VBT’s Amazing Trip Leaders
Your personal guide, inside connection, and partner in discovery
You are about to meet a wonderful traveling companion—gracious, warm, and personable, ready to share a wealth of knowledge about your fascinating destination, with a great sense of humor and a rare knack for making you feel as if you and your fellow travelers have known each other forever. VBT Trip Leaders are more than tour guides—they are friends, partners, caregivers, and teachers, multi-lingual residents of the region you are discovering. They know the local customs and traditions, as well as the inside information on revealing and reliable places to shop, eat, explore, and relax. No wonder 95% of VBT travelers rate their Trip Leaders “excellent.”
Marcello • Tuscany by the Sea
Marcello has worn many hats in his life: motorcycle racer, computer analyst, audio-visual producer, and project manager at humanitarian sites around the world. He even worked for a time on the Pacific Princess, of “Love Boat” fame. But his first love remains his native Italy and the pleasure of introducing its exquisite culture and cuisine to VBT travelers. Marcello has eight wonderful children, speaks five languages (including Russian and Hindi), and favors destinations where nature’s beauty holds center stage, like Tuscany’s rolling hills and spectacular coast. Whether volunteering at an orphanage in Ukraine or preparing tagliatelle with porcini for friends, he is devoted to creating beautiful memories.
Ulisse • Amalfi Coast
Ulisse was born and raised in Naples, a place he describes as a “great city to get your ‘citizen of the world’ diploma.” English was his first language (thanks to his American-born mother) and he credits that linguistic heritage as the source of his ability to relate to guests quickly and understand their sense of humor. Indeed, humor is a big part of traveling with Ulisse, who thinks that laughter should be a key ingredient of every trip – closely followed by memorable walks, pasta of all kinds, discussions on Italy’s history and quirky politics, and good wine.
Hana • The Czech Republic, Germany & Austria
Born in the Czech Republic the year the Iron Curtain tumbled down, Hana was raised to appreciate the freedom to travel and the rich rewards of learning other languages.Determined to accomplish both, she speaks five languages, has traveled throughout Europe, Asia, and Africa, and was a high-school exchange student for a year in Colorado, where she fell in love with the U.S. and its people. Now in her third year with VBT, Hana studies law and international relations at universities in Prague. She is proud of Czech cuisine and brewing, and the most important phrase she teaches her travelers is “Jedno pivo, prosim” (One beer, please).
Matija • Slovenia Bicycling and Cross-Country Skiing
For Matija, three worlds meet in the Alps, with three distinct cultures and languages. Whether cross-country skiing or bicycling, he finds the countryside shared by Italy, Slovenia, and Austria to be a limitless source of revelatory moments, the essence of travel. A native of Ljubliana who was raised in the countryside near Triglav National Park, in the Julian Alps, Matija speaks five languages, was a mountain guide at 18, and joined VBT in 2005. He shares his love of biking, skiing, and hiking with his wife and their two daughters (5 and 2), and is thrilled that he can combine his favorite activities with his work.
Véronique • Provence Bicycling and Walking
Raised in a small town north of Paris, Véronique grew up enjoying holidays in the Loire Valley with her two brothers and her bicycle. With the wisdom acquired in her 15 years with VBT and her experience as a private chef, multilingual Véronique enjoys sharing her love of Provençal cuisine, flowers, and customs, all of which are quite different from other parts of France. Her parents were teachers, so her talent for guiding travelers comes naturally. She loves to cook for friends, and she relaxes by knitting and sewing. If there’s one lesson she would have her travelers learn, it is this: Don’t think—enjoy!
If you explore the Netherlands and Belgium with Wouter, he promises an experience that is “full of humor, history, local details, stories, good organization and flexibility.” Born and educated in Amsterdam, Wouter is widely traveled, and has worked as a tour guide and entertainment manager in Spain, Italy, Greece, France and beyond. You will find Wouter himself quite entertaining, as he is a multi-lingual raconteur, competitive volleyball player and a “reasonable piano player.”
Wouter • Holland and Belgium Bike & Barge
Nicolas • Spain: Under the Andalusian Sky
In love with the active outdoor life, Nicolas became a mountain guide in Spain in 2002 and joined VBT five years ago. He has traveled widely but has a special fondness for Spain, its rich history, and its diverse cuisine, including regional specialties like gazpacho, salmorejo, garbanzo and spinach stew, and Iberian ham. Always on the move, Nicolas enjoys surfing, mountain biking, and traveling with his young family in their RV. Keeping it running is a hobby in itself!
Bill Rusch • Vermont
Now a dyed-in-the-wool Vermonter, Bill got hooked on the joys of bicycling and other outdoor adventures as a child growing up along the New Jersey coast, where, when he wasn’t sailing, he was surfing. Since then, he has bicycled from Laos to Marrakesh, from the rugged Atlas Mountains of northwest Africa to the pastoral Green Mountains of Vermont. Like all locals, he’s learned the meaning of the familiar saying, “Vermont ain’t flat,” and loves pizza (it’s called “flatbread” up here), coffee, and fresh garden vegetables. Now in his 21st year as a Trip Leader, Bill is devoted to Vermont history, lore, and legend, which he’ll share with you.
Padraig O’Donoghue • Ireland
Padraig embraces everything wonderful about Ireland, aptly expressed in the old saying, “There are no strangers here — just friends who haven’t met.” In his company, travelers encounter the Irish people and their beloved landscape, tradition, and tall tales with unforgettable enthusiasm. In his first year as a Trip Leader, Padraig is certified in woodland management and adult education, with a deep knowledge of his native Killarney and its lakes, mountains, and byways. A devoted husband, father, and kayaker, he delights in his children, fruit trees and garden, the fresh fish of Irish waters, and helping VBT travelers feel at home in the magical land that he loves.
Le • Journey through Vietnam
Le has seen his country transform itself right before his eyes—from painful years of war to a contemporary economic rebirth—and this fascinating unfolding has instilled in him a love of his country’s history that he delights in sharing with VBT travelers. A 35-year resident of Saigon, he knows every street and byway in the city, and he has a rare gift of illuminating Vietnam history with a warm serenity that brings true understanding. Le has traveled widely in Asia, enjoyed six months in the U.S., and believes that in this life we always meet someone for a reason. He looks forward to meeting you.