Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Speaking of Travel

Barcelona

Barcelona

When my husband and I first started traveling to Europe, we knew a tour group was not for us. Good little lemmings we are not. So, we did the “grand tour” on our own, spending a few nights in each of the locations we wanted to visit. Soon, though, we discovered the joy of settling in to one “hometown” and using it as a base to savor the sights, tastes, sounds, and culture of an area. And, we discovered a company, Untours, that makes this all the more pleasurable.

Untours, based in Media ,PA has been providing a unique travel experience for 35 years. They furnish the comfort and privacy of apartment living along with freedom from the uncertainties of “do-it-yourself.” Their reasonable rates include an apartment from one to many weeks, airfare (unless you choose to use  your frequent flyer miles), ground transportation such as a rail pass or rental car, specialized tour books, and the availability of a support staff. Particularly appreciated after a long trans Atlantic flight is their airport escort service and the ‘welcome’ food waiting for you in your apartment. There is an on site orientation that offers assistance in getting around, day trips and other activities, as well as a contact person in case of questions or emergencies. There also is one planned cultural activity during your stay.

Their conveniently situated accommodations include apartments located in a 14th century Bavarian castle, private apartments on working farms and vineyards in Tuscany and Umbria, Swiss chalets, and Parisian residences on the left bank and in Montmartre. Other areas served by Untours are Greece, Florence, Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Sicily, Holland, Andalusia, Barcelona, Germany’s Rhine, Provence, Alsace, alpine villages south of Salzburg, Vienna, Prague, Budapest, New York City, Quebec City, and Buenos Aires. They also offer apartments only rentals in Croatia, France, Greece, Italy, Poland, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden and some locations in the United States.

New this year

Vickie Kelber

Vickie Kelber

is a service called “The Untours Local Expert” which can be utilized even if you do not plan your trip through Untours. These are local experts who can provide knowledgeable recommendations and advice to independent travelers. They can be hired by the hour or by the specialty and provide invaluable assistance in planning a trip.

Untours is committed to uniting people of different cultures and economic backgrounds. Almost all of their profits go to the Untours Foundation which provides low interest loans to people and businesses throughout the world, helping create work, housing, and fair trade.

We’ve stayed with Untours in Prague, Budapest, Austria, Switzerland (many times), Tuscany, Venice (twice), Rome, Portugal, Andalusia, Barcelona, Greece, and Germany, and have never been disappointed. We love getting to know our neighborhood and “living like a local.” After we settle in to our apartment, I set out in search of the neighborhood bakery; there always is one. I go each morning to buy the same two items – a roll or bread for me and a specialty confection for my husband. After the first few days, the proprietor develops a sense of familiarity with me. When we stayed along the Rhine, the saleswoman began to greet me each day with a smile and announce my order before I could ask for it. In the seaside town of Nafplio, Greece, the baker himself would come from the back to greet me personally and when I would pass by later in the day, if he was looking out his door, he would acknowledge me with a friendly, “kalimera.” Our return home for me is always bittersweet: a sense of loss in leaving the familiarity of our neighborhood and my new friends, but I take with me an enriched appreciation of the  local culture and some wonderful memories.

Untours web address is www.untours.com and their phone number is 1-888-868-6871. Tell them you read about them in The Coastal Breeze News.

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