LEAVE THE HERD BEHIND
THE STORY ONLINE MAGAZINE
Honestly, I cannot believe 2019 is almost in the history books. It was a grand year. It was a challenging year. It was a year of opportunity. My question for you is, did you take any chances this year? If you answered, "yes!" Bravo. And if you answered, "no!" then Bravo for you as well because this world takes all kinds. But allow me to encourage you in 2020 with this amazing quote by the lead character in the film, Dead Poet's Society, and perhaps you'll find yourself doing things you only dreamt you could be capable of doing!
"They're not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they're destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? - - Carpe - - hear it? - - Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary."
— The character, John Keating, was portrayed by actor Robin Williams
HIGHLIGHTING DESTINATIONS OF INTEREST
Bohemian Jewel: Prague BY JODIE HEDRICK
Story Land & Sea® enjoys all of our destinations in our portfolio of tours, but Prague, Praha in Czech, is considered one of our true European jewels. The capital city and largest city of the Czech Republic, Prague, is one of the largest cities of Central Europe and has served as the capital of the historic region of Bohemia for centuries.
It is regarded by many as one of Europe's most charming and beautiful cities and is becoming one of the most popular travel destinations in Central Europe. Millions of tourists visit the city every year This magical city of bridges, cathedrals, gold-tipped towers and church domes, has been mirrored in the surface of the swan-filled Vltava River for more than ten centuries. Almost undamaged by WWII, Prague's medieval centre remains a wonderful mixture of cobbled lanes, walled courtyards, cathedrals and countless church spires all in the shadow of her majestic 9th century castle that looks eastward as the sun sets behind her.
Story’s involvement in Prague include our Frommer recognized small group tour experiences along with our Story Local Host® stays. In the context of our London & Paris Tour, travelers are able to extend to the beautiful city for a 3-night extension. Both our small group tour experiences with a Tour Captain or with a Story Local Host® provide great insight into Prague. Prague’s Charles University is on our path as we trek through the Jewish Quarter past the Old Jewish Cemetery and Synagogue over the Vltava River to the Castle District.
The Prague Castle was founded around 880AD and is the largest medieval castle in all of Europe. The Castle District (Hradcany) is located above the “lesser town.” The castle was once the seat of the Kings of Bohemia and today the President of the Czech Republic rules from here.
Prague is also a modern and vibrant city full of energy, music, cultural art, fine dining and special events catering to the independent traveller's thirst for adventure. Prague was founded in the later 9th century, and soon became the seat of Bohemian kings, some of whom ruled as emperors of the Holy Roman Empire. The city thrived under the rule of Charles IV, who ordered the building of the New Town in the 14th century - many of the city's most important attractions date back to that age. The city also went under Habsburg rule and became the capital of a province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. In 1918, after World War I, the city became the capital of Czechoslovakia. After 1989 many foreigners, especially young people, moved to Prague. In 1992, its historic centre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In 1993, Czechoslovakia split into two countries and Prague became capital city of the new Czech Republic. The Vltava River runs through Prague, which is home to about 1.2 million people.
Prague has a temperate climate with variations throughout the year. In the winter, Prague has definitely its own magic. The snow may cover the surface but it sooner or later melts, so it doesn't usually last too long. Spring season is one of the best times to come for a visit, especially in the month of May with the flora beginning to bloom after months of hibernation. Certainly, the summer is a very popular time to travel, and you can expect to see an influx of tourism throughout the warmer months. The weather is warm and sunny but sometimes the heat waves become quite hot..and, this is also the country's rainy season. Colorful and chilly - these two characteristics define the fall/autumn season. Getting dressed warmly is a must because the wind and overcast sky may get in your way. Nevertheless, there are also beautiful sunshine days that practically call you out for a walk.
Jodie comes to us from Pittsburgh, PA. She is a graduate of the Indiana University of PA, a two-time graduate of the University of Pittsburgh, and a graduate of the International Guide Academy.
Zermatt is one of the top ski resorts in all of Europe where the rich and famous can be found relaxing in the charming town or skiing on the snow capped mountains year around. It seems to have a magnetic pull for all people, and why shouldn’t it? Hasn’t everyone dreamed of having adventures in the Iconic Swiss Alps?
As you ascend to the 5,300 ft. town of Zermatt, you may catch a glimpse of the Majestic Matterhorn peak. Once you arrive in town you’ll want to stroll the quaint main street, sip authentic Swiss hot chocolate made from a family recipe passed down generations and eat fresh crepes and pastries. There is a plethora of shops including winter sport wear, the world famous Lindt chocolate shop and of course Swiss watch shops! At some point during your visit to Switzerland, I highly recommend you indulge in rich cheese fondue made from local Swiss cheeses, herbs and wine. Also the chocolate fondue is not to be missed!
Ryane is a graduate from Texas Woman’s University and practiced as an Occupational Therapist for a decade. She then graduated from International Guide Academy, becoming a Certified International Tour Manager. She now enjoys leading tours for Story Land and Sea and providing her guests with spectacular adventures around the globe.
Zermatt, Switzerland: Prague BY RYANE MOATES, CITM
On a clear day you can take the Gornergrat railway cogwheel train, which is the second highest railway in Europe, to the top of Gornergrat Mountain. Standing on the 10,300 ft. peak you are surrounded by the breathtaking view of 29 Alpine Peaks including the stunning 14,700 ft. Matterhorn!
You may prefer to get off the beaten path to explore the local personality of the region by wandering through residential areas. If you follow the sound of tinkling bells you are sure to find a flock of sheep grazing the rolling green hills. Walking to the far Southwest edge of town you will come upon Gorner Gorge. If you dare to make that hike, which is a bit of a challenge for both the legs and lungs, you will be rewarded with the sights of a beautiful waterfall and the uniquely green-colored water of the Vispa River that artistically cuts and cascades its way through the gorge.
Zermatt became world renowned when the first person to successfully ascend the Matterhorn Mountain set out from the town. The British explorer Edward Whymper had tried and failed eight times to summit this famous peak which straddles the border of Italy and Switzerland. His unsuccessful attempts were from the Italian side but he remained undaunted. In July of 1865, he set out again, choosing to start his mission from the Swiss side. This time, Edward and his climbing team of 7 reached the summit. The glorious triumph was quickly overshadowed by tragedy. On the way down, 4 of the climbers fell to their death. Edward and two guides were the only ones to return. The dramatic events, the rumors and scandal can all be relived with a visit to the Matterhorn Museum in Zermatt. You can even see the broken rope that was responsible for the detachment and death of the 4 climbers.
There are many more things to do in the town of Zermatt. You could take a gondola ride up to a beautiful mountain peak and ski, snow board or mountain bike down. You could explore Hinterdorf, the historic part of town made up of the hut-like dwellings of the early mountain people who lived in the area. It is really moving to visit the Mountaineer’s Cemetery where you will find the graves of those who lost their lives pursuing their dream of climbing one of the surrounding mountains. Whatever you choose to do, you are sure to enjoy the majesty, mystery, adventure and charm of this Swiss town.
I think mountain climbers and Story travelers are very similar in their view on travel. British mountain climber, George Leigh Mallory stated it well when he said:
"There is something in man which responds to the challenge of a mountain and goes out to meet it. What we get from this adventure is just sheer joy. And joy is, after all, the purpose of life."
SECRET SAVINGS FOUND AMONG OUR PERSPECTIVES
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