Source: Day 1. Arriving in Prague
Thank you for visiting our blog: a great place to search for deals and get ideas! While we specialize in small ships cruises, river and Barge cruises, upscale Vacations, and Tours, we service our clients’ every need. Our core business is all about repeat clients and referrals. Most clients start their vacation search on the internet and we think that’s a good thing. The web is a great source of information. When it’s time to plan your trip, however, then leave it to the Professionals. One call and we’ll do it all …
Prague botanical garden at night
Steam car next to the Tecnical museum
It was the most perfect experiment in the history of science. Holding both a cannon ball and a small musket ball, the 30-something Pisa native Galileo Galilei scaled the steps of his city’s famous Leaning Tower, and held them dramatically over the edge. Eight stories below, the town’s most learned scholars and priests were gathered as observers. They watched as the two balls dropped to the ground at the same speed – disproving, with a single stroke, the ancient idea that objects fall at different rates depending on their weight and size. This archaic concept, which had been espoused by the ancient Greek author Aristotle, had been accepted without question for more than 2,000 years, Galileo’s great innovation was to put it to a practical test of observation. Unfortunately, this famous story is probably not true. Galileo never wrote about it himself – it was recounted in a late biography penned by his secretary, Vincenzo Viviani. Most historians now believe that it was Galileo’s imaginative disciples who invented the Leaning Tower tale in order to make the theory so clear that even a child could understand it. The Leaning Tower was an appropriate setting not just because of its unusual angle – surrounded by the most impressive collection of religious buildings in Italy, it makes Galileo’s experiment, in defiance of an ancient tradition supported by the Church, seem all the more radical. In the long run, the fabrication hardly matters. Galileo was indisputably the pioneer of scientific experimentation – relying on direct observation, rather than abstract reasoning based on research in the library – and he probably did test his theory in other places around Pisa. Albert Einstein praised Galileo as “the father of modern science” for his breakthrough. And in Italy, Galileo has become a historical celebrity almost on a par with the saints. In the mid-1700s, when his body was disinterred to move it to a more magnificent sepulcher, admirers removed his middle finger from his body and preserved it as a secular relic. The dried-out digit can be seen today, mounted in a lovely chalice-like container in the Museum of the History of Science in Florence – although nobody seems to know why that particular finger was so honored.
The world is a library. What story might you discover on a Globus vacation in Italy? Contact R and B International Travel and find out!
Through the solitary hills of the Black Forest, a 330-pound cuckoo bird pipes its song. Fortunately, this giant is made out of hand-carved wood and is the star of the world’s largest cuckoo clock, the main event at the Eble-Uhren-Park, a clockmaker in Triberg. How big is big? The clock weighs a total of six tons, and the pendulum alone is 26-feet-long. Visitors can get a peak at the cogs and wheels during a tour inside the cuckoo’s farmhouse. Other cuckoo clocks claim to be the “world’s biggest,” but this is the only one in the Guinness Book of World Records. However, one exception might be the world’s biggest chocolate cuckoo clock – 260 pounds of full milk, semi-sweet and white chocolate, put together in 2006 by a cuckoo clock maker and a chocolatier in Saxony-Anhalt. Too delicious to resist, pieces of the clock were auctioned off for charity.
We design our journeys around the stories they will tell. What story might you discover next with Globus and R and B International Travel ?
I just returned from Insight Vacations Easy Pace Russia program. It was a fantastic experience. We spent 3 nights in St. Petersburg & 3 nights in Moscow & used the train to get between the cities. Since we spent so much time in each area, we had ample time to see all of the sights & also to explore on our own. All of Insight’s Easy Pace programs require a minimum of 3 nights in each city, which allows you to really get to know an area.
One of the highlights of the trip in St Petersburg was our visit to the Hermitage Museum located in the Winter Palace. The Winter Palace was the residence of the Russian Czars & was built during the span of 1754 to 1762. The array of artwork by the masters was mind boggling; with over 3 million pieces of work from the Stone Age to the 20th Century. Peter the Great’s summer residence at Petrodvorets, with its fabulous gardens, is also not to be missed.
Moscow exceeded my expectations. Red Square & the Kremlin were wonderful. Gum’s Shopping Center at Red Square was amazing; built in 1893 brings you back to the time of the Czars. Another thing that wowed me there were the subways. It is hard to believe that a subway could impress anyone, but in all of my travels & there have been lots, I have never seen anything like what I saw there. The station at Red Sq built by Stalin has bronze sculptures throughout. You would think that you were in a museum, rather than a subway station. The other stations also had fabulous art work.
I also found the food to be quite good. Breakfasts were huge buffets with a vast array of choices. Typical Russian dinners were borsht (a hot beet soup) & beef stroganoff (Created by the Duke of Stroganoff because he had no teeth & needed something soft to eat). Salads & desserts are also included. Lots of vodka toasts occur, as well, at dinner time.
Shopping is great with the dollar getting a great exchange rate against the ruble. Picking up a matriochka (stacking doll) is a must. I brought 2 home.
Dance the Night Away
Do the Hula in Hawaii…stomp out the rhythm of folkloric dancing in Mexico (and wear a bright colorful skirt just for fun)…tango the night away in Buenos Aires, Argentina…move to the music at a salsa dance lesson at San Antonio’s Institute de Mexico…experience the song, dance and guitar of the flamenco, the national dance of Spain.
Cooking your way to a healthier you
- Cook with olive oil.
- Cut down meat portions, and increase portions of grains and legumes proportionately.
- Eat more fish.
- Eat more leafy green vegetables and salads.
- Sit down for meals whenever possible, rather than eating on the run.
- Choose whole grain breads and pastas instead of refined products.
Gardening – Reap what you Sow
What is more gratifying than arranging a lovely bouquet of cut flowers from your own garden or savoring the delicious flavors of colorful vegetables that you tended from seeds and picked fresh that day? Many Americans list gardening as a way to unwind and relax. Squatting, stooping and bending in the home garden are good for circulation and “playing” in dirt lowers stress levels and promotes a sense of well-being.
Contact R and B International Travel and discover how fun staying healthy can be.
Welcome to Israel…a land where Abraham forged his covenant with God…and today is a nation that has defied unbelievable odds to become an ancestral homeland for Jews and a place where democracy has flourished.
For the first time traveler to Israel, it is like a walk through history. Here three continents (Asia, Africa and Europe) and two seas convene making the country a blend of cultures, customs and traditions. Here was a crossroad to ancient routes of commerce and a home to diverse peoples reflecting the flood of conquering armies striving for eminence in this much-desired small country. Canaanites, Hebrews, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Arabs, Crusaders, Ottoman Turks and the British—each made their stand, briefly flourished, and were swept away leaving in their wake fortifications, castles and royal palaces. From sheikhs’ tombs with whitened domes to ancient synagogues decorated with colorful mosaics and the graceful arches of Crusader churches, Israel is an amazing feast for the senses.
Rooted in religion—though a majority of its people is quite secular—the old Walled City of Jerusalem is of great symbolic importance for Judaism, Christianity and Islam and their histories entwine on its labyrinthine streets. Walk along the Via Dolorosa or Way of Sorrows to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site of Jesus, the Christian Messiah’s, crucifixion, burial and resurrection. Observe the solemnity of the Western Wall, the only surviving remnant of Judaism’s most sacred shrine, the Temple Mount. Gaze in awe at one of the world’s great architectural masterpieces, the Dome of the Rock, which was built over a rock said to retain Mohammed’s footprint. It is of particular veneration because of the belief that it is the place that had been visited by Mohammed, the Muslim Prophet, on his miraculous night journey which had taken him from Arabia to heaven.
Ancient and modern, secular and sacred, Israel beckons visitors with its magnificent sites, holy places and warm Mediterranean climate. And while Israel is a land of dynamic contrasts with age-old sacred shrines alongside futuristic skyscrapers and posh resorts with swaying palms alongside desert wasteland…it is its own unique Israeli blend—a fitting description for a nation that continues to confound expectations.
What time of year is best to visit Israel? Anytime of year is beautiful in Israel! Israel enjoys long, warm, dry summers (April-October) and generally mild winters (November-March) with somewhat drier, cooler weather in hilly regions, such as Jerusalem and Safed. Rainfall is relatively heavy in the north and center of the country, with much less in the northern Negev and almost negligible amounts in the southern areas.
Regional conditions vary considerably, with humid summers and mild winters on the coast; dry summers and moderately cold winters in the hill regions; hot dry summers and pleasant winters in the Jordan Valley; and year-round semi-desert conditions in the Negev.
Weather extremes range from occasional winter snowfall in the mountain regions to periodic oppressively hot dry winds that send temperatures soaring, particularly in spring and autumn.
Who are the Israelis?
- Population of 7 Million
- 79% are Jewish
- 15% are Muslim
- 6% are Christian, Druze, Buddhist and more
- Hebrew, Arabic
- Almost everyone speaks English
Short Distances: – Israel is basically the size of New Jersey.
- Tel Aviv-Jerusalem: 50 minutes
- Jerusalem-Dead Sea: 45 minutes
- Jerusalem-Masada: 90 minutes
- Tel Aviv-Haifa: 90 minutes
- Jerusalem-Tiberias: 2.5 hours
- Tel Aviv-Eilat: 4 hours
Preparing for the Trip
- No visas required
- Just a passport with validity of 6 months
- All major credit cards accepted
- Accessible ATM’s
- 3.5 Shekels = $1
Electricity The electric current in Israel is 220 volts AC, single phase, 50 Hertz. Most Israeli sockets are of the three-pronged variety but many can accept some European two-pronged plugs as well. Electric shavers, traveling irons and other small appliances may require adapters and/or transformers, which can be purchased in Israel.
Tel Aviv • Jaffa • Caesarea • Tiberias • Sea of Galilee Nazareth • Jericho • Dead Sea • Masada • Qumran • Jerusalem • Wailing Wall • Bethlehem • Church of the Nativity • Mount of Olives • Mt. Zion
Did You Know?
- Israel has 4 seas, 6 micro-climates, mountains, valleys, lush pastureland and deserts, all in a space the size of New Jersey.
- Jerusalem is Israel’s “Washington, D.C.” and Tel Aviv is Israel’s “New York City.” Jerusalem, the capital, is home to three quarters of a million people. The Tel Aviv metropolitan area, Israel’s center of business, culture, fashion and entertainment, is home to four million people.
- Mount Hermon is 10,000 feet high, Jerusalem is 3,000 feet above Sea Level, and the Dead Sea is the lowest point on earth. Because it is 2,000 feet further from the sun’s rays – even the fairest skin tans at the Dead Sea shore, but doesn’t burn.
- 75% of Israelis are Jewish, 25% are Israeli Muslims, Christians, Druze, Baha’is and Buddhists.
- Israel’s official languages are Hebrew and Arabic and almost everyone speaks English.
A Taste of Israel: Filet of Sea Bass
- 4 fillets of Sea Bass (5 ounces each)
- 3.5 ounces of Spinach Leaves
- 3.5 ounces of Cooked Chickpeas
- 3.5 ounces of Blanched Green Ful (Fava Beans)
- 3.5 ounces of Baby Arugula
- 4 Thyme Leaves
- 1 Garlic Clove
- 1/2 cup of Olive Oil
- 1 grilled Eggplant
- 1 tablespoon of Sour Cream
- 1/2 Lemon
- Cream of Eggplant: Burn the eggplant on an open flame. Cut in half and scrape out the inside. Throw away the peel. Mix the eggplant with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to taste. Mix in a blender with 1 tablespoon of sour cream until it becomes a smooth cream.
- Tomato Coulis: Slice an X into the top of the tomatoes. Boil in water for 1 minute. Remove the skin, cut into quarters, and take out the seeds. Put on a tray and sprinkle 2 tablespoons olive oil, pepper and salt to taste. Bake for 2 hours in the oven at 200 degrees.
- Fish: Season fish with salt, pepper, and 2 thyme leaves. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil on a sauté pan. Place the fish on the pan and sear on both sides until brown. Take the fish off the pan and put on a baking sheet. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and cook fish for 4 minutes.
- Vegetables: Fry spinach in a sauté pan with 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Season the spinach with salt and pepper. Let sit until it reaches room temperature. Sauté cooked chickpeas, fava beans, 1 garlic clove, salt, pepper, and 2 thyme leaves in a pan with 1 tablespoon olive oil on a low flame for a few minutes. Add tomato coulis and 1 tablespoon water and cook for another few minutes.
To Serve: Place the cooked chickpeas and fava beans in the center of the plate. Place the fish on top, then place the fresh arugula leaves seasoned with salt and pepper on top of the fish. Pour the cream of eggplant on the side.
Contact R and B International Travel today to start planning your Israel journey.
There is a reason France is the most visited country in the world. See for yourself why… you won’t be disappointed.
Paris. A picture may be worth a thousand words, but a visit to Paris will leave you speechless. The city of lights and love, she is also the capital of the country largely considered to be the philosophical cradle of the Enlightenment. Paris is not only to be savored in the springtime, but summer, fall and winter as well. A quick ride in a Parisian cab or on the Métro will bring you to the Louvre, Notre Dame, Montmartre, Sacré Cœur, the Seine River’s famous left bank, the Hôtel des Invalides where Napoleon is entombed, the Galleries Lafayette or Printemps (or other famous Parisian shops) … the list goes on and on.
The dining: cafés, brasseries, and restaurants offer everything from basic fare to exquisite gastronomy – in the fancier restaurants, it would seem the chef moonlights as a poet, adding to the charm of the experience.
Normandy. Famous for its cider, Calvados brandy, and cheese, to most North Americans, it is better known for the pivotal moment in history that saw the Allied forces break through Hitler’s Atlantic Wall to open the Western Front in WWII. My first visit to Normandy started at the American Cemetery at Omaha Beach. I remember watching the early morning fog rise revealing perfectly arranged Carrara marble headstones shone like white beacons over the beaches the men they commemorate had helped liberate. I later learned why those grave markers are so white: one of the cemetery’s French custodians takes the time to paint all 9,387 of them each year. The whole area around the landing beaches is a living memorial to those valiant soldiers.
The Loire Valley. Cradle of the French monarchy for centuries, this part of France is where the magnificent chateaux of France can be visited. Chenonceau, once seized by King Henry II, was given to his mistress, Diane de Poitiers. After his death, Henry’s wife, Catherine de Medici, had Diane expelled and maneuvered a way to finally call Chenonceau her own. Astonished visitors marvel at the gardens, and this summer party house of royals and nobles, built over the river Cher. Not to be outdone, the chateau in Amboise is also a sight to see, with its secret underground passage. Built by Francis I, the passage connects Amboise to the Clos Lucé, the last home of Leonardo Da Vinci, who had been invited by the king to France and notably brought with him a painting of a certain smiling lady that now resides in the Louvre.
Provence. The inspiration of artists like Cézanne and Picasso. Many artists and actors have frequented Provence, renowned for the way its striking sunlight bathes its perched villages in a warm glow, the fragrant fields of lavender that blush a purple radiance in mid-summer, the olive groves and their related oil and tapenade, and the easy-going nature of its residents, many of whom gather to play long, relaxing games of pétanque under the shade of plane trees. The Mistral wind blows here, necessitating that many of its church towers be built with open wrought-iron campanile, as well as the planting of cypress hedgerows to protect crops and vineyards.
The French Riviera. This breathtaking area opens up France’s Côte d’Azur, where the rich and famous have been coming since the late 19th century for its Mediterranean climate, movie and music festivals, and Europe’s oldest principality in Monaco. Stone dolmens recall this area’s Paleolithic history, and its flower fields are the raison d’être for famous perfumeries like Fragonard in Grasse. Rénoir, Matisse, Chagall, Van Gogh, and Picasso all lived here, along with royalty from around Europe, and who can forget the fairytale marriage of Grace Kelly to Prince Rainer III.
Contact R and B International Travel and discover France Uncovered.
Gregory Hall, one of our seasoned Tour Managers, a citizen of France, who speaks fluent English, French and German, grew up in West Berlin, Germany, and now lives in Michigan. He spends much of his time guiding tours through Europe – and wants to take you on a virtual tour of some of his favorite parts of France!