The Florida Keys are a string of coral islands that stretch southwest from the end of the state. They were historically oriented toward the Caribbean, and a center for boat trade and commerce. Key West was the largest town in Florida and the richest per capita in the US. In the early 1900's, Henry Flagler connected them to the rest of Florida by railroad. Today, 42 bridges connect the archipelago, and many of Flagler's original bridges have been designated as part of the Florida Keys Overseas Heritage Trail for biking, fishing and walking. The Seven Mile Bridge, south of Marathon, was an engineering marvel and the longest in the world when built.
Italy never ceases to amaze. Just when you think there's little more to discover, this place offers ancora di più (more and better). As the regional manager for Backroads' trips in Italy, I'm no stranger to the country's diverse regions. Nevertheless, as we sought to craft new itineraries in the heart of "the Boot," I was amazed when Italy revealed an endless array of quaint villages and stunning landscapes waiting to be explored. As you'll hopefully soon see for yourself, the addition of Monti Sibillini National Park and the neighboring village of Norcia to our Walking & Hiking Trip in Tuscany and Umbria is a true bonus.
A great way to prepare for a Backroads trip is by joining a local spin class, such as SoulCycle, Flywheel or Cyclebar. But what if you want to get that spin class experience on your own? Hop on the bike at your local gym or in your garage and get moving--we've created a spin class playlist just for you!
This year I had the honor of attending my first 100th birthday party. Actually, my Great Uncle Mike is the only 100-year-old I've ever met. But age is only half of this story... Uncle Mike's 100th birthday party was a bike ride! 100 years of age is a crazy thing to wrap your head around. But can you imagine being 100 and balancing on a bike, managing traffic, flying down hills?!
I think it goes without saying for most of us Backroads folks that we love to travel. We all have our own reasons, our own styles, our own lists of places we've been, places we'll return to and places we're longing to explore. Regardless of why, how and where we go, many of us share the desire to explore and to connect--or reconnect--to nature, to history, to cultures different from our own. To our ancestors, our families, our partners, ourselves, to each other. Or maybe just to a beach chair or to something other than the internet or the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day lives.
We always think of traveling as a way to discover the world and to learn about different cultures. For me, travelling is also about returning to my roots and rediscovering who I am. Leading the Active Gourmet trip in Tuscany is a chance to see my homeland through the eyes of our guests and to learn new things about myself. After all, food and wine are just catalysts. In Italy it's all about sharing. And talking. Very loudly!
Is there anything better than hearing your teenager tell you that you made a great decision (words you likely don't often hear)? Better yet is hearing that they had the best vacation ever and it was with you--wow! The key is to get everyone involved and make most of the decisions before you go, so the choices you do make on your trip are as simple as what to eat off the menu.
Travel offers a deeper understanding of the world and I try as often as I can to make the leap from tourist to Insider. And that requires a commitment to always wanting to know and see more. To always asking questions and pausing long enough to listen to the answers, whether they come or not. It's just as much about the people attempting to provide the answer as it is about what exactly they have to say. And the folks that might answer honestly tend not to be the ones on the main avenue selling trinkets or day tours.
These books, along with an insatiable desire to explore, led me down an unconventional path to world travel, exciting (and sometimes insane) adventures and an active lifestyle that I parlayed into a career as a Backroads Trip Leader. So which stories have inspired me to explore, seek adventure, change the world for the better and do so confidently? Here are my top five.
I love cycling and pushing my physical limits, but I'll admit that my training tends to drop off around the holidays. Winter weather hits, I don't eat as healthy as I'd like and social engagements take up most of my weekends. By the time spring rolls around, I want to kick it into high gear to get in shape for my summer cycling season. I start doing my typical after-work loops and venture a bit farther away from home for longer rides on the weekends. But this routine can become...routine. That's why I helped develop Backroads' new Spring Training Biking trips.