Guided Tours Highly Recommended

My Lovely trip to Italy was a guided tour provided to me from Trafalgar Tours and I would highly recommend it, especially for visiting a destination for the first time. Worry-free travel is a main reason.

A tour like this is conducted with a guide that is local, that knows the area and the information for each experience. You are chauffeured by luxury buses and the groups are no more than 40 people. The properties are 4 to 5 star and city central. The most authentic meals are provided.

“Doing it on your own” does provide a level of privacy, but there is so much that can be missed. Who would have thought to go to Perugia to see actual weaving, or go to a Olive Grove/Vineyard/19th Century Villa to have hand-made pasta made for you by an Italian countess. Not to mention cut-the-line tickets at the Vatican, which were all included, saved waiting in line for hours just to get inside.

I believe the whole experience was made so much richer by all these components and I would most certainly travel like this again to another destination.

In Queen Victoria’s Footsteps

Britain’s Queen Victoria, who died in 1901, exerts a powerful influence on the world’s imagination and historical consciousness today.  She lent her name to the Victorian Era, has been the subject of recent movies like Victoria and Abdul (starring one of my favorite actresses, Dame Judi Dench), and is still celebrated with the Victoria Day holiday in large parts of the former British Empire.  During a recent port call at Southampton in southern England, I had the opportunity to follow in her footsteps with a visit to Osborne House, her personal vacation retreat.

Many cruise ship visitors to the port of Southampton will take advantage of excursions to London, which is about 90 miles away.  Instead, I decided to arrange a privately guided tour to see Osborne House myself and to learn more about this remarkable woman and her private life. 

Osborne is located on the Isle of Wight, which is located across a body of water called the Solent from Southampton.  It’s a short 30 minute high speed ferry ride to the little yachting port of Cowes, then a 15 – 20 minute drive to Osborne.  We met our guide and driver on the pier in Cowes, then headed along the coast to our destination.

Built between 1845 and 1861 under the close direction of Victoria’s husband Prince Albert, Osborne mimics the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo.  That’s architectural style isn’t common on England, but was chosen because the views reminded the Prince of the Bay of Naples in southern Italy.  That might not seem possible in rainy Italy, but having experienced both, I can appreciate and even share his perspective. 

Osborne House itself is a step back in time to 1901, when Queen Victoria died in her sleep in her bedroom.  Large parts of the house lay untouched after her death, so today’s visitor can enjoy a well-preserved glimpse into a time long passed.  Among the highlights we saw were the Queen’s sitting room and the desk where she worked, the bedroom where she died, and the nearby “playhouse” built for her nine children – “playhouse” in quotes, as it is larger than many homes in the United States!

One unexpected highlight was the Durbar Dining Room, built to mimic the style of an Indian palace.  As the then-Empress of India, Victoria was fascinated by the country, but never visited it herself.  This ornate dining room, full of Indian-inspired wood carvings and artwork, was the closest she ever got.  For the modern visitor, in an Italian palazzo on the shores of the Solent in England, it’s quite a sight to behold.

Too soon, it was time to return to Cowes for the ferry ride back to Southampton and the continuation of our cruise. 

Privately guided tours, such as this one, represent a great way to expand your horizons while cruising and visit places that the ship’s own excursions bypass.  As a group of two, with a driver and a guide, we were able to cover the distance quickly, spend more time at our destination, and gain a far deeper understanding of it than is possible in a larger group. 

Contact me to schedule an introductory conversation, and let’s talk about how we can customize your luxury cruise with privately guided shore tours that focus on your passions and interests.

Two Days in Russia

Cruises are a popular way to discover the beauty and history of Europe’s Baltic Sea region.  I recently had the opportunity to cruise the Baltic Sea on Cunard’s luxurious Queen Elizabeth, visiting a variety of ports in seven countries during my two-week cruise.  By far, the highlight was the two full days we spent in St. Petersburg, Russia.

St. Petersburg was founded by Russian czar Peter the Great in 1703, and served as the capital of the Russian Empire until the Russian Revolution of 1917.  Built at the mouth of the Neva River, St. Petersburg is known as the Venice of the North because it is crisscrossed with rivers and canals, lending a maritime flavor to the city. 

The city boasts a rich heritage, with beautiful baroque palaces, stunning Orthodox cathedrals, and world class museums, such as the Hermitage.  Here are some of the key sites that any visitor must see:

  • The Peterhof Palace, Peter the Great’s stunning summer palace.  Located on a bluff overlooking the Baltic Sea, the Peterhof is Russia’s answer to Versailles.  Don’t miss the dozens of active fountains on the palace’s grounds, including the Grand Cascade and Samson Fountain, which features 64 interconnected fountains flowing down the side of a hill – with absolutely no pumps required for its operation
  • The Peter and Paul Fortress, containing the mausoleum of the Romanov dynasty, as well as a fascinating military museum.
  • The Hermitage art museum, founded by Catherine the Great, with an art collection rivaling the Louvre or Prado.
  • The Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, a massive example of traditional Russian Orthodox church design, as well as St. Isaac’s Cathedral, with one of the largest domes in the world, coated with pure gold.
  • The Catherine Palace, located nearby, which features a reconstruction of the famed Amber Room, a large reception room covered completely in local amber. 

Russia can be a difficult country to visit independently, with the typical cost of a visa running over $300, but the visa requirement is waived for guests traveling on a cruise and taking an authorized shore excursion.  I chose to explore the city on a privately guided excursion, which offered me the opportunity to see more and avoid the long lines at major attractions.  As an added bonus, I had the opportunity to chat more with our driver and guide, and learned much more about what life is like for typical Russians.

St. Petersburg was a pleasant surprise for me, and I highly recommend a visit to anyone interested in learning more about history, discovering heritage, and experiencing a different culture when traveling.

Honeymoon in Croatia? Who would of thought?

France or Italy or Greece are classic European destinations for a lovely honeymoon, but Croatia? That destination may be considered random, or is it?

Located just on the other side of the Adriadic Sea from Italy, Croatia has as many attributes as the popular Europe destinations have. There is wonderful ancient architecture, beaches and national parks but Croatia has so much more that makes is special.

First of all, Croatia has very comfortable temperatures all throughout the year. With the worst average lows reaching only 50 degrees in the winter and an average high of 80 degrees in the summer, you can enjoy Croatia most of the year without having to bundle up too much. May and September are the best time to visit.

Another offering Croatia provides is white sand beaches and clear water from the peninsula of the Zlanti Rat Beach which attracts huge crowds to relax in it’s beauty or if you are into a more private beach Stiniva Bay on Vis island.

The ancient city of Dubrovnik is the heart of Croatia. It is surrounded by an ancient wall, Dubrovačke gradske zidine that was built to protect this seaside city. It is recommended to go to the top of the wall to experience some of the best views of the city.

If you wish to enjoy some nature that Croatia has to offer, Croatia has 8 national parks great for hiking and camping. Plitvice Lakes National Park is even on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. There is also a fun fact that Croatia is proud of, (TV show) Game of Thrones was filmed there.

So why else should you go to Croatia? There are so many other reasons why. Being a seaside city, of course the seafood is AMAZING. Fresh oysters and octopus are specialties of the region. And for the wine officianatos, the white wines coming out of Dalmatia are to be tried and enjoyed.

And finally, do not forget the summer festivals. Croatia hosts some of the most famous music festivals in all of Europe, Ultra Europe, Outlook, Sonus and fresh Island. And for high end entertainment, there is yacht week to be enjoyed in the summer.

So if you are looking for a “new” destination, Croatia has all the old world and new world charm to entertain all of your senses.  

Hidden Treasures of Portugal

If you haven’t been to Portugal, I highly suggest you make the trip.

Here are just a few of its hidden treasures:

  1. The Alfama District is Lisbon’s most symbolic quarter. You will step back in time exploring this residential neighborhood which is considered a village within a city. Take a stroll through medieval alleys, narrow streets and small squares. Pass by beautiful churches and whitewashed houses with tile panels and wrought-iron balconies adorned with pots of flowers.
  2. Cataplana de Marisco is a fish or seafood stew and takes its name for the clam-shaped copper pot called a cataplana in which it’s cooked. The Moors from north Africa introduced the dish to Portugal back in the 8th century and the dish is now considered a classic dish of the Algarve. While the ingredients vary from region to region, the dish always includes white fish, seafood, red peppers, onions and a little chili. This is all put into the cataplana and the lid is closed firmly down before cooking so that the food inside is steamed to delicious perfection.
  3. Obidos, Portugal is the classic Portuguese fortified town and is one of the most picturesque locations in Portugal. Obidos radiates Portuguese charm, from the narrow, cobbled streets, the quaint houses, through to the imposing medieval castle which once guarded the region. There is no better example of a traditional Portuguese town than Obidos and it makes for a wonderful excursion from Lisbon.

Top 8 Luxury Destinations of 2018

Are you looking to go on a vacation? If you are, then you might be interested in enjoying a luxury destination. But did you know that the best spots to enjoy can change from year to year? They can depending on recent weather disasters that have temporarily made other destinations less desirable. Recent changes in certain countries’ economies and the introduction of new amenities and services to an area can also make once unfavorable locations much more tourist-friendly. The year of 2018 holds some beautiful luxury vacation spots, and here are eight of the best luxury vacation locations.

  1. Solta, Croatia
    Technology and the businesses that have been built on its back are making some destinations, such as Solta, much easier to navigate than in the past. As Travel and Leisure’s “The 50 Best Places to Travel in 2018” tells, the online ride-sharing business, Uber, has expanded to offering ferry rides via boat. One of the reasons that Solta has been less popular than other locations in Croatia is a lack of transportation, but the ferries are making it easier than ever for tourists to visit. Beyond the increased transportation methods, Solta also offers some of the most beautiful beaches and vineyards around. White beaches, blue waters, and green vineyards offering delicious wines abound in Solta.
  2. Zambia, Africa
    Do you like the idea of going on a safari and seeing some of the animals that are most emblematic of Africa? If you do, Zambia should be at the top of your list. According to Travel and Leisure, not only is Zambia the place to see Wildebeest migrate, but it also has a new lodge that tourists can stay at. So get out your walking boots because Zambia is the place to see large cats, a wide variety of different types of antelope, zebra, and many other species.
  3. Iguazu Falls, Argentina and Brazil
    If you’re most interested in seeing stunning scenery in a lush and warm region with some water spray to keep you cool, Iguazu Falls is a place that you should check out for your next vacation. Not only can you see the waterfalls, but there are plenty of other things to do such as kayaking and exploring the jungle. What really makes this location tourist-friendly, though, is the new resort which will feature all of the typical amenities of a resort including spas and pools.
  1. Siesta Beach, Florida
    If you’re interested in a site for a vacation that you won’t have to get out your passport for, Siesta Beach might be your location. Although Florida has been loved as a sunny getaway for years, Siesta Beach takes one of the leading spots in the world for soft sand which, according to Insider’s 20 Beaches Everyone Will Be Visiting in 2018, has sand that is made of 99% crushed quartz.
  2. Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland
    People who are interested in visiting stunning beaches but are tired of the heat might like Reynisfjara Beach. Iceland is home to some stunning landscapes that can’t be found just anywhere. Most people think of white sand as the ideal, but the black sand that’s found on Reynisfjara Beach is even harder to find and absolutely stunning to look at.
  3. Baia do Sancho, Fernanda de Noronha, Brazil
    If secluded, difficult to get to, but completely worth the effort is something you’re interested in, then Baia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil is your location. It’s been rated as the best beach in the world, according to Insider. With blue waters, white beaches, and sea life, it’s no wonder why.
  1. Kauai, Hawaii
    If you’re looking for tropical, but you want to stay within the states, Hawaii is a logical destination. According to Island’s 18 Best Places to Travel to in 2018, Kauai is also more accessible than it has been in the past, with Southwest Airlines announcing that it will be flying there via California starting in 2018 and 2019.
  2. The Keys, Florida
    For a vacation that you might not have thought that you would be able to take in a while, the Florida Keys is recovering from Hurricane Irma more quickly than expected, according to Island. Several resorts are reopening and bus lines are ready to ferry tourists.

From the United States to several places in Africa, South America, and even Iceland, there are some great changes that are happening in the world that will make 2018 a great year to travel.

– Abby Drexler is a contributing writer and media specialist for Beach Candy Swimwear. She regularly produces content for a variety of style, lifestyle and travel blogs.

Religious & Faith Based Travel – Oberammergau’s Passion Play

From Oberammergau’s Passion Play in Germany to the Sistine Chapel in Italy, faith based travel can take on many shapes and forms. Some people want to discover and visit where their ancestors once lived, some wish to stand in the very place where the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to the three shepherd children. I can help you see the stories of the scriptures come to life as you journey through the Holy Land.

In 2020, I will be hosting a guided tour to visit Oberammergau and would love for you to join me! Click here for the details of this journey! 


Exploring France by River Cruise

I recently had the opportunity to sail on the Seine River from Paris to Normandy on an 8-day River Cruise with Avalon Waterways.

This is the itinerary that we enjoyed on our River Cruise:

Day 1 – Paris (Embarkation): onboard welcome reception
Day 2 – VernonLes Andelys: choice of excursions to Giverny or Bizy Castle; guided walk in Les Andelys, visit the parish church of Le Petit Andely
Day 3 – Caudebec: excursion along the “Normandy Abbeys Route”
Day 4 – Caudebec: choice of excursions to Normandy landing beaches or “A Taste of Normandy”
Day 5 – Rouen: guided sightseeing, see the Astronomical Clock and visit the cathedral
Day 6 – Conflans: choice of excursions to visit Auvers-sur-Oise or Napoleon and Josephine’s Château de Malmaison
Day 7 – Paris: “Heart of Paris” walk, visit Notre Dame Cathedral
Day 8 – Paris (Disembarkation): your vacation ends this morning

My personal favorite was Monet’s Garden the scenery was absolutely beautiful. I highly suggest exploring France by river and when you’re ready to sail away I would be happy to help with your travel plans.

Here are just a few pictures from my trip:

Explore Europe by River

Cruising the River

While River Cruising in Europe I found the view from the vessel aw inspiring. In the Fall the color of the leaves only enhance the beauty of the castles that adorn the shorelines along the Rhine River. One of the many beauty’s of Europe is that it is a perfect blend of the ancient and the modern. Enjoy the timeless beauty and grace of the Old World with European river cruises along the Rhine, the Main, the Danube, and the Seine rivers. Explore the rich culture of countries like Austria, Germany, France, and Switzerland. There are endless breathless sights like the windmills of Kinderdijik, verdant vineyards in France, and ancient castles in the Rhine Valley.

The River Cruise Experience 

River Cruising allows you the opportunity to dock in quaint villages and towns that are not accessible via large ocean ships. These vessels also do not cater to thousands of clients but to a much smaller clientele which makes getting on and off the ship a breeze. The meals served are three to five course meals paired with local wines and/or beers from the region you are exploring. Dining on board the ship is more intimate and the service and meals are impeccable. There are numerous River Cruise companies ranging from companies that have a few vessels to numerous vessels and itineraries to choose from including companies that include port excursions to luxury vessels.

Iceland … So Much More Than Spas.

Iceland is best known for several things, their natural geothermal spas, the Aurora Borealis during their winter months, their fishing industry and people. I can tell you first hand, Iceland is much more!!

Do take in and experience one of their many geothermal spa opportunities, there is nothing like it. The most popular geothermal spa is the Blue Lagoon and you will pay accordingly. It is very large, beautiful and offers food service also. My favorite spa experience was the Fontana Wellness Steam Baths. There is a wonderful Golden Circle excursion that includes the Fontana Wellness experience. You will enjoy the beautiful scenery while indulging in the hot steam baths. At the Fontana Wellness center you can also experience the taste of Icelandic rye bread which is slow baked in the natural hot springs, just like the Vikings did thousands of year ago. Delicious 🙂

Currently they are in the process of building the only 5 star property on the island located at the Blue Lagoon. Iceland has several beautiful 4 star properties predominately in the ‘old’ downtown Reykjavik area. These range from uniquely designed properties along the pier to various properties sprinkled around Reykjavik. One property in particular is in the same building as an old paint factory and is decorated as such. Another you enter from street level, proceed down the stairs to a beautiful lobby decorated in an eclectic Icelandic/Scandinavian style.

The winter months in Iceland are equally beautiful especially when blessed with a fantastic display of the Aurora Borealis. Because the days experience more hours of darkness this is the perfect time of year to view this scientific beauty, the Auroras! There are various ways to enjoy this opportunity, by boat, by jeep, or simply standing outside enjoying the night sky. While there in March the temperatures were not as cold as the temperatures back home in Rochester, MN. Traveling this time of year allowed me the opportunity to experience many winter activities such as volcanic caving, 4×4 Advetnure on a glacier to the top of an ice cap, geothermal and steam baths, viewing the Auroras by vessel, the Golden Circle tour, waterfalls, UNESCO site of the Tetonic Plates, great food and drink and so much more!

In the summer months, the list grows significantly from rock and glacier climbing to camping, (including cabin rentals and glamping) hiking, scuba diving, fly fishing, chartered fishing, whale viewing and the viewing of the brightly colored Atlantic Puffins.

Iceland with their 332,000 residents is a melting pot of mainly Scandinavians, Germans and settlers from the British Isles. With over 200,000 living in the capitol city of Reykjavik the remaining are scattered through out the island. Iceland, also known as, “The Land of Fire and Ice” is beautiful all year round, or at least for this girl from Minnesota! Icelanders are known for strong family ties, ethical behavior and storey telling. From my experience, the stories are ,most often than not, accurate and center around their history and family lineage. Over the years Iceland has brought in more and more award winning chefs to create and entice the pallet with their local harvest of seafood, beef, sheep and Icelandic horse. Their economy has seen a great boom with their higher than ever tourist trade and it shows by the hotels and resorts they are building literally year round. The island is very safe and is supported by the fact that they have less than 100 people incarcerated. This is an island where the farm animals can roam without worry of poaching, people respect and trust each other. The residents receive ‘free’ heat due to the tremendous amount of heat that is generated by this island, the children receive schooling and families insurance via their taxes. The cost of living is higher in Iceland, however, with most of the major expenses covered by government programs it makes living in Iceland a pleasant experience.

Whether you are looking for an active, adventurous travel experience or a relaxing cultural experience, Iceland has something for everyone!

My First European Experience—A Travel Agent is a Must!

I recently sent my clients off to Europe for the first time and here is what they had to say….

Thanks for all the help booking this trip for our first European vacation.  It was great. The airplane ride was a bit long (squished into the 4 middle seats). My daughters suitcase unfortunately didn’t arrive until 42 hours later just in the nick of time as we were about to leave the first hotel.   A pigeon pooped on 3 out of 4 of us at our first sidewalk café.  Welcome to Rome.  It was actually hilarious! It was genius to have a shuttle arranged from the Rome airport to the hotel. That Rome traffic is intense. We would have never found the hotel. Thanks for arranging the transportation.  

I thought the Trafalgar tour was very good. I would definitely recommend Trafalgar if anyone asked me. Our tour director had 18 years of experience and made our experiences interesting and fun.  She shared lots of local knowledge and color. We had some great group events like a dinner outside at a vineyard with fabulous food and wine, plus dancing—yep the Italians believe that the Americans like disco, techno music and the YMCA. I think it was nice to stay in one place and do day trips. I loveCinque Terra and the medieval cities of Siena, San Gimignano and Vinci. Trafalgar had local experts at each stop who were knowledgeable and added details one would never pick up if traveling on their own. The group was allowed early entry into venues like museums and the Sistine chapel. 

Thanks again for your help. I will keep your number handy for anyone looking for a travel agent. 

When your ready to plan an adventure to Europe I would be happy to help!

Experience Walking Tours

As an avid traveler, one of the best ways to explore a new destination is a walking tour. You can visit landmarks, chat with the locals, and hopefully unveil a hidden gem. I’ve had the pleasure of doing a couple walking tours myself, including Istanbul and London.

If you’d like to hear more about my experience with walking tours, please contact me. I’d be happy to share my experiences with you and would love to help you plan your own.

Upgrade to Business Class for your Mediterranean Cruise

Sure, you know you like cruising, and you know you want to go, but did you know with Silversea you can also include your airfare to Europe for special Mediterranean cruises for FREE? And now you can also upgrade to business class for only $499 each way! Think of the savings! Think of the luxury!

If you are planning a honeymoon, this would be a great way to see and do more!


How to Handle an Unexpected Turn Abroad

How to Handle an Unexpected Turn Abroad

You’ve spent months anticipating your perfect trip and then something out of your control happens and the plan takes an unexpected turn.France Rental CarThis happened to my husband and I when we traveled to France a few years ago.

Our plan was to stay in Paris for 6 days and then travel by train to Nice for a 5-day stay. While in Paris a transportation strike began that affected train and air travel throughout France. Our train to Nice was cancelled, so we quickly had to make alternative plans. We were really looking forward to a relaxing train ride through the country. Since the airlines were also affected we had no choice but to drive.

We found a little bookstore near our hotel and spent our last day in Paris researching a road trip through France. We purchased a road map of France and studied the travel guide that we had brought along with us. We discovered that a 5-hour ride on the train would be a 12-hour road trip. There are also numerous highway tolls that needed to be paid in Euro coins so we had to be sure to have the correct currency.

We reserved a car and after studying the road map we felt as prepared as we could be. In the morning we went to the train station and picked up our car. The Auto Europe agent did a good job explaining how to get out of the city so we got in the car, took a deep breath and began our journey. My husband was the driver and I was the navigator. The traffic was terrible, the road signs confusing and split second decisions had to be made. One wrong turn and there is no going back. Luckily, we veered onto the correct auto route out of the city.

Once out of Paris the drive was wonderful! We listened to French radio and enjoyed the countryside with castles and vineyards dotting the landscape. We arrived in Nice after dark and checked into our hotel.

Once in Nice we decided to keep the car for the duration of the trip as it gave us the freedom to explore the area on our own. One day we drove to Monaco along the Mediterranean coastline and spent the afternoon in Monte Carlo. Another day we drove into the foothills of the French Alps and discovered the charming village of Sainte-Agnes. This village was one of the highlights of our trip!

Here’s what I learned from this experience, if the unexpected happens:

  • Don’t panic
  • Stay calm
  • Regroup
  • Research
  • Be flexible

Your trip could become the wonderful adventure you never expected.

“When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

Disney inspired trip ideas!!

Disney movies have always taught us that dreams really do come true!
Lucky for us, many of these movies are inspired by real places and experiences that you can have for yourself!!!  One might need to trade in their magic carpet for an airplane though!

Thank you to Jamie Ditaranto at Smart Traveler for these Disney inspired vacation ideas!

Here are some of the ultimate travel experiences to see the world just like your favorite Disney hero.

Sleeping Beauty — Discover the original Disney Castle
Of course there’s nothing more Disney than a fairytale castle, so if you want to see the real palaces that inspired every classic princess movie, you’ll have to go to Bavaria. Here you’ll find castles emerging from the mountainous landscape, but none as spectacular as Neuschwanstein.

As the castle that inspired the one in Sleeping Beauty, it’s the original Disney castle — though not quite as medieval as one would think. Built by King Ludwig II in 1869, the castle’s architecture is more akin to the romantic style of its time and its high position in the mountains was not for military advantage, but because King Ludwig knew a great view when he saw one.

Frozen — Explore the fjords in Norway
As one of the latest Disney movies to steal our hearts, Frozen has put a new travel destination at the top of our bucket lists — Norway!! Though Frozen‘s fictional kingdom of Arendelle takes its name from the Norwegian town of Arendal, the scenery in the movie is most similar to the city of Bergen located in the Western Fjords. Though it’s a great place to visit year-round, to have the true Frozen experience, it’s best to visit in winter to live in Elsa’s wonderland for yourself. You can see the northern lights or take a boat tour through any of Norway’s awe-inspiring fjords.

Brave — Ride horses in Scotland
There’s no debating that Brave is one of Pixar’s most visually masterful movies, but it wasn’t just Merida’s hair that had us mesmerized. Backdrops of Scotland’s green and stony forests stole the show, and when you visit Scotland you’ll find that the valley that inspired it is even more beautiful in real life. Glen Affric is a forest located in the Scottish highlands and is generally thought of as the most beautiful glen in Scotland — and the best (and most Brave) way to explore this enchanted forest is by horse.  Choose your own adventure with something as rigorous as a six-day trek across the valley … or maybe just a day trip.

If you want to see the other parts of Scotland that inspired the movie’s animators, visit Dunnotar Castle and the Calanais Standing Stones. And if you really want to test your feats of strength, plan to travel during the spring to make it in time for the Highland Games.

The Lion King — Safari in Africa
While you might be able to see the cast of The Lion King at your nearby zoo, there’s nothing like tearing down the glass walls and seeing the animals in their natural habitat. Going on safari in Africa doesn’t just mean getting up close to the animals that inspired the beloved characters of the movie, it also means taking in the vast savannahs and deep jungles shown in the movie. While the “Pride Lands” aren’t actually a place you can visit, they are inspired by different parts of Africa — if you look closely in the opening sequence you can see some of the continent’s natural wonders, like Mount Kilimanjaro and Victoria Falls.

It can be hard to choose where to go with so many stunning countries and diverse environments to choose from, but the beauty of The Lion King is that no matter where you go, it will feel like you’ve walked right into the scene. And if you get lucky, you might even encounter a special moment straight from the movie.

Princess and the Frog — Celebrate Mardi Gras in New Orleans
Taste the beignets, get your fortune told, catch some beads and head down to New Orleans to experience this lively city and take part in the celebrations? Explore the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, and take sometime to relax and enjoy the city’s excellent cuisine.

Finding Nemo — Snorkel in the Great Barrier Reef
Though Nemo’s adventure takes him all the way to Sydney, the story begins at the Great Barrier Reef located off the coast of Queensland in Australia. It’s the largest coral reef in the world and one of the most beautiful. Book a snorkeling trip to Cairns and all you have to do to find Nemo is get into the water. Among the stunning shapes and colors of the coral you’ll find the wildly diverse marine life that inspired the characters in the movie.

Ratatouille — Take in the food of Paris
Who would have thought a movie starring a street rat would turn out to be Disney’s most mouth-watering story yet? As you follow Remy’s journey to become a great chef, the delicious meals cooked along the way will entice you to book a ticket to Paris. But don’t just taste Paris through a few select restaurants, take a food tour.  See the best of all Paris has to offer from the finest restaurants to the smallest cafes.

Mulan — Hike the Great Wall of China
While the Huns have long been defeated, you can still follow in Mulan’s footsteps with your own epic adventure in China. Instead of fighting the crowds at the most popular section of the wall, why not try hiking it? With tours like this one from G Adventures, you can spend six days trekking along the ancient structure and imagining what it would be like to be looking out on watch for an approaching Mongolian horde. This particular itinerary also includes a tour through Beijing’s Forbidden City and daily Tai Chi lessons to prep your legs for the hike.

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