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 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!

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.

Building the Perfect Ukulele Adventure in Cuba!

First, let me introduce you to Frank Leto, who will be our musical guide, facilitator, and the lead instructor for our upcoming trip to Cuba with Ukulele Adventures.  We were looking for a musician who would be able to bridge the gap between us and local, Cuban musicians and a teacher capable of giving us practical, musical instruction in both ukulele and percussion, specifically based on the music we will be seeing during our stay in Cuba. Initially I thought I would need to hire two people to fill this dual role, until Daniel Ward recommended Frank Leto

Frank is a professional educator and a professional musician who plays Afro-Cuban percussion, Brazilian percussion, Trinidadian Steel Drums, and the ukulele!  His love for rhythms has taken him to Brazil, Puerto Rico and Cuba, where he has studied soneros with Carlos Embale, tres with Pancho Amat and batá with Carlos Aldama and Regino Jimenez at the Escuela Nacional de Arte.

The tres will be of particular interest to us. It is a 3-string Cuban guitar (it actually has 6 strings, but only 3 pitches—the strings are tuned in either octaves or unison) and is  the prime string instrument in son, an African-based musical style from Santiago de Cuba, (where members of the Buena Vista Social Club hail from!) Son music, which also features bongo, upright bass, and singers, adapts itself wonderfully to the ukulele.  So, there is no reason we won’t have our own son band by the end of our trip!

 

But that’s not all.  As most of you know, the grandfather of the ukulele is the cavaquinho, a 4-stringed instrument that was introduced to Hawai’i by Portuguese sailors. Well, those Portuguese sailors also took the cavanquino to Brazil, where it became prominent in Brazilian music, most notably the samba! And Brazilian samba is another one of Frank’s specialties! So,by the end of this trip we should all just be bursting with Latin and Caribbean rhythms.

We really couldn’t ask for more in a facilitator for our group, especially for those ready to improve their ukulele skills, expand their music knowledge base, and soak up the local culture. And, don’t forget, Frank Leto is also a professional music educator.  

Our local travel pros in Cuba are on the ground right now looking for just the right venues for us in Havana, Trinidad, and Matanzas.  We’ll be able to confirm exact dates once we can confirm availability. For right now we have narrowed down the window for this Ukulele Adventure to 10 – 12 days in December of 2019.

And what do we consider “just the right venue?”  A small hotel or inn in a lovely neighborhood where we can occupy all of the rooms and have a common meeting area for ukulele and percussion workshops AND be close to the local musical action!

If you are not already on our Ukulele Adventures Mailing List, you should sign up now.  The folks on the list are usually the first to hear when registration opens.

Stay tuned!

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