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Andrea Szyper's blog

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Travel Like a Native: 15 Tips for Fitting in in Europe

on Mon, 05/11/2015 - 10:26
Shop the markets like a local

Your European vacation is almost here? Great!

You've followed our tips to boost your Cultural IQ, and you've reached new understandings of the places you will visit on your trip? Fantastic! You are ready to connect with the locals, make new friends, and travel deeply and richly.

Here are some tips to bring along with you to help you fit in when you get there.

1. Hang back and observe when you find yourself in new or uncertain circumstances. Watch how the regulars order, how they pay their bill, if they seat themselves or wait to be seated, even what they order.

 

2. Dress in muted, dark

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Travel Like a Native: 6 Ways to Boost Your Cultural IQ

on Tue, 05/05/2015 - 10:49
Read about your destination before your Untour

So, you've got your flights reserved and your vacation rental apartment booked. You might even be congratulating yourself for choosing an apartment over a hotel, and you are well on your way to having a bonafide like-a-local experience. Good for you! But don't stop now! There are some easy things you can do before your apartment vacation or Untour to set yourself up well. With these tips, you should be ready to jump deeply into the culture that you are visiting on your European vacation.

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Untour Giveaway Winner: Meet Thomas Lumpkin, Friend of Detroit’s Poor and Homeless

on Wed, 04/22/2015 - 09:39
Father Tom, winner of a free Untour vacation
We are excited to announce our winner for the Untours Giveaway! Father Thomas Lumpkin will receive a free 2-week Untour for 2 people, including airfare. It is our way of saying thank you to a noble community leader and helping make travel accessible to all.
 
Thomas Lumpkin, better known in his community as Father Tom, is a diocesan priest and co-founder of the Catholic Worker community in inner city Detroit. He helps run a meal program there and the homeless shelter where he himself lives.
 
Lumpkin was first awakened to poverty issues when he studied in Europe as a theology student in the
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Switzerland for Free: The Best 7 Free Things in Switzerland, and Another 480 More...

on Fri, 04/17/2015 - 16:01
What's free in the Alps? Swiss Untour ideas
Switzerland has always had a reputation for being expensive, but it isn't universally true! Staying in an Untour apartment and living like a local will show you that Switzerland is affordable and family friendly. So why the reputation? Could it be Switzerland’s international association with luxury goods that fuels the myth? (Think chocolate, fine watches and high profile ski slopes.) Or its independent economy and currency, whose rise and fall is unlinked to the euro?
 
At the beginning of 2015, currency fluctuations made Switzerland look like it would spike in price, but the markets have
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Tapas Confidential: How to Navigate Spain's Tapas Bars Like a Native

on Mon, 04/13/2015 - 10:42

Welcome to Spain, where eating habits are a little different than ours. If you value eating with the locals but prefer your dinner before 9pm, you'd best discover Spain's bountiful tapas bars!

Dodge Amaral, Spanish Untour Director, agrees. "For folks who really can't or don't want a sit-down meal at 10pm, instead of eating in a restaurant that serves at 'our hours' (meaning it's a tourist place or hotel restaurant), going to tapas bars is perfect for getting fed at a reasonable hour."

"You can ask or see what's served as raciones if you want more than a couple bites of something."

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12 Tips for Trip Prep: A Smart Travel Checklist

on Mon, 04/06/2015 - 12:25
Travel tips for Untours
A little advanced planning can make a big difference for your trip. We hope these travel tips will help you enjoy a stress-free European vacation. Start early, and follow our simple smart travel checklist.
 
1.  Check your passport expiration date! All European countries require it be valid for at least 3 months beyond your scheduled return to the US. Some countries like Turkey require 6 month validity beyond your travel dates. Be sure your passport is valid and renew it early if you need to.
 
2.  Make a list of things to see and do on your trip.
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Breaking World News: American Investors Make Bid for Leaning Tower of Pisa

on Wed, 04/01/2015 - 09:08
Leaning Tower of Pisa, Tuscany Untour

Citing the extremely favorable exchange rate, American investors have submitted a bid to buy Italy's iconic leaning tower.

 
At an exchange rate of $1.07 to the euro, the dollar is stronger than it has been in Europe in over 10 years. Five investment bankers in New York cited this fact and concerns about preserving the iconic monument when they submit their bid Friday to buy Pisa's famed Leaning Tower.
 
Pisa is an important commercial center,” said Antonello Admonti, the lead investor on the project. He is a 2nd generation Italian-American who says he is proud of his heritage.
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Our Favorite Places

on Mon, 03/16/2015 - 12:41
Sonia on the Barcelona Untour

I feel lucky to work with a small but dedicated crew of globalists. Our staff is worldly, broad minded, and very well traveled. They've elevated my thinking, stoked my curiosity about new parts of the globe, and helped me grow into a citizen of the world. I recently asked them a simple question: What's your favorite Untour? Some of their answers surprised me. Below, read their responses, and my own two-part answer to what I actually found to be a very tough question.

 

Sonia (Specialist, France, Spain, the Americas): Since I haven't actually "done" any of our French Untours (I was there in

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Sound of Music Reboot: My Favorite Things

on Mon, 03/02/2015 - 11:44
My favorite things, on the Austria Untour and beyond
Navigating life's ups and downs, photo by Cathrin Baumbach

At some point in my 20s, I learned to sing away the blues. One rough winter, I took to rewriting the lyrics to My Favorite Things. My list of favorites was a lot different back then, but singing about them is an uplifting habit that has stayed with me.

In honor of The Sound of Music's 50th anniversary, I've given the song's lyrics an update with a little help from my colleagues here in the office, all of us lovers of travel who count European memories among our very favorite things.

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The Swiss Untour on TV! A perfect view of our Untour in the Alps

on Tue, 02/10/2015 - 11:02
Marianna, the Swiss Untour

This video aired on a show called Boomers on PBS. Though it is a few years old, it really captures the essence of the Swiss Untour experience. Meet our clients the Kofflers and the Dunoffs on site in Switzerland, along with our staffers Jessica and Marianna. (Of course Marianna has retired since, but the "Queen of the Hasliberg" is a vital part of the Swiss Untour story and her influence on our programs endures. See the photo of her above!) 

Savor the Alpine views in this video, see what orientation is like, visit the cheesemaker. See some of our chalets in Meiringen, in the Swiss Heartland.

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