March 2013

Dear G + L traveller
We can't believe it's Easter already and hope you are all thinking of your next holiday. Stu's just returned from the west coast of the US, I'm just about to get on a plane to Canada and Sally is jumping on a South Pacific cruise for the next school holidays. Wherever you are going, make sure it's with Gregor & Lewis.
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Edge of the Sahara Desert Morocco
 
Mystical Morocco
 
Melinda recently attended PURE, an invitation-only Experiential Travel Show held annually in Marrakech, Morocco. It's always a busy week of about 60 meetings where Gregor & Lewis meet new contacts and favourite operators from places like Central America, China, Spain, Turkey, Iceland, Sri Lanka, Bhutan etc. This year Melinda stayed at the brand new SELMAN Marrakech, a hotel like no other, built by a wealthy Moroccan who loves Arabian Horses. A little out of town but with no expense spared. A quick sojourn to the Sahara for the night was a great break from the hustle and bustle of Marrakech and its wonderful Djemma el Fna Square at the entrance to vibrant souks. A bargain to be had here!
 
   
 
The new Cruiseco Adventurer
Sun Deck
 
New Ship for Mekong River Cruising
 
The Cruiseco Adventurer launched in October 2012 and cruises along the Mekong River from Saigon (Vietnam) to Siem Reap (Cambodia). This boutique-style ship accommodates just 60 guests and has a wonderful glassed in air-conditioned lounge on the top deck where you can enjoy a drink and watch the beautiful scenery float by. All rooms have their own private balcony - this ship is certainly the new way to cruise the Mekong. Eleven night packages are on offer including return economy class airfares with Singapore Airlines ex Australia and 2 nights pre- and post-accommodation in Saigon and Siem Reap from just AUD3399.00 per person twin share. Give us a call or email for further details on noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
 
G & L's Amelia celebrating Australia Day with Regent Seven Seas
Crystal Symphony's vertical garden on the Sun Deck
Seabourn Quest
 
G & L - Your Cruise Experts
 
Summer is the season most cruise ships head down to Australian waters.
On Australia Day Amelia and Roger inspected Regent Seven Seas Voyager when she was in Brisbane and Melinda was lucky enough to sail on her from Hobart to Sydney (see more below). Voyager is a lovely ship with friendly and attentive staff and some of the largest cabins at sea. It is all-inclusive with a maximum of 700 guests.

Wendy and Melinda both inspected Crystal Symphony on her visit to Brisbane. This beautiful ship has just finished extensive renovations and is now fully inclusive. For a larger small ship with 922 guests, it is very elegant.

Roger and Wendy inspected Seabourn Quest in Brisbane, one of Seabourn's larger ships with a capacity of 450 people. She is on her way for refurbishment to get ready for her Antarctic debut in November 2013. This will be the first time Seabourn has ventured down to Antartica and the Quest will begin a series of 21 and 24 day voyages sailing between Santiago and Buenos Aires in November.

As you can see, the G + L team are very up to date with all the luxury cruise lines, so if you are planning your next holiday and thinking about cruising, give us a call or pop into the office for a chat as we have first hand cruising experience. Melinda sits on the Cruiseco Advisory Board and is the highest ranked Cruise Master Consultant on the Sunshine Coast.
 
   
 
2014 Cruises on Sale Now
 
European River Cruising is now on sale for 2014. There are great Early Bird specials out for APT where you can cruise in 2014 at 2013 prices if booked by 30 April 2013.

Silversea has all their 2014 itineraries out including the 2014/15 Antarctica sailings. These sailings always sell out fast, so if you have never been to Antarctica now is the time to start planning that once in a lifetime adventure. Call or email us on noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
 
Kristen at Machu Picchu
Roger makes it to the magical Iguazu Falls
Local children at the Pisac Markets Cuzco
Guinea pig - a local delicacy
Roger in Rio!
Orient Express' luxury train - The Hiram Bingham
Colourful houses of La Boca
 
South America – The hottest destination for 2013
 
South America brings to mind picturesque scenery, friendly faces, colourful garments, iconic landmarks and everybody who returns from South America declares it was a trip of a lifetime. G & L's Kristen Cahill and Roger Koller both recently returned from the continent that should be on everybody's wish list.

Kristen explored Peru and Chile's Santiago
Arriving into Cusco, the gateway to the Sacred Valley and at over 11,000ft in elevation, can literally take your breath away. It's a great historical town to spend a couple of days to wander around the square or explore the local countryside.
A visit to the Pisac Markets is a must for all visitors offering a great range of jewellery, garments, carvings, ornaments and traditional artworks. You can also wander the township of Ollantaytambo, an Incan archaeological site at the base of Peruvian ruins. Here there are markets, local shops and traditional houses set up to show how the locals lived.

We then set off for the highlight of Peru - Machu Picchu. We boarded Peru Rails Vistadome train for the one and a half hour journey to Aguas Calientes. With its glass dome ceiling and large picture windows we had a spectacular view of the Rio Urubamba River and the forest. From our arrival into Agus Calientes it was a short bus ride up the mountain to the entrance point of Machu Picchu. As many images as you have seen of this iconic landmark, it cannot prepare you for the reality of seeing it with your own eyes. The bright blue sky, the vibrant green grass and the grey stone formations are even more amazing when you are up close.

No visit to Machu Picchu is complete without a journey back to Cusco on board Orient Express' Hiram Bingham. This luxury train takes you on a three-hour journey complete with drinks, good food and a bar carriage for everyone to get together for drinks, live music and dancing.
Kristen travelled with APT

Roger ventured to Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires
To say South America is a continent of contrasts would be an understatement. Everywhere I visited was different from the previous destination.
Buenos Aires is a city of European style and elegance but with a distinctince South American feel. We enjoyed private sightseeing visiting everything from the art in La Boca and its trendy markets to an evening tango show which is a definite must. The food is varied with the main fare being beef in all shapes and forms; Argentina also produces some very fine wines. There are also lots of shopping opportunities with prices that are well below that of Australia.

There are some absolutely stunning hotels in Buenos Aires to suit a wide range of styles and budgets, all the way from chic modern to European traditional.

Iguazu Falls was the highlight of my visit to South America. These mighty falls border two countries, Argentina and Brazil, and to really appreciate them you must see them from both sides. The Argentine side is less commercialised with a variety of viewing locations plus there's the opportunity for jungle drives and motorboat trips to get up close. Sit on the right hand side of the boat if you'd like to stay dry! The Brazilian side has more modern facilities and numerous walking areas and platforms plus you can descend below the falls. Helicopter rides can also be easily arranged. This side is also home to arguably the best hotel in the area, the renowned Das Cataratas by Orient Express.

Rio was another world again; vibrant, lively and best of all you felt totally safe. Visiting Rio was a real eye-opener and it has some fantastic sights; Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado Mountain, Ipanema and Copacabana beaches. It's a spirited and spontaneous place with great food, shopping and atmosphere. The music of Brazil is the Samba and Bossa Nova and its rhythms can be heard everywhere. I'm looking forward to returning one day.
Roger travelled with South America Tourism Office.

If you are thinking of travelling to South America then give the G & L team a call or email noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
 
Regent Seven Seas Voyager
Pool deck
Spacious cabin
Ladies lunch at sea
Butler service
Main dining room
 
Melinda sails with Regent Seven Seas
 
In January, I sailed from Hobart to Sydney on a six night cruise onboard Seven Seas Voyager.

Ambience: The ambience on the ship was warm and friendly with the staff also very helpful, and always with a smile. There are no long corridors, so you feel like you are really on a small ship even though there are 700 people on board. The pool is a good size with plenty of deck chairs that are very comfy. This area is also used for BBQs and on sea days is used for themed lunches which were always very popular. The reception area is adjacent to the Coffee Connection and is a great place to go for a morning coffee.

Entertainment: The entertainment on board was excellent and varied from a Cirque du Solei-inspired show, to a Broadway extravaganza, to a comedy and magic show.

Cabins: One thing I did notice with Voyager is the size of the cabins. They are huge. I had a Concierge Suite which is the same size as the lead-in cabin. They are very spacious and comfortable with a three seater couch, two arm chairs, a balcony with two chairs and a table. There's a comfy bed with luxurious linen plus feather pillows, and a walk-in robe with plenty of hanging space and storage/draws. The bathroom is a good size with just one basin but there's a separate shower and a full-size bath. The only downsize was the USA-only TV so you could not see the Australian Open even though we were in Australia!

Restaurants: The food was fabulous with a great variety. We dined in the two specialty restaurants, Prime 7 and Signatures. Prime 7 is a steakhouse with leather wing-back chairs, great steaks and lobster. Signatures' prepares authentic French cuisine in a very stylish restaurant – try the great escargot and foie gras terrine. The main dining room, Compass Rose, serves breakfast, lunch and dinner and was also a very high quality. The staff were excellent and allowed you to make changes to any dish. La Veranda is an outdoor/indoor restaurant that turns in to Sette Mari at La Veranda of a nightime, a Tuscan-inspired specialty restaurant with matching wines. La Veranda for breakfast outdoors was also a wonderful experience and setting. The American lady at the next table to us rang each of her five children telling them she was watching balloons fly over Melbourne while having caviar and champagne for breakfast on the back deck!

On all Regent Seven Seas ships your alcohol is included. The wines served at dinner were of a wide variety and very good quality. It is always nice to have your minibar in your suite stocked with your favourites and always replenished as well.

There were varying activities and lectures on the two sea days so there was always something to do. The afternoon tea and trivia were always very popular.
There is a great library, Canyon Ranch Spa, a gymnasium (I did not use!) and plenty of great lounges and bars with so many places to relax.
Cruising in to Sydney Harbour is simply amazing and a must for any keen cruiser.
 
   
 
Back Streets of Shanghai
Yu Gardens Shanghai
Shanghai Skyline
Dumpling Heaven
Wet Markets
 
Shanghai Suprise
 
Super guide to Shanghai

Shanghai is a massive city so it is best to plan ahead. Here's Gregor & Lewis' tips to getting the most out of super Shanghai.

Divide and conquer - it's best to divide your trip into journeys and visit two or three neighbourhoods each day rather than trying to see it all. Our favourite places to spend time include:

Taikang Lu + Tianzifang - alleyways and lanes of old Shanghai houses filled with arty boutiques, cafes and shops. There's even a wet market here to check out the weird and wonderful local produce.

Xintiandi - this area is more Double Bay than real Shanghai (glamour shops, European cafes) but worth going to see the Memorial House where the the first communist party meeting was held with Mao Zedong. A great insight into China politics, old and new. Also, make sure to eat at Shanghai Xinjishi (Jesse) for fantastic traditional Shanghainese food.

The Bund - a great stroll at anytime of day but best at night for the lightshow and glamour bars and restaurants that line this stately boulevarde. Our pick? Glamour Bar for old world, sexy surrounds for cocktails then head across the lane to Three on the Bund for a smorgasbord of restaurants and bars including the brand new Mercato by Jean Georges, a thoroughly modern Italian trattoria filled with the who's who of Shanghai society. For spicy Yunnan cuisine, head off the Bund to Lost Heaven. Think chilli pork and tofu hotpots in a modern setting.

Nanjing Xi Lu - this is the Nathan Road of Shanghai with big brand shops and department stores such as Zara, Uniqlo and Muji. You'll also find a world class fake market at 580 Nanjing Xi Lu. Floors and floors of fake everything.

Changshu lu + Hengshan Lu - both of these 'hoods fall within the French Concession and it's easy to spend a whole day wandering the plantain-lined streets. Great shopping includes cashmere at Feine on Wukang Lu and Platane for gifts.

Yu Garden & Bazaar - try and avoid weekends here as its breathtakingly busy but we reckon it's worth the touristy crowds. The gardens are a respite from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai and the area is a good place to pick up Chinese art, souvenirs and bits and pieces for the kids. Watch out for the dumpling queue. It's legendary.

Other picks include:
Check out the ballroom dancing action at Paramount Ballroom; buy beautiful contemporary ceramics at Spin Ceramics (360 Kangding Lu) and track down a real Shanghai dumpling house such as Fu Chun Small Steamed Bun at 650 Yu Yuan Road in Jin An. Point and try your luck.

We stayed at the Puli, a truly magnificent medium-size modern hotel in a top location in the JingAn district about a five minute cab ride from everywhere and 10 minute walk from Plaza 66 one of the best shopping malls. Our suite was the biggest room we have ever stayed in and stunning. There's a great gym complete with 25m pool, a massive outdoor bar and in the building next door you'll find Australian Craig Willis' Henkes, a modern trattoria when you've had a enough of dumplings and need a red wine.

Also, get cabs everywhere - they are cheap, plentiful and pretty reliable. It's a good idea to get your concierge to right down your destinations in Chinese for ease of travelling. Try visiting in autumn too when the skies are blue and the temperatures mid-range.

Contact Gregor & Lewis if you need any further information noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
 
  Christmas with Santa Claus  
   
  Husky sled rides  
   
  Meeting Santa  
   
  Real life reindeers  
  A long, long time ago Santa got stuck in a chimney and Rudolph had to pull him out. Santa was very embarrassed by this and ever since he has used magic to enlarge small chimneys and create ones that don't exist. I know this because when we visited Santa at the North Pole he shared this secret with my son. I also learned this:
Reindeers pulling sleighs don't so much dash as walk sedately
At 25 degrees below zero your nose hairs and eyelashes freeze
Husky sled dogs love to mush

Just before Christmas, G&L clients the Horton family ventured north to the winter wonderland of Finnish Lapland. Lapland is about as far from Queensland as it is possible to be, in both distance and climate. 250km north of the arctic circle, dark in December for 19 hours a day and with an average December temperature of 8 degrees below zero, this place is fierce.

No visit to the snowy north would be complete without a reindeer safari, dog sled ride or snowmobile excursion. Nothing compares with speeding through the colourless landscape on a dog sled and warming up in a traditional Sami hut with local dishes: fish soup, spiced biscuits and warm Ligonberry juice.

After our adventures we warmed up in our rustic log cabins at Kakslauttanen Resort, indulging in the age old Lappish tradition of baking in the sauna and then (briefly!) rolling in the snow.

But the real magic of Lapland is that it is home to the one and only Santa Claus.

We met the big man, his elves and reindeer at the Santa Resort. The resort is just as it should be - red clapboard buildings, white gabled snow roofs and fairy light trims. Small children chattered with excitement as we were ushered into Santa's house. One by one the children sat with him and received little gifts. A gentle man with a long grey beard, he charmed us all, young and old.

And we never need worry that our chimney-less house will thwart Santa - he always finds a way.

If you and your family would like to visit Santa Claus in his homeland please call or email noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
  White Christmas  
   
  Christmas in Vienna  
   
  Innsbruck Christmas Markets  
   
  Neuschwanstein Castle  
   
  Silent Night Chapel  
  If Santa is not for you, but you would still like a White Christmas, then imagine gliding across the snow laden Alps on the magnificent Glacier Express train, staying four nights over Christmas high in the Swiss mountains and being pampered in a stylish spa hotel. Alternatively spend Christmas in a castle dating back 2,000 years located in the Italian Dolomites, or sipping steaming goulash in your 800 year old Coaching Inn deep in the heart of the snow covered mountains of Austria.

Now paint a picture of sleigh rides with snow bells and schnitzel and noodles with oodles of nostalgia, mulled wine and ginger biscuits in the festive Christmas Markets.

Albatross Tours has the widest range of European Christmas and New Year tours designed exclusively for Australians and New Zealanders ranging from 7 to 16 days, all with guaranteed group departures and relaxed schedules.

For more details on these tours please call or email the G & L team noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
  Indochina reviewed by Rob & Marion Kenny  
   
  1. What countries did you visit?
Vietnam, Cambodia, Burma and Laos
2. Did you include a cruise on your holiday?
Yes, a Mekong River Cruise from Vietnam to Cambodia on the new Cruiseco Adventurer and a Burma river cruise on-board the Orient Pandaw
3. Why do you like cruising?
River cruising allows you to dock right up on the riverbank in the heart of the little villages and towns. Because you are not travelling great distances you can spend the morning somewhere, cruise over lunch then spend the afternoon somewhere else.
4. What were the highlights of your trip?
Inle Lake in Burma was a magical place. It was amazing to see life on the lake by long boat: locals live, fish and farm right on the lake. Burma as a destination is a must see - the temples of Bagan are a truly spectacular sight. Covered in gold leaf they sparkle in the sun.
5. Favourite place you visited?
Inle Lake was very memorable and all visitors to Burma should make this part of their trip. We loved visiting the village schools and meeting the kids. Visiting the markets and seeing the local produce, and watching the women down on the riverbanks doing their washing, really gave you an insight into local life.
6. Most memorable moment?
Watching the monks in Burma collecting food in the streets of the local villages. The people of Burma are so generous, kind and giving.
7. Anything you would have changed?
The only thing we would have changed would have been doing Burma at the end of trip instead of the beginning. Burma really was the highlight and it would have been great to save the best for last.
8. Where to next?
Canada and USA, we will be doing a tour through the Canadian Rockies, viewing grizzly bears and doing an Alaskan cruise.
9. Why travel with G&L?
The team are wonderful, they are friendly, helpful and we couldn't think of anyone better to plan our adventures with.
 
  Gregor & Lewis | 11 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567 Australia
T + 617 5447 4666 | E noosa@gregorlewis.com.au | W www.gregorlewis.com.au