In This Issue:

FEATURED TRIP: Great National Parks of the West
CRUISE OF THE MONTH: Royal Hawaiian Holiday
JOURNEY OF THE MONTH: Great Western Explorer
BEHIND THE SCENES: Living the Streamliner Life
THE WAY IT WAS: Seattle’s King Street Station
PHOTO OF THE MONTH: Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies
DID YOU KNOW? Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
HISTORIC SNAPSHOT: Pearl Harbor 1941
A TASTE FOR TRAVEL: Lasagna is a Taste of Italy
TRAVEL TIPS: How to See Europe Without Flying
NATIONAL PARK TRIVIA: How to Enjoy Our National Parks
IN YOUR OWN WORDS: Guests Speak Up



FREE NIGHT IN CHICAGO! Receive a pre-trip hotel night in Chicago before our 12-day Great Western Explorer train tour departing May 14 and October 22, 2016. Note that this is an EXCLUSIVE offer that is made available ONLY to subscribers of this e-newsletter and must be redeemed by calling Uncommon Journeys at 1-800-323-5893. This offer expires Friday, October 30.

Featured Trip

 Great National Parks of the West

This 12-day Great National Parks of the West train tour features a private restored Vista-Dome Streamliner train, our very own Great Western Limited. The only holiday to feature Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and Yosemite all in one glorious holiday, this trip also boasts of two nights in San Francisco with a fine hotel at Fisherman’s Wharf. Never before to our knowledge has there been an elegantly crafted tour to the Great National Parks of the West that offered up, in one glorious vacation, Glacier National Park, Yellowstone, Grand Teton and Yosemite, with a scenic crossing of the Sierra Nevada Mountains and time in San Francisco as added benefits. Nicer still, our guests enjoy something that no other western holiday offers, travel aboard our own classic 1940s era vintage streamliner train with Vista-Dome cars for your viewing pleasure. With a sensible pace (most of our hotel stays are two nights long), comprehensive sightseeing throughout, a professional tour manager to handle all of the details and much more, there is simply no nicer nor better way to travel from the Crown of the Continent at Glacier National Park to Yosemite than this holiday.

The majesty of Yellowstone.

• Free or low-cost travel aboard Amtrak's Empire Builder train from Seattle/Portland or Chicago/Midwest points to our starting point in Glacier National Park, Montana, an overnight journey. Guests with less time may fly into Kalispell, Montana with a free shuttle to our hotel in Whitefish.
• Two-night stay in quaint Whitefish, Montana with complete touring of stunning Glacier National Park including the famed Red Jammer buses over the extraordinary Going to the Sun Highway.
• Overnight visit to Yellowstone National Park with comprehensive sightseeing including Old Faithful and the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone.
• Two-night visit to Jackson, Wyoming with touring of Grand Teton National Park and a float trip on the Snake River.
• Train travel from Provo, Utah to Sacramento aboard the Great Western Limited, an overnight journey in Pullman sleeping car comfort over the Union Pacific Railroad. All meals, wines & spirits are included aboard your private train.
• Full day visit to Yosemite with complete touring and overnight at the Yosemite View Lodge along the rushing Merced River.
• Two-night stay in San Francisco at Fisherman's Wharf with Bay Cruise and Farewell Dinner.
• A leisurely relaxed pace with more time in Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier National than most tours offer.
• Many meals including breakfast daily.
• Complete sightseeing from start to finish including all admission fees, excursions and transfers.
• Fully hosted by a Professional Tour Manager.

Beginning at just $3,495 per person, this 12-day trip departs on July 4 and August 25. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.


 Royal Hawaiian Holiday

In the golden age of travel, a voyage to Hawaii aboard one of the great ships of Matson Line like the Lurline, Monterey or Mariposa was considered one of the great travel experiences in the world. Sailing under the Golden Gate Bridge, guests enjoyed seeing Hawaii rise up out of sea five days later with a splendid interlude of lunch on deck, dinners with new friends and ocean travel at its best. Now for the first time in many years, we are offering an American ship (NCL America’s Pride of America), from San Francisco to Honolulu as part of our 17-day Royal Hawaiian Holiday departing March 14. With only one departure, this cruise does not have to divert to some out of the way port like Ensenada Mexico on the way. On this voyage, the lazy days sailing from San Francisco to the Islands being the perfect introduction to “island time” (as the locals put it). Once in Hawaii, you will explore them in great style and comfort, without having to hop on inter-island flights, change hotels every few days or catch shuttle buses. Instead, you will see Hawaii as it should be seen, by sea, watching in awe as Kilauea Volcano shoots fire against the evening sky approaching Diamond Head at dawn and cruising along the scenic Ne Pali Coast of Kauai. And you will see it all, Hilo, Maui, and Honolulu, all in one glorious voyage. And the nostalgic tempo of another age continues when you arrive in Honolulu with a four-night stay at the grande dame of Hawaiian hotels, the elegant and fabled Royal Hawaiian.

Enjoy palm-caressed days and star-kissed nights in Hawaii.

Nicer still, as befits a tranquil destination where the air is softer, the breezes gentler and the views inviting, your comfort and ease is paramount. We have included an overnight hotel stay in San Francisco before sailing, so as to eliminate any worry about tight same-day connections. Transfers to the ship are included and a professional tour host travels with you, with special parties and events just for our guests included. Onboard ship, fresh and flavorful cuisine from breakfast in bed to traditional dinners await, plus the services of an attentive staff and innovative experiences all designed to help you “escape completely.”

• Free or low-cost train travel to San Francisco from any US city. For those with less time, we offer low air add-on fares from over 189 gateway cities.
• Overnight deluxe hotel stay in San Francisco the evening before sailing to avoid concern about same-day connections.
• Visit to lovely Sausalito and transfer to ship on sailing day.
• Eleven-night voyage to Hawaii from San Francisco aboard the US registered Pride of America of NCL America with port calls in Maui, Hilo, Kona and Kauai en route.
• Complimentary shore excursions in every port of call, a great value and money-saving bonus including dinner at Don the Beachcomber in Kona, Pearl Harbor tour and more.
• A glorious four-night stay at the fabled Royal Hawaiian Hotel during our stay in Honolulu with full breakfast daily and all taxes.
• Fully hosted from start to finish by our acclaimed tour manager Don Downs with special cocktail parties and events just for our guests both aboard ship and ashore.

Beginning at just $4,895 per person, this 11-day Pacific Northwest holiday departs June 15, 2016, July 13, 2016, August 10, 2016 and September 7, 2016. Call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.


 Great Western Explorer

Our 14-day Great Western Explorer train tours departing May 14 and October 22, 2016 are some of our most sought-after trips, melding the very best of the west with private train travel. While biased, we think that our new Vista-Dome Great Western Explorer trip is a masterpiece, a visual feast offering up some of the most extraordinary sights of the American West, combined with exceptional sightseeing, superb hotels and a leisurely pace. This holiday is a trip of superlatives: from the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe to the overwhelming splendor of Hearst Castle, to the California Coast (which we travel alongside for 131 miles by train) to the awesome majesty of the Southwest, not to mention the incomparable Yosemite National Park. We have included such rare treats as a ride aboard the newly restored Virginia & Truckee Railroad into historic Virginia City, Nevada, steamship passage to the lovely Catalina Island and a visit to the famed Santa Monica Pier just to name just a few delights awaiting our guests. Naturally, all sightseeing and admission fees are included in the tour price as well as remarkable hotels like the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno (a two-night stay) and the legendary Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles (also two nights). Last but not least, there is a professional tour manager to handle all the details so that you may concentrate on the important matters like whether or not to enjoy the crab omelet or the fresh tuna at our lunch in quaint Morro Bay, California. In an age sadly filled with cramped flights without meal service where there is a charge for a pillow, our guests enjoy First Class sleeping car travel with beds and pillows! This way, you will have an up-close view of all of the majesty and beauty of the Great American West.

The staff is the highlight of your private train.

• Our guests enjoy the stunning daylight passage through the Colorado Rockies over the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad "Main Line Through the Rockies" and the glorious passage across the Navajolands of the Great Southwest.
• All meals, wine and spirits while aboard the Vista-Dome Great Western Limited are included.
• Two-night stay in enchanting Santa Fe, New Mexico, with sightseeing and plenty of free time to explore this historic area.
• Fully hosted from start to finish by professional tour manager that handles all of the details.
• Superb hotels throughout including the Four-Diamond rated Silver Legacy Resort in Reno, and the opulent Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles. Notably, many of our hotel stays are two-nights long.
• Many meals ashore including breakfast daily.
• Extraordinary sightseeing like the storied Virginia & Truckee Railroad, a visit to Hearst Castle and Steamer passage to lovely Catalina Island are featured and all admission fees are included.
• A leisurely, relaxed pace with plenty of free time for you to enjoy as you wish.

Beginning at just $3,995 per person and offered twice only on May 14 and October 22, 2016, our 14-day Great Western Explorer journeys will sell quickly so call us at 1-800-323-5893 for more details.



 Living the Streamliner Life

The glory of the Golden Age of Rail travel in our private Vista-Dome Streamliner car

Here at Uncommon Journeys, we’re fans of symmetry and balance. In fact, you could say that we incorporate a bit of Zen in every trip. We find that visiting national parks and the overwhelming beauty of nature to be catalysts for those feelings of peacefulness and tranquility. But we have to admit that not every “Moment of Zen” (to quote John Stewart) is entirely random. We’re a bit obsessive-compulsive here at Uncommon Journeys while planning our trips since we want to make sure everything our guests experience is perfect. That’s part of the reason that whenever possible, we try to bracket our trips with a train ride. Based on scheduling and destinations, we can’t always pull that off but when we can, it’s a thing of beauty.

Our 14-day Great Western Explorer train tours departing May 14, 2016 and October 22, 2016 are two such trips. They offer some of the most extraordinary sights of the American West, combined with exceptional sightseeing, superb hotels and a leisurely pace. Guests enjoy everything from the deep blue waters of Lake Tahoe and the overwhelming splendor of Hearst Castle to the California Coast (which we travel alongside for 131 miles by train) to the awesome majesty of the Southwest (not to mention the incomparable Yosemite National Park) There are even rare treats such as a ride aboard the newly restored Virginia & Truckee Railroad into historic Virginia City, steamship passage to lovely Catalina Island, and a visit to the famed Santa Monica Pier. With remarkable hotels like the Silver Legacy Resort in Reno (a two-night stay) and the legendary Biltmore Hotel in Los Angeles (also two nights), this is a first class way to see the West.

And as much as we love all those destinations, our favorite part is that this trip begins and ends in Chicago with travel aboard our private Vista-Dome Streamliner train, the Great Western Limited. Our guests enjoy first class sleeping car travel with an up-close view of all of the majesty and beauty of the Great American West.

We leave Chicago’s Union Station and then spend one full day and two nights en route to Reno with daylight passage through the Colorado Rockies over the Denver & Rio Grande Western Railroad’s “Main Line through the Rockies” and a glorious trip across the Navajolands of the Great Southwest. On the way back, we leave Santa Fe with an afternoon, night and day on the rails before returning to Chicago.

The Great Western Limited’’s Streamliner cars were named after their aerodynamic shape when they were built in the 1950s and feature a curved wall of glass covering the sides of the Vista-Dome car, acting almost like a combination window and skylight. The Vista-Dome Streamliner car is the hub of the private train experience and is a combination social lounge and dining room. It is here that guests chat, play cards, read a book or just gaze out the windows as the extraordinary landscapes pass by the great curving windows. All meals, wine and spirits while aboard the Great Western Limited are included and since we limit the size of our trips to only a select few lucky participants, the staff gets to know everyone’s name and drink preferences. In fact, they’re so adept that they’ll know when you’re ready to switch from your morning mimosa to your mid-day iced tea to your afternoon gin and tonic and then your preferred white wine for dinner.

Meals are carefully crafted to reflect a combination of contemporary favorites with a touch of nostalgic train specialties such as a relish plate with pickled watermelon (sweet, tangy and unlike anything you’ve ever had before yet you’ll be asking for the recipe) to cheesecakes, white chocolate mousse, delicately prepared salmon, fresh rolls, pesto penne pasta and salads with our special Pullman dressing. In the Vista-Dome, the tables are graced with fresh flowers and indulgent delights include afternoon tea with fresh scones and strawberry butter, stylish cocktail hours with hot hors d'oeuvres and even wine and cheese tastings.

The rooms are cozy and sleek, a reminder of the glamorous days of train travel 50 years ago. There’s nothing better than snuggling into your sleeping berth while looking at the huge plate glass windows as the darkened world passes by, enlivened by flashes of light from crossings, towns and remote mountain cabins.

But you know our favorite part of bookending a trip with a night or more on the Great Western Limited? It’s the feeling of coming home.

When you board, you quickly feel at home thanks to our polished staff, their warm smiles and their attention to detail. By the time you get off in Reno, you can’t even remember what life was like outside your train bubble of pampering. But as the land portion of the journey ends and you wrap up your time in Santa Fe, the excitement builds as you anticipate returning to the Great Western Limited for the journey back to Chicago. For me, the best part is when the train pulls into the station and you realize that the staff greeting you is the same staff you traveled with two weeks earlier. They still, somehow, remember your name and welcome you back aboard. It truly feels like coming home, especially when they bring you your favorite drink just after you get resettled.

For us, that moment is my favorite moment of any of our trips that include a private train at the beginning and end of the journey. There’s no better feeling than to know you’re home.



Seattle’s King Street Station

The restored majesty of Seattle’s gateway to the world on King Street.

Every great city deserves a great train station and although Seattle’s heyday was a number of decades after the booms of San Francisco and the cities of the East, city leaders still had the foresight to build a grand (if not slightly smaller) version of competing cities' rail palaces. King Street Station was built in 1906 as a joint venture of the Northern Pacific Railway and the Great Northern Railway. It was not the first train depot in Seattle; an outdated station closer to the waterfront was the forerunner but eventually proved too small as Seattle became a gateway to the Alaskan Gold Rush.

Though Seattle’s city fathers did not choose a local architect to design the new station, they had the good sense to choose a company from Minnesota called Reed and Stem who had been one of the architectural firms involved in the design of New York’s Grand Central Terminal. At the same time, the tracks themselves were moved inland to the site of the new station and to run through a new mile-long tunnel under downtown. The defining architectural element of the station is a soaring clock tower that rises 24 stories high and bears a vague resemblance to the famed Campanile di San Marco in Venice after which it was modeled. Interestingly, the station’s clock tower was the tallest edifice in the city at the time of its completion.

But as times changed in the 20th century, King Street Station did as well, although not for the better. Piecemeal remodeling covered the majestic interior’s details in the name of “modernizing” the station’s appearance. Perhaps the worst offense was a drop panel ceiling, just like the kind one finds in a basement rec room, which covered the entire detailed ceiling as well as a second level mezzanine. Installation of escalators encroached into the grand staircase and eventually there was almost nothing remaining to remind travelers of the dramatic interiors of 1906.

Fortunately, the Seattle of today is much different than the Seattle of the 1960s when the interior of King Street Station was covered. Beginning in the first years of the 21st century, rich mahogany doors were installed, window frames replaced, new brass door pulls, and new light fixtures that mimicked the long-lost originals were installed. By 2006, the city bought the station from BNSF for a mere $10 so that it could begin a comprehensive restoration that had an initial budget of almost $30 million. By 2008 the clock tower was restored and by 2010 the exterior was mostly finished. But the real work began that same year inside as the drop ceiling was torn down to reveal the ornate ceiling and the offices on the hidden mezzanine were removed. The magnificence had returned.

Today, the station is a tidy, clean, elaborate ode to the Golden Age of Rail travel and a wonderful spot to catch a train such as our Great Western Limited on trips such as our 8-day Elegant Canadian Rockies tour that departs from Seattle on June 23, July 21 August 18 and September 21.


Moraine Lake in the Canadian Rockies

Stunning Moraine Lake in Banff National Park.

It wasn’t hard for us to pick the Photo of the Month for the October Newsletter. Our blogger-at-large recently returned from our 8-day Elegant Canadian Rockies train tour this year (the 2016 versions depart Seattle on June 23, July 21 August 18 and September 21) with this stunning photo of Moraine Lake in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies, just 9 miles outside the village of Lake Louise. Nestled in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, the incredible blue of the lake is a result of run-off from the glaciers that feed the lake and deposit powdered rock sediments which refract the sun’s light. We’d like to give credit for the majesty of this photo to our blogger-at-large but the truth is that you don’t need any special skills or hikes to remote overlooks to capture a view like this. This is exactly what Moraine Lake looks like and that’s why it’s one of our favorite places on earth.

If you’d like to see a photo from one of your own Uncommon Journeys trips featured in our newsletter, just email it to us at and be sure to note in your email that we can use it for marketing purposes.


Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump

The site’s sign also explains exactly what the site once was.

One of our more eclectic stops on some of our tours is a place called Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in Alberta, Canada on the road to Banff. It turns out that this place with a strange name is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, meaning that it is one of less than 1,000 places on earth identified by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization as a site that forms “part of the cultural and natural heritage which the World Heritage Committee considers as having outstanding universal value.” It’s in good company, right up there with the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Taj Mahal in India, Machu Picchu in Peru and the Great Pyramid in Egypt. There are only 16 places in Canada that made the list and this ode to the creativity and ingenuity of the natives is well worth the visit.

From a distance, it looks just like any hill and cliff. However, hidden inside there is an intriguing interpretative center that tells the story of Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump. It’s no surprise that for thousands of years the native inhabitants of North America hunted and killed buffalo. They didn’t do it for sport; they did it for basic survival, utilizing every aspect of the animals. The meat was used for food but also the hides were used for clothing, blankets and even shelter in the form of tent-like structures.

Buffalo are big animals. And they move surprisingly fast. Hunting buffalo took a lot of energy and a lot of time, both of which were precious commodities for a people who lived off the land. First, they had to track the herds. Second, they had to spend many hours making arrows with which to conduct the hunt. Perhaps most challenging of all, the enormous carcasses had to be moved back to where the people were so that they could be carved up into the parts that would sustain the tribe. At some point, someone stood up and announced they’d figured out a better way to do all this.

After uncounted years of tracking the bison, the indigenous people became intimately familiar with buffalo behavior and what would frighten them or cause them to head in one direction as a herd. What if the buffalo could be made to come to the natives instead of the other way around? And better yet, what if they were already dead when they arrived? Do you get where this is going?

First let us point out that the plains of Canada have a stark beauty all their own. Sitting in the shadow of the Canadian Rockies, there are hills both small and large and similarly sized cliffs to match. If you can find a high enough cliff and if you understand how a herd of buffalo will behave if frightened and can find surrounding hills that form a natural chute toward the cliff, you’ve got a perfect combination. If you didn’t know where this was going before, we think you do now.

Yep, the natives came up with the idea of driving a herd of buffalo off a cliff where they would fall to their death and the meat and hides could easily be gathered all in one place. Such locations came to be known as buffalo jumps and this method of hunting was so successful that it was used for more than 6,000 years. Head Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was one of those places that most of our guests never expected to visit but the story always captivates them. It seems the world around us has so many stories to tell, if we can just find the right storyteller and if we just take the time to listen.


Luxury in Yellowstone

Pearl Harbor 1941

The USS Arizona explodes and catapults America into a world war.

A vacation should do more than just take you places; it should move you as well. Hawaii is a popular destination for a variety of reasons and its incomparable natural beauty delights our guests year after year. In 2016, we offer several ways to see the 50th state. Our 17-night Royal Hawaiian Holiday vacation beginning March 14, 2016 and our 18-day Hawaii in the Grand Manner trip are the perfect way to visit Hawaii with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of pampering.

But unlike most of our journeys, these trips offer something that goes beyond nature’s bounty and the brilliance of the Hawaiian Islands. Yes, you will marvel at the jagged ribbons of green mountains plunging into the sea and the glow of lava from Kilauea. You will be awestruck by the sapphire and turquoise hues of the sea and the lush landscapes and the glittering waterfalls. But just outside the sparkling skyscrapers of Honolulu, you will find something even more inspiring. And nature’s hand has nothing to do with it.

A lovely harbor lies at the foot of mountains. It is still a busy place, although not as busy as it once was 70 or 80 years ago when history conspired to make it America’s most important military base and another Pacific nation turned it into one of America’s greatest tragedies one quiet Sunday afternoon. Pearl Harbor has plenty of natural beauty, but it is the human stories of triumph and disaster that draw people here.

Wherever there has been great disaster, tragedy and suffering there is always a corresponding positive story of heroes, selflessness and self-sacrifice. The true story of Pearl Harbor is not just of the thousands who lost their lives, it is of the heroes of that day who risked their lives to rescue fellow sailors, soldiers and airmen. It is the heroes that arose during the long, bloody years of conflict that followed as America entered, fought and won World War II.

There are few places more poignant than Pearl Harbor. One can take a boat out to the USS Arizona Memorial, a futuristic white saddle structure that sits directly over the underwater remains of the great battleship that exploded early during the December 7, 1941 attack, entombing nearly 1,200 men and is still the final resting place of more than 1,100. Their names are engraved on a wall in the memorial. Even today, drops of oil leak from the Arizona’s bunkers as if the battleship itself still weeps for those who were lost. The tears of visitors to this solemn place fall into the water amidst the oily sheen of sorrow, creating little windows in the oil to the ghostly remains of the Arizona below. In our opinion, there are few memorials more moving than this one as the ruins of the battle itself are still ever present and, like the spirits of those who were lost, still very much alive in our hearts and minds.

But we all know that Pearl Harbor was not a singular event. It was just the beginning of a long struggle and, remarkably, today’s Pearl Harbor is now home to the USS Missouri, the battleship that saw witness to the end of World War II. On her very decks in Tokyo Bay in 1945, the Japanese signed the formal unconditional surrender documents and the bloodiest war in human history finally came to an end. The battleship, the mightiest ever to see combat, is the centerpiece of the nearby National Museum of the Pacific War on Ford Island which tells the story of the battles and heroes of the war. Theirs is a story we must never forget and here in beautiful Pearl Harbor, as warm sea breezes ruffle the fronds of the palm trees, we are forever reminded of the elevation of the human spirit.

Today, Pearl Harbor represents the beginning and end of man’s greatest conflict in two battleships, one proud and preserved, the other a bleeding underwater hulk. From the memorial built over the shattered decks of one, visitors can see the decks of the other on which the surrender took place. There is no place quite like Pearl Harbor for this very reason.

On these Hawaii journeys, we take you to amazing places, but it is not nature’s majesty that will move you to tears, it is the story of a war, its heroes and its battles, that will undoubtedly be the moment that you remember. We hope you’ll join us on a trip that will, indeed, move you.


Lord Byron


“There is pleasure in the pathless woods, there is rapture in the lonely shore, there is society where none intrudes, by the deep sea, and music in its roar; I love not Man the less, but Nature more.” Lord Byron


Lasagna is a Taste of Italy

Lasagna is easy to make but transports you to Italy with one bite..  

There are few countries with a more highly developed flavor profile than Italy where eating is a celebration each and every day. We find that some of our guests’ favorite restaurants no matter where we travel are those that specialize in Italian cuisine. Of course, there’s no better place to taste Italy than in Italy itself, one of the stops on our 57-day European Holiday roundtrip cruise from Fort Lauderdale on March 10. In fact, we visit Venice, Naples, Rome, Florence and Pisa so the variety of Italian delights is varied and the opportunities numerous. But if you want to bring that flavor home with a quick and easy recipe for something that often can take far more time to cook, then try this recipe for a Fast and Simple Lasagna.

Meat Sauce for Lasagna
1 very large jar of Ragu spaghetti sauce, meat flavored
1 small jar of sliced mushroom
1 small onion
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp chili seasoning
1 tablespoon celery flakes
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 lb of lean ground beef
1 cup of sangria or rich red wine
1 cup of honey

Brown ground beef with chopped onion, drain fat. Mix with drained mushroom. Mix all other ingredients into large sauce pan on stove on medium heat. Combine with meat/mushroom/onion mixture and cook on medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes. Serve over pasta of your choice.

Fast and Simple Lasagna (Serves 8)
8 servings of Sweet Meat Sauce (see recipe above)
9 pieces (about 8 oz.) RONZONI Lasagna, uncooked
1-3/4 cups (15-oz. container) ricotta or small curd cottage cheese
2 cups (8 oz.) shredded mozzarella or Monterey jack cheese, divided
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 eggs
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350°F. In large bowl, stir together ricotta cheese, one-half mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, salt and pepper. Pour about 1 cup Sweet Meat Sauce on bottom of 13x9x2-inch baking dish. Arrange 3 UNCOOKED pasta pieces lengthwise over sauce; cover with about 1 cup sauce. Spread one-half cheese filling over sauce. Repeat layers of lasagna, sauce and cheese filling. Top with layer of lasagna and remaining sauce; sprinkle with remaining mozzarella cheese. Cover with foil. Bake 45 minutes. Remove foil; bake additional 15 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Let stand 20 minutes before serving.


  How to See Europe Without Flying

The ancient ruins of Ephesus are within reach.

We’re a well-established company that has been pleasing guests for 25 years but Uncommon Journeys is not a giant company. There’s no team of dozens of people putting together our trips. It’s just a small group of people incredibly dedicated to creating unique experiences. One of our principles is to offer vacations that do not require airline travel. Flying is a hassle even on a good day. Therefore, our trips feature trains and ocean liners, all departing from cities and ports in North America.

Fortunately, we’re sometimes able to offer trips to places that would seem accessible only by plane. For example, for years now we’ve offered vacations to Hawaii because our travel partners have a small number of roundtrip cruises from California to Hawaii and back. But there’s one destination that hasn’t been on our radar screen for many years. Europe was always a grueling flight away, it seems.

We know our guests love Europe. In fact, it is one of the more popular destinations when they’re not traveling with us so we’ve wanted to add a European trip for quite some time but we just couldn’t find a way to do it and have it live up to our standards for a leisurely pace and exquisite pampering. That was until our friends at Holland America Line came up with a grand 57-day European Holiday roundtrip cruise from Fort Lauderdale on March 10, 2016. What a wonderful adventure and here is the most amazing part of visiting 30 ports in 13 countries with no flying and no packing or unpacking: the trips begin at just $7,995 per person. For comparison purposes, a roundtrip business class airline ticket to Europe actually costs almost as much as this entire two-month vacation!

Best of all, this one-time only voyage is offered on Holland America Line’s Prinsendam, a mid-sized ship that offers an intimate experience lost in today’s megaliners. She was originally built in 1988 for defunct Royal Viking Line, a luxury cruise company. That means more space and more amenities combined with the ability to pop in and out of smaller ports off limits to the big ships. Among all of the cruise ships in the world, the Prinsendam occupies a special realm. With elegantly appointed public rooms, a superb spa, acres of open deck space and roomy staterooms, all with walk-in closets, Prinsendam evokes a now vanished era of cruising. 

So for this great ship we have found the greatest European itinerary in years, sailing roundtrip from Fort Lauderdale allowing our guests to sail in luxury to some of the most amazing cities on Earth including Lisbon, Athens, Venice, Istanbul, Florence, Rome and Barcelona to name just a few. We stop in epic locations like lovely Madeira, Sardinia, Malta, Santorini, Olympia, Monte Carlo and the Azores.  Along the way, guests will transit the Strait of Gibraltar, sail through the Dardanelles, cruise past Stromboli and its great volcano, glide into the Bay of Naples for a visit to Pompeii, and visit Seville in Spain.  Great seldom-visited ports are also included like Valletta in Malta, Kusadasi in Turkey, Durres Albania and perhaps nicest of all, stunning Kotor in Montenegro reached by a long fjord. All of this is done in supreme comfort, unpacking once.

So, for little more than the cost of a round-trip air ticket to Europe in business class, this epic voyage, offered only once, takes guests to the greatest places in the Old World in safety, grand style and convenience. The trip is hosted by one of our most beloved tour managers, Conrad Tausend, with special cocktail parties and events, both aboard ship and ashore. To ease our guests into their vacation, we feature an overnight deluxe hotel stay in Fort Lauderdale the evening before sailing, including breakfast and transfers to the ship on sailing day. A special evening in the Prinsendam’s Pinnacle Grill as well as dinner in Canaletto are included along with a special day in Provence just for our guests on the day we dock in Monte Carlo. A private coach takes in the highlights of the French Riviera including quaint Villefranche, chic St. Jean-Cap Ferrat and Nice. It’s the ultimate day in this stunning part of the world.

With some of the largest staterooms afloat, enrichment activities, acclaimed dining and service and Holland America's Tradition of Excellence, this voyage has one principal flaw. It will sell out quickly so call us now at 1-800-323-5893.


How to Enjoy Our National Parks

Mountains make the spirit soar.

We’re big fans of National Parks here are Uncommon Journeys. Almost all of our trips feature visits to National Parks both in the United States and Canada. We find that if you can remove the hassles and hustle-bustle of everyday life from your head as you move through a National Park, you will discover what makes them so special. To truly turn yourself over to the scenery, scents and sounds around you is a transcendent experience.

While the stone formations of Arches National Park are other-worldly, the deep rifts in the earth at the Grand Canyon almost frightening in their raw beauty, and the sizzling geysers of Yellowstone bizarre in their regularity, it is the soaring mountains of Yosemite, the Grand Tetons and Denali that many of our guests find the most inspiring of all. Somehow a mountain lifts you up, both visually and spiritually. The higher we go, the closer we feel like we are to heaven.

John Muir felt the same way and some of his journal entries as he made his way through the wonderland of nature are as true today as when they were written. He found the Sierra Nevadas inspirational and noted that “No mountains I know of are so alluring. None so hospitable, kindly, tenderly inspiring. It seems strange that everybody does not come at their call. They are given, like the Gospel, without money and without price. 'Tis heaven alone that is given away.'”

He observed joyously “What wonders lie in every mountain day! . . . Crystals of snow, plash of small raindrops, hum of small insects, booming beetles, the jolly rattle of grasshoppers, chirping crickets, the screaming of hawks, jays, and Clark crows, the 'coo-r-r-r' of cranes, the honking of geese, partridges drumming, trumpeting swans, frogs croaking, the whirring rattle of snakes, the awful enthusiasm of booming falls, the roar of cataracts, the crash and roll of thunder, earthquake shocks, the whisper of rills soothing to slumber, the piping of marmots, the bark of squirrels, the laugh of a wolf, the snorting of deer, the explosive roaring of bears, the squeak of mice, the cry of the loon-loneliest, wildest of sounds.”

But if one truly lets their daily thoughts dissipate, then no matter where we are, we find nature around us. Muir likened the experience to the “Song of God, sounding on forever.” He described it as being “pure and sure” and harmoniously universal. “It matters not where we are, where we strike in on the wild lowland plains. We care not to go to the mountains, and on the mountains we care not to go to the plains. But as soon as we are absorbed in the harmony, plain, mountain, calm, storm, lilies and sequoias, forests and meads are only different strands of many-colored Light-are one in the sunbeam!”

Why do we mention all this? Because at Uncommon Journeys we’re not just in the business of selling train and boat rides. We’re delivering experiences that change people. If you look back on your greatest vacations in your lifetime, you’ll find they all share one thing in common: somehow, in some way, you came back slightly different than when you left.


Guests Speak Up

“We just finished the Best of the West tour with Conrad Tausend who did an outstanding job! What a beautiful journey! We shouldn't leave out Ed the bus driver who did a wonderful job as well. We look forward to a future trip with Uncommon Journeys. Thanks for a fantastic experience”
- Jim & Linda Z.

“We just wanted to take a moment to write about the wonderful tour my husband and I enjoyed through Uncommon Journeys. Cathy Lee was our host and did a fantastic job handling a few difficult passengers (LOL!). The trip was well planned, with very few "bumps." We also met some great folks that had a great time as well. My husband and I love to travel and my husband used to do tours here in Texas. Going to the parks definitely renewed our interest in being involved in tourism again! Again, our trip was delightful and thoroughly enjoyed each day!” - Marta & Luiz O.

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