The Daydream Series: Iceland – þetta reddast!

Iceland

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Iceland is truly unique! Home to 130 volcanos, about 30 of which are still active, this post is dedicated to the coolest nation of them all! #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Icelandic food is, well, let’s say interesting. Once you’ve visited, it is easier to understand. Iceland has a very drastic climate including the lack of sunlight at times. Not much grows naturally, and fishing and hunting options are limited. Plus, its location under the Arctic Circle didn’t make it any easier to import goods and food, in the past. However, the country has evolved and its use of geothermal energy today, allows Iceland to grow fresh produce. Nowadays, you can find quite an array of food, ranging from more traditional Icelandic dishes to international cuisine. However, fish is an intricate piece of the country’s food culture.

If you would like to try a traditional Icelandic dish at home, we suggest trying out Iceland Food Center’s PLOKKFISKUR.

Ingredients:

  • 500gr pollock, haddock, cod or any other white fish
  • 500gr potatoes
  • 1 large yellow onion (or 2 small, or 3 even smaller)
  • 50gr butter
  • 3 tbs all-purpose flour
  • 300ml milk (or more if you prefer it thinner)
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1tsp white pepper.

For a dairy-free version substitute butter with olive oil and milk with oat milk (or other non-dairy alternatives).

Description:

  • Boil and peel potatoes.
  • Poach your white fish according to instructions.
  • Put aside.
  • Sautée onions in butter at medium heat until translucent.
  • Add flour to the butter and onions and whisk until it becomes a paste.
  • Whisk in milk – a ladle at a time until it’s a thick sauce.
  • Congratulations you made bechamel!
  • Break up the potatoes and fish and add it to the mixture.
  • If you’ve used up all the bechamel and you feel it’s still too thick you can add milk or the poaching water to thin it out.
  • Season to taste!

Copy of taste!

Iceland’s sound is unique. You can feel its landscape, atmosphere, and moods, in many songs. It is not always easy listening, but you will be hard-pressed finding another country that produces music with so much authenticity and personality.  What strikes me the most, is how different it sounds, once you had an opportunity to visit. It’s almost like all of a sudden, you understand where it is coming from and why it is represented like that.

Click the picture for our sample playlist on Spotify. 

iceland



experience!

Iceland’s film industry developed slowly in comparison to other Nordic countries until the establishment of the Icelandic Film Fund (IFF) in 1978. The fund helped the local film industry grow and these days, we have quite a selection of movies that share the country’s unique humor, landscapes, atmosphere, as well as way of life.

  • Rams: An Icelandic farmer (Theodór Júlíusson) and his estranged brother (Sigurður Sigurjónsson) band together to save their flocks of sheep from authorities who want the animals destroyed.
  • Of Horses and Men: Set amidst the majestic splendor of the Icelandic countryside, Icelandic writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson interweaves a series of tales about horse-owners and their steeds.
  • 101 Reykjavik: The story of unemployed and unmotivated Hlynur (Hilmir Snaer Gudnason) and Lola (Victoria Abril), a flamenco teacher.
  • Children of Nature: A retired farmer, Thorgeir (Gisli Halldorsson) moves to Reykjavik, and winds up in a retirement home, where he reconnects with Stella (Sigridur Hagalin), an old friend from his childhood.
  • Cold Fever: A Japanese man (Masatoshi Nagase) finds misadventure and eccentric characters while in Iceland to perform a memorial service for his parents.
  • Screaming Masterpiece: Screaming Masterpiece is a 2005 documentary film about the music scene in Iceland.

If you like to dig a bit deeper and learn more about Iceland as a country, check out the Secret National Geographic Documentary.

Here are also a couple of clips from my winter trip to Iceland.

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Winter is coming! Iceland 🇮🇸 might not be the escape that comes to mind, but it for sure is worth a visit. Amazing light, drastic landscapes with frozen formations, and of course, the best season to see the Northern Lights. It’s also an awesome time for adventure experiences like the one I had the chance to join last January. The Super Jeep Tour with @activityiceland venturing into the unspoiled Thorsmork valley during these icy ❄️ conditions. You are almost guaranteed to get stuck somewhere, so for safety reasons, there are always at least two vehicles. Quite a thrill! #iceland #icelandtravel #valleyofthor #thorsmork #aavexperience #aavtravel #winteriscoming #gameofthrones #thewall #luxurytravel #adventuretravel #bucketlist #offthebeatenpath

A post shared by Stefanie Pichonnat (@aavtravel) on



Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

The Sagas of Icelanders by several authors: In Iceland, the age of the Vikings is also known as the Saga Age. Set around the turn of the last millennium, these stories depict with an astonishingly modern realism the lives and deeds of the Norse men and women who first settled in Iceland and of their descendants, who ventured farther west to Greenland and, ultimately, North America. For more…

The Little Book of Icelanders in the Old Days by Alda Sigmundsdottir: Iceland in centuries past was a formidable place to live. Situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, on the edge of the inhabitable world, the nation was both isolated and abjectly poor. Centuries of colonization translated into oppression and subjugation from the colonial overlords, and a hostile climate and repeated natural disasters meant that mere survival was a challenge to even the hardiest of souls. In these 50 miniature essays, Alda Sigmundsdottir writes about the Icelanders in centuries past in a light and humorous way, yet never without admiration and respect for the resilience and strength, they showed in coping with conditions of adversity that are barely imaginable today. For more…

Names for the Sea: Strangers in Iceland by Sarah Moss: Sarah Moss had a childhood dream of moving to Iceland, sustained by a wild summer there when she was nineteen. In 2009, she saw an advertisement for a job at the University of Iceland and applied on a whim, despite having two young children and a comfortable life in Kent. The resulting adventure was shaped by Iceland’s economic collapse, which halved the value of her salary, by the eruption of Eyjafjallajokull and by a collection of new friends, including a poet who saw the only bombs fall on Iceland in 1943, a woman who speaks to elves and a chef who guided Sarah’s family around the intricacies of Icelandic cuisine. Read more… 

The Fish can Sing by Halldor Laxness: Alfgrim was an abandoned child whose mother gave birth to him in the turf cottage of Bjorn of Brekkukot, the fisherman, on the outskirts of Reykjavik. This is the tale of Alfgrim’s boyhood and youth in the home of his grandparents in the early years of the twentieth century. It is a hospitable place, where dignified understatement is the norm and everything from a lumpfish to a Bible has a fixed price that never changes. For more…


HappyHour!

Brennivín (Icelandic pronunciation: ​[ˈprɛnːɪvin]) is a clear, unsweetened schnapps that is considered to be Iceland’s signature distilled beverage. It might be hard to find in the US, but you can always ask your local liquor store to see if they have an option to order it for you.

ARCTIC SOLSTICE – Created in 2014 by Villi K. of B5 Lounge in Reykjavik

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz Brennivín
  • 1 oz Chambord
  • 1 oz Fresh squeezed lime juice

Method: Shake with ice and then strain it. Use a Collins glass and top with soda water to fill the glass. Add a mint sprig and a slice of grapefruit to garnish.

Skál! Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Italy – Dolce Far Niente!

Copy of DaydreamJAMAICA

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Italy is one of the most loved destinations in Europe! This post is a celebration of the country that invented “Dolce Far Niente,” its amazing people, as well as our Italian friends and industry partners. #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

As the late Anthony Bourdain said: ‘Italian food at its best is like Japanese food, but with more emotion. ‘ 

Italy’s food needs no introduction as most every country has their own Italian restaurant or a version thereof. If you’ve been to Italy, you know that there are many different variations of pasta, sauces, flavors, cured meats. Every region seems to have its own specialty. For food lovers, Emilia Romagna provides some of the most exciting options as this small region is home to Bologna, Modena, and Parma.

In our family, we enjoy many different pasta sauces. One of our favorites is “Carbonara.” Technically a very easy, quick, and straight forward recipe, requiring only a handful of ingredients. All you need are spaghetti, a slab of bacon (slices work too), olive oil, eggs, pepper, and parmesan or pecorino cheese (freshly grated, please). You don’t need to add salt because the bacon is flavorful enough. However, don’t forget to salt the water!

Other than that, Antonio does an excellent job of explaining how to prepare true Spaghetti Carbonara.

Click here for more Italian Cooking Lessons you can watch online.


Copy of taste!

Picture yourself cruising in through Tuscany in a convertible, or along a rocky coastline in a Fiat 500.

Fiat

Italian tunes are bound to make you happy and give you a good feel for the language as well as the smoky voices of many of its most famous artists. Some of them are deeply engraved into my memory, taking me straight back to 80ies Italy, spending family vacations along the beach in Pescara. Or watching one of the classic Adriano Celentano movies, which were always a blast.

Click the picture for our sample playlist on Spotify. 

Italy



experience!

There are so many great movies to watch when it comes to Italy.

If you want to get a feel for Italian filmmaking, you cannot skip Federico Fellini, who is recognized as one of the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time. ‘Life is a combination of magic and pasta.’ A quote of his is one of my favorites.

There is quite a bit of selection for movies with a lot of Italian scenery.

 

Much of The Tourist is set in Venice, whereas Under the Tuscan Sun is filmed in the beautiful town of Cortona, Tuscany, as well as the Umbria region, which is home to Lake Trasimeno. Bernardo Bertolucci’s movie, Stealing Beauty, is set in one of Tuscany’s beautiful villa with many beautiful shots of the fantastic scenery.

Of course, there are many more movies. Please be aware that many of them are Rated R and not necessarily suitable for the younger generation.

I returned from Milan earlier this year, where I met with hoteliers and tour operators of many regions, including two emerging ones, Basilicata and Sicily. Both are incredibly beautiful and still relatively untouched. I’ll be eager to share more information with my clients that have already explored much of Italy before. Oh, and if you were wondering, the 2020 Italian Capital of Culture is Parma.

Plus, here is a nice overview of the many different experiences, Italy offers.



Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

The Enchanted April  by Elizabeth von Arnim

Four very different women, looking to escape dreary London for the sunshine of Italy, take up an offer advertised in the Times for a “small medieval Italian Castle on the shores of the Mediterranean to be let furnished for the month of April.” As each person blossoms in the warmth of the Italian spring, quite unexpected changes occur. For more.

Italian for the Gourmet Traveler by Fred Plotkin

In recent years, dozens of cookbooks have explored Italian regional cookery and captured the flavors of Tuscany, Emila-Romangna, the Veneto, and Sicily, among other places. But for Fred Plotkin, who has spent the last two decades scouring Italy from tip to toe in search of memorable food, nothing can compare to the herb-perfumed cuisine of Liguria, the Italian Riviera. Now in the first-ever cookbook devoted to this region, Plotkin offers definitive proof that Ligurian food is not only the tastiest in Italy but the healthiest as well — the ultimate Mediterranean diet. From pesto and focaccia, the regions best-known specialties, to more unusual dishes such as fava bean soup, pumpkin-filled pasta topped with tuna caviar, braised duck with green olives, and a cherry tart Genovese, Plotkin shows how to re-create more than 200 authentic Ligurian dishes — and enjoy a true taste of paradise. For more. 

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown

World-renowned Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon is summoned to a Swiss research facility to analyze a cryptic symbol seared into the chest of a murdered physicist. What he discovers is unimaginable: a deadly vendetta against the Catholic Church by a centuries-old underground organization, the Illuminati. Desperate to save the Vatican from a powerful time bomb, Langdon joins forces in Rome with the beautiful and mysterious scientist Vittoria Vetra. Together they embark on a frantic hunt through sealed crypts, dangerous catacombs, deserted cathedrals, and the most secretive vault on earth, the long-forgotten Illuminati lair. For more. 

The House of the Medici: Its Rise and Fall by Christopher Hippert

At its height, Renaissance Florence was a center of enormous wealth, power, and influence. A republican city-state funded by trade and banking, its often bloody political scene was dominated by rich mercantile families, the most famous of which were the Medici. This enthralling book charts the family’s huge influence on the political, economic, and cultural history of Florence. Beginning in the early 1430s with the rise of the dynasty under the near-legendary Cosimo de Medici, it moves through their golden era as patrons of some of the most remarkable artists and architects of the Renaissance, to the era of the Medici Popes and Grand Dukes, Florence’s slide into decay and bankruptcy, and the end, in 1737, of the Medici line. For more. 

Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert

In her early thirties, Elizabeth Gilbert had everything a modern American woman was supposed to want—husband, country home, successful career—but instead of feeling happy and fulfilled, she was consumed by panic and confusion. This wise and rapturous book is the story of how she left behind all these outward marks of success, and set out to explore three different aspects of her nature, against the backdrop of three different cultures: pleasure in Italy, devotion in India, and on the Indonesian island of Bali, a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence. For more. 

 


HappyHour!

How about a classic Italian pre-dinner drink this time?

NEGRONI

Negroni is a highly popular Italian drink, considered a pre-dinner drink. It is very straight forward to make. Don’t forget, it’s stirred, not shaken.

  • 1/3 Vermouth Rosso
  • 1/3 Bitter Campari
  • 1/3 Dry Gin.

Preparation: Served on the rocks, you need to use a medium tumbler or an old-fashioned glass, stir the ingredients directly in your glass and garnish with a half slice of orange and lemon peel.

 


This list is compiled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but also as a resource for anyone considering to travel to Italy, or wanting to get a feel for the country before their trip.

Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Daydream Series: Jamaica – One Love!

Dessert Adventure Blog Banner

Daydreaming is easy, healthy, and free!
Here at AAV Travel, we would like to give your mind a break and the opportunity to enjoy and learn more about the world from the comfort of your home.

TASTE • LISTENEXPERIENCEREADHAPPY HOUR

Jamaica is a popular travel destination for March. This post is dedicated to the island of “One Love,” its people, and those that have had to reschedule their trip. #tourismstrong



Jamaican Flavors

Jamaica’s food is known across the world for its freshness and exotic flavors. Jerk chicken, likely being the country’s most famous export! If you’ve never had a chance to stop by Scotchie’s, you will want to put it on your list.

Although jerk varieties are plenty, we are in love with the patties!

Inspired by the British Cornish pastry, which typically is filled with meat and potato, the Jamaican patty has become its own delicacy. They make a great snack to pick up while on vacation but are also an excellent addition to your weekly lunch. Not to mention you can make several, so that you can freeze and reheat them at your convenience.

There are many recipes for beef and chicken patties out there. However, we opted to share a Rastafarian version, which is not only vegetarian but also vegan. Not to mention, super yummy!

Check out Our Green Planet’s recipe and let us know how you like it once you make it!


Copy of taste!

Music and Jamaica go hand in hand. You will be hard-pressed, not to come across a Jamaican that is either humming a tune or moving to the rhythm. Everyone knows Bob Marley and hearing his songs while in Jamaica is a guarantee. Jamaica, however, also has some incredible new talent, and if you want to get a better feel for what Jamaicans listen to these days, check out our Playlist on Spotify. It will take you straight to the Caribbean island!

aavtravelJamaica



experience!

When you can’t travel, movies and videos are a great option to get the daydreaming started. Jamaica has a few great options to consider!

Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond series, owned a house in Jamaica, and it comes to no surprise that his sixth novel, Dr. No is set on the beautiful island. Dr. No is interesting for several reasons, including the fact that it is the very first James Bond movie and introducing Sean Connery as the first James Bond. Of course, there is also some amazing Jamaican scenery.

If you are a James Bond fan in general and want to know more about the significant Jamaican movie locations check out Carib Journal’s post. 

The Port Antonio area provides most of the settings for the movie Cocktail as well as Knight and Day, which takes you to Frenchman’s Cove.

20,000 Leagues under the Sea features Negril and its cliff area, whereas How Stella got her Groove Back was filmed at the Roundhouse Villas, in Montego Bay.

If you just want to get a little feel for the island, have a look at this clip!



Read!

If you are ready to go deeper and learn more about the country as well as its history, culture, and behind the scenes, there are some excellent reads for you!

Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys

Jean Rhys’s reputation was made upon the publication of this passionate and heartbreaking novel, in which she brings into the light one of fiction’s most mysterious characters: the madwoman in the attic from Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre. Set in the Caribbean, its heroine is Antoinette Cosway, a sensual and protected young woman who is sold into marriage to the prideful Rochester. In this best-selling novel, Rhys portrays a society so driven by hatred, so skewed in its sexual relations, that it can literally drive a woman out of her mind. For more.

The Harder they Come by Michael Thelwell

Like the acclaimed film of the same title, this lyrical, lilting, densely textured novel is based on the exploits of the legendary Jamaican folk hero and reggae star Rhygin. With passion and precision, Michael Thelwell recounts Rhygin’s journey from a morally coherent rural universe to the teeming, predatory slums of Kingston, his rebellion against the poverty and corruption of postcolonial Jamaica, his blazing, simultaneous rise to the top of the charts and the Most Wanted list. For More.

A Brief History o Seven Killings by Marlon James

In A Brief History of Seven Killings, Marlon James combines brilliant storytelling with his unrivaled skills of characterization and meticulous eye for detail to forge an enthralling novel of dazzling ambition and scope.

On December 3, 1976, just before the Jamaican general election and two days before Bob Marley was to play the Smile Jamaica Concert to ease political tensions in Kingston, seven gunmen stormed the singer’s house, machine guns blazing. The attack wounded Marley, his wife, and his manager, and injured several others. Little was officially released about the gunmen, but much has been whispered, gossiped and sung about in the streets of West Kingston. Rumors abound regarding the assassins’ fates, and there are suspicions that the attack was politically motivated.

A Brief History of Seven Killings delves deep into that dangerous and unstable time in Jamaica’s history and beyond. James deftly chronicles the lives of a host of unforgettable characters – gunmen, drug dealers, one-night stands, CIA agents,  even ghosts – over the course of thirty years as they roam the streets of 1970s Kingston, dominate the crack houses of 1980s New York, and ultimately reemerge into the radically altered Jamaica of the 1990s. Along the way, they learn that evil does indeed cast long shadows, that justice and retribution are inextricably linked, and that no one can truly escape his fate.

Gripping and inventive, shocking and irresistible, A Brief History of Seven Killings is a mesmerizing modern classic of power, mystery, and insight. For more.


HappyHour!

JAMAICAN RUM PUNCH

The Jamaican Rum Punch is a staple at many bars. Often you receive a pre-mixed version. However, if you are one for craft drinks and would like to make yours from scratch, check out Calvin’s recipe.

Ingredients:

  • Pimento
  • Rosemarie
  • ½ White Rum
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 3 oz of Ting or Grapefruit Soda
  • 1 dash of Angostura Bitters
  • ½ teaspoon of Strawberry Syrup

Directions: 


This list is compiled in response to the COVID-19 crisis, but also as a resource for anyone considering to travel to Jamaica, or wanting to get a feel for the island before their trip.

Please stay safe and healthy, wash your hands, and practice social distancing as long as it is necessary.

Being able to travel is an incredible gift. The experience can open our eyes to the unique cultures and spellbinding beauty of the natural world. But with this gift comes a responsibility – to protect the world as we know it. Please behave responsibly and show respect!

STEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel, a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring the world at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.

To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

On the Twelfth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Cycling in Burgundy

France offers many wonderful wine regions, one for every wine enthusiast it seems. For Mark, Julie, Allen, and Alicia, Burgundy was the choice.

Burgundy is made up of vineyards, castles, rivers, and a lot of history. Dijon, its capital, can easily be reached in an hour and forty minutes from Paris via high-speed train. If you are into wine, there is quite a bit to explore with the five wine producing regions.

The most important red wine areas are Gevrey-Chambertin, Nuits-St-Georges, Vosne-Romanée, Chambolle-Musigny, Beaune, Pommard, and Volnay.

If you prefer white, your most famous areas are Chablis, Puligny-Montrachet, Meursault, Corton, and Pouilly-Fuisse.

There are many different ways to explore the region but since Mark, Julie, Allen, and Alicia, love being active, we set them up with a private bike tour through the vineyards. During their day cycling the Côte de Nuits area, they visited a domaine in Aloxe Corton as well as Gevrey Chambertin. They tried many wines and enjoyed a traditional lunch. As you can see they lucked out with perfect weather that day!

This blog post is the twelfth destination highlight concluding our series of twelve, leading up to the National #PlanForVacation Day on January 29, 2019. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, plan a trip!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring Europe at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.  To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

On the Eleventh Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: A New England and Canada Cruise

When people think of cruising, they mostly talk about the Caribbean, Alaska, the Panama Canal, or the Mediterranean. Sailing along New England to Canada is not the first thing that pops to mind. Once it does, however, it makes sense.

A typical itinerary typically navigates between Boston/New York and Quebec. While in New England, you can the coastal scenery dotted with lighthouses and visit Acadia National Park by Bar Harbor.

One of the cruise highlights is the natural phenomenon of the Reversing Rapids by Saint John, Canada. To truly experience the change, make sure to be there about an hour before high tide starts. Once it goes into motion, the ocean will start flowing inland. As the tide starts ebbing, the St. John River will once again continue its usual flow into the ocean.

Another stop is Halifax, where you find the fishing village of Luneburg, once known as the fishing capital of the world, is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Of course, Quebec is a spectacular site with the beautiful Chateau Frontenac towering above the city. Many restaurants and boutiques await as you stroll through the romantic cobblestone streets. Don’t forget to taste Canada’s famous dish “Poutine”!

This blog post is the eleventh highlight of twelve, leading up to the National #PlanForVacation Day on January 29, 2019. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, plan a trip!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. She is a Princess Cruises certified expert. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

On the Tenth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: European River Cruising

Exploring Europe via a river cruise has gained a large momentum over the past ten years. Several river cruise companies have emerged, built new ships, and today, you have a large choice of itineraries as well as different river cruise companies.

River cruises are best planned well ahead. The pricing can seem steep initially, but a lot is included. Also, promotions and discounts are available if you plan to travel during the off-season, or chose a less popular cruise itinerary.

The most popular river cruise itinerary sails along the Danube River. The Danube originates in Germany and crosses Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Ukraine before draining into the Black Sea. A typical River Cruise itinerary, however, travels between the Nuremberg/Regensburg area to Budapest only, making several stops throughout Austria, most notably Vienna.

architecture bridge building structures castle

Photo by JÉSHOOTS on Pexels.com

Equally popular is a Rhine River cruise which sails between Basel, Switzerland and Amsterdam, Netherlands. It travels along the German/French allowing guests to visit the romantic Alsace Region and then continues through Germany on to the Netherlands (or the other way around).

The Seine River is a wonderful option for guests who are interested in Paris, France’s countryside, all the way to Normandy. As it travels a rather short distance, it often is roundtrip and allows for a lot of in-depth stops.

For wine lovers, a Bordeaux river cruise is an excellent option. Staying within a fairly small area, it allows its guests to visit famous wine regions like Pauillac and St. Emilion.

There are many more river cruise options within central Europe all with a different flair and unique experiences.

This blog post is the tenth destination highlight of twelve, leading up to the National #PlanForVacation Day on January 29, 2019. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, plan a trip!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. Originally from Switzerland, she started exploring Europe at a young age and continues to expand her knowledge every year.  To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

On the Ninth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Milano

Milan is not on top of the list of cities to visit in Italy. Most people end up in Milan because they are in transit to somewhere else. It could be they are flying into the airport and are heading South towards Florence or East towards Venice. It could be they have to go through Milan to travel to Lake Como.

When in Milan, the typical tourist route includes the Duomo, the Galleria Emanuele III, Castel Gandolfi, and Da Vinci’s Last Supper. These sights are good for a day of sightseeing. But, what else is there to do?

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele

Milan is odd. After the Romans left the Milanese destroyed most of the Roman structures as they didn’t want any reminders from that time. Milan originally was built with many canals which were the way for tradespeople to get around. These were later covered to make way for streets and cars. The city took another big hit when it was heavily bombarded during World War II.  Today, the contrast between modern buildings and old structures is quite drastic.

As I arrived for my fifth time in Milan, I was determined to find its soul. After all, it is a fashion, design, and business metropole. I quickly understood that using the public transportation system was the key to discovering the city’s pulse. The subway is fast, efficient, and incredibly affordable. It will take you to areas such as:

Brera
This enchanting district is one of the most beloved, romantic, and atmospheric quarters of Milano. The best way to experience it is by strolling along and randomly soak it in. Peek through gates, look at artworks, stop by galleries, enjoy one of the many excellent ristorantes and trattorias. If you don’t want to walk from the city center, take the subway to Lanza.

Navigli
This neighborhood is set along the original Naviglio Grande canal, the oldest canal in Milan. It was built around sometime around 1200 and is more than 35 miles in length. At the time it was used to transport goods. Today the area is home to numerous restaurants, bars, many small boutiques, and art galleries.
In the evening, it is hugely popular with the young Milanese crowd because of the so-called aperitivo hour or happy hour. Between 5 pm – 7 pm many of the bars offer free food provided you purchase one drink. It’s a fun and hip place to sit outside and experience some authentic nightlife and there are plenty of options to choose from. There are also some romantic, more hidden trattorias.

 

This blog post is the ninth destination highlight of twelve, leading up to the National #PlanForVacation Day on January 29, 2019. Don’t let your vacation days go to waste, plan a trip!

stefanie pichonnat aavtravelSTEFANIE PICHONNAT
Stefanie Pichonnat is the owner of AAV Travel; a boutique travel firm specialized in creating customized travel itineraries. She specializes in creating experiences across Italy and travels to Milan almost yearly, to network at Italy’s tourism trade show. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com