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Tag Archives: Australia

Australia: A Land of Surprises

“It was a country of continual surprises”, says Travel Advisor Erin Zetter, just returned from Australia.  Erin was one of only 60 agents from throughout the US and Canada invited to travel down under on Travel2’s ‘Amazing Aussie Adventure’.  Visiting Sydney, Melbourne, Ayres Rock, and the Wolgan Valley in a small group of 10 Virtuoso agents, Erin’s preconceptions of  Australia were challenged – and in a good way.

Erin at a Camel Farm

Erin at a Camel Farm

“First,” says Erin, “I was astonished at the amount of wildlife.  We went on a night safari drive to see the nocturnal animals, and then a nature walk the next morning to see kangaroos, wallaby and wombats.  We also visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park, where I was thrilled to be able to feed kangaroos (from ice-cream cones!) right out of my hands.  I originally thought, though, that the wildlife in Australia would be rather elusive.  But when we went to the Blue Mountains I couldn’t believe the number of kangaroos you could see – they were everywhere, in the hundreds.  I could even see them from right outside my room!”

Ern gets to hand feed a kangaroo.

Ern gets to hand feed a kangaroo.

 

“Everyone has seen photos of the Australian outback,” says Erin.  “But I found that no picture can compare.  You can’t begin to imagine the vastness, and the sunset and views of Uluru (Ayres Rock) were stunning.  The stars began to come out at the end of a ‘Sounds of Silence’ dinner in the outback. They had billed it as a ‘dine under a billion stars’ evening – and for once, there was no exaggeration.  With the clarity of the sky, I could see planets, galaxies, even the full Milky Way.  It was a very emotional experience”.

Sounds of Silence dinner near Ayres Rock

Sounds of Silence dinner near Ayres Rock

 

Even the visit to Australia’s cities held surprises.  Did you know the Sydney Opera House can be toured?  And that ‘Opera House’ is actually a bit of a misnomer? Because it’s not just one house, but a full complex with five different theaters where you can hear the symphony, of course, but also rock performances, dramas, and theater in the round.

In Sydney, Erin also got to complete a bucket list item with another iconic city landmark.  Conquering all fear of heights in the name of research for her clients, Erin climbed – and crossed – the Sydney Harbour Bridge for 1.5 hours as part of BridgeClimb Sydney.  Her reward from the top was 360 degree panoramic views of the city.

See those tiny dots up there?  Those are the brave climbers on BridgeClimb Sydney.  Climbers are dressed in suits to match the bridge - so as not to distract the drivers below.

See those tiny dots up there? Those are the brave climbers on BridgeClimb Sydney. Climbers are dressed in suits to match the bridge – so as not to distract the drivers below.

And then there’s Melbourne, Erin’s favorite city.  From above, the city of Melbourne has a full metropolitan skyline, complete with skyscrapers.  But walk the streets, and you’ll discover a hidden Melbourne, one with narrow alleyways and lanes, cobblestone streets, café’s and street performers.  “You’ll think you’re in Europe”, says Erin.

Europe or Australia?  ... It's a laneway in Melbourne!

Europe or Australia? … It’s a laneway in Melbourne!

“So much of this trip was fabulous,” concludes Erin, “I couldn’t believe how much there was to see and do, and so much variety.  I visited at the end of our summer and had a great time.  Ideally, in order to see everything under the best conditions, I’d recommend booking travel for our Spring and Fall.”

Want to learn more about Australia?  Give your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor a call today!

Solo Travelers on Silversea Cruises

We’ve written before about the amazing explosion in the desire for solo travel.  A recent poll by Booking.com revealed that 66% of women have vacationed without a partner.  It appears that people, especially women, are no longer willing to wait for a spouse or a companion whose schedule or interests match theirs.

This rising demographic doesn’t want to be penalized for traveling alone.  Cruise companies have, in the past, been especially guilty of the dreaded ‘single supplement’ that charges just as much for a solo traveler as for a couple.  That’s why we’re happy to report today about Silversea, the small ship cruise line.  Silversea caters to the independent, adventurous traveler by offering sailings to unique destinations with only a 10% cabin supplement.

Silversea offers concierge-level, personalized butler service in all their suites.

Silversea offers concierge-level, personalized butler service in all their suites.

The cabins themselves are all ocean-view suites.  Owned by an Italian family, Silversea features Italian bed linens and chocolates, and even Italian marble in the spacious bathrooms.  Their all-inclusive experience, with an extraordinary staff-to-guest ratio of nearly one-to-one, is more akin to a floating boutique hotel than the usual cruise ship: there are no lines, no waiting, no assigned dining times or tables, photographers or art auctions.

A welcoming champagne reception is hosted aboard every Silversea sailing, so that independent travelers can meet and mingle with other like-minded voyagers – and some departures even feature Gentlemen Hosts who are available as dance partners and dinner companions.

Select Silversea departures have only a 10% single supplement, with all the same, all-inclusive features

Select Silversea departures have only a 10% single supplement, with all the same, all-inclusive features

Silversea cruises also fit well with the independent traveler profile:  their ships are sized to be able to visit more remote, lesser-known ports and to bring guests closer to their destination.  Silversea guests are known for being physically fit, with a strong spirit of adventure and a bucket list of must-see and must-do experiences.

Silversea guests are highly experienced travelers, with a strong spirit for adventure.

Silversea guests are highly experienced travelers, with a strong spirit for adventure.

The departures featured on Silversea’s 10% supplement promotion reflect that explorer mindset. In 2015, solo travelers can choose between expeditions to Chile and Cape Horn, the Galapagos and Tahiti and New Zealand. In 2016, there are South Africa, Africa and Australian travel opportunities. Don’t like these destinations?  Silversea also has reduced single rates available on additional voyages.

Give us a call at Santa Barbara Travel today to see which departure bests fits your schedule – and your bucket list!