Tokyo and Kyoto: Tech and tradition

Sado – traditional Japanese tea ceremony

Japan consists of 6,800 islands and they are mostly mountainous. Every city, every village, has temples and/or shrines that pay homage to both Shinto and Buddhism. Shinto is a Japanese religion going back to the early 8th century. It involves the worship of ancestors and spirits found in nature. The belief is there is sacred power in both living and inanimate things. It was the state religion until 1945. 

Majestic Mt. Fuji, Japan

Japan has remarkably clean cities and charmingly ornate traditions such as tea ceremonies and kabuki performances. It is fabulous to visit in the spring when the country explodes with vibrant color from the cherry blossoms. Less known, but just as colorful, is the profusion of maple trees that show their colors in the fall. If you want to visit the “land of the rising sun” your travel advisor at GetAway Travel will work with you to plan the perfect vacation. 

 Enchanting, eclectic Tokyo 

 Tokyo, the capital of Japan, is a fascinating mix of tech, zen, tradition and trendy fashion. Firmly rooted in tradition and spiritual mysticism, it nonetheless embraces all things modern and futuristic. 

An aside and a quick vocabulary lesson. Shrines are built per Shinto tradition and they have a torii gate (two uprights and a cross bar) at the entrance. Temples serve the Buddhist tradition and they have a sanmon (a regular gate usually with an ornate top over the uprights) at the front.  

Sensoji Temple, Tokyo

A shogun was the top person in the ruling set-up. In many instances, the shogun had more power than the emperor. Samurai served the shogun and ninjas functioned as hired mercenaries. 

Shrines and temples dot the city providing quiet spots for reflection and rest. Most have gardens, even small ones, around them with spots to sit. You will likely need a little respite after trying out the numerous themed cafes, visiting the museums, taking in a kabuki performance, having a multi-course kaiseki (many small, intricately prepared items) meal and getting totally “teched out” in the Akihabara district. 

Akihabara “Electric Town”

If you are interested in tech gear, toy models, digital devices, gadgets as well as boutique fashions and vintage shops, then head into the Akihabara district. Shop for anime and manga items and anything related to video games. In the evenings the Akihabara district goes into sensory overload with an abundance of electric and LED lights in all colors. If you need more to feed your animation interest, take in the Studio Ghibli Museum which focuses on the work of director Miyazaki Hayao. 

The Edo-Tokyo Museum has more than 116,000 pieces of art and artifacts in its collections that cover the recorded history of Japan. There’s samurai swords and armor, pottery, kimonos, calligraphy, paintings and so, so much more. There’s items deemed national treasures by the Japanese government. The items on display have written descriptions in English. 

Edo period Samurai

The Meiji Shrine, a Shinto shrine, is an oasis of green in a sea of concrete. Dedicated to the Emperor Meiji and Empress Shoken, the buildings are lovely. The emperor is credited with bringing the idea of Western principles to Japanese society. The grateful people of Japan donated 100,000 trees to create an eternal forest around the shrine. Sensoji Temple is the oldest religious site in Tokyo. It is dedicated to Asakusa Kannon, the Buddhist god of mercy and happiness. 

Meiji Shrine

Odaiba is a floating island close to the city center. In addition to gorgeous examples of architecture, there are numerous restaurants and entertainment venues as well as the Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation which has a variety of interactive displays including a model of the International Space Station. Odaiba Seaside Park has Tokyo’s version of the Statue of Liberty and several amusement parks with one of the world’s largest ferris wheels. 

View of Tokyo from the artificial island, Odaiba

The Tokyo Tower’s observation decks offer breathtaking views of the city and if you’ve got time, check out the penguins and puffins at Tokyo Sea Life Park. 

Kyoto exudes charm and tradition 

 Kyoto was the capital of Japan and the city where the emperor lived from 794 until 1868. One of the country’s 10 largest cities, it has more than 1,600 historic Buddhist temples with some of the oldest and most famous in the Higashiyama temple district. There are more than 400 Shinto shrines and one of the largest collections of World Heritage Unesco sites in the world. 

Kinkakuji Temple, Kyoto

When visiting the temples and shrines, enjoy the carefully curated gardens around the sites. They were especially set up for enjoyment by feudal lords and samurai. 

It is the birthplace of geisha culture so there are plenty of tea houses where visitors can enjoy a traditional tea ceremony. If you are a green tea lover, indulge you will find matcha magic in the shops. Enjoy ice cream, chocolate and matcha cookies, cream puffs, and cakes.  

The city is home to a number of famous sake breweries which offer tastings. 

The Nijo Castle is a UNESCO site. It is the former residence of shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Shoguns ruled Japan for more than 700 years and the Nijo Castle was designed to show off the prestige and wealth of Ieyasu. It is ninja-proofed with nightingale floors. They are named for a bird because the way the nails are placed on the floor they rub on the flooring clamps creating a chirping sound guaranteeing no one can creep into the castle. 

Nijo castle gate, Kyoto

The Fushimi Inari-taisha Shrine is located at the end of a walkway of thousands of traditional torii gates. They are painted red so it appears visitors are walking through flames. The shrine honors the Shinto god of rice, Inari. Visit the Kinkakuji Temple in the morning for the maximum effect. The retirement home of a shogun, he wanted the residence to become a temple after he died. The top two floors are covered in gold leaf inside and out so it glows in the sun. 

Torii Gates

Kyoto Tower is the tallest building in the city. You get panoramic views of the city and beyond — on clear days all the way to Osaka. The viewing platforms have telescopes and LED touch screens highlight landmarks around the city as you take in the views from different angles. 

 Cherry blossoms, ramen, sushi, shrines, temples, geisha and tea, you can have it all with a getaway to Tokyo and Kyoto. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Arashiyama bamboo grove, Kyoto


Let’s go on safari

There is something mysterious and compelling about Africa, it’s a destination on almost everyone’s bucket list. It’s a massive continent composed of 54 countries with a population of 1.2 billion people. It is bigger than China, India, the United States and most of Europe combined and there are more than 2,000 separate languages spoken in Africa. It has a rich cultural heritage that varies from region to region as does the landscape. You could tour the pyramids of Giza in Egypt, go bungee jumping at Victoria Falls, climb Mt. Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, or join GetAway Travel on safari in 2024.  

 Why a safari? 

 Are you wondering if a safari with a group is for you? Here’s the thing, you could explore the magical continent on your own — but there’s no guarantee without a guide, you’ll see anything but a lot of landscape. Granted, Africa is one of Mother Nature’s most amazing and fascinating accomplishments, so the scenery is gorgeous. There are deserts and swamps and floodplains and savannas and forests and not a lot of crowds.  

But there’s no guarantee you are going to see what are referred to as the Big Five: Lions, leopards, buffalo, elephants and rhinos, without a guide. Safaris are done in conservation areas and national parks. Tours are organized to give short-term visitors an action-packed view of Africa in an all-inclusive package. Take advantage of your travel advisor’s organizational skills to see what you want, in suitable accommodations, in the time you have in Africa. 

 Explore Kenya and its wildlife 

 Kenya is home to a number of national parks, conservancies and wildlife refuges with great accommodations that will guarantee you some great sightings of wildlife, fabulous photos and memories that will last for a lifetime. 

More than 45 years ago work began in Kenya to secure areas to protect wildlife and also safeguard entire ecosystems and the diverse flora and fauna rooted in the history of the area. 

The Sheldrick Wildlife Trust is renowned for its work to protect elephants and it operates a very successful orphan elephant rescue and rehabilitation program. 

Elephants roam in the protected area as well as white and black rhinos. Sophisticated anti-poaching surveillance is conducted to keep the wildlife safe. 

Rhino with birds going for a ride

Visitors can learn about the conservation work and meet the orphan elephant babies during a mid-day milk break. The babies run from the forest in little family-type groups for their feeding and keepers introduce the elephants to visitors and tell their stories. Babies need to be protected from the elements and keepers are with them 24 hours a day, but the rotate among the groups so animals don’t become too attached to one person. The goal is to re-integrate the babies, in careful steps, back to the wild. 

Groups usually visit the Karen Blixen museum. The author of “Out of Africa” operated a coffee farm for several years after her divorce and processing equipment as well as other farm tools are on display. You can walk through the lush gardens, enjoy a snack at the cafe and shop at the gift store. 

 Meet giraffes and chimpanzees 

 Kenya’s Giraffe Centre was created by the African Fund for Endangered Wildlife It is set up to help educate children and youth about Kenya’s wildlife and eco-environment but also to give visitors a chance to get up close and personal with a giraffe. The Rothschild Giraffe is indigenous only to the grasslands of East Africa. 

Kenya Giraffe Center

The sanctuary started out with only 130 giraffes and now more than 300 have been nurtured, with some being re-located to national parks around the area. You can feed the giraffes, under the watchful eyes of staff called educators, from a feeding platform. There’s a nature trail with fabulous views of the Gogo River as well as a teahouse and gift shop. 

The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is one of Kenya’s most visited conservancies and home to the Big Five — elephants, rhinos, lions, buffalo and leopards, and so much more! 

Formerly a working cattle ranch, it is the largest black rhino sanctuary in East Africa and home to two of the world’s last remaining white rhinos. The 9,000 acres of open savanna grassland is home to six resident prides of lions, at least 30 cheetahs, 20 leopards, two packs of endangered African wild dogs and spotted hyenas. Guides take visitors to areas where they know you’ll get to spot wildlife interacting and night game drives mean visitors can spot animals that are a little more energetic at dusk including aardvarks, zorilla (similar to skunks, bat-eared foxes. You can go on bush walks, bird walks and even participate in lion tracking. Various species are monitored with state-of-the-art technology and smart fencing allows species the opportunity to migrate. 

The conservancy is home to Sweetwater Chimpanzee Sanctuary. The nature home of chimpanzees is a swatch of area from Senegal on the west coast to central Africa to Uganda. When the sanctuary in Burundi was forced to close due to civil war, Ol Pejeta along with the Jane Goodall Institute set up a sanctuary. Two groups of chimpanzees on 300 acres are maintained, most recovering from abuse and neglect. They return at night to indoor enclosures. 

 Stay tuned for more on Kenya in subsequent blogs as well as some more specific information about GetAway Travel’s planned safari group. If your hunt for adventure includes a safari, contact GetAway at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 






Architecture, history flavor Barcelona experience


There’s so much to love about Barcelona, the capital of Spain’s Catalonia region. The weather is pleasant, the cuisine is tasty, there’s some very attractive beaches and the area oozes cultural heritage and dragons. In the early 19th century commerce and trade made the area prosperous and residents embraced their economic good fortune by building grand houses and landmarks. The city is home to nine UNESCO World Heritage sites. If you’re interested in embracing the historical passion and cultural flare of Barcelona, your travel advisor at GetAway Travel can make that happen. 

 Modernism mixes with tradition 

La Rambla – Barcelona

 When you arrive in Barcelona, join the other tourists on La Rambla. It is the famous and iconic boulevard that links Port Vell to Placa Catalunya and it practically vibrates with energy. There are street performers, artists and vendors lining the street and it’s a great place to find souvenirs. As you soak in everything that’s going on, think of it as a prelude for what is sure to be a fabulous experience! 

Dragon in the Park

A word or two about dragons, St. George is the patron Saint of Catalonia. There are more than 400 dragons represented around the city. The most famous and most photographed is in Park Güell. 

Dragon on La Rambla street – Barcelona

Exciting and amazing are not words normally used to describe architecture, but there’s really no other way to describe the works of Antoni Gaudi. Gaudi is responsible for the design of some stunning buildings around the city as well as some of the other modernist landmarks. Two fabulous contributors to modernism, Picasso and Joan Miró are also represented in the city. 

The Museu Picasso is housed in five medieval palaces and more than 4,200 of his works are on display. Fundació Joan Miró features modern art done by Miró, as well as temporary exhibitions and some collaborative projects. 

Joan Miró Park – Barcelona

If you are interested in a shopping experience, check out the shops in the Diagonal Mar area. But don’t skip Barcelona’s La Boqueria, an urban market that has existed since medieval times. Luckily, it was roofed in 1914. More than 300 permanent stalls sell produce, cheese, cold meats, olive products, nuts and sweets. You can get beer and tapas at the bars inside. Pro shopping tip — the best deals are closer to the interior. 

La Boqueria – Barcelona

Camp Nou is a 99,000 seat stadium which has been home base for FC Barcelona since 1957. Memorabilia from one of the world’s most prestigious soccer teams is on display in the museum. 

The Palau de la Música Catalana is a magnificent concert hall. This art nouveau building is the only one of its kind to be designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. The incredible ornate stained glass roof should not be missed! 

Palau de la Música Catalana – Barcelona

 Gorgeous Gaudi buildings 

 Gaudi disliked straight lines because he said they did not occur naturally in nature. Instead, he embraced textures, curves and shapes whenever he could. The Sagrada Família is Gaudi’s largest, most spectacular work. Started more than 100 years ago, it is only 3/4 complete. When it is finished, this Roman Catholic Church will be the tallest church in the world. It combines the architectural styles of Catalan Modernism, art nouveau and Spanish Late Gothic. It is a fantastical melding of textures and shapes that appear like delicate filigree in some areas and strong, bold statements in other areas. 

La Sagrada Familia towers

All of Gaudi’s works have softened lines so they resemble buildings that seem to be shimmering in high heat. 

La Sagrada Familia interior vaulted ceiling

Casa Batlló is a remodel he took on at the turn of the 20th century. Tiles on the building’s roof are said to resemble dragon scales. Casa Mila which is also known as La Pedrera is another Gaudi building and even though it was built in 1912, it includes an underground parking garage. 

Casa Batlló – Barcelona

Palau Güell is one of Gaudi’s earliest works. It was the home of the Lopez family until they moved to what is now known as Park Güell. Palau Güell was built with stone coated with marble and then it was decorated with intricate hand-carved wood and ironwork. 

Park Güell – Barcelona

Casa Vicens was also a private residence worked on by Gaudi and was also one of his earliest works. It has lush outdoor gardens surrounded by a courtyard with patterned walls inside and out and the exterior of the house is bright colors — green, red and white with floral patterned tiles. This summer home, which included elaborate waterfalls and fountains in the garden, was just opened as a museum in 2017. 

Casa Vicens – Barcelona

Park Güell was supposed to have been a housing complex designed by Gaudi, but the original design didn’t work out for that purpose and it is now a green space and garden complex. The park terraces offer gorgeous views of the city. A museum on the grounds has furniture and household items designed and decorated by Gaudi. It is filled with unique architectural features, serpentine benches, mosaics, colonnades, fountains, sculptures and, the famous frequently photographed dragon. 

 You won’t go hungry  

 The food is superb in Barcelona. At any given time some international food is trending. But you can count on getting pintxos, tasty morsels skewered onto bread, at most bars. 

Food market – Barcelona

You can be assured fish, as well as prawns and razor clams, will be on the menu as well as something with jamón, a fabulous flavored ham. Try fideuà which is similar to paella only made with pasta. Paella, like fideuá, has rabbit, chicken or seafood, flavored with saffron and cooked in a shallow pan. Arros negre is rice simmered with cuttlefish or squid. 


The olives are marvelous. Black or green, they taste fresh and bright. Beware, they are served with pits in because removing them would require soaking them in a substance that softens them and spoils the taste. Have a rich Crema Catalana for dessert. It is custard flavored with lemon zest and cinnamon or vanilla with a carmelized crust on top similar to crème brûlée. 

Crema Catalana

Now that we’ve piqued your curiosity and whetted your appetite, we’re ready to plan you getaway. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Sample the tasty culture of Spain with tapas

Tapas are a snapshot of the culture and experience of Spain on a plate. They can be as simple as an olive and onion on a skewer or as complicated as a slow-braised beef cheek. When you travel, you should embrace everything that is offered from history and culture to food and drink.  At GetAway Travel, we think you should leave the planning to us so you have more time to enjoy the experience.  

 Tapa history and some tidbits 

 Tapas are snacks, canapés — small plates of delicious examples of the variety of food you can get in Spain. They can vary throughout the country and even from town to town. Tapas are not appetizers. Appetizers are a first course to a meal. Tapas are small plates of treats that could make a meal if eaten together or are a light snack. Tapas are part of the culture and social scene of Spain. Slow down, socialize with friends and order several plates of tapas to be shared. There’s even a specific verb to describe the experience “tapear” means to go out and eat tapas.  

Tapas are for eating after the mid-day meal to keep you from getting too hungry before dinner while you are enjoying the neighborhood bar scene. Or, tapas are late night snacks while the evening winds down. 

The origin of tapas is murky, but that just adds to the mystique! 

One story is tapas originated because barkeepers would put a piece of bread over a patron’s drink to keep the flies and dust out. Hmmm… another story is that the serving of tapas was ordered by royal decree to reduce the effects of alcohol on bar patrons. We can roll with either of those stories. 

 Finding a tapa bar and ordering 

 Ask at the hotel for tapa recommendations. If you decide to venture out on your own, look for a bar with lots of people coming and going. Traffic moving does not mean they are having a bad experience. In Spain, it is customary to order tapas and a drink at several bars so patrons keep moving. A high turnover also means fresher food. 

Don’t be put off by debris on the floor. Lots of napkins and skewers on the floor means happy customers are eating and moving on. If you are eating tapas, you will be going to several different bars and ordering a drink and some tapas at each so don’t load up at the first bar. 

Tapas options are listed on the tapa menu, but you will also see racíones listed. Racíones are larger plates of tapas for larger groups. 

Order a drink first because some bars still are old school which means you get a free tapa with a drink. Ask the wait staff about the house specialties and feel free to ask if you’ve ordered too many or not enough tapas because they are aware of the portion sizes. 

Most Spaniards order a different type of drink at each bar. You can go classy with cava which is similar to champagne or try sparkling hard cider. You can go alcohol free and order cerveza-sin which is an alcohol-free beer or mosto which is grape juice. Try and sample the beverage of the area, for example, in Andalusia, try the manzanilla sherry and in San Sebastián, the txakoli wine is pretty tasty. 

 Let’s talk — tapa options! 

 Try one to two cold tapas, like olives and pan con tomato which is bread with grated tomato and several warm tapas. Depending on the area of Spain, your choices will vary. For example in Madrid the tapas may have lots of cured meats. Don’t be put off by the description of cured meat and think you’re getting jerky or some sort of tinned slimy concoction. It will be more like lovely chorizo or jamon which is a dried cured ham or cecina which is cured beef or even goat. Near Seville you’ll find seafood options like pescaito frito or pescado frito which are tiny whitefish coated in flour and then flash fried in olive oil and sprinkled with salt. Chipirones are small, tender deep fried baby squid and if you see anchoas, don’t think anchovies like you find on pizza, they are small fried fish served with vinegar, parsley and garlic. 


Gambas pil pil are prawn cooked in hot oil with garlic and chilis and pulpo á feira is octopus and potatoes cooked in a small pot with sweet paprika. 

Nearly every establishment has their version of patatas bravas (yes, wild potatoes), which are potatoes sautéed in a spicy sauce. You can get small tortillas and many versions of croquettes. They are small balls of minced meat or fish rolled in bread crumbs and fried. 

There are vegetarian options like fried eggplant served with honey and seasonal salads — usually with tomatoes and goat cheese. You may see something called Russian Salad on the tapa menu, that’s potatoes, peas, hard boiled eggs and seasonal vegetables smothered in mayonnaise. 

 Ready for some tapa adventures? We’re ready to plan your getaway. Reach us at (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Experience the land of fire and ice

How about an island getaway? Enjoy the history and culture, great fish dishes, hot springs, geysers, waterfalls, volcano and glaciers. Wait, what? Yep, glaciers, because we’re talking about an island getaway to the Land of Fire and Ice, Iceland. There’s all that and, Viking lore, baking a loaf of rye bread in the ground, black sandy beaches, whale watching, Northern Lights and hiking on a glacier. Intrigued? We gotcha covered. The travel advisors at GetAway Travel can send you to the Land of Fire and Ice with a packed itinerary designed to give you memories that will last a lifetime. 

Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall with Kirkjufell mountain in background

 Take a trip to a happy place 

 The Nordic nation of Iceland has some fabulous landscape which filmmakers have used to their advantage. Parts of Star Wars’ Rogue One, some James Bond scenes as well as Game of Thrones has scenes filmed in Iceland.  

The geothermal grotto and cave, Grjotagja is among areas of Iceland featured in Game of Thrones

The country has been consistently rated as one of the happiest in the world which translates to great vibes for visitors. July and August are the warmest months, but June with its 20 or so hours of daylight during the summer solstice is pretty popular. 

Most of Iceland’s population lives in the capital of Reykjavik which is powered almost entirely by geothermal. Iceland is a pioneer in geothermal energy use because of its unique geological situation. It is a nation that sits atop a rift between continental plates as well as a volcanic hotspot. 

Reykjavik Iceland

There are places in Iceland where the geothermal activity is warm enough that yes, you can bake bread in the ground. There are hotels and restaurants that will help you prep the rye bread dough, bake it and then you get to slather butter on it and eat it. 

 The Blue Lagoon, architectural marvels 

 The Blue Lagoon, no — not the movie, is a spa experience you shouldn’t skip if you are in the Reykjavik area. It is a pristine pool heated by geothermal waters and it stays the temperature of bath water year-round. The milky blue water has a high silica content so it’s very beneficial to the skin. You just sort of soak, float, unwind and take a mud spa treatment if you wish. If it’s the right time of the year, you can experience the Northern Lights. 

The Blue Lagoon

Shower when you are done and dine at the nearby restaurant. 

The Blue Lagoon has one of the black sand beaches in Iceland. The striking beaches are formed from volcanic material that is worn down. The black sand beach at Reynisfjara is very pretty as are the Vik and Dyrhólaey beaches. There’s something magical about watching the sun set or rise with a black beach as a backdrop. 

Hallgrímskirkja Church

The Hallgrímskirkja Church is the city’s most famous landmark. With its stunning height (244 feet tall) and curved sides like wings, it is a popular spot to visit. For a fee you can take an elevator to an observation platform at the top of the tower for spectacular panoramic views of the city. 

Inside the church is a huge 5,000 pipe organ and there is really not a bad place to stand for some memorable pictures. Hallgrímskirkja is at the top of one of the prettiest and most popular shopping streets, Skólavordustigur. 

Hallgrímskirkja Church Interior

The next most famous landmark is the Harpa Concert and Conference Hall. The hall has received numerous awards for design and beauty. It is home base for the Icelandic Symphony and it also hosts exhibitions and shows throughout the year. On the seafront by the Harpa is the Sun Voyager sculpture. This famous steel sculpture of a stylized boat was created by Jon Gunnar Arnason. 

 Natural marvels and lights 

 The Golden Circle is a 186-mile route that goes through Reykjavik and the surrounding area giving visitors a taste of a lot of geological wonders. You’ll see the geyser geothermal area. The Strokkur Geyser is the most dependable to be able to see and photograph an eruption.  

Europe’s largest glacier is in Iceland. The Vatnajökull glacier in Vatnajökull National Park feeds the meltdown lake in the park and if you can’t visit Antarctica, taking a boat tour in Jökulsártón Glacier Lagoon is the next best thing. Get up close and personal to gorgeous blue, white and turquoise icebergs mixed with volcanic waste floating in the water. 

Vatnajökull National Park

Visit the ice caves on a tour, take a tour because the caves melt and reform with the weather and you want to make sure you are touring a cave and not a puddle or ice chunk. 

There are striking waterfalls in Iceland. At the Dettifoss Waterfall the water plummets 147 feet down with such force the mist from it can be seen for miles. The falls were featured in the movie, Prometheus. The Gullfoss Waterfall cascades down through multiple drops and if the weather is cooperating, you can walk behind the Seljalandsfoss Falls. 

Seljalandsfoss Falls

Now to the fire part of the country’s nickname. There are active volcanoes on the island and get information from your travel advisor about booking a tour because the guides are aware of which volcano may be erupting. It is best not to wander around an active volcano site without a guide. The volcanoes are on a strip off the Golden Circle and they include Fagradalskfjall, Eyjafjallajokul, Katla and Hekla. 

Eyjafjallajokul volcano crater

The Northern Lights are an atmospheric phenomenon of waves of colored light and they can be viewed throughout Iceland, but they look the best away from light pollution. There are actually apps and websites that help you track where the best places to view the lights would be, and there are light tours that take you out of the city to viewing places. 

Humback Whale in Iceland

Take a whale watching tour! Tours are available along the South coast and at the waters around Reykjavik, but also on the North coast where the waters are quieter and that area attracts more whales. 

 Museums and the cuisine 

 The museums in Reykjavik are fabulous. The National Museum of Iceland has a huge collection of artifacts and archeological items and they are arranged in chronological order so its like taking a trip back in time. The Saga Museum has life-size and life-like replicas of historic scenes from Viking times.  

The largest whale museum in Europe is the Whales of Iceland Museum. There are life-size models of 23 whale species and interactive exhibits. 

You are guaranteed to see Northern Lights at the Northern Lights Centre. The visual displays of Northern Lights from throughout the country are projected on a 23-foot wide screen. There is an interactive exhibit and you can get a lesson on the best way to photograph the lights. 

Northern Lights

The Perlan Museum, including the rotating Perlan Dome has nature exhibits which include the world’s first indoor ice cave, a glacier exploratorium and a planetarium. There’s also a café, restaurant and ice cream parlor.  

Perlan Musuem, Reykjavik

Speaking of ice cream, it is extremely popular in Iceland. As a matter of fact, there are ice cream parlors that stay open until the wee hours of the morning so you can have a sweet, icy treat after checking out the nightlife in Reykjavik. Indulge your sweet tooth by trying a snúôur, a soft iced cinnamon bun or a kleina which is a sort of twisted doughnut/pastry creation. 

Icelandic Horse

While it is doubtful you hear “yum — Mutton!” every day, don’t skip the Icelandic lamb stew which is called kjötsúpa. This rich, tasty stew includes herbs, onions, leeks, rutabaga, carrots and potatoes. The hotdogs, made with lamb, pork and beef, are world renowned. They are served on a warm, steamed bun with raw onions, crispy fried onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard and a remoulade. There are more than 300 species of fish off the waters around the island and three species of salmon. Fish is on the menu! 

kjötsúpa – lamb soup

You can find craft beer everywhere and there are vodkas as well as a number of non-alcoholic drinks, including one similar to Fanta orange soda, made in Iceland. 

We are going to gently advise you to stay away from the fermented shark (hákarl) and if someone offers you a tipple of Brennivínor, that’s a cumin flavored liquor nicknamed black death. Enough said. 

hákarl curing in shed

 If Iceland is an island getaway you’re considering — give GetAway Travel a call. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Zurich Switzerland and surrounding area an eclectic mix of modern and medieval

Switzerland is famous for Heidi, cuckoo clocks, chocolate, the Alps and gorgeous alpine scenery, but it also leads the way in the finance industry as well as quality of life attributes. Indeed, Switzerland was ranked No. 1 in the Best Countries poll in terms of quality of life. It’s the fifth time it has ranked first. If you would like to experience Switzerland first hand, GetAway Travel is here to lend a hand with your trip arrangements. 

Heidi is having a very relaxing vacation!

 It’s not just about the mountains 

 Switzerland is a central European country surrounded by France, Germany, Italy, Austria and Lichtenstein. It actually has four national languages, German, French, Italian and Romanish. Ian Fleming featured the beauty of the alpine scenery in his Bond movies and Charlie Chaplin and Albert Einstein lived in Switzerland. Europe’s highest train station is here, which is no surprise because of the mountains. In addition to its fabulous cuisine, snow-capped mountains and clear blue lakes, the country’s cities are leaders in art and culture. 

And we would be remiss if we didn’t mention the festivals because Switzerland loves a party and loves to invite everyone. 

Grindelwald Switzerland

Of course there are food festivals and, of course, snow and ice festivals. The Grindelwald World Snow Festival features artists and sculptors who specialize in ice work. The International Balloon Festival is held during the winter. About 20 or so countries participate and just imagine the sight of 80 plus hot air balloons rising over the snow-topped mountains. 

Interlaken Switzerland

Summer festivals run from March until September. The Interlaken Music Festival highlights classical music and brings orchestras and soloists from around the world. There’s the Montreux Jazz Festival, the National Yodeling Festival and open air music festivals in Frauenfeld and Lumnezia attract artists such as Depeche Mode, the Killers and Eminem. 

If you yodel, you are a yodeler

Start your Switzerland journey in Geneva, or on the other end of the country in Zurich. You won’t be disappointed. 

 Bern, the capital, is named after a bear 

 Established in the 12 century, legend has it the city was named after a bear because a nobleman who founded the city was startled by a bear in a nearby wooded area. 

Bern Switzerland

It’s a charming city and the cobble-stoned medieval Old Town or Old City is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The almost four-mile covered pedestrian only street has quaint shops, bars and cafes. The independent shops sell coffee, couture clothing, books and antiques. There are a series of fountains down the street that feature famous religious, folk and biblical figures. 

Above Old Town’s western gate is a clock tower or Zytglogge. The ornate 15th century clock has revolving figures including a parade of bears, jester and a golden rooster that come out and twirl around at four minutes to the hour. Above the clock tower’s entrance is an astronomical clock that has stationery and moving spheres that replicate the constellations with the earth at the center. It also shows the moon phase, current zodiac sign, sun rise and sun set and the date. 

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Time for a sunny getaway to Fiji?

Beach in Fiji – only thing missing is you

Although any time is a perfect time to experience the outdoor paradise that is Fiji, the dreary days that start in mid-fall and run to mid-spring is a perfect time to getaway. From swimming to snorkeling to zip lining to just enjoying the drop-dead gorgeous scenery of any of the islands, Fiji is a perfect fit to drive the gloomy blues away. Let a travel advisor at GetAway Travel help you put some sunshine back into your life. 

 Islands offer something for everyone 

 Located in the South Pacific, Fiji is an archipelago or stretch of sea containing several islands. The more than 300 islands that make up Fiji offer up activities for adventure seekers, families and those whose idea of a perfect vacation is eating, sleeping well, sunning on a beach with a book and repeating for several days until the stress level drops. It is easy enough to travel from the island to island so you can day trip to your heart’s content 

 Nadi and Suva on largest island of Vita Levu 

 Fiji’s largest island is Vita Levu and the capital, Suva, is there as well. Nadi has a large international airport and that is where most flights arrive. 

Ni Sa Bula – welcome home!

The Fiji Museum is in Suva. A huge Ratu Finau, or a double hulled canoe, is the centerpiece of the museum. There are exhibits that trace Fijian life over the centuries as well as a collection of cannibal forks, war clubs and kava bowls. Rugby is the national game, and you can watch a match at Suva’s National Stadium. 

Welcome Home

About 40% of Fiji’s population is ethnically Indian. In Suva as well as throughout the islands, there are fabulous Indian restaurants. Get hot parcels of roti (a flatbread) stuffed with pumpkin and eggplant in coconut curry. 

Fijian coconut milk ceviche

The cuisine throughout the islands is decidedly international with an emphasis on different types of curries as well as fish, prawns, lobsters and crabs. Sweet potatoes and taro figure prominently into cooking and most resorts offer visitors a chance to experience a traditional loro or pit oven feast with slow-cooked meat and fish as well as root vegetables with onion and coconut cream cooked in a pit with hot coals.  

Suva has a modern shopping mall as well as open-air markets and a busy nightlife you can enjoy after you savor a spectacular Fiji sunset. 

Sunset at resort in Fiji

The biggest shopping area is Port Denarau Island which is near Nadi. In addition to a world class golf course and some great spas, you can shop for sarongs, saris, jewelry, beach wear and shell knick knacks. The more than 40 restaurants offer everything from pizza and burgers to Fijian and Indian cuisine. Be sure to inquire about the spice levels if you are trying Fijian or Indian curries, they do vary. 

Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple, Nadi Fiji

Nadi is home to the Sri Siva Subramaniya Swami Temple which is an example of bright Dravidian architecture you don’t usually see outside of India. You can visit the temple if you are dressed appropriately, knees and shoulders need to be covered and no photos are allowed inside. The temple is covered with intricate carvings and paintings of Hindu gods. 

The Garden of the Sleeping Giant (named for the mountain that hovers over it) is a short drive from Nadi. Started by actor Raymond Burr to house his orchid collection, the area now has more than 1,000 orchids from more than 40 different species as well as Cattleya hybrids. Wander through the covered walkways with a guide who will put a name on the flowers for you. 

Orchid – Garden of the Sleeping Giants

 If you want, adventure awaits you 

 A GetAway Travel advisor can help you plot out what you want to do, and that will determine which islands you visit. You can kayak, zip line, surf, wind surf, hike, dive, swim with sharks or manta rays, snorkel, go rafting and whitewater rafting, stay at a traditional village and eat and sleep like a Fiji native, go mud crab catching, make coconut jewelry, walk in an ancient Fiji burial ground, take a mud bath and get a spa treatment, laze on the beach, hunt for pearls, watch a pearl harvest, feed baby sea turtles, be awed by the fire dancers and other Fiji dance performances and soak in the hot springs. 

Fiji is very family oriented. Depending on where you are staying, you can get free nanny services and older children can enjoy a variety of activities with a buddy while parents are on a day trip. Everyone can meet up at dinner. 

 Taveuni is the Garden Island 

 Taveuni is the third largest island in Fiji and it is nicknamed the Garden Island because of its lush forests. It is a great dive as well as bird-watching destination. It is home to several plants that can’t be found anywhere else in the world. In Bouma National Heritage Park on Taveuni, the tagimoucia flower blooms near Lake Tagimoucia. This is the only place in the world where you can see the flower that is the floral emblem of Fiji. The liana bearing crimson and white flowers hang in foot-long clusters off the trees. The tropical rainforest park encompasses 80% of the island. 

Paul hiding in the Garden of the Sleeping Giants

Taveuni also has the most recognizable waterfalls in Fiji. The Tavora Waterfalls are three falls and the first you see in the park is the most spectacular with a waterfall of 78 feet. 

waterfall in Fiji

There are more than 100 species of birds on the island including the rare orange dove and the tiny, endangered silk tail. Take a guided birdwatching walk on the Vida Rain Forest Trail.  

If you want a relaxing beach vacation, a tropical paradise adventure or a little of both, GetAway Travel can get you there. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 




Switzerland’s captivating charm and mountain scenery

Matterhorn peak reflected in Lake Stellisee, Zermatt, Switzerland

Switzerland is a pretty amazing place with some pretty amazing scenery, neighbors, history and cuisine. You can find cuckoo clocks, cheese, chocolate, castles and charm throughout the country. The Alps run through most of the country, but the most photographed mountain is the Matterhorn. Near the border of Italy, the Matterhorn is the mountain of mountains. GetAway Travel can map you an itinerary around the Alps, around Zurich or from one end of Switzerland to the other. Let’s talk about Geneva, Lausanne, Zermatt and, of course, the Matterhorn. 

 No, you don’t have to ski to love it 

 Of course you can ski in Switzerland, and snowboard, cycle, skate, snowshoe and hike, but you can also enjoy amazing scenery that will give you a lifetime of memories without doing any of those things. If you want to start with the Matterhorn, then Zermatt is where you want to be. There are more than 200 miles of slopes in the area for all levels of skiing expertise, but there are also more than 60 mountain trains that you can ride to get you close to the slopes without touching a ski.  

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt is home to some fabulous international resorts and part of its charm, in addition to the shops, chalets and restaurants, is there are no gas-powered vehicles. You park in a huge lot three miles from the city and get shuttled in. 

Ski Slopes in Zermatt

The huge, graceful Matterhorn dominates the area. Described by some as a pyramid and others as a jagged tooth, three faces of the mountain are in Switzerland and the fourth face is in Italy. 

Climbing it is an adventure to be braved only by the experienced. There are plenty of other challenging climbs that guides can direct you to. 

Gronergrat Railway

But don’t skip the marvelous chance to experience the mountains and the scenery — take a train. The Gornergrat Railway is Europe’s highest mountain railroad. It takes 45 minutes to take the six-mile trip up the east side of the Nikolai Valley and then around the sweeping curve up the slope of the Riffleberg. The rail line also runs above the Gorner Glacier to the Gornergrat Observatory giving visitors a spectacular look at the Matterhorn as well as the glacier. 

Gronergrat Observatory

The Matterhorn Museum details how the history of Zermatt is tied to climbers. A relief of the Matterhorn shows the routes climbers take, there are artifacts and exhibits and outside is the quirky Marmot Fountain. Bronze marmots cavort in cascading water and behind the fountain is a life-size bronze of a large, horned mountain goat. 

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Scotland: Grand scenery, historic sites and haggis

Scotland covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it boasts a generous diversity of scenery including rolling hills, lochs with and without monsters, mountains, beaches, fabulously preserved period architecture and, we’ll just address the cuisine situation right away, internal organs of sheep cooked in part of a carcass. Granted haggis is the national dish of Scotland, but we’ll give it pass because you can also get battered deep-fried Mars bars at every fish and chips shop and they also have whisky ice cream. And, the country’s national animal is a unicorn! How cool is that! 

Scottish Highlands – Eilean Donan Castle

If you’re interested in visiting a country featured in James Bond and Harry Potter movies, the travel advisors at GetAway Travel can get you there! And, we promise, no one is going to hold you down and make you try haggis. 


 There are things to see and do everywhere 

 Scotland has consistently been voted the most beautiful country in the world edging out Canada, New Zealand and Italy. It is a relatively small country, which means you can pack a lot of sightseeing and activities in without a lot of travel time. The tallest mountain in the UK is in Scotland, Ben Nevis. There are more than 700 islands off the coast of Scotland and several, including the Isle of Arran and the Isle of Skye, are a sort of micro-Scotland with great scenery, historic sites and colonies of wildlife including seabirds, seals, red stag, golden eagles and humpback whales. You can hit the beach, tour a castle, explore charming towns, attend major art and cultural festivals, dine and shop. 

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Some of the world’s best gin and whisky distilleries are in Scotland which makes sense since whisky is the national drink of Scotland. You can tour Johnnie Walker in Edinburgh, Glenlivet near Ballindalloch and Macallan near Aberlour. You won’t get tired of trying whisky since it is different throughout the country. There’s Highland, Lowland, Islay, Spreyside and Campbell, regions and each has a distinctive flavor because of the water used and the processing. There is also plenty of craft beer options to explore. 

 Capital Edinburgh is a cultural destination 

 Edinburgh, in addition to being home to some fabulously preserved architecture from the medieval times to the 18th century, is also the headquarters for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  


The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a 25-day extravaganza of art and cultural performances held at the stunning Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy comedy, cabaret, opera and pretty much any other “cultural” performance you can imagine. 

Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has nothing to do with body ink and everything to do with the pomp and pageantry of military music and tradition. There’s a new theme every year, but every year you can also enjoy military displays, marching bands, bagpipers and mock battles.  

While you are in Edinburgh you can tour the Royal Yacht Britannia. The queen’s personal yacht is now a museum and the state apartments and royal bedrooms are open to visitors. Talk to your GetAway Travel advisor about booking a table on the Royal Deck Tea Room and enjoying a traditional high tea. 


St. Andrews is about an hour from Edinburgh and it’s a top golf destination. If you can’t get a tee time on the course, drop into the British Golf Museum. The University of St. Andrews has some great old buildings showing off some well-preserved medieval architecture. There are art galleries and a natural history museum on the university grounds. 

St Andrews golf course

 Enjoy the coastal cities of Aberdeen and Glasgow 

 Aberdeen on the North Sea has some fascinating old homes and commercial buildings. They are made from a unique local granite that has some sparkle to it — hence the city’s nickname “Silver City.” There’s plenty of green space in this pedestrian-friendly city and don’t miss the amazing inside green space at the David Welch Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. The 44-acre indoor garden is one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe with hundreds of domestic and exotic plants. 

Aberdeen lighthouse

If you’ve got time for shopping go to Old High Street. 

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is another pedestrian-friendly town with a lot of green space. Check out the Glasgow Cathedral and the Glasgow School of Art. The Riverside Museum on the waterfront explores the history of transportation from vintage steam engines and trams to cars and sea-going vessels. If you have a chance, take in a theatrical performance at the King’s Theatre or an opera in the Theatre Royal. There is local art on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and works of the old masters on display at the Glasgow Style Gallery. 

 Tell me about lochs and the highlands 

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

 A loch is a partially landlocked part of the sea. The land surround means the lochs have a surface that is very nearly smooth as glass. Drop by the Loch Ness and see if you can get a glimpse of the reclusive Nessie and while you are there do some sightseeing in the ruins of the Urquhart Castle. The Loch Lomond is the largest body of fresh water in the UK and it is nicknamed the “Queen of the Scottish Lakes.” Take a boat tour or short cruise and visit the Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. 

For sure – this is the real Loch Ness monster – for sure

Revel in the romance and sublime scenery of the Highlands, most recently featured in the “Outlander” series.  First, the Highlands is the mountainous upper half of Scotland. The Castle Sween near Argyll in the Highlands is the oldest castle in Scotland. 

Castle Sween

The West Highland Museum is in Fort Wiliams. The city is named after the fortifications that were built in the 17th century. The museum houses a vast collection of furniture, paintings and art pieces, weapons and Highland costumes. Near Fort Williams is the Glennfinnan Viaduct. Take a steam train ride on the longest mass concrete bridge in Scotland. Enjoy the spectacular natural beauty and know you are taking the route that dozens of wizard wannabes took on the way to Hogwarts. 

Glennfinnan railway viaduct

Drive the Glen Etive Road in the Highlands for some leisurely sightseeing. But be warned, Etive is Gaelic for “fierce one.” The 12 miles of road winds and twists. Parts of the James Bond thriller “Skyfall” were filmed in nearby Glencoe.  

If you fancy a trip to Scotland, GetAway Travel can help you get your fill of castles and Highland adventures. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 



Experience the joy of the season at European Christmas Markets

While it’s true there’s no place like home for the holidays, there’s no reason why you can’t start your holidays at one or more of the fabulous Christmas markets held all over Europe. This year when you gather for the holidays, start thinking about making some new holiday memories starting with a fabulous getaway that includes some stops at Christmas markets. Your travel advisors at GetAway can plan your trip including some stops for shopping and enjoying some new holiday experiences. 

 Markets got their start in Vienna 

 Christmas markets are street markets designed to celebrate the holiday during the four weeks of Advent leading up to and sometimes, depending on which country you are in, past Christmas into January. They are thought to have originated in Vienna, but were made popular in Germany. 

Vienna, Austria, City Centre Christmas Market

The first Christmas market supposedly was in 1296 in December when Emperor Albrecht I of Austria granted shopkeepers a one-to-two day market so the townspeople could stock up before the winter. Christmas markets are held in town squares and the little, decorated wooden stalls offer arts and crafts items, candles, toys, Christmas decorations and figurines as well as food and drinks. Some town halls transform into giant Advent calendars with different windows lighted each night. 

Nutcrackers in Rudesheim Germany Christmas Market

Now, virtually every country including Germany, Denmark, France, Austria, Portugal, Spain and England have Christmas markets. So your GetAway advisor can plan plenty of sightseeing in a country and have your trip end with a fantastic Christmas market experience. You can fill that second empty suitcase you brought with your holiday gifts, and, of course, a couple of items for yourself! 

 Festive sights, sounds and food 

 The most famous Christmas market is in Vienna, which actually has a dozen or more markets located throughout the city. The largest market is in Rathausplatz, in the square facing Vienna City Hall. Markets in Vienna are, well, grand — like the residents strive to match the fabulous, grand architecture of the city. There’s lots of light displays and Rathausplatz has an ice skating rink. And, just a note, when markets are described as having stalls with items, we are taking upwards of 200 stalls. 

Christmas Market Mainz, Germany

Markets, no matter what city in what country, serve a variation of gluhwein. Gluhwein is hot mulled wine spiced with cloves, anise, cinnamon and citrus fruits. Red wine is the most prevalent, but you can find it done with white wine. There is usually a version of apple cider if you want a non-alcoholic beverage and, of course, hot cocoa. Gluhwein, where ever you are, is served in a mug which you put a deposit on. You can return for a refill, or keep the mug for the price of the small deposit. They make great keepsake souvenirs. 

Make sure to go to the markets hungry. In France, where you should wait until dusk to go shopping because the twinkling lights are magical, you can get oysters, champagne, caviar, poutine and freshly grilled meat. 

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