Monthly Archives: April 2015

Chateaux, Rivers and Wine

Chateaux, Rivers and Wine.

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Chateaux, Rivers and Wine

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Caressed by Atlantic breezes, the vineyards that cover the rolling hills along the rivers of Aquitaine have for centuries produced France’s most remarkable wines: Saint-Émilion, Pomerol, Sauternes, Médoc and Margaux are but a handful of the appellations that make Bordeaux wines world famous. At the region’s heart, the city of Bordeaux stretches along the riverbank, inviting visitors to savor its grand architecture, tempting cafés and superb museums. Celebrate joie de vivre in this land of wine and oysters, truffles and Cognac, as you enjoy an in-depth view of this region and cruise the Dordogne, Garonne and Gironde Rivers.

If you are a wine lover, this is the trip for you.

Bordeaux, France

DAY 1 | BORDEAUX, FRANCE

Fly to Bordeaux. We meet you at the airport and take you to your ship. The rest of the day is yours to relax or explore Bordeaux on your own. Second only to Paris in French historic monuments, Bordeaux’s thoughtfully preserved 18th-century urban areas make it a desirable film location, and its graceful port on the Garonne River is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We remain docked overnight. (D)

UNESCO

Bordeaux, France

DAY 2 | BORDEAUX & CADILLAC, FRANCE

Tour the city center this morning and see some of Bordeaux’s highlights, including the Place des Quinconces, one of the largest squares in Europe; the neoclassical Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux; and several spectacular churches. Later this afternoon, we sail upstream along the Garonne River to Cadillac, a small town with a towering castle that gave its name to the American car brand. (B, L, D)

Cadillac Alley, France

DAY 3 | CADILLAC (SAUTERNES), FRANCE

Begin your day with a tour of Cadillac then head across the river for your excursion to Sauternes where you will learn how the area’s sweet dessert wines are made, and taste some examples during your tour. (B, L, D)

DAY 4 | LIBOURNE (SAINT-ÉMILION), FRANCE

Disembark this morning for a leisurely stroll to Libourne’s picturesque city square, lined with buildings dating as far back as the 16th century; or take part in one of two optional excursions: an exploration of the Bergerac area in the Dordogne to learn more about truffles, a great French delicacy; or a wine tasting, at a nearby château, of some local vintages from the Saint-Émilion and Pomerol appellations. Later, take a tour to Saint-Émilion, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, where you see the town’s superb medieval lanes and delightful views of the surrounding vineyards from the upper town. Spend a pleasant afternoon exploring the town’s streets and shops. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Blaye Vauban Citadel, France

DAY 5 | BLAYE & BOURG, FRANCE

Blaye boasts an extraordinary 17th-century citadel, dramatically set on a rock beside the river, incorporating the ruins of an ancient Gothic château that contains the tomb of Charibert II, king of Aquitaine. Legend has it that the Frankish hero Roland, who served Charlemagne, is also buried here. The citadel of Blaye, its city walls and two other forts are collectively listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Take a guided tour of the citadel, then enjoy some free time in Blaye. Return aboard for lunch, and later take an afternoon stroll through the historic village of Bourg. Or, you may choose to take an optional excursion to the charming medieval town of Cognac, birthplace of one of the world’s best-known types of brandy. Here, you will tour the Camus family business, one of the most tradition-steeped Cognac houses in the area, and try your hand at blending. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Pauillac Vineyards, France

DAY 6 | PAUILLAC (MARGAUX), FRANCE

We sail downstream this morning, passing islands and gentle slopes, arriving in Pauillac in the early afternoon. Enjoy a wine country tour featuring several wine-tasting opportunities, including the area’s famous full-flavored Margaux. Travel through the rolling vineyard-laced hills to dinner at a château, accompanied by the château’s own wines. Relax aboard your ship this evening, or explore Pauillac’s marina and the Plaza Lafayette, where the Marquis de Lafayette set sail to the New World. Pauillac, the undisputed capital of the Médoc wine region, is home to Châteaux Lafite Rothschild, Latour and Mouton Rothschild, among others. Before returning to your ship, catch a glimpse of the Île de Patiras lighthouse in the middle of the Gironde. (B, L, D)

Bordeaux, France

DAY 7 | BORDEAUX, FRANCE

Relax aboard your ship this morning as we make our way back to Bordeaux. You have the afternoon at leisure, giving you more time to appreciate the well-preserved architecture of Jacques Ange Gabriel and son, and to taste the city’s cuisine and wine appellations. Perhaps pick up a few bottles to take home with you. You won’t want to miss the Place de la Bourse, with its mirror-like reflecting pool, impressive by day but absolutely stunning at night. You also have the option of taking a full-day excursion to Arcachon, a commune on the Atlantic coast, to see the Victorian-era villas, walk on the boardwalk and taste the oysters, a local delicacy. Or, you have the option of participating in a market visit with the Viking Chef to see where the local chefs of Bordeaux find their fruit, vegetables, meats and fish. (B, L, D)

Bordeaux Palace Bourse, France

DAY 8 | BORDEAUX, FRANCE

After a final onboard breakfast, disembark and we take you to the airport for your flight home. Or, extend your journey with three nights in Paris. (B)

Since we are already in France, a 3 night stay in Paris is a great idea.

Call to hear more about these fascinating wine regions of France.

919.708.8217

#river cruises, #french wines.

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Costa Rica Natural Paradise

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Day 1 – San José, Costa Rica
Welcome to the “rich coast,” friendly land of democracy and rare natural beauty. With naturalist guides, see exotic birds and wildlife, hike in jungle rainforests, view volcanoes, soak in hot springs and cruise through biological reserves. Caravan provides transfers from the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica to your hotel for a two night stay. Rooms are available for check in after 4:00 p.m. Join Caravan for an 8:00 p.m. welcome briefing. Dinner is served until 9:30 p.m. at your hotel. D

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Day 2 – Poás Volcano, Cloud Forest, Coffee Plantation, Butterflies
Morning visit to Costa Rica’s most popular park, Poás Volcano. Weather permitting, you can see inside the active crater from an overlook. Next, hike the Escalonia Cloud Forest Trail, home to epiphytes, orchids, ferns and tropical hummingbirds. Cloud forests are like rainforests, but with less rain and more humidity. Then, drive through Costa Rica’s famous coffee growing region. Lunch.  Enjoy a guided tour at a coffee plantation. Sample fresh Costa Rican coffee. Next, visit a butterfly garden. Look for blue morpho butterflies. Dinner. BLD

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Day 3 – Wildlife Rescue Center, Sarchi, Fortuna
This morning drive by San Jose’s Plaza de la Cultura, Central Park and the National Theatre. Next, visit Zoo Ave, a wildlife rescue center. Here, injured birds and animals are rehabilitated for release back into the wild. Lunch. Then, visit Sarchi and watch artisans making traditional Costa Rican oxcarts. Continue to the San Carlos Valley. Arrive at Fortuna for a two night stay. Dinner. BLD

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Day 4 – Rio Frio Cruise, Hot Springs
Head north this morning, passing through sugar cane, teak, pineapple, and orange plantations. Then, cruise on the Rio Frio which runs through the world famous Caño Negro wildlife refuge, home to many migratory birds found nowhere else in Costa Rica. Look for black turtles, whistling ducks, roseate spoonbills, cormorants, anhingas, blue heron, and northern jacanas. Watch for caimans, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, green iguanas, and water-walking lizards. Lunch. Return to Fortuna. This afternoon enjoy a relaxing soak in the volcanic hot springs. Dinner. BLD

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Day 5 – Hanging Bridges, Leatherback Turtle Park
Morning visit to the Hanging Bridges. With a naturalist guide, hike the suspension bridges. Weather permitting, enjoy views of majestic Arenal Volcano. Next, enjoy a scenic drive around Lake Arenal. Lunch at a historic hacienda in the Guanacaste province. Then, to Costa Rica’s beautiful Pacific Coast. Visit Leatherback Turtles National Park and learn about Costa Rica’s efforts to protect this endangered giant. The leatherback is the largest marine reptile in the world, weighing over 1,500 pounds. Continue to the J.W. Marriott Guanacaste Resort and Spa for a relaxing two night stay. Dinner. BLD

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Day 6 – Guanacaste Beach Resort
Free time today to enjoy your magnificent world class beach resort. Visit the elegant spa or swim in your hotel’s infinity pool, the largest in Central America. Lunch. Time to beachcomb while strolling your resort’s pristine beach. Dinner. BLD

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Day 7 – Bird Watching Cruise, Manuel Antonio
This morning drive though the cattle ranches of Guanacaste. Stop at the Monteverde Cooperative. Sample delicious cheeses. Lunch. Next, cruise on the Tarcoles River, adjacent to the Carara Biological Reserve. Float through a mangrove forest. Look for white and snowy egrets and the amazing nests of the montezuma oropendola. This tropical bird and wildlife sanctuary is a nesting site for the scarlet macaw. Continue to your hotel, located directly at the entrance to Manuel Antonio National Park. Listen to joyful jungle sounds. Dinner. BLD

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Day 8 – Manuel Antonio, Aerial Tram
This morning visit the world famous Manuel Antonio National Park, a natural habitat for the white face monkey, the rare squirrel monkey and the three-toed sloth. Hike through the rainforest and along the spectacular beach coves, ranking among the most beautiful in the world. Look for toucans and parrots. Lunch. Then, a thrilling adventure. Glide through and above a dry tropical transitional forest. Enjoy views of waterfalls and the Pacific Ocean. Return to San José. Farewell dinner.. BLD

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Day 9 – San José
Your tour ends after breakfast this morning at your hotel. Breakfast begins at 6:30 a.m. Caravan provides transfers to the Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO) in San José, Costa Rica arriving at 5:00 a.m, 7:00 a.m, 9:00 a.m., and 11:30 a.m. Thanks for vacationing with Caravan and Cruise Like A VIP. ¡Hasta la vista! B

Call me for dates and pricing on this tour.

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#all inclusive tours

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Magnificent Mekong River

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Explore the stunningly scenic and culturally distinctive lands that lie along the remarkable Mekong River. On this 15-day cruisetour, from Vietnam’s bustling cities to the tranquility of Cambodia, discover two countries, two cultures and two ways of life linked by Indochina’s most important river. Encounter ancient Khmer monuments at Angkor Wat and the elegant French colonial capital of Phnom Penh in Cambodia; in Vietnam, visit the floating markets of the Mekong Delta, experience the intimate charm of Hanoi’s old quarter and tour dynamic Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Here you will find gracious hosts and some of the finest cuisine in the world, while enjoying the natural beauty and rich history just beyond the banks of the magnificent Mekong.  I am planning this trip for September, 2016 if you would like to join me on an adventure.

Below are highlights of what we will be seeing on our Mekong adventure.

Give me a call at 919.708.8217 to find out more about this fabulous 15 day cruise/tour.

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Springtime Tulips and Windmills

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Holland’s floral splendor only happens in the springtime. Come see the rainbow of colors, and visit some of Belgium’s most beautifully preserved medieval cities for the ultimate 10-day spring journey in the Low Countries. Explore Amsterdam’s cosmopolitan atmosphere and world-famous museums. Experience Belgium’s Golden Age in historic Antwerp and the lovely patrician cities of Ghent and Bruges. Learn more about Holland’s age-old battle against the sea with tours of ingenious windmills and the massive Delta Works project. Plus, enjoy savory Dutch cheeses, delectable Belgian chocolates and Belgium’s exquisite, intricate lace on this delightful cruise.

Amsterdam, Netherlands

DAY 1 | AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

Arrive in Amsterdam, then transfer to your ship.* After boarding, the afternoon is yours to relax or explore the city on your own. If your arrival schedule permits, you may wish to visit the Anne Frank House. (D)

A canal tour of Amsterdam, Netherlands

DAY 2 | AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

After breakfast, embark on a canal tour by glass-topped boat to see architecture from the city’s Golden Age. Return aboard for lunch, then take free time to visit the Anne Frank House, see the Van Gogh Museum or just explore the city’s charming neighborhoods. As always, your Viking Concierge can help you plan your afternoon. Dine aboard your ship; we depart this evening. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Hoorn, Netherlands

DAY 3 | HOORN, THE NETHERLANDS

Early this morning, sail across the IJsselmeer (once known as the Zuiderzee) to the ancient shipping village of Hoorn. After breakfast, enjoy a guided walk through Hoorn’s cobbled streets; see age-old cheese warehouses on the town’s main square, which dates back to Holland’s Golden Age. Lunch is served aboard; you have a free afternoon to explore Hoorn, visit a local bakery and shop for souvenirs. Or, take an optional excursion showcasing the small towns and bucolic landscapes of the northern Holland area. Depart during dinner and cruise through the night. (B, L, D)

Paleis Het Loo, Arnhem, Belgium

DAY 4 | ARNHEM, THE NETHERLANDS

After early arrival in Arnhem, visit the 17th-century Paleis Het Loo,† the Dutch royal family’s summer residence for the past 300 years. Take a guided tour through its sumptuously furnished rooms and beautifully landscaped gardens. After an onboard lunch, enjoy free time, or join the optional battlefield tour that also visits the Airborne Museum. Dine aboard as we set sail for Kinderdijk this evening. (B, L, D)

†Closed Mondays; battlefield visit or museum tour will be substituted.

Kinderdijk, Netherlands

DAY 5 | KINDERDIJK, THE NETHERLANDS & ANTWERP, BELGIUM

Arrive this morning in Kinderdijk and disembark for a tour of this ingenious 18th-century community. Learn why the windmills were built and see how they work to help control flooding, then tour a working windmill to see its pumping mechanism and living quarters at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy an onboard lunch as we sail toward Antwerp. After dining aboard, relax on your ship or spend some time exploring the cafés and brew pubs of this extraordinary Flemish capital. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium

DAY 6 | ANTWERP, BELGIUM

This morning, enjoy a half-day tour of Antwerp featuring the Cathedral of Our Lady with its three monumental altarpieces painted by Peter Paul Rubens; the Grote Markt (Grand Square) surrounded by the Golden Age Town Hall and guild halls; and Het Steen (Steen Castle), Antwerp’s oldest building. You have afternoon free time before dining aboard your ship tonight as we sail for Ghent. (B, L, D)

Old Town, Ghent, Belgium

DAY 7 | GHENT & BRUGES, BELGIUM

From Ghent, travel to Bruges, one of the oldest towns in Flanders. Your city walk visits the Church of Our Lady, with its famous Madonna and Child, sculpted by Michelangelo. Also see the Beguinage, a hidden courtyard inhabited by nuns, and the town’s scenic network of canals. Stay in Bruges for lunch on your own, or return to Ghent for lunch aboard and an afternoon exploring this exceptionally charming, canal-filled capital of East Flanders. Enjoy a beautifully lit evening departure from Ghent as we cruise through the night. (B, L, D)

UNESCO

Rotterdam, the Netherlands

DAY 8 | DELTA WORKS & ROTTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

After breakfast travel to the region of Walcheren, formerly an island of the southwest Netherlands. Stop in Veere and enjoy a walking tour of this engaging, time-honored town. From here, travel to the Delta Works, the ingenious system of enormous doors that can be lowered during spring tides to protect the area from floods while allowing the tides to ebb and flow. Rejoin your ship, which has sailed on to Bruinisse, for lunch and afternoon sailing. Arrive this evening in Rotterdam, the world’s second largest port. After an onboard dinner, you have free time to explore the city. It has been significantly rebuilt after much World War II destruction, and some of its architecture is quite innovative. (B, L, D)

Keukenhof Gardens, Amsterdam, Netherlands

DAY 9 | KEUKENHOF GARDENS & AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

After breakfast, visit the picturesque Keukenhof Gardens, the world’s largest floral park. Admire the stunning beauty at both indoor and outdoor exhibits of millions of vibrant blooms including tulips, hyacinths, croci and daffodils. Return aboard for lunch.

The rest of the day is yours to discover Amsterdam’s hidden treasures. You may choose to explore Museum Square, take a bike ride or shop for colorful clogs and tulip bulbs. Enjoy dinner aboard your ship, followed by free time to enjoy Amsterdam’s nightlife. Your ship remains docked overnight. (B, L, D)

Amsterdam canals, Netherlands

DAY 10 | AMSTERDAM, THE NETHERLANDS

Our Tulips and Windmills cruise has ended, but you can opt to stay a few day in Amsterdam.

Call for additional information at 919.708.8217.

Limited time: 2 for 1 cruise and 2 for 1 airfare.

#river cruises

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