Dear G & L traveller

As this hits your in-box, Gregor & Lewis are boarding the glorious Oceania ship, Marina, bound for Rome. If you like your food and wine, and most of us do at G & L, you'll love this ship. Find out more in our next newsletter. In the meantime, read on for great specials and more about our travels.

Cheers
» MELINDA'S MARKETPLACE
» HOME AND AWAY
» DESTINATION
» STU'S CORNER
» Q&A WITH G&L
   
 
World Cup fever on board Rhapsody of the Seas
 
Amazing Rugby World Cup deals
 
The Rugby World Cup starts next month and there are some amazing, and we mean amazing, specials to be had on the Rhapsody of the Seas cruises. Accommodation in New Zealand is very limited and expensive during the festival of the boot so why not book a cruise to see the Wallabies wallop the Kiwis.

Choose the 6 October eight-night quarter-finals cruise, Auckland return, from as little as $2299 per person twin share for an outside cabin, with a junior suite costing just $2999 per person twin share. The 14 October 13-night finals cruise, Auckland to Sydney, starts from $4999 person twin share for an outside cabin. These prices include flights, match tickets and all meals. These deals are unbeatable for all you rugby fans, but you only have until 12 August to book. See Stu's tips for eating out in Auckland later in this newsletter.
 
   
 
Toucan
 
Gregor & Lewis Film Night
 
If you are thinking of travelling to South America or Canada and Alaska, why not come along to our G & L film night this September in our office in Noosa. Hear from APT, the experts in Group Travel on these great destinations.

Date: Thursday, 8 September
Time: 6.00pm
RSVP: noosa@gregorlewis.com.au or 07 5447 4666
Bookings are essential as seats are limited.
 
   
 
First Class to Europe? Yes please
 
If you are starting to plan your holiday to Europe why not treat yourself to some fantastic First Class specials from Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane to Europe. These amazing deals are available for travel from now until 31 May and must be booked and paid for by 19 August 2011. Some of the wonderful destinations to fly to are Milan, Paris, London, Geneva and Frankfurt. A return first class fare is from $8110 per person including all taxes and fees. So just give us a call if you would like to spoil yourself on one of the world's leading airlines in first class.
 
   
 
Gorgeous cabins on Marina
Italian dining at Toscana
More great dining options
 
Best cuisine at sea - Marina
 
As this newsletter hits your in-box, Stu and Sal are just boarding the glorious Marina, Oceania's newest lady of the sea, launched just this year. Melinda recently returned from Marina's maiden European journey and loved it. Marina is truly unique and is definitely the queen of cuisine when it comes to cruising. There are wine and tapas tasting, 10 sumptuous restaurants on board, the first hands-on cooking school at sea with professionally designed work stations that take up to 24 guests, and a dedicated wine tasting centre, La Reserve, offering wine seminars and tastings. The stunning food and wine programme offered on board Marina (and their soon to be launched Riviera) is under the guardianship of celebrated French-American chef and icon, Jacques Pépin. Pépin is the Executive Culinary Director of Oceania Cruises and is working closely with Marina's crew during its first year of sailing. Stu will be blogging on board during their two week cruise from London to Rome so if you want to keep tabs on all their wining and dining, and Stu's unique view on cruising, log onto www.oceaniacruisesblog.com. We'll report back in the next newsletter on the trip. There's also some great savings to be had on 2011-12 Oceania sailings so contact G & L for more details.
 
   
 
 
G & L goes social
 
Check out the Gregor & Lewis facebook page and become a fan. We'll be posting pics, postcards and specials now and again so make sure to sign up and be the first to know about all the great deals going around. Go to Facebook



 
   
 
The lovely green room
Country comfort
Country kitchen
 
Yarra Valley's loveliest B & B
 
Very good friends of Gregor & Lewis, Cameron and Leah Mackenzie (actually he's the MAC in Donny GoodMac if you know your wine), have just flung open the doors of their gorgeous B & B in the Yarra Valley. 10 Edwards Street is the Yarra's latest bed and breakfast offering a stylish, contemporary country fit-out, a fridge stacked with the region's best produce and even a couple of chooks in the backyard, all within walking distance of Healesville's main street and just minutes from all the best wineries in the area.

Situated in a 1930s cottage with gorgeous garden surrounds, 10 Edward Street is a perfectly located, luxurious retreat with everything you need for a weekend getaway or week-long sojourn in the Valley. There are two double bedrooms (one king, one queen), plus another room with two single beds all with luxurious white linen, lots of oversized pillows and stylish mohair throws.

This stunning B & B also features an eat-in kitchen with Smeg appliances, lounge room with comfy leather couches and gorgeous open fire, and a country-style bathroom with claw-footed bath completes the perfect B & B picture. Rates are also very reasonable.

Leah and Cam are also very tapped into the local food and wine scene (Cam works at Giant Steps) so the fridge is stocked with only the best the Yarra has to offer – Giant Steps sourdough, Jam Lady jam, Silva coffee and the best bacon in town. They will even order a hamper filled with local produce if you fancy a picnic and provide free-range eggs if the girls in the backyard aren't laying.

Rates start at $180 for a one-night midweek stay, or $600 for a weekend stay (minimum two-night visit) or for all G & L clients, book three nights or more and get 20% off plus a bottle of Donny GoodMac! Just mention Gregor & Lewis. Go to www.10edwardstreet.com.au. Email stay@10edwardstreet.com.au or or phone Leah Mackenzie on 0416 016 174.
 
   
 
Via Gran in Madrid
Churros!
Royal Palace
Plaza de Cibeles
 
Melinda's Real Madrid
 
To be honest Madrid was never on my list of cities I really wanted to visit, however as I was going on an Oceania cruise leaving from Barcelona, and Emirates have recently started flying in to Madrid, I thought I might as well stopover for three days.

I absolutely loved Madrid and I think anyone planning a trip to Spain should definitely spend a few days there. I stayed at the beautiful Ritz Madrid, an Orient Express Hotel, full of old-world charm in a lovely location opposite one of the largest parks and across the road from the Prado Museum.

Madrid is a great city for walking around and I did a morning walking tour , which was a great way to get an insight into the city. We walked through the writer's quarter, the local markets and main squares, Plaza del Sol, stopped off for traditional Spanish pastries, coffee and the world famous chocolate churros. As some people will know I am a bit of a chocolate addict but not even I could finish! We then headed down to the palace and the cathedral - it's a really easy city to walk around.

The following day I visited The Prado, one of the top five galleries/museums in Europe, which was simply amazing as was the Reina Sofia Nationa Art Museum for contemporary art. It is located just a short walk past the Botanical Gardens down the tree lined streets from The Prado.

Something else which I enjoyed and took me further afield was the open top bus tour of Madrid. It was great to have a bit of a rest as I sat in the sun, listening to the commentary, passing by some amazing buildings and monuments. A little known fact is that the Real Madrid Museum/Shop which was on the bus route is one of the most visited museums in Europe. I stopped off on the Gran Via for some shopping including my first visit to Zara in Spain!

That evening I did a tapas tour which was just brilliant. My guide Carlos has shown some amazing people around Madrid including Bill Clinton and he has a passion for Madrid and some of the amazing original tapas bars. We visited about six and had a drink and tapas at each one!

Madrid was truly a surprise and I think it should be on everyone's list the next time you visit Europe.

 
   
 
Kristen at spectacular Arches National Park
Tauck in action
Dedicated travellers
 
Touring with Tauck
 
When many people think of a coach tour they immediately think of 50 people crammed into a bus, going to the run of the mill tourist sights, taking the standard tourist photos and eating buffet dinners at big chain hotels, and in most cases they would probably be right. For all those who want something a little different - welcome to the world of Tauck.

Tauck, founded in 1925, is a luxury product that offers coach tours, river cruises and small ship cruising around the world. Its founder wanted to show the people of the US their own country in a way they had never seen it before.

I was recently fortunate to be invited to discover Tauck for myself as a guest on one of their new USA coach tours, Spirit of the Desert, travelling through Colorado, Utah, Arizona and Nevada experiencing the spectacular National Parks and Canyons of the regions.

Tauck tour guides are the best in the business and our tour guide Jim really was a highlight of the journey. With 17 years experience with Tauck he was a fantastic ambassador for the product. As well as your tour guide Tauck invites along local experts and guides - historians, naturalists, film makers, chefs, cowboys, rangers and Native Americans.

Tauck uses fine hotels in the best locations wherever they travel to, each offering that little something special. You might find yourself in a ranch in North America or a lodge right in the National Parks.

Food and dining are important elements of any Tauck experience. A la carte dining is included most evenings incorporating regional and authentic local cuisine. You can choose to dine when and with whom you like (subject to table availability) and relax knowing that the bill and tipping has all been taken care of courtesy of Tauck.

Although Tauck have a large range of USA itineraries they now also specialise in journeys to Europe, Asia, South America, Australia/New Zealand and the Exotics (India, Egypt, Vietnam, Galapagos and Antarctica). They offer special small group departures and solo traveller savings on selected itineraries and also offer a family product - Tauck Bridges, designed to allow families to discover, learn and create holiday memories together whilst experiencing hassle free travel.

The true measure of Tauck's success lies in their repeat clientele and referrals. Most Tauck guests have travelled with them previously and have since recommended to family and friends. Tauck relies on this word of mouth advertising, keeping them one of travel's best kept secrets. Tauck's stellar reputation has kept them in the industry year after year.

There is no greater endorsement of Tauck then meeting your fellow travellers at the welcome dinner and hearing how many of your new friends have travelled with Tauck twice, three times, up to eleven times in the past. Tauck you must be doing something right.
 
   
 
Auckland's viaduct
Countdown in Britomart
Ponsonby Road's SPQR
Auckland's skyline
Bring home the cup
 
Wine, dine and football in Auckland
 
So you are going to the Rugby World Cup.

As any rugby fan knows, while results on the field matter somewhat it's the off-field activities that turn a good trip into a great one. So here are my tips to doing it the right way in Auckland this October.

Most Aussie rugby fans will head straight to the viaduct area and quite possibly never leave except for the match. I've done it before but there's more to Auckland than these tacky bars and the big boat. If the viaduct it is, then you have to choose from the following restaurants - the rest are rubbishy tourist traps.

Euro and Soul continue to be the best for food and drink in the area. One year at Bledisloe I had lunch before the match at Soul, saw a former All Black coach on the juice and ran into Jerry Collins at the same joint hours after the siren. It rocks during rugby time and surprisingly combines good lunch food and rollicking after-match bar quite seamlessly.

Euro is yet another in the Simon Gault Group - he is a NZ MasterChef regular. It's doubled in size in the past year and it still has a businessmen visiting kind of vibe. Others on the viaduct we like are The Foodstore, which is a great lunch venue, everything available there is sourced locally and I had some great dishes there on a recent visit. Snap Dragon is the new cool joint at the viaduct, better for drinking than eating, with pressed metal tables, vinyl records and a vertical garden. There's also a great private room upstairs if you are having a corporate drinks do before the match.

Aucklanders treat the viaduct a bit as Sydneysiders do Darling Harbour. Their new love is the Britomart area less than a kilometre away south down Quay Street, only 5-10 minute walk from the Hilton. Britomart is much cooler than the viaduct. It has great old buildings, modern drinking and eating and it is where you will find most hip Aucklanders if that is not too oxymoronic.

Locals love, and I mean love, Cafe Hanoi doing modern Vietnamese food. They love 1885 Britomart, Tyler Street Garage for tapas, burgers and brew, and Northern Steamship for seriously great beers but my dead set winner is the Britomart Country Club. It's bloody terrific. It's dead cool, feels like a bit of a pop-up with its container-like venue, and the drinks are tops. They even have a pétanque court.

Britomart is seriously 'it and a bit' and the other good thing is that it's right on top of the train station and every single person in Auckland tells me, don't under any circumstance try to drive to Eden Park - get the train. If you've been before you will understand – they are dead right.

The other place we like in Britomart is Agents and Merchants, which everyone calls A & M. Great lane-way dining with good wine and tapas. Feels like Melbourne if that's what you're looking for.

And hotter again is North Wharf, the new precinct that opened mid-August after we visited. Everyone reckons it will be brilliant. It's right next to the wholesale fish markets so we were told the seafood restaurants would be a specialty. The mail was that Live Fish would be the headline act.

If you are game to travel to Ponsonby and you should, then the two must visits are SPQR and the Ponsonby Road Bistro. SPQR is a local's favourite, it is on every Aucklanders list and Ponsonby Road is the sort of cool, dark bistro that you wish you had nearby wherever you live. Food is great, wine list terrific, service friendly and smart and the clientele, well at least the night we were there, seemed to be made up of most of Auckland's good looking people . There are only nine of them and at least four were at Ponsonby Road Bistro by my reckoning.

There has long been a mindset among us Aussies that Wellington has it all over Auckland in food and drink. That might have been the case a few years back, not sure any more. Auckland is on a dead set roll. It's just such a shame they will all be so sooky when the Wallabies win the World Cup at their home ground . . . . Poor bastards. Suck it up Auckland. You'll get over it.

Euro +64 (09) 309 9866 www.eurobar.co.nz
Soul + 64 (09) 356 7249 www.soulbar.co.nz
The Foodstore + 64 (09) 377 0125 www.foodtv.co.nz/44/The-Foodstore
Snap Dragon + 64 (09) 357 6147 www.snapdragonbar.co.nz
Cafe Hanoi + 64 (09) 302 3478 www.cafehanoi.co.nz
1885 Britomart + 64 (09) 551 3100 www.1885.co.nz
Tyler Street Garage + 64 (09) 300 5279 www.tylerstreetgarage.co.nz
Northern Steamship Co. + 64 (09) 3743952 www.northernsteamship.co.nz
Britomart Country Club +64 (09) 303 2541 www.britomartcountryclub.co.nz
Agents and Merchants +64 (09) 309 5854 www.agentsandmerchants.co.nz
Live Fish +64 (09) 373 3616 www.afm.co.nz/livefish.php
SPQR +64 (09) 360 1710 www.spqrnz.co.nz
Ponsonby Road Bistro +64 (09) 360 1611 www.ponsonbyroadbistro.co.nz
 
 
  G & L travellers Cheryl and Geoff Elith on their best holiday ever  
   
  On top of the world  
  1. What countries did you visit? Dubai, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Russia and Croatia.

2. Did you do any cruising? Silversea Silver Explorer Expedition Cruise to the Arctic Circle.

3. What were the highlights? Cruising all of Norway up past Svalbard especially Hornsund, the southern-most fjord on the rugged west coast of Spitsbergen Island. We boarded zodiacs and explored the glaciers and mountains - the scenery was just spectacular. We spotted Minke and Beluga whales, brown seals and walrus.

4. Favourite place you visited?
Hard question! Ny Alesund up past the Arctic Circle. Since 1964, this has been developed as an international research village with scientific stations from a large and still growing number of nations, co-ordinated by the Norwegian Polar Institute. Also the northern most village of human inhabitance. Geiranger Fjord was majestic as was Trollfjorden. Also St Petersburg and Dubrovnik were fascinating in their own ways.

5. Most memorable moment?
Watching a polar bear hunting seals at the northern-most part of Svalbard.

6. Anything you would change? Nothing.

7. Where to next? Still in the planning stages. Considering a river cruise through Europe or a barge cruise in France.

8. Why travel with G & L? Quality of advice, efficiency and professionalism of the team at Gregor & Lewis Bespoke Travel.
 
  Gregor & Lewis | 11 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567 Australia
T + 617 5447 4666 | E noosa@gregorlewis.com.au | W www.gregorlewis.com.au