Europetravelers’s Weblog

June 30, 2010

Bavaria JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel, LLP

Bavaria — by Avanti Destinations and Friends Travel, LLP

by John Frenaye

Bavaria is Germany’s biggest state with an area of 27,000 square miles accounting for about a fifth of Germany’s total area. It’s in Germany’s south-eastern quarter and has a population of about 12.5 million people.

Munich is the capital city of Bavaria and is the third largest city in Germany.  Munich was the host city of the 1972 Summer Olympics and is a candidate city for the 2018 Winter Olympics. There’s much more to Bavaria, Germany than just the capital city.

The region begs to be explored and there are ten other cities most definitely worth a visit–each complete with an ornate castle, palace, or city hall, or sometimes all three!

Top 10 Cities In Bavaria

1. Nuremberg

German kings liked to build their palaces in Nuremberg, once the unofficial seat  of the Holy Roman Empire. Nuremberg’s Hauptplatz comes alive with Germany’s most  famous Christmas market in December. Locally made foods include Lebkuchen and the  Nürnberger Bratwurst. Explore the medieval Old Town (Altstadt), framed by city  walls and the glorious Imperial Castle (Kaiserburg). Then pay a visit to the  Reichsparteigelände, a massive open area where the infamous Nazi Nuremberg  Rallies of the 1930s were held.

2. AugsburgBavariaistock

Germany’s second-oldest city, Augsburg, lies roughly halfway down the Romantic  Road touring route. It came to prominence in the Middle-Ages under the lights of  Jakob “the Rich” Fugger, a worldwide baron in global banking and trading. Most of  Augsburg’s landmark buildings are the work of architect Ellias Holl. Chief among  them is the  monumental Town Hall (Rathaus) and its showpiece Golden Hall  (Goldener Saal). Another top attraction is the Fuggerei, the world’s oldest  social housing settlement.

3. Würzburg

Würzburg is a bustling university town on Bavaria’s northern border. Although  over 90 percent of the city was destroyed in World War II it has since been  lovingly restored. The city sits along the river Main and is the center of the  famous Franconia wine region. Würzburg’s premier residence is a baroque palace  aptly named the Residenz.

4. Regensburg

If you can picture an idyllic life in the Middle Ages, undoubtedly you would be in  Regensburg where the center of the town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It sits  at the confluence of the Danube and Regen rivers, the former straddled by the  humpbacked Stone Bridge. It’s one of the most-loved cities in Bavaria and an easy day-trip from Munich.Take a cruise along the river or explore the Old Town with its maze of intertwined alleys centered around the twin-spires of St. Peter’s Cathedral.

Bavariaistock (1)

5. Ingolstadt

Another age-old Danube city, Ingolstadt has some history from the tragic to the mysterious and to the futuristic. It was the birthplace of author Mary  Shelly’s, who brought a creature to life with her character Victor Frankenstein. Secondly, it was the birthplace of the real secret society known as the Illuminati, meaning “Enlightened”, which some theorize work a shadowy hand on the world’s governments and big business. Finally, Ingostadt is the headquarters of the Audi, the luxury car company–a factory tour is well worth it if you don’t pick up a car to take home with you.

6. Fürth

Fürth is often overlooked by visitors in favor of its big brother city, Nuremburg, given that the two are only a stone’s throw apart. Fürth was a totally separate entity for much of its 1000+ year history and boasts a flavor all of its own. Don’t miss the grand municipal theater (Stadtheater) and the  Jewish Museum. Little known fact: Fürth once had the biggest Jewish population in southern Germany.

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7. Erlangen

Another city close to Nuremburg, Erlangen is best known for the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg–a college town with broad, tree-lined streets. Major sites to see include Erlangen Castle which today houses the university administration, and the botanical gardens.Erlangen’s annual Bergkirchweih is a 12-day mini-Oktoberfest that takes place around Pentecost in May or June. Erlangen is one of the more overlooked larger cities in Bavaria.

8. Bayreuth

Bayreuth is best known as the home of composer Richard Wagner, an artist worshiped by King Ludwig II and Hitler alike. The temple to Wagner’s works is the Bayreuth Festspielhaus and is the site of an annual showcase of the composer’s operas. Also worth a look is the expansive New Castle with an enviable collection of porcelain. But all in all, this is a top destination for classical music buffs.

9. BambergBavariaistock (2)

One of the most stunning smaller cities in Bavaria, Bamberg is often called the “Franconian Rome” for its seven-hills. It also has a similarity to Italy’s Venice with a network of canals and streams complete with tourist laden gondolas. A stroll up through the old town, past the town hall island to the magnificent  cathedral and Neue Residenz will have even the most jaded travelers craning their necks in awe. And before leaving town, be sure to have a taste of their famous Rauchbier (a beer) which is a hearty ale with a bit of a bacon flavor–sounds gross, but it very good!

10. Aschaffenburg

They don’t call this town the “Bavarian Nice” for nothing. Replete with Mediterranean gardens, long alleys and a sunny climate perfect for tropical plants. Aschaffenburg is tucked away in the area’s northwestern corner and is a short trip to Frankfurt. As far as Bavaria goes, it is probably the most remote city of the region. Things to see here include the Schloss Johannisburg castle and the Pompejanum, a replica of a Pompeian palazzo built for King Ludwig I.

JESS Kalinowsky Friends Travel, LLP

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June 25, 2008

VIENNA & SALZBURG IN THE FALL with FriendsTravel.com

VIENNA & SALZBURG IN THE FALL

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9 Night European Luxury Travel Tour

Day 1: VIENNA

Upon airport arrival you will be met by an English speaking driver and private car who will privately transfer you into Vienna to stay four nights in an executive room with an Opera House view at the Bristol Hotel. The Bristol is a beautiful and deluxe, old-world style hotel perfectly located opposite the Opera House.

Days 2-4: VIENNA

Time to enjoy elegant Vienna. To help acquaint you with the old city we include the services of an English speaking guide and private car and driver for a half day (3hrs) private city tour on the day of your choice.

Day 5: SALZBURG / HOF BEI SALZBURG

First class tickets and reserved seats included for the 3 ½ hour journey to Salzburg. When you arrive pick up a mid size automatic rental car, then drive to Lake Fuschl to stay two nights in a courtyard view suite at Hotel Jagdhof. Located above Lake Fuschl, Jagdhof Fuschlsee – Salzburg offers a wonderful view of the mountains that form part of the Salzkammergut landscape. The convenient and beautiful location is only 20 minutes from Mozart’s birthplace – Salzburg, and 600 metres away from the famous Hotel Schloss Fuschl, a member of the Luxury Collection. This imposing 17th century farmhouse was completely renovated in 1994 and extended in 2002. Combined, the hunting lodge, manor house and cottage contain 143 elegantly appointed guest rooms and suites.

Day 6: SALZBURG ENVIRONS

A fresh autumn day to explore and enjoy beautiful mountain and lake scenery.

Day 7: SALZBURG

Make your way to Salzburg where you will drop off your rental at the airport (to avoid confusing city traffic) and then take a cab into the city to stay three nights in an antique decorated ‘festival’ room at Hotel Goldener Hirsch, a luxurious and deluxe hotel comprised of two 800-year-old patrician houses that have been joined to create this internationally famous hotel.; it has been operating as a hotel, however, for only 400 years. Fashioned in country-style, grand elegance, the hotel is situated in the heart of Salzburg’s Old City and is next door to Mozart’s birthplace. There are 70 spacious, antique-appointed bedrooms and a vaulted, high-ceilinged restaurant reputed to be among the finest in the world.

Day 8-9: SALZBURG

Enjoy a private city walking tour with and English speaking guide (3hrs) who will introduce you to the charms of old Salzburg.

Day 10: SALZBURG

A day to explore Salzburg on your own.

Day 11: DEPART

A private transfer will take you to Salzburg Airport where services will end.

Limo transfer can be pre-arranged.

EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net for your First Class, Business Class or Coach air travel reservations

from your hometown to/from Europe.  Pre/Post  Deluxe hotels can be arranged for you.

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GREECE AND THE ISLANDS with FriendsTravel.com

GREECE AND THE ISLANDS

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A deluxe adventure for 6 or 8 friends…

Day 1: ATHENS

Upon airport arrival in Athens we will be met by an English speaking assistant and transferred by a small, deluxe coach to the Divani Palace Hotel. The Divani Palace Acropolis is a deluxe hotel completely renovated after the millennium and situated in a unique place in the shadow of the Acropolis; within a few minutes from shopping or the Plaka. Constitution Square (Syntagma) is within walking distance or very easily accessible by various means of public transport, including the subway (metro) or the hotels free shuttle bus. Standard rooms included here. Private car transfer can be pre-arranged.

Day 2: ATHENS

With a private, English speaking guide we will walk to the Acropolis (only 10 minutes from the hotel) to mount the Sacred Hill and visit the golden Age monuments – the incredible Parthenon and Erectheion and Propylaia. Our tour includes a visit to the small Acropolis Museum to see its priceless artifacts including the Calf-bearer and the Caryatids (maidens) and part of the Parthenon north frieze. Below the Acropolis we will view the ancient theaters of Dionysos and Herod Atticus, as well as the splendid view of Athens. As we descend from the Acropolis we will walk to a quaint taverna for an included light lunch (including wine) of delicious Greek specialties. In the afternoon we continue by foot through the Plaka, the Roman Agora, Hadrian’s Library and Tower of the Winds. Then we join our small coach for an overview of Athens; past the lively Central Market, up Stadium Street and Syntagma Square. Then past Hadrian’s Arch and the Temple of the Olympian Zeus to stop outside the Marble Stadium. Rebuilt for the 1896 Olympics (the first modern Olympics), its foundations date from ancient times. Afterwards see the official President’s Palace with its Evzone Guards in their distinctive national dress and pompom shoes, then past the National Gardens and the Parliament building with its Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Continuing down University Avenue past the three elegant Temples of Learning and up Academy Street to Queen Sophias Avenue. Passing Syntagma Square and then returning to our hotel.

Day 3: DELPHI

By comfortable air-conditioned deluxe coach with a private guide we travel through the countryside up to Mt. Parnassos and the dramatic site of Delphi, where the Oracle made predictions in riddles. There is an outdoor theater and stadium and at the renowned, small Delphi Museum we will see the bronze Charioteer in the midst of his race and view other Delphi treasures. After lunch on our own we will leisurely travel back through the foothills of Mt. Parnassos and return to Athens.

Day 4: DAY CRUISE TO HYDRA

Private transfer by coach, again with a private guide, to Piraeus port – past the impressive stadium of the 2004 Olympics. We board a hydrofoil for the 1 hr. 50 min. ride (pausing at Poros Island to let off passengers) to Hydra Island. This is the most unique of the near-Athens islands with its ship owners’ stone mansions. The island remains car-free to this day! Our guide will take us to an island taverna for a lunch of local specialties and then we’ll walk around the port to browse in its many boutiques and galleries. We will also visit the interesting Hydra Archives Museum before returning to Athens by hydrofoil and by coach to our hotel. Visiting all three islands in just one day is far too hectic. This option is much more pleasant than any packed 3-island cruise.

Day 5: MYKONOS ISLAND

By private coach, escorted transfer to Athens International Airport for the short flight to the mid-Aegean Island of Mykonos. From the airport we will be transferred to the deluxe Myconian Ambassador Hotel located near Platys Gialos Beach. The hotel is also a Thalasso Center that can be enjoyed for an extra charge. Deluxe rooms included. Balance of the day at leisure to enjoy the amenities of this fine island hotel.

Day 6: MYKONOS ISLAND TOUR

Morning at leisure. This afternoon, with a local guide, drive around this most cosmopolitan Aegean island. Its Cycladic architecture, shops, beach and night life are legendary. We will visit the Mykonos Museum (with the earliest representation of the Trojan Horse!) and the private Maritime Museum – for an introduction into Greek and Mediterranean shipping across the ages. Later, returning by coach to our hotel.

Day 7: DELOS ISLAND

Morning private transfer to Mykonos pier for the short Express Boat ride to adjacent Delos Island – once the hub of the Cycaldic Islands – and center of the Delian League in ancient times. A private guide awaits us at the entrance to this archaeological island – and explains the runis of the Temple of Apollo, Lion Terrace and Roman residential area with its theater and private homes with original mosaics still existing in situ. By mid day we return to Mykonos were we’ll be on our own for lunch and to wander the many little lanes of this famous island.

Day 8: MYKONOS

Our day is at leisure. We can, perhaps, stroll around Mykonos town and visit the extradinary Church of Our Lady Paraportiani (traditional “cubist” Cycladic architecture) and the rich Folklore Museum. Enjoy one of the small restaurants overlooking “Little Venice”, and the endless array of Mykonos boutiques.

Day 9: SANTORINI

Private transfer to Mykonos port for the catamaran to Santorini Island (via the islands of Naxos and Ios). Mid-afternoon arrival in the spectacular caldera (Santorini’s “crater-lake”) and the port of Athinio. A private transfer from the port will take us to the caldera-side village of Imerovigli and the Chromata Hotel, a deluxe hotel located on the rim of the caldera, at its highest point, facing the sea and the volcano. With just 22 rooms, the Chromata is a masterpiece of design. Standard rooms included. Member Small Leading Hotels of the World.

Day 10: SANTORINI

Day at leisure. Enjoy the hotel and perhaps take a walk to the main town of Fira – with its many shops and restaurants. Perhaps on our own we can take the teleferique down into Fira port and possibly take a half-day caique (local boat) ride visiting parts of the caldera from sea level. Stops are made at the still-active center of the volcano and for swimming in the thermal waters.

Day 11: SANTORINI

Another day at leisure. Perhaps revisit Fira tow and the new Prehistoric Museum – a beautiful display of finds (utensils, toys & frescoes) from Santorini’s Bronze Ages site of Akrotiri, “ Pompeii of the Aegean”. In the late afternoon, perhaps take a local bus to the northernmost village of Oia – with its art galleries, cafes and small restaurants – and famous for its sunsets!! Sunset this evening is at 7:15 pm.

Day 12: CRETE

We are at leisure until transfer to Santorini’s Athinio port for the afternoon catamaran to Greece’s largest island, Crete. Arriving in the capital of Heraklion, we are taken by escorted transfer to the deluxe Blue Palace Resort and Spa Elounda, a resort of exceptional quality and style set in mythical surroundings to sooth and inspire. Superior sea-view bungalows included. Member the Luxury Collection – Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

Day 13: CRETE – ISLAND OF KING MINOS!

With a private guide and small coach, drive westward towards Heraklion to visit the extraordinary labyrinth of the Palace of Knossos – lair of legendary King Minos and the Minotaur! This prehistoric (400 room) palace was partially reconstructed by Sir Arthur Evens in the late 19th century. Afterwards continue into Heraklion to visit the world famous Heraklion archaeological Museum, featuring fabulous finds from prehistoric Crete. Included lunch of Cretan specialities in or near Heraklion, with time to browse around the old section of Heraklion before a late afternoon return to the hotel.

Day 14: CRETE

Day at leisure to enjoy the many amenities of the deluxe Blue Palace Resort and Spa and the immediate area. Perhaps visit the town of Agios Nikolaos with it’s “landlocked” little harbor.

Day 15: ATHENS / DEPART

Transfer to Heraklion Airport for the hour-long flight to Athens to connect to a flight home.  Limo transfers can be pre-arranged.

EMAIL  FriendsTravel@earthlink.net and we will make your First Class, Business Class or Coach air travel reservations from your hometown to/from Europe.

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LEARN TO PAINT IN PROVENCE with FriendsTravel.com

LEARN TO PAINT IN PROVENCE

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Painting Class in the South of France, are you an artist?

Are you an artist? Or just wishing you were? Now you can enjoy a special 4-day watercolor painting class in the beautiful South of France.

The program includes:

5-nights accommodation in a lovingly restored 11th century monastery 5-evening meals

5-buffet breakfasts

4-days of watercolor painting instruction including a variety of painting techniques

1-welcome drink and a meeting with the Professor on arrival evening

Final day exhibition of paintings and a prize for the best The class would be a wonderful package to add to a tour of France or even on its own. Experience the light and colors of the region where many of the master impressionists were inspired!

EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net for your reservations.

FriendsTravel.com will make your First Class, Business Class or Coach air travel reservations at our special rates.

Ask us about our “Cooking Schools” in Italy, France, and Germany.

FROM PARIS TO VENICE BY CAR with FriendsTravel.com

FROM PARIS TO VENICE BY CAR

with FriendsTravel.com

21 night European Luxury Travel Tour

Day 1: PARIS

Upon arrival at Charles de Gaulle Airport four guests will be met and privately transferred into the city (45 mins – 1 hr) to stay three nights in two rooms at the Clarion St. James & Albany, a stylish first class hotel in a fabulous location on the Rue de Rivoli.  Deduct $ if you prefer to stay in an apartment (two rooms with a connecting door) at Hotel Belloy St. Germain. Hotel Belloy is small tourist class hotel (3*) located in the heart of the university district in the central Left Bank; about a 10 minute walk to Notre Dame Cathedral and St. Germain des Pres.

Days 2 & 3: PARIS

Two days to explore and enjoy Paris on your own. Please note that the Louvre and most museums in and outside Paris are closed on Mondays. The Musee d’Orsay is closed on Tuesday. Da Vinci Code tours of the Louvre (and Paris) operate on Saturday only. To add a full day tour to Giverny and Versailles (including special fountain show at Versailles – Sunday only) please add $140.00 per person. Tour includes lunch at the Moulin de Fourges.

Day 4: TOURS / MONTLOUIS-SUR-LOIRE

Take a cab to the Gare Montparnasse where you will board a TGV train to Tours. First class tickets and mandatory reserved seats included for the 1 ¼ hour journey. When you arrive pick up a mid size manual rental car (Renault Laguna or similar) inclusive of tax, CDW, theft insurance and one-way fee. Please note that this is the largest vehicle that can be taken one-way out of France. An International Drivers license is required to drive in or through Austria. It can be obtained at any AAA office for a fee of about $25.00 and two passport size photos. Then drive the short distance to Montlouis and Chateau de la Bourdaisiere an authentic 16th century castle now owned by the two princes of Broglie. The chateau was the site of the TV show Joe Millionaire. Here you you’ll stay three nights in the Boucicaut apartment. A two bedroom, 1 bathroom apartment with views of the castle terraces and the entrance to the chateau.

Days 5 & 6: LOIRE SIGHTSEEING

Two days to explore the fabulous chateaux of the Loire Valley; the nearby by troglodyte caves and the Tourraine vineyards. Many sightseeing suggestions will be included on confirmed itinerary.

Day 7: ST. JEAN D’ARDIERES

Set off south today towards Switzerland, stopping for the night in the heart of the Beaujolais region (about 4 ½ hours drive from Montlouis) to stay two nights at Chateau de Pizay, a unique 12th century chateau surrounded by a 130-acre vineyard and a 75-acre oak forest. http://www.chateau-pizay.com

Day 8: ST. JEAN D’ARDIERES

A day to enjoy the towns and vineyards of Beaujolais. Sightseeing suggestions will be included on confirmed itinerary.

Day 9: ZERMATT

Continue into Switzerland, circling Lake Geneva to Zermatt. Driving time is about 4 ½ hours. You’ll need to leave your car in the town of Tasch (fee for parking) and take a short train ride to the car free town of Zermatt (train tickets are inexpensive and will need to be purchased locally). In beautiful Zermatt, located at the foot of the mighty Matterhorn, stay two nights at Romantik Hotel Julen, a charming and traditional first class chalet-style hotel.

Day 10: ZERMATT

A day to hike or take a train excursion to the Matterhorn. Suggestions will be included on confirmed itinerary.

Day 11: ST. MORITZ / BEVER

Take a train (on your own) back to Tasch, to pick up your rental car. Then continue into Graubunden and the Engadine region of Switzerland to St. Moritz (about a 5 hour drive). You’ll stay two nights in quaint little Bever (located about 5-miles outside St. Moritz) at Chesa Salis, a beautiful and atmospheric hotel in an equally lovely little town. http://www.chesa-salis.ch

Day 12: ENGADINE SIGHTSEEING

Time to enjoy St. Moritz and the lake. Sightseeing suggestions will be included on final itinerary.

Day 13: IMST / INNSBRUCK

Journey into Austria towards Innsbruck. You’ll stay three nights in Imst, located in the Tyrol about 40 miles from Innsbruck, at Hotel Post. Romantikhotel Post – formerly called ” Sprengenstein Castle” is an old feudal mansion dating back to the 16th century. Now a comfortable hotel with modern furnishings, cozy rooms, Biedermeier salons, a romantic veranda enhanced with flowers and a castle garden with a large indoor swimming pool.

Day 14: TYROL SIGHTSEEING

Imst has plenty to offer; mountain climbing and hiking school, rafting and plenty of walking trails. You can also visit Innsbruck or venture north into Bavaria to see “Mad Ludwig’s” fairytale castle – Newschwanstein and the castle where he was born Hohenschwangau. Or, spend a day exploring the shore towns on Lake Constance ( Bodensee).

Day 15: BOLZANO

Drive south into Italy where Sud Tyrol hospitality awaits you at Schloss Korb, a ancient castle hotel set amid vineyards in the hills above Bolzano.

Day 16: BOLZANO

Walk up to the castle ruins above Schloss Korb & visit Bolzano. Or venture east into the soaring heights of the Dolomites.

Day 17: ISEO

Continue further into Italy along the shore of Lake Garda and then continue west to tiny Lake Iseo (between Brescia & Bergamo and about 2 ½ hours from Bolzano) for two nights at Relais due Roccoli, an old villa set in a luxuriant park overlooking the lake. If you prefer to stay just one night at Schloss Korb and two nights at Relais due Roccoli please deduct $

Day 18: VERONA / VENICE

Drive to Venice today. We suggest stopping enroute to visit Verona, the city of “Romeo and Juliet”. At Venice you’ll need to drop off your rental car at Pizzale Roma. Then take a vaporetto (water bus) or water taxi into the floating city to stay three nights in a quad room at Hotel San Moise. Located near Piazza San Marco, the San Moise is decorated with antiques and features beamed ceilings, Murano glass chandeliers and a very Venetian atmosphere. We will request a canal view room if possible.

Day 19 & 20: VENICE

Time on your own to explore Venice. To include a scheduled (group) walking tour and gondola ride please add $ To include a private walking tour and gondola ride (2 hrs) please add $ To include a half day (3 hrs) scheduled (group) tour to the lagoon islands add $

Day 21: DEPART

A private water transfer will take you to the airport to board your return flight and where services end.

FriendsTravel.com will make all of your First Class, Business Class, or Coach travel reservations at our special rates, from your hometown to/from Europe.   EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net

and JESS Kalinowsky will respond promptly.  Ask about our “Cooking Schools” in France, Italy, & Germany.

CULTURE AND TRADITION IN ROMANIA with FriendsTravel.com

CULTURE AND TRADITION IN ROMANIA

with FriendsTravel.com

Including the Moldovita train

Day 1: BUCHAREST

Arrive in Bucharest, Romanian’s center of cultural and economic life; once called “Little Paris” because of its tree-lined boulevards and “fin de siècle” architecture. We’ll have a panoramic tour of the city, including visits to: the Village Museum – an open air museum of old houses from villages all over the country, meticulously reassembled in a huge city park – and voted the European Museum of the Year in 1996, the People’s House (the second largest building in the world – after the Pentagon), the former dictator Ceausescu’s last building project. Dinner and overnight at the Continental Hotel, a first class located in the center of town near the former Royal Palace. If time permitting, an opera performance this evening.

Day 2: SINAIA / BRASOV

By deluxe private coach we will drive north via the beautiful Prahova Valley to Sinaia. Called “the pearl of the Carpathians”, Sinaia is one of the most beautiful towns in the region and also a luxurious spa. Here we visit an architectural jewel – the Peles Castle, one of the best-preserved royal palaces in Europe. It served as the summer residence and final resting place for several Romanian monarchs including King Carol I. Then, on our way to Brasov, we’ll tour Bran Castle (also known as Dracula’s Castle), which inspired Bram Stoker to write the famous novel about Count Dracula. The evening will end with dinner and a symphonic orchestra and ballet performance at the citadel. Overnight in Brasov at the Aro Palace Hotel, a first class hotel with a beautiful art-deco façade.

Day 3: BRASOV / SIGHISOARA

In Brasov, one of the best preserved Saxon fortresses, we will visit the magnificent Black Church – the largest gothic style church between Vienna and Istanbul., and the medieval city center. Then we will be transported back in time when we continue to Sighisoara, overlooking a picturesque valley of ancient villages and boasting a fantastic fortress church. In this perfectly preserved medieval town, we will see the famous Clock Tower Museum and its torture room, and the Evangelical church. Since Sighisoara is also the place where prince Vlad the Impaler, alias Dracula, was born in 1431, we will have lunch at the prince’s birthplace, now a lovely restaurant. Dinner and overnight at Hotel Sighisoara, located in the center of the old town.

Day 4: PIATRA NEAMT

Today travel to north-eastern Romania – Moldavia. We will stop for lunch at Lacu Rosu (the Red Lake), a natural dam lake with a very strange look; before the lake formed, there was a forest here that is now covered with water. All over the lake’s surface you can still see tree stumps jutting out of the water. We will continue our journey via the Bicaz Gorges, towards one of the prettiest towns in Moldavia, Piatra Neamt. On the way, we will visit the oldest monastery in the area, dating from the 14th century – Bistrita Monastery. Finally we arrive in the town whose history is linked to the great medieval personality of Stephen the Great, who built the church of St. John, here in 1497. The church is a lovely example of Moladvian architecture. Dinner and overnight Central Hotel, located in the city center.

Day 5: GURA HUMORULUI

Following breakfast, we will visit tow centers of spirituality, Agapia and Varatec monasteries, which house the largest community of nuns in the world! (Nearly 2,500 nuns – more than Meteora in Greece). Visit the workshop of the nuns to see them at work making carpets for export. Continue to Gura Humorului for dinner accompanied by a folklore show and overnight at the first class Bucovina Hotel.

Day 6: MOLDOVITA / SUCEVITA / VORONET

Today we discover the fabulous painted monasteries of Moldovita, Sucevita & Voronet. The monasteries have been included in UNESCO’s World Heritage list and are exquisite and uniquely beautiful gems. We will tour the first two monasteries, Moldovita & Sucevita, richly decorated “albums” of fresco art that have survived the elements since the 15th century. Then we’ll stop to see the black pottery center at Marginea, to see how the pottery is made and for an opportunity to purchase pieces if we like. Then we will continue to Voronet monastery – called the Sistine Chapel of Eastern Europe, famous world wide for it original blue, known as the “blue of Voronet”. Dinner and overnight in Gura Humorului at the Bucovina Hotel.

Day 7: MOLDOVITA NARROW GAUGE STEAM TRAIN

As a special treat on our final day we’ll enjoy a trip on our privately chartered narrow gauge steam train on the forestry railway in Moldovita and a picnic lunch along the banks of the Moldovita River. This evening a special good-bye dinner in a traditional Romanian restaurant, then we board an overnight train with 1st class sleeping compartments for our journey back to Bucharest.

Day 8: BREAKFAST / DEPART

At arrival in Bucharest we’ll have breakfast in a restaurant near the North Railway Station and then transfer to the airport for our flight home. Larger and smaller groups are possible and priced upon request. Private limo transfers can be  pre-arranged.  EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net

FriendsTravel.com will make all of your First Class, Business Class or Coach travel reservations from your home city to/from Europe. EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net and JESS Kalinowsky will respond promptly.

The Best of Germany with FriendsTravel.com

The Best of Germany…

with FriendsTravel.com

Day 1: FRANKFURT/ COLOGNE

Upon arrival at Frankfurt airport, you will be met and privately transferred direct to Cologne to stay two nights in a deluxe room at Excelsior Hotel Ernst, an atmospheric, “Old World” style hotel located opposite Cologne’s impressive cathedral. Member leading hotels of the World.

Day 2: COLOGNE

Enjoy the day in Cologne. You can climb 509 steps to the top of the magnificent cathedral for 360° views and visit the belfry with the world’s largest free-swinging bell. Or visit the Chocolate Museum. Further sightseeing suggestions will be included on confirmed itinerary.

Day 3: BAD SOBERNHEIM

A Mercedes Benz E220 luxury automatic car equipped with GPS (and including tax, insurance and unlimited mileage) will be delivered to your hotel at 10:00 AM. Please note that there will be a delivery fee payable direct. Then set off south along the Rhine via Bonn, Coblenz and Rudesheim to Bad Sobernheim. If driving direct, it will take about 2 hours, but you’ll want to sightsee along the way. The Rhine Valley between Coblenz and Rudesheim is the most beautiful section of the Rhine where castle ruins can be seen on either side. You’ll also pass (on the east side) the famous Loreley rock, fabled for luring unsuspecting ancient boatmen to their deaths Overnight in the main house at Romantik Hotel Bollant’s Im Park a beautiful and atmospheric hotel and wellness center set on extensive Art Nouveau grounds between a forest and a river. Bollent’s restaurant – Passione Rossa – is run by chef Renato Manzi.

Day 4: ROTHENBURG

Continue to Heidelberg, where you can see its ruined castle set on a hill overlooking the city. Then follow the Necker River valley, east to the “Romantic Road”. End you day as you check in to deluxe rooms for two nights at Hotel Markusturm, an atmospheric hotel with a history dating back to 1264. The hotel sits in the picturesque center of the medieval town and rooms are individually and lovingly furnished. http://www.markusturm.de

Day 5: ROTHENBURG

Medieval Rothenburg is considered to be the prettiest town on the “Romantic Road”. Visit the town today or explore some of the other tiny towns on the “Road”. Venturing north towards Wurzburg, you will enter the Fraconian Wine region. Wurzburg has vineyards that slope down to the edge of town.

Day 6: HOHENSCHWANGAU

Travel south along the “Romantic Road” today to Hohenschwangau (near Fussen) where you will overnight in superior castle view rooms at Hotel Muller, a charming and atmospheric Bavarian-style hotel located at the foot of two of “Mad Ludwig’s” royal castles – Neuschwanstein & Hohenschwangau.

Day 7 : HOF-BEI-SALZBURG

Sightsee your way through the Bavarian Alps to Salzburg (about 3 hours if going direct) to stay two nights in deluxe park view rooms at Schloss Fuschl, A fabulous and newly refurbished castle hotel set on a picturesque lake about 20 minutes outside Salzburg city center.

Day 8: HOF-BEI-SALZBURG

Visit Salzburg today or take a drive through the beautiful scenic mountains and lakes of “Sound of Music” country.

Day 9: MUNICH

Spend the day sightseeing your way through Southern Bavaria towards Munch. Outside Garmisch is the highest mountain in Germany. Lifts from Austria and Germany travel to the 10,000-foot summit of the Zugspitze. You can straddle the border between two great nations while enjoying an incredible view. Restaurants, shops, and telescopes await you at the summit. On the German side, the 75-minute trip from Garmisch costs €43 round-trip (buy a combo-ticket for cogwheel train to Eibsee and cable-car ride to summit, drivers can park for free at cable-car station at Eibsee. The charming wood carving town of Oberammergau is in the region, as is Bad Tolz (east of Murnau). Stop by the Wieskirche church, a textbook example of Bavarian rococo bursting with curly curlicues. The Abby of Ettal http://www.kloster-ettal.de is also worth a visit as is Linderhof Castle (another of Ludwig’s) considered second to Neuschwanstein in beauty. Some of these can be visited on your trip from Hohenschwangau to Salzburg. End your day in Munich which you check in for two nights at the Mandarin Oriental Munich (formerly the Raphael). This small hotel is a haven of luxury within the city’s most historic setting. Tucked away in quiet side street, yet centrally located near the famed Maximilianstrasse, it is an elegant gem of Neo-Renaissance charm and elegance, providing the highest levels of personalized service in the city. We will arrange to have your rental car collected from the Mandarin Oriental hotel. There will be a local charge for this service than cannot be prepaid.

Day 10: MUNICH

Visit Munich today or take an excursion to Nurnberg or Regensburg on the Danube

Day 11: DEPART

A private transfer will take you to the airport to board your return flight.

Ask about our “Cooking School” programs in Italy, France, and Germany.

FriendsTravel.com will arrange your First Class, Business Class or Coach airline reservations for you at our special rates.  EMAIL  FriendsTravel@earthlink.net and JESS Kalinowsky will respond promptly.

BEST of BULGARIAN HISTORY… with FriendsTravel.com

BEST of BULGARIAN HISTORY… with FriendsTravel.com

9 Night European Luxury Travel Tour

Day 1: SOFIA.

Arrive Sofia and transfer to a city center hotel. After some time to nap (depending on flight arrival time), freshen up and recover from our overnight flight we will gather for a festive welcome dinner.

Day 2: KOPRIVSHTITSA / KAZANLAK.

After breakfast departure to the museum town of Koprivshtitsa for a walking tour with a local guide. Then continue to Kazanlak, the capital of the famous Bulgarian rose-oil production, for a visit to the unique Museum of Roses; and then on to the Kazanlak Thracian tomb, a UNESCO designated site and one of the best preserved monuments of Thracian art in Bulgaria. Dinner and overnight.

Day 3: ETARA / Veliko TARNOVO / ARBANASSI.

Today we visit the open-air ethnographic museum at Etara; the only open-air museum on the Balkan Peninsula. Proceeding afterwards to the town of Veliko Tarnovo – the former Bulgarian capital where we will enjoy a guided city tour. Dinner and overnight.

Day 4: ARBANASSI / IVANOVO ROCK CHURCHES / ROUSSE.

A morning walking tour of the architectural reserve of Arbanassi and a visit to the Ivanovo Rock Church (UNESCO site), dug into the ground with hidden cupolas. The church hides a genuine art gallery with over 3,500 stunningly realistic figures and Biblical scenes painted by unknown artists throughout the ages. Dinner and overnight in Rousse, the largest Bulgarian port on the Danube River.

Day 5: ROUSSE / SVESHTARI TOMB / MADARA HORSEMAN / VARNA.

We leave Rousse this morning, traveling to the Sveshtari Tomb and to see the Madara Horseman (both are UNESCO designated sites) before continuing to Varna – the “marine capital” of Bulgaria. Dinner and overnight.

Day 6: VARNA / NESSEBAR / BOURGAS.

After breakfast a guided city tour of Varna before proceeding to the UNESCO town of Nessebar where we will enjoy a walking tour of the Old Town. Dinner and overnight in Nessebar or Burgas.

Day 7: NESSEBAR / PLOVDIV.

Departure to Plovdiv, the second largest city in Bulgaria where will have a guided tour of the Old Town; dinner and overnight.

Day 8: PLOVDIV / BATCHKOVO MONASTERY / BOROVETS.

Today visit the Batchkovo Monastery, one of the largest and most beautiful monasteries in Bulgaria. Later, continuing to the famous Bulgarian mountain resort of Borovets for dinner and overnight.

Day 9: BOROVETS / RILA MONASTERY / BOYANA CHURCH / SOFIA.

After breakfast a half day tour to Rila Monastery (UNESCO site). Then, on the way back to Sofia visit Boyana Church (another UNESCO designated site). Dinner and overnight in Sofia.

Day 10: DEPART.

Breakfast and transfer to Sofia Airport.  Limo transfers can be pre-arranged.

FriendsTravel.com will arrange your First Class, Business Class or Coach airfares at out special rates.

From your hometown to/from Europe for this exciting journey.

EMAIL  FriendsTravel@earthlink.net   and JESS Kalinowsky will respond within 24 hours.

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THE BEST OF SPAIN with FriendsTravel.com

THE BEST OF SPAIN with FriendsTravel.com

Custom designed European group tour (Ref: 611011)

Day 1: MADRID

When we arrive at Barajas Airport, we will be met and privately transferred into Madrid where we will check in for two nights at the Hesperia Madrid, a sophisticated and chic, luxury hotel in a great location in the Paseo de las Castellana. Madrid’s center is very compact and the hotel is not far from most points of interest. This is one of the safest districts to stay in Madrid. Member of Leading Hotels of the World. The balance of our day is free to relax and recover from our long flight. This evening we will reconvene for a gala welcome dinner at the hotel. (D)

Day 2: MADRID

An English speaking guide will meet us in the hotel lobby this morning and escort us on a half day city tour. Afternoon and evening are free to shop or explore on our own. (B)

Day 3: TOLEDO / GRANADA

By coach and with a driver only we will set out this morning to Toledo, known as the City of the Three Cultures, a name that refers to the Christian, Islamic, and Hebrew cultures that have coexisted over the centuries within its walls. An English speaking, local guide will escort us on a walking tour of this historic city and we’ll have time for lunch on our own. Later, continuing on to Granada where we will spend one night at the Alhambra Palace Hotel, an impressive Moorish-castle style hotel set on a hill overlooking the city. It’s just a 5-minute walk from the Alhambra and 10-minutes from the city center. Dinner at our hotel included tonight. (B,D)

Day 4: GRANADA / RONDA / MARBELLA OR COSTA DE CADIZ

This morning we’ll tour the Alhambra and Granada with a local guide before continuing on to Ronda, where we meet a local guide who will introduce us to this city, known as the birthplace of bullfighting. Afterwards on to the Costa de Sol to stay two nights at Hotel Fuerte Marbella, a 4* hotel located on the beachfront in a superb location in the heart of Marbella. The hotel overlooks the sea and a sandy beach is separated from the hotel by a small promenade. It’s just a few minutes stroll to the center of Marbella and numerous shops, restaurants and places of interest are right on your doorstep. (B) Or, we can continue (about 1-hour further than Marbella) to the Costa de Cadiz and Puerto de Santa Maria (known for its sherry) to stay two nights at Monasterio de San Miguel, an historic hotel in a former baroque-style monastery & convent dating from 1733, located 2 minutes from beach. (B)

Day 5: MARBELLA OR PUERTO DE SANTA MARIA

If staying in Marbella we’ll have a free day or an optional excursion to Gibraltar (price for Gibraltar excursion will follow). (B) Should we choose to stay in Puerto de Santa Maria, we will visit a winery for a sherry tasting and see a horse show in Jerez de la Frontera (tapas lunch included). (B,L)

Day 6: SEVILLE

We journey on to Seville today to settle in for two nights at Hotel Vincci la Rabida, a boutique hotel located in an exquisitely restored eighteenth century palace in the heart of old Seville. The hotel is very well connected to all main streets of the city, as well as to all points of interest to the visitor – it is just a stroll away from the famous Cathedral and the Maestranza Bullfighting Arena. Or at Casas del Rey de Baeza, located in the historical centre of Seville, just a few blocks away from the Casa de Pilatos and other monuments. The traditional 18th century mansion has 44 bedrooms, each unique in layout and decoration. Tonight we’ll enjoy a tapas dinner at a local restaurant near our hotel. (B,D)

Day 7: SEVILLE

A guided half day city tour will help acquaint us with this lively town and the afternoon we’re free to explore on our own. (B)

Day 8: CORDOBA / MADRID

We’ll say good-bye to Seville this morning and travel on to Cordoba. A local guide will meet and escort us on a city tour and we’ll have time for lunch on our own before driving back to Madrid this afternoon. For our final night we will return to the Hesperia Madrid Hotel. (B)

Day 9: DEPART

We transfer back to Barajas Airport (one transfer) to board our return flight and where services end. (B)

Limo transfers can be pre-arranged.

FriendsTravel.com will arrange for your First Class, Business Class or Coach special airfares from your home city to/from Europe.

EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net and JESS Kalinowsky will respond within 24 hours.

LONDON and PARIS with FriendsTravel.com

Filed under: LONDON and PARIS — europetravelers @ 1:50 am
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LONDON and PARIS  with FriendsTravel.com

7 Night European Luxury Travel Tour

Day 1: LONDON

Upon airport arrival make your way into the city by cab. The old fashioned looking London Cabs are very roomy and a lot of fun. If you prefer a private transfer; we can easily arrange one for you. Have your driver take you to your city center hotel, where you’ll stay four nights in a superior room with a king sized bed.

Days 2 – 4: LONDON

Three full days to get to know London. We suggest taking a scheduled sightseeing tour to help orient yourself to the city. There are also tours outside the city to Stonehenge, Windsor Castle and/or Hampton Court Castle. Or farther afield: to Bath; the Cotswolds or Stratford-Upon-Avon. Private or scheduled sightseeing tours can be prearranged and included in the package.

Day 5: PARIS

Today take the exciting Eurostar “chunnel” train under the British Channel to Paris. We suggest the 10:12 am departure from Waterloo Station. Arrive Gare du Nord at 1:53 pm and then take a cab to your first class hotel where you will stay three nights in a “classic” room. Private transfers can be included to/from the rail stations.

Days 6 & 7: PARIS

Two days to get to know the “city of light”. We can arrange some private or scheduled sightseeing tours or include: Paris a la Carte passes This new pass gives you total flexibility to discover Paris in consecutive days. Le Paris Visite passes – The only ticket you need to navigate the city like a Parisian. Travel the fast, efficient Métro, or move at a more leisurely pace above ground on the extensive Paris bus routes. La Carte passes open the doors of 70 Paris museums and monuments inside and outside Paris—the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay, Notre Dame, Versailles and other famous sights. La Carte covers your admission for each venue, and you go straight to the head of any line without waiting.

Day 9: DEPART

Take a cab to Charles de Gaulle airport to board your return flight and bid beautiful Paris “au revoir”. If your flight departs early in the morning, ask the hotel concierge to arrange your cab the night before. Limo can be pre-arranged if you so desire.

FriendsTravel.com will arrange for your First Class, Business Class or Coach airfares from your home city to/from Europe for this journey.

EMAIL FriendsTravel@earthlink.net and JESS Kalinowsky will respond within 24 hours.

FriendsTravel.com

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