Last September we had the joy of sailing with a small group aboard the Uniworld S.S. Joie de Vivre cruising from Paris to Normandy. Everyone loved the experience onboard – the service was outstanding and the food was amazing. One of our (many!) highlights of the trip was a group cooking class in the on board Wine Cave – La Cave des Vins.
Being in Normandy, we had a welcome cocktail made with Calvados (local Apple Brandy) followed by a 4 course food and wine pairing. The whole group assisted with all the food prep and cooking. Our first course was an amazing sauteed foie gras atop a vanilla apple – which Continue reading →
Hello world – meet Oilibhear (Ollie) the newest staff member at GetAway Travel!
This year on Black Friday we picked up a new puppy. No he was not an impulse buy – we’ve actually been planning his arrival before conception occurred!
Ollie’s about 11 weeks old now and is a Soft Coated Wheaten Terrier. The Wheaten breed originated from Ireland, hence the Irish name of Oilibhear. He has a nice bed and plenty of toys in the office and he enjoys chewing all of them (toys, bed, office desks, chairs, etc. – you know he’s a typical puppy). If we’re on the phone with you and all of the sudden we shout the word “NO”, please don’t take offense. That’s just our encouragement for Ollie not to use the office as a restroom! He is still in training so let’s just call it an unpaid intern position – although he constantly pays us with plenty of kisses!
While OIlie does not yet collect a salary, he does receive many perks such as free meals, fresh water, a huge yard, all the toys a pup could want and very generous health care benefits.
Ollie came to us from the same “staffing agency” that brought us both Fergus and Feena, which while they are no longer with us still occupy gargantuan spaces in our hearts. Here’s a link to Ollie’s breeder on Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/vanbeardwheatens where you can also find updates on Ollies’ 3 sisters and 2 brothers all of which seem to be living the highlife.
So Ollie – welcome to GetAway Travel. We think you have a very bright future ahead of you. Please be aware that during your initial intern assignment that performance appraisals occur on a very frequent basis. Positive reviews will noted with the words – “Good Boy”. Negative reviews will typically begin with the word “No” followed by explicit words explaining what you may did wrong. Regardless though we promise to always love and cherish you as a valued member of the agency.
This happens every time we GetAway. We take a ton of pictures while we’re travelling and then after we get home we struggle to find time to sort through them, find the best ones and share. So for today’s post we just grabbed some random ones from our recent Paris to Normandy river cruise that we hope you’ll enjoy. So, well…enjoy away!
This was our third time to Versailles, but our very first to see the Queen’s hamlet. It’s a beautiful setting and makes for a great day of touring. You can read more about it here –The Queens Hamlet
I think you can tell we love River Cruising. But it’s not just us (although we are pictured above), our friends and clients love it too. The Joie de Vivre was an amazing home for 7 days.
Yup it’s just a picture of cheese in France. Call us guilty – we are from Wisconsin and we love cheese enough to take pictures of it.
Artwork as seen through a store window in Honfleur, France. This gorilla looks to need a glass of single malt scotch to go with his cigar. We didn’t buy this painting as we don’t know where we’d hang this in our house, however if you have a place for it – a trip to Honfleur might be just the thing you need.
Speaking of Honfleur – here it is. It’s a gorgeous town to visit.
The American cemetery in Normandy is a humbling beautiful place to visit. Words cannot express the gratitude.
This is a view down a stretch of Omaha beach. The coast line is rugged and looks much the same as it did in 1944
Sainte-Mère-Église is now famous for a true incident portrayed in the movie The Longest Day. The incident on D-Day involved paratrooper John Steele whose parachute caught on the spire of the town church, and could only observe the fighting going on below. He hung there limply for two hours, pretending to be dead, before the Germans took him prisoner. Steele later escaped from the Germans and rejoined his division when US troops attacked the village. Look closely and you’ll see a mannequin with a parachute hanging from the church tower today
Water lillies and France – must be the home of Monet. Some of Monet’s most famous paintings are of his garden at Giverny.
Random visit to a pop-up market behind the exclusive Domaine Les Crayères hotel in Reims. Yes we’re in the heart of Champagne and this is a craft beer tent. It was a very happy moment for Paul!
There is a lot of limestone in the soils of Champagne. Our Wine expert is showing us the ancient sea creature shells embedded in the stone on the Reims Cathedral. He explained the calcium in the limestone is present in the wine and now that we’ve been drinking Champagne, there is a bit of the region of Champagne in all of us.
You should definitely go for the night time light show at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Reims. But during the day you get better close up shots of the statues and this one is missing the top of his head. Perhaps his hat blew off in a strong wind.
Speaking of hats, this one looked great on Pierre, but we don’t think he actually brought it home.
Sitting outside in Hautvillers, France for a wine and food tasting. That’s a lot of glasses! It was all so we could taste some of the individual varietals that go into Champagne. Hautvillers itself is famous for the Abbey of St. Peter which existed here until the French Revolution. The Abbey was the home of Dom Perignon, a rather famous Benedictine monk whose work in wine-making helped to develop champagne. Perhaps you’ve heard of him?
Speaking of Champagne how about a place called Billecart-Salmon? They create fantastic wine and it was a great Champagne house to visit. We discovered that in his college years, our host (center of photo above) spent a year in Milwaukee. You can imagine we quickly bonded over that. Yes it is a small world!
Hmm….you may be wondering…yes it is a foosball table – perhaps the best one ever. We discovered this one at Ruinart. Come for the bubbles and stay for the foosball!
Well that’s just a sample of some of our activities and the sites we visited. These pictures don’t even include our cooking class in Reims – you can see that on youtube here. Champagne is a quick train trip outside of Paris. While it was not part of the river cruise – we went there for a few days first prior to the 7 days on the river Seine. If we can help make your France (or any other location) travel dreams come true – please give us a call or drop us a note.
Please join us for an exclusive on-line River Cruise Night with Avalon Waterways
Presented by Nancy Baumann & Sharon Pendergast – Avalon Waterways
Tuesday, November 12, 2019 | 7:00 PM CST
If you want to see the world, cruise down its legendary rivers. If you want to see more of the world, look no further than Avalon Waterways. Their ships feature one-of-a-kind Panorama Suites with the widest opening windows in river cruising, open-air balconies, and beds facing the incredible views.
Beyond the wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling windows is a world waiting to be explored—your way. Whether you want to enjoy a guided walking tour of one of Europe’s great cities, join a cooking class or paddle a canoe, their Avalon Choice selections of Classic, Discovery and Active excursions offer a wide range of possibilities. When you prefer to explore on your own, they can help you with all the recommendations, information and gear you need. And when it’s time to refuel, your dining options on board are as wide open as your views.
The Hameau de la Reine is a rustic retreat built for Marie Antionette in 1783 within the park which includes the Palace of Versailles. It served as a private leisure and meeting place for the queen and her closest friends. In a couple of weeks that will include us as we visit as part of an excursion on our Paris to Normandy River Cruise aboard the S.S Joie de Vivre.
Including the queen’s house there are a total of 10 cottages. The site was abandoned after the French Revolution and would be completely lost if not for later restoration efforts. Napoleon ordered a full restoration between 1810 and 1812, which unfortunately included tearing down some of the most dilapidated structures including the barn and the working dairy. A second restoration campaign funded by John Rockefeller in 1930’s saved the hamlet from certain ruin. Part of the hamlet was restored once again in the late 20th century, with some buildings including the windmill restored to their original look. The farm itself almost totally disappeared over the course of the 20th century but was reconstructed in 2006. It’s now home to a variety of animals.
We are really looking forward to our upcoming visit. While the cruise is sold out you can still follow along on our Facebook page – we hope to see you there -https://www.facebook.com/getawaytravelllc/
Assisi is a hill town in central Italy, but it is not in Tuscany – it is in the Province of Perugia in the Umbria region. A visit to the Medieval town of Assisiis essential; a UNESCO World Heritage Site, its represents “a series of masterpieces of man‘s creative spirit.” The town revolves around its most renowned citizen, St. Francis, Patron Saint of Italy: from the Basilica, which is dedicated to the Saint and contains his tomb, to the hermitage (Eremo delle Carceri), a few kilometers outside the town walls, where St. Francis used to retreat in prayer.
Francis is one of the most venerated religious figures in history. Born in Italy circa 1182, Saint Francis of Assisi was renowned for drinking and partying in his youth. After fighting in a battle between Assisi and Perugia, Francis was captured and imprisoned for ransom. He spent nearly a year in prison — awaiting his father’s payment — and, according to legend, began receiving visions from God.
After his release from prison, Francis heard the voice of Christ, who told him to repair the Christian Church and live a life of poverty. Consequently, he abandoned his life of luxury and became a devotee of the faith, his reputation spreading all over the Christian world.
Fakarava is a 6 square mile atoll in the Tuamotu island chain – part of the Islands of Tahiti. It is the second largest atoll in French Polynesia with a population of around 800.
What’s an atoll?
Atolls are ring-shaped coral reefs that encircle a lagoon either partially or completely. They often sit atop the rim of an extinct volcano. The lagoon forms over the caldera while the higher rim remains above water. The largest concentration of atolls are in the Pacific and Indian oceans.
So why go to Fakarava?
It’s a UNESCO Biosphere reserve. The land and underwater life are rare and protected and the environment is pristine.
It’s as stunning underwater as it is above. Divinely warm water requiring only simple snorkel gear. Discover fluorescent coral, huge coral heads, schools of fish by the thousands and “walls” of sharks. Yes walls of sharks
So – how do you get to Fakarava?
Here is one great option. Hop on a flight from mainland US so you arrive in Papeete Tahiti by early morning of Saturday April 4, 2020. Transfer to the cruise pier and check into your amazing balcony cabin on board the luxurious Oceania Regatta. Ahead of time you’ll have already made your Free OLife Choice – free beverage package, free excursions or free shipboard credit. Along with free WiFi and the Finest Cuisine at Sea you’ll be ready for a rewarding trip through Paradise as we cruise the Tahitian islands for the next 10 days. Fakarava is just one of 7 island/atoll stops, including overnight in Bora Bora.
We are very excited to be hosting a web only session on Discovering the Galapagos Islands with Celebrity Cruises. An all-inclusive cruise to the Galapagos Islands is infinitely different than other voyages. Smaller, more intimate, a gathering of people all bound by a fascination with exploration and ecology. All with renowned Celebrity service at every turn. Celebrity Galapagos sailings prove that you can visit the most ancient places on earth wrapped in modern luxury.
Fjordland National Park in New Zealand is a truly magnificent place to go. On our recent cruise we were favored with fantastic weather outside, but inside Sue Adams was a bit under the weather so some of the viewing was done just from our stateroom balcony. As we were passing by another stunning waterfall, some dolphins just happened to swim by and put on a show for us. Wow! #love2getaway
You know, some people still wonder…Do I really need to have a balcony cabin? uh, yes you do!