The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men

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By The Travelphile

Dark clouds roll in on the City of Light.

“Please don’t rain yet. Please don’t rain yet. Please don’t rain yet.” My mind looped this mantra, and I plastered an everything’s-alright smile, hoping my face wouldn’t betray my anxiety. Twenty-eight people were following me through the cobblestone streets of Paris, and I didn’t want their only two days with me in my favorite European city to be flooded with memories of torrential downpours.

Last night was tough enough. With most of them jet-lagged, my eager tour members earnestly willed themselves to stay alert and engaged during our Welcome Meeting, neighborhood orientation, metro lesson, dinner, and Seine River cruise. It’s hard for most people to maintain energy and high spirits after a sleepless ten-hour flight, feeling disoriented in unfamiliar surroundings, and hitting a language barrier wherever they turn. Throw in bitterly and unseasonably cold temperatures and buckets of rain, and even the cheeriest of travelers can get grumpy. We all want our travel dreams to come true, but when you end up either stuck inside a crowded, muggy boat with all the windows fogged up or shivering on the narrow deck, jostling for any coverage to protect you from the chilly rain that’s striking you sideways, travel dreams slowly dissolve into nightmares.

Dark clouds roll in on the City of Light.

Today, I just needed 20 minutes more to finish my Historic Paris walk. The weather had held out the entire morning, but the clouds were shifting from light to charcoal grey, and you could smell moist electricity with every shivering inhalation. We were almost at the crosswalk that would lead us away from Notre Dame into the Latin Quarter when the sky cracked, unleashing its contents all over the city of Paris. Umbrellas couldn’t open fast enough (if you had one to begin with), and instantly, every one of us was soaked. …read more

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7 Questions About Cuba with Native & Tour Leader Ana Perez

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By International Expeditions

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Expedition Leader Ana Perez and a group of International Expeditions travelers in Havana.

Bret Love, journalist and editor of GreenGlobalTravel.com, recently sat down to interview Ana Maria Perez, the Expedition Leader for our people-to-people Cuba tours. Following is an excerpt from his original story.

We were excited to get a chance to speak with one of International Expeditions’ Cuba journey leaders Ana Maria Perez, about growing up in Cuba, the evolution of Cuban attitudes towards the U.S., the richness of Cuban culture, and the wealth of natural and historical attractions the island nation has to offer.

What are your favorite memories of your childhood in Cuba?

I grew up with my grandma in a small town of eastern Cuba called Chaparra, in the province of Las Tunas. Mom was working in the province capital to support us all. Every time I close my eyes looking for a happy memory to better my day, I remember family gatherings. On August 18 every year, we would all come to my grandma’s to celebrate her birthday. No matter how old she was turning and how scarce things were, there would always be cake, ensalada fria (a macaroni salad with ham or chicken and pineapple), and bocaditos (little sandwiches). Sometimes a roast pork on a spit if we could afford it. And always music and laughter and gifts. Family is the most important asset to Cubans.

In what ways has Cuba changed over the years?

Progress is undeniable, although slow. The 21st century Cuba has evolved to a more open and accepting society, partially because of the need to survive and the loosening of restrictions by the government. Cubans don’t see foreigners, especially Americans, as evil anymore. Visitors are welcome and treated like family.

Despite restricted use of the internet, most Cubans find access to …read more

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7 Questions About Cuba with Native & Tour Leader Ana Perez

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By International Expeditions

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Expedition Leader Ana Perez and a group of International Expeditions travelers in Havana.

Bret Love, journalist and editor of GreenGlobalTravel.com, recently sat down to interview Ana Maria Perez, the Expedition Leader for our people-to-people Cuba tours. Following is an excerpt from his original story.

We were excited to get a chance to speak with one of International Expeditions’ Cuba journey leaders Ana Maria Perez, about growing up in Cuba, the evolution of Cuban attitudes towards the U.S., the richness of Cuban culture, and the wealth of natural and historical attractions the island nation has to offer.

What are your favorite memories of your childhood in Cuba?

I grew up with my grandma in a small town of eastern Cuba called Chaparra, in the province of Las Tunas. Mom was working in the province capital to support us all. Every time I close my eyes looking for a happy memory to better my day, I remember family gatherings. On August 18 every year, we would all come to my grandma’s to celebrate her birthday. No matter how old she was turning and how scarce things were, there would always be cake, ensalada fria (a macaroni salad with ham or chicken and pineapple), and bocaditos (little sandwiches). Sometimes a roast pork on a spit if we could afford it. And always music and laughter and gifts. Family is the most important asset to Cubans.

In what ways has Cuba changed over the years?

Progress is undeniable, although slow. The 21st century Cuba has evolved to a more open and accepting society, partially because of the need to survive and the loosening of restrictions by the government. Cubans don’t see foreigners, especially Americans, as evil anymore. Visitors are welcome and treated like family.

Despite restricted use of the internet, most Cubans find access to …read more

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Natural Habitat Adventures Unveils “Undiscovered Cuba” Showcasing Culture and Nature

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By Natural Habitat Adventures

Natural Habitat Adventures (Nat Hab), the world’s premier nature travel company, lifts the veil on Cuba and introduces a new way to experience this captivating island that has long been inaccessible to American travelers. The 12-Day itinerary will explore Cuba’s intriguing culture and stunning tropical ecosystems on an educational exchange designed to provide a human perspective on the natural side of this Caribbean island nation.

Classic cars of Cuba

On Natural Habitat Adventures‘ “Undiscovered Cuba,” guests will experience the vibrant cultural centers of Havana and Trinidad as well as virtually unknown national parks, rare botanical gardens, lush tropical ecosystems and fabulous bird life while interacting with Cuban scientists, naturalists, park managers, academics, organic farmers, community activists, artists, business owners and others eager to share their stories.

“This is a rare opportunity to embrace the daily lives of citizens here. Cuba has been off-limits to American tourists for decades. We are among a select few companies to secure a special U.S. government permit through the newly established People-to-People program, allowing us to offer this exclusive travel opportunity to our privileged guests,” said Ben Bressler, Natural Habitat’s founder and president (http://www.nathab.com/).

2015 departures, each for a maximum of 15 guests, are: Feb. 10, Feb. 27, and Apr. 18. The per-person double occupancy rate is $7,695, based on a group size of 10 or more. Both international and internal flight costs are in addition to the trip fee. Internal air is $550 (subject to change). Nat Hab books the international flight from Miami to Cienfuegos, Cuba, and the return from Havana to Miami. These flights are organized through a licensed charter company authorized to provide direct flights to Cuba. Please see http://www.nathab.com/central-america/undiscovered-cuba

In addition to Cuban culture and history, this one-of-a-kind trip also showcases Cuba’s natural side. Through one-on-one visits with Cuban hosts, guests …read more

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Walking the Camino de Santiago: Finisterre Way from Santiago de Compostela to Muxia

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By Greenlife Tours LTD

Walk to the Atlantic Coast, along the Finisterre Way or Camino de Fisterra,and to the ‘End of the World’! This Camino de Santiago route is unique, as it is the only one starting in Santiago de Compostela. There is a good reason for it!

This Camino route pre-dates Christianity, as pagans would head to Fisterra in the Costa da Morte (Coast of Death) where they believed the sun died and the worlds of the dead and the living became closer. Prayers would be said and offers would be made in order to please the gods. The route can be continued to the sanctuary of A Virxe da Barca in Muxía, another traditional pilgrimage destination in a stunning location by the Atlantic Ocean.

The post Walking the Camino de Santiago: Finisterre Way from Santiago de Compostela to Muxia appeared first on Adventure.Travel.

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