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The secret about river cruising was out, even before the pandemic.

Like all cruise travel, it's the ‘easy button’ way to ‘sample’ multiple destinations and get an overview of a region. You unpack once, really settling in to your ship environment like a home away from home in a floating boutique hotel that winds its way through marquee cities as well as scenic countryside you might not see if you travel any other way.
The enchantment of river cruising is enhanced by its authenticity. Historically, rivers were the best – sometimes only! – way to travel between communities. Most European cities started and were built from the river. In many ways, river cruising is one of the most authentic ways to experience its diverse regions.

That hasn’t changed, and as we return to travel, river cruising makes even more sense to dip our toes back into the water. 

River cruise ships are small enough to navigate the rivers and canals and locks of Europe. In post-pandemic times, smaller ships also translate to fewer fellow guests. Smaller, off-the-beaten track ports along the river mean less crowded destinations. And staying in a small, river cruise ‘bubble’ helps keep everyone safe.

We’ve been missing travel for so long, many people want to extend their journeys with back-to-back river cruises.
For travellers wanting to minimize how many jurisdictions and sets of COVID rules they encounter – France is the obvious choice.

Vineyards on Rhone riverbanks; BestTrip TV

It’s the only country in Europe with more than one, single-country river cruise. And it’s France! Joie de vivre, savoir vivre, wine and cuisine and the French way of life make cruising on any of these three rivers enchanting.

Here are the highlights of France’s three cruising rivers. Sailing along any one of them is a dream vacation. Sailing two – or even all three – back-to-back is a French ‘affair’ you’ll remember forever.

Bordeaux:


Route: Rather than traveling on one river, a cruise in this storied area of south-western France is more like traveling on spokes, where the city of Bordeaux is something of a hub to explore along the Garonne and Dordogne rivers, and Gironde estuary.

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE for my experience on a Bordeaux river cruise

Highlights: This is a serious wine lover's dream. Bordeaux is a city - the capital of the Aquitaine region – a river, and a wine region: the largest, one of the oldest, and most prestigious in France.  

Some of the most fabled and historic vineyards and wine houses are here, including some of the most expensive bottles in the world, and it’s the origin of the world’s first grand cru. Daily visits and tastings let you immerse yourself in the history, terroirs, and flavors of Medoc, Cadillac's Sauternes, and Saint-Emilion, the first wine region to be protected by UNESCO, and more.

The city of Bordeaux has been called the 'essence of elegance', second only to Paris as the French city with the most protected architecture. Its 18th century French design is best represented by the breathtaking Place de la Bourse. Best of all, your cruise ship docks in the 'Port de la Lune', a crescent shaped part of the river in the heart of the historic city.

Bordeaux keeps its eye to the future, too, with modern architecture, vineyards and developments including the new and astonishing riverbank 'Cite du Vin' – a wildly modern, vast museum of wine, shaped like a stylized decanter, and firmly entrenching Bordeaux as the world capital of wine.

The Seine


Route: Seine river cruises usually begin, and often round-trip to Paris. The river flows north from the French capital, ending at the sea in Normandy. Paris, the sea, and French countryside in between? Formidable! As the French would say.

Highlights: You had us at 'Paris'. Most itineraries include at least one pre- or post- cruise day, and in our opinion, you'll want to top it up to at least three days minimum in the City of Light.

Art Lover? The region north of Paris to Normandy is the birthplace of Impressionism. Cruises call at Giverny, Claude Monet's home, where the flower and water gardens that inspired some of his most famous works are still on view. And don't miss the second largest collection of Impressionist art in the world (after Paris' Musee d'Orsay) in Rouen.

Normandy is the largest region in France that is NOT a wine-producing region (the horror!). Instead, the signature Norman beverage is Calvados – a brandy-like spirit made from the region's famous apple crops. The dairy cattle grazing in fields throughout the countryside supply the milk for the area's most famous cheese: Camembert.

One of the biggest draws is the opportunity to visit the World War 2 Landing Beaches. American, British and Canadian sites are emotional reminders of the epic struggle to gain the first foothold in the quest to free Europe. Memorial centers bring the stories of the battles and soldiers to life, and can help trace family members who fought. 

The Rhone

 
Route: The itinerary is usually a combo of the Rhone and Saone, from the Mediterranean Sea in epic Provence in the south, to France's culinary capital of Lyon, often with a pre or post cruise extension in Paris via a brief high-speed train ride.
 
Highlights: This river cruise itinerary not only gives you the opportunity for a pre or post cruise extension in the legendary South of France, it also makes its way through some of the most legendary wine regions of a legendary wine destination. 
 
River banks offer ideal conditions for many of Europe's famous wine regions. Take a look at a wine map of France; wine regions follow the rivers the entire length of the Rhone/Saone. Itineraries deliver you to the doorsteps of great houses of Cotes de Provence, Chateauneuf du Pape, Cotes du Rhone, Beaujolais, and other celebrated French wines.

Lynn tasting olive oil on a Rhone River cruise; BestTrip TV
 
Along the way, some of the culinary delicacies that pair terrifically with those wines make their homes side by side with vineyards. Think: French truffles, olives and olive oil, goat cheese, and incomparable Provencal produce.
 
Other highlights include the breathtaking Roman amphitheatre in Arles, the bridge of the famous song in Avignon, the culinary capital of France – Lyon, that is. And oh, and did we mention the wine?
 

#StartYourTrip


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Images: BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






8 German Words You Need to Fit in at Oktoberfest
It’s Oktoberfest time again. The festival traditionally held annually in Bavaria’s capital of Munich, with similar events throughout the entire region, is one of the world’s most epic celebrations.

Name notwithstanding, Oktoberfest actually runs for just over two weeks from mid-late September to the first Sunday in October. It’s been cancelled again in 2021, but that gives you time to brush up on your vocabulary – and German beer drinking skills – until you can visit Munich’s Oktoberfest soon.

Here are a few expressions you’ll want to file away for good use at your next Munich – or backyard – Oktoberfest.

Bier

The word needs no translation, but it is what Oktoberfest is all about. According to recent stats, nearly 8 million liters, or around 16 million pints, were served to 6 million locals and visitors who thronged to the Munich Oktoberfest.
 
Bier is not just Bavarians’ favorite beverage, there’s a special one brewed exclusively for Oktoberfest every year: Oktoberfestbier. It has to meet certain standards, including German Beer Purity Laws and it must be brewed within Munich city limits.
 
Note to self: Oktoberfestbier is stronger than normal German beers, at 6% alcohol content.
 
Bonus word: Bierhallen. Pretty self-explanatory. The place they drink the beer during Oktoberfest.

Prost

 
This word involves essential Oktoberfest etiquette. Prost is German for ‘cheers’ (and a generally good word to know outside of Oktoberfest too!). You toast before drinking your beer, and you must look into your drinking friends’ eyes, raise your beer stein, clink, and shout (yes, shout) Prost! (Pronounced Prohst!)
 
You’ll find yourself doing ein Prosit often, and the bands in the Bierhallen strike up a specific tune every 20 minutes for a tent-wide toast, too.
 

Wurst

The jokes make themselves, when it comes to the German word for sausage. The ‘best’ of the ‘Wurst’. And so on. Actually, it’s pronounced ‘Vurst’, which is much less conducive to joking.

There are many kinds of Wurst to have with your Bier. In Germany you’ll likely encounter ‘Weisswurst’, which means ‘white sausage,’ and refers to its ingredients: minced veal and pork; Kasewurst, which has cheese inside, and of course every man-cave in North America has some Bratwurst, which just means finely-chopped meat in the sausage casing, usually pork.

Maybe the best thing about the Wurst is the wonderful variety of mustards served with them. You’ll quickly learn which kind of ‘Senf’ you like with which ‘Wurst’.
 

Tracht

For Germans and visitors alike, Oktoberfest is about ‘getting your Tracht on.’ Tracht refers to traditional costume in Germany and also other German-speaking countries. Oktoberfest guests are encouraged to get into the local culture and spirit by donning Tracht, and you have two choices:

Dirndl
A traditional alpine dress for women, dirndls consist of a long skirt, white blouse, bodice that’s done up so tight it can’t help being very eye-catching, and apron in vivid colors. It’s derived from a Bavarian word for ‘girl,’ and many women keep a hand-made, heirloom dirndl in the closet for formal, not just beer-drinking, occasions, like attending weddings.
 
Lederhosen  
The male equivalent simply means ‘leather pants.’ Actually, they’re shorts, usually worn with a white shirt, warm knee socks, suspenders/ braces and some go for the whole look with special shoes. Bonus points for a dashing wool felt hat with a jaunty feater - that’s also a symbol of the region.
 

Gemutlichkeit

 
There’s no exact English translation for this word, pronounced something like ‘geh-MOOT-ly-kite’) but it is the essence – even more than beer – of Oktoberfest.
 
Some call it fellowship, friendliness, or even good times. It’s the atmosphere surrounding you at Oktoberfest as you clink beer mugs with new and old friends.
 

#StartYourTrip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Image: BestTrip TV

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



Rum and Cigar Festival Elevates St. Barts to New Levels of Luxury Island Lifestyle
 It’s a tiny island with a big reputation as one of the most chic destinations in the Caribbean. Legendary St. Barts combines French ‘art de vivre’ with a lush tropical setting and an exclusive atmosphere. 

If you’ve been waiting to discover – or re-visit – this jewel of the islands, there may be no better time than November.
That’s when the Caribbean Rum Awards bring island luminaries and rum and cigar VIP’s from around the world together to celebrate two island luxury indulgences.

Saint-Barthelemy, affectionately shortened to the anglicized nickname St. Barts or St. Barths, is only 25 square kilometers (just under 10 square miles). Only small planes can land on St. Barts, and its iconic yacht harbour – one of the most renowned in the Caribbean – only accommodates yachts. That preserves the island’s charms from mass tourism.

Visitors arrive by small plane from nearby islands like St. Maarten, or sail in on a private or chartered yacht or even on one of the small, luxury cruise ships that can be accommodated in St. Barts’ picture-perfect, U-shaped harbour nestled in a cove in its capital city, Gustavia.

Some of the world’s most stylish, influential and prestigious travelers include the French overseas island on their annual calendar of travels.

The week-long Caribbean Rum Awards originated in 2018 and have become a highlight of the island’s November social calendar.

Anchored by Gustavia’s Rhum Room, home to the largest collection of fine rums of any bar in the hemisphere, the Caribbean Rum Awards are centered around a blind-tasting of the most premium rums in the world vying for the event’s top award. 

Rum luminaries and cigar aficionados from far and wide gather to sip, savour, judge, share their insights and tastes, and celebrate the iconic sugarcane spirit of the Caribbean.

In addition to the main event, rum lovers enjoy a slate of day and evening events including cocktail parties, master classes, private tastings, rum and cigar pairings, cocktail pairing dinners led by top chefs at one of the island’s most talked-about restaurants that end with spectacular, rare cigars, and nightly tasting parties at the Rhum Room.
A one-day Rum Expo is open to the public that week. Only holders of VIP tickets can access the other events.
 
If you haven’t over indulged already, we recommend you stick around in St. Barths. The Caribbean Rum Awards week kicks off the island’s ‘Gourmet Month,’ with the St Barth Gourmet Festival scheduled for the following week.
 

#StartYourTrip!


Images: Getty


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Two New Luxury Brands for the Secluded Turks & Caicos Islands
They are among the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. The forty islands and cays that make up the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are favored by travelers in the know for their pristine waters, picture-perfect white sand beaches and conch and lobster fisheries that make local dining such a joy.

TCI’s archipelago is strung out along the sea at the tail-end of The Bahamas and before you get to the Dominican Republic.

Bookended by two popular and busy beach destinations, this British Overseas Territory stands out for its quiet seclusion. Only about 30,000 people live on TCI - mainly on Providenciales in the Caicos islands. In fact, fewer than a dozen of the islands are inhabited at all. But possibly because of its primary business as an international banking center, TCI has great air service from Miami, New York, Toronto and London.

So anyone looking for an idyllic island escape can add TCI to their list. Even more now, since two luxury hospitality brands have arrived on the archipelago, boosting its credentials as a luxe beach destination away from the bustle of its bigger neighbors.

Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos

This iconic luxury company has opened its first resort on TCI on renowned Grace Bay in Providenciales. Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos joins a small family of Ritz-Carlton ultra-luxury resorts in the Islands, one that includes Aruba, St. Thomas USVI, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands.


The latest Ritz-Carlton resort’s design was inspired by the natural wonders of the Turks & Caicos, incorporating the heritage of its earliest Lucayan inhabitants in the use of rich wood, calming ocean themes as well as desert magic, incorporating local cactus and sponges into the property, including the native turk-head cactus that thrives in TCI’s dry climate and gave the islands its name.

Guests are welcomed to nearly 150 ocean view rooms including 23 suites, or a number of three-story penthouse suites with private, rooftop plunge pools and endless views.

The resort is designed for private and romantic or fun family vacations; the company’s ‘Ritz Kids’ program offers programs for children to explore the island and learn about marine life through arts and crafts.

For grown-ups, there’s an adults-only pool with private cabanas, a private catamaran for marine exploration, a casino; a seaside spa and yoga on the beach; and multiple dining venues that offer both local and global flavors.

Celebrating the island’s natural abundance of conch, the resort marks the end of every day with the sound of this iconic shell and offers guests the chance to sample conch ceviche and other island delicacies.
 
A Ritz-Carlton Club Lounge offers an exclusive sanctuary that offers private check-in, a dedicated Club Concierge, and multiple culinary presentations throughout the day, in addition to dedicated service at the beach.
 
Indoor and outdoor venues are also designed for meeting and events including a 5000 square-foot ballroom and an ‘event lawn and grand promenade’ with the white sands and sparkling waters of Grace Bay in the background that will fulfil any bride’s dreams.
 

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay

The Meridian Club (pictured top) has occupied a spectacular private, 800 acre island off of Providenciales since the 1970’s, when the exclusive, intimate beachside property became the first tourist development in TCI.

What’s new is its recent adoption into the fold of Relais & Chateaux, the elite collection of boutique hotels, resorts, villas and restaurants all committed to the highest standards of hospitality and gourmet cuisine. That designation just formalizes the recognition of The Meridian Club at Pine Cay as one of the region’s leading private island resorts.

Pine Cay is less than a mile wide and only two miles long. Despite its small size, the island has over 9 miles of trails and a breathtaking 2-mile stretch of white sand beach. The ideal place for beach walking, the island is connected to its neighbors, Water Cay and Little Water Cay – you can even walk the beach for 5 miles to the end of Little Water Cay.

Just 13 rooms host 26 guests with nearly the entire 800 acres of island nature and beauty to explore.


Guests choose between private cottages or spacious beachfront rooms – all inclusive of the fine dining that helped secure its inclusion into the collection of Relais & Chateaux properties world wide. Every room opens directly onto the 2-mile beach.

You can imagine why people with milestones to celebrate often book out the island for their party – it may be the private island party of your dreams!

In addition to miles of arid island hiking, guest while away their days swimming in crystal clear waters, joining daily snorkeling trips, kayaking, paddleboarding, days at the spa, yoga classes, boating on a charter or on complimentary Hobie Cat boats, fishing, or just relaxing seaside.
 
It’s the beach getaway you’ve always really wanted.
 

#StartYourTrip


Images courtesy of their respective resorts. Top image: two of the cottages at the Meridian Club



On some islands, they like to tell you how many beaches they have, or days of sunshine. On Nevis, it’s how many different varieties of mangoes they have.

The answer? Officially, nearly four dozen – and unofficially, it’s estimated nearly 200 different varieties of mangoes grow on this tiny Caribbean island.

Nevis makes up the other part of the twin-island nation of St. Kitts & Nevis. Tucked away between Antigua and the British Virgin Islands, Nevis is off the beaten track in the Caribbean sense – which makes it a treasure for travellers looking for a secluded, charming island paradise. 

Dominated by the cloud-topped Mount Nevis, whose verdant sides slope down before becoming sandy beaches at the water’s edge, Nevis is beloved by savvy travelers in the know, who call in port in Nevis on a private yacht charter or luxury, small-ship cruise, or arrive by ferry from St. Kitts a couple of miles away.

 
No buildings higher than a tree are permitted, so the island retains a local, island character that heavily-developed Caribbean destinations lose. Only one famous resort brand calls Nevis home, and the Four Seasons resort on Nevis is a legendary, luxury, tropical island escape (more about that below.) Many visitors to Nevis stay in villas and small inns – where mango trees fill gardens and yards.

Something very special about Nevis’ microclimate and soil has made it the ideal growing environment for mangoes where they almost grow like weeds. In addition to yards and gardens, mangoes grow in wild abundance along roadsides, and in the green rainforests up the sides of Mount Nevis. They’re there for the picking for the island’s residents as well as its famous monkey population, who climb the trees, and donkeys, who eat them off the ground.

Ripening mangoes on the trees add to the vibrant color palette of the island especially in July and again towards the end of the year. Everyone has their own favorite varieties, from Amory Polly, to Julie, to graft mangoes that can grow as big as your head, and many Nevisians eat them right from the trees.


Mangoes are such an integral part of Nevisian life that there’s even a festival during peak season in early July to celebrate them.

The Nevis Mango & Food Festival usually takes place over the first weekend of the month. It’s one of the biggest events on the island and draws some of the region’s most talented chefs who compete over the course of the weekend to create dishes judged by celebrity chefs like UK Iron Chef Judy Joo who often appears at the festival to judge and also to teach masterclasses.

If you don’t make it to Nevis during the festival, you don’t have to worry you’ll miss the flavors of Nevis’ famous mangoes at other times of the year. If there are four dozen – or two hundred – types of mangoes on Nevis, there are at least as many ways to enjoy them served throughout the island, from cocktails made with mango puree, mango guacamole and salads and sherbet, biscotti, jellies, sauces for fish dishes… even some you can take home with you as souvenirs, like mango chutney, or jam or even mango hot sauce!

Complete your mango-themed visit to Nevis dining at the restaurant called Mango at the newly-renovated Four Seasons resort. The breezy, vivid yellow seaside restaurant is the epitome of upscale island dining.


WATCH THE VIDEO at the top to see more of the new Four Seasons resort’s renovations – plus another can’t miss culinary experience: ‘Dive and Dine’ lobster at one of the resort’s private, beach side cabanas.
 

#StartYourTrip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV



Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.







Top Tips for G7 Leaders - and Travelers Like Us - to Experience Cornwall
The leaders of the world’s seven biggest democratic economies are meeting in Cornwall, England, and it’s putting the Southwest region of the country under a spotlight.

Maybe you’ve heard of ‘bleisure’ travel? It’s about tacking on a leisure vacation to a business trip. We’re not sure if the leaders of the Western World have the time for a little independent fun and exploration during their packed schedules in Cornwall, but here’s what our friends at Visit Britain suggest they – and you – do on a visit.
 

Cliffs, Surf, Record-Breaking and Breathtaking Hikes

Coastal Cornwall’s claim to fame (other than things labelled ‘Cornish’, like Cornish hens and Cornish pasties/ meat pies) are related to its dramatic, seaside location: over 300 sandy beaches, coastal villages and resorts, dramatic cliffs and wild moors.

It’s an ideal scenario for outdoor, fresh air activities like hiking, cycling and even surfing that draws surfers and kitesurfers from around the world when the surf’s up.

Take a walk along the newly-opened English Coast Path, which, at 2,795 miles (4,500 km) is
the longest managed and waymarked coastal trail in the world. (Yes, in case you were wondering, it’s longer than other famous long-distance trails like the 2190 mile Appalachian Trail and the 2600 mile Pacific Crest Trail in the U.S.)
 
The view alone will get your blood racing. Cornwall has 12 “Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty” from the dramatic cliffs of the North Coast to the beautifully bleak hills of Bodmin Moor.


“Jurassic Park” IRL

It’s the closest you might come to a ‘real life’ dinosaur habitat. Cornwall’s “Jurassic Coast” is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and THE place to go fossil hunting with the dinosaur lovers in your family.

The Jurassic Coast begins in Devon and continues for 95 miles (150 km) to Old Harry Rocks in Dorset. The rock cliffs at Charmouth and Lyme Regis contain thousands of fossils of animals that swam in the Jurassic seas, and each year fossils are eroded from the cliffs and tumble onto the beaches waiting to be discovered.

If you’ve seen the film Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet, it is set in Lyme Regis and tells the story of amateur fossil collector Mary Anning. She and her brother were the first to discover a complete Ichthyosaur skeleton and a complete Plesiosuar. Some of her fossils are at London’s Natural History Museum. Fossil fans can find out more about Anning’s life at the Lyme Regis Museum. The Museum of Jurassic Marine Life is home to some of the first fossils found. The famous Weymouth Bay pliosaur is on exhibition at the Dorset County Museum.


Photo: VisitBritain/ Jason Hawkes

The World’s Largest Indoor Rainforest

On the Southeast coast of Cornwall, a huge crater inside a depleted clay pit has been transformed into the Eden Project. Visitors discover a thriving garden featuring massive Biomes housing the world’s largest rainforest within walls including stunning plants, contemporary gardens and exhibitions. In 2022, it will even get its own hotel on site, a 109-bedroom designer hotel that maximizes accessibility, energy-efficiency and sustainability.
 
Photo: English Heritage

Legends and Tales

Cornwall’s Tintagel Castle is inextricably linked with the ultimate English tale: the legend of King Arthur. Situated along the dramatic and windswept coastline, the castle ruins echo with stories from centuries ago. Built half on the mainland and half on a jagged headland projecting into the Cornish sea, the startlingly contemporary Tintagel Bridge brings the two impressive sites together in a dramatic way.

Tropical Escapes on British shores

Cornwall’s Isles of Scilly are called England’s own tropical islands, accessible by a 15 minute flight or a ferry ride to what might seem like another world. Only 5 of the 140 islands lying less than 30 miles (45 km) off of Land’s End are inhabited, providing the ultimate in privacy and seclusion to explore crystal clear waters and idyllic beaches.
Those in the know have already discovered the charms of the Isles of Scilly. The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and their children, Kate Winslet, Jude Law and Dame Judi Dench all holiday there.

Local Flavor

Cornish pasties, or meat pies, are an historic favorite, but they’re no bygone tradition. Visit Britain tells us more than 120 million Cornish pasties are made each year! Add decadent Cornish Cream Teas to your travel menu and don’t forget about the seafood! Coastal Cornwall is the perfect place for fresh-from-the-sea fish and chips, not to mention Fal Oysters and Cornish Sardines.

At at the luxury resort Carbis Bay Hotel near St. Ives (yes, the St. Ives of the poem, “As I was walking to St. Ives…”), spa treatments include hot tubs infused with Cornish seaweed. That’s fresh!
 

#StartYourTrip



Top Photo: St. Michaels Mount, a historic fortified building on a rocky outcrop in the Marazion bay, off the coast of Cornwall. VisitBritain/ Jason Hawkes

This is something we can get on board with! A few years ago, Spain declared the third Thursday of June ‘World Tapas Day,’ which in 2021 falls on June 10.

Tapas comes from the Spanish verb ‘tapar’ or to ‘cover’, and story goes that back in the day, ‘tapas’ was simply the piece of bread or maybe meat that you used to cover your wine glass so the flies didn’t drop in. 

Classy! That lead to actual small plates, with small bites of ‘bar food’ and simple cooking at inns and bars, replacing the slices of bread – and unknowingly starting a culinary craze. 

WATCH the video above for the Top Reasons we love Barcelona – including contemporary tapas with organic wine!

From those humble roots, tapas today has become a symbol not only of Spanish cuisine, but also lifestyle.
It represents relaxed gatherings of friends in a bar or sidewalk café in Spain, chatting, drinking wine, sharing small plates of simple, delicious and easy-to-eat local food. The very best thing about tapas is not what you drink or eat, but being in the moment.

Spain’s historic tradition of small, shared plates fit perfectly into a modern way of life and socializing.

No trip to Spain is complete without tapas. And no tapas experience is complete if it’s rushed or too formal or too fussy. So the best way to celebrate tapas on a trip to Spain is to give yourself plenty of time, find a place where the locals go, cast away any preconceived notions of what you ‘should’ be eating or drinking, and let the staff guide you to their favorite wine and best small dishes.

On World Tapas Day, you can celebrate one of the planet’s most beloved styles of dining and socializing even if you’re not actually in Spain – or even close to a casual Spanish restaurant.

Tapas’ simplicity makes it ideal for home entertaining – especially in the summer months when outdoor living, casual entertaining, simple, delicious shared plates and wine please the palate and your guests.

Visit your local wine store and ask for recommendations for a couple of types of Spanish wine. If you’re lucky, your local specialty food market will have everything else you need for simple tapas, too. Bread, olives, cheeses, jambon, and even marinated seafood easily translate into an evening of tapas in the backyard. You can plate some items up on skewers, scatter numerous small plates and napkins and candles around, add some Spanish guitar to your playlist and suddenly, you have tapas!

Are you motivated to do a little cooking? Spain Tourism has shared its list of 20 popular tapas that you'll find recipes for online.

A little of tapas makes a cocktail party… and more make a meal. There’s no better way to entertain, to celebrate Spanish culture – and to get inspired to take your next trip to Spain for tapas at the source.
 

#WorldTapasDay

#StartYourTrip



10 Reasons to Visit Columbia on Your Next Trip to Latin America
Colombia is reborn. Named after the 15th-century explorer of the Americas, Colombia stands out as the only nation in South America with coastlines on both the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean, as well as being the leading source of coffee and emeralds in the world.
 
Colombia has found new followers among savvy global travellers, who, in survey after survey cited the warmth and kindness of Colombians as one of their top reasons to visit. Now, Colombia has given itself a new calling card, “the Most Welcoming Place on Earth.” 
 
That's number 1. We can think of at least nine more:
 
1 Colombia’s Renaissance
Forget old Miami Vice re-runs. Colombia has shed a troubled history, and narratives of cartels are a thing of the past. Through community and eco driven initiatives, the country has earned its place as one of the top destinations in South America, offering travellers a new place to explore. 
2 The most biodiverse country in the world
The South American nation is the most biodiverse country on earth per square kilometer, and is home to 10% of the Earth's flora and fauna.
3 Caribbean beaches AND a Pacific Coast…
There aren't many places in the world where you can sun yourself on a Caribbean beach and see snow-capped mountains at the same time in the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta, the highest coastal range in the tropics, and one of the highest coastal ranges in the world. On Colombia’s Pacific coast the beaches are surrounded by jungle and its waters host humpback whales from July to October. 
4 It has one of the world's biggest Carnivals
According to Colombians, the Barranquilla Carnival is second to none. It comes with a spectacular display of Colombia's melting pot of cultures: African, Indigenous, European and Middle Eastern.
5 Cool and Cosmopolitan
Bogota and Medellin are gaining traction on the world stage, and give visitors a taste of Latin American chic.
6 Get Your Java Fix
You remember the commercials. Colombia produces some of the world's most prized coffee - that's a given. What you might not know is that the country has a budding coffee tourism industry that brings you up close and personal with producers and tasters and the most authentic flavors, right at their source.
7 It's the Land of more than 1,000 Rhythms
Hailed as the Land of more than 1,000 Rhythms, every corner of Colombia moves to its own distinct sound. Actually, sounds. Over half a dozen distinct musical genres that blend Spanish and European influences with African beats and ancient indigenous rhythms liven up the country's cultural scene and make Colombia a must-visit place for music lovers.
8 Booming cycle-tourism
Colombia is at the heart of South American cycling tourism because of its diverse topography and climate - and with over 38 key training trails, your legs will tire out before your interest in this off-the-beaten-track cycling destination does. 
9 Greener and More Sustainable
Colombia has amended its tourism laws to incorporate sustainability as a core principal. The country formally recognizes the importance of protecting the environment and supporting local communities.

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Image courtesy ProColumbia

Cruise Ships: New, Improved, and Coming Soon
The latest designs, innovations, and features, in a sparkling white cruise ship gliding over the waves. If that’s not enough to get you excited about taking a cruise on a new ship, there’s always ‘new ship smell’.
 
A new cruise ship may not have a distinctive scent like a new car, but knowing you’re among the first to experience a new entry to the world’s fleet of cruise ships is a not-to-miss sensation.
 
Not every new ship comes ‘hot off the press’. Some ships are remade during their lifetimes, and their mystique begins afresh.
 
Lynn Elmhirst, BestTrip TV’s cruise expert, lists the ships to keep your eye out for right now, whether new, improved, or coming soon.
 

NEW

 

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas


The latest addition to this mega-cruise ship fleet is the 25th Royal Caribbean ship, and its second Quantum Class ship.
Vacationers of all ages are in for a combination of Royal’s signature, over-the-top cruise experiences plus 12 all-new and first-to-brand experiences including:
 
  • All-new pool deck to enjoy the sun and stars in style– Two decks, two open-air pools, four whirlpools and Splashaway Bay, anchored by a Quantum Ultra Class first – The Lime & Coconut bar
  • Action-packed top deck – Returning guest-favorites include the gravity-defying SkyPad virtual reality bungee trampoline adventure, FlowRidersurf simulator, skydiving with RipCord by iFly, and the iconic North Star all-glass observation capsule that boasts 360-degree views from 300 feet above sea level.
  • SeaPlex – The next-generation of a longtime Quantum Class favorite, this SeaPlex is the largest indoor and outdoor activity center at sea.
  • One-of-a-kind entertainment –Teched-out venues combine immersive technology, unparalleled special effects and world-leading performers and aerialists take the stage alongside six agile Roboscreens for a multidimensional live show.
  • Giovanni’s Italian Kitchen & Wine Bar and Teppanyaki – Two Royal Caribbean restaurants new to North America join the many dining options on board.
 
After an inaugural summer season sailing bubble cruises from Israel in the Eastern Med in 2021, Odyssey sails to Fort Lauderdale for Caribbean cruises including calls at the cruise line’s private island beach experience Perfect Day at CocoCay.
 

IMPROVED

  

Paul Gauguin Cruises’ The Gauguin

 
Paul Gauguin Cruises is the longest-continually sailing luxury cruise line in the South Pacific with its ship The Gauguin, which has emerged from drydock, after intensive environmental upgrades, making her more protective of this precious and sensitive setting.
 
In addition, all her staterooms, suites and public spaces have been renovated in a chic and fresh vision of Polynesian style to enrich her 322 guests' experience sailing the islands of Tahiti, French Polynesia, Fiji and the South Pacific.

Every detail of The Gauguin's renovations reflect her South Seas home, including décor, artwork, Polynesian cuisine in the restaurants, onboard enrichment and cultural activities led by the ship's troupe of Tahitian entertainers. The refurbishment enhances the historic woodworks and adds local lagoon shades, green and natural tones, organic patterns and woven textiles, exotic panoramas and traditional artwork.

In addition to the renovation, the onboard lifestyle has been enhanced, with a new, virtual museum of over 150 paintings of artist Paul Gauguin, wifi, and all-inclusive experience, including dining in all three of the ship's restaurants.
 
Sailing on the renovated ship, guests have exclusive access to the line's private island and a private beach in Bora Bora, where you can embrace the natural wonders of the South Pacific through marine activities off the ship.
 

COMING SOON


Oceania Vista


By recently naming its upcoming ship The Vista (artists' renderings below and top), this culinary-and destination-focused cruise line looks to the future of cruise travel. The 1200-guest ship is the first of two new Allura Class ships on tap for Oceania, and will be the line’s 7th ship when it sets sail in 2023.

 
Like its sister ships, the new Vista will be a designer-inspired, intimate ship, with residential-inspired suites and staterooms, and dramatic and glamorous public spaces like the Grand Dining Room, which soars almost two decks in height and pays homage to the 'beautiful age' of early 20th-century Parisian society through its contemporary interpretation of Belle Époque. 

 
Guests will also be wowed by Vista's nine additional best-in-class culinary experiences, and several unique firsts that will re-define Oceania’s already acclaimed dining and guest experiences.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.









Drink a Cocktail Made by the World’s 1st Human-like Robot Bartender at Sea
He mixes drinks, but doesn’t stop there. ‘Rob’ the robot bartender also speaks 8 languages, tells jokes and even dances too!
 
When we can cruise again, you won’t want to miss the world’s first humanoid – and interactive – shipboard robot bartender, who will make you the perfect cocktail to toast your return to cruising and travel.
 
When MSC Cruises launches its newest flagship this spring, it will have at least one exclusive feature.
 
The futuristic MSC Starship Club lets cruise guests feel like they’ve walked into a sci-fi movie as the sidle up to a bar that would look right at home in a space ship.  MSC tells us the Starship Club was half a decade in the making, the result of experts in robotics and automation, digital media, interior design and of course, mixology and entertainment.

 
After placing your order in one of the bar’s ‘vertical digital cockpits’, you can watch as Rob shakes up your order from a menu of 16 signature ‘cosmic cocktails’ – alcoholic and kid-friendly – or a beverage of your own creation using dozens of ingredients including spirits, juices and syrups, mixes and garnishes.
 
Meanwhile, an LED ticker tape strip above the robotic island tracks the status of your drink. And the 3D holograms and immersive digital art wall add to the atmosphere.   
 
Just like any good bartender, Rob’s got a ‘schtick’, chatting to guests, sharing jokes and responding to guests with human-like facial expressions and hand gestures – even dance moves.
 
When Rob is not preparing cocktails, he’s working the room. His AI programming gives him the ability to recognize guests passing by, greet and striking up a conversation with them.

 
The MSC Starship Lounge is just one of the 21 indoor and outdoor bars on board the 6300-guest Virtuosa, along with 11 dining options including a new concept for MSC: Indochine, with fusion Vietnamese/French cuisine.
 
Virtuosa and her sister ship Grandiosa are the two largest ships in 18-strong MSC Cruises' fleet. So there’s plenty of room for five spacious pools and one of the biggest and most elaborate waterparks at sea.
 
The Virtuosa will also be home to the longest LED dome at sea over top of the Galleria Virtuosa of a dozen boutiques and places to gather, lounge, sip and enjoy live entertainment.

And for those who like a quieter, more intimate cruise experience, the MSC Yacht Club is a luxury ‘ship within a ship’ with 24-hour butler service, private access to suites, dedicated restaurant, lounges, pool, whirlpools and spa space.
 
The ship will also be highly equipped with cutting-edge technologies and environmentally conscious capabilities.
 
After completing short cruises in the Mediterranean, Virtuosa will be deployed to Northern Europe in summer 2021 with a range of itineraries to the Norwegian fjords and Baltic capital cities.
 

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images: MSC






The 'FOMO' Guide To Travel in 2022
Social media has an acronym for it: FOMO, or ‘Fear of Missing Out’.
 
Over the last year, we’ve been missing out on a lot. A lot of get togethers, events, family celebrations… and a lot of travel. Finally, it looks like there’s light at the end of the tunnel, with travel starting to pick up this year, and gaining real speed in 2022. 
 
If you’re anything like us, you feel like you have a lot of catching up to do.
 
In addition to all your favorite travel experiences, the 2022 calendar of events is packed with events and natural phenomena that are always worth the trip. 
 
  • The return of live music and theater worldwide.

  • All the famous races, from the Kentucky Derby by horse, to one of the Grand Prix by car, the Tour de France by bicycle, and the America’s Cup at sea.

  • Carnivale. Wimbledon. Day of the Dead.

  • Fashion Weeks, Christmas Markets, St. Patrick’s Day parades.

  • The Great Migration of Africa’s Wildlife on Safari, Cherry Blossom Festivals, Wine Harvests
 
In normal times, these things happen every year. Whether you’ve enjoyed them often, or they’re still entries on your bucket list, if we’ve learned anything from a canceled year, it’s to seize the moment and do it while you can.
 
But there are even more reasons to travel in 2022, and this is where FOMO sets in. Next year has an extraordinary abundance of events that only happen a few times in a century. Once in a lifetime? Maybe not. But your FOMO instincts should be tingling.  
 

Mark Your Calendar

 
The 2020 Tokyo Olympics were postponed, and now the Summer Olympics take place in Japan in 2021, but the Winter Olympics are still on schedule for February 2022 in Beijing.
 
The World Games is a quadrennial event too, one that allows athletes to compete in dozens of sports uncontested at the Olympic Games, including acrobatic gymnastics, karate, orienteering, tug of war, waterskiing, and squash. They are held between Olympic Games. With the Summer Games bumped from 2020 to 2021, the 11th World Games were also rescheduled to July, 2022, in Birmingham, Alabama.
 
August 2022 brings another multi-nation, multi-sport games that take place every four years. At the upcoming XXII Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England, 5000 athletes from dozens of countries compete in 20 summer sports that bring together the former members of the British Empire.
 
That’s not all that’s happening for sports fans in 2022. 
 
One sports event held every four years is the most widely viewed and followed in the world – beating out the even the Summer Games. The FIFA World Cup brings whole economies of diehard soccer fans to a standstill, and the fan culture in bars and cafes – and for some fortunate fans, in person – is legendary. The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be held over nearly a month at the end of the year in Qatar, the first time for it to be held in the Arab world.
 
World Expos (formerly known as World’s Fairs) showcase the excellence of nations in arenas other than sports - like technology, agriculture, design and architecture, energy, ecology and more, with vast displays and events held for months twice a decade. Inventions like the telephone, color TV’s, touch screens, Ferris wheels and even ice cream cones were unveiled at World’s Fairs, which also debuted landmarks like the Eiffel Tower and Seattle’s Space Needle. Expo 2020 was postponed, and now takes place from October 2021 through April 2022 in Dubai with the theme ‘Connecting Minds, Creating the Future.’
 

FOMO Tip:

 
No matter what’s on your travel list in 2022, we have one big travel tip: book early.
 
With people using their stored-up travel credits, and everyone looking to make up lost travel time, some events and blocks of tickets are already selling out.
 
If you have a Fear of Missing Out of any once-in-a-lifetime trip in 2021 or 2022, now’s the time to start planning your trip with your travel advisor.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Image: Getty

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This State's 'For Lovers', and Even has a Seductive Local Cuisine - Recipe Included!
The catchy saying is known around the world and has even been inducted into the Madison Avenue Advertising Walk of Fame.

‘Virginia is for Lovers’ debuted over 50 years ago, explaining to readers of ‘Modern Bride’ why they should honeymoon in Virginia.

Over the next half-century, ‘Virginia is for Lovers’ has come to mean a lot of different things to different people. It’s not just newlyweds who love Virginia, nestled between Chesapeake Bay on the Atlantic Ocean and the Appalachian Mountains.

Ways to Fall in Love in Virginia


Virginia is the cradle, the battlefield, and the bedroom of American history. Jamestown, founded in 1607, was the first permanent English colony in the New World.

(Thomas Jefferson's plantation, Monticello/ J Looney)

Right next door to Washington, the ‘Commonwealth’ is home to the estates of eight early Presidents, as well as hallowed battlefield and military sites.

Places like Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Mountains are fabled backbones of Virginia’s natural history. Lush with flora and fauna they are host to fables and current-day outdoor activities, from trail to mountain biking, epic hikes with breathtaking views, camping and backpacking.


Descend from Virginia’s heights to sea level, and you collide with history again, along with current-day thrills.
The rich waters and shores of the Atlantic in Virginia are not only where those first English colonists landed. Today, Virginia Beach holds the Guinness World Record for the longest pleasure beach in the world. Sandy shores stretch for 35 miles, which are also the northern-most warm water beaches on the Eastern Seaboard.

Humans aren’t the only ones who love the fertile waters of storied Chesapeake Bay.

‘Virginia is for Lovers’ takes on new meaning when you discover the state’s most famous local seafood. Oysters thrive in eight different coastal regions in Virginia, each giving a different complex flavor and texture to the mollusk that’s widely considered an aphrodisiac due to its suggestive appearance and abundance of zinc.

This food of love tastes best in proximity to the state’s bay breezes, salt water, sunshine and dockside views, and travelers can join Virginians eating oysters in the state year round, at traditional Chesapeake Bay oyster roasts, marquee events like oyster festivals, as well as at local wineries and breweries and of course, fine dining restaurants.


We may not be traveling to Virginia right now, but we can still infuse a little Virginia love into our own stay-at-home Valentine’s Day or any day we want to share some love, with this delicious oyster recipe, shared with us by Virginia’s Hotel Roanoke. 

With a prestigious AAA Four Diamond Designation testifying to the quality of its dining and hotel experience today, the Tudor-style Hotel Roanoke dates back to the latter half of the 19th century, and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We bet local, fried oysters have been on the menu since the beginning. Here’s an upscale version to change up a romantic evening at home.
 

Hotel Roanoke’s Fried Oysters with Crab & Caper Beurre Blanc

Serves 2 as a light, shared treat
·     4 Fresh Medium-size Oysters
·     1 cup Ground Cornmeal
·     1 cup Buttermilk
·     Micro-Arugula
·     Deep-fat fryer
Beurre Blanc:
·     1 tsp Chopped Garlic
·     ¼ Cup Chopped Onion
·     1 cup White Wine
·     1 cup Vegetable stock
·     2 cup Heavy Cream
·     2 Tbs Hard Butter
·     ½ cup Lump Crabmeat
·     ½ cup Capers
·     Salt & Pepper to taste
To make Beurre Blanc, place garlic, onion, white wine, and vegetable stock in pot. Bring to a boil and reduce by half. Add heavy cream, bring to the boil and reduce until sauce consistency. Turn off heat, then whisk in hard butter a little at a time until fully incorporated. Strain, then add crab and capers. Season to taste. Leave until needed (covered in warm place).
Heat oil to 360 F. Dip each oyster into buttermilk (coat thoroughly) then into cornmeal, shake off excess, then carefully drop into hot oil. Fry until golden brown (1-2 minutes), drain dry. To serve, place a little sauce in bottom of one or two plates, and then top with Oysters and a few sprigs of micro-greens.
 

Enjoy with someone you love, and dream of traveling again soon!

 
 
Images Courtesy www.virginia.org/

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2 Travel-Inspired Beverages to get you in the Holiday Spirit
You may not be celebrating the holidays as usual this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t create some new holiday entertaining traditions.

While we wait to travel and celebrate again, here are two recipes for ‘spirited’ holiday drinks from favorite destinations to warm your heart and remind you of better times ahead.

Perfect for a virtual holiday cocktail party, long winter evenings binge-watching holiday movies, or trimming your tree, these recipes can be made for one or more to share.
 

Gluhwein

Warm wine makes winter better. All the iconic Christmas tastes, sights and sounds of Germany’s Christmas markets, from the fir trees and handmade toys, fires roasted nuts and sausages, are enhanced by its warm and aromatic signature drink. Warm, often spiced, wine, can be found throughout Europe, like mulled wine in England, or vin chaud in France.

Gluhwein is Germany’s version. While the combination of citrus, fruit juices, spices – and even color of wine! – varies, one thing stays the same. Gluhwein translates roughly to ‘glowing wine’, referring to the red hot irons from the fires that were originally stuck into the wine to heat it up. That should give you a sense of the long history of Gluhwein. There’s a gold-plated Gluhwein tankard dating from the early 1400’s that’s attributed to the German aristocrat who was the first grower of Riesling grapes.

Cologne Christmas Market, Germany © GNTB/Wojciech Grabowski

Although most gluhweins you’ll see at Christmas markets in Germany involve red wine, this recipe, from AmaWaterways, uses regional white wines you’ll get to try on one of the river cruise line’s Danube or Rhine cruises during the summer or during a magical Christmas market cruise.

Ingredients
  • 3 cups of white wine (Silvaner or Müller-Thurgau)
  • 1 cup apple juice
  • 1/4 cup Franconian plum brandy (optional but recommended, as a little of the alcohol cooks out of the wine)
  • 4 slices of orange
  • 2 slices of lemon
  • 1 stick of cinnamon
  • 1 star anise
  • 5 allspice seeds
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 pinch of aniseed
  • 1 tsp. honey (if you prefer it sweeter, add a bit more)
  • Extra slices of fruit for garnish, if desired
Preparation
  1. In a medium-sized stock pot with a tight-fitting lid, combine all of the ingredients, except for the honey. Stir to combine.
  2. Cover and bring the mixture to a boil, then simmer, keeping the lid on, for 10 minutes. Be careful not to let it come to a boil again; if it boils too long all of the alcohol will be cooked out.
  3. After 10 minutes, immediately remove from the heat. Strain the mixture with a fine mesh sieve; discard the aromatics. Return the mixture to the pot and taste-test. Stir in honey, tasting as you go until you reach your desired sweetness.
  4. Ladle into desired serving glasses. Garnish with sliced fruit, cinnamon sticks, cloves, or star anise pods, if desired. Serve immediately.
 
Pair your Gluhwein with authentic German standards like hot sausages and pretzels, or seasonal festive sweets like stollen, fruit bread; gingerbread or lebkuchen; and glorious marzipan. 
 

Rompope

The clue to this festive Costa Rican drink is also in its name. But it’s not like a rum punch found in the Caribbean. Rompope is Costa Rica’s answer to British egg nog or Dutch advocaat, composed of egg yolk, milk, sugar, cinammon and rum. Unlike egg nog, it’s cooked like a hot, boozy custard. Variations made with coconut milk, coffee, almonds or other nuts are popular in other parts of Latin America.

Rompope’s roots are believed to be Spanish colonial, with stories told of Spanish nuns making the New World’s first batches. Today, families often make two bottles ahead of celebrations, a grown-up version with the rum, and a non-alcoholic version for the younger members of the family. The kids’ version is also used for making cookies, cakes, ice cream and jellies. And the adult rompope can be strong; the rum is added at the end so the alcohol doesn’t cook off.

Courtesy Visit Costa Rica

It’s the sweet and strong traditional beverage of Christmas gatherings. And Visit Costa Rica has sent this rompope recipe for us to share in its celebration of the joys of the season.

Ingredients (4 servings)
•           4 cups milk
•           1 cups sugar
•           2 cinnamon sticks
•           6 egg yolks
•           1 Tbsp. cornstarch
•           Rum to taste
•           Nutmeg to taste

Preparation
Place 3 cups of milk, the sugar and cinnamon in a pot. Heat. Apart, dissolve the cornstarch and the egg yolks in the rest of the milk and add to the pot. Cook over low heat for several minutes. Cool and add rum to taste. Sprinkle with nutmeg and cinnamon before serving.
 

#HolidayCheers


#SipNowTravelSoon


Top Image: Nuremberg Christmas Market; copyright German National Tourism Board/ Jens Wegener
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Italy Names Its First 'City of Wine'
Wine lovers have one more reason to get traveling again next year. In celebration of one of its oldest and most beloved products, Italy has declared its first-ever ‘City of Wine’.

The Italian association of communities that collaborate to protect and promote their regional wine designations held a competition for the new honor. 

Barolo - the town with the famous red wine of the same name – was crowned ‘City of Wine’ for the award’s inaugural year in 2021.

Nestled between Genoa on Italy’s north-western coast, and the Alps to the north, the picturesque Langhe hills surrounding Barolo in Piedmont are nearly entirely covered by vineyards and have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The nebbiolo grape grown there is made into Barolo wine – so highly esteemed, it’s been dubbed the ‘King of Wines’.
Barolo wine is considered the most famous regional designation in all of wine-rich Italy. Not only does the wine have to originate only in the Barolo zone – that’s only 5 miles across at its widest point – wine must also go through a particular process. That includes a minimum of 3 years of ageing – half of that in wooden casks. Barolo is famously a wine high in tannin and much better aged, with some connoisseurs waiting more than 10 years for Barolo wines to develop the best flavor.

That’s put some modernizers – who favor a fruitier, quicker, less fermented version that appeals to modern and international tastes – at odds with die hard traditionalists.

You can decide for yourself at the abundance of wineries and wine shops that form the core of any visit to Barolo, and pair the wine with some of the region’s famous dishes at local restaurants. (Don't miss braised beef Barolo - in Barolo red wine sauce, with carrots, an iconic example of Piedmontese cuisine.)

To beat out half a dozen other competitors for the new title ‘City of Wine’, Barolo proposed an entire 2021 calendar of events, exhibitions, seminars, tastings and installations. They’ll celebrate the wine traditions, history of Barolo wine, and the natural cycle of the seasons.

City of Wine celebrations only enhance Barolo’s permanent features: the Langhe hills, Barolo vineyards, wineries, and wine shops. Add Barolo castle and its wine museum, the nearby, quirky Corkscrew Museum, and Barolo chapel standing in the middle of vineyards with its historic sanctuary for vineyard workers-meets-modern art installation to your essential 2021 pilgrimage to Italy’s first designated City of Wine.

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images: Getty
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Sweet Spot: New Chocolate Museum Houses the World's Largest Chocolate Fountain
It’s one part of the great trifecta of iconic Swiss contributions to world culture: precision clocks, alpine-produced cheese… and chocolate.
And now, a new museum celebrates the sweetest thing about Switzerland.
The Lindt Home of Chocolate has opened on the outskirts of Zurich. Its centerpiece will get any fan of fine chocolate drooling – and wishing they had brought a fondue fork!
This isn’t just any chocolate fountain. At 30.5 feet, it easily tops the 27-foot height of the chocolate fountain at the Bellagio in Las Vegas, the current Guinness World Record holder for tallest chocolate fountain. 
It isn’t often local tennis great and Lindt brand ambassador, Roger Federer, is upstaged. (He's on the left in both of the photos above.) 
But at the museum’s opening ceremony, all eyes were on the 4850 lb chocolate art installation. More than 300 feet of pipe enable 400 gallons of Swiss chocolate to flow from a giant whisk down over a supersized replica of a signature Lindor truffle sphere.
Beyond the fascination of the world’s largest chocolate fountain, the Lindt Home of Chocolate is an interactive celebration of all things chocolate: multimedia exhibits follow chocolate from the origins of the cocoa bean and its introduction to Europe, where 200 years ago, Swiss pioneers helped develop the confectionary we know, love, and use to mark nearly every holiday occasion today!
It’s a multi-sensory experience. You can marvel at the open-view production line that reveals the secrets behind the process of creating chocolate, and follow it from start to its satisfying conclusion in the tasting room.
Chocolate fans rub shoulders with experts who are developing new chocolate masterpieces in Lindt’s test kitchen, or leading courses in chocolate making for all ages.
The biggest chocolate fountain in the world isn’t the only record breaker in the Lindt Home of Chocolate. Chocoholics will lose themselves among traditional Lindt pralines and treats in the biggest chocolate shop in the world.
But why have the world’s biggest chocolate shop without one-of-a-kind treats? Watch a Master Chocolatier create a chocolate bar customized exactly to your taste and whims. And design your own praline packaging so you’ll have a personalized souvenir for yourself or the perfect Swiss sweet to take home to your loved ones.

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Images courtesy Lindt Home of Chocolate

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3 New, Impossibly Picturesque Boutique Hotels That Make it Easy to Dream About Your Next Trip to Europe

France. Italy. Spain. If you’re imagining traveling again to Europe, you’ll have no problem picturing yourself in any of three independent boutique hotels that have just opened in spectacular historic properties.

All three belong to the Small Luxury Hotels of the World group of over 500 independent and unique hotels in 90 countries. They all have special character and offer themes that are even more relevant in the new world of travel: small size, privacy, and locations that allow guests to get away from crowds of tourists. 


Milan, Italy

Galleria Vik Milano is part hotel, part post-modern art gallery, immersing guests in Milan’s rich artistic heritage. With bold murals, striking sculptures and a colourful palette, this 88-room hotel is a canvas for Milan’s creative side.


The hotel is located inside the Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II and is circled by Milan’s best-loved shops, landmarks, restaurants and galleries. Get your culinary, cultural or couture fix – it’s all literally on your hotel doorstep – then easily escape into your lifestyle hotel.


Both guest rooms and public areas are exhibition spaces with each bearing the hallmark of a renowned artist. Two restaurants, one with dawn-to-dusk food and drinks, the other dedicated to wood-fired pizza, complete your escape from the busy urban surroundings. Fully committed to the marriage of art and life, the hotel has no TV’s or screens. 

Don’t-miss feature: The Adriano Pompa Gallery Suite offers a mezzanine-level bed beneath a Renaissance-esque mural.


Loire Valley, France

If you’ve ever imagined living like the nobility of old France in their chateaux in the Loire Valley, that dream can become a reality in this 49-room hotel. While Les Sources de Cheverny (pictured, top) evokes historic times, guests enjoy modern comforts of luxury French country life.


Everything from the local produce served in the restaurant, the artisanal wooden WaterRower fitness machines, the solid oak jacuzzi and thermal pool, to the antioxidant and anti-aging grape seed extracts of Caudalie’s signature treatments in the Spa des Sources complements the surrounding farms, vineyards and the estate’s 45 hectares of woodland.
 
Here guests can rejuvenate in the spa, inspire energy with a forest-based yoga session, bathe in nature and feed their minds.

Don’t-miss feature: Discover the region on the Loire à Velo cycle route with the hotel’s complimentary bikes. Meander through more than 900km of cycle paths through Loire vineyards, along the banks of the river and past the region’s glorious Renaissance chateaux.


Matarraña, Spain

Torre del Marques is a 15th-century farmhouse that has been brought back to life for the 21st-century and beyond. The intimate, 18-room hotel is in 150 hectares of forest, farmland and vineyards in Aragon, a region of Spain. While it’s easily accessible from Barcelona, many tourists have yet to discover the area sometimes referred to as the ‘Spanish Tuscany’.


Guests of the hotel can enjoy the bounties of the region, including local delicacies surrounded by the gardens and groves that provide them - olives, almonds, honey and black truffles are showcased on the menu alongside local wines like Tempranillo and grape must Mistella.


The hotel has undergone a bio-sustainable makeover with families and small groups in mind. The Suite Room spaciously accommodates four people with two connecting rooms and an outdoor terrace.
 Don’t-miss feature: the organic, ‘zero-kilometre’ restaurant.
 

We can picture a dream escape in luxury to one of Europe’s most beloved destinations in any of these three new boutique hotels.

 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
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Seize the End of Summer with Recipes Inspired by Favorite American Hot Weather Travel Destinations

The kids are back to school (whatever that looks like this year for your nearest and dearest), but on the calendar, summer isn’t quite over – yet. The Autumn Equinox – the first day of Fall – arrives this year on Tuesday September 22, so we still have a couple more weekends of ‘summer’.


You may not have done all the traveling you wanted this summer, but you can catch up now in spirit. Serve up an celebration of summer travel with a party in your backyard full of summer flavors from beloved American hot weather destinations.



1. Pensacola, Florida: Grits à Ya Ya

Along Florida’s Northwest Coast, Pensacola is home to The Fish House, the restaurant behind the unique and delicious Grits à Ya Ya, created by Chef Jim Shirley. A combination of grits, a southern staple, heavy cream and lots of smoked gouda cheese, this is comfort food like no other. This delicious dish is sure to be a hit with your guests!

“In 1998 I developed this Fish House favorite during the Mardi Gras season. Mardi Gras, properly celebrated, can sometimes last for days. Recognizing the toll this marathon celebration had on my friends, I created this fare that not only provided sustenance but tasted great, too. Since then we've whomped up hundreds of thousands of dishes of my favorite child. Enjoy it at home with this recipe.”

Serves 4

INGREDIENTS

The smoked Gouda Grits

1 quart chicken stock

1 cup heavy cream

1 lb Dixie Lily grits

1/4 pound butter

1 lb shredded smoked Gouda cheese

The Ya Ya

8 strips applewood-smoked bacon, diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 tablespoon minced shallots

3 tablespoons butter

White wine

1 lb peeled and deveined jumbo shrimp

1 portobello mushroom cap, sliced

1/4 cup diced scallions

2 cups chopped fresh spinach

2 cups heavy cream

3 cups smoked Gouda cheese grits

PREPARATION

*For dietary restrictions or preferences, you can make this recipe shellfish-free if you replace the shrimp with 1½ lbs of an assortment of your favorite mushrooms, chopped.


First, make your grits. Run the chicken stock into a thick-bottomed saucepan and turn on high till it boils. Mix in the grits and stir like crazy. Reduce to a simmer and allow to cook for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add cream if you need more liquid. Then tumble in the butter, add creamed corn, drizzle in the rest of the cream and stir till it’s all in the family. Then shake in the shredded cheese and stir very well till it’s all nice and smooth.

While your grits cook, bring a large saucepan to medium heat. Add bacon and cook for about 3 minutes, then add garlic and shallots. Saute and then add butter and a splash of white wine. When butter is half melted, add the shrimp. When the downsides of the shrimp become white, flip them and add mushrooms, scallions and spinach. Saute for 2 minutes. Remove the shrimp. Pour in heavy cream and let simmer while stirring. When reduced by 1/3, add salt, pepper and hot sauce. Return shrimp to sauce and combine. Spoon the sauce and shrimp onto heaping mounds of cheese grits.


2. San Antonio, Texas: Seafood and Quail Paella

This 300-year old city that originated as a Spanish mission and colonial outpost is now the second-largest city in Texas and the Southern US.


It’s one of only two American cities designated a UNESCO Creative City of Gastronomy and it’s easy to see why. If you're in the mood for some ‘Tex-Next’ dining, this seafood and quail paella - a twist on the traditional Spanish dish in an ode to the city’s heritage - created by Chef Steve McHugh of Cured should hit the spot.


“Experience the taste of Spain, with a San Antonio flavor in your own kitchen. This paella is meant to be enjoyed with family, friends and good wine.”


Serves 20

INGREDIENTS

1 ¼ cups extra virgin olive oil

Healthy pinch of saffron

Healthy pinch of red pepper flakes

Healthy pinch of paprika

2 lbs quail legs

2 lbs smoked Spanish chorizo

4 tablespoons shaved garlic

1 diced & roasted red pepper

1 sliced jalapeño

2 cups Sofrito

3 cups escargot

4 cups mussels

3 cups large shrimp

8 cups Bomba rice

4 quarts chicken stock

Salt

Pepper

Large cooked white beans

Pickled serrano peppers

½ cup preserved lemon rind, sliced thin

½ cup peas

Pea sprouts

PREPARATION

*Although paella traditionally includes and is most delicious with seafood, for dietary restrictions or preferences, you may wish to switch out the shellfish with cubed chicken and chunks of your favorite barbecuing sausage.


Heat your oil in the Paella pan. Sauté the chorizo and the quail. Turn the heat down to medium, add the saffron, red pepper flakes, garlic, red pepper, Sofrito and jalapeño. Sweat the vegetables until they are translucent in color. Add in Bomba rice, mix well. Add mussels, and shrimp. Arrange the ingredients in a nice pattern across your entire paella. Add in chicken stock, and allow to simmer until the rice is cooked, and most liquid is gone. Continue cooking until the bottom of the paella forms a Socarrat, or crust (this is the key to a delicious paella!).

FINISH & SERVE

Garnish the top with preserved lemon, pickled serrano peppers, white beans, peas and pea shoots. Serve hot to your loved ones.

Share your finished product using #TexNext and tag @visitsanantonio!


3. Hawaii: The Mai Tai

Often mistaken as Hawaiian, tiki is actually imaginary, made of a collection of romanticized concepts of Polynesian and South Seas culture, including humanoid teak carvings, coconut shell bikini tops, grass skirts, pineapples… and powerful cocktails featuring pineapple, coconut, rum, and other tropical flavors. Tiki and tiki bars have become shorthand for ‘Pacific Island getaway’ and they abound in Hawaii.


A staple in any tiki bar, the Mai Tai is the perfect Summer drink - or your drink of choice during a visit to America’s Pacific island state. You’ll be carried to Hawaii’s clear blue waters after your first sip of this fruity concoction.


Serves 1

INGREDIENTS:

1 oz spiced rum

1 oz coconut rum

1 tsp grenadine syrup

2 oz pineapple juice

2 oz orange juice


PREPARATION

Combine the rums, grenadine, and juices in a cocktail mixer with ice. Shake and strain into a glass of ice. *Party Tip: make these up a pitcher at a time with a bucket of ice and garnish handy.

SERVE

Garnish with wedges of fresh pineapple on a skewer topped with a cherry.

With these 3 recipes delivering up the taste of travel for a late-summer get together, dress in your most festive summer wear, soak up the last of the season’s sun, and enjoy, dreaming of your next summer weather vacation.

#TravelAgainSoon

Recipes and images courtesy of

· Visit Florida

· Travel Texas

· Hawaii Tourism

· And the respective restaurants/chefs referenced.



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These 'Hotels' are Full of 'Guests' Throughout Pandemic - Part of Fairmont's 'Bee Sustainable' Program
The global pandemic closed the doors of nearly every hotel in the world. But thousands of very special ‘guests’ at some Fairmont hotels stayed.
Some have even been ‘residents’ for years.

'HOME SWEET HIVE'

In 2008, the Fairmont Royal York in Toronto and Fairmont Waterfront in Vancouver installed honey beehives. These two urban hotels may not seem likely places for apiaries. But the thriving hives made headlines, raising awareness of the importance of bees to our world, as well as producing honey for (human) guests, and highlighting local products and food.
Fast forward over ten years, and other Fairmont properties have joined the ‘Bee Sustainable’ initiative, from the Fairmont Olympic Hotel in Seattle and Fairmont San Francisco, to Fairmont Yangcheng Lake in China and Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club in Africa. Onsite local honey produced replaces purchased honey in the hotels’ bars and restaurants. Six rooftop honey beehives at the Royal York alone – home to 350,000 bees - are producing 450 pounds of honey every year.
Every hotel’s honey is one-of-a-kind, tasting of the nectars of dozens of indigenous flowers from humble dandelions to cherry blossoms. And the bees do double duty, foraging up to 12 square miles, pollinating area gardens and parks as they visit over 1 million flowers for every pound of honey they produce. 

WILD BEE 'HOTELS'

Not all bees produce honey. But all bees are essential pollinators.
So Fairmont broadened its groundbreaking Bee Sustainable program in 2014, building and installing wild bee ‘hotels’. These wooden structures feature sticks drilled with holes to attract wild bees in the area in need of a safe haven.
Now, millions of bees call Fairmont hotels ‘home’. Nearly two dozen honey bee hives, and a similar number of wild pollinator bee hotels grace the grounds and rooftops and terraces of Fairmont hotels around the world:

CANADA

  • Fairmont Royal York - Toronto
  • Fairmont Waterfront -Vancouver
  • Fairmont Chateau Whistler
  • Fairmont Empress - Victoria
  • Fairmont Vancouver Airport
  • Fairmont Le Château Frontenac - Québec City
  • Fairmont Palliser - Calgary
  • Fairmont The Queen Elizabeth - Montréal
 

USA

  • Fairmont San Francisco - San Francisco
  • Fairmont Washington D.C.
  • Fairmont Copley Plaza- Boston
  • Fairmont San Jose
  • Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa - Sonoma, USA
  • Fairmont Dallas
  • Fairmont Olympic Hotel – Seattle
  • Fairmont Orchid - Hawaii
 

INTERNATIONAL

  • Fairmont Southampton, Bermuda
  • Fairmont Mount Kenya Safari Club - Mount Kenya, Kenya
  • Fairmont Mayakoba - Playa Del Carmen, Mexico
  • Fairmont Le Montreux Palace - Montreux, Switzerland
  • Fairmont Yangcheng - LakeSuzhou, China
  • Fairmont Beijing - China
 
Bees have also become part of their hotels’ guest experiences over the years, from culinary and cocktail menu items, beekeeper courses and packages, garden and bee tours, honey tastings, and special gift items.

BEE SUSTAINABLE

Fairmont has even opened a bee hotel at parent company Accor’s global HQ in Paris. The Bee Sustainable program is a cornerstone of the company’s commitment to environmental stewardship and sustainable tourism.
The program works with the Pollinator Partnership, an organization dedicated to protecting and promoting pollinators and their ecosystems – not just bees, but also the birds, bees, butterflies, beetles, and other creatures whose pollination efforts produce one out of every three bites of food we eat.
In that way, Bee Sustainable isn’t just about sustainable tourism and supporting local foods in Fairmont hotels. The company says supporting bee habitats is part of its commitment to hotel communities, food production and the economy, noting that bees pollinate 1,000 of the 1,200 crop varieties that provide 80% of human food worldwide and contribute billions of dollars to the US economy alone.
That’s the big picture, and Fairmont is also encouraging everyone to support bees in your own backyard just as Fairmont hotels support bees on their properties. Families and nature lovers will It sells mini bee hotels at fairmontstore.com – a perfect way for nature lovers to get involved, and for families to learn more about bees at home.
 
You can also learn more about the Fairmont Bee Sustainable program and the importance of honeybees and wild bees at fairmontbeesustainable.com.
 

#DREAMNOWTRAVELSOON


Images courtesy Fairmont

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Drink Like the Queen with the First Official Buckingham Palace Gin
In the times of COVID, even Her Majesty needs a side-gig. Why not in the tasty world of spirits?
In a Royal first, official Buckingham Palace gin has gone on sale to the public – and the first batch sold out online in only 8 hours!
The premium, small-batch, London dry is an initiative of the Royal Collection Trust. It is infused with citrus and herbal notes that are derived from 12 botanicals, including some collected from the Buckingham Palace garden itself, like lemon verbena, hawthorn berries, bay leaves and mulberry leaves.

Gin for Art Conservation

Priced at £40 - about $50 USD per bottle, sales from the gin don’t go into the Queen’s already pretty well-lined pockets.
It’s an initiative of the Royal Collection Trust, a privately-funded charity. 
The Royal Collection of art, artefacts, furnishings and more is one of the largest and most important collections in the world and one of the last remaining intact royal collections in Europe. It is dispersed between over a dozen royal residences and properties, many available for visitors to see during public opening hours. The Royal Collection is not owned by the Queen as an individual. The Trust is responsible for maintaining and displaying the priceless works for the Crown’s heirs and the nation.
The charity has revealed it’s expecting a shortfall of tens of millions of British pounds without ticket sale revenues due to pandemic closures, so the tremendous success of the Buckingham Palace gin will help ensure the Trust can continue its conservation work.
Luckily, a second batch was already ordered and available just in time to stock shelves at the Royal Collection shops that re-opened July 23rd at Windsor Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mews at Buckingham Palace, and the Queen’s Galleries in London and Edinburgh.
North Americans will have to wait to taste Buckingham Palace gin. Online delivery is only available in the UK. Fortunately, there are lots of other items on the Royal Collection Trust’s web site to give you a taste of British royalty until you can travel to the UK again.

Drink like the Queen

The Royal Collection Trust recommends enjoying Buckingham Palace gin in a classic, hot-weather thirst-quenching gin and tonic. It also says the gin will be served at official Buckingham Palace events.
But the Queen’s reported pre-lunch cocktail (you read that right, pre-lunch) isn’t a G&T, although it does feature gin, along with Dubonnet, an aperitif made from fortified wine and a special blend of botanicals including peels, spices and herbs.
Until you can visit the UK and pick up a bottle of Her Majesty’s new gin, any premium, London dry gin will do (it’s said HM traditionally drinks Gordon’s), and the recipe is easy:
·     1 part gin
·     2 parts Dubonnet Rouge
Stirred with ice, strained into a cocktail glass over cubed ice, served with a slice of lemon.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon



Images: The Royal Collection Trust
Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 


Places You Can Tour Wine Country Close to Home
There may be more places than you think.

California's legendary wine regions and famous wineries have the weather, the scenery, the lifestyle, and of course, the wines, that put them at the top of global wine travel lists.

But as we are planning our first post-COVID trips, wine lovers should expand their lists of wine tour regions close to home to get our fix of wine tastings, vineyard strolling, and re-stocking our cellars with one-of-a-kind vintages.

Vastly different landscapes throughout America's states and Canada's provinces have resulted in some surprising wine regions with thriving scenes and award-winning wines.

If you love discovering new wine, pack your bags for these US and Canadian wine regions, and remember to leave plenty of space in your luggage for bottles of the delicious new wines you're sure to discover!

By Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/Host BestTrip.TV
 

Texas

The very first vineyard in North America… was in Texas. Franciscan priests in the mid-1600's toiled to grow the continent's first vines and produce its first wines in mission outposts. European immigrants brought more grapevine cuttings to continue expanding the region's wine through the 19th century. Prohibition wiped out all of America's wine production in the '20's, but Texas has reclaimed its historic wine roots – literally.
These days, the Longhorn State boasts 8 AVA's (American Viticultural Areas) producing wine from grapes that thrive in the state's unique climate and soil. The Texas Hill country AVA is the 2nd largest in America, 9 million acres in the heart of Texas north of San Antonio and west of Austin. The vast wine region is home to a range of one-of-a-kind microclimates that produce cool climate wines to Bordeaux and Italian varietals. 
Idaho's Snake River Valley

Idaho

Move over, potatoes. Idaho's most famous crop has competition. Idaho lies to the west of the Continental Divide of the Rocky Mountains. The terrain, explored by Lewis and Clark and a central feature of the Oregon Trail, these days is home to a fruitful wine industry you'll want to explore too.  
You may think of Idaho as a very new wine region, but in fact, it dates back to the mid-19th century. The first grapes in the Pacific Northwest were planted in Idaho by French and German immigrants. Prohibition in the 20's took out this wine region, too, but grapes are back again in Idaho. The Snake River Valley became the state's first AVA, and now covers 8000 square miles at latitudes similar to other global wine-growing regions, with a unique combination of seasonal temperatures, rainfall, and soil not only rivaling other wine regions, but even giving Idaho wines an edge in quality.
Idaho now has more than 50 wineries producing cool climate wines, especially whites like Riesling, Chardonnay and Gewurtztraminer, and more recently, reds like fan favorite Cabernet Sauvignon.
(Shore Lodge, McCall, Idaho)

Washington State

This newcomer on the global wine scene has been a quick learner. Washington State is already America's 2nd largest wine producer. Its wines win acclaim and awards that rank Washington as one of the world's top wine regions.
Wine has a pedigree in the state. In 1825 the Hudson's Bay Company planted the area's first wine grapes at Fort Vancouver.
The last decade or so has seen a resurgence of wine-making in Washington. Now, over 55,000 acres are devoted to vineyards. The viticulture trend is growing fast, drawing wine-makers from Europe and New World wine regions to the state's unique terroir and conditions for producing premium white and red wines.
Washington's young and internationally-influenced wine culture exhibits some of the latest trends in wine-making that visiting oenophiles will love. Hand-crafting, sustainability, as well as organic and biodynamic wines make visits to this Pacific North West wine region so unique.
Shea Wine Cellars, Oregon/ Carolyn Wells Kramer

Oregon

It's America's 3rd largest wine grape producing state. Oregon has over 700 wineries growing 72 grape varietals in a thousand vineyards. In spite of that scale, Oregon's famous for its small-batch wineries and artisan wines. Most Oregon wineries produce fewer than 5000 cases a year of an incredible range of wines from Riesling to Viogniers, Pinot noir to Syrah, with sparkling, rose, and dessert wines to tempt your palate.
For wine-loving visitors to Oregon, that means two things. In winery tasting rooms, you'll have the chance to taste small-batch vintages that will never see wide release on store shelves in your home town. And hands-on, artisan vintners love to share their passion for wine, their vines, and wine-making styles with visitors to wine estates.

(Above and Top Images Courtesy Wines of British Columbia)

British Columbia, Canada

North of the border, British Columbia’s Okanagan Valley is the 2nd largest-producing wine region in Canada, with over 150 wineries and nearly 10,000 acres of vines. The valley stretches 155 miles from Lake Okanagan, south along the Okanagan River into Washington State (where it’s spelled differently: Okonogan) into the Columbia River, itself a growing and renowned wine region on both its Washington State and Oregon banks.
The Columbia and Cascade Mountains shield the region from Pacific and Arctic moisture, and the Okanagan’s desert-like conditions result in slow-ripening, smaller fruit with concentrated flavors. There’s still a variety of landscapes, growing both red and white varietals, from its signature Merlot, to Cab Sauv, Riesling, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris, as well as Chardonnay.

Michigan

Michigan is the 5th largest wine-producing state in the US, producing nearly 3 million gallons of wine a year. The unique, Great-Lakes microclimate that makes Michigan a famous cherry producer also nurtures acclaimed wines.  Most of the state's wine grapes are grown within 25 scenic miles of Lake Michigan, benefitting from 'lake effect' moderation of both winter and summer climate.
There are over 100 wineries in Michigan, and 150 tasting rooms where visitors can sample and buy the wide range of Michigan wines from red, white, dry, sweet, even ice wine, sparkling wine, and wines made from its famous cherry crop. Michigan's Leelanau Peninsula Wine Trail in the north-west part of the state is considered one of the best in the country.

(Toronto in the distance on the shores of Lake Ontario. Photo: Wine Country Ontario)

Ontario, Canada

Many people outside Canada think it’s too cold, and don’t think to add the country to their list of wine touring regions. If this is you, think again.
One Canadian wine sweeps global wine competitions by taking full advantage of those famous Canadian winters.
The granddaddy of Canadian wine regions is the Niagara Peninsula. Ontario is the country’s top wine province, with over 130 wineries and nearly 20,000 acres of vineyards that take advantage of the Great Lakes’ moderating effect on the weather to grow grapes, especially cool-climate Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay, for wine.
Ice wine is Canada’s award-winning claim to fame in the international wine circle. More ice wine (originally white, but now, red, too) is produced in the Niagara Peninsula than anywhere else in the world.
The silky, sweet dessert and cheese wine has become virtually synonymous with the Niagara region, where consistently reliable cold winter temperatures allow vintners to harvest grapes after they have frozen on the vine. Freezing concentrates the juice, resulting in higher levels of sugar and an unmistakable wine. This may be the only place in the world whose annual wine harvest celebration, the Ice Wine Festival, takes place mid-winter!
As the name suggests, the wine region shares one of North America’s biggest tourist attractions, Niagara Falls, that straddles the US/Canadian border. And the Niagara Escarpment, a 650 mile-long limestone ridge that runs from upstate New York through the region, has a big influence on its wine.
Only an hour and a half’s drive from the big-city attractions of Toronto, the Niagara region also boasts a world-renowned theater scene, and the epically-charming historic town (and wine micro-region) of Niagara-on-the-Lake.  
 

#PlanNowTravelSoon


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Celebrate This Holiday Weekend with Travel-Inspired Picnic Recipes
With back-to-back national holidays, Canada Day on July 1st and America’s 4th of July, many residents of both countries have often packed up as soon as the kids were out of school and headed across the border or across the country for family summer vacations. 
COVID-19 restrictions mean the biggest holiday weekend of the summer won’t feel quite the same. But we’ve created a US and Canadian travel-inspired menu of sandwiches and sweet treats so your Celebrate-From-Home long weekend in your backyard can feel like the cottage or seaside or big city summer vacation you’ll be able to do again soon.
Gather your favorite summer sipping beverages, some chilled watermelon, and get the recipes below for this cross-border picnic menu (pictured above, clockwise beginning top left):
·     Lobster Rolls from Maine
·     Cubano Sandwiches from Miami
·     Beignets from New Orleans
·     Butter Tarts from Ontario, Canada

Wishing you a Happy 4th of July and Canada Day!


LOBSTER ROLLS

From Canada’s Maritime provinces, south through New England, the coastal lobster harvest season runs from about June through October, making lobster rolls summer’s staple seafood sandwich.
Throughout the season in Maine, lobster boats dot the sea like gulls, lobster shacks are open all along the coast, and every restaurant seems to have at least one fresh lobster dish on the menu. Tasting lobster is an essential experience on a visit to Maine, from lobster shacks and food trucks to fine dining establishments across the state – even a famous fast food restaurant with golden arches out front offers lobster rolls in season! 

(Seaside lobster shack courtesy Visit Maine )
Some chefs tweak original lobster roll recipes with new seasonings or ways to serve. But Chip Gray, the innkeeper of the Broad Arrow Tavern at Freeport, Maine’s Harraseeket Inn, shared this authentic and traditional lobster roll recipe. 
“This is my mother, Nancy Gray's, recipe which we have been serving to guests since we started innkeeping in 1943. It was her mother's.
“Boil and pick enough lobster for 3 to 4 oz per roll, (approximately one 1 1/4 lb lobster per roll). Fresh caught and fresh picked is the secret to truly excellent results.” 
 
Ingredients:
·     Hot dog roll (top split, if available)
·     3 to 4 oz fresh picked lobster meat
·     lettuce
·     mayonnaise 
·     butter
·     salt and pepper
 
Method :
Brush with butter and toast both sides of your favorite hot dog bun in a frying pan.
Line roll with chopped lettuce and add the fresh lobster meat tossed with mayonnaise and salt and pepper to taste.
OR
Warm the lobster meat in melted butter and place in lettuce lined toasted hot dog bun.
 

CUBANO SANDWICH


Even in the summer heat, some like it hot, and a ‘Cubano’, or Cuban Sandwich, from Miami’s Little Havana, fits the bill. The grilled pork, ham, cheese, mustard and pickle sandwich is just one of the cultural contributions of the expat Cuban community in south Florida. It’s even become the ‘official dish’ of Miami!

Little Havana, courtesy Miami and Beaches
Tampa challenges Miami’s claim to the original and authentic Cubana. But this recipe was shared with us by Versailles, the landmark Cuban restaurant on Little Havana’s main street, Calle Ocho. Versailles does more than serve timeless staples of Cuban cuisine. The neighborhood institution is also the ‘unofficial town square’ for the Cuban community. 
The restaurant has weighed in on the debate, telling us that Tampa’s Cuban Sandwich, “includes ingredients that aren’t traditionally Cuban. Their version includes Genoa salami and mayo, a melting pot of the strong Italian influence in that city. Versailles’ “Cubano” and the rest of the Cuban restaurants in Miami make it the way it’s been made in Cuba for many years… no salami in Miami! It is one of our most popular dishes and has been on our menu since 1971. We serve hundreds of authentic Cuban sandwiches every day!” 

Ingredients for 4 Cubano Sandwiches:
·     1 Cuban bread loaf
·     12oz. sweet ham, thinly sliced
·     8oz. lean pork, thinly sliced
·     8oz. Swiss cheese
·     8 dill pickle slices
·     Mustard
·     Butter
 
Method:
Preheat a large frying pan over medium heat or a sandwich press to 300 F.
Cut the loaf of bread horizontally. On the top side of the bread layer the mustard, pickles, swiss cheese and then the ham. On the bottom side of the bread layer the pork. Cut the loaf into 4 even pieces. Place the mounted halves face down on the pan so that the ham and pork heat up. While this is happening butter the outside of bread. Once cheese begins to melt close the sandwich and grill both sides of the sandwich, occasionally pressing down. Grill until bread becomes golden brown. Remove from heat. Cut each piece diagonally.

BEIGNETS

 
The rest of America eats doughnuts, but in NOLA, its signature, square doughnut-without-a-hole taps into the city’s French heritage and goes by the name ‘beignet’ (pronounced bayne-YAY). 
A key pastry of Creole cuisine eaten at any hour of the day or night, the Louisiana version of fried dough heavily dusted with powdered sugar has expanded its fan base beyond New Orleans' coffee shops to the entire country.

New Orlean's French Quarter, courtesy Visit New Orleans
The ultimate New Orleans experience today, is a piping hot beignet with a café au lait, or local coffee with chicory at one of the beignet shops like the famous Café du Monde in the French Quarter.
New Orleans tourism shared this classic beignet recipe you can use to recreate the favorite pastry of the Big Easy at home.
 
Ingredients for about 32 Beignets
  • 4 oz unsalted butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • vegetable shortening, for deep frying
  • confectioner's sugar
Method
In a small saucepan combine the water, butter, granulated sugar, and salt and bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Remove the pan from heat and add the flour all at once, stirring vigorously. Cook the paste over low heat, beating briskly, until the ingredients are thoroughly combined and the dough cleanly leaves the sides of the pan and forms a ball. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. By hand or with an electric mixer set at medium speed, beat the paste until it is smooth and glossy. Stir in the vanilla.
In a deep fryer or deep saucepan, heat 3 inches shortening to 370 degrees F or until very hot. Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls into the shortening, and fry the beignets in batches, turning them, until golden brown (about 3 minutes). With a slotted spoon, remove to paper towels to drain. Sprinkle the beignets with the confectioners' sugar and serve hot.
 

BUTTER TARTS

The ‘True North Strong and’… sweet. English Canada’s famous sweet treat, the butter tart, is deceptively simple: flaky pastry shell with a butter, egg and syrup filling. While it dates back to pioneering days, it has remained a mainstay of pastry and coffee shops across Ontario’s small towns, farm communities and cottage country, where the subject of butter tarts can incite intense debate about how runny the filling should be, the use of raisins, and other variables.
Every baker and bakery has their own butter tart recipe, with variations that use maple syrup and add other dried fruits, nuts, even bacon! To the filling.
You won’t ever be able to taste all the countless versions, but you can try. There’s a Butter Tart Tour with over 50 locations along the waterways and scenic country roads of the cottage and farming region of the Kawarthas outside Toronto. 

(The Kawarthas, courtesy BestTrip TV)

This recipe was shared by South Pond Farms in the Kawarthas, which you may recognize from its popular Netflix TV series, Taste of the Country.
Southpond Farms’ Honey Butter Tarts
Pastry:
2 cups flour
½ lb of butter cold cut into pieces
½ tsp of cardamom
1 tsp of salt
¼ cup of ice water more or less
Make a crumb with the butter and dry mixture. Add water until it hangs together. DO NOT OVERWORK THIS DOUGH. Pat into a ball and wrap and put in the fridge for 1 hour or more.
 
Butter Tart Filling for 24 tarts
1 lb butter
1 cup honey
1 cup brown sugar
4 teaspoons (20 mL) of vanilla extract
4 eggs
1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly oil a standard muffin pan.
Make pastry and let the dough rest in the fridge for at least 1 hour.
Brown the butter by melting it in a saucepan, then keep on cooking it, swirling gently. Watch this butter! Don’t let it get too brown. If you blacken the butter, toss it and start again. The line between brown and burnt black is crossed quickly. Cool for 10 minutes. Whisk together the brown sugar, vanilla, and eggs then whisk into the butter as well. Lastly, stir in the flour.
Flour your hands, the dough, the work surface, and a rolling pin. Roll the pastry out into a circle about 15 inches (38 cm) wide and 1/4 inch (5 mm) thick. Using a 3-1/2-inch (9 cm) cookie cutter (or an empty 19-ounce/540 ml can with both ends removed, or the ring from a wide-mouth canning jar), cut circles from the pastry, as many as you can. Form a pleat along one side and fit the pastry into the muffin cups, evenly filling each cup right to the rim. Gather up the remaining dough, roll out, and repeat.
Evenly divide the filling among the pastry shells. Bake until the pastry is browned and the filling partially sets but stays a bit runny, about 12 minutes. Cool slightly until you can remove the tarts from the pan.
 

#DreamNowTravelSoon

 
Top Images, clockwise beginning top left:
South Pond Farms’ Ontario Butter Tarts, https://southpondfarms.ca/
 
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There may be no dish that evokes cruising more than Baked Alaska.


A miracle dessert of warm, caramelized meringue on the outside, still magically full of layers of frozen ice cream on the inside. No one really knows why, but somewhere along the way, it became a classic of traditional cruise culture.


Even today, Baked Alaska is often served on celebration, formal or farewell evenings. The ultimate Baked Alaska experience includes 'parades': a procession of dining room staff each bearing a flaming Baked Alaska for each table of diners to top off an evening of formal dining. (Hilariously, these days, often to the unofficial Baked Alaska parade theme song of 'Hot, Hot, Hot'). 

Rarely seen anymore on land, a flaming Baked Alaska never fails to awe and delight a table of diners at sea.

The story goes that Baked Alaska was created in New York's famous Delmonico's restaurant in 1867 in celebration of the American acquisition of Alaska from Russia. Regardless of its origin, creating Baked Alaska back in the day was only for the fearless. The elements are not complicated - it's really just cake and ice cream and meringue, all within reach of even a moderately good chef.

But the trick is in the execution. Get the temperatures wrong and you had a plate of dripping, soggy mess. Baked Alaska was a feat of culinary ingenuity in the days of unreliable refrigeration.

The dessert, flaming and resembling a snow-topped Alaskan mountain, became almost a status symbol and a classic showstopper of a dessert.

Perhaps the reason we still see Baked Alaska on cruise ships is that they seem to be the last bastions of hospitality traditions and a sense of ceremony.

And where better than a cruise to Alaska to learn how to make this classic cruising dish?

Regent Seven Seas Mariner's pastry chef showed BestTrip.TV his tips and tricks to perfect Baked Alaska… and shared his recipe here for you.


Until we can sail again to Alaska – or anywhere – this Baked Alaska recipe can help re-create the fun ceremonies of cruise ship dining.


 
Regent Seven Seas Cruises' Recipe for Baked Alaska
10 Servings
Ingredients
  • 250           grams          French Meringue (see recipe below)
  • 150           grams           Raspberry Coulis (Sauce)
  • 100           grams          Vanilla Sauce
  • 160           grams          Vanilla Ice Cream (or a combination of your choice of ice creams)
  • 160           grams          Chocolate Ice Cream           
  • 160           grams          Strawberry Ice Cream
  • assorted berries
  • mint leafs
Syrup
Bring to a boil, cool down
  • 62.5        grams          water    
  • 31           grams          sugar
Add the kirsch liqueur, keep refrigerated          
  • 6.5           grams           kirsch liqueur
Sponge (or purchased sponge cake)
  • 78           grams          whole milk
  • 23.5        grams          butter
  • 23.5        grams          flour
  • 5          fresh egg yolks
  • 6             fresh egg whites
  • 15.5        grams          sugar
  • grated zest of 1/3 of a clean orange         
  • 6            mL          Grand Marnier liquor
French Meringue
  • 9             fresh egg whites
  • 170         grams           sugar
  • 1.25        grams          vanilla extract
Method:
French Meringue:
  1. Start whisking the egg whites by incorporating one quarter of the sugar little by little.
  2. Once the egg whites have doubled in volume, add another quarter of the sugar and the vanilla.
  3. Keep whisking until firm and shiny, then add the remaining sugar and whisk for another minute.
Sponge:
  1. Combine milk and butter and bring to a boil.
  2. Pour the flour into the milk, keep on stirring over the heat until it starts to become a paste.
  3. Put mixture into mixing bowl, at low speed add the egg yolks, grated orange skin and Grand Marnier.
  4. Keep beating on fast speed for 10 seconds.
  5. Meanwhile whip the egg whites to a meringue with sugar.
  6. Mix a little meringue into the batter until obtaining a homogenized paste; then gently fold the meringue into the batter.
  7. Line sheet pans with pan liners, spread the mix onto it and make a fine layer of ½ cm in height.
  8. Bake in a preheated oven at 190°C for 10 minutes and until the sponge is baked properly, cool down to room temperature, then before using in Baked Alaska, sprinkle the syrup over the sponge cake.
Assembly:
  1. For each serving, use a 6 cm ramekin, lined with plastic wrap.
  2. Cut a round disk of the sponge to fit the inner part of the bottom. Fill with chocolate first, then vanilla then strawberry ice cream.
  3. Cut a round disk out of the sponge fitting the inner part of the top, press gently down and freeze immediately
  4. Meanwhile prepare the meringue.
  5. Place your serving plate over top of the frozen ramekin, turn over and remove plastic wrap. Spread the meringue all over, using piping technique or a spatula. Mimic a mountain landscape.
  6. Turn on your blowtorch and brown the edges of the meringue. Decorate the plate with raspberry coulis and vanilla sauce, berries and a spring of mint.
  7. Serve instantly.

#DreamNowTravelLater


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Revealed for the 1st Time: This Hotel’s Famous Cookie Recipe

Challenging times call for fresh-baked cookies. For your COVID-19 #StaySafeStayHome pleasure, a cookie recipe for all the home baking and snacking we hear everyone is enjoying during lock down.

Not just any cookie recipe. These are cookies of legend.

They are the welcoming treat so many guests of DoubleTree by Hilton look forward to when they check in. Receiving a paper sleeve of straight-from-the-oven warm sweet treats makes a hotel stay at one of the company’s nearly 600 hotels in almost 50 countries feel a lot like coming home.
DoubleTree cookies have a long history and - no surprise - an avid fan following. More than 30 million cookies are eaten every year, and copycat recipes have been circulating on the internet.
They are also the first cookies baked in space! The hotel chain partnered provided the recipe for its world-renowned cookies to test cooking equipment for space on the International Space Station.
Travel on earth may be grounded. But now, DoubleTree by Hilton’s beloved cookies can continue to put smiles on faces. For the first time, they’re sharing the official bake-at-home recipe for the chocolate chip cookie so at-home bakers can create the warm and comforting treat in our own kitchens. 
“We know this is an anxious time for everyone,” said a spokesperson for DoubleTree by Hilton. “A warm chocolate chip cookie can’t solve everything, but it can bring a moment of comfort and happiness.”
 

DoubleTree Signature Cookie Recipe

Makes 26 cookies

½ pound / 225 grams butter, softened (2 sticks)
¾ cup + 1 tablespoon / 165 grams granulated sugar
¾ cup packed / 150 grams light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 ¼ teaspoons / 6.25 mL vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon / 1.25 mL freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 ¼ cups / 280 grams flour
1/2 cup / 45 grams rolled oats
1 teaspoon / 6 grams baking soda
1 teaspoon / 6 grams salt
Pinch cinnamon
2 2/3 cups / 465 grams semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 3/4 cups / 220 grams chopped walnuts 
 
  • Cream butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer on medium speed for about 2 minutes. 
  • Add eggs, vanilla and lemon juice, blending with mixer on low speed for 30 seconds, then medium speed for about 2 minutes, or until light and fluffy, scraping down bowl. 
  • With mixer on low speed, add flour, oats, baking soda, salt and cinnamon, blending for about 45 seconds. Don’t overmix. 
  • Remove bowl from mixer and stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
  • Portion dough with a scoop (about 3 tablespoons) onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper about 2 inches apart. 
  • Preheat oven to 300°F.
  • Bake for 20 to 23 minutes, or until edges are golden brown and center is still soft. 
  • Remove from oven and cool on baking sheet for about 1 hour.
 
On the off-chance you haven’t just eaten all the dough or baked and enjoyed the full recipe of cookies all at once, they’ve even provided a tip so you can enjoy fresh-out-of-the-oven cookies for days.
 
You can freeze the unbaked cookies, and there’s no need to thaw. Preheat oven to 300°F and place frozen cookies on parchment paper-lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake until edges are golden brown and center is still soft.
 
The Doubletree spokesperson says, “We hope families enjoy the fun of baking together during their time at home, and we look forward to welcoming all our guests with a warm DoubleTree cookie when travel resumes.”


#DreamNowTravelLater


Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

You know the rum, but do you know the story? Bacardi is the world’s most famous rum, but it’s also the largest private, family-owned spirits company in the world.

When the first Bacardi traveled from Spain to Cuba in the early 1800’s, he tasted a raw local spirit made from sugar cane. Recognizing the potential, the wine merchant worked to refine rum. Bacardi eventually identified a proprietary strain of yeast that brought out rum’s best flavors, began filtering rum through charcoal, and ageing it in white oak barrels that mellowed and enriched the final result.  It was the first ‘white’ (clear) rum in the world.

The rest, as they say, is history. The origins of the instantly-recognizable logo inspired by the ‘lucky’ colony of bats in the building where the Bacardi family began commercial production in Cuba, making rum cocktails like Cuba Libres, Mojitos and Daiquiris part of the early 20th century cocktail party craze, relocating Bacardi production to Puerto Rico following the Cuban revolution in 1960…

The story of Bacardi is legendary. And visitors to the House of Bacardi in Puerto Rico (called ‘The Cathedral of Rum’), with its mid-century, stylized ‘bat wing’ pavilion is so much more than a distillery visit.

You’ll be greeted with a cocktail before taking an historical tour, rum-tasting tour, or a mixology class. 

BestTrip TV got an extra treat: a chance to meet the head of the Bacardi family business who shared the personal passions behind this global brand. 

It’s one of our all-time favorite BestTrip TV videos we wanted to share with you again while we’re staying safe at home – along with a lesson BestTrip's Lynn Elmhirst and TV interior designer Karen Sealy got in how to make Bacardi’s original, simple, balanced and classic daiquiri (with only three ingredients you might even have at home right now.)
 

Bacardi’s Original Recipe: A Hand-shaken Daiquiri


Rum, lime and sugar are timeless ingredients in the Caribbean. The origins of this classic cocktail go back to an engineer in Cuba who developed its refreshing taste, and the Bacardi family's epic parties made it famous stateside, then around the world.

Bacardi's classic Daiquiri is a perfect blend of BACARDÍ Carta Blanca rum, the crispness of fruit and the sweetness of sugar. Serve ice cold for a refreshing drink on a hot day in the islands... or for cocktail hour at home dreaming of your next trip to the Caribbean.
 
THE INGREDIENTS
  • 2 ounces BACARDÍ Carta Blanca Rum
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 tsp Sugar
 
THE METHOD
  1. Place sugar and freshly pressed lime juice into a cocktail shaker and stir until the sugar has dissolved.
  2. Then pour in the BACARDÍ Carta Blanca rum and fill the shaker with half-cubed ice, followed by some half-crushed ice.
  3. Place the lid on the shaker and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled.
  4. Finally, strain through a fine tea strainer into a chilled coupette.
 
 
 
 

Copyright BestTrip.TV/Influence Entertainment Group Inc or Rights Holder. All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.




A Distiller in Wine Country Switches Production to Hand Sanitizer to Help the Community During COVID-19 Plan a trip to Ontario, Canada's Niagara region, and your list may include the iconic Falls, world-class theater at the Shaw Festival, fine dining inspired by the region’s orchards, most definitely a wine tasting, especially the ice wine that is its global viticulture claim to fame. read more