Roseborough’s own Wanda Hamm talks about her Grand Voyage around the globe.
Holland America & Overall Cruise Experience
The excitement that goes along with a cruise is contagious, the days before leaving all my friends and my family were so excited for me to be going out of the country for the first time! Since working at Roseborough lots of clients have asked me what cruising was like and before this I wasn’t able to answer the question, but now I can.
Thinking about being inclosed in a 100,000 ton vessel generally wouldn’t be someone’s idea of a good time, but with shows, pools and quiet hide aways to read a good book it quickly became mine. From getting to the port to leaving the port again seven days later i was immersed in a world of wealth and knowledge aboard Holland Americas Ms Eurodam. From the Lincoln Center Stage to the Pinnacle Grille I was treated to a level of service that I wasn’t used to. Everyone was so polite and knew the best way to get the job done and how to cater to their clientele.
Getting on the ship was a smoother process than I originally anticipated, once we got to the port we were swept in line and checked in in a matter of minutes; before heading onto the ship we were offered a kodak moment, then onto the ship to soak up the Fort Lauderdale sun on the Lido Deck before we departed out into the deep blue sea. Watching the coastline disappear behind us was a weird feeling, but once we were out in open water starting the night settling into our cabin those thoughts were far from the fore front. Speaking of cabins, they were so beautiful and nicer quality than I expected. I know we’ve all had bad hotel experiences and I had a thought in the back of my mind that what was waiting for me behind the door; not a spacious room with a nice shower and bath.
Nesting into our cabin, suitcases unpacked and under our beds I spent an hour sitting on our balcony staring up at the stars, watching other cruise ships pass in the night and enjoying the serene feeling of being at sea. Not rocking and rolling thanks to the ship’s stabilizers.
Dining was a dream, the Lido Market had everything from just a sandwich to smoked salmon on toast. There were tons of options for every taste bud. We had the chance to experience two of the three exclusive restaurants on board which were an absolute dream. Pinnacle Grille was evey meat eaters paradise. The steak i had was so buttery and to die for. Tamarind was an asian fusion restaurant that had something for even the pickiest of eaters. I tested my more adventurous side and had some sushi, which wasn’t my cup of tea but everyone else loved it.
There was an array of choices for nightlife. The Lincoln Center Stage has classical music, then right down the way was BillBoard’s live; any taste of music will be satisfied. There was a show every night on the mainstage ranging from a comedian to a play.
Waking up and eating breakfast surrounded by blue water was a cool thing, but waking up and seeing a new island to explore was even better. The process of getting off the ship to Grand Turk was very easy, even with all the other passengers doing the same thing as me. Going down to the first deck we were all greeted with ship staff dressed in white waiting to get us off the ship as quick and painless as possible. Giving the attendant my ship key, I was off with a scan and a smile. The port of Grand Turk was underwhelming, some generic gift shops and Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville. Scoping out a few lounge chairs me and traveling companions set out towards the crystal blue water outstretched in front of us. Swimming so close to the ship was an experience we even saw some fish! When swimming no longer held our attention we were starting to think not booking an excursion was a bad idea until one of us had the bright idea to rent a golf cart from one of the locals outside the port walls.
I’m sure to someone who’s never been to Grand Turk the idea of renting a cart from a stranger is sketchy idea, and in the beginning it was; but once we were out on the island exploring things we know others on the ship wouldn’t get to see it was worth the $80. We were able to go down small dirt roads and see beaches that no one on those big tour buses were going too. The best thing we came across was an abandoned what would have been a beautiful beach front resort. Dilapidated cabanas and the concrete shell of what would have been a gorgeous pool sitting hauntingly back in the palms and the brush.
The day for me began late and watching the ship pull into port was very interesting. Seeing the wake behind us and another ship on our tail. Getting off the ship again was easy as pie, stepping right off the ship into the area surrounding the port; bombarded with fake purses and taxi’s vying for our attention to take us around the island. My companion couldn’t get far into the port due to mobility issues so I was set off by myself. I wandered around San Juan for a few hours, stepping into shops when I felt inclined but mostly trying to absorb the culture around me. Being the history buff i am I wanted to get into one of the old forts, which I did with forty five minutes to spare before they closed. I sat out on the top of one of the towers and just marveled at the ocean. How clear it was and that out there somewhere was the US and it sunk in that i was away from home.
After the fort was closed, I have an alcove attached to it that was still open to the public and just watched the sun set slowly into the ocean. Watching the locals prance around and try as best as I could to not look like a tourist and marvel at what they see everyday. Once the sun was gone I set my sights back to the port and mosied around the streets coming alive with local nightlife, since two of the four ships that were in port were gone already. With the ship in spitting distance and old San Juan behind me i stopped for a margarita and some nachos and this little shop that was situated right next to my ship, I was able to do my favorite past time, people watch, and enjoy my last few minutes in San Juan.
Today, I was feeling under the weather. The sun and fresh air was just what I needed. Again like in San Juan I set out by myself to wander the island. First thing that caught my attention was a cable car ride up the mountain that lead to breathtaking views of the island and the ocean surrounding us. The island was bustling with local life just outside the port, crossing the street was interesting because they drove on the different side of the street from us. They had lots of the same shops as us, when I went into a Payless Shoes I even found a pair I was looking for back home but could never get them in my size!
Overall it was a beautiful friendly island and I can’t wait to go back to see the things I missed the first time around.
Half Moon Cay
For this stop, we had to tender off the ship. I’m not sure what I was expecting when I was told we had to take another ship from our ship to get to the island it certainly wasn’t this. The boat we were ushered onto was a two story contraption. It was not scary or rickety like I imagined, but modern and an easy ride to the island. Getting of the tender boat we were ushered onto the private island with rows and rows of lounge chairs. We spent the day lounging in the sun until we were invited to BBQ on the island with some of the best burgers I’ve ever had!
Sitting in the sun slowly baking and taking in the last day of this wonderful vacation was bittersweet. The ship looming out in the distance a reminder that tomorrow we were being thrown back into the real world. Breathing in the island air one last time before boarding the tender back to the ship, I imprinted the picturesque scenery to my mind.
Grady DiGiovanni is the Adventure Assistant and a Travel Agent in the office at Roseborough Travel Agency. If you’d like to ask her more about her travels and experiences, please feel free to contact her.
By Explorer: Donna Green
Christmas Market River Cruise
What is your favorite part of your most recent trip?
Wow! That is a hard question. I loved Prague, Nuremberg, and so many places, but I would love to return to Salzburg. It was so cold and very icy when you got away from the shopping areas, so we were unable to visit what I wanted to explore. There is so much to see in Salzburg, starting with the salt mines, the fortress, the filming location of The Sound of Music and Mirabell Gardens, and then you have many side tours from there through the Bavarian Alps.
Now that is a reason to return to this area, but to answer the question “my favorite part?” would be Regensburg. We walked everywhere, both on a guided tour and then by ourselves. It is easy to get around there; the people are friendly and helpful, and there is a lot of history to discover. The Christmas Market in Regensburg was the nicest and most interesting with lots of arts and crafts.
What sites did you see while traveling?
The most interesting site for me was visiting the Courthouse and Room 600 where the Nuremburg Trials were held. Besides the history you learn in Room 600, one floor up is a museum with numerous photographs and information on the trials as to who was found guilty and who was acquitted. In this area we also found photographs and some information on the Japanese Trials. In Nuremburg, our tour took us to Hitler’s base of operations and that was amazing to hear and see what had transpired there.
Any interesting facts or history you learned?
We learned that the children in school are taught of the atrocities during Hitler’s regime and how that can never happen again. We saw a memorial to the Jews in Regensburg and some school children were there on a field trip.
What company did you travel/ cruise with?
Through Roseborough Travel we booked with AMA Waterways for the December 2016 Christmas Market River Cruise. We look forward to another river cruise with AMA. They are phenomenal!
How did you find that company handled your vacation/ tours/ hotels?
Roseborough Travel in Deland, Florida, the best agency you can use.
Anything you did not like?
We did not like the COLD, especially the FREEZING cold in Budapest! Yes, we knew it would be cold in December in Europe, but this was the WORST! However, I would like to return to Hungary one day in their spring or summer and really enjoy all they have to offer.
Where is the next place you want to explore?
ICELAND, and I’ll be going there in February 2017.
My Bollywood Adventure… Well maybe not quite that glam.
Picture this, I am in my last year of grad school at Auburn University and my husband (yes, husband- I was a child bride) was completing his second bachelors degree in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering also at Auburn University. It is 2008 and George (hubby) is taking graduate classes at university and working on some scientific things I couldn’t even begin to explain pertaining to everything from space travel, rockets, to providing sufficient hydration and protection for our military while learning about renewable energy sources.
December of 2007 we were offered the opportunity only seven students in the whole University were awarded- the chance to travel abroad to India all expenses paid if we came back with a research project and an international perspective of the “foreign -exchange student” experience to share with other Auburn students in our own curriculum.
So what would any other poor, working (three jobs)- yet barely surviving, adventurous student do before they had to graduate and get their “big boy and big girl jobs”?
I don’t think you need to think hard to figure that one out… We of course said YES to the opportunity to travel to India and take part in the 4 month research program. No Questions Asked!
Hahahaha- we were literally crazy. We knew nothing about India and we had to apply for our Visas, find a place to stay, work, research, and figure out the travel. We were connected to one of the most prestigious universities in all of India and even the wold- IIT Madras.
Except, upon arrival, they did not have housing for us- party foul! How does one travel this far and plan for 6 months without a place to stay?
So what did we do? We left Chennai and traveled 7 hours down mostly unpaved, bumpy, dirt roads to Tiruchirappall, IIT Trichy to stay at a neighboring university for our first two weeks until we could find other accommodations and come up with plan B.
The drive was… rough. I will leave it at that. No, I am not talking about the bumpy roads. That was difficult too, but getting off at street markets and needing to use a eastern facility that is similar to an outhouse is a bit more of what I am considering rough. And figuring out what to eat, or what not to eat, and the conversion of money… it was all a bit much on extreme jet lag.
- At this point in my story I am wondering if those reading it are questioning how I got into the travel industry if I am “complaining” — keep reading on…
So we arrive in Trichy after asking directions (because there are not street signs everywhere) and people just give head nods to our drivers questions “Ana Trichy Bono” Which means “Which way Trichy, thank you?!”
Things I saw along the way:
- Signs for STD’s everywhere- say whaaaat? I later found out it was their sim card for their phone. Totally different from what I would have ever guessed.
- Coconut Oil- You think you are up on the latest trend by using beauty products or cooking with Coconut Oil in the last few years? India has been doing it forever. No conditioner to be found… but Coconut Oil is sold at the street corner shop in individual packages.
- Monkeys… they just ran right across the street like squirrels do here. Difference is, if we hit a squirrel in the states we might be upset or even cry about it… In India if you hit a monkey you will sell your car because it is bad luck and some believe monkeys are gods.
- Rickshaws- an awesome form of transportation to try once or twice.
- Motorcycles as the family vehicle- with 5-6 people piled up on them
- Traffic lanes that fit three times the amount of vehicles we would ever dare into the same area.
So we spent our two week allotment at IIT Trichy worked in their lab and met with countless professors about engineering stuff that was over my head. I am not dumb by any means, it just was not interesting at all. The culture however, was extremely interesting. I went to temples, bazaars, and watched traditional dance performances after every single meeting. One of my favorite parts of India was mingling with the people.
We went to the famous Rock Fort that is said to geologically date back a billion years (the actual rock). This historic Rock Fort and temple complex are built on the very top of this huge hill/ rock that measures 273 feet high in the city of Tiruchirapalli. It was truly a pilgrimage to so many. For us, it was our first temple and an amazing experience. We had to take our shoes off before going in and walk barefoot out of respect. The colors on the walls were spectacular and the carvings and designs of the gods and deities were spectacular. There are two Hindu temples inside the Rockfort, The Uchchi Pillaiyar Koil and The Siva Temple.
This temple was just the beginning of us visiting countless more temples and faith-filled places. It really was quite an experience.
So onto the rest of our time.
I had a professor in the states, Dr. Veena Chattaraman who had a connections with the Gandhi Rural Rehabilitation Centre (GRRC), which was located in a little rural village just a couple hours away in Alampoondi. GRRC was originally founded by monks who wanted to help those of society who were considered “castaways” including those who had leprosy. GRRC is now working with the disadvantaged and under privileged village youth, children, women, widow and handicapped people.
Since I was an undergraduate student of Fashion Design and a Masters of Science in Consumer Affairs with emphasis in Entrepreneurship in the apparel industry my project was to come to GRRC and help the handloom weavers and the tailors create designs that would be marketable to a more “Western” market. And to then help with the marketing plan of this.
George was to stay with me and bring solar energy to this community or at least this compound, as they were so far off the grid there would be three days at a time we did not get electricity.
Some of the best people in all of India we met were located right here… they did not speak English, and our only way to communicate was pointing and hand motions or with the one gentleman who could speak Tamil and English. Mr. Kumar was the director of the compound, welcomed us into his facility and into his home for dinner on a few occasions. He had a different type of home because it was whats they called a “love marriage” rather than an arranged marriage. They educated us greatly on the cultural views of marriage, cast system, and what they thought of the US… it was an election year and an Olympic year too. Being an outsider looking into these events was quite an interesting experience.
We stayed in India for about 4 months traveling all over the place. We explored Southern India going back and forth from Chennai to Trichy to Aloompoondi and we even took a vacation to the backwaters of Kerala in which we stayed on a houseboat. Kerala’s backwaters is somewhat similar to the bayou as it is a network of interconnected canals, rivers, lakes and inlets. It is truly a labyrinthine system formed by nearly 600 miles of waterways.
Though I have been a vegetarian collectively almost 1/2 of my life picking it up and dropping it on and off over the years, I found it difficult in India. The one thing I looked forward to was when we would go to Chennai (one of 2 times total) they had a Pizza Hut and I ordered myself a whole large pizza with real pepperoni…. omg it was delicious.
At the end of our trip we had the forethought to plan to fly out of Northern India so we had no excuse not to visit the tourist sights and see the Taj Mahal. So George and I visited a Indian travel agent and set up a trip to see the Golden Triangle which included Seeing the Taj Mahal, visiting New Delhi, Agra, the Pink City of Jaipur, Rajastan New Delhi, Agra and Rajasthan.
Jaipur is the capital city of Rajasthan and is also known as the Pink City. The maharaja painted the whole city pink, the color of hospitality, when Queen Victoria and the Prince of Wales visited Jaipur in 1876. We visited the city’s historic forts and palaces.
We also visited Amber Fort- a marvelous example of Rajput architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The interior of the fort has various royal halls decorated with intricate ivory, mirror and glass work complemented by exquisite wall paintings. It was here that we took an elephant ride around the fort and realized if you give an ounce of interest to those selling you something you will miss all of the sights and you will only haggle the whole tour…
Luckily today I have 2 beautiful blankets with round mirrors on them to tell everyone about the scenery I missed because I had to buy these blankets.
This Golden Triangle Tour really was everything that people think they will see in India. We ran into so many Western Tourists who said they absolutely LOVED India because they only stayed in Northern India. We had such a different and life altering experience in India the two weeks we spent doing the golden triangle was like a vacation that I only remember sparse memories from. The sights were beautiful and I would totally plan to go back for this Northern India Experience again… Ask me to move to India all expenses paid again? I would have to decline.
So moral of the story, I LOVE what I do in tourism… I think traveling the world opens your mind, heart and soul to people. There are new experiences all around you waiting for you to enjoy. It opens your life to opportunity, and it opens your eyes to the world.
I will be sharing pictures of my experience at our upcoming event “Spotlight on Travel” Wednesday, February 8th and would be more than happy to share the full story with you. Want more information on a specific destination in India? Just let me know. 386-734-7245
A Roseborough Explorer Perspective of Australia
Spotlight written by Lisa and Steve Pauszek
- Where have you traveled on your favorite adventure?
Australia- Port Douglas, Melbourne, Adelaide, & Brisbane.
- Why did you want to go here? We like to go to places that are different from what we are used to. We enjoy seeking out cultural differences in other countries & especially enjoy trying foreign foods. We loved the fact that so many animals & birds were completely new to us here. It was really a pleasure to encounter so much that was new to us.
- What was your favorite part about this destination? We would highly recommend Australia & can’t possibly pick out a favorite part of the vacation. Things we especially enjoyed were the Great Barrier Reef out of Port Douglas, hot air ballooning over the Yarra Valley, and the Queen Victoria Market in Melbourne is a must, as is the Australia Zoo on the outside of Brisbane. The biggest problem we had in Australia was not having enough suitcase space coming back!
Great Barrier Reef
Yarra Valley Hot Air Balloon Ride
- How did you travel here? Independent- getting around the cities was exceptionally easy. Plenty of trams! Keep in mind that Australia is larger than you imagine it is, so air travel between cities is almost a must.
- What is #1 on your “Live it” List and why? Antarctica. We would love the accomplishment of going somewhere that so few people have seen. We have been hiking on glaciers in Iceland & it was one of the most majestic experiences that we have lived through. The views are amazing. I would love to leave from Patagonia, in order to experience those breathtaking views.
- What is your favorite place in the world to travel just for the food and wine and why?
Steve’s gut reaction to this question was Italy, however, I’ve never been! I would say Scandinavia for food. I LOVE game. It was so fun to try reindeer, moose, bear & elk in Sweden & Finland. If you ever get a chance to have reindeer filet- TAKE IT! It was delicious! For wine, I would say Australia. We went wine tasting in both Adelaide & Melbourne. I would go again & again. I think I would bring “wine luggage” next time.
Explorer Spotlight: Antarctica on Azamara Club Cruises
By: Diane Congdon- an adventurous and well traveled client of Roseborough Travel Agency.
The most absolute-over-the-top trip I have ever taken was a cruise to Antarctica in 2008 on the Azamara Journey. At about 700 passengers, it was the smallest, most luxurious ship and the longest trip I had taken.
Why Antarctica? As a long-time Floridian, I am always looking for cooler weather and mountains for my trips. The scenery was so breathtakingly spectacular that it is not describable in words. I spent three days standing on the deck from dawn to dusk in rain, snow, sleet, hail and sunshine looking at icebergs more than a mile long and much taller than the ship (and remember only 1/10 of the berg actually shows above the water), beautiful mists, whales and bazillions of penguins and other birds, only coming in to get dry gloves and socks and a hot drink. We went where the ice captains knew there were things to see with no set itinerary; if we saw something, the ship stopped and we looked.
The real bonus was the Chilean fjords. Because the ship was so small, we hugged the coast line of Chile from Valparaiso down to the tip of South America. The fjords rivaled, and may have exceeded, the beauties of the Alaska and Norway coasts. The other real bonus was the people; the Chileans, Uruguayans and Argentinians were so welcoming and so proud of their lands. I took a horseback ride to the end of the Americas; drank great Chilean wines; had Uruguayan barbecue at a ranch; bought a hand-woven wool shawl from the woman who carded the wool, wove the yarn and made the shawl (using sign language, finger waving and smiles to make the purchase).
And, yes, Roseborough planned this trip for me.
This trip is still at the top of my list to do again. Along with a safari-laden trip to South Africa.
South Africa for Children, the Jungle Book, and Mommy who loves wine- how it all “Works”
So I just got done watching Jungle Book with my Two and a half year old baby girl Aurora the Explorer… (mommy side note, OMG I cannot believe she is almost 3 eeeeek) Anyway, Similar to my Tarzan movie experience I started jumping and getting all excited about going to Africa, specifically South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe on our September 22–October 2, 2017 departure next year with Salute Africa.
The animals get me every time. By no means am I am person to own a farm or ton of animals, though from these blogs you may think I am a total wildlife psycho. But something about traveling to a destination and seeing the wild roam free is literally tear-jerking to me. Yup… I used tear-jerking as a adjective because I am crying I am so excited. That’s Me!
I don’t know… I grew up with “different” types of pets when I was young. My dad had snakes, iguanas, turtles, mice (to feed to the snakes) and toads when I was young. I remember driving home (Dunkrik, New York) from Florida in a Pontiac Grand Am one year with a massive iguana separating my sister and I in the back seat (saved lots of fights).
(Embarrassing photo alert! Who does this to their kids hair? MOM! This is me and my younger sister Jess who I lovingly call Buttmunch… literally. Hence, the fighting in the grand am story)
I digress, the wildlife does something to my soul… and I realize my daughter Aurora has the same type of soul- the kid LOVES animals. As we were watching Jungle Book she was rawring with the tigers and panthers, howling with the wolf pack, and trumpeting with the elephants it literally makes my heart smile 🙂
So I am going to South Africa in 2017 on this AMAZING Adventure which includes two full days on Safari PLUS other animal encounters… (Penguins and Seals off Cape Town). When planning this adventure I knew I had to bring my kid. She will LOVE this trip. Plus she doesn’t get the nickname Aurora the Explorer because she never takes a trip… nope, this child has more frequent flyer miles than most adults do and she is a GOOD traveler. Seriously, as my clients and trip-goers who have traveled with us… they tell me all the time they would have never known she was on the trip with us.
Anyway, the whole point of my writing this blog was to tell you this trip is CHILD FRIENDLY! It is a huge deal. No, by no means is it a Disney theme park that your kid will be entertained 24/7… you have to have a good traveler to begin with because it is a long flight and then lots of travel and on the game drive the kid MUST stay in their seat and quiet for hours (many children cannot do this and it is okay, but for those who can they will get to see the best wildlife). Mom and Dad, if you have a child who you “think” can go on this trip but you are worried about the game drive part I just mentioned with hours of quiet time… NO PROBLEM!!! We will set you up, in advance a private game drive that your family can enjoy but then come back when the kids get antsy… you know what this means? No dirty looks from other passengers in your jeep, plus the game drive experience for your family… best of Both Worlds!
In closing, I if you cannot tell am extremely excited about traveling to South Africa with you! Or telling you all about it when I get home, either way, I am going.
I have already started talking to Aurora the Explorer about visiting South Africa as well as started my personal “tasting” experience on African Wines… yummmmmmmm
Want more information? Click here or give me a call at Roseborough Travel Agency 386-734-7245