Category Archives: Tours

Featured Tour: Discover Japan by Globus

10 day escorted tour Tokyo to Kyoto starting at $4179 per person (based on double occupancy/airfare not included.

Globus-DiscoverJapan

DAY 1 ARRIVE IN TOKYO, JAPAN

Welcome to Japan’s capital city. Hotel rooms are available for mid-afternoon check-in.

DAY 2 TOKYO

Meet your Tour Director and traveling companions prior to morning sightseeing in Tokyo. Your tour takes you to the MEIJI SHRINE, a magnificent 20th-century Shinto monument set in a man-made forest, followed by a drive to see the Imperial Palace. Next, visit an artist’s studio and learn to write like a local during a CALLIGRAPHY CLASS with a master calligrapher. Here, you’ll also have the opportunity to try on a traditional KIMONO and partake in a Globus Local Favorite TRADITIONAL TEA CEREMONY, a wonderfully choreographed ritual of preparing and serving Japanese green tea. Last stop is the ASAKUSA KANNON TEMPLE and the NAKAMISE SHOPPING ARCADE. The balance of the afternoon is at leisure. Tonight, join your traveling companions at a welcome dinner hosted by your Tour Director.
Breakfast Lunch Dinner

DAY 3 TOKYO. MOUNT FUJI EXCURSION

This morning, leave Tokyo and head south along the coast to the beautiful Five Lakes region. Here, take a CABLE-CAR RIDE (weather permitting) for panoramic views of Lake Kawaguchi and spectacular Mount Fuji, Japan’s highest mountain. You will also have a spectacular view of Mount Fuji from CHUREITO PAGODA, part of the Arakura Sengen Shrine, built as a peace memorial in 1963. Return to Tokyo and enjoy the remainder of the day at your leisure.
Breakfast  Lunch

DAY 4 TOKYO–MATSUMOTO–TAKAYAMA

Journey to Matsumoto, gateway to the Japanese Alps. Visit famous MATSUMOTO CASTLE, dating back to 1593, and discover the history at the MATSUMOTO CITY MUSEUM. Later, travel through the ruggedly beautiful Japanese Alps to Takayama. Tonight, enjoy a wonderful Japanese-style dinner at your hotel.
Breakfast BreakfastLunchLunchDinnerDinner

DAY 5 TAKAYAMA

Today begins with a visit to the MORNING MARKET, where farmers display locally grown fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Then, visit TAKAYAMA JINYA, a former government office during the Edo Period from 1692-1868. This well-preserved building is a national historic site and the only remaining building of its kind in Japan. Continue on to the San-Machi Suji historic district—famous for lacquerware shops and sake breweries, and identified by the sugidama, balls made of cedar branches that hang over the entrances. Stop at one of the breweries for a Globus Local Favorite SAKE TASTING. The balance of the day is at leisure, providing you time to explore the narrow streets where merchants buy and sell as they have for 300 years.
Breakfast Breakfast

DAY 6 TAKAYAMA–SHIRAKAWA–KANAZAWA

This morning, enjoy a drive through the mountainous Shokawa Valley to Shirakawa. This remote region of Japan is home to several UNESCO World Heritage Sites due to the unique GASSHO-ZUKURI-style (joined hands) thatched houses that can be found only here. Continue to the scenic town of Kanazawa, situated between the mountains and the Sea of Japan and once the country’s richest region. Your Tour Director leads you on a tour of one of Japan’s greatest gardens, KENROKU-EN, the “Garden of Six Qualities,” dating from the 1670s. Afterward, partake in a GOLD LEAF CLASS, where you learn more about this ancient traditional craft and make your own bento box souvenir. Your included dinner tonight is at your choice of one of three restaurants at your hotel.
Breakfast Dinner

DAY 7 KANAZAWA–KYOTO

This morning, board the THUNDERBIRD EXPRESS TRAIN for your journey to Kyoto. Upon arrival, stop at SANJUSANGENDO TEMPLE, famous for its 1,001 statues of Kannon, the Buddhist goddess of mercy. Flanking the main statue are 1,000 more life-sized statues, covered in gold leaf, with 40 arms said to have the power to save 25 worlds. After lunch, visit the FUSHIMI INARI SHRINE, renowned for the thousands of brightly colored Torii Gates. Afterward, continue on to the Higashiyama District to visit KIYOMIZU TEMPLE, the “Pure Water Temple,” with stunning views over Kyoto. Along the way, walk through the busy streets, where shops and restaurants have been catering to pilgrims for centuries. This evening, you have the option (additional expense) to stay in a traditional Japanese ryokan.

Traditional Ryokan Stay
Immerse yourself in the Japanese culture and hospitality at a ryokan (Japanese inn). Your ryokan, Gion Hatanaka, features traditional touches—tatami mat floors, a thin sleeping mattress on the floor, and the chance to experience a Japanese-style bath—as well as the modern convenience of a private bathroom. Included: transfers to/from ryokan from/to hotel in Kyoto; traditional Japanese dinner and breakfast.

NOTE:
Request at time of booking, as space is limited. See price box for supplement.

DAY 8 KYOTO

This morning starts with a visit to stunning Kinkakuji, the TEMPLE OF THE GOLD PAVILION. Next, visit YUZEN HANDMADE CORNER to learn about the Yuzen dyeing technique used to decorate kimonos by painting dye directly on the cloth. You will be invited to participate in making your own souvenir using this traditional method. For lunch, participate in a special Globus Local Favorite JAPANESE COOKING CLASS. Under the instruction of a local chef you will learn how to make miso soup, teriyaki chicken, and makizushi, more commonly known as a sushi roll. The afternoon is at your leisure to explore this fascinating city on your own.
Breakfast Lunch

DAY 9 KYOTO. NARA EXCURSION

This morning, take an excursion to NARA, the oldest capital of Japan. Here, visit two separate UNESCO World Heritage Sites. First, at Nara Park, is TODAIJI TEMPLE, built in 752 AD and one of Japan’s most famous significant temples. Rebuilt after a fire in 1692, the temple is only two-thirds its original size, yet remains the world’s largest wooden building. The Daibutsu (Giant Buddha) inside the main hall is made of copper and bronze, and is the largest in all of Japan, weighing in at 250 tons and standing some 49 feet tall! Nearby is KASUGA SHRINE, known for its 3,000 stone and bronze lanterns. Return to Kyoto for some leisure time. Tonight, your Tour Director hosts a farewell dinner to celebrate your discovery of Japan.
Breakfast  Dinner

DAY 10 KYOTO

Your tour ends with breakfast this morning. Homebound flights from Kansai International Airport in Osaka should not depart prior to 11 am.
Breakfast

Escape to Europe this Fall

Cooler temperatures, fewer crowds, and lower pricing (especially on the flights) makes Fall a great time to visit Europe.  Here are some itinerary and travel style suggestions

Italy – independent or guided

Italy enjoys mild autumns, and the attraction lines are definitely shorter compared to July and August.

  • If you are looking to visit Rome, Florence and Venice these are easy to tour independently, together with high speed train reservations to connect the dots.  Visit all three, or focus on just one or two depending on time and budget
  • Want to cover more ground, or enjoy the convenience of a guided tour?  We have several escorted tour options that range from short and sweet to extended and thorough and from 3 star budget-conscious to 5 star luxury.

Spain – independent or guided

Spain also has relatively mild fall weather, though Madrid can get pretty chilly starting in November.  Madrid and Barcelona combine well for those independent travelers (using high speed train to connect).  But for the most part to see Spain in depth I recommend an escorted tour and between 1 1/2 to 2 weeks for travel.  And for those with 2+ weeks to spare, Spain Portugal and neighboring Morocco makes for a fun fall itinerary! Definitely add this to your bucket list.

Switzerland – trains and Alps

Hurray for Swiss efficiency.  My favorite way to experience Switzerland is with a train itinerary and maybe 3 key destinations to give you a little city and a little mountain countryside.  Switzerland’s fall is a little nippier than Italy and Spain, but still beautiful and surprisingly sunny in some spots!  Pack a sweater and some hiking shoes, and you’re good to go.  My favorite destination in Switzerland?  Lucerne.

 

Ireland – self drive independence

 

Ireland’s weather is unpredictable but rarely extreme, so for the most part you’ll get relatively mild temperatures in the fall.  The favorite way to tour Ireland is with a self drive itinerary.  For the adventurous, the B&B voucher plan allows for freedom with your schedule, though most clients prefer pre-reserved hotels on their itinerary.  Or, the easiest way to go is by escorted tour, and we have several shorter itineraries as well as longer in depth Ireland and UK-panoramic itineraries.

Whether you are looking to travel with a guided group, or travel independently I am more than happy to find something to fit you perfectly.  Just give me a call (or drop me an email) and we will get your travel plans well underway!

(photos:  courtesy Globus Journeys).

~Happy Travels! Cindy Grant, travel consultant with Expert Family Travel.  Located in the Dallas Fort Worth metro area (Texas) Near Frisco, Plano, Little Elm, and The Colony.  972-625-6200.

Where to go next!

This month I thought I’d give you a nice, glossy overview of my top vacation destinations.

 

Dive Fiji for your next vacation

Mexico

For the best bang for the buck, Mexico reigns supreme.  You can opt for an all-inclusive resort, with your meals and drinks included.  Great pools, beach, and onsite activities to keep you well entertained, along with off-site day excursions.  On the go or relaxed, it’s your choice!

  • Cancun – Hotel Zone is lively and active.  This is a great choice for adult friend trips and for couples who love night life.
  • Riviera Maya (Playa del Carmen).  A great mix of adult only and family friendly all-inclusives.  And the range of moderate to luxury resorts means a resort that fits your style and budget.
  • Los Cabos.  Set on the tip of the Baja Peninsula on the Pacific side, where the desert meets the sea.  Great for couples, families, and friend getaways.
  • Puerto Vallarta.  On beautiful Banderas Bay.  Combine some resort time with exploring downtown and some excursions such as zip line and you’ve got yourself a great vacation.​

Caribbean

A wide range of island experiences with gorgeous beaches and fun cultural explorations​.

  • Jamaica.  Home of the popular all-inclusive Sandals, Couples, and Beaches Resorts.  You’ll also find other all-inclusive resorts here as well as some boutique resorts.
  • Punta Cana.  This growing resort destination is located on Dominican Republic, and has become a primary player in the all-inclusive market.  Family friendly and adults only options, in a wide range of style and budgets
  • Other islands.  Not everyone is looking for the mega resort.  If you prefer a quiet, small resort maybe Barbados or Turks and Caicos is your style.

Tahiti

Okay, so who doesn’t have Bora Bora on their bucket list?  This can be your once-in-a-lifetime milestone trip.  I do have clients who make Tahiti a regular vacation destination.  It is such a treat!  Imagine an overwater bungalow with pristine blue waters.  The epitome of relaxation.  Suited best for couples, but families enjoy this destination too.

Fiji

Beautiful.  Exotic.  Friendly.  If you’ve got at least a week, Fiji might just be the fit for you.  This is a great location for scuba and snorkeling.

 

Hawaii

I recommend a minimum stay of 5 nights in Hawaii, though 7 nights is better.  Pick from Oahu, Maui, Kauai, or the Big Island.  Or, if you have more time for your vacation, a two island combination might work best for you.  Polynesian paradise without the need for a passport.  On Oahu you don’t need a rental car.  On the other islands, renting a car is recommended, but driving on the islands is very easy and stress free.  Hotels range from economy to luxury.  And it is easy to explore on your own.

 

Walt Disney World (Orlando)

A “must see” for families, but Walt Disney World can also be a great vacation for adults.  A few days in a Disney Deluxe Resort, top notch dining reservations, and some awesome park time can make for a fun, romantic getaway. I recommend staying in one of Disney’s Resorts, and these range from the Value to Moderate to Deluxe properties.  Or, opt for a cabin for your family, complete with kitchens.

 

 

 

 

Western Europe

Trade in your flip flops for some good walking shoes for your next vacation to Europe.  These vacations are divided into two categories:

  • Escorted Tours.  The easiest way to see your favorite country, or multiple countries.  You are traveling in a group with a guide, and all the driving and planning is taken care of for you.
  • Independent Tours.  For the free spirited who prefer to go on their own.  We can put together a single city package, a rail package, or a self drive — all depending on your itinerary and personal preferences

Costa Rica

Recent resort growth in Costa Rica has been in the all-inclusive market, along the Guanacaste area on the Pacific coast.  There are now several moderate, upscale, and luxury options for families and couples.  Or, if you prefer a more adventurous itinerary, we can set up a multiple itinerary tour (either with a group or independent) for some volcano, rainforest, and beach time.

 

Cruises

We offer cruises in many regions across the globe in categories from moderate to luxury.  Cruising can offer an easy itinerary option if you want to see multiple countries without having to move from hotel room to hotel room.  Plus the ship is sometimes a destination in itself.  Cruising is also a great option for family reunions and large friend groups.

Tours for women traveling solo

Women:  not having a travel partner isn’t reason enough to stay at home.

Gutsy Women is a tour company offering escorted tours for women in small groups with experienced guides.  Tours are offered in some of the most exciting locations across the globe.  Opt for a single room (with a supplement), bring a (female) roommate along with you, or ask for a shared room (they’ll assign a roommate for you).  Gutsy Women has been providing travel exclusively for women for 10 years, and has recently joined the Trafalgar Tour family.

Itineraries for 2012 include:

  • Charleston’s Charm and Savannah Style
  • Northern California: Fine Wine and Culinary Delights
  • Treasures of the Yucatan – featuring Chef David Sterling
  • Ultimate Canadian Rockies & Rocky Mountaineer Gold
  • Amalfi Coast Discovery
  • Burgundy & Provence River Cruise
  • Enchanting Danube
  • France Magnifique (Paris/Lyon/Provence)
  • Gems of Germany, Belgium
  • Grecian Odyssey
  • Imperial Cities of Europe
  • Imperial Waterways of Russia
  • Portugal, Spain & the Duoro River Valley
  • Rhine Holiday Markets
  • Scotland & England with the Chelsea Flower Show
  • Shamrocks of Ireland
  • Timeless Turkey
  • Tulips & Windmills Boutique River Cruise
  • Tuscany, Cinque Terre & the Lake District
  • A Taste of South Africa
  • Jambo Kenya Safari
  • Magical Morocco
  • Queen of the Nile
  • South African Rhythms
  • Costa Rican Traditions
  • Mystical Peru
  • Tango & Samba (Argentina, Brazil & Iguazu Falls)
  • Highlights of China and the Yangtze

Dates are limited (one to six departures yearly per tour), group sizes are small, and some itineraries are very popular, so I recommend booking early (more than 6 months in advance) to avoid the disappointment of sell out dates.  You’ll make some wonderful friends and have a grand time on your journey.  Get out there and enjoy the world, ladies!