President & CEO Stephanie Turner recently returned from a trip to Greece with Globus. She had a wonderful time revisiting places she loves as well as crossing a destination off of her bucket list. Keep reading to hear all of the details and see pictures from her amazing trip!
Arriving in Greece
Our flight arrived in Athens at 2:15 in the morning. As we left the baggage area, I was elated to see Kostas, our transfer driver holding a sign that said Globus Journeys. He greeted us warmly and escorted us to our private car to take us to our hotel. There was no traffic at that hour, so our ride was uneventful and smooth. When we arrived at the Crowne Plaza hotel at 3:30 am, the young man at the front desk gave us a warm welcome. I had booked our hotel room for the night before so that it would be ready when we arrived. For some reason he had no reservation for us for that evening – though he did show us having a room for the next night. He was very professional and within a few minutes he had a room for us on a very nice floor.
A Relaxing Day in Athens
The next morning, we got up for our included breakfast with just 10 minutes to spare. Since it was just one floor above us, we zoomed up the stairs. They were starting to clean up, but when I told them we had arrived so late the night before, they told us to come on in and immediately took great care of us from freshly squeezed orange juice and fresh coffee to a variety of breakfast choices. They never pressured us to finish and could not have been more gracious. We decided to just relax that day and sat at the rooftop pool where we met some lovely people from our group. That evening we walked a few blocks and had dinner at a nearby local restaurant called Cross. Faye, our waitress was fantastic and she made our first dinner in Athens a special one. We had sea bream, a white fish, and it was amazing! The following evening our friends arrived and that night we had dinner at a local Greek restaurant with one of my Greek on location partners. Sonia, who is so delightful to be with, ordered an array of Greek dishes, and we got to taste many different local specialties. As she is an American-born woman of Greek descent it was interesting to hear her perspective on living in Athens for several months at a time.
Visiting Plaka and Dinner at Oroscopo
The next day the four of us went to the Plaka (old town) and had fun walking the narrow streets and treating ourselves to a cold beverage at a nice restaurant while people watching. We also managed to do a little local shopping. There was so much to choose from.
That evening we ended up at the Oroscopo restaurant located in a park not far from our hotel. That evening turned out to be spectacular! My friend asked if they served the Greek dish, saganaki. They said they did not but within a few minutes of being seated at our table in the park, a platter of saganaki arrived – compliments of the house. It was such a lovely gesture of welcome. We ordered dinner, which was delicious, and then a complimentary dessert arrived followed by limoncello for all and another after dinner liqueur. We felt like celebrities! Their staff was so kind and gracious. I never told them I was in the travel industry, but I did post how lovely everything was on Facebook and they quickly responded with a thank you. I guess it does pay to say nice things in today’s world where everyone is so quick to post negative comments.
Sightseeing with Globus
The following day our Globus tour began. We toured Athens, saw the changing of the guard – which is a beautiful ceremony – visited the site of the modern-day Olympics and climbed the Acropolis to the Parthenon. I had done this before 30 + years ago, but it was exciting to know I could still hike up the steps and hills. It was crowded as this is the height of their tourist season.
Traveling to Mykonos
The next morning, we met Beverly, who would be our tour host for the rest of our journey. She was warm, personable, and everyone immediately loved her. She was originally from South Africa, so her English was easy to understand. Our travel companions in the Globus group were very diverse in age, background, and where they lived, but everyone got along wonderfully, and it was really fun getting to know everyone. Ages ranged from 18 to 82, from a variety of couples to moms or dads with a daughter, to a darling family doing their youngest daughters high school graduation trip, to 3 fun women from California having a girlfriend’s getaway. People were of varying backgrounds and nationalities, which made the group so interesting for each of us. And best of all there were no jerks in the entire group of about 30 people!
Beverly led us with her colored dust mop held high in her hand – no umbrellas for this lady! We arrived at the pier for our jet ferry to Mykonos – just as it was ready to leave. Traffic was really bad that day. The ferry was very comfortable, and everyone had assigned seats, like on an airplane, but no one sits in their assigned seats – just in the general area. The ride was smooth and easy. When we got to Mykonos, it was like a herd of cattle getting off the ferry – but there was Bev and her bright dust mop to lead us to our motorcoach. It was too early to check into our rooms, so we went to the main town on the Island and had a wonderful tour and then had a fantastic lunch in the harbor area. I thought prices everywhere we ate were very reasonable, and the food was wonderful. This is also a fun place to shop.
A Couple Days in Mykonos
Back at the Manoulas Beach Hotel we pointed out our luggage and all checked in. We had a lovely room facing the pool and the Aegean Sea. That evening we had a great welcome dinner – another chance for the group to get to know each other. The next two days we were pretty lazy, hanging out at the pool. The sky was deep blue, the sea a bright blue and the white building with their blue trim make Mykonos so desirable to visit. We did take a tour of the island, away from the tourist areas. I had been to Mykonos 5 times before and had never seen this area. It was stark and lovely. We also visited the famous Paradise Beach, just as the party was about to get started. Needless to say, we did not stay for the evening – just enough to check it out.
I also went with my husband to visit the Santa Marina Resort, about 10 minutes from where we were staying. It is fabulous, nestled on a big hill with large rooms, junior suites and suites and 2 large 7 bedroom villas. It is a great resort for both families (with its own complete family area and pool) and those seeking romance. We had a fabulous dinner that evening in the Buddah Bar Beach restaurant with, Labrini, delightful young woman who is their Sales Coordinator. She showed us the entire resort. It is a remarkable luxury property.
Crossing Santorini off My Bucket List
After 3 nights in Mykonos we were off to Santorini, which I had never visited. This island has been on my bucket list and is what motivated me to go to Greece again. It is an island that was broken into pieces by several large volcanic eruptions about 2000 years BC. This is pretty recent in geologic terms. Our hotel, the El Greco, was across the street from the caldera and at night we stood and watched the sunset. Words cannot always express the magnitude of what you are seeing. Basically, a huge portion of the island just sank into the sea. On our first morning we did a walking tour into the town and explored the windy streets. We ended at a restaurant overlooking the area where the cable cars go up and down the mountain and you can see the donkeys climbing the steep hill with tourists on their backs. Some people even walk either up or down the 600 steps to the water. We saw several cruise ships siting in the area tendering their passengers to shore.
A couple of different tours were offered here, but I did not take them. We were going to another fabulous hotel in Oia, on the other side of the island for dinner and sunset one night, so we didn’t do that tour and the tour of ancient Santorini was the same day as our dinner – but I thought that sounded fascinating. Our dinner at the Santa Maria Oia was fantastic! It is one of our preferred properties, and we love sending clients there. We dined outside by the pool watching the sunset while being entertained by a wonderfully talented pianist. All the food is locally sourced and very fresh. I love the accommodations at this property, all junior suites and suites climbing up the hillside. Antigoni and Manos were the perfect hosts for us. We hated to leave, but our wonderful driver came to whisk us back to our hotel and the group.
Saying Goodbye to Greece
After 3 glorious days in Santorini and more walking around shopping, we flew back to Athens for our final night. We had an extraordinary farewell dinner by one of the beautiful marinas, and my husband got caught up in the moment and even did his own version of Greek dancing for the group. It was hard to say goodbye to all of our new friends, but we all knew we had created many memories together. Our special thanks to Bev, who mad this trip even more special. I have always said it is about the tour hosts/guides and that is so true. Special thanks also to Globus Journeys and their team who put together this quality but well priced tour. Everyone loved it.
Clients of Ashley Curry recently returned home from Spain. They had a great time seeing all the beautiful sites Spain has to offer! Keep reading to hear the details of their wonderful trip and to see their pictures!
"The transportation was perfect! All flights, trains and transfers (nice touch, by the way) were like clockwork. We never had to wait because everything and everyone on time. Having cars waiting to pick us up was a great de-stresser!
The hotel in Madrid was good. The rooms were smallish and our room had A/C issues, but the manager ultimately changed us out of the room after a day or two. The La Latina district was good as well. It was not the best area of Madrid, but convenient. We were able to walk to most places and we felt pretty safe!
The hop on/off bus was a great call! We used it as much to scope out the city as we did transportation. We got on it in the morning and stayed on it for the whole loop, talking about where we ultimately wanted to see later, then hopped as planned. This was a great way to learn a city. The high-speed train to Barcelona was a fantastic experience! Really puts Amtrak to shame. Mega-comfortable seating, flight attendants, food and drink service, internet, electricity, and super smooth 100+ mph ride. WOW!
The hotel in Barcelona was nearly perfect. It was in a supreme location, just one block off of Las Ramblas, the epicenter of life in the old city. When we checked in we were informed that they upgraded us to a full suite. When we got to the room it was a huge suite in a newly renovated section of the hotel with a private balcony. Really stunning! We ultimately decided the junior suite would better suit us, and it was perfect! A large bedroom, large bathroom with double vanity and large living room with the requisite pull-out couch. The room was on the 3rd floor and the bedroom windows faced the street. The street noise was pretty raucous but the room was fairly quiet.
We enjoyed the Hop on/off bus so much in Madrid that we did it again in Barcelona. Same way. Did both entire routes, got our bearings then set out to explore sites, among our favorites were Monjuic, Parc Gruell and if course - La Sagrada Familia. There's nothing I can say about La Sagrada Familia in less than 50,000 words so I'll just have to say, "bucket list". An awesome lifetime experience for me. We also toured other Gaudi homes. As was the tour to Montserrat. Our guide, Silvia was awesome! The winery /tapas piece was very nice but we would have opted for more time at the monastery at the expense of the vino. So much so that we actually considered going back in our own the next day. Couldn't pull it off.
Other highlights of the Barcelona leg included sampling many great dishes including Fiduea (Catalan version of paella using noodles instead of rice) botirarra and tomato bread. We also had our farewell dinner at La Barra, a recently Michelin starred restaurant in the W Hotel where we enjoyed among other things - stingray.
Thank you for your help putting this together!"
- Chris L.
Travel Consultant Rachel Madigan and her mother recently returned from a 4-night stay at Dreams Dominicus La Romana in Punta Cana. They had an amazing trip together! Rachel was impressed by the stunning beaches and resort's security. Keep reading to hear more about her trip and to see her great pictures!
The Resort and Room
The Dreams Dominicus La Romana was a 50 min drive away from the airport. We reached our destination with private transfers by Amstar. Our 4 hour nonstop flight was with Frontier Airline from St. Louis. Once we got to the resort we checked into our Preferred Club room. The room was large and spacious with comfy pillow top beds and a lovely balcony! There was a Nespresso machine and a fully stocked mini bar with beer, juice, and soda. There was no hard liquor available in the room. We had a large bathroom with full toiletries, double sinks, and separate toilet.
The Beach and Pool
There was a big, beautiful beach with deep, crystal clear water and no seaweed! It was picture perfect with the white sand and palm trees swaying in the breeze. The resort had large pools with plenty of seating and activities during the day. There was a swim up bar as well as activities to entertain kids. There was something for everyone to do!
The food at the resort was amazing! Every single restaurant we ate at was great. One of our favorite restaurants at the resort was a Pan-Asian cuisine & sushi bar called Himitsu. We had a lot of fun at the teppanyaki table! The experience was very interactive. Our chef even pulled my mom up!
We were impressed with the security at the resort! In the resort itself as well as the beach, there was security at all times. We felt very safe throughout our entire trip.
Contact Rachel Madigan to start planning your next all-inclusive getaway.
Call 314-439-5700 ext 126 or email her!
Corporate Travel Consultant Stevie Goeke recently spent a week in Gulf Shores and Orange Beach, Alabama, with her family. They had a great time enjoying the white sand beaches and amazing local restaurants. Keep reading to hear about some of Stevie’s restaurant recommendations and her top 5 reasons why Gulf Shores is the best spot for your family vacation.
Live Bait: This spot was my favorite by far. Their Greek Seafood Nachos were the best nachos ever! Besides the amazing food, their service was fantastic as well. At night they have a bucking shark and live music.
The Hangout: A Gulf Shores staple! They have a wide range of menu options, so if you aren’t a fan of seafood you can definitely find something for everyone here. If you have younger children, you won’t want to miss their Pirates and Princesses breakfast, an all-you-can-eat meal with fun trinkets for the kiddos.
MaGuires in Pensacola: MaGuires is worth the 1-hour drive if you are looking for a higher-end dining experience. They are an authentic Irish restaurant with great steak and seafood.
Doc’s Seafood Shack: Famous for having “the best fried shrimp in the world”, Doc’s does not disappoint! They have multiple locations around the area, but it is a popular spot so expect a bit of a wait.
Hope’s Cheesecake: THE BEST CHEESECAKE I HAVE EVER HAD IN MY LIFE! Hope’s has lots of flavors to choose from, including gluten-free options. You have the option to buy by the slice or choose one of their mini or full-sized cheesecake options. It is a little way from the beach, but totally worth the drive!
Why Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL is the Best Spot for Family Vacations
Hotel and condo rates are lower than other popular beach vacation destinations such as Destin, FL. The drive to Gulf Shores from St. Louis, Missouri, is also shorter versus Destin, which will save you time and money.
2. Family Oriented
There were many multi-generational families vacationing in Gulf Shores. We saw families with younger children, families with older/teen children, and many 3 generation families. There is plenty to do for any age group, making Gulf Shores ideal for the whole family.
3. Nice Beaches
If you are looking for white sand beaches, you will find them in Gulf Shores. There is a mix of private and public beaches, so no matter where you stay you can still easily get beach access. We also found lots of seashells every day on the beach!
4. Laid-back Energy
From restaurants to grocery stores to souvenir shops, everyone was so friendly! All the people we met on our vacation were laid-back, polite, and pleasant.
5. Great Restaurants
Every restaurant we ate at was phenomenal! There are too many great places to recommend just one. We ate some of the best seafood on this trip. Gulf Shores and Orange Beach have so many dining options available for every type of palette.
Contact Brentwood Travel to start planning your family vacation. Call us (314) 439-5700 or email us!
Clients of Susan Hakenjos just returned from a 7-day Canada & New England Discovery cruise with Holland America Line. Keep reading to hear about their trip, see their photos, and learn why her clients highly recommends this cruise.
"Everything went very well on this cruise. We didn't have any trouble at all with our flights going out or returning. It was really easy! We loved the cruise from Montreal to Boston. We flew in the day of the cruise and out the day it ended. It stopped in Quebec City, Charlottetown PEI, Sydney, Halifax and Bar Harbor. Our favorite ports were Quebec City and Halifax. We did not take any excursions, just walked around the ports at each stop. There is a lot to see at both of these ports!"
- Patty K.
"Here are some reasons I highly recommend Canada and New England Discovery with Holland America Line:
1. It was great to escape the heat we had in STL that week!
2. It is a great cruise for cruise beginners. The ship is not as large as some, but you get all of the great amenities of a larger cruise. The ship spent the majority of time in the St. Lawrence River so there was very little to no movement on the ship so newbies would really not experience near as much of the motion as one that spends more time on the ocean.
3. This was our first cruise in about 18 months and I was very happy to see that Holland had hand washing machines on the Lido Deck. Additionally, there was very little "self service" allowed compared to what I have been normally accustomed to in the "buffet". Most of the food is served by ship staff and I'm sure this is deliberate to reduce the opportunity for spreading germs and disease. Even still there were not huge backups getting food and I'm sure this also reduced food waste.
4. We felt very safe in all of these cruise ports. They were mostly very, very charming and historic."
Call Susan at 314.439.5700 ext. 113 or email her to start planning your next cruise today!
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In the 60 years since Brentwood Travel was founded in 1957, we've grown into the largest, full-service travel agency in the Greater St. Louis area. No matter what your travel needs may be, our consultants will be able to assist you.