The Top Ten List from Argentina 2014

1. The Poolside Nightlife at La Faena + Universe

The crowning glory of our stay in Buenos Aires…The big colorfully lit hat of the royals sat spouting water in the deep end, as we hob-knobbed with the likes of Rod Stewart and a Rodney Dangerfield lookalike. Many a fancy cocktail went bottoms up as we laughed the night away.

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2. The Silversmith’s Shop in San Telmo

Visiting this shop was like stepping back to a time when hand-crafted, silver hollowware was beaten out inch by inch. Besides taking in an eyeful, we each got to tap on Pope Francis’ new communion chalice. Special!

Private Journeys with Diane Terry, Argentina, Luxury Adventure Travel

3. La Recoleta Cemetery

Could have stayed for hours in this city of the dead. The cool, creepy and elegant stand side by side in reverence to their masters within. Awesome, tiny examples of Argentinian architecture surround queen Evita in her final resting place.

4. Roping Goats

A wild herd of mountain goats you ask? Not mountain goats, but one stick-goat and a half-human, pan-like creature to be exact. We let most of them get away, but it was fun learning how to handle a leather braided lariat while trying.

ropinggoats

5. Tango!

We tried stepping out with tango lessons at the estancia. Great fun- and with such an encouraging teacher! Made us respect the professionals all the more when we finally got to see them in action in BA! Amateur or pro, it is a complicated, beautiful thing to behold.

Kim steps out and impresses all with her smooth new moves.

6. Singing Around the Campfire

What is a good birthday party celebration without a big sing-off between opposing sides of a roaring campfire? We belted out at least the first verse of each memorable tune before sputtering off and then buoyed up by the carolers across the crackling, colorful flames in yet another round of merriment.

 

7. The World’s Best Masseuse

Irene … Oh how we all wanted to take you home with us! Hands down ….she takes the prize for her amazing technique of working our cowgirl kinks clean. And yes, we are scheduling our 2015 return around her calendar. No lie!!

 

8. Sleeping Under the Stars!

Stars came out in their full glory- piercing the black sheet of the sky like we haven’t seen since we were kids. Even then, it wasn’t the southern hemisphere. These stars were bright enough to keep you awake, just gazing in wonder.

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9. My Horse

Well- all of our horses to be exact. We each formed an intimate bond with these strong, sure-footed creatures. We couldn’t have done it without our trusty caballos and it was bittersweet bidding adieu as the sun set on our great equine adventure.

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10. New Friendships

Always the icing on the cake, or shall we say the dulce de leche on the croissant!, for us at Private Journeys. The richness of these we will all treasure forever — and smile looking back at our many snapshots.

New Friendships

Photography by Silvia Doyle and Diane Terry

Read more.. Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

The Land of a Thousand Hills and more- Africa Alive and Vibrant!

Just back from the “land of a thousand hills” on our most recent girls-only getaway where we found ourselves castaway on a remote Zanzibarian island and trekking gorillas on the vertical slopes of the Virunga mountains in Rwanda. Zanzibar … a place of bustling alleyways and market stalls, a totally cool “floating” restaurant called The Rock and a fascinating history of sultans and slave traders and of course its favorite home town hero Freddie Mercury of rock band Queen fame. But far from the turquoise waters surrounding The Rock, we found our own paradise. In Kigali, Rwanda, we literally dined in “Heaven”, the city’s extremely popular eatery, originally opened as a social enterprise by a young New York couple, now considered one of the country’s top restaurants and then ended our adventure in a place we all agreed was the closest place to heaven on earth, The Virunga Mountain Lodge, our spectacular home-away-from-home and hub for our sensational gorilla trek, some serious R&R and a hike up to Dian Fossey’s gravesite and research station. We trekked high up into the mountains in search of what we came for and found ourselves face-to-face with the giant Silverback gorilla and his tight knit family – sight like no other. An amazing hour shared with them in their natural habitat led to accelerated heart rates and gaping, awestruck mouths by all. Their slightest movements were mesmerizing and the striking similarities to us humans a bit haunting.
Rwanda is booming and has transformed itself in the past two post-genocide decades to be the envy of all African countries for plenty of reasons, our favorites being: the only country with more women than men in parliament, it has the fastest growing economy on the continent, that also bans the use of plastic bags and has a country-wide compulsory day of cleaning on the last Saturday of every month, when all businesses come to a stop and everyone, even the President, partakes in cleaning the community! Amazing. We were blessed to spend a memorable day with the women artisans of Azizi Life in their villages, working alongside them during a typical day in their village. Rather foreign chores to us …. filling water jugs and carrying them back to our mud huts, hoeing the fields to plant a new crop of kasava, milking the cows and carrying huge bundles of freshly sheared grasses on our heads to bring back to livestock for feed. We sat together and wove sisal into bracelets and small baskets and shared the stories of our very different lives and a few that mirrored each other exactly … the love for our children, our commitment to caring for them in every way, up-keeping our home and the joy of seeing our family members happy and healthy. We also heard both devastating personal stories of loved ones lost and inspirational stories of recovery and astonishingly of forgiveness. The Rwandans are resilient and think positively about their future. Our day in rural Muhanga, dressed in our head wraps and colorful ibitenges will last a lifetime in our hearts and taught us much about what’s really important – water, the blessing of a simple lunch shared with old friends and new, hope for the future and of course several new dance moves as well.

Private Journeys in Africa, Women's Adventure Travel, Luxury Travel

Stone Town Zanzibar exploring Africa with Private Journeys

Private Journeys women's adventure in Zanzibar

Luxury Trips with custom cuisine in Zanzibar

Private Journeys Luxury African Island vacation

Private Journeys women's adventures take you to a world unknown

Private Journeys exploring the world with women

Self Portrait in Rwanda- Diane Terry

Rwanda Genocide Museum Private Journeys

Group of Intrepid women travelers Rwanda Africa

Rwanda Gorilla Safari with Private Journeys

Private Journeys reaches out to touch the world of the Gorilla

Read more.. Saturday, November 2nd, 2013

Rich Tourist, Poor Tourist By Tony Perrottet

As the travel season kicks into full swing this Memorial Day weekend, many of us are anticipating the rites of the modern vacation with a quiver of dread — crawling along the Long Island Expressway; stalling in endless security lines; gnawing on pretzels while squeezed into ever-smaller airplane seats. It’s hard not to envy today’s über-rich, whose getaways, on private jets to Caribbean villas, take place far above the sweaty fray of mortal tourists.

But not long ago, on a journey through India, I began to see things a little differently. For two weeks, I had been fairly battered by the daily chaos of budget travel. Then, on my last night in Kolkata, I met up with some particularly affluent friends who had spent their vacation escorted by private staff from one security-gated refuge to the next, and who were staying in a palatial five-star hotel on the outskirts of the city. In their cocoon of opulence, they quizzed me about my comical but vivid excursions, which had left me both exhausted and exhilarated. I began to realize that they suffered their own form of travel envy. The sense of control money provided them had also served to deaden their experience.

The economic gulf between travelers is part of a great tradition. Since the birth of leisure travel, aristocrats have been devising creative ways to isolate themselves from hoi polloi.

It began with the ancient Romans, whose elite set off every summer along the Appian Way, sipping Falernian wine in sumptuous carriages, to fantastical villas by the Bay of Naples. But even the slightly less well-to-do had to tolerate far less regal conditions.

The first-century philosopher Seneca, who took a room at the resort town of Baiae, was kept awake all night by partying neighbors — classical spring breakers. “Why must I look at drunks staggering along the shore or noisy boating parties?” he railed. Another disgruntled hotel guest in Pompeii scribbled his complaint on the wall: “Innkeeper, I urinated in the bed. Yes, I admit it. Want to know why? You forgot the chamber pot.”
Javier Jaén

It’s precisely when Roman travelers ventured out of their comfort zones that their accounts become most compelling. Classical literature contains a litany of complaints about bad food, rock-hard mattresses and pushy guides. The Romans may have had paved roads and plumbing, but meals at highway inns were rumored to include human flesh in the stews, with unlucky travelers discovering knucklebones or worse. Fellow travelers could be oafish: Plutarch hummed to himself to block out the noise of drunken mule drivers. And rapacious locals were everywhere. One Roman traveler in Alexandria griped: “Unus illis deus Nummus est” — “They worship only one god there: cash!”

But the intrepid Roman traveler was able to behold many wonders: festivals and sacred sights, the pyramids of Egypt, the oracle of Delphi, the battlefields of Troy. To quote another piece of ancient graffiti found in a tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings: “Those who have not seen this have seen nothing. Happy those who have!”

The words echo throughout history. When leisure travel was revived in Europe in the 18th century, a well-connected young gent on the Grand Tour could stay in the palaces of royals, dining on roast quail and dancing in all-night masked balls. But the rewards for the impecunious traveler could also be great. The young James Boswell, effectively backpacking across Germany and Switzerland, filled his journal with remarks that would impress any Travelocity reviewer: his inns were “dreary,” “comfortless,” “wretched,” “indifferent,” “grievous” and “sorry.” Supper tended to be “pitiful,” the landlord “a stupid, miserable-looking old man.” But his accounts involve hilarious encounters with eccentric characters and alluring women, and are eagerly read by historians and lovers of literature today.

In the United States, traveling for pleasure largely began after the Civil War, when the burgeoning middle class was able to take rejuvenating summer trips to the Adirondack Mountains in upstate New York, hiking, canoeing and sleeping in rustic tents — and just as often being harassed by insects and soaked by rains.

Despite such democratic origins, America’s rich quickly found their luxury niches, as the Rockefellers, Carnegies and Vanderbilts built their own “Great Camps” in the Adirondacks. Arriving by private trains, the families of robber barons could disport for the entire summer in artistic elegance, surrounded by armies of servants and chefs. (It’s from this seminal period that the word “vacation” entered common usage, replacing the British use of “holiday.”) But to purists, the wealthy were merely playacting at being in the wilderness and recreating their Fifth Avenue drawing rooms in the forests.

THE more popular travel became, the more extreme the lengths the rich would go to set themselves apart. No sooner had the Victorian businessman Thomas Cook created the first package tours to Europe than scions like Lord Randolph Churchill (Winston’s dad) realized they could travel in style to just about anywhere. Churchill set off in 1892 on an exotic African safari, with 200 local porters carrying 20 tons of baggage, which included a dozen crates of Bollinger Champagne and a grand piano. But the deadening effect of all those creature comforts had a price: Lord Randolph’s memoir, “Men, Mines and Animals in South Africa,” is one of the most pompous of the colonial era.

Today the 1 percent are going to even greater lengths. Some use their wealth to positive effect, making charity-driven excursions to remote villages in Madagascar, while others are more self-indulgent, flitting about in light aircraft to shake hands with Amazonian shamans. By early next year, for $200,000 a head, travelers are expected to be able to take a commercial spaceflight on Virgin Galactic, including a whole five minutes of weightlessness.

But perhaps gravity isn’t the only thing missing from these luxury travels. Epictetus, the first-century Stoic philosopher, argued that a certain degree of physical discomfort was an integral part of a rich experience on the road. He used as an example the Olympic Games, where 40,000 travelers crowded into a remote Greek sanctuary, like the Woodstock of antiquity. “Don’t you swelter all day in the sun? Aren’t you jammed in with the crowds?” Epictetus asked. “Don’t the din and the shouting and the petty annoyances drive you mad? But of course you put up with it all because it’s an unforgettable spectacle.”

What we all want from travel is essentially the same, a vivid and memorable experience. So when I’m lined up on the sands of the Jersey Shore this weekend, and I see the first megayacht gliding across the horizon toward St. Barts, I will smile and ask myself: how much fun can that really be?

But I’ll try not to get too self-satisfied. We travelers should all remember that, even with increasingly affordable air travel, tourism is very much a first-world pursuit, and only a small percentage of the world’s population travels for pleasure in any capacity. (Statistics are few, but the United Nations’ World Tourism Organization calculated around the turn of the millennium that only 3.5 percent of people on the planet traveled internationally, a figure that was expected to rise, all going well, to 7 percent by 2020.) So when you think about it, even the chance to spend a few days in a Holiday Inn in Ontario makes you part of a modern aristocracy.

Tony Perrottet is a contributing writer at Smithsonian magazine and the author of “Pagan Holiday: On the Trail of Ancient Roman Tourists” and “The Sinner’s Grand Tour: A Journey Through the Historical Underbelly of Europe.”

Read more.. Tuesday, May 28th, 2013

WE HAVE A NEW INDIA TRIP FOR YOU!

Back from our whirlwind, worldwide, Southern India trip! The color, the sounds and the amazing culture are still vivid in our memories and are now awaiting your experience of another beautiful slice of the 6th largest country (in land mass) in the world. We have been leading groups of intrepid women travelers to India for over seven years, starting in the the north and working our way down to this southern region which holds much magic and intrigue.

Please join us as we unveil this newly minted Indian adventure  from January 16-26th 2014. With this journey only 9 months away the time to sign up is now!

Dressed for the Temple

Vishnu, Ganesha and Lakshimi

The “discovery team”powers on….

Bridge crossing on hike while in Southern India

Read more.. Tuesday, April 23rd, 2013

More from Southern India

India has two million gods, and worships them all. In religion all other countries are paupers; India is the only millionaire.
Following the Equator— Mark Twain

Read more.. Friday, April 19th, 2013

LIFE OF DI

If you’ve seen the Ang Lee film Life of Pi you’ll understand why the opening scenes of the hero’s early life a’re set in Pondicherry. Whether you’re watching in 3D or not, the lush gardens, European mansions and elegant walkways leap out of the screen. Pondi (as it is affectionately known here) is “the Indian Cote d’Azur”, a haven of French style and refinement separated from Boomtown India. When we arrived into this charming seafront town, the boulevards were brimming with people riding bicycles or strolling its treelined sidewalks, as if an elegant French country town had been transported to the Bay of Bengal. Which of course is more or less what had happened. In 1850, the British had secured their grip on India. They allowed the retreating French to remain in Pondi and to this day its French quarter section is as tranquil and shaded as they had been in the 19th century. But for sure the spiritual heart of Pondi is its ashram and it’s distinctive light-grey buildings all around town house its schools, libraries, shops and restaurants. Its main building one of silent contemplation where its two founders were laid to rest. Our short stay has us wanting more and we are already counting the days until we return with our first All-Women’s Unleashed Southern India Private Journey in January of 2014.

French Quarter in Pondicherry

Read more.. Friday, April 12th, 2013

Home Sweet Home in Pondicherry

Read more.. Friday, April 12th, 2013


Traditional dinner in karaikudy, Tamil Nadu

Read more.. Friday, April 12th, 2013

Southern India Day One


Street Shop Southern India

Read more.. Friday, April 12th, 2013

Scouting Southern India April 9, 2013

“So far as I am able to judge, nothing has been left undone, either by man or nature, to make India the most extraordinary country that the sun visits on his rounds. Nothing seems to have been forgotten, nothing overlooked.” —- Mark Twain

Pondicherry here we come. Half way there and another day of travel before we arrive for our first dinner in India to fuel up for a full week of exploring the south from Chennai and Pondi to Northern Kerala and some serious stops in between. With January’s trip looming we are here to put the final touches on our newest Private Journey — and we promise to leave nothing forgotten, nothing overlooked as we blitz her southernmost treasures. Stay tuned.

Read more.. Tuesday, April 9th, 2013