• Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton
    Sydney Australia - credit Jackie Appleton

Time to start thinking of your next summer holiday…

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

USA and Canada

Everyone’s situation is different as to what they need to think about when booking a holiday. Do you have children at school, are you in a job that restricts you from taking time off when you like?

Early planning is a must to avoid disappointment in these situations. Booking early also means you can take advantage any early booking discounts, which can save significantly sums for your holiday.

We are here to assist you make those plans and to help take the stress out of organising your trip. Once booked you can simply sit back and look forward to a wonderful holiday!

We are experts in the USA and Canada priding ourselves on the fact we have stayed in and visited many of the places we send our clients, helping you to make the best choices. The USA and Canada are well worth booking early in high season and they both offer something for everyone, from big city glamour to small town charm but can have limited availability.

 

USA – first thoughts

For the USA ‘big city glamour’ try the city of Chicago in Midwestern USA, a metropolitan hub for dining, shopping and entertainment. The Magnificent Mile is one of Chicago’s most famous shopping districts, and you’ll find flagship stores — from high street favourites to high fashion stores — along the stretch of shops. Nearby, wander along State Street, where you can visit the original Marshall Field’s, now Macy’s. For boutique shopping, head to Chicago’s 77 neighbourhood, where you’ll find unique, one-of-a-kind items you simply won’t want to leave without.

Chicago is bursting at the seams with theatrical talent. Broadway in Chicago and many Tony Award winning companies bring in big names and blockbuster shows, while more than 200 storefront, experimental and neighbourhood theatres bring you pioneering contemporary performances. Chicago is also a city that loves to laugh —after all Chicago invented improvisation comedy. See where Tina Fey, Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell performed at world-famous ‘The Second City’. If stand-up comedy is your thing, grab your tickets for The Laugh Factory or Zanies. It is also a hub for all kinds of music and well worth experiencing.

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

Picture courtesy of Peter Ellis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For small town charm, we would recommend Jackson in Wyoming USA, sitting 15 miles from the Idaho border and approximately 12 miles from the entrance of Grand Teton National Park and 60 miles from the famous Yellowstone National Park. Offering you an adventure holiday exploring the wildlife and immersing in the local culture. You can explore on skis (in winter), mountain bikes, rafts, horse drawn stagecoaches. Add in exquisite cuisine, world-renowned art, and unique shopping to make a holiday to remember.

 

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For Canada some places to consider

For ‘big city glamour’ consider a visit to the vibrant city of Vancouver, British Columbia with its skyline of glass buildings and the surrounding ocean and coastal mountains. Here you can swim from the beach and then go off to explore a mountain all in one day.  This is such a versatile city with so much to do. The city is the largest in British Columba, but manages to hold on to its rustic charm and natural beauty nonetheless. Visitors can enjoy bike riding, shopping, visiting a local museum or just relaxing in Stanley Park. Take the free shuttle service out to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Originally built in 1889, Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet (137m) across and 230 feet (70m) above Capilano River. Cliffwalk is the park’s newest attraction – a cantilevered walkway clinging to the granite cliff high above Capilano Canyon. Treetops Adventure, seven suspension bridges through the evergreens taking you up to 100 feet (30m) above the forest floor, offers a unique squirrel’s eye perspective of the forest. See the jaw-dropping majestic nature of British Columbia unfold as you ascend via aerial tram to the summit of Grouse Mountain. Rising 4,100 feet (1,250 metres) above Vancouver and just 15 minutes from the city’s downtown.

You can dine at a world class restaurant or join a Vancouver foodie tour which allows you to visit a wide variety of highly recommended restaurants trying varied cuisine and enjoying the nightlife. A visit to Granville Island is a must for true foodies looking to sample the best of this coastal city. This gastronomic-focused district offers everything from elegant waterfront restaurants to small ethnic eateries. The Granville Island Public Market is a must see, an indoor market featuring a fascinating assortment of food and produce, displaying handcrafted products and unique gifts.

 

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For small town charm in Canada, we suggest Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan – an attractive town with an underground network of bootlegging tunnels connecting buildings. The tunnels were created in 1908 for a steam system that never happened, but it is rumoured that Al Capone gambled and made deals in them. You can get around this historic town on trolley buses and guided tours, stopping to visit one of the many attractions and museums, or you can simply relax in one of the many spas around the town. Summer in Moose Jaw is always bustling with activities such as Sidewalk Days, Park Art, the Motif Multicultural Festival, Farmers’ Markets, events in Crescent Park and much more.

 

Picture courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan Greg Huszar Photography

Picture courtesy of Tourism Saskatchewan Greg Huszar Photography

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information and help with organising and booking your holiday please contact us.

River Boat Cruising with a Difference

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Vicki Tester

 

Many people enjoy the freedom of river and/or canal cruising and the choices to do this are various and different. But for something that is of the beaten track (well for us in the U.K.) would be to consider cruising the Rideau Canal in Canada.

Picture courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Being over 200 kms long with 49 locks, this canal is the oldest continuously in use canal in North America and is also a World heritage Site. Following the war between Britain and the USA in 1812, the canal was built to ensure that the interior of Canada had access to open water and ultimately the sea without threat from Canada’s neighbour. It was opened in 1832 and is an amazing feat of engineering with sometimes up to 8 locks to overcome the height differences between lakes.

 

John By supervised the work and made the most of the rivers and lakes that cover this amazing region. If you were in a hurry you could probably cruise from Ottawa to Kingston on Lake Ontario in 3 days but was is the rush. Why not take your time and explore the lakes and enjoy the locks – particularly as they are manned. And if you do not want to sail the whole way, that is OK as well. Cruise in your own boat or join a larger cruiser that sales the waterway and has a capacity of 45 guests.

A wonderful way to slow down a holiday to a fascinating part of Canada which would truly add to your experiences whilst here and a great way of getting back to nature.

Picture courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

Picture courtesy of Ontario Tourism Marketing Partnership Corporation

 

It is not too late!

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Vicki Tester

 

With the longest day just about to arrive and the true summer weather with us, you may think that it is too late to book a holiday for this year, but you could well be wrong! Many regions still have the capacity to take good numbers of travellers and still feel un-crowded.

Parts of Canada and the USA fit this bill well and do have the option of medium and long haul flights on offer. Atlantic Canada is just 6-7 hours flying time away and offers a huge variety of experiences, scenery and excellent food and wine. Eastern USA also has much to offer and is only a little longer on the plane. September is a particularly good time for these regions, as the fall colours begin to show.

If you are willing to be more adventurous in your destinations and avoid the really popular locations, then you have time to book your holiday for this summer or autumn.

It starts with a call – Contact us / 01323 446550 and you could be on your way.

Picture courtesy of Angie Watson

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

 

Escape to Canada’s Maritime Provinces

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Vicki Tester

 

Think of visiting an area of Canada that is really quite close to the UK – a 6 hour flight from London brings you to the compact little city of Halifax Nova Scotia and from here opens up a wealth of just about everything one possibly want of a holiday.

Nova Scotia is one of four Atlantic Provinces – the others being Newfoundland (and Labrador), New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.  Each Province has its own trademark and its difficult to decide which is the best!

The overwhelming feature that binds all four together are their people – there are few places in the world where one would feel truly comfortable talking to anyone and everyone, from the assistant in the fuel station, to the waiter at your table, from the fisherman tending his nets, to the keeper of the little craft shops that line the roadside, from the casual passer by, to the person sitting on the next table in the pub.

NS Lunenburg Harbour Fall

Picture courtesy of Kelley Keefe Atlantic Canada Holiday

Let’s add in a second feature – music! These Maritime Provinces were settled in the 17th Century by the Scots, the Irish, the English and French.  There were ensuing battles between the French and the English, mostly it seems to secure the fishing rights of the Grand Banks. The Scots and the Irish brought with them their very distinct brand of Celtic music, bagpipes, fiddles – the whole nine yards – and today, ceilidhs and concerts abound in most villages.  Music is the very life blood of these areas, and its not uncommon to see a fiddle casually laid on the side just in case someone fancies a little tune.

The seafood in the Maritimes is, without doubt, the best in the world. So fresh, and so delicious.  If you have never tasted lobster – this is the place to do it.  In the early days of these Provinces, lobster was caught in such abundance that it was eaten much as we might eat mince. It was not regarded as a delicacy or a treat at all.

One of the key features is the landscape itself. From the richly wooded interior with Autumn colours to rival anything New England can offer, to the rugged Highlands of Cape Breton Island, from the quaint farmlands and gorgeous beaches of Prince Edward Island to the fly-fishing opportunities of the Miramichi River in New Brunswick and the Margaree River on Cape Breton Island.  From the extraordinary geology that has created Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland, to the extraordinary sight of icebergs the size of apartment blocks.  This is an ancient land, sculpted by the forces of plate tectonic movement, ice and the mighty ocean.  What remains is a variety and depth of experiences that rivals anything in the world.

Explore Canada’s best kept secret for yourself, and return a reformed and enlightened being, with the ability to smile at everyone, chat with anyone that cares to chat back.

A quick call or email starts your journey to Atlantic Canada please contact us.

Picture courtesy of Kelley Keefe Atlantic Canada Holiday

NL Western Brook Pond Fjord.

Picture courtesy of Kelley Keefe Atlantic Canada Holiday

Bear Watching Lodge – British Columbia

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Bear Watching at Great Bear Lodge

Picture courtesy of Great Bear Nature Tours.

 

One of our favourite places for bear watching is bringing a new floating lodge in to commission this year. Great Bear Tours are located on a beautiful salmon river in the Great Bear Rainforest in British Colombia, Canada and has featured on BBC programmes about bears and their environment.

The new lodge is a floating one and will have larger rooms with en suite facilities for their few, lucky clients. During the autumn when bear viewing – fishing for salmon – is at its height the lodge is host to just 16 clients. For the rest of the year the number of visitors are limited to 10 making this a very exclusive experience.

They have also 2 new bear viewing sites and to see how close you could be to these wonderful animals view some of their clips on their website www.greatbeartours.com.

Bear Watching at Great Bear Lodge

Picture courtesy of Great Bear Nature Tours.

 

Bear viewing, both grizzly and black, can go ahead during the spring and summer and the wilderness is home to many other animals, including wolves, deer and a host of birds.

This is “must” for lovers of bears but because numbers are limited it does need booking well in advance. If you are interested or want more information, then get in touch on Tel: 01323 446550 or  Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

 

Making the most of the Wild Rockies

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Vicki Tester

 

We know how appealing the Rockies of both the USA and Canada are. Many of our clients return time after time to explore further. It is a year round destination if you like your skiing and winter activities.

One of the attractions is being in the pristine mountains and with all of the wildlife around you. Camping out for a night enhances the getting back to nature feel. For those wanting more of this, there is the chance to join a horse pack trek of 3 or 4 or more days through beautiful country, with mules bringing up your camping equipment and food.

What could be better than stretching out by the camp fire after a day in the saddle, feeling well fed and gazing up at a host of stars above you? You will certainly see much of the wildlife that lives here but if you wanted to learn more about it, you could join a trek on which the guide will teach you about tracking and seeing these animals and birds to your best advantage.

For more information on making this part of your own bespoke tailor made holiday call us on – 01323 446550 or email info@expereinceholidays.co.uk

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Picture courtesy of Yvonne Dann

Iceberg Alley – Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada

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Vicki Tester

 

When it comes to viewing icebergs, Iceberg Alley is one of the best places in the world. On a sunny day, view these 10,000-year-old glacial giants from many points along the northern and eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador in every shape and size. The colours of each iceberg differs ranging from snow-white to the deepest aquamarine.

There are a number of ways to experience these amazing natural spectacles. Go on a boat tour, paddle along in a sea kayak or hike along parts of the 29,000 km of coastline and watch a sparkling spring berg parade down Iceberg Alley.

 

Quirpon Island Zodiac Iceberg

Picture courtesy of ACTP

 

To mark this occasion an Iceberg Festival takes place every June on the Great Northern Peninsula. It celebrates the coming of spring in the north and the annual arrival of icebergs. The festival features music, food, entertainment, history, culture, great hospitality and of course icebergs. Dip your toes into the North Atlantic! Have a dance! Eat seafood fresh from the sea! If you want breathtaking landscapes and seascapes, fantastic fare and good company, you belong at the Iceberg Festival!

Nor is that all you can do while in this beautiful region. Here nature is very much to the fore and the scenery is spectacular. The people very welcoming and it is still one of those places that is well off the well trodden holiday destinations.

If you would like more information on tailor made holidays to Canada then please call us on Tel: 01323 446550 or Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Green Gardens, Gros Morne National Park

Picture courtesy of ACTP

Iceberg Near Triton Island, Green Bay

Picture courtesy of ACTP

Puffins

Picture courtesy of ACTP

Two Countries, Three Cities – Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver

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Posted by:

Vicki Tester

 

On this trip you will combine the fascinating cities of Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver over 11 nights.

Summary

Two Countries, Three Cities

On this trip you will combine the fascinating cities of Seattle, Victoria and Vancouver over 11 nights.  There are plenty of options to add if time allows – self drive through the Canadian Rockies, add Washington State to include Mt Rainier and the Olympic Peninsular, or through Oregon reaching Crater Lake and the fantastic coast.

Day 1: Seattle

Day 4: Victoria

Day 7: Vancouver

Day 10: Seattle

Description

Description

In this itinerary you’ll explore three great cities, using a variety of transport methods as you travel between the USA and Canada, and between mainland and Islands. These three diverse cities, are all in fantastic oceanside locations, with great scenery and activities within easy reach.

 

Day 1 Seattle: Start with your flight to Seattle today. The city is a sophisticated blend of art, nature, technology and culture.  Take a stoll or food tour around Pike Place Market. Head up the Space Needle where the Observation Deck and restaurant offer a unique 360 degree view of mountains, Puget Sound and the City. Nearby, Chihuly Garden and Glass, showcases the career of glass artist Dale Chihuly with galleries, garden and the Glasshouse.

Visit historic Pioneer Square, shop at the Westgate centre and downtown area, and take Bill Speidels Underground Tour, strolling through the passages that once were the main roadways showcasing first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle prior to the Great Fire of 1889, and the subsequent rebuilding of Seattle on top

Three nights Seattle

Day 4 Victoria: Today take the Victoria Clipper passenger only ferry between Seattle and Victoria, British Columbia. It’s less than a three hour cruise through Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Canada and into Victoria’s Inner Harbour – the heart of the city. Arrive and pass through Canadian immigration at the ferry terminal.

Double-decker buses, horse-drawn carriages, formal gardens and tearooms show off Victoria’s apparent British history. Victoria’s Inner Harbour is at the very heart of the city, and with plenty of attractions within easy reach. Have afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel, head out on a whale watching cruise – Victoria and its surrounding waters are world renowned for the many species of whales and the wildlife tours offered. Stroll around the exhibits and collections in the Royal BC museum.  Enjoy a cycle tour of the city.

Around 30 minutes drive from the city you’ll find Butchart Gardens – a National Historic Site of Canada.

Three nights Victoria

Day 7 Vancouver: A thrilling 30 minute seaplane flight is your transport to the Canada’s mainland and the city of Vancouver, British Columbia. Coming into Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre, located on Canada Place, you are just a short distance from many attractions in the city.

Stroll through diverse neighbourhoods or relax on sandy beaches. Visit the aquarium, take a city tour, cycle or stroll around the seawall in Stanley Park as you follow marked trails.  Head up Vancouver’s Lookout for a birds eye view over the city. Take a mini-tugboat ferry across False Creek to Granville Island where the biggest attraction is the Public Market – perhaps take a walking tour.

Head over to the North Shore for more adventure – Grouse Mountain has plenty of outdoor adventure. Take the Skyride – an 8 minute ride from the Valley Station to the summit. Also on the North Shore, visit the Capilano Suspension Bridge, suspended above the river and amongst the trees. Also here are the Cliffwalk and Treetops Adventure.

Three nights Vancouver

Day 10 Seattle: End your journey here with a flight out of Vancouver International Airport, or alternatively continue your travels with a train journey between Vancouver and Seattle – bus is another option. You’ll pass through US Immigration and customs as you enter Seattle. Spend one final night in the city.

One night Seattle

Day 11 Fly Home: Say goodbye to Seattle as you make your way back to the airport for your overnight flight home.

Day 12 Arrive Home

Float planes at Vancouver – Credit CTC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Space Needle - Seattle

Picture courtesy of Port of Seattle

Floatplanes Vancouver

Credit Yvonne Dann

Totem Pole Victoria – Credit Yvonne Dann

Butchart Gardens Victoria – Credit Yvonne Dann

Butchart Gardens – Credit Yvonne Dann

Vancouver by air – Credit Yvonne Dann

Little Gems

Little Gems

A little gem of Seattle is the famous Pike Place Market, and the perfect way to see it is on a walking tour. See behind-the-scenes and experience the sights, sounds, and flavors of this historic 100+ year old landmark.

Pike Place Market

Credit Helen Wibley

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The Lighthouse Route of Nova Scotia, Canada

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Vicki Tester

 

Region: Atlantic Canada

 

Come and celebrate the timeless romance of the sea, in the stunning scenery of Atlantic Canada. The Lighthouse Route journeys through an unforgettable landscape of coastal beauty and historic charm that has captured the hearts and minds of travellers for generations. Imagine the landscape as it was when Champlain and de Monts first arrived here four centuries ago. Follow shoreline roads past rugged, wave-carved headlands and tranquil, island-studded bays. Discover historic towns and weathered fishing villages where legends of the sea come alive and the rhythm of life moves in harmony with the tides.

The Lighthouse Route follows Nova Scotia’s South Shore, where the past is a part of everyday life. You’ll find it along quiet country roads where ox teams still haul lumber, and coastal villages where fishermen still row wooden dories out to sea. Explore towns like Liverpool, with its privateer legends, and Lunenburg, where a working blacksmith still plies his trade amidst the beautifully preserved buildings of the old town district. And yes, they do have lighthouses, over twenty of them, from the dramatic beauty of the famous lighthouse at Peggy’s Cove to Yarmouth’s towering Cape Forchu light.

This is a wonderful self drive destination, with B&B and small hotels along the way to make your journey special. The owners of these places will be more than happy to suggest places to visit locally and where to enjoy the local produce. Summer is the key time to go but late spring and early autumn are also well worth considering.

Call or email us for more information on tailor made holidays to Canada: Tel: 01323 446550 or Email: info@experienceholidays.co.uk

Shelburne on Nova Scotia's Lighthouse Route

Picture courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism Culture and Heritage

Lunenburg waterfront on Nova Scotia's Lighthouse Route

Picture courtesy of Nova Scotia Tourism Culture and Heritage

Gastronomic Tour of Nova Scotia

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With over 500 festivals celebrating its rich diverse culture, dramatic beautiful scenery, outdoor adventure, a fascinating maritime history, warm hospitality and a superb gastronomic reputation, Nova Scotia is the perfect fly drive destination.

Summary

Gastronomic Tour of Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia, one of the four Atlantic Canada provinces, is perfectly located to make full use of the abundance of marine life around it. Add to this numerous restaurants and cafe’s, with excellent menu’s and wine lists and a simple self drive tour turns into a gastronomic experience.

Day 1: Halifax
Day 3: Lunenburg
Day 6: Antigonish
Day 6: Mabou
Day 7: Cabot Trail
Day 8: Baddeck

Day 9: Louisbourg
Day 11: Charlos Cove
Day 12: Depart Halifax

Description

Description

Day 1: Halifax
Fly in to Halifax and the start of your gastronomic tour of this fascinating region. While sampling your first meals, why not get involved in the lively music scene of Halifax which is truly diverse. Two days of exploring the city – not forgetting to visit the oldest Farmers Market in Canada.
Halifax 2 nights

Day 3: Lunenburg
Pick up your vehicle and set off along the Lighthouse Route along the South Shore stopping to visit some along the way. Have lunch at pretty Peggy’s Cove before continuing to Lunenburg for a two night stay. Lunenberg is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and here, enjoy the fruits of the sea and land. Nova Scotia is famous for its fresh quality food. Why not join the Cooking School based here to hone your skills and watch masters at work!
Lunenburg 2 nights

Day 6: Antigonish
Head due East to your next destination Antigonish, perhaps stopping at the University town of Wolfville with its excellent cafes and restaurants. If time allows, consider visiting one of the many vineyards in this area. You will be amazed at the rise/fall of the sea in the Bay of Fundy up to 46 feet – one of the biggest in the world.
Antigonish 1 night

Day 6: Mabou
Cross the Causeway to Cape Breton island – the further end of Nova Scotia province and follow the Ceilidh Trail for an overnight stay at Mabou. In early October this area comes alive with the sound of music as the Celtic Colours Festival takes over the whole area. Some of the freshest and tastiest fruits of the sea can be found in little pubs and restaurants in this region.
Mabou 1 night

Day 7: Cabot Trail
As you continue north east, the Ceilidh Trail joins the Cabot Trail – you are on your way to one of the most spectacular drives in Canada
Cabot Trail 1 night

Day 8: Baddeck
Complete the Cabot Trail to Baddeck and take time to relax and explore the cultural life that is centred on the Bras d’Or Lakes of Cape Breton Island.

Baddeck 1 night

Day 9: Louisbourg

Continue on to the National Historic Site of Louisbourg and stay in the pretty seaside town.  Use the full day to drive to Louisbourg and explore the historic town that helped shape the history of the region – with a little more time, include this as a three night stop.

Louisbourg 2 nights

Day 11: Charlos Cove
Return to the mainland, now joining the Marine Drive, for your final night stay at Charlos Cove. Time for a final gourmet meal and splendid accommodation before you think about packing for the last time and heading home.
Charlos Cove 1 night

Day 12: Depart Halifax
Back to Halifax for your return journey home or to continue your adventure …

All photographs by kind permission of Nova Scotia Tourism

NS Musicians in Mabou      NS Peggy's Cove      NS Skyline Trail

Little Gems

Little Gems

Cape Breton Island, linked to the mainland of Nova Scotia by the Canso Causeway is a must.  Plan your visit to coincide with the Fall colours and the Celtic Colours music festival.  Plan carefully though as some of the visitor attractions close at or about Canadian Thanksgiving!

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