Each Monday, The Untourist interviews an Untourist of the Week and features the discussion for your enjoyment. This week’s Untourist is Janice Beck, who has been on over 15 Untours. We hope you enjoy her story. Thanks, Janice!
Tell us about your latest Untour:
“This past summer I was fortunate to be in Europe for three Untour sessions. I left the States and travelled to Naples, Italy, from Naples I traveled to the Amalfi area for painting and exploration.
I stayed in a lovely apartment with a great view in Atrani, the town next to Amalfi. I was accompanied by my husband, Jerry Mitchell, and a group of friends and artists that traveled with me for a painting workshop that I lead.
My most memorable experience from the Amalfi Untour was a guided “walk with the Gods” hike that we took over the mountain tops. The guide arranged a lovely lunch in the mountains at a small shepherd’s cottage. The whole experience was wonderful. The hike was challenging, but exhilarating. To add to the experience, a few days later, a number of us in the group decided to visit the home town of the guide as he had spoken so lovingly of his home village. We gave him a call and he met us, showed us around and then took us to a local restaurant where they prepared a traditional Italian feast. We were treated like long time friends and honored guests.
My next two weeks were spent in Umbria, Italy where I was again joined my group of friends, painters, and lovers of adventure…It feels like going home.
My third two week session was spent in Provence, France. I was again joined by a group of friends and painters. Provence is a magical place where people are friendly and helpful, the food is great and the lover of beauty and history will always be happy. Max and Regine Tomlinson, the liason staff for Untours, have become good friends and they offer support and great information.”
What’s your favorite Untour memory?
“I have so many wonderful Untours memories that it is difficult to choose one…However as this month is featuring Italy I will share a delightful interlude from this past summer.
I love the town of Spello in Umbria as the people always show me and my students so much friendliness and they welcome our appreciation of their charming town. This year was no different with home owners bringing out photos of past groups and paintings that they had gotten from some of my students in the past. However one couple, a man and woman, came out to speak to me and my husband and a couple of other painters in our group. They invited us into their home. At first we did not want to take their time as they were shop owners and they had their store open, however they linked their arms in my arms and led us into their home. They live in a home full of history going back many generations. They shared their history and the beauty of their home with us. They made refreshments for us and introduced us to a liqueur (served in coffee) that we had not previously experienced. They thanked us profusely for enjoying the beauty of their town and all this was done with little shared language, as I do not speak Italian, and they did not speak English. At the end of our visit they carefully wrote a note which was an invitation to return for a visit the following summer.
Experiences such as this is what makes travel so rewarding.”
How is taking an Untour different from other ways of traveling?
“An Untour offers support without being intrusive. You have freedom to come and go as you please, however there is a safety net in the form of Untour’s staff in the advent of difficulties.”
How would you describe Untours in three words?
“Unscheduled travel adventures”