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January/February 2017

Happy New Year!  2017 – have you adjusted to writing it yet?

Inspiration for newsletters come from a myriad of sources, often unexpected. While traveling over the holidays I came across an article by Andrew Zimmern in the Delta's Sky magazine, in which he explored “How to be a traveler instead of a tourist…” The concept of tourist vs. traveler has intrigued me for some time. As I plan travel experiences in North Carolina, I want my guests to truly immerse themselves in the culture of the place we are visiting. Consciously combining the must-see sites and attractions with hidden gems around the state, visit NC concierge provides opportunities for exploring, learning and sharing this great state with like-minded sojourners.

Looking up the words "tourist" and "traveler" in the dictionary didn’t provide a clear distinction. For me, the tourist “sees” and the traveler “experiences." Like Mr. Zimmern, “I believe travel is transformative – physically, emotionally, spiritually and behaviorally – and it’s the surest way to become the best version of yourself.” While traveling in Russia and Estonia in 2003 I recall remarking that the only opportunity we had to interact with the locals was when we shopped. We were tourists in those countries, “seeing” the sights. Contrasting that experience with a 2000 visit to a dairy farm in France where we not only enjoyed a delicious lunch featuring several varieties of artisan cheese made on site, we also walked through the barn and observed the animals in the fields as we chatted with the farmer and his wife. As a “traveler” in rural France I learned first-hand about the storied art of French cheese making. I felt connected to our hosts as we explored their world and learned about their life as farmers, artisans, small business owners, and restaurateurs.

North Carolina continues to reflect the globalism we all but take for granted today. Almost 50 percent of North Carolinians were born somewhere else. Visit NC concierge provides immersion experiences in our state’s culture, as well as showcasing the state’s diverse regions which are filled with interesting cities and towns. Whether dining in the 18th century home of a local historian or learning about the construction of fiberglass sailboats, with visit NC concierge travel experiences will immerse you in the wonder and beauty of this dynamic and diverse state. Don’t just see North Carolina. Experience it.

I'm excited to launch a new feature in this month's newsletter, Did You Know? It replaces the usual column that spotlights a North Carolina agricultural product. Be sure to scroll down to read about a most unusual weather anomaly. I welcome your comments.

The days are getting longer and spring is not far away. Planning a visit to one of the many beautiful gardens in North Carolina is a sure way to whet one’s appetite for warmer weather and the rebirth of the landscape. Come with visit NC concierge to Wilmington on March 31 to explore this historical city as it prepares for the 69th North Carolina Azalea Festival. May 24-26 we’ll travel to North Carolina’s High Country – Blowing Rock, Grandfather Mountain, Linville and places in between, exploring the area’s beauty and unique culture. Visit our website for details or call for more information.

I hope you'll join us this spring to experience North Carolina! 

Cordially,


maryesther@visitncconcierge.com
(919) 302-0574
Did You Know?
Photo from Our State magazine story The Big Freeze
This space is usually dedicated to a North Carolina agricultural product; however, please indulge me as I deviate to share with you what I once thought was an Eastern North Carolina "tall tale."  

Growing up, whenever it was really, really cold, my grandmother would tell us about the winter the Pantego Creek froze solid in Belhaven and my great-Aunt Dot rode across it in an automobile. Aunt Dot was the youngest of four girls and the prettiest. My Granny’s other sisters were sweet and kind, but I remember Aunt Dot as oh-so-stylish -- she wore high heels, red lipstick, and had red fingernails! I can just imagine her in her best flapper style, complete with raccoon coat, laughing her way across the ice in an open Model T that day! Keeping in mind that autos in the early 20th century were not very heavy, but can you imagine a body of water approximately a half mile wide freezing solid in eastern North Carolina? To my surprise several years ago Our State magazine featured an in-depth article about this unique early 20th century weather event. I was fascinated and intrigued with the details of that weather anomaly and its impact in eastern North Carolina.

"This Week in NC History" is a brand new e-newsletter published by Our State magazine. In its inaugural issue, which arrived in my inbox on January 2, Brian Mims’ story, The Big Freeze details this unique weather event. It’s a fascinating story, particularly if you are familiar with the coast. For all those who have sought warmer winters in North Carolina I encourage you to follow the link and read the story. I think you will be very surprised by the stories and the pictures!
2017 Spring Tours

Coastal Carolina Springtime - Wilmington |March 31

On this day trip we'll explore gardens, the historic district, and one of the country’s oldest theaters. Departing Raleigh at 8 a.m. our first stop in Wilmington is Airlie Gardens for a 10:30 tour. The website succinctly articulates what awaits you: “Airlie continues to amaze visitors with its breathtaking combination of formal gardens, wildlife, historic structures, walking trails, sculptures, views of Bradley Creek, 10-acres of freshwater lakes, more than 100,000 azaleas and the grandeur of the 467-year-old Airlie Oak.” Our visit is scheduled one week prior to the annual Azalea Festival.

Following our time in the gardens there will be free time to explore the gift shop before reboarding the motor coach to travel to downtown Wilmington for lunch at The City Club, a beautifully restored antebellum home in the historic district overlooking the downtown commercial district and Cape Fear River. Our local expert guide will narrate the 15-minute drive sharing her vast knowledge of the community and its important contributions to the development of our state. After lunch a horse-drawn trolley tour awaits us as we continue our exploration of Wilmington. With the accompaniment of our expert local guide we'll view and learn about the Wilmington Historic District before disembarking at Thalian Hall, one of the oldest theaters in the country (built in 1858), to learn about its architecture and influence on the life and culture of the community. Free time for shopping or relaxing before the return to Raleigh completes our adventure to the port city.  ETA back in Raleigh is 6:30 p.m.
 
Learn More + Register for Coastal Carolina Springtime

High Country Adventure|May 24-26
 
North Carolina’s High Country includes the mountain counties of Watauga, Avery, Mitchell, Ashe, Alleghany and Wilkes. Located in the northwestern corner of the state, the name was created in the 1980s to forge an identity locals and visitors alike could embrace.  Welcoming visitors for three centuries, the High Country’s hospitality, natural beauty and unique culture beckon visitors year round.

visit NC concierge’s trip to the High Country will take us to northwestern North Carolina when the rhododendron are blooming and summer tourists haven’t arrived just yet. Driving the Blue Ridge Parkway over the course of three days will immerse us in the glory of springtime in the Appalachian Mountains. The charming town of Blowing Rock will be our base for exploration. Plans include visiting West Jefferson, home of Ashe County Cheese, North Carolina’s oldest cheese manufacturer. We’ll learn about the expansive biodiversity of Grandfather Mountain when we visit the Grandfather Mountain State Park and Grandfather Mountain attraction. Linville, home of the famous Eseeola Lodge, is steeped in mountain hospitality. The bark-clad lodge began welcoming guests to this beautiful area in 1892. Bark siding has seen a resurgence in the past few decades. We’ll learn more about this quality building material that has become synonymous with the region. Guests will have ample time to leisurely explore the charming town of Blowing Rock with its captivating downtown and vast array of shopping and dining opportunities.
 
Learn More + Register for High Country Adventure
Check it Out
The North Carolina Museum of History is presenting "The Reynolds Family" as part of the Notable North Carolina Lecture Series, on Tuesday, February 21, at 7 p.m. I mention this because of the influence the Reynolds family's philanthropy has had on the state, and, since visit NC concierge stopped at Reynolda House to see the Ansel Adams exhibit on our return to Raleigh from Asheville in May 2016, I thought it might be especially interesting to those who have visited the estate.
Join Us on Facebook!
We're delighted to have launched a Facebook page! There you'll find photos, travel tips, articles and other posts about all there is to discover in North Carolina. Connect with us here: https://www.facebook.com/visitNCconcierge
What Our Guests are Saying About Us

This day tour was a particular treat and set a high standard for future reference. Well done!
~ John B.
 

What I appreciate is that you provide guests an opportunity to learn and experience a part of NC while you take care of all the logistics and details!
~ Dana R.
 

This was a very educational and enjoyable trip from beginning to end.
~ Jean G.

Contact us to book your tour today! 
919-302-0574
info@visitncconcierge.com
visit NC concierge is a premier hospitality company dedicated to providing the discriminating traveler unique experiences savoring North Carolina’s history, geography, and culture at a leisurely travel pace while enjoying the state’s finest sites, cuisine, and lodgings. Itineraries are subject to change at the discretion of the company. Group size: minimum 10; maximum 30. Registration for each tour closes 30 days prior to tour start date. For more information, visit us at visitncconcierge.com
 
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