Germany – By Land or By River?

Berlin Wall

By: GlobusThe top question of any visitor to Berlin is: Where’s the Wall? In short, it’s gone. After Die Wende (the term used to describe the reunification Germany), the 155-kilometer ring around West Berlin went the way of most useless masonry – it was torn down to make space for new construction. (Berlin has been a construction site for years, its skyline pierced by building cranes). The longest existing piece of the Wall (one kilometer) is on Mühlenstraße, but perhaps not for long. In the 90s, artists painted murals on the concrete and created what became the open air East Side Gallery. Some of these murals were recently torn down, and the fate of the rest is uncertain. The city of Berlin is reluctant to protect them. After all, the Berlin Wall was nothing to be proud of. At least 125 people died trying to cross it, some of them dying in the eastern zone before the eyes of Allied personnel powerless to help. The observation towers, the bunkers, the dog runs, the metal fencing — all of it is gone, but not the rift between East and West Germany. Few Germans today would say the Die Wende has been a complete success. Many parts of East Germany still lag behind the west in employment and wages and thus prosperity. Even without the wall, the united Germany is still under construction. Destinations have stories. We bring them to life. What Globus story might you discover next on your vacation to Germany?

Goodrich Travel Offers many options to visit and experience Germany and Europe, either independently, with an escorted tour from Globus or on a fabulous river cruise.

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South Africa

A Taste of South Africa

By: SilverseaThe sweet aroma of barbecue (or braai, as it’s called in Afrikaans) permeated the outdoor air as Silver Whisper, sailing on her 115-day World Cruise, hosted a special poolside lunch on Wednesday that gave guests a chance to sample authentic South African cuisine before the ship departed East London.

The culinary tradition of South Africa is rich and varied, and reflects not only its African roots, but its historical connection with Dutch, British, Malaysian, Indian and other cultures, resulting in uniquely flavourful delicacies.

As it so happens, Silver Whisper’s very own executive chef, Anne-Mari Cornelius (pictured above), hails from South Africa and was delighted to personally introduce our guests to the fascinating cuisine of her homeland.

Presiding over the barbecue, Chef Anne-Mari skillfully cooked up such local delicacies as boerewors (pronounced bor-eh-vors ). This homemade sausage — whether served with a traditional porridge called pap (pronounced pop), or a sweet and spicy chakalaka sauce, or placed in a bun in the style of a hot dog — is a signature food cherished throughout the African nation.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to have a few bottles of Mrs H.S. Ball’s Original Chutney on hand, also a popular accompaniment for boerewors, or any braai. Probably the most famous South African chutney, it’s made in Johannesburg using a 19th-century recipe of dried fruits and spices. A favourite among South Africans living abroad and looking for a taste of home, it’s exported to England, Germany, Britain, New Zealand and Australia.

And what South African barbecue would be complete without a few handcrafted ritual dolls to adorn the table? The ones pictured above are from the Ndebele tribe. Their presence created an atmosphere of authenticity and a connection with Africa’s spiritual heritage that we hope resulted in a culinary experience that was not just culturally enriching for our World Cruise guests, but maybe a bit enchanting.

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Myanmar  the History and Mystery that is Burma

By: Voyages to Antiquity

In the autumn of 2012, Aegean Odyssey will embark on her first season in the Far East. She will take our guests to the mystical countries of India , Sri Lanka, and then onto Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia, Indonesia and Myanmar, the last ‘closed’ country in the Far East. All cruises have been meticulously planned to highlight the most important historical and cultural aspects of the places we visit.

For our Southeast Asia itineraries, we have selected a number of new lecturers who will be travelling with us including Colonel Gerry McCormack, a military historian. Take a look at his overview on the highlights of Myanmar explaining the changes going on in the country also known as Burma. This amazing part of the world is already proving to be a big attraction for many of our past passengers, who are eager to visit a country so incredibly rich in history.

“You have probably noticed that Myanmar is back in the headlines again because change is in the air. Whilst for the hardy travellers it has always been possible to have a safe and enjoyable holiday there, some people were a little wary. It was a regime that harshly kept its citizens on a tight leash, its currency was suspect and there were horror stories of how it dealt with dissention.

With elections two years ago and recently in the beginning of April this year, at which the mystical Aung San Suu Kyi won, there is clearly a mood of relaxation in the halls of power. More and more visitors will be applying for visas. Burma is already a highlight of many travel journalists with many predicting the country will be the ‘hot’ destination of 2013.

In spite of their travails, the people of Burma are cheerful, want to practise their English -most are very fluent – and the food is Asian with a Burmese twitch. Even for a simple meal the side dishes seem to swamp the area set aside for the main dish. Their drinks, cold and tasty are refreshing and welcome. The alcoholic drink most available will be one of their many beers. Breweries reflect the care with which the British passed on the noble art of brewing!

For many who visit Burma there is a constant need to pack and unpack but I’m sure that those passengers lucky enough to travel later this year will appreciate using the Aegean Odyssey as comfortable base from which to move around. Once the ship is tied up in the heart of Yangon, (formally known as Rangoon) a simple stroll from the ship or a more organised tour are easily achievable. Yangon itself brings together all of the key elements of life in Myanmar. Ancient pagodas, gold covered spires, university grounds, parks, lakes, market squares and even a hotel to rival Raffles for its intimate colonial atmosphere on the river bank.

Many guests on our Burma cruises may choose the optional tour inland to follow the ‘The Road to Mandalay’ on the banks of the mighty Irrawaddy River. The old palace grounds and Mandalay Hill, made famous in the reports from the 1800’s are still in situ and well worth a visit. Similarly, another optional tour is to the thousands of temples in Bagan, another short flight away, which will take you back to a time when Personal Ritual in your own temple was all the rage.

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Terra Cotta Warriors in Xian

Terra Cotta Warriors in Xi’an – Underground Army Discovered by Chance

By: GlobusXi’an – one of the most important cultural cities in China – was once the capital of the Chinese Empires for more than 1,500 years. However, when the center of China moved to the east, Xi’an quickly moved out of the spotlight and was soon known as a secondary city. It wasn’t until the 1970s that the discovery of the Terra-Cotta Warriors there put Xi’an back on the map.

The Terra-Cotta Warriors were actually a cultural landmark left by Emperor Qin Shihuang – the first Chinese emperor. Unlike the Great Wall, which Qin Shihung built to defend his territory while he was alive, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were buried on the side of the mausoleum to protect the emperor’s body and soul after his death – so that he would eventually come back to life some day. Although, the Terra-Cotta Warriors were such a large and distinguishable force that played a significant role in defending the emperor, surprisingly, they were totally untraceable in many of the history records and books. Therefore, the underground army went virtually unknown until they were accidentally found in 1974. More than 2,000 years had passed since the death of Emperor Qin Shihuang, and the burial site had become a piece of well-cultivated farm land. In the summer of that year, a few local farmers were digging a well for irrigation when they found the broken pieces of bones from the warriors’ arms and legs and heads. Terrified, they believed the “remains” were possessed by the ghosts. The farmers had no idea they had stumbled upon the most important archeological discovery in Chinese history.

The discovery of this underground army reconfirmed the location of the emperor’s mausoleum and thus, ended centuries of academic debate. The farmers’ lives were also altered forever after they discovered the warriors – they were revered as heroes and rewarded by the local government. The farmers were also given jobs in the archeological museum that now stands at the burial site – ending their strenuous careers working the farmland.  The enormity of the Terra-Cotta warriors and Emperor Qin Shihuang’s burial site is a wonder best seen in person. Just imagine what stories you could uncover with Globus and Goodrich Travel.

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The Shades of I…

The Shades of Ireland Top 10

Shades of Ireland remains one of Collette’s most popular tours. Here’s a quick Top 10 with some major highlights.

  1. Experience an overnight stay on the grounds of a castle.
  2. Meet the locals on a visit to a working Irish Farm.
  3. Enjoy a truly memorable evening of traditional Irish entertainment.
  4. Travel one of the most beautiful coastal routes in the world, the Ring of Kerry.
  5. View the spectacular Cliffs of Moher, soaring nearly 700 feet above the mighty Atlantic.
  6. Take a jaunting car ride in beautiful Killarney.
  7. Learn how Irish Whiskey is made and enjoy a tasting.
  8. Tour the rollicking city of Dublin with a local guide.
  9. Explore the medieval city of Kilkenny.
  10. Kiss the famous Blarney Stone!

We love Ireland.  Just imagine being there, then call us and we will take care of all the reservations.

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Love Florence

La Piazza Della Signora

By: GlobusWhat’s the best vantage point to ponder the most illustrious town square in Florence, the Signoria?  An outdoor table in the venerable Caffè Rivoire – preferably over a delicious, if not painfully expensive cioccolata con pane, a dark and mud-thick hot chocolate.  Late at night, when the crowds have gone, you can search the long shadows and imagine that very little has changed here since the 1400s.

The Signoria is the most elegant sculpture garden in Europe.  Masterpieces include the splendid Neptune Fountain by Ammannati, Hercules and Cacus by Bandinelli and a precise copy of Michelangelo’s David, all strategically poised in front of the Palazzo Vecchio.  This grand public space has been the centerpiece of Florence since the 15th Century, the golden age when the city was established as the most beautiful in Europe.  Eminent merchants in their ostentatious finery met here to discuss business in the midst of Florence’s raucous daily life: the din and odors from the produce vendors, butchers and fishmongers were as intense as any Indian bazaar.  Barbers also plied their trade in the open air; preachers harangued the crowd for their wanton ways; children played palla al calico, a type of soccer; while young gentleman enjoyed chess and dice on the stone steps.

With so many Florentines crowded together, the Signoria was also where sudden eruptions of violence might occur – some with political aims, other seemingly by accident.  The city records show that a runaway horse once charged into the piazza, knocking over stalls and creating general panic.  City officials thought that a revolt was in progress, so they locked the palace doors and the public executioner went into hiding, fearing retaliation from the friends and families of his victims.

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Edinburgh: Body Snatchers

Edinburgh: Body Snatchers
By: Globus
Below Edinburgh’s Calton Hill you can see Old Calton Graveyard featuring a stone watchtower that dates back to the 17th century. It was from that tower that Irish grave robbers William Burke and William Hare watched for funerals. Upon a funeral’s end, they took out their spades and dug up bodies to supply the Royal College of Surgeons with fresh cadavers for research. The inspiration? Money and a fateful meeting with Dr. Robert Knox in a pub. During this chance encounter, Knox complained that he could get only one body a year from authorities, only one pair of lungs and one heart to do his research. The lads, Burke and Hare, told their newfound friend they might be able to get him more bodies to assist with his research. Soon they were regularly delivering cadavers.

As time went by, there were fewer funerals in the city, so the grave robbers became murderers, killing people to stay in business. Another doctor noticed that the bodies seemed too fresh and notified the authorities … the body snatchers-turned-murderers were discovered. Burke’s sentence was death and then fittingly, dissection at the Royal College of Surgeons. If you go there now, you can see a nice journal on display that looks leather bound … The “leather” is, in fact, Burke’s skin. When you book a vacation with Globus, you’re not just seeing the world, you’re getting a behind-the-scenes look at the world’s most interesting places. Discover the stories of Scotland with Globus and Goodrich Travel today.

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