Turning the calendar page to a new year, we would be remiss if we didn’t express our thanks to some of the people who made our travels special over 2013. You may recognize their faces from other posts on More Time To Travel.
Each of these spirited tourism professionals captured our hearts and imaginations, enriching our travel experiences greatly. They took the time to speak to us, share their stories, answer questions and teach us about the customs, foods and cultures of different countries and regions. We’ve included links to their businesses or employers as a way of special thanks and appreciation. Here are just a few of them:
Balwinder was the program director on our Grand Circle Travel river cruise through Burgundy and Provence. A native of India (where she also leads tours), she has lived in Paris for more than two decades. She is fluent in multiple languages and possesses a unique insider understanding of French customs (enhanced by her ability to examine them from the perspective of having once been an outsider). We also loved her sense of humor.
Philip, a gold-level guide (the highest level guide certification in Kenya) has been working for Micato Safaris for more than 20 years. Born in the town that produces Kenya’s best runners, he taught us about the history of colonization in Africa and introduced us to birds and beasts of the Masai Mara and Serengeti. In the picture, here, he is standing beside the local guides from Richard Branson’s Mahali Mzuri luxury tented camp who accompanied us on bush drives during our visit.
Felix and Jane Pinto
Felix and Jane, philanthropists and founders of Micato Safaris, welcomed us into their home in Nairobi, Kenya and taught us about the importance of responsible tourism and giving back. We were especially impressed by their nonprofit AmericaShare, which helps women and children in Nairobi’s Mukuru slum achieve better health and economic self-sufficiency through education.
Andres Bedolla Duran
We met Andres, the amiable sommelier at Edith’s Restaurant in Los Cabos, many years ago while dining at the restaurant to which we return each year. Since then this local expert has shared with us some of his favorite tips for dining, fishing and fun in Cabos San Lucas and San Jose del Cabo.
On a unique delicatessen tour offered by a tour-by-a-local company, Budapest Underguide, we met Elza. A student and former model, she introduced us to a side of Budapest we never would have seen or understood without her, including ruin bars, butcher shops, and the complex mosaic of foods that characterize the culinary culture of the city.
Armando was the driver who picked us up from the airport when we stayed at Hotel Neri in the Gothic quarter of Barcelona. A partner of Diagonal Mar Limousines, Armando is a city expert who turned a trip from the airport into a city tour, explaining everything from monuments to politics. We also spent a delightful morning with him touring Antonio Gaudi’s Park Güell.
Enrique, shown here with his partner Lulu, created Huerta Los Tamarindos, a wonderful organic farm, restaurant and cooking school in San Jose del Cabo, Mexico. An agricultural engineer by training, Silva was a pioneer when he arrived in this sleepy Mexican town more than two decades ago. He is also a partner in one of our favorite restaurants in town, Tequila. He’s as engaging as he is knowledgeable about Baja cuisine so taking a class with him (followed by lunch) was really a treat. Lulu has a talent for selecting wonderful clothes and accessories that she sells at her small boutique at the farm.
Alberto Espana Chavez
Alberto is a tour guide with Amstar Tours in Huatulco, Mexico. Trained as a biologist, he allowed us to experience the natural beauty as well as the biodiversity of Huatulco, from the cloud forest to the coral reef. He also introduced us to the artisan traditions of organic Pluma Hidalgo coffee, which we think may be the best in the world.
Mieke was the Program Director on the Viking Freya riverboat cruise we took on the Danube River. She made sure that everything on the ship took place on schedule. My husband joked, “On this ship if you are on time, you are late.” Her wisdom, experience, warmth and good humor made everyone on board, including us, feel welcomed and cared for.
OUR PHOTO GALLERY – MORE PEOPLE WE MET IN 2013
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