Any agent selling Europe knows that for the last few years, the Flanders area of Belgium has been a hot destination. The vast majority of travelers generally visit either Brussels, the European Union capital, or Bruges...everyone’s choice for Europe’s medieval town “cute” capital.
Bruges is definitely a great place to visit, as it is Europe’s best preserved medieval old town and has a real-life fairytale atmosphere. Not quite 2 square miles, this UNESCO World Heritage city center has something of a Disneyland feel to it. Most tourists visit Bruges between 9am and 4pm, and if you’re having a beer at a hopping café, suddenly by 5 pm, it becomes a quiet, somewhat empty café.
For those travelers looking for something beyond a fairytale experience, what’s the solution? The answer is... a visit to the beautiful city of Ghent!
With more than 2,000 Christmas markets in Germany, travelers are spoiled for choice. That can leave travel agents puzzling over where to suggest, especially for clients who have “been there, done that” on the usual itinerary of famous markets. While these best-known markets - Nürnberg, Rothenburg, Munich, Cologne and a few others - are still fun to visit, they are also the most crowded and nearby hotel rooms harder to book.
You can assure your clients of dazzling Christkindlmarkts in the less-traveled states of eastern Germany, and plan an itinerary that takes them to the home of some of Germany’s most cherished holiday traditions. These include the beautiful wooden angels, Santas, nutcrackers and other ornaments sold in markets all over the country.
As travel agents you’re especially aware of what today’s travelers seek. Standard one-size-fits-all tours are out; today’s traveler wants to step into local culture, do what locals do, experience the local scene and taste the local flavors. Especially the latter, as travelers realize that local foods and culinary traditions are a vital key to understanding local cultures.
Your clients may not have considered Germany for their foody travels, perhaps thinking that German food begins and ends with knackwurst, dumplings and sauerkraut. They may be surprised when you tell them that Germany ranks 4th in the world for the number of restaurants with 3 Michelin stars. They will find a full range of dining choices, from the traditional hearty Gasthof favorites to brilliantly conceived dishes to delight the most sophisticated palate.
From William Shakespeare’s Elizabethan plays to J.K. Rowling’s magical fantasies, Great Britain’s literary heritage is monumental. London, England’s capital, and the surrounding countryside have nurtured scores of celebrated authors and provided fictional settings for their poems, plays and novels.
On a one or two-week visit to England, start with a few days in London exploring famous literary haunts of William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Then head to Bath and neighboring Hampshire county to follow in the footsteps of beloved writer, Jane Austen, author of such classics as Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility.
Enjoy two destinations for the price of one! Azores Airlines provides non-stop service from USA and Canada gateways, with continuing service on to mainland Portugal. From the US, it is just a 5 hour flight until your clients will have the opportunity to hike to the rim of an ancient volcano, admiring crater lakes of emerald green or deep blue, sipping wine grown in lava fields while dining in a seaside village, or watching an exquisite sunset over the Atlantic. And, after having from one to seven-days to discover the Azores, we then take them on to mainland Portugal to discover the delights of Lisbon and Porto. For those that want to get to the mainland, Azores Airlines brings a new way - the Azores Way. Fly direct if you have no time, but, flying direct means you’ll miss the Azores. With up to 3-flights per day on to Lisbon, and a daily-fight to Porto, moving beyond Azores just became so much easier with the new Stopover program.
It’s impossible not to like Madeira, the Portuguese island that stands alone in the Atlantic, closer to Morocco than to the mainland of Portugal. It has something to please almost every client, whether their passion is hiking, beaches, gardens, sea adventures or food.
What foodie could not love a place that grows more than seven different varieties of passionfruit (each with a different flavor) and is surrounded by fresh seafood. Chefs combine the largess of tropical fruits with the morning’s catch in infinite and creative ways. The island cuisine will surprise (and delight) food-lovers for its fresh and inventive style.
It could be argued that leisure travel began with pilgrimages. Long before Medieval pilgrims began making the arduous journey to Rome or Santiago de Compostella, Christians had traveled to the Holy Land. Pilgrimages to the Holy Land began as early as the fourth century, and by the 12th century there were already travel guides listing the important sites in Rome. Christians aren’t the only pilgrims, or the first. The Hajj, for Muslims, dates back to the time of Abraham - about 2000 BC. The earliest reference to Hindu pilgrimages is from 1500 BC.
JAX FAX recently returned from a trip to the Czech Republic which is commemorating the centenary of the establishment of independent Czechoslovakia. To mark this occasion, our trip focused on themes connected with the period of the First Republic (1918-1938), i.e. the twenty years between World War I and World War II.
The Black Forest National Park is one of the famous primeval woodlands in the state of Baden-Württemberg in southwest Germany. With extensive habitats for many plants and wildlife species, this stunning treasure borders the Rhine valley. It is a sanctuary of ancient trees that are filled with folklore. These gentle, giant spruce trees loom upwards to the heavens, providing an aura of tranquility that add to the Black Forest mystique.
Medieval hill-towns like Assisi, Orvieto, Perugia and Spoleto perch high above lush valleys. Family-owned vineyards produce world-class wines and age-old olive groves yield fragrant extra virgin oils. From local farms come organic pork and lamb, lentils and chickpeas. Thick forests of oaks, elms and chestnuts shelter the region’s prized black truffles.
Known as “Italy’s green heart,” Umbria tempts all the senses. But it also transports the soul. The region’s misty blue hills inspired the likes of St. Francis of Assisi, St. Clare, St. Benedict, and St. Valentine, patron saint of lovers. Today, visitors explore rock-bound hermitages, hilltop shrines, and cathedrals adorned with frescoes by Giotto, Luca Signorelli, and Perugino, who schooled the great Renaissance painter, Raphael.