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!