New Zealand is blessed with numerous wine regions, on both the North and South Islands. Lucky for those living in or visiting Auckland, one is a short 35 minute ferry ride from Auckland - Waiheke Island.
With it's warm and dry weather, this 12 mile long island is a great spot to grow a variety of wines. Waiheke is home to 30+ boutique wineries and award winning wines, including Bordeaux style reds (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Franc), Syrah and even some Chardonnay.
Whether you are short on time or have a few days, Waiheke is well worth a visit.
South Africa is Africa's 9th largest country according to its landmass. The reasons to visit this vast and culturally diverse nation are seemingly endless, and that's why it makes it on so many people's bucket lists.
To encourage you a little more and to further enhance your excitement, here are five reasons you should make it to South Africa at last once in your life.
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism (Lake-Wakatipu Queenstown)
I know if you were to ask a Kiwi or anyone who has experienced the wonderfulness of New Zealand, they would give way more reasons why you'll fall in love with the country. Wonderful, proud, friendly people, stunning scenery, unique flora, fauna and wildlife, the land of Bilbo Baggins and the Shire, caves lit up by glow worms, delicious food and wine - these just a few.
Top reasons why you'll love a visit to Aotearoa, the Land of the Long White Cloud:
Old world European charm. Serene villages. Steep and narrow landscapes dotted with romantic castles and lovely vineyards. Gentle, winding bike and walking trails. World-class wine. Delectable cuisine. This is the Moselle River valley.
And where I had my first official wine tasting.
The land Down Under is a destination on many a bucket list. It’s consistently voted as one of the top 10 most desired destinations in the world. So much to see. So much to experience.
Having been there, I know it’s truly a great place to explore. But Australia is a big country – about the same size as the lower 48 states. Sydney to Perth is about the same distance as New York to Los Angeles. When planning a trip here, especially your first visit, one of the hardest parts is deciding where to start, what cities and regions to include.
Much of this depends on what experiences you want to have, what stories you want to bring home. Following are top experiences you can build your memories around.
For anyone who loves wine, Europe is a great destination. Home to 7 of the top 15 world-wide producers, you’ll find wine regions in just about every country producing a variety of high quality wine. Many are under the radar, largely because production is small and consumed locally.
Europe is also a great destination for river cruising – a perfect pairing with wine experiences. Following are 9 wine regions you can visit while on a European river cruise (listed in no particular order).
When thinking of South America, Peru, Brazil and Argentina often get the most attention. But don't overlook Chile, a country with a diverse landscape north to south and ample things to see and experience.
It's no secret. I fell in love with this country over 10 years ago when I visited via a cruise from Valparaiso to Rio de Janeiro. Warm and friendly people, great food, wine, interesting history. The absolute best for me was the amazing scenic beauty and wildlife. There is no doubt I'll be returning.
My top 9 reasons to visit:
The Bordeaux wine region in Southwest France is a perfect pairing for river cruising, wine lovers and culture seekers alike. So while you are here, why not continue your wine, culinary and culture experiences with a visit to the Loire Valley and San Sebastian and Bilboa before or after your Bordeaux cruise?
River cruising continues to be very, very popular. Plenty of new ships are being launched, along with new itineraries, new ports of call, ships dedicated to younger travelers and excursions dedicated to wellness and being more active.
River cruising is truly amazing. And the good news is that one doesn't have to leave North America to take advantage of this exceptional experience. One region relatively under the radar is the Columbia River (and her tributaries).
Basque country – an autonomous region located in northwest Spain and south west France – is filled with breathtaking coastal vistas, colorful villages and cities scattered throughout the green countryside.
Spain’s Basque country stretches from the popular beachfront city of San Sebastian (seen above) to Bilbao in the west and Vitoria-Gasteiz and the Rioja region in the south.
Basque country is often added as an extension to Spain and France trips, and I’m seeing cruise lines adding port stops here too. Vibrant, lively, spicy and diverse are just a few ways to describe the top 4 reasons to visit this beautiful region.
Cruising the rivers of France is such a delight, each offering very different experiences. When thinking of the Bordeaux region, it’s all about food, wine and all the beautiful châteaux. On the Seine, history, World War II and art are highlighted, and on the Saône and Rhône rivers it’s about gastronomy, history, architecture.
Experiences on the Saône and Rhône rivers are often more focused on the Rhône, Lyon and Provence, so when I was introduced to the Burgundy region of the Saône, I found it so delightful I just had to share the insights with you.
Searching for a different type of vacation experience? Maybe a unique trip for a family reunion or simply a group of friends? Time to truly unwind and unplug with like minded travelers?
A luxury barge cruise experience could be just the ticket!
Photo courtesy of European Waterways
These days there are cruise themes for many different interests: Golf, art, photography, World War II history, cultural heritage, gardening, beer, and yes, wine. Wine themed cruises have been around for several years and have become quite popular. Exclusive access to vineyards, winemakers, special talks and tastings one normally doesn't have access to plus all the normal excursions. A perfect pairing!
Welcome to Tassie! Australia’s smallest state, it is often overlooked as a destination. It shouldn’t be, with so much to see, do, experience. It also boasts having the cleanest air on earth. That in of itself sounds especially inviting.
Here are my other top reasons why you should visit (not listed in any order of importance).
Faial - The Blue Island, known for its hydrangeas
The Azores - truly an under the radar hidden gem of a destination and just 4 hours flying from Boston.
Often described as the Atlantic's version of Hawaii, this archipelago of 9 beautiful and unique islands covers an area of approximately 386,000 square miles. An autonomous region of Portugal, it is full of pristine and natural beauty, unique scenery, quaint fishing villages, historical centers and so much more.
There are many reasons why we take cruises - one being the culinary experiences we have onboard. We get spoiled for sure. And while I am not normally big on desserts, cruise lines make it difficult to say no. Here are 5 yummy examples (and accompanying recipes) of what you may find being served:
My advice has always been “Travel as far away as you can, for as many years as you can.” Get the long distance travel done while the body and mind can manage it. THEN start traveling in your own backyard.
And North America has plenty to marvel at.
If you enjoy cruising as much as I do, there are plenty of options. Of course there are all the Caribbean choices, but do you know about sailing on inland and coastal waterways? Take a look at what’s waiting for you!
Photo courtesy of AmaWaterways - AmaMagna
Ocean cruises have been a popular way to vacation for decades, and for good reason. They’re affordable, convenient and offer travelers peace of mind knowing that everything they need for a fantastic getaway is all in one place. What could be better than that? Well, consider a river cruise.
It’s mid-April, which marks the beginning of the white asparagus harvest in Germany.
The delicious season begins in April and officially ends June 24, the feast day of John the Baptist (though you can usually get some after this date). Originally cultivated by the Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, asparagus been part of the German culture for decades, dating as far back as the 1500’s. Germans today are crazy over this vegetable – eating their way through tons of it (I’ve seen numbers between 70,000 to 138,000 tons) over a period of approximately 7 weeks.
A marriage of wine and culture, the Bordeaux wine region in Southwest France is a perfect pairing for river cruising, wine lovers and culture seekers alike.
The Bordeaux region is home to over 7000 beautiful chateaux and over 14,000 local wine
When the weather outside is frightful (or even when it's not), a number of warm drinks come to mind: a hot cup of coffee (with or without a splash of "something"), hot chocolate with marshmallows and candy cane melts or maybe a chai tea. But my favorite warm winter drink is definitely a mug of Glühwein (hot spiced mulled wine).
Excerpt from the Ensemble October monthly magazine - written by Craig Tansley;
Photo courtesy of New Zealand Tourism - taken by Chris McLennan
Perhaps you’ve tasted a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc like Oyster Bay, but little else is known about the country’s wine throughout North America. While Australian Shiraz and Chardonnay hog the Australasian limelight, New Zealand is home to some of the world’s best wine in the world’s most unique vineyards. We share some of the secrets…
Whakatane Ohope International Golf Club - photo courtesy of NZ Tourism - taken by Strike-Photography
Despite being a relatively small country (about the size of Oregon or Colorado), it's quite easy to spend months exploring New Zealand's north and south islands. So much to see, experiences to take in, food, wine and people to meet.
One special touring route is a drive down the beautiful east coast on New Zealand's Pacific Coast Highway. Check out this itinerary between Auckland and Napier.
International travel allows people to gain a new appreciation for other cultures of the world, and a big part of any culture is the cuisine. The food of a region is a reflection of their history and geographical location and the resources they have available to them.
Spain, a top food and wine destination, has six distinct culinary districts - the North, Pyrenees, Valencia, Andalucia, Central and Catalonia.
This last week I had the opportunity to sail on Celebrity's newest ship, the Edge. Over the last 12 months I attended a number of webinars to learn more about what the ship had to offer, and hands down, she is impressive.
The build up to the inaugural was exciting, but seeing everything in person is an unmatched experience. Being one of the first to see this ship with everything brand spanking new was especially sweet!
From beautiful neutral colors and jewel tones to innovative staterooms and distinctive venues and experiences, the Edge is quite the ship.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder