To look or to live….

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I love to travel.  As I look back on my life I see my trips, be they months long or just a few days, as sign posts in a sea of time. I can easily recall the distinct smell of spring in the South of France in 1997 when I spent a semester studying in Nice.  The fall of 1998 is forever etched in my mind as the time I discovered the rugged beauty of Costa Rica.  I know exactly what I did in November of 1999 because I had just landed in South Africa. 2000 – 2003 is filled with sweet memories of Asia as I spent those years living in Taiwan and roaming around China, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Thailand, Mongolia and Australia.  While I have trouble recalling last Tuesday, these travel memories fill my past with incredibly vivid markers.  This is why I truly believe that travel is part of a life well lived.

Why Backroads some of you have asked?  It’s the lure of active travel that has me hooked on this incredible company.  A few family members have worked as Guides with Backroads and tell incredible stories of the way groups bond during the journey and how each individual brings something unique and special to a trip.  I’ve spoken with others who have been guests of Backroads and they universally exclaim that it was the best time and money they ever spent.  They felt alive and strong and came home exhilarated and eager to book the next one.  While it’s always wonderful to lay on a beach and rest, sometimes the body needs movement and exertion.  We need to feel connected and alive.

To get your hands dirty and walk  in the side streets and back roads of a new country is to have an intimate and personal experience with it.  Not simply observing the scenery, you become part of it.

If you are ready to plan an unforgettable trip with Backroads call Niche Travel Group at (902) – 407-4567 or email faith@nichetravelgroup.ca

Niche Travel Group

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Hit the Backroads – Salzburg to Munich

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It really does take your breath away.  Winding though sky scraping mountains, through dense forest and limitless natural beauty, suddenly this fairytale castle juts above the trees and drops your jaw.  It is in such an impossible location both in its beauty and remoteness that you have to ask yourself how it ever came to be.  Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen Germany is one of the places that just beg to be visited, quietly asking you to feel it for yourself.

Built by ‘shy’ King Ludwig II to recluse from the public, this majestic limestone castle is now visited by 1.4 million visitors per year.  It is a remnant of a way of life long gone; an opportunity to step back in time for a moment and experience history now.

“I could not be more satisfied with my first Backroads trip.  This is excellence worth paying for.”  Patricia Smith

Backroads has tailored an incredible 6 day journey from Salzburg to Munich through the Kaiser mountains.  See the stunning hills that inspired Maria to sing in the Sound of Music, boat across Germany’s deepest and cleanest lake and feel the spray of the country’s highest waterfall.  Walk quietly along the rocky ridge that borders Germany and Austria and take Gondolas straight from the valley floor to the upper reaches of the Tyrolean Alps where the air you breathe redefines crispness.  Savor a Michelin-starred German meal then explore the incredible grounds of Neuschwanstein Castle.  It will all feel like a dream capped perfectly with a visit to the festive biergartens in Munich.

Full trip details here:  Backroads Salzburg to Munich

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If this calls to you then call us and start dreaming. It’s common for our guests to book up to a year before departure so there’s plenty of time to read up and get ready for a vacation of a lifetime!

6 days / 5 nights.  Sunday to Friday, June to September.  Starting at US $4,998 per person *double occupancy.  All breakfasts, 6 lunches and 4 dinners included.

To book or discuss, call Niche Travel Group at (902)407-4567 or email Faith@nichetravelgroup.ca  Niche Travel Group

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Hit the Backroads – Cinque Terre & Tuscany

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When I close my eyes I can feel the gentle breeze coming off the Mediterranean and hear the waves crashing against the rugged shoreline.  As I walk along the trail, between luscious vineyards, I can feel the ancient earth crush beneath my boots.   It’s a moment of pure beauty and peace and I take a moment to reflect upon the decisions that led me here. Travel is a choice.  It is a gift you give to yourself and those you love.  It is a way to steal time and create incredible memories and is part of a life well lived.

As a young backpacker I made my way to the Cinque Terre and fell deeply in love with this piece of Italy.  It is one of the places I have always recommended to anyone heading to Europe in search of something unique.  It is a place I will return to and when I do it will be with Backroads. I’ve done a lot of research and spoken with many people who have traveled and worked with Backroads and everyone raves about the experience.

“We’ve traveled with several other companies and Backroads has found the ideal combination: great place, options for how active you want to be, culinary experiences, local culture and outstanding guides”  – Jerry Schwartz

Backroads has a beautiful trip through the stunning villages of the Cinque Terre and into the rolling hills of Tuscany.

  • Explore two distinct regions of Italy in one amazing trip
  • Hike through the dramatic landscape to Protovenere, taking in sweeping vistas of the Golfo della Spezia
  • Pass elegant villas en route to pretty Portofino, playground of the rich and famous
  • Stroll through quintessential Tuscan villages, vineyards and cypress-flanked lanes
  • Sip regional wines at fun and informative tastings
  • Spend 2 nights at the Villa Le Barone in Chianti which has been owned by the same family since the 1500s.

Backroads Cinque Terre & Tuscany

Starting at US$3,498 per person (tax included) *dbl occupancy.

6 days/ 5 nights.  Sunday – Friday, April – October.

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If you are interested in learning more about this exciting trip please call Niche Travel Group at (902) 407-4567.

Dedicated to Enrich lives one vacation at a time.

 

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Access makes invisible

Constant access to anything makes it invisible. Gratitude brings it back into focus.

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I live in the Rocky Mountains in beautiful British Columbia, Canada. I am surrounded by stunning natural beauty and encounter wild animals almost daily. I have often wondered if I’ve become complacent in my awe of this place until I was recently struck by a thought that cut deep into my existence.

On a recent road trip with my family I was daydreaming and gazing out the car window when out of the corner of my eye I caught sight of something common, but saw it with new eyes.  What I saw was a group of tourists on the side of the road taking photos of a handful of bighorn sheep. As I watched the visitors inch closer to the dangerous wild animals I was struck first with concern for their well being then harsh criticism over their response to something as banal as a herd of sheep. Rather than revel in the beauty of these majestic wild animals I was contemplating why anyone would ever want to photograph this roadside scene,  nevermind risk their lives to do so?

This thought suddenly sent me back to the first time I ever saw a big horned sheep. As a 19 year old girl living in the majestic Jasper National Park in Alberta, I eagerly whipped out my camera every time I saw an elk, bighorn sheep,  deer, and of course a bear. It was an awesome and new experience to cross paths with such animals and snapping a photo was part of the excitement. Those photographs live in a box somewhere and have long lost their luster, but for a time they hung on my walls and refrigerator and filled me with enthusiasm and appreciation for the place I temporarily called home. 

When did it change? At what point did this experience go from awesome to ordinary? Why do I so easily criticize people for doing the exact same thing I did years ago? As I followed this thought I realized that there was a profound lesson here.

Why does the newness of something dictate its value?  Perhaps our conditioning to want the next and the newest and the best and the brightest has eroded our ability to value what we already have. Would escaping this paradigm not alleviate some of the pressure to constantly work to accumulate and obtain?

What I realized in that moment was that access creates invisibility. When we have constant, never ending access to anything it loses its value. Constant access to money reduces the value of each dollar. Constant access to love can make it so invisible that we take it for granted. Living in a place without war makes peace invisible.

I don’t want to ever lose sight of what is true and what is right and what is important no matter how accessible it is to me. The best way to do this is to practice daily gratitude. Gratitude opens the heart and the eyes to things we already have and brings the invisible back into focus. When we take time to really appreciate the things that are presently in our life we direct our attention to what we love rather than focusing on what is missing.

So to those eager tourists I say a humble namaste and thank you for reminding me to appreciate all that lies in front of me.

Find me on Twitter @tallerthanilook

Where there’s a will, there’s a way to Bora Bora

Over the years many people have asked me how I managed to visit 25 countries before I turned 30.  As travel was just part of my life plan it was a question I was never really sure how to answer, until now.  The simple answer is that I did it because I wanted to.

When I was little I used to stare into the sky looking for planes, wondering where the people inside were going.  At 19 my mom took me overseas for the first time.  We arrived in Paris, travelled through the fantastic labyrinth of trains in the Metro, stepped out onto bustling St. Michelle and I knew that I was hooked.  The people looked different, the buildings were beautiful, the food was fantastically strange and the new pulse of life gave me a feeling I’ve been chasing ever since.  I love the thrill of laying my eyes on something I’ve never seen before, eating food I’ve never tasted before, and meeting people I’ve never known before.  Yes, it’s unnerving and at times uncomfortable to leave home, but it’s always worth it.  To me my twenties could be spent no other way than seeing as much of the world as possible.

There are trade offs to every decision though, and there were a great number of years when I would long for a sock drawer.  Digging through a dirty old back pack for that last pair of clean socks can wear you down on a down day.  The simplicity of staying put would become incredibly enticing and the urge to pack it up and go ‘home’ would appear.  But life is full of urges, as the inevitable ebb and flow of life pulls us along.  It is the choices and the sacrifices we make to build the lives we want that really define us.

When people ask how I travelled so much, I tell them they too can get on a plane and go; it’s nothing more than a decision to make it happen.  Airlines don’t discriminate as long as you can pay, and even the most modest budget can find a small allowance for a travel fund.  If it takes you ten years to save up for that trip I say start NOW.  Saving $50 a month will add up to $1,800 in 3 years.  This will get you anywhere on earth you want to go and pay for at least some of your hotel too.  You can stay in $20 shacks on the beach in Thailand and have just as much fun as the folks in the $200 a night resort, I promise you that.  Or, save up for one more year then blow it out at the Ritz…it’s up to you.

To me, the bucket list includes a stay at one of the world’s most luxurious hotels….Le Moana Bora Bora.  It remains out of my current travel budget but I know that with a little sacrifice, and a few years of squirreling away dollars I would have otherwise spent on coffees and going out to movies, this dream will become reality.

Are you kidding me? la moana

So ask yourself where you really want to go, figure out what you’ll need to do to make it happen, then do it.  At the end of your days you’ll have a much better time remembering the things you did do than the things you didn’t.

http://www.ihg.com/intercontinental/hotels/gb/en/bora-bora/bobpf/hoteldetail

https://www.facebook.com/DartmouthTravel?ref=hl  -Call Faith at Dartmouth Travel – she’ll save you time and money!

Staring at the Sky….

When I was little I used to lay on my roof and stare at the sky waiting for airplanes to fly overhead.  When I spotted a silver bird I would wonder wistfully who was on that plane, where they were going and what kind of exciting adventure awaited them.  I could lie there for hours imagining trips to Rome or Paris or the Orient, dreaming up incredible trips for the passengers, anxious to join them one day.  The funny thing is that I grew up in Lethbridge Alberta – home to a tiny airport servicing mostly Calgary…so the truth was that most of those planes were business commuters heading home after a less than exotic day of office work.  Oh the beautiful unblemished mind of a child wonderer…is there anything more fun?

Yes, that's really me in all my seventh grade glory

Yes, that’s really me in all my seventh grade glory

Fast forward a few decades, I did grow up to be the kind of person who constantly imagines what other people’s lives are like, where they are headed and what lies ahead for them. I remain to this day a perpetual wonderer and all this wonder has produced a mind that thinks a lot of thoughts and loves to travel. I’ll share my thoughts and travel stories here…read them if you like.