Sunday, September 7, 2014

New faces with The Wayfarers!

The Wayfarers' Betsy West and Deirdre Opp

There are some new smiling faces at The Wayfarers' base in Rhode Island, ready to say 'Hi' to our friends old and new.

Deirdre Opp and Anna Skubiak have joined the Newport team, bringing a huge amount of experience and expertise to make sure your vacations are truly unforgettable.

Deirdre comes to us from WIMCO, based in Rhode Island, where she was Villa Specialist. She has also been director of Development and Events, Newport and New York Yacht Club Sailing Events Manager.

She will be taking over from Nancy Eckert as sales administration manager and is set to be a first point of contact.

Judy Allpress, Anna Skubiak and Wendy Houle

Anna, who will be specialising in business development, sales and marketing, has a wealth of experience in the travel industry.

In a dozen years with Orient-Express Hotels Ltd, latterly as Director of Strategic Partnerships, she has worked with many luxury travel brands and accounts. Previously she worked with Abercrombie & Kent International as marketing manager.

Other members of the team are vacation expert Judy Allpress, sales and admin assistant Marina Graves and Wendy Houle on the Travel Desk.

Marina Graves
The Wayfarers' co-founder Michael West said he was delighted to welcome Anna and Deirdre to the team.

'We know from our guests that the se
rvice they get from our team in Rhode Island is such an important part of their experience with The Wayfarers,' he said.

'I am so pleased that Anna and Deirdre are joining us. Their combined experience means that we will be able to give an even better service and make The Wayfarers' experience even more enjoyable for our guests.'

The team is waiting to hear from you on 1-800-249-4620, or request a booking online at or ask your travel agent to call us.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Unexpectedly solo? Go for it!

Unexpectedly solo - Hillary Willett

Wayfarers Friend Hillary Willett explains how what could have been a travel nightmare turned into a taste of freedom, thanks to the kindness of strangers.

A bit anxious about traveling on your own, but still wanting to pack some adventure into your days just ahead or just after a Wayfarers Walk?

Well, remember some of the reasons we are Wayfarers – to see new sites, to be introduced to new people and cultures, sample new foods and…(fill in your own reasons here!)

I made my first trip to Spain in May and enjoyed the Camino de Santiago Walk immensely.

Having been on several Wayfarers Walks, that wasn’t a surprise. What did astound me, however, was just how much I relished a few days in Madrid on my own ahead of and after the Camino trek.

The two segments of my trip couldn’t have been more different – and each contributed to a fantastic vacation.

First off, I wasn’t even supposed to be in Madrid long enough to know whether or not I would like it. But talk about turning lemons into lemonade: a weather-related flight cancellation delayed my arrival into Madrid, meaning that I had to forgo a planned excursion to Barcelona, where I had a contact. Instead, I was in Madrid, not knowing anyone and unable to speak the language.

Being on one’s own when plans go awry can mean panic – and freedom. Freedom to set your schedule spontaneously.

And just when you need them, trust me, helpful people abound.

I walked in to an athletic store to check out the running clothes and left with a snazzy bright cap, plus a restaurant recommendation for dinner that included an introduction leading to a prompt seating at a comfortable table.

Then, at the train station, while waiting for an English-speaking clerk, a bilingual customer offered to translate for me.

The taxi drivers were helpful too. Language barriers were remedied with slips of paper with the hotel’s name, address and phone listed.

I’d provide them to the driver and would soon be on my way.

Also, where I knew that a flat rate fare applied, that was written on the paper as well.

In all cases, the drivers tried to return my tips, thinking that I had inadvertently overpaid them. How often do you hear of that happening?

Now that I’m home and a visitor asks me for directions or assistance, I try to return the hospitality – mindful of the many strangers who helped me in Madrid.

To find out more about The Wayfarers, visit our website.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Let our three magical new Walks cast their spell!

A Northumbrian castle

An ancient kingdom, unique Italian buildings and a very special ‘road less traveled’ are at the heart of our three brand-new Walks for 2015.

England’s wild, mystic and beautiful Northumbria, the fascinating 
Puglia region of Italy and a centuries-old pilgrimage trail through Tuscany are all very different, but all offer wonderful hiking through quite unforgettable landscapes.

Here’s what our Walk leaders, who designed these unique itineraries, have to say.

For more than 1,000 years, pilgrims have walked the Via Francigena, once the major pilgrimage route from Northern Europe to the Holy See at Rome. We hike the route between the beautiful town of Lucca and magnificent Siena.

 ‘A road less traveled in modern times than the famous Camino de Santiago, this Pilgrim's Way is historically unequalled as it leads to the Eternal city, passing through the heart of Tuscany, much loved and celebrated by many illustrious characters,' says Lesley Downey.

‘The thing is really, the Francigena is the Italian part of the Camino, as it's all part of a network of roads leading to the holiest places.’

The scenery of the Via Francigena
One of two Founders’ Walks in 2015, our new Walk in Puglia is in the heart of Italy’s most beautiful and undiscovered southern region.

Walk leader Paolo Santioli says: ‘This walk in the foothills of Italy cover a very interesting part of my country; starting from the enchanting baroque town of Lecce and the nearby medieval seaside town of Otranto.

‘The famous characteristic area of Alberobello and Locorotondo with its countryside and the unique trulli buildings, only visible in this part of Italy, are one of the highlights of the week. 

‘The nearby area of Matera is unforgettable where people lived in grottoes, or cave dwellings from prehistoric times.

‘Walking through ancient olive trees, orchards, Mediterranean shrubs and seaside small cliffs is a very varied and unforgettable experience for all the senses.  It’s an area that must be seen!’

A Puglian street
Alan Pinkney who designed and who will lead the second Founders’ Walk in Northumbria, in the north-eastern corner of England, has known the area since childhood.

‘I am delighted that the Wayfarers will have this unique opportunity to explore one of England's most beautiful coastlines,’ he says.

‘From my first childhood visits, the Ancient Kingdom of Northumbria has always been a magical and mystical landscape of castles, abbeys and Viking raids, each with its own story to tell. 

‘This stretch of coastline never fails to fire my imagination. It is a corner of England with a strong sense of culture and identity from the seafaring heritage of the coast to the remote and rugged landscape of the hills and moors. Join me on the trail and experience Britain's best kept secret…'

To find out more about our new Walks for 2015 go to our website, or download our Spring Preview 2015 brochure.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Alsace - A visit to a poignant memorial of WW1's bloody battles

Flower bedecked towns and villages, peaceful vineyards and mountain scenery are part of what makes Alsace such a lovely region of France.

And its unique mix of French and German culture provides delicious cuisine and unusual regional specialties.

But this year, as we mark 100 years since the beginning of the First World War, this beautiful area still shows its battle scars.

Perched right on the border of France and Germany, in 1914 the region was occupied by Germany.

It was always going to be a flashpoint as over centuries Alsace was passed back and forth between the two countries.

But the struggle for Le Linge, a ridge along the Vosges Mountains turned out to be one of the bloodiest battles of the Great War.

Gas and flame-throwers were used and some 17,000 soldiers on both sides lost their lives in some of the closest and most intense trench warfare of the conflict.

Barbed wire still curls across the high, rocky site and trenches cut through the land.

But it is the stark black and white crosses dotted across the landscape with its magnificent view, that tell their own story.

A visit to the museum, its displays strewn with the evidence of soldiers’ lives, puts this extraordinary place into context – how men lived and died here in the midst of brutal warfare.

Le Linge is just one element of our fascinating Walk in the Alsace which takes in the elegant city of Strasbourg and RibeauvillĂ©, one of the most beautiful villages in France. 

Join us there this fall and find more information on our new website.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Spring sneak preview - our new 2015 early season brochure now online!

It’s guaranteed to put a spring in your step! Our new Spring Preview brochure is now available.

Featuring three completely new Walks and all our favorites, our online brochure offers an early opportunity to browse our 2015 schedule.

The new Walks are in the UK’s wild and lovely Northumbria, Italy’s stunning Puglia region and ‘A Pilgrim’s Journey’ on the ancient Via Francigena in Tuscany.

Other fully all-inclusive Walks, escorted as ever by The Wayfarers’ renowned friendly and knowledgeable Walk Leaders and Managers, range from Argentinian Patagonia to New Zealand, USA, the British Isles and across Europe.

This first Spring Preview has been prompted by Wayfarers who tell us they want to be able to plan next year’s spring and early summer vacations now.

And it’s a glorious season to be hiking – flowers and trees coming in to bloom and blossom; with fresher days and cooler nights before summer’s baking heat.

From the sublime English countryside in early summer, with the scent of roses and crisp green colors, to sparkling Norwegian fjords or even lush rainforests ‘down under’ in New Zealand there’s sure to be a Walk to suit everyone’s taste.

The new Walks are certain to be sure-fire hits and from Utah to Sicily and Cornwall, all our best-loved trips are there again.

They include our popular back-to-back walks in Europe too, where two itineraries meet in the middle for a double Wayfarers experience!

See our Spring Preview brochure here and take the opportunity to arrange a truly memorable spring vacation.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Block Island - the perfect spot for a Wayfarers' day out!

Anywhere that's on the list of 'The Last Great Places' has to be a magnet for The Wayfarers.

So no surprises that beautiful Block Island, just across the Sound from Newport, Rhode Island, was the destination for a special Wayfarers reunion and taster day.

The team from our Rhode Island base joined old friends and new for a day that started with a tour of the Seaman's Church Institute in Newport.

Then it was on the ferry to the island, which is protected by The Nature Conservancy. Almost half is a nature preserve, sheltering endangered fauna and flora.

The morning saw a hike accompanied by birdsong to Rodman's Hollow on the south of the island through fields and woods.

At lunch at the Spring House Hotel a volunteer from the Nature Conservancy gave a talk about the ongoing work to preserve the habitat and beauty of Block Island for future generations.

In the afternoon the trail led to the Clay Head Preserve, a haven for bird life.

It ended on the glorious beach - with the chance to remove the hiking boots and cool off!

The Wayfarers made donations to the Seaman's Church Institute and Block Island Nature Conservancy. 

To keep up to date with The Wayfarers' news, like The Wayfarers Walking Vacations on Facebook, follow us on Twitter @wayfarers or @wayfarerswalks on Instagram or of course, check out the website

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Austria and Bavaria - a mountain range apart and so very different

The old kingdom of Bavaria touches its neighbor Austria in the beautiful Bavarian Alps.

They share a landscape, but travel slowly through the alpine meadows or visit the towns and cities and the character of each land shines through.

Bavaria, before it joined the German empire, used to be a territory of kings and castles.

The kings are no more, but the castles, often fairytale, always lovely to look at are still there including the string of fantasy palaces built for the 'Dream King' Ludwig II.

Think of Bavaria and think of festivals in honor of local beers, lederhosen and dirndls and wurst for dinner.

Stereotypes they may be, but Bavarians are justly proud of their heritage and traditions and aren't afraid to show them off.

The Austrian Tyrol, like Bavaria a federal state, holds true to its culture.

Medieval KitzbĂĽhel, released from its winter blanket of snow and throngs of skiers, rejoices in tradition.

After a day absorbing the spectacular lake and mountain scenery of the Schwarzsee, there's no better place to spend an evening being entertained in typical Tyrolean fashion.

Innsbruck maintains its role as state capital with a charming old town quarter dwarfed by the majestic mountain backdrop.

And of course, if it's mountains and it's Austria, it's also The Sound of Music, so staying in the former hunting lodge of the Von Trapp family is a must-do!

Our next Walk in Austria departs on 14 September and we set off in Bavaria on 21 September. Why not join us in one of these wonderful countries?