Everything Happens for a Riesling

River cruising highlights from Switzerland to The Netherlands with Tauck.

When you think of river cruising on the Rhine, do you imagine yourself sitting on the deck, local wine in hand, watching the castles pass by? If you do, you are right! It's a vacation with culture, fun, camaraderie, and everything done for you and delivered to you. It's pretty perfect. 

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Usually there is a choice of excursions with each disembarkation in ports. This day, after a city tour by a local guide, we chose to walk around Strasbourg, stop for a cappuccino, and find some treasures for purchase.

 Hello, Beauty.

Hello, Beauty.

 April and May in Europe are quite lovely; flowers everywhere! We were fortunate to have glorious sunny and warm days.

April and May in Europe are quite lovely; flowers everywhere! We were fortunate to have glorious sunny and warm days.

 Charm everywhere!

Charm everywhere!

 Outside the  Rijksmuseum

Outside the Rijksmuseum

 I adored the metal signage everywhere! One was more beautiful than the next. 

I adored the metal signage everywhere! One was more beautiful than the next. 

 Castles everywhere!

Castles everywhere!

We loved hearing the legends of the castles. 1686 seemed to be the destruction era.
Riveting castle legends of royalty, love, and loss all had a similar ending as the French invaded, burned, and destroyed these magnificent stone structures in ....primarily 1686!  Thankfully not to be left in ruin, William of Prussia, circa 1800, rebuilt many of the castles to their original state, and we admire them today. 

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 We walked up to admire the view from the Abbey.

We walked up to admire the view from the Abbey.

 Enjoying the view from our suite.

Enjoying the view from our suite.

 While the highlights were too many to count, I especially loved the castles and the architecture along the way. 

While the highlights were too many to count, I especially loved the castles and the architecture along the way. 

   Rijks  ; upscale dining by the   Rijksmuseum

Rijks; upscale dining by the Rijksmuseum

Let's get you on a river cruise! There's a reason they are so popular, and you need to experience one in style. Send a message to me, and let's get you booked. 

THE MINDSET OF TRAVEL: CHOOSING TO SEE THE GOOD

A guest post by Alisha Wielfaert

From India to Germany, to Costa Rica to the United States, people all seem to crave the same things. Love, and acceptance.
— Alisha Wielfaert

Alisha is a leadership, life, and creativity coach, and we recentIy were so fortunate to travel together on the Tauck MS Inspire, cruising the waterways of Europe from Switzerland to The Netherlands, through France, Germany and Luxembourg. We experienced the Rhine and Moselle Northbound. (There is still some availability on Tauck's itineraries for 2018; contact me for your dates and itineraries of interest.) 

Alisha, of Yoke and Abundance, sees her purpose in life is to use her curiosity, empathy and listening skills to walk as a guide with fellow women and men on their path towards clarity of purpose.  Whether her clients feel stuck, frustrated, or want their job more aligned with their personal values, Alisha helps her clients create a road map to get them where they want to go. She says, "Sometimes we all need a guide, someone to walk with us, lend a listening ear and help us come up with a plan." You can read her bio here.

She is so delightful that I asked her to be a guest on the blog today. Here she shares some of her thoughts on travel. 

From Alisha:

 The view from the deck of the MS Inspire

The view from the deck of the MS Inspire

The view from my desk today is out the back panoramic floor to ceiling windows of our ship the MS. Inspire.  I’m looking over the Rhine River and up the bank onto a hill that could be a mountain where I’m from, there is a sun-splashed medieval looking cathedral glowing at me.  Below the church is a path along the river where I spy a periodic walker or cyclist passing through.  The beauty is surreal.  Growing up in the flat cold and grey Toledo, OH it’s hard for me to comprehend that this view is someone’s everyday view. 

 Castles galore!

Castles galore!

Each day of this trip I’ve woken up filled with gratitude, gratitude to Christie for bringing me with her, gratitude for being on this ship and living the life I'm living.  I almost always feel like that about my travel experiences, but I’ve felt particularly grateful to be a part of this Tauck Riverboat Cruise through the Rhine and Mosel rivers.  As a child, travel was something I longed for.  I would dream of the places I would see when I was older and the people that I could meet while traveling.  Growing up in a lower-middle-class household I wasn’t sure how I was going to be able to travel, the most extravagant trip I took as a child was hanging out with my family at a sparse cottage on Lake Huron in MI.  Those cottage trips were so much fun and a huge gift from my parents to us when I was little, but they weren't the trips I longed for.  It was hard for me to see past the way things were for my parents but I held the belief that if I could dream it I could make it happen.  I believed in my ability to craft the life I wanted.  I told myself that I would travel extensively when I was older.  Because it was such an intense dream of mine to be a world traveler now not a day goes by that I don’t recognize that the life I’ve created, this life that allows me to travel and say yes to opportunity is a privilege and a gift. 

 Kayaking with quite the view

Kayaking with quite the view

Last night I posted a short update about this current amazing experience I’m having and how wonderful the people I’m meeting are.  My friend Andra commented that “wherever you go and whoever you meet you always truly believe they are the most amazing people. Beautiful way to see life. Learning more and More that mindset it’s everything.”

Andra is right, I’m not only in awe of the places I’m seeing but I do believe that the people I’m meeting are absolutely beautiful and amazing inside and out.  This is a mindset; it is is a choice for me to see the world this way.  It doesn’t mean I don’t see the bad, but I emphasize the positive.  This is always the mindset I try to travel and operate with.  Especially because the more I travel, the more I realize we humans are all so much alike.  From India to Germany, to Costa Rica to the United States people all seem to crave the same things.  Love, and acceptance.  After our basic needs are met each and every one of us wants to love and be loved in return.  Love and acceptance is the universal need and desire that  I can see visibly flowing out of the people I meet.   

 Beautiful half-timbered homes

Beautiful half-timbered homes

With rare exception, it’s hard for me not to see all the good intentions in people.  I like to meet people where they are.  Every now and again, I’ll feel a little repelled by someone when I travel (after all I am human).  When I feel this way, I remind myself that whatever it is I see in them (good or bad) is purely a reflection or mirror of myself.  Other people are great big, mirrors and traveling can reflect that back to me tenfold.  If I see something I don't like or something that makes me uncomfortable, I like to ask myself questions and get curious about where those feelings are coming from.  I question if it's fear, judgment, or jealousy.  Then I try to make a conscious choice to see as much good in those I meet as I can, I think largly because I hope that they will do the same for me.  I’m flawed as much as the next person, but in my own desire for love and acceptance, I hope that the people around me will focus on the good they see in me and not the flaws.  This is my way of treating others the way that I want to be treated.  In Travel getting outside of my normal routines, meeting a wide range of different people and having strange and foreign experiences gives me an opportunity to examine my own mindset and thoughts.  I get to choose if I see beauty and love or if I see problems, fear, and judgment.  Travel is a teacher showing me where I'm in or out of alignment with myself and how I can grow to see even more beauty in others.

 Charm as far as the eye can see

Charm as far as the eye can see

Have you experienced this when you travel?  Have you noticed how others reflect back to you aspects of yourself that you not only like but also the parts of yourself that you're uncomfortable with?  What mindset do you like to approach travel with? 

                                                                                                                              -Alisha Wielfaert

TIPS FOR TIPPING: WHO TO TIP AND WHEN

Ah…the age-old question: to tip or not to tip? It’s not something you think about on a daily basis at home, but when you travel you’re suddenly in situations it may be appropriate to tip…or maybe not. Our Marketing Team has summed up the answers to your questions in an easy reference guide.

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Tipping norms can be pretty murky – throw in different customs and expectations in each country, and even the most seasoned traveler gets confused. And while tipping is not required, if someone is helpful or does a good job, it is always nice to show your appreciation. We’ve gathered some tips for tipping from the pros for you to use as guideline for your next trip.

UNITED STATES:

Before You Travel

You have your ID, your toiletries, plenty of clothes – but did you remember to get small bills? Many people forget to have plenty of $1 and $5 bills for tipping, especially in a world where we use cash less and less. Be sure to get cash including small bills before you travel.

En Route

  • Airport shuttle driver: $1-2
  • Skycap: $2/bag
  • Cab driver: 15%
  • Valet: $3-5 when you pick up your car

Hotel

  • Bellman: $1-2 per bag when delivered to your room
  • Concierge: varies depending on the task…$5 for something straightforward but more if it is something difficult like securing tickets to sold out play or a reservation at a fully-booked restaurant
  • Housekeeper: $3-5 per day. It is nice to tip each day since it may not always be the same person during your stay.
  • Doorman: $3-5 if they help you with luggage

During the Trip

  • Private Guide: $10-15 per person for a half day; $20-30 per person for a full day
  • Private Driver: $10-15 per person for a half day; $20-30 per person for a full day
  • Spa services: 15-20%
  • Dining: 15-20%
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Tauck River Cruising; Basel to Amsterdam

2018 is The Year of Europe for me with four trips there. Part One is on a Tauck River Cruise from Basel to Amsterdam next month. 

I've been a little obsessed with river cruising, and I book quite a few of them for my clients, so I'm thrilled to be experiencing this one with Tauck. 

What makes river cruising such a popular travel experience?

All photos credit to Tauck.

 That view!

That view!

The views. Imagine yourself cruising with a view of Heidelberg Castle, sipping a local wine or cocktail, relaxing on the deck.

 The route.

The route.

How would you like to see parts of Switzerland, France, Germany, Luxembourg, and The Netherlands without unpacking your suitcase more than once?

Let's start at the beginning. 

 Grand Hotel Les Trois Bois- photo credit to the property.

Grand Hotel Les Trois Bois- photo credit to the property.

When I arrange river cruising trips for my clients, frequently they like to experience a "pre" or a "post" stay. I'm going to experience the Grand Hotel Les Trois Bois in Basel the night before departure. Pinch me. 

Located at the crossroads of three countries, the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois: The Three Kings lives up to its royal reputation. Since 1681, notables from Napoleon Bonaparte to Theodor Herzl have stayed in its lavish accommodations, which feature the fine brocade and bold hues you would expect, along with antiques and original artworks. The views over the Rhine and Basel's Old Town are equally dramatic. Peter Knogl's French haute cuisine enriched with Mediterranean and Asian influences has garnered three Michelin stars for the Cheval Blanc; other dining choices include the French/Swiss Brasserie and Chez Donati for Italian cuisine.

And then we embark and enjoy a welcome reception followed by dinner onboard the riverboat.

The Tours

 Rhine Falls

Rhine Falls

The Tauck Difference in European river cruising is all about where you go and what you do. You can spend the day in Basel, a beautiful city on the banks of the Rhine River, where you'll get a good overview on a brief sightseeing tour that is followed by a walking tour in the Old Town – see the bright-red Rathaus, Basel’s Town Hall. After lunch, you can explore more of one of Europe’s most attractive and best-preserved Old Towns on your own, perhaps taking in one of the city’s 40 museums, or you may take a trip to the town of Schaffhausen for an excursion to the Rhine Falls, the largest plain waterfall in Europe, which you'll experience on a boat ride. Back on the riverboat late afternoon for some free time and then you head for Strasbourg, France.

 Strasbourg

Strasbourg

Next you'll explore Strasbourg, France, seat of the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Court of Human Rights, and you’ll see the Parliament buildings before stepping back in time to discover La Petit France by foot, noted for its medieval half-timbered houses set beside its lovely canals. After visiting the famous Gothic Cathédrale de Notre-Dame de Strasbourg on this most extraordinary of Rhine River tours, you'll return to the riverboat for lunch or choose to dine at one of the city’s many intriguing restaurants on your own. Return to the riverboat or spend the afternoon exploring as you please. Enjoy an Alsatian folkloric performance this evening.

 Cochem   Mark my words...I'm getting a photo with him! Clearly he knows how to have fun!

Cochem

Mark my words...I'm getting a photo with him! Clearly he knows how to have fun!

Diverging from the Rhine, your day begins with an introduction to the Moselle River, en route to Cochem. Step into the pages of a medieval fairy tale and tour the picture-perfect 1,000-year-old Reichsburg Castle, overlooking Cochem's quaint market square. Historic charm and ambiance  Honor the area’s centuries-old winemaking traditions with a tasting of the excellent locally produced vintages at the family-owned Schlagkamp Wine Museum before returning to the riverboat.

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After a morning spent cruising the Rhine, arrive this afternoon in the historic German city of Köln (Cologne), where you'll enjoy a city tour with a local guide including the Old Town. This evening, you're off to Burg Satzvey – owned by the same family for more than three centuries, and one of the most beautiful and well-preserved medieval moated castles in the North Rhine-Westphalia region of Germany – for a memorable visit and dinner with entertainment. Return to the ship late tonight to continue your cruise along the Rhine, bound for The Netherlands.

 The famed Rijksmuseum, home to one of the world’s most important collections of artwork by the Dutch Masters.

The famed Rijksmuseum, home to one of the world’s most important collections of artwork by the Dutch Masters.

As your cruise – and this most extraordinary of Moselle and Rhine River tours – comes to an end in Amsterdam, you will indulge in the many charms of the Dutch capital today. You'll be introduced to the city's remarkable architecture on a scenic canal cruise along its 17th-century canals, winding up at Museumplein, where you'll visit the famed Rijksmuseum. This afternoon, you have the choice of exploring more of this fascinating metropolis – at once one of Europe's most modern and most historic cities – on your own, or meeting a local family and visiting their home on an Amsterdam canal boat. Then you will spend the evening aboard the riverboat for a farewell reception followed by dinner and a live musical performance.

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Distinctively Inclusive

When I help you plan your cruise with Tauck, virtually every river cruise expense is included in one upfront price… including all shore excursions and unlimited complimentary beverages onboard. There are no little extras to pay for, no hidden expenses, no options sold. You get what you pay for… and then some.

Let's get you on a river cruise. What could be more fun?

Travel Reflections; Where Do You Find Joy?

When I'm working with a client, I usually ask them: "On your favorite trip, what was your most joyful experience? What made it your favorite trip and why?" This helps me to get to know them as travelers, and it gives me an idea what sort of experiences will enhance their custom trip or vacation. It got me thinking about my most joyful recent travel experiences. 

 Cape Town by motorcycle and sidecar.

Cape Town by motorcycle and sidecar.

I will admit that I am a little bit of a chicken. And a safety nerd. So it was a little surprising (okay, it was shocking) to my children when they saw this photo of me on the back of a motorcycle. I LOVED THIS EXPERIENCE. We toured Cape Town, The Amazing Race style, on the back of motorcycles and side cars. During the tour, when my nervous-Nellie-side started bickering with my Adventurous-side, my Adventurous-side kept winning with the argument that This Is Exhilarating! This is so fantastic I cannot believe how much I love this and I don't want it to end and I'm ALIVE!!!!! It was a very in-the-moment experience. (This memorable, wonderful day was thanks to our beloved partners in Africa, Africa Inscribed. Do not think about visiting Africa without my help through my connections with these incredible travel partners. And if you are not a chicken, there's always shark diving.) Just for the record, my Amazing Race partner, Janet Matheson, (dear friend and colleague from Brownell) and I, won the Amazing Race that day. We can compare times if you go. It's on! ;)

 Patrick the Wombat

Patrick the Wombat

It's almost impossible to select just one animal experience that was most joyful, so Patrick the Wombat is representing many animal and bird sightings and encounters. To learn of a country's efforts in protecting a species, to see leopards mating in the wild, to see a kangaroo for the first time, to see kookaburra, koalas, baby elephants, an injured King of the Jungle, a Tasmanian Devil, an ostrich on a beach, a whale, a baby giraffe, a Kingfisher. (To protect against poaching, we cannot talk about rhinos here. But we can talk about them over the phone.) Gorilla trekking may put me over the edge... The moments with animals, whether from afar or up close, will stay with me forever. 

 Olive Oil Tasting in South Africa Wine Country at  Morgenster Stellenbosch

Olive Oil Tasting in South Africa Wine Country at Morgenster Stellenbosch

Sensory pleasure. I'm a sensory person, so any destination that fills my senses is a joyful experience. This photo, too, is a representation of many experiences that gave me joy. I love sensory destinations with abundant natural beauty, architecture, outstanding food, and culture. This is in South Africa, and it was pure magic. Such beauty, combined with education, wine, olive oil, friends, and nature, the joy lays on me like a blanket. 

 The Cheetah; an Unexpected Moment

The Cheetah; an Unexpected Moment

The unexpected and unanticipated moments may not bring joy in the moment, in fact those moments can be surreal. The joy comes later. This unexpected, and later joyous moment, took place in Zimbabwe. I mentioned that I'm a big chicken, so having the opportunity to meet a cheetah was not at the top of my list. But by last year I had flown in helicopters with glass floors, ridden on motorcycles, touched the tusks of elephants, and snorkeled the Great Barrier Reef; all out of my comfort zone. It was a million degrees fahrenheit, and my ankles, which are usually my best feature, were matching the elephants. But how could I pass up the opportunity to meet Sylvester? He lost his family to the lions at the age of four days old. Somehow the lions did not find him, and with his eyes still closed, a tracker (named Sylvester) found him. He was then raised under the loving guidance at Vic Falls Wildlife Trust. As I learned his story, I was given the opportunity to sit by him for a photo. In that brief 30 seconds, which typically entailed the human looking at the camera, I felt him look at me. And so I looked at him. I don't think I thought anything, or felt that perhaps I might have been nervous, until later. It just was. And the moment was caught by his keeper. 

 Heading to Whidbey Island

Heading to Whidbey Island

My friends whisked me away to Whidbey with Champagne and pom-poms. Not all travel is to exotic or to far-away destinations. Sometimes the joy comes in a weekend getaway or a night in a cabin. Grab a pal, your spouse, your sibling, your parents, and celebrate life. The time is going to pass, no matter how you spend it, so make some time to enjoy one another. 

 The wedding ceremony, on Lake Como, will take place at this villa. Where do you need a villa?

The wedding ceremony, on Lake Como, will take place at this villa. Where do you need a villa?

When you fall asleep at night, or when you need a happy thought, where does your mind go? One of the most lovely ladies, a dear client, enjoys the anticipation of planning a trip as much as the actual trip. Her work can be sad, so having a trip to plan, and anticipate, gives her joy.

I, like my client, find great joy in the anticipation of a future trip. This summer, our daughter will be wed on Lake Como, Italy. In a family ceremony, my Abigail Joy will marry her beloved. My mom, Lynette Joy, will  travel with my dad to celebrate the union, and I, Kristen Joy, along with Kirk, Wolfie, and our loved ones, will gather in ceremony and celebration. 

Joy is all around us. What will your next experience be?