What’s on the Travel News Menu for August-September 2017?
1. Launched in 1959, Eurail Passes that offer train journeys of different lengths and destinations around Europe have made travel for non-Europeans flexible and independent. Learn about creative ways Eurail has extended its offerings and valuable discounts way beyond the basics.
2. For most of us who travel in air economy class, sharing an armrest with a neighbor is tough. Learn about a brand new armrest extender that is a win/win for both elbows looking for a more comfortable ride. It is slim and lightweight to carry too.
3. In 2016 we know that 277,913 Camino de Santiago pilgrim certificates of completion were verified and issued for walking or cycling to Santiago de Compostela. If you are curious why so many people are doing this popular medieval pilgrimage route, read the results of this survey.
4. Love sport fishing? We shine a spotlight on two parts of the world where freshwater lake and river fishing in the Spanish Pyrenees Mountains and fishing in the ocean waters of North America’s Pacific Coast north to Alaska offer a variety of species and environments to test novice or well-honed skills.
5. Parents and grandparents sharing a small-ship cruise vacation with their younger offspring should know that neither all vessels nor all cabins are suitable. These tips and ship recommendations will help in planning.
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.
Everything you didn’t know about Eurail Passes but should
Most modern travelers to Europe are familiar with Eurail’s long association with train travel to many European countries (currently 28) and the passes that offer travelers the flexibility to create their own rail itinerary through one, two or more participating countries. Owned by over 35 European railway and shipping companies, Eurail Group G.I.E. partners with hotels, transport companies and attractions to offer an increasing number of special benefits to all Eurail Pass holders, many of them designed to make travel as seamless as possible.
Eurail offers a free Rail Planner App, available for download on iTunes and Android. Eurail Pass holders can make seat reservations on the high-speed Thalys, Eurostar, Italian Le Frecce, and French domestic TGV trains, as well as find train stations, view timetables, review benefits included with the Pass and more. In a few short months, over 23,000 e-reservations have been made with the introduction of the seat booking function. Highest volumes of reservations are made on the same day or one day before travel, showcasing the helpfulness of the app – especially for last minute seat bookings. The most popular route booked is between Florence and Rome in Italy.
Discounts for Eurail Pass Holders: Clients enjoy discounts on an assortment of activities, accommodations, and more, including 10% off famous hostel accommodations when booked through the website, a 50% discount on the Hotelcard, which allows guests to stay for half-price at 700 top hotels in picturesque Switzerland and neighboring countries, and a 10% discount with their Eurail Pass on 37 apartment hotels in France, Germany, Spain, and Belgium.
In addition, Eurail Pass holders can travel for free on IC Bus connections passing through Germany. Travelers can explore cities in 10 countries, as long as the Eurail Pass is valid in those countries. Eurail users also receive a discount of up to 40% on the Eurail Roaming SIM Card, which provides free incoming calls and low data rates. And expect various discounts on shopping vouchers, museums, sightseeing, city cards and public transportation in some cities.
How about a Eurail Pass to the Greek Islands? There’s a Eurail One Country Pass for the Greek Islands with a validity of one month. The pass includes two international trips by ferry between Italy (Venice, Ancona or Bari) and Greece (Patras); four domestic trips throughout the 31 Greek Islands, including popular destinations like Santorini, Crete and Rhodes; and train and bus service between Patras and Athens/Pireaus.
Other popular one-country Eurail destination passes include more in-depth explorations of France or Spain. The France Pass was introduced in January 2017 and now includes the Eurostar train between London and Paris. There is also the recent addition of the Italy-Switzerland Pass, featuring two of Eurail’s most perennially popular destinations.
For travel in up to 28 European countries, Eurail Passes can be booked up to 11 months in advance. Available from a worldwide network of Authorized General Sales Agents, Eurail Passes offer travelers the flexibility to create their own unique rail itinerary across Europe. For more information, visit www.eurailgroup.org or to locate sales outlets, visit www.eurailgroup.org/eurail-vendors.
Be sure to read our delightful feature article about a senior couple of “Railway Nomads” who traveled Europe on a three-month Eurail Pass with no fixed agenda! They visited 13 countries going 6,000 miles/9,650 kilometers by rail, ferry, bus, horse-drawn cart and on foot.
The Airplane Armrest Problem Solver Ends Elbow Wars!
Simple is often the best design, and the Soarigami portable armrest extender and divider is a great example of just that. At first glance, it looks like a paper airplane… thin, sleek and lightweight (8 ounces) … but the designers have put a great deal of thought into the origami-inspired design over several years before launching it this summer.
Soarigami works on most airplane seat armrests, doubling the usable space. It is also a lifesaver for bus trips and even movie theaters. Made from recyclable plastic and leatherette parts (not paper), it clamps firmly onto an existing armrest with screws that adjust the width to accommodate a large range of armrest sizes. It is U.S. Federal Aviation Authority approved, and has been voted as the most innovative product of the skies by over 200 airlines at the International Air Transport Association.
While most seat mates are intrigued by the product and want to try it out, there is a protocol that is likely to lead to acceptance even by the most seasoned skeptic. Before installing it, ask your neighbor politely if it is OK to use the armrest extender. If they really don’t want to use it, then feel free to claim the existing armrest for the whole trip, fair and square!
Images courtesy of Soarigami.
High Flyers Trivia! British Airways passengers consume six tons of caviar per year. Singapore Airlines is the second largest buyer of Dom Perignon champagne in the world.
Why do Modern Pilgrims Walk or Cycle the Camino de Santiago?
For more than a decade, stories about traversing a part or the whole of a Camino de Santiago route to the exquisite medieval town of Santiago de Compostela have consistently been the most visited themes in our Travel Article Library collection. Whenever we have some new Camino insights to add to the knowledge of our readers, we love to share them!
The popularity of the Camino has exploded in recent years with 277,913 pilgrim certificates of completion handed out in 2016 alone. CaminoWays.com recently conducted a survey asking the simple question, “Why are you doing the Camino?” The tour operator’s research showed that just 28% of walkers today do the Camino for religious or spiritual reasons, though it is undoubtedly a unique experience and a haven for self-reflection.
About 17.8% of walkers want to get away from their daily life and connect with nature. Some of the natural sites and landscapes along the way are truly breathtaking, with the Portuguese Coastal Way arguably the most scenic. It is perfect for a peaceful reflective trip.
In the survey, the most popular reason for doing the Camino was looking for a new challenge with 28.2% wanting to test themselves physically and mentally along the way. The start of the French Way provides a fine challenge going over the Pyrenees Mountains that divide France and Spain. Perhaps related to the challenge theme, 10.8% of people walk the trail specifically for health and exercise.
The diverse history and culture experienced along the route attracted 4.6% of those surveyed to complete the Camino. The pilgrimage can also be a very social experience and some people walk it for that reason. The best route to meet new people is the French Way which is the most popular Camino Route.
To review two of CaminoWays.com’s most popular shorter experiences, check out the French Way Last 100 km, walking from Sarria to Santiago, and French Way Cycling Last 200 KM, Ponferrada to Santiago, both of which earn the pilgrim’s certificate of completion.
With over 10 years of experience on Camino de Santiago walking and cycling routes in Spain, France and Portugal, CaminoWays.com offers expert advice and service to clients of all ages and abilities. The company also offers creative walking and cycling tours on the Via Francigena (France to Italy) and in Ireland.
Are Readers Interested in Fishing Adventures with Fabulous Backdrops?
In the 17 years since Travel with a Challenge web magazine was founded, it has never featured a fishing story. Then two fishing press releases crossed my desk in a single day in mid-July, and that got me thinking … why not? Though quite different from one another and half a world distant, the beautiful remote scenery that both these journeys offer as backdrops for their fishing vacations is reason to explore no matter what the catch.
Travel website fishlodges.com is a comprehensive portal that makes searching for the perfect Pacific Northwest of North America fishing lodge or resort fast, efficient and fun. Whether your preference is inland fly fishing, deep ocean fishing, or a rustic lodge in calm waters tucked into a collection of protected islands, website users will be able to filter lodges and resorts for a wide array of attributes. Filters include location, price, lodge rating and number of reviews and more. Once filtered, they can be compared “apples-to-apples”.
Fabulous photos also accompany each lodge listing, with the website showcasing properties from Oregon and British Columbia and the sprawling coastline of Alaska that runs from the Panhandle all the way out to the start of the Aleutian Islands.
Jetting across North America and the Atlantic Ocean, the passionate fly fisher will want to hear about U.S-based Frontiers International Travel’s unique trout fishing holiday in Spain’s Eastern Pyrenees Mountains. It is a gorgeous, unspoiled alpine region, home to countless rivers, lakes and streams surrounded by the medieval history, culture and cuisine for which the Pyrenees region is renowned.
There is a wide variety of angling opportunities in this prolific area, including casting to rising rainbow trout in high mountain lakes, wild brook trout in pristine spring creeks and native browns (including the Mediterranean zebra trout) in the lower reaches and tailwaters. Combining the variety of available waters and relative lack of fishing pressure makes this is a fly fishing purist’s dream.
“The glacial mountain lakes and spring-fed creeks of the Spanish Pyrenees are one of the sport’s best-kept secrets,” said Frontiers President Mike Fitzgerald. “This is a perfect trip for couples or individuals blending first-rate fly fishing with Old World charm. Fully-guided excursions into the region are available daily, and evenings will be spent in luxury lodge accommodations with delicious Mediterranean cuisine.”
This Frontiers fly fishing trip is scheduled for October 13-21, 2017, and is only offered once a year. Prices start at USD$5,950. For more information, visit this web page. Or here is the full brochure.
How to Find the Best Small Ship Cruise Cabin Fit for Families
Founder/Owner of AdventureSmith Explorations, Todd Smith, is arguably the world’s expert on small ship adventure travel worldwide so we asked him to share his recommendations for how to identify the most family-friendly ships and cruises. Grandparents and parents alike will want to take note.
“First off,” says Todd, “all cabins are not created equal, and you can do a lot to make them safe, spacious and comfortable for your family.”
AdventureSmith looks for the following when it comes to putting families of different ages and numbers comfortably into cabins. Even if you have to pay a little more, these three pieces of advice alone could save your sanity: consider interconnected cabins with adjoining interior doors; ask about in-suite amenities such as fridges; and if at all possible consider vessels with cabins that open into an interior hallway rather than onto an outside deck.
Here are a few of Todd’s suggestions for cabins and suites on specific small ships that work particularly well for families.
The 74-guest Chichagof Dream offers a unique quadruple configuration in her Deluxe Suite. This spacious suite is 218 square feet with a queen bed with separate seating area with two chairs that can be replaced with one twin bed or one twin bunk bed. Several other cabin categories can accommodate triple occupancy. The ship’s Glacier Bay and Island Adventure Cruise offers family departures on an eight-day route with children ages 15 and under receiving 30 percent off the double occupancy rate.
Exploring Ecuador’s famed Galapagos Islands, the 90-passenger Santa Cruz II has two 325-square-foot Darwin Suites, each with two large picture windows and a sitting area with couch. The suite can be interconnected with a neighboring Explorer Double Cabin to increase space by 163 square feet, perfect for a family of four. Thirty-six of its 50 cabins can be interconnected on Santa Cruz Galapagos (five-and six-day) cruises.
Also the new luxury 20-guest Galapagos vessel Origin offers 10 double staterooms all measuring 140 square feet, with large panoramic view windows, twin or king beds. Two cabins can accommodate triples, and two can be interconnected. Origin Galapagos cruises span eight days.
“There are numerous other cabins our experts recommend,” adds Todd, citing suites aboard the Hebridean Sky in Antarctica, interconnecting cabins aboard the Aqua Mekong on the Mekong River, and various other options on small ships around the world. “I also recommend families with younger children under 6 years or multigenerational families consider a yacht charter. A private ship charter offers exclusivity, flexibility and savings. A 12- or 8-guest family cruise will offer a more intimate experience and additional flexibility to craft the meals, itinerary and activities to suit the family’s interest and abilities.”
For information on all of AdventureSmith’s small ship cruises worldwide, itineraries, availability and reservations, click here.
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