By Jean Strauber, Travel Editor
Last week I began to share with you several land tours of Europe that I am considering to take next year. Two years ago I had visited Great Britain and Ireland in Trafalgar’s 16- Day Wonders of Great Britain and Ireland tour. I decided to spend two days before I began the tour touring London on my own and enjoyed another two days in London after my tour concluded. For those four days, my accommodations were at the charming boutique hotel, Montague-on-the-Gardens.
I liked its location as it was around the corner from a Hop- On/Hop-Off tour stop as well as being just across the street from the awesome British Museum. My late husband and I had visited this museum on our honeymoon 30 years ago. Our visit there was not as long as we wished and I was most anxious to return to closely examine the Elgin Marbles and other antiquities. And, I got my wish as I spent almost a full day just wandering around the different exhibits.
In last week’s Travel Tips of the Week I described several highlights of the 18-Day European Interlude tour. I shared with you that on our 11th day we would arrive in Rome from Venice and the 12th day would enjoy a guided tour of St. Peter’s Basilica to gaze and admire the marvelous sculpture of Michelangelo’s Pieta. We’d then cross the Tiber into Ancient Rome and view the Forum, the Colosseum as well as the Circus Maximus.
The itinerary continues as follows:
Drive through the Chianti wine region on our way to Florence. When we arrive in Florence, we will have the benefit of a local guide while touring the Cathedral, The Baptistery, Signoria Square and an interior visit of Santa Croce Basilica. The rest of the day is at leisure to shop for the fine leather goods that Florence is known for. That evening my fellow travelers and I will be guests at a Highlight Dinner at a typical Florence restaurant.
After a buffet breakfast we’ll drive towards the Italian and Swiss Lake Districts to beautiful Lugano (do you think we’ll be able to spot George Clooney?). We’ll continue on through the Ticino region to the scenic St. Gotthard route, across the Alps, through the tunnel and into beautiful Lucerne.
A morning orientation tour will highlight this medieval town and includes a visit to the Lion Monument. The rest of the day is at leisure — time to shop for those fine Swiss-made watches or Swiss chocolate to take home as gifts.
We will drive through gorgeous Alpine scenery to the French border, passing Belfort and the remnants of the historic Maginot Line, then continue on through the wine producing Burgundy region, making our way to Paris, the City of Light. Your tour director will offer recommendations for Dinner on Your Own or an optional excursion to, perhaps, a cabaret show.
It’s Paris!Paris!Paris! A morning sightseeing tour with a local guide will take you past the Place de la Concorde, along the Champs Elyseesto the Arc de Triomphe. You’ll be able to ascend the Eiffel Tower to the second level. Your motorcoach will also provide views of the Notre Dame Cathedral on the Ile de la Cite.
After breakfast it’s au revoir to Paris and your traveling companions as the tour comes to an end and most will be return home. HOWEVER, if you’ve never been to Paris before, I heartily recommend an additional stay of three days. Why? This is what you will miss: a day tour to Versailles; the smile of Mona Lisa as well as the Winged Victory or the Venus de Milo awaiting at the Louvre; a cruise on the Seine, a visit to the Fragonard Perfumery and Museum; the Impressionist paintings at the Musee d’Orsay; a champagne show at the famed Moulin Rouge; sitting in an outdoor cafe and watching the world parade past you; dining out in Bohemian Montmarte; following the trail of the DaVinci Code; viewing the exhibitions of the Neanderthal Man at the Musee d’Man; the Napoleon tomb; or even the dungeons where King Louis XVI and Queen Marie Antoinette were held prior to their execution in the Place de la Concorde; and, last but certainly not least, shopping at any one of the famous French department stores.
There are still weekly departures from theU.S.until September 29, 2011. Fares (land tour only) from $3999 per person, double occupancy. Trafalgar offers their guests who wish to return to London rather than depart from Parisan opportunity to return at no extra charge. You can request your travel agent to arrange accommodations for you or inquire about a late night flight out of Heathrow. For $385 per person (twin share) Trafalgar offers the opportunity to return to London on the Eurostar and includes one night at the Copthone Tara.
You can use the time to take a cruise on the Thames River to Greenwich, take the train to Hampton Court and view the palace of King Henry VIII where you might run into the ghost of one of Henry’s wives, Catherine Howard (many have observed this phenomenon), spend a day at the Tower of London to the Crown Jewels in the Jewel House, take a day’s tour to Windsor Castle and St. George’s Cathedral where so many of Britain’s Kings and Queens (including Queen Elizabeth’s parents and sister) are buried.
You might want to take a Sherlock Holmes or Charles Dickens tour. For something more recent you can take a Di Vinci Code as well as a Harry Potter tour. Visit Kensington Palace and have a light lunch in The Orangerie (they do make a terrific egg salad sandwich). For more information about this or other European Trafalgar tours you may contact me by emailing TrvlWritr2@aol. com.
Next week I’ll share some information about Temecula. I’ll be traveling to the Inland Empire at the invitation of the Temecula CVB for an overnight stay. I am also looking forward to a night’s stay at the Pala Casino and Resort. On my recent tour to Palomar Observatory I was very impressed with the resort’s appearance.