1. Bavaria is celebrating an important anniversary in 2018 and events to mark the occasion will go on all year. Learn about this historically-rich region with plenty to see and do in the countryside and in its picturesque towns and cities.
2. Animals are showing up in airports in ever increasing numbers … and I’m not referring to “don’t touch” sniffer dogs. These are specially-trained canines and felines who love people and are there for the sole purpose of calming the anxieties of travelers of all ages. Check out this good news story!
3. If you want to combine a bit of travel with a chance to “reboot” your life to a new level or change directions in an orderly way, these two retreats in New York state and New Mexico may be just what you are looking for.
4. Star gazers and astronomy fans of really dark skies untainted by the slightest light pollution will find these river rafting multi-day trips in some of the most dramatic canyons in Colorado and Utah a rare combination of active outdoor fun and stimulating expert-led exploration of the heavens.
5. The town of Windsor, just outside London, is in the spotlight in May 2018 as it hosts the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Merkle. Whether or not you are attending the royal nuptials, here are 10 amazing things that Windsor has to offer any time of year.
We invite you to check out our Feature Link of the Month.
Before planning your next adventure, you may compare accommodation alternatives with sites such as www.trivago.com or use their data base for further information about your destination and read traveler hotel reviews.
Check Travel Golf Guide. Play golf in Algarve.
Bavarian 100th Anniversary Celebrated Throughout 2018
The celebrations of Bavaria as a Free State invite guests to experience Bavaria’s famed hospitality and immerse themselves in the history of the region known for its 19th-century castles and palaces, eccentric king, picturesque foothills, and many traditions and customs that create a distinctive regional history.
Bavaria is a state in southeastern Germany bordering Austria and the Czech Republic. State capital Munich is known for its annual Oktoberfest beer festival, (September 22 to October 7, 2018), its art museums and ornate Nymphenburg Palace. Among many travel opportunities, the Romantic Road scenic route starts in northwestern Würzburg, winds south through pastoral villages and medieval towns and culminates in the foothills of the Alps near Germany’s southern border. For example, Nördlingen, on the “Romantic Road” is one of the few Bavarian towns still to have a fully preserved town wall that you can walk around. This 2.7 km stroll around the town defenses passed numerous towers and gates affords many a great view of Nördlingen’s romantic little alleyways.
The splendor of traditional Bavarian costumes is also being fêted in a summer festival on July 20-21 at the Trachtenverein (Society for Traditional Costumes) in Schwangau in Allgäu. Later in the year, on the second Sunday of October, Schwangau will be the setting for more than 200 horseback riders in traditional costumes on magnificently groomed horses to usher in the “Colomansfest,” a horseback procession dating from the 16th century.
Another highlight will be the 2018 Kaltenberg Knights Tournament held during three weekends in July (in 2018, between July 13 to 29). Started in 1979 by Prince Lutipold of Bavaria, each year it attracts more than 120,000 people. The tournament is held on seven stages with a variety of amazing street shows and a big parade (“festumzug”) involving all participants. Visitors will enjoy a medieval market where traditional handicrafts and food are sold. There is also a Gauklernacht or Jesters’ night during the tournament. It is the show involving medieval entertainers – musicians, acrobats, dancers etc. Concerts of medieval music are set several times during the Kaltenberg Knights Tournament.
Under the slogan of “Bavaria – Traditionally Different”, Bavaria Tourism plays a big role in sharing and protecting the origins of traditions still in existence. Visitors will discover what characteristics are typically Bavarian, where traditions come from and how they are brought to life in the modern era, sometimes in a highly traditional manner and sometimes traditionally different. All will be made clear with a visit to the website.
With 35.4 million guests and 90.8 million overnight stays in the year 2016, Bavaria is recognized as the number one travel destination in Germany. More information about the variety of destinations and theme activities within Bavaria can be found at: www.bavaria.by. Think farm holidays, cities and short breaks, nature and outdoor, spas and wellness holidays, food and drink holidays as well as arts, culture and heritage and much more.
Anxious Flyers Relax with Furry Ambassadors
Many travelers experience varying degrees of anxiety no matter what the age or number of times passing through airports. Most of us have become used to seeing specially-trained dogs at airports with a mission to sniff out drugs and other prohibited goods; however, these are “do not touch” animals so they don’t get off track. So are service dogs for individuals with a disability.
By contrast, dogs and even a few cats are showing up at an increasing number of airports with no other mission than to calm the nerves of people of all ages waiting to board their flights or dashing between gates for connecting flights. The message is the reverse of encounters with the sniffer dogs or service animals, namely, “please pat me” and you will feel better in just a few minutes. We look at three of these initiatives and applaud the dedicated volunteers who donate their time to make our travels a better experience.
The Vancouver International Airport (YVR) has launched the Less Airport Stress Initiative (LASI), which is a four-legged unit made up of seven friendly dogs. “We recognize that an airport can be a stressful environment,” says Reg Krake, director of customer care, Vancouver Airport Authority. “By introducing the YVR Ambassador Dogs through our LASI initiative, we hope that our four-legged friends will help to ease any anxiety associated with travel. We are already seeing that LASI is enhancing the airport experience for passengers, visitors and even employees.”
YVR’s therapy dog program is in partnership with St. John Ambulance. Molly, Bailey, Mira, Norman, Grover, Kermode and Soda are only onsite in the terminal Mondays through Fridays, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The YVR Ambassador Dogs are accompanied by a dog handler and YVR Green Coat Volunteer, ready to answer any questions. The dogs are easily identifiable with their YVR branded leashes and St. John Ambulance bandanas.
Preflight jitters are common for some travelers so Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, (PHX) is offering a scratch behind the ear and a rub on the belly to calm those nerves with a Navigator Buddy. Passengers and visitors to Sky Harbor will have the opportunity to pet and interact with a therapy dog while waiting to board a plane or after landing in Phoenix. Navigator Buddies are dogs in a registered pet therapy program who will volunteer their time – along with their owners – to provide some tail-wagging comfort to airport travelers. Navigator Buddies interact with passengers both before and after security. In addition to providing comfort, they are part of the Navigator volunteer program so their handlers are also ready to answer questions and provide directions to travelers.
To be accepted in the Navigator Buddies program, dogs must be in good standing with a qualified pet therapy organization. They must be vaccinated and have current health records; must be outgoing with a good temperament; and must have experience in a busy environment. Navigator Buddies are expected to be well-behaved and friendly, and not approach other traveling dogs or working animals, such as police K9 unit. The program launched in September 2017 and is filling up classes for more volunteers and their pets.
The two felines, who now join the 50 dogs from the PALS program, visit the airport once a week for approximately 90 minutes, providing companionship to passengers waiting to board their flights. The Calgary-based non-profit program began its partnership with YYC in April 2016. Similar programs have recently launched at smaller airports in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and Fort McMurray, Alberta.
Have you had experience with an airport anywhere in the world where pets are part of the welcoming and departure committee? If so, drop us an email Alison@travelwithachallenge.com with your encounter and we may well do a follow-up on this developing story that clearly adds a new dimension to 21st century travel.
Air travel trivia: QANTAS, the name for Australia’s national airline, was originally an acronym for Queensland and Northern Territories Air Service.
Two Life-Changing Retreats in 2018 to “Reboot” Your Life!
Regular readers will know that we are big fans of the Sabbatical Sisters who have shared two inspiring travel articles with us all, written two invaluable books and offered retreats of various lengths in North America and abroad over a number of years.
At their small-group retreats for individuals, there are usually about eight men and women from ages late 20’s to late 70’s, though typical ages are 40 to 75. Participants come together on their own journey to each create a framework or pathway forward to making necessary decisions in their lives.
Always practical and in an inspiring setting, the retreats give participants concrete ideas and plans of action to take home. From making the first, sometimes unnerving decision to take time off or make another change or retire from a current position, to developing ways to fund one’s freedom, to discovering how to make the best use of time and planning a next chapter, each retreat offers shared knowledge and experience, as well as a sense of community.
We are recommending two 2018 retreats: in the country setting of Sag Harbor, New York state (June 8 to 10) and in Santa Fe, New Mexico (October 5 to 7). Register a month or more in advance of your retreat and receive a US$100 discount off the fee. Each retreat is hosted in a private home, providing a relaxing venue with a combination of presentation, discussion, a walking visualization exercise, written exercises and social time. The facilitators will cook gourmet meals and all is personalized. Sessions are held in various parts of each house for variety.
Is this a journey you want to make? Here are a few participant quotes from previous retreats that offer insights to help you decide:
If you are really ready to break through and move forward with the rest of your life, this is the place to begin. You will come out with the tools and insights you need.” Sag Harbor 2017
“The retreat gave me direction and purpose – a road map process to the next 10 years or more. I met interesting, stimulating travelers on a similar journey.” Santa Fe 2009
“This is incredibly well-conceived. I was totally engaged and learned from my own responses but also from the other participants. I gained insights from every session!” Sag Harbor 2016
“The retreat was more than I ever anticipated. The facilitators provided such a superior level of professionalism, safety, and comfort. I will be forever grateful.” Cape Cod 2014
To get to know the Sabbatical Sisters and Reboot Your Life specialists, we invite readers to visit their two richly-illustrated feature articles in our Travel Article Library: “Ten Tips for Sabbatical Travel” and “Revolutionary Retirement”.
River Rafting in Colorado and Utah Features Stargazing and Celestial Wonders
Once monthly from June through September Holiday River Expeditions, http://www.bikeraft.com/, is sharing the mystery and romance of the Dark Sky with star-struck guests who are participating in one of this veteran travel company’s 2018 Stargazing adventures.
“It’s easy to get excited about this special trip series,” says Lauren Wood, Holiday Trip Director. “Seeing how it has deepened our guests’ understanding and our guides’ awareness of the night sky is reason enough to offer these trips. Salt Lake City’s Clark Planetarium has been our partner in this popular program for three years now. Their expert staff will join us for each stargazing trip to help bring the sky to ‘ground level’ and explore some of humanity’s most timeless questions. And to further our commitment to the natural world, Holiday is now a partner in the International Dark Sky Association, the premier organization fighting for dark skies around the globe.”
Tom Beckett, board chair of Clark Planetarium and part-time guide for Holiday River Expeditions adds his comments, “Each night on these river trips we will attempt to find and identify stars, constellations, planets, galaxies, nebulas, clusters and satellites. We’ll also use those objects to talk about the structure of our galaxy, the origin and future of the universe, and our place in the cosmos. Much of Earth is losing its dark night skies to light pollution and many visitors have never had a chance to see the Milky Way at its brightest. However, the rivers we run are all remote and far from cities. They have some of the darkest night skies on the planet.”
Departures ranging from three to ten days are filled with Holiday River’s signature activities: whitewater rafting, hiking and mountain biking. A participation fee covers stargazing interpretation and equipment, guide fees, meals and more. The 2018 Stargazing Trips are:
June 9-13, 2018, 5-day Yampa River – In the heart of Dinosaur National Monument the Yampa River runs wild and free, unregulated by dams. Spring runoff in June offers exciting rapids by day and piercingly dark sky canopies by night. The focus is on whitewater rafting with exploratory side hikes to rock art, waterfalls and ancient sacred sites. Per person rate (minimum age 8) is $1,075.
July 9-13, 2018, 5-day Cataract Canyon — Cataract Canyon, carved by the Colorado River, cuts through the heart of Canyonlands National Park. Days are spent luxuriating in the sunshine, exploring side canyons and facing some of the biggest whitewater rapids the river has to offer. Nights open up to whole new worlds as guests explore the Milky Way, see the Andromeda Galaxy, watch satellites and meteors, and learn constellations. Per person rate (minimum age 8) is $1,150.
Aug 4-7, 2018, 4-day Lodore Canyon –This Whitewater river trip through Lodore Canyon peeks behind the scenes in Dinosaur National Monument, currently recognized by the National Park Service as a “Sanctuary of Natural Darkness.” This trip connects to ghosts of river runners and canyon dwellers of the past, with escapes into deep-red cliffs and exhilarating whitewater rapids. During the day guests float on the Green River through Whirlpool Canyon and at night peer into the Whirlpool Galaxy. Per person rate (minimum age 8) is $980.
Sept 9-16, 2018, 8-day Extended Hiking & Rafting in Cataract Canyon – This extended 8-day float begins on the Green River as it meanders into the confluence with the Colorado River and then through the mighty whitewater rapids of Cataract Canyon in the soul of Canyonlands National Park. Hiking enthusiasts can anticipate hiking into the Maze District and the fanciful Dollhouse, enjoying the depths of Dark Canyon as well as the unforgettable rapid “cataracts” of Cataract Canyon. Per person rate (minimum age 12) is $1,595.
New this year is a partnership between Holiday River Expeditions and Road Scholar, about the world’s largest and most innovative creator of experiential learning opportunities. In 2018, Road Scholar is offering three multi-generational stargazing trips dates with Holiday. The 9- and 10-day trip dates are June 9-17, July 7-16 and August 4-Aug 13.
For over 50 years Holiday River Expeditions has been guiding educational river trips through the canyons of the Colorado Plateau, providing guests the opportunity to explore America’s wild lands safely and securely. The company has a longtime commitment to protect the environment through education and conservation, and as such, uses oar-powered and paddle rafts exclusively.
Images courtesy of Holiday River Expeditions.
Welcome to Windsor (think England + wedding of Prince Harry and Megan Merkle)!
Whether a traveler’s thoughts include royal weddings or just new places to explore on an English holiday, the town of Windsor (population 32,184) should be on your radar for more than it being Queen Elizabeth’s castle of choice for weekend retreats and the location of a much anticipated wedding on May 19, 2018.
Rich in history and home to the longest-occupied palace in Europe, Windsor (and its surrounding areas) in fact take more than a weekend to appreciate. Across the region is living history, complemented by experiences that showcase a likely unexpected side of England, all just 30 minutes from London by train.
VisitBritain has compiled 10 ideas that include Windsor Castle tours and sampling the Queen’s own champagne-style bubbly from grapes now grown on her Windsor Great Park estate. You may take a traditional river cruise on the Thames River there or do some kayaking, rowing or sailing. You may also learn about the royal sport of polo at a Cool Hooves Polo Lesson. You’ll be coached through the basics of polo on “safety first” polo ponies during this unique introduction to the sport.
All ten creative suggestions (including accommodations and eateries) are explained with plenty of detail and helpful hot links to each source so travelers may ponder whether to put them on a personal ‘must-do’ list for a visit to England. Also check out the official Windsor tourism website, for additional ideas.
TravelWatch Archived Issues
TravelWatch Newsletter 2018 December – 2019 January
TravelWatch Newsletter 2018 October – November
TravelWatch Newsletter 2018 August – September
TravelWatch Newsletter 2018 June – July
TravelWatch Newsletter 2018 April – May
TravelWatch Newsletter 2017 December – 2018 January
TravelWatch Newsletter 2017 October – November
TravelWatch Newsletter 2017 August – September
TravelWatch Newsletter 2017 June – July