Finally Catching Up…

With each new day, I have every intention of writing a blog post or uploading photos.   Somehow the days turn into weeks and the weeks turn into months. Time gets away from me and I realize it’s been nearly six months since my last post. I also get (not so) subtle reminders from my good friend Brian Siegel when he says “so what happened to your blog posts?” I simply respond with an “I know, I know….I’ll try to write more often.” Then my travels begin and my blog seems to fall by the wayside. It is October 27, 2016 and my last post was in May 2016. I sure do have a lot to catch you up on! This is going to be a long blog post with lots of pictures. Grab a cup of coffee, sit back, curl up on the couch with a cozy blanket and enjoy the ride (and the read)…

I arrived home from Europe on June 6th after doing my last training tour from Prague to Budapest and then immediately running my first riverboat tour! The tour was from Prague to Budapest and it went really well! The tour is 2 nights at the Intercontinental in Prague, 7 nights on the ship and then 2 nights at the Four Seasons Budapest. Here is a little look…

Welcome to the Intercontinental Prague
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Entrance to Charles Brides in Prague
Charles Bridge
View of the Voltava River from the Charles Bridge
Lobkowicz Palace in Prague

 

 

Strahov Monastery Library
Strahov Monastery Library
Jewish Cemetery in Prague
Jewish Cemetery in Prague
Jewish Cemetery in Prague
View of Prague from Lobkowicz Palace
Charles Bridge
Old Town City Center
Best. Potato. Pancakes. Ever.
Tauck: How You See The World Matters!
German Countryside
Regensburg, Germany
View of Regensburg from the Old Stone Bridge

 

Getting ready to give some river commentary from the wheelhouse…
View of the Danube River from the MS Esprit Wheelhouse
Passau, Germany
Passau, Germany
Passau is the city of three rivers…the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers converge here.
View of Passau from Veste Oberhaus Fortress
View of Passau from Veste Oberhaus Fortress
Veste Oberhaus Fortress from 1499
A view of Passau and the MS Esprit from Veste Oberhaus Fortress
Passau

 

Vineyards in Durnstein, Austria
Bike ride from Durnstein to Krems
Call a spade a spade! A good ol’ pi pi box…
Durnstein, Austria
Danube River in Austria
Vineyards near Krems
Getting excited about leading a TauckFIT bike ride!
Vienna, Austria
Part of the Hofburg Complex in Vienna
Lippizaners practice in Vienna
So great catching up with Jake and Max Goldwasser in Vienna!
Belvedere in Vienna – Viewing Gustav Klimt’s “The Kiss”
What a great team – Sinead, Jaime, Lynn and Gillian
View from Palais Pallavacini in Vienna
Doing research with Prince Pallavacini himself!
Cocktail reception in Palais Pallavacini
Private dining and evening entertainment a Palais Pallavacini
Apple streudel at Schonbrunn in Vienna
One of the many river locks…
Picture 2 of river lock process…down we go!
Picture 3 of river lock process – still going down!
Picture 4 of river lock process – the doors open!
Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia
Coffee and pastries in Bratislava, Slovakia
Opera House in Bratislava
Nicest. Hotel. Ever. I left my phone charging cord out and I came back to it nicely wrapped up with a Four Seasons Budapest Velcro band  My room had a doorbell! What!?!
Four Seasons Budapest
Fresh flower display at Four Seasons Budapest
Castle Hill on the Buda side of the river
Budapest, Hungary
Fisherman’s Bastion – Budapest, Hungary
View from Fisherman’s Bastion
St. Mathias Church – Budapest, Hungary
St. Mathias Church – Budapest, Hungary
St. Mathias Church – Budapest, Hungary
Castle Hill – Budapest, Hungary
View of the MS Esprit on the Danube in Budapest
Budapest Opera House
Budapest Opera House
Budapest Opera House
Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest
Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest
Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest
Dohany Street Synagogue in Budapest
Dohany Street Synagogue Cemetery in Budapest
More fresh flowers at Four Seasons Budapest
Gelato Flowers!
More Budapest flowers..
View of St. Stephen’s in Budapest
Green Art
Whether it’s NFTY or Tauck….I will forever count luggage!
St. Stephen’s Cathedral – Budapest

St

Another great team: Carrie, Jaime, Sinead & Dina!
Until next time, Budapest!
Another NFTY reunion – Evan Traylor in Budapest!

 

I flew home on June 6, 2016. I was then home in Charlotte for 4 days for a quick visit. Basically unpack, 8 loads of laundry, a quick visit with mom and dad and a few friends and then repack for my next adventure.

On June 10th, I boarded a plane bound for Jackson, Wyoming. The next few weeks were filled with new experiences and a lot of learning. I trained with fellow TD (Tour Director) John Gray on Tauck’s Bridges tour called Cowboy Country. Bridges is one of Tauck’s brands and these tours are generational tours for families – kids, parents, grandparents. Cowboy Country starts in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and ends in Rapid City, South Dakota.It is an 8 day land tour and compared to the riverboat tours, the pace is FAST!  One of the main differences for a Tour Director between riverboat tours and land tours is that on riverboat tours you work with a team: one Cruise Director and three Tour Directors. On land tours you are a one-man show!  You also do a lot more actual guiding on a land tour….so I had a lot to learn!

Coach decorated for 4th of July!

The first two days are spent in Jackson Hole and The Grand Teton National Park with a two night stay at The Jackson Lake Lodge.  Days three and four are spent in Yellowstone National Park and we spend two nights at the Old Faithful Inn.  We then leave the National Parks and head to Cody, Wyoming for one night and then on to a dude ranch in U-Cross, Wyoming.  Our last stop is Rapid City, South Dakota where we visit Mount Rushmore and stay at KBarS Lodge for one night.  Many Tauck tour itineraries run in two directions (north/south or east/west) but Cowboy Country only runs northbound. This means that on the last day of the tour, I say goodbye to the group (usually the evening before at the farewell dinner) and then take a 4:15am shuttle to the airport.  I board a 6:30am flight from Rapid City to either Denver or Salt Lake City…there are no direct flights from Rapid City to Jackson Hole.  After a 2-3 hour layover, I then board another flight around 11am en route back to Jackson Hole.  I usually land around 12:30pm and take a taxi to Jackson Lake Lodge, arriving by 1:30pm.  At this time, my room may or may not be ready, as rooms aren’t generally available until 4pm. Not to worry…..I don’t have to meet the new guests for the next tour until 5:30pm.  I don’t even want to think about what would happen if either of my flights was delayed or cancelled…not much wiggle room on this day! And then the tour starts over again. I generally run three or four of these tours back to back, also known as “turn and burn” before having a short break. This tour is a lot of fun and goes very quickly. I now know more about lodge-pole pine trees than I thought I would ever know!  Did you know that a lodge-pole pine tree requires fire in order to regenerate? Trust me….I am now a lodge-pole pine tree expert (not something I ever thought I would say)! Here’s a look at one of the tours (the details are in the photos)…

Day 1 – Arrival and Welcome Reception and Dinner…

Landing in Jackson, Wyoming
Welcome to Jackson Hole!
The Grand Tetons…what a view!
50 degrees in June! I’m never leaving!

 

Day 2 – Rafting Trip along the Snake River, a tour of Grand Teton National Park and a free evening in downtown Jackson Hole…

Rafting on the Snake River in Grand Teton National Park
Wayne – Best River Guide Ever!
Wayne – Best River Guide Ever
View of the Grand Tetons from the Snake River
I spotted my first moose in Moose, Wyoming!
Mormon Row in Jackson, Wyoming
Jenny Lake Lodge in Grand Teton National Park
Best Mexican Food at the Merry Piglets in downtown Jackson!
Antlers, antlers and more antlers!
Downtown Jackson

 

Day 3 – Depart Grand Teton National Park, Arrive Yellowstone National Park, Walking/Hiking at Old Faithful, free evening at Old Faithful Inn…

One of my many times across the Continental Divide
Old Faithful Inn
Old Faithful Inn
Bison Jam!
Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful Geyser
Old Faithful Geyser

 

Day 4 – Guided Tour of Yellowstone National Park with 2 Yellowstone Association Guides, free evening at Old Faithful Inn…

Old Faithful
Hot Springs
Looking out at Artist’s Point
Hot Springs, Mud Pots, Fumerals and Geysers
The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone – Artist’s Point
Hot Springs at Fountain Paint Pots in Yellowstone
Rainbows over Artist’s Point in Yellowstone National Park
Another Bison Jam….a Wyoming traffic jam!

 

Day 5 – Drive from Yellowstone National Park to Cody, Wyoming, Evening at the Rodeo in Cody…

Pahaska Teepee
Pahaska Teepee – Buffalo Bill’s Hunting Lodge

 

 

Pahaska Teepee
Pahaska Teepee
Pahaska Teepee
Pahaska Teepee
Pahaska Teepee
Buffalo Bill Museum in Cody, Wyoming
Buffalo Bill
Shopping in Cody, Woming
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Kickin’ back at the Rodeo!
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
Rodeo in Cody, Wyoming
“Halftime” at the Rodeo

 

Day 6 – Day at TA Ranch and then on to U-Cross Ranch for the evening…

Shell Falls
Shell Falls
TA Ranch – A little slice of heaven!
Horseback riding at TA Ranch
This horse is Secretariat’s Granddaughter
TA Ranch
Wagon Rides at TA Ranch
Horseback riding!
Best. Place. Ever.
I love spending time on the ranch!
Rainbow over UCross Ranch
Rainbow over UCross Ranch
S’mores time at UCross Ranch!
Campfire circle at UCross Ranch
Sunset at UCross Ranch
Campfire at UCross Ranch
After the thunderstorm at UCross Ranch
I got to see this beauty on my morning walk to breakfast…
Beautiful horses!
Look at all of the shades of brown….gorgeous!
Sunset at UCross Ranch
Best. Sunset. Ever.

 

Day 7 – Depart U-Cross Ranch, Lunch at Crazy Horse Memorial, Visit Mt. Rushmore, Farewell Reception and Dinner at KBarS Lodge…

Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Casting and Crazy Horse Memorial
Crazy Horse Memorial
Mt. Rushmore

Day 8 (Day 1) – Departure Day and Arrival Day for next trip…

Perks of a 5 am flight…
Another 5am perk…
Flying from Rapid City, South Dakota back to Jackson, Wyoming to start all over again!
Landed back in Jackson, Wyoming
This view never gets old!

 

My final Cowboy Country tour ended on July 26th and I flew from Rapid City back to Charlotte.I was excited to be home, in my own bed and on my comfy couch!  I was excited to see my family and hear about their summer adventures – mom and dad went on a Tauck Riverboat Tour from Prague to Budapest, Amy and Marc went on a trip to Europe, Ayla and Ethan each went to summer camp for 4 weeks – Ayla spent her 4th summer at Camp Timber Tops and Ethan spent his 2nd summer at Lake Owego Camp.

Ayla and Ethan – Summer 2016
Love these two!
Mom and Dad are off to Europe on a Tauck Tour!
Ayla and Ethan are off to camp…
Amy and Marc on vacation in Europe….and they run into a Tauck Tour and meet my colleague, Gernot! Small world!
Ayla and Ethan – Summer 2016
Golfing with Bapa – Summer 2016
Nana and Bapa treated Ayla and Ethan to new bikes!
Nana and Bapa took Ayla and Ethan to Pendleton
Check out these cuties in their new PJs!
Dylan and Eli showing off their new PJs – it’s a good thing those flaps don’t really go down!
Silliness with Eli, Madeline, Jakey and Dylan!
Road trip to catch up with SKL and Lexi! Best. Reunion. Ever.
Brunch with my Anna!
Lunch with AlyP! So proud of this girl!
Lunch at Roaster’s with so many of my favorites!
Cool new ice cream in Atlanta
Ice cream date with Chelsea (and Laura and Ari – not pictured)
Sweet Lilia wearing the dress I brought her from Budapest!
Date with my E to see Pete’s Dragon – and then to Build-a-Bear!
My sweet Ayla decorating her locker for MIDDLE SCHOOL! Yikes!?!
Back to school goodies from Aunt Jaime

 

I had time to connect with friends and spend quality time with those I miss while I am away.  One of my highlights was while spending a day with Ayla and Ethan, we were driving in the car and the three of us were singing along to Hamilton….definitely a proud moment for me! I got them hooked!  Before I knew it, September 7th rolled around and it was time to pack my bags for my fall tours. With my mom as the best mailwoman in the world, ready to check my mail and send my pre-written birthday and anniversary cards…and my dad checking on my lonely car every week or so, my life in Charlotte was about to be in my rearview mirror for a few months. I sure do have supportive and loving parents…I am one lucky girl! My schedule shifted a few times but my final schedule was for four 15-day tours back to back, no days inbetween. Amsterdam to Budapest along the Rhine, Main and Danube Rivers and then Budapest back to Amsterdam – twice. Having four 15-day tours back to back (60 days with no break) sounded a little daunting but I knew that the pace of the riverboat tours was more leisurely than my Cowboy Country tour. I was ready for the challenge!

I arrived in Amsterdam on September 8th and had a 2-day pre-stay in order to get ready for the tour. The pre-stay for this tour was at the Hotel de L’Europe – what an amazing hotel!

Hotel de L’Europe in Amsterdam

 

I’ve never had a hotel that had heated marble floors in the bathroom.  It is situated right in the heart of Amsterdam and walking distance to nearly everything! I did a good bit of work and was able to squeeze in some free time.  I walked around one of my favorite areas of Amsterdam – de 9 straatjes (the nine streets).  This laid-back area is filled with little cafes, local shops and cobblestone streets, not to mention the amazing people watching! Before I knew it, it was go time! The itinerary of this tour was carefully and thoughtfully put together by the amazing staff at the Tauck office.  The tour from Amsterdam to Budapest: Amsterdam, Kӧln, Rudesheim, Rothenburg, Wurzburg, Bamberg, Nürnberg, Regensburg, Passau, Melk, Vienna, Bratislava and Budapest. The return trip from Budapest back to Amsterdam has the same stops, with additional brief stops in Durnstein and Koblenz. Here is a look at the first trip of the season from Amsterdam down to Budapest…

Day 1 & 2 – Amsterdam…

Landing in Amsterdam at Schipol
View of my hotel – Hotel de L’Europe
Hotel de L’Europe
I could eat this picture! CHEESE!

 

Favorite pancake restaurant in Amsterdam
Canal boat cruise through Amsterdam
Sweeties spotted while walking the streets in Amsterdam
Flower Market in Amsterdam
Free draw at Reijksmuseum

 

Day 3 – Kӧln…

Cologne Cathedral

 

Day 4 – Rudesheim…

Lunch and Entertainment at Rudesheimer Schloss in Rudesheim, Germany
Shots, shots, shots, everybody…

Day 5 – Sailing Day…

Captains Stano and Pavol
Rhine  River Commentary from the Wheelhouse

 

Day 6 – Rothenburg/Wurzburg…

Residence Palace in Wurzburg, Germany
Wine Tasting in the Residence Palace Cellar in Wurzburg

Day 7 – Bamberg…

I love the simplicity of this photo! (Bamberg, Germany)
Half-timbered Houses in Bamberg, Germany
Venice or Bamberg?

Day 8 – Nürnberg…

Wodka? Must be Vodka’s alter ego!
Not my favorite place to go but it is an important piece of history!

 

Day 9 – Regensburg…

 Spitzweigquartet – Former members of the Regensburg Children’s Choir
These guys are great!
More singing….

Day 10 – Passau…

Perfection in Passau…
Not expected in Passau, Germany – Country Music!

 

Artist’s Walk in Passau

Day 11 – Melk & Durnstein…

Leaves are starting to turn in Durnstein, Austria

 

Flowers in Melk, Austria
Walking back to the ship from Melk, Austria – this is my WANDERING WAY!

 

Day 12 – Vienna…

Palais Pallavacini with Radu and Emil

Day 13 – Bratislava…

PB is hard to find in Central Europe…good ol’ Marks & Spencer in Bratislava – JACKPOT!

 

A sunny day in one of my favorite towns – Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia
Bratislava, Slovakia
Night time in Bratislava – such colorful reflections!

Day 14 & 15 – Budapest…

Langos in the Budapest covered market hall – YUM!
LOVE these girls – Zsofia, Dina, Jaime and Sinead
MS Esprit in Budapest

 

Then we turn around the same day and do the same itinerary in reverse. Luckily I am on the MS Esprit for all four tours and we have the BEST crew!

What am I going to do without these girls? Natalia, Vesna and Loredona

The last 15 day tour of the season from Budapest to Amsterdam started last Saturday afternoon….only 8 days left!  Due to the fact that it is the end of the season and the weather isn’t ideal, we have a small group of 41 guests. A very small, intimate group and we have a 1:1 crew to guest ratio! In just over a week, I will be on a plane from Amsterdam to Atlanta and then on to Charlotte for a nice long break. I am sure for the first few days I will not move far from my very comfy couch…but not for long! In my off-season, it seems that I won’t be doing much sitting around! In the next few months, I will be doing a lot of traveling – Israel, Savannah, South Florida, Morocco, London (for a night) and Mexico. Signing off for now….I am sure Brian will remind me to write again soon! With love from the wandering way…xoxo

 


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