Authentic Experience, Couples, excursions, Travel Tips

When in Iceland eat a hot dog

… and other favorite foods I’ve enjoyed on vacation

Listen here – I took pictures of my food BEFORE Instagram made it popular!

I was a scrapbooker, and because I couldn’t take the taste and smells with me, I took photos 😊

I’ve truly enjoyed getting to experience new things as I get older, including new taste combinations and exquisite culinary adventures!

Though this is a challenge to broaden my travel horizons due to my food allergies – not sensitivities or dislikes (though those do exist too) but try anaphylactic allergies. The main culprits are fish, seafood, shellfish and mushrooms – & in this day in age, chefs love fish or mushrooms or both!  I am pleased to say that cruising has been a super experience where I thought I’d been in deep trouble surrounded by seafood. Though this has not lessened my fear of going to Asia where I don’t’ know the country, and fish /mushrooms are key diet items.

I digress, there has been plenty of food I’ve enjoyed in my journeys – and had the pleasure of learning to cook while in my travels.  First one that comes to mind is New Orleans gumbo, not only did I take a class and buy the spices in bulk to bring back home, but I often make it for friends as it’s a huge crowd pleaser!  That then leads me to think of the most surprisingly delicious pork chop I’ve had in my life at Perry’s in Houston Texas – hands down!!  I’ve tried to perfect this since, and no luck thus far.

IMG_0379

In Iceland, besides the world famous hot dog stand in Reykjavik, (BTW, all the hot dogs in the country are made in a single plant) the bread an butter are to die for!  Since the country does not have many cows, most of the butter is from goats.  Oh and have I mentioned the coffee?!  My husband doesn’t even like coffee and he drank coffee every day there it was so delicious! (recipe!)

In Hawaii, everyone on the tour was excited to have fresh fish every day, so all that was left on the menu most times was Hawaiian pulled pork – so I made a game of it and was sure to have it every single day!  It tasted slightly different at each place – which was unexpected fun, but consistently was moist and juicy!!! (recipe!)

Now don’t get me started on Holland American’s bread pudding with vanilla bean custard sauce – I would simply eat vegetables for lunch so I could thoroughly enjoy a giant bowl of delectable warm dessert in the late afternoon (sorry, had to dry off my keyboard from the drooling) (recipe!)

Close to home, Brazilian Barbeque at Gaucho’s in Canmore Alberta is not only all you can eat meat of so many types I can’t remember, but also a fab churro and always excellent service!

Seattle’s a damn find place to easily find good eats, but most memorable was our dinner in the revolving restaurant when I had a gourmet piece of pot roast that melted in my mouth! Like I can’t even remember dessert the dinner was so good!!

seattle.jpg

In Charlottetown, PEI, we did a culinary tour (In the pouring rain and it was still amazing!), of which we learned of poffertjes – which are little Dutch pancakes, so tasty & fluffy!  Then we were exposed to something we were surprised we’d never thought of: chocolate covered potato chips – Old Dutch to be precise: the true taste of sweet & salty – forget chocolate covered pretzels!

 

Drinks!

Now I’m not a beer aficionado like my husband is (seriously, he’s pretty much a certified judge!) but I’ve had a delectable Pumpkin beer in Astoria Washington, and a crisp passion fruit at Kona Brewery in Hawaii.   Though whiskey cocktails are currently my choice, nothing beats a Cajun spiced rum & sweet tea on a hot day in New Orleans! Oh, and I am a rare fan of a chicory coffee.

So, what’s your favorite food and or drink you’ve enjoyed while on vacation?!

Cheers, Erika

#erikaluxtravel              http://www.erika.lange@marlintravel.ca

Authentic Experience, Coach Tours, excursions

My Trafalgar Experience

Why should you consider a Trafalgar coach tour?

TF

I am here to tell you that I have experienced and I am a testament to what they offer as being true to its core! I experienced Trafalgar on a Hawaii coach tour FAM – and I had not been on a coach tour since the 90s!

TF_1

You literally just show up!  We each received welcome emails from Andrew our tour director, of whom I had a few questions for – and he was quick to respond and easily accommodating.  Truthfully, HE was the highlight of the trip – even now it brings a smile to my face thinking of my conversations with Andrew, and his genuine smile & kindness – never mind his multitasking project management master skills!

unadjustednonraw_thumb_11b30.jpg

Having my luggage taken care of from start to finish with all the coach & plane trips in between (we island hoped which was lovely to experience the efficiency!)

There were always water and snacks on the coach readily available.  Speaking of the coach, the drivers were also genuinely glad to greet you and show you their island, and amazing, skilled drivers!  I take transit in the city – so I’m sensitive to the stop/starts of buses & they have mad skills!!!

VALUE, VALUE, VALUE is the main message I want to convey.  There are so many special treats along the way of such variety that I can’t even begin to explain – and I want to keep it a true surprise for you!  This is key to their customer service – you get what you pay for and so much more! That is why their FEEFO score (independent rating service) is so high!

What I will tell you is some of other keys as to why they are so beloved, and why you want to pay to travel with them!

  • You are always 1st in line and in some cases have special access for tours (such as the VIP line at the Vatican)
  • The hotels selected are always centrally located, near the action, so that when you are on your free time (YES it’s not all scheduled time!) you can easily roam.  Our beds were sumptuous and high end.
  • They have a feature on some tours: “stays with Stories” where they are the only travel company able to access some properties – for example, the hotel/museum where the Sound of Music was filmed
  • “Be My Guest” is another feature which is on all their European trips & now in India & Australia – where you go to into genuine family’s homes for a meal
  • There is time for yourself built into every trip – in Hawaii we had so much!  We had an entire afternoon in Honolulu where some went shopping, some went hiking, one took surf lessons, and some of us swam & had beach time.
  • There are also opportunities to have Trip Enhancements – add on “optionals” you can fill your free time with which come with KILLER deals rather than doing it on your own!  Andrew arranged our mantra ray evening swim & my helicopter tour!

There is wifi on the coaches, but I rarely used it as I enjoyed seeing everything out the window and listening to the information or stories that Andrew and the drivers spoke with such passion.  Most folks think that coach tours have you on the bus most of the day but not with Trafalgar – my experience was that you’re only ever on 1.5 hrs.  There are so many stops, photo ops and food opportunities!

Friends were made -a huge bonus!!

Personally, I equate them to how I see cruising – it gives me a taste of a location so I know where I want to come back to visit and spend more time.  Case in point, I did this trip at the end of March in 2018, and 6 months later am taking my husband back to do the 2nd part of my trip all over again with him, because it was so magical, that I want him to experience it.

Let me know if you’d like to learn more, and keep in mind their amazing early booking bonus of 10% off!!!

Cheers, Erika

Erika.lange@marlintravel.ca        #erikaluxtravel

 

Authentic Experience, Couples, R&R

Separate Vacations without resentment

pexels-photo-171053

You don’t have to sacrifice to see the world.  It’s not enough time, not enough money, or commitments at home.  More often I hear that they can’t get a pet sitter or kenneling is either too expense or too cumbersome.  But it does take planning and communication!  With so many options out there and less stigmas and pre-determined notions – there’s no excuse as to why you can’t see the world!
Other reasons may be different interests or hobbies that could take you traveling (craft beer tours for example), or perhaps one doesn’t like the heat – so a nice southern vacation in the winter is out of the question for the 2 of you to be happy together!  Increasingly popular are mini get-aways, due to time and money but also ease of comradery – a golf 4-day weekend for the guys or a spa & hike get-away for the gal pals.  A safe and experience packed trip is to take a couch tour where you can make new friends along the way!

Besides circumstance, there are also other reasons to take separate vacations:

  1. To experience something new that doesn’t interest your partner
  2. To have a reunion with old friends or family
  3. To learn something new (a cooking tour!)
  4. Your bucket list item but not theirs
  5. Or simply to have some alone time

Again though, communication is key – not just words but body language – be honest, specific about the plans, and discuss the financial costs.  Do you think the costs should be equal of you each take a separate vacation?  Also keep in mind that separate vacations should not take the place of shared vacations with each other – ensure you have money and time for both – keep that love alive!!!

Experts say there is significant hesitation among some couples to even bring up this subject.  But in a study in 2006 says that separate vacations can be growth experiences:

“​Marriage often leads to a larger understanding of the world, more people in our lives, and a more mature and realistic take on how relationships work. If we married our clone, there would be little room for growth. … When the relationship is intact, occasional separate vacations can add a terrific dimension to your marriage. But if trouble is already brewing between partners, a separate vacation may do more harm than good. Consider your true motivation for the vacation, the stability of your finances and relationship, ages of your children, and willingness to compromise. If this all checks out—enjoy and make some memories.”

pexels-photo-40525

So for you, does distance make the heart grow fonder?  Or would you terribly miss the other person and not enjoy your vacation?

Ideas for married couple vacations

  • one hikes Machu Picchu & the other swims in the Galapagos and you both come together for a cruise along the Amazon
  • one golfs the greens in Ireland while the other does a royal tour in England – you fly over & back together
  • One goes on a river cruise with their friends from college in the spring and the other takes a coach tour to learn about a new country in the Autumn
  • One goes to see a concert with a group of friends over the weekend one month and the other goes to see a sporting event with another group of mid-week

               pexels-photo-1066801

With so many options, let’s get to know each other to see what YOUR possibilities are!!

Erika

 

 

 

 

Authentic Experience, cruise, R&R, river cruise

Feature: Emerald Waterways

This last week we had a presentation with our representative with Emerald Waterways which was truly enlightening!

As per their website:              Exceptional. Amazing. Unique.

“Expect more from your deluxe river cruise with Emerald Waterways. Our award-winning river cruise fleet and inspiring itineraries reveal the stunning scenery and fascinating culture of Europe and Asia as you’ve never experienced them. Enjoy the Emerald difference. Our innovative river cruise ships offer you panoramic views of the stunning scenery, and feature contemporary boutique hotel styling, deluxe in-suite comfort, gourmet dining options and exceptional service, all included in the price.”

harmony

This week we learned about their new ship, the Emerald Harmony that is being built right now for release in 2019 in Asia.  It will only have 42 cabins, so 84 guests (doesn’t that sound lovely as an idea for hosting a gathering or an event!) and 40 crew, so your ratio is amazing!  There are 5 decks, an observation deck, a library, a fitness room & spa services.  There are 3 dining experiences: the Reflections restaurant, Horizon bar & lounge, and the new Lotus Lounge.harmony2

Now about the cabins, of which the majority are suites, and a few staterooms.  They are 30 sq. ft larger than any others (on their European ships).  Besides the entire ship being contemporary style, it makes these rooms seem even more spacious and inviting! harmony3

The Emerald Harmony will include:

  • Spacious Accommodations on board one of Asia’s most innovative cruise ships
  • Sailing directly from Ho Chi Minh City (no one else in the industry can do this!)
  • All on board meals with complimentary wine, beer and soft drinks to accompany lunch and dinner
  • State-of-the-art coffee machine to enjoy lattes or cappuccinos
  • Complimentary self-service laundry facilities (bring your own detergent though)
  • Complimentary WIFI (even on some of their coaches on the land tours)

They have 13 and 21 days Itineraries outlined, with optional extensions & Stopovers pre and post cruise!

Here’s an example of part of one of these itineraries:

harmony 3.4

And here is a snapshot of their 21 day itinerary for 2019 on the Emerald Harmony: harmony4

Of note, the majority if the daily tours are in the morning (which often take you away from the tourist areas), which leaves you with free time to explore on your own, at your own pace.  You have the best of both worlds: be taken care of & enjoy a tour with a local expert, AND have time to yourself to experience the culture and make memories.

There are bicycles on the European ships for you to enjoy at your leisure. Each ship also has a stunning pool – & while in Asia you will definitely want to take advantage of it so bring your suit! harmony5

Then there is always some evening entertainment, and a 4 course dinner with local wines. The meals always have regional choices and North American choices. The breakfast and lunches are buffet style.

The demographic for Emerald Waterways is 50% Australian / New Zealand, 30% Canadian and 10 % American – so plan to enjoy the company of some Aussies – they know how to have a good time!

Other differences that Emerald Waterways provides is that tipping is ALWAYS included in the price, and your final payment is not due until 90 days prior to departure. As well, transfers are always included, even if you don’t book your flight with them – now that’s service!!

If you choose to book your flight with your package, they have some amazing deals here too when booking early. As with most river cruise lines it’s best to book EARLY to get the best deals, the best selection, and simply the fact that they do sell out!

**** Our EXCLUSIVE Deal for YOU, available until August 23rd ****

Fly FREE on any 12+ day itineraries while supplies last!

$125 pp USD onboard credit

$75 pp CAD saving off the cost of the cruise

So, if Asia’s on your bucket list, if you have a honeymoon to plan (unpack ONCE is a dream detail!), or you want to take your special interest group on the adventure of a lifetime where you can bond over shared experiences – contact ME, Erika Lange – Travel Professional.

And stay tuned, next time we will be discussing their Croatian yacht adventures!

Cheers, Erika 

erika.lange@marlintravel.ca

Instagram @erikaluxtravel

FB: erikaluxtravel

Authentic Experience

It’s YOUR time!

In the words of Eminem, “Let it go, Gotta let it go, keep living your life cause its your tie, Your time, Your time, Your time.”

selfie

After years of spending your time working hard to have everything you wanted for you and your family, years spending climbing the ladder, becoming bigger and brighter through personal development, spending much of your free time watching your children play, perform, and providing enriching experiences for them, now it’s YOUR TIME!

At this time in your life, you’ve shifted from making others happy to making yourself happy. Either through hobbies, volunteering, learning something new – or simply taking time to smell the roses.  Now’s the time to take stock of the bucket list!  You’re active – time to find some new experiences and some enrichment!

For starting your brainstorming, here are travelocity’s 7 Unforgettable bucket list trips for Empty Nesters

  1. Enjoy Butler Service in Bali
  2. Take an African Safari
  3. Spend a Summer in Provence
  4. Cruise down the Nile River
  5. Explore the Temples of Thailand
  6. Experience the Real Life Fairytale of Monaco
  7. Touring the Canadian Rockies by Train

Making plans is key at this time in life – think of it, you’ve had a structured life so far with school and work schedules, your mind is used to the rhythm of it.

Now’s your chance to change focus to your enrichment!  Rediscover your inner child perhaps, what did you enjoy in your early years that you could manifest now?

Your house is where you want it to be – no more renos, and you may even have already downsized.  For the first time you can leave home without having to think about so many things to prep – you can pack up and go on a whim or plan something grand!  This is your chance to see places you have always wanted to see.

coffree together

There are so many unique and authentic experiences to be had, let me help you wander through the myriad of options available! 

Cheers, Erika

erika.lange@marlintravel.ca        @erikaluxtravel