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Fast forward to 1989. As Executive Director for the Oriental Rug Retailers of America, I was charged with creating membership benefits. Hmmm… if I were an Oriental Rug Retailer what would be of most benefit to me and my business? Hmmm… how about visiting the rug weaving countries of the world? Hmmm…how about Turkey? Twenty-one of us traveled to and around Turkey visiting small villages and met the people that designed and created rugs that we call art. Since then we have happily arranged tours to France, Portugal, Spain, Italy, Greece, Morocco, China, Turkey, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Chile, United Kingdom, Argentina, Czech Republic, Austria, Hungary, Romania, Caribbean and the Galapagos.
I see the world through my senses, in terms of sounds, smells, flavors and textures, and not through the eyes of a historian or one fascinated by data and statistics. When asked about Florence, for example, I am more likely to describe the street merchants bantering and bargaining, the smell of coffee roasting in the early morning, the best place to watch a sunset and why you can eat in the same restaurant each night and have an entirely different culinary experience than I am to give Duomo dimensions. Because of this vision I offer a very unique experience for my clients.
Tips & Tidbits
What is your favorite travel tip?
My #1 rule is: (and all travelers must know and agree to use this rule) Always return to the place you last made eye contact! Do not go searching, instead return to the place you last saw each other and stay put.
What is your favorite place? And the “not-to-miss” thing to do there?
The spectacular spots that still takes my breath is Azenhas do Mar in Portugal. This small village of white washed house sits perched on a dramatic cliff overlooking the Atlantic. Your first glimpse is a stunning surprise. Across the valley, as you approach Azenhas do Mar, there is an overlook with a small café. Here we have spent many hours painting this amazing view and sipping a coffee.
What is your favorite travel reference?
I have several favorite travel books – they are favorite for different reasons:
- DK – for big and colorful pictures, and for their graphic city map illustrations
- Michelin – for historical information
- Karen Brown – for her reviews of small inns, and restaurants of Italy
- Fred Plotkin – for his culinary bible titled: Italy for the Gourmet Traveler