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Travel Stories

Interesting Stories from Servas Hosts and Travelers

Travel Blogs

Share your experience with host(s) that made your travels extra special, or perhaps
 a Traveler you hosted that reinforced your reasons for being a member of Servas?

Featured Stories

Unique Travel stories submitted by Servas members that are particularly well-written and/or might be of special interest to members. Tell us about it. Submit your stories here.

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  • April 02, 2023 8:57 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    by Nancy Brashears

    I have been a SERVAS host for more than forty years and have hosted more than 200 visitors. I am also an avid traveler but have not used SERVAS for the majority of my travels.  Instead, I travel with a company that does all the planning and hard work.  Their philosophy is “Learning and Discovery” and they provide multiple opportunities to visit local homes and families for conversation and food.  We also have candid discussions with locals regarding controversial topics that are relevant to the area we are visiting.

         My most recent trip was to Algeria and Tunisia.  In Algeria, we learned about Algeria’s history, their prolonged struggle for independence from France and their current situation of high unemployment. In Algiers, we had opportunities to talk with locals as we walked through the Casbah, had lunch in a local home, and listened to a Muslim woman speak about women’s rights and women’s issues in Algeria.  Before arriving in Constantine, we drove to Djemila where we visited the museum and the amazing Roman ruins. When we arrived in Constantine, we traversed the famous bridges and scenic bluffs and toured Tiddis, the archeological site of an ancient Roman town built in the 3rd century.  We also visited the Mosque Emir Abdelkader, one of the world’s largest mosques.  It’s prayer hall holds 10,000 people!

    Author standing in front of Roman ruins in Djemila, Algeria

    The next two weeks were spent in Tunisia.  While in Tunis, we had a discussion with some local women who are actively working to change the contentious issue of inheritance laws where women inherit only half of what men inherit.  We also visited ancient Dougga, the best-preserved Roman city in North Africa.  A highlight was the day we spent visiting a farm family, touring their fields of olive and pomegranate trees, helping to make lunch and enjoying an afternoon meal full of conversation and laughter with the farmer, his wife and two young adult sons.  Other highlights included enjoying a Berber meal prepared by two Berber sisters, a stay in a tent camp in the Sahara, and a camel ride.  Near the village of Matmata, where Star Wars was filmed, we stopped at a small snack shop and listened to a young Berber woman who told us about the Berber language.  It is not a written language and is not taught in the schools, only at home.

     In Tozeur, we viewed the lush oasis of date palms and fruit trees.  In Kairouan we visited the Grand Mosque and spent time meeting with an imam for a very intimate and interesting conversation.  We also enjoyed another home hosted meal with an extended family.  The camaraderie and laughter were abundant!  The ruins of El Djem with its massive amphitheater and spectacular views was fabulous!  Our final destination was the small village of Sisi Bou Said where we enjoyed views of the Mediterranean Sea and the ancient city of Carthage.

         If you are interested in more information, feel free to contact me.

  • April 02, 2023 8:55 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Maryellen Vander Sluis Napa, CA

    We had amazing experiences with all of our hosts. Pat and Martita Rice, with the help of her grandson Andy, shared their experience of Belfast and the period of the Troubles which gave us an insight that would not have been possible in any other way. They also took us to hear traditional music and also had a friend who came to the home with bagpipes and played just for us.

    Ian Hunter acted as our guide through Cambridge and took us to dine in New College, where his involvement as a senior student gives him privileges.

    Sarah Couch and Hywel Edwards introduced us not only to the quaint and very charming village of Eynsham, just outside of Oxford, but also the garden at Rousham House designed by William Kent in the 1730s. That was a sight which we definitely would not have seen but will always remember.

    In addition to our three Servas stays, we also spent a week sharing a holiday house in Ireland with Servas friends from Holland and we had dinner in Dublin with a host whom we had visited in 2004. In London we spent 5 nights with a couple who were our very first Servas first hosts 1995, and who had also stayed with us in California 2016. We have had so many long-lasting friendships that grew out of Servas!

  • April 02, 2023 8:52 AM | Bill Magargal (Administrator)

    Ksenija Soster Olmer, Orinda, CA

    "Spent a wonderful evening with Servas member from Istanbul at a gallery exhibition opening and traditional dinner. How fun!"

    "Since my first independent trip at 16 I have continued to follow my passion for travel all over the world to more than 100 countries. My travel has been enriched by volunteering and supporting projects around the world: from toilet blocks and water tanks in Burmese orphanages and Batwa Pygmy schools to preschools, libraries, water wells and latrines in Cambodia. I have written travel articles in many magazines, particularly about the world through the eyes of women I have met. I have also published books of poetry for children and books of encouragement for parents. My interests include art, wine making, flower arranging, great movies, and literature. This past year I have travelled with my husband to many countries around the world and we were very fortunate to connect with many Servas members, particularly in New Zealand, Georgia, and the Middle East. We will be traveling for another year and are looking forward to meeting more wonderful new friends."

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Engaging With Servas Values Close to Home:  (April 2023)

A trip to the U.S. border and an amazing desert                       -  by Andrea Veltman and David Schwartz 

This is the authors' report on their visit to the rugged Arizona desert, including the US border wall and their experience with Servas members who volunteer with the Tucson Samaritans, who provide supplies for immigrants crossing into the U.S.

Engaging With Servas Values Close to Home:    (March 2023)

A Travel Report from New Orleans and the US Civil rights Trail                      -   by Andrea Veltman and David Schwartz 

Is it possible to put Servas values at the forefront of your travels whether or not you are staying with Servas hosts, whether or not you are traveling abroad? We believe it both possible and enriching to do so. Here is a trip report that shows how we raised our cross-cultural awareness and also had lots of fun without leaving the USA.  read full story

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