AAA Traveler - Fall 2019 - 45
Plus, food for the ship is fresher than
larger ocean cruise liners since they
bring it onboard daily. "You're eating
local food and drinking the local wine,"
Sam and Claire started their cruise in
Basel near the Swiss Jura Mountains.
"We would get up in the morning and
go off for a new adventure," Claire says.
They stopped in the picturesque villages
of Breisach, Kaysersberg, Riquewihr
and Colmar then went on to Kehl and
Strasbourg. During their stop in Germersheim, they enjoyed a
vinegar tasting in Speyer. "The vinegars we tasted in Speyer did
not have the same 'kick' or 'bite' that most vinegars have.
Each was made from a different fruit in a different way,"
Sam says. "Our host explained the process of making
vinegar and showed us the way barrels of vinegar
are stored in a cool cellar until they're ready.
We donned capes to go into the cellar.
While Claire and I did not come away
with the desire to drink vinegar every day,
we recognized their health effects and how they
could be a nice addition to our lives in the same
way as red wine." They went on to Rudesheim,
followed by a day exploring the quaint villages of Koblenz
and Boppard. They stopped in Cologne, the oldest city of the
Rhineland and home to a jaw dropping Gothic cathedral, before
disembarking in Amsterdam. With so many magical places,
picking a favorite would be tough, but not for Sam. "I'm a big
Schweitzer fan," he shares - referring to 1952 Nobel Peace
Prize winner Albert Schweitzer. They saw Schweitzer's modest
home on a tour in the charming village of Kaysersberg.
"We would sail at night for the most part, except for when
we were looking at castles," Claire said. The Rhine boasts more
castles than any other river valley on earth. Their cruise
included a scenic ride one day with about 25 castles in a
20-mile stretch of the river. "We were on the deck and our
guide told us what they were and the history. It was just
fantastic," Sam shares.
Bonding Over Travel
The Gladdings have also traveled to Turkey to see ancient
ruins, cruised to Alaska and enjoyed R&R in Maui with travel
guidance from Erika, who was recommended to them by
friends. Since 2011, she's been finding unique excursions for
them on every trip, including a 23-mile
bike ride at Haleakala Crater in Hawaii.
"Straight downhill. We didn't have to
go back up," Sam chuckles. Like the
Gladdings, Erika has a lot of repeat
clients. "It's more of a relationship or
bond with the clients," she shares. Her
keys to travel planning success? "Your
agent should ask a lot of questions about
your past vacations," she explains.
"What are your likes and dislikes, what
are your expectations, find a cruise or
destination that works for you, and get to know you and cater
to your needs." All were key factors in helping plan the
Gladdings' river cruise.
Guided Through China
China can be an overwhelming destination, because of the
country's size and the language barrier. Erika suggested private
guides to explore Beijing, Shanghi, the Forbidden City and the
Great Wall of China. Sam was already there teaching and his
wife was flying over to meet him for a vacation. "Getting there
was not half the fun for her," Sam said when telling the story of
Claire's travel adventure, including her flight getting cancelled.
She arrived in Hong Kong after midnight, having missed all
connections. Erika booked Claire a room in Hong Kong and
facilitated re-booking her to meet Sam so they could embark on
their Chinese adventure. On Erika's recommendation, they
bought travel insurance through AAA, which came in handy
with this travel snafu.
"The Great Wall is steeper than they show. You need long
legs and a good heart," Sam jokes. The Gladdings felt like they
got much more with a private guide than they would have in a
group. Guides can customize the itinerary to you and share
local history and unexpected gems. "When it's just you and the
guide, you can alter the itinerary to see what you want to see,"
Claire says. "They showed us things we wouldn't have known to
see," adds Sam. In Beijing at an art gallery, "our guide really
explained the art," he shares. In the Forbidden City, "they
showed us everything," he adds.
This summer Erika helped Sam and Claire plan a stop in
Spain on the way to see their son and daughter-in-law, who are
teachers in an international school in Morocco, along with their
new grandson. "My wife is just one adventurous person," Sam
laughs. Sounds like it runs in the family.
From curated individual trips to group exploration, your AAA Travel Agent can plan it all.
Call 800-750-5386 and book your adventure today!
TRAVELER FALL 2019
AAA Traveler - Fall 2019
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