10.23.2020

from the Berkeley Hills to the Blue Ridge Parkway

view from the Blue Ridge Parkway (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Both an exciting and a sad announcement, I've lived in the San Francisco Bay Area for 28 years. I moved here in 1992 to pursue a Ph.D. at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, earning my doctorate in 1997. After devoting more than a decade to academia, I decided to pursue another one of my passions. In 2006, literally on my 55th birthday, I began a new adventure, a travel business. Here in Berkeley I built my business, and Team Ourisman has expanded over the years to (currently) a team of four, each of us working remotely from our own home offices in Maryland, Arkansas, and California.

And now Claire and I are moving to North Carolina. The Bay Area has grown more crowded in the decades that I've lived here. Traffic is getting worse. And the climate ... well, it's become perceptibly warmer and drier. I used to wear sweatshirts all year round; I've worn short sleeves every day this summer. It used to rain a LOT in the winter, packing the Sierras with snow, but we're living with droughts. Climate change is most assuredly real, and California has been impacted severely by firestorms. Starting earlier and lasting longer, they have burned more acres each and every year. Our air during firestorms becomes so unhealthy that we can't go for our daily walks in our beloved Tilden Park. So we've decided to move ... and it will happen sometime around the end of November.

Asheville, NC will become our new home and the new home office of Ourisman Travel. Absolutely nothing will change for our clients ... the same email and phone numbers will work as before. Because we have been working remotely with a virtual Team Office for a decade now, it's second nature for us to work as a team while socially distanced. So besides the fact that I'll be packing, moving, and unpacking, it will still be business as usual. My Team will cover for me when I need the help!

What will change are the views. Instead of the Berkeley Hills and their beautiful vistas of San Francisco Bay, we will now delight in beautiful views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. The forests surrounding the Parkway are administered by the National Park Service, and they literally begin in our new back yard. It will be just a half mile hike up the hill to the parkway itself, and I'm looking forward to some sunrise photography once I learn the best spots.

It's so very sad to leave so many wonderful friends behind, especially Epworth United Methodist Church that has been my family and spiritual community for 28 years. But we'll all be able to stay connected through Travel Horizons and Facebook. Send me a friend request to follow along in all our new adventures.

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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

10.15.2020

stunning new private residences in Costa Rica

 


Imagine the sunsets you'll watch from your own private residence overlooking Prieta Bay at Four Seasons Costa Rica. Ranging from 3 to 5 bedrooms, each residence affords panoramic views of the beach and the Pacific Ocean beyond. The spacious villas range in size from 5626-8687 square feet with expansive glass walls to let the outside in. Each comes with a private infinity pool and hot tub and is equipped with a gourmet European kitchen. Four Seasons can provide a chef to prepare special family meals in the privacy of your own home.

US citizens are welcome back to Costa Rica on November 1st, 2020, and Four Seasons will reopen on November 12th. An ecological treasure with incredibly diverse fauna and flora, Costa Rica is one of my favorite destinations in the world. My personal highlight was hiking the rainforests on raised wooden trails with Hector (pictured below) pointing out the many marvels right in front of me that I would never have spotted on my own.

Hector, our unforgettable guide in Costa Rica (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

As a Four Seasons Preferred Partner guest, you'll enjoy generous value-added amenities, bringing you hundreds of dollars in savings through complimentary breakfasts and other hotel credits. We are restricted from posting publicly the precise amenity list, but just drop us an email. Any member of Team Ourisman can tell you about the special savings you'll receive at Four Seasons Costa Rica ... or any Four Seasons in the world — and, by the way, this is all at the same price you'd pay booking yourself online.

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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC.  All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member.

9.24.2020

Hawaii opens October 15th with negative Covid test


Good news! Hawaii is in the process of reopening to visitors... and Hawaii's pre-testing program for Covid-19 will begins on Thursday, October 15. The state has created a two-minute video explaining the five-step process (see below).

Step one — surf to Hawaii's online Travel and Health Form. Each traveling adult will establish their own sign-in. Complete, e-sign, and submit the online form, adding any minors as "additional travelers." Verification numbers will be texted to your cell phone and emailed as well, and you'll have to enter these six-digit numbers.

Step two — enter details of your trip including arrival date, departure and arrival airport, flight information, government ID, your hotel in Hawaii. etc.

Step three — 24 hours before your trip, you will be informed by email and text that your Travel Health Questionnaire is available. Log in and complete the questionnaire. If you have your negative test result, you will be able to upload that form at this time. If it hasn't come yet, you will present the hard copy when you arrive in Hawaii.

Step four — check your email for your QR. Print this out and/or get the code on your phone.

Step five — Things to have ready at the airport checkpoint in Hawaii: your QR code, government-issued ID for each adult, a charged and working cell phone, and your test results (unless you've uploaded them ... but I'd bring them anyway).


What's deal with the Covid-19 pre-travel test? No earlier than 72 hours before your flight, take an FDA-approved nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT), performed using a nasal swab, and get proof of negative test results. CVS and Kaiser Permanente are both certified as trusted testing partners, but you can use any CLIA certified laboratory.

What if you don't get your test results before your flight? If you're lucky, your test results will be in your email by the time your reach the islands. If not, you will be required to quarantine in a hotel room (at a hotel that provides this option) until you receive your proof of negative test results and report them to the Hawai‘i State Department of Health.

Most luxury resorts will not allow you to quarantine at the resort. The following, for instance, is the policy of Four Seasons Maui:

The option to quarantine (rather than provide proof of a negative test) is not available to our guests. Therefore, all guests must have proof of a negative PCR Covid-19 test that had been performed no more than 72 hours prior to arrival. This will need to be shown at the airport, as well as at the Front Desk upon check in.

A temperature screening process will be in place upon arrival and throughout the Resort, along with additional Lead With Care protocols.

At this time, we will not allow outside guests to use our facilities, including the restaurants and spa.

Bottom line: find a test laboratory than will guarantee results within 3 days, and you're good to go! 



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copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.16.2020

a new boutique luxury hotel in Paris

One of our favorite Parisian tour guides anticipates that visitors will seek out smaller, boutique hotels. She recommends Cour des Vosges, an intimate luxury hotel in the Marais located at 19 place des Vosges (the beautiful square you see through the window of a room overlooking the square.

A residence built in the 17th century, Cour des Vosges has only twelve rooms. Definitely book one of the Superior or Deluxe Suites on the first or second floors of the hotel; these Suites boast wonderful fifteen foot-high ceilings. We recommend avoiding the 3rd and 4th floors (with guestrooms and one Junior Suite); these accommodations are quite cozy with "regular" 8 foot ceilings.

Affiliated with Travel Leaders Select, your travel advisor can offer you a rate 10% less than BAR at Cour des Vosges, and you'll all receive exclusive added-value amenities — daily breakfast for two, a $100 hotel credit towards incidentals, and upgrade if available.

But the best part of the hotel ... waking up to this incredible view of the Place des Vosges!

Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.10.2020

travel souvenirs — part 13


pendant with Maori design from New Zealand

New Zealand is one of the most gorgeous places on earth, and I have thoroughly enjoyed my two trips there. Like many of you, I'm always looking for something special to bring back when I travel. I remember looking for a gift for Claire all during my first trip but never found the perfect gift ... until my very last day. At the Queenstown airport, waiting for our flight to Auckland, I came across this pendant in the airport's gift shop.

Made of mother of pearl, this pendant is in the form of a koru. One of the basic symbols in Maori art, the koru is based on the shape of an unfurling silver fern frond. It symbolizes new life, growth, strength, and peace. It's also a beautiful piece of jewelry!

Known for its incredible scenery — from the southern alps of the Queenstown area to the northern beaches of the bay of islands — New Zealand offers its visitors fabulous food and wine, adventure sports from sailing to skiing to bungee jumping, and some of the most wonderful luxury lodges in the world.

Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

9.02.2020

travel souvenirs — part 12


Delft houses from KLM (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

If you've flown KLM business class, you'll recognize this souvenir. Passengers on long haul flights to or from Amsterdam are presented with a choice of blue Delft china houses designed to resemble actual historic buildings in the Netherlands. I've even to the Royal Delft factory and seen the process by which the pottery is painted with the iconic Delft blue and then glazed. Of course, that was 51 years ago in the summer of 1969 — so I'm dating myself.

I've acquired these four Delft houses over the years...

73 — De Posthoorn 

83 — Museum Van Loon

33 — De Dubbelde Palmboom

7 — Bols House

KLM has a comfortable business class with lie-flat seats that offer a good night's sleep on your way over the pond. Amsterdam offers convenient connections to destinations all over Europe, avoiding the madness of transfers in Paris or London. Get in touch for specially discounted business class fares when packaged with hotel stays or car rentals... or click here to discover the value-added Virtuoso amenities you can score at Amsterdam's most elegant luxury hotels.

Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.

8.30.2020

travel souvenirs — part 11


Celtic cross souvenir from Ireland (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved

Ireland is one of the friendliest and most visually stunning destinations we've ever visited. Claire and I were both struck by its Celtic spirituality. Predating Christianity by centuries, Celtic independence was lost when the land was conquered by Julius Caesar, and Celtic religion was eclipsed by the coming of Christianity.

But signs of Celtic spirituality are still everywhere in Ireland. Our guide took us to see fairy forts in County Clare, and Celtic crosses (such as the one pictured below) can be found throughout the country, a sign that Ireland's native culture still persists.

Click here to sign up for the Ourisman Travel Newsletter.

copyright (c) 2020 by Ourisman Travel LLC. All rights reserved. We provide Virtuoso and other Preferred Partner amenities as an affiliate of Brownell, a Virtuoso® Member. If you have comments on this column, or questions about booking travel, email me or visit my website.



Celtic cross from County Kerry (c) 2020 by David Ourisman, all rights reserved