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

 

The Eighth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Los Cabos

For the longest time, I didn’t understand the appeal of Los Cabos. The idea of a resort town, set in an arid desert with basically non-swimmable beaches didn’t seem like the place I would want to visit.  And then it got devasted by Hurricane Odile 2014, and that took it off the radar for a little while.

aerialloscabos

Odile wreaked havoc on the Baja California peninsula and forced many major resorts to shut down, renovate, and rebuild completely. Three years later, Los Cabos rose out of the ashes, more glorious than ever.

Numerous new resorts have opened: Grand Velas, Le Blanc, Montage, Hard Rock Los Cabos, Garza Blanca, and many more. There is no shortage of properties to stay at, from less expensive to most extravagant really. You have plenty of choices both all-inclusive and not, depending on your preference.

leblancloscabos

Los Cabos consists of three resort areas:

  • San Jose del Cabo which is a quaint, authentic Mexican town, bustling with tourists as well as locals. It offers a beautiful art district and a real Mexican experience. It is very close to the International Airport making it fast to get to.
  • The Zona Hotelera, the hotel zone, which is a desert corridor, spans for about 20 miles between the two towns. Backed by desert and hills, resorts are set between the main road and the Sea of Cortez.
  • Cabo San Lucas, furthest away from the airport is more artificial with a marina, shopping mall, movie theater and all the entertainment one could want. It is also where the boats to the famous Arch depart from.

loscabos; hotelzonecabosanlucas; marinasanjosedelcabo

The fact that you can have three completely different experiences within a reasonably small distance is one of my favorite things about Los Cabos. The local people are amiable and helpful. Food is generally excellent. The highlight though is the ocean, scrap the fact that it is mainly non-swimmable. Watching the waves is utterly fascinating. The brute force, the crashing sound, the power these waves have, it’s incredible. Admiring them over the edge of an infinity pool, or doused in the sunset from your balcony, is phenomenal!

This is the eighth 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 Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central America. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Seventh Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Munich and its Surroundings

Most people associate Munich with the Oktoberfest which spans over about 16 days at the end of September to the beginning of October. It is the world’s largest Volksfest with currently 14 tents, all serving beer, and festival food. It is a lot of fun!

bavaria munich octoberfest oktoberfest

Photo by Manuel Joseph on Pexels.com

But there are more reasons to visit Munich than the Oktoberfest and a less busy time might be more enjoyable. Of course, its historic city center is beautiful; there are many creative shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. It is particularly pretty before Christmas when the lights are up, and the Christkindlmarkt is running.

Munich also makes for a great hub:

Venture South East to visit:

  • Neuschwanstein Castle also dubbed the Cinderella Castle.
  • Salzburg, the city of music, and gateway to anything related to the Sound of Music.
  • Hallstatt, picturesque village set on a lake.
white castle during daytime

Photo by Pascal Renet on Pexels.com

Venture North to visit:

  • The Romantic Road, a scenic drive through Bavaria’s countryside with many medieval and romantic towns.

rothenburg germany

For WorldWar II history buffs there are many sites to visit:

  • The Dachau Concentration Camp
  • Hitler’s Eagles Nest
  • Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg

Many of our clients combine Munich and the area with some other parts of Germany, or Switzerland for example. Rachel & Lee, combined Switzerland, with the Oktoberfest and Munich, and from there explored the Romantic Road.

We are so excited that they shared some of their pictures with us, enjoy!

 

 

This is the seventh 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. Growing up in Switzerland she has had the opportunity to explore Europe ever since she was little. She can help you create a wonderful European adventure. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com

The Sixth Day of National #PlanForVacation Day: Rangiroa, French Polynesia

The first thing that comes up when people refer to Rangiroa is its fantastic marine life. Rangiroa or Ra’iroa means Endless Sky in the native language. It is the largest atoll within the Tuamotu Atolls, located almost 250 miles (one hour flight) away from Tahiti. The atoll consists of a string of 240 islets tied together for over 110 miles.

Narrow sandbars and mini isles preserve a prolific marine life and offer some of the world’s best diving and fishing. The abundance of the underwater world displays an array of live colors. See schools of multicolored butterfly fish, turtles, dolphins, and sharks. Whether you are an advanced diver, beginner, or enjoy snorkeling, an incredible paradise awaits.

Having had the opportunity to visit French Polynesia myself and meeting many of the local hoteliers, I was super excited when Josh & Lindsey came to me and asked to create a unique honeymoon, partially off the beaten path. Although Bora Bora, Moorea, and Tahiti all were part of their fantastic itinerary, they wanted to include an even more secluded, less visited area.

Rangiroa happened to be a dream come true. It is home to Hotel Kia Ora, a boutique luxury hotel located on the northwest part of the atoll, set in the heart of a beautiful coconut plantation, offering the most stunning turquoise lagoon and white sand beach. With only 60 villas and bungalows spread across the grounds, the beach, and over-water, the recently renovated hotel offers an intimate experience to anyone looking for a peaceful stay in paradise.

We picked the hotel for exactly that reason, but also because it offered Lindsey and Josh the opportunity to stay a couple of days on the hotel’s private island called “Le Sauvage.” It is, as the name indicates, “the wild one.” About one-hour boat ride from the resort, the private island offered five bungalows only. At the time, there was no electricity or air-conditioning. Food was provided by the only two resident staff members at a communal table for all guests of the island. Le Sauvage is currently closed for updates, so we will see what has changed once it reopens to welcome guests.

Thank you Josh & Lindsey, for sharing some of your Rangiroa photos!

This is the sixth 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. Having personally traveled to Hawai’i, Fiji, New Zealand, Australia, and Tahiti, she can help you create a wonderful South Pacific experience. To plan a trip contact her at stefanie@aav-travel.com