Barb and Garnet Hart from Weyburn decided that an excellent way to celebrate Canada’s 150th was to travel in Canada. They visited their local CAA Weyburn Store, met with the travel team and signed up for the WestWorld Tours Maritimes All Coach Tour.
“Garnet and I saw so much of Canada in one trip,” commented Barb. An epic journey that she felt started in Ottawa with visits to the Library of Parliament and to Parliament Hill, for the Northern Lights Sound and Light Show projected 30-storeys high on the backdrop of the Parliament Buildings. “After the show, we spontaneously stood up and proudly sang, O Canada,” said Barb.
The adventure continued in Quebec City followed by a scenic drive along the Gaspe Peninsula to New Brunswick. “In Fredericton, I enjoyed the most delicious bowl of clam chowder soup,” commented Barb. At Hopewell Rocks, Barb was amazed as she stood on the ocean floor during low tide. She also witnessed the Reversing Falls in St. John - a result of the incredible rise and fall of the tides of the Bay of Fundy.
Crossing the Confederation Bridge, Barb and Garnet journeyed to Prince Edward Island (PEI), a picturesque province with its colourful fall foliage and well-kept houses. The Anne of Green Gables home was beautiful, as well as the beach at Cavendish where you could literally see for miles in both directions. Garnet remarked that the traditional PEI lobster dinner at New Glasgow was delicious.
“I loved Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia,” commented Barb. “The accommodations at Baddeck were cozy and it was so lovely there.” The Alexander Graham Bell Museum contained artifacts, exhibits and photographs of the renowned inventor. Garnet enjoyed the Cabot Trail excursion while Barb shopped around town. One of the many highlights was attending the local Cèilidh - a traditional Scottish or Irish social gathering with live music and plenty of dancing.
On Barb’s must-see list was the stunning Halifax Public Gardens. The long walk to the Halifax Citadel rewarded the couple with a spectacular view of the city and harbour. On a guided city tour, they learned about the history of the Halifax explosion and the sinking of the ill-fated Titanic. After a visit to Peggy’s Cove, they headed to Niagara Falls after several days travelling through the New England States and New York. Garnet was in awe of this remarkable force of nature. Watching a ship pass through the locks at the Welland Canal was another highpoint of the tour.
Here’s what Barb and Garnet had to say about their WestWorld Tours experience:
“The tour director, Kari Carpentier, was wonderful and made everything fun. She had a great memory for names and faces, and was detail-oriented. Our coach driver, Dennis Day, was good-natured and helpful. He also had nerves of steel. On our way to Baddeck, a bear ran across the highway directly in front of us. Dennis handled the situation skillfully - the bear was not harmed and neither were we. I would recommend travelling with WestWorld Tours. You truly get value for your travel dollars and you can enjoy so much more with a guided-tour than you could travelling on your own.”
Barb and Garnet were so impressed with WestWorld Tours that they have already booked another tour and can’t wait for the next adventure to begin!
To book your dream vacation, visit westworldtours.com or call 1-800-564-6222 (Press 4).
Shannon and Arnold Kozak love to travel and over the years, they have methodically fulfilled their travel bucket list. Their destinations have included: Australia, New Zealand, Central America and Hawaii. When they travelled to Ukraine, they connected with Arnold’s family. They’ve also toured historic Israel, witnessed the splendour of Europe, cruised the Panama Canal and camped in Alaska.
In 2017, the Kozak’s next adventure led them to Iceland with WestWorld Tours. Iceland was of interest to Shannon as she wanted to meet with members of her paternal side of the family. Shannon contacted a cousin from Iceland prior to the trip and planned to get together during their travels. “The trip really came to life when we met not just one but 15 family members. It was amazing,” exclaimed Shannon. The Kozak’s visited the places where the family homesteads once stood, and learned how the families lived in this diverse climate and landscape. Shannon’s grandparents immigrated from Iceland to Canada in the summer of 1892.
The WestWorld Tours group journeyed across the picturesque island on the “Ring Road” which is the main highway reaching the iconic landmarks at Reykjanes Peninsula, Northern Iceland, the Eastfjords, Jokulsarlon, and Skaftafell (Vatnajokull National Park). “Iceland has a little bit of everything - volcanoes, sand and lava fields, mountains and glaciers, rivers and waterfalls, coastal views and quaint fishing villages, as well as geysers, mud pools, and geothermal pools and springs,” explained Arnold. He was particularly interested in the geography, fauna and culture of the island. “At the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, we boarded an amphibious vehicle where we toured on land and sea viewing the monstrous chunks of magnificent blue-coloured ice,” said Arnold. “We also saw seals and whales that had migrated into the fjords.”
At Gauksmyri, they attended an Icelandic horse show. Arnold commented that the horse’s famous “tolt” gait (unique to the Icelandic horse) was so smooth that the rider could easily carry a glass of water and not spill it. Speaking of water, the cascading Dettifoss waterfall in northern Iceland is Europe’s most powerful waterfall where up to 1,500 tons of water, mud and sand fall 44 metres into the canyon below. This is just one of the many waterfalls that the Kozak’s saw on their island adventures.
There are approximately 800,000 sheep in Iceland. They graze in the mountains over the summer and in the fall, they are brought back to the lower lands where they are housed during winter and spring months. The approximately 330,000 Icelanders benefit from the sheep’s wool and meat. Another interesting fact that Arnold also shared is that Icelanders use geothermal energy to heat their homes and to generate electricity. This makes it possible to grow fresh tomatoes, cucumbers and potatoes in the green houses all year. Fresh cold water comes from the glaciers. Shannon and Arnold were astonished at how soft their hands were from washing in the water.
A trip to Iceland would not be complete without a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon near Reykjavik. One of the 25 wonders of the world, the geothermal lagoon contains unique water and silica mud which is great for your skin. Shannon commented that the water was “warm and welcoming”. When you arrive at the lagoon, guests are given an electronic wristband which acts as a key for the electronic lockers, and an in-water credit card to buy refreshments while you are at the spa which you pay for when you leave.
“Our vacation to Iceland was fabulous,” said Shannon. “WestWorld Tours did a great job of organizing the tour and the tour guides were wonderful. We will always remember the beautiful scenery, fine food and friendly people.” The Kozak’s have always booked their vacations through CAA Travel at the CAA Weyburn Store. To fulfill or start your bucket list destinations, visit westworldtours.com or call 1.800.564.6222 (Press 4).
“It was a dream come true,” described Melfort resident, Shari Moneta. “I always wanted to visit Australia.” So Shari and two friends, Dorothy and Pat, signed up for the WestWorld Tours Australia & New Zealand - The Land Down Under tour in January 2016.
In Australia, the trio experienced an Outback BBQ at Alice Springs, enjoyed a performance at the Sydney Opera House, and visited the Featherdale Wildlife Park and the Blue Mountains. They also toured the Great Barrier Reef in a glass-bottom boat and went snorkelling. On Phillip Island they watched the world-famous Penguin Parade.
Akaroa, New Zealand featured breathtaking scenery. In Dunedin, the trio walked the steepest residential street in the world and also had a sweet visit at Cadbury World. They cruised through Fiordland National Park, a 1.2 million hectare World Heritage site that is comprised of valleys, mountains, lakes, rainforest, native flora and fauna.
Shari was impressed with WestWorld Tours. The tour was well-planned and organized, and guide, Koral Carpentier, was amazing. For more information on this tour or other WestWorld Tours contact a CAA Travel Consultant at 1.800.564.6222 or visit caask.ca/travel.
It may sound like a cliché but CAA Member Maureen S. had always wanted to visit Newfoundland. In fact, for 30 years she imagined travelling to this amazing Canadian destination. In July 2016, her wish became a reality when she booked with WestWorld Tours for the Newfoundland and Labrador Tour. It featured historic sites, picturesque national parks and coastal views, plus towering icebergs.
“I had never seen an iceberg before,” commented Maureen. Throughout the coastal tour, she saw icebergs of assorted sizes and shapes floating in the ocean. “There was a huge iceberg that had split apart into two pieces,” explained Maureen. “It was beautiful and very scenic with the mountains on each side and the icebergs in the middle.” There were more iceberg sightings during the ferry ride through Iceberg Alley. From the coast of Labrador to the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Iceberg Alley is where the famed Titanic struck an iceberg in 1912.
During the WestWorld Tours excursion, Maureen marvelled at the beautiful scenery found throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. There were planned visits to Signal Hill, Gros Morne National Park, Arches Provincial Park, Lobster Cove Head Lighthouse and L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site. While there, Maureen visited a replica home of Lief the Lucky and enjoyed a traditional Viking Feast.
At Clarenville, she attended the Screech in Ceremony. “I had to kiss a real cod on the lips,” explained Maureen, “drink a shot of traditional Newfoundland screech (rum) while wearing a Sou’Wester (yellow rain hat). I received an Honourary Newfoundlander certificate.”
“The trip was wonderful; every day was a new experience,” said Maureen. “It was educational and there was always something to see and do, and the people were out of this world; friendly and willing to chat with me everywhere I went.” The area had unique expressions of slang, for instance, “wash out” meant there was clothing on the line (not an eroded section of a road caused by flooding). Maureen particularly liked the craft shops at Rocky Harbour. “The handcrafted items were colourful and very pretty.”
All throughout the various excursions there was traditional Celtic and seafaring music including sea shanties (songs sung by sailors to help pass the time while working) and sailing songs. “The music was amazing - the singing seemed to come so naturally,” said Maureen. “Some of the musicians even played the “ugly stick” (a traditional instrument made of household and/or tool shed items) which had a distinctive sound.”
The tour also included visits to the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada at the Point Amour Lighthouse Provincial Historic Site, the Atlantic Aviation Museum, and the Beothuk Interpretation Centre. Over 300 years ago, this was the site was of a Beothuk village. The centre had exhibits and artifacts telling the story of this now vanished culture.
Maureen explored the native flora and fauna of this rugged region. Along with her fellow travellers, they enjoyed the ancient thrombolites at Flowers Cove, salmon migrating upstream to its spawning grounds at the Salmonid Interpretation Centre at Grand Falls-Windsor, and watched the nesting seabirds and humpback whales at the Witless Bay Ecological Reserve.
This was Maureen’s first excursion with WestWorld Tours and she was very happy with her experience. “Kari Carpentier, our tour director, was personable, fun and lively,” she explained. “She was well-organized and went out of her way for us. I would definitely go on another tour with WestWorld Tours.”
To book your dream destination or for further information, visit westworldtours.com, or call 1.800.564.6222 (Press 4).
“Our Panama Canal Cruise is truly an amazing adventure,” explained Kelly Watson, Tour Director with WestWorld Tours. “There is so much to see and do with the pre-board land sightseeing, activities on the ship, and optional shore excursions at each of the sea ports.”
After a bustling week of land touring there was a sense of excitement from passengers boarding the fabulous cruise ship for a 14-day journey. They quickly became acquainted with the amenities and layout of the luxurious ship and made themselves at home in their comfortable cabins. A variety of activities were planned such as dance and fitness classes, wine tastings, and culinary demonstrations. Many of the passengers relaxed in the glorious sun during the day and in the evening enjoyed live shows, movies under the stars, pubs, lounges, and cafés. There were spectacular sunsets and sunrises – the view unobstructed on the beautiful ocean.
On and off the ship, the WestWorld Tours passengers were pampered by Kelly who even attended the on-shore excursions that they booked in advance. Kelly organized small contests, receptions, group events and dinners. As the tour director, she catered to their every need. “It really is part of the WestWorld Tours experience. We want to let our travellers know that they are special and deserve to be taken care. They’re almost family,” explained Kelly.
The cruise ship arrived at the Panama Canal, a 48-mile artificial waterway which links the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean. Dubbed as one of the seven wonders of the modern world, the Panama Canal is made up of a system of locks at each end to lift ships up to 85 feet above sea level and then lower the ships on the Pacific side. “It took us an entire day to pass through the locks,” explained Kelly. “The expedition was narrated with detailed facts and historical information.” The construction of the canal started in 1881. Excessive heat, rainfall, landslides, cholera, yellow fever, malaria, and equipment breakdown were only a few of the obstacles that the workers encountered. It was eventually finished in 1915. In September 2007, construction began on a third, wider lane of locks which was finished in May 2016 allowing the canal to handle larger ships.
As the WestWorld Tours group continued their voyage, the ship stopped at ports of call along the way at Cabo San Lucas, Mexico; San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua; Puntarenas, Costa Rica; Cartagena, Colombia; and, Dutch Antilles, Aruba. Passengers had time to explore the natural flora and fauna, go shopping at the local markets, or just relax on the beach. Boat tours to view the mighty humpback whales was offered as an optional excursion.
Let WestWorld Tours spoil you on the 18th Anniversary Panama Canal Cruise, February 27 to March 21, 2018. See one of the great engineering achievements of the 20th century and so much more.
To book, visit westworldtours.com, or call 1.800.564.6222 (Press 4).
The winner of the 2016 Top Achievers Umbria & Tuscany Insight Vacations trip to Italy was Rachel Souster, Senior Travel Consultant, from the CAA Regina East Store. In November 2016, Rachel travelled throughout Italy, from Rome to Venice and everywhere in between. She saw some of the best sights and sounds of Italy on this eight day excursion. Here are some of the highlights:
Rome: In Rome, the “Eternal City”, Rachel toured the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica, and the Colosseum, the infamous picturesque amphitheatre built of concrete and sand. Insight Vacations offered special passage through the VIP entrance of the Vatican Museums, along with a private viewing of the Bramante Staircase.
Italian culinary experience: Lorenzo Polegri, renowned chef at Zeppelin Restaurant and farmer at Casa Segreta Farm in the Orvieto area, offered a pasta demonstration followed by a tasty lunch and a glass of his homemade Orvieto Classico vino.
Giuditta Brozzetti workshop: Rachel visited the Giuditta Brozzetti workshop located in the Church of San Francesco delle Donne in Perugia. Marta Brozzetti demonstrated traditional hand-weaving skills that have been passed down through the generations. The workshop has been producing the beautiful patterned fabrics since 1921.
Delectable Italian gelato: In San Gimignano, master gelato maker, Sergio Dondoli, told the story of his life as a world-renowned gelato maker, and offered samples of his flavourful creations.
Café Florian in San Marco Square: Rachel enjoyed live music at Café Florian in San Marco Square. At the café, she ordered an Italian hot chocolate which was a hot, thick, dark chocolatey creation accompanied with a pot of hot water. “It was absolutely delicious!” exclaimed Rachel.
Private cruise to the Island of Burano: The Island of Burano is one of the top ten most colourful locales in the world. Rachel went on a private cruise viewing the brightly-coloured city houses, as well as the leaning bell tower built in the seventeenth century. The island is also famous for its original Burano lace working which date back to the 1500’s.
Venice: “Venice, which was my favourite place to visit, was absolutely wonderful,” said Rachel. She was accompanied by a local expert for a walk of the back lanes and small squares. “It’s a city built over many intricately designed bridges. There are signs on the walls of the buildings directing tourists to the many attractions. The gondola ride through the canals of Venice was spectacular.”
The Italian culture, renaissance architecture, markets and shopping, and the amazing food made this an unforgettable experience.
Book your vacation to Italy with a CAA Travel Consultant. Call 1.800.564.6222 or visit caask.ca/travel.
When I was 19 I travelled to Europe alone. My friends were either tied up at university or playing sports and couldn’t join me. I really wanted to go and it wasn’t easy to plan around my own sports season and university schedule so I ventured across the pond alone.
Travelling alone has so many benefits; you meet a lot of people, you get to do exactly what you want, and you learn how to fend for yourself. I would highly recommend it, but there is a lot of work involved and no one to share it with.
As I began planning my trip I soon realized that the internet is great but it can be a bit overwhelming with information. I figured I could use the help of an expert and my mom recommended CAA. I began working with a CAA travel consultant named Rachel from the Regina East store and she was awesome. Not only did she help me map out my adventure, she found me great flight deals and told me what sites I couldn’t miss in the various cities and countries I visited on my tour. She also sold me all kinds of travel items that were super useful and easy to fit into my backpack and she gave me great advice on how to manage my travel funds too.
Another thing Rachel did for me was recommend a total travel insurance package. It hadn’t really crossed my mind that I might run into trouble overseas, like get injured or sick or need to return home. I ended up using the insurance in Rome and it was easy and my claim was paid 100% in full. It wasn’t a huge claim but it sure could have been.
I have a friend who just left for Europe on his own adventure and like me, he is travelling alone. He took my advice and worked with Rachel and CAA on his trip.
I plan to continue travelling, it’s in my blood now and know I will work with CAA, and will definitely buy their travel insurance again!
Liam Schwartz, Age 20
CAA Saskatchewan Member
How romance blossomed aboard a motorcoach during a WestWorld Tours adventure
Lucille Wiebe, from Saskatchewan, and Keith Elhart, from Alberta, met on the WestWorld Tours Victoria Solo tour and just a few months later, they announced their engagement while on the WestWorld Tours Maritimes Fly & Coach tour. Here is their wonderful story!
After the tragic passing of their respective spouses to cancer, Lucille and Keith were on their own for the first time in many years. Lucille was apprehensive about travelling alone, but after chatting with CAA Travel Consultant, Rachel Souster, from the CAA Regina East Store, Lucille took the leap and in the spring of 2016, went on the WestWorld Tours Victoria Solo tour. Meanwhile, Keith was originally scheduled to travel elsewhere, but fate intervened: An unexpected change in his plans led him to book the same Victoria tour, through AMA (Alberta Motor Association) Travel counsellor, Lori Niwa, in Medicine Hat.
There was an immediate attraction between Lucille and Keith, and tour director, Debbie MacRae, saw sparks fly right away. As they journeyed from destination to destination, the couple got to know each other. The passengers on the motorcoach were moved around daily to different seats so they could mingle while enjoying the many views. By the end of their vacation, the couple had exchanged contact information and planned to keep in touch.
Over the summer, the friendship turned into love; and, toward the end of the season Lucille and Keith talked about marriage and shopped for rings. In September 2016, they went on the WestWorld Tours Maritimes Fly & Coach tour. Lucille and Keith stayed in separate rooms. They arrived in Ottawa on September 11 and that evening after supper, Keith presented Lucille with the ring. He got down on one knee and asked her to marry him. Of course, the answer was yes! The engagement tour to the Maritimes was truly unforgettable.
So many sights were enjoyed while travelling through Ontario, New Brunswick, Quebec, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. “We loved seeing the old buildings and the cobblestone streets in Quebec City,” commented Lucille. “Quebec City, Niagara-on-the-Lake, and Peggy’s Cove were our favourite destinations.”
Their visit to Pier 21 in Halifax, Nova Scotia, was another memorable moment. Pier 21 was an ocean liner terminal and immigration shed from 1928 to 1971, and is the last surviving seaport immigration facility in Canada. Visitors can search the ship arrival database to find their relatives. Lucille found the record of her mother’s arrival to Canada in 1928. Her mother was just eight years old when she travelled from Poland to Canada with her mother, father, and siblings. Lucille received a copy of the record and a photo of the ship.
Lucille felt that the tour directors, Pat Larocque and Debbie MacRae, went above and beyond by surprising Keith and Lucille with a congratulatory bottle of champagne. Pat announced on the motorcoach that Lucille and Keith were engaged and the group gave them a round of applause.
Lucille and Keith have not set a date for their wedding. They are still basking in the glow of their new found love and happiness.
In July 2016, Garry and Sharon Nerbas journeyed on the week-long WestWorld Tours Churchill Explorer. Churchill, Manitoba is at the juncture of three ecoregions – the boreal forest, the arctic tundra and Hudson Bay.
The area has 250+ species of birds, and, a variety of animals including rabbits, foxes, wolves, lynx, moose, caribou, whales, seals, otters, walrus, and polar bears. In the fall, polar bears move from inland toward the shore looking for food – sometimes directly through town.
Manitoba Conservation has established a year-round Polar Bear Alert Program, with a 24-hour hotline, that locals can call when a bear is spotted near or within town. “A Conservation Officer was on site in Churchill to protect the residents and visitors,” explained Garry. If a polar bear wandered into town, for the safety of the people and the bear, the bear would be captured by conservation officers and temporarily housed in the polar bear jail until it could be released safely.
“There were no polar bears in town when we visited, but, I snapped a great photo of a female bear and her cub walking along the shoreline while we enjoyed the Tundra Buggy outing,” said Garry. The Tundra Buggy vehicle allowed for safe viewing of the polar bears in their natural habitat.
Garry and Sharon loved the whale watching expedition through Sea North Boat Tours. “It was an unforgettable experience - seeing these beautiful, white whales, and hearing them communicate with each other underwater - via an underwater microphone,” explained Garry. Beluga whales can grow to up to 18 feet long and weigh up to 3,500 lbs.
Another highlight for Garry and Sharon was an excursion to Fort Prince of Whales. Originally built from logs in 1717, the fort was named the Churchill River Post. In 1719, the post was renamed Fort Prince of Whales and in 1731 construction began to convert it to stone. “There were cannons mounted on the stone walls surrounding the fort that were used for protection back then,” said Garry.
Other stops on the tour included shopping for souvenirs at the Arctic Trading Company which sold leather goods and furs, and traditional Inuit artwork and wall hangings, plus hand-carved sculptures made from soapstone, antler and ivory. They also visited the Itsanitaq (Eskimo) Museum which has a large collection of Inuit art and historical artifacts that dated back to 1944.
“We had a great time,” said Garry. “WestWorld Tours handled all of the details so we could just sit back, relax and enjoy!”
Celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday with this northern Canadian adventure! Call a CAA Travel Consultant at 1.800.564.6222 or visit westworldtours.com.
Scenic, historic, and rugged. That’s how Gail Haight described her three-week excursion in Alaska and the Yukon. Gail and her husband, Gary, along with 12 friends from the small, resort village of Candle Lake journeyed on the WestWorld Tours Alaska & the Yukon Cruise Tour in July 2015.
One of their first stops in the Yukon was at Carcross, where they embarked on a 67.5 mile expedition by train on the White Pass and Yukon Route. They saw breathtaking views of mountains, gorges, waterfalls, tunnels and trestles. At Whitehorse, they attended the humorous Frantic Follies Vaudeville Revue which focused on the works of Robert Service, a British-Canadian poet and writer who is best known for his vivid descriptions of the Yukon and its people.
“It really was a unique experience to walk on the wooden boardwalks in the gold rush town of Dawson City, Yukon,” Gail explained. “Seeing the old buildings brings you back to the days when prospectors came to the Yukon to strike it rich,” she added. "Visiting the sight of the first big strike, Dredge No. 4, panning for gold and being on the Dome at midnight on the longest day were wonderful opportunities to experience a bit of the gold rush."
The Haights continued on to Alaska across the Top of the World Highway, amazed by the beautiful vistas and wildflowers. They enjoyed a voyage on the Riverboat Discovery at Fairbanks, Alaska. There were several stops along the river bank which included: a tour of the Chena Indian Village; a bush pilot demonstration; and, a visit to the home and kennels of the late Susan Butcher, the four-time champion of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. The riverboat adventure concluded with a delicious salmon bake dinner.
The pace slowed a little as they boarded the ship, the Celebrity’s Millennium, cruising to Hubbard’s Glacier, Icy Straight Point, and the Inside Passage. There was time for walking tours when they docked in the ports of Juneau, Skagway and Ketchikan.
“We had a wonderful time,” said Gail. “WestWorld Tours did a great job of planning the trip. Our guide, Koral Carpentier, was knowledgeable, personable, spontaneous and fun. We will definitely go on another trip with WestWorld Tours.”
Visit Alaska and the Yukon by coach or cruise ship with WestWorld Tours.
Carol and Wayne Field travelled to Costa Rica in January 2016. They booked their CAA Member Choice Vacation with travel consultant Linda Gould from the CAA Store in Moose Jaw.
“We always wanted to go to Costa Rica,” explained Carol. “It really was everything we expected and more.”
Costa Rica features some of the most diverse scenery - coastline, mountains, waterfalls, volcanoes, forests and jungle. The Field’s trip allowed them to enjoy all that and more including:
- Mountain adventures in the Monteverde Cloud Forest featuring a jungle trek on the 2.5 km trail of suspension bridges, a riverboat excursion, a visit to the butterfly garden and hummingbird gallery, plus zip-lining.
- A jungle stay in Tortuguero National Park. “This was our favourite part of the trip,” said Carol. “We travelled by bus and then by boat to arrive at our secluded destination. While we were there we explored our surroundings and learned about the native plants and wildlife.”
- Tour of the Caño Negro Wetlands National Wildlife Refuge and, Arenal Lake and volcano by boat.
- A percolating visit to the Doka Coffee Estate in Sabanilla.
The Field’s had many experiences with the animals and birds but the monkeys were especially curious. Carol explained that the white-headed capuchin monkeys had a sweet tooth often dropping by the resort restaurant for packets of sugar.
As an ambassador for CAA Saskatchewan as the 2015 Saskatchewanderer and current CAA Member and avid traveller, I value the opportunities and peace of mind CAA Saskatchewan offers when booking holidays and organizing travel itineraries.
Invited to join WestWorld Tours 2016 Danube River Cruise President’s Tour along Europe’s second-longest river, I was excited to discover a continent I had yet to explore on my own. The best part was the cruise offered a unique and relaxing perspective of four European countries from the Danube river rather than traditional bus or air travel.
Beginning in Munich, Germany and ending in Budapest, Hungary, we explored and learned about several of Europe’s most beautiful castles and intriguing historical locations over a 600 kilometre distance. As a Canadian, this was a very different perspective than learning about our relatively short prairie history. From Melk, Austria’s Benedictine Abbey and library of more than 100,000 books in 15 different languages in the scenic Wachau Valley to the world’s largest cathedral organ at St. Stephen’s Cathedral in Passau, Germany with more than 17,900 pipes, there were countless times I was rendered speechless with genuine “wow” moments.
Top three highlights:
1. The Austrian Lakes District
The scenic Salzkammergut region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as one of several locations where The Sound of Music was filmed. Feeling like I was transported into a fairy-tale, I wandered cobblestone streets admiring brightly coloured buildings decorated with baskets of flowers on every windowsill. The views of white sailboats and monolithic mountains reflecting in the more than 75 lakes in the region makes it a location I plan to return.
2. The Cuisine
The food on board the AMASerena was nothing short of delectable. From ice cream parties to five course meals at the Chef’s Table, the combination of the local flavours of each country we travelled through was perfect. As a traveller with a sweet tooth, my favourite dessert was a rich chocolate truffle cake served with two others in a dessert variation.
3. The Service
I’m used to travelling on my own and planning and preparing every little detail but it can be exhausting. While travelling on the WestWorld Tours President’s Cruise, I didn’t have to worry about anything. From getting around to getting advice from Uwe, our Cruise Director, everything was taken care of for me with the added bonus of excellent service. It was a welcome holiday, from a holiday!
The Lost Girl's Guide to Finding the World
Attending a live baseball game, especially if you’re a Toronto Blue Jays fan, is a truly unique experience. The smell of the hot dogs, the whoosh of the baseball, the crack of the bat, and the crowd cheering their favourite players round the bases. This experience is what makes the WestWorld Tours Jays Jaunt a home run.
Travel consultant Caryl Allen from the CAA Store in downtown Saskatoon went on this amazing trip to Kansas City, Missouri in July 2015 with her son Logan. All of the arrangements were made – the accommodations booked, tickets purchased, and seats reserved. The tour was fully-guided and it was paid for in Canadian dollars. Two days of travel was well worth the entertainment of watching three major league baseball games, plus enjoying the many attractions of Kansas City.
“The Westworld Tours Jays Jaunt is an enjoyable holiday for the baseball enthusiast,” explained Caryl.
“All of the details were taken care of; we were dropped off right at the door of the stadium and, we had great seats.”
Saskatchewan couple share their story
Audrey and Dennis Ens travelled from Amsterdam to Budapest on a Viking River Cruise in September 2015.
Audrey described it as a “crescendo to the senses” - witnessing the hundreds of bicycles in Amsterdam and watching the busy windmills in Kinderdijk. In Cologne, they toured the historic Cologne Cathedral and in Melk, they explored the Melk Abbey built in 1089. Their visit to Vienna featured the scintillating sounds of Mozart and Strauss performed by a Viennese orchestra. The river cruise concluded in Budapest, highlighted by the view of the glorious night sky. “It was an amazing trip,” exclaimed Audrey. “We even had a one-of-a-kind, personal experience.”
In Austria, there is a town and river named Enns. Audrey explained that the ancestral origin of their surname Ens is unknown but there are numerous variations. There aren’t very many details but one version suggests that an abandoned young boy was found on the banks of the Enns river and subsequently, he was named after the river. Seeing the Enns River was on Audrey and Dennis’ bucket list and the staff were happy to oblige. When the ship sailed past the mouth of the river in the middle of the night the Ens’ were invited to join the captain and co-captain on the top deck. “This was one of the most memorable moments on our trip,” said Audrey.
The tour schedule and planned activities allowed Audrey and Dennis many opportunities to get to know the other passengers. The staff was organized and provided excellent service and the food was amazing. Some of the activities included: shopping and dining; walking and bus tours; performances by musicians, dancers and singers; and chefs demonstrating how to make local delicacies. There were also optional activities to choose from. Audrey and Dennis attended a performance by a Viennese orchestra. They also visited the Hitler Historical Museum, training fields and the courthouse where the Nuremburg trials took place.
Here’s some travel advice from Audrey for anyone planning on taking a river cruise:
- In regards to the total cost of the trip, the value is amazing. It’s all booked and paid for ahead of time and when you arrive anywhere you are at the front of the line. You see and experience absolutely the best of all five countries.
- You can book a room with a balcony or without. It just depends on your personal preference, what you want to spend, and how much time you plan to spend in your room.
- As a CAA Member, we had earned CAA Dollars® for purchases we made through the CAA Rewards™ partners. We redeemed those credits for our trip.
Caryl Allen, CAA Travel Consultant at the CAA Saskatoon Downtown Store booked Audrey and Dennis’ vacation. “We received excellent service from Caryl,” said Audrey. “We will definitely book with her again.”
CAA Members Scott and Violet Meekma from Saskatoon share their story.
In February 2015, Scott and Violet Meekma went on a Uniworld River Cruise to Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong. Violet admitted that going to an exotic destination like Vietnam was out of their comfort zone. They had been on a European river cruise in 2014 booked by CAA Travel Consultant, Cynthia Wong. The Meekma’s appreciated the excellent customer service they received from Cynthia at CAA Travel, the Uniworld representatives and the local tour guides.
The Meekma’s added two extensions onto their 2015 river cruise. The first included an excursion to Ha Long Bay, Vietnam. They slept on a luxury junk with meals onboard and visited Sung Sot Cave and floating village. Then they embarked on the much anticipated 15-day river cruise on the ship the River Orchid through Vietnam, Cambodia and the Mekong. There were 42 passengers divided into two groups with a tour guide for each group.
“It was great. You got to know people well. They were from all over the world,” said Violet.
In Vietnam they visited the Cai Be Rice and Rice Paper Factory where they made candies, rice paper and rice popcorn. The Meekma’s also attended the Cai Be Floating Market on the Mekong River. The vendors gathered daily on the river to sell their produce. They displayed samples of their fruits and vegetables on tall wooden poles so the passersby could view the selection.
Some of the memories of Cambodia included a tour of the city of Phnom Penh on a motorcycle rickshaw. They also visited the memorial of the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and the ancient temples at Siem Reap.
Their favourite part of the trip was the five-day extension at Luang Prabang, Laos. They toured the city, visited the markets and stayed in a nice boutique hotel. They also went to the Kuang Si waterfalls and the Elephant Village Sanctuary and Resort. At the sanctuary the Meekma’s learned about the training and rehabilitation of the injured elephants.
Reflecting on the experience Violet commented, “We had a wonderful time. We plan to go on another river cruise and already have a few destinations in mind.”
CAA Saskatchewan Members Jack and Elaine Wilson from Moose Jaw have been on 15 WestWorld Tours trips. Jack’s favourites are the cruises and Elaine prefers the land excursions. In April though they both agreed that the tour to Victoria, B.C. was where they were going to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. Jack and Elaine’s family asked them what they wanted to do for their special day as the trip was their anniversary present. And, they said hands-down; they wanted to go back to Victoria where they’d been in 2005 because they absolutely loved it!
The Wilson’s departed on April 28, 2014 for the 10-day trip. “WestWorld treated us like royalty,” says Elaine. When they arrived at the Royal Scot Hotel & Suites in Victoria a musician playing the bag-pipes “piped” them in as the passengers got off the bus and entered the hotel. There was a bottle of champagne provided by WestWorld Tours and chocolates provided by the hotel for the Wilson’s upon arrival. Their daughter and two of their grandchildren joined them for the winery and cidery visit. They sang Happy Anniversary to them on the bus. Elaine joked that at the Victoria Butterfly Gardens Jack wasn’t thrilled when a butterfly landed on his shoulder. She commented she isn’t really a “flower person” but Butchart Gardens was beautiful. The Wilson’s explored Cathedral Grove, home of the majestic ancient red cedars, and the Murals of Chemainus. They also enjoyed a short ferry ride to Salt Spring Island where a large number of artists, sculptors and musicians live.
The Wilson’s anniversary date was on May 4 but she said they celebrated every day of the tour. The group attended their Farewell Dinner in Vernon in a ranch-style restaurant called the Historic O’Keefe Ranch. Elaine and Jack remarked that WestWorld Tours has always gone out of their way offering the best customer service and experience throughout all of their tours. For more information on WestWorld Tours, including future journeys to Victoria, B.C., visit westworldtours.com or call 1.800.564.6222.
Donna Adams has been a CAA Member for 40+ years. She books her trips through CAA. Donna and her husband, Larry, love to travel. They like being busy, sightseeing, and enjoying the local fare. Adams found out through her CAA Travel Consultant of a new trip that was being offered. They knew they wanted to go to Cuba but this was a unique way to see the sights.
They travelled to Cuba at the end of February 2014 boarding the cruise ship the “Louis Cristal” at Havana and then voyaging around Cuba for one week stopping at the various ports – Holguin, Santiago de Cuba, Montego Bay, Cienfuegos and Punta Frances. Adams feels she saw more of Cuba this way. “The cruise was such a great opportunity to see the historic buildings, interact with the local people, and shop in the boutiques,” said Adams.
The terrain in Cuba is partially mountainous (inland) with white sandy beaches and turquoise coastal waters. The temperature while the Adams’ were there ranged between 25 and 30 degrees Celsius. After the cruise, for week two of their trip, Donna and Larry stayed all-inclusive at a resort in Varadero, Cuba. Varadero is a resort town in the province of Matanzas, Cuba and one of the largest resort areas in the Caribbean. They relaxed at the resort, swam, shopped and dined. “The resort was beautiful,” said Adams. “The accommodations were wonderful and the food was delicious.”
Adams most memorable part of the trip was the tour of Havana – Old Havana, Malecon Havana, El Capitolio, the Museum of the Revolution and the Finca Vigia.
Contact a CAA Travel Consultant to book your trip to paradise! We have the expertise and as a CAA Member you pay no fees for this wealth of knowledge.
Sarah Vogel, CAA Travel Consultant from Regina, went on a 14-day adventure of a lifetime on the Peru Panorama Trip with G Adventures. She had always wanted to visit Peru and see the wonders of Machu Picchu.
Sarah selected her personal comfort and activity level from the various options available from G Adventures. She went on several hiking excursions and spent a few nights sleeping in tents on the mountain. She admitted that the combination of the high altitude and steep trails were a challenge for her abilities and stamina. Through the experience, Sarah was able to explore less populated areas and this brought her closer to the local people.
She particularly enjoyed the Peruvian culture. On Lake Titicaca she visited the floating islands of Uros made from the totora (cattail) reeds that grow in the lake. The totora are used to construct the islands, to build their fishing vessels and also for medicinal purposes. After Uros, Sarah travelled inland to Taquile Island and described her most memorable experience.
“On the Island of Taquile I hiked up a steep stone road that was at one time about 530 stairs. This was no easy task at 3900m,” exclaimed Sarah. “I was glad I did it! When I reached the humble town square at the top I enjoyed a well-deserved lunch of quinoa soup, rice, vegetables, trout and the freshest mint tea I had ever tasted!” Trout is not native to Peru and was introduced to Lake Titicaca from Canada in 1940.
Sarah hiked the three-day Lares Trek to Aguas Caliente and then took a bus to Machu Picchu. "It was well worth it,” said Sarah. “Words cannot describe how remarkable it is. But the word impressive comes to mind." The ruins of the ancient civilization, overgrown with vines, have been rebuilt so visitors can see how the Incas once lived. There is a mystery regarding who actually lived there and the significance of the temples, fountains and sundials. “The handmade and hand laid stones fit so perfectly together,” explained Sarah. “It is a wonder how the structures were built so very long ago.”
The next stop on the tour was the Amazon. Sarah found the Amazon stay relaxing. The G Lodge cabins were open to the elements and made of wood and thatched with woven leaves. There was no electricity but the areas were well-lit with flame lanterns and candles. Sarah walked along the river and in the jungle. She saw monkeys, capybara (large rodent that resembles a long-legged guinea pig), caiman (reptile similar to an alligator), birds, frogs and all kinds of Amazon rainforest bugs.
Sarah looked back on her trip fondly. It really was all she hoped it would be. Contact Sarah Vogel or any of the experienced CAA Travel Consultants for more information on this amazing adventure. There are several tour options and packages to choose from. Call 1.800.564.6222 or visit caask.ca/travel. Explore the CAA Travel Facebook page to see more photos and comments about Sarah’s trip.
CAA Members John and Anne Nyffenegger from Saskatoon boarded a WestWorld Tours motorcoach in February 2015 and headed southwest to their dream destination: California.
Highlights of the first leg of their journey included travelling through Montana’s Rockies, Utah’s red rock canyons and the Zion-Mount Carmel Tunnel in Nevada before arriving in sunny Palm Springs, California. This was their favourite destination on the tour. There was plenty of shopping and sightseeing as well as a ride on the world’s largest rotating tramcar and a tour of San Gorgonio Wind Park. After Palm Springs they went on to San Diego where they went to Sea World and the San Diego Zoo.
In Anaheim they visited Disneyland, Mann’s Chinese Theatre and strolled down the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame where almost 2,400 stars span the nearly three and a half miles of sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard. “We looked for the stars of icons like Gene Autry, Lucille Ball and John Wayne,” said Anne. The Disneyland Resort featured two theme parks and all the magic of Disney!
John especially enjoyed the tour of the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose. Sarah L. Winchester, rifle heiress, built this 160-room Victorian mansion. “The construction took place round-the-clock over a span of 38 years until Sarah’s death,” explained John. “There were so many peculiarities in the final layout.”
Concluding their journey they saw the historic Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, toured wine country in Napa Valley and went on a day trip to Oatman, Arizona to see the wild burros. They also moseyed on down to Virginia City, Montana, an old west ghost town which is now a modern-day tourist attraction. Anne commented, “We headed home satisfied with our wonderful vacation.”
California Dreaming was the Nyffenegger’s seventh WestWorld Tours vacation. They were married in 2004 at Pigeon Forge on the WestWorld Tours Branson, Nashville and Pigeon Forge tour. For their 10th wedding anniversary they went on a WestWorld Tours Newfoundland-Labrador tour.
John and Anne were pleased with the great service and hospitality they received from the WestWorld Tours motorcoach driver, Dennis Day, and tour guide, Koral Carpentier. “We wouldn’t go with another tour company,” said John. “WestWorld Tours is absolutely the better choice. They handled the details and made the experience so enjoyable.”
CAA Members, Earle and Sharon Robertson decided a Hawaiian vacation would be the perfect way to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. In December 2014, they made arrangements to travel with Earle’s brother and sister-in-law and stay at their condo in Hawaii as they had done before. Tickets were purchased and plans were set. However, those plans changed unexpectedly when Earle’s brother had a serious medical emergency and was told he could not travel.
Sharon revisited the couple’s 50th anniversary plans when she noticed a WestWorld Tours Hawaii Land and Sea ad in the CAA Saskatchewan Westworld magazine. After a good chat with Laurie Stefanick, a CAA Travel Consultant at the CAA Store in downtown Saskatoon, the Robertson’s decided on a new adventure. Stefanick was able to switch their previously booked flights to connect with the WestWorld Tours group in Waikiki. “Laurie made the arrangements and everything was perfect,” said Sharon. “It was all taken care of and so stress-free.”
Their first stop was at the Polynesian Cultural Centre in Waikiki where they visited the authentic villages, mingled with the natives of the six Pacific cultures, and participated in the many interesting activities. They also witnessed a traditional Hawaiian wedding. This led Sharon and Earle to renew their own wedding vows – Hawaiian style. “It was a lovely ceremony and another bonus of the whole trip,” said Sharon.
On the seventh day of the tour they boarded the spectacular cruise ship the Pride of America and according to Sharon they went island hopping in style. “We stayed in a State Room with a balcony which was wonderful. We enjoyed sitting outside on the deck in the sunshine.” The ship sailed and docked at ports along the Napali Coast taking in the islands of Maui, Kona and Kauai.
There were many things about the trip the Robertson’s loved: the food, accommodations, activities and the free time. “Pat Larocque, the WestWorld Tours guide was so organized,” said Sharon. “She went above and beyond to keep us informed of the day’s events.”
In the spring of 2015, Lorena Squires, CAA Travel Manager from Weyburn and Estevan travelled through the Netherlands and Belgium on an AmaWaterways Tulip Time River Cruise.
With the cobblestone streets beneath her feet, she visited the architectural marvels in the city of Ghent, historic bridges of Amsterdam, and one of the three oldest cities in the Netherlands - Nijmegen. Belgium is famous for beer and chocolates which was evident everywhere.
Squires has been to several destinations in Europe. Amsterdam was one of the few remaining cities on her bucket list. Also on that list were the windmills of Kinderdijk. In her mind they are the iconic emblems of the Netherlands. Squires chose this river cruise to honour her grandmother’s and now her own love for flowers, gardening and nature. One of the most memorable parts of the trip was the visit to Keukenhof Gardens that featured acres of magnificent, blooming bulb flowers. “The entire week had been cool with intermittent rain and the last day was to be spent entirely at the gardens,” said Squires. “We were fortunate. The trip ended with glorious sunshine on Mother’s Day,” she added.
Whatever your reason to visit that desired destination, let a CAA Travel Consultant help you with your travel plans! You can experience history, art, music and culture in one stress-free bundle. CAA Members enjoy exclusive benefits and travel discounts. Call 1.800.564.6222 or visit caask.ca/travel.
Read more about Squires’ adventures on Facebook.
Elmer Woytiuk from North Battleford has booked three trips to the Ukraine through CAA Travel Consultant Roberta Pobran from the CAA Store in North Battleford. In 2013 and 2014 he went with a group through Premier Ukraine Tours. He loved the group tour and enjoyed being chauffeured around, staying at grand hotels and dining at premium restaurants. In 2015, his booking through CAA Travel had him exploring the Ukraine solo, again through Premier Ukraine Tours. When he arrived, he joked with one of his tour guides, Diana. She asked him why he was there and he responded that he was looking for a book. But Woytiuk was looking for more than a book. He was searching for his relatives - the Woytiuks.
As you have probably guessed - the Ukrainian culture is part of Woytiuk’s heritage. He is familiar with the language and his knowledge has increased with every return visit. He says though that it isn’t necessary to speak or understand Ukrainian because there is always someone around to help translate. He commented that the Ukrainian people are friendly, courteous and hospitable.
Woytiuk stayed at the George Hotel in Lviv. In the mornings, he visited shops, churches, museums and restaurants. In the afternoons his tour guide, Roman, took him on excursions to surrounding towns and cities. As a food connoisseur, one of his favourite stops in Lviv was a farmer’s market called Market Square or Rynok (“market” in Ukrainian). He remembered mounds of strawberries along with their distinct aroma wafting through the market. There were tables heaped with a variety of produce and butchers selling fresh meat. Rynok also has many small shops that sell traditional Ukrainian foods such as cabbage rolls and perogies.
“It was the icing on the cake when I toured the countryside and met some of my relatives,” said Woytiuk. “The whole trip to Bob'yatyn from Lviv was a huge adventure. When we got there the greatest surprise was actually finding some of my family members. I spent the afternoon dining, drinking and visiting with them.” And, to his delight he was even given a family genealogy chart!
Woytiuk feels very much at home in the Ukraine. He plans to return in 2016 and continue his search of his heritage and Ukrainian culture.
For more information on booking your trip to the Ukraine contact a CAA Travel Consultant at 1.800.564.6222.
The Incredible Secret behind Canada’s New Passport
Canada’s new ePassport was introduced in July 2013. It’s called an ePassport because an electronic chip is actually embedded right into the document. It contains some added security features and historical facts about Canada’s history. When it’s time to renew it’s much easier and it can be validated for up to 10 years.
The inside pages contain a spectacular “must see” secret. To the naked eye, the images on the pages are plain and lack lustre but if you look at them under a black light a colourful display appears. The images were printed with ultraviolet inks and black light will bring these pictures to life. Ultraviolet light is present in sunlight but it is beyond the visible light spectrum. The inks are specially formulated to react to ultraviolet light. Under black light, the images on the passport pages almost seem three dimensional as the hidden images and colour appear vibrantly translucent on the pages.
The 12 CAA locations throughout Saskatchewan offer a discount on passport photos for CAA Members. If you are applying for a new passport a Guarantor in required. Each location has several notaries that can endorse the photo for the application. The CAA Premier Membership has complimentary notary service. Remember though, according to Canada’s passport guidelines, the notary must have known the CAA Member personally for two years before they can sign. To renew your already existing passport complete the Simplified Form. For information on how to renew your passport, visit passport renewal.
Just another value-added service for CAA Members! Visit a CAA location nearest you!
Your European Vacation
Linda Gould, CAA Travel Consultant from Moose Jaw travelled to Europe with her family in August. She says it was the best family holiday she ever had!
Here are several highlights of her journey:
In Rome they ate spaghetti, enjoyed the sights and listened to the local music.
Rome was lively. The local people were friendly. Gould remembers an older Italian couple with a violin and an accordion singing Italian songs in an underground passage way. Gould and her family joined the 10,000 spectators one Snday morning to see Pope Francis at St. Peter’s Square. In Rome they toured the Vatican, the Sistine Chapel, Basilica Cistern, and the Colosseum.
While they were in Italy they took day trips.
They visited Naples to see the Palace of Caserta; Pompeii to see the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum; and, Florence to view Michelangelo’s David. They travelled further north to Venice and saw the Bridge of Sighs. The Gould’s also travelled to Lucerne, Switzerland where they enjoyed the world-famous Swiss chocolate while shopping at the quaint boutiques.
Gould said Paris was amazing!
C’est perfect! The Gould’s spent two nights in Paris, France. They went on a tour of the city and visited the Eiffel Tower and the Palace of Versailles.
From Paris to London via the Eurostar, a high-speed railway service.
Gould said, “The train was a quick-mode of transportation and quite an adventure.” They travelled by train all over London and saw the crypts of St. Paul’s Cathedral, the treasures at Buckingham Palace, and the Royal Mews. While in London, they took day tours to Stonehenge in Wiltshire and also to the city of Bath to see the roman baths.
They attended the annual Edinburgh International Festival.
The festival happens annually in August. The main show is the Military Tattoo - a military performance of music where bands from all over the world represent their country and perform. “There was an amazing light show with the Edinburgh Castle in the background as the bands performed,” said Gould. While they were there, they toured the castle, and Gould’s daughter, Cathleen, went horseback riding.
“Europe is timeless. We all enjoyed the sights and history,” said Gould. “From 15 to 60 there is something for every age in Europe!”
If any of the European treasures experienced by Linda Gould and her family has sparked your interest, then connect with a CAA Travel Consultant to help with your travel planning. They have the experience and expertise to book your European vacation or any vacation, worry free!
By Susan Wingert, Travel Consultant, CAA Saskatchewan
Imagine your wedding day; the waves are softly roaring, the music is playing quietly in the background and surrounding you are tropical bouquets, leaving a fragrance you will always remember. It is the wedding you have always dreamed of.
But before you get to your wedding dream destination, where do you start and what do you need to know?
The planning begins:
Decide on your budget, the approximate date and the destination. Each country has specific laws that you must adhere to in order to get a marriage license. For example, Mexico requires that the bride and groom get blood work completed and the results could take up to four business days. If Mexico is your choice, plan to spend 10 to 14 days there for a destination wedding. A symbolic wedding in Mexico is also an option if you have less vacation time. Check with a CAA travel consultant to find out what the wedding requirements are for other popular destinations including Jamaica and the Dominican Republic.
Once you have decided where you want to go, the next step is to select a few resorts and ask your travel consultant to price out three or four of your favourites. Group rates usually start with 10 adults. Tour operators typically have wedding specials that offer the bride and groom perks in addition to the wedding packages. When you have your dream resort selected, the next step is to call the wedding planner at the resort to book your wedding date and discuss wedding options. After this is booked, and you are happy with the wedding planner’s suggestions and options provided, you can book the flights and resort with your CAA travel consultant.
The most important thing to remember is to enjoy your special day and have fun! After all, this is your destination dream wedding day.
Visit your nearest CAA location to start your wedding plans.
Fred Chriest, WestWorld Tours
Costa Rica: “The Rich Coast”
By Fred Chriest
Billed as “one of the most exotic countries in the world”, Costa Rica is fast becoming the world’s most popular tourism hotspot. The lush and dense cloud forests; the imposing volcanic peaks; and miles of beautiful coastline make Costa Rica a true paradise! Whether you travel for adventure, eco-tourism or simply want to get away for rest and relaxation, Costa Rica is the perfect destination.
San José, Costa Rica’s capital and largest city is an ideal home-base from which to explore Costa Rica’s thriving rainforests and mountainous regions. With an average elevation of 1161 m, San José offers a stable climate with an average temperature of 23 degrees Celsius and precipitation of 150 mm per month. This cosmopolitan city, founded in 1738, offers a unique combination of the old and new. Modern theatres, museums, markets, restaurants and casinos are mixed with the charm of the Latin American “Plaza de la Cultura” and the pedestrian only shopping zone that surrounds it.
In the heart of downtown San José is the iconic Hotel Presidente, an upscale Four-Star hotel that symbolizes the cultural soul of the city. It is the perfect venue from which to begin the incredible adventure that is Costa Rica!
A short drive from San José takes you to the Alajuela Poas Volcano and Poas Volcano National Park. Here visitors can get “up close and personal” to the geothermal forces that helped shape Costa Rica. Whether staring at the plumes of sulfuric gas and water vapour rising from the active main crater or marvelling at the cool, blue lagoon and dense vegetation of the cloud forest in the long-extinct Von Frantzuis cone, you cannot help but be amazed at the awesome wonder of nature. The nearby La Paz Waterfall Gardens offer well-maintained trails from which visitors can view spectacular waterfalls and visit the largest butterfly observatory in the country.
The rich and fertile soils of the volcanic slopes are ideal for the growth of coffee, a crop critical to the history and economy of Costa Rica. The Doka Estate owned by the Vargas Ruiz family, pioneers in coffee production, provides visitors with the story of coffee from the seed to the cup.
Visitors travelling from San Jos é through the Arena region to Monteverde are overwhelmed with the variety of activities and breathtaking scenery the country has to offer. Here’s just a sampling of experiences to enjoy: Sarchi Town with its beautiful handicrafts and unusual church; the imposing vistas offered from the Arenal Hanging Bridges; a relaxing hike up the Arena Volcano followed by a relaxing soak in the Baldi Hot Springs; or a scenic boat ride across Lake Arenal. There is something for everyone!
Coupled with eco-tourism, hiking and site-seeing; Costa Rica offers the worry-free option of staying at an all-inclusive resort. The Five Star Hotel Rui Guanacaste located on the Mata Palo Beach is a perfect place to round out your visit. Enjoy the rest and relaxation that comes with superb accommodations, amazing food and beverages, luxurious spa treatments and a wealth of sport and recreation activities. Learn how to live the Costa Rica style of “Puri Vida”
( Pure Life) – enjoy life leisurely and to the fullest - celebrating all good fortune, whether small or large!
WestWorld Tours invites you to take in the beauty and wonder of Costa Rica on the 4th Annual President’s Tour: Highlights of Costa Rica, February, 3-18, 2014.
Recently a few CAA Saskatchewan travel consultants sailed with our award winning river cruise partner AmaWaterways on a Tulip Time departure through Holland and Belgium. Stops included Amsterdam, Volendam, Edam, Arnhem, Antwerp, Ghent, Brugges, Willemstad, Kinderdjik, and Utrecht. This educational trip provided us with a wonderful river cruise experience and firsthand knowledge of the AmaWaterways difference! We were treated to the typical AmaWaterways experience that includes custom designed ships, deluxe amenities, exquisite dining and attentive service.
River cruising is gaining popularity in the travel industry. These journeys offer easy explorations of inland waterways and close up views of the nestled towns and cities. New ships arrive annually with improvements in design and materials to enhance the passengers’ visit. AmaWaterways premium experience sets the standards with enhancements such as their exclusive “Twin Balconies” (indoor floor to ceiling windows and outdoor seating area), multiple dining venues, complimentary Internet and Infotainment System. There are small group excursions offering three levels of walking tours. Bicycles are available for personal use. And of course, their culinary masterpieces with meals incorporating regional ingredients are served at lunch and dinner with free flowing wine, beer and soft drinks.
AmaWaterways presents exciting, new waterway itineraries that are available in Europe and Russia, and on the Mekong River in Vietnam and Cambodia. There’s also the AmaVoyages on the Chobe River for ‘safari river cruising’ in Africa!
AmaWaterways offers CAA guests exclusive amenities, and CAA offers exclusive AmaWaterways departures from Saskatchewan. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Feel free to contact us – your AmaWaterways specialists, or your favourite CAA travel consultant for more details or to book your river cruise!
By Luana Wingert, CTC
Travel Consultant, CAA Regina East
My Holland America Experience
“Wow! That was easy!” This was my first thought when I boarded the ship.
I had left my baggage tags with stateroom numbers at home in my flurry of packing and when they asked if I had them, I sheepishly said, “no” and the attendant, with a smile, said “no problem!” He whisked out a handful of blank ones for me. I then left my bags with him and proceeded to go through the embarkation/immigration line. At the time I showed up there was hardly anyone around. I stepped up, gave them my boarding pass and passport. They took my photo, gave me my key card and from that moment, the ship was my home!
Wherever I went, I was always welcomed with friendly greetings such as “Welcome aboard, Good morning Luana, how is your day, and good evening Luana.” There was always a smile from anyone I spoke with or even when passing by one of the very friendly accommodating staff. Even on the first day, our room stewards knew our names.
Our stateroom was lovely with lots of closet and drawer space and still room to put the suitcase under the bed. The bathroom is a good size for a ship and even had a bathtub in our Oceanview room. We were slated to have twin beds but when we arrived, we found a king size bed in our room. We spoke with the staff and when my roommate and I returned from touring the ship, we were pleased to find the king size bed had been replaced by twin beds!
And oh the food!! In the main dining room, quite often I’d have to try two different options because I just couldn’t decide! Occasionally, live symphony music added to the dining experience. Be sure to try the chocolate soufflé - it’s heavenly! The specialty restaurant Pinnacle Grill is a definite must with one of the most delicious and divine steaks I’ve ever had!
Holland America ships, with their varying itineraries and size of ships, still have an elegant “homey” feel to them. With all the comfortable, beautifully decorated areas to choose from, I did my best to check out as many as possible to see what the view was like. The “piano-man” entertainment, the wide open show lounge, the internet cafe with specialty coffees and even a movie theatre complete with popcorn were all fantastic!
Everyday there were things to keep you busy, if you wanted to be busy that is. The choices included fitness classes or personal trainers, casino, culinary shows and classes from the ship’s masterful chefs, wine tastings with appetizer pairings, re-energizing spa treatments, and sports such as basketball, shuffleboard or easy going activities like daily bridge clubs plus kids clubs to keep them entertained. There are options for all ages on different ships.
With all the ships and choices for destinations, you can practically go anywhere. From a family short voyage in the Caribbean to group departures such as the annual CAA Chairman of the Board cruise, rest assured, you can cruise anywhere in comfort, beauty and style.
For Travel information, please contact one of our Travel Consultants.
by Sheila Hansen
Canada has moose, beavers and the RCMP. Hawaii has tiki torches, knife dancers and grass skirts. Each destination madly milks their respective icons for tourism gain. (Just take a quick look at our airports’ gift shops. And though I’ve yet to travel to Hawaii, I’ll admit its idyllic travel brochure photographs have whisked me away on more than one imagined island retreat.)
The difference, though, is that while our country’s wildlife is filled with said creatures and our history steeped in red-serge lore, the 50th state’s Polynesian trappings are more an import. As a recent Canadian Press (CP) article points out, with the opening of island tiki bars in the mid-1900s – California started the trend in the 1930s – once-authentic Hawaiian evening shows began to feature coconut-bra-wearing Tahitian hula dancers. Now, though, it looks like the traditional might be stealing a bit of that torchlight back.
Take the Hawaiian Tourism Authority (HTA). The same CP article notes it now offers a new guide on what is and isn’t Hawaiian (such as Hawaiian versus Tahitian hula dancers), but a closer look reveals the HTA also annually awards local efforts that preserve and build awareness of native culture through its Living Hawaiian Culture Program.
Among the 2012 winners, the Mālama Learning Center earned kudos for promoting sustainable cultural practices among residents and tourists shopping at the Mākeke Kapolei (Kapolei Market) on Oahu; the Hawaii Homegrown Foodnetwork for raising the profile of ‘ulu, or breadfruit, as an abundant and “culturally appropriate” food; and the Hula Preservation Society for sharing the little-known story of the Hawaiian hula dancers and musicians who performed at the Lexington Hotel’s famous Hawaiian Room – it turns 75 this year – in New York City.
As well, the HTA sponsors the four-day Hawaii Food & Wine Festival each fall. Only in its second year, the event showcases the state’s local produce, poultry, beef and seafood, and draws some 3,000 foodies from across the Pacific region.
Hotels and resorts are dialling up the traditional too. For example, the Ritz-Carlton, Kapalua, now includes the Na Mea Makamae . . . Treasures of These Islands on its roster of guest events. The walk-and-talk explores Hawaiian wellness philosophies and ancient uses of medicinal herbs. The Maui-based hotel also hosts a lei making class, a hands-on look at another important part of Hawaiian culture.
Small steps, these, but definitely in the right direction for rediscovering Hawaii’s true roots. When I finally do set foot on the islands, I can look forward to not only soaking up those familiar yet fetching postcard scenes but also learning about the Aloha State’s authentic attributes.
Read Up-Island Lowdown: Keeping it real on Oahu in the Winter 2012 issue of Westworld Saskatchewan.
Photos courtesy Hawaii Tourism Authority, Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau, and Hawaii Tourism Japan.
Follow Sheila Hansen on Twitter @SentPackin
Harriet and Lloyd Greenhow have travelled extensively. They prefer to arrive early and acclimatize to their surroundings; and, enjoy doing a variety of activities. For the past seven years, the Greenhow’s have trusted CAA Travel Consultant, Rachel Souster, from the Regina East CAA Store, to help plan their vacations.
When the idea of a trip to South Africa was considered, the Greenhow’s met with Rachel. She organized everything - booked their flights, accommodations and sightseeing expeditions. Rachel coordinated the flights with Harriet and Lloyd from Saskatchewan who were travelling with their daughter Laurel Lamont and her husband Mike, who live in British Columbia.
The trip became a reality in October 2016. Each couple arrived in Cape Town, South Africa on the same day, and, as it turned out only about an hour apart. They journeyed for almost three weeks on the AmaWaterways™ Rivers & Rails of Africa excursion. Laurel and Mike were celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary. This was the perfect opportunity to celebrate, fulfill their desire to go on a river cruise, and see the splendour of South Africa.
The South African jaunt was a blend of activities, adventure and spectacular sights. Harriet loved the beautiful, old hotel at Cape Town, Cape Grace Hotel, located on the waterfront with Table Mountain as the backdrop. “The rooms were absolutely stunning and even had a separate dressing area,” Harriet commented. “Laurel and Mike received a gift of champagne from the hotel staff in celebration of their 25th wedding anniversary.” While in Cape Town, Harriet and Mike went on a tour of Robben Island and visited the penitentiary where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned. Lloyd and Laurel went on a tour of two renowned vineyards.
After a short flight to Kasane, Botswana, the foursome boarded the riverboat, the Zambezi Queen. The riverboat voyage featured amazing views, fine dining and refreshments; and, several safari treks by boat, barge and off-road vehicles. Disembarking from the riverboat, they then took a short bus ride to Victoria Falls where they spent the day exploring the falls. The falls boast the world’s largest sheet of falling water – twice the height of Niagara Falls!
Harriet found the Rovos Rail excursion from Zimbabwe to Johannesburg relaxing. “It was luxurious on the train,” she said. “The staff catered to our every need.” Harriet reminisced about travelling through the towns and seeing how the local people lived.
“Going on the safaris and seeing the wildlife was definitely a highlight of the trip,” explained Harriet, “and another reason we chose to go to South Africa. We saw African penguins, elephants, giraffes, lions, rhinoceroses, monkeys, leopards, Cape buffaloes, and hippos – just to name a few! We had a wonderful time. A family vacation we will never forget.”
Harriet and Lloyd have already chosen their 2017 vacation destination. “I am confident in Rachel’s knowledge and skills,” said Harriet. “We will definitely be booking our next vacation through CAA Travel.”
To book your dream vacation contact a CAA Travel Consultant at 1-800-564-6222 or visit caask.ca/travel.