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Experience Small Town USA at its best – the Capital Regions

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Few areas of the United States are as packed with history as the Capital Region. From the early American settlements of Colonial Williamsburg Virginia, to the first black president to live in the USA White House, the region has continuously played witness to the nation’s defining moments. Encompassing Washington DC and the states of Maryland and Virginia, a road trip around the area makes for a perfect summer or autumn holiday.
Whilst the big cities and monuments may be one of the main attractions, the region’s small towns are the heart and soul of the Capital Region. Stroll through charming downtown districts, relax in luxury, uncover interesting history and revel in unspoiled nature at one or more of these hidden gems.
Here are just 10 of these Small Towns – some or all of which can be incorporated into your trip
1 Frederick, Maryland
Named one of the top 25 “Small Art Cities” in the USA, Frederick is the historic and cultural hub from which highways fan out like the spokes of a wagon wheel, connecting Main Street communities, wineries, orchards and inspirational attractions. Guided walking tours show off historic sites and intriguing architecture, while rounding out the scene are specialty shops and critically acclaimed restaurants.
2 Cambridge, Maryland
“The Heart of the Chesapeake Bay” is home of the Dorchester Centre for the Arts. But history reigns in the birthplace of abolitionist hero Harriet Tubman. Walk in her footsteps along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway, and check for upcoming events commemorating the 100th anniversary of her death in 1913.
3 Ellicott City, Maryland
Among the Olde English stone homes and rolling hillsides of Ellicott City is the nation’s oldest surviving railroad station. The Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Museum is a must-see for train and history enthusiasts alike. Stay in one of the characterful inns or bed-and-breakfasts, and be sure to check out the neighbourhood pubs.
4 St. Michaels, Maryland
This charming port town is full of pre-Colonial influence, historic homes and maritime fun. Boat, sail, fish or tour the town’s lighthouses. Take a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride, stopping to sample the boutique wines from St. Michaels Winery.
5 Hagerstown, Maryland
Enjoy everything from pristine mountain views to live theatre and symphony performances to shopping the designer brands of Hagerstown Premium Outlets®. Nearby, visit historic Antietam National Battlefield, Fort Frederick State Park and Washington Monument State Park.
6 Leesburg, Virginia
Located just 20 minutes from Dulles International Airport, Leesburg, founded in 1758, offers not only historic architecture and attractions but also specialty shops, art galleries, and great dining. The charming town is home to several of Virginia’s award-winning wineries.
7 Abingdon, Virginia
This town along the Blue Ridge Highlands dates back to frontier times, and the old stone streets are preserved. Take a ghost tour through the circa-1779 homes, visit The Barter Theatre (the official state theatre of Virginia) and explore stunning Heartwood: Southwest Virginia’s Artisan Gateway.
8 Washington, Virginia
First surveyed by a young George Washington, this peaceful hamlet is filled with B&Bs and rolling countryside. The Geneva Welch Gallery is a reputable shrine to fine art.
9 Cape Charles, Virginia
Marinas, fishing spots and parks such as Eastern Shore National Wildlife Refuge make up this haven for maritime living. Adventurous types can try Kite boarding and food lovers can visit the locally inspired waterfront restaurants and farmers markets.
10 Lynchburg, Virginia
America’s roots extend to Lynchburg, home of the Old City Cemetery which dates back to the Civil War. Nearby are Appomattox Court House National Historical Park, the new Museum of the Confederacy at Appomattox and Poplar Forest, the woodland retreat of Thomas Jefferson. Explore the town’s seven architectural districts.

Interested? – take a look at our sample itinerary on our website then contact us and we will assist with your travel plans to this fascinating area – call 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

All photographs courtesy of capitalregionusa.org

Motorhomes in Australia

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Immensely popular in Australia, motor home holidays provide the flexibility to stay as longer in the places you enjoy, and less in the places you don’t – you could amend your itinerary due to the weather conditions, or due to advice you pick up from locals along the way. Imagine going for a swim in the crystal clear waters off the coast of Australia, relaxing on the white sandy beach then returning to your vehicle for a hot shower before you continue on your journey, perhaps to have a barbeque whilst watching the sunset.

Motor homes work well for those not keen on a set schedule, and can be a great deal of fun for families, or those who like to camp. The key when hiring a motor home is to book a vehicle with plenty of space – for two passengers, consider a vehicle that can take four. This not only allows for storage space, but makes a more comfortable place to relax.

With motor home depots located in many major cities in Australia, there are plenty of possible routes to explore – from coast to outback, from rainforest to cities. There are campsites almost everywhere – most with plenty of facilities and in great locations.

A common misconception is that a holiday by motor home is cheaper than with a hire car and accommodation – this is not necessarily the case – so our advice is to choose a motor home because of the experience it offers, rather than as a cost saving exercise. For a varied holiday, consider combining some time in a motor home exploring one region, with a hire car and accommodation in other regions.

There are a number of excellent offers on at the moment for motor homes in Australia for travel this year (prior to 15th December) with both Apollo and their low-cost brand Cheapa Campa – for more information please call us on 01323 446550 or email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk We can discuss your travel plans and how a motor home might work for part of (or all of) your bespoke tailor made holiday.

The Kimberley Season is here!

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The monsoon is losing its thunder!

Majestic falls, swollen billabongs and ravenous barramundi are left
behind!

The rainforest is lush and birds of every colour are calling in
raucous harmony!

After months of darkened skies and pounding rains – The Kimberley is
renewed and waiting for you!

This is where it all started – this is what we are most famous
for!

This is where we live – the Kimberley is our backyard and nobody knows it
better!

Only we can go where we go, only we can fly above the splendour and
only we can do it all in comfort and style!
The TRUE NORTH is on her way back to Broome and soon the adventure
will begin all-over again!

But don’t miss-out – only a handful of cabins are still available.

If seeing the Kimberley on the magnificent TRUE NORTH is
something that you have always wanted to do – don’t wait a moment
more!

To select your itinerary please contact us on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Tour of Alaska’s Cuisine

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There are really good reasons to go to Alaska – all the year round. The stunning scenery, the types of bears, the highest mountain in the USA, the wildlife and birdlife, the Northern Lights and the Iditerode. But where you aware that Alaska has one of the highest densities of restaurants or eateries per capita the the US?
It is not just about fine dining in smart restaurants but includes all levels of eating establishments and all kinds of recipes. The diverse background of Alaskans has lead to an array of influences in the food on offer, ensuring that you have plenty of choice.
It would be tempting to think that Alaskan cuisine is based on the harvest from the sea and this is a big factor when looking at the menu. However you would be surprised at how much food is home grown. During the summer most reasonable sized towns and cities have a number of Farmer’s Markets offering home grown vegetables, fruit, cheese, meats, fresh (very) seafood, honey and ice cream every weekend. And if you really want to ensure your food is super fresh, many of the farms in Fairbanks, Matanuska Susitna Valley and on the Kenai Peninsula offer pick you own fruit and vegetables.
You will be very pleasantly surprised at the high quality of the cooking even out in the remote lodges in the Parks and in the wilderness. A wonderful way to end a hard day kayaking, whale watching, hiking or wildlife tracking is with a gourmet meal and a view to remember. Or even be tempted to sign up for cookery classes while staying at one these lodges to learn how to make the most of the Alaskan provender.
There are nearly 20 breweries spread across Alaska to help you celebrate the never ending midnight sun or the long hours beneath the northern lights. Should you be in Alaska in October you could join the Alaska Railroad’s Annual Great Alaska Beer Train to the outstanding views to Turnagain Arm.
Or a bottle of Alaskan wine made from mountain berries may well suit your meal and then take home a souvenir bottle of vodka, whiskey or gin made with water from an iceberg that has just broken off a glacier.
If you mouth is watering or you want to explore Alaska and all that it has offer, then contact us on: Tel: 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Making more of the Rockies in Canada

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Just driving through the Rockies is an experience, but there is so much more that you could be doing. What about leaving the vehicle for a few days of hiking through the Chilcotin Mountains either with a guide or for the more adventurous heading out on a self guided trek.
Each guided trip is geared to the ability of those taking part and also take in to account your budget, hiking skills and your interests. Whether you want to see the amazing array of meadow flowers or the wildlife will determine the route that you take. As you head up on the ridges and valleys into a pure nature experience you have the benefit of all your camping equipment, food and your heavy luggage following you on a Mountain Cayuse horse. This leaves you free to enjoy the flowers, the trail and the wildlife and take those much admired photos.
Your guide are all professionally trained and have a huge amount of local knowledge and history to tell you. With a past that includes the gold rush and the Indians of the areas, there is much to learn.
For the more independent traveller, you can elect to go on a self guided hike – all you have to do is book the campsites you want to visit and then load your provisions on to the pack horses provided.
While here why not combine your hike with one of the other activities – gold panning, horse riding, wildlife viewing, target shooting, archery and axe throwing are just some of the other attractions while staying on a real ranch.
For the fishermen there is the chance to fish for rainbow trout in lakes that are so remote that you either have to walk, ride or float plane in to them. With the average trout being 2lbs and the big ones weighing in at 5lbs you will have a good fight on your hands.
This is still a wildlife area with good numbers of grizzlies, black bears, deer, wolves, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. Mix these with a host of birds and a carpet of wild flowers and you have plenty to keep you occupied.
Please contact us for the fuller details on Tel: 01323 446550 or email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

On Board the American Queen Steamboat

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Jackie has just got back from a tour of the south of the USA following the music – look out for her blog and new page on the website coming soon – and while she was there she visited the American Queen Steamboat and loved it.
This Steamboat is a genuine paddle wheeler that sails the American mid west river system throughout the year, heading south during the winter. Some of the places it visits are; Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Chattanooga, St. Paul, St Louise, Memphis and New Orleans. Cruising on this steamboat must be one of the American “must do” trips. Their food has just won a Best on Board award confirming their saying that “the food alone is worth the trip”.
The boat and the furniture reflect the hey day of the paddle staemer era, taking you back in time but still keeping the advantages of our own age.
So if you are thinking of exploring the south or mid USA, why not think about booking a week aboard this iconic vessel. As you would expect, the entertainment reflects the region – jazz, blues, six piece orchestra and lectures covering the culture and history of the journey and vessel. They also include beer and wine with your dinner!
A piece of American history on the go and at a cost from $250 per day it is a great way to relax and keep moving.
To learn more about the American Queen Steamboat please give Jackie a call on Tel: 01323 446550 or email: jackie@experienceholidays.co.uk

Australia’s North West

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Picture Bungle Bungles – Copyright Tourism Australia
We just had an interesting newsletter from Tourism Western Australia regarding the north west region of this stunning state – below is a snippet.

Australia’s North West is one of the world’s last true wilderness areas and home to the Kimberley – the inspiration for ‘Australia’ the movie, released in 2008.

The seaside town of Broome forms the southern gateway to this spectacular region and offers up breathtaking Cable Beach – a 22km stretch of soft white sand and warm turquoise waters. From Broome, venture into red-earth country and experience an authentic Aussie outback adventure by four wheel drive, take a scenic flight over extraordinary rock formations and magnificent waterfalls, or cruise through the inland waterways that permeate the region. Amongst the North West’s many highlights, is the magnificent Bungle Bungle Range and this year marks the 30th anniversary of its discovery.

Until 1983, when it was accidentally stumbled upon by a film crew, only the local Djaru and Kija people knew of the existence of the Bungle Bungles. Now a World Heritage-listed site its fame has reached far and wide. The Purnululu National Park, a nearly 2,500 square kilometre adventure playground that is home to the Bungle Bungles, is accessed via the Kimberley’s Great Northern Highway.

Popular sites in the park, such as the narrow, 1,000m long Echidna Chasm and the overhanging natural amphitheatre of Cathedral Gorge can be easily accessed on foot. You may also encounter some of the 130 bird species found here and unique native animals, including the nailtail wallaby and short-eared rock wallaby.

Alternatively, you can take in the park’s abundant natural wonders, including the distinctive beehive-like domes of the Bungle Bungles, from the air; local operators in Halls Creek and Kununurra offer ‘flightseeing’ tours by both light plane and helicopter. The park, which is open from April until November, is accessible by four-wheel drive vehicles only.

For more information on the region and how this can be incorporated into a wider bespoke tailor made Australia holiday, please call our office on 01323 446550, email us at info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Christchurch – Two Years on from the Earthquake

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Two years on from the earthquake that struck Christchurch, venue and hotel capacity is bouncing back and the tourism industry is eying the future with confidence.
Despite some parts of Christchurch’s city centre still being closed off because of demolition work, more than 4,300 accommodation rooms are now available in the city (including hotels, motel and backpacker accommodation), with another 600 due to be added by the end of the year.
With construction soon to start on the new three kilometre Avon River Park and the planning of new retail and hospitality precincts well advanced, Christchurch will soon become one of the best small cities in the world. We have every reason to be optimistic about what the future holds.
Here is just some of the exciting progress and happenings going on in Christchurch now:-

  • Christchurch Gondola re-opens – After two years of renovations one of Christchurch’s most loved attractions, the Gondola, re-opened to the public on Monday 25 March 2013.
  • Quake City Exhibition Open – Quake City is a multi-media attraction that tells the stories of the Christchurch and Canterbury earthquakes. The attraction serves to engage, inform and educate visitors on the seismic events that have ruptured the region since they began on 4 September 2010. The exhibition opened on Friday 15th February.
  • New Regent Street opening soon – Christchurch’s iconic Spanish Mission Style New Regent Street is gearing up to welcome visitors and locals in just 2 weeks time.
  • Date Set for Christchurch Cordon To Go – The last remaining fences surrounding Christchurch’s quake-hit inner city will soon disappear. The date has been set for the cordon to go on June 28.
  • Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch Prepares for Re-opening – Visitors to Christchurch will be able to see the rebuild of the city from its very heart when the centrally located Rendezvous Hotel Christchurch re-opens on May 1. Also the Heritage Christchurch will be reopening is doors, The Old Government Building (OGB) wing is to formally reopen in August 2013.
  • Alps2 Ocean Aoraki Mt Cook to Omarama Opening – Tourism Waitaki announced the official opening of the Aoraki Mt Cook to Omarama sections of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail. The opening marked a special occasion to celebrate the four year planning process involved in setting up the trail.

For more information or to incorporate a visit to Christchurch within your bespoke, tailor made holiday please contact one of our New Zealand specialist on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

See our link for an itinerary idea – http://www.experienceholidays.co.uk/index.asp?pgid=199

Macquarie Island and New Zealand sub-Antarctic Wildlife Adventure

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Orion – Courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises

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Sub – Antartic Islands – Courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises

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Milford Sound – Courtesy of Orion Expedition Cruises

How do you fancy a once in a lifetime trip to Macquarie Island and New Zealand sub-Antarctic Wildlife Adventure Dunedin to Christchurch – 28th February 2014 – 14 Nights

This adventure takes us from New Zealand’s South Island through to the remote sub-Antarctic Islands. Calling at: Dunedin, Milford Sound, Dusky & Doubtful Sounds, Stewart Island, Snares Islands, Auckland Islands, Campbell Island, Macquarie Island & Christchurch.
Isolated, windswept and beautiful, New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands are unique and irreplaceable. The UNESCO rates these ‘the most diverse and extensive of all sub-Antarctic archipelagos’, and awarded them World Heritage status in 1998. This expedition is for a fortunate few as only 500 visitors a year are permitted to visit New Zealand’s sub-Antarctic Islands and 1,000 to Australia’s Macquarie Island. Macquarie Island has been described as one of the wonder spots of the world and rivals South Georgia in its magnificence, scenic diversity and prolific wildlife. The island was designated a wildlife sanctuary in 1933 and a World Heritage site in 1997. These sub-Antarctic Island groups are a paradise for birders and photographers. They are blessed with the most significant populations of many species, such as the southern royal albatross, the yellow-eyed penguin, king penguin, royal penguin, rock hopper penguin, erect-crested penguin, gentoo penguin and the New Zealand sea lion. There are 126 bird species in total, including 40 seabirds, five of which breed nowhere else in the world. This is a rare opportunity to see these fragile island groups with the help of expedition leaders who will enhance your experience with their knowledge. Orion is considered one of the finest and best equipped ships in the world to bring you the experience of these remote islands – the Galapagos of New Zealand and Australia.

I you would like more information about this lifetime trip or to incorporate it into your bespoke tailor made holiday with more great ideas, then please give us a call on 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

News from Tweedsmuir Park Lodge – In the Great Bear Rain Forest

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Grizzly Bear – Copyright of Tweedsmuir Park Lodge

Spectacular for wildlife, here’s a few snipets of their latest news……………………………………………………..

We have great news – due to popular demand, we’ve extended our season until the end of October! It’s a great month to come to Bella Coola, see why below.

Great Reasons To Visit In October:-

Grizzly Bears! – September is not the only month with great bear viewing: October is too! The bears are fattening up before going into hibernation. In October, grizzlies seem to frequent our lower lodge lawn more often than during other months in order to graze on the glover mixed amongst the grass.

Fly-Fishing! – September and October are the best months to catch Coho (aka Silver) Salmon. Even if you are an absolute beginner, we encourage you to give fishing a try! We can supply every piece of fishing equipment : from cast & fly rods, to lures, boots and waders. Our guides will show you the best spots.

Beautiful Autumn Colours! – The contrast is amazing: lush, green lawns, with deciduous trees displaying every variation of green, yellow, orange and red you can imagine…..and sometimes there might be a backdrop of white when the mountain tops receive their first dustings of snow.

Mild Temperatures! – In October the summer heat is long gone and winter’s frigid temperatures haven’t arrived just yet.

Great Reasons To Visit In June & July

Early summer is also a great time to visit the Bella Coola valley with milder temperatures and less holiday traffic. Here’s some more great reasons to stay with us in June and July (oh yeah, June has low season rates too!).

Fishing! – If you are a fisherman or interested in the salmon ecology on the coast, this is the time for Chinook/Spring salmon!

Babies! – Early summer is the time for young wild animals to take their first steps out of their den or nest. Black bear cubs as small as 4 pounds scamper around their mum, ducklings float in a single file chirping. Grizzlies can be seen at this time of year, just not as frequently as in October. They haven’t been long out of hibernation and will be on the look out for food!

For more information on making any of the above experiences part of your bespoke, tailor made holiday then please contact us at Experience Holidays on – 01323 446550 or email info@experienceholidays.co.uk

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