Let’s Make a Deal!

With less than two months to go until our grand Italian/ukulele adventure begins, and a couple of cabins on the Ave Maria still available, I AM READY TO DEAL!

Please contact me for the discount details ASAP if you want to join us on our epic Uke/Bike/Barge Adventure from Mantua to Venice, September 14 – 21. (Serious inquiries, only, please.)

Here’s our itinerary.  Really, it’s going to be awesome.  Even more so, if you come along!

And, in case you missed it, here’s a little snippet of our most recent Ukein’, Bike. & Barge trip to the

Netherlands, last April.  So much fun!

Day two – Yahoo!

By now we will have spent the first two nights of our Ukein’, Bikein’, & Bargein’ Adventure next September moored in beautiful Mantua in northern Italy. And now it will be time to head on down the. . . . .canal.

Day 2 – Mantua to Zelo

On this, our second full day aboard the Ave Maria, we “set sail” after breakfast and cruise through the lush wetlands that surround Mantua and head for the Governolo Lock, where Mantua’s River Mincio flows into the Po, Italy’s longest River.

Here, we “saddle up,” leave the Ave Maria behind, and peddle our way along the broad sweeps of the levee towards Ostiglia, another Medieval town, but one that also saw some of the fiercest fighting during the closing days of World War II.

We’ll also visit Bergantino, home of the Museum of Fairground Rides and see its fascinating collection of expertly restored street organs. You haven’t seen anything until you’ve seen one of these beauties in action.

And we’ll stop to visit a cheese factory, where we will have the opportunity to sample some well-seasoned Grana Padano, a well-aged cheese said to rival the “King of Cheeses,” Parmigiano-Reggiano. Gran Padano was created by the Cistercian monks of Chiaravalle in the 12th century and, lucky for us, it is still made throughout the Po River Valley.

Then, after an active day of astonishing variety and contrast, we catch up with the Ave Maria in Zelo, a sleepy village on the Canal Bianco, a waterway running parallel to the Po. Once back on board we can sit and relax, sip a glass of wine, strum our ukuleles, and wait for a delicious dinner to be served.

And, there will still be time after all of that to partake of a lesson or two with our resident maestro, Dave Egan.

Whew!  That’s a lot.  And it’s only our second day!

We’d love to have you join us!  Please contact me to see if we still have room.

 

Day 1 of our Ukulele Adventure in Italy!

With less than 2 months to go, I’m getting excited about our upcoming ukulele-bicycle-barge adventure in Italy!  I’ve been checking out the itinerary and wanted to share a couple of the highlights with you!

Day 1. Mantua

Mantua is bypassed by most travelers, but among Italians it is known as La Bella Addormentata, a sleeping beauty that hasn’t changed since the middle ages. For that we can thank the three surrounding lakes, an artificial fortification created nearly 1,000 years ago that effectively closed Mantua off from the rest of the world. As a result, it has been relatively untouched by urban development, and even the present population of about 48,000 is pretty much the same as centuries ago. It has been hailed by the Italian ecology movement as Italy’s most livable city.

Mantua is also famous for an architectural legacy that includes the Palazzo Ducale, the largest residence in Italy after the Vatican and home to the Gonzaga family for 400 years. It is a town within a town and includes a castle, basilica, courtyards, sumptuous galleries, gardens and more than 500 rooms!

Most of the rooms are closed off, but there is still plenty to see, from precious tapestries, a glittering mirror-gallery and masterpieces by Raphael, to a zodiac painted as a psychedelic 16th-century ceiling fresco by Lorenzo Costa. This imposing building houses the Bridal Chamber, decorated with Andrea Mantegna frescoes. The Gonzagas also built the Te Palace, known for the Chamber of the Giants, where every surface is painted with mythological scenes.

We’ll have two evenings and a whole day to explore the surrounding lakes, wetlands, and the town proper with a local guide…..and we’ll also find time for some ukulele instruction and fun with our ‘ukulele maestro, Dave Egan!

There is still space available aboard the deluxe barge Ave Maria and we can accommodate a single, duo, or triple.

Please contact me if you’d like to join us.

Grab your Uke and join us in Italy in September!

There’s still room for you and your uke aboard the Ave Maria!

“Stuff” happens!  (And keeps happening!)

Fortunately, most of it good: a first grandchild due in September for one couple; and grandchildren deciding to get married in September for another couple! And, that frees up a few spaces and cabins on our September Uke, Bike, & Barge trip from Mantua to VeniceSeptember 14 – 21. Which means there’s room for you!


Our last to trips to France and the Netherlands showed us what a great time can be had on these adventurous, ‘ukulele trips aboard our floating “inns.” (But don’t take my word for it, you can check out some of the photos from our recent trip to the Netherlands, here.)

If you should decide to join us, not only will you see some stunning parts of the surrounding countryside (often overlooked), but you will get a little exercise, as well!  And, since we will have the entire Ave Maria all to ourselves, there will loads of opportunities to make merry with out ukulele and make new ukulele friends. . . . . . . from all over the world!

Ukulele instructor extraordinaire, Dave Egan will be on board to offer workshops for players of all skill levels and private instruction for those needing it.  (His Ukulele Ergonomics workshop was a huge hit at the Ukulele Festival of Scotland!)

And if you (and/or your significant other) decide not to ride on one, or any, of the days, no worries.  Folks who stayed on board the Fleur in France and Leafde fan Frieslan in the Netherlands had just as much fun!


 

 

 

 

 


With the recent cancellations, we can make a number of configurations available:

  • Single cabin; $3,300 total; $1930 due now, the balance due by August 1.
  • Shared cabin for single woman; $2,500 total; $1,500 due now, the balance due by August 1.
  • Twin cabin for 2; $5,000 total; $3,000 due now, balance due August 1.
  • Superior Twin or Triple; $2,700 per person (must have pre-existing group); 60% due now, balance due August 1

If you don’t fit into any of those categories but would still like to join us, please let me know.  It’s a little like Rubik’s Cube and I can still move a couple of the little cubes around!

And don’t forget, we still have room on our June 2020 Uke/Bike/Barge trip to Provence.  (And. . . . .there’s a multi-sport/ukulele adventure in Greece and a hiking/barging trip in Croatia in the works, as well!)

So, even if you can’t join us this time, please stay tuned for these and more Ukulele Adventures to come.

And be sure to contact me ASAP if you’d like to join us in Venice!

Arrivederci!

Just one cabin left for ukulele fun!

Our next two Ukulele Adventures are just about full. But, as luck would have it, each one has one cabin left!

We’ve had a few cancellations on our Ukein’, Bike, & Barge trip in Italy, September 14 – 21, which has given us an opportunity to shuffle things around a bit. So we can now offer one of the following options if you’d like to join us:

  • A single cabin. $3,300
  • A cabin for two people, provided one of you is willing to sleep in the top bunk. $2,480/person
  • A superior cabin for three people. $2370/person

If you are interested in any of these options, please contact me as soon as possible. (Please note, at this time you must reserve the entire cabin.  We can no longer find roommates for you.)


What’s missing? You!

If you prefer to stay a little closer to home, we still have room at Camp Oo-Koo-Lay-Lay, on the shores of Lake Berryessa in Northern California, June 19 – 23, for folks wanting to bring their own tents or motor homes. But if you want to stay in one of the comfy tent cabins, you need to act fast to secure a spot. Online registration is still open!

The lake is full of water, the fish are biting, the otters are swimming, the falcons are nesting, and the ukes are playing. The camp schedule is chock full of jam sessions, workshops, classes, and shows with our amazing core of instructors. . . . .and you!!

What more could you want?

Food?

We’ve got that covered, too. Just sign up for the food plan and we’ll take care of breakfast and lunch for you! So, all you have to do is bring something to share for our themed dinner pot lucks. Easy peasey.


And if you’re the type who likes to plan way ahead…..how about joining us in Provence next June, for another one of our Ukein’, Bike, & Barge trips in the land of Starry, Starry Nights? We start in the lovely walled town of Avignon.  Then, after daily  rides through delightful Provençal villages, vineyards,  fields of sunflowers, and the landscapes that were so dear to Vincent Van Gogh, we end our tour in Aigues Mortes, a completely walled town that has changed little in appearance since its glory during the Middle Ages…but not without a visit first to the Carmargue and its black bulls, white horses, and pink flamingos. And after each day of busy riding (or just enjoying the journey on the barge), we can retire to the lovely sundeck, ukes in hand, for a lesson, a sing-along, or both. Or, you can take a day off from bike riding anytime and stay on the barge.


Final Note: We have just confirmed the dates and venue for  the 2019 Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat, held once again in Hawi, but we’ve moved it into November, this year, the 10th through the 16th.  If you’re interested in this one, be sure to subscribe (or follow) the website so you’ll know as soon as we open registration.

And we still have space for a few more people on our Cuban Ukulele Rhythms Adventure, December 5 – 15, 2019 to Cuba. Contact me if you’re interested. (Be sure to let me know which trip you are interested in.)

That’s it for now!  Keep strumming and stay tuned!

We’re on our way to Cuba!

Wow!  There was a lot of interest in this trip even before the details, including exact dates and cost, were worked out.   And this may be why!

We have now secured the dates, and a number of people have already sent in the $100US/person deposit to make sure they have a spot. . . . .And they do!  But we still have room for 3 more.

unnamedPlease keep in mind that this is not a “canned” tour that we have simply attached our name to.  This is a unique opportunity being carefully orchestrated by our facilitator, Frank Leto and our team on the ground in Havana, to make sure that this people-to-people experience fits all the necessary criteria and accommodates one of our missions: learning, enjoying, and sharing ukulele joy all over the world. Other details have yet to be worked out, including the exact cost, but right now it is looking as though it will be in the neighborhood of $4,000 per person.

In order to secure your spot, you’ll need to send in an initial $100 deposit.  Once we have the exact price nailed down, we will request the balance. If for some reason, we can’t pull the trip together, your deposit will be refunded.  Otherwise the deposits are non-refundable..

So, if you want to make sure you have a place on our ‘ukulele trip to Cuba, please contact me as soon as possible and I will let you know how to go from there.

This is what the trip is looking like so far.  Please note that flexibility is going to be key in enjoying this trip because I understand from the folks who know, that things are somewhat spontaneous in Cuba. (I love it all already!)

Day 1 Possible group flight from Fort Lauderdale to Havana, arriving in Havana in the late afternoon, in time for a welcome party and get acquainted string and sing along….and perhaps a little late night jazz club hopping.

Days 2 – 3 Will be spent in Havana with plenty of time to make music together, learn some new rhythms and techniques, take a ride in a vintage car, indulge in a walking tour of the four main plazas of Old Havana, visit the Jazz Club la Zorra y el Cuervo, the historic Hotel Capri, the National Museum of Music, the National Museum of Fine Arts, Callejón de Hamel, Jaimanitas, and Havana Compass Dance, and more. (Phew!) What we miss in the first few days, we can pick up at the end of the trip.

Day 4 We will make our way to Trinidad via the Zapata Peninsula with stops at Pálpite and the Corimacao Artistic Group, where we can share our music and instruments with local musicians. We’ll also visit the Bay of Pigs and the two beaches that served as the landing points for the 1961 invasion.  We’ll also visit beautiful Cienfuegos before arriving in Trinidad, a charming UNESCO World Heritage site and Cuba’s foremost colonial town.

Days 5 and 6 Will be spent exploring Trinidad with visits to the Plaza Mayor, the Museo Palacio Cantero, and the local artisan street market. We will also be able to visit some local artists and musicians gather with the locals at the Casa de Musica at sunset for a cocktail and some authentic salsa. While in Trinidad we might also visit Playa Ancon Beach and go snorkeling and/or hike to the waterfall at Gran Parque Natural Topes de Collantes.  So much to do here….we might add an extra day.

Day 7 and 8 We travel to Matanzas, a vibrant cultural hub that hosts one of Cuba’s finest theaters and is the birthplace of some of its most eloquent poets and writers. During our stay we will visit Ediciones Vigia, a very unique and creative book publishing house and partake in the local music scene that gave the world a number of Afro-Cuban musical traditions, including the rumba and an assemblage of instruments including conga drums, claves, palitos (sticks), marugas (iron shakers), and cajones (packing cases) and vocals alternating between the lead singer and an answering coro (chorus). Here too, we will have an opportunity to visit a number of local musicians and share a little ukulele joy.

Days 9 and 10 We return to Havana with a stop along the way at La Terraza de Cojimar, a favorite watering hole of Ernest Hemingway with a fabulous view of Cojímar Bay, where Hemingway would go fishing and from where he met the fisherman who was the inspiration for The Old Man and the Sea. We’ll have more time to visit the sites and make music together, finishing off out journey with one last social and music-filled night together.

Day 11 We head back to the USA.

Remember, space is very limited.  If you want to make sure you get a spot, please respond by return email as soon as possible.

Uke-ing, Biking, & Sailing in the Netherlands! Act now!

Back by popular demand!  Another Ukulele, Bike, & Barge trip!  But this time we’re going to the Netherlands during the height of tulip season, April 13 – 21, 2019.  And instead of a barge, we’ll be aboard a 3-masted barquentine!  ((I had no idea what a “barquentine” was and had to look it up.  It’s a sailing vessel with 3 or more masts: a square-rigged foremast and fore-and-aft rigged main and mizzen.)

As many of you know, our Montargis to Paris and Mantua to Venice trips sold out very quickly.  So don’t put this on the back-burner!  If you’re interested, you need to act quickly.

Here’s the scoop.

Our home away from home will be the sailing ship Leafde fan Fryslân, with  twelve well-appointed twin cabins (about 107 sq.ft. each). (Triples are also available if anyone wants to take a top bunk and one single cabin will be available for now.) Each cabin has an en-suite bathroom with shower, toilet and basin; ventilation and heating; portholes and a hatch that can be opened; a hairdryer and a mini safe. There is a restaurant/dining room on the lower deck of the ship. The wheelhouse and a cozy lounge, with large panoramic windows, is on the upper deck, along with a well-equipped bar and Wi-Fi.

The maximum number of passengers is 25, which includes our ukulele instructional staff. In addition there are 4 crewmembers.

While the ship itself has a great deal of appeal, the itinerary is equally compelling.  (And remember, you can stay with the ship if you prefer not to ride your bike, and there are electric bikes available.)  Plus it looks as though there will be ample opportunity for ukulele camaraderie, instruction, fun, and games.

Day 1, Saturday.  We’ll meet the boat in Amsterdam which leaves the harbor at 2.30 p.m and sails to Haarlem. After dinner, and introductions, we’ll take a guided walk through the beautiful city center of Haarlem, known as “Little Amsterdam.” An easy day with ample time to get a little ukulele instruction and fun under our belts.

Day 2, Sunday. We ride our bikes through the oldest tulip fields in Holland, and, among other things, visit Keukenhof Gardens. This is the most beautiful bulb park in the world and features an overwhelming blaze of colors: seven million flowering tulips (along with hyacinths, daffodils, and other flowering plants) in a magnificent 80-acre setting of traditional and modern gardening architecture. In the afternoon, we’ll cycle back to Haarlem to spend a restful night in our floating hotel, after a little more time with each other and our ukulele facilitator.

Day 3, Monday. In the morning, the ship will take us to the Zaanse Schans, a unique hamlet next to the river Zaan where people still live and work alongside original houses and windmills (including one built in 1673), used for grinding mustard seeds, spices, and paint components; extracting plant oil; and for sawing wood into planks.

Then we’ll hop on our bikes, again to ride through colorful tulip fields to Limmen and Egmond-Binnen, where we’ll visit the Hortus Bulborum, a unique garden museum dedicated to the preservation of rare and historic bulbs. From there we’ll ride to the historical city center of Alkmaar, a “Dutch cheese city,” with well-preserved 17th-century buildings and narrow, winding canals. This is where we’ll meet up with our ship, make a little music, and spend the night.

Day 4, Tuesday. Today’s bike ride will take us through even more beautiful tulip fields as we make our way to the North Sea and the most beautiful long sandy beach in the Netherlands and the nearby artist’s village of Bergen. From here we’ll  bike through the North-Holland Dune reserve to Den Helder, a hunk of land wedged between the North Sea and the Ijsselmeer, home to the world’s single biggest flowering bulb field. Then we sail  to the island of Texel, the largest of the Dutch Wadden Isles.

Day 5, Wednesday. Today we have choices: a shorter route or a longer tour around the island through delightful natural parks, picturesque villages and landscapes, a seal sanctuary, and, yes, through even more fields of blooming flowers! At the end of the cycling trip, we can enjoy a locally-brewed beer at a small brewery near Oudeschild. Then, while eating dinner aboard the ship, we will return to the mainland and sail to Medemblik, while enjoying a little ukulele camaraderie on board.

Day 6, Thursday.  In the morning, we will set sail to Enkhuizen and those who’d like to can lend a hand during navigation and hoisting the sails or you can just relax and play your ukulele while enjoying the scenery along the IJsselmeer. Around lunchtime, we stop in Enkhuizen, an old “herring” city with centuries of maritime tradition. From here we ride through West-Friesland, another area with riotously-blooming tulip fields to the former Dutch East India Company town of Hoorn, which was, in the 17th century,one of the world’s foremost harbors.

Day 7, Friday. On this last day of cycling, we’ll ride our bikes to Volendam, a small and picturesque fishing harbor on the shores of Lake Ijsselmeer, passing Edam along the way, known for its famous Edam cheese, covered in red or yellow wax. While this lovely village is renowned for cheese, it was once an industrious shipyard and port. In the 17th century sailors would take wheels of Edam, which didn’t spoil easily and could be traded for spices and other riches of the East,  on their voyages, making itone of the most popular cheeses in the world. Our ship will be waiting In Volendam to take us back to Amsterdam, where we’ll spend our last night on board before disembarking on Saturday morning.

The total cost for those registering now and sharing a double room is $1798 per person.  (If you don’t already have a roommate, we can try to find one for you, but it would really be better to know who you will be sharing a cabin with.) There are a few triple rooms available (someone will have to agree to a top bunk) but you must have an entire threesome together before registering for this option. The cost for a triple is $1598/person.  And, for right now, we can make one single cabin available, first come first served, for $2,339.

The price includes:

  • At least one top notch, world renowned, ukulele instructor/performer/facilitator to enhance our musical experience.
  • 7 nights aboard the Leafde fan Fryslân with 7 3-course dinners, breakfast each morning, and a packed lunch.
  • Linens, towels, and daily cleaning of the cabin
  • Bike & Helmet use (electric bikes will cost extra)
  • Guided cycling and walking tours as well as time to explore on our own
  • Use of a waterproof pannier bag and Wi-Fi aboard the ship
  • A boat full of other ukulele players to enjoy the journey with (and no disdainful stares)
The price does not include
  • Travel and transfers to and from the docking place
  • Gratuities (at your discretion)
  • Entrance fees and excursions
  • Fees for ferries
  • extra charge for electric bike

If you are serious about joining us, you need to let me know via return email and mail me a non-refundable deposit in the amount of $100/person. I will not cash your check until the trip is confirmed, probably by the end of the month. Nor will I cash your check until your place on the trip is confirmed. (I’ll let you know, first, in any case.) The trip will be confirmed once a minimum number of people have sent in a deposit and I feel confident that we’ll have enough folks to fill every cabin on the boat.

Once the trip is confirmed, you will be asked to send in an additional payment amounting to 50% of the total (less the $100 deposit.)  The final payment will be due about two months prior to departure.

You can make your check out to me, Elaine de Man, and mail it to:

Elaine de Man
1113 Chiles Avenue
St. Helena, CA  94574
USA

Our other Ukein,’ Bike, & Barge trips, to Paris and Venice, sold out very quickly andwhile I wanted to give the opportunity to register first, I will be posting this on the website in a week or so. So, if you’re seriously interested and don’t want to be relegated to a waiting list, please don’t wait!

And thank you.  Thank you for your adventurous spirit. Thank you for your love of music.  And thank you for letting me do the work that I love. Together we’re going to make some wonderful memories.

Elaine