Ready to Plan Your Next Holiday Escape?
As the warm embrace of August envelops us, we are thrilled to welcome you to the latest edition of our travel newsletter! This most beautiful month of summer is perfect for margaritas on the porch, backyard barbecues with our nearest and dearest – and travel planning, of course! There is something about August that feels bittersweet. Each sunrise comes a little later. Some nights are cooler. But what better time to mull over your winter escape? Where will you travel just four months from now during the holiday season?
To spark your imagination and help you plan, we’ve packed this issue with so many great travel ideas. Can you picture yourself strolling through the picturesque streets of Victoria, BC, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations? Or perhaps you’re dreaming of a sun-soaked escape to the Costa del Sol, where golden beaches, azure waters, and delightful Mediterranean cuisine beckon?
If ancient history, pristine coastlines, and mountains are calling your name, our December seaside stay in Calabria may captivate your heart.
We will go to all these places in this edition. So, let this summer newsletter be your winter inspiration. Wherever you dream of travelling this December, we’re here to plant some seeds and help them grow. Come, let’s explore…
Victoria BC: Sparkling Holiday Magic in the “City of Gardens”
Where in Canada do flowers bloom in January? Where might you enjoy horse and buggy rides, Victorian high teas, and refreshing ocean breezes during the festive season? Why Victoria, of course, Canada’s prettiest city.
This small, elegant capital of BC on Vancouver Island serves up big holiday atmosphere. Think twinkling lights, salt air, festooned hotels, and cozy restaurants. Certainly, too, the city’s charming British heritage is everywhere.
The Warmest Place in Canada!
Did you know Victoria is located in a sub-Mediterranean zone and boasts the warmest climates in Canada? Long before the Europeans arrived, its rugged, pristine wilderness was home to First Nations people – and Victorians celebrate their indigenous past, marked by the largest free-standing totem pole in the world.
During the holidays, it’s simply splendid. The historic parliament is decked out with lights and colourful celebrations: the beautiful Festival of Trees at the Fairmont Empress Hotel is a joy to behold. Then, there is Butchart Gardens, nature’s poetry in a 55-acre wonderland. Don’t miss this must-see oasis, a National Historic Site of Canada, where you can enjoy lush greens and beautiful blooms of so many varieties. Butchart was actually the vision of one remarkable lady, Jenny Butchart, way back in 1904. Read the story about of these historic gardens.
If this all sounds wonderful, you’ll be pleased to know we are planning a 13-day Holiday Season in Victoria, BC tour, and you are invited to come. Celebrate the holidays in this beautiful coastal city from December 21 to January 2, 2024. Together, we’ll explore Butchart Gardens, visit the Royal BC Museum, enjoy high teas in historic settings, a special concert, and some delightful excursions. We do hope you might join us!
Costa Del Sol: A Festive Symphony of Sun, Sea, & Serenity
Its name means “Coast of the Sun”, and it certainly is. Costa Del Sol, nestled along the shores of the Spanish Mediterranean, is a sun-kissed paradise boasting more than 125 golden beaches and between 5 and 7 hours of daily sunshine in the winter! As December darkens the days in Canada, this seaside resort area at the sunny tip of Spain stays warm and bright. Over the holiday season, you can enjoy temperatures in the teens even low 20s some days…meaning you can still eat al fresco!
Can you picture yourself exploring the long stretches of golden sands along the fabled Mediterranean Sea? Or, exploring the rich history of Malaga, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, with its cobbled streets and vibrant Andalusian charm?
From Majestic Alhambra to Mountaintop Jewels
Beautiful beaches aside, Costa del Sol is also a treasure trove of cultural wonders. Be sure to make a visit to historic Granada with its serene Islamic architecture and Moorish palaces, including the magnificent Alhambra, a fortress, palace, and citadel. One historian described it as “a pearl set in emeralds”. Read more about Alhambra’s fascinating history.
You can also explore the Nerja Caves, an ancient system of underground grottoes with stunning stalactite formations. For a touch of “jet set” glamour, venture to Marbella and Puerto Banus to immerse yourself in the opulent lifestyle of luxury yachts, high-end boutiques, and upscale dining. Or seek out tranquillity in the picturesque village of Frigiliana, with its charming, whitewashed houses and cobblestone streets – or the enchanting mountaintop town of Mijas. So many contrasting beauties… and so much to explore.
Birthplace of Picasso
Yes, Malaga was the birthplace of the great artist Picasso, and it is a city with an interesting past. Read about it here. If you are yearning to escape to Costa Del Sol this December and stroll in the footsteps of Picasso, you are in luck. We are planning a 23-day Costa Del Sol holiday this December to allow you to embrace the laid-back Spanish lifestyle and let all your worries drift away. We’ll stay at a beach resort from December 17 to January 8, 2024, during this stay-put holiday brimming with all the captivating excursions detailed above. What could be sweeter?
Southern Italy: Unveiling Calabria’s Timeless Treasures at Holiday Time
Calabria is the toe of Italy’s boot, and one of the country’s hidden gems: just another great reason to visit! This region of Italy has towering mountains, three national parks (Aspromonte, Pollino, and Sila), 500 miles of coastline, turquoise waters, and rolling, green hills lined with olive, orange, and lemon trees. Sounds enticing, doesn’t it? But what’s Calabria like over the winter months, you ask? Simply delightful!
Bonfires, Bagpipes, and Sweet Treats at Holiday Time
Calabria is a truly magical place to be during the holiday season. You might see blazing focare or focarine: big bonfires that are lit on Christmas Eve around which villagers socialize, dance, and sing until dawn. The festivities also come alive with the sound of the zampogna, a traditional Italian bagpipe made of goat skin and rods worked by skilled craftsmen-musicians.
In addition to the famous Calabrian eggplant parmigiana and liquorice gelato, you will find festive treats to delight your palette, like petrali, moon-shaped cookies that contain a dried fruit filling, flavoured with liqueur and coffee. Like all typical recipes, every family has its own. The basic recipe calls for a shortbread dough with a mixture of dried figs, walnuts, almonds, and orange zest, usually chopped and soaked in cooked wine (vino cotto) and coffee. Here’s a recipe if you are curious.
Relax into the art of “Riposo”
Why not embrace the art of slow travel in Calabria during the holidays? Forget racing around cities from one monument to another – instead, adopt the art of the riposo and spend many an afternoon sauntering round tiny coastal villages and taking lazy lunches that stretch hours into the afternoon. Life in Calabria is simple, slow, and rural: the antidote so many of us need.
This winter, we invite you to spend the holidays in enchanting, slow-paced Calabria. On our Southern Italy Special Value Holiday from December 18 to January 4, 2024, you’ll stay seaside at a resort in the lovely town of Siderno with many meals, mineral water, and even wine included. We are planning some wonderful excursions too, including:
- a jaunt to the mesmerizing coastal town of Gioiosa Jonica and bask in the gentle sea breeze.
- the medieval hilltop village of Gerace, where narrow cobbled streets lead to magnificent churches and breathtaking views.
- Reggio Calabria, home to fascinating museums and the world-renowned Riace Bronzes.
- Locri, an archaeological wonder with an ancient Greek theater and historical gems.
Enjoy August & Happy Travels!
As lazy August unfolds, we hope you will fully enjoy this last full month of summer. We also hope this newsletter has filled your hearts with inspiration and wanderlust. Whether you’re envisioning your dream holiday on the sun-kissed Costa del Sol or sipping tea at Butchart Gardens, we look forward to making your next journey happen.
As the summer days wane, let us look forward to the adventures that lie ahead. From Spain’s Alhambra, and beautiful Victoria, BC, to the captivating wonders of Southern Italy’s Calabria, the world awaits with open arms.
Thank you for being a part of our travel community, and we can’t wait to embark on more exciting escapades with you in the coming months. Until then, stay curious, stay adventurous, and keep the joy of travel alive!
President, Senior Discovery Tours
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