Shake Hands with the World ™
With VBT, cultural interaction and learning is part of every trip
“Too beautiful to burn.” That’s how Ulysses S. Grant described Port Gibson, and riding into this dreamy Natchez Trace town, you see why it stopped a general in his tracks…. Cotes de Nuits. Meursault. Pommard. Burgundy’s soil has produced the world’s greatest wines, and while sampling them has refined your tastes, cycling the land has taught you the true meaning of terroir…. An old Pugliese nonna peels vegetables and silently hands them to you to soak in a pot. There are no words, just a quiet rhythm, and a feeling that you’ve learned more about Italy today than a thousand books could’ve taught you.
“The variety of activities is excellent. If we had taken a traditional
tour, we would not have had as much fun or been able to truly
“experience” life in these parts of the world.”
-Terese W., Czech Republic, Germany & Austria
Exercise your mind!
Sure, your legs may be walking or pedaling in the great outdoors, but your mind will be getting a great workout, too. There’s stimulating history to ponder, interesting people to meet, old stories to listen to, new ways of living to consider. We make sure you don’t miss any of it by planning interesting activities all along our routes. You’ll stop to explore, to meet our friends and neighbors, and to learn first-hand about the life and times of your host country. Join us in family homes, farms, factories, artisans’ studios, shops, temples, and schools, and get a true feel for everyday life, past and present.
Intimate encounters with the people
A hallmark of every VBT trip is the opportunity to engage with local people in authentic and memorable ways. Riding or walking along the same provincial byways used by everyday people, you’ll be in step with the rhythms of daily life. Traveler Sally K. loved “meeting and hiking with the Cuyuni people” and thanked us for “providing this outstanding learning experience and insight into both the Inca and Peruvian cultures.” You’ll get acquainted with the people on an even more intimate level through the home visits we include in every VBT trip. Traveler Richard M. was tickled to meet residents in the village of Maria Wörth, where reliving some local traditions “meant a lot to me, being of Austrian descent.” Even if you don’t share the ethnic bonds, you’ll resonate with the family vibe, and enjoy sharing the “ties that bind.”
On the map and off-the-beaten path
You wouldn’t want to come all the way to Cordoba, and miss one of Spain’s most famous attractions, the unparalleled Mezquita mosque. Most travel companies will show it to you, and so will we. But we complement that experience with a more intimate, living example of Spain’s Moorish heritage by taking you around the back alleys to experience a real Arab hammam bath. Similarly, in Vietnam we cycle along the coast towards famous Hoi An, but stop before getting there to admire a sandy beach where the locals weave basket boats. After admiring the graceful architecture of Pucisca, Croatia, we visit a stonecutter’s school, and learn how the gleaming limestone that adorns nearly every town along the Dalmatian coast has been mined, graded, polished and sculpted. With VBT you can look forward to daily included sightseeing that reveals the most important monuments – plus frequent forays behind the scenes to discover the culture that gave rise to those fabled attractions.
Learn by doing
Our excursions often feature opportunities to try your hand at local pastimes and workaday activities. In Costa Rica, some delightful school children teach us traditional dances. In the Douro region, we harvest fresh herbs and produce from the garden of our estate lodgings, and then learn how to prepare them in a Portuguese cooking class. In Vermont’s Champlain Valley, you’ll get a private kayak lesson in the Dead Creek Wildlife Management Area. Besides great photos, you just might come home with newfound skills.
Get the inside scoop from your VBT Trip Leaders
Only a local can tell you who serves the best low country cuisine in Charleston … the best place to hear a Chopin piano recital in Warsaw … which Bruges pub has the most varieties of Belgian beer. That’s why VBT hires only residents of the region to guide your trip. We know how much it will enrich your perspective to have a credible expert to explain local customs, give you the back stories about places you’ll visit, and recommend the secret spots only insiders know about. Traveler Karen M. so enjoyed the discoveries she made with Trip Leaders Veronique and Pascal in Provence, she says “I would do any VBT tour just to be able to travel with them again, they made it that much more wonderful!”
So many of our travelers feel the same way about their VBT Trip Leaders. Meet a few of them here