United by Wanderlust: Travel Tales from Odysseys Employees
Posted November 26, 2019
Here at Odysseys, travel isn’t a 9-5 job–it’s a 24/7 passion. Regardless of age, experience level, or job description, every Odysseys employee is united by a love of exploration and discovery. This wanderlust keeps us excited about our opportunity to provide engaging small group tours, while also igniting a desire to strike off on our own toward new horizons.
In a recent blog post, we told the story of several Odysseys tour directors who took a “busman’s holiday” – traveling on Odysseys trips for vacation, during their personal time. In that same spirit, we thought we’d share a few stories of the fascinating vacations that the employees in our Newton, MA, office have taken, or are planning to take, both with Odysseys and on their own.
It’s clear that the travel bug here runs deep!
Tell us about some of your recent trips.
Derrek Joyce, Guest Communications Coordinator: Last summer, I was involved in an archaeological excavation in Phocis, Greece. Naturally, I took advantage of my time there and traveled to Delphi, Athens, and Cape Sounion as well. Earlier this year, I also spent some time traveling down the east coat visiting friends from college.
Dana Bennett, Senior Manager, Finance & Administration: Last December we took a trip to Germany and Austria to visit the Christmas Markets, traveled to Ireland in August, and just returned recently from a tour of the Galapagos.
Stacey Harrison, Senior Manager, Product Development: Over the past year or so, I’ve traveled on vacation to San Francisco and Yosemite National Park, as well as to Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Kazakstan on our Along Central Asia’s Silk Road tour.
The Silk Road trip was fantastic. Turkmenistan is a fascinating country. All of the buildings and monuments in Ashgabat are comprised of white marble with gold accents, and there are massive green spaces with lovely gardens everywhere. While there is great infrastructure for hotels and visitor sites, there are very few tourists overall, which is refreshing. We then headed into Uzbekistan, which is chock full of gorgeous mosques and madrassas, old Caravan Sarai, beautiful handicrafts…it’s easy to see how its cities became integral parts of the Silk Road. Tourism is just starting here, so the locals are as curious about Westerners as we were about them, which made the visit hugely rewarding. Kazakhstan is the most Westernized of the three countries, with modern buildings and restaurants in Almaty. There are numerous green spaces throughout, and from what we could tell, Almaty truly was a crossroads. The people residing here were from all over the nearby countries, including Russia and the Ukraine. It was nice to see such a melding of people. Overall, the sites that we saw, the craftsmen that we met, and the locals that we encountered throughout all 3 countries were very warm and hospitable, and they seemed very pleased to meet so many Americans.
Destiny Almeida, Supervisor, Operations Fulfillment: In June, I was afforded the chance to take our Untamed Alaska tour. I had never thought about visiting Alaska, but when the opportunity was presented I could not pass it up.
Ana DeRosa, Senior Accounting Analyst: I took an Odysseys tour to Egypt in March for my birthday, which was my favorite trip by far! I then went to Southern France and Monaco in May for a half-marathon. I’ve taken a couple long weekend trips along the East Coast, Vermont and South Carolina, and I’m headed out in two weeks on our Exploring Australia & New Zealand tour!
Thad Krikorian, Proofreader/Marketing Coordinator, Special Interest Groups: In the past year, I’ve had the good fortune to travel on Odysseys Pearls of Dalmatia tour, which gave me the opportunity to see Croatia and Slovenia, both incredible countries. I’ve done a lot of domestic travel as well, visiting family and friends in Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, California, Washington, Oregon, Vermont, and New Hampshire. Last summer I also had a chance to backpack in Italy.
Melissa Hampton-Steele, Supervisor, Reservations & Customer Service: I took our Himalayan Kingdoms: Nepal & Bhutan tour in April of this year, and I also did a three-week trip around the UK (where I’m from) with my husband and in-laws, who had never traveled there before.
Nikki Williams, Travel Counselor: I took our Provincial French Countryside tour earlier this year, and also traveled to London on my own while I was in Europe.
Where are you planning to travel next?
Derrek: The big plan is my upcoming Costa Rica’s Natural Heritage tour; however, there are plans in the works for trips to Washington, D.C. and California. Most of my previous travel has focused on the Mediterranean and the US. I’m excited to branch out and visit a destination I haven’t experienced before.
Dana: So far, my wife Ellen and I only have a four-day trip to Lisbon planned for February, but we often plan things as the opportunities arise. As Ellen has never been to Lisbon before, I’m looking forward to seeing it through a first-time visitor’s eyes.
Stacey: I am planning to go to the Caribbean this winter to secure my PADI dive certification, and will also travel in Europe over the summer on cycling vacation. I have always wanted to get dive certified as it opens up the world to such a different style of travel, so I’m pretty excited about finally making that dream come true.
Destiny: I will be taking our Treasures of Peru tour this month as a personal vacation, and I’m excited as my grandmother will be joining me for her first ever Odysseys trip! We are both looking forward to the visit to Machu Picchu – from what I’ve seen, the scenery is absolutely breathtaking. I also can’t wait to try the authentic Peruvian food!
Ana: In May and June, I am taking a hiking trip with a fellow employee. We will be going to Zion National Park, Havasu Falls, Antelope Canyon and Sedona. I also just booked another Odysseys tour to Ecuador and the Galapagos for October. We plan on extending the tour to add some time in the Amazon Rainforest and Machu Picchu. Also, as soon as the 2021 dates for Southeast Asia Odyssey come out, I’ll be booking that! I’m already so excited to scuba dive in the Great Barrier Reef, and to finally visit Havasu Falls!
Thad: I’ll be visiting Vermont, Tennessee, and Florida, with hopefully an international trip to Turkey and Armenia as well. I’m looking forward to reconnecting with loved ones, and hopefully discovering parts of the world I haven’t yet seen.
Melissa: I am looking to travel to Munich, Berlin, Paris, Lisbon and somewhere in Greece. I’m looking forward to just being a tourist! Experiencing the historic sites in Berlin, the must-go places in Paris such as the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower, Oktoberfest in Munich, and re-visiting Lisbon and showing my husband and my in-laws, as they have never been. My family is big on food as well, so we are all excited to try lots of different local cuisines!
Nikki: My upcoming plans include London, Thailand Cambodia (and possibly The Philippines), Toronto and New Orleans! I’m a photographer, so I’m most excited to be able to photograph new places and make prints for friends and family.
Where is your favorite place in the world to visit?
Derrek: It would depend on what I hope to get out of the experience. If I am in the mood for a walking tour, great food, and beautiful scenery, Siena would be my first choice. If I wanted a more relaxing time, Cape Sounion in Greece to soak up the sun and the history.
Dana: So far, my favorite spot is Munich, a city which I have always wanted to visit. I enjoyed all of Germany, but Munich just has a vibe that I really like. I think it has a lot to do with it maintaining an old European feeling while still being a vibrant city.
Stacey: It’s hard to say really, as I’ve been to about 80 countries now and there is something special in each locale you visit. However, if I had to pick, I’d say anywhere there is great wildlife viewing … The Galapagos, Africa, and Antarctica are all at the top of my list.
Destiny: Now that I am back, I can easily say that Alaska, and specifically Talkeetna, is one of my favorite places in the world. Our tour director was really passionate about the history of Alaska and ensuring that we all left with an everlasting experience, and Talkeetna’s panoramic scenery and welcoming locals really stayed with me. I hope to be able to visit again in the near future!
Ana: Egypt, followed closely by Italy.
Thad: The Pacific Northwest, and especially Portland, OR, where I lived for four years.
Melissa: I am from Wales originally, so I still really enjoy exploring the US. Although I’ve lived here for eight years, I still consider the US one of my favorite places in the world. Outside of the US, I would say Bhutan is at the top of my list right now. It was an unbelievable place to visit and exceeded all my expectations.
Nikki: Crown and Cushion Irish Pub in London, which specializes in Thai and Laotian cuisine. 10 out of 10, STRONGLY recommend!
Any other comments you’d like to add?
Dana: When traveling with a group, a lot depends on the tour director. I have been lucky to have had some excellent, top rated, TD’s.
Stacey: Regardless of where travel takes you, it’s an eye-opening experience and one that enriches you as a person. Don’t put off travel to tomorrow, when you can explore the world today.
Destiny: In my opinion, traveling is one of the best forms of self-discovery. From trying new foods to learning about new cultures, there is never a dull moment. My favorite quote is “Life is short and the world is wide” and that is a philosophy I will live by forever.
Thad: I’ve really come to appreciate the truth of the old adage of appreciating one’s home all the more after spending time on the road. My love of travel has had the serendipitous effect of making me all the more appreciative of where I live.