Space Available on our Uke, Bike, & Barge Trips

We’ve had a couple of cancellations on our Ukein’, Barge, & Barge trip in Italy, September 14 – 21, 2019 which has freed up a couple of cabins.  And, we are taking deposits for two trips in 2020:  France: Provence to Carmague and Germany: Koblenz to Merzig.

I can’t imagine a better way to enter the canals of Venice than aboard our own floating motel with a small cadre of ukulele-playing companions after a week of glorious exercise in the beautiful country-side.

Blending nature, culture and fine cuisine, this leisurely bike and barge tour along the River Po, with celebrated cities of art, one of Europe’s prime Nature Reserves, and a wealth of tucked-away rural hamlets.  After every day of cycling (or not!) we will be rewarded with authentic regional dishes back on board the Ave Maria, and some quality ukulele time with our esteemed instructor, Dave Egan, and each other!

The tour starts in Mantua – in its heyday a major city state crowned by the Italian Renaissance – then progresses to Ferrara and culminates in Venice. Along the way we’ll visit: Adria, once a key Roman port; the natural wonders of the Po Delta, famed for its bird life; and colorful Chioggia, gateway to the Venetian lagoon. Check out the detailed itinerary.

Recent cancellations have freed up one single cabin (which could be converted to a double with a bunk) and a double cabin. The total cost will not be more than for the single will not be more than $3,300 for a single and $2,500/person for a double.  We’ll be able to pinpoint the exact cost as we get closer to the trip. The price includes overnights on the barge, three meals a day, an English-speaking bicycle guide, bikes, helmets, guided tours of Mantua and Venice, a visit to a cheese factory with tasting, a tour of the Carousel and Street Entertainment Museum, a boat excursion in the Nature Reserve of Mincio Park, daily ‘ukulele instruction, play-a-longs, new friends, and tons of camaraderie.

Incidentally, you don’t have to ride your bike everyday.  On our last trip to France 4 people opted out of bike riding altogether and had a fabulous time onboard the barge as it cruised between moorings.

Please contact us if you are interested.  $500 secures your place until the next deposit is due in a few months. ($560 if you want the single cabin.)

If Italy doesn’t float your boat, or if you need a little more time you might want to consider the two trips we have on the books for 2020:

France: Provence to Carmargue, June 20 – 27, 2020.

From Papal Palaces to Pink Flamingos and a little Van Gogh in between, this spectacular journey from Avignon to Aigues Mortes will take us through some of the most beautiful parts of France.  And we’ve timed it so that you’ll have an opportunity to visit massive fields of blooming lavender, as well as the fields of sunflowers right along our route.  Days of scenic cycling will be followed by afternoons and evenings of ukulele instruction and fun with a professional and world renowned ‘ukulele “facilitator.”

Germany: Koblenz to Merzig. September 19 – 26, 2020.

Germany!  With so many exciting rivers and routes to choose from, it was difficult settling on one.  But one we did: a fabulous (and easy) ride through the majestic wine country of the Moselle and Saar River Valleys, from one picturesque village to the other, with unsurpassed views of fairy tale castles high on the surrounding hills, timbered houses dating back to medieval times, stone-clad fortresses, vineyards perched on impossibly steep slopes (which we don’t have to ride on!), picture-perfect wineries, and more. And, of course, our very own ukulele facilitator and lots of time for ukulele instruction and merriment.

We are currently accepting deposits of $100US/person for the 2020 trips which will secure your spot on the trip until everything is finalized. Should we not be able to run the trip as advertised, your deposit will be refunded.  But, once we have confirmed the trip (which should be by the end of March, 2019), the $100 is not refundable and another partial payment toward the trip will be due to maintain your place. Please contact me first, however, to make sure we still have space available and for directions on mailing the check.

I hope you decide to join us! We had a ball on our first trip to France.  But, you should know these trips sell out very quickly so you should act now to make sure you have a spot.

You Can Help Plan Your Next Ukulele Adventure!

2019 is Right Around the Corner!

And it’s not too early to start making plans for you and your ‘ukulele!  (Or you and your harmonica!  Or you and your bongo!  Or you and your spoons!  Or you and your significant other!)

So, please take a moment to help us help you by filling out our little survey.  Not only will it help us plan for the adventures YOU want to have, it will make sure you are among the first to know when we open registration for our most popular events.

Brand New for 2019!

How does 8 to 10 days in Cuba with experts in Cuban Rhythms and Ukulele sound?

While we are still working out all the details, here is what we have in mind: a musical journey exploring the unique cultural rhythms of Cuba with renowned musicians who specialize in ukulele instruction and percussion. This will not only contribute to our growth as musicians, but will help open doors to the local music scene. So, rather than see as much of Cuba as we can in as little time as possible, we will hunker down in a couple of cities and villages known for their musical heritage so that we experience Cuba and what it has to offer through interactions with local musicians and the music scene Cuba is famous for. We might even hop into a local recording studio and create a few lasting mementos!

We’re looking at January, February, or March of 2019 for this one, but much will depend on the amount of interest we can generate and availability.  If we can’t do it in the first few months of 2019, we’ll certainly be looking toward the end of 2019 and beginning of 2020.

So please let us know what you think and if you’d like to join us.  And remember, by responding to the survey, you’ll be first to know when we open registration for a very small group of people.

Still not convinced?  Perhaps Desi can help you decide!

But That’s Not All!

How about an 8-day Sailing, Biking, Ukulele-ing Trip to the Netherlands During Tulip Season?

This will be very similar to the other Uke, Bike, & Barge trips we offer (a small group experience with an internationally acclaimed ukulele instructor on board), except that we will be aboard a newly retrofitted three-masted barquentine!  (I get excited just writing about this trip!) It includes overnight stays in historic cities such as Haarlem and Alkmaar and daily bike rides that will take us through beautiful fields of blooming tulips, alongside working windmills and North Sea beaches, through small, dreamlike farm villages and “cheese towns,” and picturesque harbor towns.

On the sixth day of the 8-day trip we’ll sail along the IJsselmeer to Enkuizen, an old city with centuries of maritime tradition. Then we’ll hop back on our bikes and ride to the Dutch East India Company town of Hoorn where we’ll meet our ship, again. The next day we ride through Edam (home of, yes, the cheese) on our way to Volandam, before sailing back to Amsterdam.  I’ve been to the Netherlands a number of times (my dad and my sister were born there)….but never like this. I have to say, this one really sounds great!

But what will make this trip extra special, are the evenings we’ll spend on board playing our ukuleles with each other and with guidance and instruction from one of  Europe’s top player/instructors.

The ship only has 12 cabins, so space will be limited. And while I don’t have exact costs yet, it will be in the neighborhood of $1,800 – $2,000 dollars which includes all meals and lodging aboard the ship, plus group ukulele instruction.

If you missed out on either the Paris or Venice Ukein’, Bike and Barge Adventures, this could be the only other opportunity you’ll have to join us on board in 2019. So please, respond to the survey so you can be among the first to know when we open registration for this one.

And don’t forget!

You can still join us in 2018 at the Hawai’i Island ‘Ukulele Retreat in Hawi, Oct. 14 – 20 or the New Uke-Culinary Fiesta in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Nov. 7 – 11. Registration is open for both of these events and spaces are filling quickly.

Please visit Ukulele Adventures (and subscribe if you haven’t already) to find out more.

That’s it for now!  Looking forward to seeing you and your ‘ukulele soon!

Just One Room Left!

That’s right!  There is just one room left at Kernville’s iconic Pine Cone Inn for the 2018 Ukulele Blues & Harmonica Fest.  And while there are one or two other places to stay in Kernville if you miss out on this one, the Pine Cone is where it’s at!

Plus, it’s unlikely you’ll find another opportunity anywhere to get your blues on with your ‘ukulele and/or harmonica under the tutelage of two finer instructors and musicians than Kevin Carroll and Catfish Jack. And, you’ll have a chance to hone your skills on either or both instruments, regardless of your level of skill with either one.

So, please, Register now, and don’t miss your chance to be part of the inaugural Ukulele Blues & Harmonica Fest and what promises to be another stellar Ukulele Adventure.

There’s a Little Backwater Blues for Everyone!

No matter what your skill level (or instrument of choice), we’ll have you covered at the Kernville ‘Ukulele and Harp Fest, March 1 – 4, 2018, where everyone will have a chance to learn new skills on the ‘ukulele, bass, or harmonica.  And don’t worry that you may not be not up to the task;  Kevin Carroll’s original ‘ukulele arrangements have a little something for everyone, from beginners to pros.

And if you are ready to stretch (or just need a little fine tuning) you can take a couple of workshops with Catfish Jack and hone your harmonica skills on the same tunes.  At the very least, you’ll leave Kernville as a “double threat.” (And don’t forget, we’ll be looking for a few vocalists, as well.)

Then we’ll put it all together in small groups and/or big ensembles and work ’em ’til we have ’em down.

Registration ($439) closes February 15, 2018 and enrollment is limited. So don’t wait a minute more.

Register now!

“Those backwater blues done calling you to pack up your things and go.”

Still not convinced?  Here’s a little Bessie Smith.  Maybe she’ll help get you in the mood.

Let’s do it again!

We had so much fun at the first New Uke-Culinary Fiesta when we did it two years ago, we’re thinking of bringing it back in 2018!  

Here’s the teaser for the first one.  (The next one will be just as good…..if not better!)

saint-francis-cathedralIt’s a winning combination: ukuleles, food, photography, and overall merriment!  Add to that a stunning location, and it really can’t get much better!  So we’ve decided to take the Uke-Culinary Fiesta on the road and our next first stop is beautiful Santa Fe, New Mexico, in November, when the crowds have dissipated, the winter chill still has not yet settled in, and the sky and surrounding countryside may still be  awash with color.

mainhouselivroom_003And we have found the perfect place to host us, the Don Gaspar Inn, intimate, somewhat secluded, and yet within walking distance of the world famous Plaza and Canyon Road. It’s a perfect venue, where even those travelling alone will soon make long-lasting friends and everyone who attends will be connected by the simple bond of wanting to learn and make music (and fabulous meals) together.

10653609_10203445335831002_8538508260021329759_nAnd the staff!  Heidi Swedberg and Daniel Ward are an ukulele match made in heaven. Talent, experience, diligence, generosity, creativity, and more fun than a barrel of monkeys. And they cover all the bases–fabulous teachers with years and years of experience in a broad range of skills and genres. In a field full of rising “stars,” these two really shine!  They love to cook and are every bit as much fun in the kitchen as in the classroom.  And, Craig McClelland has just joined the staff, as well, and is bringing a pocket full of fun and informative workshops, including, “Uke Can Be As Cool As Craig.”  Rounding out Smoking Jackets quartet for our evening at Tiny’s,  is John Bartlitt. I can’t tell you how much fun he is……you’ll just have to come see for yourself.

We’ll also spend an evening with Rolling Stone Magazine’s first chief photographer, Baron Wolman.  Boy, does he ever have some great stories to tell.  Jimi Hendrix. Frank Zappa. Janice Joplin. And yes, Tiny Tim! Baron took pictures of them all!

And how are you going to get there?  Fly into Albuquerque on Day 1 and join Heidi and Daniel on the Rail Runner Express for a beautiful and musical ride through the stunning countryside of southern New Mexico.  We’ll pick you up at the train station in Santa Fe and a traditional Chimayo cocktail will be waiting for you at the Don Gaspar Inn.

10400802_10203255627168404_4420817113877618347_nUkulele workshops will be available for those on beginning, intermediate, and advanced tracks. Those wanting to cook will learn all about Southwestern cuisine, barbecuing techniques, and a few tricks from behind the bar. In addition to cooking workshops, for those who don’t play the ukulele, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore beautiful Santa Fe and its environs.

If you haven’t done so, already, be sure to Follow the Blog or Subscribe to the website so we can be sure to keep you posted!

Viva Mexico y los Ukuleles!

Do you want to see how much fun you can have on an ukulele adventure with us?  Then check this out.

If you want to keep abreast of future Ukulele Adventures like this one, be sure to follow our blog.

And if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Day 4 – Another Tequila Sunrise

Sunrise is going to offer some amazing views at Lake Chapala and its environs for the photographers willing to hit the road with Jordan at 6:30 am and still be back in time for breakfast at Casa del Sol.  But today’s Palabra del Dia will be with reporter Judy King, who has lived at Lake Chapala for 25 years and will give us the inside scoop on life as a Gringo in Mexico.

lady-organic-marketThen we’re heading out with our local chef, Oscar, for a quick visit the organic farmers’ market to learn about some of the fresh produce that may be new to us, to shop for the midday meal, and sample some of the other wares. (You might also want to pick up a few snacks and drinks for yourself!  It all looks so fresh and delicious.) Then it’s back to Casa del Sol for a couple more workshops with Heidi, Daniel and Oscar before we eat!

This time Oscar will be working with the more beginning ukulele students, while Heidi, and Daniel take on the rest with a choice of Finding and Freeing your Voice or Bossa Nova Training Wheels, followed by Spooky or Tuesday’s Just as Bad.

Plaza band stand gazeboThat midday siesta will be pretty welcome today, especially since we’ll be following it up with another band practice before heading out to the Plaza Band Stand, where we will be the featured performers! Heidi and Daniel have put together a Songbook of Tunes for us to play from and some of the songs will come right out of the workshops, so you’ll have a chance to practice and play before the really big sheeeeeew!  If you’re serious about performing…that will come later.  This event is really just about participating and letting anyone passing by see just how much fun a bunch of adults can have with an ukulele in their hands.  (My teen-aged son calls us “Old People Gone Wild!”)

Then we are in for a special dinner treat as Sheila Ruoff, our boots on the ground in Ajijic, will take us to her very favorite “hole-in-the-wall” (not its official name but the only one that has stuck over the years) for an authentic, and oh-so delicious, Mexican repast of tamales, empanadas, and more, produced by three local and charming women in a rustic village dwelling.  Despite its humble surroundings, this is a favorite among the gringos who live in Ajijic. But if the rusticity makes you squeamish, there are plenty of other fine dining establishments for you to try.

By the end of this day, I think we will be thoroughly pooped, and a quiet evening back at Casa del Sol will be just the thing.

Here’s the scoop on the day’s ukulele workshops:

BOSSA NOVA TRAINING WHEELS

keep-calm-and-blame-it-on-the-bossa-novaLike champagne, the Bossa Nova goes with everything and gives it a little class. . . . .not to mention sex appeal.) And, it’s  not that difficult to learn, either. For this workshop Daniel Ward has put together a series of simple, but sexy plucking patterns that will give all your uke-playing a Brazilian Wax!  And you’ll be astonished at all the music it works with: jazz, folk, and tons of other songs you already know!  And when you start getting all that attention when you get back home, you can just “Blame it on the Bossa Nova.”  (Daniel Ward – Level 2 – 4)

FINDING AND FREEING YOUR VOICE
It turns out, that if you can speak, then you can sing and in this workshop Heidi Swedberg (who doesn’t seem to have any trouble being heard) will teach you some well-honed techniques and exercises to help you raise your voice.  Come on!  You know it’s in there somewhere!  (Heidi Swedberg – All Levels)

SPOOKY: Playing in the Minor Leagues

Let’s get down and dark and expand our musical repertoire by pulling up some possibilities from the minor keys. In this workshop you will learn a little about the Circle of Fifths, but more importantly you will learn how those eerie minor chords not only add interest to the songs you are playing, but are (and can be) used to alter the mood and meaning, entirely. And you thought “You are my Sunshine” was a happy song……..wait until you hear it played in the minor key. (Heidi Swedberg – Level 2-4)

AND TUESDAY’S JUST AS BAD

This is a continuation of Daniel Ward’s Stormy Monday workshop where participants will have already learned the foundation of playing the blues and will now have an opportunity to expand on the lessons learned with an even more advanced set of skills so Wednesday won’t be worse and Thursday won’t be sad.  Check out the video with T-Bone Walker to see what we’re talking about.  (Daniel Ward – Level 3 – 4)