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Untourist of the Week: Alan & Jo Toepfer

on Mon, 07/15/2013 - 11:31
Alan's picture of Jo, in Amalfi last year

Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.

In Austria, we stayed in the comfortable Seiwald apartment in Kuchl. The Kuchl location was ideal for visiting Salzburg and numerous nearby small villages. The town evoked memories of the Sound of Music. The lake and mountain regions were stunning testimony to the grandeur of nature. The lofty, snow capped peaks and shimmering blue lakes performed their silent symphony for us while we humans traveled and hiked the steep, twisted roads and rocky pathways. There were picture postcards in every corner.

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Untourists of the Week: Elsa and Raymond Heald

on Thu, 03/21/2013 - 09:13
Raymond Heald, Untours

1. Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.

It was a dream vacation: 8 days on the Variety Voyager, the sleek 73-passenger yacht that put us ashore at the fabled ports of Capri, Lipari, Malta, plus 4 ports in Sicily. Then, a train ride to the sparkling Cinque Terre for 4 nights and a heavenly 2 weeks in the fabulous Bonalumi apartment in Locarno, with a breathtaking view of Lake Maggiore.

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Dawna Warren and Jim Moore, Untourists of the Week

on Tue, 01/29/2013 - 14:24
Untourists, Untours, Greece, apartment rental

How is taking an Untour different from other ways of traveling?

"It is traveling without traveling--you have a home for a week or two. Time to get to know the locals at the little store, smile at the waitress in the local eating place, and try out a few words with the landlord’s family. And when you don’t feel like seeing the next site’s sights, you can take a day off, stay at home, read a book, or really get to know your local area by walking right out your door."

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Holland Untourists of the Week: Jerry and Deena Koffler

on Mon, 10/01/2012 - 11:17
Jerry and Deena Koffler, enjoying one of their 9 Untours!
Jerry and Deena Koffler, enjoying one of their 9 Untours!  Holland (2x), Italy (Amalfi)2x, German Castle, Spain - Andalusia, Prague, Budapest, Greece, Swiss Heartland, Tuscany, Umbria

Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour. 

Holland 2012:  This was the first time we returned to an Untour destination.

We were looking forward to our return trip in April 2012 so we could see the tulips in bloom.  When we arrived in Leiden, there was a feeling of coming home.  It was market day so we walked along the canal and bought a few things.

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What's your definition of clean? Kehrwoche: a uniquely German cultural phenomena

on Wed, 08/29/2012 - 11:13
.Germany, kehrwoche, Untours,

Of all the variables you might find on the "cultural dashboard", there is none more likely to spark a clash faster than the varying definitions of  "clean" across cultures.  The paradox is nearly every culture has strict rules about what is "clean" but in the complicated dance that is cross-cultural understanding, of course, the rules vary greatly about the definition of clean.

We found an interesting example of this in the German cultural tradition of Kehrwoche which literally means "Sweep Week".

Here are several bloggers (most of them not German, but living in Germany ) and their outsider

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A Cultural Dashboard: figuring out where you've landed, in Germany, or elsewhere

on Wed, 08/15/2012 - 10:22
culture, Germany, Trompenaars, Seven Dimensions of Culture, understanding

To build a "roadmap for a culture" that is useful for the Untourist about to go on a German Untour (or any of our destinations outside the US) is a tricky thing.  It is all too easy to stray into stereotypes and oversimplification,  especially when we're way outside our own culture.  Things look deceptively simple as an outsider, and often the behavior that you see when you visit a place is just the very tip of the iceberg of understanding .

Fons Trompenaars is a Dutch scholar who has identified some helpful ways to see patterns across cultures.

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Susan Croll: Untourist of the the Castle in Bavaria

on Mon, 08/13/2012 - 11:03
Untours, Castle, Bavaria, Germany, Mother-Daughter

Tell us about your most recent Untour:

In August 2011, my daughter and I returned to the German Castle for a week.  It felt as if we were coming home.  The Baron and Moritz greeted us upon arrival, treating us like old friends stopping for a visit.  We stayed in the Carola Apartment, as we had in 2008.  It is a perfect location for us.  I love to drive so we generally cover a lot of territory. Sommersdorf is a great central location.

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Castle Untourists of the Week: Paula and Sid Rueter

on Mon, 08/13/2012 - 09:40
Untours, Castle, Bavaria, Germany

Tell us a little bit about your most recent Untour.

Last year we took the Germany Castle Tour.  After our experience last year, we will definitely take another Untour vacation and are happy to see them include the new river cruises.   Prior to taking our Untours trip, we had taken one bus tour (which my husband vows he will never do again) or had a travel agent assist us with making reservations for hotels, rail passes, etc.

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German 'How are you's' and how is a culture like an onion

on Wed, 08/08/2012 - 10:13
culture, Germany, high-context, low-context

At Untours, along with sending you on trips that are especially good for living like a local, we also like to provide you with a handy  'roadmap of  the  culture'.  We think if we can provide you with a few rules of thumb, we can fast forward you into a place where you understand the locals and they understand you a bit more easily.   And the trips you never forget are those that connect you to the people.   One of the most helpful culture clues of all is the concept of "high and low context" which was formulated by the famous anthropologist, Edward T. Hall. in the mid-20th century.

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Germany: A Roadmap for a Culture

on Wed, 08/01/2012 - 11:04
The first Wednesday of the month, the Untours Blog will give you an overview of a culture in an Untour destination.  Think of it as a bird's eye view, or a roadmap to the places you'll visit on your Untour.

Generalizations about people are usually a bad idea.  There are some generalizations about cultures, however,  that can help out  the visitor new to a country.  A  view of a culture 'at 30,000' feet will often help you avoid cultural gaffes, as long as you make sure you also pay attention to the specific aspects of each particular situation and  individual.