Greetings! Here in Manitoba the sun is shining, the temperature is improving, and May flowers are popping out. Businesses in Manitoba can open again under the “new normal” rules of maintaining physical distancing, sanitization processes and so on. New cases of Covid-19 here are non-existent and there is a feeling …
When I found out I was going to Russia, the first thing I thought of – I need to see a ballet! That is one of the things you always hear about – the ballet. The most famous is of course the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. This is almost impossible …
My partner Chris had told me so much about Salar de Uyuni. The photos from his previous trips were stunning. I was so excited to see the salt flats that I didn’t even mind waking up around 4:00am. The drive from our accommodations to Incahuasi Island took about an hour. …
It was September 2010, my first time to Europe! I was on my way to Greece! It was a FAM Trip (familiarization trip exclusively for travel agents, hosted by suppliers/tour operators/tourist boards to visit & learn about a destination). I was super excited, but also super nervous at the same time. This would be my first trip to Europe (alone), and I would be on a plane direct from Toronto for 10 hours! What would I do with my time??
Having never been to Europe, I was excited to see what it would be like. I’d learned a lot about Europe, through colleagues, and specialized training courses, but it was finally time to experience it first hand. What a beautiful country to visit, especially for my first time to Europe.
My itinerary would be taking me to Greece’s capital, Athens, as well as the islands of Mykonos, Santorini, and Crete. Read More >
Here in Manitoba the sun is shining, the temperature is improving, and May flowers are popping out. Businesses in Manitoba can open again under the “new normal” rules of maintaining physical distancing, sanitization processes and so on. New cases of Covid-19 here are non-existent and there is a feeling of optimism in the air.
Having been cooped up in our many forms of self-isolation there is an understandable desire to get out, to return to the “old normal” and to travel again. We are seeing an increase in the number of inquiries as to where and how people can travel.
As much as I welcome this increased desire to travel, and I certainly look forward to the day our travel business is running full steam again, this letter is about caution. Today, I’ll focus on this from our Canadian clients’ perspective, next week from that of our American clients’ viewpoint, as regulations are quite different between the two countries. Read More >
When I found out I was going to Russia, the first thing I thought of – I need to see a ballet! That is one of the things you always hear about – the ballet.
The most famous is of course the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow. This is almost impossible to get tickets to, especially if you are outside of Europe. Sure enough, the dates I was in Moscow – completely sold out!
My only other stop in Russia was in St Petersburg. There are many theatres there that have ballets, but the most famous are the Mariinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsky Theatre and the historical theatre at the Hermitage.
Once I had sorted out that I would need to find SOMETHING in St Petersburg, the next task was to pick a show! There are the traditional shows such as Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. I knew I wanted tradition, and I really wanted Swan Lake – a Russian ballet, in a Russian theatre, with Russian dancers – in Russia!
As luck would have it, Swan Lake was showing at the Mikhailovsky Theatre on a date that worked for me.
We’re past the 2-month mark of the COVID-19 pandemic and things here in our part of the world are beginning to look very positive and hopeful. We know there’s a long way to go before our world opens up fully. But, little by little, we’ll get there.
Our staff continues to be here for our clients, supporting them and guiding them through a myriad of rebooking and rescheduling options and, in some cases, refunds. New bookings are being made for travel in late 2020, in 2021 and even into 2022. Yes, we will travel again!
Most of our clients, and the majority of clients of travel companies around the world, realize that these are unprecedented times and that we find ourselves in a situation none of us could possibly have foreseen. They understand that policies are constantly changing, are not consistent from supplier to supplier, even differing from country to country with the same supplier. And they are aware that our industry has been almost decimated by the global shutdown.
Unfortunately, not all people are understanding of the difficult situation faced by agencies, travel and tourism suppliers. The debate rages on about whether a travel credit versus a refund is fair compensation during these unique times. Those who argue for refunds either don’t consider, or simply don’t care, that their demands could well push a business into bankruptcy. Read More >
When in Iceland of course I had to visit their world famous geothermal spa at The Blue Lagoon. It is a wonderful experience, and very handy to Keflavik airport so easy to visit even if you only have a stopover in Iceland. But, it can be very busy. “Why not try one of the many smaller facilities in Iceland?”, I thought, or even experience one of many public pools, which are also heated with geothermal waters.
If you are touring the Golden Circle area on your own on a self-drive, I suggest a visit to The Secret Lagoon near Fludir. It is a natural hot spring with a sandy bottom and constant feeding of fresh thermal waters keeping the pool at 38-40° Celsius year round. The pool’s natural surroundings and steam rising into the air gives the place a magical feeling. Read More >
Wop wop wop goes the helicopter blades. I am sitting next to the pilot in a small 4-seater helicopter ready for take off. Headphones on, buckled in, my heart a pounding! I calm myself and silently tell myself I can do this!!!!!
Within seconds, and with a couple of jerks, we have lifted off and are flying over the runway, over Belmond Eagle Island Lodge towards The Okavango Delta in Botswana. For the first few minutes I am breathless from the beauty, the fear I am experiencing and the fact that I have no door beside me and I literally feel like I am going to fall out.
I slowly start letting myself relax and begin to enjoy this most incredible experience I am having. From flying so low I have unbelievable views of the endless Delta. In flood season the Okavango Delta has an area of 15,000 kilometres. The vast number of colourful small islands, river (creek) channels and hippo highways (paths the hippos walk through at night to forage for food) is never ending. It truly was fascinating to see the areas from the air that we normally drive through on Safari.
The last few weeks have been unusual, there’s no doubt about it!
The travel industry, in general, all but shut down within a matter of days. But, the work for our travel business didn’t disappear, as we had clients who we needed to help get home. And there were lots of future trips to be rescheduled or cancelled. Difficult decisions had to be made as to staffing levels and, after discussions with each staff member individually by phone, many were temporarily laid off. During that time we kept in touch through weekly updates about what was happening in our offices in Winnipeg and Edmonton; news from our suppliers and the status of various government programs. I shared as much information as I possibly could, to keep all of our team members “in the loop”.
My staff members, those who were still working and those who were laid off, continued to communicate with one another, to share information about files or news, or just to say “Hi, thinking of you”. It was heartwarming to see the comradery between colleagues during a tough time.
Two months – a new vocabulary – a new way of living and relating to people around us – eternal hope that sometime “our new normal” will be restored to something resembling our “old normal.” This week there appeared to be a small light at the end of the tunnel as businesses in Manitoba, Canada and other places around the world started to open back up. “Slowly and cautiously” will be the mantra to ensure that the “second wave” of the virus does not cause us all to have to revert to complete isolation once again.
Two months is a long time to be away from each other at the office. Two months is a long time to be away from our clients. But as I walked to work this morning, listening to the birds just starting the day and observing the sky change colours in the pre-dawn, my thoughts were not on despair but on gratitude.
Today is National Travel Agent Day and it formally gives me the reason to pause and say to our travel consultants, “Thank you for your outstanding work! Thank you for Creating the Best Days Ever for our clients. Thank you for your caring, your professionalism, your knowledge and your expertise.”
Anyone who is a Game of Thrones® fan will know that much of the filming of the blockbuster HBO series took place in Northern Ireland. You can visit many of the locations on excellent guided day tours out of Belfast or multi-day tours, for a more in-depth experience. And many of the guides were actually involved in the filming of the show, so have firsthand knowledge.
One of the filming locations is The Dark Hedges, in the northern part of County Antrim. To those in Westeros it is known as the Kingsroad. The Dark Hedges was battered by gale force winds during Storm Gertrude in 2016. Unfortunately, a number of the trees whose branches formed the scenic arch over the road, were felled by the winds. Rather than just dispose of the wood the idea came up to use the wood from some of the trees that fell to create intricately carved, wooden doors, each door depicting a story from Game of Thones®, Season 6. Thus, the Journey of Doors was born!
As the world continues to follow physical distancing and shelter in place orders and travel remains largely “on pause,” we are reminded of how important it is to connect with one another. Now, more than ever, it’s necessary to help each other overcome isolation through inspiration.
This awesome video from Ensemble, a consortium our agency is a member of, highlights the intrinsic value of travelling and using us, your travel consultants and advisors, to connect to our amazing world.
Travel truly does bring people together. We will travel again! But, in the meantime, we hope you enjoy this short video and that it inspires you to keep dreaming and keep planning your future trips. We’re sure there are lots of Best Days Ever! ahead for us all.