Author Archives: Rachel Kristensen

MOA Journeys: In depth cultural and art tours

Withoutmasks Capture (Top three photos are part of the Without Masks exhibit. Bottom three from Heaven, Hell and Somewhere In Between Exhibit. Source:   For the art lovers and those exceptionally curious about cultural encounters, we’ve teamed up with Vancouver’s Museum of Anthropology to curate unique cultural and art tours that coincide with their exhibits.   Our first journey led us to Cuba, to dive deeper into the contemporary Afro-Cuban art scene after a successful showing of the Without Masks exhibit. We ventured into exclusive galleries, institutions, and were joined by leaders in Afro-Cuban religions as they explained their communities.   Our next trip is to Portugal, inspired popular art in the current Heaven, Hell and Somewhere in Between exhibit. This trip will once again deliver exclusive access to artists’ studios and marketplaces where we learn what makes Portugal pulse.   To get a better idea of what these trips are like, once our Cuban adventurers arrived back at home, the group took time to share their stories on their own blog,   By the looks of it, the group enjoyed the art tours as much as we did.   We can’t wait to rejoin  with MOA members this fall, for a closer look at the current and historic culture in Portugal.   To find out more about our next MOA cultural and art tour, please contact our sales staff at 1 800 665 3998.
Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen

What island hopping on a Greek Island tour looks like

The term Aegean Blue was clearly coined after a visit to a Greek Island. The vast sea and skyline provide a stunning backdrop for the picture perfect white houses that scatter themselves across the 227 inhabited Greek Islands. In total, there are more than 6000 islands dotted across the Aegean and Ionian Seas that fall under Greek sovereignty. Each with crystal clear waters that lap onto the sandy or pebble shores complete with sea-caves or sheltered coves. Our tour takes you to the highlights to see ancient Cycladic and Minoan civilizations such as tiny sacred island of Delos near Mykonos, once the political capitol for ancient Greece. We also visit the ancient site of Akrotiri, a bronze age civilization buried after a volcanic eruption over 3500 years ago. To catch up with modern Greece, we explore quaint modern village life of pirate-proof cities on Mykonos,  as well as the beautiful Oia and Pyrgos while taking in the dramatic volcanic landscapes along Santorini’s caldera. Of course, there is also time to taste local specialties that include unique grape growing techniques, while sleeping in comfortable locations next to those famous Greek beaches. Off the regular tourist path, our Greek Island hop also includes multiple days on Crete. The guided tour of Knossos, Iraklion and Chania’s museums promises to enchant the history buffs, while the sights on the harbour cities deliver wonderful photographic opportunities of modern Greece. For more information on a small group tour to Greece and the Greek Islands, click here. Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen Greece - AA - Rachel Kristensen     (Photo credit: all from Tour Leader Rachel Kristensen)

Yangshuo: A highlight on our China tour

  Li River China PC Rachel Kristensen(Photo credit: On a China tour with Rachel Kristensen / @meandertheworld)   China is the third largest country in the world and has some of the most diverse landscapes, bustling cities and quiet villages to explore. From the sandy dunes of the Gobi Desert, to the deep gorges cut by the Yangtze River and the karst mountains of Guilin. Our Classic China tour takes you to the quiet village of Yangshuo, what many recall as their highlight of China. The village is beautiful from all angles,  situated among breathtaking mist covered mountains that jet into the sky. With less car traffic and little air polution, it is easy to roam the streets and discover why so many love visiting this town. No trip to Yangshuo is complete without exploring the winding rivers that cut through the valley floor. On the Li River, our small group tour sets sail beside bamboo rafts to watch fishermen collecting their catch with traditional netting methods. The pristine environment complete with sweet smelling cassia flowers feels a million miles away from the high rises of Shanghai, Hong Kong, Beijing and China’s other well-known cities. Click here for more information on our trip to China which includes a small group tour of Yangshuo.

5 Wonderful Greek Philosopher Quotes

Greece - Rachel Kristensen One can’t help on a tour of Greece to indulge a bit of a wisdom from a Greek philosopher. Ancient wisdom is found in the country which founded democracy, and changed the course of modern civilization into what we know today. Well over 2000 years ago, the minds of great philosophers such as Plato, Socrates, Epictetus, Aristotle, and Plutarch questioned ideas on education, morality, purpose and nobility and were among the first to spread wise thoughts to all parts of society. Through plays, meetings and text, these great minds have continued to inspire for centuries. Here are a few quotes to get you inspired before you get to Greece: “There are two things a person should never be angry at, what they can help, and what they cannot.” – Plato “True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates “Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens.” – Epictetus “You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honour.” – Aristotle “Know how to listen, and you will profit even from those who talk badly.” – Plutarch   
For more information about our small group tours to Greece, where you will inevitably learn more about these famous Greek philosophers, click here.    

Tour Norway and Finland: A quick photo journey

Martin Charlton - Norway Tour (PC: Martin Charlton) Last year, senior Tour Leader Martin Charlton debuted a small group tour of Scandinavia to what would be an instant classic. A tour through Norway and Finland, cruising the beautiful fjords, riding the rails on some of the most dramatic European train journeys, and discovering markets as well as museums that are uniquely Scandinavian. Here is a closer look at what Martin captured, and considered his highlights:
Coastal Norway. #coast #Norway #travel A photo posted by Martin Charlton (@travelbug1970) on

Coastal Norway. #coast #Norway #travel

A photo posted by Martin Charlton (@travelbug1970) on

  For him, taking the small group tour along a 7 day cruise of the Norwegian coastline was a real highlight. This tour also includes 6 excursions on land, as well exploring Europe’s northernmost point of Lapland. City highlights and guiding walking tours are included for Oslo, Bergen, Helsinki, Trondheim and Kirkenes. For more information on our small group tours to Norway, Finland and Scandinavia, please click here.

What makes Peking Duck so special?

peking-duck-china (Photo source: If you have ever gone to Beijing to taste authentic Chinese food, you may have tasted the world famous delicacy. Prepared for royalty since the 13th century, we have often wondered what it is about the dish that makes it so notorious with dining in Beijing. Could it be the pickled radish? The scallion, cucumber or sweet bean sauce? What is the special seasoning, and how is the skin so crispy? First, get to know the duck. The Peking duck is a type of mallard that historically was found in the canals of Nanjing (which was once China’s capitol) before making its way to Beijing as trade commerce spilled grain in the river (and once the capitol was changed to Beijing in the 15th century). These days, the duck is now raised specifically to be consumed in China. Cooked for 50 minutes while hung in a brick oven, each cook uses their own special seasoning but pays close attention as the duck is roasted to perfection. Each restaurant has its own secret ingredient but only those in duck roasted in China are thought to be authentic. As China considers getting the duck among other Chinese cuisine listed on the UNESCO list of cultural heritage for future generations to enjoy, the past has also benefited from the duck. Once touted as part of China’s international diplomacy relations strategy, notable figures such as Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger tried out the dish on their official visits to China in 1972, which was the first step in normalizing relations between the US and China. Try out this dish on our next trip to China, click here for more info.

Love lock bridges around Europe

518262076_c_570_411 (Photo credit: When it comes to romance, Europe seems to be a place that just oozes it. But sometimes, displays of affection can be off-putting. Such is the case of the lock loves, so off-putting that many municipalities are trying to find ways to stop or ban the trend. Paris’ famous landmark turned eye-sore, the love-lock Pont des Artes bridge, is removing the locks for safety concerns and the bridges chain link fencing will be covered by lock-blocking plexi-glass on June 1, 2015. This comes a year after part of the bridge collapsed due to the excess weight of the locks, which on the Pont des Artes is estimated at 92 metric tons of extra weight! The strange tradition of writing a pair of sweethearts names on a lock and attaching it to a beautiful bridge is not just found on the bridge which stands beneath the Eiffle Tower. Where else in Europe has a love-lock bridge? Hohenzollern Bridge, Cologne, Germany - Back in 2009, lovers started locking up their love symbols and throwing the keys in the Rhine River on this bridge in Cologne. Most Ljubavi, Vrnjačka Banja, Serbia – The aptly named bridge when translated means “Bridge of Love”. It’s no wonder this is a bridge of choice for those seeking to prove their love is unbreakable. Malá Strana district, Prague, Czech Republic – One of Europe’s most romantic city has its own love lock bridge, the pedestrian-only Mala Strana. Butchers’ Bridge, Ljubljana, Slovenia - Despite having a less than romantic name, this bridge has seen heavy attention of love-locks after locks starting appearing 5 years ago. Ponte Milvio Bridge, Rome, Italy – On a small section of the bridge, lovers in another one of Europes most romantic cities have been attaching locks and throwing away the keys on this bridge. How long will it be until other bridges across Europe begin taking measures to stop the love lock trend? Only time will tell. While love-lock bridge spotting will likely never be a sole reason to travel to Europe, have a look through our small group tours to Europe’s most historic and romantic cities which may or may not have a love lock bridge.  
Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen

Exploring Cuba: photos from a small group tour around the island

As we landed in Havana for a small group tour of Cuba, almost every member of our group was there to see it ‘before it changes’. Frozen in time, Cuba’s charm is unwavering throughout the country. Imagine a time before cell phones and internet access overran the dinner table. Where fast food chains are absent. Where music and salsa dancers meet to in town plazas to celebrate life in the evening. Where classic cars and bicycles line the streets of crumbling neo-classical buildings. Slowly, change will come to Cuba. But until that point, it will remain a unique country in the world, and a step back in time. Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen Cuba AA Tour - PC Rachel Kristensen Adventures Abroad is pleased to offer a 15 day small group tour that encompasses all of Cuba. Our tour highlights include: - Watching a farmer hand roll a Cuban cigar in tobacco fields of Vinales. - Walking through the historic centre of Havana including a stop at the used book market. - Listening to the drum beats bounce of the cobblestones in the musical soul of Trinidad. - Admiring the city of plazas, in the cattle ranching heartland of Cameguay. - Exploring the rivers and archaeological sites in the tropical rainforest of Baracoa. - Exploring the bustling city of Santiago in the south east. Click here for more information on our next tour of Cuba.
Cuba Cocktail

Tasting Cuba Through Cocktails: Quick Recipe Guide

With a history of creating some of the world’s best rum, currently a third of their land dedicated to growing rum’s main ingredient of sugar cane, a sunny climate, and a thirsty appetite, Cuba has had plenty of time and ingredients to create the perfect Cuban cocktail. Specialties differ across the country, but many of the high profile cocktails have become world famous beyond the Caribbean coastline for a reason: they’re delicious. Here is a quick recipe guide for three of Cuba’s best cocktails, inspired by one of our most recent Cuba tours.   Mojito Classic, refreshing, and with enough sugar to give you energy to salsa all night long. Ingredients: 1 1/2 oz White rum, 6 leaves of mint, soda water, 1 oz fresh lime juice, 2 teaspoons sugar Preparation: Crush and mix the mint with sugar and lime juice. Add rum and top with soda water. Garnished with sprig of mint leaves. Served over ice with a straw, garnish with mint leaves.   Cuba Libre Invented by army captains celebrating after Cuba was freed from the Spanish in the Spanish-American war, this classic Cuban cocktail is perhaps the easiest to recreate. Ingredients: 4 oz cola, 1/3 fresh lime juice, 1 2/3 oz white rum Preparation: Add all the ingredients into a short glass, serve over ice, garnish with a lime wedge.   Canchanchara A specialty from Trinidad, it is thought this drink was invented as a pain killer during the battle for independence. Ingredients: 2 oz of white rum, 1 oz of fresh lime juice, 3/4 oz of honey syrup Preparation: Mix all ingredients in a short glass, with a straw to stir in honey. Serve over ice and garnish with a lime wedge.  
    Of course, as any fan of Cuban cocktails will tell you, this is just the beginning of a long list of rum and citrus inspired drinks. If you fancy trying out these delicacies in their founding locations, perhaps indulging in a former Hemingway haunt, click here for information on our next Cuba tour.