Travel Showcase 2023: Paris, Cruise the Heart of Europe, and Cuba

Travel Showcase 2023: Paris, Cruise the Heart of Europe, and Cuba

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>> Kelly Morgante: Welcome to the Penn State Alumni Association's annual Travel Showcase. I'm Kelly Morgante, Assistant Director of the Alumni Travel Program and this is our kickoff for our 2023 Tour Collection. The Penn State Alumni Association has been offering group travel for over 50 years. This week, I will be showcasing three destinations a night with one of our trusted travel partners.

No matter if you prefer means of travel is by river, ocean, or land, we offer something for every type of traveler. Based on the features made available in your audience console today, you can view slides, hear presenters via the main stage, chat with other attendees, find additional resources, links, and more. To access Closed Captioning, please click the CC button located within the main stage. Click on the chat icon at the bottom of your screen and let us know where you're viewing from or where you're planning on traveling to next. Following the event, you can email any questions to

Today, I'm joined by AHI Travel Representative, Mark Miller, Senior Vice President of Sales. Hi Mark! >> Mark Miller: Hi, Kelly! How are you? >> Kelly Morgante: How are you today? >> Mark Miller: I'm doing well. >> Kelly Morgante: I'm glad, I'm glad. So AHI and Penn State have been partnering to offer group travel since 1968. In fact, the very first Alumni Tour that was offered through Penn State was with AHI.

So tell us a little bit about why it's so special to travel with AHI? >> Mark Miller: Well, you know, first thing of all, can I just, I want to say thank you and your entire team for organizing this event and thanks to the Penn State Alumni Association and Paul Clifford and your continued partnership with AHI. And I just want to thank everyone for being here today. It's so exciting, traveling is so exciting, I'm so excited that you're all here! So [laughs], so thank you. And believe it or not, you know, we are celebrating our 60th anniversary this year. And so, so there's a lot of parties, okay, so and that's really, has been a great ride for us, you know, providing the best travel experience exclusively for Alumni travelers.

And Penn State, you know, you guys were one of our very first partners back in 1962. You know, if you don't know, we raised a tour, Alumni Tour to the Gator Bowl [laughs] -- >> Kelly Morgante: Actually, Bowl Tours I think is what you guys started in. >> Mark Miller: I know, right [laughs].

And then our first international trip was in 1968, first international, that was to Europe. And I always say just pack your comfortable shoes and your curiosity and we'll handle the rest. And so just to answer your questions Kelly, you know, we specialize in small group land tours, you know, no more than 24 travelers at Deluxe Hotels Accommodations which are all since relocated. And we also specialize in river cruises and these are fully charted by AHI with reduced capacity with no more than 140 travelers.

And we have customized itineraries so we offer this range of complimentary shore excursions and that we call 'Personalize Your Journey' or, you know, the legal around here is 'PYJ,' Personalize Your Journey. These are complimentary shore excursions you experience on, on, on the river boat. And all of our river cruises have a great, this great offer for singles.

No single supplement for solo travelers. >> Kelly Morgante: That's very popular with our travelers. >> Mark Miller: Yeah, yeah, so that's, it's, it's a very, very good benefit for all your single travelers. >> Kelly Morgante: Great.

Well, yeah, so let's go ahead and talk a little bit about some of like your tour directors and stuff that you offer on the, on these excursions and trips. >> Mark Miller: Yeah. So, you know, we, we have great -- if you want to move the slide there -- and we've got great travel directors. This is probably our greatest asset is our season travel directors, you know, expert tour guides, our on-site staff, really brings the tour to life. Up the upper lefthand corner, that's Catherine who is going to do, be the travel director for, for the Paris, featuring the African American experience.

There's Anja and Annemarie there. A Sergey going around in clockwise. They're, they're going to be handling the Cruise, The Heart of Europe program next year. And there's Allan in the bottom corner there who looks like he just had, you know, streamed the entire season of [inaudible]. So but he should be a little bit more smiley but Allan does our Cuba program so those are great, great, great travel directors. >> Kelly Morgante: Yeah, Anja had, I was with Anja in Italy several years ago and she's, she's magnificent.

>> Mark Miller: Yeah, great, you know, we have great, great staff of travel directors. And so, again, our best, that's our best, best feature. But first of all, as you know, Kelly, I just wanted to talk about health and safety. And, you know, we have a term around here as we say, "We are ready." And, and, you know, we've traveled over 1,700 Alumni last year, you know, from summer to end of December.

And starting from January this year, we've traveled over 500 starting in January -- >> Kelly Morgante: That's great. >> Mark Miller: -- to today. So, you know, all of our, you know, travel directors have been specially trained on measures in keeping everyone safe while on tour. You know, they have extra masks, they have hand sanitizer, they're going to be very vigilant about social distancing when necessary, and will just simply follow the local protocols of the countries and those guidelines, whatever they are because they seem to change every day [laughs].

>> Kelly Morgante: Daily, they're changing daily, yes. >> Mark Miller: And so, you know, we'll also arrange, you know, right now, of course, to get back into the United States, you have to test, you know, have a test, negative test to get back into the United States and we'll arrange for all that so no worries there for anyone. You know, we'll arrange a special COVID testing before returning to the United States. >> Kelly Morgante: That's great. >> Mark Miller: [inaudible] with the next slide. And so we'll, we'll also work cohesively with the hotel and restaurant staffs, motorcoach companies, drivers, museums, wineries, all the suppliers, you know, to create this really safe and smooth operation for everyone.

And we won't miss a thing, we'll have everything that was promised on the itinerary that you see, we will, we will visit. And so we always ask people to do their part, whatever that is, just follow our travel directors, just do what they say to do. And, of course, the protocols change differently for each country, if necessary, we'll want you to wear a face covering, we want you to wash your hands if that's necessary or social distance, or any of those kind of requirements, you know, we'll let you know on tour. And then certainly, before you go, we're going to make you well aware of all the requirements that's needed way in advance of your departure. And even if something arises, we've been really good about communicating with travelers and letting them know, "Hey, you know, you need to do this now instead of that."

So we've been [inaudible] very good with that. >> Kelly Morgante: I hear on such a regular basis about people who try to travel on their own and about like where do I find the information on entry requirements and what's this country doing now? And knowing that you guys are on top of that is certainly a huge selling point, it takes the weight off the shoulders of all the travelers of saying, "You know, well, I don't know, you know, what my restrictions are, what my, what documentation is required." So you guys handle all that, that's fantastic. Thank you. >> Mark Miller: Yeah, it's daunting because it changes, literally, every day.

We meet every day here and, as a team, and every, every country has a different requirement now and it changes almost daily. And so we are up, you know, up, you know, and accurate of what, what's required and we let everyone know what's going on. So you're right, I think we're very well versed in what travel [inaudible] we'll need.

>> Kelly Morgante: Great, thank you. >> Mark Miller: Yeah. Next slide, please. And then because of all of what's going on, you know, we offer this complementary travel accident and sickness protection.

And this is called AHI Travel Assurance. It's purchased by us on the behalf of every traveler so it's free, complementary. And the program, the plan provides medical coverage if you're sick, even if you're sick with COVID-19 during your trip, as well as trip delay, accident and medical and evacuation coverage, we'll send you this information when you book. And please know that this coverage doesn't take the place of full travel insurance which, you know, you offer, Kelly, as you know.

And so we recommend also purchasing, you know, full travel insurance. But this piece, we'll take care of for you. >> Kelly Morgante: Fantastic, great! >> Mark Miller: Next slide. >> Kelly Morgante: Yeah, let's get into the real fun stuff. >> Mark Miller: [laughs] so yeah. So all, I'll talk about three trips.

The first one, of course, is Paris. You know, next year, you know, we've got, you know, 14 amazing trips with, with you guys, of course, but I'll focus on three. First one would be the Paris, Featuring the African American Experience; then the Cruise The Heart of Europe; and then Cuba. This is, of course, you know, one of my favorite places in the world, Paris. And this will be May 27 to June 4th next year. And as you know, Kelly, this tour sold out like in a week [laughs], in 2019 for you guys.

And it's a small group so no more than, no more than 24 travelers and you unpack once. So you use, it's a stay program, unpack once, seven nights in Paris. Next, next slide. So we'll, we'll spend seven nights in the really trendy district of the Marais. This is the Hotel Les Jardins du Marais.

And family-friendly, it's a nice boutique hotel, just minutes away from Place des Vosges, from the Picasso Museum, from the Carnavalet Museum, the Bastille Place, and, and the [inaudible] Business District, great area, bars, restaurants, nightlife, easy, close by and to get to. And shopping is, you can do shopping at the Steel Place [assumed spelling] which is about a 10-minute walk from the hotel. The Metro Station is only two minutes away. And, and it's, it's a great combination, as you can see, through these images.

The rooms are really nicely appointed. There's a very nice courtyard where we do our receptions. Kelly, I know we've had cocktails there in the -- >> We have [laughs]. >> -- courtyard.

And so it's a great, great, great location. Next slide. >> Yeah, it really is. And it's, and Paris is such a walkable city.

So the Metro being so close is very handy to get to some areas that are a little bit further. But I mean, there's so much of this in walkable distance at that hotel, it's a great property. >> Yeah, it's a great property, great location in Marais, everyone wants to be in Marais now. And right, it's just, you can just hop on the Metro, it's very easy to just hop on the Metro and, and spend your time exploring Paris.

>> And the history behind this program itself is, I think, probably the most fascinating thing for us. I mean, because you can go to Paris and see a lot, but the history that you guys sort of weave into this trip, let's, let's talk a little bit about that. >> Yeah. So, you know, if you've been to Paris 100 times like I have, you'll see a whole different Paris when you go on this trip to, you know, to, to Paris. And so we have special guides, special visits, special people all to make, to look at Paris very differently than if you've gone there before. You know, we call it the spirit of, you know, a Black, Black Paris.

And, you know, this is where we really discover, you know, Paris in a different light. We first give kind of an overview of Black history and achievement. It's, you know, challenges of, you know, the African American expatriates, you know, the Afro-Caribbean community, and the African immigrant community.

So again, you're looking through a different lens when you do this trip and we'll revisit the Stays, you know, [inaudible], City of Bouchet, Sally Hemings, Bricktop, in traveling in the different neighborhoods, you know, just going through these, these slides right here, you know, that's on the top, top left is Place des Vosges, that's right near the hotel, really great area you can walk and relax. And a lot of, you know, young people like to spread out, as you can see, on the lawn there. We're, we're going to talk a lot about Josephine Baker, of course, that's going to be very prominent. There's the Folies that she performed. And moving clockwise, that's the Church Madeleine where they had the funeral procession for her. Then, you know, the bottom left is the Josephine Baker Square which is very, very cool.

We're talking, we're going to talk about Eugene Bullard, you know, the, the, ex, ex, you know, the air, the pilot, the famous pilot, airman. And then, of course, the Alexandre Dumas who is the, you know, the playwright novelist of the Count of Monte Cristo, and the Three Musketeers, and so we'll talk about that as well. Next slide. You know, we'll also have the filmmakers there in Paris. They did this really great film of Paris Noir; African Americans in the City of Light.

And you'll have a chance in the morning after breakfast to watch the film and the actual filmmakers will be there for a really interesting discussion about the film and, and what's, what's happening now. It's really very, very quite intriguing. And then we'll re-step, you know, retrace the steps of the Black community in Paris. This is in Laura, Montmartre, in the 1920s.

And so we'll talk about the Harlem Hellfighters which were the World War I troop that brought jazz pretty much to Paris. We'll talk about the famous clubs that were, was owned by Eugene Bullard, Josephine Baker, and Bricktop. And then, of course, we'll have this wonderful evening, dinner evening of, of jazz and, and great music at one of the major jazz clubs. Next slide.

>> The music and the food in Paris, I don't see how you can get much better than. >> [laughs] That's right, Kelly. And speaking of food, you know, we do do this Flavors of France Walking Tour. And, you know, you can also discover Paris by tasting it.

This is a wonderful food tour, I know that we did it [laughs], Kelly, when we were there. And it's in foot of the Eiffel Tower. It's, you know, truffle cheeses, sweets of [inaudible], wine tasting.

Yeah [laughs]. Great, great part of Paris. And then after you're full, we're going to take a trip over to the, the quai Branly Museum. And that's the, featuring all this Indigenous art, you know, of Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. The museum collection is quite vast about, they have, I think, about, you know, more than a million objects in their possession but about 3,500 are displayed in the museum, itself, at any given time. They have both a permanent and temporary, you know, exhibits there.

>> Great, great. >> Next slide. And, of course, we have a free day. And if you want to choose to have your free day to do this optional excursion, the Versailles, I say, do it. If you've never been to Versailles, it's a full day.

Or you can, you know, be like a local in Paris and have your free day on the day everyone else goes to Versailles. Next slide. And then another great day is where we have a chance to meet Jake Lamar. And he's a, you know, Black American writer living in France. He's the modern-day ex-patriot.

And he's very, very well known in France. So if you're walking around with him, you know, people do want his autograph so, but he's a great guy. He's written memoir, six novels, numerous essays, reviews and short stories, and most recently, a play, very famous play that he's written. And then we do, after we talk with Jake, we do this great walking tour, you know, focusing on the Sorbonne and the Pantheon.

And this is where, you know, in, you know, in the Paris history, Black American history where the explosion of Black consciousness in expression through the Negritude movement and through the Harlem Renaissance. This is where it, kind of all of it started with the writers, you know, and the African Caribbean intellectuals. And so we'll, we'll learn about the Sorbonne and its significance. We'll learn about the first International Congress of Black writers in 1956 which, you know, featured Richard Wright. And then the, the walking tour finishes at the home, former home of Richard Wright, very, very moving, you know, moving walk, walking tour.

And they're all, also, we'll have this walking tour of all the, of the haunts of Miles Davis and Bud Powell. And you can just walk through these neighborhoods and you can be able point to where they, where they lived and where they played music and you could just feel them, you feel their presence, you feel their music during, during this walking tour. >> Great. >> And then, and there's, of course, nothing better than being in Paris, be on the Bateaux-Mouches, you know, being on the Seine River. And so we'll do a very nice Seine River boat tour.

And then that, we'll do that morning. And then you have the rest of the day free so we have another half day free so you could do the Louvre, you know, you can revisit, you know, some of the stops. You go to the Eiffel Tower, you can shop or just, just relax so it's a great, great day.

And then that evening, we have a Pharaoh reception and dinner. >> Wonderful. >> Great, yeah.

>> Yeah, wonderful. >> So that's Paris. We'll say Au revoir to Paris. Next slide. So again, it's May 27th-June 4th, price is $3,795 per person plus airfare and value added tax, nine-day tour. >> And that one is actually open for reservations right now.

We are very special, this, we've got a special bonus this year for our travelers. The trip is going to be hosted by Dr. Gregory Drane. He is the director of the famous Penn State Blue Band. And he is going to be accompanying the entire trip with our group in 2023.

So we're very fortunate to have him. >> Yeah, that's incredible. That's great. That's going to be a great trip, Kelly. >> It is, it is.

And he's going to be such a, such a great asset to it just because of his musical background and the information that he can share, you know, about some of the, the military bands and stuff because I know that he's familiar with the all-Black Navy band. >> Yeah, yeah. He'll be a great addition to that. And a lot of great insight, I'm sure he'll -- >> Great. So, well, let's stay in Europe and talk about one of my favorite types of travel which is river cruising.

>> Yeah, and this is a, yeah, this is Cruise the Heart of Europe, October 14th to the 29th. It's, it's unpack once, you really enjoy this real close-up look into five countries, three rivers, 14 cities. This will be on our chartered, exclusively chartered river boat. And, again, the no single supplement for solo travelers applies here. So all your single travelers will just pay what everyone else is paying and solely occupy a cabin. And then, of course, I mentioned the range of excursion choices, complementary excursion choices, and that's personalize your journey or, or PYJ.

And as you can see from the map, you know, this program stretches right across Europe. We start in, in Budapest and we end up there and in Amsterdam. And I think the, the Nittany Lion is very excited about the ship right there. I think he's, he's just jumping for joy. >> He's just everywhere. >> [laughs] This is on the Amadeus Silver III.

It's, you know, a new ship that was launched in 2016. Very, very beautiful high tech, a modern, modern ship. And, and he's also very excited about all the wonderful cities that, that's going to be visited. Yeah, so, yes.

So, next slide. And so here's all the, all the cities, you know, Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Durstein, Melk, Passau, Regensburg, Nuremberg, Bamberg, Wurzburg, Miltenberg, Koblenz, Cologne, and Amsterdam, 16 days, unpack once, and it's just a beautiful, beautiful trip. We do have a video of this.

I think there's going to be a link, Kelly? >> Yep, we put a link down below in our Quick Links section. So anybody who wants to watch that video, it's, it's pretty short, it's like two minutes long. They can go ahead and click on that and they can watch the entire video. >> Yeah, so, so check it out. Next slide.

And so here's the river ship, this is the Amadeus Silver III. And state of the art, wonderful amenities, spacious cabins, all river view rooms, hotel bedding style with plush pillows and duvet covers, modern, it's modern bathrooms and toiletries. There on the right, right-hand corner is the sundeck where you can enjoy cocktails while, you know, open air sailing.

Next slide. Also, the ship has, as you can see, beautiful lounges and gourmet cuisine, you know, serving these regional, these great regional specialties and international dishes. And, of course, wine or beer at dinner. Next slide. And so I've just picked a few cities that I like, you know, just lots of cities, there's just, here's a few and here's, you know, the first where we start is Budapest and one of the most world's beautiful cities, right in the heart of Europe, of course.

And we'll travel through both the Budapest sections of the city. Your personalized your journey, you'll, you'll get this select one of these three excursions, firstly, you know, the highlights of Budapest, that's the Budapest Panoramic bus tour through the city, that's one you can pick. Or living local, I like this one, it's the Great Market Hall and you learn how, you learn how strudel is made and you'll get to taste some strudel. And then you can wash it down with some schnapps, local schnapps.

>> Oh. >> That's, that's, that's a good one. My wife, she's, you know, likes the history of Budapest. This, the last one is the Jewish Quarter. And we'll learn and walk through the Jewish Quarter, we'll learn and visit the Great Synagogue, we'll visit the Holocaust Memorial Center, and we'll also see the very moving Shoes, Shoes Memorial. >> Yeah.

>> Yeah, next slide. >> Yeah, lots of options. >> Yeah. And then to end your really wonderful time in Budapest, we'll, we'll have this Budapest by night, everyone will see the illuminated Budapest.

This is right after dinner, everyone gets up on the deck and we'll sail up past the Parliament Building and the Buda Castle and under the Chain Bridge, and it's a great illuminated city and a great experience, you know, unforgettable departure from, from Budapest. Slide. And then Vienna, another favorite city of mine. This is, we'll start in the morning, we'll have one of our great lectures, Sergey does this, this is timeless Vienna, you know, where you'll discover the history of Vienna, one of the, you know, one of the world's most elegant cities. I always tell my family, shh, because they don't like -- >> Don't tell anybody. >> Yeah, [laughs] they don't like a lot of noise there and so you don't make a lot of noise. But very quiet, quiet city.

But you'll have three choices, again, this is first of all Imperial Vienna where you'll see most the historical sites, you know, like the Hof, Hofburg Palace, the Ringstrasse, the University, the City Hall, the Opera House, the Golden Concert Hall. And, of course, you'll see the monuments dedicated to Strauss and to Mozart. Then the one I like is the Schonbrunn Palace. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. And this was the summer of residence of the Hapsburgs.

And then the one that my, my wife likes is the Vienna Woods. A short drive out to the outskirts of town and we'll have this guided walk through, you know, the hills and forest areas of Vienna, very beautiful area. And then you could see, you'll be on a hill, hill area, you can see the river and you can see the city, very, very nice if you like hiking, walking -- >> Yeah, even out at Schonbrunn Palace, you know, they have the whole garden area.

I forget how many acres is out there but, I mean, the grounds are beautiful out there. >> It's, you know, Kelly, it's yeah, it's an incredible sight. And one of my, one of my favorite. >> Yeah, me too. >> Yeah, yeah. Next slide.

And then while traveling, you know, you will, you will be traveling the day and one of the spectacular moments is the Rhine Gorge. And, and it, this is one of the most difficult areas, you know, to navigate. But, you know, we'll pass the Lorelei. And the Lorelei is that steep slate rock hill, you know, on the right bank there of the Rhine.

And, and, of course, it has, you know, these heavy currents and kind of a, kind of whispering waterfalls so it makes kind of a sound [laughs], actually. And so that's inspired many stories about this siren named Lorelei. So you'll hear about that as we pass through and all the different stories and tales about the siren, beautiful siren, a maiden named Lorelei. >> Okay. >> Yeah. Next slide. And this is Koblenz.

You know, one of the more rustic towns. What I love about this day is that, you know, we dock right there, it's, you know, we learn about the Romans and, you know, 2,000 years ago, their settlement there. As you can see, right there in the upper lefthand corner, it's the Rhine meeting the Moselle River. So that's where it meets and, and so it's a real strategic point, you know, 2,000 years ago where the Romans were. And we park right there, we dock right there. And the, the PYJ, the Personalize Your Tour starts right there from the ship.

You can either choose to do the walking tour of Koblenz which I like, you know, the narrow streets and cobra houses, you know. Or you could go to the Fortress which is pretty, pretty incredible. But they're both, no buses today [laughs]. You can walk and do, do either one. Next slide. And in Cologne, of course, there's no PYJ here, everyone does the, kind of the same thing which is a walking tour, again, from the ship.

And we'll see the colorful houses, cobblestone streets. And of course, the world-famous Cathedral which is the symbol of the city. You know, this is one of the largest Gothic structures in the world. And then, of course, if there, this, this will to be done in the morning, seeing the church. In the afternoon, if you want, you can go to the Chocolate Museum, Cologne's Chocolate Museum.

But I don't know, Kelly, have you ever been there? It's pretty -- >> I didn't know about that, no [laughs]. It sounds like [inaudible] on my bucket list. >> Right [laughs]. See, I've already seen the church so I'm just going to spend the whole day at the Chocolate Museum [laughs]. But it's a great, great city. It's great shopping there and a great city.

And next slide. And then finally, we end our trip and our cruise in Amsterdam. There's three choices here, the Rijksmuseum, my favorite [inaudible], the collection of Dutch art, Dutch, Dutch Masters, you know, Rembrandt's Night Watch is there. The second, again, moving over to the right there, the bikes, that's the Waterland bicycle ride. And that's the guided bike ride in the rural area called Waterland.

And you'll pass through these great historic little cities as you do the, do the bike, bike riding. It's not speed riding [laughs], it's very casual and relaxed, you know. >> Don't have to be marathon.

>> Right [laughs], no, no marathon -- >> No. >> -- bike riding. And then the third opportunity would be the Canal District Walking Tour. And then we got, we walk through all the beautiful canals of Amsterdam and in the Herengracht.

And that's the Herengracht neighborhood. And so beautiful, great, great walking tour. And then after all -- go ahead, Kelly. >> This tour, I mean, it offers so many great stops. And the nice thing is, is you aren't spending your time packing and unpacking all the time.

It's, you know, you get on, you unpack once, and you get to see all these magnificent cities. And the Personalize Your journey is something that you guys have been doing for, what, probably about five or six years now where you're offering different excursions based on interest in different, different stops. So this one has so many different ones, whether it's walking or culinary experiences or museum visits. I mean, it's, there's something in almost every port.

>> That's right, Kelly, we really do give people a choice. I think, that's what people want these days when they travel. They just, everyone doesn't want to be doing all the same thing. There is enough, enough things that we do together. You know, for instance, after these three excursions, everyone gets to go on a canal cruise in the evening and taste all these wonderful delights, delicacies of Amsterdam.

So I think we have a nice balance of choices, and lots of choices, and then things that we like to all do together. >> And the guides that you bring on, in with the group, I mean, they're, they're escorted by a tour director through this entire thing. So they have one tour director should anything happen, they handle the buses, the meals, any excursions, they handle all the logistics. But you also bring in your expert guides from the local areas. So it really does give you a, an in-depth look at, you know, where you are at one that day.

>> Yeah, that's, that's the beauty of this is the walk on guides tell you about their city, they're very proud of their city, and they give you really an in-depth look of, you know, their, their, their, their experience, their city, and all, all the things that you, you should or should not do [laughs] while in their city [laughs]. >> Right. >> You know, don't talk loudly in Vienna, that's what I was told. >> Right, no, no, no, don't talk loudly in Vienna. But so, well, let's move on to our very last destination. We're done with this one, I think.

>> Yeah, I just want to just mention, it's Cruise the Heart of Europe. This is October 14th to the 29th, 2023. It's, the starting price is 5,695 per person, plus airfare, and value added tax. And we'd love to have you, and with the Nittany Lion, travel, travel along. >> Yeah, well, let's go ahead, let's, let's move it a little bit closer to home for most of us and talk about our last destination for the day which is Cuba.

And while it's closer to home, it's still not that easy to get to. >> [laughs] That's right. Yeah, you know, yes, this is Cuba, this has been one of our most popular tours over the last five years. It's not easy to get to, Kelly, just because you have to have a special license to get there that, that we've had that license and its requirements has changed over the last few years.

Right now, a license that we have and the license to get you into Cuba is called 'Support the Cuban People.' [inaudible] license that we have. And what's different about it than in the past, it's a license that says that we have to benefit the Cuban people instead of the Cuban government. So by traveling there, you're not benefiting the Cuban government, you're essentially benefiting the people of Cuba. >> Yeah, great.

>> And so why, why Cuba [laughs]? This is my top -- >> Why not? >> I know you're, I know you're ready for my top [inaudible]. You know, first of all, you know, Cuba is one of the safest place in the world. So you're very safe there Cuba. Number four would be the beautiful hotel that we're going to be staying at is a really beautiful boutique, privately owned hotel in the Vedado district of Havana.

Reason number three would be, and my personal reason, is you can relax on your terrace at the hotel with Mojito, it's my personal favorite. And, and then, you know, number two would be the lectures and discussions on the Cuban economy, Cuban arts, urban planning and architecture, that's a real good reason of why to go to Cuba. And number one reason, of course, is to engage in the inspiring conversation with the Cuban people. So those are my five top reasons why to go to Cuba [laughs]. >> They're great. >> Yeah, next slide.

And so this is a very, very small group because of, we have to stay in hotels that are not owned by the Cuba government, we found some really nice properties but they're not that big. And so we'll be taking this entire hotel which consists of only six rooms. And so there's only 12 travelers that we'd be able to take on Cuba. And so, you know, so it's very, very small, 12 is the maximum that we could take, plus the Penn State host. It's seven nights in Cuba. And this is really just a beautiful, completely renovated hotel.

It's a 1920s mansion that was renovated. It's, it's, as you can see, very modern, very elegant, very close to the theaters and restaurants and, you know, and other hotels and cafes only a few blocks away. And also, very close is the Malecon which is the esplanade, you know, it's the walkway along the shore of Cuba and so very, very close to walkable.

You can walk to the John Lennon Park. I mean, it's very close, very quiet in a quiet neighborhood, has an interior garden. And, of course, you can see these rooms are just beautiful and large. And it has a beautiful lounge and restaurant. >> Great. >> Next slide.

And so we'll see a lot of Cuba. I know people like the, of course, the vintage convertible car ride, we'll do that first off. We'll have a day where we're going to spend some time at the Synagogue Center. We're going to see the Christ of Havana. We're going to go to the Callejon de Hamel.

This is the Afro-Cuban community center. That's in the kind of the bottom, a couple of slides there. And then, of course, on the bottom there is Finca Vigia which is Hemingway's former house and museum, we'll also discover that. Next slide.

We'll also go out to Mantazas. And that's a real gem of a, of a, of a city, small city. And it's really the base of where the African roots. And we'll introduce you to African roots of Cuba.

You know, the Cuban, you know, population is 65% from slave ancestry. So we'll have a day where we spend and talk about that. Next slide. >> Great.

>> And, of course, we'll go to the Malpaso Dance Studio. We'll do the National Museum of Fine Arts and Art Studio. We'll do, you know, experience the muse -- music of Cuba. And then we'll do this really cool thing, this Finca Marta.

And this is a experimental model farm started by this young man in 2011. It's very, very fascinating. I won't give out any spoilers but it's a, it's a wonderful day being out at the, at the farm. >> Nice. >> And so that's Cuba.

It's November 10th to the 17th next year. The price is 5,395 per person. That does include tax and it does include round trip there between Miami and Havana. So the only thing you need to do is get to Miami and then we'll take care of everything else, you know, between Miami and Havana, that round-trip, round-trip airfare.

>> And you guys, once they get, get to Miami, they, you have that briefing sort of ahead of time that make sure that they have all their paperwork in order and everything else because they have to because of the licensing. >> That's exactly right. So we'll make everyone, gather everyone in Miami, we'll have a short briefing and then we'll get you guys onto Havana. >> Fantastic. That's fantastic.

>> And, you know, I just want to say thank you [laughs]. We've got a lot -- >> More thank you. >> -- for next year, I just want to say thank you to Kelly. I want to thank Sarah who's behind the scenes.

And, you know, thanks for organizing this session. Thank all of you for being here. It's great to be with you. And thank you, very, very much for your interest in traveling with the Penn State.

>> Yeah, and we have links in our Quick Links section on your console that you can go and you can view all of the trips that Penn State is offering with AHI and you can view all the trips that Penn State is offering but make sure you take a look at them and make sure you take a look at that video for the Cruise the Heart of Europe trip because it's really pretty special. Mark, I want to thank you for joining us today. I want to thank everybody who tuned in to watch our presentation. Travel is certainly making a comeback this year. And 2023 is looking to be even more popular. To, again, to view any of our links or trips, you want to visit our website;

And then you can also make reservations from those trip descriptions, call for more details. Most of what you need to know about these trips is going to be on that site. I want to thank everybody for joining us today. Today's presentation and to take the time to visit our web page. You can also check out other virtual opportunities with We Are Weekend and our Alumni Career Services team. All that information is on our regular website.

Tomorrow, I'm going to be back with Vanessa, Vanessa Cheatham from Orbridge Destination's specialist. She's going to talk about some of our North American trips, some of the options that we've got going out for that. So Mark, thank you, so much. I appreciate it. All of our virtual events are recorded. If you want to be, if you're not able to join us tomorrow or you want to be able to view any of this week's presentations, you want to go to and then under the Events tab,

a link in today's session will be there, plus we will be emailing you a link of today's session. So thank you, all, again. I hope to travel with you all soon. Have a great night!

2023-04-16 14:35

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