A Little Gratitude as the Holiday Season Begins

Okay, I’ll admit it. I’ll cop to the fact that sometimes I surf the net and waste time I don’t necessarily have. There. I said it out loud. But… every once in a (long) while, I do manage to find a gem.

The other day, while wading through various advertisements for various things that I apparently “must have” for the holidays, and different sites designed to bleed me of my money, I stumbled across a terrific article by Dolores Hirschmann.

Hirschmann, a mastermind coach and a TEDxOrganizer, begins by quoting Howard Jacobson’s article in FAST Company, “Gratitude as a Business Strategy.” Jacobson, a celebrated columnist, poses the following question: “Do you think it’s possible that communicating an attitude of gratitude in your business could actually make you more money?”

Hirschmann responds with her own article called “3 Reasons Why Gratitude is Good for Business” in which she explains why she believes that to be true. Among other things, recognizing someone’s work or a client’s loyalty, she says, promotes a company’s growth and success.

Thank You (1)As the holidays begin, I believe that a little more gratitude and saying thank you a little more often can only make our every days sweeter – and more successful.

I hope you enjoy the article(s) as much as I did and I wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

Odyssey Tours and Travel

Travel Insurance: To Buy or not to Buy?

Deciding to purchase travel insurance is not as easy as it may seem.  When you input “travel insurance” into the Google search bar, you get about 189,000,000 results.  Well, that doesn’t really narrow anything down; certainly not at first glance. So let’s break it down.

You’ve planned a trip and you’re really excited, but then you start thinking: What happens if my luggage doesn’t make it? Will my medical insurance cover me while I’m away, especially if I’m traveling overseas? What if something happens and I need to cancel my trip or if I get there and have to come home early?

All valid questions.  Personally, I agree with Ed Perkins of SmarterTravel.com who says that another important question to ask yourself is, “Have I invested more money in my trip than I’m willing to lose?”

So what does travel insurance really do for you? Pretty simply put, it provides you with:

  1. Travel protection or trip cancellation;
  2. Baggage protection; 
  3. Medical coverage while traveling;
  4. Emergency medical evaluation;
  5. Accidental death.

Having been unable to fly once myself because of a newly broken ankle; having been unable to reschedule my flight because an impending snowstorm was about to shut down the entire East Coast; having had a family member get sick overseas – all these things together have convinced me to always purchase travel insurance whenever I fly.  To quote Benedict Walker of LonelyPlanet.com, “Travel insurance exists to protect a traveler’s investment in their journey and ensure they don’t lose out, and get medical help if things go wrong.”

I like knowing that if I have a real medical emergency or even if I get the flu, I don’t have to spend a minute worrying about coverage.  I can get help as soon as I need it and then submit the claim to the insurance company when I get home. (Though I have found it’s always a good idea to call the insurance provider to fully understand their protocol and procedures. “When traveling, keep the emergency number close as well as a copy of your Certificate of Insurance, just in case,” advises Walker.)

I like knowing that I’m covered if my luggage arrives three days after I do.  I’m happy knowing I can go out and buy clothes and toiletries (paid for by the insurance) and not be stuck dirty and smelly for three days, waiting for my suitcase to arrive.

I like knowing I have options if my flight is delayed or cancelled because of a snowstorm or a hurricane or a volcanic eruption. (Trust me, it’s happened!)

I believe that above all, travel insurance gives you peace of mind. After I’ve spent so much time planning my trip, tweaking the schedule, making arrangements, being excited, looking forward . . .  I’ve discovered that I really want that peace of mind.  


Kotel Western Wall Temple Mount Night

Western Wall, Jerusalem, Israel

Israel is such a unique country in the world.

Historically it is the birthplace of monotheism and therefore a locale of immense significance to not only Jews, but also Christians and Muslims. The old City of Jerusalem contains numerous points of interest, the most important of which is the Temple Mount, which figures in all religions. Initially established as the site of both Solomon’s Temple and the Second Temple upon the return from Babylonian exile, it is also where Jesus overturned the money changing tables and believed by many to be the place from which Mohamed tied his horse and ascended to Heaven.

Other significant points of interest from history include the ancient port of Ceasaria and the desert fortress of Masada, both built by Herod the Great. Visiting Masada also gives you an opportunity to float in the Dead Sea, the lowest point below Sea Level on the Earth’s surface.

Find out more about the special qualities of the mud!

Heading north will bring us to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, or Kineret as it is known in Hebrew, and the origin of the Jordan River. Nearby is Safed, a city once known for being the center of Kabbalism in the 15th and 16th centuries. As many people continue to find the beautiful surroundings inspiring, Safed nowadays houses a large and well-known artists’ colony, which produces a wide variety of artwork and beautiful Judaica.

Modern day highlights include Independence Hall, Yad Vashem and the Palmach museum, which together will offer insight into 20th century Jewry and issues that helped define the modern-day State of Israel.

Another new development in Israel is the growth of the country as the Start-Up Nation, with Tel Aviv the global startup leader outside the US.

Through the tour, you will become familiar with Israel’s geography, its position in the Middle East and both the ancient and modern history of the country and the Jewish people.

Talk to us about your objectives and together we’ll craft a trip that is sure to leave you inspired…and ready to return to Israel again soon!

Eastern Europe

Castle Prague Czech Republic Eastern Europe

Prague, Czech Republic

Prague is the political, cultural and economic center of Eastern Europe.  Although it was left nearly unscathed by the Germans in World War II – in fact, Hitler planned to maintain it as a city-museum – the city suffered its worst ever flooding in mid-2002.

Thankfully, many of the city’s treasures and classic architecture was carefully restored.  And since whether the form is religious, political or even simply functional in nature, the architecture is outstanding, that is a very good thing. Cross the famed St Charles bridge, lined with statues, visit the castle and see the enormous church towers with its over 600-year old astronomical clock.

The Jewish quarter is brimming with history, from the synagogue of Rabbi Judah Loew ben Bezalel, known as the Maharal and his <a href=”http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Golem”>Golem,</a>, or clay man, to the beautiful Moorish-styled Spanish synagogue.

Unsurprisingly for a city that take enormous prides in its quality beers, Prague enjoys a popular nightlife, filled as it is with many alleys and side streets.  Whether you like dancing and discos or jazz bars and piano lounges, Prague has it all.

Budapest is the largest and capital city in Hungary. Technically, the city is comprised of two areas on opposite sides of the Danube River, with Buda on the west bank and Pest on the east. Some say that as a seat of power it peaked prior to World War I, as the capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Budapest is a constant presence on top ten lists of the most beautiful European cities, and its cuisine is well-known as well.  While its name leaves much to be desired, goulash is an incredibly tasty stew and foods typically revolve around meat with seasonal fruits and vegetables, fresh breads and cheeses.

Contact us now to arrange your trip!


Rome Vatican Italy

Rome, Vatican City & Italy


Italy – the passion, the food, the history, the music, the art…is there something the country doesn’t have?

Rome, the capital of the Holy Roman Empire and of the modern-day state – is a wondrous blend of old world and new.  The streets are filled with cars and Vespas as people rush off to work, but turn a corner and you’re at the Colloseum, or the ruins of the Senate or approaching Vatican City.

We could talk for hours about the amazing artwork in Florence from Michelangelo’s David to Ghiberti’s Baptistery doors, or from the architecture of Brunelleschi’s Dome to the Tempo Maggiore, or Great synagogue of Florence.  That would, however, prevent us from talking about the beautiful area in surrounding Tuscany, including its well-known wine country.

High tide in Venice

High tide in Venice

The northeast corner features Venice, the sinking city famous for its canals and over 400 bridges.  Depending on the time of year, you may see the streets overflow with water at high tide, leading many to wear boots or walk on platforms above the sidewalk.  Venice was infamous for its Carnivals and colorful and beautiful masks are still sold by street vendors.  The nearby island of Murano features some of the world’s most exquisite hand blown glass.


Pompeii Ampitheatre

Entertainment in the ancient world

If you instead head south, you arrive in Napoli, or Naples if you prefer, the birthplace of pizza.  Some food critics claim that it is still home to the best pizza parlors on earth, with the freshest cheeses and toppings.  A short train ride away is Pompeii, which was destroyed nearly instantly when Mount Vesuvius erupted suddenly and terribly around 80 AD.  While tragic, the ash and pumice preserved that which it destroyed, and recent excavations allow us to enter and walk about and ancient city.

Contact us now to arrange your trip!


Sahara Desert Morocco Camel Caravan

Sahara Caravan, Morocco


The Kingdom of Morocco!  The names Casablanca, Fez, Marrakech, Tangier and Rabat evoke memories in our senses even if before we arrive.  In same ways it’s true – we know Morocco through its unique literature, music, clothing and cuisine.

Geographically the western-most of the northern African countries, Morocco is a constitutional monarchy.  Although the population is nearly all Muslim, Morocco is well-known as both highly tolerant and protective of its minorities.

For hundreds of year Morocco was a key port city into and out of Africa; its culture is therefore highly diverse, having been influenced by travelers coming from the North, South and East.

Morocco is set on the edge of the Sahara desert, and the sites throughout the country are simply breathtaking.  From famous settings seen in numerous movies, to traveling by camel caravan into the sand dunes, this country will capture your heart.

Contact us now to arrange your trip!