At least 45% of our paddlers are solo female travelers and about 10% are male. We offer a very secure, safe environment and for those who wish we are able to offer single rooms and we also offer the possibility of sharing with another paddler of the same sex. Starting at our first meet up we introduce everyone and we have found that with our groups of no more than 12 paddlers everyone becomes friends the first days and we often end our trips with a group family feeling.
After having lived out of the USA for more than 45 years and having traveled in over 50 countries and lived in 4 different countries plus widely different places in the USA, I think I know a bit about travel but compared with the advice you can get from Rick Steves, I’m way behind him. Rick has dedicated about 100 days a year living in Europe for the last 20 years to researching and writing his 50 different guidebooks. While I was starting and directing language schools, Rick was building his travel business since 1976 where he now has 100 employees. What I most like about Rick Steves is his travel philosophy. Rick sees travel as a political activity and it certainly is on several levels. All of us who traveled when we were young found our lives changed forever. I was very fortunate to serve in the Peace Corps in its first years from 1962 to 64. I spent two of the best years of my life in Gabon and I can assure that those two years influenced my life and still today I feel the importance every day.
Travel is at the very least a mind opening experience and for some it’s not pleasant to see that things are not the same as back home. Some never get past the point of “I don’t like this”. The fortunate travelers are the people who relish in differences, who see there can be another way to do most everything and to express everything. Take Rick’s advice and read all you can about where you are going, look into what the food is like and the kinds of wine they drink and try to learn a few words in the language. A few words and a smile can go a long way to opening hearts and doors. I would suggest that even if you don’t but one of guide books you should at least see Ricks suggestions on all things travel. I suggest one of his articles to all my Douro Kayak clients and I could suggest all of them.
I returned a few days ago from Porto and the Douro Valley. I was there to visit some of the hotels, restaurants and all the stops we make as we paddle down the great Douro River. This was a very good visit and I finally met Jackie Dias who is the PR person for the Symington Family. Jackie and I have been in email contact for around 4 years and she has been extremely helpful on several occasions. Jackie gave me a tour of Graham’s Lodge in Gaia and again was a great source of information on places to visit. Jackie has been working in the Port business for many years and knows everything and everybody! I mentioned to her that I was looking for more information on the Douro River before the dams were built and especially about the rabelo boats that were used to ship the port wine from the Douro Valley to Gaia. When I returned home I received an email with a scanned copy of the of the very few books written on exactly the subject I was asking about. All the information I will be using as I work on the Douro River kayaking guide I’m writing. My vision is to product a guide that will not only cover important points to be taken into account when kayaking the river but also a bit of the history of the Douro Valley as well as the origin of wine production in the area. Since this Valley was inhabited as far back as 22 thousand BC. I have my work cut out for me. This is a big project and I started gathering information 4 years ago and hope to get down to the writing next winter. Fortunately I really enjoy all this and I’m in no rush to finish.
Well finally next week, after having been away too long, I’m returning to my favorite place, the Douro River in Portugal. This time I won’t paddling my kayak but I will be visiting some of the same places we visit on our Douro Kayaking Expeditions. The reason for my trip is to visit all the B&B’s and hotels and restaurants we will visit on either our 5 night trips or our 9 night trips. All the places where we stay or eat are small family run places and I believe personal contact is much better than simply making reservations by email. If I were running a large organization this personal touch might not be possible but since that’s not the case, I’m on the road again.
I really look forward to seeing old friends and of course in some cases making new friends.
Sometimes I’m surprised but not often as I have become used to strange and erratic behaviour in the political arena. this time I have been very pleasantly surprised. About two weeks ago I published our Douro Kayak dates for 2017 with one 9 night trip in both June and Sept. I sure didn’t expect to get people signing up 15 months in advance. I just wanted to get the word out since many people like to dream and plan ahead. My surprise is that we have already signed up four people for our trip starting in Porto on June 16th. 2017. This is a really special trip because we finish in Porto on St John’s Day and have a front row seat for the rabelo boat regatta which takes place only once a year. Here is a picture of some of the rabelo boats that we can see sailing on June 25.
Organizing and guiding paddlers down the Douro River is usually really fun and that’s why I do it. This last 10 days has been anything but fun. It all started about two weeks ago when I started having email problems. I contacted my server operators who are really helpful people and they said they would look into it and get back to me right away. Get back they did and quickly. Turns out that my Douro Kayak emails were being used for massive spam packages so my email were stopped for two days and all the passwords were changed and I thought that was the end of the story but It wasn’t. The next day I was told that my entire website was suspected of having a virus and maybe my computer. The website was taken offline and since it would have to be completely redone I decided it was time to make another completely new site that is more user friendly and easier to read. For the last 10 days I have been working on this with my friend Adrian who is a website guru. Adrian has done 99% of the work but I have also been very busy and worried which for me is worse than working. The new www.dourkayak.com website is on line and mostly finished but will still get some tweeks in the next two weeks.We hope you like our new face and would love to get your comments.
What a wonderful expedition… beginning in Spain and paddling through Portugal. The views were spectacular, the paddling was exhilarating as well as inspiring. As the expedition continued we grew closer, much like a family. I feel that my paddling skills improved as my peers shared paddle strokes and paddling tips. I felt closer to the towns-people as the guides took us to family-owned businesses and friends establishments. I also felt it was the BEST experience I had ever had… this was my first trip to Europe! Becky, Virginia