By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
I still haven’t decided which Trafalgar European experience I will be taking this summer. I shared with you the Trafalgar Cost Saver 18-Day “European Impressions” tour which includes the cities of Amsterdam, Cologne, Rhineland, Innsbruck, Salzburg, Vienna, Venice, Rome, Florence, Lucerne, and ends in Paris. Another tour that I’m considering is Trafalgar’s 15-Day “European Magic” escorted vacation. As with Amsterdam I plan on arriving a day or two early to enjoy more of Paris – a cruise on the Seine, a day in Versailles, a full day at the Louvre or the Musee de Man or window shopping on the Champs Elysees.
Highlights of this 15-Day holiday do include: In London: You have free time to explore London on your own before your Tour Director greets as you leave London to travel through the scenic Kent countryside to Dover and your Channel crossing. Please note that from July 17 through August 14 departures the tour departs from Paris. In Paris: Sightseeing includes views of the Champs Elysees, Arc de Triomphe, Nortre Dame Cathedral and the Eiffel Tower; In Beaune: A visit to this medieval town on the way to Geneva In Geneva: You are offered an orientation tour including the Reformation Monument, the Jet d’Eau and the United Nations building. From Geneva I’ll climb into the comfortable Trafalgar motorcoach and view spectacular scenery as we motor past Grenoble (a renowned winters ports resort) towards Nice.
I’m looking forward to the stop in Eze so that I can visit the Fragonard Perfumery and learn about the history and techniques of the French perfume industry. The afternoon is free which means I can hit one of the beaches at Cannes or enjoy shopping at one of the many boutiques. An optional excursion I will seriously consider is a five-hour museums tour to explore the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild, located on the peninsula of Cap Ferrat and stroll in its exquisitely colored gardens; the Chagall Museums which offer a permanent and temporary exhibitions of Chagall’s art including painting, drawings, and engravings; and the Matisse Museum, based in a 17th century Italian house where the artist lived from 1917 to 1954. On the 10th day of this 15- day journey we will visit the Principality of Monaco to walk through the Old Town and view the Prince’s Palace (pictured left) and the cathedral before continuing along the coast into Italy. We’ll drive to Pisa where we can view that famous Leaning Tower. Our day will end in the Tuscan spa town of Montecatini.
The next day we’ll reboard our motorcoach for the short drive to Florence. In Florence Trafalgar has scheduled ample time to explore the sights on our own. One of the sights I hope to visit is Il Duomo-Cathedral of Santa Maria del Flore (consecrated in 1436) made of green, pink, and white marble. However, unlike some others, I will not be purchasing a ticket to climb the 463 steps to the top. Another site would be the Pitti Palace, Florence’s largest palazzo which was once the seat of the powerful Medici family. I’ve read that there are eight different galleries to visit, including art, costumes, jewelry and apartments. Naturally, I will want to investigate Florence’s shops before we depart for Venice which will be our home for the next two nights.
From Venice we sojourn to Rome over the Apennine Mountains and through the towns of Tuscany, Umbria and Lazio. In Rome Trafalgar again offers a sightseeing tour with a knowledgeable local guide who will take us on a tour of St. Peter’s Basilica in Vatican city, into ancient Rome with a view of the Forum and the Colosseum. There will again be free time to continue exploring the city. I am hoping to extend my visit to Rome so that I can toss a coin into the Trevi Fountain and, like Audrey Hepburn in the movie Roman Holiday, and enjoy a gelato. Another item on my list is to explore one of Rome’s many catacombs. Included meals on this tour: one continental breakfast, 11 buffet breakfasts and four three-course dinners. Cost of this tour which begins Sunday, April 1, 2012 ranges from $2675 pp/dble occ to $2725.
The July 17 through August 14 departures land fee is $2325 pp/dlb occ. Another option I have is to travel later in the summer so that I can include London on my vacation plans. I was scanning the 14-Day “European Delight” This tour beings in Rome where you will spend two nights. From Rome you’ll travel north through the Chianti wine-producing region to the medieval city of Siena in Tuscany. We’ll be able to stroll through ancientcobbled streets (wear sneakers for good traction) to Campo Square where the colorful Palio horse race takes place every year before we reboard our motor coach that will take us to Florence for the next two nights. Leaving Florence we’ll cross the forested Apennines via Forli to Ravenna to visit the famous Basilica of Saint Apollinaris in Classe to view those famous Byzantine mosaics.
We’ll continue along the Strada Romea, across the Delta and into the Venice region-the Queen of the Adriatic. In Venice we’ll have a guided tour and visit one of the oldest glass-blowing workshops, and also have free time to take an optional cruise across the lagoon to the island of Burano for a fresh seafood lunch. When we leave Venice we’ll head for Verona and, there, stop to see the Roman Arena and Juliet’s balcony. We’ll pass Milan and head north to the Italian and Swiss Lake Districts via Como and Lugano. Wouldn’t be great if George Clooney invites us to visit his villa? Our coach will take us along the scenic Alpine St. Gothard route through central Switzerland to the town of Lucerne. Next is the “City of Light,” Paris where we’ll have two nights before crossing the Channel for our final two nights in London.
Here, again, I strongly urge you to extend your holiday, if possible, so that you might include Hampton Court (the Palace of King Henry VIII), Stratford- Upon-Avon (Shakespeare’s home town), Windsor Castle (the weekend home and favorite residence of Queen Elizabeth II), take the tours of both Buckingham Palace (London residence of Queen Elizabeth II), Clarence House (home of Prince Charles and the Duchess of Cornwall), take a Charles Dickens, a Harry Potter or Sherlock Homes walking tour, see The National Gallery of Art, visit the Tower of London to view the Crown Jewels, wander through Harrod’s food stalls or buy clothing at Marks & Spencer. Fare for this tour ranges from $2275 to $2450 (pp/dlb occ land only). There may be airport departure charges or security fees. For more information about these and other Trafalgar tours please feel free to e-mail me at TrvlWritr2@aol.com.