River cruises make for memorable trip
Julie and John Sheehan own and operate The Call Centre Limited in Lower Hutt. They’ve just returned from two months in Europe with Julie’s brother Pat Smith, which included two backto-back cruises with Avalon Waterways, from Arles in the south of France to Chalon-surSaone on the Rhone River south of Paris, then on the Rhine from Basel in Switzerland to Amsterdam.
WHAT INSPIRED THIS LATEST TRIP?
We’ve always wanted to visit France, and now our son is helping to run the business we saw it as an opportunity to take a longer break. The river cruises are a fantastic way to relax and yet see places you might never see - and the ability to unpack your clothes and forget about living out of a suitcase is a major plus. Our stateroom (bedroom) had huge sliding doors allowing us to be in our own room but watch the world go by if we wanted to – which we often did! The upkeep of the boats is meticulous and they have three accommodation decks with a huge upper deck with lounge chairs and a Jacuzzi. The boats carry bicycles that you can take to explore the towns and villages – it was not only good exercise but also allowed us to see parts of the countryside we would have missed otherwise.
WHATWAS THE HIGHLIGHT?
There were so many memorable places it’s hard to pick, but we did a stunning train ride on the Bernina Express, from Tirano in Italy to St Moritz, then a tour to the lavender fields of Provence – which bloom from June to August and are a must-see. We also did a Vespa tour in Florence into the vineyard countryside, then a private boat tour from Sorrento down the Amalfi coast.
WHAT SURPRISED YOU MOST ABOUT YOUR TRIP?
How quickly two months went by! It was the first time we travelled with Julie’s brother, but we all got on really well.
WHOWAS THE MOST INTERESTING PERSON YOU MET ALONG THEWAY?
On the river cruises we met an Austrian man who was 75 (but looked late 60s and was fit as a buck rat). He’d been ‘retired’ for 30 years, it was his 20th cruise and there wasn’t a part of the world he hasn’t seen. He left Austria in his early 20s, made and lost money in South Africa and now lives in Brisbane but spends four or five months a year travelling. He was a real character and we made a good friend.
HOW HAS TRAVEL CHANGED YOU?
It introduces you to other cultures and forces you to engage with other people in their languages. This can be challenging, but also rewarding. Also learning about the history of places going back hundreds, if not thousands of years, is fascinating. It also makes you realise how good we have it in NZ in so many ways.
Looking for inspiration? Join House of Travel Lower Hutt’s UK& Europe Travel Expo at the Dowse at 5.30pm on October 17. To secure your spot phone (04) 569-0950.
Julie and John Sheenhan with Julie’s brother Pat Smith enjoyed back to back cruises in Europe.