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3 Extraordinary Adventures for Small Groups of Travelers

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Soaking in the surreal lights of the aurora borealis, savoring mouth-watering chocolates in Switzerland, preparing a meal with local women in India — opportunities to dig deep into the wonders, cuisine and culture of our world are limitless. That’s what these AAA Member Choice Vacations Explorations are all about.

You’ll share the trip, a few meals and varied memorable moments with an intimate group of about 15 passengers. These tight-knit tours provide you the opportunity to let your curiosity guide you to something new — and extraordinary.

Lights and Wonders

The rugged landscape of Finnish Lapland is Europe’s last wilderness frontier. Here, in a country that’s been called one huge forest with five million people hiding in it, nature’s longest running light show takes center stage. Imagine seeing the aurora borealis streaking the dark night sky with swathes of breathtaking dancing lights, a phenom visible about 200 nights in the year in Finland’s inky skies.

“The Northern Lights of Finland” itinerary takes you on an eight-day Arctic adventure into the land of velvet-horned reindeer, Santa Claus and glass igloos refracting the northern lights. Begin and end your trip in the modern city of Helsinki, known for its variety of architectural styles including the Temppeliaukio Church, which looks like a flying saucer sitting in bedrock and the Old Market Hall opened in 1889.

Savor the city’s flavors — sample smoked Baltic fish and a cloud-like cream puff pastry called a viineri — then prepare for a natural high as you head north for four days of adventure. Soak up the peaceful wilderness from your private glass igloo, the northern lights painting the sky overhead. Do as the Finns do and radiate with warmth in the sauna of your Finnish log cabin. You’ll go on a reindeer safari with a local farmer, mush your way to breakfast in a Finnish sleigh and command your own dog sled team of gorgeous working huskies. It all adds up to a once-in-a-lifetime adventure through Finland, the land of a thousand lakes.


Lavender fields of Provence


Fragrances and Flavors

Time seems to slow down in the South of France, where the calendar is governed by sunny days ripening ancient vines and the relaxed pace of life in medieval villages. Change the rhythm of your own life with the ten-day “Journey Through Southern France” where you’ll explore Bordeaux, Dordogne and Provence, regions ripe with the fragrances and flavors of this storied countryside.

Begin your experience with à votre santé toast inside an elegant wine chateau in Bordeaux, as you can sip a grand cru in the region it was born. Two thousand years of winemaking history awaits in Saint-Emilion, one of Bordeaux’s largest winemaking regions. Viticulture was said to be introduced to this fertile region by the Romans, and you’ll follow in their footsteps on a walking tour of the UNESCO World Heritage site or be chauffeured in the open air by tuk-tuk, the sights of the town unspooling before you. Foodies and oenophiles will be in heaven wandering brilliantly-hued markets and enjoying feasts of French country cuisine paired with local wine.

Spend two nights at a chateau in the Dordogne Valley, a stunning region dotted with stone chateaus and vineyards winding downhill to the banks of the river. Continue on to Provence, where the light works a particular magic, from the azure blue of the sky to the sun-drenched olive orchards, lavender fields and vineyards. Breathe in the perfume of lavender and herbs as you join a local chef and his dogs on a hunt for precious truffles. Purchase crusty bread and fragrant cheese in boulangeries and fromageries, wander the markets of Aix-en-Provence, an area known for beautiful cotton tablecloths and napkins, lavender soaps and sachets and the locally blended herbs de Provence. Enjoy the experience of farm tastings throughout the countryside, among landscapes that inspired Van Gogh, Picasso and Cezanne.


Laderach chocolate


Sweet Journey

The quintessential Switzerland experience awaits on the ten-day “Switzerland: Hidden Trails & Majestic Peaks” tour by rail through the historic villages and awe-inspiring peaks and valleys of the Swiss Alps. Your adventure through Switzerland will be entirely by train, with your Swiss Travel Pass granting unlimited access to the country’s transportation network. You’ll also receive complimentary entrance into all of Switzerland’s 500 museums, from the massive collection of Geneva’s Museum of Art and History to Chaplin’s World museum in the actor’s former mansion in Corsier-sur-Vevey.

With ample independent time built into the itinerary, this up-close and personal rendezvous showcases the best of the best, from cocktails in a centuries-old cloister to fantastic excursions to some of Switzerland’s storybook villages. While you’ll have plenty of time to sample the country’s renowned cheese and chocolate — including tasting legendary Laderach chocolate as chocolatiers work their confectionary craft — this tour delivers so much more than what’s expected.

Marvel at the grand belle epoque architecture of Neuchatel and enjoy a wander through centuries-old terraced vineyards to taste unparalleled Swiss wine. Soak up views of the Matterhorn from the picturesque mountain town of Zermatt. Dip into the elegant Swiss lakeside city of Vevey in the heart of the Swiss Riviera, a town recently singled out as “One of the 52 Places to Go in 2019” by The New York Times. All along the way, experience Switzerland first-hand and soak up a culture and countryside that you’ll never forget.


Taj Mahal at sunrise


Vibrant Voyage

India is a country drenched in color. Against the bluest skies, markets glow with technicolor exotic fruits and spices, saris dazzle in every shade of the rainbow and mountains of flowers conjure nature’s finest hues. The extensive 15-day “Mysteries of India” reveals the vast cities, natural wonders, magnificent palaces and flavorful cuisine that make India so enticing. The sight of the stunning Taj Mahal at sunrise is almost heart-stopping — it’s nearly impossible to overstate the perfection that this homage to a king’s love radiates.

Experience the old and new of this ancient land, traveling the narrow streets of Old Delhi by rickshaw and the modern skyline of bustling New Delhi. Spend two nights in Varanasi, India’s holiest of cities, where you’ll enjoy an early morning ride on the epic River Ganges.

Connect beyond the usual tourist track with visits to Ranthambore National Park for two exciting game drives and the chance to learn about Project Tiger’s conservation efforts. Visit with local students at the Ranthambore School of Art, where young people from neighboring villages are trained to be self-sufficient artists. Dive into the local cuisine with an interactive cooking demo followed by a feast of local cuisine. Meeting locals, learning how to tie a sari and the art of the bindi are just a few ways you’ll feel connected to this epic culture. From the Taj Mahal to tracking tigers, your senses will be dazzled during this comprehensive tour.
Life-changing travel experiences are yours for the taking! Visit your local AAA Travel office or call 800-750-5386 today!

(Traveler Summer 2019)

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