Tom Thumb, Green Thumb all I know is I’m all thumbs when it comes to gardening. In my house I have exactly 2 plants…that are still alive. I’ve been told it is impossible to kill a Christmas cactus…well I’ve just completed losing #4. Out back I have a “garden” and I use that term very loosely since we refer to it as the weed bed. So, I’d be the last person in the world you’d expect to want to visit the famous Keukenhof gardens in Holland. Yet somehow it was on my bucket list – go figure!
So, this spring we set off with a few great friends to visit the Netherlands (okay so we got the men to go because we included Belgium and you all know how good their beer is) and on the itinerary was a visit to the famous Keukenhof gardens. Keukenhof gardens is open only mid-March to Mid-May and our trip was timed right for the tulips to be in bloom. We had to decide, full day or half day visit….OMG, we did the full day and still did not see everything so if you are even in that quandary….go full day for sure.
Miles and miles of tulips (well 32 hectares to be exact), every shape and color you can imagine. Throw in some daffodils and hyacinth and you have a color mania of flowers. But it’s not all just flowers, there are activities in the park like boat rides, cycle paths, fun signs and wooden shoes to put your face and feet into for that ultimate photo op. Definitely climb the windmill to get a bird’s eye view of the vast tulip gardens. If you are taking the kids, then be sure to download the treasure hunt before you go.
Ah yes, a full day at Keukenhof gardens will inspire you…I promise. How do I know this you ask….well I left the gardens that day 300 or so tulip bulbs heavier (or shall I say $300 or so lighter since the tulips were to be shipped to the US in the fall). Yes, me the ultimate weed bed owner left the proud owner of lots of tulip bulbs without one single plan for what I’d do with them.
They arrived this fall and I am happy to say they are all planted into a brand new flower garden…now we just wait till spring. I’ll keep you posted but in the meantime, put Keukenhof gardens on your bucket list, you won’t be sorry. It was beautiful!
Have you ever taken a European river cruise? Have you ever cruised with Uniworld Boutique River Cruises?
Our customers love to cruise on Uniworld. In fact it has one of the highest rates for repeat trips amongst all the suppliers we use.
You may very well ask why that is. Well for starters, the standards of accommodations, food and service are extremely high. The ships have very tasteful interiors and yes they are all different, with each being as unique as your voyage. Typical cruise lengths are 8 – 15 days and everything is included, making for carefree and truly effortless travel. Included are: scheduled airport transfers, all dining on board, unlimited beverages (including many premium spirits), personalized shore excursions, fitness center, Wi-Fi, on-board entertainment and all gratuities.
OK – is this a commercial? Yes it pretty much is and here is why. We currently have some very special amazing prices on select Uniworld Cruises including our group cruise in April 2017 from Amsterdam to Antwerp. This “Tulips and Windmills” cruise is scheduled to coincide perfectly with a visit to the famous Keukenhof gardens which has over 7 million bulbs in bloom each spring. Additionally we will visit the windmills of Kinderdijk, the picture perfect villages of Veere, Hoorn and Enkhuizen, and the cities of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, Bruges and Antwerp. So much to see and so much to do but you need to act fast. Why? Because our amazing special pricing only lasts until October 11. Give us a call at 262.538.2140 to reserve your spot with our group.
For additional details on the ship and the trip you may also want to visit our web page.
We have 2 exciting European Group GetAways scheduled for 2017. They may both be cruises, but they are completely different!
First up is the Wines of Western Europewhich includes Bordeaux (France), Basque (Spain) and Portugal. Our group will be sailing aboard the luxurious Azamara Journey. Azamara Club Cruises is at the crossroads of where luxury and destination immersive cruising meet. This ship only holds 694 passengers and has a wonderful mix of amenities. She’s a perfect-sized vessel: small enough that it’s never too far from one place to another, yet large enough to provide variety on long itineraries. On our trip we will experience late evening and overnight port stays. The Journey was completely refurbished in 2016 – it received new spa suites in the fully renovated Sanctum spa with updated decor in marble, light wood and a cream palate. Every suite and stateroom has new beds with the same decor scheme, and the restaurants also received a modern upgrade.
Our 12 Night GetAway begins in Southampton England on September 4 and ends in Lisbon Portugal on September 16. Along the way you will experience the worlds foremost wine region in Bordeaux, spend a day at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, wash Tapas down with Rioja wine, and sip port in the Douro Valley – and so much more. You can find more details at our website. We hope you can join us.
If you’re tired of commercialism taking over the holidays, you will be very pleased with the traditions and romance of real Christmas markets where the gifts are not mass-produced but craftwork of real quality. Our group will begin in Budapest and sail along the Danube while visiting Hungary, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. Every stop along the way will feature special Christmas Market excursions. You can find more details on the itinerary at our website.
Every Uniworld ship is as unique as it’s itinerary and the SS Maria Theresa is no exception. It’s opulent 18th century décor is a floating homage to one of the Habsburg empires most beloved ruler. The food, drink and service on Uniworld are absolutely outstanding – and everything is included! Call now as there are limited time promotions where even the air is included!
European vacations continue to hold great value. The US Dollar remains at historic low levels vs. the Euro. This is good news for travelers to Europe as you definitely get more bang for your buck. Our best advice for Europe is to plan ahead – this is not a destination that typically rewards the last-minute traveler. The best way to start planning your European vacation is to schedule a consultation with Sue.
River Cruising continues to grow and for very good reasons. Our clients absolutely love to take River Cruises. All it takes is to try it once and you will rave about it forever. Be aware however that not all river cruise companies are equal. You can research endlessly on your own, or you can call us to discuss. Our goal is to find out about what you want to do, how adventurous you are, what you like and what you don’t like. What are your travel dreams? Our recommendations are simply based on you and your needs, that’s it.
All Inclusive vacations will remain hot, hot, hot. The industry continues to upgrade old properties and build new ones. There are All-Inclusives for all tastes and budgets. Well we know you want a warm weather, beach destination, but are you looking for a romantic escape or a family/multi-generational getaway? Do you want basic dining choices or a more gourmet experience? How does a canopy covered bed and open air shower sound? Or a private plunge pool within mere steps of your suite? The choices go on and on. We can help narrow it down to something you will love.
According to the experts, air ticket prices are down but add-on fees are up. The simple fact, is you need air tickets to get to many vacation destinations. They are the transportation, not the vacation.
Cheap will remain, well….cheap. While the dictionary defines cheap as inexpensive, it also defines it as something of poor quality or shoddy. Continue to be cautious about anything advertised as cheap, supercheap, ultracheap, etc. A fantastically cheap vacation is not a good value if it is actually craptastic (this is our official industry word for cheap vacations!). Everyone wants good value and that’s where we help – get the best value for your money that actually gets the vacation experience you are looking for. Will it be cheap? We certainly hope not.
The best things in travel continue to come to those who plan ahead. For example, how about planning 2017? You may not be ready yet, but we are. We have 2 special group options worth considering.
Join us in January 2017 for our GetAway on the Getaway. We will do all the following: go down the highest water slides at sea, attend award-winning Broadway shows, experience Iron Chef dining, walk the plank and be endlessly entertained and pampered. Book now and choose between Free unlimited drinks, Free Specialty Dining, Free Shore Excursions or Free WiFi.
In September 2017 we will be hosting a very special Wines of Western Europe group on the Azamara Journey. Beginning in England, we will sail to France, Spain and Portugal. Azamara specializes in unique itineraries that include overnight stays in many ports. Our group will be in Bordeaux, one of the world’s foremost wine regions for 3 days. But that is not the only World Heritage region we will visit – see our web page for all the details.
We recently returned from an unforgettable cruise along the Rhine River to visit Christmas Markets in Germany, France and Switzerland. Our journey was even more memorable as we travelled with a group of close friends.
River cruising provides an up close and personal experience. The ships typically dock in the heart of town allowing easy and convenient access to the local sights and sounds. This is especially convenient for a Christmas Market Cruise. During the advent season, towns throughout Europe host wonderfully decorated markets for crafts, drink and food! Hop off the ship to go shopping all day and then back on in time for cocktail hour and a gourmet dinner before you set off for your next stop.
Advent has been ushered in since the late middle ages via traditional Christmas markets. Depending on where you are in Europe a Christmas market is also known as Christkindlmarkt, Marché de Noël, Christkindlesmarkt, and Weihnachtsmarkt. Christkindlesmarkt literally translates as “Christ child market”.
Generally held in town squares, the markets sell food, drink and seasonal crafts from open-air stalls accompanied by traditional singing and dancing. Popular attractions include a Nativity scene, nutcrackers, toasted almonds, traditional gingerbread cookies and hot mulled wine to help stave off the cold winter air. Many handmade items including toys, decorations and ornaments are found in the Market. Check out this photo – It’s truly a magical experience!
One of the most visited Christmas Markets is found in Cologne, Germany which in fact has 7 markets in total of which the 4 biggest are located near the amazing Cathedral. The Christmas Market at the Cologne Cathedral is the most impressive one in, due to the huge backdrop of the imposing Cathedral. Beneath the Cathedral and the largest Christmas tree in the Rhineland, you can find well over 160 festively designed wooden pavilions. Here you can watch artisans at work, enjoy original “Christmas Mulled Wine” out of festively decorated Christmas mugs or you can choose from an unlimited choice of sweets and local delicacies. The Alter Markt takes place in front of the old town hall only 200 meters from the cathedral. Shadowed by beautiful narrow-gabled houses and half-timbered stalls, this market conveys a very romantic and idyllic feel. The Neumarkt is Cologne’s oldest Christmas market located near St. Aspoteln’s (Basilica of the Holy Apostles) church. This market glows in splendor with charmingly designed chalets and a unique “stars at night” theme. The Christmas Market on the Rudolfplatz takes you to a world of brother’s Grimm fairy tales. Large fairy tale figures and festive illuminations provide a special eye-catcher, set against the historic backdrop of one of Cologne’s 3 standing medieval gate houses.
Prepare to be pampered and amazed on our special 7 day trip cruising along the legendary Rhine through Germany, France and Switzerland. Explore charming towns and discover treasures in some of Europe’s finest traditional Christmas markets. You’ll revel in the brilliant holiday decorations and in tasting the many treats and spiced wines of the season. This is truly the way to celebrate Christmas! Discover the roots of our Christmas traditions as you explore some of Europe’s most charming towns. Browse for unique ornaments in Basel’s Christmas Market. Sip vin chaud as you stroll to Place Kléber to behold the enormous, brilliantly lighted tree that Strasbourg offers modern celebrants. Find unexpected treasures in the red-roofed stalls clustered around Cologne’s magnificent cathedral.
Are you looking for a girls getaway to the Caribbean? How about a wine club tour of France, Italy or New Zealand? Would your church group like to experience the footsteps of St. Paul in Turkey and Greece? What about taking a group of your friends to Napa to celebrate a milestone birthday? How about a family reunion on an Alaskan cruise? Ski club trip to Vail? Scrapbooking club River Cruise in Austria? Choral group trip to Christmas markets in Germany? Foodies group at Walt Disney World food and wine festival? Etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
The possibilities are endless. We can help with generating ideas, the detailed planning, the marketing and of course getting everyone in your group to where they need to go. While we work with the group leaders to help craft the whole experience, we also make sure that we meet the needs of individual travellers within the group as well.
Have an idea for a group GetAway? We need to talk – (262) 538-2140
Trip planning can be every bit as enjoyable as the trip. Our theory is some of the happiest people in the world are those who either are planning a vacation or those that are on vacation. If you are not doing one, well you should be doing the other.
Here are the 3 most critical tools we used for planning a trip to Belgium.
A guidebook from Brugge tourism,
Great Beers of Belgium book
Trappistes Rochefort 8.
We had such a good time planning that we decided to go there ourselves.
One unique way for you to add Brugge to your vacation is to take a Rhine Getaway river cruise with Viking River Cruises and add in a 3 night pre-stay in Brugge. Begin your trip on an amazing note by staying in the heart of the old town at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. See one of the few Michelangelo sculptures outside of Italy, walk along the canals, explore the cobbled streets and many sidewalk cafes. But what ever you do, don’t forget to spend some quality time at the Half Moon Brewery! After visiting Brugge, you will be transferred to Amsterdam to start your cruise on the Rhine river heading towards Basel, Switzerland.
DAY 1 AMSTERDAM – Arrive in Amsterdam, then transfer to your ship. After boarding, the afternoon is yours to explore the city on your own. If your arrival schedule permits and you are interested, you may wish to visit the Anne Frank House.
DAY 2 KINDERDIJK – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sail to Kinderdijk, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, for a tour of this ingenious network of windmills and other flood management devices. You learn why the windmills were built and see how they work, plus you enter an actual working windmill for a tour of its mechanisms and living quarters. Return aboard for lunch and an enjoyable afternoon of Dutch diversions: sample handcrafted Dutch cheeses and jenever, a distilled juniper liquor, and try your hand at sjoelen (Dutch table shuffleboard). Cruise through the night.
DAY 3 COLOGNE – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Continue along the Rhine this morning; arrive in Cologne and disembark for a walking tour. Stroll through Old Town past St. Martin’s Church, and spend some time inside Cologne’s Dom, a remarkable Gothic cathedral whose construction was begun in 1248 and which was only completed in 1880. Explore the dockside taverns, cafés and shops on your own—as always, your Program Director can help you plan your free time. Dinner is served aboard and we remain docked until late evening.
DAY 4 KOBLENZ & RÜDESHEIM – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Proceed along the Rhine, disembarking to tour 700-year-old Marksburg Castle and its museum. Lunch aboard as you enjoy this scenic passage, a UNESCO World Heritage Site where castles overlook the river from their hilltop locations. Arrive in Rüdesheim in the late afternoon. Spend free time in the pedestrian-only Drosselgasse and sample a glass of locally produced wine at one of the restaurants or wine bars—dine aboard or in town if you prefer. Ship departs after midnight.
DAY 5 HEIDELBERG & SPEYER – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Cruise through the morning enjoying brunch and the passing scenery. Arrive in Mannheim and disembark for a journey to Heidelberg to see Germany’s oldest university, founded in 1386. Then visit the beautiful sandstone ruins of imposing Heidelberg Castle, and take in the scenery of the Neckar River Valley and the city’s many red rooftops from its hilltop location. Continue with a walking tour through the Old Town to Heidelberg’s renowned gates.
Rejoin your ship in Speyer this afternoon and take some time to look around. You dock in full view of the imposing Romanesque cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Built in the 11th century on the site of a former basilica, the building’s design was highly influential upon Romanesque architecture for centuries to come, and is the final resting place of eight German monarchs. Its soaring interior features graceful rows of sandstone columns and a large stained-glass window installed in the western façade during a later Gothic period.
DAY 6 STRASBOURG – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Dock this morning in Kehl and disembark for a guided tour of Strasbourg. See the European Parliament and tour the interior of the city’s famed cathedral. The afternoon is free to further explore this Alsatian city’s blend of French and German cultures—fabulous churches, medieval covered bridges, beautiful parks and some lovely Art Nouveau and modernist architecture. Dine aboard and enjoy free time this evening in the quaint little city of Kehl.
DAY 7 BREISACH – After cruising through the night you arrive during breakfast in Breisach, gateway to the Black Forest. Take a scenic excursion through the area’s renowned mountain landscape, rolling meadows and dense forests. Once there, visit a local workshop and see a cuckoo clock-making demonstration. Return to Breisach for some free time before an early evening departure. Or, choose an optional excursion to the quaint Alsatian town of Colmar. Dine aboard while you cruise on to Basel, arriving around midnight.
DAY 8 BASEL – After breakfast, disembark and proceed to the airport for your return flight. Or, extend your time in Switzerland’s Alpine region with 2 nights in lovely Lucerne or a 3-night stay at Lake Geneva.
GetAway Travel is your best resource for river cruises. We have the necessary expertise and are completely focused on meeting your needs. Call now for a free consultation 262-538-2140
Well it’s not really a word from our sponsors, but more like a word from ourselves.
We are a fully independent “boutique” travel agency. We do not have sponsors, we do not have quotas, we do not do high pressure sales. Our agency is located in Wisconsin, but we have clients all across the US.
We really strive to develop more personal relationships with our clients in order to help them make great decisions on amazing vacation options. We work to find out what is special to them, and then work to make it happen – period.
Most of our posts are about some of the fantastic places we visited, of course with the thought of inspiring others. But in order to keep the agency healthy – we will need to send an occasional post out with details on what we feel are special offerings. These offerings are limited to unique experiences and vacations that we have faith will meet the needs of our clients.
This month we have 4 items that we feel are worth your consideration.
#1 – Sometimes girls just need to GetAway. We have limited group space (land & air) on hold at the elegant Secrets Capri in Riviera Maya, Mexico. This is a AAA Four Diamond award-winning property that will provide an excellent break from the frigid Midwest winter.
#2 – Ireland is typically close to the top of everyone’s bucket list and for very good reasons. Discover what they all are by joining us for an Unforgettable Irish Experience from May 30 – June 9, 2014. A special $100 per person discount is available for anyone who deposits before September 9, 2013
#4 – Last but not least are our current specials with Royal Caribbean. They have some of the most amazing ships at sea with so many activities that there is truly something for everyone on board a Royal Caribbean Cruise.
We thank you for your kind attention, and if there is ever anything we can do to help you or a group of your friends and/or your families have a wonderful vacation experience, please just ask.