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Traveler profile: A Family’s First Vacation with VBT

Sail Boat

A few weeks ago our President, Gregg Marston, received a wonderful voicemail from Dr. Warren G, who had recently returned from our Tuscany by the Sea vacation, about the amazing time he had on his first trip to Italy. We had a chance to catch up with Warren to hear more about his first VBT experience and his first trip to Europe since he spent a week in Paris in the 1980’s.

hay fields

Warren first learned of VBT while on a vacation to Acadia National Park where he noticed a tour of VBTers cruising Coast Housearound the famed Maine island park and thought to himself “what a great way to see the sights and fully experience the surroundings”.  So he looked up VBT, did some research on our pricing and all the places he could travel with us, and booked his first vacation.  With Warren’s eldest son preparing for his freshman year of college, the summer of 2013 presented itself to be a perfect time for the whole family to join in a new adventure together. So with his wife, three boys and 69 year old mother-in-law in tow, the family set out for the coast of Tuscany.

Family

Warren told us that the food and sights of the region were so amazing that “3 days into the trip I was like ‘alright, where are we going next year’? It was just so great.”  But what really made the trip so memorable for Warren and his family was Bike Route FlowersVBT Trip Leaders Marcello and Angelo, “those two guys in particular were just fantastic. We were with another couple who had been on many VBT trips and they said they had never had guides as good as those two guys.” He added, “Every morning they would teach us local expressions and some of Italy’s most used hand gestures which made interacting with the locals so much easier.”  Warren even mentioned that after every lunch break and pit stop, when the family returned to their bicycles, “all the water bottles on the bikes were refilled with fresh water and even included fresh lemon slices in the bottles.”  He went on to mentionSunflower Field with son that it was the “little things” that VBT does that he was so impressed by, such as detailed trip planning and all the small transfers that he didn’t really think about logistically before going on the trip.

After returning home to New Hampshire, and while browsing the 700+ photos he took, Sunny MeadowWarren says he’s already begun thinking about his next vacation with VBT.  At the moment he is leaning towards The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria bicycling vacation but is also contemplating a return to Italy because of the amazing experience the family had there, a sentiment echoed by Warren’s initial message to Gregg – “Thank you VBT for making my first trip to Italy so unbelievable…you have a superior product, I just loved it.”

Biking Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands – VBT Associate Recounts a Wonderful Day on the Island of Hvar

VBT Group Tour Manager Laura T. recently returned home from her bicycling trip to Croatia. She was kind enough to share a great story with us about a Croatian fisherman named Tomo, a friend of VBT’s for years, whom she met on the last day of the trip.

Croatian Fishing Village

This was my first visit to Croatia, and I felt like I belonged—everyone was extremely warm and friendly. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed and made to feel at home. While biking through the countryside we encountered farmers who would wave us over to tell us about their farms, what they raised, and how proud they were of their homes. That was my overwhelming impression of Croatia—the friendly atmosphere.

I have been the Group Tour Manager at VBT for three years, and I really enjoy helping people who have chosen to travel with groups of family members and friends. It’s a fun way to travel. The shared encounters really help the group members bond in a special way. I was experiencing our Croatia: The Dalmatian Islands bicycling vacation as someone who works at VBT. We are sent out periodically to get a better understanding of trip operations, but mainly to get feedback from our travelers so we can make adjustments and improvements. We take feedback very seriously at VBT.

Laura and her dad
I was traveling with my Dad—this was his first trip to Europe—so it was a very special time for me. He loved Croatian maritime culture, the incredibly fresh seafood and local wines, and the Croatian people. We all did. All of the hotels we stayed at were on the water, and we got a real understanding of the people’s relationship with the sea.

On the last full day of our Croatian discoveries, in the beautiful little village of Jelsa on the island of Hvar, our Trip Leaders Vanja and Matej had a wonderful surprise for our group. We went to visit a man named Tomo, a repairer of fishing nets, who has been welcoming VBT travelers into his workshop and home for many years. He doesn’t speak English, so Vanja and Matej translated for us as our group gave Tomo the gift of a VBT bicycle, all tuned up and ready to go. We had all noticed the extra bike with the support van but we had no idea this was going to happen. It was a wonderful surprise!

VBT gives Tomo his bike

Tomo was really touched and he even teared up. He was so grateful! It really was a highlight of the trip for me. I think it just reflects so well on VBT and what our mission for travel is—to make global relationships possible and to provide moments that enrich our lives.

Watching Tomo work was extraordinary, as he repaired the local fishermen’s nets with nothing but twine, a shuttle, and his skilled hands. To know that we made a difference in his life with the gift of a new bike made all us feel wonderful, and I’m so happy that I could be a part of it.

Tomo shows travelers his fishing nets

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