World Travel | Classic Journeys Blog
  • Old family photos close-up

    DNA Travel is a Real Trip

    “I just want to see the Ireland that my mom heard so much about from her grandmother.” “There’s a flyspeck of a village in Sicily that gave us our family name, and I’d like to walk its streets.” “They say we’re of French descent. I’ve always wanted to go feel French for a while, like eating croissants for breakfast every day.”<br><br>Talk about a purposeful vacation! Travelers in record numbers are using their trips not just to get away but to dig into the roots of their family trees. That sort of genetic impulse injects an extra level of excitement, and if a trip can help you feel more connected to your family and grounded in the world, so much the better!<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank"><img alt="Family in a gondola in Venice, Italy" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmMX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jYkL" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>The first thing to understand is that you don’t need pinpoint knowledge about your ancestors’ points of origin to pull it off. For every person who can go back 12 generations on Ancestry.com, there’s another one who’s fuzzy about which great-great-whoever came from “somewhere in the Balkans.” A crop of 23andMe customers, with a plot of their genomes in hand, are committing themselves to covering the same ground their forbearers did.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/grandcanyon/" target="_blank"><img alt="Family in the Grand Canyon" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmMX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jYlO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you know nothing more than there’s Irish blood in your veins, a week with Classic Journeys on the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland-tours/" target="_blank">Emerald Isle</a> can still alter your perspective in the extreme. In Ireland (as in all of our destinations), our local guides are deeply informed and accustomed to answering questions like, “Why did the potato famine drive so many across the Atlantic?” You’ll see the cottages like the ones where your ancestors likely lived. You can’t look at those endless sheep meadows without wondering how it felt to land in some major American city and scrape by in a tenement where the view was of an airshaft. What kind of courage did it take? In <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sicily/" target="_blank">Sicily</a>, which 100,000 or so people left around the end of the 19th century, you’ll see that traditions hold strong even now…and you come closer to appreciating why they held so fast to the old ways and their language. <br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/ireland-tours/" target="_blank"><img alt="Guests near hydrangeas in Ireland" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001bmMX&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM50000000jYkQ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><br>If you are lucky enough to have detailed knowledge about the when, where and why of your family’s background, Classic Journeys can tailor a trip that zeroes in, right down to the house where it all started. This summer, we’re helping a family of 10 learn about their Norwegian roots — from Viking museums to a custom extension that will take them to the site of the family’s one-time steel mill in a remote corner of Norway. Another guest called on us to arrange a few days on the Greek island of Lesbos so that he could show his children and grandchildren where it all began. If you call Classic Journeys with the details, our experts will be happy to help follow your personal heritage trail.<br><br>Of the trends we’ve seen, DNA travel is the most meaningful and satisfying of all. Who would you be if that long, uncertain journey to the place you call home now had never happened? The question may be unanswerable, but a vacation that helps you explore it is truly one of a kind.<br> 

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  • Group in front of waterfall, Iceland

    Traveling Into a Different World

    <h2>We move at the pace of local life to better connect with a world of amazing cultural experiences.</h2>   <p>If you’re like us, you think of travel as more than “going places.” When you strike out, it’s because you crave experience and discovery, not just monuments and museums. You want to understand what’s behind the touristic façade that most people never penetrate. You travel because, for at least a few days every year, you want to step outside of your life. That’s what <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/walking/" target="_blank" title="Cultural walking tours">our signature Cultural Walking Adventures</a> are all about.</p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/world/" target="_blank" title="Search world travel tours">SEARCH OUR ROSTER OF 75 WORLD TRAVEL OPTIONS – FROM ECOTOURISM TO LUXURY ADVENTURE TRAVEL.</a></h3> <p>To us, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/walking/" target="_blank" title="Small-group walking trips">walking is one of the best ways to immerse yourself in local culture.</a> When you’re on foot, the world can’t slide past you faster than you can absorb it. You’ll have time—and proximity—to smell the apricot blossoms or feel the rumble of a glacier through the soles of your shoes. On our walks, you encounter rainforest tribespeople you never would have met and cottage gardens you never would have seen; you experience the tempo of a Mediterranean village in the hour before sunset in a way you never would have noticed if you breezed through in a vehicle.<br><br><img alt="Woman with arms out in Greece" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7mI&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002rn7" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Don’t worry, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/walking/" target="_blank" title="Small-group walking trips">“walking tour” doesn’t mean you’ll hike, trek or hoof it from inn to inn</a>—only that you’ll spend part of each morning and/or afternoon with your feet on the ground getting up close to the region’s culture and natural history. That usually adds up to two or more optional daily walks. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/local-tour-guides/" target="_blank" title="Guided adventure travel">On tour, our local guides </a>will describe walks before they occur; in regions where more strenuous walks are possible, they may be offered as alternatives. When possible, our vehicle is nearby in case you have a change of heart. The outings might include a village tour, a seaside stroll or a local guide’s favorite path through an oasis, vineyard or red rock canyon. Because we average just 10 guests in each group, our footprint is small. We can take our time and blend in to the world around us.</p> <p>Where would you like to go? <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/world/" target="_blank" title="World travel">75 domestic and international walking tours.</a></p>

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  • Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

    Behind the scenes on a scouting trip

    <p>Lush tropical foliage…misty mountaintops…lava-streaked volcanoes. Of all the exotic images I had of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costarica/" target="_blank">Costa Rica</a> prior to my first visit, I never pictured myself on the side of a rutted road, using a banana leaf as a funnel to refill the gas tank of my 4X4.</p> <p>I was on my way to Monteverde, eager to explore the legendary cloud forest famed for exotic birds, incredible wildlife, and the zip lines criss-crossing its tree canopy. Having already visited Africa and Asia, I should have remembered that in developing countries, the driving distance from Point A to Point B bears little relationship to how long it will take to get there. At Classic Journeys, scouting a new walking trip (like we did in Costa Rica in 1996) is an adventure in itself. It all begins with an idea: a tip from a colleague, a suggestion from a guest, an article in the Travel section of the local newspaper. For the next several months, we pore over the ins-and-outs of the new region, consult with friends and contacts worldwide to create a working itinerary, and compile our short list of hotels, restaurants, attractions, activities, and top-notch native guides.</p> <br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costarica/" target="_blank"><img alt="Costa Rica guide" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7pG&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002ta5" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br>  <p>Then we hit the ground running. We take every proposed walk ourselves (often multiple times), sleep in the hotels where our guests will sleep, and dine in the restaurants where our guests will dine…all the while making personal connections with local chefs, winemakers, artisans, and artists.</p> <p>The whole process can take up to a year, during which we discover firsthand what can go right and even what can go wrong.</p> <p>A few things we’ve learned in Scouting 101:</p> <p>* There’s always room to spice up an agenda. While dining with friends and colleagues at an excellent restaurant in Provence, we realized that our guests would love the cuisine just as much as we did. When we asked the chef’s wife (who spoke English) if her husband might consent to a cooking instruction for our guests, he agreed, and the two-hour session in Jean-Pierre’s kitchen immediately became a tour highlight. Coincidentally, that one meeting eventually led to the creation of our culinary tours in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provenceculinary/" target="_blank">Provence</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscanyculinary/" target="_blank">Tuscany</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/amalficulinary/" target="_blank">Amalfi</a> and <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/napa/" target="_blank">Napa</a>.<br><br><img alt="Cooking lesson" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7pG&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002taA" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>* First impressions aren’t all that counts. Even a highly regarded hotel, like the one we road-tested in Naples, can turn out to have unforeseen flaws. In lovely surroundings, we spent a not-so-lovely night listening to work crews installing cable on the busy street below. Lesson learned: Avoid main thoroughfares and seek out “hidden gems.”</p> <p>* Maps are great, but they don’t tell the whole story. Our walk to the highest point on the island of Cres, off the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria/" target="_blank">Istrian peninsula</a>, was less than relaxing. On a steep, precarious path consisting of loose rock, we spent most of the time looking at our feet. Undeterred, we developed a more easy-going walk with spectacular views and surer footing.</p> <p>The upshot is this: scouting a Classic Journey takes time, energy, ingenuity and patience. And there’s no better feeling than when the pieces finally fit.</p> <p>If you’ve taken a walking trip where careful planning has really paid off-or you’ve learned the hard way how serendipitous adventure travel can be-share it with me at <a href="mailto:blog@classicjourneys.com" target="_blank">blog@classicjourneys.com</a>. And if you’d like more information about our Cultural Walking Adventure or Family Journey to Costa Rica, please <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/costarica/" target="_blank">click here</a>.</p>

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