You never know where or when a case of wanderlust might crop up next.
What we do know is that watching TV’s most popular travel shows can be pretty contagious. Loyal viewers count on their daily dose of the Travel Channel, National Geographic Channel and the like for a quick drool over the newest dream destinations. And Rick Steves on PBS rarely disappoints when it comes to exploring the must-see sites of Europe.
The other day, two colleagues in our office were discussing the latest episode of a show called “House Hunters International” that airs on HGTV. To hear them tell it, it’s a cultural travel experience in itself.
From week to week, young singles, couples, families, and retirees pack up and go — all over the globe — to put down new roots in Costa Rica, Panama, Normandy, Provence, Tuscany, Umbria, Southern Spain, Sicily, Croatia…the list goes on.
European capitals like Paris, Edinburgh, Vienna, Prague and Budapest and the surrounding countryside tend to figure prominently, but so do smaller towns and tiny villages that normal visitors might stumble across only if they make a wrong turn. The basic premise — eager buyers being shown the ropes by local realtors — extends to other hemispheres, too, from Thailand and New Zealand to Argentina and Belize.
At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “Wait a minute…this list of destinations is starting to sound like a Classic Journeys catalog.”
It’s true; for anyone who subscribes to our mailing list or likes to browse our website, the similarity is striking. The one thing all these house hunters have in common, whether they’re searching for a vacation home or a full-time residence, is a desire to connect on a deeper level with a different culture.
Coincidentally, that’s exactly the same mindset that spurs most people to join a Classic Journeys walking tour. For the past 15 years, we’ve selected travel destinations that lend themselves well to small-group walking adventures, offering a deeper, richer cultural travel experience than guests could possibly duplicate on their own.
In virtually every case, the house hunters on the show are seeking the same level of authenticity our guests enjoy. So it’s really no wonder that actual scenarios like these could have been lifted right from the pages of our cultural travel catalog:
* A Scottish woman from Glasgow decides to make a new start in Apulia, the rustic region in the heel of Italy’s “boot.” The big draw? The whitewashed trulli houses of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These traditional limestone buildings with their conical roofs date back hundreds of years, and restoring them as homes has become an art form.
* An American real estate investor from Newport Beach decides she wants to live in Tuscany six months a year. Inspired by the movie “Under the Tuscan Sun,” she and her realtor walk the narrow streets and charming piazzas of Lucca to find the perfect apartment overlooking the medieval city walls.
* A couple and their two children who have traveled the world decide to settle down in Morocco. Their search for a traditional riad (a multi-level house with an elaborate interior courtyard and garden) reveals unexpected insights into how the residents of Marrakesh really live.
Some folks might consider “House Hunters International” a bit of fluff for consummate looky-loos, but there’s no doubt the show provides a provocative glimpse into everyday life in countries that most travelers never see. For that reason alone, why not tune in to see which destinations pique your interest? Depending on what part of the world strikes your fancy, chances are very good we travel there…and we’d be delighted to share it with you on foot!
While we can’t say we’ve had any of our guests decide to chuck their lives in the States and move lock, stock and barrel to one of our tour regions, that doesn’t mean it hasn’t crossed their minds. If you’ve ever been tempted to “up sticks” (as the British say) and set off for another part of the world, by all means share your motivation with us at firstname.lastname@example.org.