Message From The Founder The Vacation Reinvented Sojourn Variety

Savoring a wee dram in the Highlands

Jeff and Karen Hall Enjoying Oktoberfest in Munich

Cruising on Loch Ness

This month we chatted with Jeff and Karen Hall from Rhinelander, WI. The couple share details of their experiences on two tours with Scholarly Sojourns and discuss the benefits of small-group travel.

How did you choose Scholarly Sojourns?

We started off planning a trip to Europe with a friend of ours and we initially thought we would organize it ourselves. But we soon realized that we each had different views of a how we wanted to travel, so we turned to the internet for help. The most interesting site we found was Scholarly Sojourns. After reading some of the magnificent descriptions of the tours, we knew we found what we wanted with their Scotch Whisky In Depth tour.

What defining moments did you experience on the trip?

From the very beginning, we knew this was a special tour. We were standing in one of the hotel lobbies on the first day of a tour and hadn’t met our guide, Ronnie Berri, yet. Suddenly this man in full Scottish regalia—a red-plaid kilt, black vest, high wool socks with bands, and a waistband—swept through the door and into the lobby. He was extremely impressive, yet very approachable. And he was the real deal. He wore this outfit for each day of the tour and regaled us with his expertise on Scotch whisky tasting as well the history and culture of Scotland itself. It was not just visits to distilleries that kept us entranced, although those were quite fun. Ronnie is a wealth of fascinating information. Even at dinners and during a picnic, he paired the food and whisky with history, helping us connect to the country. He made absolutely everything we did so very enjoyable.

Another excellent feature was the introductory course on Scotch Whisky. Before we traveled around Scotland with Ronnie, the tour included a course at the Scotch Whisky School in Edinburgh. This brought everyone in our group to a common starting point, so that when Ronnie talked about what we tasted in the various whiskies we sampled at each distillery, everyone understood what he meant.

What advice do you have for those who are considering traveling either alone or with others?

Just go. Our first tour was so well planned, so well organized, and we met such wonderful people that we knew we would travel again with Scholarly Sojourns. Even if you aren’t much of a Scotch whisky drinker, this is still a fascinating trip. There was an afternoon of visiting a museum and church ruins on the island of Islay for those who didn’t want to tour the distillery but wanted the cultural experience of Scotland. This trip was a surprise Christmas gift for Karen, so the plans we made were handled so carefully by everyone at Scholarly Sojourns.

Other tour companies often focus on getting a certain number of stops in, covering the most mileage. But Scholarly Sojourns makes every part of the trip so very special, comfortable, and educational for each person.

Last September, we took a second tour with Scholarly Sojourns – The Art & History of Beer Brewing in Bavaria – also with our friend Jake, who is now branching out and planning to take a trip on his own – their upgraded whisky tour, Scotch Whisky Connoisseur. That’s just what happens once you travel with Scholarly Sojourns—you want to keep going!

What did you bring back with you after each tour?

What we learned on each tour was amazing. Certainly, we returned with a true sense of Scotch whisky and the history of the drink, its importance to the country and the world, and a desire to travel again with Scholarly Sojourns, which we were able to do the following year. We also gained a greater appreciation for all the attention to detail and time Scholarly Sojourns put into the trip to meet everyone’s needs and interests. And, we returned from the Bavarian trip knowing that we wanted to spend our anniversary with Scholarly Sojourns. This November, we can’t wait to travel to Alba, Italy on the “Vineyard to Vineyard in the Land of Barolo and Barbaresco” tour!

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