Czech Out Prague with Santa Barbara Travel

Vacation in Central Europe – Part 1

5 Countries, One Ship – Czech Republic, Germany, Austria, Slovakia & Hungary

Voiced by Santa Barbara Travel’s Marketing Manager, Cynthia:

Considering a visit to Central Europe?  Why not a river cruise where one can see some of our world’s most historic sites.  Buildings dating back to the early middle ages and towns that speak a thousand stories.  My husband and I decided to take a 7-night AMAWaterways river cruise down the Danube from Vilshofen, Germany to Budapest, Hungary.

Prior to the cruise, we decided to tour Prague in the Czech Republic on our own.  We stayed at the Augustine Hotel, a Luxury Collection hotel that was originally built as a monastery in 1284 AD.  The eclectic hotel decorated with hints of Czech Cubism is ideally located in the quiet Malá Strana neighborhood, just below the magnificent Prague Castle and less than a 10 minute walk to the famous Charles Bridge.  Most of the monastery was converted to a luxurious hotel, however 4 monks still keep residence on the property.  Our room was located at the front of the hotel.  If you keep the windows open you can hear the electric street car; however the windows are triple-pane glass and when closed, you can enjoy a good night’s sleep. (Some rooms have a view of Prague Castle or the inside courtyard/sundial garden). The king-sized bed was very comfortable and the bathroom was enormous and luxurious. The marble bathroom had heated floors and heated towel racks (we had three), plus a large soaking tub . . . a perfect solution for a day’s end of cobblestone walking. The hotel sales manager, Pavla gave us the grand tour of the hotel, including other rooms and suites, the downstairs multi-function room (once the monk’s private brewery) is used for private events and receptions, and the hotel’s hip “Refectory” bar offers the delicious St. Thomas Beer (this beer can only be purchased at the Augustine and is a must for beer lovers).  Next door,  just on the other side of the bar’s wall is the beautiful and ornate St. Thomas Church, part of the Augustinian monastery.  The ceiling frescoes are beautiful!

Augustine Hotel at night

St Augustine Hotel at Night



st thomas




st thomas 2

The Church next door – St. Thomas Church


st thomas beer

St. Thomas Beer

The restaurant is managed by Czech celebrity chef,  Executive Chef Marek Fichtner.  The daily breakfast buffet was amazingly delicious with the freshest of ingredients.  We also enjoyed a relaxing lunch on the outdoor patio overlooking their small garden of herbs.  Check out my mango salad.

mango salad


Augustine Hotel, Prague, Czech Republic, breakfast


Charles Bridge – Spend the day and evening on the historic Charles Bridge, crossing the Vltava river, commissioned by King of Bohemia and Holy Roman Emperor Charles IV, to connect Prague Castle to the city’s Old Town.   Enjoy spectacular views of the fully lit Prague Castle in the evening and the Baroque statues that line the pedestrian walkway during the day. The bridge towers on each end of the bridge also offer great views of the river and city.

Here are some of our highlights:

Prague Castle –

  • Take either a guided tour or self-guided with audio or map.  Tickets can be purchased right at the castle if not during peak tourist season; otherwise book with the hotel concierge.  Be sure to visit St Vitus’s Cathedral and see the impressive tomb of St John Nepomuk made of 2 tons of silver; the architecture of the Old Royal Palace; and “Golden Lane” a narrow street of archer homes who defended the castle.  If weather permits, take the trail through the vineyards down to the main street – a 15 minute stroll downhill, unless you decide to stop at the different wine stops.  And if you decide to walk, visit the marvelous Wallenstein Garden at the bottom of the hill – A baroque style palace that is now the House of the Senate with a brilliantly landscaped garden that includes an artificial grotto with stalactites.
Prague Castle

Prague Castle


Old Town – Every morning at 10am (double-check with the Tourist Office in the square) – free tours are given in the Town Square

  • Old Town Square – Jan Hus Memorial
  • Astronomical Clock/ Old Town Hall
  • National Gallery
  • Municipal House is a famous Art Nouveau building and home to one of Prague’s finest concert halls.  We attended a concert performing Mozart and Vivaldi, plus opera in the grand Smetana Hall.  You will pay quite a bit less than you would for a similar concert in Vienna. Perhaps when you visit Prague, you may hear the music of one of  Bohemia’s most famous composers, Antonin Dvorak, who was born very close to Prague.


old town prague clock old town prague

old twon prague 2

old town prague 4

Municipal House - Art Noveau, Smetana concert hall

Municipal House – Art Noveau, Prague, Czech Republic, Dvorak, Mozart, Vivaldi

 Old Town Prague


New Town – Wenceslas Square for shopping.

  • National Theatre- Famous Opera House

Visit Café Louvre for coffee and pastries (also opened for breakfast, lunch and dinner). Built over 100 years ago, this café has been a gathering place for the town’s luminaries, such as Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein, and Czech/German intellectuals.

And of course try a Trdelník, a snack sold throughout the Czech Republic and Hungary – pastry dough wrapped around a metal rod is dusted with sugar, spice and nuts, and then grilled over an open-flame.  Some shops sell them filled with ice-cream or Nutella.

AmaWaterways River Cruise and Budapest experience coming shortly – Part 2 and Part 3.

Click here for Augustine Hotel special amenities and AmaWaterways specials.


For more information, please contact Erin Zetter or Tina Slimp:

Erin Zetter, Leisure Travel Advisor


Phone: (805) 869-1140

Erin Zetter, Santa Barbara Travel

Erin Zetter, Santa Barbara Travel




Tina Slimp, Leisure Travel Advisor


Phone: (805) 869-1112

Tina Slimp Santa Barbara Travel

Tina Slimp, Santa Barbara Travel

Particularly Passionate? You Will Love these Themed Cruises

Themed cruises are one of the best secrets, and those in the know—know. Receive incredible bonuses—like performances by Accademia Teatro alla Scalla opera singers, golf lessons from PGA pros, or culinary experiences that will surely impress. The possibilities are endless, so here are our favorites of the week. To find the best cruise for your interests, contact your advisor at Santa Barbara Travel Bureau.

Silversea Cruises and Accademia Teatro alla Scala

Photo provided by Silversea Cruises

Theme: Opera & Ballet
Company: Silversea Cruises
Silversea Cruises and the highly acclaimed Accademia Teatro alla Scala have partnered to create the most outstanding and unforgettable Opera cruise—with only 3 voyages in 2017. A lucky few will see exclusive opera performances by talented soloists from the most famous opera house in the world, meet them over cocktails, and enjoy lectures on the music any lyrics of the recital program. To those who are passionate about ballet, Silversea offers two exclusive onboard performances by soloists from L’Opéra de Paris and the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia with an unprecedented opportunity to meet these acclaimed dancers during your voyage.

Featured Opera Voyage

  • Select Sailing: September 21, 2017  |  7 Days  |  Silver Spirit Voyage 5727B
  • Featured: Four soloists from the Accademia Teatro alla Scala will perform the enigmatic, evocative and beautiful librettos from the world’s most magical operas on two occasions, with the opportunity to meet the stars aboard.

Featured Ballet Voyage

  • Select Sailings: September 03, 2017  |  7 Days  |  Silver Spirit Voyage 5725
  • Featured: Two acclaimed Ballet Stars from the famed State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia.
AmaWaterways Bordeaux Wine Cruise

AmaWaterways Taste of Bordeaux Sauternes Vines

Theme: Taste of Bordeaux
Company: AmaWaterways
AmaWaterways new “Taste of Bordeaux” is our choice for wine aficionados, and is an incredible boutique river cruise company. Sail in and out of Bordeaux along the Garonne River in France. Enjoy tastings of some of the region’s most distinguished wines, and visit notable UNESCO World Heritage sites. Shore excursions and wine tastings are included, of course, and you don’t have to pack your bags as you visit many of Frances best port towns.

Taste of Bordeaux Details

  • Select Sailings: Multiple Departures  |  7 Days  |  AmaDolce
Crystal Serenity Themed Cruises

Crystal Serenity at Geiranger Fjord – Norway

Theme: Passion Pursuer
Company: Crystal Cruises
Crystal Cruises offers the ultimate selection of themed cruises from golf with the pros to big band and ballroom dancing, to wine & food festivals with VIP guest Nobu Matsuhisa. The best part? You don’t pay any extra to get all this talent on board.

Featured Golf Voyage

  • Select Sailings: October 03, 2017  |  10 Days  |  Crystal Serenity  |  Canada/New England
  • Featured: Qualified instructors and PGA pros work with you, plus golf celebrities discuss the PGA Tour. Optional Crystal Adventures take you to world-famous courses.

The beauty of travel is the many ways, shapes, and forms that your greatest passions can be perfectly met. When we meet this need, we are able to feel at home in a completely foreign experience. Contact your Santa Barbara Travel advisor, or call our experienced advisors below. 

Tina Slimp

Tina Slimp

Phone: 805.869.1112
Santa Barbara Office

Kathy Reimer

Kathy Reimer

Phone: 805.869.1151
Ventura Office

Meet the Silversea Expedition Fleet

For adventurous travelers who wish to visit remote parts of the world, Silversea Expeditions will take you there, and show them to you intimately. Each of their four Expedition Ships is specifically designed for adventurous terrain.

Silver Cloud

The Silver Cloud is joining the Expedition fleet! After an extensive refurbishment, Silver Cloud will be the most spacious and comfortable ice class vessel in expedition cruising. Her large suites, her destination itineraries and her unparalleled service make her truly special. Explore far-flung regions of the world, while eating lavishly on board in her five dining options. Watch whales breach from the veranda of your suite. Broad sweeping decks with multiple open spaces and a swimming pool complete what is surely the most distinctive expedition ship sailing today. A limited number of guests, particularly with just 200 in polar waters, mean that Silver Cloud has the highest ratios of space to guest; and crew to guest in expedition cruising.


Silver Discoverer

Explore the remote islands of the vast Pacific aboard the 120-guest Silver Discoverer. Her shallow drift allows her to get closer to shore than the other vessels, and offers many vantage points to view the untamed landscapes of the Pacific Ocean. The fleet of 12 Zodiacs can deliver guests to secluded shores and wetlands to explore submerged ecosystems.

See wild life and wild places   on your Silversea Expedition Voyage

See wild life and wild places on your SilverSea Expedition Voyage

Silver Galapagos

A Galápagos expedition cruise, enjoyed aboard Silver Galapagos, brings you to one of the most isolated places in the world to encounter an abundant variety of wildlife species that is incredibly unique and found nowhere else on earth.The Galápagos archipelago is inaccessible to most, yet this isolation has allowed nature to develop in ways exclusive to the islands. Experience it all with complimentary exploration activities including Zodiac tours, snorkeling, kayaking and nature hikes led by highly experienced  guides certified by the National Park of the Galápagos.

Explore the Galapagos aboard Silver Galapagos

Explore the Galapagos aboard Silver Galapagos

Silver Explorer

Explore some of the world’s most remote destinations, including both of earth’s polar regions aboard Silver Explorer expedition cruise ship, specially designed for this purpose.  A strengthened hull with a Lloyd’s Register ice-class notation (1A) for passenger vessels enables the Silver Explorer Expedition cruise ship to safely push through ice floes with ease. A fleet of Zodiac boats allows Silversea Expedition guests to visit even the most off-the-beaten path locations and an expert Expedition Team provides insight and understanding to each unforgettable Silver Explorer luxury cruise adventure.

From the Pacific to Alaska, Silver Discoverer is perfectly designed for the experience

From the Pacific to Alaska, Silver Discoverer is perfectly designed for the experience

To learn more about Silversea, call your Santa Barbara Travel Advisor!

Kathy Reimer

Kathy Reimer

Travel Advisor, Ventura

Phone: 805.869.1151

The Rocky Mountaineer Celebrates Canada’s 150 Birthday

Rocky Mountaineer Panorama

Photo by Rocky Mountaineer, Noel Hendrickson


If your summer travel plans aren’t yet finalized, there is still time for a memory-making rail journey in the Canadian Rockies on board the unparalleled Rocky Mountaineer…

Rocky Mountaineer Train

Named “The Best Train Experience in the World” by National Geographic, the RockyMountaineer offers guests amazing scenery aboard the train by day, and a chance to refresh and get a good night’s sleep in some of the world’s most luxurious hotels. On board the train, guests will experience award-winning cuisine and a variety of snacks and beverages, all included! Their GoldLeaf service boasts 5-star dining and panoramic views from their bi-level glass-dome luxury coach. Additionally, tales, stories and educational engagement will be provided throughout your rail journey by one of the Rocky Mountaineer onboard hosts. Rocky Mountaineer has partnered with iconic and historic hotels along their routes and throughout the Canadian Rockies including Four Seasons Resort Whistler, The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, The Fairmont Banff Springs, The Rimrock Resort Hotel in Banff, and many others. Santa Barbara Travel can help arrange all your land accommodations if you decide to extend your stay before or after your rail experience.

Rocky Mountaineer Wildlife

Extraordinary wildlife exists in its natural habitat, and you get to see it!


There are many great reasons to consider traveling to Western Canada this year: a vacation close to home; Canada’s 150th year anniversary; plus the value of the US dollar to the Canadian dollar is very advantageous. So, while all meals and drinks are included on the train, your holiday spending off the train will be stretched much further.


The Rocky Mountaineer winds along Howe Sound


As a special added benefit, guests who book a 4-day journey or more by March 3, 2017 through Santa Barbara Travel Bureau will receive a complimentary dinner at their hotel.* Additionally, this special offer is combinable with the current Rocky Mountaineer promotion which offers up to a $450 added value per couple that may be applied toward activities, excursions or pre and post night stays.

Nancy Herrmann, Travel Agent for Santa Barbara Travel, poses on her journey with the Rocky Mountaineer

Nancy Herrmann, Travel Agent for Santa Barbara Travel, poses on her journey with the Rocky Mountaineer

To receive more information or a brochure from Rocky Mountaineer, please contact your Santa Barbara Travel advisor or Nancy Herrmann.

Nancy Herrmann

Nancy Herrmann

Travel Associate, Santa Barbara

Phone: 805.679.3326




Amanemu Resort, Kumano Kodo, Mie Prefecture, Honshu, Japan, Ago Bay

Amanemu surrounded by the forests of Ise Shima Natl Park

Aman Resorts are renowned for space and privacy, and embracing a sense of belonging at each one of their properties.  Each resort is designed to fit within the destination’s diverse and historical landscape.


Set in a national park, Amanemu is Aman’s first mineral hot spring destination.  The hillside property offers 24 suites and four 2-bedroom villas offering either garden views or picturesque views of Ago Bay (the Bay of Pearls).  The Aman Spa offers two ONSEN bathing pavilions fed by its own rich mineral spring.  Take a sea expedition and explore the many islets and pearl rafts, visit a pearl oyster farm, or walk the Kumano Kodo, a UNESCO-protected pilgrimage route of sacred sites that crisscross the Kii Peninsula and wind through verdant forests.

Amanemu villa, exterior shot

Amanemu Villa

Ago Bay view with pearl rafts

Amanemu Suite, Suite Onsen, Ago Bay -pearl rafts


Amankora Paro, Bhutan

Amankora Paro, Bhutan

Bhutan, located in Eastern Himalayas between the Tibetan Plateau and India, is one of the most remote and unaltered areas of the world.  The sole surviving Himalayan Buddhist Kingdom established the GROSS NATIONAL HAPPINESS INDEX vs the GNP (economic index) based on spiritual value and other Buddhist principles.  Visitors to Bhutan require a VISA and we highly recommend staying in the beautifully appointed Amankora properties.

Aman’s Amankora is a unique circuit of lodges set throughout Bhutan’s central and western valleys.  A suggested stay of at least 11 nights gives you enough time to visit all five valleys and properties.  Amankora Paro is closest to the international airport and features beautiful monasteries and monuments, including the famous Taktsang “Tiger’s Nest” – a magnificent monastery built on the face of a sheer 3,000 ft cliff.  Stay in one of the lodges’ twenty-four (24) suites with the traditional bukhari, a wood-burning stove, witness contrasts of rustic elements with contemporary design.  Amankora Thimphu, located in the upper Thimphu Valley within a blue pine forest, offers 16 suites and is close to the capital of Bhutan’s many attractions, shops, and local restaurants.  Amankora Punakha, originally built as a residence to oversee the surrounding rice paddies and fruit orchards, offers 8 suites located in three rammed-earth buildings, and is situated in one of the lowest-lying valleys in Bhutan. Visit Punakha Dzong (the old capital of Bhutan) which straddles the Mo (mother) and Po (father) rivers, and 21 temples including the monk’s hundred-pillared Great Assembly Hall and other monuments.  Amankora Gangtey’s 8 suite property is set against a knoll offering views across the picturesque Phobjikha Valley – one of Bhutan’s most important wildlife sanctuaries and home to the 300 black-necked cranes.   Amankora Bumthang is adjacent to the 1st and 2nd King of Bhutan’s palace within the town of Jakar in the Choeskhor Valley – known for its cottage industries which produce renowned Bumthang butter, cheeses, honey and fruit spirits. The 16 guest suites are spread among four separate structures, each suite offering the traditional bukhari and floor-to-ceiling windows overlooking the courtyard and views of the shared palace grounds.

Amankora Lodge photos: Punakha Lounge; Punakha Suite,  Gangtey Living Room

Amankora: Punakha Lounge; Punakha Suite, Gangtey Living Room

Amankora Bumthang Courtyard, Bhutan, Choekhor Valley

Amankora Bumthang Courtyard

Santa Barbara Travel will work with Amankora to create your personalized Bhutan experience with a private car and driver, trekking tours and other excursions, plus flights to/from and within Bhutan. Email Erin ( or contact one of our experienced travel advisors to learn more about Amanemu, Amankora and Aman Resorts’ 31 awe-inspiring worldwide resorts, hotels and residences.

Santa Barbara Travel Bureau

Santa Barbara: 805-966-3116

Montecito: 805-969-7746

Ventura: 805-650-6999

PART 3: Charles de L’Arbre in Paris

Paris Day 1—Disembarkation in Monte Carlo

Today our lovely sojourn on The Explorer comes to an end. Our bags were packed and left out the night before. Barbara and I went down to La Veranda for breakfast as the ship slowly warped into the magnificent harbor of Monte Carlo. Looking around, we could see to our left, the Pink Palace, the residence of the Grimaldi family, with the rest of the city in an arc around us.

View of Monte Carlo from Seven Seas Explorer

View of Monte Carlo from Seven Seas Explorer

Disembarkation was quick and efficient. We identified our luggage and went to our coach for the transfer to Nice Airport 35 minutes away. I had scheduled an early afternoon flight to Paris. However, we arrived early enough we were make a flight up to Paris which arrived before noon.  Arrival in Paris was easy—a quick walk to baggage claim, out into the arrival lobby and in to a taxi for the ride in to Paris.  An interesting note:  taxi fare into Paris from Charles de Gaulle Airport is now fixed at 50 Euros—a nice change since our last visit to Paris.  It was good for us, but not for our driver as a bad accident left us in his car for about 2 hours.

Our arrival at Le Bristol was almost ceremonial. Once we were at the Front Desk, we were greeted in short order by the Reservations Manager, the Sales Manager and other members of the hotel team with whom I have worked for years and who I regard as old friends. We were offered a light lunch in the hotel’s wonderful bar before being shown up to our room—actually a spacious junior suite overlooking one of Le Bristol’s courtyards.

The Garden at Le Bristol is perfect for breakfast

The Garden at Le Bristol is perfect for breakfast

Barbara went out to reconnoiter the nearby shops on the Faubourg St.Honore while I did a little work before going down to dinner at Le Bristol’s brasserie, 114 Faubourg. This is the hotel’s more casual restaurant—which still has been awarded a Michelin Star (the other is the three-starred Epicurean Restaurant). We were given a wonderful table which overlooked the open kitchen on the level below us where we could watch the chefs prepare and plate every entrée. The dinner was sumptuous and the service a wonderful combination of professional, personable and warm.

Paris Day 2—On the Paris Boulevards

After a wonderful breakfast looking out at the garden in Le Bristol’s Epicurean restaurant, we toured the hotel, admiring the beautiful spa and the hotel’s unique swimming pool, Mrs. Oettker, the hotel’s owner, visits from Germany twice a month and clearly makes the decisions on everything including flower arrangements. Le Bristol is clearly a labor of love that is shared by all the staff.


Place de Vosges in the Marais District in Paris. Photo Credit:

We left the hotel and walked the short distance to the Tuileries and the courtyards of the Louvre. After the heat in the South of France, the light intermittent rain was pleasant as we walked through Paris to one of my favor locales, the Place des Vosges in the Marais District. Built in the early 17th century by  King Henri IV and originally known as the Place Royale, it is an enclosed square with no automobile traffic and houses another favorite Paris hotel of ours, The Pavillon de la Reine.

Charles and Barbara in the Pavillion de la Reine

Charles and Barbara in the Pavillon de la Reine


The building housing the hotel was the pavilion or residence of Anne of Austria prior to marrying the French king. This is a perfect spot for anyone wanting a quiet, intimate hotel experience in one of Paris’s most interesting an historic areas.

From the Place de Vosges, we walked for a few minutes to the Musee Picasso—a must visit for anyone interested in the artists. Converted from a magnificent 17th century residence, the Museum has over 5000 works in its collection and tens of thousands of archive pieces.

Charles de L'Arbre posing at the Picasso Museum in Paris in front of the L'Arbre

Charles de L’Arbre posing at the Picasso Museum in Paris in front of the L’Arbre

After our Picasso visit, we had a quick lunch at a sidewalk café—a carafe of red wine, bread and cheese…….perfect……before returning to Le Bristol to get ready for our last evening in Paris—dinner at the newly re-opened Hotel Ritz.


The four year renovation cost an estimated €400m (~$500m US), well over the initial estimate of €140m.

The legendary hotel was founded by Swiss entrepreneur César Ritz in 1898, and is the basis of the meaning “ritzy.” The hotel is famed as the stomping ground of figures such as Charlie Chaplin, Coco Chanel and Ernest Hemingway. You’ll find a dedicated Coco Chanel Suite, and Hemingway Bar in their honor.

The hotel now features the world’s first Chanel branded spa; an underground swimming pool with 800,000 mosaic tiles, and a revamp of the interior detailing that is iconic to the Ritz: delicate silks, draped curtains and gilded mirrors. Highly recommended stay, and worth the long wait. The Ritz Paris is running a few fantastic specials through the end of 2016 that you can view on our specials page.

Charles de L'Arbre in Barcelona

Charles de L’Arbre in Barcelona

If you would love to hear more recommendations for your time in Paris, please be sure to reach out to me by phone (805.969.7746) or email


World Cruise 2018: La Grande Bellezza

180 Days Traveling the World in Luxury and Comfort

121 Days Traveling the World in Luxury and Comfort

It is, indeed, a beautiful world and this magnificent voyage from Los Angeles to Rome casts a spotlight on all of its richness — mesmerizing landscapes like the blue lagoons of Polynesia and splendors of New Zealand. Ancient wonders from Angkor Wat and the Taj Mahal to the epic monuments that straddle the banks of the Red Sea.

Silversea Sydney

Silver Whisper in front of the Sydney Opera House

The ingenuity of modern-day man is also on display: Sydney’s Opera House, the Petronas Towers of Kuala Lumpur, the soaring skylines of Singapore and Hong Kong, forever competing in a global race skyward. La Grande Bellezza was designed to encompass priceless treasures like these. Although the ultimate prize may be more metaphysical — the pampered indulgence of your butler, the intimate ship and highly personalised service, the luxury of your spacious suite and culinary excellence and diversity of the cuisine — the joy of a Silversea journey, itself.

Advisor Trip: Royal Palms, Phoenix, AZ

Looking for a quick getaway in Phoenix or a luxurious stopover on your way to Canyon Ranch Tucson? The Royal Palms Resort and Spa is a MUST STAY.

Royal Palms Entrance

This beautiful property was originally built in 1929 by Mr. Delos Willard Cooke (New York Industrialist) as a Spanish colonial inspired mansion for his ailing wife.  After being owned by several prominent owners, the estate eventually turned into the Royal Palms Resort and Spa, now a 5 Star boutique Virtuoso resort with full spa services.

Royal Palms Camel Back Villa

Royal Palms Camel Back Villa

Upon arrival, I felt I entered a time warp as I walked into this historic Arizona landmark featuring a fragrant orange grove, hidden alcoves, and colorful manicured gardens dotted by water fountains with the flavor of Andalusia. My room’s Juliet-style balcony window overlooked the hotel’s grand entrance. For those that want to relax or enjoy a romantic getaway, you will not go wrong with their spacious bathrooms (mine was just as big as the sleeping/living area) featuring a deep soaking tub and separate shower.

Royal Palms Montavista Terrace Room

Royal Palms Montavista Terrace Room

Definitely try the award-winning restaurant, T. Cook’s, one of the best restaurants I have ever experienced.  I ordered the recommended duck foie gras and glad I indulged.

Royal Palms Spa Treatment

Royal Palms Spa Treatment

Visit in May, as I did, and enjoy hundreds of hummingbirds darting around the garden when dining al fresco for lunch or breakfast.  Did I mention breakfast is included with your stay when booking with Santa Barbara Travel?  Book with me and I will reward you with a $50 dinner credit at T. Cook’s and upgrade your room based on availability!


Contact me, Kathy Reimer, at 805-650-6999, or my travel partner in the Santa Barbara office, Tina Slimp at 805-869-1112

Featured Itinerary: Monte Carlo to Venice with Silversea Cruises


EXCLUSIVE VOYAGE WITH ACCADEMIA TEATRO ALLA SCALA –Departing aboard Silver Spirit from glamorous Monte Carlo, travel to five ports in Italy, Croatia’s Dubrovnik and Split, plus Valleta, Malta, before returning to Italy to finally disembark in romance-filled Venice. Adding a vibrato-filled layer of classicism to the mix, four accomplished singer soloists and one piano accompanist will serenade us in two concerts of operatic librettos. Representing Italy’s Accademia Teatro alla Scala, the performances promise to echo long after the voyage takes its final bow.


 Day 1: Monte Carlo, Italy

Aboard the Silver Spirit in Monte Carlo

Aboard the Silver Spirit in Monte Carlo

Board the ship and make it home! Your next 9 days will be spent aboard the Silver Spirit. The ship holds 540 guests, 376 crew members, and was built in 2009. Featuring the largest suites in the Silversea fleet, Silver Spirit offers a lively, convivial atmosphere for cosmopolitan travelers who enjoy a greater variety of shipboard diversions, yet crave the personalized service and authentic and “up-close” experiences for which Silversea is known.

Day 2: Livorno, Italy


Day Excursion to Pisa

Shore excursions are included with Silverseas Cruises, so enjoy the wonderful dilemma each day choosing which adventure bests fulfills your passions. From Livorno, day excursions can take you to explore Lucca, Florence, or Pisa, doing anything from truffle hunting or wine tasting, to a tour of the Uffizi Gallery Museum.

Day 3: Trapani, Sicily, Italy

A Close Look at the Silver Coast

A Close Look at the Silver Shore

Explore the Silver Shore, enjoy the scenic views and olive tasting of Trapani, explore Marsala and tour a local vineyard, explore the Greek ruins of Selinunte or let your excursion take you to Mozia Island–an important trade city with fascinating history.

Day 4: Porto Empedocle, Italy

Visit the Selinunte archeological site and & the city of Agrigento. On the south west coast of Sicily, not far from Mazara del Vallo, lies one of the largest and most impressive archaeological sites in the Mediterranean. Visit the Selinunte Archaeological site and step back in time before relaxing for lunch along the coast in Agrigento.

 Day 5: Valleta, Malta

Submerse yourself in the natural beauty and unique scenery of Malta. Enjoy stunning ocean vistas, explore Malta’s largest fishing village, see the famous Blue Grottos, or visit the Dingli Cliffs.

Italian Coastline and Cliffs


Day 6: Dubrovnik, Croatia


Explore the enchanting seaside Cavtat, now home to summer music festivals, once the ancient Roman city of Epidaurus, or stay on the water and explore the Adriatic Sea by Kayak or sailboat!

Day 7: Split, Croatia

Shore Excursion to the Krka Waterfalls in Croatia

Shore Excursion to the Krka Waterfalls in Croatia

Step onto the shore of Croatia, and choose which shore excursion sparks your passion. The Krka National Park in Croatia is a spacious, largely unchanged region of exceptional and multifaceted natural value, and includes one or more preserved or insignificantly altered ecosystems. Eight hundred and sixty species and subspecies of plants have been identified within the territory of the Krka National Park, including several endemic species. Of course, other shore excusions include rafting the Cetina River, exploring the Silver Shore, a sea safari of Split, Trogir & Ciovo Islands, or a day to discover photography with Ivo Pervan. Which will you choose?

Day 8: Trieste, Italy

Explore the Grotto Gigante near Trieste

Explore the Borgo Grotto Gigante near Trieste

In Trieste, head underground to the Borgo Grotto Gigante, or visit the Castle of Miramare, St. Giusto Cathedral, and a walking tour of Trieste during your shore excursions.

Borgo Grotto Gigante: Explore one of the truly spectacular natural wonders of Italy during this sightseeing excursion to ‘Borgo Grotto Gigante’, a giant cave located along the Adriatic Coast (pictured above). The floor and the ceiling are covered in stalactites, stalagmites and other speleothems of all sizes. The Grotta Gigante is also an important underground and surface scientific research centre.

Castle of Miramare: Designed in the late 19th century by architect Carl Junker, the estate served as a former residence of the Archduke Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife Carlotta. The estate is the most famous locale on the coast of Trieste, and an integral part of the city’s landscape and history.

Day 9: Venice, Italy – Final Destination

Debark in Venice, Italy, & spend at least a few days exploring the beautiful city.

Debark in Venice, Italy, & spend at least a few days exploring the beautiful city.

While the voyage has ended, the journey has just begun! We recommend staying at least a few extra days here before traveling home or continuing on. Venice is a city unlike any other. No matter how often you’ve seen it in photos and films, the real thing is more dreamlike than you could imagine. With canals where streets should be, water shimmers everywhere. The fabulous palaces and churches reflect centuries of history in what was a wealthy trading center between Europe and the Orient. Getting lost in the narrow alleyways is a quintessential part of exploring Venice, but at some point you’ll almost surely end up in Piazza San Marco, where tourists and locals congregate for a coffee or an aperitif.

Enjoy Silversea’s all-inclusive lifestyle of butler service for every suite, complimentary champagne, wines and spirits served throughout the ship, Relais & Chateaux dining and onboard gratuities, plus featured itineraries (like this one) include FREE Shore Excursions, FREE WiFi, FREE 2 Nights at a Luxury Hotel and FREE Airfare with Transfers or Upgrade to Business Class for $199 each way.


New to Silversea?  Ask us about our GRAND INTRODUCTION OFFER on Silversea.

For more information or to book all-inclusive Silversea contact Santa Barbara Travel

Santa Barbara: 805-966-3116 or

Montecito: 805-969-7746 or

Ventura: 805-650-6999 or

Romance on the Rivers of Europe

When it comes to an extraordinary river cruise in Europe, Uniworld is one of our top choices for Romance All Year. This global company brings over 50 years of experience owning and operating luxury boutique hotels worldwide, but their European packages are all-inclusive, from airfare (details below), to daily on-shore excursions, to butler service, food, and gratuity. The intimate size of these ships brings them closer to a boutique hotel than a cruise ship.

tulips and windmills

You will find something to suit your travel passion, from trips themed around Holland’s Tulips and Windmills, the Castles along the Rhine, a wine-voyage through France, or the newest trip added for off-the-beaten-path travel through Eastern Europe. With over twenty options to take you and your partner down the Rhine, Moselle, Main, and Danube Rivers, or France’s Seine, Rhone, Dordogne Rivers, or Italy’s Po River, there won’t be a challenge finding the perfect itinerary, especially not with our expertise.

castles along the rhine

The beauty of a river cruise (versus an ocean cruise) is the intimacy and comfort of the setting. Consider your trip a voyage down one of Europe’s picturesque rivers in a “luxury boutique hotel” that takes you from place to place, allowing you and your travel partner to explore a new town every day without the typical exhaustion or hassle of getting there. When the day is done, step aboard.


Aboard the ship, you’ll be treated like Royalty, seriously! We are happy to report that all guests in suites onboard the European fleet (except Russia and Portugal) will have their own butler trained to the same exacting standards required by the Buckingham Palace, starting this year…You wanted to travel in style?

dining room

If you are thinking about “cruise ship food” with a cringe, don’t worry– the “Foodie” in you will rejoice. Uniworld is dedicated to farm-to-table culinary experiences, which means fresh, seasonal, locally sourced ingredients are used to plan meals that truly embody the unique character of each region along the way.

bedroom 2

So, what do you think? Can you see yourself on the deck, cruising down the Rhine at sunset… waking up to the best riverside view you’ve ever seen?

Make your reservation by February 29th, and your Economy Air ticket to Europe will be FREE on most itineraries.

Contact Nancy Herrmann in the Santa Barbara Office to discuss the details of your Romantic European River Cruise by calling 805.869.1100 or emailing