DISCOVER SUMMER 2019
ROMANTIC ITALIAN LAKES Explore their unique character and beauty
GREAT RAIL ADVENTURES
Roll through spectacular scenery in style
RIVERS THAT DELIVER
Choosing your dream river cruise
U N FORG E T TA B LE E XPERIENCES Discover historic towns, cultural masterpieces and breathtaking landscapes on our fascinating escorted tours
CLASSICAL SPAIN Experience Andalucía’s magical fusion of Spanish and Moorish cultures as you discover Seville, Granada and the Alhambra, plus Córdoba. 7 DAYS FROM £499PP POMPEII, CAPRI & THE BAY OF NAPLES The natural and historic riches surrounding the Bay of Naples and the Sorrento peninsula are amazing – bustling Naples, chic Sorrento, the island of Capri and, of course, Pompeii and Herculaneum. 8 DAYS FROM £729PP
INDIA & SHIMLA India, a unique country and civilization, is a mind-boggling potpourri of sights, sounds, colours and experiences, as well as a variety of astonishing cultural contrasts. 11 DAYS FROM £1,399PP 15 DAYS FROM £1,959PP
SOUTH AFRICA South Africa covers an area equivalent to five times the size of Britain, it offers spectacular scenery with arguably the finest wildlife on earth. 16 DAYS FROM £2,299PP 18 DAYS FROM £4,299PP
To find out more or order a brochure visit rivieratravel.co.uk/discover or call 01283 744 361 Riviera Travel booking terms and conditions apply. Prices based on two people sharing and are correct at time of print.
ABTA No. V4744
A world of inspiration We are thrilled to bring you the second issue of Discover, our very own magazine. The first issue, published around Christmas time, was warmly received and many readers emailed to tell us how much they enjoyed it. In our second issue we cast the spotlight on our extensive and diverse range of European river cruises. There are many reasons why you might choose to cruise: the comfort of unpacking once but arriving somewhere new every day, and the freedom to be as active or as relaxed as you like. On page 12 we explore all the benefits of river cruising, give you a feel for life onboard and the spectacular waterways waiting to be discovered, from the Douro in the west to the Danube in the east. What’s more, we continue to expand our fleet (page 7) to ensure our ships remain the most spacious and comfortable on offer to British travellers. We are delighted to introduce new European and short-haul tours for 2020, many exploring the hidden and unseen, from unexplored Georgia to authentic aspects of northern Greece and the Canary Islands, away from the crowds. Read about these on pages 4 and 6. Our team continues to innovate new ways for you to achieve your dream holiday. More active customers will enjoy our brand-new Walk and Discover tours, starting this September. While not walking holidays as such, they offer the chance to explore stunning scenery on foot (page 28). Plus you now have even more excursion options on many European tours with our personalise your holiday itinerary choices (page 32). I hope you find this second issue of Discover brimming with ideas and inspiration for your next adventure. We would love to hear your thoughts and stories, so please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org
ON THE COVER Malcesine on Lake Garda, Italy
FIND US ONLINE www.rivieratravel.co.uk ON SOCIAL MEDIA @RivieraTravelUK @RivieraTravelUK rivieratravel
YOUR FEEDBACK “You have made me late! Your Discover magazine dropped through my letterbox and that was it. I simply could not put it down… Thank you for the fabulous read and inspiration.” Carol Barrett
DAVID CLEMSON Managing Director, Riviera Travel
INSPIRATIONS THIS ISSUE ✚ Marvel at looming Mount Kazbek in Georgia’s Caucasus Mountains. PAGE 4
“The new magazine is excellent. It has content to satisfy all tastes in travel – e.g. river cruises, hidden gems and affordability. I look forward to the next one.” Steve Custons
Keukenhof in Holland in all its glory
✚ Witness the vast springtime bloom displays of Keukenhof on a Dutch Bulbfields cruise.
“Congratulations on the new Discover magazine. We enjoyed reading all the articles and were pleasantly surprised how varied your portfolio is. It has whetted our appetite for our third cruise with Riviera Travel.” Dave and Jan Sewell
PAGES 10 AND 27
✚ Come face to face with polar bears on an epic voyage into the Arctic. PAGE 7 ✚ Sip a glass of vintage port among vineyards on a cruise of Portugal’s Douro river. PAGE 18 ✚ Stroll through fragrant flower gardens on Isola Madre in Lake Maggiore. PAGE 24
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
✚ Ramble through the spectacular Vintgar Gorge to the shores of Lake Bled in Slovenia. PAGE 29
✚ Drink in the sight of vivid turquoise glacial lakes on a rail journey through Canada’s Rocky Mountains. PAGE 36
“Many thanks for the recent arrival of your new Discover magazine, which I have enjoyed reading. It is indeed a fine publication and I shall look forward to further issues in the coming months.” John Swain
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Italyâ€™s famed lakes strut their stuff
Experience iconic landscapes on a rail adventure of a lifetime
News of our latest holidays, including Oman
with Riviera Travel
Riviera Travel New Manor 328 Wetmore Road Burton-on-Trent Staffordshire DE14 1SP Tel: 01283 742300 Email: email@example.com www.rivieratravel.co.uk
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Discover is published for Riviera Travel by: Wanderlust Studio 25 Chapel Street London NW1 5DH Tel: 020 3771 7200 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org www.wanderlusttravelmedia.com
Editor: Ida Maspero email@example.com Sub editor: Kirsty Fortune Design: Matthew Ball, Katie White Director: John Innes firstname.lastname@example.org Images supplied by Shutterstock, Thinkstock and Alamy, as well as Riviera Travel staff and suppliers.
All the holidays featured in this magazine are ABTA and ATOL protected. Departure dates, itineraries and prices given are correct at the time of going to press and are subject to change. We would love to hear your thoughts about our magazine. Please email your feedback and any questions to email@example.com
Why cruising the Danube and other waterways offers the best of both worlds
IN THIS ISSUE Summer 2019 REGULARS 4 PERSPECTIVE Gergeti Trinity Church, Georgia 6 COMPASS News from Riviera Travel 26 UNUSUAL VENTURES Tour Manager John Fitzpatrick’s life in plants 40 DAY IN THE LIFE Cruise ship captain Alexander Tucicovenco on his day at the helm 42 YOUR JOURNEY Tell us about your adventure FEATURES 12 WHEN RIVERS DELIVER Why you’d choose a river cruise and inspiration for where to go
Take a walk to the shores of Slovenia’s Lake Bohinj
20 ROMANCING THE ITALIAN LAKES Como, Garda, Maggiore… discover the unique charm of each lake 28 TAKE A HIKE New journeys of a more active nature for those who like to explore on foot 32 FLEXIBLE THINKING Introducing another way to customise your dream holiday 34 GREAT RAIL ADVENTURES Hit the tracks through some of the world’s most iconic landscapes
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
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GERGETI TRINITY CHURCH, CAUCASUS MOUNTAINS, GEORGIA When I was a child the Caucasus Mountains sounded so exotic and faraway to me, like Timbuktu and Samarkand. A recent springtime reconnaissance trip through Georgia, a fascinating country at the crossroads of Europe and Asia, took me and other members of the Riviera Travel Operations team to the very heart of these mighty and mysterious mountains. Gergeti Trinity Church perches high on a mountain nearly 2,200m above sea level near the border with Russia. The surrounding mountainside had still been covered in snow just days before our visit, so we endured a
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rather bone-rattling 4x4 drive up to the church. Our reward was a breathtaking vista over surrounding valleys and ridges, and across to snow-covered Mount Kazbek. We eventually dragged ourselves away from the views and stepped into the 14th-century church itself, where dozens of tiny candles illuminate the ubiquitous naĂŻvestyle icons that are so much part of the Georgian Orthodox church. The many influences from Georgiaâ€™s long history of invasions by the Persians, Mongolians and Russians are evident in this beautiful country, yet it has managed to
retain its own special identity, including a unique alphabet. It is also a country of agriculture and rich soil. Our return journey to the capital, Tbilisi, took us past vineyards and orchards, where many households make their own wine and have beehives for honey. Cows roam freely on the roadsides alongside local people selling their produce of cheeses, apples and the curious, colourful churchkhela, which are strings of nuts dipped in boiled grape juice. JULIE ANDERTON, Head of Operations
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The nine-day tour Georgia: The Crossroads of Europe & Asia departs September and October 2019, then April to June and September to October 2020. From £1,499pp.
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361 744 361
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C O M PA S S
Off the beaten track in southern Europe See a different side to southern Europe on new tours launching this July and departing from 2020. THE THREE new week-long trips will go under the skin of Corsica, northern Greece and the Canary Islands of Tenerife and La Gomera, revealing natural gems and rich cultures. The French island of Corsica remains largely under the radar of mass tourism. This new tour explores its natural beauty and fascinating history, including historic Italian ties still so evident in places such as the port city of Bastia. Visits to scenic hillside villages and centuries-old citadels with panoramic views of the sandy shoreline are on the itinerary, as are visits to vineyards to taste the island’s wines. The new tour of northern Greece goes off the beaten track to provide a remarkable insight into the traditional way of life in a much-visited country. Explore the dramatic Vikos Gorge in the Pindos Mountains, a rugged region of quiet rural villages with stone houses and tiled paths where time seems to have stood still.
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At Meteora, ancient monasteries perch on natural rock pillars that rise from the valley floor. There are also excursions to the lavish Macedonian tombs of Aigai at Vergina, and the ancient ruins of Pella, the birthplace and royal capital of Alexander the Great. Likewise, the new trip to Tenerife and La Gomera transcends the Canary Islands’ reputation as a beach holiday haven to reveal its rich cultural and natural heritage. This is a journey of contrasts – from Santa Cruz, the bustling capital of dynamic Tenerife, to sleepy rural villages on the smaller, less-visited island of La Gomera. Based in San Cristobal de La Laguna, a delightful 15th-century colonial town, this holiday also explores Mount Teide, Spain’s highest mountain and Europe’s highest active volcano. A day trip takes customers to mountainous La Gomera, where the UNESCOlisted Garajonay National Park harbours lush subtropical laurel forests.
MS Geoffrey Chaucer set to sail in 2020 Above: Mount Teide from La Gomera Main image: Meteora in Thessaly Below: Statue of Alexander the Great at Pella
RIVIERA TRAVEL is expanding its five-star river cruising fleet with the addition of MS Geoffrey Chaucer in 2020. The new ship will offer travellers unrivalled comfort from which to explore many of Europe’s great waterways. It joins two others that came on stream in April: MS William Wordsworth and George Eliot. Like them, MS Geoffrey Chaucer has been built to Riviera Travel’s exacting specifications, maximising space for its 169 passengers. Spacious standard suites on
the Emerald Deck begin at 16sqm (172sqft), while upgrades to Superior or Deluxe on the Ruby and Diamond decks offer significantly larger suites at 23sqm (247sqft). On-board facilities include a first-class restaurant serving buffet breakfasts, lunches and four-course dinners; a bistro; a spa and wellness area; and a boutique gift shop. Tasteful design features include a marble-floored lobby sunlit by an
overhead atrium, and rich hardwood and brass furnishings throughout. From 2020 MS Geoffrey Chaucer will sail five cruise itineraries including the Heart of Europe; The Blue Danube; Bruges, Medieval Flanders, Amsterdam & the Dutch Bulbfields; Amsterdam, Kinderdijk & the Dutch Bulbfields; and Budapest to The Black Sea. For more river cruise inspiration, see page 14.
The Blue Danube cruise calls at Esztergom in Hungary Inset: Artist’s impression of MS Geoffrey Chaucer
An Arctic adventure
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Discover Corsica departs May to June, and September to October 2020, from £899pp. Thessaloniki, Meteora & Alexander the Great’s Greece departs April to June, and September to October 2020, from £949pp. Discover the Real Tenerife & La Gomera departs February to November, from £849pp.
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
EXPERIENCE THE land of the midnight sun from next June on the brand-new, 10-day Voyage to the Arctic & Spitsbergen. The MV Ocean Atlantic, an ice-strengthened expedition boat, will take passengers on a luxury tour within the Arctic Circle, departing from Longyearbyen on Spitsbergen in Norway’s Svalbard archipelago. The six-day sailing route through Svalbard’s countless bays and islands brings the magnificent Arctic landscape to life, from vast glaciers and fjords to sightings of rare wildlife. Visit former whaling stations and walrus colonies, as well as
Ny-Ålesund, the world’s most northerly permanent settlement. Spot whales, walruses, arctic foxes, a huge range of seabirds and, while sailing along the rim of the Arctic pack ice, hopefully polar bears too. Excursions in Zodiac dinghies provide the chance to experience the wildlife and landscapes up close. Knowledgeable expedition guides will be on board to provide valuable insight in a series of fascinating lectures. Stopovers in Longyearbyen provide the chance to meet local husky dogs, while a stopover in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, ends the trip.
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The first 10-day Voyage to the Arctic & Spitsbergen departs June 2020, priced from £3,199pp.
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Be dazzled by the Danube Discover the reasons why this is one of the world’s most famous waterways on a new river cruise departing from next year.
TAKE IN the cultural delights of Vienna, romantic medieval towns and the twisting curves of the famed River Danube on the new Vienna, Bohemia & Treasures of the Danube River Cruise, an eight-day itinerary starting in 2020. Winding its way along Europe’s second longest river, the MS Thomas Hardy will pass through the lush, forested slopes of the picturesque Danube Valley, giving guests the opportunity to soak up the landscape from the comfort of the sun deck.
“We are thrilled to introduce this new cruise,” says Katja Hildebrandt, Head of Product for River Cruising & Yacht Cruising. “It’s a brand-new itinerary featuring the enduring imperial splendour of the Austrian capital and the scenic landscapes of romantic Bohemia, and showcasing a host of charming historic towns in this truly picturesque corner of Europe,” she adds. As well as the landmarks of Vienna, the cruise includes guided tours of the medieval city
Eco initiative takes off RIVIERA TRAVEL is planning to go even greener, with work underway to formulate a comprehensive responsible travel policy. The new initiative is led by a team of staff from across the company who are looking into the environmental impact of everything from waste on tours and cruises to back office suppliers. “We already do much we are proud of,” says Claudia La Venuta,
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Assistant Operations Manager. “On our river cruises we have replaced single-use plastic bottles provided in cabins with reusable BPA-free bottles that customers can keep. We have also replaced plastic drinking straws with reusable glass ones. “At our head office we recycle 91% of waste, and use sustainable paper and degradable wrapping for our brochures sent from the office.”
Animal welfare is also on the agenda already, Claudia says. “On our tours and cruises we never deal with local attractions that mistreat or exploit animals.” “We are conscious that, as one of the UK’s leading travel companies, we have a duty to continuously strive to reduce our carbon footprint,” explains Kieron Pollock, Chief Operating Officer. “Although we have been
The Nibelungen bridge over the Danube in Linz
of Regensburg and its Gothic cathedrals, Linz and its the romantic old town, and the famous Baroque abbeys of Göttweig and Aldersbach. The voyage ends back in Vienna with a stroll around the stately gardens of Schönbrunn, the summer palace of the Habsburg dynasty – the perfect end to an unforgettable journey. Riviera Travel offers a number of cruises exploring various sections of the mighty Danube. For more river cruise inspiration, turn to page 14.
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Vienna, Bohemia & Treasures of the Danube River Cruise departs July to September 2020, priced from £1,599pp.
Desert dreams DISCOVER THE mystique of Oman on a new 10-day tour departing from October 2019, including the opportunity to stay three nights in Muscat, the port capital resting on the Gulf of Oman instantly recognisable for its modern Grand Mosque and the blue and gold pillars of the Sultan’s Palace. At the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, Oman’s landscape is one of contrasts, with dramatic desert dunes, palm-lined beaches and lush mountain scenery. Among its attractions are breathtaking beaches along a coastline that extends over 3,165km, and a drive into the red dunes of the magnificent Wahiba Sands. As well as stays in Muscat and Wahiba Sands, highlights of this new tour include dining on
Omani cuisine, haggling with traders at typical ‘souks’ or bazaars, watching green turtles come ashore to lay their eggs, seeing traditional wooden dhows being made and three nights in the ancient capital of Nizwa in the foothills of the Hajar Mountains. The chance to upgrade your stay to the luxurious Anantara Resort in the Hajar Mountains is also available on selected departures. WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The new 10-day Oman tour runs in October and November 2019, and January to May and September to November 2020. From £1,799pp.
The Al Hajar Mountains meet the Arabian Sea at Muscat’s waterfront Above: Wahiba Sands
going greener where possible for some time now, we know we can do more. “We plan to engage with, encourage and support our customers, suppliers and employees to further reduce our collective impact on the planet, and aim to put in place a comprehensive responsible travel policy. A survey will soon go out to a sample of regular customers to help shape the policy.”
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
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Top three ways to go solo Planning a holiday without a companion? You need not shell out more for a single supplement or face a sea of couples in the dining room. Riviera Travel offers exciting ways to go it alone without feeling lonely…
The picture-perfect Petite-France district in Strasbourg
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River cruises just for solo travellers
Imagine experiencing one of Europe’s iconic waterways from the luxury of a deluxe suite, but without the single price tag. You can enjoy the haven of your own cabin, but seek out friendly company in the dining room or on shore excursions when you’d like it. Sounds like the best of both worlds. That is why Riviera Travel offers exclusive departures of popular and well-loved European river cruise itineraries, but for solo travellers only. All use the same ships as standard cruises, with super-spacious suites for sole occupancy and no single supplements to pay across the entire ship. All solo departures include a welcome drinks reception where passengers can meet and mingle. River cruise itineraries with exclusive solo departures
include The Blue Danube, Douro, Porto & Salamanca, as well as Rhine, Strasbourg and Heidelberg and Burgundy, the River Rhône & Provence. Next year’s new additions to this growing portfolio of exclusive solo traveller European cruises include Amsterdam, Kinderdijk & the Dutch Bulbfields in March 2020 and Medieval Germany in October 2020. Both are classic itineraries that will provide memories of a lifetime. Finally, not forgetting what sounds like a bucket-list holiday: cruises aboard small yachts such as MS Adriatic Sun, which carries just 20 passengers as it meanders among Croatia’s islands between Split and Dubrovnik. You’ll enjoy sole occupancy of a double cabin, but with no single supplement – a real VIP experience.
Clockwise from here: Beijing’s Forbidden City; the colourful port of Cassis in Provence; Maori heritage in Rotorua, New Zealand
The spacious Ruby deck suite
Solo groups on regular river cruises
Now, we’ll let you in on a little secret: there is another option for those looking to cruise solo. On a selected number of regular
You can seek out friendly company on shore excursions when you’d like it
European river cruise departures, a large number of cabins are reserved for solos with no single supplement to pay. Some little extras are laid on for those travelling alone on these departures, such as special drinks receptions and excursions with your fellow solo travellers. You will also be able to dine together at meal times – or not: it’s up to you. And just like the exclusive solo departures, you’ll have a suite to yourself. This type of cruise is a good option for solo travellers looking to cruise with family or friends who are a couple. A range of itineraries and dates are released throughout the year.
FIND OUT MORE ONLINE For more solo travel inspiration and holiday details, go to www.rivieratravel.co.uk/solo
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
Escorted tours for solos
When you’re travelling solo, we feel you should not need not pay extra or choose from a very limited range of destinations. Since launching its first dedicated solo tours a mere three years ago, Riviera Travel has created a vast collection of solos-only tours to just about anywhere in the world you’d want to go, from Paris and Portugal to New Zealand, India, China, South Africa and the US’s Deep South. In fact, there are nearly 40 solo-exclusive tours currently on sale. Many are adaptations or exclusive departures of established itineraries, while others are specially created. With existing solo tours well received and demand on the rise, the team is continually adding to this impressive portfolio. New
for 2020 and bookable from July are Provence, Krakow, Northern Greece, Tenerife and La Gomera, Italy’s Lake Maggiore, St Petersburg and Moscow, Costa Rica, California and Turkey… phew! As a solo traveller you’re spoilt for choice – the only limitation is your own appetite for adventure. As with the river cruises for solos, customers on these tours enjoy the comfort of having a double or twin room to themselves with no single supplement to pay. Every journey starts with a welcome dinner to meet fellow travellers so you can be as sociable as you’d like to be. And with the attentive presence of an experienced tour manager on every trip, reassurance and good company are always on hand.
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WHEN RIVERS DELIVER
A river cruise feels like a real journey, with fresh secrets around every bend
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As far as life-enriching experiences go, river cruises hit the spot on many levels. But what are they really like… and where on Earth should first-timers start? Here is our essential insight. WORDS: RICH ROWE
he trips are tantalising, the choice bewildering. From some of the world’s great rivers – the Volga, Yangtze, Mekong and Nile – to picturesque waterways that meander through undiscovered parts of Europe, it’s hard to know where to begin when choosing a river cruise. For many first-timers, though, one fundamental question will burn brightest of all: is a river cruise even right for me? It’s an understandable question, particularly for travellers more accustomed to land-based hotels, guided tours or ocean cruises. So, where to begin? In many ways a river cruise turns traditional travel on its head. You unpack once, yet every day is different. Places, people and experiences
come to you, not you to them. It’s quite a change of mindset. However, perhaps the biggest adjustment is one of pace. River cruises provide a licence to relax. It helps, of course, that the ships are much smaller than, say, ocean cruisers. After all, they must navigate shallow rivers and locks, often docking in the heart of a destination. Smaller ships also mean fewer passengers – a maximum of 169 guests, which ensures a far more intimate travel experience than is offered by most other cruise operators. Unlike ocean cruising, where long days are spent at sea, a river cruise feels like a real journey, with fresh secrets revealed around almost every bend. A river tells the story of the landscape, towns and cities through which it passes, with time to savour each.
The mighty Danube as it winds through Austria Insets from left to right: MS William Wordsworth on the Danube in Budapest; Deluxe Balcony Suite aboard MS Douro Elegance; fine dining
FIND OUT MORE ONLINE For further river cruise inspiration and to download our free Guide to River Cruising with plenty of expert advice and tips, go to www. rivieratravel.co.uk/guide
CRUISING THE DANUBE Flowing almost 1,800 miles through 10 countries and some of Europe’s most beautiful cities, this mighty waterway offers a cruising experience like no other. We offer a number of Danube itineraries, with the Blue Danube River Cruise being a perennial favourite. “We had a very relaxing holiday on the Blue Danube cruise. The crew were friendly, our cabin was extremely comfortable and we were able to enjoy the scenery as we sailed up the Danube. The food and service were of a very high standard. We certainly agreed it was a floating hotel and a holiday we will remember.” Alison, Kircaldy WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The eight-day Blue Danube River Cruise departs up to October 2019 and April to October 2020, from £1,099pp.
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
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River cruises provide a licence to relax – it’s almost an unwritten rule
It’s true that river cruise ships do not have the floating-city levels of entertainment and razzmatazz found on ocean vessels that cater for thousands of passengers, but that’s not to suggest passengers are left twiddling their thumbs. Instead, a river cruise offers a more boutique experience, with fascinating shore excursions, quizzes and other activities. Luxury hotels on the water, all ships have a lounge bar, a large sun deck and a plunge pool – plus there’s often extra facilities such as a fitness suite, a sauna or even a hair salon or treatment room. It’s these little luxuries that make all the difference for many guests. “For me, the highlights were the convenience of living in five-star accommodation moored within a short walk of town centres, and the atmosphere and camaraderie on board,” commented one recent guest on a Burgundy, River Rhône and Provence cruise. Meanwhile, cabins and suites are spacious, with lovingly appointed ensuite bathrooms. There is also natural light in abundance: all cabins have river-view windows, while many have floor-to-ceiling sliding windows or balconies from where you can sit and watch the world drift by.
From here, left to right: A journey on the Seine captures the essence of Paris; the bistro aboard MS Robert Burns; swimming pool on the sun deck of MS Douro Elegance
A DAY IN THE LIFE
So, what is a typical day like on a Riviera Travel river cruise? It starts, as all good days should, with a hearty, varied breakfast. Afterwards, some passengers simply head to the sun deck to soak up the scenery, while others might relax with some pampering or enjoy some gentle exercise, select a book from the onboard library or listen to an insightful presentation from the Cruise Director about points of interest en route. The morning concludes with a delicious buffet-style lunch. Depending on the cruise itinerary, the day’s shore excursion might run in the morning after breakfast, or after lunch. English-
speaking tour guides are ready and waiting to reveal all about the local area as part of a range of excursions at ports of call along the river. Trips might cover introductions to new activities, such as wine appreciation, or perhaps provide an insight into the local architecture, history or cultural attractions. Whatever the location, time spent ashore is never a frog-march: excursions are informative and unhurried. And whether you remain onboard or explore ashore, rivers provide a unique perspective on some truly remarkable sites: the historic lowland trading ports on the Dutch waterways, the 22 domes of the CONTINUES ON PAGE 18 >
EUROPE'S CRUISING RIVERS
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THE RHÔNE One of Europe’s most famous rivers, the Rhône wends its way from the Alps through Lake Geneva and into southeast France, where it carves through some of the country’s most celebrated landscapes – from scenic winelands to the arid hills of Provence – on its way to the Mediterranean at Camargue. A journey on the Rhône marries gastronomic pleasures with fascinating history and cultural heritage, not to mention staggering natural beauty. The eight-day Burgundy, the River Rhône & Provence River Cruise takes in the vineyards of Burgundy, Lyon, the rugged
Ardèche Gorges, medieval Avignon, Arles – Van Gogh’s muse and home to an extraordinary Roman amphitheatre – and the Pont du Gard aqueduct, a masterpiece of ancient engineering. From £1,299pp, departing until the end of October 2019, and April to October 2020.
Clockwise from here: Avignon on the RhÔne; the Pont du Gard; MS Lord Byron on the river
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
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Church of the Transfiguration on the Volga, the Hungarian Parliament Building on the banks of the Danube in Budapest, and medieval villages and fairy-tale castles from the North Sea to the Black Sea. In the evening there’s a chance to join fellow guests for a cocktail before a delicious four-course dinner in elegant surroundings. Food is a big deal on river cruises: chefs have access to a range of fresh ingredients from local markets and producers along the river, so regional specialities are often on the menu. We have informal free seating so you can eat somewhere different every time and with tables set for four to eight people it’s a more personal, dining experience. “We met new friends and can’t remember the last time we had laughed so much,” said one guest of a recent tour along the Rhine. After dinner, passengers can retire to the lounge for a nightcap or head back out on deck to enjoy the night sky before returning to their cabin for a good night’s rest, dreaming of the destination they will wake up in the next morning.
Travelling for more than 750 miles from the Swiss Alps to Rotterdam and the North Sea, ‘Father Rhine’ is one of Europe’s great international waterways, with ancient cities, forest-clad mountains and some of the most breathtaking Alpine scenery anywhere on Earth.
Clockwise from here: Rüdesheim am Rhein in the Rhine Gorge; Wertheim on the river Main; quintessential Dutch landscape of Kinderdijk
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CHOOSING A RIVER
If that all sounds like your cup of tea (or coffee, or glass of wine), then the next big question is which river to choose. Admittedly, this can be tricky, whether you’re planning a bucket-list experience or are in the fortunate position of being able to tick off several great rivers over a number of years. Of course, each river has its own character and appeal,
miles through 10 countries and four stunning capital cities: Belgrade, Bratislava, Budapest and Vienna. Between them such cities epitomise imperial power and Baroque glamour, but the Danube is about even more than the great cities that line its banks. Flowing from Germany’s Black Forest to the Black Sea, the river tells an epic tale of kings and emperors,
A river cruise turns traditional travel on its head. You unpack once, yet every day is different whether dramatic landscapes, history, culture or cuisine. Our selected destinations highlighted here – covering the Rhine, Rhône and Douro – might help you narrow down the choices, but what about some of the other magnificent rivers on offer? Take the Danube, for example, which flows for almost 1,800
Our eight-day Rhine Cruise to Switzerland shows off this revered river at its majestic best. Highlights include exploring the historic old town of Koblenz, the plunging Rhine Gorge, medieval Speyer, a walking tour of Strasbourg, a taste of the Black Forest (with maybe
civilisations and societies, music, high art and a fair degree of skulduggery. A little closer to home, a cruise on the Moselle – a tributary of the Rhine that twists and turns its way for nearly 340 miles through France, Luxembourg and Germany – offers picture-postcard views of a lush river valley graced with vertiginous, terraced
some gâteau), a mountain rail journey into the Bernese Oberland featuring views of the Eiger, and Lucerne – one of the world’s most attractive cities. From £1,299pp, departing until the end of October 2019, and May to October 2020.
vineyards, hilltop castles and romantic wine villages. First cultivated by the Romans, the Moselle is one of Germany’s most spectacular wine regions – Riesling a speciality of the house – so it’s little surprise that the area hosts a range of fantastic wine festivals. Staying in Germany for its length is the Main, another major tributary of the Rhine. A treat for nostalgia lovers, the river flows through a quintessentially German landscape of colourful, timber-framed houses, spiretopped towers and castles, rolling hillsides, imposing palaces and a countryside steeped in folklore. Different again is the Seine, possibly Europe’s most famous river and almost certainly its most romantic. Neatly dividing Paris into distinctive left and right banks, a journey along the Seine captures the true essence of this remarkable city. Misty-eyed romantics will be in thrall to the sights as the river passes beneath the city’s 37 bridges before Normandy awaits – a seductive and often poignant landscape of apple orchards,
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verdant countryside, Second World War beachheads and chalk-white cliffs. There’s fascinating history around every turn, with the chance to learn how the likes of Joan of Arc, Richard the Lionheart and William the Conqueror all left their mark on this great river – and how the river left its mark on them. And don’t forget the delightful Dutch Waterways. This collection of small rivers, canals and inland seas offer a wonderfully colourful introduction to the picturesque low countries. Our two superb Dutch waterway cruises begin and end in Amsterdam – a treat in itself – before exploring the striking Belgian towns of Bruges, Antwerp and Ghent. Garden lovers can witness the vibrant Dutch bulbfields in spring, including the magnificent Keukenhof Gardens. Of course, there are also options further afield. A trip down the Volga, for instance, reveals a window into the world of Russian art and architecture like no other; the Yangtze tells the story of China, both ancient and modern; the Mekong, the lifeblood of southeast Asia, provides access to some of the region’s most enthralling sites; while the Nile, the world’s longest river, offers a spellbinding trip back in time to the land of pharaohs, sphinxes and pyramids. The options are rich and varied, from shorter jaunts to trips of a lifetime. Now it’s up to you to decide.
Clockwise from here: Vineyards on the Douro; traditional Rabelo boats transport port barrels on the Douro to Porto; the medieval village of Castelo Rodrigo
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THE DOURO Now tamed by a series of locks, the once wild Douro journeys for more than 550 miles (70 of them forming the border between Portugal and Spain) through a timeless landscape of steep canyon walls, ancient villages and lush hillsides that still feels relatively undiscovered. The area’s microclimate allows for the cultivation of olives, almonds and grapes for making the famous Port wine. A delight from start to finish, a cruise on the Douro will take you deep into one
of the most unspoilt corners of Europe. The Douro, Porto & Salamanca River Cruise offers eight days including a tour of Porto and a visit to port wine cellars; an excursion to the UNESCO World Heritage city of Salamanca; a succession of medieval hilltop villages; wine-tasting, from sparkling to Mateus Rosé and Port wine; and dinner at a Portuguese quinta. From £1,299pp, departing until early November 2019, and March to November 2020.
TAKE YOU R SENSES ON A VOYAG E Discover Europe’s wonderful waterways, from the sun-soaked Douro to the mighty Danube
THE BLUE DANUBE Soak up all that Europe’s most cultured river has to offer, featuring Baroque architecture, medieval cities and the sights that inspired Strauss and Mozart. 8 DAYS FROM £1,199PP UPGRADE TO A LUXURIOUS FRENCH BALCONY SUITE FROM ONLY £100PP THIS OCTOBER
BUDAPEST TO THE BLACK SEA Discover extraordinary scenery, and explore the architectural and cultural heritage of towns and cities that are steeped in history and tradition, once beyond the Iron Curtain. 15 DAYS FROM £2,949PP COMPLIMENTARY DRINKS PACKAGE AND GRATUITIES INCLUDED ON 23, 27 & 30 SEPTEMBER 19 DEPARTURES
To find out more or order a brochure visit rivieratravel.co.uk/discover or call 01283 744 361
ABTA No. V4744
Riviera Travel booking terms and conditions apply. Prices based on two people sharing and are correct at time of print. Upgrade from £100pp applies to selected departures in October 2019 on The Blue Danube only. Complimentary drinks package and gratuities only available on Budapest to the Black Sea on the dates shown, and is our standard drinks package which offers a selection of drinks during lunch and dinner on board. See website for full details of the drinks package.
Although equal in beauty, each of northern Italy’s better-known lakes – Garda, Como and Maggiore – has its own distinct character and a wealth of unique sights to explore. WORDS: HAZEL PLUSH
Towering peaks, authentic villages and fragrant lemon groves punctuate the shores of Italy’s largest lake.
ROMANCING THE ITALIAN LAKES
It’s the mountains that capture your eye first: great, cloud-grazing peaks that remain snow-capped long into spring. Towering over the shores of Lago di Garda like bodyguards flanking a movie star, their muscle is the perfect foil for Garda’s fragile beauty – her shimmering curves hugging them tight. To the lake’s south the peaks dissolve into hills, undulating down to the glassy waters. But the north is far wilder: all plunging cliffs with tiny villages tucked beneath and the shore just a few steps beyond. Lake Garda is the easternmost lake and Italy’s largest – the sapphire star of this dazzling region. Covering 370sqkm, it is spread across three regions: Lombardy in the west, Veneto in the east and Trentino-Alto Adige in the north, its coast dotted with fishing villages and spa towns that date back to the Roman Empire. Despite the area’s fame the settlements remain wonderfully authentic: Limone sul Garda is renowned for its sweet-scented lemon groves, Salò boasts a pretty lakeside promenade, while Gargnano’s beach is a delightful spot for a dip. On the east shore Scaligero Castle looms large. It is one of Italy’s best-preserved
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Eight days from £639pp on our tour Lake Garda, Venice & Verona, departing until the end of October 2019 and from April to October 2020. Lake Garda & the Best of the Veneto for Solo Travellers offers eight days from £1,239pp. 20 / RIVIERA TRAVEL / SUMMER 2019
Clockwise from here: Limone sul Garda; Sirmione’s entrance walls; street view in Malcesine
fortresses, where German poet and novelist Goethe was briefly imprisoned in 1786, suspected of spying. In fact, he was simply sketching the region, enraptured by its beauty as many other writers and artists have been. Lord Tennyson fell for its “summer glow”, Lord Byron holidayed here, while DH Lawrence described the waters as “as beautiful as the beginning of creation”. While our Lake Garda holidays include excursions in the company of local guides or our knowledgeable tour manager, there is also plenty of time to discover the region’s
riches independently. “You’ll be staying in the beautiful towns of Riva del Garda or Malcesine,” advises Joanne Lynn, Head of Short Haul Product at Riviera Travel, who lived in the Italian Lakes region for 10 years. “It’s very easy to hop around by boat and I recommend taking the cable car to the summit of Monte Baldo near Malcesine for breathtaking views. If you’re a keen walker, you’ll love the 10km hiking and cycling trail between Riva del Garda and Valle di Ledro. Or, for a more relaxing day, explore the maze of backstreets and local shops in Riva del Garda and Malcesine.” For many visitors Sirmione in the south is an unforgettable highlight. The town itself is home to exquisitely painted churches and a magnificent 13th-century castle, while its peninsula is adorned with millionaires’ mansions and lakefront restaurants. Order a glass of chilled dry Lugana (from vineyards on the southern shore) and feast your eyes on those soaring peaks and lapis lazuli waters. It’s a view that’ll steal your breath away.
DH Lawrence described the waters as ‘as beautiful as the beginning of creation’
OUR CUSTOMERS SAY “A beautiful area. Malcesine on Lake Garda was lovely... the castle, shops, cable car, lake, boat trips, cafés and mountain scenery.” Jean, Chichester “My husband and I thoroughly enjoyed the Lake Como tour. Every day was different and we thought it was really well put together. Hotel Cadenabbia was great – friendly staff, excellent food, comfortable rooms and in a good location with spectacular views across the lake to Bellagio.” Stephanie, Burton on Trent “Our trip to Lake Maggiore was excellent and the Regina Palace Hotel exceeded our expectations. The excursions were well organised and again lived up to our expectations.” Cecilia, Leicester
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Clockwise from here: Villa Carlottaâ€™s lakeside gardens; a scenic street in Bellagio; shad left out to dry; vibrant flowerbeds at Villa Carlotta; enjoying a glass in Varenna; statue in the garden of Villa del Balbianello
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CATCH OF THE DAY
LAKE COMO Opulent villas, lush gardens and traditional fishing villages line the shores of this famed lake.
ellagio, Cadenabbia, Menaggio... the names of Lake Como’s villages trip off the tongue like an incantation – a love spell, perhaps, because this region is utterly enchanting. The ancient Romans fell head over heels for Lago di Como’s glittering waters and lushly forested hills: in 196 BC they blazed a trail through northern Italy’s mountains, convinced that they wouldn’t find a better spot for their lavish villas and spas. They weren’t wrong: you can see their mighty creations for yourself at Como’s Museo Archeologico Paolo Giovio and the excavations of Viale Lecco baths. Today the lake’s shores remain just as desirable: behind the towering cypress trees and tiered gardens lie villas owned by Richard Branson, the Clooneys and others. The elegant village of Bellagio, nestled where the three ‘legs’ of the lake meet, is renowned for its sumptuous art galleries and the five-star TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
Grand Hotel Villa Serbelloni, while the area’s Hollywood credits include Casino Royale and Ocean’s Twelve. However, Como is unfazed by celebrity: many of its lakeside villages are traditional fishing hubs, with pebbly beaches, tiny churches and trattorias serving authentic cuisine without fanfare. “It’s quite the contrast,” says Joanne. “Around villages such as Varenna, fishing boats bob in the harbours and life runs at a very slow pace. They’re definitely not putting on a show for the tourists.” Our holidays explore all of Como’s corners, from ritzy residences to humble hamlets. You can savour freshwater fish in family-run restaurants, take local boats between the ports and explore the hills around Cadenabbia on wild herb-scented trails.
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The eight-day trip Lake Como, St Moritz & the Bernina Express explores Como, Maggiore and jewels of the Alps. From £799pp, departing until the end of October 2019 and April to October 2020.
The lakes offer a bounty of freshwater fish, so don’t miss these local specialities: LUCCIO E POLENTA Pike fillets in a garlic sauce served on creamy polenta. BIGOLI CON LE SARDE Sardines tossed with bigoli pasta, cherry tomatoes and capers. ALBORELLE Tiny fish deep-fried in batter and served with lashings of fresh lemon. RISOTTO CON PESCE PERSICO Risotto with fresh perch, sage and dry white wine. MISSOLTINI Dried and salted shad seasoned with olive oil and served with bread.
For glitz and glamour look no further than Villa del Balbianello, a beautiful 18th-century mansion set amid immaculate gardens and marble fountains. “We charter a private boat to visit and take a tour of the gardens. It’s a very special way to see one of Como’s greatest treasures,” says Joanne. Nearby, Villa Carlotta boasts a priceless collection of art and sculpture, with pieces by Italian and international masters all set amid opulent Neoclassical architecture. Villa Monastero’s tiered gardens tumble down to the water, perfumed with pink azaleas and fruit trees, while Villa Melzi’s ornate white facade shimmers on the shore like a pearl. Some of Como’s villas have also been transformed into beautiful hotels, such as the Grand Hotel Cadenabbia, where many of our holidays are based. This former palace sits right on the water, with a sun-kissed roof terrace and swimming pool. Up here, with the glittering lake at your feet, you’ll fall for Como just like the Romans did more than 2,000 years ago. SUMMER 2019 / WWW.RIVIERATRAVEL.CO.UK / 23
LAKE MAGGIORE Stretching all the way up to Switzerland, this idyllic lake is dotted with a number of beautiful islands.
n the calmest of days, when the waters of Lake Maggiore show barely a ripple, Isola Bella seems to stand even taller, as if admiring her own reflection in the water. The island’s intricate 17th-century palace basks in the sun and Bella’s immaculate gardens – tiered like a wedding cake – waft their perfume over the water. But there’s a rival for your attentions. Nearby Isola Madre also boasts a baroque pearl-white palazzo and gardens equally lush and fragrant. On both islands white peacocks strut between scarlet hibiscus blooms and classical statues, like fussy landowners inspecting their grounds. But this beauty contest remains unresolved – you’ll have to decide the victor yourself. Long and twisted in shape, Lake Maggiore, Italy’s second-largest, stretches from
Lombardy all the way up into Switzerland. While the north is wild and untamed, the south is rich in opulent villas, glorious gardens and the beautiful Borromean Islands. Named after the Florentine family who own it, the archipelago comprises of Bella, Madre and three far more modest isles including Isola dei Pescatori – all just across the water from the town of Stresa. In the 17th and 18th centuries European aristocrats flocked to Stresa on their lavish Grand Tours to breathe the fresh mountain air, bathe in the crystal-clear waters and visit the ornate island palaces. Today you can follow in their footsteps: Stresa is where our Lake Maggiore holidays are based, with one of our hotels being the grand Regina Palace Hotel. “Visiting Stresa is like stepping back in time,” says Joanne. “Its lakeside promenade is beautiful, lined with fabulous hotels all competing to have the best gardens… and the Regina has one of the finest.” Its grounds are so exquisite that passers-by often stop to admire them, lingering to inhale the heady blooms.
An immersive tour of Isola Bella awaits for those on our Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn trip, with a private boat trip to the island and an expert local guide to bring its gardens and palace to life. Many of our itineraries also include a full day to explore Stresa and its surroundings independently – so where to venture first? “You could travel to Isola Madre to see how the island compares to Bella,” says Joanne, “or catch a boat across to Intra to visit the Botanical Gardens of Villa Taranto.” Alternatively, take the cable car up Monte Mottarone for views over Stresa, Maggiore and as far as Lake Orta. As you rise higher, the beauty contest winner becomes clear: Bella and Madre are certainly knock-outs, but it’s the shimmering waters of Lake Maggiore that really steal the crown.
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The eight-day tour Lake Maggiore, Orta & the Matterhorn, based in Stresa, also includes day trips to Lake Como and Lake Orta. From £999pp, departing until October 2019, and April to October 2020. 24 / RIVIERA TRAVEL / SUMMER 2019
Clockwise from here: View towards Isola Bella; tiny Isola San Giulio in Lake Orta; tiered palace gardens of Isola Bella; white peacock; Monte Mottarone cable car; flower gardens on Isola Madre
White peacocks strut between hibiscus blooms and classical statues
THREE MORE LOVELY LAKES
LAKE ORTA This woodland idyll has a pretty medieval village and a Moorish-style palace on its shores, all with a mighty mountainous backdrop. LAKE LEDRO Walk the 10km Strada del Ponale trail from Riva del Garda to Lake Ledro to find this tranquil body of water and its four beaches. LAKE LUGANO Straddling the border between Italy and Switzerland, Lake Lugano is a hotspot for hiking, fishing and shopping.
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A LIFE IN PLANTS
From Fleet Street to Japan and Madeira, tour manager John Fitzpatrick has enjoyed a varied career. There has been one great constant throughout, though: a love of plants.
INTERVIEW: RICH ROWE Japan is a place I’d always wanted to visit, so I consider myself very lucky to lead tours here. And the gardens are superb. One thing you soon learn is that everything is immaculate. I appreciate the great discipline that goes into them. My own ideal garden would be a tropical one. That’s probably why I like Madeira so much – plenty of people visit for its interesting plants, wildflowers and gardens. I first grew plants as a boy with my dad in Falkirk where I grew up. We had a garden packed full of vegetables. 26 / RIVIERA TRAVEL / SUMMER 2019
Although I loved gardening, I didn’t do anything about it to begin with. Instead, I took my first steps into journalism. I worked as a trainee reporter for my local newspaper before moving to Bristol and then London, where I had a career as a sub-editor on a variety of nationals including the Sunday Times, Financial Times and London Evening Standard. It was interesting work, but I reached the point where it had become a desk job. The hours on a national newspaper are not very social, so when I was in my 40s I decided to make a change and do what I really
enjoyed. I went back to college and did a Royal Horticultural Society course one day a week and qualified as a horticulturist. My gardening career took off more quickly than expected. I started doing work in private gardens and gradually scaled back the newspaper side until I eventually dropped it altogether. I was also editor of the Alpine Garden Society’s quarterly journal for eight years. It led to some memorable encounters. For example, Lord Heseltine, a very knowledgeable gardener and a member of the society, asked us to help him plant up a section of his garden made from a collection of old stone drinking troughs. My role at the Alpine Garden Society involved a variety of projects. We had a team that staged alpine garden displays at the Chelsea Flower Show. Four of the ones I was involved in won gold medals.
GLORIOUS GARDENS Here is our selection of Riviera Travel tours that will appeal to garden lovers.
Madeira, the Pearl of the Atlantic This eight-day tour from £849pp includes visits to the beautiful Palheiro Gardens and the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens. Departs up to November 2019, and February to November 2020.
Japanese garden in Madeira’s Monte Palace Tropical Gardens Left: Bird of paradise is among the exotic species that thrive in Madeira
Alpines cover a formidable range of plants including many common garden plants. People often think they don’t have alpines in their garden, but plants such as snowdrops, daffodils and crocuses all have alpine origins. Garden design doesn’t interest me greatly. I’m more fascinated by the plants themselves. My own garden has been allowed to develop with no overall plan. I haven’t designed it at all. Plants are natural things, as are gardens, so they are always evolving. Sometimes you do things that don’t work out and you try something else instead. You learn from your mistakes. Although my garden is quite free-spirited, I need to keep it in some kind of order. I am away travelling a lot, so can’t let it go too wild. To me, one of the nicest things about gardening is what turns up. I now have pyramidal orchids growing in my garden for the first time – it’s fantastic. TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
Originally from Falkirk, Scotland, and now based in the Welsh borders, John Fitzpatrick leads Riviera Travel tours in Japan, Madeira, Helsinki, Tallinn and Riga. His love of travel led to him becoming a tour manager after a career on Fleet Street. His favourite gardens include the Shukkeien Garden in Hiroshima and the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens in Madeira.
Amsterdam, Kinderdijk & the Dutch Bulbfields River Cruise On this five-day spring river cruise, witness Holland’s colourful bulbfields and experience Keukenhof Gardens. With more than seven million bulbs, including 800 varieties of tulips, the gardens feature the largest floral display in the world. From £799pp, departs April 2020.
Monet’s Garden, The Loire Valley & Fontainebleau Visit the artist’s beloved water lily pond and the finest château gardens on this seven-day trip from £729pp. Departs up to September 2019, and April to October 2020.
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JOURNEY YOUR WAY
TAKE A HIKE Immerse yourself in verdant alpine scenery on the Austrian Lakes & Mountains tour Top: The spectacular Krimml Waterfalls is a highlight on this active holiday
When youâ€™re out walking you see and experience a different side of things
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SLOVENIA, A WELL-KEPT SECRET
If you enjoy country walks when at home and prefer to take the path less travelled when abroad, a new kind of active holiday from Riviera Travel is just right for you. WORDS: IDA MASPERO
weekend walk, or even a daily one, is an integral part of life for many of us – a chance to stretch the legs and take in the fresh air, immerse ourselves in the outdoors, and pause and notice the little things… all the while chatting with a companion as we amble along a favourite footpath. So why not do the same when you are on holiday? This is exactly the thinking behind the new set of Walk and Discover tours, which have been on sale since January and with maiden departures scheduled for September. The exciting destinations on offer in the new suite of itineraries include unseen Slovenia, the gorgeous Italian Lakes region, evocative Tuscany, sun-baked Provence and Austria’s awe-inspiring Lake District. “The inspiration for this new tour concept came from our customers, who told us – either in letters or verbal feedback via tour managers – that they would like to have had a walk or two included as part of their trips,” explains Will Sarson, Head of Specialist Product at Riviera Travel. “Many of our customers are more active: they like going out for walks and would also enjoy having that experience while exploring a different country. However, they wouldn’t necessarily choose a specialist walking holiday where the emphasis is on clocking up the miles every single day. TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
lovenia is not really on the tourist trail, but once you know about it, you’ll be smitten,” enthuses Will Sarson. The jewels of this mountainous country are lakes Bled and Bohinj, each with its own character and scenery. With medieval Bled Castle perched high on craggy cliffs and a fairy-tale church on an island at its centre, Lake Bled is dramatic and seriously photogenic. The day’s walk here takes you along boardwalks through Vintgar Gorge before emerging to breathtaking views of the lake. Lake Bohinj is quieter and a real gem. Tucked into the forest-clad folds of the Julian Alps, its glacial waters are crystal clear and an almost impossible shade of turquoise. “It looks like paradise,” observes Will. The walking routes visit the stunning Savica, Slovenia’s most famous waterfall. Either side of the two walking days at Bled and Bohinj are two discover days. The first provides a chance to explore the capital, Ljubljana, while the second takes in the coastal town of Piran. “Slovenia only has a sliver of coastline, but what it has is very chic – Piran’s Venetian-Gothic architecture is reminiscent
of nearby Venice,” says Will. “We also go to the Lipica Stud Farm, where the famed Lipizzaner performing horses are bred. Even for those with no interest in things equine, it’s truly fascinating.” The six-day tour is based in Ljubljana, “probably one of my favourite European capitals,” Will muses. “Nice and compact, it’s a genuine city not yet blighted by tourism. A great place to sip a coffee, soak up daily life and just be.”
Slovenia’s serene Lake Bohinj Top: Vintgar Gorge; café culture in Ljubljana
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JOURNEY YOUR WAY
Fairy-tale view of Lake Bled in Slovenia, with Bled Castle perched on the cliffs and the central island with pilgrimage church
There is a purpose, destination or story behind every walk
“So we have designed a set of holidays for people who are after a rich cultural experience with the added bonus of a walk two or three times during the trip,” Will continues. “These holidays build on what we already do well: they are essentially adaptations of some of our classic tours. “We chose destinations where walks through amazing scenery can be combined with interesting cultural sightseeing on nonwalking days. We’ve taken existing itineraries and adapted them to incorporate an active element. That means the hotels are tried and tested, and the outline itinerary has been appreciated by many guests before.” There is a purpose, destination or story behind every walk on a Walk and Discover trip, explains Will. “It’s not just walking for the sake of it – the walk might take you to a great view, a rural hamlet or church, or an awe-inspiring natural feature such as a lake, gorge or waterfall.” Walks are undertaken in small groups with an expert local walking guide who knows all about the local fauna and flora, geology, culture and history of the region. “Curious and adventurous of mind, our local walking guides have tremendous 30 / RIVIERA TRAVEL / SUMMER 2019
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Walk and Discover holidays currently available (all are eight days unless stated otherwise): • Slovenia & Lake Bled departing September and October 2019 and April to October 2020, six days from £739pp • Majestic Provence departing October 2019 and April to October 2020, from £999pp • Florence & Tuscany departing October 2019 and April to October 2020, from £1,179pp • The Italian Lakes departing September and October 2019, plus April to October 2020, from £1,099pp • Austrian Lakes & Mountains departing October 2019, from £1,099pp • New Zealand departing 14 November 2019, 25 days from £6,299pp. For more information about Walk and Discover holidays, visit www.rivieratravel.co.uk/walk
general knowledge, so no question will remain unanswered,” adds Will. To cater for different levels of fitness every walk has an easy or moderate route option. Travellers can choose on the day of the walk which option they would like to do depending on their energy levels that day. “The easy routes usually cover three to four miles on fairly flat terrain, while the moderate ones may be five to six miles with a bit more incline and rougher paths,” explains Will. “Both options are perfectly manageable for the majority of our more active customers.” No superhuman fitness or special equipment needed, just a sturdy pair of walking shoes or boots, comfortable clothes, a day pack, sun protection… and a desire to experience a place with fresh eyes. “When you’re out walking through the rural landscape and villages you see and experience a different side of things,” concludes Will. “You’re off the beaten track, immersing yourself in everyday life with the chance to stop and chat to locals. It’s the ideal way to interact with a place. We like to think that our new Walk and Discover holidays will provide you with a balanced, rounded sense of the culture and landscape.”
etrace the steps of renowned postimpressionist artists Paul Cézanne and Vincent van Gogh during an active holiday in Provence. You might recognise the distinctive landscapes that inspired some of their paintings: forest-clad hillsides, sun-baked villages, craggy rock formations, fields of lavender and sunflowers, all bathed in warm, glowing light. Based in Aix-en-Provence, the ‘city of a thousand fountains’ buzzing with café terraces and markets, this holiday features three walks. The first leads you by the waters of the Bimont and Zola dams, with impressive views across to Montagne SainteVictoire, whose jagged peak was the subject of a series of over 70 paintings by Cézanne. Stroll through trademark Provençal lavender fields at Sénanque Abbey on the second walk, which explores the wooded valleys, ancient villages and famed light of the Luberon mountains. The picturesque hilltop town of Les Baux-de-Provence is the start and end point of the third walk. Explore the limestone features of the curiously named
Valley of Hell. The morning’s walking is followed by a visit to Saint-Paul de Mausole, the monastery turned asylum where Van Gogh created Starry Night among 150 other paintings. Excursions on non-walking days are equally intriguing, with much to appeal to art aficionados and nature lovers alike. Notable is the day exploring the Camargue wetlands, teeming with animal life, including flamingos and semi-feral white Camargue horses; and another discovering Avignon, where the Petit Palais Museum houses a fine collection of medieval and renaissance paintings. Even those who have visited Provence before will find plenty of reasons to return here with fresh eyes and walking boots.
Clockwise from here: Sénanque Abbey surrounded by lavender; reconstruction of Vincent van Gogh’s room at Saint-Paul de Mausole; Camargue horses; view of Les Baux-de-Provence; market stall in Aix-en-Provence
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JOURNEY YOUR WAY
Choose to explore atmospheric Mantova or opt instead for the gardens of Parco Sigurtà (below) on the Hidden Italy tour
If you think Riviera Travel itineraries are fixed, think again. Whatever your interests and preferred pace of travel, you’ll be spoilt for choice with an ever-expanding range of options. WORDS: HAZEL PLUSH
ou might assume all our tour itineraries are fixed and perhaps wonder whether they might be a little too rigid for you. After all, your idea of a dream holiday is as unique as you are. Which is why Riviera Travel continues to add ways to personalise your cruise or tour. Our latest initiative is called
You’re Free to Choose: from 2020, a selection of classic European tours will offer the opportunity to choose between certain experiences or excursions, such as museum visits, walking tours and boat trips. There are no added costs or hidden extras – just the opportunity to do something you love and with plenty of time to enjoy it.
Whenever you see the You’re Free to Choose panel in the brochure you can take your pick from two options to create your perfect day. For example, on the Hidden Italy tour you can choose how to spend the rest of your day after the guided tour of Mantova: either keep exploring the city and visit its magnificent Palazzo Ducale or visit the beautiful Parco Sigurtà gardens. On the Florence and Tuscany itinerary you can immerse yourself in Florence’s famous highlights or take a walking tour of the city’s undiscovered sights. “Tours are evolving,” explains Joanne Lynn, Head of Short Haul Product at Riviera Travel. “Everybody is different, so why shouldn’t your holiday be too? You might love museums, but your partner prefers gardens; or perhaps you’d rather swap your sea legs for a land-based tour. When you’re booking we’ll ask which excursion you’d like to do – and if you change your mind, just let us know before the trip’s cut-off point.” This isn’t the only way customers are being offered more choice. Many would already have taken advantage of Personalise Your Holiday – the option to add hand-picked experiences at a surcharge, making dream holidays even more memorable.
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MAKE IT YOUR OWN Three more classic tours with You’re Free to Choose option, departing in 2020.
On this action-packed trip choose from two iconic experiences: the chance to see humpback whales and orcas on a whale watching trip, or a relaxing soak in the spectacular Blue Lagoon.
You could catch a ballet performance in St Petersburg, take a helicopter tour of the Alps or spend an evening at the Verona Opera, to name but a few. New for 2020 are a classical concert on the Venice – Classic & Undiscovered holiday and a paella cooking class on Valencia & the Orange Grove Coast. On river cruises there is an equally varied range of Personalise Your Holiday options. Sometimes it’s the little things that make all the difference. When booking your trip you could choose to add the convenience of pre-arranged airport parking, lounge access and fast-track passport control, as well as upgrades to flights, train tickets or hotel rooms. You can also pre-book dining packages on some tours so you know exactly what to budget for. On cruises and certain long-haul tours you can relax into holiday mode before the departure day by booking an extension – arrive a little earlier and enjoy a few nights in the hotel of your choice. And if you fancy some time to unwind before travelling home, think about booking an extended stay in your final hotel or adding a second guided tour. “Long gone are the days when everybody always had to do the same things, eat at the same time and never venture away from the group,” says Joanne. “Our itineraries have taken years to perfect and now you can make them that little bit more tailored to you. Better yet, you can book it all in one place.” So, what’s your idea of holiday heaven? It’s time to take things personally. TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
The charming town of Tivoli is yours to discover on this immersive cultural break. We’ve added a half day in Tivoli with the option of visiting either the grand gardens of Villa d’Este or the Roman ruins of Hadrian’s Villa.
AUSTRIAN TYROL AND INNSBRUCK
On this eight-day trip you can take a walking tour of Bolzano to discover castles, the cathedral and Tyrolean cafés, or visit the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology to meet 5,000-year-old Oetzi the Iceman, one of the world’s greatest archaeological finds.
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PHOTO ESSAY XXXXX
The Glacier Express winds its way through iconic Swiss scenery such as the Matterhorn (below left) and cows grazing in alpine meadows (below right)
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WORLD’S GREATEST RAIL ADVENTURES Speed your way through spectacular scenery on some of the greatest train journeys on Earth. WORDS: OLIVIA LEE
THE GLACIER EXPRESS, SWITZERLAND
Riding the Glacier Express in Switzerland feels like soaring. As one of the slowest express trains in the world, it meanders along valleys, glides past silver rivers and weaves its way through the mountains, averaging around 24mph. The start and end points are two of Switzerland’s most iconic mountain resorts, Zermatt and St Moritz, and the Glacier Express travels between the two (in either direction) in TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
around seven hours. The highest point on the journey is the Oberalp Pass at over 2,000m, winding you up into the clouds. The mountainous lunar landscape soon changes as you descend down the other side, where the hills are as bright as highlighter pens, strewn with wildflowers in pink and yellow, and dotted with cows lazing in the sun. Sit back with a crisp Swiss wine and watch the colourful view slide by.
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The eight-day tour Switzerland, the Matterhorn & the Glacier Express starts from £1,169pp and departs regularly until the end of September 2019, and May to October 2020. SUMMER 2019 / WWW.RIVIERATRAVEL.CO.UK / 35
Watch vividly coloured glacial lakes such as Moraine Lake glide by panoramic windows (inset)
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINEER, CANADA
The Rocky Mountains stretch some 1,500km through Canada, binding British Columbia and Alberta together like a sticking plaster down the border. This is wild country: a sweep of coniferous forests, white-peaked mountains and lakes such a vibrant shade of turquoise it’s like peering into a paint tin. Cutting through this landscape is Canada’s Rocky
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Our nine-day tour Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer includes two days on board and is priced from £2,849pp. Departs May to September 2020.
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Mountaineer, a train that wanders on a two-day, 585-mile journey from Banff to Vancouver, the train’s enormous panoramic windows opening up the scenery like a film reel. Watch as the gentle rolling prairies of Alberta give way to wildflower valleys and glacial lakes, with the Rockies’ ever-present grey and white peaks in the background.
THE DECCAN ODYSSEY, INDIA
Few countries are as evocative as India. Every moment spent there lures you further into its labyrinth of colour. However, India is vast: desert plains turn into verdant jungle, rural villages into chaotic metropolises, and tropical beaches into tea fields. If you want to understand it, you need to travel through it – and the best way to do that is by train. The Deccan Odyssey, one of India’s most luxurious trains, whisks you from Delhi to Mumbai in seven days, stopping at some of India’s most iconic cities. On the way you can explore Agra, home of the magnificent Taj Mahal, and spend a day in the picture-pretty Pink City of Jaipur.
You can visit the extraordinary Ellora Caves – temples built into a sheer rock face – and take a boat ride across Lake Pichola in Udaipur, where the majestic City Palace reflects like a photograph in the water. The journey finishes in the 24-hour bustle of Mumbai, where the tastes, sounds and smells of this intoxicatingly colourful country reach their pinnacle. WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Our 11-day tour The Heart of India by Luxury Train starts from £3,699pp, with departures until November 2019, and January to April 2020.
The colourful streets of Mumbai end a journey aboard the opulent Deccan Express, which includes a visit to Udaipur’s City Palace (inset)
TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
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Experience a safari in the Kruger National Park, stunning Garden Route scenery (below) and luxury on board this incredible train journey
ROVOS RAIL, SOUTH AFRICA
South Africa is a country of staggering diversity: coastlines, vineyards, old-growth forests, deserts, valleys, mountains and savannah. Add to this the fact that it’s among Africa’s best safari destinations, where the Big Five (lion, leopard, rhinoceros, elephant and Cape buffalo ) are frequently spotted on game drives and safari walks, and you have a prime destination for adventure. Setting off through its heart is Rovos Rail. This luxury train winds through the vast and varied landscapes on a two-day journey from Cape Town to Pretoria, calling at Kimberley – South Africa’s most famous diamond-producing town – before hurtling onto Johannesburg and the ‘gold fields’ of Witwatersrand. Every time you look out of the window you’ll see a different side of the country. Enjoy dinner looking at the vineyards, fall asleep to the mountains and wake to a South African savannah sunrise.
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WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE The epic 18-day tour South Africa with Rovos Rail starts from £4,299pp and departs February, March and September 2020.
Speeding through the Japanese countryside at 150–200mph, the Shinkansen – Japan’s super-slick bullet train network – is one of the fastest landbased means of transport in the world. Despite the speeds, the view through the window seems to roll by gently – a mix of rice paddies, ocean, mountain and city, with the most impressive view of all dominating the landscape: Mount Fuji. This symmetrical dome, snow-capped for most of the year, rises like an enormous blue giant from the surrounding farmland. Given that over 70% of Japan is mountainous, there’s no shortage of photo opportunities, but Fuji tops them all. The sacred mountain feels so close to the tracks that it’s worth riding for this one view alone – a front-row seat to Japan’s most revered symbol. But if you need more incentive, there’s the thrill of the speed, the characteristically friendly service, and, best of all, ekiben: delicious lunch boxes designed for the train.
WE’LL TAKE YOU THERE Japan: Land of the Rising Sun takes in the highlights of this iconic country in 13 days. Prices start from £3,659pp with departures until November 2019, and March to November 2020.
Whizz past Mount Fuji aboard the Shinkansen bullet train en route to Hiroshima Bay and the picturesque island of Miyajima (above) with its ‘floating’ torii gate
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BEHIND THE SCENES
The greatest satisfaction comes from seeing passengers having the time of their lives
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DAY IN THE LIFE…
Captain Tucicovenco Ever wondered what life is like at the helm of one of Riviera Travel’s luxurious river cruise ships? We talk to Captain Alexander Tucicovenco of the MS Thomas Hardy for the inside track. Where are you from? I was born and raised in Braila, a port city on the Danube in eastern Romania. How did you come to choose a career as a ship’s captain? It was my childhood dream. My father was a captain and as a child I spent a lot of time with him on ships. When I was a teenager I promised myself that one day I would be the captain of a big white cruise ship. How long have you been working on cruise ships? I started working on ships as a sailor and engineer in 1989 at the age of 19. In 1996 I went to university to complete my Ship Academy qualifications and then began working on a seagoing cargo ship as a first officer. I progressed to captain of a cargo ship on the river Danube. In 2000 I switched to cruise ships and have been working on them ever since. Which rivers do you sail on? I sail on most of the rivers in Europe. I have a licence for the Rhine river and all of the Danube. In addition I have a sea licence as first officer for ocean cruising. Life has given me the opportunity to sail everywhere, including most of the rivers in Europe – the Rhine, Moselle, Saar, Seine, Rhône, Saône, Tisa, Elbe and Main.
Main image: MS Thomas Hardy cruises through Budapest on the Danube Insets from left to right: the Danube’s Iron Gates Gorge; Captain Alexander Tucicovenko; evening view of Cochem on the Moselle river TO BOOK, CALL 01283 744361
What is your favourite river or destination, and why? Naturally, my favourite river is the Danube! However, I also love to sail on the Moselle and the waterways of Holland and Belgium, as well as on sea cruises when possible. Please tell us about the range of responsibilities you cover. The captain of a cruise ship has a really big set of responsibilities. As captain you are
responsible for the welfare of the passengers and crew of the entire ship, and you are mentor, teacher and father to the crew. There are often logistical factors to consider. For example, if the river levels are too high or low, the itinerary might need to change. With so many potential aspects to consider, the captain has to expect the unexpected. Tell us about your typical day. My day starts early in the morning at 6am, when I go to the bridge of the ship to assess the daily situation. I often sail parts of the itinerary myself, especially the difficult sections of the river. During the day I might meet with the cruise director and hotel manager, and catch up on some office work planning the daily duties of the nautical crew and so forth. And, of course, I also take time to talk to our guests. What are some of the more challenging, interesting or unusual aspects of your job? The captain’s job involves new challenges every day. I have to remain calm and focused to ensure our staff are content, and our passengers are always comfortable and enjoying the journey. And what are the most satisfying aspects? I love what I do. The greatest satisfaction comes from seeing the crew happy and the passengers having the time of their lives. It is great to know that passengers go home after a cruise with us and tell stories of how much they enjoyed the trip. And it’s even better when you see passengers returning for another cruise. What are your top tips for your passengers? Travel as often as you can, as it’s always a great experience. Choose Riviera Travel and the MS Thomas Hardy, as you will have an unforgettable experience! SUMMER 2019 / WWW.RIVIERATRAVEL.CO.UK / 41
Here at Riviera Travel we love to hear about your holiday experiences – memorable highlights, hilarious anecdotes and what you have to say about our people! Here’s what some of our guests have told us recently. “SO FRIENDLY AND APPROACHABLE”
“DELIGHTED WITH THE WELCOME AND SERVICE” “I wish to pass on my congratulations for our holiday on the Blue Danube cruise aboard MS William Wordsworth. We were delighted with the quality of the ship, but even more delighted with the welcome and service. Thanks to our Cruise Director, Sabi, for keeping us informed and entertained; and to the captain and crew for making this a memorable break.” Nigel and Lesley Morrall via website
“I recently had a wonderful holiday on the Vietnam & Cambodia for Solo Travellers tour. It was the first time I had travelled either solo or with Riviera Travel, so I was doubly impressed by the itinerary, organisation, class of hotels and fantastic mix of cultural, social and historical activities.
The person who made it all so great was our tour manager, Michele. She was the most unflappable person I’ve ever met… so friendly and approachable, on duty 24/7 and always with a smile and some interesting tips to tell us. Her local knowledge was really excellent.” Linda Kitchin via website
RHÔNE CRUISE, A POEM “We were all such a happy crew Us Solos and our servers too On Lord Byron Tours? So varied, guided with care, The plans and maps beyond compare, Sound system too. One of the many happy shocks Was to find we had 15 locks Down south to Arles Fine food, new friends, way down from Beaune, An historic time on the RhÔne! Five-star for sure.” Patricia Dodd via website
“ALL OUR EXPECTATIONS WERE MET” “Our recent trip to Umbria, Perugia and Assisi was our 17th holiday with Riviera Travel and as usual all our expectations were met. We love Italy so this trip, a new one, was a must for us. We have always been very pleased with the tour managers and Bill was no exception. In fact, he was excellent – always very organised and provided a wealth of background information, often with humorous asides. Andy Smith via website “AN EXCELLENT TOUR MANAGER” “We’ve recently returned from a week in Western Crete. As with our previous experiences with Riviera, everything was very well organised. We had an excellent 42 / RIVIERA TRAVEL / SUMMER 2019
tour manager by the name of Mohammed, who always did his utmost to make the holiday run smoothly for everyone. Thank you Riviera Travel, and thank you Mohammed.” Cynthia Harrison via Facebook
TELL US ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY We would love to hear about your experiences and see your photos. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org, leave a testimonial on our website at www.rivieratravel.co.uk/ testimonials, or join us on Facebook or Twitter: @RivieraTravelUK
Published August 2019