Why Our Iceland and Hawaii Journeys are so Different
Both are volcanic islands, but not much else is the same. And that is true of our Storyfest Journeys, too. Our travel seminars to those two lands are about a s different as you could imagine.
First, though, what is the same? In both places we have many friends and long-established business relations. We know the stories and the traditions of both island groups. We love the people and the land and we return year after year.
What's different? We organize our journeys in totally different ways to adapt to the uniqueness of each place. Here are some examples:
1. In Hawaii we use the historic Manago's Hotel, owned by the same family since the early 1900s. Harold and his son Dwight run what is the most authentic hotel on the Big Island. It started as a Japanse-American family style hotel in the heart of the historic Kona Coffee Belt. Manago's is economical, immaculate, and a favorite of local Hawaiians visiting from the other islands. In Iceland we stay at Skalholtsskoli which is a small non-commercial conference center operated by the Church Iceland in the middle of some of the most dramatic scenery in rural Iceland -- geysers, hot springs, waterfalls, glaciers. Holmfridur is the manager, and she and her staff are gracious and hospitable. Very few tourists come here, but it is always a busy venue for Icelandic groups.
2. In Hawaii, Manago's offers every-day authentic Hawaiian, mixing American, Japanese, Portuguese ethnic traditions. Fresh fish, their famous grilled pork chops, fresh papaya and tropical fruit. In Iceland the food is contemporary Scandinavian. Again, lots of fresh fish, homemade breads, lamb, organic vegetables.
3. In Hawaii we do not hire a minibus or van. Our seminars are at the hotel in the morning and the rest of the day is free. Hop on the bus in the front of the hotel and you are soon down in Kailua-Kona, the beaches, shopping, and entertainment. Or, rent a car and drive anywhere on the island to your heart's content -- beaches, historic sites, volcanoes. In Iceland we travel about on our day trips with Sigridur's family bus company. Sigridur and her husband started their company years ago, and were the first company to re-equip their buses, vans, SUVs, for the rigors of the Icelandic roads and passes over the glaciers. They are first-class mechanics, drivers, and tour guides. Their grown sons and daughters and spouses now are part of their enterprise.
4. In Hawaii we meet every morning for six days at Manago's. The afternoons and evenings are free. In Iceland we alternate -- one day at Skalholtsskoli and the next day for a full-days excursion. (Our other programs to Orkney, Scotland, Spain, Arizona, Italy are all structured differently. We have no single template for our journeys and seminars. We adapt them to the unique places we visit and the storytelling themes we explore.)
Our Unique Themes...
5. Of course, how everything is organized depends largely on the storytelling theme of each seminar. Some are more residential retreats (The Arizona Desert in March 2013, for example), and some more more travel adventures (The Orkney Storyfest in May 2013) But they all have a specific focus. In Hawaii this year's theme is the creative storytelling about Hawaii and the South Pacific. We explore the literary masters from America and Europe who wrote such great stories about these tropical islands. The morning seminars are a preparation to experience a more authentic Hawaii during the afternoon and evening outings. In Iceland, this year's theme is the great of all the Icelandic Sagas, the thousand year old classic, Njal's Saga. Here we study the story, and enjoy telling and listening to the episodes, in between the days when we go to explore the places where the events happened 1000 years ago.
6. Finally, our cost structure varies with each seminar. At some seminars we need to include your meals and lodgings in our price. At other events, you pay our hosts directly with your credit card at the end of your stay. Sometimes we need to hire a minibus or a taxi, and at other times there is no need for hired vehicles. Sometimes we need to make early deposits to guarantee our lodgings, at other times we don't. Some groups must be very small (7 or 8 people) while other groups can be mid-sized (up tp 15 or 20 people). Size of the group is probably the most important factor in pricing. All of this results in a payment arrangement that makes different journeys and seminars look -- comparatively -- very expensive or very cheap. For example, you pay us over $3000 for Iceland or Orkney , but less than $1000 for Hawaii or Arizona. So please consider all the expense factors when trying to decide which Storyfest you would like to participate in.
Our Events for the coming year…
Memories & Imagination Hidden in the Landscape: Njal's Saga
The Great Storytellers of Hawaii and the South Pacific
Arizona. March 3-9
The Spirituality of the Desert Experience
Spain. April 14-21
Pilgrimage into the heart of Medieval Spain:
Catholics, Jews, and Moors
Orkney. May 23-30
Our Annual Orkney Storyfest