October 5, 2015

Perfectly Planned Travel for Bespoke Holidays

Antonia (Toni) Dosik’s memories of her first foreign trip include sandy beaches and seashells. In reality, Mexico was hardly a protracted voyage for a six-year-old kid from Los Angeles, but it was the kickoff for Toni’s travel-centric life. At 13, Toni began plotting her return to Europe while on a vacation that included visits to England, France, Belgium, Germany, and Switzerland. During college, she took advantage of a study abroad program to improve her French language skills, and to visit Switzerland and southern France. Toni spent a university year in England before racking up extensive travel miles to Provence, Paris, Italy, Serbia, Slovenia and Portugal. Best in Britain was born in 1987, a small business that sprouted from friends and family asking Toni for help with their travel planning. Toni’s travel bug married her planning talent. She tells me that Best in Britain planned more than 40 trips to England and Wales for people who wanted unique and personalized vacations. Starting with a client’s response to her detailed questionnaire on their interests and individual needs, Toni has planned holidays with a focus on gardens, maritime history and even mazes. Toni says that for clients “I planned travel for them just like I plan travel for myself.” Now, with Perfectly Planned Travel, Toni is concentrating her efforts on the undiscovered or under-discovered in regions that she knows best: England, Portugal, Paris and Provence. Why? “I am drawn to Portugal and Provence by the gorgeous scenery, the warm, friendly people, and the charming small towns and villages.  England is also about gorgeous scenery and charming villages and small market towns.  Despite its reputation, England has some of the warmest and friendliest people on earth!  Paris, of course, is quintessentially French, somewhat challenging, as cities can be, but beautiful and fascinating.” Toni limits her number of clients, so every Perfectly Planned Travel trip is individualized and customized – there is no typical itinerary.  Toni has planned many trips for first-time travelers who are reassured by her attention to detail. In equal measure, Toni proposes excursions for people who want to experience something different in a place they have already visited. What was your most challenging trip to date? Planning a family vacation for 17 adults and two small children in Provence.  They wanted a house that was big enough for everyone to have their own bedroom and bathroom and yet affordable.  Lots of different needs and travel styles. They all had a great time! What would you say clients must discover in England, Portugal, and Provence? The lovely countryside of the Alentejo region of Portugal, with its sophisticated wineries, olive oil producers, and cork trees. Also, charming towns, villages and friendly people. The market towns of England. Most people know London and maybe the Cotswolds or the Lake Country. However, some of the most interesting places to visit in England are towns that have had markets since the medieval period, like Woodford in Suffolk or Calderdale in West Yorkshire. The area of Provence known as the Vaucluse with its perched villages, long and complicated history, and its truly breathtaking vistas of vineyards, lavender fields, and olive trees. What would you tell your clients to taste in England, Portugal, and Provence? In Portugal and Provence, drink wine.  Portugal produces some of the best wine in the world, but it is often not available outside of Portugal.  Not just the vinho verde (young white wine), but the delicious reds like those from Herdade Do Esporao in the Alentejo. Same for Provence.  Explore the wine. Côtes du Rhone, Châteauneuf du Pape, and the dry rosés.  One of the best ways to do this – and eat the delicious food as well – is to have your main meal of the day at lunch, so you can drink the wine, walk around the local village or town, and still drive home safely. England has a very undeserved reputation as a place without decent food. Ever since it joined the EU, the food in England has become more and more varied and sophisticated.  Including “pub food” that is way more than fish and chips or toad in a hole.  I had some of the best meals of my life at the Museum Inn in Farnham, Dorset, population 111! What would you suggest for relaxation? This is truly idiosyncratic.  I love to shop and find it both relaxing and stimulating.  Other people like to fish, or walk on the beach, or sit in a café or see a concert.  That’s where my Questionnaire comes in – it helps me to get a sense of what people like to do, what they want from their trip, their “style” of travel and how I can help them plan a perfect trip. Are you ready for a Perfectly Planned Travel holiday? Get in touch with Antonia (Toni) Dosik: http://perfectlyplannedtravel.biz/contact/ Website: http://perfectlyplannedtravel.biz/ Questionnaire: http://perfectlyplannedtravel.biz/questionnaire/ _____________________________________________________________________________ Disclosure: Perfectly Planned Travel is a Ginger and Nutmeg sponsor Image Credits: All photos were provided by and published with the permission of Perfectly Planned Travel  


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September 28, 2015

Pappy and Harriet’s Rocks Pioneertown

Fault lines, droughts and dust storms are the realities of the California desert where nothing can be too permanent or too real. Pioneertown may look like a Wild West frontier town from gold rush days, but it in reality it was created in 1946 for western-themed Hollywood movies. Complete with facades of banks, jails, saloons and stables this veneer of a town was the stage set for over 50 movies through the end of the 1950s. (more…)


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September 21, 2015

Biking Through Bavaria on Germany’s Romantic Road

Ginger and Nutmeg’s group of friends were all interested in cycling the Romantic Road in Germany for different reasons, but it was clear that sausage, sauerkraut and artisan beers were a common denominator. However, no one was too excited to begin the bike journey in cold-weather gear in the face of single-digit temperatures. (more…)


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September 14, 2015

The West Coast Coffee Trail on U.S. Route 101

Coffee and audio books are the only way to fuel a seven-day journey in a small car. G&N joined U.S. Route 101 on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and “Where is the best place to go for coffee?” became the recurrent question of their road trip. (more…)


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September 7, 2015

Jardin de l’Achimiste in Provence

In a green maze – that is how your journey starts. Wandering aimlessly through the hedge circuit your footsteps form the letters, as your shoulders rub against the thick shrubbery.  The characters spell Bereishit the first word of the Torah, a Hebrew word that translates to in the beginning of. In this case, it is the beginning of a distinctive garden adjacent to Mas de la Brune, a home that dates from 1572. Le Jardin de l’Achimiste (Garden of the Alchemist) is a public garden located near the village of Eygalières and a short drive from St Remy. This magical place was created in 1997. “It is a philosophical essay in the form of a garden, representing physical and intellectual development, and the development of the senses.” – a well-crafted description is from Wikipedia. (more…)


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August 31, 2015

Viktorija Todorovska’s Wine and Olive Affair

“Tu es amoureuse des olives!” A six-year-old’s words to describe author, linguist, sommelier and Mediterranean food aficionado Viktorija Todorovska. According to Todorovska, the young girl pegged her with such laser accuracy that she is considering changing the title on her business cards to read “Amoureuse des Olives.” (more…)


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August 24, 2015

Summer Salmon Salad

It is sweltering! The thought of making dinner is overwhelming. There are two solutions: Pour yourself a cold, frosty drink Order take-out. If you insist on cooking, keep it simple and this summer salad is the perfect answer, easy, tasty and filling. (more…)


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August 17, 2015

Van Gogh’s St Remy de Provence

Much has been written about Vincent Van Gogh’s life, the famous Dutch painter who led an expressive, tortured life. This statue le voleur de tournesol (the Sunflower Thief) by Gabriel Sterk may just capture the essence of Van Gogh’s work – as you never quite look at sunflowers, irises, olive trees or wheat fields the same way after seeing his paintings. le voleur de tournesol (the Sunflower Thief) by Gabriel Sterk (more…)


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August 10, 2015

Lumina Lights up Cascais

In 12 days, Ginger and Nutmeg had explored the northern part of Portugal from A to Z, they drove from Lisbon to Porto and beyond the Douro Valley. The early September weather cooperated, and the summer tourist crush had started to wane, leaving the rugged, windswept coastline devoid of summer crowds — picture perfect. (more…)


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August 3, 2015

5 Provencal Myths

When Ginger and Nutmeg first ventured to Provence they felt prepared for the adventure. After all, it was not their first trip to France, they had previously biked in the region, and they had read Peter Mayle’s books – so they were confident in their basic understanding of the region. And basic it was! Nutmeg would like to share five Provencal myths for consideration as you pack your bags for the south of France, with visions of purple lavender fields and olive groves dancing in your head. (more…)


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