Our family of 5 traveled to Greece for 2 weeks using WOW List specialist Jacoline Vinke and her team. With help from Jacoline, the trip we envisioned with our 3 adult “children” absolutely exceeded our expectations. Jacoline took the time to get to know us, our expectations and how we like to travel prior to planning a perfect itinerary. We spent 3 nights in Athens, 3 nights on Sifnos, 4 nights on Naxos and 3 nights on Santorini. Every detail from the moment we arrived in Athens was expertly planned. From our seamless transfers/ferries & beautiful hotel accommodations to our memorable tours & activities, we had an amazing trip start to finish. Each island was unique and offered different experiences, including a private tour of the Acropolis and an outstanding culinary tour in Athens, incredible catamaran/boat day trips on all 3 islands, an intimate cooking class on Naxos and kayaking in Santorini. We especially loved Sifnos for its authenticity and charm and which we included in our itinerary upon Jacoline’s encouragement. Traveling to a new country can be overwhelming and with so many options, Jacoline helped us to focus and create an itinerary that our entire family will remember for years to come. We’re already thinking about our next adventure!
We just returned from an amazing trip to Greece! We were a group of six — my husband, two of our children and their spouses (ages 29 and 27), and me. My husband had been to Greece for a week in 1986 when he was studying abroad and my daughter-in-law had been on a high school trip, but it was the first time for the rest of us. Our travel planner was Jacoline and I would enthusiastically recommend her! My daughter-in-law is in medical school and doesn’t always know when she will have breaks, so when I found out she had two weeks off in June, we were quite short on time to plan the trip, especially given the post-Covid demand. Normally, I research a place thoroughly before reaching out to a travel planner so that I can make sure we are seeing and doing what I know we enjoy. Due to the time crunch I wasn’t able to do this, so I had to trust Jacoline to take what I told her about our interests and preferences and come up with the perfect itinerary. She listened well and designed a trip with the right amount of active time and down time and the correct amount of history and cultural experiences. One of the things that stood out was her food recommendations. I don’t think I have ever had a vacation where almost every meal was reserved in advance, and we so enjoyed all of her recommendations! I had read on her WOW profile that she has written a book on small hotels in Greece, and that showed in the choices she gave us for our accommodations. Also, after we started planning the trip, we found out that our daughter was pregnant, so she had to make a few modifications (no biking!).
We spent two nights. Highlights were the guided tour of the Acropolis Museum and Acropolis, dinner at Aleria, and a performance of Madame Butterfly in the Herodeon!
We spent two nights. This was our favorite hotel of the trip, the Hydrea, because they had a terrace which was the perfect gathering place for our group and it had the perfect view of the town and harbor. We did a nine-mile hike with a trail runner as our guide. Part of the fun of traveling is meeting the people and he was an interesting one.
We spent two nights. We learned about past civilizations at Epidavros and Mycenae and had cultural experiences of visiting a family-run creamery and a family-run vineyard. The highlight was the family vineyard visit. We learned about how they grow the grapes, saw their olive groves and garden and then (the best part) we ate lunch with them. The food was prepared by the mom and it was all delicious! Of course we had wine with our food. What a great experience — laughing, eating and enjoying one another!
We spent four nights. We went sailing, kayaking, wine tasting, and had an island tour (the ruins at Akrotiri were fascinating). We are into wine (we built our current house around our first-floor wine cellar), but we had no idea how they grow grapes on Santorini (spoiler alert — they weave the vines into baskets). One of the highlights from this portion of the trip was our visit to a pottery shop. What made it so fun was the artist. Not only were his skills unbelievable, but he was quite the character!
Again, I highly recommend Jacoline and her assistant, Evan, if you are planning to travel to Greece.
We had the privilege of working with Jacoline on our trip to Greece on 5/3/2023-5/13/2023. Our trip included Athens, Hydra and Santorini. She made the most of our short trip and somehow turned every single day into a highlight. I never thought I could say that about a vacation! There were 5 adults on this trip and we all had our favorites, which is a credit to her. Jacoline created experiences that we would have never done on our own, like spending time with a wonderful family on their farm feeding their animals and making spanakopita as part of a huge feast on their terrace, as well as private wine tours, personal guides to archeological sites, pottery classes, and a private cooking lesson on more amazing Greek food. We loved really getting to meet the people and understanding the culture. That is something that we would have never experienced on our own. Everyone worked together: drivers, guides, hosts…. It was truly an honor to meet them all and a testament to Jacoline’s vetting process and who she chooses to use. We loved the unique boutique hotels especially on Hydra, an island we never knew existed but quickly became our favorite. We never felt like a “tourist” but more of students in history class which we found fascinating. The biggest testament for Jacoline came from the guides who all sang her praises and listened to the stories, how she vetted them posing as a tourist. They were quite humorous! All of our guides/experiences were excellent and not the average tourist experience.
Jacoline is also gifted in providing us with balance. We pushed hard upon our arrival in Athens to make the most of the few days we were there before heading off to the island of Hydra. We had never heard of this island but after talking with Jacoline, she booked us in a wonderful mansion turned boutique hotel (Hydrea) that served us breakfast each morning on the terrace overlooking the water/town. Staff was very personable and allowed us to wander the property to look at the historic home. There are no cars or motorcycles so we enjoyed the peace and quiet, especially after a few days in Athens. If you get a chance, don’t miss this gem! We left Hydra to spend our last days in Oia (Santorini). Our pace picked back up for a grand finale day, touring vineyards before boarding our own catamaran for a half-day excursion which concluded with chasing the sunset. It pulled up and I said to my daughter “Wow, look at how big that one is. Wouldn’t it be awesome if it were ours?” She replied that it was ours. I almost cried because it was beautiful, not marked to get tourists’ attention, and huge! It was the perfect ending to the perfect vacation!!
Before our trip, we received our “play book,” otherwise know as the Piglet. It’s a very detailed day-by-day itinerary that includes where to be, what time, who our guide is, how to reach them, etc. It also included recommendations for shopping, dining, what to expect, etc. If you are not comfortable traveling in a foreign country by yourselves, this is for you! She and her assistant, Evan, stayed in contact with us during the trip as well and kept us updated on ferry changes, etc. They were in contact with us every step of the way.
This was our third trip using Wendy Perrin’s services. We have had great experiences on each trip and they just keep getting better!
P.S. I didn’t understand what the big deal was about sunsets in Santorini. Now I know!!
Jacoline and her associates planned the absolutely perfect trip for our family of four (two late-teen daughters, my husband and I) to Greece. We planned to travel to Greece at the request of my daughter when she graduated from high school and began college as a classical archeology major, but we didn’t know much about Greece or which areas to visit. Given the length of our visit (11 days), Jacoline suggested a couple days in Athens, and then on to Nafplio and Santorini. We were very happy with these selections, as it gave us some variety but with enough time to really explore and get to know each area.
In Athens, we had a private tour of the Acropolis and the associated museum, and a fantastic food tour with an Athens native who took through the meat and fish markets and to several non-touristy but locally-owned cafes, restaurants and small shops. In Nafplio, we saw the known archaeological sites, but also hiked to a remote monastery up in the cliffs (straight out of Game of Thrones) and visited a remote village where we met the “town Grandma,” who invited us into her home and served us coffee and fresh-baked treats on her porch overlooking the town, followed by lunch at a local tavern that my husband and daughter have declared the “best meal of their lives.” In Santorini, we had a wine-tasting at a vineyard overlooking the Caldera, kayaked to Santorini’s various red, white and black beaches, had a pottery lesson with a 5th generation potter, and finished our visit with a private sunset cruise on a catamaran. Each experience was unique and memorable and every guide was professional, knowledgeable and friendly.
Jacoline also helped us choose our various accommodations, which were all beautiful and enjoyed by our families. She helped us make restaurant selections and reservations, and we constantly commented that we felt like at each restaurant we were sitting at the best table in the house.
We had a couple of very, very minor hiccups and questions during our trip, and we emailed our questions to Jacoline’s office. I always got a response within minutes that they were looking for a solution or answer, and each time the problem was solved or question was answered within a couple hours.
All in all, we are so glad we relied on Jacoline and team to plan this trip, as we could never have planned this for ourselves. Everyone in my family agrees that this was a bucket-list trip and an absolutely fabulous experience. I would highly recommend Jacoline.
Outstanding trip. Locations, hotels, restaurants, guides, experiences were just what we were looking for and we could not have found or arranged them all without the help of Jacoline and Evan.
We recently returned from Greece. Jacoline listened to our travel preferences and hit the nail on the head. Of course we visited the Acropolis Museum and hiked up to the Acropolis in Athens and the archaeological site of Akrotiri in Santorini; both should not be missed. After those sites we focused on activities where we interacted with the locals. Our first interaction was our WOW Moment: We had a wonderful dinner cooked by the mama of the house and had a Greek dance performance which we eventually joined in. We sat in a beautiful courtyard eating delicious food enjoying the company of lovely people. The language barrier didn’t interfere with the wonderful evening. Another highlight was visiting a farm in Kythira. I cooked lunch with Anastasia and my husband spent the morning, unplanned, with Anastasia’s husband watering the animals and riding the tractor. Lunch was delicious and the warmth and kindness of these people so impressed us. I could go on and on describing similar experiences. Our hotels were all lovely and the restaurants Jacoline suggested were excellent. She and her co-worker were on top of everything. We missed our flight from Athens to Santorini. While we were standing in line hoping to rebook a flight that night my husband’s phone rang. It was Evan in Toronto letting us know he already booked us on another flight. That is why I work with Wendy’s WOW people. They are on top of everything. The biggest negative was the weather but you can’t control Mother Nature.
I have used many WOW List specialists over the years, but I have to say that Jacoline Vinke and her team were among the best. The logistics were seamless, but what I really appreciated the most was that Jacoline was such a good listener—my trip did not feel cookie-cutter at all but the rhythm and activities were tailored to my interests, as were the selection of hotels. The dialogue around restaurants was great too. I really appreciated Jacoline’s flexibility—my trip was somewhat odd in that I was in Athens with a group of friends and then striking out on my own to visit the Peloponnese (Jacoline suggested adding a stop in Hydra and it was the PERFECT add). Greece has so much more to explore—and I will definitely be doing it with Jacoline and team. I would say make the most of your conversations with Jacoline—no one knows Greece like she does—and she will listen carefully and create the trip you want.
Jacoline did a wonderful job planning our trip to Greece in September. At the initial interview, she asked about our interests and activity level and suggested an itinerary that met and exceeded our expectations. Activities that particularly stand out were the e-bike tour of Athens, the private cooking class on Naxos, and the visit to the archaeological site at Akrotiri on Santorini. The final stay at the Perivolas resort was just magical. The quality of the guides was excellent and gave us a picture of Greece that we could not have gotten on our own. She and Evan, her assistant, quickly resolved a transportation issue at the airport and were quick to reply to emails. All in all, a marvelous trip!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I were very happy with our trip to Greece designed by Jacoline Vinke. She and I had a very lengthy conversation at the outset in which we discussed the kind of trip my husband I wanted, which was a trip a bit off the beaten track that provided us free time and independence. The trip she designed was spot on and her suggestion of Kythira island was definitely off the beaten track and had very few tourists.
We particularly enjoyed the experiences she arranged with locals (meeting with a family at their organic farm culminating in an amazing home cooked meal, making spanakopita and other dishes with a local Kythira family, meeting with a local beekeeper and his nephew, and a boat trip with a local fisherman). These experiences provided us with opportunities to meet and get to know locals that wouldn’t have happened without Jacoline.
Her restaurant suggestions and driving directions in the Piglet guide were perfect. We also appreciated her constant monitoring and communications during our trip. In sum, I highly recommend Jacoline for anyone considering a trip to Greece.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL In July 2022 our family of four, including two young teens, travelled to Greece for one week with a focus on mythology and ancient history. This was the first week of a longer trip that included Italy, where we utilized Wendy’s Italy expert.
We worked with Jacoline and were SO pleased with our experience. Jacoline got to know us in a phone call and many back-and-forth emails. She asked clarifying questions about what we really like and don’t like, our budget, and how we wanted to spend our time. She used this feedback to craft a well-planned week that delivered mostly half-day tours with private guides (all of them top-notch and tuned in to our interest in mythology and history) as well as free time for rest and wandering. This wasn’t a Greek island vacation yet she found a way to prioritize the requisite touring and include a few relaxing days on an island as well!
We prefer to spend money on experiences rather than on hotels, and she took that into consideration while managing to find wonderful accommodations every step of the way. Jacoline suggested two activities in Athens that I never would have thought to do, and we enjoyed them both: an e-bike tour and a culinary walk, which ended up being one highlight in our three weeks. She also recommended multiple restaurants for dinner each night, had me choose one, and made reservations for us as we wished; we had some spectacular meals with exceptional service and breathtaking views.
Jacoline urged us to consider visiting the Peloponnesian Peninsula, which is full of history and rarely traveled by Americans. Again, we are so glad we took her advice. From there we travelled by hydrofoil to Hydra and enjoyed three nights on this nearby, car-free island. It was the perfect end to a week in Greece and allowed us to recharge before continuing to Rome.
One benefit to using this trip planner was the detailed itinerary she provided with short histories, contact information, Covid suggestions, tipping and “helpful to know” kinds of localized information that would have taken me hours to hunt down on my own. It was a pleasure to work with Jacoline, and our family is grateful for our memorable trip.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our dream trip with Jacoline Vinke was way better than what we were hoping for. Jacoline took the time to customize the experiences to our taste. She is truly masterful in her knowledge of all the best in all aspects of a trip in Greece. All the hotels were incredible for different reasons. Coco-Mat Athens BC was unreal for its location since we could see the Acropolis from our balcony. We experienced a magical sunset on the caldera, eating a wonderful meal on our patio at the Vasilicos. Meteora and its monasteries were unbelievable. We even danced with local traditional dancers in our fantastic evening on a family farm in the Peloponnese organized by Grecopath. Our driver Lefteris was just marvellous for his skilful driving. He was just like our best friend. All the guides were so passionate about their tour, specially Dimitra at Knossos, Vivi at the Acropolis and Nikitas with the culinary walking tour of Athens.The restaurants so good. All the ingredients were fresh and delectable. To summarize is that we felt so warm welcomed and safe in Greece, it was like visiting family. A trip a of a lifetime.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We worked with one of the best trip planners ever (Jacoline Vinke!) on our trip to Greece, from May 27 to June 9th, 2022. Our trip was superb. Our family of 8 spent our first three days in Athens, staying at a new “industrial” hotel called The Foundry, which was fabulous. We were greeted on check-in by a gracious lass who served us homemade lemonade, personally escorted us to our rooms, then to their rooftop bar which had a stunning review of the Acropolis. Our time in Athens included a private tour of the Acropolis, an e-bike tour, a walking culinary tour, and a wonderful farm-to-table lunch with a local vintner and his family. We flew to Naxos to stay at a private villa, Ocean Breeze, for the next 6 nights. The villa could not be situated better, right on Plaka Beach. We spent a lazy week exploring the island with rental cars, hiking with experienced guides, and even had a cooking class in a traditional village taverna. We left the villa and experienced a jet boat ferry over to Santorini, the conclusion of our trip. Jacoline booked us at Perivolas, a stunning hotel perched upon the craggy rocky cliffs of this isle. Better wear good walking shoes…no heels here! It was perfect. When you could pry us away from the pool and the beach, there was a private pottery class with a delightfully eccentric pottery expert in his workshop, followed by a private sunset dinner cruise. Our time in Santorini ended with one of the best wine tours we have enjoyed, with the opportunity to sample some of the best wine Greece has to offer, along with olives/bread/charcuterie…and then it was time to return. A bit of nail biting as we all needed to test negative for COVID (a restriction the US dropped two days after our return!) but all was well in the end, and we are already planning our next adventure—and planning to work with Wendy and crew. There is simply no one else with her expertise and network of fabulous folks with whom to work!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Greece seemed to be an easy country for vaccinated Americans to enter (it was with direct flights from the USA) and we hoped that islands like Santorini would not be overrun with cruise ships (turned out to be true). We approached Jacoline and set up a zoom call. We spent 75 minutes talking in which we told her what we liked about past trips and what we were hoping to get out of this trip. She then asked us a series of questions about our likes and dislikes which resulted in her putting together an outstanding itinerary which reflected exactly what we were hoping for. We indicated we wanted to go to Santorini and Crete and she suggested also going to Nafplio in the Peloponnese (a place not even on our radar screen, but popular with Athenians). Throughout the trip we had some outstanding guides who brought to light the ancient Greek and Minoan cultures, but also an excellent food guide in Athens who took us around all sorts of specialty stores to help us understand Greek cuisine. We asked to stay in small luxury boutique hotels where we would not be sharing elevators etc with many tourists. The best were Perivolas on Santorini and Kapsaliana Village Hotel in Crete. In addition to the archeological tours, we also had wine tours, a WOW Moment with Greek dancing and plate tossing in a Greek vineyard and a trip on a catamaran. Eating well was also very important for us and Jacoline suggested and booked some outstanding restaurants throughout the trip. We spent a week in Crete, rented a car there (easy to drive around) and could easily have spent longer. Jacoline kept in touch through email throughout the trip and provided a bound personalized book which they call a piglet which covers the whole itinerary with lots of useful suggestions. Thank you Jacoline for a great trip.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Jacoline was very helpful in planning private trip to Greece. She had all drivers and connections thought out and worked like clockwork.
Had a driver directly to Amanzoe on Peloponnesus from airport. Best Aman I have stayed at and can’t recommend any higher. Nice tours set up to experience vineyard and family lunch.
Helicopter to Santorini was splendid. Not thrilled with Perivolas hotel but loved island. Then the Athens and Penthouse suite at New Hotel, which was excellent choice.
There were a few hiccups in terms of food and scheduling.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL In September 2021 we went to Greece on a trip planned by the excellent Jacoline Vinke. We visited Athens, Santorini, Naxos, and Sifnos and everything was wonderful. Greece was very strict about masking indoors and in vehicles, but it was not a problem. And since almost everything we did was outdoors (including dining) the pandemic was really not much of an issue.
All of Jacoline’s suggestions for hotels, activities, and dining were spot on. Great food tour in Athens, wonderful boating days on both Santorini and Sifnos, and a morning with a master potter and his wife on Santorini where we made some wonderful items that will be shipped to us after the firing and glazing are complete. Lots of tiny and authentic mountain villages on Naxos and Sifnos.
And of course Jacoline’s planning was key to this trip; it wouldn’t have been anywhere near as good if we had planned it ourselves!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL After 15 months at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, we were thrilled to take a vacation in July 2021 and Jacoline planned the trip of a lifetime to mainland Greece and the Cyclades islands. She asked the right questions during our initial phone call to propose an itinerary that was spot-on; in fact, we only made one adjustment and it was to add an activity! Jacoline considered COVID in all of her planning to make us feel safe and comfortable throughout our journey. The resources she has compiled and the team she has at her disposal are invaluable and were key to making sure we were able to truly enjoy our vacation. We had access to hard-to-find experiences and every single guide was an expert. When a windstorm prevented us from taking a private water taxi from Sifnos to Santorini, Jacoline and her team immediately put together a list of alternatives, clearly presented the pros and cons of each, and took care of all of the details once we made a selection.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Jacoline Vinke put together a magical trip for us in mid-July. We had been to “beachy” Greece and wanted to experience something different and go somewhere that was not crowded with tourists as countries opened back up for travel. Jacoline recommended the mountainous region of northern Greece, Zagori. The Pindos Mountains are absolutely stunning, and there is a lot to do. We hiked to ancient monasteries, floated down rivers, hiked to the Beloi viewpoint where we admired an incredible view of the Vikos gorge, met wonderful people, and ate the most delicious Greek food. We visited many different villages and stayed in 3: Kastraki, Ano Pedina, and Aristi. Our hotels and tour guides were a cut above—Jacoline really knows her stuff! One thing I really appreciated was a small binder of our itinerary day-by-day. It fit into my purse/backpack easily and came in handy many times.
I think what makes Jacoline stand out is that she really listened to what we wanted and made it all happen, right down to me having a private guided tour of a winery (Metsovo) and its vineyards with the owner, and my husband being able to cycle in a remote region (near Verdeto) with an expert guide. Jacoline knew we were interested in history, so she arranged for a very special guide who was able to teach us so much about the history of Greece and the region which was awesome—like taking a class on Greece.
It is very rare for me to say this but I can’t wait to go back and explore other villages and meet more exceptional people. And of course, Jacoline will be my first call!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Travel to Greece June 21 – July 3, 2021
Athens, Oia, Santorini, Sifnos
I have nothing but rave reviews for Jacoline Vinke in planning an amazing trip to Greece! Delayed from last year, we were thrilled that we would be able to make the journey this June. Everything from the pacing of trip, to all the wonderful unique experiences, restaurants and hotels were nothing short of top notch. Because of covid, and the difficulty in knowing ferry routes, internal air flights, and which restaurants are open, etc, it was essential to have somebody on the ground in Greece. We were able to keep in touch the past year, and decide together that it was safe and welcoming to visit Greece this June.
A trip to celebrate my daughter’s sweet 16, which became “sweet seventeen”, we had lots of activities planned, a must when traveling with an easily bored teen. Jacoline arranged everything with the best guides – a private tour of the Acropolis (a huge bonus to traveling now – we shared the view with only a handful of people!, an e-bike tour that turned out to be so much fun, and a food tour through “Old Athens”. Onto Santorini where we had a great day with tour guide Kostas, in which we saw the whole of Santorini, had an amazing sunset cruise and kayaking tour. Jacoline planned a pottery/kiln session with an artist on the island for our budding artist – a fantastic experience! We ended our trip in Sifnos, a lovely laid back island with great food, and amazing scenery. We had another awesome private boat charter, as well as a fun cooking visit to an organic farm.
Because of the locale, having pretty much everything outdoors due to covid was easy. Masks remain required in all indoor spaces. We felt very safe being vaccinated – and Jacoline reccomended bring covid self-tests along for reentry into the states. So glad we did this! Process was smooth and so easy – we could do the testing right in our hotel room!
Having Jacoline as our travel specialist was the best thing we could have done. She spent time on the phone with me going through our priorities, likes and desires for this trip and came up with an amazing itinerary that was tailor made for our needs and wants. Every experience we did, every hotel we stayed at, every restaurant, shopping, and spa were perfect for us! Adding in the complications of covid delays and rebookings, Jacoline was invaluable. I would use her again in a heartbeat – here’s hoping our next trip is soon!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We took an amazing trip to mainland Greece and the Peloponnese with Jacoline Vinke as our planner – June 16 – June 29th, right as Greece was opening to American tourists. First – Jacoline’s team was amazing to work with in general – our original trip was planned for March 2020, and because they have such good relationships with their vendors, we were able to reserve the majority of our paid trip towards this year’s trip in credits. More importantly, working with Jacoline is like having a family member with exceptional taste at your side. We traveled as a family of four (two 12 year old kids), and shared that we wanted to make “real” their interest in Greek Mythology (Percy Jackson fans of course!) The guides were all very professional, knowledgable and patient with our children. We come from San Francisco – so are foodies, and we found that the restaurants that Jacoline reserved for us, as well as the ones recommended in her team’s guide – were all of excellent quality and value – not a single tourist trap in the mix. It was the most varied trip – with wonderful boat trips to beautiful beaches off the southern tip of the Peloponesse, an E bike tour through Athens, a guided tour through the nearly empty site of the Byzantine city of Mystras, and a visit to a biodynamic wine / olive oil producer outside of Nafplio. We cant wait to go back and definitely will look up Jacoline for our next trip!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We traveled to Greece June 9-26 2021. My wife and I accompanied by our son, started our trip in the Peloponnese. We were joined a week later in Athens by my 2 single adult daughters. We finished up with 6 days in Santorini. Jacoline was our WOW expert for our trip.
We had a great trip which met all our needs, and provided special memories for us as a family. Our trip had been delayed a year due to COVID, and Jacoline was able to keep the majority of our payment for the delayed trip, about 90% I would say. Going to Greece after it opened up May 14th was actually pretty easy…..if you are vaccinated! We just had to show our vaccine card, fill out a “locator” form for the Greek government, and we were good to go. Most of the activities and eating were outdoors, and masking was therefore minimal. Indoors, such as at museums, required masks of course. We needed a COVID test to return to the US, which Jacoline arranged to take place right at our hotel room. There was a cost (120 euros X 5) but it was simple. We had the results emailed to us later that day.
Jacoline is a delight, and specializes in unique experiences and smaller boutique-style accommodations. We were very happy with our various hotels and guesthouses. We loved all the guides (some of them archeologists), especially their kindness and enthusiasm. We like being active, and Jacoline arranged sea kayaking, a private catamaran sunset cruise with snorkeling-type activities with a fabulous dinner on board, and pottery class with a Santorini master. Everything exceeded our expectations. There were a couple of schedule glitches along the way, handled easily with a few emails.
I think Jacoline deserves all the accolades one can throw her way, and I would certainly love to use her again in that area of the world. I can’t speak for other countries, but happily COVID had minimal impact on our enjoyment of a memorable family vacation.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I and our three young adult children traveled to Greece from May 29th to June 6th. Our flight from JFK to Athens was Delta’s first direct flight since the beginning of the pandemic! Jacoline did a great job planning this trip for us, on very short notice, and under uncertain circumstances as to what would be open etc. Rather than spending time in Athens, she recommended that we go to the small town of Nafplio where there would be fewer crowds. She arranged a local guide group that put together three days of wonderful excursions for just our family. We went to a small mountain village and met some of the local residents. We had dinner one night at the home of a very small vintner, which included a tour of their beautiful garden guided by the husband and their 26 year old daughter who translated, dinner prepared by the wife, and then Greek dancing with a local teacher and four of her young adult students. We all ended up dancing together in the driveway! The evening closed out with the grandfather sitting with us and singing some old Greek songs. It was a wonderful evening.
After Nafplio we went to a resort in Kranida which was beautiful and a real escape. Jacoline was smart to plan the first part of the trip with real “authentic” Greek experiences as a sort of balance to our time at the resort which was more about the downtime. All the plans were made with Covid and Covid restrictions in mind — doing things outdoors and in settings where it would just be our family and the guides. Jacoline added value by picking a small hotel that she knew would be up and running. There was a bigger, slightly more elegant hotel that she did not select for us and we learned later from friends who stayed there that that hotel was not fully staffed up and a big disappointment.
Overall, I would highly recommend using Jacoline. She has a great take on the country and her recommendations for guides, activities, hotels, and restaurants were terrific.
Jacoline prepared a wonderful itinerary of the mainland of Greece over 2 weeks for us in late November and December. We travelled with 2 of our young adult children. The itinerary that Jacoline prepared for us was a great reflection of the discussions we had leading up to our trip, from the tour guides through to the accommodation, suggestions for where to eat and places of interest.
The entire holiday went smoothly and we felt very comfortable with the way that the itinerary worked and the timing for the activities.
A particular highlight for us was the quality of the guides and their personal attention as well as the opportunity to share in the lives of Greek families and individuals during our time who we found to be the most generous hosts.
Our time in Greece has left a with great memories and experiences that were made possible because of Jacoline’s planning of our trip.
Jacoline planned an amazing 3 week trip to Greece for us. We visited many of the archeological sites with wonderful guides that brought the ancient history alive. The experiences, guides and drivers were outstanding. Our trips to the sheep farm, bee keeper and cooking class were particularly memorable. We treasured interacting with the people of Crete, learning about their way of life, and gaining so much knowledge along the way.
Jacoline truly listened to our requests. We will definitely go back to Greece!
We are just back from an extraordinary two weeks in Greece, thanks to Jacoline and all her planning. Without a doubt, we could not have planned this on our own.
To begin with, all 4 of the hotels selected for us were spectacular, unique in their own ways and specific to the locations. Perviolas on Santorini was one of the most exquisite properties we have ever stayed at. The guides that Jacoline found for us in Athens, Crete and Santorini were terrific, each one sharing with us insights and perspectives we otherwise would never have discovered. Biking around ancient ruins in Athens, a walking, back street, food tour also in Athens and a vineyard tour in Crete will each stay with us forever. We also followed several of her recommendations for special experiences, perhaps the highlights of which were the morning and lunch we had with a master bee keeper in the mountains of Crete and the stunning drive through a gorge on Crete to an amazing slow food taverna called Dounias. We also loved our daylong private sail off Chania.
There were a few hiccups worth mentioning. When we checked into the Grande Bretagne in Athens, having been promised a room with a view of the Acropolis, we were disappointed to find that the room was on the third floor with a barely-visable view of the Acropolis. The hotel accomodated our request for a change and put us on a top floor with a true, open view of the Acropolis. When we arrived at the airport in Crete at 8pm, we went to the Herz counter to retrieve our rental car but they didn’t have a reseravation for us. Bruce has elite status with Herz so they were able to find us a car after a 1 hour wait. We later learned from Jacoline’s team that the confirmation they sent us should have been for Enterprise.
But not withstanding the glitches, we would highly recommend Jacoline for anyone traveling to Greece. Our trip was multi-faceted and rich with experiences, we continue to pour over our photographs and tell our stories to any who will listen! We imagine we will be telling them for ever.
Thank you Wendy — we could not have done this without Jacoline, which means we could not have done this without you.
All we have to do now, is plan our next WOW trip.
Jacoline (& Evan) arranged the perfect itinerary for our first trip to Greece. The trip was perfectly paced in terms of allowing us time to relax and unwind as well as to enjoy all the culture and history that Greece has to offer. We were very specific about wanting to avoid major tourist spots and Jacoline recommended the perfect places & time for us to visit while not missing out on some amazing historical sites. All the recommendations from the hotels to the restaurants & every local guide were absolutely perfect. Jacoline is also very detailed in her feedback on the hotels so you know exactly what to expect. The time and consideration that went into listening to what we wanted to do on our trip and then providing lots of options for us to consider was really appreciated. Jacoline creates a very bespoke itinerary and if you listen to her recommendations you won’t be disappointed! We would highly recommend Jacoline and Evan for any trip planning. You could tell every booking was double checked and we had the best tables at the restaurants, great rooms and amazing guides.
Travel specialist Jacoline was available and responsive throughout our planning and trip. Her suggestions regarding where and when to visit allowed us to minimize crowds while seeing the iconic places we desired. The accommodations she suggested were top-notch and the expert guides she found were universally terrific.
Jacoline was flexible as my family underwent many changes during trip planning – she understands the difficult nature of coordinating schedule for a far-flung group of adults.
Jacoline is a superb travel planner, and we benefited greatly from all the work we did together and that she and her staff did on our behalf to come up with a full, responsive itinerary for our three-plus-week land tour of Greece before and after our charter boat sail through the Cyclades Islands in the Aegean Sea. She even provided many recommendations for restaurants and islands along the way. She provided an excellent custom guide (piglet) for our trip, several books on current affairs in Greece, a map of the Cyclades Islands, and more. Our WOW Moment was just that, a greatly appreciated respite from the travel. Our first time in a spa, and our first time having a couples massage together. When Loukas, our driver picked us up from Euphoria Retreat, he said our faces looked very different. Yes, we felt so relaxed and rejuvenated. Thanks, Wendy.
Jacoline and Evan were great. They were constantly in contact and adapting our itinerary to make it fit our needs. I would use them again in a heartbeat!
Jacoline arranged a great electric bike tour of Athens that got us to see everything very efficiently. We also had an AMAZING underground food tour that was so fantastic and took us to the small shops in the city where we wouldn’t have gone otherwise.
I was also 6.5 months pregnant during the trip and she made sure that all of our accommodations/activities were pregnancy safe/approved.
My trip was excellent. Jacoline was spot on with her recommendations in accommodations and restaurants. She’s flexible, very responsive and easy to work with. She will build you the trip you are looking for—within a very exclusive or more modest budget. We had very exclusive accommodations in terms of privacy and service—a property that was close but with a feeling of remoteness, plus a wine tour of Santorini, and a Private dinner recommendation at the Vasilicos Santorini.
Jacoline was a great partner in helping to plan our 10th anniversary trip to Greece. She took the time to listen to our travel preferences and recommended hotels, restaurants, and experiences that matched those preferences. She also made some great suggestions (a ceramics workshop, an e-bike trip, and lunch at Peskesi) that we wouldn’t have considered. We had a relaxing time away from the crowds in Santorini and spent a magical five days in Crete. Our final evening spent dining with a view of the Parthenon. One of our best trips together!
Our family trip to Greece was filled with high expectations as we wanted to experience as much of the country (food, culture, nature, history) as possible within 12 days. Another challenge was finding the right mix of activity and adventure for our adult children (30-35 years old) but suitable for us older adults (65-75). Jacoline Vinke did an amazing job crafting a customized trip which included everything we wanted and MORE!
We started in Athens with a customized tour of the Acropolis and a bike adventure through the more picturesque neighborhoods with a special stop at Panathenaic Stadium for my daughter (a marathoner) to take a victory lap.
From Athens to Santorini, with a stay at the fabulous Aria Suites boutique hotel. We would never have found this place! The staff was so accommodating and genuine! A special private kayaking adventure to explore the beautiful volcanic beaches and a sunset cruise were the highlights (along with the food and hospitality). Oh, and a winery tour where we saw vines that were over 300 years old (unheard of here in the U.S.)
Next to Crete (to Rethymno): What a beautiful setting Jacoline hand picked for us. (I think this was our favorite of all hotels along the way). From this historic property, we explored monasteries, natural treasures, and of course the wonderful Cretan food and people via ebike tours and foodie tours led by the most personable and knowledgeable guides.
From Rethymno to Chania via car: An amazing ending to the perfect trip. Our hotel was the highlight as it overlooked the port city activity but was intimate and personal. (The staff were amazing)!
Jacoline and her staff assistance at Trufflepig could not have been more accommodating to our needs but most importantly they took a truly creative approach to craft a perfect vacation for our family.
Jacoline and her staff did a great job arranging an amazing trip to Santorini, Athens, and Amsterdam for us in celebration of our 25th wedding anniversary. During the planning stages of our trip, Jacoline provided us with very detailed questions and options to help plan the perfect trip in relation to budget, lodging and what we specifically wanted to do/see. Based on our answers, she was able to come up with an itinerary that was right up our alley and that had everything we needed done for us. I like to plan vacations sometimes too, but having an expert just take the reigns…allows you to relax and feel as though everything is just “taken care of”…it was really a treat and a trip we will never forget! Thank you Jacoline!
Wow is the right word. I am a travel junkie, but nothing I have done approaches the quality of experience we had in Greece with Jacoline. The best itinerary ever, and the best agency we’ve dealt with, and we’ve had some pretty good ones. Blows all others out of the water by a lot.
I cannot discern whether she is that perceptive in understanding our wants or needs, or whether we happen to have extremely similar travel values, but her itinerary exactly fit our desires and hopes. It was incredibly detailed and thoughtfully planned around everything – the weather, the crowds, a balanced mix of culture, history, activity, and downtime, and everywhere incredible food. Almost every local expressed admiration for the trip she planned for us – an international, well-traveled Greek family started asking us for tips.
I don’t want to spill any secrets, but here are a few examples:
When we were in Mycenae, with an incredible guide talking about how the area merges history and myth, I couldn’t stop wondering how such a fascinating historic site could be so quiet; only a handful of people were there. Then as we were leaving I saw a wall of humanity coming towards us, and I looked up to see the phalanx of parked buses: Our tour was timed to end just before the bus tours began.
Jacqueline’s itinerary took us off the beaten path. We did not encounter a single other American tourist the entire time we were there. We laughed with locals, danced in a square, celebrated during village celebrations, cooked with a grandma. We are active folks and loved swimming to caves, snorkeling over ruins, kayaking, and hiking. We left with a much greater appreciation of Greece’s culture and its people. And the food! We have been fortunate enough to eat at well-known restaurants in many countries, and we could not have been more impressed with the many places Jacqueline suggested. The cherry tomato I had on the grandmother’s porch will stay with me forever.
On our way back to the airport Jacoline recommended a restaurant on the way and booked a table for us. One dish, in particular, was as good, or better, than what I’ve had at some of the best restaurants in the world. The owner showered us with attention. An incredible experience, and one that could have only happened because of Jacoline. We are now forever spoiled. Thank you!