Thursday, February 14, 2019

Mind-Blowing Trips of a Lifetime

Our list of the world’s most amazing places includes awe-inspiring natural wonders and not-to-be missed travel experiences. Pack your bags for these mind-blowing escapes .




Blue Lagoon, Iceland

The saltwater in Iceland's Blue Lagoon, the world's largest geothermal pool, gets completely renewed every 40 hours and always hovers around 100 degrees. Go to rejuvenate your skin and soul, and throw in some extra time for a spa treatment or massage.




Cinque Terre, Italy

A national park and protected UNESCO territory, Cinque Terre has steep natural slopes that were transformed into fertile terraces for the cultivation of wine. The dry stone walls guide you through a varied network of paths with beautiful views of the Mediterranean. Take a hike along the cliffside trail, which passes through 5 coastal villages.



Vieques Island, Puerto Rico

Head to Vieques Island for a quiet vacation to get away from the crowds, tall buildings, traffic and commercialized oceanfront property. The beaches here are pristine, the green flora is lush, and it's located only 6 miles from San Juan. Whisk someone special off for a romantic getaway, and don’t miss out on an illuminating experience on Bioluminescent Bay.




The Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong

The Peninsula Hotel in Hong Kong offers an elite experience that makes all guests feel like royalty. In addition to providing top-of-the-line amenities, this historic, 5-star luxury hotel has spectacular vistas of Victoria Harbor.



Bernese Oberland, Switzerland

A must for outdoor enthusiasts in the summer and winter, the Bernese Oberland region in Switzerland captures nature at its finest: snowcapped mountain peaks, fresh air and lush, rolling hills. The quaint town of Interlaken lies between Lake Thun and Lake Brienz and is only a short train ride to the beautiful ski town of Grindelwald.




Secret Beach, Kauai

Nestled at the base of a sheer cliff just north of Kilauea, Secret Beach truly is one of the Kauai's best-kept secrets. Sunbathers will have to hike down a rocky, near-vertical trail to find the magnificent stretch of sand and sea. Their efforts will immediately be rewarded as cares and worries melt away in this hidden Hawaiian paradise.



Milford Sound, New Zealand

Experience New Zealand's Fiordland region via kayak, on foot and by air. Visitors are awestruck by the scenery of Milford Sound, including the tumbling waterfalls, ancient rain forests, sparkling lakes and granite peaks that capture the heart and the imagination.




Volcanoes National Park, Hawaii

Two of the world's most active volcanoes — Kilauea and Mauna Loa — stand in Hawaii's Volcanoes National Park. There are many ways to experience the power of these natural wonders, including scenic drives, hikes and ranger-led tours.




Venice, Italy

The city of Venice conjures images of stunning architecture, artistic masterpieces and incomparable wine and cuisine. Get lost in St. Mark's Basilica and St. Mark's Square; experience the sights and sounds of Venice Carnival; and walk across the Rialto Bridge.



Singita Ebony Lodge, South Africa

At the Singita Ebony Lodge, located on the Sand River, travelers experience the perfect combination of luxury accommodation and safari adventure. The resort’s 12 suites all include a private plunge pool. Their external walls of the suites have been removed and replaced by canvas and glass to create safari tent-style suites with great views. Don’t miss out on exploring the African wildlife accompanied by an experienced guide and tracker during your stay in the heart of the Singita Sabi Sand.


Santorini, Greece

The Greek island of Santorini is located in the Cyclades of the Aegean Sea and has one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world. The villages are built on cliffs and overlook a submerged volcano. Those who visit Santorini flock to Oia, a town that offers stunning views of the sunset.



Angkor Wat, Cambodia

Angkor Wat is one of the most important archaeological sites in Southeast Asia. Another UNESCO-protected location, it contains the remains of the different capitals of the Khmer Empire, including the Temple of Angkor Wat and Bayon Temple. Marvel at this jaw-dropping and eye-opening historical landmark.


Dream Vacations - The Operach Team is a travel agency based in Overland Park, Kansas. We take pride in working with clients across the country who love to travel. We build vacation experiences that will create memories to last a lifetime.  Our team has specialties across a wide range of vacation options; custom Europe itineraries, Alaska, escorted tours, all-inclusive resorts, Disney, Caribbean, Hawaii, South Pacific, cruise holidays, and river cruises.   

We look forward to making your dream vacations come true!! 



Monday, December 31, 2018

Castles and Coastlines: Croatia Up Close




If you haven’t made your way to Croatia, now is the time to make the leap. With the sapphire-blue waters of the Adriatic Sea, picturesque red roofs lining the coast and fresh seafood galore, this 2018 World Cup finalist has just about everything you could want in a Euro trip. Did we mention Dubrovnik is also the real-life set for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones?

On top of visiting the “Iron Throne” in Dubrovnik, you’ll be wowed by fortresses and palaces in Split and a magical (and musical!) coastline in Zadar.



Dubrovnik

The towering castles along the coast of Dubrovnik are impossible to miss. Take a stroll back in time along the walls of the medieval city (remember to pack comfortable shoes), or cross a stone bridge to Pile Gate, which dates back to the 14th century.

You also can cruise the city’s riviera to get up close to the impressive fortress surrounding the city, before spending time inside the walls to walk the cobblestoned streets of the Old Town, and then head to the incredibly clear waters of Sveti Jakov beach to swim and sunbathe. Looking to explore more? Opt for a cable car ride to the top of Srd Hill for unbeatable panoramic views of the coast and red-roofed buildings below.

Fancy yourself a lord or lady of Westeros? The Game of Thrones tour will take you inside Lovrijenac fortress, known as King’s Landing, and teach you the fascinating history of this landmark that helped defend against Venetian rule.



Zadar

Zadar, Croatia offers a storied history that predates the Roman Empire. Explore the medieval ramparts of the nearby island of Pag as you visit an old Franciscan monastery and the famous, Romanesque Church of St. Mary. The village of Kolan has its own history—cheese making, and you can sample this delicious tradition at a local factory.

Local architect Nikola Bašić brought striking designs to the region when he created the famous Sea Organ on Zadar’s coast, which uses the ocean’s tides to “play” a series of steps with hidden pipes to generate eerie music near the city’s center. Sun Salutation, another innovative Bašić work, is a ground installation that captures solar energy and then releases it for an all-night light show seen through 300 glass plates!

Nature has also bestowed its own wonders on Zadar, like Paklenica National Park, providing adventurers with breathtaking mountains, caves, and rivers. Experience the countryside by boat as you canoe the Zrmanja River, where you’ll see canyons and forests as you approach the rushing waterfalls. Then take a dip!



Split

Between the beauty of Dubrovnik and Zadar lies the gem of Split, with its own lovely streets, palaces, town square—and, of course, familiar spots from Game of Thrones. To start, head to Klis fortress to learn about this stronghold’s millennia-spanning backstory (GOT fans will also recognize it as the city of Mereen). Then, a visit to Diocletian’s Palace will reveal some of the best-preserved residences of the ancient Romans. This UNESCO World Heritage Site also houses the underground cellars where Queen Daenerys “Stormborn” Targaryen (Breaker of Chains, Mother of Dragons) prepared to unleash her army on foes.

The nearby towns of Salona and Trogir offer their own historic temples, amphitheaters, fortresses and churches. While there, glimpse traditional Croatian village life in the charming town of Burni as you sample local wine.


Dream Vacations - The Operach Team is a travel agency based in Overland Park, Kansas. We take pride in working with clients across the country who love to travel. We build vacation experiences that will create memories to last a lifetime.  Our team has specialties across a wide range of vacation options; custom Europe itineraries, Alaska, escorted tours, all-inclusive resorts, Disney, Caribbean, Hawaii, South Pacific, cruise holidays, and river cruises.   

We look forward to making your dream vacations come true!! 

Monday, November 12, 2018

Ten Inspiring Interiors



LA SAGRADA FAMÍLIA CATHEDRAL

BARCELONA, SPAIN

If you only see one building in Barcelona, see Antoni Gaudí’s magnificent Sagrada Família Cathedral. None of the surfaces are flat. Abstract shapes combine smooth curves and jagged points. The stone staircases are extraordinary, as is the nave which towers into the heavens, its pillars branching out like a forest of trees. The exterior is equally inspiring. When Gaudí was asked why he paid so much attention to the tops of the spires when no would see them, he answered, “The angels will see them.”



COLÓN THEATER  

BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA

Discover the world-famous Colón Theater, Buenos Aires’s main opera house and one of the most iconic venues in the world. Known for its outstanding acoustics and architectural splendor, the theater originally opened in 1857 and was most recently refurbished in 2010. Admire the rich red and gold décor and glittering chandelier of this auditorium that has hosted opera legends such as Plácido Domingo and Luciano Pavarotti, ballet dancers Vaslav Nijinsky and Mikhail Baryshnikov and conductors Arturo Toscanini and Herbert von Karajan.




CHURCH OF OUR SAVIOUR ON SPILLED BLOOD

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

With so many incredible buildings in Scandinavia and the Baltic, how do you choose just one? We narrowed the choice to the one place that quite literally leaves you speechless—the Church of Our Saviour on Spilled Blood in St. Petersburg. It is completely spellbinding. Every square inch of space is decorated with the most extraordinary art and mosaics of gold leaf and semiprecious stones. The effect is one of shimmering beauty. See it and be awed.




TRULLI HOUSES

ALBEROBELLO, ITALY

We could have chosen the remarkably preserved Roman city of Herculaneum. Or, we could have chosen the opulent rooms of Venice’s Doge’s Palace. Instead, we chose the 14th-century trulli houses in the village of Alberobello. Beautifully simple and simply beautiful, trulli are tiny, beehive-shaped dwellings with white-tipped conical roofs. Step inside the thick stone walls and you will find it pleasantly cool, with its rustic simplicity cozy and welcoming.




ALCÁZAR DE COLÓN

SANTO DOMINGO, DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

In the historic heart of the Dominican Republic’s oldest city sits the 16th-century Alcázar de Colón. Originally the home of Diego Columbus, the governor of the colony and Christopher Columbus’s son, the palace is an exceptional example of Spanish colonial architecture. Now a museum, its many rooms and open air loggias are decorated with paintings, tapestries and antique furnishings. Imagine which courtiers would have once entertained distinguished Spanish explorers such as Hernán Cortés and Vasco Núñez de Balboa.





SYDNEY OPERA HOUSE

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

Few buildings are more instantly recognizable than the Sydney Opera House. And there is no more spectacular way to approach it than through the Sydney Harbor. The gleaming white sails of Jørn Utzon’s design are different from every angle, and during different times of the day. The iconic structure is home to seven performance venues, each one an inspiring place to watch and listen to live music and theater.




ELEPHANTA CAVES

MUMBAI, INDIA

On Gharapuri (renamed Elephanta Island by the Portuguese) near Mumbai is a labyrinth of cave temples. Hewed from solid rock, the UNESCO-listed complex was created between 450 and 750 AD. It consists of a network of chambers, halls, pillars, courtyards and shrines, and is described as a “masterpiece of Gupta-Chalukyan art.” The most important sculpture in the caves is the Trimurti, a 20-foot-high image depicting a three-faced Shiva, as the destroyer, creator and preserver of the universe.




AYUTTHAYA

BANGKOK, THAILAND

One of Bangkok’s lesser-known treasures and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the ancient capital of Ayutthaya. King Ramathibodi I founded the city in 1350 AD and it served as the kingdom’s capital for 417 years, until it was conquered and destroyed by the Burmese in 1767 AD. Admire its stunning temples, statues and gardens. Be sure to see the Bang Pa-in Summer Palace, a captivating collection of pavilions in a variety of architectural styles set amid a beautiful garden.





ST. STEPHEN’S CATHEDRAL

PASSAU, GERMANY

You will not want to miss the magnificent 17th-century St. Stephen’s Cathedral when you visit charming Passau. This baroque wonder houses Europe’s largest pipe organ, with more than 17,000 pipes, and inspired composer Franz Liszt to write his Hungarian Coronation Mass. Admire the cathedral’s elegant white interior, its elaborate stucco painted by Italian artist Giovanni Battista Carlone and the intricate frescos created by painter Carpoforo Tencalla.





THE OCULUS AND 9/11 MEMORIAL & MUSEUM

NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK

This sacred and powerful memorial honoring the lives of those we lost is sobering yet inspiring. The underground museum space was built within the remnants of the original World Trade Center. Outside, two enormous waterfalls flow into two pools, around which are carved the names of those
who perished. Equally extraordinary is the Oculus at the World Trade Center Transportation Hub, a mind-boggling glass-and-steel structure designed to look like a dove in flight. The vast, pure white interior of the main hall is like a modern-day cathedral, with light pouring through the ribbed ceiling. And, just like in a cathedral, the effect is incredibly moving.


Dream Vacations - The Operach Team is a travel agency based in Overland Park, Kansas. We take pride in working with clients across the country who love to travel. We build vacation experiences that will create memories to last a lifetime.  Our team has specialties across a wide range of vacation options; custom Europe itineraries, Alaska, escorted tours, all-inclusive resorts, Disney, Caribbean, Hawaii, South Pacific, cruise holidays, and river cruises.   

We look forward to making your dream vacations come true!!