Karissa Norine

Dec 04 2019

What’s It Like to Travel With Friends Club?

Are you a Hills Bank customer age 50 or better? If you are, and are not currently a member of our Friends Club*, you’re missing out on a world of fun excursions and fulfilling experiences!

Don’t just take our word for it. We asked a group of Friends Club travelers who recently toured Portugal by river boat what they thought of their time exploring the Douro River Valley, cities like Lisbon, and a variety of other locales. This group – a mix of first-time trip-goers and seasoned explorers – told us about the unique scenery and culture of Portugal, their favorite memories of the trip, and why they travel with Friends Club.

What is something interesting you saw or learned about on the trip?

Pat S: Learning about how they make wine in the Douro Valley was very interesting. The river is surrounded by these terraces which were set up many years before there were machines that could harvest the grapes, so they aren’t wide enough for anything but hand-picking. They hire local women to do the harvesting, and men to carry the grapes down and stomp them to make the wine.

Ron S: They have to hire hundreds if not thousands of people just for two or three weeks of work. It’s one thing to look at a picture of those terraces – but it’s quite another to see them in person. It’s amazing to see.

Jeff K: We learned a lot of history about how a country like Portugal, which is not one of the richest countries in Europe, was able to make the Douro River navigable with a series of dams. Not only did they improve their commerce – by being able to transfer grapes – but also their tourism.

Nancy S: I loved the country and was surprised at all of the things that grew there, like cork trees and olive trees and kiwi plants. It seemed like we got to see something new and do something different every day.


What was your favorite memory or moment on the trip?

June H: On the last night on the boat, they took us past where we were supposed to dock right out into the ocean. We just drifted out from where the land ends into the open water, and the sun was setting, and it was just so cool.

Jeff K: For me it was all the people who worked on the boat, they were so well prepared and friendly.

Kay K: The whole trip was very relaxing. Some days I just stayed on the ship and slept in and cruised along the river.



Pat S: Some of the towns in Portugal are just as charming as can be. I love walking around the little towns and seeing the people, sitting at an outdoor table and watching life go by. That’s my favorite thing anywhere.

Nancy S: We rode up to the top of this town, and knew we had to get back to the bus eventually, but for a while we just got lost. We walked between buildings in these narrow alleyways, and walked through people giving presentations, through olive shops… just getting a great experience and a great flavor of the city.

What’s the best part about traveling with Friends Club?



Marcia J: It’s impeccably planned, there’s nothing to do other than pack your bag and make sure it’s outside your door when they tell you.

Pat S: You know what to expect, and you have the opportunity to do what you want. You can sleep in and not go on a day trip. I just felt at home, not pressured to do anything.

Nancy S: They’re constantly communicating with us, we’re always updated on what’s going on. This trip was the best money I’ve ever spent.

Fran G: There is the comfort in knowing that even in adversity everything will be taken care of. You don’t have to worry about where the next meal is going to be, or having to pay tips. And you stop in these really unusual and unique places sometimes. Hills Bank does such a nice job.

Audrey K: Everything’s just taken care of.

Jeff K: You know some of the people you’re traveling with and you meet plenty of new people. It’s easy to make new friends.

Mary Ann S: With Hills Bank it’s all inclusive.

June H: The trips are very well planned and they go above and beyond, they always get us a gift or something extra to take back.

Kay K: The money that you pay at the beginning covers almost everything, and we’re always so well taken care of. I’m as serious as I can be when I say Friends Club is the greatest way to travel!

To learn more about Friends Club and its many benefits, please email FriendsClub@HillsBank.com, meet with a personal banker at any Hills Bank location, or start a conversation with a banker on our HERE app!


*Hills Bank customers who are age 50 or better and maintain $10,000 in household deposits qualify to join Friends Club and to open a Friends Club Checking Account. Friends Club Checking Accounts earn a variable interest rate. As of 11/08/19, balances $10,000 and over earn an annual percentage yield (APY) of .25%, balances $9,999.99 to $1,000 earn .15% APY, and balances under $1,000 earn .10% APY. Fees may reduce earnings. Member FDIC.



Karissa Norine

About Karissa Norine

Karissa Norine is First Vice President, Friends Club Director at Hills Bank’s Iowa City South Gilbert location. She has been at Hills Bank since 2015 helping members stay involved and active through our exclusive social and travel club. Prior to Hills Bank, Karissa worked in marketing and public relations at the University of Iowa and in Chicago. Karissa is originally from Ringsted (NW Iowa) and graduated from the University of Northern Iowa. She is married and lives in North Liberty, IA. Besides travel, Karissa enjoys building relationships in her community and spending time with family and friends. Karissa can be reached at Karissa_Norine@HillsBank.com.

This entry was posted in Friends Club, Retirement, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.