Thirty-nine years ago, I took a part time job as a travel agent while going to college, and I always dreamed of someday going to Paris, France. I studied the history, the artists that were inspired by the city and I fell in love with the elegant romance of the Eiffel Tower. Through the years I have had the privilege of traveling to almost every island in the Caribbean, Hawaii many times, Mexico, and almost every state throughout the United States. But my dream of seeing Paris remained just that, a dream. Until a month ago when I found out that I was going to Paris and Barcelona with Rail Europe!
Arriving in Paris, I walked outside to a misty gloomy day, just as I hoped, just as I pictured. I took in a deep breath and began my amazing adventure. Arriving at 10:30 in the morning, I wanted to make my way to the first bakery or cafe to have a croissant and some coffee. I checked in at the Mercure Paris, Paspail Hotel in Montparnasse, took my luggage to my Parisian boutique room and strolled the streets of Paris with a smile and found the perfect little pastry shop with its window filled with croissants and French pastries.
Our group of 10 met in the lobby of the hotel and went across the street to have lunch and get to know each other. From there, we toured a total of four train stations in Paris. The trains are their main mode of transportation and they make it very easy to get across the city.
Each train station is filled with people going to work, going on vacation, or just a weekend getaway to the many cities that are just a short train ride away. On the way back to our hotel we walked through an old historical cemetery. The gravestones were as extravagant as the architecture in the buildings. That night we dined on fondue at the restaurant next to our hotel. It was fabulous!
The next morning, we took the hop on hop off bus throughout the city seeing all the sights that make Paris famous. As the bus turned the corner, we were told to look to the right and slowly the Eiffel Tower came into sight. The bus stopped in front of it and I found myself holding my breath and tears flowing. The emotions took me by surprise but there in front of me was this monument that until now I had only seen in photos and in movies. I couldn’t stop staring at it and realized a lifetime dream had just been fulfilled. I had no idea that the next 6 days were going to exceed any expectation I had of this trip starting with the next journey to the Musee d'Orsay.
After a few minutes of walking through this two-story architectural masterpiece, I found myself standing in the doorway of a room that was dimly lit except for the spotlights on some paintings. I looked at the sign beside the door and it read “Van Gogh and Gauguin”. I walked in and staring at me was Van Gogh’s self-portrait. Studying art in college did not prepare me for the up-close viewing of this masters artwork. I walked around, slowly taking in each one of his paintings and I imagined him painting them and thought about what his own eyes saw. I continued thinking about how while he was creating them, how he had no idea how special they would someday become to so many people like myself. I left there with a new-found inspiration of my own art that was yet to be created.
The rest of the day was spent exploring the city with my new group of friends. We visited the Lindt Chocolate shop where I enjoyed a brownie and chocolate espresso. We went shopping at the Gallerie Vivienne and continued with a visit to the square surrounded by the Louvre.
We then baked macaroons with a pastry chef and that evening took a dinner cruise on the Seine River. The majestic Eiffel Tower was now lit up in the night sky and as we rode down the river she began to sparkle as everyone cheered and watched her show. Down the river was the Statue of Liberty with the Eiffel Tower in the background. The views were beautiful beyond words.
Day 3 was a day on our own to explore anywhere we wanted to go on the train within 2 hours from Paris. Wendy and I decided to take a trip to Brussels, Belgium. The train was quiet and relaxing with scenery so breathtaking. We arrived in Brussels and went to the Grand Place Square with cathedrals and chocolate shops and people walking the cobblestone streets. We passed windows of waffles covered in whipped cream and chocolate and fruit. We found the Manneken Pis (the small statue of a child peeing in the fountain). It has been the statues home since 1388 and after seeing the amount of people gathered around him, we soon realized that he is quite a famous little guy. The statue was dressed in carnival attire since it is carnival season in Brussels. After, we went on to purchase some chocolate to take home and then stopped at a quaint little restaurant to enjoy some ale and pasta with cheese and ham, it was wonderful. We then took the train back to Paris and got ready for the Lido show that night. The Lido was great, the food amazing, and the entertainment was spectacular. It was truly a great night.
On day 4 we packed our bags for our six-hour train ride to Barcelona. It was so easy and relaxing. We ate, played cards, read books and even napped! We could get up and walk around the train and the views were just unbelievable. From the train, we could see the snowcapped Piton Mountains that separate France from Spain, as well as views of the Mediterranean Sea all right outside our windows!
We arrived in Barcelona and checked into Hotel Claris which is located in the heart of the shopping district. They showed us to our rooms, and I was immediately blown away. My room was two levels with a spiral staircase going up to a loft with a couch and a TV, and waiting for me was a bottle of chilled wine and chocolates welcoming me to Barcelona. We dined at the hotel in a private dining room and a meal prepared by a Michelin Chef. It was so good and I tried foods I would have never tried before, including escargot and octopus. We took in the views of Barcelona from the rooftop at night and looked forward to seeing the architectural masterpieces of the city tomorrow.
Day 5 was a day filled with a walking tour of La Rambla Boulevard, the Gothic Quarter, La Boqueria Market, La Manuel Alpargatera - an original espadrille shop where they still handmake espadrilles. We were able to watch them work and purchased our very own espadrilles.
We went on to the Lupo design office and had a chance to meet the designer of some of the most beautiful leather purses. The leather was the softest I have ever touched and to see how they prototype the designs to send to the factory and then to visit the store that they are sold was wild. The actual designer herself took us through and you could tell she was so proud to show us her products. Sadly, none of us left there with a purse as they start at $1,200.00.
We then went on to a cooking class with a Chef at BCN Kitchen where we prepared Spanish omelets, paella (a rice and seafood dish), garlic bread and crème catalona (like crème Brule). This was such a treat! That evening we dined at Caso Leopldo, a restaurant that is over 90 years old that has had patrons such as Picasso dine there.
Day 6 was another day on our own and some of us decided to stay in Barcelona since there was so much to see and do. I so wanted to go to the Picasso Museum and so I headed out early on my adventure. I took a taxi and then walked through the Gothic District going in and out of art galleries on my way to the museum. To my disappointment, the museum was closed due to International Women’s Day and there were to be thousands in the square marching for women’s rights. I found myself amidst the peaceful march of thousands of women dressed in purple. It was incredible being a woman traveling to a country I had never been and exploring on my own for the day. I ended my adventure at the Barcelona Beach overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I have been to many beaches over the years but this one was special. The rocks instead of sand looked like gems reflecting the water and the sun. I took off my shoes and rolled up my jeans and stood in the ice-cold water and just stared out to the sea with gratitude and excitement to be here. That evening, we dined at an authentic Spanish restaurant and had the delicacy of onions that had been grilled to a burnt black. You peel the outside of the onions off and dip them in what I think tasted like a chipotle sauce and it was delicious!
Day 6 we were all picked up at the hotel by a private limousine bus and a private tour guide took us to the Sagrada Familia. This was just another emotional experience for me. As I got closer and witnessed the beautiful architectural mastery of Gaudi I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to just stand there and take it all in. The inside was even more beautiful than the outside, with all of the stained glass and arches to hold up the massive towers above. Hearing how Gaudi came to design this and then build this work of art, made it all that more treasured and a blessing to be standing within its walls. We then went to San Pau Art Nouveau, an historic hospital complex that closed in the 1960's. It became a UNESCO World Heritage in 1997 and is a place not to be missed when in Barcelona.
We then traveled to Montjuic Hill for a bird’s eye view of Barcelona. It was breathtakingly beautiful. That evening, we attended a flamingo dinner show in the Spanish Village and then back to the hotel it was to pack for our flights home the following day.
As I was riding to the airport, a sadness came over me and I realized that I now want to see as much of Europe as I possibly can. It was a trip that I have longed for and I never dreamed that I would get to have this experience. Well, it finally happened, and I absolutely loved every single second of it. I can’t wait to go back!
Contact Leigh Cardwell at 314.439.5700 ext. 131
or email her to begin planning your trip to Paris & Barcelona!
"I have used Carrie Fry for several excellent trips in the past, but this trip she went above and beyond! When my mom and I discussed visiting my niece in Vienna during her study abroad and then taking her with us somewhere fun, I knew the logistics would be complicated. Not only did Carrie handle my every request, which were plentiful, she made sure every single detail was handled and made fantastic recommendations. From our private transfer upon our arrival in Vienna, Austria to our eventual departure from Florence, Italy every logistic was handled and went perfectly smooth. She found us the most gorgeous 5 star hotels I have ever stayed in (whose customer service made my mom and niece feel pampered and looked after the entire time).
All told, Carrie organized 3 different 5-star hotels (in Vienna, Salzburg and Florence), 4 private transfers, 1 overnight train, 1 private transfer tour from Vienna to Salzburg, 1 private tour day trip through Tuscany, skip the line museum tickets, plus flights for my mom and me from different locations and for my niece back to Vienna!
This was a trip we will never forget and it wouldn't have been possible without her!"
-Clients Mary M. and Gwen M.
See photos of their hotel stay at "Hotel Imperial" in Vienna below:
See photos of their hotel stay at "Hotel Sacher" in Salzburg below:
Contact Carrie Fry at 314-439-5700 or email her to begin planning your trip
to Vienna, Salzburg & Florence!
Ever wonder why the travelers in the room next to yours received strawberries & champagne upon arrival and you didn't?
They probably used a Travel Consultant!
There is a big misconception that Travel Consultants cost more than just booking online and this is just not true! Many consumers might not realize what they are missing out on when booking trips on their own.
There are several benefits of using a Travel Consultant.
Here are our top 10!
Vacation planning is complicated and time consuming. Why spend time searching for the perfect vacation when a Travel Consultant can do that for you? Travel Consultants can match you with the perfect destination/travel plans based on your travel needs & desires!
"Ever felt overwhelmed with too many hotel options and find yourself scanning the internet for hours only to feel more frustrated and confused than when you started? Using a Travel Consultant saves you time and time is money." - Senior Travel Consultant Janine Cartier.
Travel Consultants are experts in the travel industry. They know the market and are able to match you with a product that is better than anything you may find on the internet. Travel Consultants live and breathe travel; they travel themselves to become familiar with the products & destinations, meet with representatives from travel companies all around the world, do hours of research and read up on the most important travel news daily. When booking a trip on your own, you risk losing the expertise that travel consultants bring to the table.
"Travel consultants know the best hotels, they know which hotels have the best service and the best food, they know because they have either been there or have met with the hotel's General Manager. "
-Senior Travel Consultant Janine Cartier
Many consumers think that it will cost them more to use a Travel Consultant and this is not always the case. Travel Consultants make their money in many ways, most of the time from the travel companies themselves. The price you can find online is the same price Travel Consultants can book them for, if not sometimes less since they have direct relationships with the travel companies. Any fees you may end up paying will come back to you as value in a handful of ways.
In addition, your Travel Consultant will offer different travel insurance coverage that can save you from unforeseen medical expenses or cancellation fees that may arise before or during your trip. Their knowledge of various currency exchange rates, customs procedures, Visa requirements, immunization regulations, etc., can end up saving you so much time, hassle and money while planning and while traveling.
If something were to go wrong during your trip, you have your Travel Consultant to go to bat for you.
Lost luggage? Flights get cancelled? Missed your flight? Weather emergencies? Car rental company fails you? Hotel/resort can’t locate your reservation? Medical emergency overseas? They’ve got you covered! One single person may not have much leverage in terms of complaints and a resolution, but a Travel Consultant with an entire agency backing them up certainly will. At Brentwood Travel, we have our own 24-Hour Emergency Hotline that can be utilized in any travel emergency, at any hour of the day after booking with one of our Travel Consultants.
“You have someone to call on when things go wrong and no one is listening.” -Travel Consultant J.V.
There are so many value-adds that can be added to your trip by a Travel Consultant, usually at no cost to the consumer.
One of the most common perks is “onboard credits” or extra spending money for you while on your cruise ship or resort. Another could be "Exclusive Brentwood Travel Offers" or savings that only our Travel Consultants can offer, or extras like specialty dining and spa credits.
Additionally, if a consumer is traveling to celebrate something special, the Travel Consultant can contact the travel company and advise them of such celebrations and they will usually work something to make the trip even more special.
Brentwood Travel belongs to Ensemble Travel Group, which allows our Travel Consultants to offer special upgrades and give clients even more special amenities, like free Wi-Fi, room upgrades, complimentary food or drinks, or even have their room decorated with champagne, flowers, chocolate covered strawberries, and many more.
The photos below are an example of ways a Brentwood Travel Consultant was able to add value to a clients vacation. The Travel Consultant reached out to her connection at the resort and advised them of her clients arrival, their love of their dogs and how this trip was supposed to be very special for the couple. The consultant sent photos of the clients dogs to the resort and shortly after she received an email back advising that the resort had upgraded the couples room to a Suite and the email included the photos shown below. The resort made their arrival extra special by adding framed photos of their dogs as well as a note written just for them :)
The added amenities are truly endless and Brentwood Travel will do everything they can to make any vacation or trip as special as can be!
“We partner with many hotel brands such as Hyatt and Fairmont, where at some of their resorts we can add on extra amenities like breakfast daily or spa credits.” -Supervisor of Leisure Travel Stacey Hoehne.
Travel Consultants have a numerous amount of resources that the average consumer does not have access. They use different software and computer programs that allows them to find better seats on airplanes, room upgrades, tickets to events, hotel amenities, etc.
Travel Consultants also use their personal and business connections as resources. Brentwood Travel has access to hundreds of representatives from hundreds of resorts, hotels, airlines, tour companies, etc. We meet with our reps regularly and overtime we have built relationships with them. The representatives are our direct contacts so we can call them at any hour of the day for assistance with a booking, to ask questions or to sometimes even meet with our clients!
Travel Consultants are equipped for an ever-changing world. There is always somewhere new and trendy to travel and a Travel Consultant will know the best way for you to travel based on your interests.
Travel Consultants also have relationships with many travel companies that offer vacations as a package (hotel/resort stays, flights, transportation, tours, etc) and can often do so at a rate lower than what you can find online. Additionally, they have exclusive access to many tours, experiences and even private jet products that are only made available through Travel Consultants, some that you probably didn’t even know existed! Making your travels just that much more unique than everyone else’s.
Probably the best part of using a Travel Consultant instead of booking online is the personalized touch you receive when utilizing a Travel Consultant. You are dealing with a REAL PERSON who you can build a long, lasting relationship.
As Travel Consultants get to know their clients and travel interests, they are able to suggest the right destinations and overall trips without even having a conversation with them. When you have that type of relationship with a Travel Consultant, you can call them up, tell them you are wanting your next beach vacation and they can have a handful of different options for you to choose from rather quickly!
“After talking with clients and learning their priorities, we can narrow down the vacation search to our top 3-5 choices based on our experience with them. This helps save the client time from endless internet searching and saves them from getting overwhelmed.” -Supervisor of Leisure Travel Stacey Hoehne.
Travel Consultants are the professionals that know of the most unique destinations and experiences, and can customize your travels to be SO much more than anything you can find online. If you are wanting a true, unique travel experience, use a Travel Consultant because what you see online is what many others are seeing also.
Additionally, after asking the right questions and getting to know the consumers interests, Travel Consultants can pin point exactly what destinations a client should travel to and exactly what experiences a client should partake in to best meet the clients needs and desires. They are always in "the know" as to the best times to travel to a particular destination and even what the new "it" destination will be before the general public does. Want to be the first to travel there? Use a Travel Consultant!
Travel Consultants are very personable and knowledgeable! They are easy to talk to, easy to get to know and are very welcoming. They come from various backgrounds with different experiences under their belts, and they can have more stories to tell than a history book. Travel Consultants have been out in the world, experiencing other lands, people and cultures.
Travel Consultants (especially the ones here at Brentwood Travel) are so passionate about sharing the beauty of the world with you!
Contact us today to start utilizing our great staff and our amazing services!
Contact Trish Roth at (314) 283-1103
or send her an email
to begin planning an amazing vacation to Cancun!
All of this icy, snowy, cold Saint Louis weather has all of us wanting to book our next flight to the beach!
Our staff has traveled to some amazing places around the world, but we all agree there is nothing quite like a beach.
This blog highlights just a few of our favorite beaches around the world!
"Kauai is a magical place and what you dream of when you think of sunsets melting into the ocean and majestic waves in a serene setting. With over 100 miles of coastline, breathtaking mountains, lush tropical gardens and greenery, it’s what makes Kauai extra special. You are put into a magical place that has huge sea turtles along the beach, dolphins swimming up to you and not to mention the waterfalls surrounding Kauai. It is paradise."
-Stacey Acree (Executive Vice-President)
Ko Kut, Thailand
Senior Travel Consultant Dianna Paridon chose two beaches in Thailand as her favorite beaches of the world. One in Ko Kut & the other in Phuket.
Laniakea Beach, Hawaii
" This is my favorite beach so far because I got to see these turtles resting on the sand! It was an impulsive stop on a drive to the North Shore and it made my day! "
-Stacey Hoehne (Supervisor of Leisure Travel)
Ruakaka Beach, New Zealand
" My favorite is beach Ruakaka Beach in New Zealand!
My study abroad group spent an afternoon at this beach and it was one of the highlights of our trip! The water was beautiful and clear, and we all played in the waves like little kids. "
-Maggie Groene (Travel Consultant)
" This was my favorite beach. It’s on Royal Caribbean’s private port in Labadee, Haiti. It was surrounded by mountains so it felt like we were the only ones there. "
-Ashley Curry (Senior Travel Consultant)
" My favorite beach in the world is probably the beaches in Antigua, a small island in the Caribbean. The water is crystal clear and the sand was so very soft. The small shops and restaurants along the beach were absolutely adorable and there were so many boats in the water it was as if the beach itself was a little shopping center. LOVED it! "
-Christine Hakenjos (Travel Consultant)
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
" The water is crystal clear and the sand seriously felt like powder. It was almost white in color and I have never seen a beach so beautiful. Since it’s a private island it’s clean, quiet and extremely relaxing. I dream about being back on that beach! "
-Missi Wilson (Marketing Associate)
" It had been awhile since I had been to Negril, Jamaica and I went there with a group of co-workers while I was going through a rough time in life. This was exactly what I needed, walking on the beach in my own thoughts. The healing had begun! "
-Susan Hakenjos (Vice-President & General Manager)
" I love the black sand beaches and watching the blue waves come crashing in on the black lava rock. It is unlike any destination I have ever been to. "
-Stevie Goeke (Corporate & Leisure Travel Consultant)
Ready to escape the cold and book your next vacation to the beach?
Give us a call at (314) 439-5700
or send us an email!
"The cruise and Hawaii were amazing! Thank you for the strawberries!
We enjoyed them out on our balcony. Attached are a few highlight photos.
The luau on Maui was great and the other people we were at the table with said it was then best they have been to (one couple lives in Hawaii and had been to about 14 luaus). Hiking Waimea Canyon was memorable (but muddy).
We even saw whales on our snorkeling trip!
Thanks for all the recommendations!"
- Allison and Brandon K.
Contact Stacey at 314-439-5700 ext. 128 or
send her an email
to begin planning an amazing Hawaiian Cruise!
I’m still pinching myself at the fact that I’m ENGAGED!!!
When looking back on these photos from our vacation to Sandals Grenada, I feel a sense of pure joy and happiness because that is exactly what this trip was for me and my fiancé *I still think that word is weird for me to say*.
We arrived to the south end of this beautiful island of Grenada at 3pm with plenty time to enjoy the rest of our day. Our included Sandals transportation was waiting for us at the airport and after a very short 5-minute drive, we found ourselves at the resort being welcomed with cold towels and a glass of champagne! We began feeling the luxury that is Sandals from the very start!
After a speedy check in, we were handed off to a butler who escorted us to our room. Along the way he gave us a tour of the resort with much needed information about the restaurants we were passing including their hours of operation and if reservations were required and the dress codes.
The butler welcomed us to our ‘South Seas Waterfall River Pool Junior Suite w/ Balcony’ & gave us a little tour and made sure we were aware of the complimentary wine, beer, juices & bottled water in our mini fridge and reminded us that it was stocked daily. Even showed us how to use the Tranquility Soaking Tub that was out on our private balcony!
After dinner we went out to the pier that is on the resort, right off the private beach (Pink Gin Beach) to relax from our busy travel day. We had the entire pier to ourselves and just gazed at the stars the rest of the evening. I even told Joe this was officially my favorite part of the resort (besides Soy Sushi of course!). The entire resort at night is absolutely gorgeous with numerous fire pits all around.
Our second day consisted of pina coladas and some much-needed sun bathing! The “party area” (what our butler called it) or the South Seas Main Pool featured a massive pool area, a DJ playing top hits, a swim up bar, and a little hut that made personal pizzas, popcorn, ice cream, and little snacks to snack on while you’re at the pool!
After relaxing in the sun all day, we went back to our room to freshen up for what I thought was going to be a quick complimentary photo shoot and dinner at the Italian restaurant, Cucina Romana. But little did I know…my boyfriend Joe (now fiancé) had an entire evening planned with the help of the resort and my coworker/Travel Consultant, Janine Cartier!
Our walk down to the beach was stunning. It was sunset, so the resort almost seemed as if it was glowing. We got to the beach for our photos and boy was it just perfect. The sun was beginning to set behind the rocks and the entire sky was lit up orange, pink and blue. There were sailboats in the distance and the beach was nearly empty. It almost didn’t look real!
We met the Sandals photographer down by the rocks, took some photos there & then Joe asked him if we could take some right up on the pier!
(he had remembered that it was my favorite spot at the resort 😉)
We got to the pier and the photographer had me pose rather awkwardly in front of Joe. So here I am, thinking this is going to be a VERY strange picture, but the photographer knew what Joe had up his sleeve the entire time!
So this is it…this was the moment…..Joe was behind me prepared to pop the big question! The photographer then told me “okay now turn around and LOOK at your man!” So I did just that, I turned around and saw Joe on one knee! The photographer caught all of it and knew exactly how to make it happen!
It was the most amazing moment of my life and these picturesque views and the planning from Joe & the resort made it that much better! I am SO glad the photographer was there to catch every moment and we were VERY happy with the photos!
After getting off the pier, Deanette, the Wedding Coordinator at Sandals Grenada greeted us with big hugs and glasses of champagne! She then escorted us to where we were going to be meeting our dinner butler because they had set up a beautiful candlelit dinner right on the beach, just for the two of us! What a wonderful surprise after an even BIGGER surprise!
We continued our stay by celebrating with many great tasting drinks, dining at (almost) all the 10 different restaurants at the resort and just trying to soak in every amazing moment together!
THEN comes our fourth and final day on the resort. Just when we thought this trip couldn’t get any better, we receive a notice under our suite door that says we have been upgraded rooms! We collect our things and get escorted to our upgrade….and boy, was it an UPGRADE!
Watch the video below for a virtual tour of our upgraded Villa:
Our new room was called the “South Seas One Bedroom Butler Villa with Infinity Edge Pool”. The room was unreal. Our Villa consisted of two separate entrances into our own infinity pool, one from our bedroom and one from the living room as well as our very own Jacuzzi tub all out on our private balcony!
We could even see the ocean from our room!
On our last morning on the resort, we walked down to the beach and said a little goodbye and waited for our included airport transportation. Again, it took everything in us not to just book a room for the rest of the week!
All in all, I could not have imagined a better resort to get engaged at! The resort and island itself was unbelievably gorgeous and screamed luxury. From the beautiful ocean and hillside views on this beautiful, soft sand beach, to the amazingly clean, fun and relaxing pools….not to mention all the FANTASTIC food and unlimited sushi!!! It was VERY hard for us to leave.
The staff at Sandals very carefully worked with Joe to plan an unforgettable engagement. They were in direct contact with Joe and Janine about all the plans and made sure that I never got even a hint that something was happening. And even after the big engagement, we continued to feel celebrated the entire length of our stay. I really hope we get the chance to visit Sandals Grenada again!
Hey…maybe for our Honeymoon 😉
“The staff at Sandals Grenada were so fantastic! Especially one of the Wedding Coordinators, Deanette! Deanette helped me plan a beautiful proposal that was executed perfectly. From e-mails before the trip, to secretly meeting upon arrival, to being there to make sure our moment was absolutely perfect, Deanette was there every step of the way. She genuinely cared to see our special moment play out in a way that was special to the both of us. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. I will cherish that moment & this trip forever and it’s all thanks to the incredible people at Sandals!”
Click through the Slideshow below to view more photos from Sandals Grenada:
Contact Christine at (314) 439-5700 Ext. 134 or send her an email to
begin planning a trip to Grenada!
This past year, our staff along with their friends & family traveled to some of the most beautiful places in the world! Our journeys have left us with a lifetime of memories and a million stories to tell. Nothing fills our hearts quite like travel does!
This blog highlights just a few of our favorite photos from our travels in 2018. We cannot wait to see where 2019 will take us next!
This past August, Travel Consultant Michelle Busse and husband Jim went on a European River Cruise along the Danube River with Avalon Waterways aboard Expression. The itinerary was called The Blue Danube Discovery with stops in Hungary, Vienna, Dürnstein, Passau, Regensburg & Nuremberg.
Michelle knew that after years of recommending clients to fly in at least a night or two before the cruise embarks that she must do so also! They flew into Budapest three days before embarkation and she was SO glad they did! Doing so gave her and her husband an extra three days & two nights in the beautiful city. Those two nights pre-cruise, they stayed at the Marriott in Budapest and Michelle would recommend this hotel to anyone traveling to Budapest!
Their cruise ended in Nuremberg, where they decided to take the train from Nuremberg to Munich where they stayed their final night at Le Meridian Munich. They loved this hotel also!
“I would DEFINITELY recommend adding pre AND post accommodations when doing any river cruise. Pre-accommodations is a must in case something was to happen with your flights into the city. Post accommodations will allow you to see more of the beautiful cities that you are seeing via the river.”
The Avalon Experience
Michelle thought that cruising with Avalon on Expression was like staying in a beautiful, boutique hotel on a ship. She thinks that river cruising really allowed them to experience the culture of each city and that it gave her and Jim a chance to experience Europe like they never have before. All the rooms on board are all suites and there are 144 total. They stayed in a “Panorama Suite” and the couple thought it was WELL worth it! There was no balcony, but the floor to ceiling windows had a little seating area near them which really brought the spectacular views into the room. Michelle specifically noted that the service on board was absolutely amazing and that the food was excellent!
"The largest and most comfortable Suites on the rivers." -Michelle Busse
To see pictures of Avalon Waterways' Panorama Suites & lifestyle on board Expression, click through the slideshow below:
Michelle could not stop talking about the pure beauty that she and her husband experienced, and they owe it all to this great itinerary! Because with stops in Hungary, Munich, Vienna, Dürnstein, Passau, Regensburg & Nuremberg, how could anyone disagree?
Day One consisted of the couple boarding the river cruise vessel, Expression with a Welcome Dinner giving the travelers a chance to meet the crew and other passengers on board.
They awoke on Day Three ready to experience the magical capital of Austria, Vienna. The included city sightseeing tour took the couple to must-see Vienna sights such as the lavish Hofburg Imperial Palace complex, the neo-renaissance Vienna Opera House, St. Stephen’s Cathedral, and much more!
Day Four took Michelle and Jim to the very small town of Dürnstein. With a population of less than 1,000 – they were guaranteed to experience the culture like the residents of this town. Travelers were given the chance to partake in the INCLUDED walking tour to learn about the tale of England’s King Richard the Lionheart, who was imprisoned in the castle whose ruins still stand above the town.
After the walking tour, passengers boarded the vessel again for lunch & to sail the picturesque Wachau Valley with an arrival in Melk. While in Melk, Michelle and Jim joined the included guided visit to Europe’s largest monasteries and the magnificent 11th-century Benedictine Abbey. Back on board that evening, they got to sample some of the Wachau Valley’s famous wines back on board the ship!
Day Five started with an arrival in Passau, Germany. Avalon Waterways had quite a few full-day optional excursions to choose from while in Passau, but Michelle and Jim decided to take the included guided walk to experience the highlights of Passau. This included excursion took the couple on a maze through the narrow cobblestone streets lined with beautiful patrician houses, dominated by St. Stephen’s Cathedral. The rest of their evening was spent with dinner on board the ship before embarking for Regensburg.
The couple started Day Six with an included guided walk of one of Germany’s best preserved medieval cities, Regensburg. Regensburg was established during the Holy Roman Empire and was the only German city not bombed during WWII. The included walk took the couple to see the architectural highlights of this beautiful, old city. They wandered through the city’s lanes and alleys to discover the many mansions with high towers built by wealthy families to emphasize their status and wealth. They went to Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall), built in the 13th century, and on to Porta Pretoria, the gates to an ancient Roman fort built in 179 AD. Halfway through their day, Michelle and Jim enjoyed an included snack and German beer at the 17th-century Historische Wurstküche (Old Sausage Kitchen). The day continued with a walk across the 12th-century Steinerne Brücke (Stone Bridge), the oldest of its kind in Germany. Back on board the ship, they were introduced to some of Germany’s famous beers before sitting down for dinner.
On Day Eight, Michelle and Jim enjoyed breakfast on board and continued on to their post-cruise plans.
They took the train from Nuremberg to Munich where they experienced more of what Munich has to offer. Michelle thought Munich was just absolutely beautiful! Here, they stayed the night at the Le Meridian hotel in Munich.
Michelle and Jim cannot wait to take a river cruise with Avalon Waterways again! (Hopefully, soon!)
Interested in a European River Cruise?
Contact Michelle at (314) 439-5700 ext. 117 or send her an email to begin planning a trip of a lifetime!
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