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DESTINATIONS FELL IN LOVE WITH

Faces of people who made our travels special

January 12, 2014
Balwinder Prabhakar

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 Prabhakar

Balwinder Prabhakar

Balwinder Prabhakar

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 Rono

Philip Rono

Philip Rono

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 Pinto

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

Andres Bedolla Duran

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.

Elza Morcsanyi

Elza Morcsanyi

Elza Morcsanyi

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 Panedas

Armando Panedas

Armando Panedas

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 Silva

Enrique Silva

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.

Alberto Espana Chavez

Alberto Espana Chavez

Mieke Bakker

Mieke Bakker

Mieke Bakker

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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  • Reply
    Susan Nelson
    January 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

    Irene, this is wonderful. It really brings the whole experience back when faces of those who helped along the way are revisited. They all look so charming! Great idea and a very well written article. Love your photos!

  • Reply
    Balwinder Prabhakar
    January 12, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Dear Irene and Jerry, thank you for remembering me with such kind words. You both are wonderful to travel with.
    So curious and open to new experiences!
    Now I have my licence as a national guide in France and can show you even more. So do come again.
    I loved reading about the other guides too.
    Thank you and a bien tot!
    Balwinder

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 13, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Although there wasn’t a doubt in our mind that you would get it, Balwinder, we are delighted to hear you received your national license. That is quite an accomplishment! Congratulations!!

  • Reply
    Judy
    January 14, 2014 at 8:41 am

    I love that you devoted a blog post to the people you met on your travels. Without good guides and service providers, our memories of a place might be quite different.

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 14, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      We feel so fortunate to have met these special gems!

  • Reply
    Mike
    January 14, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    What a nice shout out of appreciation to all of these folks, Irene! I enjoyed reading each one of them. I’ve passed Balwinder a few times criss-crossing the blogosphere. And I really need to get to Budapest *wink* 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl
    January 14, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    These are wonderful! It is so nice that you included your own personal tribute to the people who made your travels so special.

    • Reply
      exploramum
      February 18, 2014 at 9:28 am

      I agree Sheryl – just a great blog – enjoyed the pics!

  • Reply
    Corinne
    January 15, 2014 at 2:51 am

    What a lovely idea. It’s so true, we meet so many people during our travels and it’s hard to always thank them. Lovely post.

  • Reply
    Mieke Bakker
    January 27, 2014 at 3:49 am

    Irene and Jerry..it was an absolute honour to meet you both and travel with you..In between I am enjoying your book. It is an eye opener.
    I would love to welcome you, when it is not on one of the Viking ships, maybe in my beautiful hometown Amsterdam or on a Safari through Africa.
    Safe Travels!

    • Irene S. Levine
      Reply
      Irene S. Levine
      January 27, 2014 at 11:34 pm

      Or in New York if we don’t get there first!
      Every good wish!

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