• Group of kids in Cuba

    Cuban and American Kids Connect (with a little help from our friends).

    <p>One of the best benefits of spending extended time in Cuba for the last 4 years, is that we’ve been able to create long-term friendships there. A regular highlight of our <a href="https://goo.gl/ifpZKb" target="_blank">Cuba for Families</a> and <a href="https://goo.gl/KqlTZm" target="_blank">Havana to Viñales trips</a> is a visit to a small rural school. We know the principal and the teachers, and best of all our tour leaders like Heather Harding and Eric Kessler have come to know the kids themselves.<br><br><img alt="School children in Cuba" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7kz&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qWt" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Back home in Washington state, Heather had the idea of connecting the students at her local schools with the Cuban kids she’s come to know. The result has been an amazing pen pal style back-and-forth. Check out this article in the <a href="https://goo.gl/c48lAE" target="_blank">Port Townsend Leader</a> for the whole story.</p> <p>One of the perks is how enthusiastically our guests are greeted whenever we arrive at the school. <a href="https://goo.gl/SEHgzt" target="_blank">The people of Classic Journeys are a “known quantity”</a>, so there’s no shyness or need to work our way through school bureaucracy to get inside the classroom for an experience that basically defines “immersive”.<br><br>After scores of adventures in Cuba, we’re thrilled to get that kind of reception wherever we go. While a lot of visitors to the island end up feeling like spectators, we’re welcomed as friends. The difference is incredibly important. For instance, in Havana our friends Julio and Nidialys love it when we stop by the workshop where they restore and update classic cars. There’s none of the distance or testing of the waters that happens when strangers meet strangers. The welcome is warm and immediate, and we get full value from our time together. The same thing happens from the tobacco farms in the <a href="https://goo.gl/5A2qvb" target="_blank">Viñales Valley</a> to the Santeria temple in Trinidad.<br><br><img alt="Cuban car workshop" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7kz&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qXI" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><br>If you follow the news, you know that travel to Cuba has skyrocketed in the last couple of years. We think that’s nothing but good for the island. But large groups of travelers suffer the same problems in Cuba as they do anywhere in the world. <a href="https://goo.gl/SEHgzt" target="_blank">Our small groups, averaging just 10-12 guests, </a>avoid the traps of only going to places that can cope with a swarm of visitors. As time has gone by, we’ve only found more and more opportunities to slip out of the mainstream and relax into our visits. It’s the difference between marching in lockstep and being waved down by a friend for a leisurely conversation.<br><br>On the flip side, the Americans who are trying to visit Cuba on their own are shut out of these experiences too. A teacher won’t temporarily suspend a lesson for a casual passerby. If you walk into a cigar-rolling workshop on your own, you’ll get a pre-packaged reception rather than the clear signal that it’s just fine if you want to hang around for a while to learn what’s happening.<br><br><img alt="Cuban cigar workshop" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7kz&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002qXN" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>We’re proud of the kind of work that Heather and Eric do to create and sustain our relationships with the wonderful Cuban people. And nothing makes us happier than when we get to share those warm and happy connections with the good people who travel with us.</p>

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  • Family kayaking

    Five Favorite Family Kayaking Trips

    <h2>Nothing says <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/family/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">summer vacation like a family kayaking trip</a>. If you love the water, but want a little more from your vacation, consider a trip with a kayaking component as part of a grander experience.</h2>   <p>Here are five <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/family/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">family vacation destinations where you can immerse yourself in the culture</a> and get a bit of paddle time:<br><br><b>Costa Rica</b><br><br><img alt="Kayaking in Coast Rica" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lU&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002r0F" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></p>   <p>Probably the first place that comes to mind when you think of a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costaricafamily/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">family kayaking trip is Costa Rica</a> —us, too! (Along with all kinds of other multisport adventures such as ziplining, snorkeling and whitewater rafting.)  Kayaking in a Costa Rican tidal estuary amid the mangrove trees is scenic and serene. You’re likely to spot egrets, anteaters and basiliscus lizards. And you might even gain an extra passenger on your craft — one of the many howler monkeys living in the surrounding trees.</p> <p><b>Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia</b><br><br><img alt="Kayaking in Vietnam" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lU&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002r0K" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Paddling around the serene waters of Halong Bay is magical</a>. The towering limestone islands jut out of the emerald waters in such a way, you wonder if they are real. While taking in this scenery is breathtaking, the way you got here is pretty cool, too.  Imagine being aboard a luxury junk boat skimming across the bay as you get a lesson in making spring rolls from a professional chef.</p> <p><b>Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast</b><br><br><img alt="Kayaking in Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lU&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002rEv" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Sometimes we enjoy kayaking as a means to an end. And nowhere is that more true than in Croatia. But an amazing “means” it is as you <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatiafamily/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">paddle calm waters from the coast to Lokrum Island</a>. Skirt the shoreline to see many caves and beautiful rock beaches. And don’t forget to look down — the water here is clear to a depth of 30 feet or more. Perfect for an afternoon swim. Once you step on land, this uninhabited island is home to a nature reserve, botanical gardens and a fortress. As you make your way to the island’s private lake, you’re likely to come face-to-beak with a peacock who will happily show off for you.<br><br><b>Provence</b><br><br><img alt="Kayaking in Provence" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lU&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002r0U" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>The Pont-du-Gard is as much a technical masterpiece as it is a beautiful marker of Roman history and architecture. Built more than 2,000 years ago, the Roman aqueduct is more than 900 feet long and nearly 165 feet high. Despite those numbers, it’s hard to imagine the enormity of it until you are paddling through its archways on the Gardon River. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provencefamily/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Enjoy a picnic on the banks and spend the afternoon paddling and exploring this lovely destination in southern France.</a></p> <p><b>The Galápagos Islands</b><br><br><img alt="Kayaking in the Galapagos" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lU&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002r0Z" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Another all-time favorite on the list of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ecuadorfamily/?utm_campaign=family-kayaking-trip&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">family kayaking trip destinations is the Galápagos Islands</a>. Visit the northern coast of San Cristóbal Island for calm-water kayaking — the most movement you’ll encounter here is from the baby sea lions playing and swimming alongside your kayak. Take a break from paddling to snorkel with prehistoric-looking marine iguanas. You’ll spot giant mantas, sea turtles and, of course, loads of fish. But the highlight of this show is the baby sea lions that will swim up, give you a kiss and then they’re off again.</p>

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  • Lake of the Poas

    Introducing Coast-to-Coast Travel in Costa Rica

    <h2>Atlantic to pacific, the diversity is off the charts.</h2>   <p>The <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costarica/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">soundtrack of a day in Costa Rica</a> is a crazy mash-up. The macaws caw in a different key than the howler monkeys that are totally out of tempo with the tree frogs. But somehow, all of the twitters, raspy roars, buzzes, hoots, whirrs, howls, soprano trills and chuffs work just fine together until — as if somebody flipped a switch — they fade in unison at dusk.</p> <p>That’s the sound of biodiversity, and there’s more of it in this West Virginia-sized country than anywhere else on earth. That’s what makes <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">coast-to-coast travel in Costa Rica</a> so amazing. After all, this is a nation where a “transcontinental” flight takes about an hour. It’s a land with Afro-Caribbean culture and cowboys. Don’t even try to count the keeled-bill toucans, orchids and river otters or the surprisingly different habitats where they live.<br><br><img alt="Toucan" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lV&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002rBm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Coast-to-coast is how we took in Costa Rica’s diversity on our latest trip,</a> and now we’ve transformed our gee-whiz week into the newest Classic Journey. We start on the Caribbean side at Tortuguero National Park, a coastal landscape laced with freshwater creeks and lagoons. On a single kayak ride, you could spot white-faced Capuchin monkeys, caimans, tiger herons and … well, you get the idea. The local beach is one of the world’s most important nesting sites for sea turtles. In season, you may see the hatchlings emerging from the sand and making a break for the waves. In an isolated village (no cars, no streets), we hang out with the locals, visit their school and learn about their Afro-Caribbean heritage.</p> <p>Even a quick morning flight comes with a built-in geography lesson like no other. From the window, you get an egret’s-eye view of the rainforest and a trio of volcanoes … and you appreciate in a way no textbook ever taught you just how skinny Central America is. By early afternoon, you’re in a raft on the Tenorio River near the continental divide, ready to take on Class III/IV rapids or taking a walk to Llanos de Cortez waterfall. By dinner, you’re <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">in a Pacific-view room at a resort in Guanacaste National Park</a>, on one of the country’s most pristine beaches.<br><br><img alt="Whitewater rafting" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lV&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002rBr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Up there in Costa Rica’s northwest corner, the climate’s a little dryer, and ranches stretch toward the Nicaraguan border. In season, we check out the cowboy and rodeo festival. In these parts, we go for a<a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank"> guided walk near the volcano in Rincon de la Vieja National Park</a>. The forest is ideal for a quintessentially Costa Rican zipline ride through the treetops. And this is habitat for a full cast of monkey species, sloths, tapirs, collared peccaries and even jaguars and pumas. Just in case you haven’t already racked up enough unique experiences, we’ll also head out for a catamaran-based snorkeling trip or, alternatively, you can go for a surfing lesson on Pacific waves.</p> <p>Sound like fun? Here’s a bit of news that will make you even happier. Every activity on the trip is included in the price you pay upfront; you won’t run into a single surcharge or equipment rental fee the way you do on cruises or some other tours. We’re also offering the trip two ways: as a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Luxury Eco-Adventure</a> and as a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoastfamily/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Multisport Family Journey</a>. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/?utm_campaign=coast-to-coast-travel-in-costa-rica&amp;utm_source=sojourn&amp;utm_medium=blog" target="_blank">Coast to coast, Costa Rica has more than enough variety</a> to spice up your life like no vacation ever has!</p>

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