Here you will find information about travel specials, adventure travel for women, upcoming women-only tours, and new, exciting destinations to look out for . . . not to mention anything else we think might be important or interesting for you to know!
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Got a big birthday coming up that ends with a "0" (40, 50, 60...)? We'll make it fun and memorable for you..!
Why not celebrate your birthday with an exotic holiday? Whether it be sipping gins on the deck of a cruise ship gliding down the Nile in Egypt, or eating birthday cake under an African sky in the Saharan desert in Morocco, we can help you make it memorable! Start saving now, and bring your friends along too - we'll give you a discount for every friend you bring...just get in touch and we can discuss your birthday destination of choice. As you know, our motto is "Life is uncertain - eat cake!", so treat yourself to a fabulous birthday with us!
Bring a group of women on tour!
Get a group of 10 ladies from your club, your work, or just all your friends and you get a great discount for your efforts! "Hen" trips: Maybe you want to getaway with your girlfriends for a few days before you get married....
Custom Women's Trips - you tell us where and for how long
Would you like to go to a Venus destination with a group of female friends/workmates, but the dates or trip length does not suit? Talk to us about a tailor-made Venus Adventure!
Would you like to give a friend a gift voucher to convince her to come on a trip with you? Or maybe you know someone who really wants to travel, but can't seem to take the big step? A gift voucher might be just the ticket to get them going...you just let us know the amount, and we will send it to you!
Imagine it...dry stone walls and olive groves with their wonderfully gnarled tree trunks; the heady scent of aromatic herbs along walking trails; delightful little villages with white-washed houses and narrow streets just wide enough for a donkey to pass; picturesque fishing harbours with their colourful fat-bellied boats and weather-beaten fishermen mending their nets in the sun; brilliant shades of blue everywhere - church domes, shutters and doors, wooden chairs, crystal-clear sea and cloudless sky; toes popping out of the water as you float in the amazingly buoyant Aegean Sea; the Greek people - dramatic, mercurial, sociable and hospitable, and the food - wonderful Greek salads, thick creamy yoghurt, crusty bread and delicious dips, tasty kebabs, all enjoyed outdoors at a shady taverna or a waterfront cafÃ©...
It's all waiting for you on your magical Greek Islands holiday!
-Sample traditional specialities and mix with the locals on a food tour through the old heart of Athens
-Cooking lessons & wine tasting in Athens and on Santorini
-Wander on traditional donkey trails & through ancient olive groves on Samos
-Lose yourself in the maze of little streets on Mykonos
-Step back in time as you wander off the beaten path through tiny villages on Naxos
-Enjoy those famous Santorini sunsets and spectacular views from your hotel on the caldera
Day 1: 11 May: Arrive in Athens
You will be met on arrival at Athens Airport and transferred to our Athens hotel. This friendly 3 star hotel is just a short walk to the Acropolis, the Plaka (the fascinating old town around the foot of the Acropolis) and the central city, and just around the corner from the excellent New Acropolis Museum.
Meet your knowledgable tour leader; Karen, and fellow travellers in the hotel lobby at 6.30pm for a welcome drink and then join Karen for dinner at one of her favourite rooftop restaurants overlooking the Acropolis, which is floodlit in the evening. Overnight: Athens Meals: D
Day 2: 12 May: Athens
This morning we'll wander off the tourist route to sample local delicacies on our Food Tour! Taste a wide variety of Greek delicacies ranging from the mouth-watering sweet and syrupy "loukoumades" to traditional "bougatsa" or the savoury "pastourma", Feta cheese and famous Greek olives. Mingle with the locals as they do their shopping in this non-touristy area of Athens. We will visit various specialty food shops, colourful and alluring delicatessens, aromatic and tempting bakeries and sweet shops, restaurants, dairies, spice, grocery and pie shops where you will sample and taste the most traditional Greek food and not necessarily the Greek food stereotypes such as "Greek salad" or "moussaka". A genuine Athenian food tour would not be complete without a visit to the vibrant central food market, with its bustling energy and loud bargaining- an insight into everyday life in Athens.
After a well-earned siesta at the hotel join Karen on a stroll through the narrow streets of the Plaka, which really comes alive in the evening, to another of her favourite restaurants below the Acropolis.
Plaka is the oldest district in Athens and is in many ways the heart of the city. It contains many of the major archaeological sites, as well as some of the oldest churches. It's here that you'll find the greatest concentration of traditional Greek architecture. At the top of Plaka, just below the northeast flank of the Acropolis, is the settlement of Anafiotika, built in the 19th century by immigrants from the Cycladic islands in the style of an island village. This is one of the most unusual and most beautiful parts of Athens, hidden away in the city's very heart. Overnight: Athens Meals: B, D
Day 4: 13 May: Athens
We'll visit the Acropolis this morning before it gets too hot - and before all the tour buses arrive! Free afternoon - you might like to visit the excellent New Acropolis Museum where you can learn more about this historical site in air conditioned comfort. It contains a wealth of finds from the Acropolis, including wonderful Archaic sculpture, some of which still has traces of the original paint!
This evening we have a special treat - a hands-on lesson in Greek cooking! Get to know the wonderful world of Mediterranean cuisine; the herbs, the fresh vegetables, the choice meats that they always use and learn the basics on how to prepare a full Greek Sunday dinner with easy to follow recipes you can use to impress your guests when you get back home! And the best part at the end of the course, after you have successfully prepared a meal fit for a king under the guidance of your cooking instructor, is enjoying the meal you have helped to prepare with a glass of wine! Overnight: Athens Meals: B, D
Day 5: 14 May: Athens - Samos
Airport transfer to join your midday flight to the island of Samos where you will stay at a friendly family-run 3 star hotel near the waterfront in Pythagorio. Samos is in the North- east Aegean island group, and is separated from Turkey (Asia Minor) by the 1.6 kilometer wide Strait of Mykale. In ancient times Samos was a rich and powerful city-state, particularly known for its vineyards and wine production. Samos wine was well known in antiquity, and a large portion of the island is still covered with vineyards producing a delicious Samos muscat wine. Samos is the birthplace of the Greek philosopher and mathematician Pythagoras, the philosopher Epicurus, and the astronomer Aristarchus of Samos, the first known individual to propose that the Earth revolves around the sun.
Wander with your guide around the picturesque little town of Pythagorio this afternoon followed by a walk up to a little monastery with a great view across the Straits of Mykale to Turkey before heading down to the 6th century B.C. Eupalinos aqueduct. Back in 524 BC, when Pythagorio (then called Samos) was the island's capital and a bustling metropolis of 80,000, securing sources of drinking water became crucial. To solve the problem, ruler and dictator Polycrates ordered labourers to dig into a mountainside according to the exacting plan of his ingenious engineer, Eupalinos; many workers died during this dangerous dig. The result was the 1034m-long Eupalinos Tunnel, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In medieval times locals used it to hide from pirates.
Dinner tonight at another favourite restaurant down at the picturesque harbour. Overnight: Pythagorio Meals: B,L,D
Day 6: 15 May: Samos
This morning our wonderful taxi team will drive us along the northern coast to the picturesque mountain village of Manolates. After visiting the village you will walk on ancient paths, the only access from the coast to the village before the road was built, down through the peaceful Valley of the Nightingales. Your destination is Agios Konstantinos, a peaceful little village on the northern coast. Relax over a cold drink and lunch at a little local taverna before our taxi drivers arrive to take us back to Pythagorio. Time to relax before dinner. Overnight: Pythagorio Meals: B,L,D
Day 7: 16 May: Samos
Today we're going overseas! The boat trip across the Mykale Strait to Turkey takes about 2 hours. We'll be met on arrival and taken to Selcuk, a 20 minute drive from the port of Kusadasi, where our first stop is for refreshments at a little carpet shop. Karen's long-time friend Lily will explain the history of Turkish carpets and how the different patterns show which region the carpet or kilim comes from. This is a great opportunity to learn about these beautiful carpets without the massive sales pressure of big carpet shops. Lunch will be at a wonderful local restaurant where you can watch the ladies making pancakes in traditional nomadic style over an open fire. After lunch you'll meet your licensed guide who will take you through the impressive archaeological site of Ephesus - extensive remains of ancient civilisation, considered by many to be better than Pompeii in Italy. See the original Nike carved in marble, and the chariot marks in the marble paths, and the clay pipes that carried water to the ancient city. The famous Celsus library, built in 117 A.D., is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. Late afternoon we'll return to Kusadasi and have time to visit the bazaar (Turks are born salesmen so don't forget to haggle!) before boarding our boat back to Samos. Overnight: Pythagorio Meals: B, L
Day 8: 17 May: Samos
Today our taxi team will take us back along the north coast again to another delightful mountain village, Vourliotes. After a refreshment at a cafe with a spectacular view over vineyards and orchards down to the sea you'll walk down on forest paths and ancient trails to the charming small town of Kokkari on the northern coast. After lunch at Karen's favourite waterfront restaurant you'll have plenty of time for a swim and wander around this delightful small town before our taxis arrive to take you back to Pythagorio. Overnight: Pythagorio Meals: B,L,D
Day 9: 18 May: Mykonos
As Samos is off the main tourist route the ferry service only operates during the high season so this morning we will fly via Athens to Mykonos and transfer to our beautiful family-run hotel. Your hotel is 4 kms from the main town, with a good bus service into town. The hotel has a pool and a lovely beach is just a few minutes walk away. This afternoon join your guide to explore the picturesque maze of little streets of Mykonos town, see the iconic windmills and Paraportiani, another Mykonos landmark consisting of five small churches that were built one on top or next to the other. Free time after your guided walk to wander on your own. Keep an eye out for Petros the pelican! Overnight: Mykonos Meals: B,D
Day 10: 19 May: Mykonos
Free day. Relax at Ornos beach which is just a short walk from the hotel and has lots of beachfront options for a meal or a cold drink; take a bus into town for some retail therapy or visit the tiny island of Delos, 30 - 40 minutes by boat from Mykonos. Delos is one of the most important archaeological sites in Greece. Many temples and buildings were constructed and Delos had a population of around 30,000 in circa 90 B.C. The island's importance as a religious sanctuary was mentioned in the Odyssey, which Homer wrote around 700 B.C. According to mythology, this was where the gods Apollo and Artemis were born. The birthplace of the deities was considered so sacred that the island was declared off-limits for births and deaths of mortals. Back in 450 B.C., all graves on Delos were relocated to nearby Rinia island, while an edict passed in 426 B.C. made it illegal to give birth or even to die on Delos. Today it is a vast open-air archaeological site with an interesting museum. Overnight: Mykonos Meals: B
Day 11: 20 May: Mykonos - Naxos
This morning you'll board a ferry for the trip to Naxos (about 2 hours) and transfer to our beachfront hotel which is just a 10 minute walk from the main town and port. The capital of the island, Chora, is dominated by the well-preserved Venetian castle and the Portara at the entrance of the port - a large marble gate, the remains of an ancient temple. This afternoon you'll explore the picturesque old town of Naxos with its maze of little streets and tiny shops with your guide. Naxos is the largest island in the Cyclades group. According to Greek mythology, this was the isle of Dionysus, the god of wine. In the Middle Ages, the island was ruled by the Venetians and many Venetian towers are found in Naxos, some ruined and others turned into museums. Overnight: Naxos Meals: B,D
Day 12: 21 May: Naxos
Today you'll enjoy a great walk with our local guide on paths used only by farmers and shepherds. Surrounded by lush greenery, the region around Apiranthos on the northern side of the island is nice for hiking. Your walk will end in Apiranthos, a beautiful village with traditional architecture. Lunch at a lovely little taverna before catching the local bus back to your hotel. Overnight: Naxos Meals: B,L,D
Day 13: 22 May: Naxos
Free day - and time to enjoy some retail therapy in this charming small town. Lots of unique jewellery made from a local shell, textiles and works from local artisans can be found here and the maze of streets in the old town and the castle above it provide many photo opportunities. Or spend a relaxing day by the lovely pool or on the sandy beach in front of your hotel. Overnight: Naxos Meals: B
Day 14: 23 May: Naxos
This morning a taxi ride brings you to the start of another delightful walk with your local guide through little villages in the centre of this fertile island. After a coffee stop in Chalki you'll have time to visit a beautiful ceramic shop and the distillery where a Naxos speciality Kitron, a liquor made from a local citrus fruit, is made, before continuing your walk to a charming little taverna well off the tourist route where you'll have lunch under the shade of grapevines. Later taxis will return you to your beautiful beachfront hotel for a swim in the pool or the sea. Overnight: Naxos Meals: B,L,D
Day 15: 24 May: Naxos - Santorini
Around midday we'll board the ferry for the 3 hour trip to Santorini - surely one of the world's most spectacular islands. The view of the villages along the clifftop as you sail into the caldera are just spectacular - they look like snow on the barren rock-face! A zig-zag road from the port up to the top of the cliff offers amazing land and sea views of both sides of this little island. Your hotel is located in a pretty village on the outskirts of the main town and the view from our cliff top hotel is breathtaking! Enjoy amazing views on our walk along the cliff-top path to the main town this afternoon. Overnight: Santorini Meals: B,D
Day 16: 25 May: Santorini
Join Karen today on an optional walk along the rim of the crater to the picturesque little town of Oia, a photographer's delight. This is a hot 3 - 4 hour walk with no shade so you may prefer to take the local bus to explore this charming small town. The spectacular sunsets Santorini is so famous for can be experienced from your hotel, or during dinner at one of Karen's favourite restaurants. Overnight: Santorini Meals: B,D
Day 17: 26 May: Santorini
Free day. Take the pedestrian path along the clifftop into town for some last minute retail therapy or to visit the excellent museum, take a bus to the archeological site at Akrotiri where the remains of an ancient civilisation are being excavated, or spend a relaxing day by the hotel pool and enjoy that amazing caldera view. Karen has a special treat for your last evening: wine-tasting, a cooking lesson and dinner at an award-winning restaurant in the centre of Santorini's famous vineyards and valuable farmland! You'll have lots of happy memories of your Greek Island holiday to share over dinner this evening. Overnight: Santorini Meals: B, D
Day 18: 27 May: Santorini - Athens
Morning flight to Athens where your tour ends at Athens International Airport around midday. What a fantastic, refreshing, indulgent, fun, interesting and wonderful trip it has been! Meals: B
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Pull up a seat, I'd like to have a chat with you about risk, travel and common sense. Yesterday I was sitting with my Dutch friend Jose commiserating the lack of tourists in the Sinai, Egypt. We both live here at the moment, in this sleepy, peaceful Red Sea beachside town, inhabited by ex-pats and the local Bedouin tribe. Since the revolution in Egypt, ongoing unrest and some kidnappings in the past couple of years here in the Sinai desert, tourists have been warned to stay away. Even though you couldn't be in a safer place. We need to get this in perspective.
Recently Joses family visited her and she wanted to take them on a safari into the beautiful local desert. Because of the brief kidnappings of 2 Americans and later a couple of Brazilians, her sister didn't want to go. Jose, who works in tourism, was insulted that her sister even considered that she might be putting her life at risk. She knew that the kidnappings were a protest by the oppressed Bedouins to get some wrongfully jailed relatives freed. (There was a law in Egypt whereby you could be imprisoned on suspicion of something and without trial, needless to say there are many innocent people in jail here.) In both cases of the kidnappings, the "hostages" had a cultural experience. The Americans were given tea and food and a nice time, and the Brazilians were asked to give the prizes at the local Camel Race - just to show it was not aimed at them, just to prove a point to their oppressors, the Egyptian government. To add insult to injury, Jose's sister later booked a trip to New York. Jose was flabbergasted (love that word!). I mean, hello??
Because of the kidnappings foreign governments issued travel warnings about going into the Sinai desert, thereby killing the safari business which local Bedouins live on. Further oppression. However, consider this: after recent shootings in the US, people continue to go to Batman movies and they are still sending their kids to school. Noone was hurt here in the Sinai, yet harmful paranoia was spread.
I firmly believe, after many years on this planet, and working in adventure tourism, that when your number is up, your number is up. I fell 20m out of the sky once in a paragliding accident. I was delivered to hospital by helicopter with a broken back and foot severed at the ankle. Nurses kept coming in and telling me my life was a gift from God. I didn't end up in a wheelchair or die. My number wasn't up. S*** happens, that's life. But my number wasn't up that day.
I worked in an adventure office selling rafting, canyoning and bungy jumping trips. I often got asked, as someone booked a trip "Am I going to die?" I was never quite sure how to answer this one, but my response was usually one of the following:
"I don't know" (I'm not God after all!),
"I didn't just sell you a death trip, I sold you a rafting trip",
"Yes. One day...",
or "You have just booked a raft trip, I can't guarantee that you wont walk outside and get hit by a bus". The answer depended on my mood, of course. We can't predict our deaths, and it usually happens when we least expect it.
The word "adventure" implies a certain amount of risk. There is "soft adventure" and "extreme adventure". Whatever the case, adventures are great, they make us live in the moment and keep us alive and our hearts beating. It is important to calculate the risk. Some adventures are controlled, some are not. Its up to you how much risk you want to take, just like in the share market. But always calculate the risk based on good information, not on rumours and hearsay.
A plane falls out of the sky and 300 people die, and people don't stop flying. Its just media hype that puts fear into the hearts of the all the sheeple out there and stops them thinking and influences their decisions. Fear makes you buy certain beauty creams, life and car insurance etc. Stop and have a think for a minute and ask yourself what you are really afraid of. You might find you are fearing nothing at all, something that does not even exist or that might not even happen.
Lets talk about beliefs - remember Bird Flu? It was going to wipe out lots of the worlds population and governments were preparing for it. It wasn't a matter of IF it was going to happen, but WHEN. This had people living in fear and probably adjusting their lives in strange ways, just like the end of the world and the Mayan calendar. If you believe all that stuff, chances are you are a "sheeple". Sheeple don't analyse the news, they just take it at face value. So why do you believe that stuff? Is it because someone told you it so it must be true, or is it because it is something you experienced? Why do you accept it to be true? Watch the news - they tell you exactly who are the good guys and who are the bad guys, you are not even allowed to decide for yourself. That's why there is so much anti-muslim sentiment. If you watched Arab news you might decide the US is the worlds' biggest terrorist for all the damage done and lives lost in Iraq and many other countries.
OK, you get the picture now? Good. Don't forget: Life is a risk, that's all there is to it. Strange things happen. Good things happen too. Don't believe all that you read and hear if you weren't there yourself. Don't let the media tell you what to believe. Live the day, for you never know when the end will come. Have adventures. And only believe what you want in this article, because its just based on my own meandering experience. Thanks for your listening. â~º
The following answers sum up why our adventure trips for women are so awesome!
-Usually you can relax more - not intimidated by the way you look or dress and usually have a hell of a lot more fun and laughs
-Safer, more relaxed environment, no competition with the men (or for the men!)
-It is more relaxing to visit/shop/look at something/take ones time/etc and not wonder if ones partner is - or isn't- enjoying himself.
-Mixed trips change the dynamics of the group. Always!
-Women only rules!!!!!
-we talk the same language
-Women travelling together are for the most part easy going, not competitive, more open to trying new things, more comfortable in our own skin, and more willing to let a country and its people under our skin. Also, we can forget about our roles in life (wife, mother etc) and focus all our energy on just being us!
-...men are a pain and whine to get their own way.
...and last but not least, and this answer sums it all up:
-Because men are from Mars and women are from Venus! (simple really...)
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These handy travel packs for 2L water bottles mean your hands are free to shop and you don't have to hold onto your bottle or remember to keep it with you. Wear it as a pack or sling it over your shoulder.
It's usually just before dinner, in a wonderful spot - maybe on a sand dune, or in a locally decorated beautiful room. It's a time when we unwind, relax, have a drink and socialize together, maybe tell a few tales of the days events and get to know each other more. And of course, have a few laughs! Gin is our preferred tipple, but of course, you can drink anything from a juice to a glass of wine, depending on your taste!
Did you know
.... that the recipe for Gordon's Gin is known to only twelve people in the world and has been kept a secret for 250 years?
...that Bombay Sapphires name originates from the gin's popularity in India in of the days of the British Raj and the sapphire in question is the Star of Bombay on display at the Smithsonian Institution.
OK, so have found yourself in a fabulous Arab bazaar in some hot, sandy and exotic country. It is a maze of twisting alleyways crammed with people and intriguing shoplets selling bright and alluring handicrafts: colourfully decorated carpets, lamps, clothes, leather and metalware. Trapped in shopping heaven, you almost pass out with excitement. Sweet, musky incense wafts through the air, and as you saunter along in the heat, handsome swarthy men try to entice you into their shops with cheesey one-liners "Madame, can I ask you something?"
Shopping in an Arab souq is something you have to be in the mood for. Patience and a sense of humour are a necessity or you won't last 5 minutes. And if you don't have your wits about you, you may find yourself limping back to your hotel under the strain of five carpets and no money to finance the rest of your trip and wondering how that all happened when all you wanted to buy was a scarf. You had only asked out of interest how much that lovely rug was...and before you knew it - you had five!
Golden Rule No. 1: don't ask how much something is unless you want to buy it. If you do ask, you are entering into a "negotiation" - commonly known as "haggling". Your lovely salesman will enquire how long you have been in his country to see how green (stupid) you are, suss out how many gold rings you have on, and then name an extortionate price. Your jaw will drop and you will gasp in horror.
Golden Rule No. 2: ask yourself how much you might pay for this item back home, look at the quality, and then remember you are buying it at the source. It has not been imported and you are cutting out several middlemen. Think what you would be prepared to pay, and then name a lower price. Now it is your salesman's turn to gasp in horror and act insulted. Game on!
Haggling is theatrics, and can be a lot of fun if you are patient. Have a mint tea and get comfortable! You will now negotiate with your man, he will try to force your price up with all sorts of sob stories about how business has been bad, how many kids he has to feed etc. You have to invent some of your own sob stories about how little money you have and you saved all your life to get here...remember, keep it fun and encourage humour!
Golden Rule No. 3: Stick to your guns! The Arab salesman always wants to win this game, even if only by a small amount, but if possible, by a huge amount! If the price gets beyond what you are willing to pay - walk away. Better to walk away than to regret it later. If your price was not fair, he will let you go. If your price was reasonable after all, your charming salesman will most likely come after you (he hates to miss a sale), drag you back to the shop, wrap your exotic treasure into a neat package, and relieve you of your cash.
And this brings me to the most important rule, Golden Rule No. 4: both parties should be happy at the end of the transaction - you should be happy with what you paid and the treasure that you bought, and the salesman should be happy with his sale. And thus you will get the lovely scarf you wanted and not five rugs.
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