Diane Sakakini-Rao

Travel Consultant

Diane has been dreaming about, traveling to, living in or plotting her next trip to Europe for over 40 years. France is her particular love, but Italy, Spain and Morocco are close behind. She has also had great adventures backpacking and hitchhiking in Egypt, Israel, Turkey, Greece, and India. The first time Diane traveled abroad was in college when she went to Angers, France, in 1980. The United States were in the middle of the Iran Hostage Crisis, and there was nervous tension with the Iranian kids in the exchange program at first. Of course, as Diane got to know them, she realized they were just like her – nice kids, struggling with the French language, missing home, trying to get by. It was eye-opening for her and she has looked at the world differently from that time on.

For Diane, working at Esplanade is simple: she loves to travel, loves planning travel, and feels blessed to be able to do this for a living!

Photos of Diane around the world

Diane’s Favorite Meal While Traveling

“On my recent trip to Italy, I had a meal in Florence that I keep thinking about. It was a little trattoria near the Palazzo Vecchio – and I chose a veal cutlet with a truffle sauce and thinly sliced avocados and artichokes. With a lovely bottle of Tuscan red… it was heaven.”

Favorite photos taken by Diane

Nothing makes Diane happier than working on a complicated itinerary and having all the pieces fall into place. Having happy clients makes all the hard work worth it.

When planning an itinerary, Diane makes sure travelers don’t over schedule themselves – allow for down time to be able to absorb the country and the people. Sit in a café and people-watch and take a walking tour or a cooking lesson with a local.

This pairs perfectly with her personal travel philosophy: “I try to spend enough time in a few places so that I can get to know the rhythm of the place and perhaps get to know some local people. I will talk with ANYONE and have made some great connections this way!”

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Our travels started back in March of 2020. Our trip started and included a great week in Tahiti then New Zealand. Although that’s when Covid exploded while we were there in Tahiti. That’s when we found out they had closed the border into NZ. Thankfully we had Esplanade to get us back home. We finally got back on track to New Zealand this March. We had a full itinerary planned. When we arrived, we had a driver waiting for us to take us to our Glamorous hotel with a great view of Queenstown, Lake Wakatipu and the Mountains in the background. We traveled to Milford Sound by bus then traveled thru out the scenic Milford Sound. Then they flew us back to our hotel. Another trip was on a Steamboat that took us to Farm. We had a great dinner there and tour of the farm that included the sheep dogs working the sheep. We could go on and on about this trip. The people from NZ our super nice. This trip was great from start to finish. Truly a bucket list trip. Esplanade will definitely be our choice for international travel, without a doubt. <br />

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