are ready.

Take a moment to watch the video of my whole trip.

Arrivederci Le Marche.

Join Me in Iceland

Iceland has become a very popular destination. Windstar Cruises has a 7 night circumnavigation cruise that is very popular and sells out every year.

I have reserved space for the August 16th 2018 departure on the 212 passenger yacht, The Star Pride. Cruise fares start at $4066 including port charges and taxes.  Email me or call me if you would like more information at maryjo@northsidetravel.com or 508-385-4100.

 

 

  1. Who is the famous artist born in Urbino?
  2. What major bodies of water surround Italy?
  3. Name 3 edible flowers.
  4. What is the difference between tortellini and tortelloni?
  5. What is Grappa made from?

 

Safe travels,


and the Northside Travel Team

 

 

Travel Trivia Answers

1. Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, known as Raphael (1483-1520)
2. The Tyrrhenian Sea, Adriatic Sea, Ionian Sea and Mediterranean Sea,
3. See if your answer is listed
4. It’s a matter of size. Tortellini is the smaller version of the same pasta.
5. Grappa is made from pomace, the leftovers from the wine making process.
How did you do?

What An Amazing World We Live In

I found these photos on the website, www.brightside.me and thought I would share them with you.  I suspect I will never get to any of these destinations so this is a time when I have enjoyed being an armchair traveler. Please join me in being in awe at some man made and some nature made wonders.

 

A view of Mount Everest from an airplane.

A bridge made from tree roots in Indonesia. It took 26 years to construct.

The astounding reflective waters of Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia.

The bay in the resort of Novyi Svet, Crimea.

The white cliffs of Iturup Island, Russia.

Moonlight reflected off the mountains.

A sculpture made entirely from plastic bottles on one of the beaches of Rio de Janeiro.

As Louis Armstrong sang, What a wonderful world.

  1. Name the famous beach of Rio de Janeiro.
  2. Indonesia has the largest number of _____________ in the world.
  3. Name the two capitals of Bolivia
  4. Name another famous white cliffs.
  5. What sea is Crimea located on?

Safe travels,


and the Northside Travel Team

 

Do You Get Goosebumps?

Morning view from hotel in Urbino

“I Love to Fall in Love” 

 

As you read this I am in Italy falling in love again with this country but now in a new region: Emilia Romagna and Le Marche. There are 20 regions in Italy and after this trip I will have been to 13 of them. How many have you been to?

Since I am not as “techy” as I should be I will talk about my love affair with Italy and travel in general. A review of the trip will be in my next postcard.

After many, many trips, I have concluded that I don’t love Italy or any other country for that matter…  I love the way I feel in a country.

Do you remember the feelings you had when falling in love for the first time?  Life was good; you were filled with anticipation upon seeing your love interest again; you forgot all your worries; you were ready to be transformed; you were open to new ideas and you were keenly aware of your emotions.

 

Guess what? This can happen to you every time you enter a relationship with a new destination.  Travel is a way to keep your mind active, and a way to enhance your emotions. It feels like a love affair with the same goose bumps and feeling of exhilaration that come in the first months of romance. With each new destination, you can recreate these feelings and fall in love over and over again. So, like any love affair, it should never end.

I am often asked what my favorite destination is. Without a hesitation, I immediately respond: “My next one.” I must be a love junkie having fallen in love with 74 countries so far. You can be sure I am still counting.

My goal in life is to become the best person I can be and travel is one way I accomplish this. With some distance it is easier to be objective so that many times the answer to a concern seems to suddenly appear.  I love returning refreshed, renewed and reenergized.

The world is waiting for you to discover your own love affairs.  Now, this feeling of love is available to you on a day trip into the city, on a weekend road trip, or on a longer, more exotic trip.  It is a way of enhancing your life while also being a healthy addiction, which it seems to be for me.

I haven’t even returned from Italy and I have a trip to France for a wine cruise scheduled in early June with Uniworld.  More on this later.

All About Italy

  1. Name the famous Opera House in Milan, Italy.
  2. What 2 islands can be seen off the Amalfi Coast?
  3. What island does Hybla honey, considered the best in the world by many connoisseurs, come from?
  4. Name 3 major lakes in Northern Italy.
  5. Which saint has made Assisi a popular destination?

 

Safe travels,


and the Northside Travel Team

 

She’s A Star

 

I Liked Her!

 

As promised, here is a review of my recent Viking Ocean Cruise on the Viking Sea.  Viking has 2 ocean ships so far, one being the Viking Star and the Viking Sea that I was on. They are identical so it’s okay for me to say the Viking Sea is also a star.
In true Viking fashion, they are due to launch the Viking Sky and the Viking Sun in May of this year; the Viking Spirit in 2018 and a yet to be named sister ship in 2019. Viking doesn’t do anything in a small way!

Cabins:
The ships all hold 930 passengers with every cabin having a veranda.  The cabins are 338 square feet and are well appointed with adequate closet and drawer space and a bathroom with a rain head shower and heated floors. One critique… They need to use some fabric softener for the bath towels.  The beds were very comfortable and the pillows especially soft and pliable… in other words I didn’t wake up with a stiff neck from a hard pillow! Also, the insulation is very good so I never heard my neighbors!

While my preference is not contemporary décor, I found the colors and design of this ship to be very inviting… almost peaceful. I never felt crowded and had fun enjoying my sea days in several of the public spaces.

Public Spaces:

Explorers Lounge:
Is located forward on an upper deck with panoramic windows.
There are two levels:  an upper level for quiet contemplation and views and a lower level for the bar, dance floor and Mamsen’s, a mini buffet of Norwegian specialties dedicated to the owner’s mother.  Actually, the whole ship feels like you are being welcomed into their home.

 

Winter Garden:
Viking offers an afternoon tea experience in this lovely room with a roof designed out of Norwegian wood.

 

Viking Heritage
The ship has a mini museum dedicated to Viking Heritage                                              

 

 

There was an area devoted to games both real ones like chess, checkers and scrabble as well as digital tables where you could play games or watch videos of the ports of call on all of Viking itineraries. It was a real travelogue.

 

The pool area had a retractable roof so you could enjoy your R&R even in inclement weather. Fortunately we had wonderful weather for late January on the Mediterranean so I was able to swim off my calorie intake every day.

One highlight was the LivNordic Spa with its focus on Norwegian wellness. Here is the routine:     you enter the steam room to get very hot; you enter the snow grotto (by the way the only one on any cruise ship to date), and then you float in the tepid waters of the small spa pool. They consider this ritual good for your circulation. I did this and because I am from upstate New York I didn’t think the snow grotto was so very cold!

Entertainment:
If you need a casino, lots of nightclubs and Broadway style shows, this is not the cruise ship for you.  However, The Viking Sea Singers and Dancers offer a variety of evening shows for your enjoyment.  A real star for Viking is their cruise director, Heather Clancy, who is an acclaimed Mezzo-soprano and performed for us one night.  Listen to her on the video below.

 

Another unique evening was called Munch Moments. We listened to the Viking Classical Trio perform traditional Norwegian music in the Atrium while watching the rotating images of Munch’s famous artwork on the big screen.
The video gives you a brief idea.

 

 

Dining:
Besides the typical ocean liner buffet and main restaurant, Viking offers two alternative restaurants for your enjoyment at no additional charge. One is Manfredi’s for an exceptional Italian menu.  Their pasta is made fresh daily and I must say I have never had such delicate and tasty pasta.

The other restaurant is called The Chef’s Table. This is a 5 course set menu with wine pairings for each course. The menu changes every 3 days so I was able to enjoy this evening twice during the cruise. My favorite was the Scandinavian Bistro Menu.

Here is the menu and pictures of each course. It was memorable.

 

I will end with a picture of the ceremonial coins imbedded in the bow of the ship      that represent the birthdates of four generations of the Hagen family, one of them is for the family dog, Finse.  Karine Hagen, godmother of the Viking Sea,  has written a series of children’s books that feature her Labrador traveling the world.
According to ancient maritime tradition, coins ensure the safe passage of a ship- and whenever the Viking Sea sails, the Hagen family will always be with her.

Next postcard… I will talk about the interesting ports of call.

 

 

  1. A popular song begins, “I left my heart in _____________.
  2.  In what country is the mountain village area of Finse located?
  3. What dance is Vienna best known for?
  4.  If you vacation in the Azores and want to see all the islands, how many would you visit?
  5.  What US state is Key Lime Pie a specialty?

Safe travels,


and the Northside Travel Team

 

Back to Reality

Back to Reality

I was always intending this postcard to be about my recent Viking Ocean cruise. I planned to write this postcard while cruising to have it ready to post today after arriving home on Sunday evening.

Yes, I was home at 6:30 in time to watch the Super Bowl, but must say that I fell asleep at half time not being able to keep my eyes open after a very long travel day. I thought my team was going to lose anyway.  Of course, I was awake at 3am and immediately turned on the TV to find that we had won!! I was then hooked on watching all the replays to try to get the rush of excitement that I had lost by not being able to stay awake.

To be honest, my intentions to write this on board were quickly vanquished by always being so happily involved in the daily activities.  There is so much to say that as I write this on Tuesday evening, I know I need another 2 weeks to adequately review my cruise experience. Please be sure to read the next postcard.

So, the above quote does have a point of reference to my recent trip or any trip for that matter.  Yes, I want to be happy, one of the main reasons why I love to travel.

Upon arriving home I let go of the indulgent way of life I had been living while on a trip that is over.   It’s hard but necessary to go back to a realistic life style and a realistic caloric intake… at least part of this was a salad! The good news, I am grateful for the wonderful memories that I have brought home with me so that I can look forward to the next one, the last ingredient for being happy. I have either another trip already scheduled or am ready to plan the next one upon returning home.  Can you relate to this?

Thank you to Vivian and Laureen, some of my traveling companions, for this lovely bouquet of thanks.

After more time to be able to give you a well thought out review, my next postcard will be a trip review of my Viking Ocean Cruise. A hint… She’s a Star.

  1. Name the largest city in Israel?
  2. Where can you watch a day long performance of a Passion Play, once in every 10 years?
  3. Name the variety music hall made famous by the paintings of Toulouse-Lautrec?
  4. In what American city can you find the Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum? (Thought I would give you an easy one!)
  5. Name two of the longest rivers in the world.

Happy New Travel Year,


and the Northside Travel Team

 

Travel Trivia Answers

  1. Tel Aviv
  2. Oberammergau, Germany
  3. Moulin Rouge
  4. Boston, MA
  5. Amazon and the Nile

 

How did you do?

What is Your Word?

So as the New Year approaches the word resolution seems to reappear in everyone’s vocabulary.  Here is a list of the top 10 resolutions from 2015. Is yours on this list?

 

Then this reality sets in…

 

Now the research also states that only 14% of people over 50 achieve their resolution! Since I fall into this statistic, I have learned a new technique that releases me from any sense of failure.   Now I come up with a word for the year. For example,  Northside Travel’s word for 2017 will be COMMITMENT. A commitment to you, our travelers, to make sure you receive a professional and personal experience throughout your trip planning process.    This is also a good time to introduce the following:

Life is not measured by the number of breaths that we take, but by moments that take your breath away.”  Anonymous     We wish you many memorable moments in the New Year that will take your breath away!

A Gift for You

Being in the travel industry for over 30 years, I have developed relationships with many travel suppliers. Periodically I receive gifts from them as a thank you for doing business with their company.

One recent gift was from Globus Journeys. I was particularly impressed with their choice of a gift and share with you the picture of the bracelet and the artist, Son Sey…..

 

Here is the moving story of this bracelet.

“The Globus family of brands is proud to partner with LandMine Design, a non-profit that provides jobs to women in a village on the border of Cambodia. This village is nestled along a 450 mile border where the largest concentration of land mines in the world is located. Nearly 40 years ago, these grounds were filled with land mines planted by the Khmer Rouge. Only recently has the land begun to be swept and cleared of its deadly explosives. Today, more than 500 families continue to call this village home and live as the poorest of the poor. There is no electricity, no clean water and very little to eat. The families here seek ways to merely survive.

Many in the village have made the difficult choice to leave their families for months at a time to find work as migrant farm hands in nearby Thailand where earnings are scarce. LandMine Design was created to give women in the mine field a chance to make a living from their own homes where they can care for their families while also earning the funds desperately needed to feed their hungry babies. They began in 2012, teaching six women the craftsmanship of creating jewelry out of rolled paper beads. With the opportunity to earn a living in their homes and amongst their families, women once exploited have become artists, leaders and business women.

Globus placed an order of over 14,000 bracelets and through this order has helped employ an additional 12 women in the village. “ I feel honored to have received one of these bracelets.

Now I would like to offer a gift to our Northside Travelers.

If you have traveled with us this past year, please stop by the office to pick up our token of appreciation for your business.

If you plan to travel in 2017, there will be a gift waiting for you.

We hope you enjoy the upcoming holiday with your family and friends,

Mary Jo and the Northside Travel Team 

When Life Gives You Lemons

As you read this, I am making lemonade out of a lemon that I was given this past week.

Do you remember reading this in a past postcard? 

There is a new steamboat on the Mississippi! French America Line, the newest boutique premium cruise line in the US, celebrates the cultural and epicurean influences of la belle France mixed with warmriver-boat Southern hospitality. Their new 150 passenger river boat, The Louisiane offers an all inclusive experience that is casual but sophisticated with a distinctive French flair. Enjoy the included custom-crafted shore excursions; learn from the Illuminators, the on board cultural & history experts, savor the fine cuisine created by Chef Regina Charboneau; sip a complimentary cocktail or wine of your choice while listening to jazz in the French Quarter Lounge or the unique & exclusive entertainment in the Cabaret.  This gracious service and complimentary amenities offers you a memorable feeling of joie de vivre.

So, I was scheduled to cruise along with some other Northside travelers on December 3 for 5 nights. As you read this we should be packing for our upcoming trip to New Orleans. Not so, after receiving an email saying the boat had a mechanical issue and the trip was being cancelled. Needless to say we were all disappointed to hear this news but here comes the lemonade!

I am a great believer in how a company handles a problem is the true indication of the quality of their company. French America Line did not disappoint me with how they handled a difficult situation. They offered us the opportunity to reschedule our trip of 6 days to any one of their 2017 itineraries for 8 days at the same price along with some money for the airline change fees.  If you remember the promotion for the December trip was a really good one and now it is a really fantastic one since we get 2 more days of an all inclusive on board experience and 2 more ports with included excursions.  Kudos to French America Line.  By the way they obviously offered a full refund for the cruise and airfare for those that preferred this option.

It reminds me that Crystal Cruises should also be complimented. There was a group of us who cruisereserved a 7 night wine cruise in the Bordeaux region for the fall of 2017 on one of their brand new river boats.  After hearing Crystals’ decision to hold off on building The Ravel and not offer cruises until 2018, Crystal also went above and beyond to accommodate us with several options.  Most of us chose to transfer our reservations to a 12 night ocean cruise from London to Lisbon that will visit Bordeaux for 3 days along with other exciting ports of call. How could you say no… 12 nights for the price of 7!  I have sailed on Crystal and it is a glorious experience.   So if you look carefully and stay open, there is usually a positive from a negative.  Now I will admit to you it took me 24 hours to get over my initial disappointment since I do love going off on adventures.  The positive… a new date and longer river cruise as well as my family will probably get better Christmas gifts with this extra time to shop!

Enjoy this festive season!

Giving Thanks

gratitude-jfk

Giving Thanks

 

noun: gratitude: the quality of being thankful; readiness to show appreciation for and to return kindness.

 

While I try to be grateful on a daily basis, I must admit that the month of November with the Thanksgiving Holiday makes it easier to practice those important acts of kindness.

Here is an excerpt from an article taken from the Plimoth Plantation website that feels very meaningful to me this year:

“Despite modern-age turmoil—and perhaps, even more so, because of it—gathering together in grateful appreciation for a Thanksgiving celebration with friends and family is a deeply meaningful and comforting annual ritual to most Americans. The need to connect with loved ones and to express our gratitude is at the heart of all this feasting, prayerful thanks, recreation, and nostalgia for a simpler time. And somewhere in the bustling activity of every November’s Thanksgiving is the abiding National memory of a moment in Plymouth, nearly 400 years ago, when two distinct cultures, on the brink of profound and irrevocable change, shared an autumn feast.”

November is a time when I really focus on all the blessings in my life. While I am blessed to have so many I will share an important one; my grandchildren. As many of you know, I am their caretaker on Wednesdays and have been for almost 4 years. I am grateful to you, my travelers, who accept and encourage me to be out of the office for that day. Thank you to my valuable and long time assistant and friend, Evie, who covers the office for me.

 

                                                                                                Trevor and Tyler at Halloween

Now as JFK said above, I want to take this time to say thank you to you, my friends who love to explore the world as much as I do. You understand how travel enhances your life experience. How travel encourages you to be curious. How travel expands your cultural awareness.

first-crush-winery

After 25 years in business I would now like to announce a Referral Program from Northside Travel. Hopefully I have thanked and honored all of you for your referrals over these years but now I will make if official.  I have decided to “partner” with First Crush Winery www.firstcrushwinery.com

This is a local winery that is making quite an impact on the wine scene of Cape Cod.  I have become a member of their cooperative and can participate in making the wine that I will later purchase.  I can’t wait to stomp the grapes!!

 

 

ns-travel-thank-you-for-referralSo the plan is to thank you for your referral by giving you a bottle of white or red from this winery (If you are not a wine drinker, do let me know and I will come up with another creative idea for you).  All bottles will have this label on them to express our gratitude.

 

 

on-this-thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to all my wonderful travelers.