Culinary Delights - Cuisine, Wine, Whisky, Gin & Ale Trails
From Michelin rated restaurants to sidewalk cafés to local delis and village farmers markets to trendy food truck gourmets, UK/Europe is certain to delight your taste buds. Gone is the 'boiled meat and veg' reputation of 'Olde Britain' for sure! Sweet or savoury, meat, vegetarian or vegan, the food and drink opportunities in destinations across the UK and Europe has never been so diverse. For sure here is the fore front of the "grow local/raise local - dine local" trend. In fact, that has always been the norm here, the rest of the world is just catching up!
There is a variety of food/drink related activities to enjoy, many opportunties for specialty cooking classes, to go truffle hunting, visit a dairy farm to make your own cheese, explore champagne caves, meet local boar/sheep/ducks/cattle, dig for oysters or cockels, enjoy sheep dog wrangling, and, subject to availability, you could even help harvest the grapes of the next finest Bordeaux.
Scotland is the traditional land of whisky but the fine tipple can also be found across Ireland and in Wales as well. Why not do a Three Nations Whisky trip to compare/contrast? No shortage of opportunity!
Similarly France is well known as the destination for wine lovers but you can also visit top rated wineries in Wales and Kent, England. There is no better place than Belgium for beer/ale, a world reknowned destination, but good local breweries are also possible in the English Lake District, North Wales, Kent, Devon and Cornwall. Another theme spoilt for choice! Gin is a hot topic and distilleries are becoming plentiful across all nations. And how about absinthe? SGT can help you sample The Green Fairy in several amazing and diverse neighborhoods of Paris if you choose.
With so much to choose from, the dilemma lies in deciding where/what to sample first!
Contact us for even more itinerary suggestions!
Paris to Bordeaux: Culinary Delights, Jazz & Josephine Baker
This magical tour offers a variety of sightseeing – magnificent historical cities often dominated by powerful hilltop fortresses, miles of vineyards, mountainous scenery, art from prehistory, colorfully fragrant gardens, an amazing array of architectural styles, ancient ports, distinct cultures and naturally – this is France, after all – some wonderful food and fine wines. Our route will take us via two famed grape growing areas to experience excellent gastronomic delights. Along the way we can fill our ears with the sounds of jazz music and delve into the larger than life personality of Josephine Baker, one of France’s First Ladies, as we loosely follow her trail from Paris to the Dordogne and beyond.
Belgium-Holland: Spring Blooms, Mediaeval Splendour
The ‘Low Countries’ are home to dozens of Europe’s finest gardens, medieval villages and world famous gourmet cuisine, chocolates and beers. Sample a selection of the area’s best gardens. There’s the stunning spectacular that is Keukenhof and Holland’s famed bulb fields, April is indeed Tulip Time!
As an added treat, enjoy the Spring Show in Groot–Bijgaarden, Belgium’s rival to Keukenhof. Also explore the National Botanical Gardens of Belgium, Kalmthout Arboretum plus stunning Mediaeval towns/cities Leuven, Antwerp, Gent/Ghent, Brugge/Bruges, Delft and the option to go into Amsterdam.
Experience the distinct local cultures of each country, sample the fine local cuisine, dishes that can be found nowhere else – there are specialty treats, different types of Belgian waffles and the best chocolates in the world. This is a lovely week in an area all too often overlooked!
Devon & Cornwall – West Country Writers, the ‘Mystery Writers Trail’
This tour is not just for the literary minded, as this is a region with much to offer visitors!
The English counties of Devon, Dorset, Cornwall and Somerset, collectively known as ‘The West Country,’ offer a rich tapestry of literary heritage. Here are the brooding settings for the mystery stories of 'Sherlock Holmes' and 'Miss Marple,' the sea side intrigue of Rebecca, mystical King Arthur legends and the still charming landscapes of a time gone by.
If you’ve enjoyed the stories of Jane Austen, Daphne du Maurier, Agatha Christie, Thomas Hardy and Arthur Conan Doyle then this is the tour for you, taking you through the inspirational landscapes for their novels.
For lovers of countryside there are rolling downs, rugged seascapes, atmospheric moorlands and the lush, green country that is so representative of England. Gourmets will die for the cream teas, real Cornish pasties, freshly caught seafood and farmhouse cooking. You’ll never forget the narrow country lanes where the hedgerows grow higher than the cars, the villages where it’s difficult for bicycles to pass let alone other motorized vehicles, the thatched cottage hamlets and small fishing harbors accessible only on foot. This is a true feast for all of the senses!
Highlights of Wales: The Classic Route
Wales – The hills are alive! With singing and the second oldest language spoken in Europe. On this Welsh adventure, sample the fantastic scenery of three National Parks. Enjoy a heritage coastline, a steam train ride through the mountains, cosmopolitan Cardiff and glimpse the past in a fantastic folk park and down a coal mine, remainders of the industrial heritage. Marvel at prehistoric tombs, meander the seaside, castle walled cities, and beautiful gardens. All in all, this tour is a sampler of the best of what this wonderful country has to offer visitors, something to please all tastes.
Highlights of Scotland: Scottish Literary Trail...coincides with Edinburgh Festivals
Scotland is a land rich in its distinctive national literature. This tour is a sampling of the best of what this wonderful country has to offer, from the stunning Highlands to Dumfries & Galloway to the Scottish Borders, visiting iconic places plus oft overlooked gems off the beaten track, using the ample literary heritage as a 'road map.'
There are innumerable places to visit associated with great authors and their works - writers’ homes, birthplaces, graves, locations vividly described in novels and poems. These stunning landscapes, inspiration for such great works of literature, are here waiting for you to discover for yourself!
Kent & Sussex Literary Landscapes: Dickens, 'Bloomsbury Group,' 'James Bond' & Jane Austen
The county of Kent is known as ‘The Garden of England’ and we will see a variety of properties connected to some well known British writers including Virginia Woolf, Arthur Conan Doyle, Charles Dickens, James Bond's Ian Fleming and some film locations for recent Jane Austen films. See a place or two with a real life connection to our Ms Austen too!
In addition to gardens and the marvelously scenic countryside, dotted with oast houses and sometimes lavender fields, this region offers opulent stately homes, historic castles and a rich history dating from the time England began. This tour is designed to hopefully be a fun twist on the usual stately homes and country gardens tour, to satisfy the literary minded and general interest alike!
All this, plus if you choose a June departure date, the opportunity to meet the locals at the annual Broadstairs Dickens Festival. Note that the Dickens Festival is held annually 3rd week of June, subject to schedules and availability.
Focus on Brittany, Celtic Magic of France
For many centuries Brittany was a proudly independent realm, with closer connections to Britain than France, Brittany was “petite Bretagne,” as opposed to “Grande Bretagne” across the Channel. The pan-Celtic traditions are still going strong; the Breton language remains proudly spoken, while cultural festivals celebrate Celtic music and dance. The local history stretches back even further than the Celts, as evidenced by the ancient standing stones and mysterious burial mounds of places like Carnac. Here too are striking walled medieval citadelles that once guarded its borders with France. The further west traveled, the more palpable this unique culture becomes – experience wild terrain, where vestiges of ancient forests survive around quaint villages. Here is an ancient corner with much to discover!
Gardens of Paris and Loire Valley…including Versailles & Giverny
The landscape of Paris is instantly recognizable, historic and iconic sites abound, old and modern sitting side by side throughout the city. On this short tour, sample some of the best of the green spaces that delight the locals. Experience a unique introduction to Paris, its landscapes, its daily life, its artistic heritage.
Nearby the city centre are amazing countryside settings, Versailles Palace and the haunts of artists, Monet’s Giverny and Van Gogh’s Auvers-sur-Oise. Also, there are the grand houses and châteaux of the Loire Valley, covering many different styles and designs, sitting in magnificent gardens and boasting everything from water features to lavish landscapes. Come and enjoy some of the best gardens surrounding the capital!
Tuscan Wine and Food
A Good Year, Italian Wine by Bike
Roman Spring of Tennessee Williams
Some people remain in the places that they were born, others meander until they find the place that fits their skin. These places choose the person as much as the person chooses the place. Such is the case with Tennesee Williams and several locations, New Orleans in particular in one of these places. The ancient city of Rome is another.
Tennessee Williams would immediately call Rome “the capitol of my heart” when he first visited on holiday in 1948 after he found success on Broadway. This tour will loosely follow his path, taking in all of the ancient and iconic sites but also places of a personal interest of our author.
" “As soon as I crossed the Italian border my health and life seemed to be magically restored,” he wrote in his memoirs. Williams spent much of the next decade in Rome, which became the backdrop and inspiration for one of his most personally and creatively fruitful periods — as well as the setting for his 1950 novella, “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone.” Despite recurring bouts of writer’s block, when the sensitive, melancholic playwright found himself “battering my head against a wall of creative impotence,” he wrote many of his greatest works here, in whole or in part, including “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “The Rose Tattoo” and “Baby Doll” during numerous extended visits to the city. To search for Williams in today’s Rome is to explore the vestiges of that heady, messy period after the fall of Mussolini but before the so-called Italian economic miracle of the 1950s and 1960s. When he arrived in 1948, the newly open city was the epicenter of a just-dawning golden age of Italian neorealist cinema. The dollar was strong, prices were low, and, as Williams put it, “an Americano could get away with a whole lot.” "-- from The Roman Season of Tennessee Williams By Charly Wilder