Travel Blog

IMPORTANT – If booking international travel, PLEASE make sure you have a valid passport at the time of book. Also, COVID Travel, Testing and Health Requirement information is provided by your Travel Advisor as guidance only and can change without notice. Always reconfirm information by checking government & airline websites before booking and traveling.

I had never been to Canada before and I love trains, so I was thrilled with the opportunity to see Canada’s beautiful countryside from my comfy chair aboard Rocky Mountaineer! This 7-day trip was jam packed with amazing scenery and thrilling adventures. I flew into Vancouver. I haven’t been to the Vancouver airport before, and I think it might be one of my fav’s! Getting through Customs was a breeze. I found an ATM machine to exchange a little Money (the airport is the easiest and just charges $3 to do the exchange). I found that I really didn’t have to exchange money as everyone takes Credit cards, but it was nice to have a little Canadian money for tips and smaller things I purchased. Pretty much everyone takes American dollars, but you won’t get as good of a deal and the change will be in Canadian.

We stayed at the Beautiful Sheraton Wall Centre in Downtown Vancouver. Our tour started early the following day. We were treated to ‘Fly Over Canada’ (if you like Soaring over California in Disneyland, you will love this), ate lunch in Granville Island, and explored the nearby forest at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Vancouver loves Art and Cultures from all over the world. Everywhere you look, you see evidence of this.

On Monday we boarded Rocky Mountaineer headed east to Kamloops for our 1st night. We enjoyed ‘Gold’ service with 180-degree views. You are assigned a nice (heated) seat and there isn’t a bad seat in the house…but no one sits in their seat for long. You get to know your fellow travelers, and everyone shares seats so you can get the best views of both sides of the train. Downstairs is the dining area; I must say the food was excellent! We enjoyed Breakfast and Lunch at our assigned time. In between we were served snacks and Drinks from an open bar. We had a personal guide in our train car who shared history and stories about the areas we were traveling through. We arrived at our Kamloops hotel around 8:00pm. We had enough time to take a short walk and found an ice cream cone before bed.

The next morning started at 6am. We were on the train and headed out of the station by 6:30. The Rocky Mountaineer folks makes everything fun. The whole train station staff came out and waved goodbye as we rolled out of both stations. This day was amazing. We saw eagles, mountain goats, elk, deer, etc. Everywhere you looked there were rivers, lakes, & adorable villages. There is a lot of History here. Stories (good and bad) were shared about the building of the railroad, Engineering feats (such as the Spiral Tunnels built in the early 1900’s), and Local folklore. This was a long day, but fantastic!

We finally arrived Banff. I’m a huge Yellowstone fan, but these Rocky Mountains put Yellowstone mountains to shame. They reminded me of the Teton peaks on a massive scale. They surround you and seem to go on forever. Just beautiful. The quaint town of Banff is mostly for tourists, but so much fun. Besides shopping, restaurants, & beautiful Hotels, there are trails everywhere. Mountains, rivers, waterfalls, & wildlife, are all within walking distance or a inexpensive bus ride.

For the next 2 days we toured Banff. We visited lake Louise, (a place I have always wanted to go) and had lunch in Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise. We visited other beautiful lakes, and waterfalls (Emerald Lake may be my favorite). The Blue hues of these lakes are amazing. We were lucky enough to watch a cute teenage Bear wander by the side of the road near lake Louise. He didn’t seem to mind that we were close by. On our final day in Banff, we were able to take the gondola to the top of Mt Sulphur. The views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below were amazing. After enjoying lunch here, we set off for Calgary for our final day.

We didn’t get to see a lot of Calgary, but it was a beautiful city and I’m sure there is a lot to do. We did get to visit and enjoy dinner at the Calgary Heritage Park. A great place to immerse yourself in pioneer and cowboy life over a century ago. Dinner was fun in the old Gasoline Ally Museum. The food was great, and the Mayor of Calgary deemed us honorary Calgarians. It was a great trip and one I would recommend to anyone.

Karrie Stewart
Morris Columbus Travel

 

 

If you think Africa is all desert and savannah plains, you’re incorrect. Its landscapes are as diverse as they are breathtaking, a liberal helping of pretty beaches, charming towns, and stunning panoramic views. Here are my picks for two of the most beautiful places in Africa.

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Mozambique’s long coastline is lined with many unspoiled and stunningly attractive beaches, none more so than the sands of the Bazaruto Archipelago just offshore. Its clear turquoise waters are home to a plethora of marine life, including sea turtles and dugongs.

Photo credit: Tonis Valing/Shutterstock

Uganda’s Tea Country

Many of us associate tea growing with the hill country of India and Sri Lanka, but East Africa’s soil and climate are equally suitable. Uganda’s lush and verdant farms form some of the country’s most photogenic landscapes. On your way to see the gorillas, add two extra days to discover the beauty of Uganda.

Photo credit: Ashim D Silva/Shutterstock

I will be happy to help you plan a worry-free getaway. Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me

 

 

 

1. Under The Tuscan Sun is a romantic story set in rural Tuscany. Lush landscapes, scrumptious looking food, gorgeous Italian people and places…the perfect flick to watch if you want something easy on the heart and eyes.

2. Out Of Africa is an oldie but goody. This movie was filmed in Kenya and the UK, and became an instant classic, nabbing 7 Oscars. It will get you hungry for a safari or wildlife adventure.

3. Amelie is almost synonymous with Paris, and for good reason. The iconic cinematography, the accordion-heavy soundtrack, it’s a gorgeous example of authentic French cinema.

4. Lost In Translation is a must for anyone who has traveled or wants to travel–it’s a film about the little random experiences that stay with you long after you return home, and it’s also a poetic homage to Tokyo. If this doesn’t give you a hankering for Japan, nothing will.

5. Lion is good for a good cry and a virtual trip to India. Moving, heartstopping, and a visual feast, this film, based on a gripping true story about homelessness and adoption in Kolkata, gives you a taste of India and will leave you wanting more.

6. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is on every single “Best Travel Movies” List, without fail. The film shows how taking bold risks and leaving your comfort zone can lead to the greatest things in life–plus, if Iceland is of interest, you’ll be booking your ticket before the film finishes.

7. Vicky, Cristina Barcelona may deceive you into thinking everyone in Spain looks like Penelope Cruz and Javier Barden…and after a few glasses of Sangria, they all will! We jest–but the passion and emotions that ooze out of this film are distinctly Spanish and totally charming. Plus, the scenery is pure eye candie.

I will be happy to help you plan a worry-free getaway. Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me

 

 

I just returned from a 7-day cruise on the Rhine on one of Viking” s ship, Viking Kara, exploring Switzerland, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. The Rhine River runs from the Swiss Alps through the Franco-German border and empties into the North Sea up in the Netherlands. I embarked in Basel on a beautiful sunny Sunday. I spent the night before in Basel and discovered its lovely medieval old town. Embarkation was seamless. Upon entering the ship, I was happily surprised by the décor, simple, classy, and inviting. The entire trip was peaceful and relaxing, a perfect balance between cultural excursions and leisure time. The atmosphere on board was casual, intimate, and friendly. We were only 123 guests which gave us the feeling of a large family reunion. I stayed in a French balcony cabin. The cabin had several outlets, both European and American, so I could easily keep all my electronics charged. The bathroom was perfect, from the shower to the heated floor to the fog free mirror. The large drawers and hanging closet allowed me to unpack completely.

All the Viking’s ships are individually named after different Nordic gods and goddesses. Our ship, Viking Kara, had a giant painting at the top of the main staircase. The painting represented Kara. in Norse mythology, Kara is one of the Valkyries, who are also known as swan maidens or wish maidens.

I enjoyed the small colorful towns, World War II history, amazing castles perched up high on the hills surrounded by forest and the vineyards. For the scenery, my favorite excursions were the Black Forest, the highlights of Strasbourg, and the bike ride in Kinderdijk in the middle of the windmills. The half day sail along the Middle Rhine was spectacular. All the cultural sites, many of them UNESCO sites, were interesting: the Imperial cathedral of Speyer, the Fortress of Koblenz, and the Cathedral of Cologne.

Overall, Viking exceeded my expectations in many ways. Often trips to Europe are so exhausting that you need a vacation when you get home. My seamless, stress-free journey was a pure pleasure.

I cannot wait to travel again on a Viking ship.

I will be happy to help you plan a worry-free Viking cruise. Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me