THE SILK ROAD RAIL JOUNEY 2015 Hosted by Sandra and Neville Walliss September 23 – October 14, 2015
A once-in-a-lifetime travel experience from Beijing to Moscow through China, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Russia, visiting Xian, Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, Almaty, Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Merv, Ashgabat, Khiva and Volgograd.
Undisputedly one of the world’s great railway journeys, the Silk Road tour takes us from Beijing to Moscow, travelling along one of the most important trading routes of ancient civilization. We will be following in the footsteps of legendary figures, Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. For centuries merchants and adventurers journeyed to and from China through some of the most testing landscapes in the world, to trade silk, spices and perfumes. These ancient highways stretched more than 6000kms and collectively, they became known as “The Silk Road.”
For more details, click HERE or call Travelrite International on 1800 630 343.
TEHRAN TO BUDAPEST DANUBE EXPRESS Hosted by Barry Jones AC
September 14 to October 4, 2015
An amazing trip by private train from the ancient land of Persia to the shores of the Bosphorus, arriving finally by the banks of the Danube. This unique trip takes in destinations rarely experienced by Western visitors on a completely enthralling journey. In Iran, see the capital Tehran, the historical city of Isfahan and the ancient city of Persepolis, before we travel through Turkey to Istanbul and then through Bulgaria and Romania to Hungary and Budapest. Visiting World Heritage Sites and Dubai; Tehran, Mahan, Kerman, Shiraz, Persepolis, Isfahan, Zanjan in Iran; Lake Van, Akdamar Island, Van, Cappadocia, Istanbul in Turkey; Kazanlak and Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria; Brason and Sighisoara, Romania; Kecskemet and Budapest, Hungary. A journey of a lifetime!
For more details, click HERE or call Travelrite International on 1800 630 343.
THE TRANS-SIBERIAN RAIL JOURNEY
Vladivostok to Moscow and St Petersburg
September 3 to September 24, 2015
Indisputably one of the world’s greatest railway journeys, the Trans-Siberian Railway runs from Moscow, over the Urals, across the magnificent Russian Steppes and alongside the shores of the world’s largest freshwater lake, Lake Baikal. It passes through eight time zones, and travels almost 10,000 km; one third of the way around the world. Our Trans- Siberian Express tour is a leisurely journey, making sure you get plenty of time to take in and enjoy this voyage of a lifetime. Visiting Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, Ulaanbaatar, Ulan Ude, Lake Baikal, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Moscow & St Petersburg in Russia. Travelling on the Trans-Siberian is the only way to truly take in the vastness and grandeur of the world’s largest country.
For more details, click HERE or call Travelrite International on 1800 630 343.
This wonderful tour begins with four nights on Lake Como. We will visit beautiful Bellagio, Villa Melzi, magnificent Isola Bella, Villa Carlotta and Villa Balbeinello. We then travel to Venice for a guided tour with members of the Venice Garden Club. We will see some of Venice’s secret gardens as well as the gardens of the exclusive Hotel Cipriani. Our tour continues in Paris with highlights including Chateau de Bagatelle and Versailles. We then board our luxurious river ship for a seven night cruise along the Seine. We will visit Jardin Plume, Les Jardins de Castillon, and another highlight Claude Monets house and garden in Giverney.
An optional pre tour to London for the Chelsea Flower Show and great gardens of the south of England is also available.
2015 Garden Tour with Millie Ross to Italy, France and England
Including the Chelsea Flower Show
May 4 to May 24, 2015
Visiting London for the Chelsea Flower Show, Tuscany, Florence, the Italian Lakes and Nice.
We begin on the Amalfi Coast in Sorrento. We will see spectacular gardens Villa Rufolo and Villa Cimbrone in Ravello. We also travel to the island of Ischia to visit the famous garden La Mortella. During our three nights in Rome we visit Villa d’Este, and Villa Adriana. We continue on to Sienna in Tuscany to see Villa Lante and Villa Cetinale before four nights in the French Riviera and Nice. Our highlight here will be Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild. We finish with three nights in cosmopolitan London and the Chelsea Flower Show.
2015 Italian Food & Garden Tour with Julie Ray & Phil Dudman
May 22, 2015 to June 07, 2015
Visiting Tuscany, Florence, Bologna and the Italian Lakes.
Highlights include 3 nights in the picturesque Tuscan village of Bagno Vignoni, lunch at the world-renowned Osteria Francescana in Modena, a visit to the enchanting Villa del Balbianello overlooking Lake Como & the glorious food markets of Bologna, the food capital of Italy. Join the optional pre tour to the Chelsea Flower Show.
Visiting Como, the Italian Lakes, Venice, Naples, Rome & Livorno, Italy: Dubrovnik, Croatia; Kotor, Montenegro; Corfu, Greece; Monte Carlo, Monaco; Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain. Highlights include Villa Carlotta, Villa Balbienello and Isola Bella in Como, la Mortella on the island of Ischia, Villa lante and Villa Massei in Tuscany and Villa Ephrussi de Rothchild on the French Riviera.
2015 Deryn Thorpe Garden Tour to France and England including the Chelsea Flower Show 5 May to 24 May 2015
We begin with four nights in Paris visiting the exceptional gardens of Monet’s house and garden at Giverny, Chateau de Bagatelle and Chateau de Versailles. We then continue on to the beautiful Loire Valley. A highlight here will be the Festival des Jardins de Chaumont sur Loire with thirty show gardens for us to see. Our journey through the best gardens of France then visits the spectacular Dordogne region and the gorgeous city of Avignon in Provence. We conclude with three nights in London for the Chelsea Flower Show.
The Jane Edmanson garden tour on the Royal Princess will be a wonderful opportunity to cruise around the British Isles and Ireland. It will be managed by an experienced tour manager and include sightseeing tours at each port of call and visits to delightful gardens. Also included are special activities for members of the group.
2015 Gardens History & Landscapes Tour with Michael and Judith Basile
From Nice to Paris – On and off the beaten track.
May 5 to 24, 2015
A romantic journey through glorious gardens, beautiful villages, and historic sites with tour leaders who know and love this very special region of France. We visit Nice and the beautiful French Riviera, travel to Forcalquier by train, and visit the historic Provincial town of Avignon. We have a night in Carcasson before concluding the tour with five nights in cosmopolitan Paris. It will be a wonderful in depth tour of France.
Winter? Schminter!! In August 2012, twenty one quilters, and one husband, took off for Europe and a tour full of history, fabric, textiles, shopping, sunshine, food, great company and maybe just a little shopping!
The tour starts in Paris, straight off the plane , for a city tour of this gorgeous place in brilliant sunshine. The wrought iron balconies and worked doors are superb, and provide inspiration for numerous craft designs. The Eiffel Tour is bathed in sunshine, with crowds milling around the base to ascend to the top. With lunch at the Louvre, it is a wonderful way to start the tour. We are staying in the Opera district, which gives us easy access to terrific shopping areas and the metro to anywhere else in the city.
This tour is full of highlights, and our first occurs the next day. We board our coach to head out to the Musee de Toile de Jouy. Situated in a 19th century chateau, it has displays of vintage printing techniques from the Oberkamp factory in Jouy-en-Josas, as well as historic, finished examples of the florals and toiles in garments, furnishing & quilts. The history contained in the building is counteracted by a display of modern quilts and textile art by the group Patchwork France. Far from the romantic figures on the vintage textiles, this exhibition has pieces made from plastic, wool felt, lace, embroidery and is enjoyed for it’s diversity. Before we leave there is a rush to buy the limited fabrics available at the museum, first in, first served!
To top off what has already been a brilliant day, we head to the markets in the city of Versailles for tasty baguettes, before we head to the Chateau de Versailles. As it is summer, the crowds are plentiful. But as a group we get to bypass them and enter this stunning palace very quickly. Each year an art exhibition is displayed within the buildings and grounds and this year it is artworks by Joana Vasconcelos. An oversized patchwork textile piece hangs from the ceiling as we enter. A huge pair of stilettos is made from shiny saucepans and a funky, iron lace teapot sit amid the summer flowers in the gardens. From the opulence of the 18th century castle and gardens, to the fascination of the modern art, it is a memorable visit, and we are sad to leave.
Paris has so many highlights, and the next day we head out to Sacre Couer to visit the basilica and the shopping area of Mont Matre. It is another beautiful day as we photograph the city from this fabulous vantage point. Then the girls head down for a fabric fix in the shops below and we already start to worry about those luggage allowances! The afternoon we spend at the Musee de Arts Decoratif. It has displays of all types of decoration including jewellery, advertisements, period rooms, trompe loi , Babar and the designs of Louis Vitton and Marc Jacobs. Wow! We have not even left Paris yet and we have seen so much!
Our 1st patchwork shop is on the itinerary next day. Ines Boutique de Patchwork has expanded since we first visited, but still as friendly as ever. Everyone finds something they can’t live without, before heading over to the little bar on the corner for a little liquid fortification. The evening sees many of us cruising the Seine River, enjoying the twinkling lights of Paris at night, while eating a tasty meal ( and maybe a dessert, or two!).
Alas, we must leave Paris, and the next day we fly to the south of France, landing in the historic city of Avignon. Often referred to as the “City of Popes” because of the presence of popes and antipopes from 1309 to 1423, the Palais de Popes is still standing , as is the rampart wall around the acient city centre. We explore this place on foot, while eating excellent gelatti in the summer heat. The following day we head out in our coach to two very different markets. The first is a small trash & treasure style market in a carpark, with tables covered in a wide variety of fascinating goods. We fossic through the items, discovering many treasures that come home with us. It is with reluctance that we board the coach again, but at least we are off to another market, this time on the village of Uzes. It is very different and very crowded as it is held in the narrow, winding streets of this old village. The stalls sell an abundance of local, fresh food, Provencal napery, clothing, hats, etc. We sniff out 2 stores that sell patchwork and other craft goods. Lunch choices abound, the food in the south of France is mouthwatering. Again, we are sad to leave the picturesque village of Uzes, but we must head back to the hotel. On the way we stop and see the magnificent arched roman aqua duct, The Pont du Gard.
The french are very civilised and the next day is Sunday and most business are closed. We have organised for a famous Provencal fabric shop to open especially for the group. What a treasure trove! Not your traditional shop, it had dress fabric, patchwork fabric, upholstery, ribbons, T-towels, tassels and trims, ready made items. I do not think that Gregoire, the owner, knew what hit him when we started to shop. Lucky for us he had shipping , and the boxes that were sent home saved the extra weight in our luggage.
From Avignon we head to Nice, stopping at Aix-en-Provence along the way. Is every village in the south of France so picturesque! We wander the beautiful streets, heading to another fabric shop in the heart of the village. It is located on a square , with markets in the centre and numerous shops and restaurants. We have to shop fast, as this little village closes for 2 hours in the middle of the day. We are so used to 24/7 shopping in Australia that the shop closures in France can be a little disconcerting. Later in the day we explore the French Riveria from our hotel in Nice.
What can I say, but next day, another gorgeous village in Provence, Grasse. We have chosen it as a destination to visit a little museum , the Museum of Costume and Jewellery. Size is no indication of quality, as it has a fabulous selection of vintage, Provencal clothing. They are displayed under glass cylinders, allowing you to see all sides of these fascinating pieces: the fabrics, the closures, the trims , the stitching. Next door is a perfume factory where we learn the intricacies of making the sweet smelling liquids. Lunch is on the run , while trying to shop and photograph Grasse, before we head to Monaco for the afternoon. A walking tour gives us an idea of this pretty place, with many of the older builings painted in soft , gelatti colours. A visit to the church where Princess Grace was married and is also buried is included. Dinner that night is a farewell to France and held in a restaurant on the famous Prommenade de Anglais, on the French Riveria, Nice. Do we really have to leave?
England is our destination the next day, Birmingham to be exact. Our tour manager Lyn, has researched and found out that Jamie Oliver has a restaurant nearby. Twenty of us go out together to explore the culinary delights of this famous chef. Alas, he is not in the night we visit, but the food is incredibly fresh and tasty. The following day is the first day of Birmingham Festival of Quilts. The quilt show has a multitude of interantional quilt displays, with a wide variety of stands and demonstrations. Many famous quilters are in attendance, including Pauline Burbidge and Kaffe Fasset , who is busy signing books. Muscles are being tested, just how much can we carry? To break up the shopfest, we take the group back in time , to the 1760’s, and visit the magnificent Kedleston Hall. This neo-classical mansion and surrounding landscaped park can be seen in the movie “The Duchess”, starring Keira Knightley. It is an insight into how monied people lived in earlier times.
Our last stop in England is York. Another walled city, this is a very interesting place to stay. Our walking tour explores the history, the Minster, the Shambles and lands at the York Castle Museum. Free time allows for each of us to further investigate the city, and the shops, of York. The following day we visit the Quilt Museum and Gallery in St Anthony’s Hall. On exhibit is “Celebrating Diversity” by the European Quilt Association, and a collection of miniature quilts in “Small is Beautiful”.Our Farewell dinner that night is held in an olde pub. Amongst the laughter is much sadness, as this is our last meal together. Tomorrow some of us head home, while others stay in Europe , traveling on to other exciting destinations. Another fantastic Travelrite tour has, unfortunatley, come to an end.
In 2013 Travelrite have a new and exciting program of tours. The first, in August , will visit Long Beach Quilt Festival, Seattle, cruise the Inside Passage to Alaska and finish in San Fransisco. We will also be travelling to the USA in October 2013 for the Houston Quilt Festival.
For a further information check www.travelrite.com.au.
Join George Negus and his partner Kirsty Cockburn, as well as multi-award winning Kimberley expedition leader Dan Balint, on an exploration cruise through the remote Australian wilderness of the heritage listed Kimberley. As George explains, “This trip is our chance to enjoy with you one of our favourite places in the World… not just its extraordinary remote geography but also its culture and communities and the rare experience of being somewhere under the stars where signs of a modern world are a surprise rather than a common sight.” We travel in the Waterfall Season of May, an ideal time to experience the full power of the spectacular falls in a more temperate climate. Our luxurious expedition ship, the Oceanic Discoverer, has been designed for size to explore some of the more remote and breathtaking secrets of this remarkable region.
This unique experience with global traveller and journalist George Negus is priced from $9,495 per person, twin share, and includes the following: One night’s accommodation in Darwin with breakfast and dinner, two nights in Broome at the Cable Beach Resort with breakfast and one dinner, cocktails on Cable Beach in Broome, ten nights aboard the Oceanic Discoverer with all meals as well as shore excursions listed in the itinerary.
Travelrite International organised the first Movie Cruise to depart in January 2012 with David Stratton as the film personality. We departed from Sydney, sailing for New Zealand. We had four days at sea before reaching Dunedin. During this time David introduced two movies each afternoon. Afterwards we had a question and answer session. David has an encyclopaedic memory and could answer any questions on any film. We saw 25 classic movies in thirteen days and the most popular movie of the cruise was 12 Angry Men. While in port our days became busier as we enjoyed sightseeing tours in the morning and movies in the afternoon. While in Wellington we visited the Weta Studios, where we saw a film describing how Hobbits, Elves and special CGI creatures were made and how the special effects were done for The Lord of the Rings and Tintin among their many movies. In Tauranga we travelled to Hobbiton to see the set for the Hobbit movies, which was terrific. Plans are underway for another Film Festival at Sea, so watch our website: www.travelrite.com.au
We gathered at Sydney Central Station to board the Indian Pacific, one of the most iconic train journeys in the world. The friendly efficient staff ensured we were checked us in and settled with a minimum of fuss.
As the train rolled though the western plains of Sydney spread out on either side we snatched glimpses of backyards and into the lives of the way people live in this vibrant city. Then the climb into the Blue Mountains commences.
This escarpment held back the further inland settlement for many years until a way was found. The railway travels over part of the original route. Passing through towns such a Katoomba and Leura stirs reminiscences of a slower time, a time of Sunday drives and Greek Cafes’ in every small town.
Cocktails in the lounge car, a sumptuous dinner then returning to our cabins finding our beds prepared and turned down ready for our excited but weary heads. It’s like being transported into a 1930’s Hollywood movie. Luxurious, comfortable, sophisticated train travel, a true delight.
Our first morning on the train found us in Broken Hill. Most passengers took the opportunity for a sunrise tour through the place where ‘the big Australian’, BHP was founded. Then back on the train for a welcome breakfast, as we rolled through the outback to Adelaide.
We arrived in the relaxed and pretty city of Adelaide in the mid afternoon. Where we took advantage of a tour to see the highlights and be delivered back in time for our evening departure.
The next day we crossed the Nullarbor Plain. We wake to rolling red sand hills covered with small desert trees dotted about. Many ask the question, is this it? Is this the Nullarbor Plain? No it’s not but quite suddenly we come out onto a large expanse of very flat, very wide plain with not a tree to break the horizon, ‘the’ highlight of this fabulous train journey.
A day of watching this plain rolls by with a short stop in Cook which has a population of five and finally in the late evening Kalgoorlie. As we crossed the plain we were privileged to watch the rare event of thunderstorms rolling across the horizon and occasionally over the train. Stopping in Kalgoorlie allows you to stretch your legs or join a bus tour of the city.
Our third and final day found us racing through the wheat belt of W.A. on our way to Perth. We are sad to end this part of our journey but excited for the next step. A city sights tour through the bustling expanding city opens our eyes to both its’ history and the great potential of its’ future. Then off to Freemantle to this bustling port put on the world map when Australia won the Americas Cup.
Three days in Fremantle; to rest, or explore interesting and historic towns of the region. Our included day trip to Rottnest Island allowed us stroll the beaches and get great photos of cute quokkas.
Next we board the Sun Princess. What a sight, this beautiful white ship bright in the afternoon sun. With the paperwork complete we boarded with a minimum of fuss. Some rushed off to their cabins others chose lunch first then off to their cabin then most spend the rest of the afternoon finding our way around our home away from home for the next 2 weeks.
Our first day ashore is a tour of Geraldton, one of the sparkling gems of the Western Australian coast. A town based on farming, mining, fishing, and growing very quickly. But also a place of reflection with the only National Memorial outside of Canberra, built and financed by the people of Geraldton, a memorial to HMAS Sydney, where the storey of the battle between it and German raider Cormorant is told.
Spending the next two days at sea, being as active or relaxed as you choose to be. I know for a fact an afternoon nap on a sun lounge was popular.
Ubud, Bali, a place of artists, markets and some tasted bubi gooling an iconic dish of this island. A quick visit to Ubuds’ market for that perfect gift, then onto a Balinese compound or home. This intimate glimpse of another culture was a highlight with many questions asked and answered.
Our wonderful cruise finished with stops in Broome, Darwin, Port Douglas, Townsville, Brisbane and then returning to Sydney.
If you interested in experiencing this wonderful cruise/rail package please select either of the two links.
I have just participated in a trip to Borneo with Wendy Wu Tours. Wendy Wu Tours are very well known for tours to China and Vietnam but also offer Indo China, India and Borneo as destinations. Their philosophy is to offer fully inclusive tours with the best price, best inclusions and first class personal service. Our group flights were with Singapore Airlines and it was my first experience on the A380. The economy class cabin is very spacious, light and extremely quiet. After touching down in Singapore Airport it was off to find the group waiting in Terminal 2 for our connecting flight into Kuching. Our Wendy Wu representative Jenny made the introductions for our new Borneo family whom we would be spending the next 10 days with. What a great group. Our tour included 2 nights in Kuching, the capital city of the state of Sarawak, 1 night at a Longhouse, 5 nights onboard the Pandaw Orient and 1 night back in Kuching before flying home.
I last visited Kuching in 1992 and the city has grown and changed since then. Our group hotel was the newly built Pullman Hotel in the heart of Kuching and within walking distance to many of the attractions and the waterfront. The next morning our local guide Teddy met us in the lobby for our City Tour and visit to the Kuching Museum. Such an amazing place full of different cultures and traditions. In the afternoon we headed out of town to the Sarawak Cultural Village for an insight into the different tribes and cultures of Borneo and enjoyed a cultural dance performance and seeing the different house styles of the traditional people.
From Kuching we made a stop at the Semongoh Orang Utan Rehibilation Centre were we lucky to see 4 Orang-utans at the first feeding station. Wow what a highlight. After our visit we headed to Batang Ai about a 4.5 hour drive stopping along the way at a wonderful market in the town of Serian where some of us tasted the exotic fruit called Durian. Durian is grown around the area and is known for its horrible smell with the sweet tasting fruit inside. Also enroute was a stop at a local Pepper farm to see the Pepper trees and how the pepper is harvested. We arrived at Batang Ai Reservior where a local ferry service was required to get to our next overnight stop at the Hilton Bantang Ai Longhouse Resort. The resort is set into the wilderness and is an eco friendly resort. The Longhouse is set with a huge corridor space or enclosed verandah with rooms off the corridor. What an amazing place. Our Dinner setting was outside on the Verandah overlooking the lake just in time to see the sunset.
The next day we traveled to the town of Sibu to board the Pandaw Orient our home for the next 5 nights. Pandaw cruises are well known for the Mekong River cruises along with cruises in Mynmar. Our cabin had all the facilities you need and we settle in for our adventure. Over the next few days we experience life on the river, market towns, long houses, villages, visit a local school to meet the children and teachers along with the local doctor, enjoy a special picnic set up on the river bank, jungle walks, onboard lectures from our local guides, fabulous meals including local dishes, western style and vegetarian options. The locals are very friendly and we receive many waves and hello’s along the way. Every evening before dinner we gather on the Sun Deck for cocktails and the briefing for the next day’s programme. The Pandaw Orient can accommodate up to 60 passengers and we have 40 passengers including our group onboard this sailing. The other passengers are from all over the world including Germany, New Zealand and Thailand but the majority are from Australia and vary in age groups. We were lucky to travel with Connie a 94 year old who has made Thailand her home.
We celebrated 3 birthdays while on our tour. The staff onboard the Pandaw were wonderful and made the girls feel very special with cakes and gifts. Something they will treasure and remember fondly I am sure.
Our time onboard the Pandaw went very quickly with always something to see and do. We arrive back in Sibu a very busy town with one of the largest markets in the country. After a short city tour we boarded our flight back to Kuching. That afternoon we enjoyed a Sunset cruise on the Sarawak River. What an amazing sunset. Dinner was at Topspot a popular local hawker style restaurant. More fantastic food!
What a fabulous tour and experience we had. We all boarded our Singapore Airlines flight back to Australia with great memories.
Call me if you are interested in Borneo or Pandaw Cruising (03) 9836 2522 or email@example.com
I have just returned from an amazing trip to Japan. It was my first time to this beautiful country and it will not be my last! I loved learning about the culture and learning to say a few words, which the locals love, but they love speaking English to us even more.
Walking around and seeing the green gardens, the mountains, and all the different scenery was magical. I felt very safe everywhere we traveled. The Japanese people were so polite and very generous. With all that has happened in Japan, I was surprised how quickly everything has returned to normal and I am happy to say Japan is very safe to travel to.
Food – is oishii (delicious). Presented so delicately, so many different varieties and the portion sizes, all I can say is you will never go hungry.
Wow is all I could say about the Bullet Train. I wish we had them in Australia. Traveling comfortably for a couple of hours and then being in a new city was amazing. The train carriage was so roomy and stable that you do not even feel like you are traveling and the scenery just makes the train ride so much more enjoyable. The best way to travel in Japan!!!
Two highlights of my trip was – Shirakawa-go & Kinkakajui Temple in Kyoto
Shirakawa-go is a preserved town with original streets and old wooden houses. The way they have preserved the buildings is spectacular and beautiful.
Kinkakajui Temple in Kyoto is amazing. Again the temple is well preserved and covered with gold leaf. Amazing!! I was able to get some really great photos and thoroughly enjoyed my time there, which wasn’t enough.
Dubai is one of the most changeable and changing cities in the world. Blink and you might miss another architectural marvel fill the skyline. You can walk for miles in shopping malls that are outrageous, fabulous and jaw dropping. Go skiing on a black run, ice skating, find your perfect gold and diamond bracelet, see fountains that light up at night and ‘dance’ to music or sit at one of the many cafés have a cuppa watching the world go by.
Our 2011 group of travellers were amazed and delighted with our first destination and while we had several activities as a group, many spent hours exploring this city with new friends. Some took the opportunity to visit the Burj Al Arab for a sumptuous afternoon tea with million dollar views and also Burj Khalifa, tallest building in the world.
On our last night in Dubai we visited a Bedouin camp enjoying a sumptuous feast while relaxing in traditional Bedouin style on cushions and carpets. The ladies tried henna tattoos and all enjoyed the excellent belly dancer.
Boarding the Dawn Princess for the cruise section of our holiday is always a joy. As always, staff are welcoming, cabins well appointed and cuisine excellent, our home away from home for the next 4 weeks. Easing into shipboard life with a few sea days before our first port of call encourages people to wind down into holiday mode while familiarising themselves with the ship.
Salalah, Oman is a non tourist type of town yet it appears the Queen of Sheba may have lived nearby. We toured the ruins of an ancient palace, overlooking a lagoon, watching flamingos feed. Off out into the rugged rocky desert to view 2000 yr old frankincense trees, along a jagged coastline with blowholes and soaring cliffs. Returning to town we visited the souk for frankincense and myrrh, oils and perfumes, with many other delights available.
More sea days to enjoy the many activities of the ship and those organised by tour leaders Amanda, Gretha and Leeanne.
Petra, Jordan is hidden in one of the many folds of the mountains of the Negev desert. Walking into Petra along the narrow winding canyon it’s easy to see how this community was kept secret for so long. Finally we stepped out to view the treasury building made famous in the movie, Indiana Jones and the last crusade. But there is more to see of this hidden city, a roman amphitheatre, Nabataean rock tombs and amazing geological features.
Following sea days include a transit of the Suez Canal and an early arrival in Port Said. The canal is an awe inspiring piece of engineering; all dug by hand with shovels.
Cairo, Egypt is the biggest city in Africa, busy, bustling, bursting with life and home to the mighty Pyramids of Giza. Nothing can prepare you for your first visit it is everything you imagine and more.
Jerusalem, Israel, historically fascinating and of great religious importance to many people the world over. A walking tour through the old city finishing at the Western (wailing) Wall and a stop in Bethlehem on the West Bank opened our eyes to the differences and similarities of people and religions.
Mykonos, Greece an island of blue and white buildings, clear blue water on golden beaches with the hot sun in a wide expanse of blue sky. Picture perfect and we all took lots of pictures. A day to drink Greek coffee, send postcards or just laze away your time shopping, snoozing, or visit the beaches where swimsuits are optional!
Istanbul, Turkey a city thought to be the jewel in the crown of so many empires, as it is the gateway to Europe or the Orient depending which side of the Bosphorus you stand. A walking tour though the home of Sultans, St Sophia, Blue Mosque and the roman ruins highlight the richness of over 1000 years of history.
Anzac Cove, Gallipoli Peninsula allowed us to see what our soldiers saw in that early morning in April nearly 100 years ago. A moving service and wreath laying was held with a performance of the Dawn Princess Choir, made up of over 150 passenger volunteers, who practised every day for the service. Nearly the whole ship attended with standing room only.
Athens, Greece, settled as a place to worship the goddess Athena and birthplace of democracy but only if you weren’t a woman or a slave! However both women and men made it to the top of Acropolis with great city views and temples that amaze the mind and lift the spirit. Of course we also made time to wonder the plaka, the old part of the city with interesting shops and restaurants
Citivecchia, Italy, gateway to Rome the eternal city. The Vatican and the Colosseum are highlights for many, so stops were included but we also travelled through the city like locals; on foot. A walking tour lets you discover the treasures hidden down cobbled lanes and squares no bus could ever reach.
Livorno, Italy, stepping-off port for the Tuscan countryside and the picturesque village of San Gimignano. This hill top village is everything you imagine a Tuscan village could be. City walls built to protect the village. Cobbled narrow streets which twist and turn with unexpected vistas across rolling hills covered in sunflowers, wheat fields or vineyards.
Monaco, a tiny principality surrounded by France made famous when Grace Kelly married Prince Rainier and put it on the jet set map. We landed by Tender going past multimillion dollar yachts anchored in the harbour some with helicopters! Touring along the corniche gave us extensive views, while walking past the ‘Palais du Prince’ less than a week after Prince Albert got married with all the decorations still in place was a treat . We also crossed the border to Nice for coffee and a chance to sample local delicacies at the market such as socca, cherries and flat peaches.
Barcelona, Spain, famously home of many Gaudi architectural wonders including the Sagrada Familia. Strolling along La Ramblas to see the ‘living’ statues, sampling tapas and sipping sangria filled many peoples time on a hot lazy afternoon.
Lisbon, Portugal, a city shaken to near obliteration but rebuilt into a people friendly city with verdant green gardens and ‘wild’ lands through and around the city and a short drive to Sintra the home of palaces, castles and luxury homes. Returning to the ship via the coast road allowed us to gasp with wonder at windsurfing skills this area is world famous for.
Le Havre, France a huge bustling container port but it took only minutes to leave the hustle behind heading for Giverny and Monet’s Garden. Our only day of rain for the whole trip didn’t dampen our spirits.
Dover, England, white cliffs of ‘that’ song fame and rolling green downs of southern England are a delight to drive through on a sunny day heading to one of the most iconic cities in the world, London. Disembarkation off the Dawn Princess was a breeze with just a short holdup due to misplaced luggage. Located a short stroll from Harrods, our hotel was welcoming and comfortable which eased some of the sadness we felt as out amazing journey was coming to an end. Our final organised activity was a tour of London with some of the famous blue badge guides. These guides hold so many interesting stories and facts in their memories that any question asked was answered with ease.
On our final day there was time for shopping before the small group who were returning to Australia headed to the airport. The majority of the group took the opportunity to extend their stay in Britain and Europe to visit friends and family or visit that special place on your bucket list.
Architect Frank Lloyd Wright (1867- 1959) was recognized in 1991 by the American Institute of Architects as “the greatest American architect of all time”. ‘Fallingwater’ is Wright’s great masterpiece. The house, which overhangs a waterfall, is the highlight of a tour of over 20 of Wright’s most important buildings. Others in the itinerary include the Guggenheim Museum, the House and Studio, Robie House, Unity Temple, Johnson Wax Building, Beth Shalom, Taliesin and Taliesin West. The tour also includes two outstanding examples of Wright’s modernist peers, Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House and Philip Johnson’s Glass House. Malcolm Carver, a Sydney architect, will lead a tour. The tour, which starts on October 6, 2011, is suitable for architects and anyone else interested in fine buildings. Call Travelrite International on 1800 630 343 or visit www.travelrite.com.au/arc.shtml