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Discover Scandinavia Tours offers unique travel experiences

Discover Scandinavia Tours

Photo: Discover Scandinavia Tours
Ålesund on the west coast of Norway offers amazing vistas of the surrounding archipelago. With its Art Deco buildings, the city is known as “The Venice of the North.”

Lori Ann Reinhall
The Norwegian American

Life is a journey and can take interesting turns. For Marcelo Guimaraes, the end of a job meant the beginning of new adventure. Trained as an electrical engineer, today he is CEO of Discover Scandinavia Tours, a boutique travel agency based in Stuart, Fla.

Perhaps the first question that comes to mind is how did a guy named Marcelo originally from Rio de Janeiro find his way to Scandinavia? After completing his studies in 1997, he came to Florida to start his career. Professionally, things were moving full speed ahead, and in 2011, he and a friend decided to take an extra special vacation to the five capitals of Scandinavia.

Discover Scandinavia Tours

Photo: Discover Scandinavia Tours
Marcelo Guimaraes, a Brazilian expat from Rio de Janeiro, is the president and CEO of Discover Scandinavia Tours, a boutique travel agency based in Stuart, Fla.

Guimaraes told me how he was “completely blown away.” He loved the natural beauty of the landscape, the architecture, the avant-garde arts scene—the entire way of life. He returned home, wanting to experience more.

Then, in 2013, the project he was working on was canceled, and Guimaraes had time to rethink things. In January 2014, he decided to take a trip to Finnish Lapland, and he made his decision: he started plans for his next venture, Discover Scandinavia Tours.

Six years later, Guimaraes has seen most of Scandinavia. He loves it all, but Norway stands out as a clear favorite. “I have a special thing for Norway,” he reports. “It’s an incredibly beautiful, sophisticated place,” he says. “With its diversity of culture, you can travel from north to south, and it will be like changing countries as you go.” Guimaraes also enjoys the people, who he finds to be “incredibly friendly.” For him, Norway is a “truly egalitarian society, where real lives meet idealism best.”

With Discover Scandinavia Tours, Guimaraes wanted to do something different. He travels to the Norwegian Travel Workshop every year to keep up to date on new happenings within the industry. While he does not work as a tourist guide on his trips, he travels to Scandinavia each year. Last September, he spent a month driving around Norway.

Discover Scandinavia Tours

Photo courtesy of Discover Scandinavia Tours
This summer, you will have the opportunity to wander the narrow cobblestone streets of Bergen with its quaint old wooden houses, together with Discover Scandinavian Tours and Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian Americanand president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association.

The historic hotels and inns of Norway are an important part of what Discover Scandinavia Tours offers. Guimaraes has stayed at most of them and has connected with the proprietors personally. “The variety is great,” he reports. Some are grand, and some are small, just someone’s house or old farm, “so intimate that you forget that you’re staying in a hotel.” The Dalen Hotel in Dalen is one of his favorites, living up to its reputation as a “fairy-tale hotel.” For Guimaraes, Norway is a country of “great hospitality,” where the “owners and the staff go out of their way for their guests.”

The culinary scene in Norway is also an important part of the experience. While Scandinavia has traditionally not been known for its high-end food in the same way as a destination such as France or Italy, in recent years, the new Nordic cuisine is making its mark on the international food scene.  With its locally sourced ingredients, Guimaraes describes it as “gourmet homemade fine dining.” There is extreme attention given to detail, and the dining experience is filled with ambience. When I asked Guimaraes what his favorites are, he was quick to mention salmon and seafood, followed by waffles with brunost, Norway’s delicious brown goat cheese.

Photo: Discover Scandinavia Tours
With abundant seafood, Norway offers “gourmet homemade fine dining” to hungry travelers.

When you travel with Discover Scandinavia Tours, you will fly into a capital city and start with a dinner at your hotel on the first night. There you will meet with your local tour director and driver, who will be with you every step on your journey. The groups are limited to 12 to ensure an individualized experience. You will travel in a small coach, and for the stretches of the trip best traveled by train or ferry, your driver will shadow your group to pick you up on the other end. Many clients will tack on extensions to the beginning or end of their trips.

With the motto, “We work, you discover,” it is Guimaraes’ goal to offer his clients a completely worry-free experience. Relaxation and leisure in authentic and cozy atmosphere are important for seasoned, sophisticated travelers. Most clients are professionals, and the groups are limited to adults. Guimaraes and his team of five will work with you on customizing your trip, and he reports that client satisfaction is high. “It’s the project manager in me,” he reports, “I like planning and ensuring that things go smoothly.” For this reason, Discover Scandinavia Tours sees a large number of repeat clients. Many clients visit one country and end up wanting to see them all.

There are a variety of set itineraries to chose from, including the Nordic capitals; Denmark, Norway, and Sweden for first-time visitors; and a complete tour of Scandinavia. There are also tours focused on each of the countries. One of the most intriguing is the “Be a Norwegian for 10 Days” trip.

So intriguing that I’ve decided to go along on one of them to central Norway next Aug. 13-21, and I’m inviting you, our readers, to join me. We will be visiting an array of exciting destinations, including Oslo, Røros, Dombås and Åndalsnes, the Ålesund archipelago, the Selja Monastery, Loen, Balestrand in the Sognefjord, and Bergen. I hope you will want to join me for this trip of a lifetime.  For more details, visit www.discoverscandinaviatours.com, email info@discoverscandinaviatours.com, or call (800) 936-2814.

Discover Scandinavia Tours

This article originally appeared in the January 24, 2020, issue of The Norwegian American.

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Lori Ann Reinhall

Lori Ann Reinhall, editor-in-chief of The Norwegian American, is a multilingual journalist and cultural ambassador based in Seattle. She is the president of the Seattle-Bergen Sister City Association, and she serves on the boards of several Nordic organizations.