Longing to explore France's waterways for a while, I recently had the opportunity to cruise the Rhone on an itinerary from Avignon to Lyon. The three major rivers in France offer very different experiences, and this one intrigued me with the combination of Roman history, scenery and wine country.
The itinerary did not disappoint.
Today is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the largest land, sea and air invasion in history, when more than 160,000 allied troops landed on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy. A significant and historical milestone, with much attention.
As it should have.
As I watch the stories of all those involved, the history, the incredible heroes and heroic actions, I find myself yearning to walk these beaches, to pay tribute to those who fought so bravely for our freedoms. My parents were teenagers during this war, and I imagine families with a direct connection to D-Day feel the same, if not more strongly, as I do.
A few fun facts about the Czech Republic:
Prague is by far the main reason people come to the Czech Republic. The City of a Hundred Spires
I was first introduced to Dubrovnik when it was still part of Yugoslavia. I remember walking along the ancient city walls that overlook the Old Town and shimmering Adriatic Sea, fascinated by the canons that once protected the city from invasions from the sea.
Switzerland has been in my memory bank for a long time, having lived near Zurich for a brief time in the 60's (yes, I'm dating myself), and having visited numerous times while living in Germany. I truly believe that my early introduction to the Alps with my family is why I have such a deep love for mountains.
The Swiss of course are well known for their watches, cheese and chocolate, but the mountain scenery, in my opinion, is the deepest connection. The Matterhorn, Eiger, Mönch, Jungfrau - all iconic sites, and worth seeing. A few years ago we went up Mount Titlis and Mount Pilatus. Also worthy. Just beautiful.
With popularity come the crowds. The day we went up Mount Titlis was beautiful but took 4 hours waiting in line for the cable car to reach the top. The wonderful thing about Switzerland, though, is there is no shortage of mountain scenery, from a distance or up close. To enjoy an area less crowded is not difficult.
An area we discovered oh so many years ago is Meiringen - Hasliberg, a perfect spot to explore and enjoy in all seasons, as we did. These pictures are in June, but it's also a fabulous winter resort - in fact its where I learned how to ski.
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.
I'm always interested in learning about places my clients have been to, especially ones they rave about. So when they share their experiences with me, I am so delighted, especially when I have permission to share them with my readers.
The rivers of Europe have you experiencing a lot of old world charm in cities big and small. Amazing, photogenic old world charm, all with their own unique personalities.
For anyone wanting to explore ancient cities and historic castles, walk through charming wine villages, take in the lively city of Amsterdam or visit one of 40 museums in Basel, a Rhine and Moselle river itinerary is a great fit.
Plenty of picture perfect moments await you on itineraries that include one or both rivers. Following are my top nine most photogenic places to see.
With 6000 islands and islets, a great climate, safe waters and miles of sandy beaches, Greece has always been an ideal Mediterranean vacation destination.
While Santorini , Crete, Corfu and Rhodes are the most visited, don't overlook the other 220+ inhabited islands.
It can be hard to choose which ones to to visit. Hopefully these eight guidelines will assist with your decision.
This week we celebrated Veterans Day, in honor of all veterans who have served in the US Armed Forces, in war or peace, dead or alive. The official day is November 11, the anniversary of the official end of World War I.
Overseas celebrations triggered a fond memory of my visit to the North Africa American Cemetery and Memorial near Carthage, just outside of Tunis. The experience was one I will never forget. What an incredible feeling.
When it comes to European river cruising, the upper Danube and Rhine are invariably the ones first time cruisers will sail. And with good reason. Both are wonderful rivers to explore. With distinct personalities, you will find big cities, quaint villages, history, culture, food, beer, wine, and so much more, whichever river you choose.
With that popularity though, means more ships on these rivers to accommodate the huge interest. Undoubtedly still a wonderful small ship experience, but if you've "been there done that", you may want to check out these lesser traveled, less crowded yet exceptional options in Europe.
For the explorer at heart, you won't be disappointed.
Italy (and Europe in general) can be glorious in the fall. The weather is cooler, the hills are ablaze with color.
But it doesn't always mean the crowds have disappeared. Especially in Italy where high season can last deep into October. But you can experience Fall glory with a bit of elbowroom - you just have to know where to find it.
After all, its no fun getting stuck behind a tour bus (or three).
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 star attraction on a Baltic cruise for most people will be St. Petersburg, Russia. It was for me. I'd seen plenty of pictures of the iconic sites, which truly intrigued me, but I was also very curious about the people and what was "beyond these sites". What was it like to be in Russia?
Two full days touring St. Petersburg didn't make me an expert by any stretch of the imagination. But along with the seeing the iconic sites, I did get a glimpse of the beyond, behind the scenes if you will. For this I am grateful. I did not know what to expect, and while I had a few preconceived notions, I went with open eyes.
On July 4th, we sailed out of Copenhagen, the beginning of our 9 night Baltic cruise. We were treated to sunny days the entire cruise, and though I rarely let weather hinder my experience, I must admit that not having even one drop of rain was quite special.
A Baltic cruise had been on our wish list for a number of years, and this itinerary and timing fit perfectly into an already planned visit to Germany. In all honestly I would have preferred a smaller ship (a much smaller ship!) as it would have reduced some of the transfer time, but none the less, we packed in a lot of experiences.
A Baltic itinerary is not one I would describe as relaxing. It is however, incredibly interesting, very rich in history, with each port offering unique experiences. Following are the highlights.
This article was written by AmaWaterways.
Stepping through the Loire Valley is a bit like stepping back in time –
way, way back to a time where fairytale princes and princesses lived among kings and queens and nobility in grand, extravagant castles.
Novelist Henry James once described the Loire Valley as ‘the land of Rabelais, of Descartes, of Balzac as well as good dinners and good houses.’ Indeed, life is sweet in the Loire Valley – the food, the wine, the beauty of both the land and the many châteaux and the brushes with royalty and celebrated historical figures.
This article was written by AmaWaterways.
Is there any more perfect pairing for wine than a blend of classical romance and legendary chivalry?
The French town of Bergerac is equally renowned for its role in the love story of Cyrano de Bergerac as it is for its fine wines (not to mention elegant chateaux and a historic medieval center).
This article is from See Italy Travel, who have been so kind to allow me to share their insights and expertise with you. See Italy Travel specializes in creating remarkable Italy itineraries customized specifically for your needs and wishes.
Italians call Rome the Eternal City. Each street evokes echoes of Italy’s epic past – from ancient temples to Renaissance fountains. With so many antiquities on
France - a land rich in history, art, wine, great food and delightful people. These are a few of the reasons that draw us to this wonderful part of Europe. If you are thinking about a river cruise, the lines that sail the region have done an exceptional job weaving these experiences into their itineraries.
How to choose? Despite many similarities, each of these five waterways have unique personalities., which, depending on what you'd like to experience, should help you choose one or at least narrow down the choices.
Still can't decide? Choose one that best matches your dates and budget AND GO! You'll enjoy the experience no matter which area you choose.
When you are looking to explore unique and intimate ports of call, look no further than small ship cruises. With under 600 passengers, ships are small enough to sail into areas that big ships can't even dream of. But don't be fooled - small ships offer big and unforgettable experiences. Here are eight destinations that have caught our attention.
Photo courtesy of Star Clipper Cruises
It was only a few years ago that I noticed only few articles about Lisbon and Portugal in general. Truly an under the radar destination. Fast forward to 2018 and Portugal is now high on the list of emerging destinations, with Lisbon quickly becoming a favorite city to visit.
Photo courtesy of European Waterways
When you think of cruise lines, which ones to come to mind?
More often than not, the big cruise lines are mentioned. Carnival, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, Holland America, Celebrity and so on. Given the amount of advertising they do - TV ads, magazine ads, celebrity endorsements, social media, etc., it's not surprising they are top of mind.
A number of years ago I was on a Mediterranean cruise, starting and ending in Rome. I remember talking with an Australian couple that first evening about how they had lost all their valuables - money, passport, personal items - in the main Rome train station, on their way to the ship. A very professionally dressed man had swiftly cut the bag that she was carrying over her shoulder, and disappeared before she or her husband could even react.
Every 10 years, the small Bavarian town of Oberammergau transforms itself from a small, quaint town of 5300 residents to a host of over 500,000 visitors between mid May and early October. According to historical records, the residents of Oberammergau have performed the Passion of the Christ, depicting his trial, his suffering and his death, every decade since 1634. The next performance will be held in 2020.
So why am I bringing this up over two years away? Because if you enjoy faith based travel experiences and this Passion Play is on your "must see" list, you need to start planning for this trip - NOW!
Photo courtesy of Kakslauttanen
Simply put, the Aurora Borealis and Australis are the Northern and Southern Lights. These mesmerizing, beautiful green, blue, red and purple lights that flash over the polar skies. As we move into the winter months, they become more and more visible in the polar regions.
Have you ever wondered what these "lights" really are? I never put a lot of thought into it until I listened to a presentation by a photographer who was taking a group to Norway. Not being a scientist, the discussions around solar flares, magnetic fields, electrons and who knows what else could have made my brain go blurry. I appreciated his simple presentation in layman's terms, and found all of it to be quite fascinating. I'm certain you will too.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder