Dear G & L traveller

Now that the weather's warming up, all we can think about at Gregor & Lewis is packing the bags and heading off somewhere, anywhere. Slovenia, a Silversea Cruise, even Mollymook on the NSW's South Coast are all looking great for a getaway though, as usual, Stu has golf on his mind. There's still plenty of specials coming through so why not buy someone an early Christmas present? Cheers.
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The Silver Shadow en route to FNQ
Poolside glamour
A luxurious cabin
 
Cruising on the silver seas
 
Our very own cruise expert, Melinda Gregor, recently returned from a three-day cruise aboard the Silver Shadow, one of the gorgeous Silversea ships. Between Brisbane and Cairns, Melinda got to experience the truly personal service and amazing food that has given Silvesea its reputation. 'You go to the bar on the second night for a pre-dinner drink and the barman already knows you by name and your favourite drink without even asking for it. These small touches make Silversea a wonderful choice.'

There are lots of ther reasons to choose Silversea. They are fully inclusive (all meals, drinks, accommodation, activities), they have fewer guests on board so they are a lot more personalised and their ships can also dock in the centre of cities, unlike a lot of other larger cruise ships.

In December 2009, Silversea will introduce their newest luxury cruise ship, Silver Spirit, with more verandas, more dining choices and more onboard amenities, all with only a maximum of 540 guests.

Why not choose a Christmas cruise on Silversea? Silver Wind will be cruising from Seychelles to Mauritius or the Silver Cloud sails the wonderful South American coastline.

In January 2011, Silversea Cruises will be offering for the first time a magnificent 30-night voyage circumnavigating Australia, ex-Sydney, on board the Silver Shadow. The full itinerary and pricing details are still being finalised but Gregor & Lewis are taking registrations for this cruise now as we reckon it will fill fast. There are only 194 suites on board and all Silverseas booking are eligible for Qantas Frequent Flyer points!

In the meantime, Silversea have announced unprecedented savings in 2010 with reduced fares, plus all bookings receive credits towards airfares, new to all Australian bookings. Call us today to find out more information about the great specials on offer on Silversea Cruises.
 
   
 
Nice spot for a picnic
 
Want to get shipwrecked?
 
Recently Gregor & Lewis, together with Skysafari, organised a spectacular Bastille Day lunch for VIPs on Undine Cay, a private secluded sand cay paradise located on Undine Reef. It takes approximately 30 minutes by helicopter to get there from Palm Cove (or 45 minutes from Cairns) and is located about 20 nautical miles off the coast of Cape Tribulation. The cay is for exclusive use and basically the first person to land on it each day (as organised by Skysafari) has it to themselves. The cay is around 100 metres long and 50 metres wide and is a magical swimming and snorkelling destination. Sound like a plan?
 
   
 
Train spotting
 
Rocky mountain high
 
Canada and Alaska are truly spectacular destinations. From the glass-domed Rocky Mountaineer train taking you through the magnificent Rocky Mountains, to the spectacular Alaska cruise up the Inside Passage with highlights like Glacier Bay National Park, there's plenty to experience. On this 21-day tour, starting in Vancouver, APT now guarantees Goldleaf service on the Rocky Mountaineer train journey and Veranda Staterooms on the Holland America Line cruise. You are also guaranteed Lake View rooms at the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and View Rooms at the magnificent Fairmont Banff Springs. And if that is not enough, if you book and pay your airfares in full by 30 September 2009 your companion flies free (conditions apply). The best time to visit this wonderful destination is from May to September. Most tours are 21 days ex-Vancouver.
 
   
 
Here comes Tiger
Shark spotted in Sydney Harbour
 
Tiger and shark spotting
 
There are still tickets available to stalk Tiger around Kingston Heath during the Australian Masters Golf Tournament 12-15 November 2009. Packages start from $402 per person twin share and include two nights accommodation at the Mercure Welcome Hotel Melbourne (three stars), three-day car hire (Hertz group A) and Friday, Saturday and Sunday ticket admission. Book now as tickets are very limited.

If shark hunting is more your thing, contact us about some terrific Sydney accommodation deals during the Australian Open Golf Tournament being held for the first time at the New South Wales Golf Club 3-6 December. Greg Norman will be playing alongside John Daly, Adam Scott and Geoff Ogilvy so why not head to Sydney for a round of golf, some Christmas shopping and dinner at Australia's best restaurant, Quay, as voted by Australian Gourmet Traveller for the second year running.

Important golf dates for 2010 include the first major of the year, the US Masters Golf, 8-11 April, and the British Open Golf Championship, 15-18 July, when the fight for the famous claret jug returns to St Andrews. 2010 marks the 150th anniversary of the championship and what better place to see it than at St Andrews, the home of golf. Contact Gregor & Lewis for more details.

For tennis fans, great-value packages for the 2010 Australian Open 18-31 January 2010 have just been released. They start from $329 per person twin share and include two nights accommodation at the Mercure Welcome Hotel Melbourne (three stars), plus one reserved day-seat on 19 January and one day or night session on 20 January.

As you can see, we love a major sporting event at Gregor & Lewis. Watch out for the next G & L postcard for Stu's 2010 sporting round-up including packages to the Soccer World Cup in South Africa 11 June - 11 July 2010.
 
   
 
The Royal Mail Hotel
Rick Stein goes south
 
Aussie wine and dine
 
For those who love an Australian food destination, here are two great options to think about.

Watch out for Rick Stein's new restaurant Rick Stein at Bannisters at Mollymook on NSW's lovely south coast (about three hours from Sydney). Rick's a good mate of G & L and we reckon this place will soon be one of Australia's best destinations. Expect extraordinary local oysters and seafood, and, of course, the presence of the charming Rick himself when he's in town. The sexy coastal accommodation, infinity pool and day spa are other reasons to visit. Book now if you want Rick shucking your oysters this summer. I do. Rick Stein at Bannisters opens October 1.

Sal and Stu recently spent a weekend at the stunning Royal Mail Hotel, just voted Australian Gourmet Traveller's Regional Restaurant of the Year. Located at the southern end of the Grampians, the hotel, established in 1855, has some of the best food in the country with young chef Dan Hunter (ex-Spain's famed Mugaritz) in the kitchen. Expect ten courses, organic produce from the pub's garden, a country wine list without peer and lovely contemporary lodgings all within cooee of Mount Sturgeon. Dunkeld is about 3 hours from Melbourne. Make the detour.



 
   
 
The dramatic Vintgar Gorge
Predjama Castle
Chapel on Lake Bled
The beautiful coastal town of Piran
Kristen at Lake Bled
 
Seeking out Slovenia
 
Slovenia is not exactly on peoples list of top places to visit but that's all about to change. G & L consultant, Kristen Cahill, reports back from the next European hot spot where you'll find snowcapped mountains and the sparkling Mediterranean all a stone's throw from drop-dead gorgeous historic cities. And the home to the famous Lipizzaner horse, of course.

Here's Kristen list of the top things to do and see in Slovenia.

Visit the coastal town of Piran. Here the people make their living by fishing, making handicrafts and trading goods such as oil, wine and salt. Stand high above the sea at the church on the hill and take in the picturesque scenery of this stunning coastal village. Treat yourself to the freshest seafood at one of the restaurants right on the waterfront.

Explore Postojna Caves. Over 32 million people have visited this underground kingdom. The caves are 20km long, 5km of which are open to the public. Viewing is made easy by an electric train that travels deep in to the caves. Marvel at the staggering stalagmites and stalactites, created by centuries of water formations. Be lead through the caves by your tour guide who also runs through the history of the Karst region.

Tour Predjama Castle. The castle is precariously located in the middle of a 123-metre high, overhanging limestone cliff. Once the topic of Slovenian fables the castle is now a museum and offers guided tours. Traditional jousts are also still held at the castle.

Wander the grounds of Lipica Stud Farm. Home to the world famous Lipizzaner horses of the Spanish Riding School in Vienna, here you can visit the arena where the horses are trained daily, see the carriage museum or wander the vast grounds. There is also a hotel and function centre as well a golf course nearby.

Experience Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana. This gorgeous European city's epicenter is its town square where you'll find markets, traditional musicians, food stalls and tourists galore. The morning markets offer everything from fruit and veg, to handbags, fresh flowers, preserves and wooden toys.

Visit the picturesque Lake Bled. Take a traditional pletna boat ride to the chapel on the lake or take a leisurely bike ride around the lake circuit. Visit the markets or test your courage on the toboggan ride where you can hurtle down a 500m slope. Many of the coffee shops, restaurants and bars have perfect views of the lake.

Explore Vintgar Gorge. One of Slovenia's most beautiful natural wonders, take the 1km walk along the suspended wooden walkway through the gorge to the spectacular waterfalls at the end.

Visit the seaside town of Portoroz. This town is the perfect hopping off point for a walk to the medieval town of Piran, a half-day trip to Postojna Caves or Lipizzana stud farm, or a full-day Lake Bled tour.

Slovenia has a variety of accommodation options from farm stays to the deluxe five-star accommodation at the new Kempinski Palace Hotel in Portoroz. It's also the perfect coach tour holiday or a self-drive itinerary. Combine Slovenia with Croatia or Italy, or work into a longer itinerary through Europe.

For a day trip to Venice, ferries run from Piran and take approx four hours. They depart at 8.30am and return from Venice at 5pm, leaving plenty of time to explore one of the most famous cities in the world.

From Australia, Emirates offers daily flights to Venice. It is then just an easy three-hour drive before you cross the border into Slovenia. Slovenia's capital, Ljubljana, is also easily reached from most major European cities.

For more information contact Kristen at Gregor & Lewis.
 
   
 
Audrey in the Dordogne Valley
Archie loves Paris, too
Jackson makes the pilgrimage
Evie loves Paris
George outside Chateau du Fey, Burgundy
 
Travelling with kids? Here's some pain relief.
 
A friend once said a 24-hour flight with kids is like childbirth – 24 hours you'd rather forget, but it's worth it in the end. Here's some tips from the G & L mum squad to make the pain more bearable (with special thanks to Sal W and Belinda).

1. Take a nanny or get one over there. Holidaynanny.org is a UK-based operation that provides experienced, referenced and vetted girls. Collect your nanny on the way through London and pray they're not too gorgeous.

2. Get a portable DVD and buy comfortable headphones – the headphones on planes never fit kids. Also never rely on your DVD for the flight - most planes don't have recharge facilities.

3. Invest in an umbrella stroller small enough to go on board so you can at least get your exhausted kid in it and locked safely away. You also can't rely on stopover airports to provide them either.

4. Always pack a change of clothes for each child in their carry-on, even the seven-year-old. Plane travelling is messy business, even for adults.

5. Ideas for carry-ons include: water bottles, snack box, mini puzzles, activity books (airports have a good selection), pens and pencils, electronic games and a little bag of lollies for bribes but beware of too much sugar (you want them to sleep).

6. Before you go, read up on the places you are going to visit and encourage the kids to keep a diary like the great 'I See' kids journal www.iseekidguide.com.

7. Roll-on cases are better for kids as backpacks get heavy and parents end up having to haul them. Search out the Trunki ride-on suitcase www.trunki.co.uk available here.

8. Get a transfer at the airport on arrival. Someone who can look after your luggage and get it into the car while you deal with the kids is money well spent. Check with your hotel to see if they offer this service, even if for a fee.

9. Always pre-book a bassinet but check the size as they are often too small. Remember, too, that the seats that have bassinets don't have folding armrests so if you have another child, it's always difficult for everyone to sleep. British Airways has a really good sling chair that accommodates a bigger child than a bassinet (which are only for small infants). You set it up on a platform (where the bassinet would go) and it's much more comfortable for larger babies (up to two years).

10. Best overseas parks for kids include – London: Princess Diana Memorial Playground, Kensington Gardens; St James's Park, row boats in The Regent's Park. Paris: Tuileries Gardens; Bois de Boulogne (16th, metro Les Sablons;) Le Jardin des Enfants aux Halles (105 Rue Rambuteau, 1st, metro Les Halles); Avenue Corentin-Cariou, 19th, metro Porte de la Villette. New York: Central Park, of course.
 
 
  James Halliday, Australia's preeminent wine authority and G & L traveller  
   
  James Halliday and friends  
  The world's most interesting wine region for touring
Burgundy

Top thing to see, do
Beaune market, Saturday morning

What to eat
Duck and all things feathered, Epoisses cheese

What to drink
Burgundy, of course

Any advice on ordering from a foreign wine list
Choose the wines of the region if in a wine producing country

Favourite destination other than wine
Rajasthan

Why
The people, the scenery

World's best food and wine match
Meaning of life question

Most memorable travelling moment
Lost in the mists of geriatric time

Least memorable
Being offloaded in Slovakia from a train headed to the Czech Republic because I didn't have a Slovak visa or enough US dollars

Next destination
Kuala Lumpur

World's best airline wine list
Singapore Airlines

Does wine really taste different at 35,000ft
Yes

Why travel with Gregor & Lewis
The complete bespoke travel agency

James Halliday's Australian Wine Companion 2010 and The Australian Wine Encyclopedia, both published by Hardie Grant, are available from all good books stores nationally. winecompanion.com.au

 
  Gregor & Lewis | 11 Arcadia St, Noosa Heads, Queensland, 4567 Australia
T + 617 5447 4666 | E noosa@gregorlewis.com.au | W www.gregorlewis.com.au