After 25 years of owning a brick-and-mortar travel company, Great Getaways Travel has decided to work remotely and become a “virtual” travel company, joining the 21st century finally! We are still a thriving company and are here to help you with your travels. Our phone number remains 913-338-2244 and we look forward to talking to you.
One of our favorite sayings is “Don’t let the good get in the way of the better and don’t let better get in the way of best.” We practice that philosophy in everything we do personally and professionally.
Because our objective is to create the most memorable vacations possible for you, we’ve decided to affiliate with Largay Travel, in Waterbury, Connecticut. It’s great, greater, and greatest news!
GREAT: We now have even more support and resources.
GREATER: Largay will handle all the pesky back office details freeing us to devote 100% of our time to planning your travel.
GREATEST: By affiliating with Largay Travel we are able to give you increased benefits when you travel, as we now have preferred status with several hotels, cruise lines, and tour companies.
PRICELESS: We are still very active and proud to be part of Virtuoso — you’ve experienced the benefits of that association.
So, where do you want to go in 2017? Give us a call, 913-338-2244, and start packing!
By Damien Martin, Italy Specialist
Lake District Amore!
You know I love Lake Como but it’s hardly the only beautiful lake in Northern Italy. Move east along the bottom edge of the Alps between Milan and Venice, and you’ll find two other gems of Italy’s Lake District, Lake Iseo and Lake Garda.
Lake Iseo is a Renaissance painting that has come to life
You know those Italian Renaissance paintings that feature lush, mountainous landscapes? That’s Lake Iseo. Enjoy the view from the patio of the VistaLago Bistro or Michelin Guide-recommended LeoneFelice at L’Albereta (the Virtuoso-preferred boutique hotel in Erbusco). The vineyards stretch to a shimmering lake. Be awed by a ring of snowcapped mountains, crowned by a tall green island rising out of the water. It’s no wonder the founders of the winery next door chose the name Bellavista, “beautiful view.”
Christo creates art in the Lake District
This summer thousands even got to walk on water, thanks to artist Christo’s “Floating Piers.” Christo put 220,000 high-density polyethylene cubes into the lake, covered by 100,000 square meters of yellow fabric. Several people swarmed the area to see the Floating Piers and overwhelmed public transportation. Typically, though, Lake Iseo is quite tranquil.
The Spa at L’Albereta, a reason to visit the Lake District
L’Albereta itself means “the plantation,” a perfect name that highlights the rows of trees lining the property. The Espace Chenot spa program offers comprehensive wellness programs complete with aromatherapies and bio-light menus. The spa offers 3-, 4-, 7- and 14-day programs. Of course, if you need a cheat day, just head over to Bellavista for some of the sparkling wine the Franciacorta region is famous for.
Continue east toward the border between the Lombardy and Veneto regions, and you’ll hit Lake Garda. Lemon houses dot the shores, adding a vibrant yellow glint to the verdant hills. On the western bank is the Vittoriale degli Italiani, the victory monument of the Italians. It doubled as the home of writer and war hero Gabriele d’Annunzio. In reality, Mussolini gifted the home to d’Annunzio in exchange for retiring from public life. The hillside holds a mausoleum, amphitheater and an intact navy cruiser.
I found d’Annunzio’s home more surreal than the warship. There are two waiting rooms, one for welcome guests and another for unwelcome ones (guess where Mussolini had to wait?). While the windows offer stunning lake views, d’Annunzio kept the shades drawn because his eyesight was failing. Countless books and religious iconography litter the walls. D’Annunzio died at his desk and it remains untouched. Though the poet didn’t dine with his guests, he kept a statue of a favored pet turtle, which had died from overeating, on the table as a reminder to guests to not wear out their welcome.
Lefay Resort and its incredible spa
Be sure to visit Lefay Resort and Spa,high up on a hilltop with a panoramic view of the lake. Select a treatment from the nearly 70-page spa menu. You may want some “calm” after visit D’Annunzio’s home!
The real star of the spa at Lefay is the infinity pool, which seems to hang out over the cliff and blend with the lake. On a clear day, you can see Sirmione, home of the Roman poet Catullus, who called it the “gem of the islands and peninsulas.” I, for one, would be hard-pressed to argue.
by Damien Martin, Italy Specialist
Lake Como is a true beauty!
It’s not that reading descriptions and viewing pictures of Lake Como can’t prepare you for its beauty. It’s more that those pictures are so stunning you halfway convince yourself that they can’t be real, that no place can really look like that. Until you get there.
Carved by glaciers, ringed by the Alps, dotted with ornate villas and a playground for the rich and famous since Roman times, the lake is just one of several in northern Italy, but its unique elegance steals the breath right out of you. You can find Renaissance architecture in lots of places. You can find alpine lakes in fewer places. And you can find lush sculpted gardens in still fewer places. If you want them all, you go to Lake Como.
Best views are from the lake
Your first glimpse comes from the road that winds its way around the lake — and if you’re driving up from Milan on the weekend, you’ll have plenty of time in heavy traffic to admire the view — but Lake Como is best enjoyed from the water.
Bellagio – the pearl of Lake Como
Head over to Bellagio, the pearl of the lake, situated on the peninsula that divides the water into three forks and find your own gems in its many boutiques. Grab lunch on Isola Comacina and take part in the traditional toast that staves off the curse placed on the lake’s sole island by a medieval bishop. Soak up the old-world glamor of Villa Melzi, Villa Carlotta and Villa del Balbianello. Wave to George Clooney as you pass his villa in Laglio.
Dining, hiking, and to-die-for views
If you still have energy, you can burn off some calories — trust me, there are plenty of calories to come by — hiking one of the many trails with panoramic views offer yet another perspective. The sight of Bellagio ringed by the three forks of the lake is simply spectacular.
Lake Como is a MUST!
So before I run out of adjectives attempting to describe the beauty, let me just say this: Lake Como is absolutely something you need to see for yourself to truly appreciate. As they say (whoever “they” are), “Seeing is believing.”
Want to know more about Lake Como? Let’s talk! Ciao! Damien
Boundaries divide – Travel unites
When I meet someone, whether from another city or another country, I have the opportunity to be a citizen ambassador. Interacting with another human being, looking into each other’s eyes has a lasting effect and perhaps it will counter anything negative that they might have heard about me, about my country. Traveling is a privilege to share who I am and to gain more insight into others. I believe with all my heart this helps foster peace.
We pray for Nice and for the world. Spread love. Help others. Live in peace.
By Alison Luengo
St. Patrick’s Day – We’re All Irish
It is officially time to break out that green apparel, sip that Guinness, and line the streets for those monstrous parades. Not Irish? Not a problem for, well…anyone come March 17 every year. St. Patrick’s Day is the one day a year where anyone can be Irish if they like, and all that is required is a jolly attitude and maybe a green shirt declaring yourself Irish for the day. (Did you know it’s only an American tradition to pinch someone if they fail to wear green on St. Patrick’s Day?) While the holiday is celebrated around the world, many celebrations are larger outside of Dublin than in. So, sit back, relax and read on as we explore some of the largest St. Patrick’s Day celebrations in the world.
We will start in Dublin, which just seems fitting. The St. Patrick’s Festival in Dublin was officially recognized by the government in 1995, as a way for the Irish to celebrate their heritage. Their celebration runs for four days and includes many cultural activities along with fun and games. They start with “Greening The City” (which is a fancy way to say lighting all their buildings in green). Of course they have a large parade, and walking tours highlighting different aspects of the city. There is an Irish Craft Beer & Whiskey Village, and a lunchtime talk series featuring notable Irishmen or important topics related to Irish culture. While St. Patrick’s Day is a national holiday here, it is not the largest celebration in the world.
New York City
Without a doubt, the largest celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is the New York City Parade. First started all the way back in 1762 by some very lonely Irish soldiers, it is now the largest and oldest parade in the world. With nearly 2 million spectators, and another 150,000 participants yearly, it’s easy to see why this is a huge tradition in New York City come March 17.
Another country with a huge celebration for St. Patrick’s Day is Montserrat, West Indies. Celebrating for a full week, this party highlights the African & Irish heritage that most share while also commemorating a failed slave uprising on the same day in 1768. Montserrat has it all for St. Patrick’s Day with a traditional parade, a freedom run, a formal ball, traditional games, and African & Irish music festivals.
Auckland, New Zealand
Let’s not forget our friends Down Under during this massive celebration. You can also celebrate St. Patrick’s Day like a pro in Auckland, New Zealand. “The Greening” is when they light up their Sky Tower bright green for the holiday, and it’s accompanied by a parade and dance/music festivals.
Needless to say, you can celebrate St. Patrick’s Day just about anywhere. From the West Indies to New Zealand to New York City, there are parades abound and traditions galore. What are St. Patrick’s Day traditions in your city or country? We’d love to hear in the comments below.