BEIJING TO ST PETERSBURG - EUROPE RIVER CRUISES - MEDITERRANEAN SMALL-SHIP CRUISE - NSW WINE - PERU
EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL JOURNEY BEIJING TO ST PETERSBURG
EXPERIENCE a trip of a lifetime on a 22-day Trans-Mongolian rail journey with Beyond Travel, there are limited spaces available plus you can receive $1000 travel credits per couple, to use on any future Beyond Travel product, when you book and deposit by April 1.
Departing on June 10, this deluxe itinerary begins in Beijing with three days of sightseeing before boarding your train to Mongolia, Siberia, Moscow and St Petersburg. This journey passes through the magnificent landscape of the Gobi Desert and its nomadic communities. Enjoy a typically local meal at a Mongolian folkloric show and then travel on to Lake Baikal, the world's largest freshwater lake.
After passing through Irkutsk, Siberia's biggest city Novosibirsk and Kazan on the Volga River disembark in Moscow and visit the must see destinations in the capital before joining the new high speed Sapsan train in business class to St Petersburg to explore sights such as the Spilt Blood Cathedral, Peterhof and the Hermitage Museum.
Priced from $13,350 per person twin share it includes 11 nights deluxe hotel accommodation, 10 nights train accommodation, most meals, comprehensive sightseeing with an English speaking tour director, all ground transportation, gratuities and porterage during the tour and airport transfers by private vehicle.
This exclusive tour is a guaranteed departure and carries no more than 20 passengers.
FREE AIRFARE WITH APT CHRISTMAS EUROPE RIVER CRUISES
APT is offering free return economy airfares to Europe (including taxes) for those booking a European Christmas season river cruise before April 30... also the first time its offered its Magnificent Europe river cruises during the Christmas-New Year season.
Lead-in cruise is the 15-day Europe Christmas Markets, priced from $6345 per person, twin share which includes 14 nights on board an APT Concerto Class river ship, all meals with beer and wine served at lunch and dinner, Freedom of Choice Touring at no extra cost, the Christmas markets including Rothenberg and Nuremburg, return local airport transfers and tipping, excursions and entertainment, plus an APT exclusive tour of the Hungarian State Opera House in Budapest, complete with private opera recital.
General Manager Marketing, Debra Fox said APT was able to now offer cruises with Christmas-New Year highlights because of having its own eight-ship fleet.
"There been a huge demand for this experience," she said. "So we've responded with a great range of cruises, and are expecting a very good response."
APT has listed 42 departures across a choice of 10 Christmas season cruises, with departures running from November 25 through to December 30 for itineraries ranging from 10 days to 21 days. Concerto class riverships operate on the longer itineraries and Aria ships on the 10 or 12 day itineraries.
Thirty-two departures include Christmas Day and New Year's celebrations on board and most also experience the fabulous Christmas markets of Germany.
Previously, APT winter season Magnificent Europe River cruises did not include Christmas or New Year.
Phone 1300 229 804, see aptouring.com.au or ask local travel agent for more details and APT's new Christmas Cruise & Tours brochure.
12-PORTS, 9-COUNTRIES ON MEDITERRANEAN SMALL-SHIP CRUISE
Twenty-six nights, twelve ports, nine countries – that's Cruiseco's offering in a uniquely elegant, intimate and relaxed atmosphere aboard the small-ship Saga Pearl II from Southampton to the Mediterranean and return in April of this year.
Carrying just 450-guests, Saga Pearl II will visit Lisbon, Malaga, Palermo, Dubrovnik, Hvar, Koper, Venice, Kotor, Salerno, Civitavecchia (for Rome,) Barcelona and Gibraltar on her leisurely 26-night journey that Cruiseco has discounted to as low as $5355pp twin-share. This is a saving of $500pp off the regular cruise price.
It includes fine dining in a choice of two restaurants, on board lectures about upcoming ports and regions being visited, and nightly movies on the Sun Deck.
The small (18,600 tonne) ship also has Cabaret entertainment, a casino, three bars and two lounges, a library, freshwater pool and fitness equipment, and a range of therapies and treatments are available in the Spa.
Saga Pearl II departs Southampton on April 3 this year; for full details and names of Cruiseco's cruise-specialist travel agencies Australia-wide, visit www.cruising.com.au; air fares are additional.
NSW IS WINE & FOOD HEAVEN: FEBRUARY 26-MARCH 31
NSW wines are set to star at the annual NSW Wine Festival launching on February 26 that toasts the State's most talented winemakers and award-winning wines with a collection of public tastings and dinners in Sydney.
This year the Festival (formerly NSW Wine Week) will host a huge number of ways to discover the wine and food produce of NSW's 14 diverse wine regions.
This will include the Sydney Cellar Door – from 11am to 6pm on Saturday February 26 and Sunday 27 – with 100-plus winemakers bringing their favourite drops to the city, the State's best producers and providores, and Sydney's finest restaurateurs providing more dishes than ever to perfectly complement the wines.
This will be set in Sydney's Hyde Park, and will be free to enter with tasting packages starting at just $25.
Dine with NSW Wine from February 28 to March 31 will star special NSW wine-matched lunch and dinner menus at participating restaurants throughout NSW, and priced from just $30-$50 including wine. Participating restaurants will be listed on www.nswwine.com.au
And a number of Tour NSW Wine Regions Dinners will feature degustation dinners – created from NSW produce and matched to the finest NSW wines - hosted by leading food and wine personalities at four specially-selected top Sydney restaurants. For more details see www.nswwine.com.au
Chair of NSW Wine Strategy, James Agnew says: "The latest Nielsen figures* show that sales of NSW bottled wines, within NSW, have grown a huge 22% or $14.3 million on the previous year, to reach a record $79.3 million.
"This shows that people are really embracing the quality and personality of our local wines and the 2011 NSW Wine Festival is the ultimate way to discover the true secret gems in food and wine our State has to offer."
NSW's 14 diverse wine regions are: Canberra, Cowra, Gundagai, Hastings River, Hilltops, Hunter Valley, Mudgee, New England, Orange, Perricoota, Riverina, Shoalhaven, Southern Highlands and Tumbarumba.
PERUVIANS love to celebrate life, doing so with an amazing 3,000 festivals a year that are a colourful mix of musical and spiritual celebrations that some-how combine a peculiar blend of ancient cultures with Christian traditions.
Peru's Tourism Board coordinator for Asia Pacific, Rosana Guinea, says there is a festival or celebration almost every day somewhere in Peru. "If you are visiting Peru, it is worth taking the time to find out what is going on in advance... these festivals are a great way to absorb Peruvian culture."
The first half of 2011 is packed with cultural festivals, with Christmas celebrations continuing right through to January: the Epiphany in Huancavelica sees parades in every town representing the journey of the Three Wise Men, with children once again showered with gifts and lollies.
Later in January, dance lovers from all over the world congregate in Trujillo for the Marinera Festival, and in February traditional dress parades, folklore dances, singing, food tasting and Carnival Queen Contests cheer up the atmosphere in every little town.
The Negro Summer Festival, an Afro-Peruvian dance contest at the end of February features street music, parades and wine/food fairs in the district of El Carmen Ica.
The Grape Harvest Festivals in Lima and Ica and the Easter Christian Celebrations brighten up March, and the month also sees the world-famous surfing Championships in Chicama. In April, the Peruvian Paso Horse Festival in Mamacona is held at the foot of the pre-Inca Pachacamac oracle.
In many of Peru's festivals Christian celebrations are oddly blended with Inca and Pagan rituals and the El Señor de Qoyllur Ritti, held every May-June in the District of Ocongate Cusco, is a good example of this mix. The festival is a pilgrimage to Mount Sinaqara, a holy mountain from pre-Inca times, in homage to Corpus Christi and the ancient Cult of the Sun. The celebrations include a procession, dancing performances, fireworks, and an adorable handmade miniature market, known as "alasitas".
The winter solstice at the end of June is also celebrated with both Christian and Inca cultural traditions, with the Festivity of St. John in the Amazon region, and the Festival of the Sun in Cusco that's become one of the most popular festivals in South America, and held at the impressive Sacsayhuaman fortress.