Dear G & L traveller

As it's not far off until the arrival of the 2011 early bird specials, here's some excellent ideas to help you plan your next getaway. Stay close and rediscover the beauty of Bali (private villas with plunge pools please) or next year's greatest sporting event, the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand. Or what about that African safari you've always thought about? When you've made up your mind, give us a call.
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European river cruising
 
European river cruising - two for one offer!
 
Between September and December 2010, travel on selected Magnficent Europe (Amsterdam-Budapest, 14 nights) or Black Sea Voyage (Rousse, Bulgaria to Budapest, 7 nights) on a sleek luxury river cruise and one person will travel for free. There is limited availability and cabins will fill fast with these exclusive deals so be sure to get in quick! Prices are from $6375 for the first person and just $380 for second person based on a November departure from Budapest to Amsterdam. Call a buddy today.
 
   
 
Crouch, touch, pause, engage, sail
 
It's just over a year until the Aussies can have another crack at the Rugby World Cup and what better way to see the Wallabies raise the Webb Ellis Cup in NZ? By ship of course. There are still luxury cabins available aboard the Rhapsody of the Seas superliner, chartered exclusively by Cruiseco, on both the 8- and 13-night packages (including quarter finals, semis and finals tickets). Former Wallaby prop and G & L's mate, Richard Harry, is your host so expect a lot of rugby action on and off-shore. Contact G & L for more details and here's hoping the All Blacks have peaked early, yet again.
 
   
 
Egypt's Abu Simbel
Ancient city of Luxor
Jordan's historic Petra
 
Egypt & Jordan with G & L
 
After being asked by many of our clients about taking a trip to Egypt and Jordan, our very own MD, Melinda Gregor, has finally decided to organise an 18-day journey in May 2011. Melinda lived in the Middle East for three years, escorting tours through Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Turkey and feels now is the time to go back and take some of G & L's valued clients along for the ride! Melinda has chosen May (it's warm but not "HOT") and has paced the itinerary so it covers all the major highlights without too much rushing. Think cruising the Nile, Luxor's Valley of the Kings and the magnificent Abu Simbel in Egypt, and in Jordan, Petra, the Dead Sea, plus 4WD in the spectacular Wadi Rum desert.

The group is small - minimum of 8 with a maximum of 24. We have included economy flights with Emirates from Australia to Cairo and return from Amman to Australia, however, if you wish to do the trip as a stopover on the way to or from Europe, or land content only, then we can do that also (with options to upgrade to Business Class). The tour will be 18 days/16 nights departing on 5 May 2011 and includes a four-night cruise along the Nile. The price is from AUD$11,990 per person, twin share (single pricing on request), including airfares, all taxes, five-star accommodation, sightseeing, transfers, breakfast daily and many other meals. As we have had a lot of interest, we do expect it to fill quite quickly so please contact us for a full itinerary and to discuss this amazing adventure soon.
 
   
 
Shanghai by night
Shanghai's Pearl Tower
Chinese tea?
On the deck of Seabourn's Pride
Melinda celebrating at the Great Wall
 
China dollsa
 
Self-proclaimed cruise tragics, G & L's Melinda Gregor and Jo Rowland, can't get enough of Seabourn's Pride. Here's Jo's story.

It's official - I am now a cruise tragic. I've recently returned from a fabulous holiday with G & L's leader, Melinda Gregor, aboard the five-star Seabourn Pride, travelling 10 nights from Beijing to Hong Kong, including three days in Shanghai.

Our journey began in Beijing and a visit to the silk market where we shopped and bargained until very late at night wondering how are we ever going to pack our bags – and this was only hours after arriving.

The next morning we were collected from our hotel for a full-day tour of Beijing including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Great Wall. It was also Melinda's birthday and what an amazing place to spend it. We managed to avoid the crowds by taking a steeper path up the wall – it was well worth it as there were times where we were the only ones there.

The next day we spent the morning visiting the more traditional part of Beijing including visiting a traditional chinese perfume shop by rickshaw. We then transferred to the port of Xingang to start our cruise.

And what a cabin - it was much larger than I expected with twin beds, a couch, walk-in-robe and a bathroom with double sinks that suited two girls and their toiletries. Our cabin steward welcomed us with champagne and hors d'oeuvres and after we made our selection of soaps and preferred pillows, we made our way on deck to farewell Xingang while sipping on Cosmopolitans.

There was nightly entertainment, while during the day there was plenty to do. Perhaps a game of trivia, lectures about our next destination, bridge, morning tea, a barbeque lunch followed by a challenging and very inventive game of golf or an enlightening tour of the galley. Afternoon tea in the Constellation Lounge gave us a chance to indulge once again in the culinary skills of the pastry chefs (perhaps we over indulged in this). Or you could find us relaxing by the pool with a mini massage, a good book and a cocktail.

The staff are so well trained in anticipating your every need and within 24 hours knew your name.

Seabourn Pride only takes a maximum of 205 guests and is small enough to dock right in the middle of some of the major cities of the world, like Shanghai. where we docked on the Bund for three days with amazing views of the city skyline

For a more intimate and luxurious small ship cruise experience, you can't go past The Yachts of Seabourn . G&L has an exclusive special offer for our valued clients. Book by 31 August 2010 and you will receive a USD200.00 onboard credit. For more information email Melinda or Jo on noosa@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
 
Cheese man Will Studd
Rockpool's Neil Perry
 
Dining by the stars
 
If we had a dime for every time a client asked us advice on where to eat in the great cities of the world, well, we wouldn't be having to send out G & L newsletters. We could Google, but we prefer to pick up the phone and ask our foodie mates where they eat when they're OS. Here's some dining out tips from a few G & L friends. And watch out for more in future G & L postcards.

SINGAPORE by Will Studd, master of cheese
* Waku Ghin - this is Tetsuya's inspirational new venture in the Marina Bay Sands complex. Dine in intimate surrounds with your own personal chef. Enjoy an extensive choice of sake and caviar followed by a succession of courses featuring exceptionally fresh seafood and the finest truffles. A once in a lifetime experience. www.marinabaysands.com/Restaurants/Waku_Ghin.aspx

LOS ANGELES by Neil Perry, Rockpool group
* Loteria Grill –think beer in pitchers and hanging out. Great if you want to try real Mexican food that you never get back home. Go to the one at the Farmers Markets - www.loteriagrill.com
* Osteria Mozza and Mozza pizza – Mario Batali's LA venues www.mozza-la.com
* Campanile – this LA favourite from Mark Peel has recently returned to form www.campanilerestaurant.com
* At the top end, try Tom Colicchio's Craft, The Bazaar at the hot SLS Hotel, and Wolfgang Puck's Cut in the Beverley Wilshire for glamour.

 
   
 
Friendly hello
Happy clappers
Kenyan bling
Seeing double
Kenyan friends
 
Kenya's calling
 
G & L consultant, Kristen Cahill, realised on her latest adventure she loves giraffes, her job and a good camera. Here's Kristen's Kenyan adventure.

I love my job.

While out to dinner with friends recently the topic of jobs came up. Each of the girls took turns to complain about their boss, their pay, their hours. When it came to my turn I realised I had nothing to complain about. I had just come back from a 'work trip' to Kenya.

I never really appreciated just how lucky I was until the plane touched down in Nairobi and it began to sink in. I'm in Africa!

My 11-day safari through Kenya was hosted by Bench International, African experts who specialise in tailor-made itineraries, matching the perfect holiday to the client.

Our first port of call was Nairobi. Here we visited the Sheldrick Elephant Reserve, Giraffe Camp, the Karen Blixen museum and the Kazuri Bead shop, run by local widows with products sold throughout Africa. We were lucky enough to stay at the House of Waine, a secluded, intimate property set on a magnificent lawn.

We were then off to Sweetwaters Game Sanctuary for our first game drive experience. Sweetwaters Tented Camp offers luxury accommodation, many of which face onto the propertie's watering hole, the perfect viewing point for elephant, giraffe and warthog. From Sweetwaters, it is essential to visit the chimpanzee and rhino sanctuary.

We then headed to Shaba Game Reserve and the Sarova Shaba Lodge. This is a large resort-style property with excellent facilities. It is located right on a river and offers morning and afternoon crocodile feeding shows. But watch out - there are monkeys everywhere!

Our next stop was Porini Rhino Camp at Ol Pejeta Sanctuary. This intimate property has only six luxury tents and is perfect for those wanting to really get away from it all and immerse themselves in nature.

We were then off to Sarova Lion Hill Lodge at Lake Nakuru National Park. This property is much larger and has more room and facilities to offer and is only moments away from a lake teeming with the pink flamingos.

It was then onto Loldia House at Lake Naivasha where manager Peter goes out of his way to make you feel at home - even getting the chef to handwrite recipes of our favourite meals.

Our final stop was Satao Eleri in Amboseli National Park. We arrived by luxury 10-seater plane and were escorted to our spacious tented accommodation by Masi. We were speechless when we discovered that each of our tents had uninterrupted views of Mt Kilimanjaro!

The trip highlights were Giraffe Camp and visiting the Samburu tribe who performed for us and invited us to wander around and see their way of life.

My tips for Kenya:
* Take the fly in/fly out option! Short distances can take hours to travel and it is very tiring.
* Take a good camera - a good camera will make a huge difference to the quality of your photos.
* Take every game drive opportunity that comes along.
* Choose a good African operator. Gregor & Lewis has expertise in many countries in Africa and can book the right operator for your requirements
* Choose the luxury tented accommodation - it gives you the real safari experience.

If you are interested in Africa please call or email Kristen on kristencahill@gregorlewis.com.au
 
   
 
Amanusa pool
Amanusa beach club
Alila's infinity pool
Alila's private villas
Balinese banquet at Alila
 
Bali highsas
 
Bali has always been a little bit special for Mr and Mrs G & L and after ten years, we returned and did it the right way. Here's how:

1. Bali Concierge – pre-book this airport VIP service to be fast-tracked through customs and the annoying visa system on arrival and departure.
2. Amanusa, Nusa Dua – Mr G's favourite souvenir from the trip was his Amanusa stubby holder. Mine? The hand-carved do not disturb sign from the front of our villa. We loved cycling down each morning to our private beach club for breakfast, then retreating to our day bed by the massive pool each afternoon. Amanusa was created to tease – it really is all about understated luxury and service in traditional Balinese style. Hard to fault.
3. Eat local – Balinese cuisine can be pretty special and most of the great hotels serve exceptional food. Forgo the sate and try nasi campur, a kind of Balinese antipasti plate. Western-style restaurants in the resorts are there to rip you off and remind you how good the food is back home.
4. Budget before you go – most places add an extra 21% service charge to everything from massages to Bintang.
5. Beer –also drink local. Bintang is fresh and good. But only in Bali.
6. Alila Villas Uluwatu – for the latest in resorts, techno gadgets and architecture, this cliff-top resort on Bali's famous surf coast is amazing. All the private villas are massive and each comes with your own concierge and pool. Warung, the in-house Balinese restaurant, is a must-do and bring your goggles - the 50 metre infinity pool is the best we've found anywhere. Don't expect Scrabble, it's Wii all the way here.
7. Drink and dine – Metis (Kuta), Sarong (Kuta) and old favourites like Ku De Ta (Seminyak) are the best of the groovy places downtown.
8. Shop – Jalan Oberoi and Jalan Legian have the best boutiques– try Papillion for shoes.
9. Uluwatu vs Nusa Dua? Nusa Dua is closer to the action so if you want to see more, stay around there. Uluwatu is more isolated so expect to stay in-house. Pick somewhere with a good spa like Alila Villas.
10. Jimbaran Bay – the novelty of dining on the beach has worn off here, but it's still not a bad place to spend an hour before heading to the airport for the killer midnight flights if only for the cheesy entertainers.
 
 
  G & L traveller, Peter Waugh, returned home with a piece of that Icelandic volcano.