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Untourists of the Week….go further: Jim & Dawna’s excellent adventure

Italy Untourist of the Week

September 4, 2013 by Mtaussig

Today and tomorrow, we feature a little variation on the Untourist of the Week theme. Jim Moore and Dawna Warren were featured on this blog earlier this year. (And can offer only these quite blurry photos of themselves.  Their excuse?  They say they are too busy appreciating where they are to get better photos of themselves.)

Recently, they contacted us. They had an idea that they would like to plan to celebrate their 25th anniversary somewhere special, and invite friends to share it. Having been Untourists with us for over a decade, they said, “What does UnTours have that could help us? They remembered that along with UnTours, we have our “property-only” branch, The RIGHT Vacation Rental and after browsing through our Italy selection, they found a good option, a set of three apartments together on an estate just outside the walls of that magnificent city, Siena.

Shortly after deciding on this excellent adventure, (upon which Jim & Dawna go to a place they love, rent some extra space and invite friends and family to join them on the occasion of their 25th anniversary), we asked them if they’d like to write a journal of their adventure…and the planning of it. Here at UnTours, we help people plan “big event” trips a lot: family reunions, honeymoons, anniversaries, etc. We know, just from listening to you, that you, the primary planner, have a lot to think about.

So, when Jim and Dawna let us in on their plans, we thought, “Hey, there’s an ongoing series of blog posts in there!” We think more of you might decide to celebrate the big occasions, or share the joys of Untour-style traveling with friends and family, if you had a sense of where to begin.

Jim and Dawna are going in the summer of 2014, and they made that decision in the spring of 2013. We’ve asked them to chronicle their choices, plans, questions, and adventures, over the next year and through their visit. We’ll run their story as an occasional series of guest blog posts. We hope this will offer all of our other Untourists some insights and support, should you decide to do a “big group” or a “big event” trip. It’s not easy, but those who have done it have a lot of insight that can help. So, here’s Jim and Dawna’s story of their Excellent Adventure, from the beginning:

Bob Young, a wonderful artist on UnTours Cafe, did this watercolor of Alsace in 2008

There we were, in July 2012, watching the fireworks over Bergheim in Alsace. It was Bastille Day. We have been lucky enough to travel to Europe about every other year since 1999, our 10th wedding anniversary. That comes to ten different UnTours (twice in southern Tuscany).

Toward the end of these trips, we always toss around ideas for the next one. 2014 would be our 25th anniversary. So how about something special? Our thoughts turned to traveling with friends. We have done this twice, and it was enjoyable both times. We took our nephew to Greece through Untour in 2006, and his father was able to come along as well.

In 2010 we spent a week in Leiden, the Netherlands, with a good friend. We began to think about incorporating friends into our 2014 trip.

By early this year we decided. We would find a place with space for several other people, we would rent it for three weeks, and we would invite friends to come over to Europe with us. We will not be tour guides, but we will share wherever we ended up with those who care to join us. We figured that giving people the opportunity for a free place to stay for anywhere from two days to one week would appeal to a number of acquaintances. And as we began to float the idea, the early responses ranged from piqued interest to enthusiastic “yes!”.

So we have rented the three apartments in Siena through The Right Vacation Rental and our friends at UnTours.

We’ll be there in June and July 2014. We put our deposit down on the apartments in July 2013.

Now for the more formal invitations to our friends. Who wants to go? Who’d like to spend a rent-free week in Tuscany?

Who are we? Dawna Warren and Jim Moore. Untour veterans of southern Tuscany, Oberland, Umbria, Greece, Ticino, southern Tuscany again, Rhine, the Netherlands, Provence, and Alsace. We both work in education, so summer is our travel time. (continued tomorrow…)