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Top Moments of Discovery on VBT’s Most Popular Tours

One of the things we pride ourselves on here at VBT is incorporating cultural moments of discovery into our tours. The price of a VBT vacation includes airfare, use of VBT bikes, many meals, all accommodations and 2 local Trip Leaders to guide the way; but it also includes fun, authentic  and enriching interactions with locals via home-hosted meals, guided tours, history lessons, and wine and olive oil tastings. To get an idea of some of these unique activities, we’ve compiled a list of top cultural highlights on some of VBT’s most popular tours.

A guided tour of Cesky Krumlov, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Offered on our Czech Republic, Germany & Austria ​biking vacation
Cresky Krumlov Tour
During our 2 night stay in this medieval town on the banks of the Vltava River we’ll get to delve a little deeper than most visitors when we take a guided walking tour of the city’s historic center and learn about local life from our own private guide, Standa.

What our travelers say: “Our private tour of the castle at Cesky Krumlov was one of many highlights for me on this trip. Seeing the theatre from the 1700′s and the many painted stage sets, the wooden benches, and imagining the whole place lit with candles in that era, made quite an impression.” – VBT traveler from Virginia

Olive oil tasting and tour at a family-owned mill
Offered on our Tuscan Coast biking vacation
Tuscany Olive Oil tasting
During our visit of the family-owned and operated Fonte di Foiano olive oil mill, we’ll meet the Di Gaetano family for a private tour of the press and workshop. During our tasting, Michael Di Gaetano will explain the differences among regions and how varied the flavors can be. Afterward, enjoy an included lunch—prepared by Michael himself, using organic and fragrant vegetables—on the farm grounds.

What our travelers say: “We had lunch at a wonderful olive farm. The owner and his two sons gave us a 15 minute history of his farm and how they had resurrected it from previous owners 40 years ago and made it into an internationally known prize winning olive oil producer.”  – VBT traveler from Virginia

Learn about the unique construction of a trulli house
Offered on our Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast biking vacation
During a stop in Alberobello we’ll visit with a local expert to learn about trulli houses and why they have been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A trullo is a unique type of building, characteristic of this region, consisting of a whitewashed, round house topped by a large cone of local stones—all assembled without mortar. Many trulli are still used and inhabited today, and some of their roofs show mysterious chalk marks, either to protect from evil or to bless the house.

What our travelers say: “We were drawn to Puglia because of the charming, quirky conical dry-stone Trulli houses found in this region. I delighted in every one of these amazing structures I saw and my curiosity was satisfied by our opportunity to see the inside of a Trulli and how the architecture perfectly suited the environment.” – VBT traveler from Vermont

Learn the ancient art of Stonecutting
Offered on our Croatia: The Dalmatian Islands ​biking vacation
Stonecutters School in Croatia
During our stay in the port town of Pucisca we’ll visit the stonecutters’ school here. Brac’s world-renowned stone has been used in the construction of some the world’s most famous buildings, including Diocletian’s Palace in Split and the White House in Washington, D.C. This is a unique opportunity to see students’ work and learn about a near-forgotten craft at one of the world’s few remaining stonecutting schools.

What our travelers say: “Pucisca is one of the most picturesque villages we have ever seen in years of travel. Pucisca, home of the White House’s limestone facade, houses a stonecutters’ school where master artisans are trained both academically and in their unique art.” –  VBT Traveler from Indiana

Explore Andalusia’s Christian and Arabic history
Offered on Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky​ biking vacation
We’ll embrace the region’s diverse heritage through visits to Christian cathedrals that once stood as Moorish mosques. Explore the Mezquita of Cordoba and enjoy its magnificent gardens and stunning architecture on a guided tour. In Granada, we’ll meet our local guide who will take us to the Alhambra Palace for an included visit of the Palace and Generalife Gardens, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

What our travelers say: “Tours of each city were an exercise in culture, religious history and architecture in a region with perhaps more of each than any other. What a sensory delight in every way! A tour of Alhambra, among the many other unique palaces and houses of worship of historical significance in Andalusia, was simply the icing on a wonderful cake!” – VBT traveler from Illinois

To request a full catalog with all of our vacations please click here. If you would like to reserve a vacation or speak with one of our Tour Consultants, please call 800-245-3868, available Monday-Friday from 8:30am to 6:30pm EST or on Saturdays from 10:00am to 3:00pm EST.

Meet Jane: VBT’s Traveler of the Month for February 2014

After seeing how much fun they seem to have from the pictures they’ve kindly shared with us, we’ve wanted to hear Celebrating Jane's 70thmore about a group of women known as “WE GO NOW” that have taken many VBT Group tours together over the years. When we asked Laura, VBT’s Group Tour Manager, who to contact from the group she immediately suggested Jane D (2nd in from the right in this picture), who is preparing for her 10th VBT vacation and is also one of the group’s organizers. We had a chance to sit down with Jane and ask her some questions about why she loves active travel and how she came to choose VBT as the perfect vehicle in which to see the world with WE GO NOW.

How long have you been a fan of active travel and when did you hear about VBT?
Before discovering VBT, I went on biking trips to Provence, Lake Constance, Italy, the Danube and the Elbe River (Berlin to Prague) with two other companies. In 2005, with my husband and another couple, I went on the VBT Banff biking trip that was offered back then and fell in love with EVERYTHING VBT!
We Go Now field

You organize a group of women who travel together called “WE GO NOW” and have taken many group vacations with VBT in the past. Could you describe the inception of this group? Do the same members travel every time?
The aforementioned Banff tour left me wanting more so when our Trip Leaders recommended the VBT New Zealand vacation, we thought it would be the perfect place to travel with a private group of women…and thus, WE GO NOW was born! Since then, WE GO NOW has done one VBT trip a year and to date, we’ve been to New Zealand, Vietnam, Croatia, Heart of Europe Bike and Barge, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Italy Po Valley and Poland. This September, WE GO NOW is getting ready for our second Bike and Barge trip: Heart of France.

My dear friend Linda and I work together to plan our WE GO NOW trips and events. We have many return travelers on our private group trips and for our upcoming September trip; we have only one “Newbie.” A month before our trips, Linda and I do a dinner party with appropriate national cuisine. The group shares tips, albums, memories from previous trips and we give each of them trip favors which have included visors, backpacks and purses emblazoned with the WE GO NOW logo.

What is it about VBT’s Group Travel Program that keeps you coming back year after year?
For me, biking is only a small part of a VBT trip. The incredible native VBT Trip Leaders, wonderful customer service, hotels that are offered, meals, special events, bikes and routes all join together to produce memorable experiences. The women who choose to do our trips are pretty darn awesome…we say, wining is allowed; but whining is not allowed. We call it the WE GO NOW spirit and believe it shows in how helpful and encouraging the women are with each other. Being good Americans is important to WE GO NOW. Our trips are never competitions and for us it’s not about mileage or speed…it’s about Vacation, Education and with just a little Libation.
We Go Now group pic

For our group, we often pre-book independent adventures for our pre- or post-trips with suggestions from Laura Thompson Breen, VBT’s Group Manager, who is like “family” to me! In Krakow, we enjoyed a private group dinner and Chopin concert and visited Auschwitz-Birkenau. In Croatia, we did private day tours of Bosnia and Montenegro. I recently booked a private group day trip to Normandy’s WWII Landing Beaches for our upcoming pre-trip. VBT’s office staff is always so helpful and cheerful. I also enjoy the amazing VBT Trip Leaders who really are the spark and the glue of our trips. We often wonder how and where VBT finds these incredible Leaders! They all have been encouraging, upbeat, safety conscious, patient, knowledgeable and always have a superb sense of humor!

You’ve been to Poland, Croatia, Italy, The Czech Republic and more with VBT over the years, what is your favorite destination that you’ve been to with us so far?
Favorite? It’s a dilemma to choose one. Aspects of all of my VBT vacations stand out: the Vietnamese children calling “I love you” out to us, biking around Slovenia’s gorgeous Lake Bled and around Italy’s Lake Garda, home visits and meals, the views seen from Croatia’s islands and biking along the Danube which is the best biking trail I’ve ever Brage cropexperienced. The pre- and post-trip cities have been lovely: Bellagio, Cinque Terre, Ljubljana, Vienna, Prague, Saigon, and Krakow. I must admit that New Zealand was total paradise and is my favorite VBT trip but, who knows, maybe the Heart of France will be my new favorite!

Speaking of your upcoming Heart of France Bike and Barge vacation, what are you looking forward to most about traveling again by barge?
Traveling by barge is a complete joy – unpacking once and tucking the suitcase under the bed brings a smile to my face. Having our private barge, private staff, private dining room—what’s not to love? Our Heart of France itinerary will have us barging on the Seine into Paris, what’s not to love about this? As our invitation stated:  BIKE * BARGE * BLISS.

What is it about active travel that appeals to you most?
VBT trips lift my spirits and fill my soul. Much of travel is “drive by” travel from behind a bus or car windshield. VBT bike trips are what I like to call “immersion” travel. I enjoy all the senses you pick up on from the seat of one’s bike like inhaling the lavender, hearing sheep, seeing for miles from the top of a hill, visiting with locals, learning history and culture from the VBT Trip Leaders—what a privilege it all is!  Women sometimes cry at the end of our trips when we say goodbye to our bikes and Trip Leaders, but they are tears of joy, amazement and the wonderful sense of accomplishment!

To learn more about VBT’s Group Travel Program please click here. If you’d like to see some more pictures from WE GO NOW tours over the years check out their Czech tour Gallery and Po River Valley Gallery.

We go now group heart of europe2

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