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Princess Cruises is Ready To Welcome Everyone On Board

I recently had the opportunity to go on a Princess Cruise that left out of San Francisco. We spent 3 glorious days in San Francisco before we left. Tony Bennett had it right when he sang that he left his heart in San Francisco.

We went to our hotel, the Le Meridien and dropped of our bags. Our first stop was an hour cruise that went from the Golden Gate Bridge to Oakland Bridge and cruised by Alcatraz. It was a beautiful sight. Then we went to Pier 39 for clam chowder in a sourdough bread bowl. This is the perfect SanFran combo. Later that evening we went to Sam’s Grill that claims to be the 5th oldest restaurant in the U.S. I am not sure about that but it certainly had all the charm you would expect from a restaurant that has been around a long time.

The next day was my favorite of the whole trip. We went on a tour that went down the coast to Monterey and Carmel by the sea. I don’t believe I had used the term unapparelled views before this but it is the only term I can think of to describe the scenery properly. There were rows of artichoke fields, miles of huge waves and forests. We had a chance to stop at Pebble Beach and my husband had a chance to see the famed 18th hole. We went to Carmel by the Sea. One word of warning: the tour started at 8Am and we did not get back until after 9 PM. It was worth every minute.

Welcome to the country of a thousand lakes!

If you like nature, silence and beauty Lapland is for you. After 8 days spent in Finnish Lapland, I am overwhelmed with feelings of peace and excitement. It was a dream trip for many reasons. With some of the happiest people on the planet, more than a hundred thousand lakes, forest for as far as the eye can see, and a sauna in almost every household, it is no wonder Finland is often called a Nordic utopia. The air is pure, the water is clear, and wildlife is always around. The sun never fully rises in December but the light coming from the white snow makes for a winter wonderland. It is mystical.

The most important reason to visit Lapland is to try all the outdoor activities it offers. During my short visit, I was able to learn about the culture of the Sami’s people, go snowshoeing on many trails, snowmobiling under the moon. My most favorite was a dogsled ride thru frozen lakes and forests. Driving a dogsled was a challenge but after a few minutes, I could relax and enjoy the experience to the fullest. The huskies become your friends and they show their love at the end of the ride.

After so many hours spent outdoors in minus 5 degrees Fahrenheit, I understand why the Finns love their sauna. I enjoyed a private sauna in the middle of the forest. I met with a “shaman” in a hut heated by a campfire. He was a storyteller, a very good actor. The setting was perfect for the story. Finland is the land of reindeers. There are 200,000 of them which is more than the population. They all have an owner, but they roam free. They are part of the scenery, their antlers are used for many crafts and of course, sadly, their meat is on every restaurant menu. If you do not eat meat, no worries, you will find delicious salmon on each menu as well.

The excitement and adventure do not stop at the end of the day, you can stay in amazing design hotels located in the heart of Arctic nature. I stayed in Rovaniemi at the Arctic Tree House. The cozy accommodations sit on a steep wooded hill slope and thanks to a huge glass wall you can enjoy the breathtaking views. It feels like nature is looking at you. In Levi I stayed at Levi igloos, in a luxurious hut with glass ceiling. On the last night, as I was going back to my iglut after dinner, I had the most beautiful experience of the whole trip, I saw The Northern Lights. A spectacular light show. A memory I will keep forever.

I am grateful I was able to visit Lapland. It was the perfect Christmas gift! I can make it your gift for next year.



I will be happy to help you plan a worry-free getaway. Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533 or email me

Bavaria is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful regions in Germany!

Day 1: We started our tour by flying into Munich and then drove to the charming town of Fuessen. Füessen is located on the banks of the Lech River, which flows into the Forggensee lake. This quaint town is surrounded by mountains of the Ammergau Alps and the castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau are located nearby.

Day 2: Our next visit was to Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This city played host to the Winter Olympics in 1936 and is known for its charm and beauty. Here we traveled to Germany’s highest peak, the Zugspitze, and took a train ride and gondola ride to the top.

Day 3: The Next day we traveled the scenic drive to Salzburg, one of the most beautiful cities in the world and famous as the setting for the movie “The Sound of Music”. Our day tour starts at the Mirabell Palace and Gardens. (This is where the “Do-Re-Mi” portion of the movie was filmed.)

Next, we visit the birthplace of Mozart. (Insert from Dani: This place really touched my heart. My mom played the piano well enough to be a concert pianist. I grew up playing with my dolls under the baby grand while my mom played. She would have loved this visit.)

For our last stop we go up to the fortress Hohensalzburg for a panoramic view of the city and surrounding countryside.

Day 4: Today day we took a short drive to Innsbruck. This city played host to two Winter Olympics. Our first stop was the Tyrolean Folk Art Museum.

There were over 20 unique Nativity scenes here. Though most often considered during the Christmas seasons, the Tyrolean Nativity Museum invites you to experience the special Nativities all year round. Crib art from the 18th century to the present can be seen here made of different materials like wood, clay, wax, or cardboard are on display.

We then took at walking tour of the city. Did you know Innsbruck has a famous roof? It’s one of Innsbruck’s top attractions – located right in the heart of the Old Town – is the Golden Roof or Goldenes Dachl in German.

The roof on the balcony was originally created at the end of the 15th century by the famous Emperor Maximilian. Its purpose was to impress travelers who were stopping by the medieval city – and did it ever work! In total, there are 2657 gold-plated shingles on the roof and several pained figured on the exterior, too. We also had the opportunity to visit the museum inside, but there were no pictures allowed.

Our last stop of the day is the famous Neuschwanstein Castle, residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. Few places on Earth look more like storybook illustrations than Neuschwanstein Castle. With its towers, turrets, frescoes, and throne hall, Neuschwanstein (or Schloss Neuschwanstein, as it is called in German) looks like it was plucked straight from your favorite fairy tale.

Day 5: Today we visited the Linderhof Palace. This was another residence of King Ludwig II of Bavaria. An eccentric recluse, Ludwig depleted the treasury of his country building extravagant castles and died in mysterious circumstances. Linderhof is certainly the most elaborate “hunting lodge” you will ever see!

This afternoon we traveled to the fabulous Rococo Weiskirche. From the outside is looks somewhat plain and simple, but just wait until you see the inside!

Such a surprise! We did not expect this! It was beautiful! The Wieskirche’s ornate style, called Rococo, is like Baroque that got shrunk in the wash — lighter, frillier, and more delicate, with whitewash and pastel colors. Where Baroque uses oval shapes, Rococo twists it even further into curvy cartouches.

After our visit at the Rococo Weiskirche, we drove to our hotel in Oberammergau for the highlight of our tour.

Day 6: This morning we get to explore Oberammergau, a delightful town that has been home to skilled wood carvers since the 12th century. There are many interesting things to see in this quaint town. Scenes from the scriptures and from fairy tales are painted on the walls of the buildings.

This afternoon we attended the first half of the marvelous passion play, which is performed by the town’s inhabitants every ten years since 1634—when the thirty-year war and the deadly bubonic plague killed almost half the population of Germany. The people of Oberammergau vowed to produce this play each decade if they could be spared. They were, and here we are 350 years later.

After the first half of the play, we ate dinner as a group.

Unfortunately, we are not allowed to take pictures during the play, so I had to get some from the internet.

The play is spoken in German, but the program has the exact wording so you can follow along. It was a wonderful experience to witness the Oberammergau Passion play.

Day 7: Today we departed Germany and made our way to Switzerland. It was a beautiful drive! Upon arrival we enjoyed a walking city tour of Zurich. There is no better way to get THE BEST TASTE OF ZURICH!

Day 8: We depart for home today, but plan to come back to Germany again as soon as possible. We loved it there and can’t wait to see more.

We hope you can join us in 2030 on one of our Oberammergau Passion Play tours!

Safe Travels, Dani Edmunds, and Sarah Wangsgard – Morris Murdock Escorted Tour

Check out our full tour catalogue online at

I had never been to Canada before and I love trains, so I was thrilled with the opportunity to see Canada’s beautiful countryside from my comfy chair aboard Rocky Mountaineer! This 7-day trip was jam packed with amazing scenery and thrilling adventures. I flew into Vancouver. I haven’t been to the Vancouver airport before, and I think it might be one of my fav’s! Getting through Customs was a breeze. I found an ATM machine to exchange a little Money (the airport is the easiest and just charges $3 to do the exchange). I found that I really didn’t have to exchange money as everyone takes Credit cards, but it was nice to have a little Canadian money for tips and smaller things I purchased. Pretty much everyone takes American dollars, but you won’t get as good of a deal and the change will be in Canadian.

We stayed at the Beautiful Sheraton Wall Centre in Downtown Vancouver. Our tour started early the following day. We were treated to ‘Fly Over Canada’ (if you like Soaring over California in Disneyland, you will love this), ate lunch in Granville Island, and explored the nearby forest at the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. Vancouver loves Art and Cultures from all over the world. Everywhere you look, you see evidence of this.

On Monday we boarded Rocky Mountaineer headed east to Kamloops for our 1st night. We enjoyed ‘Gold’ service with 180-degree views. You are assigned a nice (heated) seat and there isn’t a bad seat in the house…but no one sits in their seat for long. You get to know your fellow travelers, and everyone shares seats so you can get the best views of both sides of the train. Downstairs is the dining area; I must say the food was excellent! We enjoyed Breakfast and Lunch at our assigned time. In between we were served snacks and Drinks from an open bar. We had a personal guide in our train car who shared history and stories about the areas we were traveling through. We arrived at our Kamloops hotel around 8:00pm. We had enough time to take a short walk and found an ice cream cone before bed.

The next morning started at 6am. We were on the train and headed out of the station by 6:30. The Rocky Mountaineer folks makes everything fun. The whole train station staff came out and waved goodbye as we rolled out of both stations. This day was amazing. We saw eagles, mountain goats, elk, deer, etc. Everywhere you looked there were rivers, lakes, & adorable villages. There is a lot of History here. Stories (good and bad) were shared about the building of the railroad, Engineering feats (such as the Spiral Tunnels built in the early 1900’s), and Local folklore. This was a long day, but fantastic!

We finally arrived Banff. I’m a huge Yellowstone fan, but these Rocky Mountains put Yellowstone mountains to shame. They reminded me of the Teton peaks on a massive scale. They surround you and seem to go on forever. Just beautiful. The quaint town of Banff is mostly for tourists, but so much fun. Besides shopping, restaurants, & beautiful Hotels, there are trails everywhere. Mountains, rivers, waterfalls, & wildlife, are all within walking distance or a inexpensive bus ride.

For the next 2 days we toured Banff. We visited lake Louise, (a place I have always wanted to go) and had lunch in Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise. We visited other beautiful lakes, and waterfalls (Emerald Lake may be my favorite). The Blue hues of these lakes are amazing. We were lucky enough to watch a cute teenage Bear wander by the side of the road near lake Louise. He didn’t seem to mind that we were close by. On our final day in Banff, we were able to take the gondola to the top of Mt Sulphur. The views of the surrounding mountains and valleys below were amazing. After enjoying lunch here, we set off for Calgary for our final day.

We didn’t get to see a lot of Calgary, but it was a beautiful city and I’m sure there is a lot to do. We did get to visit and enjoy dinner at the Calgary Heritage Park. A great place to immerse yourself in pioneer and cowboy life over a century ago. Dinner was fun in the old Gasoline Ally Museum. The food was great, and the Mayor of Calgary deemed us honorary Calgarians. It was a great trip and one I would recommend to anyone.

Karrie Stewart
Morris Columbus Travel



If you think Africa is all desert and savannah plains, you’re incorrect. Its landscapes are as diverse as they are breathtaking, a liberal helping of pretty beaches, charming towns, and stunning panoramic views. Here are my picks for two of the most beautiful places in Africa.

Bazaruto Archipelago, Mozambique

Mozambique’s long coastline is lined with many unspoiled and stunningly attractive beaches, none more so than the sands of the Bazaruto Archipelago just offshore. Its clear turquoise waters are home to a plethora of marine life, including sea turtles and dugongs.

Photo credit: Tonis Valing/Shutterstock

Uganda’s Tea Country

Many of us associate tea growing with the hill country of India and Sri Lanka, but East Africa’s soil and climate are equally suitable. Uganda’s lush and verdant farms form some of the country’s most photogenic landscapes. On your way to see the gorillas, add two extra days to discover the beauty of Uganda.

Photo credit: Ashim D Silva/Shutterstock

I will be happy to help you plan a worry-free getaway. Please contact me at (801) 483-6533 or to view my full travel biography, please click this link.

Bon Voyage!

Murielle Blanchard
Black Pearl Luxury Services
A division of Morris Murdock Travel
(801) 483-6533
email me