A few fun facts about the Czech Republic:
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.
A question I get quite often from my cruise clients is whether or not to take a cruise excursion while in port or go at it independently. My answer depends on the port of call, if my clients have been to the port before and how comfortable they are exploring on their own. (Note: As of this writing, many cruises are on hold and excursions must be taken through the cruise line. This article assumes we will have options to book our own excursions or explore independently in the near future.)
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.
Cruising the Danube between Budapest and Bucharest (you dock in Giurgiu) is a special itinerary. Off the beaten path, you’ll see few tourist buses on this route. What you will see though is a chest full of unexpected treasures.
Very different from the Upper Danube itineraries, the Lower Danube has you sailing through five countries - Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria and Romania – the latter four part of the Balkans, each with unique histories, different religions, architecture, traditions and foods to excite your cultural taste buds.
One thing in common – happy people who are excited to share their country with you.
Bavaria, Germany's largest state, is home to spectacular events, great cities, fairy tale castles, two national parks and 8 UNESCO world heritage sites. And that's just the beginning.
Bavaria is a breath-taking region, and a perfect journey to add before or after a Danube river cruise. Take a look at a few of Bavaria's highlights along with several tour ideas.
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!
Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city behind Moscow, was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great. Because of his love of Holland, he included many beautiful canals and bridges (342 of them) in the design, which is why the city is now also known as Venice of the North.
Beyond the canals though is a city rich in history, culture, art, beautiful gardens and so much more. It’s a popular stop for both Baltic cruises and river cruises between Saint Petersburg and Moscow. Here are 8 treasures not to miss while visiting this fascinating place.
Sometimes a rail trip is just what is needed to thoroughly enjoy the scenic surrounds. No driving, no constant stopping to get that photo, travel through areas where roads don't or can't go. Sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery and wildlife (instead of the road).
Here are 7 incredible train adventures that can be taken on it's own or even better, woven into an existing itinerary. Whether you are starting or ending an Alaskan or European cruise, a Rhine River cruise, exploring Australia and New Zealand, taking in Machu Picchu or combined with a golf package, consider adding these journeys into your plans. They'll make an already great trip exceptional.
Over 10,000 waterfalls, 130 volcanoes (30 active), 800 hot springs, 269 named glaciers and a population of 334,00 fun and friendly residents, all in an area smaller than the state of Kentucky. This is Iceland.
If you love open spaces and nature mixed with a little adventure (or a lot), then a visit here might just be for you, because Iceland can be simply described in one word -
To really experience all that Iceland has to offer, you need 7-10 days to explore the country. But if you only have a few days (maybe you are on a stopover to/from Europe or you are on a cruise), day trips in and from Reykjavik will have you leaving with WOW memories.
My top suggestions include the following:
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.
In Central and Eastern Europe, you’ll find some of the most spectacular landscapes, architecture — castles, churches and war memorials—as well as some of the most colorful, inviting cultures in the world. But what is the best way to see it all? On a river cruise, of course!
Here's what you'll experience on a sample Danube itinerary.
With fabulous rooftop pools, jacuzzies, and wellness programs, exquisite cuisine and delicious drinks available petty much around-the-cloc - it’s tempting to many to never leave the ship. But I know that the main reason travelers choose a river cruise is because of the adventure—the amazing, breathtaking stops along the way. With that in mind, the countries you’ll explore on the Rhine are historic, romantic and truly awe-inspiring.
Amsterdam in my opinion is one of the most interesting (and fun) cities in Europe. Far too crowded, with tourists, but I can deal with that for a few days to get my fill of it's eclectic culture. It's the start and end point for a number of river and ocean cruises, so it's perfect for both pre and post cruise extensions.
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 charming town located approximately 30 minutes from our Rhine River cruise stop in Breisach, Colmar is considered to be one of the prettiest towns in France. Intrigued by this description, and wanting an opportunity to photograph half-timbered houses, I decided to take this optional tour, despite a little bit of rain. This tour did not disappoint.
Colmar was like stepping into the pages of a fairy tale.
I'm not sure exactly why I am so fascinated by the polar regions. Maybe it's the beauty of the mountains, snow, fjords, glaciers and icebergs. Having flown over/near the arctic circle a number of times on my way home from Europe, I always wondered what these islands below looked like at sea level. It could also be the allure of the polar bears.
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
Courtesy of The Brando
The world is full of amazing destinations, amazing accommodations and amazing experiences that come along with them, by land and by sea. Here are 7 of my favorites:
Whether you are looking for a short getaway, to tick off a lifetime dream experience or explore new destinations, there are no shortages of beautiful golf courses around the world for you to enjoy. Fun and exciting trips just waiting for you to create lifelong memories – for yourself, with family and friends.
Off the south eastern coast of Greece lie some of the most stunning islands of the Aegean Sea – the Cyclades Islands. Meaning “encircling”, the archipelago is named such because they form a rough circle around the island of Delos, the legendary birthplace of Zeus’ children, twins Artemis and her brother Apollo. As stated on the Visit Greece tourism site, Delos is the head priest of the Cyclades, the birthplace of immortals. Delos is not a museum. It is not there to tell a story. It is history itself.
There’s a reason the classics are the classics. We love the romance and filtered light of Venice, Kyoto’s temples and gardens, that view of Machu Picchu. But with popularity comes the strain of overcrowding: stress on fragile environments, landmarks, and local infrastructure – and an annoying lack of elbow room. Seasoned travelers know how best to see the favorites, visiting in the off-season, taking two wheels, hiking hidden trails.
But for many iconic destination, there is a place less traveled that is just as cool.
Here are 7 less-explored counterparts to popular destinations that are just as fascinating and fun – proof that when it comes to where to go next, there’s always a new hit to discover.
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).
When time and budget allows I always try to add a few days before and after a cruise to explore the surrounds, especially when traveling overseas. Flights are a big investment, so you might as well take advantage when you can. I did just that on my recent Rhone River cruise, with a self-drive trip exploring Provence and the Loire Valley.
Read about my pre-cruise adventure here.
My post cruise adventure took me to the Loire Valley to check out a few chateaux. Having never been to this area I did not know what to expect, but I had this image in my mind of beautiful chateaux literally everywhere you look. Hmm, well, not quite!
Finding them - another story. Thank goodness for GPS! Surrounded by forests they weren't always easy to find. Some had signs, others were more evasive. However, once found, oh my!
The chateaux we saw were magnificent - interesting, beautiful, historic, breathtaking.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder