Tours For 2012

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Several tour operators have prepared wonderful itineraries for travel to North America as well as Europe for this spring, summer and fall. We’ll discuss a few here.

Tauck Tours is one of the most respected operators in the U.S. and they have put together some highlights of various areas of the U.S. and Canada that I will mention.

Grand Canadian Rockies

Their Grand Canadian Rockies tour is especially interesting since it encompasses some of the most scenic destinations one can find in North America. On this tour you will first fly to the most beautiful city on our continent, Vancouver, B.C. Upon arrival you will be transferred to the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel to begin your adventure. Water, majestic mountains and colorful parks surround Vancouver.

The next day the tour takes a ferry to Victoria Island to see the waterfront with its collection of fishing boats and yachts. Then, board a coach and be driven to the famed Butchart Gardens just outside of town. From there, it’s back to the waterfront and the Princess Hotel where you will enjoy a formal British afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress Hotel with an overnight stay.

Next day it’s back to Vancouver for some sightseeing, then that night board VIA Rail Canada’s “The Canadian” train to take you to the Rocky Mountains. I have done this several times and never tire of the beauty the region offers.

You will spend the night and part of the next day on the train as it winds its way northeast. Tauck Tours have reserved space for the group in one of the train’s vista dome cars so you can enjoy and photograph the amazing scenery passing by your windows. Rugged, tall mountains framing valleys with rivers running through them is only part of the pleasure. All your meals on the train are included. You will have private room accommodations with facilities to enjoy. The lounge cars on the train are yours to use.

After crossing the Continental Divide into Alberta you will arrive for a two-night stay at the Park Lodge on the shores of Lac Beauvert.

Now, a day in Jasper National Park is scheduled to be mostly free with tennis courts, golf, hiking and swimming and other activities that are available for your pleasure. This night, enjoy dinner at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

The Icefield Parkway is scheduled for the next day — this road links Jasper and Lake Louise. It is one of North America’s most scenic highways. As your coach winds its way through snow-domed peaks, you may see elk, deer, bighorn sheep or bears. The Columbia Icefields highway passes by one of the largest masses of ice outside the Arctic Circle. You will stay this night at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in the heart of Banff.

After breakfast, your coach will take you through the stunning scenery of the Bow River Valley. You will be photographing almost every mile this day.

On day number nine, you will enjoy rafting on the Bow River and are given time to explore museums, shops and assorted culture of the area. Then, this evening join the other tour members for a farewell dinner. The last day will be spent driving from Banff to the city of Calgary for your flight home.

If I were to put together a western Canada with the Rockies tour itinerary I could not have done a better job than that which Tauck Tours is offering this year. For more information, call them at 1-800-468-2825 and request a brochure.

Have you ever had the yearning to see polar bears in their natural surroundings in Manitoba, Canada? Tauck Tours will take you there in October and November. Upon arrival you are given a lecture on what to expect, then board a flight north to Churchill positioned on Hudson Bay. Once there, you will check into your hotel and the next day begin exploring in an all-terrain vehicle to view the bears and other wild life. You will probably witness young bears wrestling and experience some dog sledding.

You can visit an Eskimo Museum and hear fascinating accounts of their daily life.

Following, you will return to Winnipeg transferring to your flight home.

Polar bears are a rather rare sight anywhere and to see them in their natural surroundings is very special.

Europe

How about a classical tour of Europe? Several tour companies offer this and your travel agent can assist your planning by giving you brochures to take home and digest. Some tours begin in Paris where you will meet your tour director and enjoy dinner the first night with the group of travelers you will be with for the next several days. Your tour director will outline what you will experience and impart tips that will help make the trip a little easier.

Your first day in Paris will probably include sightseeing the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Opera House, Cathedral Notre Dame and the River Seine. Perhaps that night will include a dinner aboard a riverboat sailing through the City of Light.

From Paris your tour might pick up several itineraries. Perhaps next go to Switzerland for all its scenic pleasures, then down into Italy for stops at Florence, Rome and Venice. Italy always amazes me with its charm, historical landmarks, beauty and many points of interest. We were in Italy three months ago and we could renew our love for Florence as well as Rome. These are but two cities among several that are worth time in visiting museums and the general daily life of Italians. Try their cuisine, as it is sometimes quite different than American Italian food.

While you are in Europe, you might select a tour that also includes Monaco and Nice. They are very close together on the Riviera and worth the time you will spend there. These areas are quite up-scale and it is interesting to see how the upper class enjoy vacations.

You might be inclined to choose a tour that encompasses both Portugal and Spain. They are easy to enjoy together and have many, many interesting areas to explore.

You have Madrid and Barcelona as leading cities of Spain and you can also include Granada and Seville. In Portugal you can enjoy Lisbon with its many historical sights and friendly people and then go inland for more local interest. May is a good time to visit these two countries because it is before the hot weather sets in.

In fact, most of Europe is rather hot and humid during the summer months so keep that in mind when planning your trip.

You might wish to first fly to London and tour England before moving on to Ireland and Scotland. After seeing Great Britain, you can take the Chunnel Train to Paris and begin your European tour there.

Baltic region

The Baltic region is becoming very popular and perhaps the best way to enjoy this area is a cruise out of England. You would probably visit Russia, Poland, Germany and some Scandinavian countries on one of these cruises.

The highlight will be St. Petersburg with all its museums, castles and canals.

I strongly suggest overseas vacations to be either escorted tours or cruises. Both entities will look after you and offer suggestions as to where to visit on your own and keep you out of trouble.

Popular destinations remain Europe, Australia, New Zealand, South America, and river cruises in Europe and the United States. You could probably travel for two years without stopping and still have places you wish to visit.

It’s a big, wide world and yours for the taking. Have a ball!

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