“First” experiences when I get to travel still give me butterflies which to me is part of the fun. I can tell you that taking the Italio fast train for the day from Rome to Florence was one of the best first experiences that I truly enjoyed from beginning to end.

Here are a few reasons why I highly recommend this, and any train day trip from Rome.

1. The cost of the ticket for the train for us was more expensive since we bought it on the day of travel, but if you buy it in advance, it is economical. We did upgrade our ticket to first-class and got that got a seat assignment and beverage service. I don’t think we’d do that again if we bought in advance because it wasn’t that much of a benefit. In case there wasn’t much of a difference in cost so we thought we’d try it out.

For Florence, it’s a walking city so having a car would have been a waist and renting a car in Italy is not for the faint of heart.

2. The fast train got us from Rome to the center of Florence in just 90 mins. That was important to give us as much time in the city as we could get for the day experience. We took the early train in and one of the last departures back that day which gave us 10 hours to explore.

3. Seeing the country outside of the bigger cities is so refreshing. Don’t get me wrong, the cities in Italy are why we come but getting out of the noise and busy streets, it’s easy to imagine the simple day to day life of the countrysides. I also could imagine what it was like hundreds of years ago with the simple beauty of the hillside villages in simpler times.

4. For us, this was our first introduction to Florence and let me tell you, it does NOT disappoint in any way. It is an easy city to “find” the important places you want to see. We bought a “highlight” city map when we got off the train and could find every site easily on our own. Even when we did go down the wrong streets, there was wonderful discovery’s to be made.

Most cities in Rome you’d visit via train I can imagine would be the same in many ways: wonderful sites, smells, and people.

5. Doing a day trip lets you get just enough of a city to know if it’s a place you want to spend more time on your next visit. I’ve done day trips to places others have raved about that to me, I was ok to experience it once and not feel the need to return. It didn’t speak to me I guess the way it to someone else. It happens. And, I’ve been to places that I’ve cried when I left before I knew my heart was there and I wanted to see and experience everything – One day would never be enough and those are the places that will be the focus of your next trip.

Now that hope that if you find yourself in Rome you consider taking a day to explore outside of that magnificent city and see what more is waiting for you to experience.

Happy travels!

All the best,
Wendy Fracchia
Morris Murdock Escorted Tours

(801) 483-5285
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I had the incredible opportunity of visiting the beautiful country of New Zealand. After arriving in Auckland and picking up our rental van, we headed south through the gorgeous countryside. New Zealand was experiencing spring, with all of its delightful flowers and green lush hills. This was quite an experience in itself of going from the colors of fall in Utah to flowering trees, tulips and daffodils everywhere we looked.

My husband, an excellent driver, navigated the left-side of the road quickly, as well as the clockwise direction of the many round-about intersections. I can’t say enough of the gorgeous countryside. It rained the first day, but this seemed to make the rolling hills even greener. The many cows and sheep seemed to really enjoy themselves in this part of the world.

Visiting the Andalucia region of Spain is the quintessential Spanish experience. Everything from the charm of the white hill towns, to the flamboyant Flamenco dancers, to bull fighting matadors, to tasty tapas feels like a page right out of a travel magazine. Also in this region you’ll find the Alhambra in Granada and the Mezquita in Cordoba that melds Europe and Islamic architecture into a mesmerizing experience. The nearby Costa del Sol is a perfect place to slow down and soak up some Spanish sun.

The large cities of Andalucia - Seville, Cordoba, Granada - are becoming increasingly connected with the rest of Spain as the AVE high speed train connects them to each other and Madrid. However, you might consider renting a car or hiring a driver in this region for the convenience of wandering off the beaten path and exploring the small nearby hill towns. The distances between cities are short, no more than a couple of hours. Or, if you’re looking for a central home base, consider Marbella along the Costa del Sol.

Seville is the capital of this region and the 4th largest city in Spain and yet, the city itself is intimate and very walkable. By staying in the city center it is quick walk to the top sights of the Alcazar, Cathedral, and Barrio Santa Cruz - Seville’s Jewish Quarter.

This past October I had the opportunity to experience a guided tour with TRAFALGAR called the “European Dream”. We started in Rome and had a great sightseeing tour of this amazing city with the ancient ruins and Vatican City, especially viewing Michelangelo’s amazing ceiling. After Rome we traveled north into the beautiful Tuscany hillside and had a delicious lunch in a local castle hosted by the owners. We continued onto Florence and enjoyed all of the cultural events. Next was the exciting island city of Venice with gondola canal rides and glass blowing demonstrations.

After Venice we traveled through beautiful picturesque Switzerland to Lucerne. A must is a cogwheel rail ride up one of the mountain peaks for panoramic views. Next we ventured to Paris enjoying the rolling hills of Burgundy and scenery of beautiful France on the way. Paris is an amazing city. We enjoyed strolling the Champs-Elysees and a city tour. A must in the evening is a scenic boat ride on the Seine River with the Eiffel Tower lights glittering in the background. We then continued onto Calais where we took a ferry across the English Channel to London and experienced the heritage of this modern city.

This was a fast paced tour, but enjoyable and definitely great for first time visitors in Europe. Trafalgar does an exceptional job. Our guide was very cordial and knowledgeable. I highly recommend Trafalgar Tours.

Welcome on board!

All the best,
Claudia Miller
Morris Murdock Travel - Draper

(801) 483-5236
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Visiting Disneyland in the Fall is a great time to experience some seasonal fun! On select dates September through Oct.31, for an extra fee you can enjoy Halloween time at either Disneyland or the California Adventure Park. Which ever park that is hosting the event, that park will close early and then it will reopen to those who bought the party tickets. The park will then stay open until midnight or 1:00 am.

These parties and costumes are so fun! It is amazing to see how creative people are with them! Even your Mickey and Minnie and several of your other favorite Disney Characters are dressed up for Halloween. Many costumes people come dressed in are Disney themed – while others include characters from movies or T.V. Scattered around the park are “Trick or Treat” stations where you may get a hand full of candy, snack crackers, raisins or fruit leather.

The atmosphere areas have Halloween themed characters, misty fog and special villain themed parades and water shows. For me the best is the Spooky Halloween Screams fireworks show! The castle and Main Street store fronts come alive with floating bats and ghosts. The show is hosted by Jack Skellington from The Nightmare before Christmas and Jack’s ghost dog Zero comes flying through the sky around the castle. There are plenty of villains who join in the fireworks show.

There are special is a special themed makeover to some of The Haunted Mansion which is turned into Haunted Mansion Holiday featuring characters from The Nightmare before Christmas. Both parks have updated theme rides to enjoy.

There are special treats and snacks, like Pumpkin Beignets, Hot Apple Cider, Hot chocolate and spooky caramel apples. There are also cool souvenirs to buy to remind you of the fun times you encountered at the Halloween Party.

This is a great event and everyone should experience once in a lifetime! If you are tired of doing the Character meals – why not give the Halloween party a try!

Safe Travels!

All the best,
Karen Gerlach
Morris Murdock Escorted Tours

(801) 483-5213
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