Category Archives: Wine

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 

Break out the bubbly! Exploring the Champagne region of France

If there’s a celebration, nine times out of 10, there’s Champagne. It’s that iconic bubbly beverage that is photographed showing the fabulous fizz in stunning glasses. But it’s just a pretty pretender if what you are drinking hasn’t been produced in the Champagne region of France. 

Reims

GetAway Travel invites you to contact us and book a trip to explore the Champagne region and get up close and personal with the drink that has launched thousands of special moments. 

Why is it special? 

Since the 1600s, 3 grapes: pinot noir, pinot meunièr and chardonnay grapes make what we call Champagne. The hills and plains in Eastern France between Paris and Lorraine are renowned for producing the famous sparkling wine known as Champagne. The area is about a day trip by bus from Paris. 

The taste of grapes varies depending on the area where they are grown, which is one of the reasons Champagne processed and produced in the Champagne region has very distinctive characteristics. The amount of each grape included in the blend or cuvee is proprietary to each Champagne producer.  

The grape mix is fermented into wine and the wine is then injected with a yeast. The second fermentation series creates carbon dioxide which puts the bubbles into the bubbly. 

Champagne must age at least 15 months, but some are aged much longer. When you walk the streets of Reims and Epernay, two of the larger cities in the Champagne region, you are likely walking over millions of bottles of Champagne stored in tunnels and cellars beneath the earth. 

Cathedrals, castles and Champagne 

Reims Cathedral

Reims, was the traditional coronation spot for most of France’s kings. Reims Cathedral is one of France’s greatest representations of gothic architecture. It was badly damaged in WWI, and then restored to its original splendor. Its twin bell towers and rose-stained glass windows are featured in many publications. 

Detail – exterior of Cathedral in Reims

Reims is home to some of the major Champagne producers including Taittinger. Of course tours and tastings are available but be warned — tours include the cellars and tunnels. It may be 85 degrees outside, but it’s in a chilly mid-40s where the Champagne is stored. Pack a light coat. 

Marc Chagall windows – Reims Cathedral

If you are fascinated by Art Deco, check out the Villa Demoiselle in Reims. This grand mansion has been transformed into a museum that features Art Nouveau as well as Art Deco furniture and fittings. Reims is very pedestrian oriented, and you can stroll along the streets and visit Champagne retailers, smaller tasting rooms and restaurants. 

Reims Cathedral nighttime light show

Visit the Chateau de Sedan in the region. The mid-16th century castle/fortress once housed nearly 4,000 residents. On your tour you will likely meet up with medieval costumed characters. 

Nigoland in Dolancourt is a theme park that includes a great roller coaster, a drop tower attraction and a forest and gardens. The Troyes Cathedral has a superb rose window, and it houses art as well as renaissance era sculptures. 

While you are in Troyes, you can see an 18th century apothecary with a fabulous collection of ceramic jars and painted medicine boxes. 

Don’t skip a side trip to Epernay 

 Epernay is about 15 miles from Reims and Champagne producers such as Moet-Chandon and Perrier-Jouet are headquartered there. There are many smaller cellars and Champagne houses all within walking distance along the Avenue de Champagne. It is estimated that there are more than 200 million bottles of Champagne beneath the streets. 

In the chalk caves

Admire the incredible stonework at the Portal Saint-Martin. The oldest monument in Epernay has fabulous stone renderings of animals. It is all that is left of the Abby of Saint Martin. Relax and smell the roses at the Jardin Botanique De La Presir. This botanical garden features plants from all over Europe as well as 500 types of roses. There’s a labyrinth as well as topiaries sculpted into monster shapes! 

 The seasoned, well-traveled travel advisors at GetAway Travel can help with your dream trip to the Champagne region of France and also help you book your smaller cellar and site tours before you go so you won’t miss a thing. Contact Sue or Paul, (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Stunning scenery and adventure await travelers to New Zealand

If fabulous landscapes from mountains to beaches, as well as the opportunity to walk on a glacier and drink fine wine are on your bucket list, New Zealand is the place you want to be. For its size, the islands of New Zealand pack some big bang for your buck. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel can package you up a vacation that involves adventure or sightseeing, or some of both! 

 A natural paradise 

Without question, New Zealand is recognized as one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It has scenery that takes your breath away, plenty to do and see for all ages, friendly people and, this might surprise you, some of the finest wine in the world. 

The temperate climate means you can go snow skiing one day and water skiing the next. You can go bungy jumping in Queenstown and zorbing in Rotorua (you’ve probably seen videos of this) which is rolling around the countryside in a large transparent ball. There’s geothermal marvels and glowworm caves, too! 

You can get an idea of how gorgeous the scenery is if you’ve seen “The Lord of the Rings” or any of the “Hobbit” movies. 

World’s largest Hobbit

The indigenous population, the Māori (Mau-ree) are naturally friendly and outgoing and love to share their culture and heritage. And, as we always say, be respectful of local culture and landmarks because you are a visitor and would expect the same if they were visiting you. 

Let’s hit some highlights 

 New Zealand is two islands, somewhat uncreatively known as North and South islands. Together they are about a 1,000 miles long and at the widest point, about 280 miles across. There are five million inhabitants on the islands. 

Auckland

Rotorua is famous for geothermal features and representations of the Māori culture. There are bubbling mud pools, boiling geysers, colored rock formations and the resorts feature hot springs bathing. The surrounding area is studded with Māori villages including Mitai, Whakarewarewa and Tamaki. They have cultural shows that feature traditional music and dance as well as hangi meals. Hangi cooking is cooking large meals in pit ovens using heated rocks. The meat and vegetables come out extremely tender and flavorful. 

Waitangi on the North Island is a major historical site. In 1840 the Māori chiefs signed a treaty with Britain giving it ruling power. There is a museum on the treaty grounds as well as a fascinating ornately carved marae (which is a Māori meeting house) and a ceremonial canoe. 

Hokianga Harbour is perfect for camping, dune boarding, dolphin watching and horseback riding. Coromandel Peninsula has hiking trails, some eclectic quaint towns and Cathedral Beach on the peninsula is thought by many to be one of the country’s most beautiful beaches. 

Tongariro National Park is a dual UNESCO site, certified for both its cultural and historic significance. It has three volcanic peaks, Mount Tongariro, Raupehu and Ngauruhoe. 

One of New Zealand’s premier wine producing regions, as well as its oldest, is Hawke’s Bay. More than 200 vineyards are clustered in this temperate area. It is famous for its sauvignon blanc wines, some have even said they are the best in the world! Napier in Hawke’s Bay has a large collection of Art Deco architecture buildings. 

Wellington is the capital of New Zealand. The New Zealand Parliament Building is known as the “Beehive” due to its unique architecture and you can book a tour of the Weta Workshop. A film special effects company, it was founded by Peter Jackson, director of “The Lord of the Rings” and the “Hobbit” movies. Speaking of the Hobbit, if you are fond of the shire, Waikato is the place to go for a guided tour of the Hobbiton movie set. 

The Beehive, Wellington

Kaikoura is a great spot for whale and dolphin watching. If you visit Fiordland Park, nearby Anau has glowworm caves. 

Dusky Sound, Fjordland

Nelson is known for having the greatest number of sunshine hours per year in the country. There are numerous dining spots that highlight the area agriculture with farm-to-table cuisine as well as fine local wine. 

 Let’s eat… and drink! 

 Mutton is on the menu, but don’t pass up having lamb. Served roasted with vegetables or cooked in a hangi, it’s delicious. Vegemite and marmite — ok, not many people refer to yeast extract as tasty. Try it once. Marmite is a little sweeter than Vegemite. Put a thin layer on buttered toast and you can say you tried it. 

Hobbiton

Venison is also on the menu, but it’s not like your usual venison. The deer here are farm raised and the venison is not tough or gamey.  

New Zealand co-opted fish and chips from the Brits, but in New Zealand you can pick the type of fish you like. Speaking of seafood, it’s great here. Don’t pass up the abalone, Bluff Oysters or green lipped mussels. Chow down on a sausage sizzle which you can pick up at a street gazebo. It’s a sausage eaten on white bread with tomato sauce, mustard and fried onions. Likewise, mince pies can be purchased at the dairy store which is New Zealand speak for corner convenience store or at any gas station. Mince is the traditional filling, but there are lots more to choose from including vegetarian or vegan. 

Rail Station, Dunedin New Zealand

The wine is fabulous. There’s a drink you must try — Lemon & Paeroa, which is a carbonated lemon juice and mineral water drink. And there is craft beer aplenty. Local favorites include Garage Project, Parrot Dog and Heyday. Oh, there’s sweet things, too. Pavlova is like eating a meringue cloud with whipped cream and fruit, peanut slabs are candy bars with peanuts, pineapple lumps are chocolate lumps with a pineapple center and hokey pokey ice cream is vanilla ice cream with toffee bits. 

The Giants House, Akaroa

 New Zealand is starting to sound pretty interesting and like a great place for a vacation, right? Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Savor the ambiance, wine, history of Bordeaux

A port city on the Garonne River, Bordeaux is known for its cultural sites, great weather, proximity to Paris and, of course, the fact that it is the hub of France’s wine country. The city and the surrounding countryside are a fascinating destination even if you don’t have a sip of wine. Your travel advisors at GetAway Travel have been to Bordeaux and can set up a trip for you based on personal experience! 

 It’s wine country! 

 We’ll talk wine first. Bordeaux IS first and foremost, wine country. The only area that makes a bigger imprint on the world wine scene is in Italy. Bordeaux has great weather the year round and it’s actually where Paris residents like to visit. You can’t throw a stone without hitting a vineyard. Grapes, and wine lovers, love Bordeaux. It’s the soil, the water, the weather, the way the wind blows and years and years of experience that make the wine renowned around the world. The Left Bank is cabernet sauvignon and the Right is merlot with white and dessert wines interspersed into both areas. 

Even if you don’t go to Bordeaux because its the wine reputation, take at least one vineyard tour. You are visiting the second largest wine producing region on Earth, you owe it to yourself to take a vineyard tour. See the vat rooms and cellars, see how wine is made and stored. Be one of the people that experience tasting world-class wine on the grounds of a chateau. 

Chateau Lafite Rothschild

About the vineyard tours, you need an appointment. After all, making the best wine in the world is work and you are actually entering a workplace. Tours usually last an hour to an hour and a half and, of course, end with tasting. Your travel advisors can discuss vineyard tours with you when you book your vacation.  

GetAway group at Chateau Lafite Rothschild

You want to pace yourself and not book oh say five or six tours in a day. That’s not going to work because of the distance between vineyards and the tasting time. Tasting means sipping wine, not throwing down a glass like its last call.  

 Two wine museums 

 Two museums devoted to wine? Yes! The Musée du Vin et Du Négoce de Bordeaux or the Bordeaux wine and trade museum is located in the historic Chatrons district. Built in 1720, it was the former wine cellar of Louis XV. Trace the history of three centuries of wine including the background behind wine trade, the work of coopers — the makers of wine barrels — learn about the invention of the bottle, shop for souvenirs and wine and your visit will end with wine tasting. 

The Cite du Vin looks a little like a UFO. It is all things wine, in a world-wide context, as an immersive interactive experience. The world’s largest wine museum, it opened in 2016. It has eight floors of exhibits as well as a wine bar, wine library, permanent as well as temporary exhibits and it should not be missed! 

The Cite du Vin is set up to celebrate wine and its history. There are spectacular panoramic images of wine regions around the world, Videos, touch screens, a fun (yes, fun) explanation of fermentation. The portraits of wine are surrounded by wooden bottle sculptures. Touch the portrait and it will tell you about the wine. Aroma machines waft the fragrance of wine around and famous historical figures as well as present day chefs and winemaker give virtual chats about their favorite wine. 

 There’s a lot more than wine 

 The central area of Bordeaux has one of the world’s most amazing 18th century cityscapes. It has modern stores, theaters and retail establishments, but they are all in the framework of old century buildings. There are no glass-fronted office buildings and the tallest structures are cathedral towers and church spires 

The Musee de Beaux Arts is renowned for its extensive collections of French and Dutch art including works from Van Dyck, Ruebens, Titian, Chardin, Delacroix, Corot, Boudin, Bounard and Matisse. 

One of the most beautiful cathedrals in France is the Primatial Cathedral of St. Andrew of Bordeaux or the Bordeaux Cathedral. A stunning example of medieval gothic architecture, Eleanor of Aquitaine and Louis VII were married here. The cathedral’s north entrance is considered the royal entrance and a recessed area above the door shows images that appear to be the last supper. The Grand Theâtre de Bordeaux was built by architect Victor Louis and atop the 12 front columns are large statues of muses and goddesses. The facade is particularly striking at night because the front as well as the statues are lighted. 

St. Michael’s Basilica is constructed in a form of late gothic architecture. It is the largest church in Bordeaux and the second tallest church in France. 

The Miroir d’Eau is the largest reflective pool in the world. A UNESCO world heritage site, it was designed with the help of a fountain architect. 

Shopping? Oh yes, the Rue Sainte Catherine is the longest pedestrian street in Europe. And you can truly shop until you drop. Start at the north end and wander through clothing stores including major outlets and work your way to the south which features regional shops as well as restaurants and cafes. 

 If Bordeaux is your cup of tea, or idea of a wine paradise, GetAway Travel can help with your vacation. Reach us at:  (262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or paul@getaway.travel 

Port wine: A Portugal treasure

Port wine is to Portugal as Champagne is to France. Each of those spirits have to be prepared using strict guidelines and their ingredients have to be sourced from a certain area. The only sparkling wine that can be called Champagne must come from the Champagne Wine Region of France and the only wine that can be labeled “Port” has to be from the Douro Valley of Portugal. 

Whether you are a port person or a champagne connoisseur, GetAway Travel can construct a trip for you. We’re working on a port-forward trip right now! It takes you to the Douro Valley and it’s aboard a fabulous modern ship designed for river cruising. 

What’s all the fuss about location? 

 The narrow Douro Valley has its own microclimate which makes it the optimal area to produce grapes used in port. In the 1700s, Portugal’s prime minister took measures to distinguish the specific area of the Douro Valley as being the only area where true port could be produced. It set production standards, the same way there are standards set for only some sparkling wines to be known as champagne. 

Port Casks aging at Offley

The unique aspect of the valley is that the soil as well as the terraced vineyards, were transformed by hand. The vineyard owners worked the soil to produce specific grapes and the terraces were set up to retain water as well as drain water if needed. More than 80 types of grapes are produced in the valley. Many of the vineyards have to still harvest by hand because of the way they are set up. 

Port wine must be at least two years old before it can be sold to the public and producers are only allowed to sell 30% of what they make so there is always port wine aging with producers. The port “winters” in the valley in barrels or kegs because that type of climate helps the fortifying agent mix with the wine. It then is moved to Porto (where it gets its name) because the humid, mild climate there is better for continued aging. 

Port tasting in Porto

 Tell me more about port 

 Port wine is not a chugging wine, it’s a sipping wine most often served with dessert or even as a dessert. It is considered the most delicious dessert wine on the planet! 

It is a fortified wine (more on that later) and it is richer, sweeter, heavier and higher in alcohol content than normal wines. It has an alcohol content somewhere between 19 and 20%. Heady stuff, but it goes great with fine cheeses and rich desserts. 

There are two main kinds of port, ruby and tawny. 

Ruby is slightly less sweet than tawny and it has berry and chocolate undertones. Tawny has caramel and nut nuances, but aged tawny can also have undertones of graphite, hazelnut, almond, butterscotch and graham cracker. 

There’s also white port, rose port and vintage port. Vintage port is rare, it is made from the best grapes of a single type of grape. Port houses declare a port wine as “vintage” only a few times in a decade. 

very old Vintage Port

 Do they still stomp the grapes? 

 Yes, yes they do — and here’s why. Those bitter seed nibs in grapes do nothing to add to the taste of port and feet stomping the grapes slide over the seeds and they can be drained out later. Some vineyards do employ mechanical feet machines to crush the grapes and they cross their fingers not a lot of the seeds get crushed. 

The harvested grapes, all picked in one day, are put in granite treading tanks and stomped to release the juice and the pulp from the skins. It is a synchronized process to make sure all of the grapes get crushed. When that is done and the skins are floating to the top of the tanks, the treading continues to keep moving the skins under the juice so fermentation starts. When about half of the natural sugar has fermented, the treading stops and the skins are allowed to sit on the top of the tank and the juice is drained out. The wine is then fortified with a distilled grape spirit called brandy. The sugar turns to alcohol and that’s where the high alcohol content happens. 

View from Taylor tasting room in Porto

 Tell me more! 

 Drink port with rich cheeses like bleu cheese, chocolate and caramel desserts, salted and smoked nuts and even sweet, smoky meats. You can add it to chocolate cakes or chocolate sauces and it can be simmered to a thick sauce, similar to a balsamic glaze. 

Rosé port should be served ice cold. It’s very trendy to serve it cold in the summer with a twist of lime. 

White port should be served cold, tawny port should be cool, like about 50 to 58° Fahrenheit and ruby should be served at cellar temperature which is about 60°. Port should be stored on its side and set upright about 24 hours ahead of serving and decanted if possible. The shelf life of port is about halfway between wine and liquor. 

We could talk about port all day, but we’d rather you learn more on a trip to the Duoro Valley. Contact us about that trip, or any other fabulous trip you’ve been thinking about. We can be reached at:(262) 538-2140, e-mail: sue@getaway.travel 

Beaune France – wine and oh, so much more!

Beaune, (pronounced bone), is south of Dijon, Burgundy’s capital city, but it is considered the capital of burgundy wines. If you are interested in wine, food, France, culture and tradition, then consider the river cruise GetAway Travel has planned for November of 2022. It will be a great way to tour and understand all things wine since you will be accompanied by experts from Spring City Wine House. https://getaway.travel/unique-getaways/spring-city-wine-house-burgundy-river-cruise/ 

Sue – ready for wine in Beaune

 Beaune is renowned for wine, but also for food, the architectural excellence and cultural significance of Hospice du Beaune, museums, markets and a family run mustard mill. 

 First, let’s talk wine 

 The vineyards around Beaune produce some of the world’s best Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Joseph Drouhin, Louis Jadot, Bouchard Pere et fils, are a few of the well-known vintners that allow tours. An optional city tour is included in your tour package and you can always consult your travel advisor at GetAway Travel for more specific information. Five of the greatest vineyards in the region are in the Beaune area and you can tour on foot, in vehicle, by horse and carriage, on a bike and even on a Segway if you like! 

The original ramparts built to protect Beaune still exist and you can stroll on the ramparts to some of the vineyards. 

There are independent wine shops and cellars throughout the town. 

Wine cellar in Beaune

 Hospice du Beaune 

 You can’t talk about Beaune and wine without mentioning the Hospice du Beaune. Home of an annual wine auction that draws celebrities and cash, the auction which began after 1457, still benefits area charities. 

Hospice du Beaune

Built in 1443, the Hospice du Beaune was established to care for the infirm who could not afford health care. In 1457 a local vineyard owner donated a bottle of wine to be sold to start a fund to care for the infirm in perpetuity. Now, Christies runs the auction each year. 

formerly hanging in the hospital, but now in the museum for Hospice du Beaune

But even if you aren’t attending the auction, the gothic hospital is considered one of the finest monuments in the country and a site that should not be missed. The complex with its bright, mosaic tiled roofs is a glorious sight in the sunlight. 

The pharmacy, chapel, wine cellars and, of course the vineyards, can be toured. More than 20 prestigious winemakers tend the vineyards around the Hospice du Beaune. 

 Food, shopping, museums and more 

 On Saturdays, Beaune is home to two huge markets. In the downtown area, you can find culinary wonders including meat, cheese and produce. The regional cheeses are fabulous, there’s Chaource, Espoisses and Delice de Pommard which is a light, creamy cheese rolled in mustard seeds. A second market a short walk from the town square specializes in antiques including books, glassware, vases and clothing. 

Market day in Beaune – Olives

You likely will experience some of the local cuisine from the river cruise chefs, perhaps Boeuf Bourguignon or Escargots a La Bourguignon. And no doubt the local mushrooms and truffles will find a place in one or two meals. 

Beaune market

In addition to the historical displays at the Hospice du Beaune, there is a wine museum in town, and the Dalineum is a museum dedicated to the works of Salvador Dali. The venerable Theatre de Verdure is now a spectacular public garden and sample a variety of mustards after taking a tour of the Fallot Mustard Mill. It offers an historic perspective on mustard production and the evolution of the condiment. 

Beaune market – a foodies delight

There are a number of public parks suitable for picnics and the Parc de La Bouzaire has its own lake and a small animal farm as well as a cafe. The Cote Plage beach features grassy access to the water and four natural pools. 

One of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture dating back to the 12th Century is the Basilica of Notre Dame in Beaune. Tour the old cloisters and St. Leger Chapel. There are stunning stained-glass windows and five intricate tapestries woven in the 1500s that chronicle the life of the Virgin Mary. 

Wine, food, architecture, culture and ambiance — Beaune has it all and you can experience it first-hand on the GetAway Travel river cruise planned for November 2022.  

As always, we can be reached at:  (262) 538-2140

e-mail: sue@getaway.travel or getaway.travel@outlook.com

 

Too many Pictures and not enough time

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!

Queens hamlet versailles_2_1

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

ss joie de vivre_11

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.

Paris France_7

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.

Honfleur France_73

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.

Honfleur France_26

Speaking of Honfleur – here it is.  It’s a gorgeous town to visit.

American cemetary normandy_18

The American cemetery in Normandy is a humbling beautiful place to visit.  Words cannot express the gratitude.

Omaha beach normandy_14

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 normandy france_2

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

Giverny_47

Water lillies and France – must be the home of Monet.  Some of Monet’s most famous paintings are of his garden at Giverny.

Domaine Les Crayères hotel reims_25

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!

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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.

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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.

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Speaking of hats, this one looked great on Pierre, but we don’t think he actually brought it home.

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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?

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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!

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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.

 

 

The Queens Hamlet

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/

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Wining around Hobart Tasmania

Tasmania has perfect climate for growing grapes and making wines with mild summers and long autumn days.  Tasmania features elegant cool climate wines including pinot noir, riesling, chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, cabernet sauvignon, pinot gris, gewurztraminer and sparkling wines in both the Northern and Southern growing regions.

There are 3 main clusters of vineyards in the Southern growing region which encompasses the Hobart area:

  • The Freycinet Peninsula northeast of Hobart
  • Around Hobart including the Coal Valley and Derwent River
  • South of Hobart around the Huon Valley and the d’Entrecasteaux Channel

Exhibit at MONA

We visited Freycinet Peninsula previously, so for this trip we focused on Coal Valley and Derwent River.  Basically no matter which direction you drive from Hobart (as long as you don’t drive into the ocean) you will quickly reach a vineyard.  We were hosting a cruise group on the Celebrity Solstice which sailed originally from Auckland, New Zealand and we only had a 1 day stop in Hobart.   We’d been on the ship for about 1 week at this point, so did double duty on the day – taste wines and get some laundry done.  So off the ship we went, grabbed an Uber to the car rental, dropped off some laundry, made a very quick trip to MONA ( see our previous blogs on MONA here and here ) and then off to taste some excellent Tasmanian wines.

First stop was Derwent Estates Wines, located right along the River Derwent which is seen in the background of the tasting room below and which we’re sure you’ll agree is fantastically charming.  Several of these wines made it home to the states with us – where we recently opened the Calcaire Pinot Noir which is particularly stunning and by itself makes the entire trip to Hobart well worth it!

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Derwent tasting room

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Free Dining or Free Drinks. Hmm…which to chose?

Being offered a “free” dining or beverage package seems to the be sign of the times today in ocean cruising bookings.  Every cruise line has its own twist on the perks offered but these two are always in the mix of offerings.

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So, which do you choose?  You love to eat and…. okay you like to consume adult beverages too, thus the dilemma exists.

Now, my first recommendation is talk to your travel professional because all “free” perks are not created equally.  For example, some lines charge service fees associated with their “free” while others do not.  Most lines have a dollar limit to drinks available using the perk and the big difference is how they handle those drinks that hop over that limit.  For example, let’s assume your drink limit is $13 but you really want to try that $16 martini.  On some lines, you would pay only the $3 extra, on other lines you would not be able to use the beverage package and be charged the full $16.   Note from one wine snob to another:  Serious wine drinkers (those who won’t drink the house wine at a bar and who don’t drink much in the way of other alcohol) should think twice about the “free” beverage package because it isn’t likely to have wines that will make you happy.  You, may want to consider choosing the free dining perk and then buying your own wine package.

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Dining packages are no different, you really have to do the math regarding which perk will be best.  Example:  you are on a 7-day cruise, your perk is 3 nights in a specialty restaurant, on board credit, free wifi or the beverage package.  What is the value of those 3 nights dining?  Let’s say the price is $35 per visit to the specialty restaurant x 3 = $105 but the onboard credit is $150 per person…..which is better?

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Remember a particular cruise line can only speak to and only wants to sell you their product, they cannot offer you a side by side comparison like a travel professional.  We can help sort all that out and can search across all cruise lines for the best perk offering out there.

And on that note:  Cheers and Bon Appétit1-Celebrity Century 3-20-2010 10-19-42 PM