Mile­stones to make mod­ern his­tory

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - BEST FOR 2019 EUROPE - KERRY PAR­NELL

Big things are on the hori­zon for Eu­rope in 2019. The con­ti­nent is en­ter­ing new ter­ri­tory – and sure to make a splash with un­der­wa­ter restau­rants, ho­tels made from caves and lux­ury train lines off the beaten track. It’s also a year of her­itage cel­e­bra­tions, from the 75th an­niver­sary of D-Day in north­ern France, to the 500th an­niver­sary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death in Italy.

Cruise and tour op­er­a­tors prom­ise more in­ti­mate jour­neys with smaller ports and un­for­get­table ex­pe­ri­ences.


It was once one of Italy’s most im­pov­er­ished ci­ties, fa­mous for its cave dwellers of the Sassi, grot­toes carved out of lime­stone. But now Mat­era is the Euro­pean Cap­i­tal of Cul­ture for 2019, its caves ren­o­vated and rented on Airbnb. The open­ing cer­e­mony on Jan­uary 19 will see 2000 mu­si­cians per­form in the city, cul­mi­nat­ing in a can­dlelit per­for­mance at the Sassi.

For those in­spired to visit the World Her­itage city, He­do­nis­tic Hik­ing’s South­ern eight-night Italy trip ($4844) in­cludes an overnight in one of the cave ho­tels as part of its gourmet walk­ing tour around the re­gion.

Join­ing in the cel­e­bra­tions is Mat­era’s twin city, Plov­div in Bul­garia, which has its own open­ing cer­e­mony on Jan­uary 12 with mu­sic and dance per­for­mances through­out the week­end. MAT­ERA-BASILICATA2019.IT, HEDONISTICHIKING.COM/ITAL­IAN-TOURS, PLOVDIV2019.EU


Mind­ful re­treats are big busi­ness, with op­tions open­ing all over Eu­rope. One of the most an­tic­i­pated launches is the Longevity Health and Well­ness Ho­tel Alvor in Por­tu­gal. This 70-room lux­ury ho­tel open­ing in June will have a two-storey spa, with 25 treat­ment rooms.

The brand-new Eu­pho­ria Re­treat in Mys­tras, Greece, is a 43-room lux­ury well­ness re­sort just opened to great ac­claim, for those look­ing to get fit while they take a break.

In Spain, Shanti Som of­fers a new Mind­ful Triathlon pro­gram which aims to work out your health and well­be­ing. The Balinese-style re­sort is in An­dalu­sia’s Sierra de las Nieves.

And Soul & Surf will open its first per­ma­nent Euro­pean base in Por­tu­gal in April. The surf and yoga spe­cial­ists will be based in an Ibe­rian farm­house on the Al­garve. The week­long re­treats of­fer surf tu­ition, yoga and med­i­ta­tion. LONGEVITYWELLNESSWORLDWIDE.COM; EU­PHO­RIA RE­TREAT, FROM $3075 A WEEK FULLBOARD, HEALINGHOLIDAYS.CO.UK; SHANTI SOM MIND­FUL TRIATHLON $3260, 7-NIGHT HALF BOARD, HEALTHANDFITNESSTRAVEL.COM.AU; SOUL & SURF WEEK LONG RE­TREAT FROM $1278, SOULANDSURF.COM


The much-hyped Un­der, the world’s largest un­der­wa­ter restau­rant, opens in March off the coast of Lin­desnes, Nor­way. The restau­rant has been de­signed to look like a rock half sub­merged in the sea. Guests de­scend to an un­der­wa­ter din­ing room with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows for a menu of lo­cal seafood, seabirds and wild lamb.

Mag­netic North Travel Ex­plore Kris­tiansand’s trip is a 10-day, fly­drive itin­er­ary priced from $2192 in­clud­ing a tast­ing menu din­ner at Un­der and stays in Oslo, Kris­tiansand and Sta­vanger. UN­DER.NO, MAGNETICNORTHTRAVEL.COM


It’s all about smaller ports and in­ti­mate travel ex­pe­ri­ences in Euro­pean cruis­ing next year. Sil­versea is adding ex­tra ports to al­low guests to see the real Eu­rope, such as St Florent and Ile Rousse in Cor­sica, Porto Santo Ste­fano, Italy, and Mi­los in Greece. The 14-day cruise on

de­part­ing Au­gust 30 calls at Monte Carlo, Portofino, La Spezia, Ol­bia, Calvi, Saint Tropez, Mar­seilles, Barcelona and Naples.

Cu­nard launches its first North­ern Lights voy­age on Oc­to­ber 8 on the newly re­fit­ted De­part­ing Southamp­ton, the 12-night cruise calls at Ale­sund, Tromso, Narvik and Sta­vanger in Nor­way.

And Princess has a new 11-night Scan­di­navia and Rus­sia cruise on­board de­part­ing April 29 which in­cludes Copen­hagen, Stock­holm, Helsinki, St Peters­burg, Tallinn, Ber­lin and Oslo.

Riviera Travel is fo­cus­ing on sin­gle cruise-go­ers next year, tripling its sin­gle cruise spe­cials on its five-star ships. Cruises in­clude an eight-day round-trip cruise from Porto along the Douro River in Por­tu­gal on March 31.

APT mean­while is of­fer­ing cu­rated ex­pe­ri­ences, such as its 11-day Grand Bordeaux with Luke Nguyen tour, which goes from Paris to Bordeaux and in­cludes a cook­ing class in Paris. It de­parts Au­gust 26. SIL­VERSEA MONTE CARLO CRUISE FROM $8398, SIL­VERSEA.COM; CU­NARD’S NORTH­ERN LIGHTS VOY­AGE FROM $3524, CUNARDLINE.COM.AU; PRINCESS SCAN­DI­NAVIA AND RUS­SIA CRUISE, FROM $2566, PRINCESS.COM; RIVIERA DOURO RIVER CRUISE FROM $3549, RIVIERATRAVEL.COM.AU; APT’S GRAND BORDEAUX WITH LUKE NGUYEN, FROM $8995, APTOURING.COM


The lux­ury train mar­ket is also go­ing off the beaten track, with Golden Ea­gle Lux­ury Trains launch­ing the Cas­tles of Tran­syl­va­nia trip on the

Start­ing in Is­tan­bul, stay­ing at Pera Palace Ho­tel – where Agatha Christie wrote – the four-night trip priced from $8300 in­cludes Ve­liko Tarnovo in Bul­garia and a gala din­ner in the 14th-cen­tury Bran Cas­tle that owes its fame to

be­fore end­ing in Hun­gary. De­parts June 27. GOLDENEAGLELUXURYTRAINS.COM


Next year marks the 75th an­niver­sary of the D-Day land­ings and, on June 5, Daks Over Nor­mandy will see 250 men and women board an air­craft in the UK and para­chute into the drop zones of Nor­mandy, wear­ing World War II-style Al­lied uni­forms.

Events cen­tre around IWM Dux­ford in the UK and Caen Carpi­quet Air­port in France.

Col­lette has a nine-day Memo­ri­als

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