Top 10 Trips in the Right Place at the Right Time
Timing is everything! Never does a journey to a new land feel more right than those times your travel coincides perfectly with an event unique to that region. So, in the spirit of being in the right place at the right time, here is our list of the Top 10 Backroads Trips that, if you plan accordingly, will get you to the right place at the right time to experience something truly special – from glorious autumn colors to Humpback Whale migrations.
Siena's famous Palio horse race is held annually on July 2nd and August 16th. This historic and action-packed race originated in the 16th century and is still held in Siena's famous Piazza del Campo. Jockeys representing the fiercely rivaled neighborhoods of the city race bare-back furiously around the dirt track circling the medieval piazza filled with tens of thousands of screaming spectators. Allow yourself to be swept up in the fervor of cheers, passion and the pride of generations as the pounding of hooves harken back to a bygone era.
A visit to Holland in the spring means seeing the most famous tulips in the world in full bloom. In March and April, vibrant rows of vibrant color seemingly pulled from the age of Impressionism itself are an indelible mark on the landscape. The flower was so popular when introduced that it led to the first economic bubble. Today, in the land where there are more bikes than cars, it’s a quintessential Dutch experience to bike where windmills mark the horizon and tulips appear as brush strokes across the countryside.
If you fantasize about drinking rosé while dining on the world’s best cheeses, olives and bread, head to Provence in the Summer (June-August) to experience the magical hills of lavender in bloom. The scent encountered while cycling many of Europe’s most famed and friendly roads will stay with you for a lifetime! After exploring the castles and cathedrals of Southern France, tackle the famous Tour de France climb of Mt. Ventoux for breathtaking views of vineyards and lavender stretching to the Mediterranean beyond.
Autumn in Vermont is simply magical. Watch the wind blow gently through leaves peppered by a million variations of reds, yellows and oranges that ignite the landscape. A visit to The Green Mountain State in September or October is a chance to capture the glorious fall colors that turn this landscape into an artist’s painting. Start the morning with a pile of pancakes smothered in maple syrup, then pedal past cool mountain streams, pastoral farmland and quaint covered bridges. There’s no better way to capture the beauty of fall.
The Appalachian landscape is timeless. The seasons, like everything in the South, seem to move at a slower pace. A long fall provides the chance to capture the spectacular beauty of the changing leaves from late September well into November. While bluegrass greets the night, watch the sun set with drink in hand and let the same mountain air the Cherokee Indians once enjoyed wash over you.
The gateway city to our Canadian Rockies trips, Calgary, is home to the Calgary Stampede. Typically held for a week in mid-July, it’s one of the largest rodeos in the world and over a million visitors come to Calgary to see the parade, rodeo and exposition. It’s the Wild West come to life! To experience some true Canadian flair and some hearty pancake breakfasts, be sure to book early and bring your cowboy boots!
The Western fiordlands of Norway are identified by crystal clear glacial water and lush valleys fed by waterfalls cascading from what can only be the heavens of Norse mythology. The summer season is heralded with Slinningsbalet, a festival four days after the solstice, honored by the largest bonfire in the world. Head to Alesund on the solstice (mid-June) and experience the heat of a 132 foot pyre set ablaze to salute to the season!
As if Hawaii wasn't paradise already, Maui happens to be the best place in the world to see the magnificent North Pacific Humpback Whales. These mighty mammals – an estimated 10,000 – migrate here annually from Alaska to give birth to their young in the warm shallow waters between Maui, Lanai and Molokai. Plan to be in Hawaii from December to March and you’ll be treated to incredible displays of breaching, fin slapping and endless entertainment from these intelligent and beautiful creatures.
Palm Springs and Joshua Tree
When winter seems endless, head for the sunshine of Southern California for the magnificent spring wildflower bloom. The vibrancy of color stands as a stark contrast to the desert landscape that surrounds, and it’s a stunning combination! Lying dormant, the seeds from previous seasons wait for the perfect conditions to begin the cycle of life anew. Come March or April, strap on your hiking boots, throw on your sunscreen and make winter a distant memory!
In this mesmerizing and timeless landscape, where misty mountains roll into the floodplains of the mighty Mekong river, the world seems frozen in place. However, the annual celebration of Tet is an explosion of life and excitement that marks the Vietnamese New Year. The most important holiday in Vietnam, it celebrates the arrival of spring, and this new life is enjoyed with family and friends feasting around every corner. A visit at the end of January or beginning of February will find you raising a glass of rice wine with locals of all types and taking part in the endless feasts and celebrations happening throughout the country. It’s a magical time to be in Vietnam!