Originating in Northern Spain and Southern France, the Basque people comprise one of the oldest ethnic groups in Europe, dating as far back as 5,000 years. Centuries ago they were seafarers and farmers, believed in fascinating mythology, and spoke a unique language called Euskara, mysteriously unrelated to any other languages of Europe. Today, Euskara is spoken by less than 1/3 of Basque people, yet much of their culture and traditions still thrive.
Discover the fascinating city of Bilbao, home to the acclaimed Guggenheim Museum, and the stunning seaside resort of San Sebastián, which boasts more Michelin-starred restaurants per capita than anywhere else in the world. Plus, indulge in pintxos, the Basque version of tapas, as well as the distinctive sparkling white wine known as txakoli. For a true epicurean adventure, you might also consider adding a mouthwatering journey through Bordeaux; a region undeniably rich in flavor, from its world-renowned vineyards to its gourmet cuisine. Contact Travel Planner ChrisRakes@totalexperiencetravel.com for more ideas on best ways to visit and to start planning! 919.589.2437 / 434.333.0837
From a former power station that houses monumental pieces of contemporary art to modern marvels of engineering that are as awe-inspiring on the outside as the art they contain, here’s our personal list for the world’s most spectacular art museums.
GUGGENHEIM, BILBAO, SPAIN
Built in a former shipyard, this titanium, glass and limestone building is one of the most celebrated pieces of architecture in modern times and placed the industrial city of Bilbao firmly on the cultural map. The museum is home to modern and contemporary art from all over the world. Expect irregularly shaped galleries, large glass curtains and unexpected design features.
MUSEUM OF ISLAMIC ART, DOHA, QATAR
Designed by I.M. Pei, the same architect that designed the Louvre’s glass pyramid, the Museum of Islamic Art is a modern masterpiece inspired by ancient Islamic architecture. As the name suggests, the museum holds one of the world’s most impressive collections of Islamic art. From royal treasures dating back to the seventh century to ordinary household objects, every piece in this extraordinary museum tells a story.
TATE MODERN, LONDON, UK
Housed in the former Bankside Power Station, the iconic space is now home to spectacular galleries that include the station’s original turbine hall, the boiler house and oil tanks. The museum is dedicated to international modern and contemporary art. From monumental pieces of sculpture to colorful abstract paintings, you’ll be surprised by the range of exhibitions. Films, performances and workshops are also on offer.
NITEROI CONTEMPORARY ART MUSEUM, RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL
It took five years to build this museum designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, but this spectacular saucer-shaped structure now hosts one of Brazil’s most important contemporary art collections. Like a film set from a science fiction movie, the galleries hover over Boa Viagem beach. With its panoramic views, the iconic museum is the perfect home for artistic creation and dream-like ideas.
Contact All Inclusive Vacation and Tour Specialist Chris Rakes to learn more and help you get there!
Than Wine with A Blend of Classical Romance and Legendary Chivalry
The French town of Bergerac is equally renowned for its role in the love story of Cyrano de Bergerac as it is for its fine wines (not to mention elegant chateaux and a historic medieval center).
Monbazillac (pronounced moh-bah-zee-YAK) wines are those rare, sweet, lovely dessert wines that few Americans—even wine connoisseurs—have tasted. This white wine is often compared to fellow French late-harvest Sauternes wines and is even made from the same grapes— sémillon, sauvignon blanc and muscadelle. Monbazillac, however, has a higher percentage of muscadelle grapes and, thus, sometimes sweeter aromas. The wine is an Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC). Only grapes that are affected by ‘noble rot’ can be classified as Monbazillac; other regional grapes that are used for dry white wines are classified as Bergerac sec.
Lighter than a Sauternes, with a bit less alcohol content, a fine Monbazillac wine can become gold or amber in hue, with less floral notes and a spicier taste. Enjoy exotic honeyed notes like grapefruit, elderflower, quince, mango, passion fruit and citrus with a nutty aftertaste. It is perhaps most famously paired with Foie Gras but also enjoyed with various desserts, main dishes and appetizers. It also serves as a perfectly chilled apéritif.
On a Bordeaux river cruise, you can visit the legendary Chateau de Monbazillac, a 16th century landmark in Early Renaissance style with some of the most magnificent views of the French countryside, to enjoy a tasting of this exquisite wine and guided tour. It is the perfect place to taste this somewhat secretive wine. Indeed, only roughly 20 percent of the wine is exported from France, with much of it going to Belgium and the Netherlands. Only about 5 percent is exported to the United States.
No Bordeaux river cruise would be complete without visiting the nearby Bergerac region. Forever linked with Edmond Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac (and subsequent film and television adaptions like Steve Martin’s Roxanne), the town celebrates its literary connection with two statues of the romantic Cyrano. There is also a wine house, which features a small exhibit on the history of wine growing in the region. One of the highlights is extensive medieval center and charming ‘old town,’ with lovely town squares and boutiques. The perfect marriage of wine and romance.
Contact river cruise specialist, ChrisRakes@totalexperiencetravel.com to learn more and book your one-of-a-kind voyage today! She's been there!
YOU’RE INVITED TO OKTOBERFEST!
Oktoberfest in Munich. A tradition of welcoming celebration since 1810, when Crown Prince Ludwig I married Princess Therese of Saxony-Hildburghausen and the royal couple invited the citizens of Munich to attend festivities in honor of their union. This inclusive gesture from nobility toward the town’s commoners was a grand one for an era when the two factions typically kept to their own circles, and it was not lost on the people of Munich, and beyond city borders. Since that first group toast on the fields in front of the city gates, Oktoberfest has been a beloved tradition throughout Bavaria, bringing locals and tourists together over frosty steins and traditional feasts for the region’s grandest party of the year.
Oktoberfest is a cultural phenomenon that will captivate any visitor – the world’s largest beer and folk festival for more than 200 years. This all-sensory event is cloaked in colorful tents lined with the finest beer purveyors in Germany and surrounding region. Music fills the open-air fairgrounds and lederhosen and dirndls are the dress code du jour (though not at all required).
For those who have always dreamed of being a part of this time-honored tradition, RIVER CRUISES are the ultimate way to get there. Think of Oktoberfest with a luxurious River Cruise as a bucket list experience within a bucket list experience. Overnights in places like Regensburg allow for the opportunity to venture to Munich for a day spent reveling in the Oktoberfest festivities. Add a pre or post cruise land adventure, and explore the event’s many breweries and indulge in the flavors of Bavaria in between toasts with your fellow party goers at your specially reserved table.
You can also set out into Munich to explore the city highlights beyond the steins and sudsy brews, as the town brims with other landmarks of Ludwig I’s reign. Explore Munich’s most iconic sites, including Town Hall, Frauenkirche Cathedral and the lovely Viktualienmarkt, which is bustling daily with locals and visitors seeking a taste of Munich.
If you love landscape, you will love Bavaria and the fairy-tale towns along the river. So, grab your stein, lederhosen and spirit of celebration, and contact ChrisRakes@totalexperiencetravel.com to book your German river cruise with time in Bavaria today!
On A One of A Kind European River Cruise
Whether you want to walk in the footsteps of legends, walk down the street like a local, or accelerate a walk into a jog, Avalon Waterways (one of my personal favorites) provides a variety of excursions and onboard activities each day - all engaging in their own way. You select the tours, activities and events that interest you most, so you can experience your cruise, your way!
Go CLASSIC and a local expert is ready to guide you through the history and heritage of local destinations and the "must see" sights. You will marvel at the legends, lore and spectacular architecture of iconic and historic sites!
Go DISCOVERY for inspiring and interactive activities designed to speak to your interests. From cooking classes to painting workshops, immerse yourself in cultures you explore.
Go ACTIVE to embark on energetic excursions that will keep you on the go. Guided jogging tours, biking, paddling and hiking your way through scenic locales will keep you on the move!
For more information about charting your own course and to book your river cruise, contact all inclusive vacation expert and river cruise specialist, ChrisRakes@totalexperiencetravel.com! She's been there and done it!!
River Cruise & Luxury All Inclusive Travel Consultant