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Aladdin-Inspired Adventures

As the debut of Disney’s Aladdin draws near, we’re growing excited to see the story unfold. Filmed in Jordan, the live-action version of one of Disney’s most beloved animated features takes inspiration from the tales of One Thousand and One Nights and from many different countries and cultures. Our journeys throughout the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia showcase a treasure trove of Aladdin-inspired adventures; hop a carpet and fly with us to explore them all. The Cave of Wonders A secret passageway through narrow cliffs leads to a forgotten, abandoned city carved directly into the rocks. It’s not a legend: it’s Petra, the ancient Nabataean city hidden in Jordan. Deserted in the third century BCE, this UNESCO-listed wonder remains one of the most visited sites in the world. Ker & Downey also brings our clients to Little Petra, a nearby sister city that is less frequented, but no less fascinating. Magical Palaces Brightly tiled facades, turquoise cupolas, and geometric patterns are hallmarks of architecture throughout the Middle East and Central Asia. Registan Square in the city of Samarkand,

Understanding Legal Travel to Cuba

Frequently Asked Questions About Traveling to Cuba Am I allowed to travel to Cuba? Yes. US residents and citizens are able to visit Cuba, but there are restrictions on the type of travel and the businesses in Cuba a traveler is permitted to work with. How can I travel to Cuba legally? With Ker & Downey you will be traveling to Cuba under one of the 12 travel categories authorized by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the Department of Treasury. Specifically, our organization supports the Cuban people by using private local entities to provide your full schedule of activities. This general license falls under OFAC travel category CFR §515.574. You can review more about OFAC regulations around travel to Cuba at this link. What constitutes a full schedule of activities? The US Department of Treasury requires that U.S. residents and citizens traveling under the general license mentioned above participate in a full-time schedule of daily activities that support the Cuban people and strengthen civil society. In order to ensure you are compliant, and to meet Ker & Downey’s

The Top 10 Must-Dos in Croatia

Traveling to Croatia checks off so many of our European must-haves: sparkling coastlines, historic walled cities, and delicious food. But in case you need more reasons to travel to this Eastern European getaway, we present our top ten must-dos in Croatia (including more food). Walk Through Dubrovnik Rise and shine to a view of the old town’s red tiled roofs, baroque buildings, and narrow, steep limestone streets. It’s a vision that will be familiar if you watch Game of Thrones. Like us, author George Bernard Shaw was enchanted by Dubrovnik, describing it as “the pearl of the Adriatic.” Once a powerful seafaring republic, Dubrovnik has survived the tides of time and remained one of the most beautiful cities on earth. UNESCO thinks so too: the Old City is listed as a World Heritage Site. Sample Local Culinary Creations Global connoisseurs probably already have Croatia on their menu. The entire region is known for its fantastic food and wine, and the best way to sample it is in a charming family-owned restaurant. When you’re planning a custom trip to Croatia, the Ker

Eat Your Way through Bangkok

Adventurous foodies unite, and allow me to introduce you to the best dining destination in the world: Bangkok. If you first read my overview of the capital, you’ll know that the city doesn’t sleep. In fact, I’m pretty convinced it also never stops eating. The food options are endless, and we only had two full days to taste the city. This is torturous to foodies, but we accepted the challenge with rigor. Here are our eating recommendations, beginning with the most worthwhile contributor to the scene, quintessential to your Bangkok experience: street food. STREET FOOD If you’ve caught wind of the “street food is being banned” buzz this past spring, fear not: The Tourism Authority of Thailand quickly released a clarifying statement, assuring us that street food will prevail. With that, street food is just about everywhere in Bangkok, at every hour. The one exception is Monday, during the day, as official street cleaning takes place and street stalls resultantly take a quick hiatus. Plan accordingly to avoid disappointment. And hanger. The (unofficial) street food mecca of Bangkok is the

Taylor Hagood: Key West Dreaming

When I received my Ph.D. in a year I shall not name, a friend of mine gave me a book written by Joy Williams entitled The Florida Keys: A History and Guide. I was about to move to Florida to start a job as a professor, and I had little concept of the Keys. The only thing I knew about the place was that there was a store in Key West named Fast Buck Freddie’s because my family then had a refrigerator magnet manufacturing business, and Fast Buck Freddie’s carried the products. Fast Buck Freddie’s: I love writing that. It seems to me that if South Florida should ever become a nation of its own it could be called Fast Buck Freddie’s. But back to Williams’s book, as I looked at the cover, with its blue sky and palm fronds with a beach peeking through, I had no idea how deeply my life would take root in Florida. I remember moving down, my father driving a U-Haul while I drove my red Nissan pickup truck (that as I now write has over

“Glamping” Safaris in Africa

The allure of wild African safaris beckon visitors to experience unforgettable adventures and unique personal experiences. Having grown up in Africa, I consider myself extremely fortunate to have spent many a night on safari, and my fondest memories in life are those derived from being immersed in such a pristine natural environment. As a result, I often yearn to be back driving across the endless plains of the Serengeti, dotted with wildebeest and zebra on their annual migration in search of greener pastures. I also have rich memories of gliding silently across the crystal clear waters of Botswana’s Okavango Delta in a mokoro (dugout canoe) through papyrus fringed channels listening to the nearby grunt of a hippo and the unmistakable cry of an African Fish Eagle. Experiencing Nature’s Wonderland The word “safari” is derived from the Swahili language and roughly translates to “a journey.” Traditionally this would have involved a small tent pitched deep in the wilds with little or no infrastructure surrounding it. Today many safaris are offered with a distinct air of sophistication, and often with super luxurious

Taylor Hagood: Bourbon Street Blues

I imagine myself to be one of a minority of people who prefer New Orleans in the morning. Give me bright sunshine, with palm fronds glistening, the heat and humidity already both menacing and languid, the streets webbed with runnels of fresh water dripping from hanging ferns and washing away the vomit of the night before. Few places blend garbage and beauty so well as New Orleans—no place does better, except maybe Naples, Italy. The garbage makes quite a few visitors nervous, especially folks I have known from the Midwest. But garbage is an important part of the city, and really it is hardly fair to separate it from the city’s haunting European-style beauty. For there is a lovely aesthetic in the gleaming black of 40-gallon garbage bags filled to bursting with the left-overs of some of the finest restaurants in the world. Piled in mute excess, even in the Vieux Carré, bulged like old-time friars dozing into accomplishing daylight, they emblematize the genuine love of pleasure over work and efficiency the city has always been better at than the

A Gift for Two: Ker & Downey’s Romantic Getaways

Whether planning for an upcoming honeymoon or treating someone you love to a memorable gift, let these romantic getaways serve as your inspiration. Our favorite amorous getaways from around the world feature private experiences and amenities with lovers in mind. Is your heart racing yet?  Foodie Love | Dar Ahlam, Morocco If the way to your heart is your stomach, head to the Skoura Oasis to get your fill. Incredible private dining awaits in secret spaces on the manicured grounds, and on a drive into the Atlas Mountains for an indulgent evening under the stars. The Creative Heart | Ellerman House, South Africa Pair fine wines and fine art at the celebrated Ellerman House consistently ranked as one of the top hotels in the world by top travel publications like Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler. With the recent addition of a custom-crafted wine cellar guests can now sample 7,500 vintages in an inspiring, intimate environment. For the Love of Nature | Hotel Paracas, Peru Peru’s southern coast is alive with history and outdoor encounters. Soar over the mysterious Nazca

When in Bucharest Experience It Like the Locals

It’s historic, charming, varied, and lively — take a personalized tour and don’t miss a thing this city offers. Known as the “Paris of the East” in the early 20th century, Bucharest is a city filled with French-inspired Art Nouveau architecture mingled with stark utilitarian communist era edifices and contemporary structures. The city teems with activity day and night as the eighth largest city in Europe. While there, take a leisurely walk back in time through Old Town with its charming narrow cobblestone streets lined with cafes and boutiques. Enjoy peaceful greenery by strolling through a city park, a great little break from the city bustle. Take a Personally Guided Tour You’re in for a real treat if you book a personal tour with When in Bucharest. Its team of local guides are passionate about their great city. Calling themselves “super-guides,” they know Bucharest inside and out tailoring each tour to best fit the interests of their guests. Their specialty is giving private guided tours of the city in English, French, and Italian. When in Bucharest was founded by Alina Brasoveanu,

Italian Days: Experience Amazing Food & Wine Tours

Fine food adventures await you in little gems across Italy. When you think of Italy, what comes to mind?  There are many answers to this question, ranging from Julius Caesar to Nero to the Coliseum to Vatican City, and we still haven’t left the magical city of Rome. We could go south to Naples and Pompeii and Sicily, or north to Pisa, Florence, and Venice.  We may think about Lamborghinis and Ferraris, or the stunning Amalfi Coast.  And way up north, we can visit Milan or Lake Como. There’s just so much to explore. Food, Glorious Food Italy has always been about one highlight after another.  But, when I think of Italy, the first thing that pops into my mind is FOOD! And there’s a little secret that isn’t so secret any more, not since earning 1,590 5-star reviews out of the 1,613 that have been posted on Trip Advisor since debuting several years ago, a stunning 98.5%! A couple years ago, I made plans to visit a variety of cities in Italy, including Bologna, which would be a base for our