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.
Rich culture and history, amazing cuisine and diverse heritage are all packed into this amazing destination. Europe has some of the greatest intellectual and artistic developments the world has ever known. The landscape is dense with museums, cathedrals, monuments and palaces. Irresistible and intriguing, Europe continues to call us to visit. to experience the rich culture, history, and warm friendly people.
There are so many places to go – where do you begin? From the oldest monument in Europe (Stonehenge) to the most amazing museums: Louvre in Paris, Uffizi in Florence, Guggenheim in Blibao, and the list goes on and on. From the rolling Tuscan countryside wine regions in Italy to the mecca of beer – Hofbrauhaus in Munich. From the pristine beaches at Normandy where the allies initiated the liberation of Europe in World War II to the defensive fortification of Hadrian’s Wall built in the 1st century AD.
There are so many places to go and so many ways to see Europe that the best place to begin is right here with us. We can help plan the perfect trip that is right for you.
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
For example, it seems that every single Google app we use always seems to be in beta version. Not a bad thing as one can assume it will (hopefully) keep getting better and better.
Such is the case with our GetAway Travel Pinterest pages. Always room for improvement, but it is actually starting to look better. We have a wealth of great photos from our trips that we love to share to help inspire our clients. Eventually we will get more photos posted, but there is only so much time in the day – and – planning great vacations for you will always come first. For now, please enjoy and let us know what you would like to see more of.
On our “Places We Love” board, we’re messing around with the new Pinterest feature that shows on a map where all the pins are located.
We do have other passions besides travel!
Here is a very small fraction (so far) of wineries we have visited
We’re talking “market day” in Italy! Nearly every town in Tuscany and Umbria have a weekly market day and there is nothing more special than being a part of one.
Usually held in the mornings, the town square is filled with dozens of trucks with literally everything from fruit to nuts. There will be stalls selling shoes, clothing, olives, bread, meats, cheeses and everything in between. Now don’t get us wrong, this is not a tourist attraction, this is how the locals shop and it’s amazing to be able to participate. We love to sample our way through the market, always buying things to eat throughout the rest of our trip or to pack for our family back home When we aren’t sampling we are photographing the array of items for sale. On our Wine Centric Italy trip in October 2014 we’ll be experiencing market day in Greve in the Chianti region. I know we’ve said it before, this is another one of those experiences you must have when visiting Italy.
This post is for all of you, but especially our friend Jon, who wanted to locate all of the original posts we made on our custom tour through Burgundy in 2013.
Recycling sometimes brings to made taking waste glass, paper or plastic and reprocessing the material so it can be used again. In our case, recycling means taking some of our most popular blog posts from 2013 and re-posting them.
We hope you enjoy. Oh wait… Everything can’t be just reposted material – here is a newly posted video from the trip, wherein our expert guide explains the wine appellations of Burgundy. It’s a little dark, as we were in the wine cellar at the time, but the explanation of Burgundian wine appellations is well worth your viewing time.
Websters defines spelunking as “the hobby or practice of exploring caves”.
Well, we are adventurous, but also a bit soft.
So for our soft spelunking adventure, we explored the chalk caves at Domaine Pommery in Rheims, France. Jeanne Alexandrine Louise Melin was born in the Ardennes area of France in 1819. She married Alexandre Pommery in 1839. When Alexandre passed away in 1860 she assumed full control of their wine business. Madame Pommery went about establishing the reputation of Pommery as a force to be reckoned with. She commissioned a grand property in Rheims with an eclectic mix of architectural styles. Built in 1863 the estate covers 120 acres and sits on top of 11 miles of Gallo-Roman chalk caves.
Pommery Champagne House
The entrance hall is also where the tasting room and gift shop is located.
Known as “le Grand Foudre”, the Pommery blending barrel in the tasting room is one of the largest in the world and holds the equivalent of 100,000 bottles. The barrel was made to celebrate the friendship by Pommery between France and America and was sent to St. Louis for exhibition at the World’s Fair of 1904. The sculptures represent France in the form of a young woman offering a glass of Pommery to America (yeah!). She is astride a sphinx like creature with the head of an Indian. On the top is the Statue of Liberty (also a gift from France).
le Grand Foudre
Detail on le Grand Foudre
You didn’t drink too much yet – it is an elephant standing on its nose at Pommery.
The ancient chalk caves became a unique cellar which allowed Pommery to story over 20 million bottles in a temperature controlled environment.
No ropes needed for our spelunking adventure, we simply walk down the stairs.
Entrance (and exit) stairs to Champagne caves
OK, we are getting just a bit thirsty, but these bottles are not ready
We selected our bottles, but realize there will be some problems getting them in our suitcases without going over the airlines weight limit. Probably best to just drink them here.
Chalk wall carving
Pommery is well-known for hosting on-going art exhibits. You will find temporary art installations everywhere on the property. Also there are these amazing wall carvings which are etched directly into the walls of the caves.
Louise Pommery ran the wine house after Madame Pommery died.
Behind a locked gate and easy to see why – amazing stuff!
Just a small fraction of the millions of bottles aging in the cellars.
Our most artistic shot
It’s art – the boots actually move, sorry did not have video going.
The signature “Louise”
Thanks for joining us on our spelunking adventure in Champagne!
When you are done with your Champagne tastings, have some dinner and then walk over to the Rheims Cathedral for a night-time spectacular.
We love our clients and work very hard to make sure all of their travel dreams come true.
As the majority of our business is from word of mouth referrals, it’s always great to get feedback to see how they enjoyed their vacations.
Here is some of our most recent feedback:
“GetAway Travel Service is the company that we used for our recent trip to France and Italy. They spent a lot of time with us to help us decide where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see. They took care of all of the details and provided all of the information we needed to avoid stress when we were there. Everything went flawlessly. I highly recommend Sue Adams and Paul Adams at GetAway. Consider using them for your next trip!”
These clients took an amazing river cruise in France and then while they were already in Europe, we sent them on a luxury tour of Italy (Venice, Rome, Florence).
“We booked our 25th anniversary trip with them this summer. When the plans changed (beyond our control) just 5 days before our trip, Paul and Sue booked us an entirely new trip and took the stress away! We are already booked with them next year.”
These clients had booked a Celebrity Galapagos cruise over 1 year in advance. Literally days before departure, the cruise was cancelled (very rare circumstances). We quickly scrambled and sent them on a dream cruise to Alaska. We worked with the cruise lines to get them an upgrade on their Alaska cruise stateroom, and got full refunds on their air and cruise for Galapagos. They have already rebooked their Galapagos cruise for next year.
Is there anything we can do to help you make your vacation dreams come true?
Experience the difference that smart dedicated travel agents can make in your next vacation.
We’ve titled this recent series of blogs “Wine tasting in Burgundy…” – but perhaps we could be a bit more specific about where we went. Here’s an excellent map to the Burgundy wine areas on Wikipedia.
Most of our Burgundy tasting was in the region of Côte d’Or, which is basically an area encompassed by a limestone escarpment (think steep slope). Grapes grown up the slope tend to make more distinctive and flavorful wines, while grapes grown towards the base and closer to the towns are more affordable. The northern half of Côte d’Or , which is almost exclusively red wine is called Côte de Nuits. We actually based ourselves out of Beaune, an excellent place to stay, and which is coincidentally in the heart of Côte de Beaune.
In the other posts about our experience we made mention of Burgundy wine classifications, such as Grand Cru and Premier Cru. One good question was how can I tell what classification my wine is when looking at the bottle? If a wine is Grand Cru, it will list the name of the vineyard and the term Grand Cru – no village name. If the wine is Premier Cru it will list the name of the village of origin, the term Premier Cru (usually shown as “1er Cru” same as in english we’d show 1st Cru, 1er = 1st) and usually a vineyard name. Village appellation wines will show the name of the village (example: Pommard) and sometimes the vineyard. Interestingly, to make their wines sound a bit more prestigious some villages changed their names by appending a name of a prestigious vineyard to the village name. A great example of this happened in March of 1862 when the village of Aloxe changed its name to Aloxe-Corton. Corton is the Grand Cru vineyard located on a hill near the village. They apparently knew what they were doing as the Corton appellation, which is the only Grand Cru for red wine within Côte de Beaune, was officially created 75 years later in 1937.
While we certainly appreciate all of the history and effort that goes into letting us know what wine we are getting, it basically does all come down to taste. If you like it and it tastes good to you, it’s a good wine. You have to let your senses be the guide, as nobody else can really tell you what tastes good to you. Keep in mind though, that we do taste with all our senses, what it looks like, smells like, feels like, etc. Where you taste can also be a big factor. Are you at home, at a restaurant, at a wine bar, or are you in an amazing cellar under a chateau in France? A lot more goes into our perception about what is a good wine beyond the grapes themselves just dancing across our tongues!
Our group made 2 stops in Côte de Nuits on the final day of this tour. Pierre Laforest and Domaine Quivy. We had an awesome time and loved both places. It was soon time to push on though as the entire group had to get to Lyon to board a river boat . We were running a bit late after our last tasting so we had a bit of a mad frenzy to get our luggage on the bus and then we made a frantic dash to catch our train.
Let the tasting begin
One of our favorites
Our last, but not least tasting
Our rat friend is still with us
View of the cellar, through glass pane on floor of tasting room
Finalizing our shipment back home.
While we were on time for the train, it was not. The train was about an hour late. So even though we rushed, we were there in plenty of time for our transfer to Lyon, where we all got on board the River Royale for a 7 night cruise! Coming soon – blogs on our awesome cruise experience!
Check the monitor – the train is “retard”. French for you’re going to be waiting a while.
Our group of wine travelers are making their third and final stop of the day at Domaine Pierre André in Aloxe Corton.
One of the great things about our group is the range of winology (is that a word? If not it should be) among the members. We have some relative wine novices, some dabblers, some serious wine lovers and a sommelier in our ranks. You certainly don’t have to be a wine snob to love this type of travel – it’s all about getting close to the land, the products of it and the people who make it happen. Everyone had an absolutely fantastic time and everyone learned something new and gained a deeper appreciation of Burgundian wines.
“In vino veritas” is an ancient latin phrase that translates as “in wine there is the truth”. Most likely it originally referred to that after drinking a lot of wine, a mans truth will flow from his mouth as his tongue loosens up. But maybe we can look for a deeper meaning now. Grape growers are really farmers. Their farm “produce” gently speaks the truth about the land, the weather, the history, and the fruits of their labors. In our experience it is more rewarding to see and feel the veritas of their labors at the location it is actually produced. We travel to open our hearts and our eyes to learn more about the world. And in learning more about the world we learn more truths about ourselves as well. And as wine is one of so many of God’s wonderful creations we can say that in wine there definitely is truth.
At Pierre André, the glazed tile roof of the Chateau is easily one of the first things you notice when you pull into the parking area. It is also one of the first things you notice when you see a bottle of their wine. We held our tasting in the Chateau and then visited the wine cellars before heading back to Beaune for the night to rest up as we had 2 more tastings in Burgundy the next day!