Message From The Founder The Vacation Reinvented Sojourn Variety

Marcia and her friend, Holly, in Usk Castle

Jeff and Karen Hall Enjoying a German Beer

Marcia inside Caernarfon Castle

A Chat with Sojourners

This month’s chat features an interview with Jeff and Karen Hall from Rhinelander, WI. The two travelers offer their experiences on two Scholarly Sojourn tours they’ve thoroughly enjoyed and discuss the benefits of the small group tour.

How did you choose Scholarly Sojourns?

We had started off planning a trip on our own to Europe with a friend, Jake. But we realized 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 in the 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 and tasting as well the history and culture. 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 a picnic he organized, he paired the food and Scotch with history, helping us connect to the country. He made everything we did so very enjoyable.

Another excellent feature was the introductory course on Scotch Whisky. Before we started on the tour with Ronnie, we took a course with the director of the Whisky University in Edinburgh. This brought everyone in the group to a common starting point, so that when Ronnie talked about what we tasted in the various Scotches at each distillery, we knew what he meant.

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

Just go. Our first trip 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 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 to Karen, so the plans we made were handled so carefully by everyone at Scholarly Sojourns.

Other tours are often focused 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. We took a second trip, the Art & History of Beer Brewing in Bavaria, with our friend Jake, and now he is branching out to plan his own trip to the upgraded Scotch Whisky Connoisseur tour. That’s just what happens on when 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 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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