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Destination News - Europe.

New York, Geneva (AirGuide - Destination News Europe) Jun 16, 2013

14 vineyards worth visiting A few years ago South African friends of ours introduced us to some rather lovely South African wines, thankfully just before we re-visited the country for our honeymoon. It has rather started a habit of seeking out a vineyard to visit whenever weOre on holiday. WeOve been nicely surprised with some UK ones too! We were in the Alpes Maritimes last Summer and sadly couldnOt find a vignoble that was open to visitors; however, I think that just means we need to visit Epernay or Bordeaux and do French Champagne houses and vineyards properly!! Vineyard UK: Camel Valley, Cornwall This place is going to become as synonymous to Cornwall as RoddaOs Clotted Cream and rightly should the Cornish (IOm half Cornish myself) feel proud of it. ItOs rose fizz has beaten Champagnes from France to a best sparkling wine prize and the white fizz and white wines are also very enjoyable. It isnOt hard to find from the main A-road and is well signposted. There is a lovely little shop/caf area and tasting is very pleasant. We dropped by without a booking and our hostess was very knowledgeable and friendly and we enjoyed our tasting. They also have some self-catering accommodation on site. The location of the tasting room gives a lovely view across the valley [ETH] we were there around the harvest time but I imagine early in the Summer the vines must look lovely. This place hasnOt been over-commercialised yet [ETH] it is still very much a cottage-industry and takes its charm from that. Three Choirs, Gloucestershire The set-up here is much more commercial, but nice nonetheless. We recently had a rather nice bottle of theirs from Waitrose called Annum that is a new mix we hadnOt seen when we visited. There are a few different accommodation choices [ETH] we stayed in the basic hotel block that has pleasant views across the vines [ETH] these rooms really come to life if it is a sunny day as each has a patio and table and chairs with it to take in the view. No fridge in the room, but you can buy chilled from the shop! There are also some more remote chalets in amongst the vines. I was given a sponsored wine as a birthday gift which was how we heard about Three Choirs [ETH] and so we took in the tour, the tasting session and a stroll around the vines to choose my vine. It is a very pleasant place to spend time. In the evening we dined at their restaurant [ETH] very good food; the wine list was quite short on reds and since they donOt make their own, there could have been more choice. Wickham, Hampshire Wickham is on our doorstep (thankfully) and is a lovely site. It is family owned and has on-site restaurant facilities. The restaurant recently changed hands and last time we were there it was open as a tea room at lunch time which was has a good view and friendly service with good cake! The small shop will do tastings as and when and they have plenty of stock for you to buy. There is then an audio tour of the winery that is very interesting. Work had a summer ball there in a marquee at the top of the hill on the other side of the vineyard [ETH] the setting is very remote and pretty and I can imagine a summers wedding would suit it very well. WeOre fans of their wine [ETH] it is very gluggable, particularly the rose which is good since rose season is now here! Sharphams, Devon Here they make wine and cheese and, much like Camel Valley, it is a proudly West Country cottage business. Tasting sessions are incredibly well-run; however they are paid for whereas when we were at Wickham and Camel Valley we didnOt pay as we were clearly tasting to buy. The setting here is very different - you can take a walk around the vineyards and this is all clearly marked with trails (my husband did this as he had walking boots on and I didnOt and it was very muddy [ETH] he saw the harvest and enjoyed that). From the tasting area you canOt see the vines. The estate the vineyard is on has a stunning view up the river to Totnes and so is pretty idyllic itself. Their white Bacchus and cheeses were also very enjoyable. Cape Cod and Rhode Island, USA I wouldnOt have picked the area for being a wine one, but there are a number of vineyards. The two we visited [ETH] Sakonnet and Truro [ETH] were very different to each other. I donOt think we bought wine at either but we did enjoy the visitors experience, and it was a pleasant step away from the normal tourist attractions of the area. Part of the tasting is to give you your tasting glasses to keep [ETH] this is actually quite a nice holiday keep-sake. The AmericanOs know how to deliver an insightful tasting session with passion and the right level of information. South Africa Having now been to a fair few of the wineries in the Stellenbosch area, I have a sneaky feeling that they are all amazing, but the ones we visited deserve a mention! Thankfully there are many more to visit and enjoy in future visits! Morgenhof On our first trip out there we were at a wedding at Morgenhof [ETH] I think I am right in saying it has Cape Dutch architecture and it really is picture perfect with peacocks prowling around. We returned on a rainy day when we were there on our honeymoon a few years later and enjoyed a nice bottle of red over lamb shank [ETH] quite something! Thankfully Waitrose often stock their wines. The setting is lovely come rain or shine. Camberley Wines On our honeymoon we stayed for a week at the boutique Camberley Wines [ETH] a red wine specialist. This is very quiet, very quaint and lovely. The owners are very friendly and a wine tasting with them is an education [ETH] about wine, yes, but also about culture, politics etc. etc. [ETH] a fun afternoon! Their wine is high alcoholic and weOve a couple of bottles lying down in our wine rack for a few years time. They do a red fizz which was quite enjoyable too. The cottage is beautiful and a fantastic place to stay, there is a little plunge pool to use in the garden and jaw dropping views through the trees of the mountains. Tokars Just down the road is Tokara [ETH] this is a modern winery and their wine is often seen in the UK. The tasting and bar area overlooks the vineyard and it is a very grand setting. The team behind the bar were very friendly and knowledgeable. The restaurant is on another level in terms of wow factor and there are some very pretty gardens to enjoy afterwards. I donOt think you can mooch through the vines, but I could be wrong. I would go back here for lunch time and again. We also visited the Wijnhaus in Stellenbosch but this knocks the socks off that (although the wine list is a little shorter). Vergelegen and Diemersfontein are two wineries that our SA friends thankfully introduced us to before our visit. As a result we visited them both already knowing we loved the wine. Diemersfontein Diemersfontein we did on a rainy day as this is quite a commercial site and not so pretty [ETH] but the wine is awesome. We enjoyed tasting/buying the reds [ETH] especially the chocolate/coffee pinotage that sadly is now very difficult to find in the UK. The taste is astounding and very enjoyable. Vergelegen Vergelegen was probably our favourite venue [ETH] it is one of the oldest in the region and the grounds are stunning, sprawling and at the foot of some large mountains. Take half a day to have a mooch here, enjoy a tasting session then have another mooch around. It is near to Somerset West and so away from lots of the others IOve mentioned. The white wine is lovely [ETH] given a choice IOd always pick one of theirs or a Tokara [ETH] in fact our wine rack from the last visit resembles that statement (with both!). Our final bit of tasting was with friends and took in Groot Constantia, Klein Constantia and Beutenwachtung in one swift sitting (hiccup!). All of these were free tastings (Vergelegen and Diemersfontein were not) and all were very different [ETH] both in terms of the wines, how commercial and the size and age of the sites. All three were very enjoyable and if I ever see wine from any of these in our local bottle shop I know it is worth buying to enjoy. The scenery at these is all lovely and I think pretty near Kirstenbosch Gardens so that is nice to mix the day up [ETH] and if short on time you donOt need to head to far away from the city. My husband has since been and done a Obikes n wineO tour that he really enjoyed [ETH] that took in some other vineyards by bike. There are so many wineries in Stellenbosch that I think it just pays to drive up the track from the road and see whatOs on offer. A winery wouldnOt survive there if it was dishing out poor wine. Thankfully the likes of Kumala and other big brand wines found on offer frequently in UK supermarkets donOt seem to have public wineries. DonOt be put off by what an untrained eye might see in the supermarket here [ETH] South African wine is where itOs at! Jun 15, 2013

The best high-end vegetarian restaurants in Berlin Germany [ETH] admittedly [ETH] is a big meat eating culture.The best high-end vegetarian restaurants in Berlinture. Traditional German cuisine is heavy on the Fleisch (German for meat), especially pork. If you donOt eat meat (or want an easy version of eating kosher while traveling) it can sometimes be hard to find good restaurants. Many travelers tired of the token veggie pasta on the menu or pizza marguerita have asked me for some good vegetarian options. So to make eating out as a vegetarian an easy highlight of the day instead of a disappointing and sometimes downright painful experience read on. Following up on my top 10 luxury restaurants in Berlin, here are my favorite high quality vegetarian and vegan options in Berlin at the moment (and not a pizza marguerita in sight, I promise!) Cookies Cream Owned by the same Heinz OCookieO Gindullis [ETH] a Berlin entrepreneur who opened the Cookies nightclub (an absolute Berlin nightlife institution). The head chef here is Stephan Hentschel [ETH] one of GermanyOs rising celebrity chefs and the kitchen here is worth a five star rating. Here you will never have a lacklustre meal, you can try such diverse dishess such as Pearl Barley Strudel with OPiet de MoutonO or Swede Cannelloni with Brussels Sprout leaves. A must try is the incredible parmesan dumplings. Lucky Leek These folks provide a menu which changes every week to utilise seasonal and regional products. Vegan with a capital V this restaurant does not scrimp on quality. At the moment it is asparagus season in Berlin and you can savour such wonderful delicacies such as Parsley Dumplings with Fried Beelitz asparagus with Beet and Walnut Confit and Lime Hollandaise. They are located in the trendy suburb of Prenzlauerberg, a short cab ride from any of the fabulous central 5 star hotels Berlin has to offer. If youOre inspired by their cuisine, theyOve also just released a cookbook so you can make it yourself when you get home. Lucky Leek dish Kopps Another fully vegan option, this recent addition to BerlinOs veggie options takes vegan to gourmet heights. Whether it be a lazy sunday brunch or an evening out in the bustling Mitte district, the menu here is packed with the astounding dishes you can create without a single animal product in sight. Whether youOre looking for cocktails and finger food at the bar or a full 4 course menu you wonOt be disappointed here. Fresh seasonal ingredients are the highlight here which at the moment means the delicious white asparagus UO the german version of which is only harvested for 2 months of the year and is an absolute highlight of early summer in Berlin. Kopps Spring roll Chipps A lovely bright, airy space with large windows and a patio for summer eating, this is a perfect option for lunch whilst out exploring the streets of Berlin or dinner after a hard days sightseeing and shopping. Making the most of locally sourced, often organic ingredients, this place is created by the same team who set up Cookies Cream (see above). Perfect if youOre with friends who eat meat, as you can order Owith meatO versions of the vegetarian dishes. With a 4 course menu and accompanying wines for 50euro per head, this is vegetarian luxury on any budget (a la carte menu also available). Whether you try the Oven roasted Peppers filled with Bulgur, vegetarian Gulasch or home made pasta with the (at the moment) ever-present white asparagus, cherry tomatoes and herbed marscapone you will not be disappointed here. Penelope Hassmann is Owner of Berlin Private Tours. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us. Jun 15, 2013

Shaking the Dust off BritainOs History A few weeks ago ran an article on a recent survey confirming that family travel is the fastest growing travel trend today. As someone who has a long-standing reputation for working closely with travel agents, I have to respond by taking a look at how Britain stacks up as a destination for this very important market. Not surprisingly sea, sun and sand are not why you cross the pond, but for jaw-dropping living history delivered in the same common language (well almost!), weOre pretty much unbeatable here in the U.K. Invariably London is at the top of the agenda for any family visiting for the first, second or even the third time, which isnOt at all surprising when you consider the huge amount of whatOs on offer in the city. As well as all the interactive OstuffO in our museums and art galleries, there is Madame Tussauds, the London Dungeon, and HMS Belfast, as well as themed days looking at Military London, Fashionable London, Dramatic London, Royal London and Sporting London. And thatOs not all, of course: London also features rides on the London Eye, speed boat rides and Duckmarine Adventures in and out of the River Thames, horseback riding and family bike rides in LondonOs Royal Parks, side trips to Warner BrothersO OMaking of Harry Potter,O visits to London Zoo, a canal barge ride, and a multitude of restaurants that cater for families. If you really want to shake the dust off the history books, however, you need to get out of London and into the countryside. For many the reason for not doing so is the understandable challenge of driving on the wrong side of the road. For that I have a one-word solution: trains! If you want to discover America, of course, rail travel isnOt the immediate answer. Back in the 1960s, I discovered your country with Greyhound (99 days travel for $99!) and Continental Trailways (remember them?). Here in Britain you can certainly travel by bus, but the quickest and most pleasant way of speeding round the U.K. is by letting the train take the strain. You can add some extra value to a London-based program by taking scheduled train service to Windsor to see the changing of the guard at Windsor Castle and then a hop-on, hop-off bus to Legoland. You also can use the train to get to Salisbury where at the station you jump on another regular circular tour that links Stonehenge, Old Sarum and Salisbury Cathedral. Because you donOt have to get back on the bus with 45 other people, itOs your clients who set the pace for each of these visits. Before setting out on your journey, some travel tips: To get the best train fares, travel after 9.30 a.m. when the rush hour is over. Choose cities that offer a regular hop-on, hop-off city sightseeing tour. Since the tickets are valid for 24 hours, use the first day to get your bearings and on the morning of day two, use the bus as your OtaxiO for longer visit to places of your choosing. Here are a few other specific suggestions about great places for family travel: Meet the Romans in Bath: Ninety minutes from London youOll find costumed interpreters of Rome at the Roman Baths. The focus can then sharpen on Georgian England with a visit to the Jane Austen Center and the opulent No. 1 Royal Crescent. Bath offers very good retail therapy and for mothers and daughters, as well as an enjoyable couple of hours at the Thermae Bath Spa. Discover the Vikings in York: The East Coast Mainline connects London to York in just two hours. The whole family will enjoy the dark ride back into Viking times at Jorvik, a River Ouse cruise and York Minster with its brand new interactive visitor experience that journeys through 2,000 years of the cityOs often turbulent history. Then thereOs the Chocolate Trail and YorkOs famous Ghost Tour with a Fish OnO Chip supper on the way. Liverpool, Home of the Beatles: For fans young and old, the agenda here includes the Magical Mystery Bus tour, the Beatles Story, the Elvis and Us Exhibition, visits to the childhood home of John Lennon and Paul McCartney, a cruise on the River Mersey and a visit or perhaps an evening at the famous Cavern Club. Back in London finish on a high note with a guided Rock OnO Roll tour. ShakespeareOs England: The train journey from London to Stratford-Upon-Avon takes about two hours and the City Sightseeing bus is the best way to visit the Shakespeare Houses. These ancient buildings bring Elizabethan England vividly to life and fit well with a backstage tour of the Royal Shakespeare Theatre and a gentle cruise down the River Avon. There is also a scheduled tour to Warwick Castle for hours of jousting displays, aerial acrobatics by their birds of prey, and other living history experiences, including the terrifying dungeons! So there you have it. If family travel is your chosen niche, London and a carefully chosen number of towns and cities within a two-hour train ride can be customized to suit your clientOs time frame, interest and budget. Paull Tickner, creator of Special Interest Britain and an affiliate of Greatdays Travel Group, is an expert in developing customized niche travel programs for the United Kingdom and Ireland. Email him at Jun 15, 2013

Shop and stop in style in Palma de Mallorca Island capital Palma de Mallorca is renowned for its luxurious shops, with top international brands such as Louis Vuitton, Hugo Boss, Cartier, Loewe, Carolina Herrera, and Pinko all having stores here. Mulberry and Michal Negrin also recently opened their first boutiques in Spain in this elegant waterfront capital. ShopE The best shopping streets are the colonnaded Jaime III (home to one of the cityOs two El Corte Ingls department stores), the tree-lined Borne, and Uni, but the shaded narrow lanes leading off the Borne are also lined with boutiques and galleries. As well as designer boutiques and chain stores, there are plenty of independent retailers. Here are four you shouldnOt miss in Palma de Mallorca: Rialto Living Housed in the former Sala Rialto cinema and theatre, this Swedish-owned lifestyle store is the epitome of cool design. They sell high-quality furniture and home accessories, fashion, art, books and gifts. Fashion brands [ETH] for men and women [ETH] include Acne, Hartford, Jil Sander, Michael Kors, and P.A.R.O.S.H. ThereOs also a mezzanine art gallery, and a caf serving home-made cakes and lunch dishes. Publishers te Neus included Rialto Living in its coffee table book OLuxury Stores: Top of the WorldO. DonOt miss it. Rialto Lving Ecologic by Linda Nicolau British-born Linda Nicolau founded her natural cosmetics business in Mallorca in 1993, having worked for Max Factor and Este Lauder in the UK. Today, the company manages some 17 branches of OU Spa by BarcelO throughout Spain, and the Prestige Spa in Ibiza. Their range of more than 30 organic facial and body products [ETH] made locally and mainly from Mallorcan ingredients [ETH] is sold at the Ecologic by Linda Nicolau store, which also offers a choice of pampering treatments. Top As Launched in 1982, Top As has had several upscale womenOs shoe boutiques on Mallorca, but only recently opened in Palma (opposite the cityOs main post office). Shoes are from designers Stewart Weitzman, Belen Donate (Spanish), Mania (Italian), and the proprietorOs own brand OHeaven on EarthO [ETH] designed not just to look great, but also to be comfortable, and manufactured on the Spanish mainland. The boutiqueOs stock ranges from casual flats to killer heels, and there are also covetable handbags and belts. Top As handbag bconnected ItOs worth making the short walk across the city to the bohemian district of Santa Catalina (jam-packed with eateries and an indoor market frequented by yachties), where the German-owned company bconnected has several stores and a real estate agency. The company has a large new furniture store, a concept store (great for unusual accessories and gifts), menOs and womenOs fashions, and a vintage boutique, where itOs possible to pick up some fabulous designer fashion bargains (often hardly worn). Eand stop PalmaOs newest place to stay is the Calatrava Boutique Hotel which has 16 spacious rooms (of which 10 are suites with private balconies overlooking the Bay of Palma). The carefully renovated 19th Century building houses comfortable contemporary interiors and a small spa (sauna, Jacuzzi, contrast shower, and heated relaxation beds), which can be booked for exclusive use. Although thereOs a busy highway between the large green space of Parc de la Mar (in front of the hotel) and the Mediterranean, the rooms are blissfully quiet. Calatrava Boutique Hotel Breakfast is served on the roof terrace, with a backdrop of the bay, the arc of the cityOs seafront, and neighbouring rooftops. ThereOs no formal restaurant here, but thereOs an attractive ground floor caf/bistro serving drinks and upmarket snacks, such as Iberian OJoselitoO ham, Norwegian salmon carpaccio, or Torta del Casar cheese [ETH] and 24-hour room service is available. The hotel is in a surprisingly tranquil tree-lined square in Sa Calatrava [ETH] one of PalmaOs oldest districts [ETH] and close to the original sea walls. Even laden with the spoils of a shopping trip, itOs a pleasant scenic walk back to the hotel, where the ever-smiling reception manager Carlos and his colleagues enhance the appeal of this urban retreat. Bags deposited in your room, you could enjoy a glass of cava on the terrace outside the hotel [ETH] or on the rooftop [ETH] and plan your next dayOs shoppingE Jun 15, 2013

5 of the worldOs top sports experiences Are you a sports enthusiast? Here weOve compiled 5 of the ultimate sports experiences to be enjoyed from across the globe. In the multi-billion dollar sports industry, these sporting events are the worldOs greatest. Imagine the envy of your friends when you tell them youOre experiencing these sports events from the standsE The MasterOs PGA Championship Held every year at in Augusta, Georgia, this event is the headliner that every golf player and fan should attend in his or her lifetime. Adorned the world over, fraught with history and tradition, the PGA MasterOs Championship is an event like no other. Once you walk the grounds of Augusta National, smelled the azaleas and witnessed the complexity of the course first-hand, you will remember it for the rest of your life and have a new-found respect for the players and realize just why they are the worldOs best. Not only that, the accommodations available run from 5-star hotels to your very own mansion [ETH] purest luxury for the worldOs most discerning golf road warrior. Masters Superbowl ItOs AmericaOs most watched sporting event [ETH] pulling in millions of fans every year while businesses fork over half a yearOs advertising budget for a 30 second spot during the live televised broadcast. The energy in the stadium pulses through your veins producing adrenaline and excitement that will have you cheering on your feet. Of course, in 2014 it will take place in New Jersey [ETH] adjacent to Manhattan [ETH] the concrete jungle where dreams are made of. Taking in the sights and sounds of New York City while staying in some of the worldOs best hotels make this a truly unforgettable travel experience. Superbowl Monaco Grand Prix The worldOs most prestigious motor race takes place at the end of May every year in the worldOs second smallest country, Monaco. Located on the coast of the French Riviera, spread over just 1.7 square kilometers, Monaco oozes wealth. This four day event attracts close to 200,000 enthusiasts each year. The grand stands only accommodate 37,000, but there are many other extravagant ways to view the race. How about watching from a hotel suite overlooking the track? Or perhaps you would prefer to watch aboard a luxury yacht or upfront from the pit lane. No matter where you are, this race is not one to miss! Monaco Grand Prix Wimbledon The yearOs biggest and most prestigious grand slam is easily on the grass courts at Wimbledon. Walking the streets to go shopping, or taking a tour to take in LondonOs rich culture and history, outside of Wimbledon the opportunities are endless. At Wimbledon, treat yourself to VIP preferred seating and access to the VIP area where you will enjoy strawberries and cream [ETH] a delicious Wimbledon tradition! Wimbledon FIFA World Cup Ever wonder what it would be like to be in the stands of the one of the worldOs biggest and most renowned sports event? Billions of people around the world wonder the same. For one month every four years, people around the world drop what they are doing to take part in the singing, chanting and flag waving at the World Cup. 32 nations compete in this intense challenge, but only one comes out on top. The FIFA World Cup experience is one like no other. Whether you are there to watch the Finals or just in the host city to take part in the festivities, this one shouldnOt be missed! FIFA World Cup Greg Eyjolfson is Co-Founder & General Manager at Arisoko. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us. Jun 15, 2013

Top 5 ultimate sailing adventures on luxury sailboats For those who like the idea of adventure, thrills and discovery on the high seas but who are reluctant to give up their creature comforts, itOs hard to beat a fully-serviced cruise on a luxury boat. Here are five of the ultimate sailing adventures that will allow you to roam the high seas in styleE Luxury among the pirates Get lost among the countless islands of South East Asia on a vessel which even James Bond would have approved of. If your idea of luxury is showing off in a port where iron monsters are lined up like cars in a parking lot then this would not be your ideal cruise. But if you want a generous dose of adventure, luxury and freedom with a professional crew taking care of your every whim, then this could be just the ticket. Sailing vessel Under the volcano Say the word OOysterO to any keen sailor and chances are he wonOt be thinking of a delicious seafood entre but rather the sailboat of his or her dreams. Add the vista of a spectacular volcano erupting every so often behind the candles on your dinner table, and you have attained luxury sailing nirvana. ItOs little wonder that Roberto Rossellini and Ingrid Bergman fell in love here. Stromboli [ETH] Sicily, the island of gods and devils. Eolie Ulysses on a swan The Swan 65 is probably the best sailboat ever built oozing class, power and elegance. When the first ORound the WorldO race was organised, she won the event despite not being specifically made for the job. Furnished in abundant teak and velvet, this boat represents sailing purity on the exterior while offering a silky luxury nest inside. Our suggested itinerary with this boat is to follow the wake of Ulysses through the Greek Islands, where it all began. Sailing boat from above To the ends of the world with French flair The seaOs most powerful spell is romance; a romance which, in the mists of time, has gathered round ships and the people who have sailed in them, together with the strange and exciting coasts theyOve discovered and the storms, hardships and battles theyOve had to overcome to reach them. Nowhere is this spirit of sailing discovery better encapsulated than in an adventure to explore Alaska, Antarctica, Patagonia and the Pacific Ocean with a skilled French crew of adventurers. Sailing Antarctica Luxury villa on the sea The charm of a superbly-designed luxury villa is hard to beat; unless the villa is floating on the ocean that is. And if you can move it around freely to explore deserted coves and pristine waters at will, then the luxury villa experience takes on an entirely new dimension. Particularly if you have your own private chef and wine list provided. Sailing boat interior Marco Rossi is a Founder and Partner of Sailing the Web. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us. Jun 13, 2013

10 of the most popular travel videos of all time Here weOve compiled a round-up of 10 of the most popular official tourist board videos to be found on YouTube. We wonOt claim to have identified them all, but hopefully weOve picked out most of them. If you know of others, please let us know in the comments and perhaps we can do a follow-up post another time. Remember, these are all official videos so you wonOt find items such as the OWhere the hell is Matt?O videos which have collectively attracted tens of millions of views in their own right. 10. Visit Scotland (676,548 views) 9. Visit Costa Rica (720,379 views) 8. Tourism Ireland (739,488) 7. Canadian Tourism (764,785 views) 6. Canadian Tourism (1,001,969 views) 5. Peru Tourism Bureau (1,164,091 views) 4. Tourism New Zealand (1,346,289 views) 3. Tourism Australia (1,395,680 views) 2. Visit Finland (1,558,665 views) 1. Travel Alberta Canada (1,884,616 views) Which are your favourites? Jun 13, 2013

And the most Blue Flag beaches in Italy can be found inE The region of Liguria in north-west Italy, otherwise known as the OItalian RivieraO, has the most Blue Flag beaches of any region in Italy, following two new entries for 2013. The crescent shaped region between the French Riviera and Tuscany now has 20 Blue Flag beaches, allowing it to retain its title of having the most Blue Flag beaches in Italy for the fourth year in a row. Liguria beach Blue Flag status is granted to beaches with high standards of water quality, safety, environmental education and information and good environmental management criteria. New entries for Liguria for 2013 are the Port of La Spezia Mirabello and San Lorenzo al Mare. As well as having high quality beaches, itOs also worth going to Liguria if you are into diving which can be enjoyed there for 10 months of the year. Much of the Ligurian coastline is protected, including the four marine reserves, Cinque Terre, Portofino, Bergeggi Island and the Cetacean Sanctuary, making each dive one to remember with unspoilt crystal clear waters and varied sealife and underwater vegetation. Further details on the marine reserves can be found here. Beginners and expert divers wonOt be short on choice of diving locations and trips with 80 diving centres and schools and 45 itineraries. For more information on diving in Liguria, click here. Jun 13, 2013

Dutch cannabis cafes stage open revolt by selling dope to tourists Authorities in the Dutch drug tourism hub of Maastricht are striking back after cannabis cafes staged an open revolt by selling marijuana to foreigners in defiance of a controversial ban. The battle has been fought on the streets, in the courtroom and in the media as authorities struggle to enforce a law aimed at ridding the streets of stoned tourists, with foreigners previously accounting for two-thirds of the coffee shops' clientele. Coffee shops in Maastricht, a Roman city of 120 000 conveniently wedged between the borders of Belgium and Germany, were emboldened following a court ruling on April 25 that city authorities should not have ordered the closure of one of its best-known hangouts for getting high. The Easy Going was ordered shut last year after it was caught selling to tourists. Members of the Maastricht Coffee Shop Association (VOCM) comprising 13 of the city's 14 coffee shops resumed selling to tourists in May. But police raids, seizures, closure orders and prosecutions followed, and after the latest police bust at four coffee shops last weekend, all 13 VOCM member have now shut up shop. At the root of the chaos is a controversial law introduced in May 2012 requiring coffee shops to cater only for Dutch residents in the hope of addressing the downsides of drug tourism -- traffic jams, street dealing and rowdy late-night partying. But a new, more left-wing government said in November that individual city authorities could decide whether to apply the law affecting some 650 establishments nationwide, according to their economic or social priorities. Most Dutch cities, including those in Amsterdam, said they did not want to apply the law, while Maastricht and other southern cities said they would do so. "Following a recent judgement, the incorrect idea has spread that coffee shops can once more sell to foreigners," the Maastricht public prosecutor said in a statement. Eight coffee shop owners and employees are due in court on June 12 for having sold drugs to non-residents, with more prosecutions expected to follow. Maastricht's coffee shops are waiting impatiently for the outcome of those cases, hoping for a clear legal precedent. Last Friday, police busted four clubs -- Maxcy's, the Missouri, Club 69 and Lucky Time -- and arrested four staff members as well as confiscating their merchandise, Dutch news agency ANP reported. A 14th coffee shop, which is not part of the VOCM, remained open. Before being shut down, the VOCM had said it did not want to "discriminate" and indeed would lose too much business by complying with the law, since foreigners account for 65% of their clientele. "This business of closures is a big joke, they're playing the victim," Maastricht city council spokesperson Gertjan Bos told AFP. "The coffee shops are clever." But VOCM head Marc Josemans said: "If governments in neighbouring countries took responsibility in terms of soft drugs, none of this would be necessary." He declined to discuss the matter further. "Good weed" City spokesperson Bos said that the new law had slashed the number of drug tourists coming to Maastricht from 1,5 million to under 400 000 a year. But he admits that the number of illegal street dealers has not gone down and that they are selling more aggressively than before. The VOCM says the number of street dealers has gone up. "We can't prove it but we think that some street dealers are employed by coffee shops themselves," to undermine the law, Bos said. A stroll along the Maas river that snakes through the ancient city will bring the visitor in contact with hordes of street dealers touting "good weed". As a result, the police presence has been ramped up while city authorities are now looking into moving around half of Maastricht's coffee shops outside the city. If the oft-mooted plan goes ahead, city coffee shops will remain off limits for foreigners, while those outside of town will welcome them, effectively creating a new phenomenon: cannabis ghettoes Source: Sapa /AFP Jun 13, 2013

Top 10 cycle rides in Europe I thought IOd take a few minutes to share some of my favorite rides that IOve experienced recently. And although I may be revealing some secrets by rating these as my top 10, nothing quite compares to actually riding these routes and experiencing them yourself. So while I may be divulging the OwhereO and some cursory information about the ride, IOd prefer to let you imagine and/or explore the OwhyO on your own! Piedmont, Italy: Acqui Terme to Relais & Chateaux San Maurizio What can I say? Just imagine cycling over the famous Langhe hills, an intimate landscape filled with vineyards, truffles, medieval towns like Montabone and Rocchetta Palafea, and stunning panoramas of an ancient landscape. As I rode along this route on a perfectly clear and sunny day this past August, the view was inarticulableEyou could even see the Matterhorn in the Alps to the north! The day just kept getting better and better, we stopped for lunch along the way with our local friends, Gianni and Mina for an intimate lunch featuring small hand-made ravioli called plin, and a really special treat [ETH] a raw-milk Roccaverano goat cheese [ETH] that Gianni gets from his friend, a small producer. We continued on from this delicious lunch to our hotel for the evening, the converted monastery of San Maurizio, a luxurious Relais & Chateaux property. After a unique salt therapy treatment at the hotelOs Via del Sale Spa, we dined at the Michelin-starred Ristorante Da Guido, accompanied by an assortment of fine local wines. Magical. Piedmont Puglia, Italy: the coastal road to Leuca OK, let me just preface by saying this is, hands down, one of the most stunning coastal roads in the world with breathtaking views of cliffs and bays. The ride meanders through the fishing village of Santa Cesarea Terme, famous for its Moorish architecture and thermal waters, and continues along the coast passing spectacular sea caves and the town of Castro, where Virgil claims the legendary Aeneas first made landfall in Italy. Our lunch (or rather, our heavenly picnic) was a stop along the way to Leuca, in an amazingly scenic spot, suspended in the branches of an olive tree overlooking the sparkling cerulean sea. The beauty of this day is that you have the option to continue this epic day of cycling by riding back to Otranto [ETH] a 106 km roundtrip day of pure bliss. Cycling in Puglia Hvar, Croatia: around Hvar Island to Paklinski Otoci Anything is possible on this incredible island! And to be honest, it really does not get better than this! We cruised in our private yacht for an hour along the calm turquoise water, soaking up the sunshine, to reach the end of the island where our bikes (which had traveled alongside us in a zodiac) were waiting at the dock ready for us to hop on and explore. A 80km ride ensued, a challenging yet beautiful 3 hour non-stop ride through lavender fields and up rolling hills. Did I mention that every vista is spectacular? Whether you are climbing, riding along the coast or wending your way through the villages, there is certainly no want for scenery! Wow. It was absolutely picture perfect [ETH] not a cloud in the sky, warm sunshine, and a gentle breeze followed us as we rode the entire island. And, honestly, thatOs the only thing that followed us. And when the ride was over, our yacht was waiting with two massage therapists, gelato, and hot apple pie. Not a bad day on the road! Cycling in Hvar Tuscany, Italy: through the Crete Senesi and the back roads into Siena Have you ever been on a ride where you exclaim Othis is the most beautiful view I have ever seenO and then your climb another hill, turn a corner and declare, Ook,no, actually this the most beautiful view I have ever seenO, and then you climb a little further, turn another corner and proclaim, Oreally, this is definitely the most beautiful view IOve ever seenO. Well, thatOs what this bicycle ride from Montalcino to Siena is like, especially the final 11k climb up these challenging hills into Siena. This route takes you along the bare ridges of the Crete Senesi through Asciano and Vescona to Arbia and then follows the timeless back roads up a series of challenging hills to enter Siena in truly evocative fashion. This is a definitely a ride worth taking! Cycling in Tuscany Switzerland: Lausanne [ETH] Montreux This ride through the scenic Swiss vineyards, into historic Vevey, and finishing up in Montreux along Lac Leman is a must on the list. Picture this: with the majestic Alps as your backdrop, you ride from lush vineyards, coasting into enchanting villages dotted with charming chalets, to a crystal-clear lakeEa little bit of everything rolled into one. Talk about mountains majesty! There is nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounding by these magnificent peaks, legendary in their own right, as you ride along the lake, definitely a WOW moment, a truly breathtaking experience! Cycling near Lac Leman Mallorca, Spain: the ride to Cap Formentor Prepare for some epic biking, and even more epic scenery on this Spanish ride! A warm up ride to Alaro begins your day as you pass through several quiet, rural villages before arriving in the cultural hotspot of Pollensa Port. But this day of incredible vistas and challenging climbs is just beginning, as you ascend into the distance, dramatic and rocky cliffs drop off from both sides of the road and offer sweeping views of the sea. WhatOs even better is that your ride ends down on the Mediterranean Sea, where a well-deserved lunch awaits, as well as quality time to relax on the tranquil beach! Bike and beach, a winning combination! Korcula, Croatia: Korcula Island First and foremost, Korcula is an ancient Greek colony dating back to the 4th century BC and is also a seafood aficionadoOs dream with its endless supply of octopus, local specialty-fish stew, and the freshest of ingredients picked directly from the sea! It is, of course, another top 10 ride as well! I arrived via private boat to the town of Vela Luka on the west coast and headed out to cycle across the island to Korcula Town. Along the way, I encountered miles of vineyards [ETH] famous for their local white wines [ETH] and stopped into to taste regional specialties. After a delicious lunch at a local konobo, I arrived in Korcula Town, a fascinating fortified Venetian town that is just as irresistible to todayOs visitor as it was to medieval travel writers like Marco Polo, who began his lifeOs journey here. All this makes for a gorgeous blend of ancient walled towns, the freshest seafood, and wonderful wines combined with fantastic cycling along the azure waters of the Adriatic! The Alps, France: Tour de France stage climbs What could be more epic than tackling some of the very same climbs as the riders of the Tour de France just hours before they race to the finish? Nothing, really. I have to admit, these were some of the best and most challenging rides of my life. Definitely on the list. What an exhilarating feeling to be able to test my body on the Col du Grand Columbier and the Col de la Croix de Fer, arrive in time to grab lunch, watch the crazy caravan go through and then be at the finish to watch the riders race up, competing for the stage victory. The atmosphere is electric and so invigorating! Even better, I didnOt have to show up a day before to secure my spot and sit and wait for the Tour to arrive. I got an amazing workout, had lunch and watched the race, all in the span of 3-4 hours! Cycling a stage of the Tour de France Burgundy, France: Haute Cotes du Beaune Imagine cycling through the picturesque villages of the undisturbed French countryside. On this ride you should be prepared to be stunned by extraordinary views of the townOs 13th century castle ruins. As you meander past Charolais cows and the gorgeously restored 15th century chteau at La Rochepot you will find yourself cruising down a leisurely downhill ride into Saint Aubin [ETH] home to a grand Romanesque church. Stop here for a true gourmand delight of a picnic at Chassagne-Montrachet and then continue cycling through Puligny Montrachet, Meursault, Volnay and Pommard before arriving back in Beaune to sip wine and chat with the locals. This is the ride to experience the French wine countryside in its purest and most scenic form! Cycling in Burgundy Connemara, Ireland: Clifden and the Boglands Bikes, bogs, Guinness beers and whiskey [ETH] thatOs what this epic ride in Ireland features! I remember the feeling I experienced as we followed the bog road to the quaint town of Clifden [ETH] there is nothing like witnessing the uber green Irish landscape in person. Add to that, the breathtaking views from atop the rolling hills looking down upon the Atlantic Ocean from High Sky Road, and need I forget, the ubiquitous sheep. We popped into a local pub for some fresh fish and chips with a pint of Guinness and topped the day off with an Irish whiskey tasting by the fire in the library of the Ashford Castle with Seamus. What a unique and memorable time! Andy Levine is the President/Founder of DuVine Cycling + Adventure Co. If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us. Jun 13, 2013

France is Europe's most popular destination for canal barge cruises Even the most jaded and cosmopolitan travel writers tend to rave when it comes to canal barging cruises in France. It's no wonder, given the beautiful scenery, gourmet feasts and faultless service. A completely different beast from a river cruise, which can cover several rivers and countries in one sailing with more than 100 passengers, the canal barge cruise is slower, smaller and more expensive ($350-$1,000 per day). Approximately eight to 12 guests and six English-speaking crew are the usual number of passengers on a French canal barge, which navigates through centuries-old waterways through the French countryside. Stops range from castles and cathedrals to villages and vineyards, where passengers can step off on guided tours. Although canal barge cruises are possible in a number of European countries, these are the reasons why France is by far the most popular destination. 1. The wine The average varieties of wines offered on board a week-long French barge cruise? More than two dozen -- all French and all selected after judicious testing and tastings by the staff. A variety of canal routes wind through vineyards where passengers can step off and try Sancerre from the Loire Valley, Reislings from the Alsace-Lorraine in the north-east and Bordeaux wines, as well as those from the warm climates of Languedoc-Rousillon and Provence. Some of Burgundy's best vintages can be sampled at the Grand Cru vineyard of Chambertin-Clos de Bze in the northern part of the Cte de Nuits in Burgundy, Clos de Vougeot, the headquarters of the esteemed Chevaliers du Tastevin and the Chteau-Hotel Andr Ziltener. 2. Elaborate cuisine Several barge cruises offer the option to dine ashore, to eat in the restored Abbaye de la Bussiere in La Bussire-sur-Ouche, for example. What was once a pilgrimage retreat in 1131 is now a Relais & Chateaux hotel and Michelin-starred restaurant. Onboard the barge, thematic regional French fine dining is the standard. The chefs create their inspired from tiny galley quarters. One divine sample menu dreamed up by Selbey, the chef on the European Waterways' L'Impressionniste barge: French onion soup, lamb with minted peas, and poached pear with mascarpone ice cream paired with a white Pernand Vergelles and red Meursault, Ecrevisse salad, Coq au Vin and fresh fruits paired with a white Ladoix and red Moulin -- a vent and escargot, tender scallops and mousse au chocolat paired with Rose Marsannay. A stop at the gastronomic markets in the culinary towns of Dijon and Beaune is also a must. Passengers can shadow barge chefs as they go scouring for rich foie gras, briney crevettes, baguettes with a crunch like no other and hundreds of fresh cheeses. 3. Quaint lock keepers Many old locks on the waterways are tended by lock keepers, and passing through them on the barge cruise becomes a fun experience in itself. When barges pull up, beefy men race out to turn the wheels, raising the rushing water level high enough to let the barge cruise through. At midday there may be a bit of a wait, as the cruise captains won't even consider disturbing a lock keeper's lunch. 4. Interesting history Dating back to the 16th century, barging had a different meaning from the luxury travel experience that it's become today. The French countryside's elaborate canal system was developed as a means to transport coal and other goods that were difficult to move on land. History buffs will love the fact that their airy, luxurious barges were once working ships carrying cargo along the same winding waterways. 5. Leisurely day excursions The canals in France are surrounded by historical towns and in addition to vineyard visits, day excursions include stopping by the old towns and meeting the locals. Guided tours of old architecture are some of the top highlights of a barge trip. Recommended: a visit to the Hospice de Beaune in the town of Beaune, which was built in 1443 and is one of the finest examples of French 15th-century architecture. But for those who prefer to just relax instead of embarking on busy historical excursions, it's wonderful to just sit on the deck and watch the scenery pass by, too. Jun 11, 2013

Skirts instead of shorts for male train staff in Sweden Male staff on StockholmOs commuter trains have begun wearing skirts to circumvent a ban on shorts as sweltering heat hit the Swedish capital this week. Around 15 male train drivers and other staff wore skirts this week on the suburban Roslagsbanan train service, where temperatures inside the carriages can reach 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), transport company Arriva said on Sunday. OOur policy is that you have to look well dressed and proper when representing Arriva, and that means trousers if youOre a man and a skirt if youOre a woman, but no shorts,O Arriva spokesman Tomas Hedenius told AFP. OBut if thereOs a man who is keen to wear womenOs clothing, such as a skirt, we have said thatOs okay,O he added. The company could change its policy this autumn after receiving feedback from its employees. OThereOs always reason to review the framework when you hear your staffOs views. The uniforms should look proper but they should also be comfortable to wear,O Hadenius said. Around 47,000 passengers travel on the Roslagsbanan service every day according to Stockholm Public Transport (SL). SwedenOs tradition of gender equality has famously put more mums in the workplace while rising numbers of dads stay at home. Over the past year, activists have pushed for a gender-neutral pronoun, Ohen,O to be added to OhanO (he) and OhonO (she). The Nordic countryOs largest toy chain said in November its toys were Ogender neutralO after picturing boys holding baby dolls and banishing girls from the dolls pages of its Christmas catalogue. Jun 10, 2013

Princess Cruises Royal Princess Arrives in Southampton for Royal Christening. Princess CruisesO new 3,600-passenger Royal Princess arrived in Southampton, England, on June 7 to prepare for its June 13 christening by The Duchess of Cambridge, better known as Kate Middleton. The ship received a royal welcome from the Southampton University Brass Band, which played OGod Save The QueenO as the vessel entered the harbor. The shipOs horn responded with the first notes of the theme song from the TV show OThe Love Boat.O The June 13 naming will also feature British pop singer Natasha Bedingfield singing her hit OUnwritten,O as well as a performance by British actress Kerry Ellis, known as Othe first lady of LondonOs West End.O The Band of Her MajestyOs Royal Marines Portsmouth and The Pipe Band of 1st Battalion Irish Guards will open the event with pomp and ceremony. The new-generation Royal Princess features SeaWalk, a glass-bottomed walkway extending 28 feet beyond the edge of the ship; private poolside cabanas that appear to be floating on water; ChefOs Table Lumiere, a private dining experience that surrounds diners in a curtain of light; and balconies on all outside staterooms. Jun 11, 2013

US Airways US Airways' Presentation At The Deutsche Bank Global Industrials And Basic Materials Conference To Be Webcast. US Airways' (LCC) Chief Financial Officer Derek Kerr will present at the Deutsche Bank Global Industrials and Basic Materials Conference on Thursday, June 13, at 9:20 a.m. CT (7:20 a.m. PT). The presentation will be webcast live at To access the webcast, click on Company Information >> Investor Relations>> Webcasts/Presentations/Updates. An archive of the webcast will be available on the company's website. (Logo: Jun 13, 2013 AirGuideOnline ISSN 1544-3760 Copyright [c] 2013 AirGuide / Pyramid Media Group. All rights reserved.


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Title Annotation:travelling to the vineyards; evaluation of German restaurants; travel industry services
Comment:Destination News - Europe.(travelling to the vineyards)(evaluation of German restaurants)(travel industry services)
Publication:Airguide Online
Article Type:Travel narrative
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 17, 2013
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