US*EU Travel (USEUT)
Customized intineraries and support for intellectually-curious...
in the name of healthy global exchange.
THE TOP SIX PROGRAMS:
Keeping in mind that we're primarily focusing on Northern California fare here... the following are the most popular itineraries among Europeans. Alternative programs from New York to Hawaii are available upon request, including singular forays into L.A./Hollywood and Ocean County's beaches/sanctuaries. As are the "dark side" of various realms. All programs -- whether designed for individuals or group travel -- have costs tailored on a case by case basis. You tell us what you're interested in and how much time you have to vacation... and we'll give you a budget-conscious price.
1. Photographic Shoot of San Francisco and its Environs*: Whether you're a novice or expert with the camera, learn where, when and how to photograph the varied and fascinating surroundings of San Francisco, towering redwoods, the plunging coastline of Big Sur, pristine sections of Lake Tahoe, magesterial Sierra Nevada mountains, the artistic colonies in Carmel/Mendocino, future-forming aspects of Silicon Valley, historically rich Gold Country, palate-enticing Wine Country, and Hearst Castle. You may leave your heart in San Francisco, but not your premier images.
*Even if you're in another company's packaged tour, we recommend that you take advantage of the tips we make available for one and all... for photography, little-advertised locales, etc.
2. Literary and Natural Northern California: Not far from one of the most photographed set of seascapes in America, along the famous 17-mile Drive of Pebble Beach, lies the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the largest, and certainly most visually delightful aquariums in the world. Attractions such as these unfold/invite as we lead visitors on a literary tour of Northern California, covering the National Steinbeck Center, the Henry Miller Museum (in blessed Big Sur!) and the old haunts of the Beat Generation, among other sites, introducing visitors to people who actually knew the literary luminaries. There is a rare feminist/arts variation of this tour available upon request. A film-oriented focus can also be substituted, highlighting the realms of Coppola and Lucas in lieu of those of Alice Walker or Jack London*. Either way, this is an ideal program for group travel as it is discussion-based.
*For deeply serious literary aficionados or academes we have inexpensive long retreats available which focus on authors such as William Faulkner, Nathaniel West, Thomas Pynchon, Cormac McCarthy and Flannery O'Connor, connecting current day America to its roots. See http://oxtogrind.org/archive/246.
3. The Best of the Wine Country: Literally all that's expected of you is to eat, drink and relax -- and then do it all over again. The rest -- wine tastings, spa treatments, hot-air balloon rides, canoe trips, horseback tours -- is mere icing on an already idyllic cake. The verdant expanses of rolling hills patterned with grape-garnished trellises, hued with mustard and wild-flowers, and dotted with farmers plowing the soil and vinters tending to their vines is country life at its picture-perfect best.
4. Native American/Minorities Tour: Primarily designed for Europeans interested in the ethnic variety of America, we provide a singular tour of San Francisco's Chinatown, introduction to the remaining Indian tribes of California (with the assistance of the California Mission Studies Association), direct contact with Mexican-American farmers in the Salinas Valley, and unique exposure to African-American culture, including prestigious jazz concerts. Sporting events and festivals often afford rich opportunities in this realm. As do visits to select prison populations.
5. Combo of Southern California Desert and Yosemite: We've seen higher cliffs, deeper valleys, and countless big waterfalls in the course of our travels, but, like the words of a poem, it's not the individual elements that are poignant, but the way they come together into a meaningful whole. Yosemite is beyond words! And when combined with a trip into the two basic desert zones of California, Mojave (high) and Colorado (low), visitors have an unparalleled, unforgettable experience. Variations of this can be put together for the physically-challenged, and families with young children... in King's Canyon and Sequoia national parks. And, yes, you can meet real cowboys.
6. Gay/Lesbian Homestay Getaways in Santa Cruz: These are opportunities for interested parties to be hosted by like-minded individuals, culturally compatible souls. Our match-up service virtually guarantees a marriage made in Heaven... providing a singular California setting on/near the beach for The Pacific Ocean Experience of a Lifetime. Within striking distance of multiple world-class attractions, and set in a community well-known as having a permanent welcome mat out for all kinds of counter-culture lifestyles. You can be guided in whale watching and surfing by our dear intimate friends... in private boats. Come in June, and you can be one of a half a million participants at San Francisco's Lesbian and Gay Freedom Day Parade... or slip into one of the more modest celebrations of the same throughout the state.
For all programs, we can either set you up with like-minded individuals to be part of a group OR we can provide you with an itinerary/advice -- making all arrangements for you -- to facilitate private travel. Our groups always honor the invaluable element of spontaneity in travel, USEUT's "arrangements" never interfering with the potential for blessed surprise.
Keep in mind that we accommodate select individuals at any time in a given year. Contingent upon particular interests, we have all sorts of "special times" to recommend.
Early November, 2008 is a time when foreigners will have an opportunity to be in America on an historic occasion. The upcoming presidential elections will generate very palpable electricity throughout the nation, with the perception that the outcome will greatly determine the trajectory of mankind's future. USEUT can set up visitors so that they have a front row seat to the goings on, including lots of direct contact with media representatives, educators and highly opinionated citizens. Not for everyone, but ideal for some. Arrive in October (cowboy fans!), and you may be able to fit in the Western Regional Final Championship Rodeo.
Christmas/New Year's Eve, 2008: For everyone. USEUT's array of locations for celebrating the holidays with locals, including family home-cooked dinners and gift-giving, should impress one and all. Certain spots for ringing in the New Year can serve, of course, as a scenario for once-in-a-lifetime memories. A spectacular star-studded Xmas parade marches through the heart of Hollywood, and the incomparable Tournament of Roses is a sure-fire hit of an option, especially if combined with Rose Bowl football tickets. Should you be able to stay long enough, San Francisco's Chinese New Year Parade and Festival is an absoute dream.
Home Away From Home: Please ask us about opportunities in the U.S.A. for a) housesitting, b) jobs and c) relocation/investment. This is a peripheral aspect of USEUT's focus, but of prime interest to some.
We trust that the reader can get past the first paragraph below... which may strike many as a bit of a strange introduction from a travel agent. (1) Atypical, certainly.
The world doesn't need another travel agency. But my family represents the only presence in the travel industry which actually discourages excessive overseas travel. (2) That's not good for business, but it makes a lot of sense environmentally. As odd as it may sound, if we're going to welcome airline travelers to the United States, we want to make sure first that there's nothing we can do to keep them from coming here too often. However, since we know that many people will -- understandably -- insist upon journeying here at least once, we trust that they'll take advantage of our resources/experience... before they reach our shores.
Our specialty area may be California, particularly from San Francisco to Big Sur, but we do have much to offer from Hawaii to New York. Offerings that are hard to come by elsewhere. We not only have decades of experience in the field (3), we can make contributions in many other ways:
~Once we establish contact with you, we keep in touch with you before and after travel to the U.S. for as long as you like. Ongoing weekly updates concerning the U.S. are free, and we gladly exchange emails on everything from politics to sports. You have the option of a lifelong relationship with us.
~We serve as a free resource for environmental news worldwide... so that if you journey anywhere in the future you'll have the latest information for healthy travel conditions/choices.
~Even if people don't sign on with us, we are happy to provide free advice that will minimize tension in traveling to the U.S., from packing recommendations for ease through Customs to safety tips.
Everyone knows that it's a good time to use the euro for travel in the United States. With USEUT travelers will also have access to interpretations of U.S. history, society, etc. which are not from the usual mainstream sources. For instance, alternative descriptions to what is provided by official markers and monuments will be available. One aim is to help visitors see the U.S.A. with new eyes, unencumbered by the public relations images of vested interests. (4)
We are very much into maximizing your pure fun and joyous celebration of America's many miraculous offerings, but we are also interested in having worthwhile exchange. And it's in that vein that we have come up with another aspect to our program that's quite unusual in the travel industry: selectivity! That is, we do NOT accept just anyone as a client. In fact, our people -- just like us -- tend to avoid typical tourists and tourist traps, tread lightly on foreign soil, and seek fresh experiences.
Our bottom-line is to put together programs for sensitive souls who are interested in blossoming abroad. People who are open to transformative travel. (5)
(1) We are a successful family business which operates off the mainstream economic grid. None of us are registered travel agents. We simply love to meet people from different cultures, and we enjoy serving.
(2) As per the UK's George Monbiot: http://www.monbiot.com/archives/2006/02/28/we-are-all-killers/. With 700 million holidays being taken at present worldwide annually -- and a billion slated for 2010! -- anyone who knows about the environmental impact of air travel will understand why we feel its obigatory to at least underscore the dangers of excessive travel.
(3) Among the activities from our extensive travel background, excursions we've led for www.parisgraves.com/attractions.html, www.frenchpaintbox.com and www.ctravelc.blogspot.com should be instructive. In addition, the recently created www.cancerfreeitaly.com site provides supplemental profile material concerning our professional interests. As you'll see in www.parisgraves.com/about.html and other sections of those sites, I am a former college professor with specialties in Dramatic Art, History of Cinema, Comparative Literature and ESL. More importantly for this travel business, I drove a taxi in New York City at one time, lived all across the nation, and worked in various blue collar capacities that put me in touch with the U.S.A. pulse.
(4) Guides almost always avoid negative or controversial facts, and most markers, monuments and historic sites omit the blemishes that might taint any "heroes" they commemorate, making them larger and less interesting than life. This syndrome is also reflected in discussions of present day U.S. domestic/foreign policies, and our travelers will be made privy to what we feel are invaluable insights... which are difficult to access via mainstream media outlets or other popular sources. USEUT, as a contributor to improved international relations vis-a-vis its cultural exchange, prides itself on being a decent antidote for counteracting U.S. indiscretions. Abominations?
(5) One prestigious travel guide -- known for promoting alternative/conscious travel -- has recently suggested that incessant airline travel can be balanced by travelers contributing to environmentally-positive programs. You know, take a planetary toxic trip but soothe your conscience by supporting an organization which plants trees here and there. The one activity doesn't offset the other. The point here for our relationship with clients is... the importance of honesty. There are many, many aspects to life in the U.S. which demand the kind of integrity which -- if spoken about -- often runs against pure business interests. Let it be known that we've resolved to inform and direct... honestly. In the movie JAWS, the authorities decide to not tell the public about what they know because the truth would undermine their bottom-line. Well, we're going to be telling you what's in the water where... and we fully intend to apply the same principle to every aspect of your experience with us. We will not hide the country's sharks from you. We will be truthful about America with you -- including more than merely the beautiful -- contributing to a well-rounded educational experience, and making for wonderful lifelong memories.
TO APPLY FOR 2008 EXCURSIONS+:
We do not use generic registration forms. Please contact us at EURO2US@GMAIL.COM. Anyone wanting to participate in our United States University Program -- with which we encourage worthwhile dialogue between different cultures -- is invited to review http://oxtogrind.org/archive/246 and contact us at email@example.com to apply.
That academic program can focus on any discipline in the Arts, Humanities or Social Sciences, but our prime foci are cinema, history, literature, geopolitics, painting, theatre and interior design. We also encourage the study of English as a Second or Foreign Language through comedy, specifically the comic routines of countercultural icons from Lenny Bruce to Pee Wee Herman and Mitch Hedberg.
And speaking of countercultural matters, although we have a strong inclination to bond with left-of-center visitors, we believe that even very conservative tourists enjoy our fare as much as anyone else. Especially if they're the least bit adventurous, and even minimally interested in exploring new angles of vision. Hearty laughter and healthy good times cross all sorts of attitudinal barriers.
Special note: We can provide translations in many different languages for some of the materials (about the U.S.A.) that we will be emailing to interested parties on an ongoing basis.
Been There, Done That Department:
For those who have visited the U.S.A. previously -- perhaps even lived here for quite some time -- we underscore that USEUT has many relatively unexplored California glories to share with one and all.