Category Archives: Travel

Landlocked Umbria: Italy’s fascinating “green heart”

Italy’s Umbria region is bordered by the regions of Tuscany, Lazio and LeMerche. It has lovely medieval towns perched on hills, dense forests, vineyards and olive groves, and fabulous truffle dishes. St. Francis was born and lived in the Umbria region. Perugina Chocolates calls the region home, there’s a festival that involves a town carpeting the streets with flowers, pork is king and it’s the only place in the world where you find natively grown sagrantino grapes. GetAway Travel advisors are ready to plan your adventure to Italy’s Umbria region. 

 Perugia, Spello and Assisi 

 Perugia, the capital of Umbria, has some fabulous examples of Renaissance architecture and Baci chocolates. Stop by the National Gallery of Umbria where the largest collection of Umbrian artworks, including paintings by Pinturicchio and Perugino are on display. Collections include artwork from the 13th to the 19th centuries. 

Perugia is 100 miles north of Rome and 90 miles southeastt of Florence

The National Archeological Museum of Umbria is located in San Domenico in Perugia. It is the largest church in Umbria and in addition to having lots of interesting artifacts on display, it has enormous Gothic-style stained glass windows. 

The Casa del Cioccolato Perugina is a factory that also features a museum dedicated to the history of chocolate manufacturing as well as a school that offers classes. A raised area around the factory allows visitors to see the Baci workshop and production line. Since 1922 the Italian Baci (or kisses) has been recognized around the world as an iconic chocolate bite. It is rich chocolate with a hazelnut filling, a whole hazelnut on top covered with a double coating of chocolate. Yum! 

Italian Baci

Perugia is home to EuroChocolate, one of the world’s largest and most assorted chocolate exhibitions. The annual festival draws upwards of a million tourists. 

Spello built from stone retains it’s medieval aspect

Spello is a walled city that offers gorgeous views of the countryside. Many of the town buildings are constructed of subasio marble. At sunrise and sunset the marble takes on a pinkish hue which makes for fabulous pictures. Aficionados of Renaissance art should visit the Baglioni Chapel and the Collegiate di Santa Maria Maggiore.  

Alley with gorgeous flowers in Spello

Spello is the host of the Inflorata Festival. The centuries-old festival is for the flower obsessed. Groups of villagers band together and create fabulous floral carpets that are laid out on the streets the 9th Sunday after Easter. The groups spend much of the year collecting and growing specific flowers for their carpet designs. 

Try the local floral gelato specialties including the lavender flavor. The lavender is used with a deft hand and it is considered quite tasty. 

Assisi is the birthplace of St Francis

Assisi is the birthplace of St. Francis and St. Clare. Francis is the patron saint of animals and the city of Assisi. St. Clare is the patron saint of television and computer screens. She founded the Order of Poor Ladies. 

Walking up to the Basilica of St Francis Assisi

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Assisi is regarded as one of the world’s most important artistic, cultural and religious destinations. The Basilica di San Francesco is where St. Francis was laid to rest. The outside might seem a little pedestrian, but the interior is stunning. There are striking frescoes across the walls and ceiling. Many think the interior is nicer than the Sistine Chapel. 

 Historic sites, wine and tasty options 

 The medieval bridge in Spoleto offers great views of the countryside. It is home to several historic churches including the Church of Sant’ Eufemia. Constructed in Romanesque style, the interior has beautiful stone mosaics and reliefs. The National Museum of the Ducato di Spoleto illustrates the history of the region with frescoes, artwork and sculptures. 

Exterior of St Eufemia church

Bevagna is thought to be one of the most beautiful towns in Italy. Settlements in the area date back to the Iron Age, and it became a town during the Roman Empire. There is an old Roman temple and theater in town.

Bevagna, Italy

 Orvieto is an Etruscan town perched on a soft limestone hill in Umbria. There are underground rooms and tunnels that were built under the city throughout the centuries. Talk to your travel advisor because tours must be booked in advance. 

Walkway in Orvieto

Orvieto Cathedral is dedicated to the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. Golden mosaics decorate the facade which is why it is nicknamed the Golden Lily. Inside you can see masterpieces by Luca Signorelli and Francesco Mochi. Nearby vineyards produce Classico wines.The fresh, aromatic white wines are made from Grechetto and Trebbiano grapes.  

Stunning facade of the Orvieto Cathedral

The landscape around Montefalco is blanketed with vineyards because it is the only place in the world where sagrantino grapes are grown natively. Azienda Agricola produced here is thought to be an extraordinary red wine. The famous La Strada Del Sagrantino winery is just outside of Montefalco. There are wine trails and wine routes for visitors to follow and horse-drawn carriage tasting tours of the various wineries are also offered. 

Vineyards in autumn near Montefalco

The regions of Italy lay claim to some fabulous regional dishes and Umbria is no exception. This region is responsible for more truffle production than any other region in Italy. Enjoy gnocchi or strangozzi pasta with truffles. But remember, pretty much anything, except maybe a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, benefits with the addition of truffles. 

strangozzi pasta with truffles

Try a porchetta sandwich. The pork is heavily seasoned and garnished to bring out the flavor and since the pigs help themselves to wild fennel, acorns and chestnuts, their meat has a unique flavor. You’ll also find boar, deer and pigeon on the menu. The area’s most famous meat product is prosciutto. It is a protected product which means there is a minimum of a years worth of effort put into making it including salting and seasoning. Then it is certified by Prosciutto di Norcia. 

prosciutto crudo

Scafata is a traditional Italian stew with fava beans, Swiss chard, tomatoes, white wine, olive oil, chili peppers, pancetta, carrots, onions, celery and rosemary. Legumes and lentils grow well in the area and are featured in many dishes. 

Porchetta sandwiches ready for sale

Is a visit to the Umbria region on your wish list? GetAway Travel is here to make travel wishes come true. We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 






And… Finland happiest country again!

With apologies to the theme parks featuring that character with the mouse ears, Finland is the happiest place on earth. This is the sixth year the UN World Happiness report has given the country top marks for health, income and social support. The country, famous for reindeer, saunas, licorice (yes, really!), Santa and Northern Lights has low income inequality, low levels of corruption, great public transit and publicly funded health care. So ditch the mouse ears for now, and let GetAway Travel plan you an adventure in happy Finland. 

 Unique history, architecture in Helsinki 

 Finland’s capital is on a peninsula and it boasts one of the world’s largest sea fortresses as well as, museums, a fashionable design district and the Helsinki churches. Turku, the oldest city in Finland, is near Helsinki. The Turku Archipelago (archipelago — a string of islands in the sea or a stretch of water) is nearly 155 miles long and you can travel from island to island with the help of bridges, ferries and cable ferries. 

Helsinki showing cathedral and market square

The city of Helsinki is surrounded by lovely wooden-house neighborhoods like Provoo, Rauma, Loviisa and Naantali. Walk down gravel or cobblestone thoroughfares and marvel at the quaint homes as well as small shops and museums that feature unique products. 

A short trip from Helsinki, either by ferry or by water bus in the summer, takes visitors to Suomenlinna, one of the world’s largest sea fortresses. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built in the 18th century. It’s built on eight islands and there’s a total of 290 buildings including six museums at the fortress. 


The Suomenlinna Museum showcases the history of the 270-year-old fortress. Ehrensvärd chronicles the history of the Swedish control of the fortress. One hundred years of war and peace is detailed in exhibits in the Military Museum’s Menege. There are two buildings in this museum because Finland fought for independence in four wars. A WWII restored Russian submarine, the Vesikko, is in one museum and visitors can see where the 20-member crew lived and worked.  

Susisaari Island

The history of customs and smuggling is on view in the Customs Museum on the fortress’s Susisaari Island. 

Young at heart, or a youngster, there’s something for everyone at the Toy Museum. Browse collections of old dolls, antique teddy bears and toys from the 19th century to the 1960s. There are special collections of wartime toys and games.  

Turku Archipelago

You can shop for nostalgic souvenirs and have a pastry with a cup of coffee or tea at the Café Samovarbar. 

Helsinki Market Square and Presidential Palace – and bonus swimming pools!

Speaking of shopping, Market Square, also known as Kauppatori in Helsinki has a huge range of products from produce, flowers, baked good and there’s also an arts and crafts market. It is one of the most popular markets in northern Europe. 

The Helsinki Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the world and there are more than 150 different animal species and 1,000 different kinds of plants on the zoo’s 52 acres. 

Uspensky Cathedral

Uspensky Orthodox Cathedral is on the East side of the harbor and you can’t miss the 13 green-topped spires. It is western Europe’s largest Orthodox Church and the interior is a marvel of gold icons, crosses, altars and lavishly decorated arches. Temppeliaukio Church is an architectural marvel. It is carved into solid rock.  

Temppeliaukio Church – stunning!

Visit the Turku Castle in nearby Turku. Also known as Turun Linna, it is famous for its ornate banquet halls and two dungeons. 

Turku Castle

Continue reading

Charm, beaches, mountains, great food and drink – Tasmania has it all!


View from Mount Wellington, Hobart

Originally developed as a penal colony by the British, Tasmania is an island of breath-taking beauty that is slightly bigger than Switzerland. It boasts 19 national parks, pristine beaches, cliffs, caves, unique wildlife and 24 mountain ranges. Indeed, the wilderness area of Tasmania has been classified as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a great spot for outdoor enthusiasts, but it has immense historic charm and, is somewhat of a foodie paradise. Launceston, Tasmania is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy. There are less than 50 cities in the world carrying that distinction. If some charm, some stunning scenery and some great food appeals to you — GetAway Travel can get you to Tasmania. 

On a hike in Tasmania

 History, culture and critters 

 Hobart is the capital of Tasmania and where much of the population is located. It is the second deepest port in the world and it has a charming waterfront as well as a great food and wine scene with an emphasis on farm-to-table. 

Hobart waterfront

Port Arthur is a little more than an hour from Hobart. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it was built in 1830 as a timber station and penal settlement. About 3,500 convicts were housed on the 250 acres. Historians contend Port Arthur, on Cameron Bay, is one of Australia’s most well-preserved landmarks.  

Port Arthur penal colony

There are more than 30 historic buildings on the site which can be reached by ferry, car, bus or taxi. You can even take an evening ghost tour along the coast.  

Tasmanian Devil at Bonorong

About a half hour from Hobart is the Bonorong Wildlife Sanctuary. A 24-hour facility that treats and rehabs injured or orphaned wildlife with the intent of returning them to their natural habitats, it is a temporary home to some of the most unique wildlife in the world. At any given time it is a temporary home to wombats, Tasmanian devils, quoll (a cat-like marsupial with short legs and a white-spotted coat), koalas and emus. Stroll the grounds, which mimic the animals’ natural habitats. Get another taste of the outdoors at the Royal Tasmanian Botanical Gardens. It’s an outdoor oasis of multiple gardens spread over 34 acres. There’s a conservatory, lily pond and regional gardens including a subantarctic plant house that replicates the cold, wet conditions f the subantarctic islands. 

The Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery is a museum, art gallery and herbarium that holds artifacts that are important to the natural and cultural aspects of the country. The more than 100,000 items are the bulk of the State Collections of Tasmania. It has some fabulous displays on the history of seafaring and whaling and interactive child-friendly exhibits. 

Sue hiking at Lemonthyme lodge, Tasmania

The Museum of New and Old Art or MONA, looks like it would be just one floor, but there are three more levels underground. It was started as a small museum of antiquities by David Walsh. Now, in addition to the collections, there are art exhibitions, live music, food, wine, bars, restaurants, a library, recording studio and tennis court — almost all entirely underground. 

Digestion Art at MONA – yes it actually works

The art pieces range from the remarkable to the ridiculous. 

Looking for a great shopping experience? Every Saturday the Salamanca Market is open. The more than 300 vendors sell handcrafted woodwork items, jewelry, ceramics, glassware, souvenirs and tasty items like fish and chips and scallop pie. 

Cascade Brewery, with Mt. Wellington in the distance, is the oldest continuously operating brewery in the country. It still makes award-winning ales, stouts and bitters.  

 Devils, glorious food and spirits 

 Cradle Mountain is a stop on your way from Hobart to Launceston and you can visit the Cradle Tasmanian devil sanctuary. Tasmanian devils are nothing like the crazed cartoon character that tries to catch Bugs Bunny. They are shy, nocturnal carnivores about the size of a small dog, but definitely not cuddly.  They do have a voracious appetite and the strongest biting force of any mammal their size on earth. Their jaws are extendable and can bite through metal and most farming fences. 

Marsupials, they carry their babies in pouches and use scent glands to mark their territories. 

Speaking of marsupials – here’s a Wallaby mom and joey

The Cradle Mountain sanctuary is a breeding and conservation facility for the Tasmanian devil, spotted-tail quoll and the Eastern quoll. 

Our lodging in Cradle Mountain

Cataract Gorge is Launceston’s biggest tourist attraction. It is home to the world’s largest single-span chairlift and the gorge has fabulous panoramic views as well as walking trails, wandering peacocks and other natural wildlife, gardens including a Victorian garden, a tearoom, restaurant and cafe.  

Cataract Gorge, Launceston Tasmania

Queen Victoria Museum has natural science and history collections as well as a planetarium and just across the river is the Art Gallery with contemporary and traditional art and art pieces.


But let’s talk food and drink, after all, Launceston is a UNESCO City of Gastronomy.  

Charcuterie platter hits the spot at Pooley!

The country is small enough that visitors can take advantage of great food and drink options throughout the country.  

Moo Brew on tap at MONA

Enjoy craft brews of cider, single-malt whiskey, small batch gin or vodka. Most distilleries offer guided tours — try ships whey vodka, gin flavored with sloe berries or lavender rye. The “very Scottish weather” is not only great for whiskey, but also for blended spirits of apple, pear and cherry as well as some fabulous Pinot Noirs and Chardonnays. The Pipers River region near Launceston produces superior quality sparkling beverages. 


Derwent vineyard – Keeping the birds out as it gets close to harvest

Many of the vineyards have their own restaurants which take full advantage of crayfish, abalone, asparagus, mushrooms, fish, scallops and octopus which can be sourced nearby. Take the bay tour and stop off at Freycinet Marine Farm and they will let you put on a pair of waders and shuck oysters taken directly from the bay. Visit a truffle farm and go out with the truffle-scenting dogs and find your own treasures. The gin distilleries offer classes where you can learn the intricacies of making gin and mixing in some exotic botanicals. 

Check out our previous blog on wine tasting around Hobart – located here


Art, food, wine, history, culture — Tasmania has it all and GetAway Travel can get you there! Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 





Street food: A tasty cultural snapshot

The best part of traveling is trying new things — new sights, sounds, experiences — and that includes new tastes. One of the easiest ways to get a cultural taste “snapshot” of an area is trying the street food. Fresh, hot, tasty and different, street food gives you an opportunity to try a sample of what the locals eat. At GetAway Travel, we travel and believe in embracing everything travel has to offer, including new tasting opportunities. Our travel advisors can help you plan a tasty trip! 

 So many tasty options around the world 

 What country has the best street food? There are lists and lists and, honestly, it depends on your tastes.  Keep an open mind no matter where you travel, some of the smallest countries have the most memorable street food. And remember, those calories stay in the country where you ate the food! 

Cevapi on the grill

Believe it or not, Bosnia and Sarajevo rank up at the top of a lot of “best street food in Europe” lists. Try cevapi there, minced meat formed into small, thin sausage-like shapes served on flatbread with onion and ajvar. Ajvar is a traditional sauce of garlic, oil, vinegar, charred red peppers and roasted eggplant. It’s a little smoky, a little tangy and very tasty. Or try a borek, a hand-sized pie of phyllo-like dough with minced meat, potato or spinach tucked in the layers. Bulgaria has something similar called a banitsa and it comes stuffed with cheese, cabbage and spinach, or a sweet version with apples and walnuts. 


Other street food options in Bulgaria include, surprisingly enough, salads. Snezhanka salad or snow white salad is strained yogurt, cucumbers, garlic, salt, dill and oil. Sometimes you can get it with roasted peppers and walnuts and parsley. Shopska is cucumbers, tomatoes, white cheese and onions. Kebapche is similar to cevapi.  

Traditional Bulgarian snezhanka salad

Try a käsekrainer in Austria, a crispy sausage filled with melted cheese served with mustard. You can, of course, get fresh, hot pretzels in Austria or Germany. 

käsekrainer sausage

You may be surprised to learn German street vendors sell a salad, too. Wurstalat is a sausage salad! It is diced up sausage, cheese, onions and pickles with a vinaigrette dressing. Weisswurst is the traditional white, Bavarian sausage made from minced veal and pork back bacon. Flavored with parsley, lemon, mace, onions, cardamon and garlic, it is boiled and served on bread with mustard on the side. Rumford suppe is soup with vegetables and barley and Bayerische Kartoffel is a potato served with creme fraiche and chives. 

Weisswurst sausage served with pretzel and beer

Sweden is home to the tunnbrödsrulle. That’s Swedish flatbread rolled up to enclose a hot dog, mashed potatoes, raw and fried onions, mustard, relish and mayonnaise or shrimp salad. And while we are talking about hot dogs, you can get a perepichka in the Ukraine, a hot dog wrapped in a slightly sweet fried dough. 

Smørrebrød, traditional Danish sandwhich on black rye

Denmark gives us smørrebrød, a dark, dense, buttered piece of rye bread with a variety of toppings and a schmear. Vendors sell fish and chips in England and, of course, you can get pizza in Italy. But in Italy you can also get polpette di bollito, small disks of pulled beef that are shaped, breaded and fried. Some stands also sell suppli, fried rice balls with tomato sauce. 

Proper British fish and chips

Street vendors in Japan can whip you up an order of takoyaki, bite-sized tasty treats fried in special molded pans. They contain tiny pieces of octopus, green onions and pickled ginger. Yakitori is grilled meat on a stick. Ask what the protein is, sometimes vendors grill sparrow. A okonomiyaki is a savory pancake, cooked on both sides and topped with eggs, meat or seafood and topped with sauce, mayonnaise, bonito and seaweed flakes and pickled ginger. 

Takoyaki octopus balls

 Go for some sweet options 

 Indulge your sweet tooth with trdelnik in the Czech Republic, also called chimney cakes, they are rolled dough grilled over an open fire and then dusted with cinnamon sugar or nuts. They come filled with Nutella or whipped cream. You can get a sweet palaçinky (they come in savory options, too). It is similar to a crepe filled with jam, chocolate or hazelnuts. 

Chimney Cakes roasting over coals

In Belgium you can get waffles that are savory or sweet. The sweet options come topped with strawberries, whipped cream and Nutella. 

Waffle fanatics!

Don’t skip getting a gelato in Italy. It is creamier, more dense and more healthy than American ice cream and there are so, so many flavors to choose from. 

Gelato at the Trevi fountain, Rome

In Croatia you can get a fritule, a yeasty dough fritter with raisins and grated apple inside. Speaking of raisins, they are soaked in rum and added, with apples, to apfelstrudel in Austria. 

Austrian apfelstrudel

Go for the sweet crepe option when in France, they are served with chocolate, fruit, Nutella and custard! Or, pick up something called a raspberry bottereaux, raspberry-filled pastry pockets dusted with powdered sugar. 

basket of Romanian doughnuts

In Romania try gogoasa, puffed doughnuts that come plain or filled with jam. 

taiyaki red bean pastries in shape of sea bream

In Japan, look for taiyaki at a street vendor. It’s a fish-shaped waffle filled with red bean paste, custard or chocolate or dango which are sweet rice dumplings on a stick. 

Sweet korvapuusti cardamom buns with sugar and cinnamon

A korvapuusti in Finland is a tasty creation that is essentially a flat cinnamon bun. 

Making Baklava

Of course you can have baklava in Greece and churros in Spain. 

 What to remember when checking out street food 

 Eat where the locals eat. They know what tastes best and is fresh. If you are near a university, students gravitate towards the best food that is reasonably priced. Vendors that have children and seniors in their lines are a good sign, too. 

Long lines that are moving along are a good thing. That tells you the vendor serves great food and it’s going to be fresh when you get there. Lines aren’t bad, talk to the locals, make new friends! 

La Boqueria – Barcelona

Check out the vendor area, is it clean? Is there one person handling the food and one handling the cash? Talking to a vendor and getting a sample is a good thing, taking a sample that has been sitting out — not a good thing. Does the food come with a sauce? Then the vendor should add the sauce rather than you trusting a sauce that’s been sitting out on a counter. 

Market food, Christmas market in Germany

Eat when everyone else is eating even if it means standing in line. You may be thinking you should go see one more thing and then eat… but that means you might be getting food that has been sitting out. Fresh is better.  

GetAway Travel is standing by to help you plan a tasty fresh adventure! We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 


Sagrada Familia: A ‘wonder’ in progress

Epic, as an adjective, is often over-used. Epic is defined as grand, impressive, remarkable. But when you are talking about the Basilica de La Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain, epic doesn’t seem to do it justice. It really is something you need to see in person. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel have been there and we can truly attest to the fact that it is grand, impressive, remarkable and, yes, an epic example of architecture and spirituality. We can help you plan your adventure to Spain with a stop at Sagrada Familia. 

 Construction began in 1882 

 Architect Francisco de Paula del Villar was the original architect and he resigned in 1883 and Antonio Gaudi took over. It is the largest unfinished Catholic Church in the world, one of the oldest buildings in the world still under construction and the tallest religious building in Europe. It is, without a doubt, one of the most iconic examples of Gaudi’s work. It combines architectural elements that pay homage to nature, Art Nouveau, Catalan Modernism and Spanish Late Gothic. It draws more than four million visitors each year. 

Gaudi wanted to make Sagrada Familia the tallest building in Barcelona. He believed nothing made by man should eclipse what God created in nature, so the finished center tower is about 558 feet tall, a little less than three feet shorter than Montjuïc Mountain in Barcelona. Sagrada Familia started off as a church, became a cathedral but is now a basilica. A cathedral is the seat of a bishop, but a basilica is a church recognized by the pope as being highly important based on cultural or historical significance. 

In the early years of construction, Gaudi built a school for the children of construction workers. He also honored construction workers by embedding their faces in sculptures and carvings around the basilica. And, Gaudi’s face is in at least two areas that were completed before his death. He is portrayed as St. Joseph in the Nativity façade and St. John in the Passion façade. 

UNESCO, despite it being a work in progress, designated it a World Heritage site in 1984 and in 2005, the Nativity façade and Sagrada Familia crypt were also declared World Heritage sites. 

 All design aspects serve a purpose 

 Gaudi’s designs, inspired by nature, contain no completely straight lines or 90-degree angles. His style is fluid and each detail of the basilica is highly symbolic, including the set-up of the outside area. His plans indicate he was inspired by tales from architects of medieval times who saw churches as central figures of a population area. Churches were meeting places and meant to be a guide to those who were arriving.  

But Gaudi didn’t want just one spire pointing to the sky, he wanted 18! Eleven spires are done The hollow spires with their accent holes are meant to resemble a bee hive and they illuminate the basilica with sunlight and moonlight. 

Continue reading

Pasta! Pasta! Enjoy all the options Italy offers

Penne Arrabiata is a classic with tomato sauce and red chili peppers.

Spaghetti, ravioli, gnocchi and fettuccine, you can find all these pasta options in Italy, but wait, there’s more! Make sure your Italian adventure includes lots of different food options. When you travel to the country that made pasta famous, don’t limit yourself to what might be considered a “pasta dish” in the United States. Your travel advisor from GetAway can help you plot a course through the interesting sights in the country and give you a little advice on dinner courses, too! 

Durum wheat – green and not ripe yet – with poppies growing in the field

 First, some pasta facts and etiquette 

 Pasta is an Italian word meaning paste which refers to the dough that starts out as sort of an egg, flour and water paste. It was affordable for all because it took advantage of the country’s wheat crop. When it is dried, it has a long shelf live and the climate of the country lends itself to growing all sorts of yummy stuff that makes great toppings.  

Durum wheat close -up. Durum is latin for “hard” – making it favoralbe for pasta but less practical for bread flour

Pasta tastes different, by that we mean ‘better’ in Italy, because it is made of 100% durum wheat flour. It is dried slower and at lower temperatures which gives it a nutty flavor and it is higher in protein. When pasta is extruded, that is pushed through a die to make it a hollow tube, it has nice ridges and a rough texture on the outside. In Italy, the dies are bronze, not Teflon. So tube noodles in Italy make great vehicles for sauce because it sticks better to the inside and outside of the noodle. 

Carbonara is a pasta dish made with eggs, hard cheese, cured pork and black pepper. Simple and delicious

Pasta is the course after an appetizer and then comes the meat course. Italians eat about 60 pounds of pasta per person each year, and they still manage to fit into those skinny European jeans! That’s because a typical serving of pasta is about a cup, and then you get your meat course with a portion of vegetable and perhaps a salad. It comes on your plate or flat-bottomed bowl with the noodles, then the sauce on top and then, perhaps, cheese. It is served with a spoon and a fork, not for you to use the spoon to help twirl your spaghetti like they show in the movies, but for you to toss the ingredients. Then, you eat your pasta with a fork. Italian pasta is easier to twirl and keep on your fork because it is always served “al dente.” It has some chew to it, not like soft, squishy noodles that fall apart and can’t hold a sauce or stay on a fork. 

Making fresh pasta

Bread is served as a vehicle to sop up the sauce, not like garlic bread or breadsticks like in American restaurants. 

 So many pasta-abilities… 

 There’s thin, thick and rounded ribbon noodles, sheet noodles, thin tubes that suction up sauce and larger tube noodles made to be stuffed with tasty ingredients. Speaking of stuffed, there’s ravioli, tortelli, tortellini, tortelloni, agnolotti, orecchiette and cappelletti and then we can throw in a couple of odd shapes like rotelle, bigoli, orzo and rotini. 

Tagliatelle with ragu bolognese sauce

A word about sauces, pasta dishes can be served with butter and herbs, olive oil and herbs, tomato sauce, bolognese, ragú, Alfredo or béchamel sauce. The olive oil sauce could be infused with garlic or herbs. Ragu is a meat-based sauce where the meat is braised with tomato or wine sauce. It has some vegetables in it and that’s the difference between bolognese and ragú. Alfredo, which would be unusual to find on a restaurant menu, is a heavy cream, cheese and butter sauce while béchamel is made with milk and flour and is a light, silky sauce. 

Lasagna – layer upon layer of yummy goodness

Lasagna is considered a “Sunday” dinner dish because it is baked and in Italy, it is usually made with béchamel and tomato sauce. 

Linguini alle Vongole (clams)

So let’s talk ribbon-type noodles first. Spaghetti, linguini, vermicelli, capellini are great first course pastas and can be served with tomato, meat or vegetable sauces. Depending on what region of Italy you may be in, they could be served with pesto or green beans and potatoes, or tomatoes, peppers, olives and capers. Linguini could be served with anchovies and pine nuts, a spicy red sauce which would be called arrabbiata on a menu or with a clam sauce. 

Pesto. In our house we make it with pine nuts – what do you use?

Then there’s pasta options that are designed to be vehicles for fabulous fillings or savory sauces. Penne, cannelloni, manicotti, rigatoni, strozzapreti, ziti and tortiglioni are tubular noodles, some with ridges, some without, and if they come stuffed it’s with meat, cheese and spinach. Stuffed pasta options include ravioli, cappelletti, agnolotti, tortelli, tortellini and the slightly larger, tortelloni. Tortelli may show up as a dessert option because it is also used to describe fried pastry stuffed with cream or jam.  

Tortellini stuffed with mushroom, garlic and cheese

There’s those pastas that don’t really fit into any category except — pasta. Orecchiette is a pasta shaped like an ear that is found in the Puglia region. Often served paired with broccoli rabe or broccoli, it is sturdy enough to stand up to gorgonzola cheese. Gnocchi are darling little dough dumplings made with potatoes, spinach, eggs and ricotta. Macaroni is most often found in casseroles, fusilli is a long, thick cork-screw looking noodle considered a Sunday noodle because it usually shows up in a slow baked dish. Bucatini is a long noodle that looks like spaghetti, but it has a hole through the center and it is served with very savory ingredients like sardines, anchovies, pancetta and guanciale. 

Orecchiette with turnip greens

Whatever your pasta preference, you will surely find it in Italy. GetAway is ready to plan your next pasta-lovers adventure!  We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Wheatens don’t really make pasta, but they sure are cute and they are named after the color of Wheat!





Rich history, vibrant culture await visitors to Poland

Stunning architecture, rich and haunting history, picturesque cities, lovely seaside beaches, breathtaking mountain ranges, birthplace of vodka, all those phrases and more describe Poland.  If pierogis and Poland are in your travel plans, GetAway Travel is happy to plan your adventure. 

Speaking of Pierogis…

 Warsaw: a thriving capital city 

 With 1,000 years of history behind it, Warsaw boast unique architecture, culture and museums. 

Warsaw was the last residence of Polish royalty and its historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its cultural significance. 

Warsaw Royal Castle and Old Town

The scars and legacy of World War II are visible around the city. 

A 15-or so minute walk from the city’s Old Town to the Monument of Ghetto Heroes at the site of the Warsaw Ghetto. It is near the Warsaw Rising Museum which offers a fascinating personal glimpse into the Polish underground that took a stand against the Nazis as they sought to destroy the ghetto where they had herded the Jewish population. 

Rappaport memorial to Jewish uprising in Warsaw ghetto during World War II

It is not the same as the POLIN Museum which is about the same distance in a different direction from Old Town. The POLIN Museum covers the broader aspects of the history of Polish Jews through exhibits and collections.  

POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews

Krakowskie Przedmieście is the mile-long avenue that links Old Town and the Royal Castle. Along the avenue is some lovely Baroque churches, Warsaw University and the Copernicus Science Centre. The famous scientist and mathematician was born in Poland and he formulated the theory that the earth revolved around the sun. In the middle of the centre is a planetarium devoted to space and how it impacts our lives. 

Christmas Decorations on Krakowskie Przedmieście

The Royal Castle was the official residence of Polish rulers for centuries. It dates back to the 14th century. It’s a pretty spectacular building with a tower in the center and it has served as a design inspiration for other buildings in Warsaw. 

The Royal Castle and Sigismund’s Column – called the Kolumna Zygmunta

Wilanow Pałace is one of Poland’s most important monuments. Originally built as a residence for King John III Sobieski, it “survived” WWII because its furnishings and art were removed and then reinstalled after the war. It now functions as a museum which showcases the country’s artistic and royal heritage. 

Wilanow Palace

 The National Museum in Warsaw has seven permanent galleries with a great collection of works from European artists including Botticelli, Tintoretto, Van Dyck and Rembrandt. The galleries have artifacts from ancient civilizations as well, including from Egypt. 

Yes, the Vodka Museum in Warsaw which chronicles the history of the beverage DOES have tastings at the end of the tour! 

Traditional Polish appetizer – Pickled herring, cucumber and vodka shots

 Picturesque, quaint Krakow 

 In medieval times Krakow was the national capital, now it is second to Warsaw. But it has one of the first Old Towns in the world to be honored by being designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. Krakow is a fabulous blend of architectural styles, from Gothic churches to Renaissance palaces to Baroque style buildings. 

Krakow, Poland

Just outside of Krakow is the Wieliczka Salt Mines, a UNESCO site because it’s the only mining facility that has operated continuously for 700 years. There are 2,350 chambers and almost 150 underground miles of tunnels. The two miles open to the public have statues, chandeliers, chapels, floors and artwork carved or entirely made of salt. The grand chapel is dedicated to Princess Kuga whom miners believed brought them good fortune. The chapel is still used for weddings and concerts. 

Wieliczka Salt Mine – a must see!

Another UNESCO site near Krakow is Auschwitz-Birkenau, the most notorious of the Nazi death camps. A stop there is thought-provoking, somber and emotional. The camps are a heart-wrenching piece of history. Schindler’s factory is open to the public. Oskar Schindler is credited with saving more than 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust by employing them in his enamelware and ammunitions factories. His main factory is now a fascinating interactive museum which chronicles the history of the city from 1939 to 1945.  Continue reading

Beyond Vienna, the “Stage of the World” and more

While Vienna may be the “City of Dreams,” Salzburg is the “Stage of the World” for its artistic and cultural significance. So after spending time in Vienna, take the three hour or so trip to Salzburg and also spend some time in Innsbruck. By train or by car, the trips involve some fabulous scenery. Salzburg is the birthplace of Mozart, the city where much of the “Sound of Music” was filmed and Innsbruck lays claim to a heritage of salt, silver and gold mines, an Olympic history and the Swarovski experience. GetAway Travel advisors can plan your trip and pack in some fabulous experiences and memories. 


 Architecture, Mozart and more 

 The fourth largest city in Austria, Salzburg sits on the border of Germany and is divided by the Salzach River. Salt mining was the primary source of income here, and the reason Salzburg became a huge trade center. It is renowned for its well-preserved examples of Baroque architecture and much of the city has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site because of the cultural significance of the buildings. 

Gardens at Schloss Mirabell Palace

The city seems like a movie backdrop with its historic churches, abbeys, palaces, concert halls and a fortress. It’s like you are just waiting for Julie Andrews to show up and start belting out “the hills are alive…” as you look up at the Alps. 

Mozart statue in Salzburg

Much of the “Sound of Music” was filmed in and around Salzburg and Mozart was born here so, the hills pretty much are alive with the sound of music. That’s especially true in August during the Salzburg Festival. More than 250,000 people gather to hear classical and contemporary performances by more than 200 artists during the festival.  

Wonderful view of Sazlburg featured right at the start of Do-Re-Mi

Tours of area historic sites make reference to their appearance in the “Sound of Music,” but there are also a number of tours that just take visitors to areas that were featured in the movie. 

Nonnberg Abbey

You can see the Von Trapp home which is actually Leopoldskron Palace, the Nonnberg Abbey where Maria’s abbey scenes were filmed and the Mondsee Cathedral where Maria married the Baron Von Trapp. There is, of course, a Sound of Music World Museum in Salzburg. 

Maria and the Baron’s wedding at Mondsee Cathedral

Hohensalzburg Fortress

Hohensalzburg Fortress sits on a hill overlooking the city. Take a trip on the cable car railway and wander through the medieval era rooms and the courtyard. It is thought to be one of Europe’s best preserved gothic structures. 

The Mozart Museum is Mozart’s birthplace in the center of the city. You can’t miss the bright yellow building. Walk through the family apartments, see his musical instruments and other period memorabilia. 

Salzburg cathedral at Christmas time

The Salzburg Cathedral is a stunning landmark. The centuries-old Baroque style building houses a crypt, some lovely statues, seven fabulous bells, the Vanitas art installation, a museum and a baptismal font. Mozart and Joseph Mohr, who wrote, “Silent Night,” were baptized in Salzburg Cathedral. 

The stunning Hellbrun Palace

The bright, yellow Hellbrunn Palace is worth a visit because of the trick fountains. Wander the gardens and check out the water features, fountains, grottos and geysers. 

A short drive from Salzburg will take you to Salt Mine Berchtesgaden. The tour there will give you all the information you need about the mines and salt mining and as an added bonus — a cool boat ride on a subterranean lake. 

 Add some sparkle with a trip to Innsbruck  

Pipe organ at St James Cathedral, Innsbruck

Innsbruck is a little more than two hours for Salzburg. It was also a trade center. There are some great examples of design and architecture in Innsbruck. The city is home to two small, but stunning churches. Hofkirche has 28 bronze statues of founders and heroes of Austria. The Cathedral of St. James is a great example of Baroque architecture. The interior has a beautiful ceiling, as well as great artwork. 

Schloss Ambras

Schloss Ambras is a medieval fortress that was transformed into a Renaissance castle by Archduke Ferdinand II for his wife. Enjoy the medieval armor and artwork inside the castle. The city is also home to a quaint Folk Art Museum as well as Tirol Panorama, a modern museum that lays out the complicated history of Tirol. 

Spanish Hall in Schloss Ambras

The 1976 Olympic venues are still in use and you can enjoy panoramic views of the city from the Olympic ski jump. 

Ski Jump at Olympic stadium, Innsbruck

Innsbruck is home to the world headquarters of Swarovski Crystals. Swarovski Kristallwelten is a delightful place to tour and visit! There are outdoor areas with large garden sculptures, a waterfall and a hedge maze. There are indoor displays about Swarovski, but the “Chamber of Wonders” is the star. Eighteen designers created inspired displays for Swarovski. 


If it sounds like Austria has a lot of your favorite things, GetAway Travel can get you there! Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

We couldn’t resist! – one last Sound of Music video – The Lonely Goatherd

Enjoy the pizza varieties throughout Italy ~ Warning ~ you will be hungry after reading this post!

One of the most popular take-out foods is pizza. We can thank Italy for creating the pie that more than 5 billion people enjoy throughout the world each year. Pizza is different in Italy, varies from region to region, and even eating it is different. But honestly, it’s just darn tasty. So when you travel to Italy, and the travel advisors at GetAway are ready to plan a fabulous trip for you, don’t skip the pizza. The pies you get in Italy are far better than the steamed crust varieties you get when you order delivery in the United States. 

Pizza in the shape of Italy

 First, some pizza history 

 The first pizza likely didn’t have tomato on it because the fruit didn’t come to Italy until the Europeans brought it in about the mid-1500s. It was pieces of leftover dough either fried or baked with whatever ingredients were available. Pizza marinara was probably the first pizza more like the pizza Americans are used to, because it was fluffy dough prepared by the wives of fishermen who topped it with garlicky, oregano-seasoned tomato sauce. Truthfully, that early pizza was more like focaccia. 

Focaccia – well it ain’t so bad either!

In the 18th century, street vendors in Naples would sell flatbread topped with garlic, salt, herbs, lard and cheese. It was a satisfying and convenient fill-up for low-paid workers. Pizza got the royal seal of approval in 1889 when King Umberto I and Queen Margherita arrived in Naples and wanted to taste “local” food. The queen was said to be quite impressed by a pizza that featured basil, mozzarella and tomatoes on top. It helped that the toppings were the colors of the Italian flag! 

Pizza Margherita – Mozzarella, Tomatoes and Basil

 Let’s “pizza” our way through Italy 

 The biggest differences involve the dough and how the pie is cooked — baked in a wood-fired oven or an electronic oven. Toppings vary, but expect less than you get on a pizza in the US because the fabulous dough is the star and Italians expect their pizza to be light, not the gut-bomb pizzas with tons of toppings and a stuffed crust like some chains offer. And don’t expect to be able to get pineapple or chicken on a pizza. 

Pizza with Arugula & Prosciutto

Here are some regional differences. Naples is in the Capania region. Here, pizza napolitana is king. Think soft, thin crust with some nice airy bubbles and a thickish edge. It is baked in a wood-fired oven at a high heat. 

Pizza from Napoli

Rome is in the Lazio region and here you’ll enjoy pizza romano. It’s a larger size, crunchy, thin pizza with almost no edge. It gets its crispy texture because it is rolled out with a rolling pin and baked in an electronic oven. Liguria is on the West coast and home to the city of Genoa. Pizza here is a soft, flatbread similar to focaccia. The pillowy golden, brown dough contains milk which gives it the softer texture. 

Pizza in Rome

Trendy Milan is in the Lombardy region. Of course the “pizza” here is different. The panzerotti was created here. They are sort of the Hot Pockets version of pizza. Filled with tomato sauce, cheese and sometimes meat, they are a cross between a deep fried turnover and an empanada.They are a great street food choice! 

Chef making panzerotti in Milan

Sicily may be small in surface area, but it boasts three types of pizza! There’s pizza and pizza Siciliana which is two pieces of thick dough. The dough is airy, with a crunchy, crisp bottom and filling in between. The pizzolo is a round turnover creation stuffed with fillings and baked in a wood-fired oven.  

Thick crust Pizza from Sicily

Puglia, on Italy’s heel, has pizza pugliese. The thick dough rises slowly overnight in the refrigerator and it is full of flavor.  

Pizza from Puglia region

Vento is an area that specializes in gourmet or tasting pizza. You can get smaller slices with individual creative toppings. 

 What can you expect for toppings? 

Expect fresh toppings and that brings us to how pizzas are served. If you order them in a restaurant, they come to your table uncut and you eat them with a knife and fork. Yes, a knife and fork. If the menu or the server says they come with tomatoes, they mean tomatoes. Fresh tomatoes squished onto the crust with fresh mozzarella. Both of those ingredients contain a lot of liquid and you’ll either be eating your pizza with utensils or, depending on the region and how soft the crust is, folding it in half or thirds. You may get sausage as a filling, but not usually on top of a pizza. The fast-baked crust in many regions isn’t conducive to toppings that require a lot of cooking. 

So you may get onions, fresh anchovies, ham, prosciutto, potatoes, hard-boiled egg, broccoli, olives, mushrooms, olive oil, sea salt, herbs, artichokes, smoked cheese, gorgonzola, salami and goat cheese as a topping. Pizzas are served by type, you don’t order by topping and they are all one size.  

You can go into a bakery or shop and order pizza al taglio, or cut to go, You’ll see four or five different types of pizza and you point to what you want and show the size of the piece with your hands. The piece is weighed and you are charged by the weight. 

 Some common types of pizza 

 Marinara is tomato sauce, olive oil, oregano and garlic and margherita is tomatoes, mozzarella, fresh basil, salt and olive oil. Frutti de Mare would be pizza with scampi, mussels or squid on tomato sauce with no cheese. Quattro stagioni is a four-sectioned pizza with artichokes on one part to signify spring, tomatoes on one section for summer, mushrooms for autumn and ham for winter. Pizza capricciosa has mozzarella, ham, mushrooms, artichokes and tomatoes. It could also have prosciutto, marinated artichoke hearts and egg. If you order diavola you’ll get a pie with tomato, mozzarella, oregano and spicy salami. You can order a vegetarian pizza or pizza Bianca which comes with no tomato sauce. Quattro formaggi is four cheese — mozzarella and something like gorgonzola, provola and fontina. 

Quattro stagioni Pizza

At GetAway Travel we are all about experiencing a country through the culture, the sights and, the food. Your travel advisor will help with a vacation experience that includes all of that, especially good eats! We can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: or 

Thanks for reading our blog.  We told you you would be hungry now!  Please share with your friends and let them know you are ready to join them on a GetAway to Italy – Ciao

P.S.  Soft Coated Wheaten Terriers should not eat pizza – but this guy is too cute!

Prague: fairy-tale charm, amazing architecture

The Czech Republic is an amazingly diverse country. It has numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, lovely parks, historic towns, castle that look like they just stepped out of a fairy tale, bustling night life and beer. And, we’re not going to downplay the importance of beer. The Czech Republic has one of the oldest beer cultures in history. Beer is actually cheaper than water here. It’s a food group. But even if you don’t drink beer, the Czech Republic and its capital, Prague, are a fabulous vacation spot. If the Czech Republic is one of your upcoming vacation spots, GetAway Travel is ready to help plan your adventure. 

Fun facts, beer and wine 

 Landlocked with Austria to the South, Germany to the West, Poland to the Northeast and Slovakia to the Southeast, the Czech Republic has some of the cleanest air in Europe! It is considered one of the most livable cities in Europe. It is one of the most visited cities in Europe because of its cultural and historical sites. The country has a bewildering mix of architectural styles including: romanesque, gothic, renaissance, baroque, classicist, art nouveau, cubism and functionalism. 

St Vitus Cathedral – Prague

With all that splendid architecture, the second ugliest building in the world is located in Prague. The 700-foot high Žižkov Television Tower can’t be missed when you look at the city skyline. A holdover from the communist reign in the city, there’s an observation platform at 300 feet which offers great views of the city. Artist David Cerny created 10 faceless fiberglass infants which can be seen climbing the tower. 

Žižkov Television Tower – Prague

There are unique and interesting parks in Europe, but none fit that bill better than Bohemian Paradise in the north of Czech Republic. It has sandstone rock labyrinths, hiking trails, castle ruins and the Bozkov dolomite caves where you can see Czechia’s largest underground lakes. 

Bohemian Paradise Park

The Czech Republic produces more than 20 million liters of beer each year. Germany is the only other country that has more breweries than the Czech Republic. But, Czechs drink more beer per capita than any other country. The first pilsner (a lager beer with strong hop flavor) in the world was produced in the Czech Republic and is still sold under the brand Pilsner Urquell. 

Original Czech Pilsner – still the best

There are lively beer gardens all over the city with live music and many offer beer flights so you can taste a few beers and decide which you like. You can also try beer spas, beer shampoo and even beer cosmetics. 

Bernard Beer Spa – promotional image

Even though it’s known as beer country, there are some fine wines produced in the Moravian region of the Czech Republic. The warm climate in that area coupled with lots of sun creates lush vineyards and flowery, earthy wines. Znojmo, is a little more than two hours from Prague as is Mikulov. They both have an impressive number of wine-tasting cellars. 

Architectural wonders and oddities 

Schönborn Palace in Prague was built by Maria Theresa for her husband, Francis II after he became emperor of Austria-Hungary in 1765. The palace has beautiful rooms with fabulous artwork including paintings by Ruben and VanDyk. 

Troja Palace

 Prague Castle is in the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest castle. The castle and property is more than 753,000 square feet. There are lovely winding streets and buildings that are architectural delights. The “palace” is actually multiple sections including the old Royal Palace and St. Vitus Cathedral. The cathedral is the most important church in the Czech Republic. It is a classic example of gothic architecture. With its quirky gargoyles, soaring stained glass windows, gilded statues inside and the crowned jewels, its a must-see.  Continue reading