Our first step was finding the right company to do this with. There are only 500 trail permits admitted each day for the trail so you need a licensed guide for the trek. G Adventures was the right choice for us because we wanted a small group tour that was reputable and fit our needs. After about 50 trips to REI, I had all of the right gear to hike but I still needed the support of a great company to get me there.
I was more than impressed with how amazing the porters, cooks, and guides were along the trek. I still am not sure how the 5 ft tall porters could break down camp, pack up our tents, carry their body weight on their back, run past me on the trail, and have the next camp set up all before I arrived after carrying about 5 lbs on my back! The cooks prepared some delicious meals and even a cake for a Honeymoon couple on our trip!
Hiking the Inca Trail was truly an incredible experience for me. I know that this is not everyone's style of traveling so G Adventures also offers trips in more of a comfort level such as trips for younger travelers only, itineraries paired with National Geographic, family options and even Marine cruises.
What I enjoyed most about traveling with G Adventures was the small group experience and the special local touches. We visited the Ccaccaccollo Community and Women's Weaving Co-op where we saw the traditional ways of clothing making. We also had a beyond delicious lunch at the Parwa Community Restaurant in the Sacred Valley. These places were unexpected highlights made possible by G Adventures!
Part 2: Emily's G Adventure to Costa Rica
"Cathy Robinson put together a FABULOUS Alaskan experience for Elaine and me (Bruce).
We did the 11 day Alaskan tour, with four days on land and a seven day Inland Passage cruise on the Coral Princess. Upon arrival in Fairbanks, we were greeted by Princess staff and received our welcome packet. We were surprised by the “Meet Me Onboard” request to send a suitcase ahead to the ship. We did NOT pack a separate bag for this, so we spent a lot of time ‘repacking’ one of our suitcases. That was a minor inconvenience, as the remainder of the trip was trouble free! Our luggage was delivered to our rooms by the time we arrived at the hotels/ship.
The Discovery III riverboat cruise was the best excursion of the trip. The ship was equipped with a great sound system and video monitors, so all onboard could see and hear all narration. There were fascinating bits of information. Iditarod training camp and fishing village info was easy to hear and see. We really enjoyed that.
The Tundra Wilderness Tour was awe inspiring! The vastness of Alaska was prominently displayed and we got to see several species of wildlife – from afar. We also got to see all of Mt. Denali. We joined the 30% club of visitors that got to see the entire mountain top.
The two Princess lodges were beautiful. They were rustic looking and very accommodating. We purchased the on land food package and certainly got our money’s worth. We could order anything on the menus, with no exceptions. All the food tasted great. The bus drivers for excursions were all courteous and explained in detail what we were seeing and some history of the area. Despite the rain, the train ride to Whittier was entertaining and visually stunning.
The Coral Princess was clean and the staff was VERY friendly and again, the food was really delicious. We did purchase the ‘all beverage’ package on the ship and that worked out well. We had no questions on any drink we could order including call drinks.
There was a lot of notice of invo-virus and signs to wash hands frequently. There were Purell hand sanitizers by all restaurants, shops, elevator lobbies and stairwells. However, they were not ‘forcing’ you to sanitize before entering restaurants – especially the buffet (sanitizing was mandatory on other cruise lines we have sailed). We recommend sanitizing hands before and after dining
They brought naturalists on board to discuss what we were seeing in Glacier Bay and as we entered and cruised the Inland Waterway. They were very informative and helped all to view humpback whales, sea otters and Orca killer whales during our journey.
The shore excursion disembarkments were well coordinated. We had no delays leaving or re-entering the ship. The meeting points on shore were well marked. Bus drivers to and from the excursions were informative and very helpful with participants with disabilities, or problems getting on/off the buses.
Our three shore excursions were:
This was our first trip to Alaska and our first time on Princess Cruise Line. We will not hesitate to recommend Brentwood Travel to our friends and we will have them coordinate our next major travel event."
Start planning your Alaska adventure by emailing Cathy or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 114.
Since I was 7 years old the one place I've wanted to see more than anywhere in the world is Paris, France. After 20 years of waiting, my wish finally came true and my husband and I traveled to Paris with Monograms, which is part of the Globus Family of Brands. It was hands down the most incredible week of my life and it lived up to everything I'd ever dreamed it would be and more.
My husband and I consider ourselves more of independent travelers - we like to do what we want, when we want. Monograms gave us the freedom to be the travelers we are while making the trip easier than we could've imagined.
When we arrived at Charles De Gaulle Airport it was madness. There were so many people everywhere and if it wasn't for the included airport transfer with Monograms we would've been completely lost. A Monograms rep was waiting for us with a "Welcome" sign and they took us straight to our hotel. During the car ride our driver was friendly and provided incredible advice about Paris and what we should do on our trip.
Once we pulled up to our centrally located hotel, Mercure Paris Montmartre Sacre Coeur, the Monograms Local Host, Julie, greeted us outside and escorted us into the lobby. Julie presented all the information we needed for our exciting week ahead and explained how to use the metro system for the easiest way to get around. Without her assistance we wouldn't have had such ease navigating the city.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
On our first full day at our leisure we decided to go to the Palace of Versailles. This is an absolute MUST when visiting Paris. This excursion actually turned into one of our favorite days of the whole trip. We purchased skip the line tickets in advance and I'm so glad we did. The wait was over 4 hours long for those who didn't! Our visit was a guided tour filled with the most incredible details you could imagine. The amount of knowledge the guides have is unreal and we learned so much during our tour.
The Palace is filled with gold, marble, elaborate fabrics, statues, paintings, crystals and everything in between. We couldn't stop taking pictures of every detail we saw - it was all so glamorous and ornate!
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
My husband and I are huge Disney fans so we naturally had to spend a day at Disneyland Paris! There are two parks - Magic Kingdom and Walt Disney Studios. We only had enough time for Magic Kingdom but if you're able to stay more than one day I highly recommend going to both.
Disneyland Paris is celebrating their 25th Anniversary this year so the whole park was decorated in blue. For those who have been to a Disney park before you'll hardly notice that many differences, they did a great job keeping everything consistent with the American parks. However, this is still in France so it was pretty fun to hear the French language worked in to some of the rides and songs!
Thursday, August 17, 2017
On this day we went to Giverny to visit the home of Claude Monet. This was one of the more important days on our trip due to the significance of Monet in my life. In first grade we did a year-long class project over France, where we studied French culture and art. I fell in love with Claude Monet and each student wrote a book about his life. After all these years I kept my book and I took it with me to his home.
The gardens and his home were absolutely stunning. As we walked around I couldn't believe how large the garden was and just how many plants and flowers were on Monet's property. We only had two hours in Giverny but we could've spent an entire day there exploring. I would go back in a heartbeat.
After the tour of the Palace we ran into "Bag O' Nails Pub" for a quick pint and fish and chips (when in Rome, right?) to energize and we then headed to Big Ben. We were very lucky to be some of the last people hear the tower ring as it's now silent for the next four years for refurbishment. After a quick visit we did some shopping for souvenirs on Oxford Street and then left for King's Cross Station. My husband and I also love Harry Potter so it was important to us to see where Harry and the gang entered the Wizarding World.
My week trip to Paris and London was the best week of my life and I wish I could've had time for more. Now that I've had a taste of Europe I can't wait to go back and see it all! I highly recommend this trip to everyone and traveling with Monograms is the way to do it.
Call one of our expert Travel Consultants to book your package with Monograms at 314-439-5700!
Missouri is well known as the Show Me State and we will receive quite a show on August 21, 2017. An eclipse extravaganza will cross through our state for a once in a lifetime experience.
A total solar eclipse is when the moon completely blocks the solar disk. During totality, it will get as dark as night. Missouri will experience as much as 3 hours of the partial eclipse and 2 minutes and 30 seconds of totality.
The Sun’s diameter is 400 times that of the Moon. The Sun is also about 400 times farther away. As a result, the two bodies appear almost exactly the same size in the sky. This truly remarkable coincidence is what creates a total solar eclipse.
You may experience strange things during a total solar eclipse. Shadows will look eerie and breezes may vanish. A 10°–15° F drop in temperature is not unusual. And bright stars and planets may be also be visible!
About five seconds before totality, Baily's beads will appear. They are little bead-like blobs of light at the edge of the Moon. They are created because gaps in the mountains and valleys on the Moon's surface allow sunlight to pass through in some places but not others.
A Brief History of Total Solar Eclipses
The word eclipse comes from ekleipsis, the ancient Greek word for being abandoned. Surviving records have shown that the Babylonians were able to predict solar eclipse as early as 2500 BC. The ancient Chinese were the first to document a total solar eclipse and explained their occurance as a celestial dragon devouring the sun.
The wonder of a solar eclipse lead to myths and folklore being created throughout many cultures. The Batammaliba people in Africa see each eclipse as an opportunity to end old feuds. The myth is that an eclipse is caused by fighting between the sun and the moon. When an eclipse occurs, the Batammaliba come together as a community and try to end their own fighting as a way of encouraging the sun and moon to do the same.
The last time a total solar eclipse occurred over Missouri was in 1442. The Osage people still ruled this region and Columbus had not even been born yet. The next eclipse over our area will be in 2505 which is 488 years away, making this viewing truly a once-in-a-lifetime event.
Protect Your Eyes During the Eclipse
A solar eclipse is one of nature’s grandest spectacles. By following these simple rules, you can safely enjoy the view and be rewarded with memories to last a lifetime:
To learn more on eye safety during a total solar eclipse, click here. And be sure to follow us on Facebook on Monday, August 21 as we post live updates during The Great American Eclipse event.
"Cynthia Friedenberg's attention to the needs of her customers is outstanding. Last year I mentioned a desire to combine some time in London and cruise the Norwegian fjords. Months after that conversation, she contacted me with news of the perfect cruise to meet my travel desires.
Oceania had introduced a new 11-day itinerary, including five days visiting the fjords, departing from Southampton and returning to Southampton. My husband and I happily booked the trip.
Transfers went smoothly, our hotel in London was in a good location and lovely. The Oceana Marina offered a superior shipboard experience.
Thanks to the planning of Ms. Friedenberg, an outstanding travel agent, our entire trip was perfect."
We loved our week in Cabo with daughter Tammy and son-in-law Kent. We stayed at the beautiful Secrets Puerto Los Cabos in a swim out room. Everything was perfect including the accommodations, service, food, weather and traveling companions. Cabo is like Palm Springs with an ocean. And the non-stop charter with Apple Vacations was a huge bonus.
My husband (who does not swim) loved having the private pool area. Only 6-7 rooms share each swim out pool. We were in preferred club and the service by Ada and her team was amazing. Our room and bathroom were spacious and well appointed.
Each night we ate in a different restaurant. They were all wonderful in their own way, but our favorite was Himatsu, the Japanese restaurant and Miguel, our waiter, was amazing. Food here was superior and we loved the Marketplace. The breakfast and lunch buffets were fresh, tasty and offered great service from the wait staff.
If you like golf, swimming, yoga, a quiet pool or a busy fun pool, this property has so much to offer. This is the place where you can golf, fish, snorkel, workout, bike, shop or do absolutely nothing.
You can also participate in so many activities off the property. One night the hotel arranged for those who wanted a shuttle into the town of San Jose del Cabo. There was a nominal charge per person for the transportation. It was a just nice excursion to do.
I have traveled the world and stayed in many hotels of all types and styles. I highly recommend this lovely property for adults only. It was a relaxing escape.
Brentwood Travel clients Bob and Mary Jo worked with travel consultant Ashley Curry and traveled with Globus Tours to explore several National Parks by coach, raft, and even by helicopter. We asked them to share their amazing pictures to inspire fellow travelers to plan their own journey to these treasured places.
My wife and I have been fortunate to travel extensively worldwide for the past 50 years, but we never visited a group of National Parks. We were referred by our friends after they took the 14-day "Parks & Canyons Spectacular" through Globus Tours. They booked their trip through Brentwood Travel and Ashley and highly recommended all three.
We and a couple we have traveled with for years were delighted with all aspects of the tour. It satisfied several bucket list items: Mount Rushmore, Old Faithful and Grand Canyon.
The wildlife in Yellowstone was fantastic. We even saw a black bear mother and her cubs, one of which climbed a tree. The Grand Tetons were the most spectacular range. We toured the Grand Canyon by helicopter and took a float trip down the Snake River.
But the surprising highlight of the tour was a walk through Antelope Canyon in Page, AZ. The views and vistas created by the light seeping into the canyon were spectacular.
Our accommodations, food and coach were first class, as were our guide Daryl and driver John.
We highly recommend Globus, Brentwood Travel, and Ashley.
Start your National Parks adventure by emailing Ashley or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 127.
Travel Consultants Dianna Paridon and Mary Caraffa traveled together on a voyage with the Windstar Star Pride to the charming villages of Scotland and Ireland. They enjoyed unique excursions to castles and took in picturesque landscapes onboard the casual and elegant small ship world of Windstar Cruises.
Start planning your trip to Scotland and Ireland.
Email Dianna or contact her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 108
or email Mary or call her at 314-439-5700 Ext. 121.
There is good news happening in the American work culture! For fifteen years, America vacation habits saw a decline despite nearly all (96%) workers believing vacation time is important to them for an effective work/life balance. A survey completed by Project: Time Off in 2016, however, shows workplace attitudes toward vacation is turning and the trend is going in a positive direction.
In 2016, average vacation use climbed to 16.8 per worker compared to 16.2 days in previous years. This increase is the most upward movement seen since vacation usage stated to decline in 2000. The benefits are starting to show with an increase in well-being as well as in business performance.
The clear majority of managers agree that vacation improves health and well-being (82%), boosts morale (82%) and alleviates burnout (81%). Managers also believe in the benefits vacation usage has towards a company as a whole. 78% of managers say that vacation improves employees' focus upon return; 70% agree it renews employees’ commitment to their job; and 64% feel it makes employees more willing to put in long hours when they are needed.
The most effective remedy for American workers who want to use more vacations days is better planning. A majority (52%) of workers who say they plan out their vacation days during the year take all their time off, compared to just 40% of non-planners. They also tend to take longer vacations.
Planners also feel more supported at work when they take time off. Nearly half (48%) of planners say their bosses support them when they take vacations, compared to 37% of non-planners. Planners are also more likely to say their company culture encourages taking time off (39% vs. 27%).
Another factor that will help to change the workplace landscape is a redefinition of success. Despite the virtues of vacation, there are still the beliefs held strongly by work martyrs. These are employees who find it difficult or do not take time off because they feel no one else can do their job. However, work martyrdom does not help advance careers but may actually hurt careers. Work martyrs are less likely (79% to 84%) to report receiving a raise or bonus but do earn more stress at work (73% to 68%) than non-work martyrs.
Avoid becoming a work martyr and become a smarter worker.
Contact Brentwood Travel to speak with an experienced travel consultant and make the most of your vacation days.
The newly announced ban on electronic devices may have a slight impact on your travel plans, but planning in advance will help you stay productive during your trip.
Here is what you need to know to navigate these new rules:
Brentwood Travel Vacation Experts
Serving Greater St. Louis since 1957, we specialize in cruises, all-inclusive vacations, tour packages, honeymoons, and group travel.