While Florence, Italy is smaller than Rome or Venice, it’s packed full of destinations for art and history lovers as well as attractions for foodies and smart shoppers. Florence is considered the birthplace of the Renaissance and the historic center of Florence has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1982. It retains its historic site status by the careful preservation of ancient streets, buildings, fountains and monuments.
It’s a city where you can get fabulous gelato, see Michelangelo’s “David” and pick up some great designer bargains.
Your travel advisor at GetAway Travel can set up your tours of city attractions based on your interests. Buying your tickets to tours and sites in the city ahead of time means less time standing in line and more time enjoying your getaway!
Opportunities for art lovers
The capital of Italy’s Tuscany region, Florence is home to masterpieces of architecture and art. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, known as the Duomo Cathedral is easily recognized by its terracotta-tiled dome. The dome’s design was engineered by Brunelleschi and the neighboring bell tower by Giotto, but the exterior is also a marvel of architectural features including a decorative mix of pink, white and green marble insets.
Windows inside along the narrow interior walkways offer great views of the city and the floors are “carpeted” in marble mosaics.Continue reading →
Beaune, (pronounced bone), is south of Dijon, Burgundy’s capital city, but it is considered the capital of burgundy wines. If you are interested in wine, food, France, culture and tradition, then consider the river cruise GetAway Travel has planned for November of 2022. It will be a great way to tour and understand all things wine since you will be accompanied by experts from Spring City Wine House. https://getaway.travel/unique-getaways/spring-city-wine-house-burgundy-river-cruise/
Sue – ready for wine in Beaune
Beaune is renowned for wine, but also for food, the architectural excellence and cultural significance of Hospice du Beaune, museums, markets and a family run mustard mill.
First, let’s talk wine
The vineyards around Beaune produce some of the world’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, Bouchard Pere et fils, are a few of the well-known vintners that allow tours. An optional city tour is included in your tour package and you can always consult your travel advisor at GetAway Travel for more specific information. Five of the greatest vineyards in the region are in the Beaune area and you can tour on foot, in vehicle, by horse and carriage, on a bike and even on a Segway if you like!
The original ramparts built to protect Beaune still exist and you can stroll on the ramparts to some of the vineyards.
There are independent wine shops and cellars throughout the town.
Wine cellar in Beaune
Hospice du Beaune
You can’t talk about Beaune and wine without mentioning the Hospice du Beaune. Home of an annual wine auction that draws celebrities and cash, the auction which began after 1457, still benefits area charities.
Hospice du Beaune
Built in 1443, the Hospice du Beaune was established to care for the infirm who could not afford health care. In 1457 a local vineyard owner donated a bottle of wine to be sold to start a fund to care for the infirm in perpetuity. Now, Christies runs the auction each year.
formerly hanging in the hospital, but now in the museum for Hospice du Beaune
But even if you aren’t attending the auction, the gothic hospital is considered one of the finest monuments in the country and a site that should not be missed. The complex with its bright, mosaic tiled roofs is a glorious sight in the sunlight.
The pharmacy, chapel, wine cellars and, of course the vineyards, can be toured. More than 20 prestigious winemakers tend the vineyards around the Hospice du Beaune.
Food, shopping, museums and more
On Saturdays, Beaune is home to two huge markets. In the downtown area, you can find culinary wonders including meat, cheese and produce. The regional cheeses are fabulous, there’s Chaource, Espoisses and Delice de Pommard which is a light, creamy cheese rolled in mustard seeds. A second market a short walk from the town square specializes in antiques including books, glassware, vases and clothing.
Market day in Beaune – Olives
You likely will experience some of the local cuisine from the river cruise chefs, perhaps Boeuf Bourguignon or Escargots a La Bourguignon. And no doubt the local mushrooms and truffles will find a place in one or two meals.
In addition to the historical displays at the Hospice du Beaune, there is a wine museum in town, and the Dalineum is a museum dedicated to the works of Salvador Dali. The venerable Theatre de Verdure is now a spectacular public garden and sample a variety of mustards after taking a tour of the Fallot Mustard Mill. It offers an historic perspective on mustard production and the evolution of the condiment.
Beaune market – a foodies delight
There are a number of public parks suitable for picnics and the Parc de La Bouzaire has its own lake and a small animal farm as well as a cafe. The Cote Plage beach features grassy access to the water and four natural pools.
One of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture dating back to the 12th Century is the Basilica of Notre Dame in Beaune. Tour the old cloisters and St. Leger Chapel. There are stunning stained-glass windows and five intricate tapestries woven in the 1500s that chronicle the life of the Virgin Mary.
Wine, food, architecture, culture and ambiance — Beaune has it all and you can experience it first-hand on the GetAway Travel river cruise planned for November 2022.
Lyon, France is one large UNESCO World Heritage Site, with a very large renaissance era old town and Roman ruins. The city was founded 2,000 years where the Rhône and Saône Rivers meet.
Lyon built its fortune on the silk trade. During the 16th century it was estimated that there were at least 180,000 looms in the city.
The Fourvière Basilica is a magnificent church, ever visible on the hill to west of the city. In December, the famous Fête des Lumières takes place in praise of the Virgin Mary, to whom the Basilica is dedicated, for protecting the city from the bubonic plague in the 17th century.
On the left bank of the Saône is the Ancient Theatre of Fourvière, which even after 2000 years is still being used as a performance venue.
At the Lyon Cathedral, many of the stain glassed windows you see are from the 1300’s. They were taken down and packed away during WWII to save them from bomb damage.
The word “FUN” is found in Funicular. This one will take you from the river to the top of the Fourvière hill.
This is really just a small bit of highlights you’ll enjoy in Lyon.
To see them all – why not join us in November of 2022 on our exclusive Spring City Wine House Burgundy & Provence River Cruise. Lyon is just one of the many stops during our week that you will enjoy.
Today we stay in Europe, leaving Amsterdam and her enchanting canals we head to the equally enchanting city of Paris. However no art museums on this visit as we are here to see the Eiffel tower.
An iconic symbol of Paris and one of the most famous landmarks in the world the tower was built by Alexandre Gustave Eiffel in 1887-1889. Gustave was born 15 December, 1932 in Côte-d’Or, France (which is a limestone escarpment – the east facing slope being home to some of the greatest wines of Burgundy!)
After graduating engineering college, Eiffel got first big project to manage and install a railway bridge over the Garonne river at Bordeaux. The work successfully completed on schedule and afterwards he set himself up as an independent consulting engineer. He was involved in many metal work projects including: the Budapest rail station, a bridge over the river Douro in Portugal, the Exposition Universelle building in Paris and the Garabit Viaduct (a railway arch bridge in central France).
In 1881 Eiffel was approached by French sculptor August Bartholdi who needed an engineer to help him finish the Statue of Liberty. The entire statue was erected at the Eiffel works in Paris before being dismantled and shipped to the United States.
We hope you enjoyed our day at the Uffizi in Florence, but it’s now time to move on. We’re going to head about 860 miles (1380 kilometers) northwest to the Dutch capital city of Amsterdam. Amsterdam is known for its extensive canals, impressive architecture and more than 1500 bridges. In Amsterdam, we’re going to stop at 2 iconic locations – the Rijksmuseum and Anne Frank House.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Canal District was dug in the 17th century to attract wealthy home owners and is still quite a posh neighborhood. Amsterdam prospered during this time and became one of the world’s great cities. A global trading network and overseas possessions made it the center of shipping in Europe and the worlds leading financial center.
Our first stop in Amsterdam is the Rijksmuseum – the national museum of The Netherlands.
While we are not travelling right now, it’s a great time for some virtual visits.
The Galleria degli Uffizi is a prominent art museum located in the historic center of Florence, Italy. It is one of the largest, best known, most important and most visited Italian museums. It holds a priceless collection of art, particularly from the period of the Italian Renaissance.
Fifteenth century Italy was unlike any place in Europe – divided between independent city-states each with a different form of government. Florence where the Italian Renaissance began was an independent republic. It was also a banking/commercial capital and the 3rd largest city in Europe after London and Constantinople (or do you say Istanbul?). Wealthy Florentines flaunted their money and power by becoming patrons of the arts.
I went to a restaurant that serves ‘breakfast at any time’. So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. – Steven Wright
Last September we had the joy of sailing with a small group aboard the Uniworld S.S. Joie de Vivre cruising from Paris to Normandy. Everyone loved the experience onboard – the service was outstanding and the food was amazing. One of our (many!) highlights of the trip was a group cooking class in the on board Wine Cave – La Cave des Vins.
Being in Normandy, we had a welcome cocktail made with Calvados (local Apple Brandy) followed by a 4 course food and wine pairing. The whole group assisted with all the food prep and cooking. Our first course was an amazing sauteed foie gras atop a vanilla apple – which Continue reading →
What better high school graduation gift could there be then a trip to Europe with your grandparents. In January 2019 we took an amazing trip to Spain with our grandson Aiden. As he was still in school we did not have unlimited time to spend and had to keep things tight. We flew in and out of Madrid and spent all our time touring in the Andalusia region. Even though it was January the weather was fairly mild and as a bonus we did not encounter crowds at any of the sites. Unless your going for some beach time or just crave the heat, we highly recommend this off-season timing to others.
First stop Seville. Highlights for us were tours of the Plaza de Toros (Game of Thrones), Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos once the home of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand and horse carriage ride through the Plaza de España (Star Wars)
Bratislava is one of the smaller capitals of Europe but still is the largest city in Slovakia. It sits on both banks of the Danube and is the only national capital that borders 2 other sovereign states: Austria and Hungary. It’s also a popular stop on River cruises along the Danube.
AMASonata docked in Bratislava
There are several fun and iconic statues in the old town area
Man at Work
Café Meyer was opened in 1873 and serves fantastic coffee and cakes
Licorice – Sue’s favorite candy!
Anytime is a good time to go – and of course there are always tasty treats to eat
We truly hope you are having a fantastic holiday season!
As this season draws to a close, so does the decade as we get ready to welcome the 2020’s. What better way to celebrate the New Year than to take a River Cruise. While Paul stays home and takes care of the new puppy Sue is onboard the AMASonata sailing from Budapest, Hungary to Vilshofen, Germany. Here are a few photos from her journey thus far.
The Hungarian Parliament is the largest building in Budapest. Situated on the Pest side of the Danube it first opened its’ doors in 1902
Located in the heart of the Buda castle district is the Saint Matthias Church. The site dates back to the year 1015, but the current building was constructed in the 2nd half of the 14th century. Check out those gorgeous tiles on the roof.
The Dohány Street Synagogue is the largest synagogue in all of Europe. It’s Moorish architectural features would definitely not look out of place in Spain.
Heroes’ Square is one of the major squares in Budapest, Hungary, noted for its iconic statue complex featuring the Seven chieftains of the Magyars.
Well I’m not sure what’s the meaning of this flask on Sue’s head, but there will certainly be stories to tell when she gets back
Enjoying the dancing and we’ll post updates on Sue’s Danube cruise soon!