History, culture and scenery — just across the pond

Do you hear London calling? Perhaps you’d like to see if you can spot the Loch Ness monster, picnic with a puffin or steep yourself in the mystery of ancient ruins? Then a holiday in the UK, arranged by GetAway Travel is just for you! 

United Kingdom

The United Kingdom is the birthplace of Shakespeare, The Beatles, Chaucer, Robert Burns, Charles Dickens and JK Rowlings. 

Charles Dickens

There are so many amazing things to do and see in England, Scotland and Wales and Northern Ireland. Think museums, cathedrals, castles and country estates, iconic landmarks, art galleries, music festivals and, in spite of what you may have heard, some great food. 

 Experience England 

 London offers the full-range of royal history, monuments, ruins and the changing of the guard! There’s the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, the famous River Thames, Big Ben, Westminster Abbey and the Parliament Buildings. 

South Kensington has some of the city’s finest museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum and the Natural History Museum. Of course you must shop at Harrod’s Department Store and visit Trafalgar Square. 

Harrods Department Store

You can still really take a bath at Bath where travelers have used the healing waters for 2,000 years. The waters contain 43 different minerals. 

You can go surfing in Cornwall. (Really, surf’s up!) 

Cornwall

Stonehenge, one of the oldest UNESCO Heritage sites in the world, is still a mystery and still captivates the imagination. Nearby Salisbury has one of the country’s most famous cathedrals and the original Magna Carta. 

Stonehenge

The university towns of Cambridge and Oxford are home to some of the world’s top academic establishments and Canterbury is home to the archbishop of Canterbury and is also a UNESCO site. 

Canterbury Cathedral

Liverpool will be forever famous for The Beatles. The Cavern Club in the renovated Albert Docks area is where they used to perform and indulge in your own version of Beatlemania by taking a bus or walking tour of Beatle sites. Manchester is a sports town if there ever was one. Two of the country’s most famous soccer (football) clubs are headquartered there and have their own stadiums. 

Liverpool

Make your way to Belfast in Northern Ireland and immerse yourself in all things related to the Titanic. 

 Scenic Scotland 

 Scotland’s largest city is Glasgow which offers a unique high concentration of gothic, Victorian, and Edwardian architecture as well as some pretty great shopping along the “Style Mile.” You can picnic with a puffin or two on the Isle of Lunga. Visit Islay, a Hebridean island that has whiskey distilleries and there’s an extravaganza of archeological ruins in Jarlshof in Shetland. 

Glasgow, Scotland

The Isle of Arran is an island off the southwestern coast of Scotland it has standing stone landmarks, more whiskey distilleries, castles, castle ruins, golf courses, misty moors and coastal scenery. It is a sort of microcosm of the entire country. 

Isle of Arran

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland and is one of the country’s most beautiful cities. It’s historic buildings are faithfully preserved and it is home to the awe-inspiring Edinburgh Castle. Towering above the city, the 13th Century fortress is perched on a rocky, barren outcropping. View the Scottish crown jewels in the Royal Palace while you are in Edinburgh, tour the Scottish National War Museum and save time for the Royal Botanical Garden and the National Gallery of Scotland. 

Edinburgh, Scotland

Old Town’s Royal Mile in the city is an eclectic combination of great architecture, boutique shopping, cafes and restaurants. 

The biggest, wildest street party in the world is held every year on New Year’s in Edinburgh. No one celebrates the dawning of the new year like the Scots. They call it Hogmanay. 

Hogmanay

You may not have a Loch Ness monster sighting in Loch Ness, but the area has some of the best scenery in all of the UK. Check out the Loch Ness Centre for some great history tidbits. 

Loch Ness

 Wander in Wales 

 Cardiff, the capital of Wales boasts fabulous national parks, great scenery and historic castles including Cardiff Castle which os built on the ruins of a Roman fort. Tour the state apartments, the Clock Tower and the chapel of the nearly fully restored castle. Wales actually has the most castles per capita than any other European country, and more sheep than residents. 

Cardiff Castle, Wales

A fun Wales fact, there are 10 million sheep and 3.1 million residents! Wales is home to the famous Badger Face Mountain Sheep which have striped faces like badgers. 

Yep, Badger Face Sheep!

The city’s redeveloped waterfront has shopping, restaurants, clubs and the World of Boats with features the development of sea vessels and boats from around the world. 

The most visited attraction in Wales is in Snowdonia and it is Snowdon Mountain. Enjoy a variety of hiking trails or take a tour on the Snowdon Mountain Railway.  

Pembrokshire is thought to be one of the most beautiful corners of the country. There is not a bad spot to take in the views along any of the area’s 50 beaches. It also has an up and coming food scene. 

Pembrokshire, Wales

 A word or two on the cuisine 

Beef Wellington

 Ok, admittedly a country that has a dessert with a name that also doubles as street slang for a piece of male anatomy and serves jellied eels and pies with fish heads sticking out might not be considered a bastion of world class eats. Ignore that. The UK draws residents from China, Vietnam, Turkey, India, West Africa and the Caribbean and they put their best food forward. Chicken tikka masala is as tasty in the UK as fresh fish and chips. The country is home to 750 kinds of cheese, bacon so good you will weep, Welsh cakes, trifle, scones, craft beef, chocolate and Beef Wellington. You won’t go hungry. 

Spotted Dick

Are you ready to go? At GetAway Travel we can design a full-on UK experience, or tailor a trip to London for you. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

 

Break out the bubbly! Exploring the Champagne region of France

If there’s a celebration, nine times out of 10, there’s Champagne. It’s that iconic bubbly beverage that is photographed showing the fabulous fizz in stunning glasses. But it’s just a pretty pretender if what you are drinking hasn’t been produced in the Champagne region of France. 

Reims

GetAway Travel invites you to contact us and book a trip to explore the Champagne region and get up close and personal with the drink that has launched thousands of special moments. 

Why is it special? 

Since the 1600s, 3 grapes: pinot noir, pinot meunièr and chardonnay grapes make what we call Champagne. The hills and plains in Eastern France between Paris and Lorraine are renowned for producing the famous sparkling wine known as Champagne. The area is about a day trip by bus from Paris. 

The taste of grapes varies depending on the area where they are grown, which is one of the reasons Champagne processed and produced in the Champagne region has very distinctive characteristics. The amount of each grape included in the blend or cuvee is proprietary to each Champagne producer.  

The grape mix is fermented into wine and the wine is then injected with a yeast. The second fermentation series creates carbon dioxide which puts the bubbles into the bubbly. 

Champagne must age at least 15 months, but some are aged much longer. When you walk the streets of Reims and Epernay, two of the larger cities in the Champagne region, you are likely walking over millions of bottles of Champagne stored in tunnels and cellars beneath the earth. 

Cathedrals, castles and Champagne 

Reims Cathedral

Reims, was the traditional coronation spot for most of France’s kings. Reims Cathedral is one of France’s greatest representations of gothic architecture. It was badly damaged in WWI, and then restored to its original splendor. Its twin bell towers and rose-stained glass windows are featured in many publications. 

Detail – exterior of Cathedral in Reims

Reims is home to some of the major Champagne producers including Taittinger. Of course tours and tastings are available but be warned — tours include the cellars and tunnels. It may be 85 degrees outside, but it’s in a chilly mid-40s where the Champagne is stored. Pack a light coat. 

Marc Chagall windows – Reims Cathedral

If you are fascinated by Art Deco, check out the Villa Demoiselle in Reims. This grand mansion has been transformed into a museum that features Art Nouveau as well as Art Deco furniture and fittings. Reims is very pedestrian oriented, and you can stroll along the streets and visit Champagne retailers, smaller tasting rooms and restaurants. 

Reims Cathedral nighttime light show

Visit the Chateau de Sedan in the region. The mid-16th century castle/fortress once housed nearly 4,000 residents. On your tour you will likely meet up with medieval costumed characters. 

Nigoland in Dolancourt is a theme park that includes a great roller coaster, a drop tower attraction and a forest and gardens. The Troyes Cathedral has a superb rose window, and it houses art as well as renaissance era sculptures. 

While you are in Troyes, you can see an 18th century apothecary with a fabulous collection of ceramic jars and painted medicine boxes. 

Don’t skip a side trip to Epernay 

 Epernay is about 15 miles from Reims and Champagne producers such as Moet-Chandon and Perrier-Jouet are headquartered there. There are many smaller cellars and Champagne houses all within walking distance along the Avenue de Champagne. It is estimated that there are more than 200 million bottles of Champagne beneath the streets. 

In the chalk caves

Admire the incredible stonework at the Portal Saint-Martin. The oldest monument in Epernay has fabulous stone renderings of animals. It is all that is left of the Abby of Saint Martin. Relax and smell the roses at the Jardin Botanique De La Presir. This botanical garden features plants from all over Europe as well as 500 types of roses. There’s a labyrinth as well as topiaries sculpted into monster shapes! 

 The seasoned, well-traveled travel advisors at GetAway Travel can help with your dream trip to the Champagne region of France and also help you book your smaller cellar and site tours before you go so you won’t miss a thing. Contact Sue or Paul, (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Stunning scenery and adventure await travelers to New Zealand

If fabulous landscapes from mountains to beaches, as well as the opportunity to walk on a glacier and drink fine wine are on your bucket list, New Zealand is the place you want to be. For its size, the islands of New Zealand pack some big bang for your buck. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel can package you up a vacation that involves adventure or sightseeing, or some of both! 

 A natural paradise 

Without question, New Zealand is recognized as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It has scenery that takes your breath away, plenty to do and see for all ages, friendly people and, this might surprise you, some of the finest wine in the world. 

The temperate climate means you can go snow skiing one day and water skiing the next. You can go bungy jumping in Queenstown and zorbing in Rotorua (you’ve probably seen videos of this) which is rolling around the countryside in a large transparent ball. There’s geothermal marvels and glowworm caves, too! 

You can get an idea of how gorgeous the scenery is if you’ve seen “The Lord of the Rings” or any of the “Hobbit” movies. 

World’s largest Hobbit

The indigenous population, the Māori (Mau-ree) are naturally friendly and outgoing and love to share their culture and heritage. And, as we always say, be respectful of local culture and landmarks because you are a visitor and would expect the same if they were visiting you. 

Let’s hit some highlights 

 New Zealand is two islands, somewhat uncreatively known as North and South islands. Together they are about a 1,000 miles long and at the widest point, about 280 miles across. There are five million inhabitants on the islands. 

Auckland

Rotorua is famous for geothermal features and representations of the Māori culture. There are bubbling mud pools, boiling geysers, colored rock formations and the resorts feature hot springs bathing. The surrounding area is studded with Māori villages including Mitai, Whakarewarewa and Tamaki. They have cultural shows that feature traditional music and dance as well as hangi meals. Hangi cooking is cooking large meals in pit ovens using heated rocks. The meat and vegetables come out extremely tender and flavorful. 

Waitangi on the North Island is a major historical site. In 1840 the Māori chiefs signed a treaty with Britain giving it ruling power. There is a museum on the treaty grounds as well as a fascinating ornately carved marae (which is a Māori meeting house) and a ceremonial canoe. 

Hokianga Harbour is perfect for camping, dune boarding, dolphin watching and horseback riding. Coromandel Peninsula has hiking trails, some eclectic quaint towns and Cathedral Beach on the peninsula is thought by many to be one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. 

Tongariro National Park is a dual UNESCO site, certified for both its cultural and historic significance. It has three volcanic peaks, Mount Tongariro, Raupehu and Ngauruhoe. 

One of New Zealand’s premier wine producing regions, as well as its oldest, is Hawke’s Bay. More than 200 vineyards are clustered in this temperate area. It is famous for its sauvignon blanc wines, some have even said they are the best in the world! Napier in Hawke’s Bay has a large collection of Art Deco architecture buildings. 

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. The New Zealand Parliament Building is known as the “Beehive” due to its unique architecture and you can book a tour of the Weta Workshop. A film special effects company, it was founded by Peter Jackson, director of “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit” movies. Speaking of the Hobbit, if you are fond of the shire, Waikato is the place to go for a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set. 

The Beehive, Wellington

Kaikoura is a great spot for whale and dolphin watching. If you visit Fiordland Park, nearby Anau has glowworm caves. 

Dusky Sound, Fjordland

Nelson is known for having the greatest number of sunshine hours per year in the country. There are numerous dining spots that highlight the area agriculture with farm-to-table cuisine as well as fine local wine. 

 Let’s eat… and drink! 

 Mutton is on the menu, but don’t pass up having lamb. Served roasted with vegetables or cooked in a hangi, it’s delicious. Vegemite and marmite — ok, not many people refer to yeast extract as tasty. Try it once. Marmite is a little sweeter than Vegemite. Put a thin layer on buttered toast and you can say you tried it. 

Hobbiton

Venison is also on the menu, but it’s not like your usual venison. The deer here are farm raised and the venison is not tough or gamey.  

New Zealand co-opted fish and chips from the Brits, but in New Zealand you can pick the type of fish you like. Speaking of seafood, it’s great here. Don’t pass up the abalone, Bluff Oysters or green lipped mussels. Chow down on a sausage sizzle which you can pick up at a street gazebo. It’s a sausage eaten on white bread with tomato sauce, mustard and fried onions. Likewise, mince pies can be purchased at the dairy store which is New Zealand speak for corner convenience store or at any gas station. Mince is the traditional filling, but there are lots more to choose from including vegetarian or vegan. 

Rail Station, Dunedin New Zealand

The wine is fabulous. There’s a drink you must try — Lemon & Paeroa, which is a carbonated lemon juice and mineral water drink. And there is craft beer aplenty. Local favorites include Garage Project, Parrot Dog and Heyday. Oh, there’s sweet things, too. Pavlova is like eating a meringue cloud with whipped cream and fruit, peanut slabs are candy bars with peanuts, pineapple lumps are chocolate lumps with a pineapple center and hokey pokey ice cream is vanilla ice cream with toffee bits. 

The Giants House, Akaroa

 New Zealand is starting to sound pretty interesting and like a great place for a vacation, right? Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

World’s smallest continent offers big adventures

It’s true, with a land mass of less than 3 million square miles, Australia is the world’s smallest continent. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in unique features. It is surrounded by oceans and is dry and humid at the same time due to oceanic winds. More than 90% of Australia is covered by vegetation and 80% of the flora and fauna is found only on Australia. If you’d like to explore the land down under, we’re ready at GetAway Travel to help plan your adventure. 

 A land with so many special features 

 The island of Australia is famous for its natural wonders. It has wide open spaces, deserts, beaches, “the bush,” “the outback,” mountains and it is composed of eight states and territories. It is considered one of the premier surfing destinations in the world. 

 It has a number of UNESCO World Heritages sites. World Heritage sites are recognized and protected because of their contribution to social, cultural or world history. Australia actually has two different geographical UNESCO sites that meet. The Great Barrier Reef is on the country’s northeastern coast and the Daintree Rain Forest butts up to the beautiful white sandy beaches that frame the reef.  

 

It is a great dive site with divers urged to respect the area and not damage the reef. The colorful coral labyrinths are home to a spectacular variety of marine life. And if you don’t dive, they say you can rent snorkel equipment and lay in the water to see if you can find Nemo. 

Taking a glass bottom boat tour is another way to experience the reef and its occupants. The reef takes on a whole new set of residents from December to February during turtle hatching season. 

Speaking of marine life, Christmas Island is one of Australia’s territories. When the first rain of the rainy season falls, usually in October or November, the red crab migration starts and 50 million (yes, 50 million) red crabs migrate from the rain forest to the sea where they mate and spawn. There are actually little crab bridges to help them on their way and about 18 days later, they make their way back to the forest. 

 Hit the road for some great scenery 

 The Open Road in Victoria is a 150-mile drive along the coastline that ends at 12 Apostles. Here, the ocean has carved tall pillars of stone pointing to the sky out of the cliffs. Or, drive from Cape Naturaliste to Cape Leeuwin. Drive this 120-mile trek and you can hit national parks, vineyards and the coastline. 

Speaking of parks, Kakadu National Park gives you a great taste of Australia’s wildlife, especially near the end of the dry season. The park wetlands shrink in and the park becomes an open-air zoo with a fabulous array of birds as well as reptiles. In Melbourne, take tram route 96 to the St. Kilda beaches. On the way, you’ll pass the Melbourne Museum Exhibition Buildings, Carlton Gardens, State Parliament, the Rourke Street Mall and Luna Park. 

Not far from Sydney, which is Australia’s largest and most urban city, are the Blue Mountains. The mountain range offers an awesome array of photo opportunities including forests, sandstone cliffs, canyons and caves and waterfalls! 

Of course, don’t neglect to take a visit to the harbor and get a picture on the famous bridge and visit the opera house. 

The Ngadiku Dreamtime Walk in Queensland is conducted by indigenous guides. It is a journey that celebrates the history, tradition and ancient culture of the “original” Australians. 

Australia is a botanist’s dream. There are more than 140 botanical gardens throughout the island celebrating the diversity of plants. The Royal Botanic Gardens in Sydney is the oldest and it features themed gardens including an oriental garden and a rose garden. Adelaide Botanic Garden highlights plants native to the arid zones and Kangaroo Island lets you enjoy wildlife including kangaroos, sea lions, koalas and birds and long with plant life. 

 Kangaroo, wallaby, koala and Vegemite 

 First, a koala is not a bear, it’s a marsupial which means it raises its young in a pouch, like a kangaroo. The bear part evolved when early visitors thought the koalas looked like bears, You can see all of the wildlife Australia has to offer at any of the zoos, but Lone Pine Sanctuary in Brisbane is THE place to get your koala fix. There are more than 70 species native to Australia at the sanctuary (do buy a container of kangaroo food to increase your popularity with the ‘roos who wander through the sanctuary) and the koala are featured in different exhibits throughout  the sanctuary. You can stand in line and meet an actual koala up close and personal! 

Ok, we’ve all heard that Men at Work song about the Vegemite sandwich. Vegemite is, well, an acquired taste. It’s a dark brown paste made from vegetables, yeast extract and spices. You usually eat it on bread, and you can have it with avocado, melted cheese or tomato. Or, you might smell it and not want it at all! 

GetAway Travel can help you get to the land down under regardless of whether or not you want to try Vegemite. Reach us at (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Savor the ambiance, wine, history of Bordeaux

A port city on the Garonne River, Bordeaux is known for its cultural sites, great weather, proximity to Paris and, of course, the fact that it is the hub of France’s wine country. The city and the surrounding countryside are a fascinating destination even if you don’t have a sip of wine. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel have been to Bordeaux and can set up a trip for you based on personal experience! 

 It’s wine country! 

 We’ll talk wine first. Bordeaux IS first and foremost, wine country. The only area that makes a bigger imprint on the world wine scene is in Italy. Bordeaux has great weather the year round and it’s actually where Paris residents like to visit. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a vineyard. Grapes, and wine lovers, love Bordeaux. It’s the soil, the water, the weather, the way the wind blows and years and years of experience that make the wine renowned around the world. The Left Bank is cabernet sauvignon and the Right is merlot with white and dessert wines interspersed into both areas. 

Even if you don’t go to Bordeaux because its the wine reputation, take at least one vineyard tour. You are visiting the second largest wine producing region on Earth, you owe it to yourself to take a vineyard tour. See the vat rooms and cellars, see how wine is made and stored. Be one of the people that experience tasting world-class wine on the grounds of a chateau. 

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

About the vineyard tours, you need an appointment. After all, making the best wine in the world is work and you are actually entering a workplace. Tours usually last an hour to an hour and a half and, of course, end with tasting. Your travel advisors can discuss vineyard tours with you when you book your vacation.  

GetAway group at Chateau Lafite Rothschild

You want to pace yourself and not book oh say five or six tours in a day. That’s not going to work because of the distance between vineyards and the tasting time. Tasting means sipping wine, not throwing down a glass like its last call.  

 Two wine museums 

 Two museums devoted to wine? Yes! The Musée du Vin et Du Négoce de Bordeaux or the Bordeaux wine and trade museum is located in the historic Chatrons district. Built in 1720, it was the former wine cellar of Louis XV. Trace the history of three centuries of wine including the background behind wine trade, the work of coopers — the makers of wine barrels — learn about the invention of the bottle, shop for souvenirs and wine and your visit will end with wine tasting. 

The Cite du Vin looks a little like a UFO. It is all things wine, in a world-wide context, as an immersive interactive experience. The world’s largest wine museum, it opened in 2016. It has eight floors of exhibits as well as a wine bar, wine library, permanent as well as temporary exhibits and it should not be missed! 

The Cite du Vin is set up to celebrate wine and its history. There are spectacular panoramic images of wine regions around the world, Videos, touch screens, a fun (yes, fun) explanation of fermentation. The portraits of wine are surrounded by wooden bottle sculptures. Touch the portrait and it will tell you about the wine. Aroma machines waft the fragrance of wine around and famous historical figures as well as present day chefs and winemaker give virtual chats about their favorite wine. 

 There’s a lot more than wine 

 The central area of Bordeaux has one of the world’s most amazing 18th century cityscapes. It has modern stores, theaters and retail establishments, but they are all in the framework of old century buildings. There are no glass-fronted office buildings and the tallest structures are cathedral towers and church spires 

The Musee de Beaux Arts is renowned for its extensive collections of French and Dutch art including works from Van Dyck, Ruebens, Titian, Chardin, Delacroix, Corot, Boudin, Bounard and Matisse. 

One of the most beautiful cathedrals in France is the Primatial Cathedral of St. Andrew of Bordeaux or the Bordeaux Cathedral. A stunning example of medieval gothic architecture, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII were married here. The cathedral’s north entrance is considered the royal entrance and a recessed area above the door shows images that appear to be the last supper. The Grand Theâtre de Bordeaux was built by architect Victor Louis and atop the 12 front columns are large statues of muses and goddesses. The facade is particularly striking at night because the front as well as the statues are lighted. 

St. Michael’s Basilica is constructed in a form of late gothic architecture. It is the largest church in Bordeaux and the second tallest church in France. 

The Miroir d’Eau is the largest reflective pool in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, it was designed with the help of a fountain architect. 

Shopping? Oh yes, the Rue Sainte Catherine is the longest pedestrian street in Europe. And you can truly shop until you drop. Start at the north end and wander through clothing stores including major outlets and work your way to the south which features regional shops as well as restaurants and cafes. 

 If Bordeaux is your cup of tea, or idea of a wine paradise, GetAway Travel can help with your vacation. Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Sample Portuguese cuisine with petiscos

You can walk into a bar in Portugal and order tapas, and you’ll get something, but it’s not a tapa. You’ll likely get an eye roll from the wait staff and then you’ll order off the petisco menu. Both tapas and petiscos are smaller versions of what might be served as an entree, but get your tapas in Spain and your petiscos in Portugal. Get your travel plans in order with help from GetAway Travel! 

 What exactly are they? 

 Petiscos (pe-tea-sh-cos) are smaller plates of traditional dishes. They cost less than an entree and are made to be shared or “picked at” while you enjoy a beverage. They are small enough that you can have three or four before a meal and not feel stuffed. 

They let you try a variety of dishes at one setting. They differ by region which is also helpful when you are tasting your way across the country. You  will likely see more seafood options along the coast and petiscos in the central and east will likely be more meat and cheese oriented. 

Petisco bars are called petisqueiras. Their petiscos offerings can be widely different, from plain bread and olives to creative and tasty octopus salads. Bars, especially the bars in Porto, Portugal, have full menus of petisco options and they vary by establishment. Some of them are very rich, so a glass of beer or wine goes down easy! 

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Pintxos: Tasty morsels popular in Basque region

Traveling is an enriching, eye-opening wondrous experience from the scenery to the people, to the food. Sure, preparing octopus in your kitchen may seem like a daunting task that you’re likely to skip — but eating it in a restaurant prepared by chefs who make it their business to create an epic seafood dish is something entirely different. At GetAway Travel we are big proponents of adding adventurous eating and drinking to your list of things to do on vacations, because we do. That’s one of the reasons we can make your next getaway a vacation to remember. 

Every country, region, city, town and even tiny village you visit while traveling likely has specialized cuisine you should not pass up. Whether you are eating in a five-star restaurant or a cafe by the side of a canal, it’s a sure bet the wait staff can give you a great dining recommendation. When traveling in the Basque region of Northern Spain, the wait staff or the bartender, will likely advise you to partake in a pintxos or two. 

 What exactly is pintxos? 

 First, it’s not a tapa. Tapas are small versions of larger meals. Pintxos are more like appetizers, although it is possible, certainly, to make a meal of them. Pintxos (pronounced peen-chos because in Basque the tx is pronounced like the ch in cheese) are delightful little skewered bites. The literal meaning of pintxos or pinchos, is skewered.  Continue reading

Greece, surrounding area offer epic historic experiences

When you are traveling, the word “ruin” takes on a whole new meaning. The ruins in Greece are some of the most fabulous sites in the world. Explore the ruins with GetAway Travel in September of 2023 on a Viking Cruise. 

While Athens, the capital of Greece, is a favored travel site, Greece is actually composed of more than 2,000 islands and several offer great tourist experiences. 

With its lush countryside, beaches by the blue sea, quaint villages and lovely villas, Greece and its islands hit all the marks for a prime vacation destination. 

 The birthplace of democracy 

 Athens, the capital of Greece, is one of the oldest cities in the world and is recognized as the birthplace of democracy as well as the arts, sciences and philosophy. Walk in the same steps where philosophers Socrates, Plato, Pericles, Euripides, Sophocles and Aeschylus debated matters that laid the foundations of governments. 

Speaking of walking, it is against the law to wear high heels at any of the historic sites in Greece because of the damage that could be caused to the site. And, while it is acceptable to wear shorts, a t-shirt and flip flops (although sturdy footwear is highly recommended) touring the ruins, more conservative attire is expected from tourists entering churches or other religious sites. 

Parthenon

Photos of the Parthenon in the Acropolis offer just a glimpse of what is even more breathtaking in person. The 68 soaring columns at the temple dedicated to Athena are a sight to behold. Another Greek temple close by is the Erectheion and it features statues of beautiful ladies holding up the structure. The Theater of Dionysus, the first stone theater ever built, is next to the Parthenon. 

The Temple of Athena Nike is on the southeast side of the Acropolis. The smallest of the temples, it is dedicated to Nike who is a form of Athena. The temple is built of golden white marble. 

Temple of Athena Nike

Don’t skip the Acropolis Museum even if museums aren’t your cup of tea. It is a huge modern wonder and the partial glassed area of the main floor allows visitors to watch the ongoing excavations of ruins under the museum. There are hundreds of marble and stone busts and statues on display. 

 More museums, a stadium and shopping 

 The National Archeological Museum which was refurbished for the 2004 Olympics, houses a treasure trove of items related to Greek culture. The National Library of Athens looks like a temple and it has two fabulous marble staircases that lead to the entrance. The Benaki Museum has artifacts that explore all aspects of Greek culture including swords, jewelry, regional costumes, ceramics, sculptures and historic papers. 

The horse-shoe shaped Panathenaic Stadium is paved in marble and it hosted the Panathenaic Games which were held to honor the goddess Athena. It was the site of the first modern Olympic Games and the finishing line for the 2004 Olympic marathon competition. 

Panathenaic Stadium

The Monastiraki Flea Market is not just any flea market, think the most fabulous bazaar of bargains you could imagine and that’s the flea market. Shop for hand-made gold and silver jewelry, t-shirts, knick knacks, rare books and artwork including icons. 

 Corfu and Katakolon 

 Corfu is known as the emerald island and it has charming villages with Venetian style buildings and also buildings that feature French and English architectural styles. It is renowned for its pristine beaches as well as nature preserves that have an amazing array of native bird life including flamingos, cranes, terns and swifts. Its inhabitants take their food seriously and enjoy a blend of Greek, Venetian and British food that includes fresh seafood, fruit, olives and vegetables. The Old Town area of Corfu is a World Heritage Unesco site ringed by museums that have vast collections of religious artifacts as well as Chinese and Japanese art and items from excavations. 

People sitting in the cafe Akteion in the evening, in the background the old citadel, Corfu, Ionian Islands, Greece

The Palace of Saints Michael and George is a great example of regency architecture. Casa Parlante is a quirky 19th century mansion with animated figures that document life in that century in Corfu complete with realistic sounds and smells. 

Palace of Saints Michael and George

Although Katakolon is a small port and beach town, it is actually the second busiest port in Greece. One of its claims to fame is Olympia, the ancient site where the Olympic Games started in the 8th century.  The torch for the Olympics is still lighted at the Temple of Hera.  

If the Olympics don’t hold your interest, you can tour the Mercouri Estate, a family run vineyard. Tour the cellars and attend a wine-tasting session. 

 Enjoy the historic ambiance of Greece and its islands. If GetAway Travel arranges your getaway, you won’t have to worry about a ruined vacation — just touring some fabulous ruins. Reach your GetAway travel advisor at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Experience the passion, vitality and architecture of Seville


Although flamenco is often referred to as a dance, it is truly an art form. So much so that it is recognized by UNESCO as part of the world’s cultural heritage. Without question, the best flamenco in the world can be found in Seville. Said to have been built by Hercules himself, Seville is brimming with history, emotion and experiences that visitors remember for a lifetime. GetAway Travel is ready to map out your trip to Seville.

Southern Spain’s largest city


Seville is the capital and largest city in the province of Seville. It is one of the three most famous cities in Andalusia. The two other cities are Cordoba and Granada. Andalusia references the area of Spain bordering on the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The area was under Moorish rule from 711 to 1492 and the Moorish influence can be seen in architecture around the city.
Seville has some of the oldest universities in the world, some of the most fabulous outdoor plazas as well as superb flamenco presentations, tapas, sangria and bull fighting. Cafes everywhere offer tapas, small plate appetizers and many times tapas are free with a beverage. Ask for the house offerings and feel free to ask around to find out who has the best tapa choices. Likewise, many bars and nightclubs offer flamenco, but the experience will vary. Smaller venues, where you might have to inquire about seating options, give the best up-close and personal performances.

View from the Giralda Tower

plaza de torros

Before we talk about history and architecture, a word or several about the food. Gazpacho is a cold soup of tomato, cucumber, peppers, garlic, oil and vinegar and it often served with diced ham and hard-boiled eggs. Pescaíto Frito is fried fish — all varieties of fish including anchovies, squid, cuttlefish and cod. Bascalas con tomate is cod cut in large pieces served with tomato. Don’t skip the cocido which is chickpea stew with all types of meat.


Serranitos and montadillos are delightful different sized sandwiches filled with any ingredient you can think of served with French fries. Even though the idea of eating a bull’s tail might be a bit off-putting, rabo de toro is bull or ox tail slow simmered in onions, garlic and wine.

A common site in Spain

Architectural marvels

The Catedral de Sevilla is a world heritage site and it was built in the late 15th century. Nearly a mile long and a mile and a half wide, it contains 40 separate chapels and is thought to be one of the largest cathedrals in the world. It has a classic exterior and the interior is even more impressive. The main altar consists of 36 gilded panels. When you finish marveling at the interior, take a break in the Patio de los Naranjos just outside and enjoy the orange trees. Then, climb to the top of the nearby La Giralda which is the stand-alone bell tower for the cathedral. It is part of the original 12th century mosque from the Berber-Muslim dynasty. Views from the top are breathtaking.

Rooftop – Catedral de Sevilla

The Universidad de Sevilla is one of the oldest higher learning facilities in the Spanish speaking world. Constructed in the 16th century, part of the university is actually a former tobacco factory that was operating until the 1950s. The university took 42 years to build and it actually has a moat and a drawbridge.

Interior – Catedral de Sevilla

The Real Alcázar palace and gardens was built in the 7th century and occasionally still hosts the royal family. The entire palace is of varied architectural design from Gothic to Baroque styles.

Real Alcázar

Celebrate all things flamenco at the Museo del Baile Flamenco. You will be informed of the art of flamenco through song, dance and guitar. Built in the 18th century, the foundation is a former Roman temple. There are interactive exhibits exploring everything from the music to the costumes; there are daily flamenco shows and you can take a music or dance class!

Christopher Columbus in Santa Maria de la Sede Cathedral – Seville

Hey, that plaza looks familiar!

The Plaza de España is a 540,000 square foot place and more than half of the outer area is a huge neo-Moorish building. The huge mosaic tile covered plaza includes towering marble columns and intricate murals as well as a fountain and a canal. The colorful place includes 48 ceramic-tiled alcoves with a painted bench. The tile mosaics depict important symbols and themes from each of Spain’s provinces. The plaza has been featured in numerous movies including Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars.

Plaza de Espana

The courtyard of the Casa de Pilatos also features intricate tile work and it has statues from the Roman era of Minerva, Ceres and a dancing muse. The Greek statue of Athena dates back to the 5th century.

Plaza de Espana

If viewing a bull fight is not something you are considering, you still should make a visit to the Plaza de Toros when a bull fight is not going on. The Baroque architecture at the entrance is impressive and even though it was constructed in the mid 1700s, the acoustics are considered some of the finest in the world.

Real Alcázar

Tapas, sangria, history-packed sites — there’s something for everyone in Seville and the advisors at GetAway Travel are here to plan your visit. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel

Amsterdam’s museum options are awesome

There is no question Amsterdam is the cultural capital of the area with an amazing 50 plus museums in an area that is just 84 square miles.  

The highlights, of course, are the museums featuring Rembrandts, Van Goghs and Vermeers, but the area has so much more to offer and since it’s not like you have to drive hundreds of miles to find them — here’s a sampling of what you can visit for some diverse cultural vibes. GetAway Travel can help you tailor your visit with your interests in mind. 

 Hermitage Amsterdam — The art of shipbuilding links the Netherlands to Russia. Tsar Peter the Great honed his shipbuilding craft in the Netherlands. So, it makes sense a branch of St. Petersburg State Hermitage Museum is in Amsterdam. The museum houses rotating exhibits from the “home” Hermitage Museum. There’s a cafe and restaurant on site. 

Hermitage Amsterdam

 NEMO Science Museum — Designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, the slant-roofed building is nearly surrounded by water. The rooftop has great views as well as water and wind hands-on exhibits. Inside, you can make bubbles, build something, work a pulley system, fracture light into colors and watch a chain reaction. 

Nemo Science Museum

 Tropenmuseum — The lovely arched three-story gallery space has artifacts from all over the world highlighting cultures from all over the world from the past to the present. The permanent collection is “Things that Matter” and it concentrates on themes that connect people throughout the world. It is set up in an imaginative and insightful way with interesting multi-media presentations. There’s a great gift shop and cafe at the museum. 

 Museum Willet-Holthuysen — This canal house (canal houses are high, narrow and deep) was built in the 1600s and remodeled in 1739. Louisa Willet-Holthuysen inherited the home from her wealthy father and she lived a lavish lifestyle reflected in the home. One of the displays includes the family’s 275-piece Meissen table service. The French-style garden is another highlight. 

Museum Willet-Holthuysen

 Het Scheepvaartmuseum — This waterfront museum houses a state-of-the-art presentation of maritime memorabilia. Displays include Golden age maps, an audiovisual presentation of a sea voyage and a full-scale replica of the Amsterdam, one of the largest ships in the Dutch East India Co. fleet. 

 Joods Historisch Museum — A superb complex of four Ashkenazic synagogues which showcase the history of Jews in the Netherlands and their role in the Dutch economy.  There is a small children’s museum with activities on site. 

 EYE Film Institute — Seemingly precariously balanced on the banks of the IJ River, the institute screens movies, but also has exhibitions of costumes and digital art. There’s a nice restaurant with a view of the river and the gift shop sells vintage movie posters and books for movie lovers. 

Eye Film Museum

 Amsterdam Tulip Museum — Exhibits, movies (in English) and timelines show how the tulip became the country’s favorite flower. You’ll learn about present-day growing and harvesting and the gift shop is a floral souvenir paradise. 

 Hash, Marijuana & Hemp Museum — View an impressive pipe collection, exhibits covering cannabis and religion, hemp art and you can create an e-postcard of yourself in a marijuana field. You can also view the Sensi Seeds Co. grow operation in an adjacent building. 

Hemp Museum

 We’ve touched on just a few museum options, but there are also museums devoted to archeological finds, purses, trams, boats, diamonds, fashion, sex, cats, gin, wax figures, torture, cheese, chocolate and photography. 

Some are free, some offer food samples, some have interactive exhibits and some can be accessed with a museum card that GetAway Travel can help you with. Interested? Contact a travel advisor at (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel