Jan T.

Alison Barnes was AMAZING to work with!!! We told her what we wanted in a vacation and she went above and BEYOND our expectations! Alison made everything work out seamlessly and answered all of our questions. She scheduled all our flights, excursions, hotel stays, and transfers to and from the airport. She took all the stress out of traveling out of the country. We would love to have her plan our next vacation! Thank you!

Jan T.

Pat C.

What a wonderful and exciting experience we had yesterday at Endless Travel with Alison! We booked our cruise for our family, and she was prepared with every detail we could have thought of, so meticulous. Alison made it extremely easy and fun, we couldn’t have asked for more. Can’t wait to finish the plans and set sail! Thank you Alison and Endless Travel, you have our business always!!!

Pat C.

Exploring Scotland, Something for Everyone!

At the northernmost tip of the British Isles lies Scotland. Home of golf, Scotch Whisky and Haggis, Scotland has a little something for everyone.  Whether you are looking to spend a night sleeping in a castle, go hiking across the lush, green countryside, or speed across the lowlands on a scenic train trip, Scotland will not disappoint.

Foodies tend to find that Scottish cuisine, which shares much of its background with typical English fare, is more varied and flavorful than the traditional foods of its southern cousin. With a wide array of seafood, dairy, game and breads, special delights such as Marmalade pudding, Dunlop cheese, Scotch pie and Rumbledethumps are always a treat. Accompanying beverages run the gamut from Scotch Whisky (no e in Whisky for them) to Ginger Wine along with Scotland’s other national drink, Irn-Bru, a non-alcoholic carbonated soda that stands up to competition with more ubiquitous global brands.

Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh, is home to the country’s most famous fortress, Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Botanic Gardens, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which “opens the doors, streets and alleyways of an entire city to an explosion of creative energy from around the globe” every August. Started in 1947, the Fringe was created to celebrate and strengthen Europe’s rich cultural life post-WWII. Anglophiles will also find visits to Holyrood Palace, St. Giles’ Cathedral and the dormant volcano known as Arthur’s Seat quite fascinating.

For those seeking more high adventure, summers off Scotland’s Oban coast afford the opportunity to go snorkeling with the world’s second largest fish, the basking shark. Perthshire, Aviemore and Fort William’s narrow gorges and fast-flowing rivers are perfect for visitors who want to experience canyoning — sliding down naturally formed water flumes, cliff jumping, rappelling down rocky cliffs and climbing under thundering waterfalls. And for those seeking a little competition, there’s always land yachting, where you can race your friends across a beach in sail-powered three-wheeled scooters.

Fantasy and fiction lovers will find their heyday in both the lowlands and highlands as they explore Inverness’ Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle in search of Nessie, ride the Jacobite steam train across the Glenfinnan Viaduct featured in the Harry Potter movies, or storm the Castle of Guy de Lombard just as Arthur and his knights did in Monty Python and the Holy Grail. Bonnybridge, in Falkirk, has become the UFO capital of the world with more than 300 sightings every year. Not to be outshone by the mainland, the more than 790 Scottish Isles have their fair share of legendary locations as well. The Isle of Skye’s Quiraing and the Old Man of Storr make up the landscape of MacBeth. And the Isle of Lewis’s Calanais Standing Stones inspired a similar setting in Brave. Also, how can you truly go wrong in a country whose national animal is a unicorn?

Recommended Reading:

The Girl Who Came Home by Hazel Gaynor

Inspired by true events, the New York Times bestselling novel The Girl Who Came Home is a touching story of a group of Irish emigrants who sailed aboard the RMS Titanic. Blending fact and fiction seamlessly, the book explores the impact and lasting repercussions of the Titanic tragedy on its survivors and their descendants.

Blog written by Mindy Hanson, AlphaPixel Reach for Endless Travel.

Southern Sweden – Islands, Cuisine and Outdoor Adventures Await!

The Kingdom of Sweden is the fourth largest country in Europe in terms of land area. And while it ranks high in size, it also sits pretty far up the list in terms of adventure.

With 29 national parks and a myriad of smaller parks and gardens under the watchful eye of the Swedish Society of Public Parks & Gardens, outdoor excursions are always close at hand.  Featuring playgrounds, zoos, cafes, and other attractions, locations such as Fredriksdal Museum and Gardens, Drottningholm Palace Park, and Millesgården host thousands of visitors each year in search of choice photography locations, art, flowers, and history.

When the sun is out, so are the Swedes, patronizing any of a multitude of open air cafes, restaurants and bars. At summers high point, the sun can rise as early as 3:30 AM and set after 10:00 PM, which leaves a lot of daylight hours for socializing, sipping coffee, and eating.

While many people know much of the local cuisine such as Swedish Meatballs with mashed potatoes, potato pancakes and lingonberries from encounters with furniture giant, Ikea, not as many people realize that the smörgåsbord is a Swedish tradition. Culinary delights such as gravlax (cured salmon), Ärtsoppa (yellow pea soup), Flygande Jacob (chicken and banana casserole with peanuts and bacon), and Blåbärspalt (dumplings with blueberries) abound, and those seeking something more thrilling can sample Blodpudding (blood pudding) with lingonberry jam, Surströmming (fermented Baltic herring) and Smörgåstårta, a multi-layered sandwich often filled with shrimp, ham, mayonnaise and preserved fruit.

For those who want to explore the areas outside of the metropolitan centers, trains and ferries are both an economical and scenic way to travel, with many spectacular destinations just a short jaunt away from Stockholm. Day trips to locations such as Drottningholm Palace (The Queen’s Castle), Sigtuna (Sweden’s first town, founded in 980 CE), the Fortress of Vaxholm, and Lake Mälaren and Gripsholm Castle will immerse you in the historic and daily life of the Swedish people.

For the naturalists, ferries travel regularly to many of the 221,831 Swedish islands such as Donso in the North Sea. With around 1500 inhabitants, Donso is ripe with friendly people, local swimming holes, fresh seafood and beautiful walking trails.

And what visit to Sweden would be complete without a visit to Junibacken, an indoor amusement park built around Astrid Lindgren’s stories of Pippi Longstocking. With a visit to Pippi’s house, and a trip on the Storybook Train taking you on a journey through her adventures, adults and children alike can joyfully immerse themselves in the life of Sweden’s most famous literary creation.

Post written and photos provided by Mindy Hanson, AlphaPixel Reach.