Captivated by the rolling hills, forest and patchworks of vineyards full of lush grapevines, my journey is heightened by the sounds, sights, and smells of the fresh countryside as my train travels from Paris to the Champagne-Ardennes. This adventure is heightened by the vivid landscape of lush, green vineyards creating a striking contrast against a dark blue sky in the Champagne region that conjures up bright images, like those featured in a Chagall painting.
We came to this famous wine region to deepen our understanding and appreciation of some of the best wine produced in the world. Beaune, we soon discover, is a bustling town with a decidedly sophisticated rural ambience located in the very heart of the French countryside. Beneath medieval ramparts and former cloistered convents, vast mazes of wine cellars are connected under the entire ancient town, creating an extraordinary setting connecting the past with the present.
Rail travel is a quick, easy and efficient way to travel in Europe. France’s TGV and other high-speed routes speed clients from city to city, leaving more time for enjoying the attractions. On long trips, night trains can save time by combining sleep with changing cities. But convenience is not the only reason to tell your clients about Europe’s excellent rail network: riding one of the great scenic routes by train can be the highlight of your client’s vacation.
Any list of the world’s greatest train rides includes a number in Europe, where trains are the best vantage point for scenic landscapes. Remind clients that trains have a big advantage over driving: everyone can marvel at the scenery, as no one needs to be watching the road.
While Manchester may not be high on the radar yet for American travelers, it welcomes the UK’s third largest number of visitors, exceeded only by London and Edinburgh. They come to enjoy a vibrant city that’s England’s most ethnically diverse, a melting pot of Britain’s vast former empire.
When people think of storybook medieval German towns, the talk generally revolves around Rothenberg ob der Tauber, as well it should; it’s a beautiful medieval city on the Romantic Road in Bavaria. It has picturesque lanes, half-timbered houses and an intact fortification wall gives you a good idea of what a medieval town looked like nearly 1,000 years ago. It is even said that Walt Disney used some of Rothenberg’s medieval buildings for inspiration when constructing Disneyland. The region also attracts millions and millions of visitors each year.
While Rothenberg is a must-see city, discerning travelers may have an issue with those millions of tourists. In this age of experiential travel, many people want to avoid places that even slightly resemble a tourist trap and the souvenir shops that go with that moniker. If only Franconian Bavaria had an undiscovered medieval town that had the charm, the architecture and the culture of Rothenberg, yet without the millions of tourists. Well, luckily there is one! And its name is Iphofen.
For those of us who grew up during the Cold War era the cities of the Ukraine were viewed enigmatically. Ukraine was located on the other side of the Iron Curtain and so it seemed to be off-limits, not just a different political system, but a different world entirely. Yet, for those who dared to delve to dream of visiting the forbidden cities on the other side of the Iron Curtain, they also conjured up images from a previous age...the beauty of legendary opera houses, ancient monasteries, great literature and beautiful parks and the romance of a long ago age.
On water, on rails, in historic manor houses or smart city hotels, Scotland knows how to do luxury travel.
While the Royal Scotsman is well-known to high-end travelers as one of the world’s grandest train trips, the Hebridian Princess (www.hebridean.co.uk) may be less familiar to clients seeking a luxury Scottish vacation. A cruise on board this 50-passenger ship is like being the guest at a floating house party at a posh country house.
But this house party’s scenery changes constantly and each day brings a different shore experience - the ghost town on rarely visited St Kilda, an airport with a white-sand beach for a runway, prehistoric sites, castles, the fabled isle of Iona, and one of Britain’s most famous gardens at Inverewe. Service is impeccable - seamless, cordial and good-humored. Staterooms are spacious and public areas intimate and welcoming. No wonder when Queen Elizabeth II plans a family cruise she charters the Hebridean Princess.
Few destinations have breezes as fragrant or seas as clear as the islands and coastline of Croatia. Speed boats and a ferry from Venice access Losinj, an island 25 miles off the northern Adriatic coast of Croatia. The island can also be reached by flying from Zagreb to Pula in Istria, ferrying to Krk and the island of Cres and driving to the main town of Mali Losinj. Plans are underway to lengthen the runway to accommodate larger planes. Adventures Croatia (www.adventurescroatia.com) customizes travel itineraries to fit the interests, budget and style of your clients traveling in Croatia.
I was among eight passengers aboard a private King Air plane, which flew from Marco Polo International Airport in Venice to Losinj, an enchanting, health promoting island.
At Ireland’s School of Falconry on the grounds of The Ashford Castle in County Mayo, Ireland, on the shores of Lough Corrib, the Harris hawk named Inca was placed on the leather glove on my left arm and cocked her head inquisitively at me.
As my guide led me into the woods that surround the castle, he explained that when Lord and Lady Ardilaun of the Guinness family owned the castle they planted the thick forest that gives the place its enchanted feeling. I felt transported back in time.
As I flew my hawk and it gracefully moved through the trees and back to perch on my arm, I experienced the grounds in a way that felt like a portal into the lives of those who had made this their home over the centuries.
In Western Europe, the World War I Centennial continues with the 100th anniversary of the day, April 6, 1917, that the United States officially entered the war. Our troops fought only eight months, but they actually helped turn the war’s tide.
France was the largest site of U.S. involvement, though major battles also were fought in Belgium’s Flanders province. From Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy southeast to Alsace-Champagne-Ardenne-Lorraine, France’s Western Front stretched more than 300 miles.