Riga, Latvia is a happening place. Really, Riga, Latvia? Yep, the city has a spectacular variety of architecture including one of the largest representations of Art Nouveau, it’s got lots of entertainment options, shopping, fabulous food and its fair share of quirky places to visit. Riga is one of the places you can enjoy during our July 2022 cruise from Copenhagen to Stockholm. More details here — Baltic tour — or give us a call at 262-538-2140.
Riga fun facts
Located on the Baltic Sea, Riga is the largest city in the Baltic States with a population over 630,000. Its Old Town is a UNESCO site and it has churches that date back to the city’s origins in 1201. It has medieval buildings, wooden buildings and fabulous examples of Art Nouveau architecture. Five religious denominations existed peacefully in Riga, each with its own church. Latvia’s president lived in a palace in Riga. Latvian is the oldest European languages and most of the country’s population speak Russian, Latvian and English.
Sure, there are some theme parks that contend they are the happiest places on earth, but Copenhagen, the capital city of Denmark, has scored consistently as the happiest city in the world on the World Happiness Report.
Really, there is such a thing!
At GetAway Travel we’ve got Copenhagen included in one of our upcoming group trips. We can help you plan a trip to just Copenhagen, or any place else you might consider your happy place.
Come on, get happy
More than 400 cities in and around Europe are checked out as part of the World Happiness Report. The report’s focus is on the environment of a country — social, natural and urban. Through the respondents’ answers, it calculates happiness, well-being, sustainability and resilience.
Finland is the happiest country, but Denmark is second with Copenhagen ranking as the happiest city. Danes celebrate what they call “hygge” which translates to comfort or coziness. How can you go wrong visiting a country that values comfort? It ranks high in the areas of health services, housing, utilities, social network, leisure activities, climate and personal safety.Continue reading →
Virgin Voyages is one of the world’s newest cruise lines.
It promises to be different, with pop-up and immersive entertainment, experimental dining, unique parties and no kids! It has all new ships and it’s own private beach to visit in the Bahamas.
Now we figure the best way to check it out is to go on board ourselves in November to see which of our clients might appreciate it the most. The Virgin Voyages Scarlet Lady is currently sailing out of Miami. We have our air tickets, our cabin and our dining reservations all set. Let’s go have some fun!
Wait! Let’s talk dining
This can be a travel challenge for us as Sue is gluten-free, grain-free and must also avoid seed oils. You can envision how this provides certain challenges. The Scarlet Lady has over 20 eateries. A select number are reservation only, but all of them are included in your cruise fare. The dining promises to be immersive and experimental – but will Sue like it? To be fair, Paul eats everything (except for razor clams) so he can lead the way in adventurous eating onboard – but, will Sue follow?
You can follow
First off – whenever we travel we post frequently to Facebook. You can follow along to see and hear first hand about our travel, the ship and the onboard experience. Please like us – we like you!
You can Vote
Check out our first ever in the universe, amazing, and one of a kind voting options. The person that correctly predicts how many stars Sue will give for our reserved dining meals will be deemed Grand Champion! If you know Sue well you may have an advantage…or will you? Really it’s up to the Scarlet Lady to deliver.
The quiz will give you details on the dining options, a sample of what’s on the menu and then you just vote on how you think Sue will score it from 1 to 5 stars. We won’t spam you – we don’t like spam…or razor clams.
Here’s the link to the quiz. Easy-peasey and lots of fun.
Our cruise is in Mid-November. The winner will be announced just as soon as Paul tallies the scores, Sue scores her own and we find time to make Thanksgiving dinner for family after we get back. Cheers!
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: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
flashlight pointing out lost iphones about 60′ away
not in the cave, but everywhere outside of it
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.
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
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.
750 – 1100 square feet depending on deck location. It’s every bit as amazing as it looks
Tasmania has perfect climate for growing grapes and making wines with mild summers and long autumn days. Tasmania features elegant cool climate wines including pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and sparkling wines in both the Northern and Southern growing regions.
There are 3 main clusters of vineyards in the Southern growing region which encompasses the Hobart area:
The Freycinet Peninsula northeast of Hobart
Around Hobart including the Coal Valley and Derwent River
South of Hobart around the Huon Valley and the d’Entrecasteaux Channel
Exhibit at MONA
We visited Freycinet Peninsula previously, so for this trip we focused on Coal Valley and Derwent River. Basically no matter which direction you drive from Hobart (as long as you don’t drive into the ocean) you will quickly reach a vineyard. We were hosting a cruise group on the Celebrity Solstice which sailed originally from Auckland, New Zealand and we only had a 1 day stop in Hobart. We’d been on the ship for about 1 week at this point, so did double duty on the day – taste wines and get some laundry done. So off the ship we went, grabbed an Uber to the car rental, dropped off some laundry, made a very quick trip to MONA ( see our previous blogs on MONA here and here ) and then off to taste some excellent Tasmanian wines.
First stop was Derwent Estates Wines, located right along the River Derwent which is seen in the background of the tasting room below and which we’re sure you’ll agree is fantastically charming. Several of these wines made it home to the states with us – where we recently opened the Calcaire Pinot Noir which is particularly stunning and by itself makes the entire trip to Hobart well worth it!
Fjordland National Park in New Zealand is a truly magnificent place to go. On our recent cruise we were favored with fantastic weather outside, but inside Sue Adams was a bit under the weather so some of the viewing was done just from our stateroom balcony. As we were passing by another stunning waterfall, some dolphins just happened to swim by and put on a show for us. Wow! #love2getaway
You know, some people still wonder…Do I really need to have a balcony cabin? uh, yes you do!
Recently we sailed aboard the Royal Caribbean Symphony of the Seas on it’s inaugural voyage from Miami, Florida. She is the reigning queen of large ships with so much to see and do on-board that it would take several vacations just to experience it all.
Here’s a sample of what we experienced: water slides, robot bartenders, world class fine dining, high energy Vegas show, Broadway show – Hairspray, Water show with high diving into an ever changing pool , fireworks, balloon drop, wine tasting, fresh seafood lunch, organic italian pasta, laser tag, a real boardwalk carousel ride, a musical staircase, a bar that’s also an elevator, mini-golf, the international space station, and the Wright brothers flying a plane above the theater audiences heads. I’m sure i’m forgetting something – and we were only there for 4 nights!
As there is so much, we’ve created a photo & video gallery if you wish to see more