Portugal… Add it to the Bucket List!

The following post is written by Ken from our Camp Hill and Colonial Park locations. Ken recently visited Portugal and shares his experience of this often undiscovered, yet treasure of Europe.

 

 

Portugal had always been near the top of my travel bucket list even though I couldn’t exactly tell you why. After visiting Portugal this fall, I can now give dozens of reasons why this small country is worth a detour. No one visits Portugal by accident. Almost as big as Pennsylvania, it is located in far southwestern Europe with nothing beyond it but the big Atlantic.  You don’t see Portugal just passing through on a grand European adventure. This is actually good news because Portugal is worth a vacation all to itself! Sure you can throw in its neighbor Spain (which I LOVE), but Portugal can definitely stand alone.

Ken and his wife Bonnie

First of all, let me mention the wonderful Portuguese people. They love their country and are eager to share it with the world, which they are doing more and more as tourism to Portugal is growing rapidly. Except for the oldest generation, the knowledge of English is outstanding. Portuguese – very different from Spanish – is not a very widely spoken language so every student gets 12 years of English in school. Their younger people know all about American pop culture, music and movies. The older folk, often seen in traditional clothing, wore Portugal’s tough history in their tanned wrinkles but also in smiles that seemed to say, “At last, times are good.”

We visited 10 locations: Lisbon, Evora, Sintra, Palmela, Sesimbra, Obidos, Nazare, Aveiro, Porto and the Douro River Valley. Lisbon (“leash-bo-ah”) may have the grandest locations of any European capital city. It is often compared to San Francisco with its large bay, steep streets, trolley cars, beautiful overlooks and even its own “Golden Gate” bridge look-a-like (which is almost twice as long!). Lisbon also has the history of a devastating earthquake which destroyed almost the entire city in 1755. One area unscathed by the earthquake is the soul of Lisbon: Alfama. Today this is where you go to enjoy the local Fado music or stroll the narrow, winding streets looking for Portuguese or ethnic foods. On the waterfront, you will be find Belem.  This is where Portugal’s explorers left for new worlds. Go to Belem to be impressed by the Monument to the Discoveries, the Belem Tower and the Jeronimos Monastery. Lisbon is definitely worth 3-4 days. In addition, nearby cities are Sintra, Sesimbra, Evora and Obidos which are excellent day trips from Lisbon but equally worthy of an overnight stay.

Portuguese Food
Lisbon
Evora
Portugal’s own “Golden Gate Bridge”
Pamela

Sintra is a fairy tale town in a gorgeous natural setting among tall trees. Once home for the king, Pena Palace was built more for romanticism than for protection. This quirky, mountaintop summer palace has many styles and Crayola colors. On the neighboring mountaintop you can see and visit the imposing Moorish Castle from 711 AD. In the valley below, wealthy commoners built vacation homes to be near the king. One of these, Quinta da Regaleira, comes complete with enchanting gardens, towers, hidden waterfalls and many subterranean passageways.

Pena Palace

Just north of Lisbon you will find Obidos, a quaint medieval village with shops and restaurants serving local dishes like bacalao and caldo verde. ​Just to the west in a wine region, Evora has much to see. There are many well-preserved Roman ruins, a chapel lined with hundreds of human bones, and a Nativity Museum filled with scenes made around the world.

Portugal is also well known for its beautiful seaside towns and fishing villages–these come complete with beautiful sandy beaches, crystal blue water and fantastic seafood restaurants. At the bottom of Portugal, the entire Algarve region is worth an extended stay, but for those with less time Sesimbra, Cascais or Nazare will not disappoint a beach lover.

Lastly, it would be a shame to miss Porto, Portugal’s “second city”. Porto is not second rate by any means. The city is smaller than Lisbon but with tons of walkable charm. Porto’s emblem is the two level Luis I Bridge and it’s amazing day and night. Harry Potter fans will love the city’s influence on JK Rowling. Wine enthusiasts will love the city’s namesake port wine. If you think you don’t like port wine, wait until Porto! There are so many varieties. Then, go to the source of the port wine, the Douro River Wine Valley.  The scenery alone is fantastic, but wait until you visit one of the many quintas or vineyards! The Douro Valley is just incredible.

Bones Chapel

Porto City
Town of Porto
This Cafe in Porto inspired JK Rowling’s Harry Potter
Duoro River
Duoro River
Duoro River
So now you know how much I loved this little country and its beautiful scenery, delicious food and delightful people.  I really look forward to booking my clients to Portugal.   It will be my pleasure to share this find. ​

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

Top Halloween Destinations: Hocus Pocus and Halloweentown

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

Top Halloween Destinations

Fall really has become one of my favorite seasons. The beautiful fall colors, the leaves starting to fall, pumpkins and everything in between. Well what if we could visit a town that made you feel like you experienced fall and Halloween all year around!? Its not that far fetch guys with these two destinations…

Here are the two places everyone who is a Halloween freak must visit!

Halloween town is a real town of St. Helen Oregon

Calling all 90’s kids! Does this pumpkin look familiar? Yes, this is not a joke, there is a real-life Halloweentown! The 1998 film with  three sequels has come to life. This movie was filmed in St. Helens, Oregon and every year for the holiday, they recreate the formally fictional town! Starting October 1, visitors can enjoy everything from haunted house tours and pumpkin carving contests to spooky tractor rides and costume parties. Just a short 40 minute drive from Portland, Oregon, this would be a perfect day trip! How festive is this town!? Anyone going? Take me with you.

Up Next….

Salem located just 30 minutes north of Boston, Massachusetts
Alison’s House from Hocus Pocus located right in the town of Salem.

Halloween is a long season in one of the most infamous towns in America. I was lucky enough to visit during Halloween(ish). My family visited on Nov. 1 and it was perfect. There were still people but not crowded at all! Our tour guide mentioned the town had more than 100,000 visitors in October.

Ropes Mansion
Witch House at Salem

Locals say the day after Halloween the town then becomes a ghost town. Luckily for us the town still felt like Halloween which was perfect! We spent two full days in the quaint, small town. We did everything there was to offer in two full days. In just our short weekend trip, we took the night ghost tour, visited the Salem witch museum, toured the house of Seven Gables, visited the witch house of Salem, braved our way through the witch dungeon museum (which I recommend to everyone) and we walked the town. A part of our tours also took us to some of the location Hocus Pocus filming locations! We saw Alison’s house and Old Town Hall, as well as Max and Dan’s house.

This trip was definitive a memorable one and two days was the perfect amount of time to visit the town.

Are you ready to hit the towns and fall into all these  holiday festivities with these fun getaways? Call us to help you plan out your vacation!

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

 

Summer Trip Inspiration (Leave Your Passport at Home)

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

Need some inspiration for trips to take this summer but lapsed on your passport? We’ve got you covered. There’s still time to plan the perfect state-side getaway.

There’s so much to see in our big, beautiful country. Let us take the stress out of planning and get inspired by the relaxing, scenic, and picture perfect destinations right in your backyard.

IDAHO

It sounds bizarre to pick a state not traditionally known as a vacation spot, but this state is one not to be missed. Craters of the Moon National Park represents one of the best preserved flood basalt areas (column rock structure formed by rapid cooling of lava). The average elevation for this park is 5,900 feet above sea level.

Another beautiful sight to see is Shoshone Falls Park, a waterfall on the Snake River and two hours driving distance from Craters of the Moon. Some call this the “Niagara of the West,” and it’s within driving distance of Yellowstone National Park. Rent a car for the day and you can check off two states on the trip.

Travel tip: Idaho is known for its potatoes. Which become french fries (ironically invented by the Belgians) and the best snack ever.

UTAH

Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park, and Canyonlands National Park are just some of the parks you can visit while on a trip to Utah. Need I say more?

Even with five national parks, not everyone is into an adventure hiking only vacation (me being one of them). So if you’re not into visiting all the parks you can easily split it up!

My ideal trip there would be two parks and two cities – Park City and Salt Lake City (and of course sitting at a resort staring at the beautiful views). Yes this is all possible to do in a couple days! Park City and Salt Lake City are only a half an hour apart giving you time to experience the beauty of nature and the culture of the people.

SOUTH CAROLINA

One of the most charming southern states, head to Charleston for some real southern hospitality.  Known for their fun nightlife, food, and history you cannot go wrong here.  You can ride a carriage on a historical tour,  head to a plantation or tour a historic mansion like Wentworth Mansion. Charleston also has boat tours, walking tours and even ghost tours! Enjoy a long weekend trip in this beautiful location.

NAPA VALLEY

Oh the wine country! This is the place to go for either a girl’s trip, romantic getaway, or just some time really enjoy views and the good life. We recommend a tour package with four or five days to enjoy the views, vineyards and savor the harvest of the west coast.

Whether you want to just spend all your time at different vineyards or wine and dine on a train through Napa Valley, we can help you achieve it.

Ready for us to plan your next trip? Ask about packages with trusted tour operators to any of these stunning locations and see the best this beautiful nation has to offer!

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

The Perfect Historic Trip for Memorial Day Weekend

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department.

Memorial Day is coming up! If you’re like us, you are so ready for that week-long vacation you have been planning all year, but still have a couple weeks to wait. Luckily you have a 3 or 4-day weekend coming up. Let’s figure out how to get you somewhere for a short VAY-CAY to hold you over.

Here’s our recommendation for a perfect getaway for a family, group of friends, or a lover of history. Learn history, have some adventure and be able to relax all in one! When you use a trusted Travel Specialist, we can help you plan an even more robust trip with guided tours, hotels, select meals, and multiple destinations included. We work directly with companies like Globus and Premier World Discovery to bring you highly rated guided tour vacation packages.

 

Williamsburg, Virginia

Day 1

Governor’s Palace at Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia

This place is so much fun! About a 5+ hour drive from south eastern PA, it’s a perfect long weekend getaway. Head down Thursday night from work to make the most of your weekend.

Colonial Williamsburg is such a cute little area with hidden gems… this area is the state’s largest historical attraction at almost 200 acres! Sightsee in the historic town where there is lots to do – this area is very walkable and will make you feel that you’ve stepped back in Colonial times. It takes an entire day to explore the town (without rushing).

Top recommended attractions:

  • Enjoy self-guided walking tours in historic houses.
  • See the beautiful Governor’s Palace, a historic home where Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson both resided until the capital was moved to Richmond in the late 18th
  • Ax throwing at the Ax Range where you’ll learn the proper technique and get a chance to throw one yourself!
  • End your Friday night with a ghost tour right through the historic downtown (so much fun)!

 

Day 2

Historic Yorktown

Next up… Jamestown. Spend your Saturday going to the Jamestown settlement! Again another throwback as you walk through the first permanent English colony from the 17th Century. A look at living history, this morning is filled with a self-guided walking tour, gallery exhibits and film.

In the afternoon, take a 30 minute drive to Yorktown, part of Colonial National Historic Park in Virginia! End your night on the beautiful Yorktown Riverwalk Landing with a bevy of restaurants and boutiques along the water. Stroll along the shore and enjoy a cone from the quaint but delicious Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop. With beautiful views as the sun sets in this sweet little town, this day really ends picture perfect! I promise you this is worth it.

 

 

Day 3

On the final day, your kids and the kid-in-you will enjoy an entertaining day at Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. I recommend going on Sunday as it seems to be the least busy day at Busch Gardens, at least when my family has visited! Busch Gardens is located just 10-minutes from Williamsburg making it an ideal stop.

This park is so much fun and reminds me of a mini Walt Disney World with their version of “around the world.” Kids will love the waterpark complete with lazy river, slides, wave pool, and kid friendly play areas.  It’s a great way to end a weekend getaway trip!

And just like that, it is Monday and you are on your drive home to get home to enjoy a Memorial Day burger on the grille or chill before the work week begins.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

Italy, France, Walt Disney World: the Top Restaurants to Savor When Traveling

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. 

Traveling to Europe or Disney anytime soon? When traveling, half the battle of vacation is unwinding. If you’re like me, you don’t want to spend the afternoon planning where to go to dinner. After extensive research (and at times, my own experience), below are restaurants I recommend in Italy, France, and around the world in Disney. I will go over Italy, and France and of course my favorite, Disney World.

Italy

Club del Doge Restaurant

This restaurant in Venice, Italy has a beautiful location on the Grand Canal. Even if you decide to forgo the outdoor seating, inside is very warm and welcoming with old world charm. The fare is not inexpensive but you won’t be disappointed as you discover culinary innovations while sipping Italian grappa. This place is so Instagramable.

https://www.clubdeldoge.com/

 

Da Vittorio

A country restaurant sure to please, this chateaux in La Cantalupa (near Milan and Lake Como) overlooks beautiful vineyards juxtaposed against the Apennines mountains… just looking at the photos has me in a state of zen. With a delicious menu that has rave reviews, it is the picture perfect scene for any occasion. This is definitely being added to my bucket list!

http://www.davittorio.com/en/restaurants/da-vittorio.html

Positano’s Ristorante La Sponda

Located in the heart of the Village of Positano, this Mediterranean restaurant based in the Naplese tradition has views to die for. At night over 400 candles illuminate the room giving an ethereal atmosphere with views of the Amalfi coast. At this restaurant, the executive chef at 32 years of age has already had so much success in his career.  I would say this is the place to experience one fine dining experience or a nice romantic date in Positano. If you decide to go, please let me know about your visit!

https://sirenuse.prenota-web.it/prenotazioni/frameset.asp?ristorante=laspondaC&lang=en

 

France

Bustronome

This may be my favorite idea EVER! A restaurant on a luxurious bus with panoramic dome glass views while touring the city of Paris (plus if you’re headed to London for a leg of your trip, there’s a Bustronome there as well). I mean what could get better than that? Once you enter you will completely forget that you’re on this bus – it is a custom stable vehicle that adapts to every road imperfection. You’ll enjoy four to six courses for brunch, lunch, or dinner. This makes me want to hop on a plane and get to France ASAP! With these gorgeous views of these cities and the panoramic windows through the whole bus, or restaurant I should say, this is for sure worth the price for France!

https://www.bustronome.com/

Epicure

Another picture perfect, classically French scene. With the elegance and the beautiful set up, I have to say when I look at this place I somehow feel like a princess. Being the restaurant of Chef Eric Frechon, a three time Michelin star honoree, this is a place you will talk about for years to come.
https://www.oetkercollection.com/hotels/le-bristol-paris/restaurants-bar/restaurants/epicure/

 

Walt Disney World

California Grille

Everyone talks about it, but not everyone can visit. This is Disney fine dining at its finest. Let me tell you from firsthand experience – this is the place to be in Disney World. The best part – the delectable meals can be included in your dining plan, just save an extra meal credit and use here for an evening out. As an added bonus, from the top floor of the Contemporary Resort, you’ll have spectacular views of the Disney fireworks with a perspective you won’t see anywhere else. This is the way to go… even the staff will pause what they are doing as the lights dim and everyone tunes in to watch the show. They also have an observatory deck if you prefer to be outside then at your seat. Either way, you cannot go wrong!

Cinderella Royal Table

A restaurant every little princess dreams of – dining in the castle! This is the hardest reservation to get… you are brought to entrance of the castle. This is a place I try every year to get and have yet to succeed, but when I do you will know about it! Here’s a tip: if you’re staying at a Disney resort, you can book at 6:00AM, 180 days out from the first day of your stay.

50’s Prime Time Café

Located in Hollywood Studios, you’ll step into this past with this 50’s theme diner restaurant. I’m not going to lie, out of all the restaurants mentioned above, this is probably my least favorite for tasting but it makes up for it with atmosphere! A reasonable sit-down restaurant in Disney, I think it is a great place for kids to be kids and enjoy! Seriously. Let the kids put their hands on the table, chew with their mouth open, and have no manners. It’s all a part of the theme. The staff are very sassy and will playfully scold you like you’re in your grandma’s house in the 50’s! If you are a fan of fried chicken, I suggest you order Aunt Liz’s Fried Chicken – it’s delicious! You’ll create memories here to last a lifetime (and maybe be a little more thankful you weren’t born in the 50’s).

 

Ready to try these yummy places?!

If you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020. Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

TV Junkie Paradise: Trips Better than Binging your Favorite Show

The following post is written by Amanda from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. 

What’s better than sitting by your TV and binge watching your favorite show? ACTUALLY visiting the locations! We are so consumed by digital media that I think we forget how beautiful our world actually is. Yes, you heard me… there are multiple locations that you can visit in real life which are way better than watching the TV show!

First up

Game of Thrones

 

 

Taste of Iceland – on this tour enjoy a visit to Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park, featured throughout Game of Thrones season 4. The massive rocky bluffs will inspire you as the entrance to the Eeyrie, as well as the fight between Brienne and The Hound.


Plus you’ll see the black sand beaches in Reynisfarja or Vik beach, filming location for Eastwatch by the Sea and apparently (spoiler) shores of the Targaryen homeland in season 8.

Outlander
Next up, Scotland. If you happen to visit, you’ll probably stumble across one of the landscapes featured in the show Outlander. We recommend an independent tour with expert help by Monograms – you will be able to head to multiple locations from the show. With a stay in Edinburgh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, you will be right by Wentworth Prison where Jamie is imprisoned.
If you want more, you could get a driver for a day because within an hour of the city, you can visit even more locations. While staying in Edinburgh, stroll through Edinburgh’s Royal Mile where you’ll find many Outlander locations. With Monograms Tours you will be able to travel to London for 3-nights and then Edinburgh, Scotland for 3-nights giving you the perfect amount of time to visit locations from Outlander as well as the best movies/book of all time, Harry Potter #Gamechanger!

Harry Potter

Last but DEFINITELY not least – Harry Potter. I always wished Harry Potter was real so I could live the magical life (instead of this muggle one). The next best thing to being part of the magical world is visiting the locations from it….am I right? Here’s another Monograms Tour featuring 2-nights in London (of course, you can extend this trip with any number of other destinations, or just spend additional free time in the city!). While in London visit the Duke Humfrey’s Library at Oxford University to see scenes where Harry looks for clues in The Sorcerer’s Stone. A must see is the infamous Platform 9 ¾ at the Kings Cross Station (yes, it does exist!). I would say a true Harry Potter fan would HAVE to visit King’s Cross Station if they want to feel like they were a part of the movie.  Also, right in the heart of London is The Leadenhall Market and check Diagon Alley off your bucket list. Again, this is a must for a Harry Potter guru!

Now I know all of these sound ACTUALLY amazing on their own, but what if I told you could do all three together! Yes, you heard me! CIE Tours offers tours to all these movie landmarks. Are they the exact places listed above? No… but with this tour , you will be able to check off visiting the spot the Hogwarts Expressed was filmed, or the Doune Castle that Outlander fans known as the Castle of Leoch of Colum. The castle has even played a role in Game of Thrones. This trip really is a true bucket list experience.

These are just some places you can visit that is way way better than binging your favorite TV show… visit us when you’re ready to start packing your trunk (we promise we’ll make it less painful than apparating there).

 

If you’re ready to start planning your next vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

 

Fun Travel Facts You Didn’t Know You Needed in Your Life

Thanksgiving is just around the corner. Impress your relatives during the forced family fun with these travel facts.

Travel Facts

  • The top reasons US citizens travel domestically are to visit relatives, shop, visit friends, take a foodie vacation and sight see.

  • 43% of Pennsylvanians had unused vacation days in 2017. That’s more than 24 MILLION unused days! New Jersey was slightly better with just 35% of people having unused days.
  • And the most anxiety-inducing travel fact… 

 

 

Cruising Facts

Disney Facts

  • Disney World and Disneyland are favorite final resting places (but they strictly prohibit this).
  • It’s estimated nearly 4,000 proposals take place each year in Magic Kingdom theme park in Florida. Disney even has it’s own Proposal Department to help make the moment magical.
  • And sometimes people break-up at Disney. Yep, The Beatles sealed their fate at the themepark in Florida.
  • Walt Disney World is the size of two Manhattans.
  • You know Disney literally sparkles. It’s not just pixie dust… the parks are designed so you can find a trashcan within 30 steps of wherever you are.

Around the World Facts

  • When the temperature drops, the Eiffel Tower shrinks by about six inches.
  • Mussolini tried to fix the Leaning Tower of Pisa but only made it lean further.
  • Each of the stones used to construct the Great Pyramid weighed approximately the weight of an elephant. And inside the structure could be the world’s first air conditioning system – it stays a constant 68 degrees Fahrenheit (average temperature in July is 94 degrees outside!).
  • The Great Wall of China features mortar made from rice flour.
  • The Grand Canyon park is larger than Rhode Island. The temperature from the top of the canyon to the bottom of the canyon can vary by almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • There are more caribou than people in Alaska. And more men than women – the state has the highest ratio of men to women of any state.
  • Sin City shines bright! The Vegas strip is the brightest place on earth when viewed from space.

What You Need to Know Before You Go to Peru (and Why You’ll Want to See More than Machu Picchu)

The following post is written by Kristin from the Boscov’s Travel Marketing Department. She traveled to Peru in August 2018 on a G Adventures tour booked through Boscov’s Travel and shares her experiences.

Machu Picchu, Is it Really Worth Going to Peru for This?
Yep, it’s everything you’ve seen and more. Photos don’t do this majestic place justice. Built by the Incans in the 1400’s, this citadel boasts 200 structures created without the use of mortar – just expertly cut stone which has stood the test of time (think Legos). Lovers of nature and astrology, the Incans constructed the city between two mountain ranges and venerated the gods with temples, compasses, sundials, and more astrological marvels.

You need to see Machu Picchu NOW. The government continues to increase restrictions on and around the Seventh Wonder of the World (in fact, only 500 permits are permitted per day on the Inca trail making the trek to Machu Picchu). There are 2500 visitors per day allowed at the site and you need a bus ticket and ticket to enter before you go (G Adventures  handled this and we had no problem). As the popularity of adventure travel flourishes and Machu Picchu is appreciated by more and more tourists, our guide predicted that it will eventually be closed to the public.

But There’s More than Machu Picchu
The Incans didn’t Netflix and chill. It seemed that every few miles we would see evidence of Incan architecture. We toured the ruins of Moray, the agricultural center where the Incans deployed terraces to conduct agricultural tests and relay the results to their civilization. While in Moray, don’t miss the salt mines where the Incans devised a system to capture mountain springs and extract the salt through a pooled system. The ruins of Pisac and Ollantaytambo are architectural wonders considering the Incans had no use of a writing system and managed to construct structures that have stood for more than five centuries.

You Need A Tour Operator/Guide (Trust Me)
Without a guide, you’ll miss out on the local culture and cuisine. You’ll experience a communications barrier (most of the country does not speak English), wait in lines for hours, pay too much for souvenirs, and be confined to the touristy areas without really experiencing this spectacular country.
I highly, highly recommend G Adventures for your Peru trip. They take care of the details, tours, permits, tickets accommodations, and your own Peruvian CEO – Chief Experience Officer – who will be with you every step of the way. Our guide was Yuri.

A Foodie’s Delight
You’ll be a-maized by the food and flavors of Peru (sorry, hanging out with my dad too much). Being a pescaterian (no meat, yes to fish and dairy), I was concerned that my diet may consist of potatoes and corn but I was pleasantly surprised by the variety of vegetables, fruits, fish dishes, cheeses, breads, and dishes that offered something for everyone. This is due to the country’s 84 ecosystems (there are 104 known in the entire world) that allow diverse crops to grow. Don’t leave Peru without trying an empanada and the ceviche.

 

  Altitude Sickness Is Real
Coming from a part of PA where our highest peaks are shy of 1700 feet, it’s a shock to the system to reach altitudes north of 11,000 feet. The first night, our tour guide Yuri advised our group to get a specific type of altitude pills. Even with the medication, my hands and feet felt tingly and my head heavy for the first two days. By day 4, I didn’t need the medication as my body adjusted.
G Adventures takes this into account for their travelers. Their itineraries gradually work you to high altitudes to minimize the negative effects and they always have water available.

Weather
Their weather is opposite of ours in North America. In August, prime tourist season, they experience their winter. We encountered highs of 68F and lows of 35F at night. Bring layers and research the weather when you’re hoping to go.

Be Prepared to Check an Additional Bag on Your Flight Home
Peru has the best souvenirs! You won’t be able to leave this country without some llama swag, Machu Picchu t-shirts, scarves, textiles, Peruvian salt, Alpaca dolls, and more. Your money goes further in Peru. When I traveled in August 2018, the exchange rate was approximately $1USD to 3 Soles. A t-shirt was 10 Soles or approximately $3 and change… I bought ALL. OF. THE. STUFF. In fact, one of my fellow travelers said her airline allowed 2 checked bags free of charge when flying to Peru… and 7 free when departing Peru.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate! Many things are unlabeled and the price verbally quoted is not necessarily the lowest price.

And the Best Thing You Will Experience In Peru…
The people. These people are hardworking, strong, tough, and prideful. They have very little compared to Americans but these people could not have been more joyful. They are very proud of their Incan heritage and many women still wear traditional dress. Everyone works – whether it is selling souvenirs, guiding tourists, weaving, farming, or caring for the alpaca, from kids to adults these people hustle. And they could not have been more kind or gracious.

 

Other quick facts:
– Don’t drink the tap water. Purchase bottled water as soon as you get to your hotel from the local market. On a G Adventures tour, your guide will collect a few dollars (for us it was approximately 10 soles each or less than $4) and will purchase boxed water for you to refill continuously throughout the trip.

– Get your passport stamped at Machu Picchu (after the exit before the bus line).

– You need to throw toilet paper in the waste can. Don’t flush it down the toilet or you’ll learn the hard way (like I did…).

– Don’t think you can rent your own car and figure out how to navigate this country. The drivers are aggressive! A fellow traveler compared the hectic driving to India.

– If you’re an avid hiker and love the outdoors, hike the Inca trail! As stated, you will need to obtain permits months in advance. G Adventures can assist you with this – whether you want to do the four-day hike or an efficient one-day hike. Just note – the Inca Trail is closed in February for maintenance due to the rainy season (Jan – March).

– You should be in fairly good shape if you plan to go to Peru. Not only will the amount of walking and steps of the ruins affect you, the altitude makes the air thinner and tourists can lose their breath fast. It’s not just for 18 to 30-somethings… in fact, the average age of people who do the tour are in their 40’s and 50’s.

– Most places do not take Mastercard, but they will take Visa.

– Safety is key… but I never felt unsafe in this country. Our guide Yuri gave advice where/when to go when we had free time to explore. As long as you are smart about protecting your valuables and passport, you shouldn’t have a problem.

– Brush up on your grade school Spanish before you go!
Donde esta el bano – Where is the bathroom?
Si por favor – Yes, please.
Lo siento – I’m sorry.
Habla usted Inglés – Do you speak English?
Cuánto cuesta – How much is it?
Dos cervezas, por favor – Two beers please.

Peru will leave your mouth watering, your feet tired, camera full, suitcase bursting, your heart fulfilled, and your bucket list shattered.

Why book your G Adventures Peru trip with Boscov’s Travel?
– We are one of G Adventures recommended agencies.

– Book your bucket list trip… and receive special financing offers.

– When you’re on your trip, we’re available 24/7 with our emergency service line.

– You’ll pay the exact same price you see on GAdventures.com

If you’re ready to start planning your Peru vacation, email travelrequest@boscovs.com or call 800-755-8020.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com

Tour information: G Adventures Explore Machu Picchu

 

The Passion Play at Oberammergau: An Event a Decade in the Making

Once every decade, the world has the opportunity to experience the Passion Play as it’s been performed for almost four centuries. The origins of the tradition stem from the early 17th Century when the plague was brought to the small town of Oberammergau in Germany. A promise was made by the residents of the town to perform the story of Christ’s final days if God spared them from the deadly disease. Within a season, the disease vanished from the town. Believing in a miraculous intervention, the town kept its promise and more than 2,000 residents take part in the production every 10 years.

The Passion Play is performed every decade ending in a zero, at an outdoor theater. Guests are treated to a 7-8 hour experience including the five hour play, intermissions and a three-course dinner. The play takes place from May through October, which is considered to be the most picturesque time of year in Germany. Although there are more than 100 performances, the play typically sells out well before the year of the play.

For those who want to experience the 2020 Passion Play, reservations are available now to reserve your seat. We recommend our preferred vendors Globus tours and Avalon Waterways river cruises for guided sightseeing of Europe and a guaranteed ticket to the performance.

To learn more about the once-in-a-decade Passion Play or to get a free quote on an upcoming trip, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.

 

A Glimpse into the Norwegian Bliss

Norwegian Cruise Line – known for their ongoing Free at Sea offer where cruisers choose their offer of open bar, kids sail free, specialty dining, and more – just launched their newest ship, the Norwegian Bliss. “She isn’t a new class of ship, but feels like one.”  Our team recently had the opportunity to experience three days on the ship custom-built for the Alaskan market, and we agree, the Norwegian Bliss lives up to her name. See our experience aboard Norwegian’s largest ship ever built.

We found fun around every corner. The Bliss’ innovative design gives cruisers endless opportunities to experience excitement aboard this nearly 168,000 ton ship. Challenge your kids to a go-cart race (the first ever electric track at sea in the North American market), a contest down the slides in the water park, or a lively game of laser tag under the stars.

Everywhere you look there is a new activity! A sprawling water park, a restaurant-lined boardwalk, Broadway-style production shows including Jersey Boys, and a state-of-the-art spa make the Bliss one of our favorite new ships.

If you’ve sailed on Norwegian ships, you know that Norwegian knows food. Fan favorite dining venues like The Waterfront, Los Lobos, Cagney’s and more. But by far, our favorite was the new modern Texas BBQ joint – Q. With live pop country music, this place rocks and is the ultimate southern comfort dining. Enjoy tex-mex delights or get your fill with the Master Platter including four types of meat and four sides.

The largest cruise ship to ever sail in Alaska, the Bliss will spend her summer sailing the coast of America’s last frontier. Over the next two years, she will sail from LA, Miami and NY during the fall, winter and spring.

To learn more about the Bliss or to get a free quote on your next cruise, please contact a Boscov’s Travel Specialist at 800-755-8020 or email us at travelrequest@boscovs.com.

Visit Boscov’s Travel located within select Boscov’s including Pennsylvania (Camp Hill, Colonial Park/Harrisburg, Easton, Lancaster, Lebanon, Neshaminy/Bensalem, Wyomissing, Reading, Pottstown, Pottsville, Scranton, Selinsgrove, Wilkes-Barre), New York (Binghamton), New Jersey (Atlantic City and Moorestown), Delaware (Wilmington), and Maryland (Salisbury). View our locations here. If you live a little further away, book over the phone by calling us at 800-755-8020. Learn more at boscovstravel.com.