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For over 30 years, Gold Star Travel has been delivering dream destinations to the world’s most discerning travelers. Pleasure seekers. Jetsetters. Bucket-listers. Round-the-world romantics. Let desire lead the way, as we create your custom itinerary for an unforgettable journey. What are you waiting for?
In the last few years, Iceland has topped the bucket lists of travelers worldwide. But the mythic land of fire and ice has long been overlooked. Shrouded in tales of arctic winters and mystic sagas, Iceland’s attributes are finally coming to light. And when you consider all that it has to offer, you can easily see why.
Top 5 Myths About Iceland:
Myth: Iceland is mostly covered in snow and ice.
While Iceland boasts spectacular views of snow-capped volcanic peaks and ice age glaciers, in summer the landscape is covered with green pastures, grazing ponies and sheep, endless wildflowers, and abundant streams and waterfalls.
Myth: Iceland is very far away.
Reykjavik (the capital city) is only four hours ahead of New York City and a five-hour flight away, and nonstop flights are even available from Boston, Orlando, San Francisco, and Seattle.
Myth: Traveling around Iceland is difficult.
While trips into the highlands require special 4×4 vehicles, most of Iceland’s sights are accessible along the Ring Road, a well-maintained highway that circles the entire country.
Myth: It takes weeks to explore Iceland.
Iceland is only about the size of Virginia, and though you could easily spend months winding through fjords and trekking into the interior, a four-night stopover in Reykjavik will not disappoint.
Myth: Iceland is only for nature enthusiasts and the adventurous.
It is true that those seeking gorgeous landscapes and outdoor adventure will never run out of things to do. But be sure to savor Iceland’s 1,000-year-old history, countless museums, and a foodie scene of local farm-to-table cuisine and craft beers that rivals the rest of Europe.
Insider Tip: The best soft serve vanilla ice cream is made locally by Emmessis, and is sold at all the gas stations and convenience stores.
Fun fact: The Icelandic language is a direct descendant of Old Norse, brought to Iceland around 900 A.D. by the Vikings.
The Southern Hemisphere’s polar cap is truly a mythical place. An isolated continent twice the size of Australia and the largest single mass of ice on earth, Antarctica wasn’t officially discovered until 1820. Nearly 1000 kilometers by boat from South America across the Drake Passage, the roughest stretch of water in the world, reaching the continent is an adventure in itself.
Many travelers opt for the famous sea journey, but today you can also reach Antarctica by air. Once there, embark on a sea expedition, sailing through icy fjords and past mountainous icebergs. Visit penguin and seal colonies and follow migrating whale pods. Explore the natural landscape led by expert polar guides. And retrace the historic routes of the world’s most intrepid explorers..
Antarctica’s History of Exploration:
1773 – British Captain James Cook crosses the Antarctic Circle but never finds land.
1820 – Russian Captain Thaddeus Bellingshausen makes the first sighting of the continent.
1911 – Norwegian Roald Amundsen is the first explorer to reach the South Pole.
1915 – British Ernest Shackleton attempts to complete the first crossing of the continent.
1958 – British Vivian Fuchs leads the first successful land crossing via the South Pole.
1997 – Norwegian Boerge Ousland becomes the first person to cross Antarctica unsupported.
Insider Tip: Plan to visit during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter, summertime in Antarctica.
Fun fact: The South Pole is one of the world’s best places for astronomical observation: the moments that followed the Big Bang were recorded there in 2014.
Napa and Sonoma counties in northern California have reigned as America’s wine country. But the high costs, commercialized vineyards, and long lines of tourists can overshadow the experience. So look north to Oregon, where you’ll discover hidden gems of natural beauty, rugged adventure, and the best Pinot noir outside of Paris.
Oregon has long been known by recreationists for its towering sand dunes, pristine rivers, and secluded, rocky beaches. And savvy travelers are now beginning to connect their culinary passions with outdoor pleasure. Choose from luxurious spas, wilderness lodges, or rustic ranches as you pamper, indulge, dine, and discover along the road less traveled.
- Fly fish and paddle the white water canyons of the Deschutes and Rogue rivers.
- Hike the volcanic rim trails of Crater Lake National Park in the Cascade Mountains.
- Explore the exotic marine life of Yachats and majestic rock formations of Cannon Beach.
- Enjoy theatrical productions, art galleries, museums, and local crafts in Ashland.
- Sip extraordinary wines on a gastronomical tour of Willamette Valley vineyards.
Insider Tip: Try windsurfing, kitesurfing, and paddleboarding in Hood River’s harbor, known as the windsurfing capital of the world.
Fun fact: Oregon’s Willamette Valley was awarded the 2016 Wine Region of the Year by Wine Enthusiast Magazine.
For most travelers, the city of Bangkok conjures visions of bohemia, a mystical pleasure palace from a forgotten time. And while Bangkok offers myriad delights, we suggest avoiding the hustle and bustle and fast-food tourism of the world’s second-most congested city. Instead, head to the far northern provinces of the Golden Triangle or to the pristine beaches of the southern Malay Peninsula.
In the North
Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai—long known for their reclusive mountain temples, endless rice fields, and indigenous tribal cultures—still hold the secrets of ancient Siam. Here you can travel by elephant, explore sacred sites, and “glamp” in luxurious tented camps. Head further north still and enter the Golden Triangle, where Thailand, Myanmar and Laos meet. Make a special visit to the hill tribe villages of the Karen, or “long-necked people,” where centuries-old customs continue to thrive.
In the South
South of Bangkok, Thailand quickly narrows as you enter the Malay Peninsula. With the Gulf of Thailand to the east and the Andaman Sea to the west, beachgoers and adventure seekers have hundreds of islands from which to choose. Rock climb the towering limestone karsts of Krabi, dive the underwater paradise of Ko Tao, or simply bask in the unequivocal beauty of Ko Phi Phi.
Insider Tip: Stop for lunch at an open-air roadside stand and sample home-cooked local fare. From whole roasted fish to spice-laden soups and sweet coconut delights, you’ll discover recipes that haven’t changed in a thousand years.
Fun fact: Traders from southern India brought curry spices and powders to Thailand as long ago as 200 B.C.
For a small Central American country, Costa Rica offers incredible biodiversity. From its white and black sand beaches along the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean to its cloud and rain forests, Costa Rica is a top destination for solo travelers, couples, and families. It’s easy to see why the country’s motto is Pura Vida, which translates to “enjoy life.”
Discover why more than 2.5 million people journey here annually:
- Exotic wildlife — Costa Rica has the greatest number of animals—more than 200 species of mammals, 850 species of birds, and 200 species of reptiles—per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world. Indigenous animals include howler and capuchin monkeys, the resplendent quetzals, Baird’s tapirs, and jaguars.
- Arenal Volcano National Park — While the volcano stopped erupting regularly six years ago, the park should remain on your “must do” list. There are many hikes and other activities in proximity to the volcano. Don’t miss taking a soak in the natural hot springs located here.
- Cloud forest — The country’s unique geography and ecology creates some interesting microclimates throughout the interior. Located higher than the rain forest, the cloud forest’s altitude creates a mist that envelopes the trees and the area’s high ridges and deep canyons.
- Adventure sports — One of the best ways to explore the interior is from the air. Soar to new heights by ziplining, canyoning, walking over hanging bridges, or rappelling down waterfalls. Or raft down one of the country’s 14 river systems—there are many options depending on what size rapids you want.
- Surfing — Costa Rica attracts surfers from all over the globe thanks to world-class waves found along both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean. It’s also a great place for first-timers who want to take a lesson!
A good time to visit is January through April during the dry season.
Insider tip: All Costa Rican restaurants automatically add a 10% gratuity—on top of the 13% tax. Tipping is optional, but is certainly welcome if a server exceeds expectations.
Fun fact: Costa Ricans claim a very high literacy rate of 96%. A national radio station broadcasts lessons to children who live in rural areas too far from schools.
Going on safari tops many vacation bucket lists. One of the top destinations is South Africa thanks to its temperate weather year-round. The country boasts an abundance of private game reserves employing expert trackers, field guides, and drivers. And because these lands aren’t open to the public, visitors are assured interactions with the “Big Five”—lion, leopard, elephant, rhino, and buffalo—instead of a multitude of tourists.
Many private game reserves are home to safari camps, featuring luxury lodges with 5-star service and “tents” resplendent with amenities found at the world’s top resorts. These camps also offer extraordinary access to wildlife—guests can relax in private plunge pools as giraffes and other bush animals graze within reach.
Another can’t-miss spot in South Africa is Cape Town. One of the world’s most beautiful cities, Cape Town features mountains, beaches, and harbors with activities to fit any itinerary—hiking or taking a cable car to the top of Table Mountain, sunbathing with penguins on Boulders Beach, swimming with sharks, or visiting Robben Island where Nelson Mandela was imprisoned.
From its wild landscapes to its cities, South Africa provides travelers a memorable and exhilarating adventure guaranteed to impress any bucket-lister.
Insider tip: Cape Town’s The Test Kitchen is a dining experience not to be missed—but make a reservation early as it books up months in advance!
Fun fact: South Africa has 11 official languages: Afrikaans, English, Ndebele, Northern Sotho, Sotho, Swazi, Tsonga, Tswana, Venda, Xhosa, and Zulu.
As a travel agency in Miami, we’re often asked about Cuba. And finally, with the lifting of the 1960 U.S. embargo, American tourists can more easily visit. It’s a great time to start planning a trip for this winter or spring (December through May) to avoid hurricane season.
Since many aspects of the island are unspoiled by modernization, visiting Cuba is like going back in time. The only cars legally owned by Cuban citizens date back to the 1950s, there is limited Internet service, and you’ll find no American fast food restaurants or retail chains.
The best way to explore Cuba will be by sea on one of several upscale cruise lines that will begin sailing there later this year. You’ll travel and sleep in world-class comfort aboard a luxury ship or private yacht, as hotel options in Cuba are basic and limited. Then disembark at various ports to tour cigar factories, sugar cane plantations and discover the history, music and arts of both indigenous and Spanish cultures.
But make sure to plan your trip soon, before tourism takes over and Cuba becomes more commercially developed. This country won’t remain undiscovered for long!
Insider Tip: Dine al fresco in a garden setting featuring peacocks and ocean views at the Hotel Nacional in Havana. Travel an hour south to visit Las Terrazas, an eco-village and biosphere reserve protected by UNESCO.
Fun fact: Ballerinas are so popular and highly regarded in Cuba that they earn more than doctors!
If you’re thinking about a trip “down under,” consider New Zealand, just a four-hour plane ride from Southeastern Australia. Due to its location in the Southern Hemisphere, its seasons are opposite those in the U.S., so now is the optimal time to plan a winter getaway. Whatever level of adventure you’re seeking—from heart-thumping thrills to breathtaking vistas—Queenstown, New Zealand is the ultimate destination.
Located at the edge of crystal blue Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by mountains, scenic Queenstown sets the stage. Hike or camp along the magnificent alpine Routeburn Trail. Sip champagne on a glacier. Jet down a gorge by speedboat. Enjoy spectacular wines from local vineyards. Or immerse yourself in the funky vibe of Queenstown’s fine dining, shopping, art galleries and nightlife.
Whether you pack your hiking boots or dancing shoes, Queenstown is the perfect fit for every sense of adventure.
Insider Tip: Head to Fergburger for the best burgers in town. It’s worth waiting in line!
Fun fact: New Zealand is home to the world’s smallest dolphin species and clearest body of water, Blue Lake.
“Thanks to Gold Star Travel, we’ve cruised the Caribbean, explored the cobbled streets of Europe and found romance in the remote beauty of California. But it’s Sheryl’s personal recommendations that make the trips so memorable. When I needed a haircut in Venice, Italy, Sheryl sent me to Benito, an amazing local barber. We have never gotten this level of service from anyone else, and we’d never plan a vacation without Gold Star Travel!”— Barry S. Yarchin, P.A. // North Miami Beach, FL
“Gold Star Travel has been our sole travel agent for close to 30 years. And hands down, Sheryl Gold is the very best in her field! Personal, efficient and customized service—not to mention the occasional troubleshooting—are the cornerstones of Gold Star Travel.”— Paul Engler, President, Temple St. Clair Fine Jewelry // New York, NY
“You don’t know what you’re missing if you haven’t planned a trip with Gold Star Travel! On our family vacation to New Zealand and Australia, each experience was more spectacular than the last. From the helicopter landing on a glacier to a wild boat ride on the gorge to New Year’s Eve at the Sydney Opera House, it was the most amazing journey of our lives. We look forward to our next Gold Star Travel trip of a lifetime.”— Valerie & Michael Katz // Coral Gables, FL
“Sheryl Gold is one of those agents who travelers really need on their side because of how deeply she cares about her clients. Working with her to build a personalized itinerary is comparable to starting a painting destined to become a masterpiece. With her sense of humor, she makes the entire process truly enjoyable and is an absolute delight.”— Izzy Naveh, Senior Travel Consultant, Swain Destinations // Ardmore, PA
“Sheryl’s extensive knowledge and network spans the globe, and she has sent us to destinations ranging from Poland to Easter Island. She is very responsive, really listens to what we want and always makes the perfect suggestions. It is nice to have such total confidence in someone. We can’t recommend her highly enough!”— Dayle B. & David S. // New York, NY
“Gold Star Travel has been at the top of their game for the two decades we’ve been working with them. We are consistently impressed with their thorough attention to detail and first-hand knowledge of the top Central American destinations. Their highly-trained specialists are meticulous in qualifying a client’s needs and wants, making the custom tailoring of our getaways the perfect fit.”— Dan Conaway, President, Elegant Adventures // Atlanta, GA
“For more than a decade, Sheryl Gold has been indispensable in providing customized luxury travel planning services for me and my companions. Her professionalism, attention to detail, seasoned experience and great disposition have helped to create lasting memories. I wouldn't plan any travel without her!— Jo-Ann Marinaccio // Armonk, NY
“I have been using Gold Star Travel for business and personal travel for more than 30 years. Because Sheryl has visited so many destinations herself, my vacations are filled with her personal recommendations, which ensures I am always dining at the best restaurants and visiting all the local hot spots.”— Scott Fagan, CEO, Metropolitan Management Corp. // Narberth, PA
“Sheryl helped us realize our dreams by planning our trip to Croatia and Slovenia where we explored the Dalmatian coast by yacht. We enjoyed a private tour to a winery, performances by local musicians and a farm-to-table luncheon at a 500-year-old farmhouse. Every detail was planned and executed precisely. It was the smoothest and least stressful trip we have ever taken!”— Dr. Marvin & Elyse Diamond // Sarasota, FL & Beach Haven, NJ
“In over two decades working together, I have found Sheryl to be a true travel professional. It is uncanny how she always plans the perfect vacation to fit her clients’ dreams and desires! With her extensive world knowledge and attentiveness to detail, she is a rare luxury in today’s travel market.”— Becky Tate, Customer Relations Manager, GOGO Vacations // Miami, FL
“Whether for a group or individual booking, Sheryl is tenacious when it comes to addressing her clients’ needs. She never overlooks any details large or small and has the conviction to ensure that all special amenities and requests are always met. Any client would be well served having Sheryl as their luxury cruise specialist.”— Gene Shulman, District Sales Manager, Crystal Cruises // Miami, FL
“For more than 30 years, Gold Star Travel has been sending its most discerning clients to our exclusive seafront property in Positano, Italy. Sheryl possesses a passion for travel and a special gift for catering to her clients’ needs. We respect and admire her for the dedicated efforts she makes on behalf of her clientele.”— Manager, Il San Pietro Hotel // Positano, Italy
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