Vienna For A Bon Vivant

It’s easy to see why Vienna, a city of music, cafes, waltzes, parks, pastries, and wine is a popular port-of-call on a Danube River cruise. But only a true foodie will know that Viennese Cuisine is the only fare in the world to be named after a city. Viennese chefs draw on influences from various countries to create awesome dishes that never fail to grab hold of the imagination.

During your free time in Vienna, explore the legendary markets. Since the Middle Ages, Viennese merchants have prospered by hauling produce, dairy products, and meats from the rich farms of Lower Austria and Burgenland into the city center. The tradition of buying the day’s provisions directly from street stalls is so strong, even today, that it discourages the creation of modern supermarkets in the city center.

The largest of the city’s outdoor food markets is the Naschmarkt, Wienzeile, in the 6th District (U-Bahn: Karlsplatz), just south of the Ring. It’s located on what was originally the riverbed of a branch of the Danube, which was diverted and paved over during the enormous public works projects of the 19th century. It’s the most time-honored and vibrant of the markets, as well as the most all-encompassing.

Volumes have been written about the subcultures and linguistic dialects that thrive among the Naschmarkt’s denizens. Observe the following implicit rules if you want to avoid the fury of the infamously irascible women selling their wares: Never touch merchandise unless you intend to buy something. Don’t try to buy less than a half-kilo (about a pound) of potatoes. And — even if you speak German well — don’t even try to understand the bawdy Viennese patois.

Arrive early in the morning and mosey through the warren of outdoor food stalls, and at the end of your excursion, head for the nearby Coffeehouse Drechsler for breakfast or a cup of coffee.

Picnickers will find that Vienna is among the best-stocked cities in Europe for food supplies. The best — and least expensive — place is the Naschmarkt, an open-air market that’s only a 5-minute stroll from Karlsplatz (the nearest U-Bahn stop). Here you’ll find hundreds of stalls selling fresh produce, breads, meats, cheeses, flowers, tea, and more. Fast-food counters and other stands peddle ready-made foods such as grilled chicken, Austrian and German sausages, sandwiches, and even beer. The market is open Monday to Friday from 6am to 6:30pm, Saturday from 6am to 1pm. You can also buy your picnic at one of Vienna’s many delis, such as Konditorei Oberlaa, Neuer Markt 16 (tel. 01/513-2936), or Gerstner, Kärntnerstrasse 15 (tel. 01/5124-9630).

With your picnic basket in hand, head for Stadtpark or the Volksgarten, both on the famous Ring. Even better, if the weather is right, plan an excursion into the Vienna Woods.

Need more Viennese cuisine? The windows of the venerated Café Demel, Kohlmarkt 14 (tel. 01/5351717; U-Bahn: Herrengasse; Bus: 1A or 2A), are filled with fanciful spun-sugar creations of characters from folk legends. Inside you’ll find a splendidly baroque landmark where dozens of pastries are available daily, including the Pralinen, Senegal, truffle, Sand, and Maximilian tortes, as well as Gugelhupfs (cream-filled horns). Demel also serves a mammoth variety of tea sandwiches made with smoked salmon, egg salad, caviar, or shrimp. If you want to be traditional, ask for a Demel-Coffee, which is filtered coffee served with milk, cream, or whipped cream. It’s open daily from 10am to 7pm.

For more information about Vienna’s delicacies visit

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Blogs Worth Reading. . .

Here are some blogs I discovered while researching other things. I think you’ll find them worthwhile, too.

Brenda Weatherhead’s Luxury Travel Blog “Montecito Village Travel”

Laura Whiteaker’s Senior and Inspirational Travel Blog “Reconnecting to Life”

Anne MacIntyre and Audrey Kennedy’s Luxury Travel Blog “On The Map Travel”

Cathy Inness’ “Cathy Cruises Blog” focusing on Senior Travel

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Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection 2011 Review

Award winning Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection® has produced a number of videos to acquaint you with their vessels and experience. Take a look now and picture yourself enjoying this authentic way to see Europe.

Why River Cruising?
The river: historic and breathtakingly serene and tranquil. Your ship: an elegant floating hotel with all the comforts of home. You: completely at ease because you unpack only once!

River cruising is an astonishing tale of discovery—complete with carefree comfort and convenience. You will encounter riches you find straight out of history books and fairytales—charming squares, magnificent cathedrals, bustling marketplaces—often just a leisurely walk away from the ship. There is no waiting in long lines to get on or off the ship, and there are always remarkable things to see—scenic vineyards, historic castles, or countless UNESCO World Heritage Sites—from the comfort of your stateroom.

Luxuriously appointed ships:
Uniworld, the world’s only authentic boutique cruise line™, features luxuriously appointed boutique cruise ships with an average capacity of 130 guests, included shore excursions, world-class cuisine, and award-winning hospitality.

The art of dining well:

One room, a thousand views:

Ready to sail on a European River Cruise? Special rates are available now. Contact us today!

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Paul Gauguin to Host Jean-Pierre Vigato for Culinary Program

Paul Gauguin CruisesPaul Gauguin Cruises will host Chef Jean-Pierre Vigato aboard the Paul Gauguin for a culinary program during the July 30 cruise.

Cook Islands - Society Islands Itinerary
July 30, 2011 Paul Guguin Cruise Itinerary

Vigato is owner and Chef Propriétaire of the two Michelin-starred Restaurant Apicius in Paris.

Available for all 2011 sailings, Vigato’s signature menu is featured in the ship’s La Veranda restaurant, and select dishes will also be featured at L’Etoile. Vigato will join the July 30 sailing as a special guest, personally preparing gourmet dishes for guests and offering cooking demonstrations. Sample menu items include fine tart of mushrooms and snails with mascarpone and white truffle oil, grilled wahoo with Thai vegetables and an herb salad, and local pineapple jelly served with rum-infused mascarpone and Tahitian vanilla ice cream.Paul Gauguin Ship Marina

Restaurant Apicius is located in private gardens behind the Champs-Elysées, within a 19th century mansion. Vigato opened Restaurant Apicius in 1984, earning his first Michelin star after just one year of operation and earning a second Michelin star three years later.

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Unforgettable Views and Stunning Photographs on the Rhine River

AMAWATERWAYS on the Rhine River. While cruising Germany’s Rhine River Mark Murphy of travel agent trade newsletter Travel Pulse® introduces River Cruising to the unacquainted. Different from an ocean cruise the river cruise grants a different pace of vacation, and a fresh look at country sides around the world to any willing traveler. History, culture, and nature are among the highlights. Take a look.

Rhine River Cruise Video

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ms AmaDagio Cruise Ship, AMA Waterways Review

European river cruise pioneer, AMA Waterways, offers its passengers boutique vessels and a premium vacation experience. With a maximum capacity of 162 guests and a high staff-to-passenger ratio, you’ll experience superior service and attention to detail by professionally-trained staff. Experienced ocean cruisers will notice the contrast when on the Sun Deck, stunned by spectacular panoramic and constantly changing views of charming villages, castles and vineyards gliding by, not just water as far as you can see.

Small group excursions with local guides are included in every port and separated according to your interests and expectations. Choose from leisurely paced “Gentle Walkers,” “Active Walkers” for those interested in covering a lot, and even a “Late Starter” group for those who want to sleep in. Bicycles are free for you to borrow to venture out on your own or join a complimentary guided tour.

Surprisingly, though the vessel is a fraction of the size of most ocean ships, you do not have to sacrifice hotel-amenity indulgences. Pamper your body and rejuvenate your spirit with a masseuse, beauty therapist or hair stylist appointment or take advantage of the well-equipped Fitness Center and sauna. And, in the evening different performers from the region come on board to delight guests with sparkling, traditional music and dance entertainment. It’s the ideal complement to each day’s exploration in port. AmaDagio Fitness Center and Sauna

Cabin size starts at 170 square feet and are filled with fine hotel amenities that cruisers have come to expect. You’ll want to choose AMA’s signature French Balcony stateroom or the 255 square foot Jr. Suite (these sell quickly.) Open the floor-to-ceiling glass door of your French Balcony to bring in the riverside scenery and take your first pictures of the day or last before setting sail. No need to pack a hair dryer or robe and slippers—it’s standard in every cabin. Enjoy marble-appointed bathrooms and generous shower with multi-jet showerhead, spa-quality toiletries, plenty of storage space, a safe, cozy sitting area, and plush bedding. Complimentary internet, movies, TV, and news are available on your staterooms flat-panel screen.

AmaDagio Stateroom
French Balcony Cabin

“How’s the food?” is one of the first questions our clients ask about a cruise line. AMA’s chefs complement the region by offering the traditional dishes of the itinerary ports-of-call using local produce in keeping with the destination.

AmaDagio Wine with Dinner
Regional wines complement the meal
The free flowing wine with dinner gives you the pleasure of sampling various fine vintages produced by European vineyards. You can kick breakfast up a notch with champagne, too!

The AmaDagio is at once sleek and contemporary and welcoming. Relax in the inviting Main Lounge with comfortable seating and your selection of complimentary specialty coffee or tea for a port lecture, shore excursion talk or evening entertainment. It’s a stylish and sophisticated way to see Europe.

While this vessel features an elevator, an amenity not always offered by many river cruise ships, in port cobblestone streets, walkways and stairs can be problematic to navigate if you are unsteady on your feet. Pace yourself and be sure to choose the “Gentle Walkers” guided tour. Typically the passengers onboard are well traveled, often on ocean cruises or guided tours. Many of our fellow passengers on the Legendary Danube itinerary were age 50+ and most from Australia/New Zealand, Great Britain and North America. But there were also mother/daughter, girl-friend getaways, and multi-generational groups on board. Our cruise manager, Elke Vannieuwerburgh, remarked on the trend toward younger passengers as river cruising increases in popularity.

Which itinerary should you choose for your first river cruise? Of course, your own special interests may dictate the destinations, but approximately 70% of our clients inquire initially about the famous Danube River. This is an outline of the itinerary I took called, The Legendary Danube.
We began the voyage with a pre-cruise hotel package in historic Prague, “the city of a hundred spires.” The 7 night cruise on the Danube, Europe’s second largest river, sailed from Nuremberg through the Main-Danube Canal across the Continental Divide past centuries-old towns unfolding around us. We entered Austria and cruised through the lush Wachau wine region. Then, concluded our European river cruise vacation with two grand capitals, magnificent Vienna and exotic Budapest.

1 Overnight flight to Czech Republic
2 Prague Transfer to hotel
3 Prague City tour
4 Prague Optional tours available
5 Prague Transfer to Karlovy Vary
Karlovy Vary Free time
Welcome Cocktail & Dinner
6 Nuremberg City tour
Cruise Main-Danube Canal
Lecture on Canal project
Hilpoltstein Crossing continental divide
7 Regensburg Walking tour
Audi factory tour (when available)
8 Passau Walking tour
Salzburg Optional Salzburg excursion
Linz Free evening
9 Melk Benedictine Abbey tour
Wachau Valley cruise
Vienna Optional evening concert
10 Vienna City tour
11 Budapest City tour
Illuminations Cruise

Right now AMA Waterways has a “Triple Savings Promotion” on select 7 night Legendary Danube departures: SAVE $500 PER STATEROOM, COMPLIMENTARY UPGRADE & $100 SHIPBOARD CREDIT
Prices start at $2349 + tax per person based on double occupancy for the 7 night cruise.

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Immerse Yourself In Russian Culture

Viking River Cruises Special Offers

No longer shrouded in mystery, Russia now welcomes you with open arms. And, Viking River Cruises will take you there. In fact, they’ve been taking adventurous travelers there for more than 10 years. Visit four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, enjoy a traditional Russian tea, take part in a Russian cuisine workshop, marvel at a Russian ballet or opera, and applaud a Russian folkloric performance.

On the 13-day Waterways of the Czars itinerary, the cruise includes multiple days in both cities, touring such landmarks as Moscow’s Kremlin and Red Square as well as Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin and the Hermitage in St. Petersburg. It is an unforgettable way to experience the history and culture of this unique and mysterious country. At the Winter Palace, visit the legendary Hermitage Museum, where you will marvel at the vast collection of art, antiquities, jewelry and sculptures.

There’s no better way to indulge in your love of art, history, and food and only unpack once!

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The Hottest Vacations Are Rollin’ On The River!

As a travel agent who concentrates on River Cruise Vacations I follow the news and trends of this niche faithfully. “River cruising is on the rise, as clients continue to thirst for new travel experiences. In fact, river cruising grew more than 50% last year over the previous year, according to the United States Tour Operators Association.”

Is a river cruise right for you? Well, I can tell you the clients most enthusiastic about that vacation style tend to be well traveled and enjoy comfortable surroundings. They appreciate the unique combination of cruising and touring, and going to places not reachable by ocean-going vessels. They are often traditional cruise passengers looking for a “deeper” experience. If you see yourself in this profile, give river cruising a try.

Even though the vessels typically carry less than 200 passengers, they offer remarkable onboard amenities such as fitness centers, saunas, pools, hair salons, and internet access.
Shore excursions with complimentary headphones in every port, English speaking staff and announcements, wine with dinner, travel lectures, and entertainment and local performances. And, like an ocean cruise you see many ports-of-call but only unpack once (a favorite benefit of my women clients!) but, with so few passengers there are never long lines to stand in (guys love this.)

Are you planning a group travel event this year, perhaps with your gourmet or wine club, or your local symphony? You may want to consider one of the River Cruise Theme Vacations this year as prices are forecasted to increase when the economy heats up.

Take a look at this video, then contact me.
AMA Waterways

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Distillery and Gourmet Scotland Tour Ideas

The BookingScotland® travel agent trade newsletter posted a link to Luxury Scotland® which has a wealth of ideas to customize a trip to Scotland. Several caught my attention for foodie clients planning a trip. But, their mission says it all: “Our aim at Luxury Scotland is to guide you through the very best of Scotland, offering the discerning traveller a unique and memorable way to discover this beautiful and often astonishing country of ours.” “Scotland is an outstanding country by any standard – rich and rugged landscapes, a dramatic history and heritage, romantic castles and some of Europe’s favourite cities and holiday destinations. You will experience the very best of Scotland, great natural beauty, tradition, romance, authenticity and hospitality as well as incomparable food and matchless service. Journey with us, and we will open doors for you that to other people remain closed.”

Recent You Tube® videos feature special interests that can be explored in Scotland.

Whiskey Whisky Distillery in ScotlandScotland Gourmet Dining

Pop some popcorn, kick back and add to your bucket list!

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Bavaria Germany’s Oldest Fast-Food Eatery

If our ms AmaDagio cruise manager, Elke Vannieuwerburgh, hadn’t mentioned it, we would have missed it! The port stop on our Legendary Danube cruise was Regensburg, billed as one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities. An invigorating walking tour featuring the city’s architectural highlights, including the Old Town Hall, the Porta Praetoria–gates to a Roman fort built in 179 AD, the stunning Regensburg Cathedral, the famous towers of the wealthy medieval families, and the Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), spanning the Danube, a construction feat as impressive today as when it was built in the early 12th century. At the base of the bridge–on the Donau (Danube) is tiny “restaurant”—the Historische Wurstküche—which sells the famous Regensburg’s fingerling sausages that have been prepared right before your eyes on an open beechwood charcoal grill and served with sauerkraut and sweet grainy mustard in this spot since 1135, as rumor has it making it the world’s oldest sausage kitchen. Nine centuries ago, Roman bridge workers received their meals at this riverside kitchen. The latest owners of the restaurant purchased it in 1806 from the Regensburg State authority. They allege that there is documentary evidence linking the establishment back to the time when the bridge was built and that Mozart and, later, Goethe munched on the famous Regensburger sausages.

The Danube overflows its banks almost annually—to clean out the kitchen, Regenburgers joke—and signs nearly to the ceiling mark the dates and levels of especially cleansing floods that have doused the restaurant’s kitchen in the past 100 years.

On a sunny day, you can wait an hour or more to sit shoulder-to-shoulder on slat benches at outdoor trestle tables. It’s communal seating but with a magnificent view of the river, bridge and old city. When the weather doesn’t cooperate, the kitchen building itself offers several tables of indoor seating—but smoke permeates every fiber of clothing–and you’ll have to squeeze past the cooks to get there.

Diners should be prepared to like sausages – as that’s all there is on the menu! They’re accompanied by sauerkraut, home-made mustard and local beer, and come in portions of six, eight or ten. You order them in “sets” and the bread they put on the table is on the honor system. My best tip: if you like the mustard, go into the kitchen where they sell jars and tubs of it! I bought several to give for Christmas gifts and some family members declared it their favorite present. Now I wish I had bought a suitcase full!

The Historische WurstkücheHistorische Wurstküche in Regensburg is a must-visit on the Danube; it’s a lunch stage show at its best!

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