A Chinese billionaire has just purchased the most glamorous Burgundy wine estate, Gevrey-Chambertin, which was owned by the same French family for more than 150 years, at an astronomical price. Why not? The problem, though, may be that there are more Chinese billionaires eager to buy vineyards in France than there are glamorous wine estates in the hills of Burgundy and on the banks of the Garonne. Some fear that, in the future, top French wines will exhibit a too-strong Mandarin accent.
What’s the right cruise for you or me? Let’s start with the size of the ship: Big? Not so big? Small? Big is beautiful, some say. But small can be also, I think. I have tried it all, including a 25-foot schooner, and they all have their charms. How much you will enjoy your voyage depends on many factors: age, temperament, dependence on comforts, openness to adventure, aptitude to control sea-sickness, etc.
The Riviera, the latest heir to the family of the Oceania Cruises fleet, lazily fondles the banks of the Lido. It is a chubby newborn, weighing in at 66,084 tons, that can host 1,250 guests in lavish luxury. From the upper deck, one can glance a mirage becoming real: the 117 islets, the 177 canals and the 400 bridges of Venice, the home of Marco Polo. The rising sun ignites the roofs of the palaces and brushes with a touch of silver the dark green lap of the canals. As we get closer, so appears the marvel, the crown of “La Serenissima” (The Serene, as the Republic of Venice was dubbed) — the Piazza San Marco and its two gems, the San Marco Cathedral and the Doge’s Palace. From this height upon the 15th deck, the panoramic view is sublime, unforgettable. The boat, almost still, lingers, leaving our eyes and minds the time to record the beauty of Venice. Then it turns cautiously to the left into the Canale della Giudecca to the terminal. Of the many pleasures on board the Riviera, this extraordinary moment alone could serve as the raison d’être of the voyage.
With this month’s maiden voyage of the Riviera, boutique cruise line Oceania Cruises increased its fleet to four luxury ships. Sailing from Venice to Athens, the ten-day “Pearls of the Aegean” introduced a new contender in the upscale cruise market. Following a gala christening ceremony in Barcelona, the 1,250-guest Riviera debuted just sixteen months after the launch of her sister ship, Marina. The new ship even has its own godmother — Cat Cora, the American chef, restaurateur and co-host of Bravo’s “Around the World in 80 Plates.” This pairing is apt, since the Riviera has been specially designed for epicureans and features ten dining venues, including a French bistro from Jacques Pépin. Continue reading “Oceania Cruises Launches the Riviera – Travel News” »
Due to our human condition, eating is an undisputable necessity, a possible pleasure, a subject of sciences (plural), and a topic of reflection. Rising above our basic mammalian status, the Escoffiers and the like succeeded in making eating a pleasure. However, not much has changed since the Stone Age when we knocked out aurochs with bludgeons, dug for roots with a flint, collected grains in the tundra and picked wild apples. As you may recall, the latter eventually generated a serious issue when Adam and Eve were ordered to promptly evacuate Paradise for this misconduct.