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PEOPLE Magazine Article

Coach Holiday Delivers California Foodie Experience and More…

Evelyn Hannon

As a travel writer I'm often asked, 'which city do you like best?' or 'what was your favorite site?' And, I smile to myself because really, it's not only the cities or the sites that grab my heart, it's also very much the people I meet and my interactions with them that I love.

Many travelers will tell you that in order to make connection with 'the people' you need to get off the beaten track, all by yourself. That, too, makes me smile because I've met some pretty interesting characters, and done some pretty interesting things not only when traveling solo but as part of organized group travel experiences.

Trafalgar Guided Vacations

My most recent experience was on a media guided Trafalgar holiday. Along with other journalists from Canada, the United States and Australia we spent five days in San Francisco, Sonoma and Napa Valley immersing ourselves in the local food, wines and history of the region. Contrary to what you might think, we weren't offered exclusive stops. Rather, this itinerary allowed us to sample a vacation already listed in the company's extensive catalogue.

I believe that a big part of Trafalgar's success stems from their choice of hand-picked local guides and their Be My Guest excursions. I found each one of them authentic and informative; they added so much to my enjoyment and are tucked away in my memory along with California's wine, cuisine and countryside.

Haight Ashbury and a memorable hippie in San Francisco…

Yes, I knew all about the intersection of Haight and Ashbury streets, The Grateful Dead, Janis Joplin, and the 60's Hippie Generation. No, I didn't know about Izu, the local guide Trafalgar provided for a tour of her famous neighbourhood. Izu actually lived the Sixties in San Francisco, she hung out with the Grateful Dead and she fueled our collective imagination with the tales she told. From her tie-dyed leggings and sparkly red running shoes to the peace and love buttons she handed out to everybody, this lady was a delicious, 'nonstop talking' character that I will remember long after other trip details fade.

A new pal at the tie-dye shop …

I liked the fact that after each activity Trafalgar arranges time to meander and perhaps do some shopping on your own. Izu happily became our concierge and pointed out places we might enjoy. I headed across the street to the tie-dye shop and chatted with Gloria, the woman at the cash. Lucky me. This woman had been family nanny to Gerry Garcia of The Grateful Dead. She shared photos with me and talked at length about her varied and interesting career. Chalk up another great character for my travel collection!



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