Monthly Archives: April 2014
Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands form the most majestic and intriguing cruising grounds in the world. This 8 day round trip cruise from Seattle, explores the hundreds of islands, many of which are uninhabited, nestled between Canada’s Vancouver Island and the U.S. mainland. Enjoy a diverse natural wonderland of sea lions, hawks, whales, and so much more. We will experience the culture of the Pacific Northwest with fascinating guided tours to historical sites and museums.
Our adventure begins in Seattle, Washington.
Day 1: Seattle – Our cruise departs from this picturesque port as we cruise to the Puget Sound.
Day 2: Anacortes – Anacortes is much warmer than its neighbors, so you can make the most of your time here. Visit Deception Pass State Park, one of the most photographed locations in Washington State. This park’s miles of scenic shoreline, serene trails, and abundant wildlife make it a rewarding destination for all visitors.
Day 3: Friday Harbor – From the moment you step off the ship, your senses will be electrified by the intoxicating aromas and majestic views of Friday Harbor. Take a step back in time and experience island life as it was over a century ago by visiting the San Juan Historical Museum. Explore Friday Harbor’s diverse topography from pebbly beaches to monstrous mountains and lush valleys. This eclectic town has something for everyone.
Day 4: Port Angeles – Enjoy the wonderful fresh air, interesting shops, restaurants, recreational opportunities, and marvelous views of the harbor and mountains. The convenient downtown is alive with friendly folks, flowers and outdoor art. We visit the award-winning Port Angeles Symphony and the hilltop Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, a noteworthy museum of contemporary art.
Day 5: Port Townsend – Forested islands, snow-capped mountains, and pristine beauty surround you as your ship cruises through the San Juan Islands and Admiralty Bay into the Victorian seaport town of Port Townsend. Explore Port Townsend’s vibrant downtown, designated a National Historic District, where you will have access to historical museums, art galleries, and specialty boutiques. Port Townsend is also home to the Fort Worden State Park. This turn of the century army base offers an unmatched combination of natural beauty and historic wonders. Wander the park’s acres of beautiful beaches, wooded hills and open fields, framed by stunning vistas of the Olympic and Cascade mountain ranges and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Day 6: Cruising Puget Sound – Enjoy cruising along Puget Sound, Skagit Bay, and Deception Pass. This waterway is an intricate system of channels, estuaries and islands that make for the most breathtaking scenery and majestic wildlife. Get those camera ready, this is the place to get those once-in-a-lifetime photos.
Day 7: Poulsbo – Located on the Kitsap Peninsula, Poulsbo was settled in 1892 by Norwegian loggers and fishermen who likened the fjord-cut landscape to their homeland. Explore the heart of Poulsbo by taking a stroll along Front Street, featuring old world murals, numerous art galleries, and specialty shops. We end our day here with a walk along Poulsbo’s boardwalk, where we view wildlife in their native habitat and majestic snow-capped Olympic Mountains off in the distance.
Day 8: Seattle – Welcome back to Seattle! After a delightful week of cruising, we enjoy the sights and sounds of the Pacific Northwest. Start your day by visiting Pike Place Market, internationally recognized as America’s premier farmer’s market. Visit Seattle’s Space Needle, where you will have stunning views of Seattle, Puget Sound, and picturesque snow-capped mountains.
Personal comment: Seattle is one of the most diverse cities in the United States full of artist colonies, excellent seafood restaurants, and interesting attractions. I can recommend several restaurants and tourist sites that you will enjoy.
EARLY BIRD DISCOUNT: Book early and save $400 or more per stateroom on this cruise. Call me for details at 919.708.8217.
#River Cruises, #Seattle, #Puget Sound, #Salmon, #Mt. Rainier, #Space Needle, #Pike Place Market.
Going to Africa and taking a safari has been one of my lifelong dreams. The river portion of this week’s safari adventure will be a 4 night cruise on the Chobe River. Our journey takes us to Kenya, Botswana, South Africa, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Visits to Amboseli, Lake Manyara, Ngorongoro and Serengeti game reserves are the highlight of this journey. Our Golden Trails of Africa tour ends with a visit to Victoria Falls to complete our once in a lifetime 19 day safari adventure. On safari-the only thing you shoot is your camera. This is one of my favorites!
Check out this fabulous itinerary:
Day 1 – Overnight flight to Nairobi, Kenya.
Day 2 – Arrive in Nairobi where you will have the evening free to explore Nairobi.
Day 3 – Nairobi – Amboseli – Drive to Amboseli National Park for a spectacular view of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest free-standing mountain in the world. Emjoy game drives through this stunning landscape. The home of the Maasai people, you will observe herds of elephant, cape buffalo, impala, lion, zebra and water fowl.
Day 4 – Amboseli – Morning and afternoon game drives where you encounter rhinos, cheetahs, and wildebeests. Visit traditional manyatas settlements of the Maasai where you will have a traditional feast and tribal dancing overlooking a big game waterhole.
Day 5 – Amboseli – Lake Manyara – Drive to Lake Manyara National Park to see tree-climbing lions, hippos, wildebeests, warthogs and giraffes. Also view over 300 migratory birds.
Day 6 – Lake Manyara – Ngorongoro National Park – Early morning game drive in Lake Manyara National Park. In Ngorongoro Conservation area, visit Ngorongoro Archaeological Museum and see fossilized remains of some of man’s oldest ancestors.
Day 7 – Ngorongoro National Park – Known as “the eighth wonder of the world,” the Ngorongoro Crater is one of Africa’s best known wildlife areas. Enjoy a full day game drive where 25,000 large mammals wander the plains-bull elephants, lions, wildebeests and buffalo.
Day 8 – Ngorongoro National Park – Serengeti National Park – Drive to Serengeti National Park for the next three nights. The park offers not only all the members of The Big Five, but also the annual migration of the wildebeests, an awe-inspiring sight.
Day 9 – Serengeti National Park – Tanzania’s greatest park is dominated by a spectacle of wildlife. Lion prides, leopards, cheetahs, and all three species of the African jackal, along with spotted hyena, blue wildebeest and 500-plus bird species. Daily morning and afternoon game drives.
Day 10 – Serengeti National Park – Morning and afternoon game drives through Tanzania’s greatest park.
Day 11 – Serengeti National Park – Arusha – Johannesburg – Fly to Johannesburg and enjoy the remainder of your day at leisure. This is a good time to buy those souvenirs.
Day 12 – Johannesburg – Zambezi Queen – Fly to Victoria Falls and transfer to Kasane. Here, board the Zambezi Queen, docked on the Chobe River. Depart for sunset cruise.
Day 13 – Zambezi Queen – Disembark for game drive in Chobe National Park, home of one of the densest populations of wildlife on the African continent. Encounter elephants, leopards, lions, gazelle and buffalo. Later, venture out on a tender boat for close-up views of the wild animals gathering along the river. Enjoy a delicious Boma dinner ashore, savoring the distinct flavors of Africa.
Day 14 – Zambezi Queen – Begin your day with a visit to Kasenu village where you will have time to shop for local artifacts. Board a mokono to explore the waterways and. Relax on the beach in rustic style tents as you enjoy local delicacies cooked from a traditional wood fire oven.
Day 15 – You have a choice between a game drive in the Chobe National Park or a fishing excursion for the famous tigerfish. Late afternoon, travel by boat to observe crocodiles, hippos and elephants in their natural habitat. Enjoy a traditional African barbecue prepared by the locals.
Day 16 – Zambezi Queen – Victoria Falls – Transfer to Victoria Falls, one of the greatest natural wonders of the earth. Enjoy the afternoon to explore the city and get in more souvenir shopping.
Day 17 – Victoria Falls – Today your local guide will take you on a tour of the remarkable Victoria Falls. Later, embark on a Sundowner Cruise along the Zambezi River.
Day 18 – Today our African journey draws to a close. We bid adieu to Africa.
Day 19 – Return home reminiscing about your trip of a lifetime.
**ADDED BONUS** – Dinner in Victoria Falls with my compliments!
Call for details on this once in a lifetime experience at 919.708.8217
We are taking a break from river cruising this week to go on a new tour called Gardens and Villas of the Italian Lakes region that the Royal Horticulture Society created for garden lovers. When I researched this itinerary, I loved it and knew all my friends would love it also. I have been to all these places in the past and always wanted to re-visit. Our exciting journey begins in Venice and the island of Murano. On to Lake Como, Bellagio, Stresa, Lago Maggiore, the Borromean Islands, Milan, and Lugano Switzerland. I can tell you from my previous experience, these places are so beautiful you will not be able to decide which is your favorite. So join me on this breathtaking journey through Northern Italy and see for yourself the beauty of our world.
Trip Itinerary: 10 days-Venice to Milan
Day 1: Our adventure begins with an overnight flight to Venice.
Day 2: Venice, Italy – We explore Venice on our own to get acclimated to this romantic city of canals. A great time for that gondola ride. Dinner with our fellow travelers at a local restaurant featuring regional delicacies and fine Italian wines.
Day 3: Venice – Murano Island – We begin with a boat trip to Murano Island, one of a series of islands linked by bridges in the Venetian Lagoon. Here we experience a close up glass making demonstration. Return to Venice to visit St. Mark’s Square. Included is a walking tour of the area featuring St. Mark’s Basilica, the Doge’s Palace, the Bridge of Sighs and the Clock Tower with its famous moors. St. Mark’s square is a great place to people watch. PS. It is also always full of pigeons.
Day 4: Venice-Verona-Como – Today we visit the Giardino Guisti, a lush sculpted garden named after the noble family that has looked after it for years. Here we will have breathtaking photo opportunities. On to Verona, and stroll the historic streets that were the setting of Shakespeare’s epic Romeo and Juliet. We visit the picturesque Italian Lake District including captivating gardens of exotic and rare plants. We arrive in Como, our home for the next three nights. You will see for yourself why Como is so charming- beautiful villas, lush gardens and spectacular views.
Day 5: Como- Lugano Switzerland – We travel to Switzerland and explore Villa Heleneum’s gardens and museum. We have free time in Lugano to explore this lovely lakeside town. I know a great restaurant for lunch.
Day 6: Belaggio – We travel by ferry this morning to the romantic town of Bellagio. We visit the historic 18th century gardens of Villa Serbelloni, situated high on the promontory above Lake Como. Afternoon is free to enjoy Bellagio on our own.
Day 7: Stresa-Lago Maggiore – Today we visit the Villa Cicogna Mozzoni, where a member of the Mozzoni family will give us a tour of this spectacular villa and gardens. We travel to Lago Maggiore, located on the south side of the Alps to visit the gardener’s paradise of Stresa, home to spectacular views. Stresa was one of the most beautiful cities I “have ever visited.”
Day 8: Lago Maggiore – We journey via cableway to the Alpinum Garden, a botanical garden with spectacular views from high atop the mountain. Later, we have free time to enjoy this beautiful area.
Day 9: : Lago Maggiore – Borromean Islands – We travel by boat to the Stunning Borromean Islands of Isola Madre and Isola Bella where we tour the palace and gardens. These islands are in a word “stunning.”
Day 10: Travel to Milan where our tour ends.
My reflections on this tour – As I mentioned, I have visited ALL these places, and each one took my breath away. The stunning landscapes, the backdrop of the Alps on the pristine lakes, the wonderful smell of Alpine trees makes you realize what a beautiful world we live in. And remember, all the delicious foods and wines we will be enjoying. There are also great shopping opportunities on this tour. As this tour was created by the Royal Horticultural Society, you can be assured the gardens we visit are spectacular.
See for yourself all the beauty and grandeur as we visit the Gardens and Villas of the Italian Lakes. It’s as easy as a telephone call to me at 919.708.8217. #rivercruises
SPECIAL DISCOUNT FOR OUR GROUP
Discover the diverse pleasures of la dolce vita as you make your way from Venice to Rome.
Birthplace of the Renaissance, Italy has given the world a splendid legacy of art, architecture, music, and poetry. No heritage is more splendid than that of Venice, the water-bound city adorned with luminous architecture and romantic canals. Experience the sheer bliss of spending five nights in Venice onboard your luxury floating hotel, conveniently docked so you can easily walk off the ship to indulge in all the pleasures this magnificent city has to offer. You will also discover Northern Italy’s superstars of Renaissance and Gothic treasures: Padua, Bologna, Verona, and Ferrara. These gems provide authentic insight into Northern Italian culture.
Travel to Florence, where the Renaissance began. See astonishing works by Michelangelo, Rafael, Donatello, and Boticelli, and savor a spectacular homemade lunch and a Chianti wine tasting at Castello di Verrazzano. A fitting ending to your Italian adventure awaits in Rome, the “Eternal City,” with all of its wonders: the Coliseum, St. Peter’s Basilica, the Vatican Museum, Trevi Fountain, the Sistine Chapel, and so much more.
Ravenna, a vital seaport and Italian capital of the Byzantine Empire, is celebrated for the fifth- and sixth-century mosaics that adorn its churches. You will see the UNESCO-designated Basilica di Sant’Apollinare and the mausoleum of Galla Placidia. The buildings are sheathed in spectacular mosaics. Spend the afternoon rambling through the lovely historic downtown on your own and enjoy an artisinal foods tasting, or enjoy the morning at leisure onboard your floating hotel as your ship sails from Polesella to Taglio di Po. Today, you’ll visit Porto Levante, which is located south of Venice on the Northern Adriatic Sea. This is the perfect place to relax and unwind as you take in the beauty of the Po Delta Nature Reserve with 2 million trees of 150 different species. Be treated to a delicious seafood lunch. Later in the afternoon, reboard your ship in Chioggia and sail to Venice. (BB, L, D)
Shakespeare endowed Verona with enduring fame when he wrote of two star-crossed lovers, but Verona has been an important city in Northern Italy for 2,000 years. Though Juliette and her Romeo are Verona’s best-known pair, Verona’s best-known landmark is the pink-marble-sheathed Roman arena, where many of today’s famous composers, musicians, and opera singers still perform. Savor the magic of Verona and get swept away in its romance. (BB, D)
It’s impossible to overstate the importance of Rome in European history, a historical fact you’ll discover on today’s tour which includes: St. Peter’s Basilica, the Arch of Titus, the Villa Borghese, and the Coliseum. Or “Do as the Locals Do” and walk the heart of Rome, seeing the Pantheon, the Spanish Steps, Piazza Navona, and the Trevi Fountain. (BB, D)