Category Archives: Food

Switzerland’s captivating charm and mountain scenery

Matterhorn peak reflected in Lake Stellisee, Zermatt, Switzerland

Switzerland is a pretty amazing place with some pretty amazing scenery, neighbors, history and cuisine. You can find cuckoo clocks, cheese, chocolate, castles and charm throughout the country. The Alps run through most of the country, but the most photographed mountain is the Matterhorn. Near the border of Italy, the Matterhorn is the mountain of mountains. GetAway Travel can map you an itinerary around the Alps, around Zurich or from one end of Switzerland to the other. Let’s talk about Geneva, Lausanne, Zermatt and, of course, the Matterhorn. 

 No, you don’t have to ski to love it 

 Of course you can ski in Switzerland, and snowboard, cycle, skate, snowshoe and hike, but you can also enjoy amazing scenery that will give you a lifetime of memories without doing any of those things. If you want to start with the Matterhorn, then Zermatt is where you want to be. There are more than 200 miles of slopes in the area for all levels of skiing expertise, but there are also more than 60 mountain trains that you can ride to get you close to the slopes without touching a ski.  

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt is home to some fabulous international resorts and part of its charm, in addition to the shops, chalets and restaurants, is there are no gas-powered vehicles. You park in a huge lot three miles from the city and get shuttled in. 

Ski Slopes in Zermatt

The huge, graceful Matterhorn dominates the area. Described by some as a pyramid and others as a jagged tooth, three faces of the mountain are in Switzerland and the fourth face is in Italy. 

Climbing it is an adventure to be braved only by the experienced. There are plenty of other challenging climbs that guides can direct you to. 

Gronergrat Railway

But don’t skip the marvelous chance to experience the mountains and the scenery — take a train. The Gornergrat Railway is Europe’s highest mountain railroad. It takes 45 minutes to take the six-mile trip up the east side of the Nikolai Valley and then around the sweeping curve up the slope of the Riffleberg. The rail line also runs above the Gorner Glacier to the Gornergrat Observatory giving visitors a spectacular look at the Matterhorn as well as the glacier. 

Gronergrat Observatory

The Matterhorn Museum details how the history of Zermatt is tied to climbers. A relief of the Matterhorn shows the routes climbers take, there are artifacts and exhibits and outside is the quirky Marmot Fountain. Bronze marmots cavort in cascading water and behind the fountain is a life-size bronze of a large, horned mountain goat. 

Continue reading

Scotland: Grand scenery, historic sites and haggis

Scotland covers the northern third of the island of Great Britain, it boasts a generous diversity of scenery including rolling hills, lochs with and without monsters, mountains, beaches, fabulously preserved period architecture and, we’ll just address the cuisine situation right away, internal organs of sheep cooked in part of a carcass. Granted haggis is the national dish of Scotland, but we’ll give it pass because you can also get battered deep-fried Mars bars at every fish and chips shop and they also have whisky ice cream. And, the country’s national animal is a unicorn! How cool is that! 

Scottish Highlands – Eilean Donan Castle

If you’re interested in visiting a country featured in James Bond and Harry Potter movies, the travel advisors at GetAway Travel can get you there! And, we promise, no one is going to hold you down and make you try haggis. 

Haggis

 There are things to see and do everywhere 

 Scotland has consistently been voted the most beautiful country in the world edging out Canada, New Zealand and Italy. It is a relatively small country, which means you can pack a lot of sightseeing and activities in without a lot of travel time. The tallest mountain in the UK is in Scotland, Ben Nevis. There are more than 700 islands off the coast of Scotland and several, including the Isle of Arran and the Isle of Skye, are a sort of micro-Scotland with great scenery, historic sites and colonies of wildlife including seabirds, seals, red stag, golden eagles and humpback whales. You can hit the beach, tour a castle, explore charming towns, attend major art and cultural festivals, dine and shop. 

Isle of Skye, Scotland

Some of the world’s best gin and whisky distilleries are in Scotland which makes sense since whisky is the national drink of Scotland. You can tour Johnnie Walker in Edinburgh, Glenlivet near Ballindalloch and Macallan near Aberlour. You won’t get tired of trying whisky since it is different throughout the country. There’s Highland, Lowland, Islay, Spreyside and Campbell, regions and each has a distinctive flavor because of the water used and the processing. There is also plenty of craft beer options to explore. 

 Capital Edinburgh is a cultural destination 

 Edinburgh, in addition to being home to some fabulously preserved architecture from the medieval times to the 18th century, is also the headquarters for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, the Edinburgh International Book Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.  

Edinburgh

The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is a 25-day extravaganza of art and cultural performances held at the stunning Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy comedy, cabaret, opera and pretty much any other “cultural” performance you can imagine. 

Edinburgh Castle

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has nothing to do with body ink and everything to do with the pomp and pageantry of military music and tradition. There’s a new theme every year, but every year you can also enjoy military displays, marching bands, bagpipers and mock battles.  

While you are in Edinburgh you can tour the Royal Yacht Britannia. The queen’s personal yacht is now a museum and the state apartments and royal bedrooms are open to visitors. Talk to your GetAway Travel advisor about booking a table on the Royal Deck Tea Room and enjoying a traditional high tea. 

Edinburgh

St. Andrews is about an hour from Edinburgh and it’s a top golf destination. If you can’t get a tee time on the course, drop into the British Golf Museum. The University of St. Andrews has some great old buildings showing off some well-preserved medieval architecture. There are art galleries and a natural history museum on the university grounds. 

St Andrews golf course

 Enjoy the coastal cities of Aberdeen and Glasgow 

 Aberdeen on the North Sea has some fascinating old homes and commercial buildings. They are made from a unique local granite that has some sparkle to it — hence the city’s nickname “Silver City.” There’s plenty of green space in this pedestrian-friendly city and don’t miss the amazing inside green space at the David Welch Winter Gardens in Duthie Park. The 44-acre indoor garden is one of the largest indoor gardens in Europe with hundreds of domestic and exotic plants. 

Aberdeen lighthouse

If you’ve got time for shopping go to Old High Street. 

Glasgow, Scotland

Glasgow is another pedestrian-friendly town with a lot of green space. Check out the Glasgow Cathedral and the Glasgow School of Art. The Riverside Museum on the waterfront explores the history of transportation from vintage steam engines and trams to cars and sea-going vessels. If you have a chance, take in a theatrical performance at the King’s Theatre or an opera in the Theatre Royal. There is local art on display at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum and works of the old masters on display at the Glasgow Style Gallery. 

 Tell me about lochs and the highlands 

Urquhart Castle, Loch Ness

 A loch is a partially landlocked part of the sea. The land surround means the lochs have a surface that is very nearly smooth as glass. Drop by the Loch Ness and see if you can get a glimpse of the reclusive Nessie and while you are there do some sightseeing in the ruins of the Urquhart Castle. The Loch Lomond is the largest body of fresh water in the UK and it is nicknamed the “Queen of the Scottish Lakes.” Take a boat tour or short cruise and visit the Lomond Bird of Prey Centre. 

For sure – this is the real Loch Ness monster – for sure

Revel in the romance and sublime scenery of the Highlands, most recently featured in the “Outlander” series.  First, the Highlands is the mountainous upper half of Scotland. The Castle Sween near Argyll in the Highlands is the oldest castle in Scotland. 

Castle Sween

The West Highland Museum is in Fort Wiliams. The city is named after the fortifications that were built in the 17th century. The museum houses a vast collection of furniture, paintings and art pieces, weapons and Highland costumes. Near Fort Williams is the Glennfinnan Viaduct. Take a steam train ride on the longest mass concrete bridge in Scotland. Enjoy the spectacular natural beauty and know you are taking the route that dozens of wizard wannabes took on the way to Hogwarts. 

Glennfinnan railway viaduct

Drive the Glen Etive Road in the Highlands for some leisurely sightseeing. But be warned, Etive is Gaelic for “fierce one.” The 12 miles of road winds and twists. Parts of the James Bond thriller “Skyfall” were filmed in nearby Glencoe.  

If you fancy a trip to Scotland, GetAway Travel can help you get your fill of castles and Highland adventures. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

 

 

Visit the charming, historic heel of Italy

Hands down, the Puglia region of Italy has the best beaches and you can get confirmation of that from locals, European tourists and American visitors. Puglia, also called Apulia, is in the southeastern tip of Italy or the heel of Italy’s boot. The Adriatic Sea is on the East, the Ionian Sea on the Southeast and the gulf of Taranto is on the South side. 

The area has been recognized as an undiscovered gem — think stunning coastlines, miles and miles of olive groves, vineyards, charming towns, historic villages with cone-shaped trullo houses and unique cuisine. The Puglia region produces 40% of Italy’s olive oil, about 300,000 tons a year.  

Bari, Italy

Two of the many areas of note in the region are Bari, the capital of the Puglia region and Matera, a city that truly makes you think you’ve stepped back into Biblical times. 

If you’d like to see Bari, Matera and Lecce, nicknamed the “Florence of the South” GetAway Travel can arrange your trip, or, check back with us for details on a trip planned for that area in 2023. 

 Bari: monuments and pasta 

 Bari is home to two important monuments, the Basilica di San Nicola, or the Church of St. Nicholas and Frederick II’s castle. It is a bustling harbor town with lovely beaches. The largest port on the Italian side of the Adriatic Sea, it gave Italians numerous access to shipping routes, second only to Naples. 

Beautiful tiled floor – Basilica di San Nicola, Bari

It is still a major ferry port. There are up to 15 ferry crossings a day including an overnight ferry to Dubrovnik, Croatia. 

Bari, Italy

The Church of St. Nicholas is thought to be the resting place of Santa Claus. Built in 1089 to house the remains of the saint, the church is a mixture of architecture styles. The remains of St. Nicholas of Myra were originally in Turkey, but they were moved to Bari when the Saracens attacked Myra in 1087. It is somewhat fitting his remains are in Bari because he is considered the patron saint of travelers, sailors and children. The church interior features beautiful artwork and mosaics. 

St Nicholas, Bari

The city’s main church is the Cathedral of San Sabino. It was destroyed and rebuilt in 1170 in a more Romanesque style. Take some time to study the front facade which is decorated with monsters and other imaginary creatures. 

View down the street – of Cathedral of San Sabino, Bari

The Castello Svevo was built by King Ruggero in the 12th Century, destroyed and rebuilt by Frederick II in 1233. It became a social hub in the Renaissance when Isabella of Aragon and her daughter, Bona Sforza lived there and hosted famous artists, writers and dignitaries. 

Castello Svevo, Bari

St. Nicholas Church and the cathedral are in the Old Town or Bari Vecchia area of Bari. It’s worth taking a walk through the winding streets in Old Town. You will come upon women practicing a craft perfected by their grandmothers and mothers — making orecchiette (little ears) pasta by hand. You can take a walking tour of the area or take a pasta making class. 

Making orecchiette pasta

  Continue reading

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. 

Continue reading

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! 

Continue reading

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

Floriade goes green in a BIG way

Whether you are tip-toeing through the tulips or buying bulbs by the bushel, the Netherlands is the place to go for flowers and more. The country sells 3/4 of the world’s flower bulbs, is No. 1 in greenhouse horticulture and it’s the leading global exporter of cut flowers. 

Now imagine all that and more, much more — and you’ll have some idea of what Floriade Expo 2022 is like. 

Every 10 years, the world, yes — the world, celebrates all things flora and fauna with a fabulous international horticulture exhibition that runs from April to October. This year’s festival is in Almere which is a stone’s throw from Amsterdam. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel are ready to help plan your trip to Holland and this epic exhibition. 

 Floriade started in 1960 

 Every 10 years, Floriade is held in the flower trading capital of Europe. The pandemic delayed the 2020 exhibition until 2022, but countries continued to work on their show contributions and attendees this year will see some spectacular exhibitions that benefitted from two extra years of work. 

The show has been held in Amsterdam and the Hague among other locations, but this year’s location, Almere, is fitting considering the theme. The main expo theme is “Growing Green Cities,” and the reason why it fits the area, is because Almere was reclaimed from the sea. 

Once the expo ends in October, the expo site will be renamed Hortus, which means “garden” in Latin. The nearly 150-acre site will be turned into a residential neighborhood with 300 eco homes and the pavilions that countries built for their exhibitions will be used by the neighborhood. 

The site has its own electric train system to take visitors around and it also has its own aerial cable system.  

 It’s not just a giant flower show 

 The more than 3,000 trees, shrubs, creepers, perennials, flower bulbs and hydrophytes have been chose for their special qualities on how they can contribute to greener urban spaces, biodiversity, air purification, food production and city climate management. They fit the four sub-themes of: Greening the city, Feeding the city, Healthying the city and Energizing the city. 

The 40 participating countries built their own pavilions and landscapes as a way to house their exhibits as well as showcase their horticultural technology in a controlled environment. 

The individual countries demonstrate new technologies, future products, solutions for making urban life more “green,” different food supplies and horticulture that helps with energy use or savings and how “green” products will help keep you, cities and the climate healthy. 

There are competitions that run throughout the six-month Floriade expo. They are set up to replicate how plants would change through the seasons because the controlled environments will have “seasonal” changes! The competitions range from “crop plants” to house plants, patio plants, bonsai and exotics such as orchids. Some have compared the competitions at Floriade to the Olympics of horticulture. 

If you are interested in plants, climate change, technology, urban planning and the environment, Floriade is your opportunity to totally “geek” out with others who have those same interests. 

During the expo run, there is live entertainment from jazz bands to orchestras. And you won’t go hungry. There are food trucks, food stalls, fast food restaurants, sit-down restaurants with seasonal fare and, yes — plant-based meals. 

 A sample of the countries participating and their exhibits 

 The Netherlands, as you might expect, has the largest exhibit area with a hypermodern greenhouse where you can trace the life of a plant from a seed to your table, if you wish. But there are flowers, roses, trees, shrubs, and dozens of exhibits of sustainable gardening and living.

Taste edible flowers in Belgium’s expo area, see a Chinese bamboo garden and experience Chinese landscape architecture in that country’s pavilion. China has the largest international garden with peonies, hibiscus and chrysanthemums. And their garden has cultural exhibits including calligraphy and fine art. Cyprus’s pavilion shows how a barren landscape can become a park and France and Germany’s exhibition halls showcase modern horticulture. At the German pavilion, you can get a “smart” bracelet which lets you participate in interactive exhibits. India’s exhibit area helps you explore the spiritual aspects of the garden experience and Thailand’s area has a huge garden with water lilies, curcuma and ornamental plants as well as a children’s playground amongst a vegetable and herb garden. Explore the connection between garden, farmland, forest and city in the Japanese pavilion and the Qatar and United Arab Emirates pavilions display plants that can thrive under their countries’ extreme conditions. 

 GetAway Travel can plan your trip to the Netherlands for your Floriade experience and we can also help you extend your trip to Amsterdam.

Many of our River Cruise partners have new itineraries that include a visit to Floriade – please call for details.

We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel 

I’m not a food blogger, but I do eat food

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

Salmon Benedict

Poached Salmon

Hangar Steak – The Restaurant

 

Indian Samosa appetizer – The Restaurant

 

Grand Marnier Crepes – The Restaurant