• South Africa airplane

    We Got The Last Flight Out Of Cape Town

    “The song <i>Should I Stay or Should I Go </i>became the soundtrack of our trip,” Sally Palmer says of the South Africa vacation that she and her husband, Joe, returned from on March 21st. The lyrics and melody of the 1981 hit by The Clash ran through their minds each day of their long-planned holiday with Classic Journeys, as COVID-19-related closings and travel bans ratcheted up with lightning speed from their March 15th arrival onwards. In retrospect, the five days that the couple spent in South Africa marked a major turning point of the global pandemic. <br><br><img alt="South Africa luxury tour" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUBz" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>The line, “<i>if I go there will be trouble, if I stay it will be double…</i>” took on new meaning in particular, as mid-trip, the Brownsville, CA-based couple caught wind of travel advisories telling Americans to either return home quickly or stay out of the country indefinitely. Luckily, thanks to quick thinking by the Palmers’ South African Classic Journeys guide Clive de Bruyne, the two made it back—snagging the last two seats out of Cape Town, within 24 hours of the U.S. State Department’s Global Level 4 Health Advisory - Do Not Travel issuance. “It felt like we were running away from a tidal wave, and eventually it caught up with us,” said de Bruyne of the looming presence of COVID-19 throughout the trip. But despite the many unexpected changes that the coronavirus brought, the Palmers managed to have an incredible—and incredibly memorable—time in South Africa.<br><br><img alt="View over Cape Town South Africa on Luxury Walking Tour" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUBk" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Coronavirus Concerns Were Low at the Beginning of the Trip.</b><br><br>As the couple departed from California, they were monitoring COVID-19 cases in South Africa (the country recorded its first confirmed case on March 5th). The State Department hadn’t yet issued any travel warnings. Both frequent travelers who’d planned trips with Classic Journeys for each of the past six years, they opted to proceed. Their flight to Cape Town was uneventful, save for having their temperatures checked upon arrival. On arrival, they learned that the two other travelers who’d planned to be part of their small group trip were no longer coming (one cancelled just prior to departure due to COVID-19 concerns, while the other was turned back en route to South Africa for the same reason). The optimistic duo decided to view the change as a positive—after all, their group tour was now <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private</a>. <br><br><b>The Palmers’ Plans Rapidly Started to Shift. </b><br><br>More COVID-19-related changes came from the get-go, and never let up. On the Palmers’ first day in Cape Town, strong winds shut down the cable car to Table Mountain, so they explored the famous waterfront and the Cape of Good Hope instead.<br><br><img alt="Group sitting over south africa view" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUVB" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>On their next attempt up the mountain, a fire broke out and then the cable cars were suddenly shut down. This time, wind and fire weren’t to blame, COVID-19 was the culprit. Similar things happened with planned excursions to Robben Island and the Langa Township—the first was cancelled completely, and the latter shortened, both due to COVID-19 fears. “We found out later that our trip to Langa Township was one of the last offered; they shut their doors to tourists completely afterward,” said Sally. <br><br>She and Joe took their ever-changing schedule in stride, though. “For us, everything was still new and wonderful,” said Joe. “Our guide’s spirits stayed high and our spirits kept up.” <br><br><img alt="Penguin in south africa" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUTy" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>Multiple Closures Spurred Creativity Changes.</b><br><br>The Palmers’ new travel schedule was mainly invented on the fly by Classic Journeys local guide, de Bruyne, whose skill as a guide was pushed into hyperdrive by the city’s sudden closures and cancellations. “Ordinarily there’s one or two things that don’t go according to plan, and it’s my job to work around that and make the magic happen,” he said. “This time, literally every day we were faced by a new challenge.” <br><br>Rather than riding to the top of Table Mountain in the cable car, the experienced guide led the Palmers along a small trail to a scenic overlook, where they nearly had views of Cape Town fully to themselves.<br><br>“As we sat on a rock a third of the way up the mountain, we were all chatting about how our experience was far superior than standing in a queue with a bunch of other tourists,” said de Bruyne. “That became the theme of the rest of the trip.” <br><br><img alt="Teacher south africa with school children" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUVL" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Instead of Robben Island, the trio went to the District Six Museum. They pivoted to an abbreviated tour through the Langa Township. They paused for dozens of spur-of-the-moment coffee and beer breaks that offered the chance to check in with locals. And as several other museums and notable places closed spontaneously, they opted to rent bikes and ride along the promenade.<br><br>“We chatted a lot about how the planned itinerary was coming apart but staying together, and all the while we were still having a grand time,” said Sally. “We still experienced Cape Town, it just wasn’t <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/south-africa-walking-tour/" target="_blank">the typical tour</a>. We felt like in addition to a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour</a>, we had a very personalized tour.” Adds Joe, “Humor was always involved, and Clive is fun and playful. A level of trust and closeness developed between us very quickly.”<br><br><b>In the Meantime, the Pandemic Rapidly Spurred Worldwide Changes.</b><br><br>The Palmers headed to South Africa’s famous Stellenbosch wine region on March 18th, the same day that a Global Level 3 Health Advisory - Reconsider Travel statement was made by the State Department. Up until that point, de Bruyne felt they’d mainly stayed a step ahead of the virus, but again, that swiftly changed. “The day before we arrived in wine country, everything was open; as we arrived, everything started shutting down,” recalls the guide. “But we still managed to find magic amongst the mayhem.” When a culinary walk was cancelled, he created a gourmet picnic for the Palmers at the region’s renowned Jordan Wine Estate.<br><br><img alt="Picnic on luxury south africa walking tour" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUAc" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>“Clive punted, again, and we had a wine tasting and a picnic out on a pond, with our own fancy baskets and wine glass holders,” said Sally. When another planned tour cancelled, the trio pivoted to mountain biking instead, followed up with another picnic and wine tasting. <br><br><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUAm" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>Family members worried about the spread of COVID-19 continually checked in on the pair, but they reassured them. “We kept saying ‘hey, we’re having this fun experience, we’ve got this all to ourselves, this is dynamite, this is wonderful,’” said Joe.<br><br>The Palmers were scheduled to leave for Phinda Private Game Reserve on March 20th to end their Classic Journeys trip in South Africa with a safari in search of the big five, but the worldwide pandemic caught up with them the day before: A Global Level 4 Health Advisory - Do Not Travel was issued on March 19. Then President Trump imposed a 30-day European travel ban, and Virgin Atlantic notified them that the second leg of their return trip on the 23rd was cancelled. The influx of news reached the Palmers late at night on the 19th, and after an anxious evening of little sleep, de Bruyne “came to the rescue in the morning,” said Sally. With help overnight from Classic Journeys tour operations team in San Diego, he booked them on the last two seats on British Airways on the same day. “We literally got the last two seats out of Cape Town,” she recalls with relief.<br><br><img alt="South Africa luxury tour vineyard walk" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUUX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br>With an extra morning at their disposal before heading to the airport, de Bruyne suggested filling their last hours with a nature walk. “He said, ‘no tourists go here, and very few local people of South Africa have been here,’ so we did this long 2-to-3 hour walk in wine country,” said Sally. “We got to see the beautiful landscape, the national bird and tons of flowers. It was unique and beautiful, and so much better than just sitting, fussing and waiting.”<br><br><img alt="User-added image" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUAw" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><b>“Clive Literally Led Us Through The Zombie Apocalypse”</b><br><br>Just five days after their arrival, the Palmers’ return trip was strikingly different from their trip out, marked by empty airports, masked passengers, and even one person in Heathrow clad in a full Hazmat suit. On their final flight from London to San Francisco, in a singularly surreal moment, they realized they were the only paying passengers in first class of the 747. The other seats were filled with pilots tasked with collecting empty planes to fly them back to Heathrow. <br><br>Despite the slew of unexpected twists and turns, the couple count their trip as a success. “Even though it didn’t play out the way we expected, I think we had a wonderful look at South Africa thanks to Clive, and the support and flexibility that Classic Journeys provides its local guides,” said Sally. “This was a one-in-a-million trip. We’ll never forget it.” <br><br>De Bruyne echoes the sentiment. “We joked at the end of the trip that we felt like family. We just clicked. We were in the trenches together, we met all these challenges together,” he said. “It reminded me why I do what I do, and that we’ll see this through.” In South Africa, now the epicenter of the pandemic in Africa, de Bruyne is one of the country’s 59 million people currently on lockdown.<br><br>The Palmers are currently sheltering in place in their own home too, quarantining themselves for 14 days while reflecting on the trip. “Are we sad we didn’t get to see the big animals? Yeah. But we went on a fantastic adventure, and we both came back in one piece—let me tell you, that doesn’t happen every time,” said Joe. “Clive literally led us through the zombie apocalypse.”<br><br><img alt="South Africa luxury tour" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002FkpD&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001lUAD" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br><br><i>Kelly Phillips Badal is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor and world traveler who writes about travel, lifestyle and design. The former editor in chief of Interiors California, her work has also appeared in Sunset, Angeleno, BBC Travel and CondeNastTraveler.com; and she&#39;s held staff positions at Better Homes &amp; Gardens and Country Living. Kelly is married to travel and lifestyle photographer Tanveer Badal. Together they split their time between New York City, Los Angeles, and wherever their travels take them. Follow her at <a href="https://www.instagram.com/kellybadal/" target="_blank">@kellybadal</a></i><br><br><i>More by Kelly Phillips Badal: <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/mel-robbins-interview/" target="_blank">Mel Robbins Dreams About Travel to Shake Off Negative Thoughts</a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/covid19-nearly-trapped-on-easter-island/" target="_blank">COVID-19 Nearly Trapped Two Travelers on Remote Easter Island</a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/blog/suri-raman-interview/" target="_blank">The Architect of Microsoft Outlook Wants Us to All Communicate Better</a></i><br><br><br> 

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  • US National Park

    What states are open. How to access them. How to avoid the crowds.

    If you’ve been trying to schedule any kind of summer vacation or fall getaway, you know that it’s not just a matter of knowing what country borders are open, it’s a full-time job tracking what states are allowing visitors. And if you find a state that is open for tourism, how do you enjoy it without fighting for space with RV’s and crowded lines.<br><br>To help sort through the who, what, where, how and why of travel destinations you can actually visit… now… we’ve summarized states that are open, why you’d want to go there, how you can get in, if you have to quarantine or not, what testing is required, and how to avoid the crowds while maximizing your own enjoyment. <br><br>The good news is that a trip of a lifetime is still very much a possibility this summer or fall. National parks have reopened. Travelers have already returned from our first tour to Alaska, as others are packing their bags for trips to Montana, the San Juan Islands, Bryce-Grand Canyon-Zion, Yellowstone, Napa and Sonoma, Vermont… and Alaska again. <br><br><b>Alaska</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaska/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA Alaska Bears Forest Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDVr" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>America’s largest state with the least amount of coronavirus cases, Alaska’s sparse population sets it up splendidly for social distancing. Visit vast national parks, spot brown bears, humpbacks, and—for the first time in decades—experience it all without the million plus cruise ship passengers who usually pour in each season. <br><br>COVID-test: Yes, a negative test (taken within 72 hours of arriving) must be presented. You can test at the airport on arrival, but it is highly recommended you take them before arriving to save the time required to wait until the result.<br>14-day quarantine: No, unless you refuse testing.<br><br>Airlines flying to Anchorage:<br>Alaska Airlines<br>American Airlines<br>JetBlue<br>Delta<br>United <br><br>Ways to avoid the crowds: <br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaska/" target="_blank">Kenai Peninsula Multisport tour</a> is six days long and departs August 16 and September 6, 2020. <br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/alaskafamily/" target="_blank">Kenai Peninsula Family tour</a> is six days long and departs August 2, 2020.<br>Travel with just your family or friends on a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour </a>on your preferred date. Trips can be for any size group – from one to whatever. And when you have a group of six or more participants in 2020, you’ll pay the same price as our publicly scheduled trip departures – not a penny more! <br><br><b>Utah</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/bryce-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA Utah National Park Zion Narrows Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDVw" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>This state is national park nirvana—think deep, dramatic canyons and vivid red rock in fantastical formations. From the sunrise to the night skies, Mother Nature’s masterpieces never seem to cease. <br><br>COVID-test: No<br>14-day quarantine: No<br><br>Airlines flying to St George:<br>Delta<br>American<br>United <br><br>Drive times to St George:<br>Los Angeles to St George: 6h <br>San Diego to St George: 8 hours<br>Phoenix to St George 6.5h<br><br>Ways to avoid the crowds: <br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/grandcanyon/" target="_blank">Bryce, Grand Canyon, Zion Multisport tour</a> is six days long and departs September 6 and 22, 2020<br>Travel with only your friends / family by booking a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour</a> on your chosen date. Private tours can be arranged for any size group, and when you reserve a trip for six or more travelers in 2020, you’ll pay the same price as a publicly scheduled trip. <br><br><b>South Carolina</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/charleston/" target="_blank"><img alt="South Carolina Charleston Fountain Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDW1" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Grand oaks, pastel mansions and the charming city of Charleston are just some of the things that make South Carolina a state worth visiting. <br><br>COVID-test: No<br>14-day quarantine: No<br><br>Airlines flying to Charleston International Airport:<br>American <br>United <br>Southwest <br>Delta  <br>JetBlue<br><br>Drive times to Charleston:<br>From Atlanta, GA - 5 hours <br>From Charlotte, NC - 3 hours<br>From Norfolk, VA - 7 hours <br>From Richmond, VA - 6.5 hours <br>From Washington, DC - 8 hours<br><br>Ways to avoid the crowds: <br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/charleston/" target="_blank">Charleston &amp; Savannah Culture + Walking tour</a> is six days and departs October 4 and November 8, 2020.<br>See the sights of South Carolina within a select group of your friends and family if you choose a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour </a>on your preferred date. Our private trips can be for any size group, and in bookings for six or more travelers in 2020, you will be paying the same price as a publicly scheduled trip.<br><br><b>Montana</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montana-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA Montana Glacier National Park Lake Swim Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDWG" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Untamed, wild landscape sets the scene here—flowery meadows, thick forests and rugged Rocky Mountain peaks—and the air is deliciously clean. Bonus points because with more sheep than people, Montana is one of the easiest states in which to social distance.<br><br>COVID-test: No <br>14-day quarantine: No<br><br>Airlines flying into Whitefish Kalispell airport at west entrance to Glacier Park:<br>Delta<br>United Airlines<br>Alaska Airlines<br>American Airlines<br>Allegiant<br><br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montana-tours/" target="_blank">Montana + Glacier National Park Culture + Walking tour</a><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/glaciernationalpark/" target="_blank"> </a>is six days long and departs July 19, August 16, September 13, 2020<br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/glaciernationalparkfamily/" target="_blank">Montana + Glacier National Park Family tour</a> is six days long and departs July 19, 2020<br><br>You can choose to travel only with your friends and family on a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour,</a> giving you the flexibility to pick the travel dates that best suit your schedule.  Your group can be any size, and when that group includes over six participants in 2020, you will pay the same as a publicly scheduled trip. <br><br><b>California</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/napa-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA California Napa Sonoma Vineyard Hot Air Balloons Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDW6" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>The Golden State glistens with outdoor opportunity. To the north, you’ll find the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/napa/" target="_blank">Napa and Sonoma </a>valleys with their vast vineyards, olive groves and botanical gardens.<br><br>COVID-test: No <br>14-day quarantine: No <br><br>Airlines flying into Oakland:<br>Alaska<br>Allegiant<br>Delta<br>Hawaiian<br>Southwest<br>Spirit<br><br>Drive times to Napa:<br>San Francisco – 2 hours<br>Los Angeles - 6 hours <br>San Diego - 9 hours     <br><br>How to avoid the crowds:<br>Opt for a private tour where you choose the date, and you choose the group. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">Private trips</a> suit all group sizes, and in 2020, where that means more than six travelers, you won’t pay more than a scheduled trip.<br><br><b>Hawaii</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/hawaii-big-island/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA Hawaii Big Island Volcanic Beach Palm Trees Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDWL" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>Visits to the Hawaiian Islands give you that fabulous far away feel without requiring you leave the United States. Hawaii is alongside Alaska when it comes to requiring everyone who visits be tested and confirmed coronavirus-free. The idyllic tropical beaches, mythical waterfalls and all-round relaxed atmosphere need no introduction.<br><br>COVID-test: Yes, beginning August 1, all arrivals from out-of-state will need to provide proof of a valid, negative COVID test, take a temperature check and complete a form. No tests will be provided at the airport; they must be taken before arrival. <br>14-day quarantine: No, with a certified negative test.<br><br>Airlines flying to the Big Island:<br>Hawaiian<br>United <br><br>How to avoid the crowds: <br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/hawaii-big-island/" target="_blank">Big Island Culture + Walking tour </a>is six days and departs December 6, 2020 <br><br>With our private tours, you can choose whichever departure date you want and travel exclusively with your family and friends. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">Private tours</a> can suit any group size, and in 2020 where groups include six or more travelers, a private trip will cost the same as a publicly scheduled trip. <br><br><b>Georgia</b><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/charleston/" target="_blank"><img alt="USA Georgia Savannah Street Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDWQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>America’s biggest state east of the Mississippi, Georgia offers true Southern hospitality and is home to historic Savannah. <br><br>COVID-test: No<br>14-day quarantine: No<br><br>Airlines flying to Savannah airport:<br>Delta<br>American<br>JetBlue<br>United<br>Frontier<br><br>Driving time to Savannah:<br>Birmingham, AL - 6 hours<br>Richmond, VA - 7 hours <br>Orlando, FL - 4 hours <br>Nashville, TN - 7.5 hours <br><br>Ways to avoid the crowds: <br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/charleston/" target="_blank">Charleston &amp; Savannah Culture + Walking tour </a>is six days and departs October 4 and November 8, 2020.<br>When you book a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour</a>, you can choose your departure date and travel only with your family / friends. Classic Journeys private trips can be arranged for any group size, and where groups include six or more participants in 2020, it will cost the same as a scheduled trip. <br><br><b>Wyoming</b><br><img alt="USA Wyoming Yellowstone National Park Geyser Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDWV" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br>Wild, wonderful Wyoming is cowboy country with adventure galore across great plains, rushing rivers and Rocky Mountain peaks.<br><br>COVID-test: No <br>14-day quarantine: No<br><br>Airlines flying into Jackson Hole: <br>Delta <br>American<br>United <br><br>Drive times to Jackson Hole: <br>Salt Lake City - 5 hours <br><br>How to avoid the crowds: <br>Explore Wyoming with just friends and family, whenever suits you, with one of our private tours. Click <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">here</a> for our private journey form, where you can get the brand new, just-scouted itinerary to Yellowstone and Grand Teton.<br><br><b>Vermont<br><img alt="USA Vermont Fall Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDiM" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></b><br>Snow-white in winter, technicolor through spring and summer, fiery-gold in fall—Vermont’s charming villages and sloping mountains are a joy to explore. <br><br>COVID-test: No <br><br>14-day quarantine: no, if you are traveling from a county in the Northeastern U.S. (CT; MA; MD; ME; NH; NJ; NY; OH; PA; RI; VA; Washington, D.C.; and WV) where there is a similar active COVID-19 caseload to Vermont (less than 400 active cases per million) and enter in a personal vehicle.<br><br>Airlines flying into Burlington:<br>Delta <br>Frontier <br>JetBlue <br>United <br>American <br><br>Drive time to Burlington:<br>Boston - 3.5 hours<br>New York - 6 hours<br>Maine - 6 hours<br>Philadelphia - 6.5 hours<br><br>How to avoid the crowds:<br>Our <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vermont-stowe-and-middlebury-tour/" target="_blank">Vermont Special Edition tour</a>, to see the fall foliage, is five days in length and departs September 27 and October 18, 2020.<br><br>If you want to choose your own dates and have just friends or family as fellow travelers, a <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank">private tour</a> is perfect. These trips suit any size of group, and where that’s more than six people, you won’t have to pay more than a scheduled trip would cost.<br><br><b>Washington<br><img alt="USA Washington State Puget Sound Pacific Northwest Luxury Tour Classic Journeys" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDiW" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></b><br>Maybe Seattle steals the spotlight in this state, but you’re missing out if you don’t explore the rest of Washington. Such as the awesome archipelago in Puget Sound, just a boat ride from the ‘Emerald City’. One draw of the Pacific Northwest’s San Juan islands is that they feel much further away than they actually are—hop in a kayak for some orca-spotting, hike past wild deer or simply sit and watch the world go by in sleepy fishing villages.<br><br>COVID-test: No <br>14-day quarantine: No<br><br>Airlines flying into Seattle: <br>Air Canada<br>Alaska<br>American<br>Delta<br>Frontier<br>Hawaiian<br>JetBlue<br>Southwest<br>Spirit<br>United <br><br>Drive time to Friday Harbor: <br>Portland – 6 hours<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/private/" target="_blank"><img alt="Classic Journeys Private Tours Luxury Vacation" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Q2MA&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000001yDib" style="height: 177px; width: 500px;"></img></a>

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  • Wine

    6 Underrated Wine Trips That Aren’t France or Italy

    We know that a wine’s flavor is intricately linked to where it’s from. A region’s climate, elevation and soil composition all affect the grapes from which a particular wine is made. The French have a word for this concept: terroir. In a way, when you drink a glass of wine, you’re getting a taste of where that wine is from. Appreciating the concept of terroir, and understanding how it applies to the bottle you’ve just opened, is part of wine’s appeal.<br><br>There’s no science to back this up, but wine lovers agree: a glass of wine seems to taste better when you’re drinking it in its country of origin. International wine trips have become mandatory for wine aficionados, but if your list of destination wine countries only includes France and Italy, it’s time to broaden your horizons. <br><br>Winemaking has become a truly global industry. Thanks in no small part to the spread of agricultural and communication technology, wines are now being produced on every continent except Antarctica. Great wines come from all over the world, and you’ll find amazing wineries in some truly surprising places. If you’re thinking about taking a wine tour, here’s our wine lover’s travel guide, featuring six countries that might not yet be on your radar.<br><br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank"><u><b>SOUTHERN SPAIN</b></u></a><br><br>If you’re interested in wine but aren’t yet an expert, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank">Spain</a> might be the best place for your first wine tour. As with France and Italy, wine is a part of daily life. Spain is the world’s largest producer of grapes, with some 5 million acres devoted to vineyards. Tempranillo is the dominant variety; the red grape is found all over the country and can be grown in all sorts of climates. The two most popular white grapes are Albarino and verdejo – the Galacia region produces a great Albarino that is often served with local shellfish. Cava is the predominant Spanish sparkling wine; the Penedes region, just outside of Barcelona, is the largest producer. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/spain/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tour Spain" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBYy" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Venture into the central part of Spain, and you can find some up and coming wineries in and around Madrid. Spanish wines are typically not aged as long and don’t last as long in the bottle as their French or Italian counterparts, but that doesn’t mean that they’re not delicious. While great wines are produced all over Spain, the southern part of the country offers a classic Spanish treat – sherry. Sherry is the exception to the aging rule; wines used to make sherry are fortified with a grape spirit and then aged in wooden casks. The region of Andalucia contains the Sherry Triangle – Jerez, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, and El Puerto de Santa Maria. The Palomino, Moscatel, and Pedro Ximenez grapes grown here are unique to the region and are used to make Spain’s famous fortified wine. <br><br>As a travel destination, Spain’s charms are innumerous; since we’ve recommended the Sherry Triangle, why not explore the rest of southern Spain? The cities of Seville and Grenada offer amazing food, and the Moorish influence can be seen everywhere, making for a truly unique travel experience. At the edge of southern Spain lies one of the world’s great natural treasures, the Rock of Gibraltar. Yes, you can go to the top; most take the cable car, but a brave (and fit!) few opt to hike up the Mediterranean Steps trail.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank"><u><b>PORTUGAL</b></u></a><br><br>Of course, port wine is what brings wine lovers to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank">Portugal</a>. The birthplace of port is the Douro Valley; the Portuguese government set its boundaries as a production region in 1756, making it the oldest officially demarcated wine region in the world – and the only official producer of the famous wine. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/douro-luxury-river-cruise/" target="_blank">Douro wine tours</a> are a great way to learn about port; unlike most other wines, port is a fortified wine, meaning that a small amount of a distilled spirit is added during the fermentation process. Typically served with a cheese plate or a dessert, it’s a favorite among Portuguese and visitors alike. But it’s not the only wine produced in Portugal. The Vinho Verde region produces white wines, and the Tras-os-Montes region produces rosado, a unique, slightly effervescent wine. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/portugal/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tour Douro" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBZD" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>As a destination, Portugal has plenty to offer in addition to great wines. Steeped in seafaring history, Portugal’s Atlantic coast is home to dozens of lovely coastal villages. You’ll find some great beaches for relaxing and sunbathing; for pure excitement, there’s nothing quite like standing on the shore of Nazare, watching surfers attempt to ride the area’s giant waves – some of which can reach up to 100 feet high! <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank"><u><b>CHILE</b></u></a><br><br>When thinking of South American wines, most people tend to focus on Argentina. Chile, however, might have a claim as <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/south-america-tours/" target="_blank">South America</a>’s premier wine-producing country. European settlers in Chile are thought to have planted the first grapevines in the 1500s, so Chileans have had lots of time to perfect their winemaking craft. And Chile’s climate makes it unique: the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Andes mountains to the east moderate the temperatures. Deserts to the north and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/patagonia-tours/" target="_blank">Patagonia</a> to the south also help to geographically isolate the country. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tour Chile" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBZN" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Its location is the reason that Chile is the only major wine-producing country that’s free of the vine-destroying phylloxera aphid. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/chile/" target="_blank">Chile</a> is known for producing excellent cabernet sauvignon, but fans of exotic varietals will want to try Chilean wines made from the Carmenere grape. And simply being in the country is a treat – with over 2,600 miles of coastline, a border that backs up to one of the world’s most spectacular alpine regions and an average width of only 110 miles, you’re never far from the beach or the mountains. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><u><b>ISTRIA</b></u></a><br><br>We’ll forgive you if you’ve never heard of Istria. It’s not a country, but a wine region that’s shared by <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/croatia/" target="_blank">Croatia</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Slovenia</a> and Italy. Sprawling across Croatia’s northwestern Istrian Peninsula, wines have been produced in the region for hundreds of years, but it’s only recently that wine travelers have taken notice. And for good reason. Istrian white wines have benefitted from modernized production techniques, and following the end of the Cold War have been showing up in markets and restaurants across Europe. Malvasia, an Old World light-skinned grape, is most common, but you’ll also find other white varieties, including muscat, chardonnay, and sauvignon blanc.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tour Istria" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBZS" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>It’s not just the wines that make Istria worth visiting. Croatia has long been one of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Europe</a>’s best-kept secrets, thanks to its beautiful scenery and generous people. Istria’s vineyards are bordered by some of Europe’s most incredible beaches, and the coastal towns are exceedingly charming and hospitable. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-tours/" target="_blank"><u><b>NEW ZEALAND</b></u></a><br><br>Boasting some of the most spectacular terrain on earth, the Land of The Long White Cloud has a burgeoning wine scene as well. It’s hard to believe, given the rugged mountains and exotic beaches, but there are sections of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-tours/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a> that provide great growing conditions for wine grapes, particularly sauvignon blanc. The Marlborough region is where some 70% of New Zealand’s wine production occurs, the bulk of that being white wines. You’ll find some excellent wines here, along with the legendary Kiwi hospitality. Although not as well known, the Bay of Plenty region has started to produce some reds, thanks to its fruit-friendly climate.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tour New Zealand" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBZX" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you need a break from wine, the area is also known for its cider and local beer, perfect for watching a rugby game at one of the many pubs. And movie buffs can visit some of the locations used for the Lord of The Rings movies; the set of Hobbiton, Frodo and Bilbo’s home village, was preserved and is open for viewing. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/south-africa-tours/" target="_blank"><u><b>SOUTH AFRICA</b></u></a><br><br>A wine tour and a safari in one trip? A <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/south-africa-tours/" target="_blank">safari wine tour</a> sounds awesome, and South Africa is starting to gain attention for its wines. But winemaking isn’t new to the country. The Stellenbosch region, about 25 miles east of Cape Town, has been producing wines since the beginning of the 18th century. Located in one of the world’s great landscapes, South Africa’s 250,000 acres of vineyards have been producing a surprising variety of grapes, both white and red; along with sauvignon blanc, chardonnays, and chenin blanc, shiraz, cabernet sauvignon and pinot noir are grown in the regions around Cape Town. Cape Town itself is a great reason to visit <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/south-africa-tours/" target="_blank">South Africa</a> – the bustling modern city has fantastic nightlife and picturesque beaches. The flat-topped Table Mountain looms over Cape Town, and a gondola ride to the top of this iconic peak is an experience not to be missed.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/south-africa-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tour South Africa" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBZh" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>Paired with South Africa’s unique culinary offerings – and the South African love of grilling and eating outdoors, among the country’s amazing scenery and wildlife – a South African wine trip is an amazing experience.<br><br>Having a fantastic wine travel experience doesn’t require you to visit France or Italy. From enjoying a sherry after a paella dinner in Spain to sipping on a chilly glass of white in a tent on the African plains, today’s wine tours are a great way to experience the world’s wines – immersed in the countries and cultures that created them. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/world/" target="_blank"><img alt="Wine tours" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002e5pX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T000000sBak" style="height: 177px; width: 500px;"></img></a>

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