By Dimitra Lavrakas
Senior Voice Travel Correspondent 

Retired teachers take to the road

And you can tag along too


April 1, 2024 | View PDF

Alyssa Bichunksy/Road Scholar photo

Road Scholar's Italian Riviera package for retired teachers has been opened to the general public.

When Road Scholar put out its recent call for retired teachers and their guests to take a tour of the Italian Riviera or Nova Scotia, the response lagged and both tours were thrown open to everyone.

Road Scholar estimates that more than a quarter of its participants are retired educators, which is more than any other career represented. This is likely because of Road Scholar's educational mission and focus on learning through its travel programs.

For teachers who sign onto the tours, Road Scholar believes the programs offer a unique opportunity to bond even more quickly with others who share a special passion for learning and education, an experience that only a teacher can understand.

Mei Mei Evans, 70, a now-retired former professor of English at Alaska Pacific University, agrees.

"I liked the people I met on tours and they felt compatible to me," she said. "I like that someone is going to feed me and local guides know the best places."

Evans also feels Road Scholar as a non-profit is a company worthy of support, and all its services come at a cost much less than for-profits.

"I think that for most people there are so many things to consider when planning a trip and it is a rare person who finds that fun," she said. "Road Scholar's choices of lodging, meals and tours are quality."

Expert-led lectures and field trips to lodgings, gratuities and group transportation are all included. Most meals are covered, but occasionally a meal is not. Overall, Road Scholar handles all the details and costs during the programs, including those you might not anticipate making your travel worry-free. Scholarships and caregiver grants are available for those needing financial assistance.

The teacher tours were inspired by Road Scholar's extremely active and engaged Retired Teachers Travel Club Facebook group.

To the Riviera

In books and films the Italian Rivera has taken second place to the French, but Italy's offers a slower pace and small verdant villages that offer a break from the over-developed French Riviera.

From Aug. 25 to Sept. 4, you will tour by land and sea the Cinque Terre along the coast, translating as "five villages."

Consider you'll be walking up to four miles a day on sometimes uneven surfaces.

Can you decline to attend any of the activities like long walks? Of course.

Discover how inhabitants carved vineyard terraces along the steep mountainside in the Cinque Terre and taste their wine. Walk scenic paths with breathtaking vistas of mountains that plunge into the Mediterranean Sea.

Visit "The Gulf of Poets" on the Ligurian coast, where Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned in 1822. Stretching from Lerici to Portovenere, the literary nickname pays tribute to English writers who lived there-Percy and Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, D. H. Lawrence, George Sands, Henry Miller and Virginia Woolf.

Your guide will be Jane Bacon, an associate of the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. She edited theater books, popular history, novels, and travel books before moving to Italy. She now lives in the little-known corner of Tuscany called the Lunigiana.

A few of the recommended readings include: "Blue Guide Tuscany," by Alta Macadam; "The Enchanted April," by Elizabeth von Arnim; and, best of all, "Food Wine The Italian Riviera & Genoa," by David Downie.

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Make to the Maritimes

The rocky coastline of Nova Scotia will be a familiar sight to Alaskans who take Road Scholar's tour, "The Best of Nova Scotia: Highlands, History and Halifax."

For 10 days, you'll explore the coastline of Nova Scotia, and see puffins and humpback whales-again!

Its history includes the struggle for dominance over Canada between the English and the French, which comes down through the years as a less-warlike offering of luscious local fare cooked with the bounty of the sea.

There will be a visit to the French-speaking town Chéticamp, where they still hold to their Acadian roots, then to Les Trois Pignons, the town's cultural center and museum.

Nova Scotia is home to 42 reserves, the term the Canadian government uses instead of the American "reservation," that are held by 13 First Nations, the indigenous people of the province.

Shelley Lonergan will guide your viewing of the area's wildlife, backed by her experience as the Chief Naturalist for Brier Island Whale and Seabird Cruises.

Road Scholar photo

Road Scholars swarm the area around Peggy's Cove Lighthouse in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Suggested readings include: "Fodor's Nova Scotia & Atlantic Canada, With New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland & Labrador"; "A Field Guide to North Atlantic Wildlife," by Noble S. Proctor, and illustrator Patrick J. Lynch; and "No Great Mischief," by Alistair MacLeod.

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