• Couple looking out at Cinque Terre, Italy

    10 Photo-worthy Hillside Villages We Love

    <h3>GO FOR THE VIEWS, STAY FOR THE CHARM, CUISINE AND HISTORY</h3> <h3><b><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">1. POSITANO:</a></b></h3> <p>On a launch approaching the Amalfi peninsula from the Bay of Naples, you face a startling sight—like oversize rock climbers, gleaming villas cling with no visible foothold to the sheer cliffs. You have to ask yourself how…why? But when you swing open the shutters in your cliffside hotel room, the jaw-dropping view is all the answer you need. Situated on the ‘ankle’ of the Italian boot, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalfi-tours/" target="_blank">Positano</a> has a balmy climate. Orange trees line village streets. Breezy seaside footpaths encourage a nice slow pace perfect for absorbing the atmosphere. When John Steinbeck lived here, he said, “Positano bites deep. It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.”<br><br><img alt="Positano" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qi1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece/" target="_blank"><b>2. SANTORINI:</b></a></h3> <p>A photographer’s and shopper’s paradise, Santorini was once the vast crater of the volcano. Its cliffs rise a thousand feet above the sea, and its dazzling white houses with azure roofs cling to the rim. Unlike the cruise ship tourists who arrive on big motor coaches, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/greece/" target="_blank">we take the quieter approach that gives you time to see the unique vineyards</a> where close-to-the-ground vines are wrapped into circles to protect the grapes from the wind.<br><br><img alt="Santorini" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qi6" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/southernspain/" target="_blank"><b>3. RONDA:</b></a></h3> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/southernspain/" target="_blank">Ronda is one of Andalucia’s most dramatic and romantic towns.</a> (Hemingway said that Ronda would be “the perfect place to…spend a honeymoon.”) To explore the town on foot, first take the New Bridge (finished in 1793) across the 300-foot-deep gorge. The views of the perched city and the valley full of fruit trees, olive groves and vineyards are truly breathtaking. On an easy path flanked by almond trees, meander down to the foot of the city. Then follow the cobbled streets to re-enter the city as medieval visitors would have. Many of the palaces, homes and churches are a treasury of buildings dating to the 13th century.<br><br><img alt="Ronda" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qiB" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank"><b>4. PORTOFINO:</b></a></h3> <p>Follow the scenic footpath from neighboring Santa Margherita Ligure that leads us into the fabled coastal resort of Portofino and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">you’ll see like a local just how spectacular it is</a>. The town reveals itself as you round bends in the coastal path. After a few teasing glimpses, the views of the town unfold — one of those travel moments you’ll never forget. Explore the town and Castello Brown, perched high above. Then, linger over lunch in Portofino and ride by boat to the monastery of San Fruttuoso on its tiny beach that is inaccessible by car.<br><br><img alt="Portofino" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qiG" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><b>5. DURNSTEIN:</b></a></h3> <p>We wouldn’t expect you to know this on your own, but there are some incredible views from the castle on the hill just above Durnstein. The catch is that the morning mist from the river valley makes the morning views not as great as those in the afternoons. So return in the afternoon to take in the expansive views.<br><br><img alt="Durnstein" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qiL" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/switzerland-family/" target="_blank"><b>6. GRINDELWALD:</b></a></h3> <p>Located at the foot of the notorious Eiger Mountain is the charming mountain village of Grindelwald, one of Europe’s oldest mountain resorts. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/switzerland-family/" target="_blank">Settle into a chalet hotel.</a> Most of the cattle you’ll see on the slopes are dairy cows. Get up early to visit a working alpine cheese farm to see how the farmers still make cheese in an old traditional way over an open wood fire.<br><br><img alt="Grindelwald" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qiQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence-tours/" target="_blank"><b>7. GORDES:</b></a></h3> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence-tours/" target="_blank">Approach the famed Provencal hilltown by foot for best views.</a> Start at Sénanque Abbey, set in an isolated valley surrounded by a field of lavender and oaks. One of only three Cistercian monasteries in Provence, it is still occupied by the monks. From there, an easy stroll leads to Gordes, winding past the trademark structures of Provence. Bories are amazing corbelled vaults of flagstones, stacked high with no mortar to secure them. On arrival in Gordes, enjoy the fantastic people-watching and shopping. <br><br><img alt="Gordes" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qiV" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/barcelona-tours/" target="_blank"><b>8. GIRONA:</b></a></h3> <p>Once a Moorish stronghold, it reputedly withstood three invasions by Napoleon’s troops, giving it the moniker “City of a Thousand Sieges.” Take a leisurely walk past the 17th-century cathedral and amazingly well-preserved Romanesque baths, built by Moorish craftsmen in the 12th century, and finally along the Passeig Arquaeològic, to get an astounding view of the cathedral’s 11th-century Charlemagne Tower. The country air is good for the appetite so you won’t be disappointed that <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/barcelona-tours/" target="_blank">Girona is well known for its pa amb tomàquet</a>, a Catalan specialty of grilled bread slathered in olive oil, garlic and fresh tomato.<br><br><img alt="Girona" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qia" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bordeaux/" target="_blank"><b>9. DOMME:</b></a></h3> <p>With its honey colored stone houses and fortifications, Domme is the most famous and well-preserved of the bastides in France’s Dordogne Valley. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bordeaux/" target="_blank">An added bonus is the walk from Domme</a> that leads right out of town on a lovely footpath down to the Dordogne River. Follow the river—first through open countryside past walnut, poplar and wild plum trees, then around a bend downhill with incredible views past fields of crops to Castelnaud village and its fortified castle.<br><br><img alt="Domme" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qif" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bhutan/" target="_blank"><b>10. THIMPHU:</b></a></h3> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bhutan/" target="_blank">Shrines dot Bhutan’s emerald-green Paro Valley</a>. Terraced rice fields defy common sense as they climb the hillsides to forests of rhododendron and pine. Set on the slopes of the Paro Valley is Thimphu, the nation’s capital. Stroll the city’s streets to the King’s Memorial, circled by an endless string of Bhutanese, murmuring mantras and spinning prayer wheels. On a single stroll, you can see Tibetan, Nepalese and Bhutanese styles clustered at the confluence of two rivers.<br><br><img alt="Thimphu" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l2&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qik" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></p>

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  • Glacier in Alaska

    Immersive Travel

    <p>Travel has always been one of my greatest pleasures, and together with my love of photography and writing, it is part of a perfect trifecta. There are so many wonders awaiting discovery, as well as personal and spiritual connections waiting to be made.</p> <p>How one travels, however, can make the difference between experiencing a life-changing journey and just-an-OK-visit. I learned early that I am not the type who enjoys large-group travel, whether by land or sea. I like the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">closeness of a small group</a>; you get to bond with your fellow travelers as well as your guide(s), increasing the fun of the experience. There are no long lines, no squishing to get close to the guide to hear what he/she is saying, no scramble to see a particular viewpoint.<br><br><br><img alt="Group in Alaska" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l4&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qcw" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>But which small group fits best? There are some well-respected tour companies that offer small-group travel, and I have joined a few on some memorable experiences. However, even with special access to sites, fine accommodations and food, I have come away feeling I am missing something.</p> <p>That something is the “intrinsic wholeness” that brings me back to Classic Journeys. As their headlines say: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">“You’re a traveler. Not a tourist.”</a> What does this mean?</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">When I travel with Classic Journeys,</a> I just don’t go to a destination; I take an adventure that is fully immersive. All of my senses are activated – I see, feel, taste, smell and hear. Wherever possible, the mode of travel is hiking/walking rather than viewing the world through the windows of a vehicle.<br><br><img alt="Machu Picchu" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l4&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qd1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>There are physical and emotional challenges that take me beyond my comfort zone, but these are personally set. There are always options so that each traveler can decide their immersion level, and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys manages to satisfy all</a>, which I think is no easy feat! </p> <p>I have also had some unique experiences that have touched my soul and changed me forever. One of my favorites occurred during my Peruvian adventure, when I got an opportunity to interact with some beautiful Quechua children in a remote mountain village.<br><br>Our guide, Edgard, provided the translation, and I learned later that he jokingly told them to behave because I had been a tough teacher in the States (I had told him earlier about being an early childhood educator teacher before switching to advertising). I frankly had tears after this moving experience.<br><br><img alt="Quechua children" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l4&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qd6" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>It’s also important for me to have a balance between explorations and time to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">relax, reflect and recharge, which Classic Journeys</a> seamlessly provides. There is a no-rush feel to the itineraries, which act more as guidelines than written-in-stone rules to follow. This last point is important because many fabulous things that happen on a journey ARE NOT PLANNED. Like this:</p> <p>Pictured here is our delightful guide, Giampiero, whose joie de vivre so overtook him that he chose this lovely lady sitting with a companion – not part of our group – for a dance.<br><br><img alt="Dancing with a stranger" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7l4&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qdB" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>It turns out that the woman and her companion each represented one-half of two married couples, and had been fast friends over the years. The somber origin of their friendship was that the husband of this woman and the wife of her companion both had passed away. Through common sorrow and healing they turned to each other and are now blissfully together; not married, but having a wonderful time. Viva amore!Dancing with a stranger, Northern Lakes, Italy</p> <p>So many moments like this are possible on a Classic Journeys trip. While other companies offer a bit here and there, Classic Journeys provides a means NOT to feel like a tourist doing an “if this is Thursday it must be Belgium” tour. Instead, we explore and are a part of the places we visit. These destinations, people and experiences become a part of us forever.</p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">I AM SO LOOKING FORWARD TO</a></p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">MY NEXT CLASSIC JOURNEYS ADVENTURE!</a></h3>

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  • Beach in the Galapagos Islands

    10 Must-See Animals in the Galápagos Islands

    <h3>1. SALLY LIGHTFOOT CRABS</h3> <p>Sally Lightfoot Crabs have 5 sets of legs that have an incredible holding power that allows them jump from one rock to another, glide on top of water, and grip tightly onto slippery rock surfaces while withstanding strong waves.<br><br><img alt="Salty Lightfoot Crabs" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qox" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>2. BLUE FOOTED BOOBIES</h3> <p>Blue footed boobies love showing off their feet! During mating season, males raise one foot after the other in dance like motions to attract females. The brighter blue a male’s feet are, the more attracted a female will be.<br><br><img alt="Blue Footed Boobies" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qp2" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>3. MAGNIFICENT FRIGATEBIRDS</h3> <p>Magnificent Frigatebirds have to pluck their prey from the water without landing as they are unable to take-off from a flat surface such as water. That’s a lot of work for lunch!<br><br><img alt="Magnificent Frigatebird" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpC" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>4. LAND IGUANA</h3> <p>Land Iguanas are endemic species to the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos Islands</a> and there is an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 iguanas currently there. Females can lay 2 to 25 eggs in a dug burrow and they take about a week to dig their way out of the nest. They have a life expectancy of up to 60 years.<br><br><img alt="Land Iguana" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpH" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>5.  FLAMINGOS</h3> <p>Flamingos filter out mud and silt from their food while keeping their heads upside down. Their tongues have lamellae (hairy like structures) to assist with feeding on small crustaceans.<br><br><img alt="Flamingo" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>6. GIANT TORTOISES</h3> <p>Giant tortoises are the world’s largest tortoises! Thanks to their slow metabolism and large bodies, they can store food and water for up to a year. Interestingly enough, temperature affects whether eggs hatch males or females.<br><br><img alt="Giant tortoises" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpR" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>7. MARINE IGUANA</h3> <p>Marine Iguana is the only lizard in the world that can swim. Their ability to adapt to food shortages is astonishing; they become thinner and shorter by digesting part of their bones as a reaction to food scarcity and then regrow once food becomes plentiful again.<br><br><img alt="Marine Iguana" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpW" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>8. SEA LIONS</h3> <p>Sea lions are the most numerous marine mammals in the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/galapagos-tours/" target="_blank">Galápagos Islands</a>. A male dominates female colonies of 30 creatures until he is overtaken by another male. Males that are not controlling a colony gather in bachelor groups!<br><br><img alt="Sea lions" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpb" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>9. EAGLE RAY</h3> <p>Eagle Ray’s tails can grown up to two or three times the length of its body, with two to six venomous, barbed stingers attached to its base.<br><br><img alt="Eagle ray" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qpg" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3>10. UNDERWATER WORLD</h3> <p>There are over 400 species of fish, including more than 50 being endemic to the Galápagos Islands.<br><br><img alt="Galapagos beach" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lB&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qqK" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></p>

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