Travel Expressions Ltd.'s Blog

There's More to Peru than Machu Picchu
Peru's overwhelming claim to fame is the mystique and majesty of the ancient remains at Machu Picchu - deservedly named recently the 'South America's Leading Tourist Attraction.” But there's more to Peru than its fabled history, leading it to also earn the designation as 'South America's Leading Culinary Destination 2022' and 'Leading Cultural Destination 2022' in the region.

Here are some of the reasons why:

Annual Día de la Canción Criolla Celebrates Music and Dance on October 31

Move over, Hallowe'en. There's a different, time-honored tradition on the last day of October in Peru. Día de la Canción Criolla (‘The Day of Creole Song’) is a performance event hosted by the Ministry of Culture every year on October 31. 
 
The event is hosted along the Peruvian coast and Andean highlands and brings together a medley of provincial music while also providing a platform for local musicians to showcase their skills. The music was created as a result of the history of Spanish influence and African communities in Peru and is typically created using instruments such as the guitar and Peruvian cajón. The music is accompanied by an array of cultural dances such as the Peruvian national dance, the Marinera, and Vals Criolla, also known as the Peruvian Waltz. Locals can be found in main squares throughout the country celebrating this special occasion.


Peruvian Art Galleries & Museums Offer Immersion into Country’s Unique Culture

While that's only one day of the year, there are many incredible galleries and museums throughout the country for visitors to peruse and enjoy year round. Here are just a few ideas of places for art and history lovers to explore:


This museum showcases the past 3,000 years of art in Peru in a permanent collection of over 18,000 pieces from pre-Columbian, Colonial, Republican and Modern eras. It is also housed in an incredible space that once served as Peru’s National Exhibition in the 19th century. (Pictured above)

Museo Larco is surrounded by a lush garden in a beautifully restored 18th-century house. Visitors here can explore more than 30,000 catalogued ancient pottery artifacts and pre-Columbian erotic art. 

MAC offers a spacious outdoor area as well as interactive exhibits. It is the only institution dedicated exclusively to researching and promoting contemporary, artistic practices of Peru. Both emerging Latin American artists and international names have shown their work at MAC. Guests to the museum can tour three rooms in this glass structure and then enjoy some time outdoors to contemplate the work. 

Considered the pride of Northern Peru, the museum was designed to resemble ancient Moche tombs. Visitors here can explore exhibits of many of the artifacts of the Lord of Sipán, one of the most emblematic figures of the Mochica culture. The discovery of his tomb was the first royal burial site found intact in South America, and belonging to a Peruvian civilization prior to the Inca Empire.

The curators of this museum believe pieces of Andean ethnographic art, if they are produced using traditional techniques and materials, are pieces of great cultural, educational and aesthetic value. The museum aims to acquire, preserve, investigate, communicate and exhibit these foundations of a genuinely Peruvian art form.

Three Lima Restaurants Named to the World’s 50 Best Restaurants List

Those in the know go to Peru for its culinary scene, recently acknowledged yet again with three restaurants in the nation's capital being named to The World’s 50 Best Restaurants List, making Lima a must-visit destination for foodies.

The three restaurants were Central (#2) – owned and run by Virgilio Martínez and Pía León, last year’s World’s Best Female Chef; Maido (#11), a perfect expression of Peru’s Nikkei cuisine; and Mayta (#32), which focuses heavily on sustainable Peruvian ingredients. (Pictured, top, a mise en place at Lima’s Central restaurant.)

Another Lima spot, Kjolle (#68) was named on the expanded list of the top 100, and is also owned by Chef Pía León.



Belmond's Luxury Train Adventure through Peru is an Epicurean Odyssey

Travellers to Peru can explore Lima, the Sacred Valley, Machupicchu, Cusco, Puno, Lake Titicaca, the Uros floating islands and the Colca Valley on a food adventure aboard Belmond's luxury train the Hiram Bingham (bar car pictured above).

Journeying from city to mountain, lake to canyon, guests on this excursion explore the rich culture of Peru through architecture, adventure and, ultimately, your taste buds. Activities on this journey include visits to markets across the country to learn about Peruvian food culture, dining at incredible restaurants, and partaking in a special river-side lunch at Rio Sagrado, A Belmond Hotel, including a variety of dishes featuring local ingredients, strolls through charming villages and, of course, world-class cuisine aboard the train itself.


Start your Peru Trip!


Images courtesy of their respective properties as noted.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.






7 Festivals and Events that Make Hawaii Irresistible This Fall
You may think of Hawaii as a Pacific paradise. But there’s so much more than mind-boggling sunsets over endless beaches, tropical breezes and scents, hula and ukeleles, surfing and luaus, poke and shave ice.
 
The fall months bring some of Hawaii’s most beloved events and festivals that add new focus and memories to a trip to the islands, as well as opportunities to “malama Hawaii,” helping work to protect the islands for residents and visitors alike. As if you needed any excuse, here are seven reasons to book a trip to Hawaii this fall.
 

MALAMA (GIVING BACK) HAWAII

Island of Hawaii: Get hands-on in conserving the Waikoloa Dry Forest habitat. Hawaii Forest & Trailhas launched a new voluntourism program for visitors, the Maunakea Summit and Stars Giveback Experience. On an interpretive walk, guests help collect native seeds to be used for future plantings restoring native forests. Your giving back hike ends with a sunset dinner at the summit of Maunakea volcano and private telescope stargazing led by interpretive guides.
 
Oahu: Another new program sees a partnership between Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikiki Beach and Genki Ala Wai Project, a nonprofit organization deploying tennis ball sized mud “genki balls” into Waikīkī’s Ala Wai Canal to assist in removing sludge, debris and other pollutants. Each night’s stay at the luxury property on its Malama Hawaii package sees the hotel making a cash donation to the project, which helps preserve and restore the water ecosystem of the hotel’s neighbourhood. In addition, the Ritz-Carlton Residences, Waikīkī Beach is also matching the package’s guests’ donation with a $10 donation of their own.
 

FESTIVALS AND EVENTS

Oahu: Aloha Festivals - September 10-24, 2022
A showcase of Hawaiian music, dance, history and the culture’s contributions to Hawai‘I, the Aloha Festivals preserve the unique traditions of the Islands’ Hawaiian culture.
 
Events are scheduled throughout September and include a floral parade, pageantry, and ho‘olauleʻa (festival) in Waikīkī, hula performances, and family-friendly activities.
 
 
Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival - October 14-15, 2022
Those in the know savor Hawaii’s home-grown coffee, and this annual culinary festival, held in the historic westside town, Hanapēpē, celebrates both Kauai-grown chocolate and coffee. You’ll be happy to hear there are plenty of chances for sampling!
 
In addition, festival attendees will find educational displays, a silent auction, children’s activities, workshops, live entertainment and exhibitor booths featuring a variety of chocolate and coffee products.
 
Oahu: Honolulu Pride Parade and Festival - October 15, 2022
Hawaii’s largest LGBTQ+ community event is a daylong celebration highlighted by the Honolulu Pride Parade – winding through Waikīkī from Magic Island at Ala Moana Beach Park to Kapiolani Park.
 
In addition to the parade, the Honolulu Pride Festival features live music, inspirational speeches and fun activities. For more information, visit
 
Kauai: Po‘ipū Food and Wine - October 19-22, 2022
Another culinary festival on Kauai, this one highlights the island’s local ingredients and chefs. The Po‘ipū Night Market is a block party featuring small-plate dishes and wine pairings alongside food demonstrations.
 
Guests have the option to purchase tickets for one, two or all three days, and real foodies may want to time their trip to double up their tastings at the Kauai Chocolate & Coffee Festival that wraps up just days earlier.
 
Island of Hawaii, Oahu, Maui: Hawaii Food and Wine Festival - October 20-November 6, 2022
This annual, inter-island festival features a roster of renowned Hawaiian and international chefs, culinary personalities, and wine and spirit producers.
 
Taking place on all three islands, theHawaii Food and Wine Festival showcases the extraordinary diversity of multicultural cuisine and excellent locally grown-and-raised ingredients found across the islands. Dishes feature local produce, seafood and meats.
 
Statewide: Annual Hawaii International Film Festival - November 3-27, 2022
Cinephiles with a love of the tropics have been flocking to the Hawaii International Film Festival for over four decades. The 42nd annual Hawaii International Film Festival once again shares a slate of world-class international films for industry and visitors, alongside industry events all across the state.
 
Time your trip to Hawaii to enjoy in-theater screenings on Oahu between November 3-13 and on Island of Hawaii, Maui and Kauai between November 17-20.
 
Whether your interests run from food to film, ecology to diversity, your trip to Hawaii this fall can be even more memorable through festival events and the opportunity to meet Hawaiians keen to share their local lifestyle and passion for enriching the islands.
 

Start Your Hawaii Trip!

 
 
All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
 
 
In this BestTrip TV video, Lynn Elmhirst visits the famous Fogo Island Inn, on a remote fishing island in the North Atlantic off the shore of Newfoundland.

Not only is the Inn rated one of the top luxury lodges in the world, with award-winning and breathtaking architecture and design that still reflects the culture and craftsmanship of Fogo Island and Fogo Islanders. They call it 'hand-made modern,' and with only 30 rooms on this island that's 'far away from far away,' any trip is a ripe for memory-making, if not for the design or the dramatic natural surroundings, but for the opportunities the Inn creates for visitors to immerse themselves in the real life and lifestyle of this 400-year old fishing community.

The Fogo Island Inn is also the 'economic engine' of a foundation with a vision of a new way of creating spectacular tourism experiences that become a cornerstone of community economic benefit and cultural and social preservation, especially for small remote communities in danger of losing their identities, way of life, and even the entire community to the relentless march of modern life.

Lynn speaks to sister/ brother Zita Cobb and Alan Cobb, Innkeeper/ Founders of the Fogo Island Inn and Shorefast, the charity that strategically puts profits back into the local community to ensure it thrives in the modern world for generations to come.

Start your Island Trip!


All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





Getting 'Salty' in Anguilla
“Water, water, everywhere, but not any drop to drink.” Being surrounded by seawater takes on new meaning in the British Caribbean island of Anguilla, where locals are rediscovering the luxury destination’s ‘salty’ history.

Anguilla’s only 16 miles long and 3 miles at its widest; a slender length of coral and limestone fringed with green, ringed with 33 beaches. A gem of the northern Caribbean, the island is an off-the-beaten path luxury retreat for celebrities looking for quiet seclusion, as well as other savvy travelers.

This small island is dotted with about 17 lagoons – but there’s a catch. They’re not fresh water. Like a number of other islands in the region, Anguilla relies on collected rainwater, underwater aquifers, and desalination of seawater for its water supply.

When Europeans first arrived at the island in the 1600’s, they uncovered a unique local treasure: Anguilla’s ‘salt ponds.’ Before the days of refrigeration, salt wasn’t just a seasoning. It was one of the best ways to preserve meat, fish, and other food, and was a precious commodity. In fact, the word ‘salary’ was derived from the Latin word for ‘salt.’

So began the start of salt production on the island. Reportedly, for over three hundred years, close to 100,000 barrels of naturally occurring salt were ‘harvested’ each year from the salt ponds and exported.

As tourism grew in Anguilla in the 1980’s, the salt industry faded in economic importance, but natural salt remained part of local identity, culture, and history. Today, Anguillans are rebuilding the local salt pond lifestyle.

(Above and top images: Visit Anguilla)

Most of the action is at the Road Salt Pond, a 100-acre lagoon that’s the largest enclosed body of water on Anguilla.

Nature lovers and bird watchers ‘flock’ to the Road Salt Pond. The unique wetland environment is a designated ‘Important Bird Area’ as a breeding site supporting the populations of over a hundred types of birds.


Locals have begun a new cottage industry of salt harvesting, and local tours take visitors to the pond to ‘pick’ salt by hand like generations of Anguillans did for hundreds of years.

You can even to take a dip in the highly mineralized - and therefore, therapeutic, water.

Beyond the salt ponds themselves, locally-harvested salt is finding its way into the everyday life – and visitor experience on Anguilla. 


(Image: Belmond Cap Juluca)

Spas at two of the most luxurious resorts on Anguilla draw on the local salt’s natural, therapeutic qualities. The Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla offers guests an ‘Anguilla Salt Body Polish,’ and at the spa at Belmond Cap Juluca (pictured above) you can take a ‘Salt Soak Bath.’

And the Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla has a restaurant dubbed ‘SALT’ (pictured, below) that celebrates locally-sourced salt as a gourmet ingredient.

(Image: Four Seasons Resort, Anguilla)

So you might go to Anguilla for the sea and the sand… but some of the best stories, memories and souvenirs you take away…. may be the salt!

Start Your Island Trip!




All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Dare You! Where to Eat the World's Most Dangerous Fish
Prepared incorrectly, it’s 1200 times more toxic than cyanide! Yet this fish has been a treasured delicacy for nearly three thousand years - and foodies with a daredevil streak make sure to include it on their list of dishes they must try on a visit to Japan.

Fugu is Japanese for various species of pufferfish or blowfish, as well as dishes prepared from these fish.
Their English names reflect their ability to inflate into the shape of a ball up to three times their original size, with huge amounts of water and sometimes air - all to ward off predators. Some are spiny and have been nicknamed porcupine fish, too.

Neither spines nor shape-shifting deterred ancient Japanese, who managed to add fugu to the menu. After who knows how much fatal trial and error.

That’s because almost all blowfish contain a toxin that makes them bad tasting and often lethal to fellow fish predators. It’s absolutely deadly to humans – even more poisonous than cyanide! There’s apparently enough poison in one blowfish to kill 30 people. And there are no known antidotes.

Sounds like a plot from a mystery novel rather than a food story, doesn’t it? And for many, the opposite of a culinary temptation. 

And yet…

If properly prepared by removing the toxic parts and avoiding contaminating the meat, it’s safe to eat. Today, only specially-licensed chefs who have trained specifically for fugu for three years or more are permitted to prepare the delicacy.


Despite – or perhaps because of! – the risk, fugu is one of the most celebrated, celebratory dishes in Japan, served in paper-thin raw slices as sashimi, or in nabemono (hot pot). As you can imagine, it’s pretty pricey, too.

This is one dish you want to go straight to the source and dine at the places with the very best reputation.

The “Blowfish Capital of Japan”

You can get fugu at restaurants in major cities throughout Japan. But for the ultimate experience of cuisine with a shot of adrenaline on the side, head to the “Blowfish Capital of Japan.”

The city of Shimonoseki is in the stunning southern region of Japan’s main inland, on Japan’s rich Inland Sea. It’s an historic fishing community, and even today, 80% of Japan’s fugu comes from Shimonoseki.

Fugu – and fugu experts – abound. At the Karato Market, you can find a fabulous variety of options and even a stall that sells a special ‘bento’ – a colorful boxed meal that says “good luck!” Or settle in at a table at a local fugu restaurant that offers a more formal fugu experience – that also gives you great photo opps. 
 
One is Heike Chaya- family run for nearly half a century, this restaurant’s menu has a range of creatively prepared blowfish dishes created by highly qualified chefs. The centrepiece here is fugu hot pot.

Toast and wash it down with some of the famous local sake and celebrate life on the edge!

Start your Culinary Trip!



All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A Wine River Cruise that's Close to Home
One of the top reasons many travellers take a European river cruise is for the wine. The banks of many of Europe’s rivers provide the perfect combination of drainage and sun exposure for the cultivation of vines that produce some very famous wines.

But one of the best wine river cruises in the world doesn’t require a long haul flight.

Lynn Elmhirst, Producer and Host of BestTrip TV, explains.


The Pacific Northwest’s increasingly-acclaimed wine regions have a river flowing through them. Oregon and Washington states meet at the Columbia River as it flows westward towards the Pacific Ocean.

Our week-long UnCruise Adventure on the Columbia River tapped into some epic themes and gave us experiences that rival any river cruise in Europe – or the world:

·     We sailed in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark’s historic expedition to the Pacific through the Northwest, on a vintage vessel that’s designed to evoke the American frontier era of exploration; 

·     Our cruise gave us front row seats to take in the spectacular scenery of the Columbia River Gorge and its awe-inspiring transition from temperate rainforest to desert-like landscapes and dramatic cliffs; and

·     And it brought us into towns and communities along the way that have staked a claim to fame as world-class wine and culinary destinations.

Although most UnCruise Adventures emphasize soft adventure experiences like kayaking and other water sports off the ship, and zodiak landings in remote locations for hiking and land exploration, our Rivers of Wine cruise highlighted the region’s exquisite wine and cuisine.

And for good reason.


River of Wine

On both sides of the Columbia river, in both Oregon and Washingtonstates, a critical mass of viticulture is gaining world-wide recognition. 

Oregon has now become one of America’s largest wine producing states, with hundreds of wineries growing dozens of varietals, but mainly in small-batch wineries producing artisan wines from Riesling to Viogniers, Pinot noir to Syrah, with sparkling, rose, and dessert wines that tempted our palates.


On the other side of the river, Washington state is also now one of the top wine producers in the country. While it's a relative newcomer to America’s wine scene, wine has an illustrious pedigree in the state, dating back to 1825 when the Hudson's Bay Company planted the area's first wine grapes at Fort Vancouver.
 
Today’s Washington state viticulture community is growing fast, drawing wine-makers from Europe and New World wine regions to the state's unique terroir and conditions for producing premium white and red wines. Washington's young and internationally-influenced wine culture exhibits some of the latest trends in wine-making that visiting oenophiles – like us! love. Hand-crafting, sustainability, organic and biodynamic wines make visits to this Pacific North West wine region a must for any wine-lover.


 
I can’t think of a more geographically diverse wine river! We visited wineries with the Cascade Mountains’ dramatic Mt. Hood as a backdrop, to other vineyards just a short sail along the river thriving in almost desert conditions.

 
It would be nearly impossible to replicate our wine exploration of the Pacific Northwest along the Columbia River without the expertise of our UnCruise experts and guides, whose knowledge and relationships in the region gave us access to passionate local winemaker entrepreneurs who are drawing on the unique terroir (wine-producing terrain) to cultivate the grapes and craft one-of-a-kind wines – none of which we could get at home.

 
In fact, some of our fellow guests were on the cruise specifically to tap into that expertise to add to their wine collections. That’s a clear benefit of a ‘drive-to’ cruise: they’d driven in some cases cross-country to leave their cars in Portland and embark the ship, ready to drive home with a new collection of vintages – and Pacific Northwest winery contacts - after our round-trip voyage.
 
Others, like us, were thrilled just to taste these uniquely Pacific Northwest wines in charming wineries, surrounded by vineyards, and hear the stories of the winemakers, as well as meet and sample the fruits of the labors of other culinary innovators in small communities along the river. I think all of us were inspired to find room for at least one or two special bottles in our luggage to fly home!
 
The wine tastings and culinary samplings during our trips off the ship were complemented by an outstanding onboard gastronomic experience.
 
Hyper-local ingredients, not just regional, but identified on daily menus right down to the farm and producer, were transformed into one memorable meal after another. A ship that small – with a tiny galley! – even included a pastry chef. And in addition to abundant meals, onboard tastings of local oysters, cheeses and other delicacies had us pacing ourselves, knowing more treats we’d have to try would be coming up next.
 
The onboard sommelier worked lock-step with the chefs to pair an outstanding range of local wines, many from wineries we didn’t get a chance to visit, with each dish at dinner.

 
But maybe our favorite moment was on board when, local wine in hand, we immersed ourselves in the top deck’s hot tub during a late afternoon sailing to watch some of the most dramatic Columbia River Gorge scenery float by as we toasted our cruise along America’s River of Wine.
 

Start Your Wine River Cruise Trip!

 
 
All images copyright BestTrip TV/ Lynn Elmhirst.

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be copied, re-published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.





Hit the Holiday Weekend with this Travel-Inspired, Rum-Infused Salad Recipe from Antigua and Barbuda
It’s officially summer, and the big holiday weekend of the season spells festive get-togethers and celebrations in the sun and the heat. Well, you can take a cue from a year-round hot-weather destination and spice up your summer salad with a salad recipe from Antigua and Barbuda that hits the spot this hot holiday weekend.

This distinctly tropical salad is simple yet oh so delicious and refreshing – and adults only! It features a large watermelon and is infused with Antigua’s signature Cavalier Rum; yes, rum! The secret is letting the sliced watermelon marinate in the rum for up to two days, ensuring the ultimate sweet flavour that will amp up your festivities and set a high note for the holiday weekend.

This twist on a watermelon recipe comes courtesy of Rodrick Beazer, the Executive Sous Chef of Curtain Bluff Resort in Antigua and Barbuda, the twin-island nation in the heart of the Caribbean Sea.

Antigua and Barbuda offer upscale island travelers not one, but two uniquely distinct experiences. Both islands enjoy ideal temperatures year-round, a rich history, vibrant culture, exhilarating excursions, award-winning resorts, mouth-watering cuisine and 365 stunning pink and white-sand beaches - one for everyday of the year!

The largest of the Leeward Islands, Antigua, comprises 108-square miles with rich history and spectacular topography that provides a variety of popular sightseeing opportunities. Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort, a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site, is perhaps the most renowned landmark. Antigua’s tourism events calendar includes the prestigious Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta, and the annual Antigua Carnival; dubbed the ‘Caribbean’s Greatest Summer Festival.’

Barbuda, Antigua’s smaller sister island, is an off-the-radar celebrity hideaway. The island lies 27 miles north-east of Antigua and is just a 15-minute plane ride away. Barbuda is known for its untouched 17-mile stretch of pink sand beach and as the home of the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the Western Hemisphere. 

 

Antigua and Barbuda’s Cavalier Rum-Infused Local Watermelon Salad

INGREDIENTS:
Start with a large watermelon; seedless watermelon is best for this recipe
1 cup Cavalier rum 
½ cup toasted sliced almonds 
1 bowl of fresh island greens
½ cup local goat cheese
2 sprigs kale 
 
MAKE-AHEAD INSTRUCTIONS:
To infuse the watermelon: 
1. Cut the watermelon in half, horizontally. Place half side down on a clean, dry surface. Then slice a portion off the round top and then each side, making it a square or rectangle. Slice into approximately 1-inch slices.
2. Place sliced (and seeded, if you aren't using seedless) watermelon into vacuum / sealable plastic bag(s). Pour in the Cavalier Rum. 
3. Place vacuum bag into chamber vacuum sealer and pull a full, 100% vacuum on the fruit. You can also do this carefully without a vacuum sealer carefully by hand pressing out all the air.
4. The fruit can marinate in the rum in the refrigerator for up to two days. (After two days, juices will start to expel from the fruit, surrounding the fruit in the vacuum pouch. The fruit is usable, but the texture isn’t as perfect.)
 
To Serve:
1. Remove watermelon from the pouch. Top with goat cheese, almond slices, and kale. Garnish with greens and serve!
 
Chef Beazer says that the rum-infused salad is a perfect side dish for barbequed fish - especially salmon - or chicken. He suggests pairing it with a light rosé or pinot noir wine to accentuate the sweetness of the watermelon.
Until you can make your next – or first! – trip to Antigua and Barbuda, we know this salad recipe will be your travel-inspired star of your sizzling summer entertainment!
 

Start your Tropical Trip!

 
Salad image and recipe courtesy of Antigua and Barbuda.

Top Souvenirs from a Trip to England
2022 is a great year to be an anglophile! Queen Elizabeth II’s history-making Platinum Jubilee, marking her remarkable 70 years of service, plus a new Downton Abbey film, have brought all things British to the forefront of popular culture.

Interest in travel to Britain is at an all-time high to experience Britain’s storied pomp and circumstance, English culture and quirk, and immerse yourself in one of the world’s most adored and copied lifestyles, from cricket to rowing, afternoon tea to a round at the pub, stately homes and quaint cottages, gardens to skyscrapers, exquisite tailoring to hand-written invitations: the good life, British-style.

You’ll want to bring some of it home to re-live your vacation and share your love of all things English.

Lynn Elmhirst, producer and host of BestTrip TV, just returned from a transatlantic crossing on the British luxury line Cunard’s Queen Mary 2, with a few days post-cruise in London during the Queen’s Jubilee year. Here are the souvenirs that made it into her bag:
 

Books

English authors have made their mark on the world, from Shakespeare up to the present day, and London remains one of the publishing centers of the planet. And even most modest homes today still retain that very British tradition of having a library to be proud of.


Indulge in some time in an English bookstore. “High street” or mainstream bookstores have so many books you’ll never see at home – even though they’re both written in English! That includes books by experts sharing tips and information about traveling around London or Britain through the lens of their special interests that can help inform and shape your travels.

Then there are still treasure troves of independent, specialty bookstores – if you love books, you could get lost forever and love it!

Tea Service

If someone visits England and doesn't have afternoon tea, have they actually been to England at all?

That very civilized tradition of taking a load off one’s feet in the middle of the afternoon and partaking in a restorative cup of your favorite tea, along with light finger sandwiches, a perfect scone, clotted cream and jam and a sweet delicacy or two… simply makes your day. And tides you over til a late dinner after taking in a performance in one of London’s West End theaters, for example.

You may find you can’t live without afternoon tea, in which case, you’ll need a tea service. From impossibly elegant versions made by top names in British fine bone china, including patterns available in England only, to quirky versions that speak to your own personal sense of style, a tea service will allow you to reminisce about your time in England for years to come.


Start with just a tea pot you can mix and match with your own china at home, or go all the way with tea pot, milk and sugar, teacups and saucers, even sandwich plates! Many fine stores even arrange shipping.

Consumables

When it comes to family, friends and colleagues, I’ve found the most-appreciated souvenirs are the ones that disappear – down your throat!

And England does consumables up right. From teas to biscuits (or as we’d call them: cookies) jams to chutneys, sweets to chocolates and more – all in high-designed tins and packages and parcels and baskets that are essential English style.


There’s no end of shops to stock up on edible souvenirs, but you won’t want to miss the grand-daddies of them all: Harrod’s and Fortnum and Mason.

Anything from Liberty’s

The luxury department store in the unmistakeable historic building – erected in Tudor style using ship timbers symbolic of the exotic emporium of its vision - in the heart of London’s Regent Street shopping area, has become synonymous with the truly unique designs of late 19th century creator, William Morris.


A keen anglophile can always spot a Liberty pattern, whether it’s on a shirt, scarf, man’s tie, or woman’s bag.
Those would be for you. To share with loved ones back home: edibles packaged in those unmistakeable Liberty designs.


Gin

While its earliest origins stem from the Netherlands just a short sail across the Channel, hundreds of years ago the English made gin very much their own. Today, a gin and tonic – or G&T, remains the essential English cocktail.

Forget everything about gins you’ve tasted at home, and start sipping unfamiliar, small-batch gins on your trip to Britain. There’s a lot more to gin today than distilled juniper berries! Combinations of botanicals, florals, and herbal ingredients have resulted in intriguing new flavors of gin, that are just as delicious sipped straight up as they are mixed with a high-quality tonic.
Image Courtesy Royal Collection Trust

Buckingham Palace now has its own gin that you can buy at its gift shop in support of the Royal Collection Trust that maintains one of the largest art collections in the world.


So does British cruise line Cunard. In fact, Cunard partnered with the well-known distillery Pickering's to create three gins with different flavor profiles: one for each of its ‘Three Queens’ ships.
 

Umbrella

If you were asked to draw an Englishman, chances are, he’d be sporting a tailcoat, a hat… and an umbrella. The quintessential dapper Englishman flourishes his umbrella, which isn’t just an affectation, but protects him or the lady accompanying him, from the English weather.


If quality apparel and accessories mean something to you, England is the place to acquire an umbrella with character. Check out the fine department stores, some specialty stores, and find yourself the perfect bespoke umbrella that will be a conversation-starter back at home – like this one above, kindly provided for the use of guests at our hotel, The Londoner (below), a stunning new luxury hotel in Leicester Square in the heart of the capital's theater district.

 

Globe

In addition to books, of course, every stately home’s library comes equipped with a splendid globe. Every world traveller should have one, too. Flat maps or – the horror! Apps! – fail to evoke the sense of scale of our planet, the distances between destinations, across seas and oceans… or the magic of travel in the way a globe does. Tactile by its very nature, a globe engages our wonder with travel.

And there’s one person in England making bespoke globes by hand in a studio in London. My camera team and I visited the studios of Bellerby & Co. to learn the secrets of putting a map on a sphere you can touch.


The studio isn’t open to the public, but you can order a globe online – even personalized in any way you can imagine! To have a little piece of bespoke English artisanship - and keep your travel dreams alive as you spin it at home.

 

Start your England Trip!


All images copyright BestTrip TV / Lynn Elmhirst unless otherwise stated.


























North America to Get its 6th MICHELIN Destination Guide to Star-Rated Restaurants
Or… why will foodies flock to Toronto this fall? That’s when Canada’s largest city becomes only the sixth destination in North America – and the first Canadian city – to be ranked among the crème de la crème of the world’s gastronomic locations.

That’s when the first MICHELIN guide for Toronto will be published. It joins just a rarefied handful of destinations on the continent in getting the seal of approval from the ‘high church’ of culinary credentials.

And those of us who already know and love Toronto’s food scene aren’t surprised.

The city on the north shore of Lake Ontario is surrounded by food producers who collaborate with world-class chefs and restaurateurs, providing farm-fresh ingredients and boutique food products to the appreciative and discriminating palates of city dwellers and visitors. 

As one of the most culturally and ethnically diverse cities on the continent – and even the world – Toronto also delivers some of the finest international cuisine and chefs who marry their cultural culinary roots with daring new ingredients, preparations, and treatments.

Not to mention Toronto’s just over an hour away from the country’s award-winning Niagara wine region.
Apparently, MICHELIN representatives have been casing the city incognito, evaluating the prospects of awarding coveted stars to restaurants in high profile and tucked-away neighborhoods around the city. Recently, it decided to add Toronto to the ranks of MICHELIN-evaluated destinations.

According to MICHELIN, “A new chapter begins in Toronto, which features global eats and charming cafes as well as high-end dining experiences. It’s a city where top chefs want to establish a presence and where emerging chefs nurture their culinary talent – both drawing on locally produced ingredients unique to Ontario.
 
“This selection will reflect the local flavors and international influences of this gastronomic scene.”
 
“Toronto’s culinary scene is as diverse as the city itself, and MICHELIN Guide Toronto is the perfect way to celebrate our culinary community,” said Scott Beck, President & CEO of Destination Toronto.
 
“It will be a powerful way to share our culinary capabilities with new audiences from around the world.”
 
Anonymous gastronomic inspectors are now investigating Toronto’s culinary scene in earnest and writing their reviews. The City of Toronto notes the coveted ratings in the upcoming guide will involve “complete autonomy regarding the restaurants assessed and the outcome of those assessments.”
 
MICHELIN guides began in France over a century ago as a way for the tire company – yes! the same company as the rotund, MICHELIN man made out of tires! - to encourage early car-owners to travel on road trips throughout the country and beyond (and buy tires!) Its lists, reviews and famously-starred ratings of dining, accommodation, destinations and attractions set a standard for all guide books that followed.
 
Just as they expect celebrated restaurants to re-earn their stars, the famous French guide books haven’t rested on their laurels, either.

In some ways, their culinary evaluations have come full circle.

The earliest MICHELIN guides noted not just justifiably famous restaurants along motoring routes that French travellers followed en route to their vacations in the countryside and beaches of France. They also advised which secret jewels of small, mom-and-pop – or should we say, mere-et-pere? eateries in small, off-the-beaten track villages were worth the drive or diverting from your route.

Today, MICHELIN guides award not only stratospherically-pricey fine dining restaurants in France with priceless stars, but also famously, street food in Singapore.

So travellers to Toronto can look forward to a MICHELIN guide to a full range of culinary adventures at different budgets. 

In fact, you might not want to wait for the word to get out and all the restaurants to fill up, and instead, beat the crowds to your own gastronomic pilgrimage to the world’s latest MICHELIN destination. Toronto’s favorite foodie festival, Summerlicious, returns this summer in August.  

START YOUR CULINARY TRIP!

 
 

You’ve heard of wine caves - how about wine caving?

WATCH THE VIDEO ABOVE to learn more about this new, and one-of-a-kind experience on an Avalon Waterways river cruise on the Rhone River in the south of France that combines adventure - with the exquisite wines of the region.

Lynn Elmhirst, producer and host of BestTrip TV, was one of the first guests to experience the new 'Active & Discovery' excursion that meant donning a caving suit, helmet, headlamp and a little bit of bravery to descend into caves near Avignon, France.

At the bottom of literally hundreds of stairsteps – 55 meters / 180 feet down into the earth, unfolds a 60 km / 40 mile network of caves that inhabitants of the region were using even tens of thousands of years ago.

Today, in addition to spectacular spelunking – that’s just a fancy word for caving – sights like sci-fi worthy formations, reflective pools and cathedral-like spaces, local winemakers have an ageing cave, where they are experimenting with how cave-aged wines differ from those aged above ground.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime wine tasting and caving experience, and the latest in Avalon Waterways’ Active & Discovery river cruise shore excursions.

And after three glasses of wine and a climb up hundreds of stairs back to the surface, you might be grateful for the helmet! :-)

Start your Wine Tasting Adventure River Cruise!



This New Cruise Ship Bar Beat Out Restaurants, Hotels and More to Win “Best Beverage Menu” Award
Why just have a drink – when you can have a story, too? That’s the premise behind the cruise ship bar menu that’s won out over competitors throughout the world of hospitality.

“Best Beverage Menu” was awarded to Holland America Line for its newest bar concept onboard its newest ship at the 2022 VIBE (that’s the Very Important Beverage Executives) conference.

That means this bar menu isn’t just the best at sea. The award is open to any venue in the entire beverage space, and Holland America Line went up against other bars in hospitality, including restaurant groups, hotel chains, casinos, and more for the honor.

The “Half Moon Bar” debuted on board Holland America Line’s new flagship, the Rotterdam, which launched in fall, 2021. 


I traveled on the Rotterdam in the Caribbean in the fall, and can attest that the new bar concept is one of the great new innovations on Holland America Line’s latest ship. I’m not surprised that Half Moon Bar has – in just months – become “the most popular bar on board,” I’m told.

Half Moon Bar pays homage to Holland America Line in a couple of ways. It’s named after the cruise line’s private island in the Caribbean. And its bar menu tells the history of the line and cruising through the lens of its cocktails.
Each carefully crafted cocktail comes with its own fascinating tale, and simply reading the now award-winning bar menu transports you back in time on a journey though Holland America Line’s history.


Time-traveling tipples on the menu include:

·      “The Original,” (pictured above) which celebrates Holland America Line’s first ship, Rotterdam I. It’s crafted from Dutch gin and a hint of single malt Scotch, ingredients inspired by the building of the ship and Holland America Line’s Dutch beginnings.
 
·      “De Halve Moon” ties into the line’s origins as ocean liner travel between Rotterdam and New York (which, you may recall, used to be Dutch and was called “Nieuw Amsterdam” before it was renamed New York City.) De Halve Moon is an ode to the Dutch sense of exploration and the botanical wonderland Henry Hudson found in present-day New York. It’s composed of Old Duff genever (the Dutch precursor to gin), lemon rosewater shrub and DDG Bitters.
 
·      “Three Mile Run” is a prohibition cocktail that tells the story of Holland America Line Prohibition-era ‘cruises to nowhere’ New Yorkers could take to get around no-alcohol rules. Once in open waters (three miles out), cocktail bars on the ship could be legally open, and quenching the thirst of New Yorkers for a strong one. It is made from a combination of lemon, honey and gin for a Bee’s Knees, whiskey for a Gold Rush or rum for a Honey Bee.
 
·      “May She Be Blessed” is an ode to the godmothers who bless the Holland America Line ships. The elegant and feminine cocktail is made with champagne and the guest’s choice of essence.
 
·      “Rotterdam VII” is dedicated to its namesake ship. The current Rotterdam is the seventh vessel to have that name in the nearly 150-year history of the line. Like the ship herself, the cocktail salutes both tradition and innovation, with its combination of smoked gin and maraschino.
 
If you’re imagining yourself on holiday, sipping an inventive cocktail with new and old friends and sharing a laugh and a good story, Half Moon Bar on Holland America Line’s new Rotterdam might be your best place to be.


Book a Holland American Line cruise on the Rotterdam or any other ship in the Caribbean to visit the Half Moon Bar's namesake, Half Moon Cay (pictured above.) A day at Half Moon Cay - no matter what you're drinking - is the ultimate island beach day.
 

Start your Cruise Trip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, TV show producer/ host and cruise expert

Images courtesy of Holland America Line

All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.







Fun Facts About Your Favorite St. Patrick's Day Drinks
What’s the best part of celebrating the day named after Ireland’s patron saint? Is it the ‘wearin’ o’ the green?’ The irresistible beat of Irish music that makes every listener’s toes tap? Your hilarious attempts at an Irish jig or your own version of Riverdance? Or the famous Irish beverages that fuel the festivities in the Emerald Isle and around the world every March 17th?

(Courtesy Donal Cawley, Merry Ploughboy Pub)

They say on St. Patrick’s Day, everyone’s a little bit Irish. And so we’re guessing at least one of these drinks finds its way into your hands at the local Irish pub. 

Here are a few fun facts about the four most iconic Irish beverages you can have up your sleeve to make you look like the smartest honorary Irishman at the bar. 

Now, if you memorize an Irish toast too, you’ll bring the real ‘spirit’ of St. Patrick’s Day to the moment!


Irish Whiskey 

Yes, that’s ‘whiskey’ with an ‘e.’ In the debate between Irish whiskey and Scottish whisky, Ireland claims to be the global original.

According to Tourism Ireland, the first written reference to whiskey in Ireland took place two whole centuries before distillation of malted grains was recorded in Scotland. The Red Book of Ossory in Ireland referred to whiskey in 1324.
In terms of authentic beverage, nothing may be more Irish than whiskey. The word itself comes from the Gaelic ‘uisce beatha’, meaning ‘water of life.’

The oldest ongoing commercial distillery in the world is also Irish, and the 400 year-old Old Bushmills Distillery in County Antrim has always put the ‘e’ in ‘whiskey.’

As traditional a tipple as whiskey in Ireland is, the spirit is seeing a renaissance throughout the Emerald Isle and around the world. The Head of Drinks Ireland|Irish Whiskey Association explains that, “Irish whiskey has undergone a phenomenal revival, going from four distilleries to 38 – with 24 open to visitors – and recording 140% growth in sales around the world in the last decade.”

The traditional, and globally available, brands like Bushmills and Jameson are being joined by exciting new artisan brands that you can only taste on a trip to Ireland.

A million international travelers every year visit an Irish distillery – not to mention Dublin’s Whiskey Museum or a local pub with a selection of new and traditional whiskies.
 
The Ireland Whiskey Trail is a free touring guide to distilleries, the best whiskey pubs, hotel bars, well-known and up-and-coming brands, as well as specialized whiskey shops.

And IrishWhiskey360° provides visitors a map and information on the island’s most important distilleries that offer tours, tastings and behind the scenes secrets about their amber spirits.

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee has a much less pedigreed history than its most spirited ingredient, Irish whiskey. Its claim to fame is as a method to ‘warm the cockles o’ your heart’ as they say, and is said to have been invented at the height of World War 2.

A chef at County Limerick’s Foynes Port, where planes flying between Europe and North America would stop to refuel before the North Atlantic crossing leg of their journeys, invented the hot drink. 

The story says he whipped the first hot, creamy batch up one raw night in 1942 for a group of delayed, chilled, and weary passengers. After a collective “Ahh” went around the room, one passenger reportedly asked, “Is this Brazilian coffee?”  To which the chef replied, “No, that’s Irish coffee.”

The name – and the appeal on a brisk night – stuck. Here’s the recipe – straight from Foynes – to impress your friends around a warming fire, and to compare with the ‘real thing’ on your own next trip to Ireland. (Pictured. ©Failte Ireland, Courtesy of Carsten Krieger.)

The original Irish coffee recipe

  1. Preheat your Irish coffee glass by filling it with boiling water for 5 seconds, then pour the water out.
  2. Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar and a good measure of Irish whiskey into the warmed glass.
  3. Fill the glass to within ½ an inch of the brim with hot, strong black coffee. Stir well to dissolve all the brown sugar.
  4. Carefully pour lightly whipped cream over the back of a spoon so that it floats on top of the coffee.
  5. Do not stir after adding the cream; the best flavor comes from drinking the coffee and Irish whiskey through the cream.
 

Irish Cream

Despite marketing, and images and script on the bottles that suggest Bailey’s Irish cream is a long-standing tradition, the sweet liqueur made of cream, cocoa and Irish whiskey only dates back to the 1970’s.

There are a few stories about its origin, none as romantic as the image of Irish coffee being brewed up for wartime flights across the Atlantic.


The first Irish cream was reportedly developed by a team with the pragmatic goal to come up with a new export product, which they did deciding to use up whiskey from a distillery that wasn’t making money and to take advantage of excess cream on the market as skim milk was becoming more popular, or as a whiskey-based ‘girly drink.’ Or all of the above.

Regardless of its start, today, Bailey’s Irish cream is an undoubted beverage ambassador of Ireland around the world. Its annual production uses over 250 million liters of Irish milk from 40,000 dairy cows living on 1500 Irish farms. The U.S. imports more Baileys Irish cream than any other country in the world.

One final – and very important – fact about Irish cream: it is NOT an ingredient of authentic Irish Coffee.
 
(Image ©Tourism Ireland)

Guinness

Moving away from whiskey, perhaps the most ubiquitous drink for St. Patrick’s Day celebrants or visitors to Ireland is simply, ‘a Guinness.’ Its brand symbol, the harp, is the symbol of Ireland’s 11th century king, Brian Boru
 
Guinness has been produced in Dublin since 1759. Founder Arthur Guinness knew he was on to a sure thing: he signed a 9000 year lease for the St. James’s Gate Brewery. By the 20th century, Guinness was the largest brewery in the world.
 
The brewery’s Irish dry stout or dark beer has become the iconic symbol of St. Patrick’s Day and pub life in Ireland. It is made from barley, hops, water, roast malt extract, and brewer’s yeast. Some barley is specifically roasted to give Guinness its signature dark color and distinctive taste. The result was believed at one point even to be a health drink – so healthy, in fact, it was recommended for young children and pregnant women! Some modern science has upheld the healthy reputation: Guinness’ rich ingredient list makes it a source of B vitamins, iron, heart-healthy antioxidants, and immune support.
 
But we don’t think anyone is thinking of their B vitamins when they’re raising their glasses of Guinness in the Dublin brewery, or in their home or local Irish pub on St. Patrick’s Day, when over 800% more Guinness is drunk than any other day of the year – a whopping estimated 13 million pints!

(Image: Tourism Ireland)
 

Start Your Ireland Trip!

 
Image credits as noted. All images courtesy of Ireland.com

Top image: Pearse Lyons Whiskey Distillery, The Liberites, Dublin City, Courtesy Killian Whyte







Where in the World to Drink Ice Wine
Don’t let winter stop you from enjoying a wine harvest season! There are two ways - and many places - to celebrate a wine harvest in the New Year.

You could travel to the southern hemisphere, where standard vineyard harvests take place during the northern hemisphere’s spring.

Or you can embrace winter – and the one, very special wine it creates.

Ice wine is a case of making lemonade when life gives you lemons. When winter conditions are just right, grapes freeze on the vine, giving vintners the opportunity to make ice wine. 

What makes ice wine special? When grapes are still on the vine as the temperatures turn to freezing, it’s only the water content in the grapes that freezes – not the sugar or other solids. So the small amount of juice extracted from the frozen grapes is very concentrated.

For natural ice wine, grapes must fully ripen on the vine, then undergo a hard freeze (−8 °C (17 °F) or colder). It's risky business. Grapes can be lost before harvest, and then the moment it freezes, pickers have to work at night harvesting all the grapes in a few hours before the sun warms them up again at dawn.

The wine made from that freezing process is very sweet wine with a balanced acidity - and can only be produced in small quantities. And it's priced accordingly.

If you want to taste ice wine at its source - and see the unique way it's made, your geographic choices are limited. Ice wine can only be produced in wine regions where it gets sufficiently – and reliably – cold.

Old World

Like many culinary innovations, ice wine may have been a happy accident that came about as a result of an unexpectedly harsh winter in the Nuremburg region of Germany around 1800. Vintners pressed their frozen grapes anyway… and voila!

It may have helped that sweet, late harvest Rhine wines were already the most highly valued wines in Germany at the time. Although the process is different, sweet late harvest wines may have smoothed the way for sweet ice wines to be appreciated and attempted in the rare, subsequent years when weather conditions presented the opportunity to make ‘Eiswein.’ 

Technology, like electric lights to facilitate night time picking, helped permit more frequent Eiswein vintages in the second half of the 20th century. Austria and a number of other, mostly Central European countries make small quantities, too.

We recommend: combining an Eiswein tasting trip with an alpine winter ski trip to Europe.

New World

While its wine culture is much more recent, Canada’s Niagara wine region consistently achieves ice wine levels of freezing every year.
 
Not long after some Central European winemakers at Niagara wineries began experimenting with ice wine, Niagara was producing the rare wine in commercially-viable quantities. In 1991, a Niagara ice wine won the Grand Prix d'Honneur at Europe’s Vinexpo, putting Canadian ice wine on the international wine map. 
 
Now, Canada is the world's ice wine superstar and largest producer, making more ice wine than all other countries combined. Niagara (pictured above) remains the biggest ice wine region in Canada, although it’s produced in wineries across the country.
 
Across the border and the Great Lakes, American vineyards have been getting into the ice wine act, too, particularly Michigan, although other wineries in neighboring Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania also produce the wine that celebrates the winter cold.

We recommend: Get in on the spirit of ice wine at a local ice wine festival. Sometimes you can even be part of the midnight grape picking, which is more fun than it sounds.
 

START YOUR WINE TRIP!

 


All rights reserved. You are welcome to share this material from this page, but it may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


Celebrate National Chocolate Cake Day with this Cruise Ship Classic
We often sing the praises of the inventive, entertaining, and sometimes, celebrity-chef driven specialty restaurants on cruise ships. But some of the best culinary experiences cruising are in the main dining room, where talented chefs craft classic, favorite dishes, presented with a sense of ceremony that make dining at sea a true occasion.
 
Take National Chocolate Cake Day. January 27 highlights the appeal of one of the world's most popular desserts, one that's been around since 1765. A comfort food that cheers an ordinary day puts a smile on every face, and is the sweet touch that makes life's milestones all the brighter.
 
A rich, decadent chocolate cake is the kind of mainstay, staple dessert you find on main dining room menus on many cruise lines.
 
 
For National Chocolate Cake Day, Chef Russel Gomes from Carnival Cruise Line's Mardi Gras ship, shares a recipe for a 5-ingredient, half-hour version that means you don't have to wait til your next cruise to indulge.
 
 

Five! Simple Ingredients

9oz Semi-sweet Chocolate
6oz Butter
4 Eggs
3oz Sugar
2oz Flour 
 

Five Easy Steps 

  1. Melt the chocolate and butter in a glass mixing bowl using the medium setting in a microwave, in no more than 1 minute increments at a time, til fully melted. Use a spatula to fold the butter and chocolate together til blended.
  2. In another mixing bowl, mix eggs and sugar and whisk for a few minutes, then add flour and whisk til there are no lumps. It's just enough to bind the ingredients, so you get that lava, molten effect, not a regular chocolate cake!
  3. Add the egg mix to the melted chocolate and combine, whisking constantly so the heat of the chocolate doesn't cook the eggs.
  4. Pour the mix in greased, individual ceramic molds. Single-serving size souffle cups if you have them, or improvise! Even small coffee cups will work.
  5. Set the molds in a pan with hot water in it. Put the pan in a pre-heated, 350°F oven for 20 minutes.
 
Place the warm cup on a plate to serve. A dusting of icing sugar, maybe a fresh strawberry, and you have a cruise ship classic dessert for a homemade celebration - or an ordinary dinner at home, to make any day National Chocolate Cake Day.
 

Start Your Culinary Trip!

 
 
 
Enjoy a Rum-Soaked Taste of Antigua This Holiday Season
Located in the heart of the Caribbean Sea, the twin-island tropical paradise of Antigua (pronounced An-tee'ga) and Barbuda (Bar-byew’da) should be on the radar of any traveler looking for a beach escape away from the masses with a different beach for every day of the year, and two distinctly different island experiences.

At just over 100 square miles, Antigua is the largest of the Leeward Islands. Its rich history includes Nelson’s Dockyard, the only remaining example of a Georgian fort, and UNESCO World Heritage site. The island’s calendar prestigious events includes Antigua Sailing Week, Antigua Classic Yacht Regatta and the local version of Carnival.

Little sister island Barbuda is a couple of dozen miles north-east of Antigua; only a 15-minute flight away or a short sail. The secluded, romantic island is famous for its pink-sand beaches and the largest Frigate Bird Sanctuary in the hemisphere. It also punches above its weight in attracting global celebrities, including actor Robert De Niro, one of the partners in the upcoming Nobu Beach Inn, to accompany the celebrity-chef Nobu Restaurant on the island.

Perhaps nothing combines Antingua and Barbuda’s culture steeped in British traditions and Antiguan-style Caribbean flavor, than its holiday black rum cake.

Visit Antigua and Barbuda and one of the country’s luxury resorts, Carlisle Bay, share with us an Antiguan version of a Caribbean holiday staple: black rum cake.

This version of the rich, moist and morish fruit cake is made using only local rum from the island's very own Antigua Distillery: a leading distillery renowned globally for their English Harbour Rum. The deep noir of this decadent dessert is achieved through the wonderful caramelization of soft sandy white sugar and cups of 5-year English Harbour rum.

It’s the perfect Christmas and fall holiday treat to warm you from the inside out with a touch of tropical decadence.


Carlisle Bay’s Black Rum Cake Ingredients
   1lb unsalted butter
   1lb white sugar
   6 free-range eggs
   2 tsp cinnamon
   1 tsp nutmeg
   2 tsp vanilla extract
   1lb plain flour
   1 tbsp baking powder
   4 tbsp food browning
   1lb dried blend mixed fruits, mainly cranberry, raisin, currant, dried citrus
   2 cups English Harbour 5-year rum

Method
Cream butter and sugar together until fluffy. Add free range eggs and vanilla extract and mix.

Sift flour, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg together. Combine dry mixture to sugar, butter, egg mix until all incorporated. Add the browning & dried fruits and mix thoroughly.

Finally add the rum, taste and add more if you wish for a stronger flavor.

Place in a greased baking tin of your choice and cover with greaseproof paper. Bake at 280 degrees (Fahrenheit.) for 40-60 minutes, checking regularly til set. The ideal internal temperature of the cake is 205-210 degrees Fahrenheit.


For a truly authentic Antiguan confection, soak your dried fruit in the rum for as long as possible in advance. It is not unheard of for Antiguans to start the soaking step in January or even ahead of baking! But don’t worry if you haven’t started a whole year in advance, this rum cake will be a winning treat on your holiday table.

Serving
Rum goes in the cake - and with the cake when served! Treat your family and holiday guests to a shot of vintage English Harbour Rum on the side, drizzle the cake with rich cream and rum-infused caramel sauce; and you could even go as far as to pour more English Harbour Rum on top, the more the merrier!


What other travel recipes have become part of your culinary repertoire?

No matter what your family traditions, wishing you a happy holiday season!



Images courtesy Carlisle Bay




Celebrate the Festive Season - or Make a Gift of the Holidays at Four Seasons Across North America
There’s only one holiday season, but the luxury lifestyles of one of many Four Seasons hotels or resorts is just around the corner - either a drive or a short-haul flight - from many of us, and our loved ones.

Treating ourselves during the festive season, or giving our loved ones the gift of a recognized luxury travel brand experience in your hometown or at a favorite destination - will help make this holiday special and memorable.

Here are some suggestions to help you get into the Christmas spirit - or capture the holiday magic for your loved ones.

Your expert travel advisor can help you create the perfect luxury travel experience or give the perfect gift, from wellness, culinary, and family festive experiences.


Surround Yourself with Christmas Cheer


Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort gets into the Christmas spirit with a chocolate and gingerbread display created by its award-winning chef. Even a Christmas Grinch can’t help but smile at the charming life-size gingerbread house, with candy canes, lollipops, Santa and more, Plus - it’s the perfect holiday photo backdrop for your social media holiday post. You can enjoy festive treats including holiday gelato flavours such as chocolate peppermint, while the little ones try their hands at cookie decorating.

At Four Seasons Hotel Philadelphia, the holiday display takes the form of a modern arctic wonderland. A large, mirrored polar bear flanked by custom made flocked trees and poinsettias adorned with snow. The holiday magic extends to the ground floor's reflective Christmas tree and the fifth floor's life-size reindeer, creating a majestic holiday scene and the perfect backdrop for holiday photos.

Make a List, Check it Twice… then get some Help


Four Seasons Hotel One Dalton Street, Boston’s Wellness Floor has curated a holiday gift guide featuring bespoke experiences and products for mindful giving. You can fill your loved ones’ stockings with certificates for a side-by-side couples massage or Cryotherapy Energy facial and gifts such as candles, cashmere loungewear and beautiful Italian leather handbags. Maybe slip one treat in there for yourself for your next visit to Boston, too.

Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC’s Holiday Market is a goldmine of the gifts and culinary works of local artisans as well as the Hotel's craftspeople including their pastry chef’s gourmet hot chocolate bar. And you can shop for your loved ones surrounded by live music entertainment, light and snow displays. You can feel even better about holiday gift giving this seasons as a portion of the proceeds from every sale is donated to Children's National Hospital.

Culinary Christmas - and the Whole Holiday Season


Beverly Wilshire, A Four Seasons Hotel is ringing in the holidays in style. A series of prix fixe menus for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year's Eve, along with a New Year's Day Brunch let you leave all the work to the hotel chefs - and you can choose to indulge fully with options like caviar, a seafood platter, and Bloody Mary and bottomless champagne bar. The restaurant, which overlooks the famed Rodeo Drive, will also be offering a special holiday afternoon tea, complete with delicate and elegant Italian desserts by its chef.

The Four Seasons Resort and Residences Whistler’s popular Vintage Camper is back for the winter, serving up decadent hot chocolate and cook-your-own s'mores. Guests can enjoy a Tipsy Snowman, the Resort's playful signature hot chocolate, or wind down with a complimentary wine tasting offered every evening featuring a selection of local British Columbia wines.

Hands-on Holiday Experiences



At Four Seasons Hotel Silicon Valley, a limited-time winter wonderland pop-up reimagines an alpine village. Rustic wooden chalets take center stage, while 'snowfall,' fireside movies, an après-ski menu including s'mores and hot cocktails create an inviting experience on the outdoor terrace. The village includes a sweet shoppe, Instagrammable life-sized snow globe and more.

Four Seasons Resort Oahu at Ko Olina’s #FSWAYFINDERS program is a weekly series featuring art, culture, history, and in-depth workshops that make the holidays in Hawaii come alive. A curated group of artisans and crafters offers intimate and engaging learning opportunities including ukulele lessons, coconut hat weaving, lei making, evening stargazing and hula workshops with all proceeds going to the artisans themselves.

Four Seasons Hotel Hampshire keeps the holidays active, with horseback riding across the 500 acres of parkland, the ultimate treetop challenge, a relaxing ride on a traditional horse-drawn carriage or a unique bird-watching experience on a wildlife walk.


Restoring from Stresses of the Holiday Season


Four Seasons Hotel Austin’s The Spa has two festive ways to treat winter-ravaged skin and stressed-out bodies. Picture yourself or a loves one enjoying a Peppermint Facial or a Fire & Ice Massage. Up the ante with an after-hours private booking that allows for full access of the entire spa complete with the hotel’s margarita cart.

Four Seasons Hotel Las Vegas uses locally sourced materials in its seasonal relaxation treatment. The Cranberry Pomegranate Body Treatment features a wrap, head massage, and full body scrub and leaves you feeling restored for another day of gaming, entertainment, and super-sized shopping of Sin City.

Four Seasons Resort and Residences Jackson Hole is celebrating the winter solstice with restorative yoga and intention setting sessions. Guests can enjoy a complimentary restorative yoga session and wassail, the traditional warming drink you sing about in Christmas carols.

Four Seasons Resort Scottsdale at Troon North is also commemorating the winter solstice with guided meditation, sound healing and intention setting on the longest night of the year.

#HappyHolidays




Images courtesy Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts







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

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

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

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

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

Vineyards on Rhone riverbanks; BestTrip TV

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

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

Bordeaux:


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

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

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

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

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

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

The Seine


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

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

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

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

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

The Rhone

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

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

#StartYourTrip


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Images: BestTrip TV

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






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

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

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

Bier

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

Prost

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

Wurst

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

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

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

Tracht

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

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

Gemutlichkeit

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

#StartYourTrip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host BestTrip TV

Image: BestTrip TV

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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#StartYourTrip!


Images: Getty


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

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

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

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

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

Ritz-Carlton Turks & Caicos

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


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

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

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

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

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

The Meridian Club on Pine Cay

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

#StartYourTrip


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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

#StartYourTrip!


By: Lynn Elmhirst, Producer/ Host, BestTrip TV



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







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

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

Cliffs, Surf, Record-Breaking and Breathtaking Hikes

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

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

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


“Jurassic Park” IRL

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

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

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


Photo: VisitBritain/ Jason Hawkes

The World’s Largest Indoor Rainforest

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

Legends and Tales

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

Tropical Escapes on British shores

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

Local Flavor

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

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

#StartYourTrip



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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

#WorldTapasDay

#StartYourTrip



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

#DreamNowTravelSoon


Image courtesy ProColumbia

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

NEW

 

Royal Caribbean’s Odyssey of the Seas


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

IMPROVED

  

Paul Gauguin Cruises’ The Gauguin

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

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

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

COMING SOON


Oceania Vista


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

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

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

#DreamNowCruiseSoon

 
Images courtesy of their respective cruise lines.