Are you getting ready to go on a spring vacation? I generally prefer to travel far and wide in the shoulder seasons. I LOVE summer and fall in Oregon, so I like to stick around to enjoy some of that wonderfulness.
What is a shoulder season? The shoulder seasons are the two months to either side of the high season. So, let’s say for many destinations, the high season would be the summer months of June, July and August. The shoulder season then is April and May or September and October. And then low season would be the months left, November – March. Three top reasons for traveling in the shoulder seasons are
Thinking back, I've traveled in the shoulder season for a good number of trips. It has always been a positive experience for me. Here are 3 places I’ve traveled in the shoulder season and loved.
Paris and Normandy
Last year, just about this time we were getting ready to go to Paris. A friend just posted today on FB a picture of her first meal in Paris this spring break. It featured A LOT of cheese. Oh, my goodness! The cheese in France is amazingly good if you like “stinky” cheeses. That’s a good reason to go to Paris anytime. But springtime was good because no lines. We didn’t have the city to ourselves, but really the crowds were virtually non-existent, except for two places. The line to get into Versailles was small and moved quickly, but once inside in some of the rooms it was still really crowded. So, we opted outside and went out to Marie Antoinette’s gardens and hamlet where there were very few people. That really was our favorite part of Versailles. It was interesting to see the Palace. I had really looked forward to the Hall of Mirrors and was glad I got go there. Beautiful. But we loved Marie’s gardens and houses. Perfect French Country.
The very first day we went on the hop on hop off bus. That is always a good way to get a feel for the city. It rained quite a bit, but we went out anyway. Do you let the rain stop you when you’re on vacation? I hope not. Of course, a hurricane, might be a different matter. But even that would make an exciting story! The rest of the time, the weather was mild.
Our hotels, our flights, our river cruise were all priced less than they would have been in the high summer season. We stayed pre-cruise at a lovely boutique hotel in the 7th Arr. It had a view of the Eiffel tower from some of the rooms. A delicious European breakfast buffet. And just a few feet from the Metro.
Well maybe London and the next trip, a Danube River Cruise, were technically in the low season. But that can work, too.
A few years ago, we went to NYC to visit our son and the sights. That was a great trip with crazy weather. It was early to mid-March and it snowed! Yes, you read it right, it snowed. After a winter like the US has just been experiencing, I guess we’re not surprised. I had on every layer of clothing that I brought in my carry on! Every day! Brrr! Then we decided to extend with 4 days in London. The weather there was great for an Oregon girl. It was perfect t-neck, vest and scarf weather. The sights were enchanting and so f u l l of h i s t o r y! Being in Westminster Abbey was simply amazing to me. To be in that place that was started around 1000 AD by monks and where so many English monarchs are buried, I was, as the Brits say, “gob smacked!” I just loved contemplating and thinking about all the people that had been there before me and what their lives were like. Hmm… that must be why I love watching PBS British tv shows, especially the ones about the Monarchies.
We loved the food. We loved the sights. We loved the people. We loved the weather. And we loved… no lines and great pricing.
Danube River Cruise
In the fall of 2014, I set off with my friend, Sandra, for the Melodies of the Danube River Cruise with Amawaterways. Again, it was so wonderful.
Can you tell I love to explore the world and I think it is all pretty amazing!
After an overnight flight, we arrived in Budapest the morning of our cruise, and stopped in at our ship’s (the AmaBella) lounge and had a comforting soup and sandwich lunch. Then off we went to explore that amazing city.
You have to keep going after those overnight flights or you’ll sleep your time in Europe away!
(Can you sleep on an airplane? I know some people have a hard time. Not me. We’re leaving the runway and I’m settling in for a long winter’s nap.)
For 7 more days we sailed and explored the Danube river valley. We tasted delicious European food. We heard beautiful music. We saw the beautiful fall colors and UNESCO World Heritage Site of Durnstein and the Wachau Valley. We probably even walked where Mozart walked.
A couple more advantages to traveling in the shoulder season, especially at the beginning of the season, is that the shop keepers are happy to see you and not worn out from a busy season. Also overuse of facilities is not a problem in the shoulder season. If you want to go to the popular places, like Venice or Cinque Terra, Machu Picchu, shoulder season is a good time to go. To find out when shoulder season is for a destination, just ask me, check out any guidebook, or google “when is shoulder season for X”. Remember if it is a ski resort or someplace south of the equator or some place in the tropics the answer will be different than for most of North America and Europe.
What do you think? Do you think you would like traveling in shoulder season? Where have you gone or where will you go? Any tips you'd like to share with us?
Vacations Inspired is here to help you make the next shoulder season a season you'll never forget. Just reach out to me and we'll get started.
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I was talking to my friend and rep from UnCruise this past week. What a wonderful way to see the world with really small ship cruising. UnCruise has ships ranging in size from 22 – 90 passengers. With their headquarters located in Seattle, Washington, the Northwest is their home and it shows in how they want us to experience the world and in their Northwest range of itineraries from Canada, Alaska, the San Juan Islands and even the Columbia and Snake Rivers. The idea of sailing the San Juan's has always intrigued me. I’ve definitely got this one on my spreadsheet of places to go. (yup, I’ve got a spreadsheet, no mere list for me.)
UnCruise also sails to Alaska, Hawaii, the Sea of Cortez, Costa Rica and Panama, and the Galapagos. It's a great itinerary for trips with friends, multi-generational families or even clients or employees traveling together. It would be fun to charter a whole ship, don't you think?!
Where would you like to UnCruise?
If you have questions about Vacations Inspired or are interested in a trip for yourself or with a group, please get in touch.
Classical music is probably something you think about when you think about Vienna.
Vienna is home to more composers than any other city in the world. Vienna is the music capital at the heart of Europe. Some of the famous composers that called Vienna home include, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Brahms and his famous Brahms Lullaby, otherwise known as Op. 49 Number 4. (I think about my mom when I hear that song. Does that song have a memory for you?) And Ludwig van Beethoven, Joseph Haydn, Franz Schubert, just to name a few. There are so many more! I’ve been listening to some of these composers while I’m writing this. Music can really set the mood! When you’re in Vienna, you can search out some of the places where they lived or performed. And even experience a concert, maybe even at the opera house, if you’re lucky.
Maybe Classical music is not your jam. But Billy Joel is. Do you think about that Billy Joel song, Vienna? Maybe you remember that song from earlier times of listening to Billy Joel. Or you’re still listening to Billy Joel. Perhaps you remember that song from that heartfelt scene in the romantic comedy with Jennifer Garner, 13 going on 30. True confession – I love that movie. I’ve watched it many times. 😊 But that movie has nothing to do with Vienna, the city, so let’s move on.
Architecture and art go hand in hand in Vienna as there are more than 100 museums in the city! You’ll find all eras of architectural style from baroque, Romanesque, art nouveau and modern. You can take a walking tour of the architecture of the city – great for those Instagram posts - and stop at some museums along the way. The Albertina Museum and Palace, which was once a residential palace for the Habsburgs, now houses one million prints and 60,000 drawings! On permanent display are works of French impressionism to Russian Avant Garde. Find Monet’s Water Lily Pond, Degas’ Dancers and Renoir’s Girl in these halls. Renowned Austrian artist, Gustav Klimt’s, The Kiss, is on permanent display at The Belvedere Museum.
“Do this. Not that.” Tip ahead.
Something I think about when I think of Vienna is coffee and wooden toys. I was on a Danube river cruise my first time to Vienna. In the evening we were treated to a wonderful concert of ballet and opera in a Viennese concert hall. Just imagine being there for that! The next day we took a tour of the city and also out to the Schonbrunn Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (I have a story to tell you about Schonbrunn Palace, but maybe for another time.)
One thing Vienna is known for is Viennese coffee and strudel, right? Imagine sitting in a Viennese coffee shop, where you look over the menu and see Mélange. What is a Mélange? A Mélange is a long coffee (quite a bit like an Americano – which is an espresso with hot water) with milk and milk foam. Ah, so maybe like a Latte. Some say like a cappuccino, but I think maybe more like a latte. I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll probably mention it again. I love drinking cappuccinos when I’m on vacation. Anywhere. Something so vacation-esque about them. Warm, comforting, relaxing, contemplative. Anyway, onto your surroundings at this Viennese café. Imagine your surroundings with baroque and modern buildings around you, in the center of town near St. Stephens Cathedral in the car free zone, also known as Stephansplatz. You are just relaxing, taking in the sights and sounds, people watching and thinking, “I am in Vienna drinking a Mélange and having a Strudel. How cool is this?!” Doesn’t that sound great? I think so.
Next time I’m in Vienna, I’m going to do that. ⇧ Not this. ⇩
Instead, imagine racing around the streets, googling on your phone and looking for a toy store where they have little wooden toys. You want to find one for your little grandson. A darling car that you’re sure he’ll just love playing with. You finally find one. You’re so happy. But, as it turns out, it was made in Germany!
That’s my story. I have a funny way of finding things in countries that seem like perfect authentic gifts that were actually made in other places. So next time I’m in Vienna, I’m going to sip and savor the coffee and strudel. Or a Glühwein. I guess, a coffee and a Glühwein, would be what will actually happen. And I suggest you do the same.
You might want to check out this special coffee house when in Vienna - Vollpension
What will you experience in Vienna on the Magical Markets of Christmas River cruise?
You’ll have your choice of two included options.
The cruise begins in Vienna, but you can include another night or two pre-cruise. I recommend arriving early because of weather and flights. And there’s so much to see and experience in this magical European city!
What is one of your favorite things about this city or what excites you about visiting Vienna?
Find out more about the Magical Markets of Christmas River Cruise here:
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