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27 December 2012

Bramasole Tuscan Extra Virgin Olive Oil—the Elixir of Life

Frances Mayes' Bramasole Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All photography except where noted is property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Frances Mayes' Bramasole Extra Virgin Olive Oil. All photography except where noted is property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

If you know me, you know how much I love Tuscany with its golden hills of olive groves and vineyards punctuated by picturesque Tuscan villas and charming hilltop towns that await around every turn in the road. Despite my many visits to Tuscany, I have yet to stop at one of the vineyards or olive groves ripe with sun-drenched grapes and hearty fresh olives for a tour and tasting. Until such time comes, I must settle for imported wines and olive oils that bring those sweet tastes of Tuscany to life for me back home. With that said, I bring to you an olive-oil tasting that has changed forever the way I think about this elixir of life—a savory oil so full of the flavors of Tuscany.

23 December 2012

In Search of Christmas: Celebrating Italian Christmas Traditions

Buon Natale! Christmastime at St. Peter's in Rome, Italy. Photo: RomeCabs.com. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Buon Natale! Christmastime at St. Peter's in Rome, Italy. Photo: RomeCabs.com. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Buon Natale

In Search of Christmas in Europe brings us to Italy my friends and with that, I wish you Buon Natale! We'll celebrate the time-honored traditions and customs enjoyed by Italians who know a thing or two about celebrations! We'll send letters to Babbo Natale (Father Christmas), gather with Italian families as they set up elaborate presepi (Nativities), and then feast with them on Christmas Eve. From Advent to the Epiphany, there's an Italian celebration for just about every day in between and we're going to join the festivities; plus hear a few tips from some of my good friends as well. Andiamo and let's celebrate Buon Natale!

09 December 2012

In Search of Christmas: The Austrian Christmas Markets

The Neo-Gothic Viennese City Hall building provides a magnificent backdrop for the Vienna Christmas Market.
Photo: © Austrian Tourist Office. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The Neo-Gothic Viennese City Hall building provides a magnificent backdrop for the Vienna Christmas Market. Photo: © Austrian Tourist Office. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Updated for 2016


Fröhliche Weihnachten

Continuing my pilgrimage in search of European Christmas traditions, I am drawn to the splendor of Austria—where the hills are alive with "The Sounds of Music" and concert halls echo with the melodic symphonies of Mozart and Beethoven—among many other historical and splendid places to visit in this Alpine country. But at this time of the year, it's the enchanting Austrian Christmas markets or Advent Markets I am after for a chance to see how the Austrians herald in the season of Advent. For nearly 800 years, the Austrian Christkindlmarkts have drawn residents and visitors to picturesque town squares and magnificent palace grounds with their vibrant Christmas lights, Alpine chalets and let's not forget the wafting tantalizing aromas that promise to send your taste buds 'a reelin' during this magical holiday season! Stroll along the lanes—a visual feast of savory bites, handcrafted gifts and ornaments, and those sweet confections of course. If you're in Austria during the holidays, set out in search of your Christmas—seek out one of the Austrian Christmas markets and I guarantee you'll be donning your Christmas spirit the moment you arrive.

03 December 2012

ArtOdysseys: Unforgettable Moments at the Vatican in Rome

The 'Creation of Adam' from the central panel of Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
The "Creation of Adam" from the central panel of Michelangelo's Sistine Ceiling. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

Welcome to the December ArtSmart Roundtable. What is the ArtSmart Roundtable you ask? It's a company of travel bloggers who share their passion for art while traveling around the world, and on the first Monday of each month, we publish a themed series of our discoveries in composition, medium or experience. December is the month we share our absolute favorite travel + art experience.

01 December 2012

The Allure of Italy and a World of Possibilities

The Franchetti piste on Mount Faloria in the Italian Dolomites. Photo: Wikimedia.org.
The Franchetti piste on Mount Faloria in the Italian Dolomites. Photo: Wikimedia.org.

If you fancy something a little bit special for your next getaway, why not consider a holiday in Italy? This magnificent destination is full of wonder and just happens to be one of our favorite places in the world! Its ancient history is perfectly re-told through the streets, museums and monuments of Rome, once the seat of the powerful Roman Empire, which is brimming with crumbling ruins and architectural remains dating back over two thousand years. From mist-shrouded lakes and majestic mountains to historic hilltop towns and spectacular beaches, Italy appeals to all kinds of travelers who are seeking an escape of sublime proportions!

18 November 2012

London and Paris on Your First Holiday in Europe

Horseguards Parade in the snow, near St. James' Park. Photo is the property of EuroStar. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Horseguards Parade in the snow, near St. James' Park. Photo is the property of EuroStar. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

It's indisputable that Europe makes for a fantastic vacation. With its magical combination of old-world charm and 21st-century style, Europe truly is a place that everyone must experience at least once in their lives. Here, you can explore cathedrals that have been standing for more than a 1000 years, be inspired by the captivating collections of art and museums, stand in awe of futuristic architecture, stroll through charming avenues lined with quaint shops and bistros serving only the most scrumptious of cuisines. Undoubtedly, a holiday in Europe makes for the trip of a lifetime!

11 November 2012

In Search of Christmas: Germany Christmas Market Tour

Welcome to the Kempten Christmas Market in the Town Hall Square. Photo: Courtesy of Bayern Tourism. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Welcome to the Kempten Christmas Market in the Town Hall Square. Photo: Courtesy of Bayern Tourism. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Updated for 2016


Fröhliche Weihnachten

Herald in the holidays and Advent this year with an unforgettable visit to one of Germany's classic Christmas markets or Christkindlmarkts as they are known locally. Steeped in centuries-old traditions and customs, you can find a Christmas market in just about every landmark city and storybook village throughout Germany—town squares that come alive with the sights and sounds and smells of Christmas! Lining historic city-centre squares, hundreds of elaborately decorated Alpine chalets are brimming with traditionally hand-crafted gifts and festive ornaments, not to mention the savory indulgences of food and Glühwein or mulled wine of course—hard to resist after their tantalizing aromas reach your cold little noses!

08 November 2012

Festive Family Days Out in London

London's iconic Harrods glistens with the warmth of Christmas. Photo: WikiMedia.org.
London's iconic Harrods glistens with the warmth of Christmas. Photo: WikiMedia.org.

There is no better place in the United Kingdom to prepare yourselves for Christmas and infuse your family with the festive holiday spirit than the beautiful capital of London. Spend a weekend in the city to take full advantage of all the holiday happenings with so many options in the heart of the city, meaning you won’t miss out on any of the holiday action!

31 October 2012

Halloween's Haunted Past and Present

Happy Halloween Everyone! Photo: Mount Dora Ghost Walk.
Happy Halloween Everyone! Photo: Mount Dora Ghost Walk.

In anticipation of the those Halloween ghouls and ghosts who plan to tread upon my doorstep on All Hallows Eve, I have often wondered about the origins of Halloween and why we celebrate the traditions we enjoy today. After Christmas, Halloween is my favorite holiday and I revel in all that is Halloween—from dressing up in costume and trick-or-treating to haunted tales recounted by the light of the jack-o'-lantern. And so I set out upon my journey into the past to discover the origins of today's Halloween manifestations—born of rituals and customs bestowed upon us by European civilizations of long ago. I hope you enjoy this haunted tour through Halloween's past and present.

21 October 2012

Guided Tour of Lake Garda in Northern Italy

Lake Garda in northern Italy, the country's largest lake, is world-renowned for its first-class resorts and picturesque settings! All photography in this post via WikiMedia.org.
Lake Garda in northern Italy, the country's largest lake, is renowned for its first-class resorts and picturesque settings! All photography in this post via WikiMedia.org.  

My love affair with the Italy's Alpine region continues with a visit to Italy's Lake District, and this time we're going on a scenic tour of Lake Garda! Cradled in the Italian Alps just south of the Dolomites Mountains and midway between Verona and Brescia, Lake Garda is surrounded by picturesque villages lining its shores, soaring Alpine peaks, verdant olive groves, sprawling vineyards and medieval castles towering high above the villages. Renowned for its world-class luxury resorts and breathtaking scenery, Lake Garda is just 40 minutes away from Verona and Brescia and approximately two hours from the timeless city of Venice. If you're planning to visit any of these northern cities, then consider a day tour through Lake Garda! Check out Exsus.com for more information.

16 October 2012

City View Travel Photography Competition

This contest-winning photo was taken earlier this year in Edam, The Netherlands. It's more like a painting than a photograph and beckons artists with their canvases to capture this picturesque beauty.
This contest-winning photo was taken earlier this year in Edam, The Netherlands. It's more like a painting than a photograph and beckons artists with their canvases to capture its picturesque beauty. 

As you know, photography is an integral part of the mission and success of EuroTravelogue and nothing gives me greater pleasure than to share the visual romance in my articles in hopes of bringing to life my journeys for you! I know that when I read travel writing, the words on the page send my imagination soaring but I love to see captivating photography as well that lures me deeper into the travels of the writer.

01 October 2012

ArtOdysseys - the Emergence of Gothic Architecture

Notre Dame de Paris is probably the most famous Gothic cathedral in the world and another striking example from the early period. All content and photography unless specifically noted is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Notre Dame de Paris is probably the most famous Gothic cathedral in the world and a striking example from the early Gothic period. All content and photography unless specifically noted is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Welcome to the October edition of the ArtOdyssey—my ongoing series that combines my love of art with my travels along the way. This month, my topic is "Architecture" and I am thrilled to bring to you the celebrated Gothic architecture of France. Ever since I can remember, I have been awestruck by soaring vaults, flying buttresses, towering spires, and of course magnificent stained-glass windows of heavenly light. But until my first visit to France, my only exposure to Gothic architecture had been St. Patrick's Cathedral in NYC, which by the way is Gothic revival since it was constructed in the middle of the 19th century, however it remains one of the finest examples nonetheless. But I yearned for more—I wanted to experience firsthand authentic Gothic that truly dates back to Medieval times, circa 11th-14th centuries. So to France I went to seek out some of the finest examples of Gothic architecture from its emergence to its culmination in the late Gothic period just before the age of the Renaissance. Along our journey, we'll discover Gothic cathedrals and highlight significant elements of each of them that have come to define the Gothic we know today.

26 September 2012

Postcards from Holland

Reflections in Kinderdijk Windmill Complex in The Netherlands. All content property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Reflections at the Kinderdijk Windmill Complex in The Netherlands. All content property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

When you think of Holland, what are the first impressions that come to mind? Windmills? Tulips? Clogs? Perhaps it's cheese? Personally, fanciful windmills and fields of vibrant tulips evoke Holland but all of that changed upon my voyage to the Netherlands with Viking River Cruises.

16 September 2012

A Visit to the Village of Zermatt and the Matterhorn in Switzerland

Enchanted Zermatt in Switzerland is aglow beneath the towering Matterhorn and Swiss Alps.  Please note all written content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Photography is copyrighted by Brian Jannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Enchanted Zermatt in Switzerland is aglow beneath the towering Matterhorn and Swiss Alps.  Please note all written content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Photography is copyrighted by Brian Jannsen Photography. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Once again, I am thrilled to be working with Brian Jannsen on this partner post highlighting the sublime alpine village of Zermatt in Switzerland. If you liked our previous posts on Provence, Alsace and the number ONE post of all time on EuroTravelogue Bavaria, wait until you see how Brian captures the dramatic scenery of enchanting Zermatt in Switzerland.

03 September 2012

ArtOdysseys - The Early Italian Renaissance


Florence, Italy—Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. All content is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
Florence, Italy—Birthplace of the Italian Renaissance. All content is the property of EuroTravelogue™ unless noted. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Welcome to the ArtSmart Roundtable—a company of travel bloggers who seek out art while traveling around the world. Each month, we publish a feature on a particular subject with our personal reflection of those experiences encountered along the way. This month, we are thrilled to announce our newest member of the ArtSmart Roundtable Lesley Peterson of CultureTripper.com aka @culturetripper on Twitter. And, at the end of this article, you'll find links to all the other members' features as well.

Our topic for September is "Favorite Art Movement" and so I bring to you, my love of the Renaissance. Born in Italy during the late 14th century, the Italian Renaissance became the defining epoch that would alter the course of history forever; a movement that gave birth to some of the greatest artists of all time from Ghiberti, Masaccio and Donatello in the early Renaissance; to Michelangelo, Leonardo and Raphael in the High Renaissance. While most of us are quite familiar with the artists of the High Renaissance and their masterpieces, we often overlook those who were at the vanguard of this period of enlightenment. This article is going to be a review of some of those pioneers in sculpture, architecture and fresco, and the legacies they left behind. Join me as we walk along in the footsteps of some of the masters of the early Renaissance in Florence, Italy.

26 August 2012

A Visit to the Dolomites Mountains in Northern Italy

The mountain splendor of the Dolomites in northern Italy. This spectacular view is Canazei atop Col Rodella in Val di Fassa. All photography unless noted is property of Kari Moers. Unauthorized use is prohibited.
The mountain splendor of the Dolomites in northern Italy. This spectacular view is Canazei atop Col Rodella in Val di Fassa. All photography unless noted is property of Kari Moers. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

Alpine grandeur and mountain meadows serve as a most dramatic backdrop for this tour though the heart of the Italian Dolomites or Dolomiti as they are known locally, and cradled within its soaring peaks, you'll find enchanting villages replete with picturesque architecture, warm and welcoming hospitality, and some of the most spectacular views of the majestic mountains! Our intrepid tour guide and guest photographer is Kari Moers who recently visited the Dolomites and offered to share her adventures with EuroTravelogue. After seeing her photos, it's hard to believe we're in northern Italy and not Austria or Hungary. Follow us through Santa Cristina, Canazei, Alpe di Siusi, Ortisei—among others, and you'll soon find out why the Dolomites Mountains are one of Europe's top destinations in both the summer and winter! Then find out more about Kari at the end of this article. But now, we embark on an Alpine journey through the Dolomites!

12 August 2012

Visit to the Portuguese Synagogue and the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Exterior view of the Portuguese Synagogue in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. All content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

One of the most educational and yet profound tours I have ever been on in my years of travel was our tour through the heart of Amsterdam's Jewish quarter—an immersion into the city's Jewish people, their traditions and customs. Our guide led us through the Portuguese Synagogue, the Jewish Historical Museum (JHM) and the JHM Children's Museum, where we gained valuable insight into the fascinating history of Jewish immigrants who fled Spain and Portugal in the late 15th and early 16th centuries to come to the city of Amsterdam. Skilled in international trade and language, these Jewish settlers established a vibrant community that flourished through the following centuries. While their history is indeed fascinating, the tour also served as a poignant reminder of the plight of the Amsterdam Jews and the religious persecution they suffered as a result of WWII. Join me on this cultural immersion into Amsterdam's Jewish quarter.

05 August 2012

ArtOdysseys: A Visit to the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague

The Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery in The Hague, Netherlands. All content is property of EuroTravelogue™ unless otherwise credited. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Welcome to August's ArtOdysseys my friends! Topic for the month is "Museums" and while I've been to many of the renowned and cavernous European gallerys including the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, the Louvre in Paris and the Vatican Museum in Rome, this month's article will feature a more intimate connection at the Mauritshuis Royal Picture Gallery located in The Hague, The Netherlands—a 17th-century palace on the Hofvijver that celebrates the Golden Age of Dutch and Flemish painting. Much smaller than her sisters mentioned above, the Mauritshuis can been seen in half of a day. What I especially loved about my visit was that I oftentimes had the paintings all to myself! It doesn't get better than that when it comes to immersing in art!

22 July 2012

Capturing the Colors of Europe from Amsterdam to Venice

Thanks to my fellow travel writers: Marlys and Michael from Easyhiker.co.uk, Matt from Landlopers.com and Heather from TravellersPlayground.com—among others, I was nominated to participate in a photo contest in which travel bloggers submitted up to five photos expressing their interpretation of Green, Yellow, Blue, Red and Green. Here my EuroFav selects.

15 July 2012

Alessandro Gallenzi Shares His Inspiration for 'InterRail'

The Glacier Express in Switzerland.  Photo by Martin Kers and is the property of Eurail. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

As you know by now, my love affair and passion for travel on Europe's rivers and rails runs deep as told in my Viking River chronicles and my adventure aboard the overnight train from Florence to Paris. Which is why when I found out about a new book that recounts one man's InterRail journey in Europe, I was bursting with excitement and had to find out more about this young man's travelogue.

30 June 2012

ArtOdysseys—The Art of European Travel Photography

The turreted rooftop of Chateau de Chambord in the Loire Valley in France resembles a French provincial village. All content property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Welcome to ArtOdysseys once again my friends with this month's installment—the art of photography—the visual romance—from the sublime landscapes and medieval castles to the charming seaside villages and fascinating cultures. I hope you enjoy this visual tour through Europe and don’t forget to scroll to the end for more links leading you to unique perspectives on photography from around the world.

24 June 2012

Guided Tour to the Tuscan Hilltop Town of Pienza, Italy

Welcome to the hilltop town of Pienza, Italy—quaint and charming not to mention a perch upon which to revel in the most splendid views of Tuscany. All content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Destination Pienza, Italy! After spending the morning driving south from Florence through glorious Tuscany with a stop at Montepulciano to indulge in savory delectables and tasty wines, we continued our tour heading west through some of the most sublime landscapes I've ever encountered. Located 15 minutes away from Montepulciano is the historic hilltop town of Pienza—about a third smaller than her sister Montepulciano but much bigger on charm! While there's not an awful lot to see in this quaint village, you'll revel in its narrow cobbled lanes flanked by striking Renaissance architecture. What I remember most from my visit were the vivid flower baskets of vibrant red blooms hanging from every window along the streets and the most magnificent views of the surrounding Tuscan countryside from the promenades at the perimeter. Join me on this guided tour through Pienza!

12 June 2012

A Voyage to Volendam in The Netherlands

Welcome to Volendam in The Netherlands.  All content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.

My adventures with Viking River Cruises continue with an excursion to Volendam which included a visit to Edam for a walk around this quaint village and of course cheese tasting; followed by early afternoon in Marken, an idyllic seaside escape; and finally back to Volendam for a more immersive experience in this historic port town on the shores of the Markermeer Sea—25-minutes from Amsterdam. It was just after lunch when our "Viking Odin" longship docked in the heart of this quintessential seaside village and soon thereafter, we were whisked off on the aforementioned tours. We departed Marken via the local ferry Marken Express that cruised across the Markermeer Sea en-route to Volendam to spend the rest of the day exploring. Join me as we tour the charming port of Volendam, The Netherlands.

04 June 2012

ArtOdysseys—Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Close-up view of Venus in Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus.' Photo: Wikimedia. 

Once again my friends, it's time for the monthly installment of ArtOdysseys—my ongoing series that unites my love of art and travel. This month's focus in "paintings." With that said, I invite you on an odyssey to Florence, the Uffizi Gallery actually, to discover one of my all-time favorite masterpieces by Botticelli! Enjoy the tour and be sure to click on the links at the end of this feature to read my colleagues' contributions as well.

29 May 2012

The Splendor of the Seaside Village of Marken in The Netherlands

Welcome to the seaside village of Marken in the Netherlands.  All content is the property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Continuing my intrepid exploration through The Netherlands with Viking River Cruises, our journey takes us to the charming coastal town of Marken nestled on the shores of the Markermeer—one of three destinations on our Volendam, Edam and Marken afternoon excursion. After we spent the first part of the afternoon in delicious Edam, we arrived in this picturesque fishing village rich in Dutch traditions dating back hundreds of years. The quaint architecture of the houses, shops and cafes, perfectly preserves its time-honored past and for me, it was love at first sight the moment we arrived in the parking area and began our tour through the idyllic countryside that would eventually give way to the sea. Home to approximately 2,000 residents, Marken is little more than one square mile of land connected to the mainland by the Zeedijk—a causeway constructed in 1957 to the mainland— and very easy to navigate in just a few hours. Join me on this tour through the enchanting village of Marken, The Netherlands.

24 May 2012

Strolling Through the Village of Edam in The Netherlands

Welcome to Edam, The Netherlands.  All content is property of EuroTravelogue™.  Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

Quaint and charming don't begin to describe the scenic Dutch countryside in the little village of Edam in The Netherlands. Cobbled streets, storied architecture and picturesque canals spanned by centuries-old drawbridges, can be found throughout Edam—every scene a picture-perfect postcard! Oh, and let's not forget its world-renowned and mighty tasty Edam cheese! Upon arriving in nearby Volendam aboard the Viking River Cruises longship, Viking Odin, we were whisked off to 13th-century Edam which is located only a few miles from Volendam and just 13 miles or 22 km outside the bustling city of Amsterdam. Edam / Volendam are an easy 30-minute jaunt that you must make time for if you're planning to visit The Netherlands. Join me on this escorted trip through Edam and I promise to return to Volendam in an upcoming post.

06 May 2012

ArtOdysseys: A Study of the Apollo Belvedere at the Vatican Museum in Rome

The Apollo Belvedere stands after 2,000 years in the Octagonal Court at the Vatican Museum in Rome.  All content is the copyrighted property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited. 

Welcome to ArtOdysseys! Each month, I share my discoveries in art while traveling around the world in hopes of igniting your curiosity so that you too, can connect with art and cultures along your journeys. Each month, I focus on one study and this month it’s “sculpture.” Throughout my travels, I have encountered numerous masterpieces, many of which I have fallen in love since my days of art history in college. While I’ve written about some of them on EuroTravelogue including Michelangelo’s “David,” the “Laocoön,” Bernini—among others—I turn back to Rome, Italy, once again for a new study of the Apollo Belvedere statue housed in the Vatican Museum. For me, I have grown to love to this statue because as soon as I saw it, I was reminded instantly of the “David.” Let’s take a closer look at the Apollo Belvedere.

03 May 2012

Whimsical Windmills of Kinderdijk in the Netherlands-UNESCO Site

Welcome to the Kinderdijk windmill complex in the Netherlands.  All content and photography are the copyrighted property of EuroTravelogue™.  Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

When you think of Holland or the Netherlands, what is the first picture that pops into your mind? Windmills of course or in Dutch, it's 'molens.' While I agree that tulips and wooden shoes are high on that list as well, it’s these Dutch icons that come to mind especially after my visit to Kinderdijk (pronounced kinder-dike), a small village located between the Lek and Noord Rivers in the Netherlands—approximately 16 km. from Rotterdam. Punctuated by 19 of these fanciful structures, Kinderdijk was one of my last excursions aboard the inaugural celebration onboard the “Viking Odin” with Viking River Cruises; and the most memorable. Friday morning greeted us with a glorious sunrise with windmills barely visible through a misty horizon—truly one of the most picturesque scenes of my journey. Join me on this tour of Kinderdijk—a brief history, a canal tour and wrapping up with an interior tour of these magnificent structures from the ground up!

15 April 2012

Seizing the Moments of my Journey with Viking River Cruises

Living in the moment in Marken, Netherlands.  I happened upon this picturesque view of a tiny drawbridge leading into a village street.  All content property of EuroTravelogue™.  Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

“The journey not the arrival matters.” – T. S. Eliot

In those six words, T.S. Eliot encapsulates the wondrous journey that is travel and my mission in life, but he also reminds us not to simply get from place to place, but to live in each moment along the way! Of course I agree that the destination is the highlight of any holiday and the reason for which we travel but isn’t the journey equally sublime? Can it be? Have you ever been thrust into a single moment that ignited your childlike wonder and sent it soaring to unimaginable heights? Or, have you shared an encounter with new friends in faraway lands? These kinds of moments, all too often fleeting but sometimes euphoric, are always high on any of my itineraries and my recent adventure with Viking River Cruises proved to be no different. My river cruise through the Netherlands not only delivered on my expectations of a European cruise, it exceeded them with unforgettable moments that I seized and reveled in for the time afforded me. And so it is with this underlying theme of “the journey not the arrival” that I weave together some memories from my journey in the Netherlands—unexpected points in time that enriched my “journey” along the way.

10 April 2012

Guided Canal Boat Tour Through the Historic City of Amsterdam

A great way to tour the city of Amsterdam is via canal boat.  Explore the architecture, the monuments and life in this enchanting city.  All content property of EuroTravelogue™.  Unauthorized use is prohibited. 

After we awoke in Amsterdam on an historic day for Viking River Cruises, we were invited to embark on Amsterdam’s renowned glass-topped canal boats for a guided tour through the city’s legendary canals from its historic architecture and fabled gables to its quaint neighborhoods and charming houseboats. And you can actually rent one of these quaint and charming houseboats for your stay in Amsterdam! How cool would that be? Then it was onto a walk through the heart of the Jewish quarter including visits to the nearly 350-year-old Portuguese synagogue and the Jewish Historical Museum—both poignant reminders of the persecution suffered by the Amsterdam Jews during WWII. Topping off our morning tour was a scrumptious lunch at De Kas (The Greenhouse), whose fully-operational greenhouse determines the menu of the day based on only the freshest ingredients! I must say, it was the best lunch I had ever eaten! But for now, let’s embark on our journey through this quintessential “Venice of the North”…your glass-topped boat is standing by. We’ll come back to our tour of the Jewish quarter in a later post.

03 April 2012

Guided Tour Through Viking River Cruise's Longship Viking Odin

Welcome to the Viking Odin.  This elegant two-story atrium welcomes you on board. All content property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.   

Before we embark on fascinating journeys through the Netherlands, let me first introduce you to the Viking Odin longship, my home away from home on the waterways of Europe! As you know from my first post, we celebrated the Christening of four new longships on March 21st, so by now you’re probably wondering about these "longships" and what makes them so special. Steeped in Viking lore, longships were the sailing vessels of the intrepid Viking explorers and it is this tradition that inspired Viking River Cruises to design and build a new class of longships but in 21st –century style. Let us now embark on a tour of these magnificent ships that are redefining the way we think about European travel!

31 March 2012

Celebrating the Launch of Viking River Cruise Longships in the Netherlands

The Viking River Cruises Longship Viking Odin in port in Volendam, Netherlands.  All content is copyrighted property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

Cruising the rivers of Europe was only a dream, until last week that is, when I realized that dream with Viking River Cruises. It all began with an email from Viking back in mid-February inviting me to Amsterdam for their inaugural celebration for four of the six world-class river-cruise longships scheduled to debut this year; and then sail with them to lands unknown to me—the Netherlands. As you know from my announcement a few weeks ago, I was, and still am for that matter; incredibly euphoric about the adventure with Viking. Imagine, idyllic landscapes punctuated by fanciful windmills, or perhaps quaint and charming seaside villages steeped in time-honored traditions. This is but the first in a series of posts chronicling my Viking explorations—from the Christening ceremony of the new ships in Amsterdam to our intrepid exploration through the Netherlands. With pen and lens in tow, I bring these journeys to life for you and with that, I welcome you onboard the Viking Odin and to the Netherlands!

09 March 2012

Postcards from the Loire Valley in France

The Loire Valley in France is home to elegant chateaux, sprawling fertile farmland and some of the most scenic landscapes in all of France. All photography is property of EuroTravelogue™. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

Renowned for its 1,000+ medieval and Renaissance chateaux, abundant vineyards and sublime landscapes, the Loire Valley beckons to all who plan to spend their holiday in France! At the heart of all of this visual splendor lies the River Loire that stretches 600 miles or so from the south of France north through Orleans and then west where it empties into the Atlantic. Along its meandering course, you’ll discover hilltops punctuated by magnificent fairy tale castles that open a portal into the past—from Amboise where the remains of Leonardo Da Vince are believed to rest, to Chinon where Joan of Arc met with Charles the VII, and finally to Chambord—the largest of ALL the chateaux and believe it or not, a hunting lodge for Francis I. The Loire Valley in France is steeped in history and awaiting your discovery.

26 February 2012

EuroTravelogue To Embark With Viking River Cruises in Amsterdam

Artist rendering of the new Viking River Cruises Longships.  Photo: Courtesy of Viking River Cruises. Unauthorized use is prohibited.  

In just three weeks, I will be heading to Amsterdam with the world-renowned Viking River Cruises to Christen and launch two of the six new Viking Longships scheduled to debut this year! My particular journey will take me on board the “Viking Odin,” named after the mighty warrior in Norse mythology. To say I am excited would be understatement of the year. Actually, I am thrilled beyond words and if you know me, you have a sense of the elation coursing through my being—testament to my undeniable exuberance to travel and explore places and cultures unfamiliar. Plus, I have wanted to experience a Viking River Cruise for the last two years and still can’t believe this opportunity is upon me. Big adventures await as well as all the updates of my journey including stunning photography of every stop along the way. But first, need to get things in order: camera, calling cards, my iPad of course for impromptu videos and stills, luggage, passport and so much more! The adventure begins!

19 February 2012

The Splendor of Tuscany—Sharing Memories and Dreams Contest

Farm house in Le Crete.  Photo: Property of Abbeville Press.  Unauthorized use is prohibited.
For centuries, the allure of Tuscany has captivated our imaginations with evocative images of hilltop towns, Renaissance art and architecture and Cyprus-lined roads meandering through golden fields of sunflowers. I’ll never forget my first trip to Tuscany, Italy—it was love at first sight. Immediately, I fell under the Tuscan spell when the most picturesque scenery unfolded before my eyes, whether in its cities or the surrounding countryside.

12 February 2012

Inspired to Travel—Greece

The cast of 'Mamma Mia.' Photo: WikiMedia Commons.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to write about movies that inspired me to travel for TravelCuriousOften.com. While that list was published, I have so many more that I want to feature here on EuroTravelogue whether it’s movies, books, trips taken by colleagues or whatever the case may be, that inspired or inspires travel. At heart, I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to stories of true love and the visual beauty of the world and its people around us. And so it with this underlying thread of "romance" that I weave together all of my “inspired by” stories for you and begin this new series with an adventure to the Greek Islands and perhaps a sing-a-long song or two with Abba along the way. 

30 January 2012

ArtOdysseys: Raphael’s ‘School of Athens’ in the Vatican Museum

Completed in 1511, Raphael's "School of Athens" decorates one of four walls in the Stanza della Segnatura, one of four rooms in a suite of apartments intended for Pope Julius II.  Now part of the Vatican Musuem, this academic gathering of history's most brilliant is accessible to everyone and it's wonderful!  Photo: WikiMedia Commons.  
Welcome to the ArtSmart Roundtable! Each month, the Roundtable—a group of travel bloggers / art aficionados who are passionate about discovering art while exploring destinations around the world, publish this monthly series that highlights a particular art-related subject. January’s topic is wall paintings and when I think of wall paintings, I can’t help but think of the magnificent frescoes that decorate many a chapel, museum, city hall—among others, throughout Europe and the rest of the world. Topping my list of favorite frescoes are Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel of course, but I’ve already written about the agony and ecstasy of the Sistine so I thought I would shift my focus to my second favorite Renaissance artist Raphaello Sanzio da Urbino or more commonly known as Raphael! I hope you enjoy this closer look at Raphael’s “School of Athens” and the next time you’re in Rome, make sure you set aside time in your itinerary to visit the Vatican Museums to see this master stroke of genius up close and personal.

29 January 2012

Szentendre, Hungary: Colorful Past, Color-full Present

A double rainbow above the Danube at Szentendre. All content and photography in this article are property of Penny Ewles-Bergeron. Please do not use without permission.

I am thrilled to welcome Guest Blogger Penny Ewles-Bergeron to EuroTravelogue. Also known as @abroadbrush on Twitter, Penny can't live without art, music, politics, food and travel. After years in London and Dublin, she now resides in Naples—which luckily provides plenty to paint, photograph and write about—truly, her "brush with italy." When she's not creating her masterpieces, Penny contributes regularly to ItalianNotebook.com where she imparts her knowledge and shares her experiences while she calls Napolitown home.  At the end of this article, she gives her personal recommendations when visiting Szentendre so be sure to check them out.  I hope you enjoy Penny's "impressions" of Szentendre, Hungary.  

22 January 2012

In Pursuit of Provence, France—Hilltop Towns and Fields of Lavender

The allure of Provence, France, beckons with the sweet fragrance of lavender and historic sites of medieval towns.  All photography in this article is the copyrighted works of Brian Jannsen unless noted.  Unauthorized use is prohibited.   
Perhaps the most sublime in all of France, Provence evokes images of medieval towns, hills of lavender fields swaying in the breeze and the sweet romance of the sea. Stretching from the Alpine mountains through the meandering Rhône River valley before surrendering to the Mediterranean, the lands of Provence promise the most delightful and dramatic landscapes around every bend in the winding roadways throughout the region. Stop by one of the hilltop towns alive with bustling marketplaces and festivals throughout the year celebrating both the spiritual and secular. In the countryside, you’ll find rolling hills of lavender bursting with life and filling the air with the most intoxicating perfume imaginable. Later in the summer, fields of sunflowers bathed in golden light seem to disappear into the horizon. Perhaps it’s the romance of the sea that beckons? Head to the south of this region to Saint Tropez and Nice and let’s not forget the glitz and glamour of Cannes! It’s all here in Provence, France.