Veteran's Day is a day to honor all those who have served, and each year its a day that has me thinking about places in the US and around the world where our soldiers have won and lost.
In the north of France, across the English Channel along a 54 mile stretch of coastline, sits a big piece of World War II history - the beaches of Normandy. This now peaceful part of the world is a perfect spot to take a trip through history and pay tribute to our soldiers lost.
The Rhine and Upper Danube Rivers are the most popular European river cruise itineraries, for many reasons. Quintessential Europe, including castles, vineyards, quaint towns, Hapsburg era palaces and iconic capitals. So much to see.
But if you are looking for something different, fewer tourists and crowds a bit off the beaten path, consider a cruise along the Lower Danube. Cruising between Budapest and Bucharest (you dock in Giurgiu) is a special itinerary - a chest full of unexpected treasures.
It’s been a while since I’ve read about ancient history, but I’ve always imagined what it would be like to walk in the footsteps of Pharaohs, to wander among impressive ancient temples, curious how they were built. I find this all absolutely amazing, considering the sites and artifacts date back over 2000 years.
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 performance scheduled for 2020 was postponed to 2022, giving you the opportunity to attend before the next scheduled performance in 2030. If you enjoy faith based travel experiences, the Passion Play is a must see. But it's not just the play - the Bavarian region is also a reason that pulls you here.
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).
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.
Which river to choose? Despite some 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.
Located in the middle of Europe, Austria is one of the continent's most compelling countries. With a history full of famous musicians, renowned artists, an abundance of breathtaking scenery and architecture, Austria is an enchanting country to visit.
The city of Mozart, Salzburg, is one of Austria's little gems. While you can imagine yourself exploring the set of the Sound of Music (and maybe even singing a few tunes), Salzburg has many more wonderful experiences, making this a popular excursion from a Danube cruise.
Here are some of the top things to do:
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?
Have you ever wondered about the difference between Holland and the Netherlands? The official name of the country is the Kingdom of the Netherlands, which is made up of 12 provinces. The two provinces of Noord- and Zuid-Holland together make up Holland. However, most people just say Holland when they are referring to the Netherlands.
An endlessly photogenic destination, Cesky Krumlov is one of South Bohemia’s most famous cities. Known for its narrow cobblestoned streets, castle towers and historic city center, these sites have captured the attention of many visitors for centuries.
The Maltese Islands – Malta, Gozo and Comino - are located in the Mediterranean Sea between the northern African coast and Sicily. These idyllic islands are abundant with rich culture, history, magnificent landscapes and over 300 days of sunshine.
In other words, plenty of reasons to visit. Following are 10 top experiences not to miss.
River cruising is a wonderful way to experience Europe – for many many reasons. Immersing yourself in the heart of the country, visiting iconic cities, quaint towns and villages, experiencing new foods…. All true on every river cruise in Europe. And visiting UNESCO sites are always weaved into the itineraries.
Budapest is a fascinating city with incredible history. Its roots date back to the Roman times and even earlier; modern Budapest dates back to 19th and 20th centuries when it was part of the Austria-Hungary empire and while under Soviet rule for 45 years, which ended in 1991. Today the city is a thriving metropolis, drawing in tourists from all over the world, many arriving or departing on a river cruise.
A few fun facts about the Czech Republic:
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
A land of extremes. Vast wilderness, exceptional walking and hiking trails, rugged coastlines, cozy beaches, abundant wildlife (furry, feathery and finned), quaint towns, small harbors, golfing, world class wines, beers and spirits, farmers markets, culinary delights, indigenous cultures, marvelous gardens, boutique inns, seaside lodges and elegant hotels.
This is Vancouver Island, British Columbia.
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.
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.
Laurie Marschall - Owner and Founder