Category Archives: Europe

Croatia: glamorous tourist and film maker destination

Quick quiz — what do Game of Thrones, Succession, Star Wars, Robin Hood, Knightfall and Captain America all have in common? They were all filmed, either in whole or in part, in Croatia. Where can you enjoy scuba diving, water skiing and surfing? Croatia or one of its islands. Where can you tour ancient Roman ruins AND vineyards? Croatia.  

Croatia coast line

We know, you are intrigued… and two great Croatia destinations are on deck for a GetAway Travel group in 2023, Venice, the Adriatic and Greece has two Croatia stops. 

Croatia was a Greek colony and later a Roman province. Croatian culture is a mixture of  Venetian, Hungarian, Austrian and Mediterranean influences. It has 10 UNESCO World Heritage sites, eight cultural and two natural. 

 Delightful Dubrovnik 

 Ancient ramparts, fortresses, towers and walls surround Dubrovnik which is considered a premiere tourist destination for European residents. It is nicknamed the Pearl of the Adriatic for its stunning Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque architecture, its fabulous Mediterranean scenery and its temperate climate year-round. 

Dubrovnik, Croatia

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik’s Old Town area is great for people watching. The pedestrian-only walkway is lined with boutiques, cafés and restaurants. Enter Old Town through the Pile Gate, which shows up in a few Game of Thrones episodes. It is an imposing structure built in 1537. 

Pile Gate, Drubrovnik

Visit the Cathedral of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary also called Assumption Cathedral or Dubrovnik Cathedral. Built on the site of several other cathedrals, it is a great example of Roman Baroque architecture. The interior is just as lovely as the exterior. 

Assumption Cathedral, Dubrovnik

The Square of Loggia is an historic gathering place and home to some of the city’s most famous buildings and public monuments. Orlando’s Column is there as well as a 15th Century clocktower and the Fountain of Onofrio. 

Orlando

Just north of Dubrovnik is Pelješac a sort of finger-shaped peninsula along the coast. If you look up to the hillsides, you can see they are covered with vineyards. Croatian winemakers are proud of their red wines and many of the vineyards have signs inviting visitors to come in, take a tour and taste the wine. Robust reds are made from hardy grape varieties, like plavac mali and dingac that grow on the hillsides. The microclimates of the region allow vineyards to produce a variety of different wines. 

Pelješac, Croatia

 Savor history and the sea 

 Split is the second largest city in Croatia and it was built within the ancient walls of the gigantic Diocletian’s Palace. Built by Roman Emperor Diocletian, four huge gates allowed entrance to the palace. The palace includes three areas, the center Peristyle, the Cardo or main street and the cellar. Game of Thrones fans, the cellar might look familiar because it is where Daenerys kept her dragons when she was in Meereen. 

Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Croatia

 The Cathedral of St. Domnius is the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the world. Climb The Bell Tower for breath-taking views of the city — especially at night when the ruins are illuminated.  

Split is a bustling waterfront city and restaurants and cafes take advantage of the fabulous fresh seafood. Walk along the Riva Promenade and enjoy the sun, sea and the people. Sip a coffee, Croatia takes its coffee very seriously, and have a lavender ice cream. 

Split, Croatia

Speaking of the sea, there are hundreds of islands (ok, some are the size of a large rock) off the coast of Croatia, including the Dalmatian Islands. The Dalmatia region, which includes Split and Dubrovnik, is famous for its seafood platters which include mussels, shrimp, clams, squid, lobster and fresh octopus salad. 

Some of the larger islands have Italianesque towns and villages, each with a distinctive charm. 

If you travel along the coast, you’ll find towns and villages which offer boat tours and the tours usually include a seafood meal, free beverages and live music. 

 Speaking of food… 

 Unless you closely follow gastronomic geography, you will likely be surprised to learn some of the finest Croatian dishes are hand-made pasta called fuzi (a sort of bowtie pasta) covered in butter and white truffles.  

Gregada is a fish stew with potatoes, olive oil and fresh herbs and each area has a little twist on the stew ingredients. Peka is a roast meal of either meat or seafood with potatoes and vegetables. You can get pasta with tomato sauce, minced meat sauce or creamy mushroom sauce. Enjoy Croatian cheese dumpling soup and leave room for dessert. 

Peka

Between the boutiques and restaurants in the country’s cities and villages are bake and cake shops. Get strudel, with a variety of cheese or fruit fillings, fritules which are little round fried boozy doughnuts doused with rum, grappa or rose liqueur. Orehnjača is rolled dough with a walnut filling and makornjača is rolled dough with a poppy seed filling. Medjimurje is a custard layered cream cake with apples, walnuts, cottage cheese and poppy seed layers. Breskvice are to-die-for peach-shaped sandwich cookies. Not only is the chocolate ganache in the middle fabulous, but the peach shaped top and bottom layers are painstakingly hollowed out and filled with fruit preserves. Split is famous for Splitska Torta, it’s a layered cake with light meringue, orange-infused buttercream and sun dried figs and raisins. 

Fuzi Pasta dish

 Enjoy Croatia with a GetAway group, or talk to a GetAway Travel advisor about a visit that includes Split, Dubrovnik, the capital city of Zagreb and all things in-between. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

 

France beyond Paris

When you think of France, Paris is the first city that comes to mind. It’s an iconic destination because it’s home to the Arc D’Triomphe, the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre and the Champs-Élysées. But there’s plenty more to see and do in France. There’s vineyards, chateaus, museums, monuments, beaches, woods to explore and different cuisine to try. If you’ve “done” Paris, let GetAway Travel plan you a memorable trip somewhere else in the country that has so much to offer. 

 Strasbourg embraces dual cultures 

 Strasbourg is the capital of the Alsace region of France. The region is the part of France on the border of Germany. The area passed between French and German control several times in the 1600s. The area soaked up the culture of both countries and reflects an interesting blend of French and German influences.

Take a trip on the Alsace Wine Route and tour wineries and some of the quant villages around Strasbourg. But the city itself is gorgeous with its picturesque canals, half-timbered houses and stunning architecture. 

The Strasbourg Cathedral, or the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Strasbourg, is a prime example of gothic architecture and many say it has more charm than the Notre-Dame de Paris. When you finish admiring the architecture outside, there’s a gorgeous astronomical clock inside. Hike the  322 steps to the top platform for phenomenal views of the city.  

Learn more about the region and its history at the Alsatian Museum and don’t forget to visit the city’s main square, Place Kleber. It’s worth a visit any time, but during the Christmas market season, there’s a skating rink, a gigantic Christmas tree and a wonderland of festive decorations. 

The whole city has an eclectic feel because of the dual influences as well as the fact it has the second largest student population in all of France. 

 Rugged, friendly Brittany 

 The long, rugged coastline of Brittany in the northwestern most part of France, is dotted with resorts and vacation homes. It is known as the Pink Granite coast because the sand and rock has a sort of blush-tinted hue. 

It is an area with an amazing diversity of landscapes — from moody moors to verdant forests and sweeping seascapes all intermingled with medieval villages and fairy-tale castles. 

Saint-Malo is a Breton port designed as a citadel, or fortified stronghold, and the medieval fortifications are still visible around the city. You can tour the Château de Saint-Malo which dates to the 14th and 15 centuries and visit the Cathédrale Saint-Vincent which was a part of a complex that housed bishops. Visit the palace, the cloisters, the cathedral and the cannon’s houses. The interior, including the stained glass windows, is stunning. 

Quimper is a picture-postcard of a city in Brittany. There are pastel-painted half-timbered homes, cobblestone streets and pedestrian footbridges decorated with flowers. The Musée of Beaux Arts features works from Dutch and Flemish painters as well as paintings from post-Impressionist Masters. There is a museum devoted to faience which is a tin-decorated pottery made in Quimper. Brittany’s rich cultural heritage is on display at the Musée Départemental Breton.  

A fact beach-goers should pay attention to: Brittany has the fastest tides in all of Europe. 

 Marseille: a port city with a rich past 

 The oldest and second-most populated city in France, Marseille was named the European Capital of Culture in 2013 and it still has a wide variety of theaters, concert halls and museums.  

The MuCEM is the newest addition to Marseille’s cultural offerings. It is a museum dedicated to Europe and the Mediterranean. Permanent and rotating exhibits highlight the historical and cultural influences that shaped the region. You can also explore the attached ruins of Fort Saint-Jean. The island fortress of Château d’If should be familiar to readers, it played a part in Alexandre Dumas’s classic, “The Count of Monte Crisco.” On the highest hill near the city is the Basilique Notre-Dame de la Garde. Constructed in the Neo-Byzantine style, the church’s dominant feature is a gilded Madonna. 

 The Palais Longchamp is an amazing complex of museums and gardens. It is more of a monument than a palace. It was built to acknowledge the engineers who worked 15 years to construct a series of canals to bring water to the drought-stricken area from the Durance River in the Alps. There is, of course, a stunning fountain and other water features as well as two museums. The Musée des Beaux Arts has three centuries of paintings and the Museum d’Histoire Naturelle has 80,000 animal specimens and 20,000 plant exhibits. 

Shop and stroll on La Canebière. There are clothing boutiques, bakeries, cafes and local artisan shops. A fantastic Christmas market is held here every year. Does it look familiar? The avenue was featured in French Connection 2. 

 Culture, castles, cuisine, wine — whatever your area of interest, the advisors at GetAway Travel can craft you a vacation that hits all the marks. Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

France’s famous sandwich cookie

If you are a fan of cooking and baking competition shows, you know when a budding chef says they are making risotto, a collective gasp goes up from watchers because risotto is a fail more often than a success. Now, if it’s a baking competition and someone says they are making macarons, a similar gasp goes up because those sandwich cookies are notoriously temperamental. But they are certainly popular. There’s a bakery with several locations in France that sells 4 million (yes, million) macarons a day! You can see what the fuss is all about in person with a GetAway Travel vacation to France. We’ll even help you find a class so you can experience macaron making up close and personal! 

 Macaron and macaroon — not the same 

 A mah-kah-ROHN is a lovely, crispy sandwich cookie with buttercream, ganache or some other flavored filling. A mah-kah-ROON is a drop cookie, also lovely, but made with flaked coconut, egg whites and flavorings. 

Those delightful delicate and oh-so-pretty bites actually trace their origins to Italy and they were originally beige, like the color of ground-up blanched almonds which formed their base. Traditionally they were held to have been introduced to France by Queen Catherine de Medici who brought them from Italy during the Renaissance. 

There are two methods to making macarons, a French and Italian. The French method involves egg whites beaten to stiff peaks with granulated sugar and almond flour added. The Italian method involves mixing egg whites with hot sugar syrup and then adding almond flour and powdered sugar. The Italian method gives you a sweeter more stable meringue. 

Macarons

There are no leaveners, like baking powder, in macarons. It is the beaten egg whites combined with the mixing of other ingredients, a process called macaronage, which gives them the perfect shiny outside, softer nougat-like inside and the tiny crispy edges called feet. 

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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. Its 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 was 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 which 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 

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

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