Thursday, November 21, 2013

Cruising the Mediterranean during off-season on Regent Seven Seas Voyager

It is lovely to visit the Mediterranean late in the season when the weather is usually wonderful, there are less crowds everywhere and between summer and the holidays, it is just a nice time to travel. And it is especially lovely to do so on an exquisite luxury ship. Arriving in Rome for two leisurely days in one of our very favorite cities, gave us time to rest up and lose the jet lag before boarding the beautiful Regent Voyager. She was just out of dry dock with a major refurbishment which made her look brand new!



This is a small ship by today's standards accommodating just 700 passengers in elegant veranda suites of varying sizes. We splurged on a huge Seven Seas suite with 1-1/2 bathrooms and a butler which was pure heaven for our ten day voyage. The ship is small enough to be intimate and have no crowded spaces or lines anywhere, ever! Yet large enough to have various dining and entertainment venues to please everyone.  A lovely touch is Regent’s “block party”, right after muster the first afternoon, all passengers were invited out into their hallways and asked to bring a glass from their bar. And there waiting to greet us were waiters with canapes and bottles of champagne as we greeted our new neighbors and the officers who passed by to greet us.




Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Discover Bavaria’s Culture, Beer & Wine in the Magical Land of Germany

I recently participated in an educational trip to the Bavaria region of Germany. Germany has so much to offer and every state is a little different. There are 16 states within Germany.  I never get tired of visiting Germany since there is always something different. During this visit I saw the amazing fall colors everywhere that were more breathtaking than New England colors at times!



Our first stop was Wurzburg in the German State of Franconia, truly one of the loveliest baroque cities in Germany.  You will notice the old and new with so much charm everywhere you look. Franconian are always on the world's top wine awards and certainly worth tastings whenever you can. There are many “Weinstuben” restaurants which have their own tasting rooms and many own their own vineyards.  Make sure to make stops at the various green markets and especially the Christmas market. 


If you plan on driving the “Romantic Road," this drive is on the top of my list. Wurzburg is a perfect town to visit as a first stop after arriving in Frankfurt. Don’t miss the Residence Palace after walking through Old Town. 

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A Five Star Experience in Florence Italy at The Hotel Brunelleschi


I'm happy to say that I finally made it to Florence!  Although it was a very short visit (only about 20 hours and part of the time I was asleep), it was enough for me to realize the 'magic' of this beautiful city!  The first thing that was very apparent to me was that you should NOT drive if the purpose of the trip is to visit the historical city center!  Even for the experienced driver it is extremely difficult to navigate the streets of Florence. Two-way streets can barely fit one car through, let alone two!  And of course there are areas marked that say 'Area Pedonale', which means 'Pedestrian Area' so naturally an American tourist will avoid turning in those streets; little did I know that you can (and need to) actually turn in those streets in order to get to where you're going to!

So the first (and only) challenge was getting to the Hotel Brunelleschi. After following the navigation system around the same area about three times, I finally called the hotel and spoke to Sergio, the front desk concierge, who guided us to the same area we had passed multiple times. When we got closer to the hotel he had the Bellman step outside and guide us the rest of the way  for the last two turns!  Sergio stayed on the phone with me until we safely made it to the courtyard.  So this is the view that magically appears once you turn that last corner!

The hotel has historical significance dating back to the 6th and 7th centuries, part of it once being a church and the tower part at one time being a women's prison.  What is so beautiful about this hotel is the fact that they have preserved the historical aspect of it yet have remodeled it to make it one of the most luxurious hotels in all of Florence!

View from my window





The location is absolutely perfect, in my opinion.  For someone wanting to be in the historical part of Florence there really is  no better location, no better hotel than The Brunelleschi.  It is a stone's throw from Ponte Vecchio and from Piazza della Signoria, the 'leather market' and so many cafes, restaurants, gelaterias, etc.  It is a very unique gem, no 'cookie-cutter' look for this place!  And better yet is the staff, starting with Claudio Catani, the General Manager, and then on to Sergio, Antonella, and Stefano.   In my short stay each and every person that I came in contact with was extremely and genuinely pleasant, and greeted every guest that they passed by.






Friday, November 1, 2013

Mother, Daughter Trip of a Lifetime to Machu Picchu in Peru


     This was a mother daughter, once in a lifetime, bucket list type of trip.  We had always wanted to see Machu Picchu and when we found the trip that included getting there on horseback, that just seemed like the ultimate experience. Our expectations were high because the brochure made the trip sound extraordinary.  Well, the brochure just didn't do it justice. It was without question the best trip I have ever taken.  


     It started with the services of Largay Travel that made booking and getting questions answered easy as could be.  Both Amanda and Vivian were fabulous to work with.  We did not have one single snafu with flights, bags, or hotels.  Now that NEVER happens but it did.  Once we were picked up by Mountain Lodges of Peru, it was indescribable.  They have it down to a science.  Everything worked like clockwork, we felt completely safe at all times, we were catered to on every level.