Experience a renaissance revival in Florence, Italy

 While Florence, Italy is smaller than Rome or Venice, it’s packed full of destinations for art and history lovers as well as attractions for foodies and smart shoppers. Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and the historic center of Florence has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. It retains its historic site status by the careful preservation of ancient streets, buildings, fountains and monuments. 

It’s a city where you can get fabulous gelato, see Michelangelo’s “David” and pick up some great designer bargains. 

Your travel advisor at GetAway Travecan set up your tours of city attractions based on your interests. Buying your tickets to tours and sites in the city ahead of time means less time standing in line and more time enjoying your getaway! 

Opportunities for art lovers 

 The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence is home to masterpieces of architecture and art. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo Cathedral is easily recognized by its terracotta-tiled dome. The dome’s design was engineered by Brunelleschi and the neighboring bell tower by Giotto, but the exterior is also a marvel of architectural features including a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble insets. 

Windows inside along the narrow interior walkways offer great views of the city and the floors are “carpeted” in marble mosaics.  Continue reading

St. Petersburg: Russia’s culture capital has much to offer

It seems like you can’t watch a movie or television show which mentions Russia without seeing the iconic onion-shaped colorful domes of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg. The history of Russia is steeped in drama, color and culture and you can experience it first hand on the GetAway Travel July 2022 Baltics and Beyond cruise. We’ll be spending three days in fabulous St. Petersburg.  

 Architecture, antiques and aristocracy 

 The port city of St. Petersburg was founded in 1703 by Peter the Great and it has some of the best preserved architecture from the extravagant era of the Russian aristocracy. There’s opulent baroque-style palaces, classic sculptures, royal gardens and grand cathedrals throughout the city.  

Many of the most famous art collections call the city home and there are world-renowned ballet and opera performances throughout the year. 

Visitors benefit from the fact that Russian rulers vied for years to create the most spectacular monuments to honor themselves and their families or mark crucial events in their lives. 

Steeped in history, the city is also home to some of the most romantic water backdrops. There are more than 90 waterways including miles of man-made canals throughout the city.  

Depending on the season, boat tours also include watching the opening and closing of some of the city’s drawbridges. The Palace Drawbridge opening and closing features music and a light show! 

St. Petersburg is very pedestrian friendly with much of the signage in Russian as well as English. Ask your travel advisor at GetAway about walking tours, boat tours and even Segway tours. And, of course, there is shopping and fine cuisine. You can hunt for bargains at the Udelnaya Flea Market on the city’s northern edge. There are more than 700 restaurants, cafes and tea rooms in St. Petersburg where you can enjoy the local fare. 

Don’t miss the Hermitage and Faberge Museums 

 The State Hermitage Museum is one of the largest museums in the world housing 3 million works of art including paintings and sculptures from nearly every European country as well as Asian, Greek and Egyptian pieces. It was founded in 1764 by Catherine the Great to showcase her private collection and it is actually five interconnected buildings. There’s the Winter Palace which was the official home of the Romanovs, the Little Hermitage, the Great Hermitage, the New Hermitage and the Hermitage Theatre. 

Winter Palace St Petersburg

The Winter Place is the largest building and it was commissioned by Catherine to be a reproduction of the Papal Palace in Vatican City. There are themed motifs in various rooms including Gothic and Renaissance, fabulous chandeliers, sweeping staircases and, of course, artwork by Michelangelo, Raphael, Rembrandt and DaVinci. 

The Museum Faberge is in the Shuvalov Palace along the Fontanka River. As an added bonus, you can view the stunning statues of the four horses and their horsemen. Each statue is set at a corner of the Anichkov Bridge and the marble statues depict horses and their tamers in various stages of getting the horses under control. 

There are 44 fabulous Faberge eggs and at any given time, at least a dozen are on display in Russia. Some are lost and some are in other museums, but the Museum Faberge has the most significant collection. There are more than 4,000 art exhibits in two restored room in the palace. They give visitors a feel for the grandeur of the time when the eggs were created as well as the craftsmanship it took to make them. 

 But wait, there’s so much more! 

 St. Petersburg is home to St. Isaac’s which is the largest orthodox cathedral in the world. The Peter and Paul Fortress actually was one of the original fortresses built in the city and is houses the Museum of the History of St. Petersburg as well as the Museum of Cosmonautics and Rocket Technology. The Peter and Paul Cathedral is considered one of the finest examples of baroque architecture. It’s tall golden spire topped with a golden cross and angel is a main symbol of the city. 

There is, of course, a Museum of Russian Vodka and for a small extra fee you can sample three kinds of vodka at the end of the tour. You can experience the fully immersive tour of the Freud Museum of Dreams or go to the Street Art Museum which is set up in a sprawling factory and industrial site. 

Baltic & Beyond Cruise Itinerary

 At GetAway Travel we can help plan your tours so you are sure to experience exactly what you want as soon as the ship comes into port in St. Petersburg. Or, perhaps you’d like us to set up a visit to several Russian cities? We’re here to help with all of your travel needs. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Crystal Caves, Bermuda

Things to do in Bermuda – sun, beaches, boating, golfing and visiting caves.  Well there’s actually a lot more, but let’s focus on the caves for now.

Our ship is docked in Hamilton and a very short cab ride away can get you to the amazing Crystal Caves.  A floating pathway spans a crystal clear underwater lake with an explosion of stalactites, stalagmites and soda straws every which way you turn.  The water is a mixture of rainwater (top inch), brackish mix of fresh and salt (next few feet or so) and salt water (densest so at the bottom0.   Do to the optical effects of multiple water layers columns under water appear like you can reach out and touch them (which you would never do in the cave), but are actually sitting in 60 feet or more of water.

The cave was actually our second stop of the day – the first being the UNESCO world heritage town of St George’s.  Settled in 1612 – it’s the first permanent British settlement and oldest continuously inhabited town in the new world.  But more about that later.

Cheers!  #love2getaway


I’m not a food blogger, but I do eat food

As you’ve already seen – this week we are travelling onboard the Viking Orion in Bermuda.  There is a lot to like about this ship and the overall Viking Ocean experience, and we’re happy to report that certainly includes the food.  There are several dining options to choose from –

  • The Chefs table – a fixed menu with varying themes and wine pairings
  • Manfredi’s Italian Restaurant – a crowd favorite (you need to book early when you get onboard).  It’s a traditional restaurant recalling Italy’s beloved trattorias.
  • The main restaurant, simple called The Restaurant.  Daily changing menu with a focus on local cuisine
  • World Cafe – Casual atmosphere with inside and outside dining.  Buffet but elevated.  Chilled King Crab legs are part of the routine every night!
  • Wintergarden – Go here for High Tea in the late afternoon
  • The Pool Grill – very popular – excellent burgers

There is no extra charge for any specialty restaurants on board

They say you can eat with your eyes – so be prepared to be quite full!

Beef Carpaccio – The Restaurant

Beef Wellington – The Restaurant

Boar sausage Ragu pasta – The Restaurant

Prosciutto and Melon – The Restaurant


Calamari – Manfredi’s


Veal Saltimbocca – Manfredi’s

Grilled lambchops with Mushrooms – One of my breakfast (yes breakfast) choices in The Restaurant


Nordic Hotdog – The Pool Grill (has shrimp in mayo and pickled onions) – could be an acquired taste!

Grilled Prawns with a make your own cocktail sauce option – The Restaurant

Salmon Benedict

Poached Salmon

Hangar Steak – The Restaurant


Indian Samosa appetizer – The Restaurant


Grand Marnier Crepes – The Restaurant

Staterooms on board the Viking Orion

We’re very fortunate to be spending the week in Bermuda on board the stunning Viking Orion.  Today we were able to tour through a few of the different stateroom categories and thought you’d like to see them.

Penthouse Jr Suite

405 square feet with tons of amenities, it is spacious, very well appointed and this one has a fantastic wrap around balcony.

Explorer Suite

750 – 1100 square feet depending on deck location.  It’s every bit as amazing as it looks

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What to do on a sea day on board the Viking Orion

Here’s couple of ideas.

  • Swim in the on board infinity pool
  • Spend an hour in the spa

We elected to head to the spa. We had a 2pm reservation as the spa area is limited to 10 persons at a time. No problem, the reservation was easy to make and it’s free – included with your cruise fare. Once you enter the sanctuary you choose from the thelassotherapy pool, sauna, whirl pool, experience shower, cold bucket shower or the snow room. Go from hot to cold to back again and then lay back on the heated beds before your time expires. It was amazing!

Bermuda – home of shorts and rare cruises

We made it!

Travel in the age of Covid-19 is still possible.  For some destinations – there a just a few hurdles you need to jump through.  Bermuda is a small and proud nation (officially a British Overseas Territory) that consists of 181 islands making up its 20 some square miles of land.  The largest is Main Island, also called Bermuda.  The 8 largest islands are connected by bridges.

Bermuda is in the Atlantic Ocean – not the Caribbean Sea – the closest land to it is about 650 miles west, the outer banks of North Carolina.

It has a rich history, and when originally settled by the British in 1612 was called Virgineola.  St. Georges town (which we will visit later this week) is the oldest continuously inhabited English town in the New World.

To get here in the age of Covid you need to first be vaccinated – then no greater than 4 days before travel you need to test negative, and upload all your proof to a Bermuda travel web site for verification.  Only after you receive verification can you actually get on a plane and come here.  Once here you will will go through immigration and customs like any other international destination.  After gathering your bags you will be tested again and given a bracelet that must be worn until the test results come back to you via email.   Until the email shows up you must quarantine at your hotel.  This was not a big deal – we ordered dinner last night from a local restaurant, had it delivered and sat out at the front garden of our hotel with great food and of course access to the hotel bar!

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