She watched the snowflakes twirling, suspended in time. Their icy whispers clawing at the coach window. Passengers lost in thought, headphones on. Some sleeping, swathed in blankets like burittos. Others gossiping, animated grins licking their faces. The sound of throaty laughter drifting to where she was sitting, her own face hiding a smile. Bleary-eyed and almost out of it, the dark shadows under her eyes grew deeper. But despite the exhaustion that sank into her bones, there was joy. Winding valleys serenading her senses, tinged with white. Forests bathed in the first morning light, the sun breaking like an egg yolk. For she was on her solo travels, discovering the UK, and all its beauty that it had to offer. Was it strange that she had been here all her life, yet somehow she had discovered so little? In misty moors and rolling green, lay secrets. Stonehenge, the stony guardian of spirits and ancient rituals. Giants Causeway moss covered, in hexagonal formation. Where giants once prowled, crowned by crashing waves. Portmerion in rainbow pastel hues. In verdant gardens where flowers bloomed, a tale of colour in the heart of Wales. The UK was beautiful to discover by coach. But she couldn’t help but yearn for something more. Luxury winter coach holidays around the world. From Europe, Asia and beyond. Hot, and cold, somewhere in between. Something for everyone. Eyes opened, new experiences to be had.
In the UK, the cold would nip at her toes, and pinch her cheeks. But there was a certain kind of magic in winter’s icy embrace. Wrapping dreams in scarves of hopes and cheer, chasing snowy whispers into hotter climes. Portugal, following her destiny. Tracing the path that her ancestors would have taken, the road well-travelled. Aboard a coach with other people who shared a love for travelling. Coimbra, the soul of Portugal enveloping you in a fleeting embrace. Twilight painting the sky with vibrant stains, Mondego’s rivers burbling at night. Highs of 14, lows of 7, not quite hot, not quite cold. A winter holiday where culture met nostalgia. The Far East next, a cradle of celestial dreams. Where mountains kissed the sky in silent streams. Japan, mesmerizing. Where golden temples rose like majestic spires, captivating beauty. Golden Buddha statues basking in worshippers reverence. Cherry blossoms even in winter, tinged with frost.
Porec and the Istrian Riveria, still beautiful even in winter. The golden jewel that the Adriatic treasured. Woven with seamless stories of forgotten thrones. A yesteryear, a time capsule. Hearing the heartbeats of the ghosts who were once human. Ljubljana in a city nestled by the emerald river, facades nestled in intricate grace. A tapestry of purples, and oranges painting the skies at sunset. India, a crown in the Indian Ocean. Where striped orange kings and queens roar with padded paws. Trudging through the snow, face to face with dinner, a herd of deer. Temples, and spires that wrapped the clouds in an incensed hug. Taj Mahal, a highlight.
A change of scene in the USA. The land of dreams would it live up to the hype? Sonoran Desert wild and untamed, dancing on fiery sands.Behold the saguaro, towering guardian of the plains, Grotesque and majestic, their arms raised in prayer. The icy beauty of Alaska a contrast. The Northwest’s crest. Where glyphs of frost painted the landscape with icy art. In the arctic abyss where time seemed to slow. Mountains wearing blankets of powdery white. Florida in the South, no kisses from frosty flakes. But still a chill, hands in pockets. In Miami’s vibrant, neon hug, to rugged everglades in umtamed grace. The land where the gators roamed, conspiring with serpents. A land that sparked emotions, ignited minds. Ultimately though? It was the East that drew her in. A battle between the US and Canada, calling her name.For there were so many luxury winter coach holidays to be explored. The sun dancing with icy twirls. The rain gossiping with thawing frost. But where would she go first?
Spain & Portugal
The Paradors & Pousadas of Castile, Madrid, Salamanca & Portugal
Portugal, where her ancestors footprints echoed through the mist, guiding her soul into the unknown. Caressing her weathered hands with bold whispers.. Taking her on a journey of a lifetime, planting their forgotten dreams within her. Their magic coursing through her veins, she was a winter princess now. The summer Queen, with her crown of sunflowers, shapeshifting into ice shards. A crown of ice and fire, forged in winter’s frost. She had one clear mission. To discover luxury winter coach holidays in Portugal, Spain and beyond. Celebrating the spirits that were there before her, who danced in the shadows. A story of light and shade travelling through night and day. Uncovering historical secrets, tongues wagging. Delicacies poached, slipped into ravenous throats. Cheeks aflame with passion, for the discovery of something new. From the capital of Madrid, to the golden city of Salamanca, she looked at the coach trip longingly. Imagining herself in the quaint charm of Porto perusing Christmas markets. Getting lost in the pretty city of Coimbra, twirling in the snow.
When it came to luxury winter coach holidays, Leger’s 12 day itinerary was inspiring. Twirling through Spain’s finest Paradors and Portugal’s idyllic Pousadas. Luxury hotels for a lavish stay, that would envelop her in comfort. A home away from home. But it was all imaginary, in her head. The thoughts like rough charcoal sketches, spilling into her imagination. Day two where the fun would all begin. A charming old town, cloaked in mystery. Chinchón, famous for its medieval square encircled by wooden balconies and its aniseed liqueur, where she would stay for two nights. But day three was pretty special too. A full day in Madrid, frescoes on the bold bakery building, an echo in time. Strolling around the verdant Retiro Park, time standing still. No snow following the air. But rain falling down from the sky like abstract brushstrokes, wet on the Plaza Mayor. In Old Madrid lined with arches above, ornate balconies perched. Day four, a blur, an idyllic daydream. Dancing in Segovia, built high on a rocky spur. Surrounded by the magnetic Eresma and Clamores River. Romanesque churches, poised in serenity, the cathedral and fortress equally tranquil. But Avila, a world heritage site? The highlight in the confines of her mind. Rising from under the ground like the ancient Gods that once roamed. A wealth of Romanesque and Gothic Architecture, that made her catch her breath at the thought.
Then, it was the Golden City. Where Roman, Arabic and Christian architectural treasures welcomed her into day 5. Spain’s oldest university the Puente Romano, a beacon of light. A flash back to her own university years, back in England. A different person. On the outside, visually the same. But in the inside, a stranger looking in. Alienated from her former self, leaving her old world behind. New friends, new city, new mindset. The tour continued West to Ciudad Rodrigo, a small cathedral city. Enclosed by city walls, besieged by both sides during Napoleon’s Peninsula war. But it was Coimbra in her beloved Portugal that drew her in. Where ancient tales and secrets were endowed, in cobbledstone streets. Lovers kissing, as the cold wind danced in the air. The river Mondego beckoning, reflecting icy stars above their heads. Home to one of Europe’s oldest universities. Where knowledge bloomed like frosted petals rare on day seven. Leaving the Parador behind, day eight Porto, a cultural excursion. Colourful facades as history unfolds, a tapestry of bold. With ribbons of Douro, flowing serene. A lifeline weaving through the city’s scene. Running through the unspoilt old quarter in the historic centre. Getting lost in the winding narrow streets, the remenants of wine from a tasting on her lips. Precious nectar like honey cloying her throat.
They would continue on, sinking into the luxurious armchairs, that their coach provided. The beautiful town of Guimares, the birthplace of Portugal peeking out. Off the coach, wobbly feet on picturesque cobbled streets. Not a religious person but struck by the graceful silhouette of the Church of Nossa Senhora. Celestial spires reaching for the heavens golden aura. Whispers of devotion, reverent hymns like a cherished rhyme. The winter coach holiday was coming to a close, two more ‘tour days’ to go. Day 9, a fleeting visit. Heading North to Burgos, on the Pilgrim’s Road. The cathedral and old quarter, where El Cid was buried. Day 10, a goodbye to Portugal and Spain. One last hurrah.San Sebastián set on a sweeping, shell-shaped bay with its charming, old quarter and Belle Epoque style. One of Spain’s capitals of gastronomy, a local tapas bar to try. Day 11, and 12, the journey back home. Sleeping passengers on the coaches, their minds flooded with memories. Ones they were desperate to keep.
India’s Golden Triangle- Delhi, Agra, Jaipir, Ranthambore
She was a daydreamer, weaving tapestries of fantasies in her curious mind. Where reality faded, and dreams took over. A respite from lifes endless snare, delicate tendrils of happiness begging to be taken. Fantasizing that she was in India’s golden triangle was no different. Where history and culture thrived with every breath. Stepping into the sands of time, hearing the echoes of dynasties from all those years before. Delhi, a kaleidoscope of vibrant dreams. Where old and new danced in vibrant streams. Breathing tales of Maharajas reign, whispers of poets and conquerors past. Jaipur, the infamous pink city. Where tales of palaces, and the Queens who lived in them, stood like ghosts from another time. The jewel of Rajasthan’s pride, the scent of jasmine lingering in the air. Agra, swathed in eternal love. The Taj Mahal, in ivory white, under the azure sky. Not quite winter here, still warmer than most. But Ranthambore was where daydreams danced in radiant light. Wild tigers in their natural habitat feeding their young. Gleaming eyes, the face of India. Other animals too. Sloths, leopards, and crocodiles too. The circle of life, beyond her wildest dreams. The daydreamer in her head once more, admiring nature’s greats from afar.
For luxury winter coach holidays in India were mesmerizing. An airplane ride to Delhi, the golden triangle waiting. Day two, ushered to the hotel. Slipping into a maxi kaftan dress, with a traditional Indian print. Hair tied into a messy knot, embroidered sandals on her freshly painted toes. Exploring Delhi on her own, before the big day tomorrow. The heart of India, breathing in the air of spices and fragrances that filled the square. Through narrow lanes where chaos and colour danced. From Chandni Chowk to Sarojini’s treasure. Street food and fashion, in dizzying measure. For Delhi was a city of poets and dreams, an ode to a city frozen in time. The big day had come, sprinkled with monuments of past and present glories. A drive past the Red Fort, standing proud and strong. Tracing echoes of empires from a turbulent past. The Jama Masjid, where whispers of devotion softly sing. But Humayun’s tomb was the most precious of all. A love letter to the past, where shadows danced upon its hallowed dew. The group bowed their heads, night turning into day four. A sunset visit to Mehtab Bagh to see the Taj Mahal on the opposite bank.
But day five is where Taj Mahal shone in all its vibrancy. Shah Jahan’s tribute to his favourite wife. A mausoleum of white marble and precious stone. The morning sun kissing its dome, where golden sepia tones danced on its facade. Peering through latticed windows, where sunlight gleamed. Caressing loves eternal resting place, a tear to her eye. But the Agra Fort was just as spectacular. A citadel of red sandstone, forging artistic styles. The early eclectism of the Akbar. The sublime elegance of Shah Jahan. Playing hide and seek in lavishly decorated halls and galleries, Jahangiri Mahal dating back to Akbar’s reign. Entranced in the elegant marble hall of Khas Mahal. Imagining herself in the royal baths of Sheesh Mahal, a hall of mirrors. All too soon Agra was swallowed up by time. But day 6 and 7, were the true highlights. Ranthambore National Park, one of India’s prime wildlife locations. Home to ‘Project Tiger’, a wildlife conservation project in India. But she wasn’t there yet. Visiting the Abhaneri Step wells, lunch at an organic resort. But the evening was where the excitement started building. A tiger talk with a Naturalist, eyes transfixed.
Day seven. The one where landscapes were painted in vibrant hues. Home of the striped orange king and queen, the tiger whose movements captured a nation. Two jungle safaris in the languid sun that tamed the harsh azure skies. Creatures of the wild in their natural habitat, where leopards stretched out on gnarled wizened trees. Langurs playing, chattering joyfully. The birds with vibrant plumage adorned, taking flight. But it was the gentle harmony of the Sambhar Deer that was mesmerizing to watch. Through lush foilage and trails of red soil, the jeeps wandered. Captivated by the beauty that surrounded, in Ranthambore, a living paradise found. She imagined what it would be like in the velvety dashes of night. The roar of tigers breaking the twilight silence prowling through golden grass. Owls hooting as fireflies lit up the skies. Morning broke, a tour to Ranthambore Fort on day eight came next. In ancient lands where legends dwelled. Perched upon verdant hills, with towering walls. A reminder of the valiant warriors who once guarded the way.
Like much of India, Jaipur was a poetic saga in history’s parade. Amber Fort, a proud sentinel atop the rugged hills. Stories of battles fought, a once violent past. But now, there were love stories woven in the clouds, where celestial beings came to play. She smiled, tones of red, beige, and green, ornately decorated. Imagining herself tracing the stones of time, feeling the pale yellow and pink sandstone, tinged with white marble. Later, she would lose herself in the City Palace. Where time stood still, in a seven story citadel, gliding through the antique muesem and the vast courtyards. Gasping at the manicured gardens and enchanting archways. If she closed her eyes and thought of a postcard image, this was it. The rest of the trip would be a blur, even in her imagination. Back in Delhi again, exploring at her leisure. England next, where the frost bit her nose in playful repose. Cheeks stained red, mouth like a blue gash roughly drawn.
Uncover Japan- The Land Of The Rising Sun
She dreamed of cherry blossoms that soared like etchings in the sky. Where ancient temples were a tapestry of grace and serenity. A country where the old and new fused together seamlessly. Mountains soaring, whispering tales of warriors who were bold. Unveiling legends, in every corner a glimpse of traditions. Sights, sounds and scents that were alien to her. Colours from nature’s brush, a feast for the senses. For a luxury winter coach holidays round up wouldn’t be complete with Japan. Neon lights in Tokoyo, where souls collide and destiny meets. In the shadows of towering skylines, painting the city in sleek luxury. Nikko, where Toshogu’s shrine was covered in a snowy blanket. Whispers of shoguns echoing through the frosted air, their voices carried by a poet’s prayer. But it was Oishi Park* in Kawaguchiko, with its picturesque views of Mount Fuji, that would take her breath away. Even in her dreams, it was crowned with snow, piercing the sky. A sacred peak, where sunrise brushed its crest. A golden halo, a celestial awakening.
She would fly to Tokoyo, to meet the shadows that would dance. Day three a highlight, the Meiji-Jingu Shrine, with towering gates that stood like giants. She would step inside, and feel time rewind. Sense the spirits of Emperor Meiji and the Empress Shoken, whose lives were once intertwined. But the walking tour of the Ginza district was just as powerful. A flurry of snow, burrowing hands in voluminous pockets. Eyes marvelling at windows adorned with fashion, a tapestry of beauty. Where silk and satin whispered stories with every thread. Painting strokes of fashion in colours so bright. She surveyed the people, the scene had changed. Making traditional sushi, vegan for A, if there was such a thing. Stomachs growling, laced with culinary delights, now sated. But in the afternoon, Asakusa was waiting, the infamous Senso-ji Buddhist temple, the oldest in Japan waiting. A fragrance of calming incense floating on the air. Monks in saffron robes harmonizing with the breeze. Day three went into slumber and day four took over. Heading to Nikko, where the snow was just as magical. Visiting Toshogu Shrine, the mausoleum of the famous shogun Tokugawa Ieyasu. Reconstructed by Ieyasu’s grandson, shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu, now consisting of over a dozen buildings, set in a beautiful forest. A winter muse, where carved dragons would guard with watchful eyes.
They headed over to Kegon Waterfalls, a masterclass in winter. A cascade in emerald suspended in the air. Admidst the frozen tundra, where nature’s poetry danced. Water that once flowed freely now crystalline veils, frozen in time, delicate in its grace. But nothing could have prepared her for day five, where Oishi Park* in Kawaguchiko stood proud. Lake Kawaguchi reflecting a volcano from its rippled waters. Calm and chaos enveloped in each other’s stories. Overlooking Mount Fuji, a silent sentinels whose peaks reached out and caressed the sky. Daio Wasabi Plantation Farm was equally as tranquil. A gateway to serenity, a metaphor for love. Each field fed hungrily by crystal-clear waters, trickling over from the Northern Alps. She would walk within the plantations, heading towards the DAIO Shrine. Where the spirit of local hero, Hachimen Daio, the farm’s protector lay within. Japan was a mesmerizing country, Matsumoto another highlight. A picture perfect castle with distinctive black walls, a designated national treasure. Heading later to Takayama, ready for day six. Morning broke, walking through Takayama, with a beautifully preserved Old Town. Artisans hands curating vegetables, pickles and spices in a tempting array. Sampling the flavours that teased the tongue. Savouring the warmth of enigmatic stalls. From wooden masks to delicate pottery, the secrets of generations bound together. But sake tasting? A revelation, fruity and floral tones on her lips, licked clean.
A chance to explore traditional Japanese culture at Takayama-Jinya, a former government outpost. A contrast to the UNESCO Shirakawago Village with traditional gassho-zukuri wooden houses. An ode to a time not quite forgotton, a fresh perspective. Heading back to the coach, Kanazwa on the horizon. Day 7, the capital of Ishikawa Prefecture. Visiting the beautiful traditional Japanese garden of Kenroku-en, one of the Three Great Gardens of Japan. Where winter lay its snowy veil to rest, upon the garden where dreams would manifest. A lullaby of peace, 8,750 trees serenading 183 species of plants. Flanked by the oldest water fountain in Japan, powered by natural water pressure. Silent whispers echoed through the frosty air, continuing on to the elegant Nomura Samurai mansion, frozen in time. Refined archtitecture, intricate murals and verdant gardens. Flowing waterfalls, and dancing carp. She tucked her hair back in her beret, slipping gloves onto her reddened fingers. Taking the Express Train to Kyoto, ready for day eight.
Eyes widening, at the UNESCO listed Kinkakkuji Temple, famous for its Golden Pavillion. Delicately covered in fragile gold leaf, one of the most visited sites in Kyoto. A journey that nourished the heart and soul,
Immersed in whispers of those who came before. But in the Bamboo Forest, in Arashiyama, she would find peace. In the land of the rising winter sun, with towering stalks that made love to the skies. A respite from chaos, a haven of peace, where hearts healed. Nijo Castle, equally as hypnoctic. Built in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founding shogun of the Edo shogunate which ruled Japan from the beginning of the 17th century. Walking in the footsteps of ghosts who protected their home. The end of the trip was drawing nearer, day 9 at Korakuen Garden. Where silent ponds mirrored a world so serene. Carp slipping through water like flames in the breeze. Seeking respite beneath a weeping willow’s embrace, watching the world go round. Moving on to the city of Kurashiki. Going back in time, in the Bikan Chiku area, a streetscape of storehouses and merchant homes. Grey and white trellis patterned walls, and flamboyant ceramic roofs.
Day 10, three more days left. Waltzing in Hiroshima, taking a ferry to Miyajima Island, known for its forests and ancient temples. The iconic Itsukushima Shrine, another highlight, admiring the eleborate Torii gate. Rising majestically out of the sea like a martime guardian. But the real highlight? Okonomiyaki, similar to a savoury pancake Okonomiyaki, made with egg, cabbage, soba noodles and tofu for her. From the depths of batter, light and airy. Unfolding a canvas, both savoury and cheery. Savoury sauces, tangy yet sweet, a chorus of satisfaction that heaven sings. A slice of history after lunch, Peace Memorial Park and Mueseum. The first place that atomic bombs were used, now devoted to promoting peace. Day 11 leaving Hiroshima behind. Himeji Castle, whose majestic walls were dressed in pristine white. An ancient stronghold, where samurais once stood guard. Illuminating history’s timeless proofs. The White Heron Castle, with imposing size and beauty, a world heritage site. The coach left behind for a moment, taking a high-speed bullet train to Osaka, for an overnight stay. Day 12, the last full day. Discovering Nara, the first permenant capital of Japan. Todaiji Temple, face to face with a large bronze Buddha. Behind you footsteps in the snow, leaving trails of the past. A day of history and culture, the final farewell. A quick stop at Kehaya Sumo Museum, a splash in Dontonbori Street. But Osaka? Lit by neon signs, restauarants and amusement facilities. The perfect end, to the perfect stay.
Though she was a summer girl, there was something mystical about winter. How the cascading snowflakes enveloped her in their icy breath. How the ground beneath her became a carpet of white, footprints that would melt away. Frozen lakes, suspended in time, beneath starry skies. But it was the moon that drew her in, casting an ethereal pale glow. Like a poets words, whispered langorously in her ear like a lover. So the Eastern Discovery of the US and Canada was her perfection match. Tracing history, culture, art and people on a 12 day imaginary trip in winter. Though Europe and Asia were magnetic, the US and Canada were just as hypnotic. In Boston, The Freedom Trail danced through the sands of time. Where revolutions seeds were sown, and grown, freedom’s flame burning eternally bright. Vermont where verdant meadows and hills interlaced. A quilt of snowy landscapes, pieced together with love. Touring New Hampshire and the UNESCO world heritage sites of old and new Quebec City. But the mists of Niagara Falls? Mesmerizing. A crust of ice over the top of the rushing water, almost like it had stopped. She would walk the hallowed grounds of Gettysburg with trediptation. Get a close up taste of Amish culture in Pennsylvania Dutch Country. She would wander past the seats of power of the American Government in Washington D.C. feeling the aura wash over her. But here was where it all began, the Independence Hall in Philadelphia.
And so, she would start her journey at the very beginning. Flying out to New York City, where luxury winter coach holidays were made with ease. But this was a flying visit, not a chance to see her friend who was in the US. For she would head to New England, travelling along the Long Island Sound to historic Boston, MA. But it was the Freedom Trail that captivated her, beginning at Boston Common. Where colonists gathered, seeking their space. Worn cobblestoned streets and grand old buildings, poised on history’s stage. She would wind past the State House, and the King’s Chapel. The old South Meeting House, and the Boston Massacre site. The latter, hallowed ground. Closing her eyes and imagining the whispers of courage that would have reverabated into the present. She glided past the fronts of taverns and pubs, where America’s Founding Fathers once toasted freedom. But the Beacon Hill, and its quaint streets was spectacular. Voices of change, uniting a nation, breaking oppressions thrall. She got back on the coach, humming a tune under her breath. Travelling through rural New England states of New Hampshire and Vermont on day three. Outside, it was snowing. But not the picturesque kind. The type that fell in sleet and hail, melted slush. Still, the small dainty picturesque villages, and the White Mountains were stunning, even in the snowy rain.
Crossing the border to the Canadian province of Québec on day four. In the land of maple dreams, outstretched trees adorned with icicle tops. Sampling the best of French-Canadian cuisine. Poutine, how did she live without it? Salty hot French Fries topped with cheese curds and ladles of gravy. A vegan version of a split pea soup, laced with garlic and pepper, chunky carrots peeking out. The Pouding Chômeur à l’Erable (Québécois Maple Pudding) was just as decadent. A scoop of vanilla ice cream oozing over its thick crust. Day four was just as decadent. Lips wrapped around butter tarts, flaky and hot. Walking through Québec City, the French capital of the province and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Petite snowflakes pirouetting through rue Saint-Paul, a reverie of ice hearted souls. Past Québec Provincial Parliament Building and the Citadelle. Into the walled city where Château de Frontenac took her breath away. Shallow breaths like an incensed sigh billowing in the wind. But the Saint Lawrence River was a whole new world. First Nations wisdom buried underneath the ripples. The heartbeat of Canada bathed in a blue light, always constant.
Even in the limited depths of her imagination, she fell in love. But it was Old Montréal, that had her heart. Music haunting the air like misty dreams at Place Jacques Cartier. A symphony of voices, dancing on moonbeams. Towers piercing the sky like prayers acending at Notre Dame Basilica. Invoking awe beyond transcendent dreams. Before she knew it was day five. Departing Montréal for the capital of Canada, Ottawa. A vibrant city of parks and flowers, boasting one of the most impressive parliment buildings in the world. But the afternoon was spellbinding, watching as the coach drifted along the 1000 Island Parkway. Passing through Lake Ontario, an excursion on the St. Lawrence River. A cruise for the ages, watching time slow down. Breathe in, breathe out. Entranced as it connected the lakes to the Atlantic Ocean, providing navigation to deep-draft ocean vessels. Toronto was a treat too, gliding through tales of modern skyscapers. The CN Tower standing above the rest. Would she dare to stand on the glass floor, more than 300 meters above Toronto? Dare she would, the journey heading into the Welland Canal. A ribbon of water, carved by human hands. The appetizer for the main.
But the big juggaurnaut, Niagara Falls? Nothing could have prepared her for that. Waters like liquid silk, flowing like nature’s decadent applause. Droplets kissing the air, rainbows emerging painting a canvas so bright. In hues of blues and ethereal mist, she closed her eyes. She would stroll along Table Rock, and see the unique Floral Clock. Gasp at the thundering water of the Horseshoe Falls, hardly daring to believe this was real. Before all too soon it was over, day seven closing in. Riding through the rolling farmland of upstate New York, entering the keystone state of Pennsylvania. The trees like skelatal guardians, branches bereft. The rolling hills cloaked in frosty shawls of white. In the afternoon, she would trace President Lincoln’s steps. Where he gave his famous address in 1863. The historic Gettysburg Civil War national battleground, a testament to resilience.
Rural countryside in Pennsylvania Dutch Country on day eight, was a throwback. Visiting an Amish museum, 300 years of history in simple living. The Amish people living in a world that stopped in the 1850’s. No electricity, or mechanical devices. It was almost like the Industrial Revolution never existed. Family values at its heart and core. Slow living, and a focus on connection, it seemed like a palette cleanser. Day nine rolled around and Washington D.C. was its companion. The Lincoln’s memorial, a stoic statue, his wisdom revered. Reflecting on turbulent times and triumphs endeared. The White House, that infamous place. Adorned in swathes of snow, a sacred space. Walls that held a thousand secrets, shaping the course of a nation’s crusade. In summer she would have walked amongst the cherry blossoms tender bloom. But like all things its beauty was fleeting. Finding peace and contemplation in Arlington National Cemetery, site of the JFK Memorial. A fragile perfume of flowers left behind, that followed her down the banks of the Potomac River. The final full day was here. Day 10. Transferring to New York via Philadelphia, the ‘City of Brotherly Love’.A place where great minds like Franklin and Jefferson, sought to shape a nation, free from oppression. Their wisdom and vision forever enshrined. The Liberty Bell, chiming through time and space. Forward in time, back in time. Where hope and liberty interlaced.
Porec And The Istrian Riveria
It seems that she had landed back in Europe once more. Unable to stay away for too long, a winter closer to home. Porec and The Istrian Riveria in Croatia, the golden peninsula. Captivating minds, hearts and souls, even in the icy throes of winter. There was no place than here where she would end her quest. Searching for luxury winter coach holidays, that celebrated culture, art and nature. The town of Porec, rich in historical heritage. Roman archtitecture embalmed with trapped souls, who had lain dormant since the 7th century. The Basilica, haunting yet beautiful. One of the best preserved cathedral complexes of early Christian archtitecture in the world. Onto Ljubljana they would journey next. The historic capital of Slovenia, gliding through the old town. The Slovenian resort of Piran too, where Venetian influenced architecture kissed a labyrinth of alleyways.
Though she would arrive in Porec on the second day, it was day three where the magic truly begun. A city of a thousand years, a city of culture, a city of nature. The main streets Decumanus and Cardo Maximus, still preserved in their original forms. Marvelling at The Roman Forum with temples to the old Roman Gods. Wandering if they were still listening, their ears poisoned with honeyed vengeance. Mars, the God of War. Venus, the Goddess of Love and Sex. Minerva, the Goddess of Wisdom and Craft. But it was the 6th century Euphrasian Basilica, that was a vision divine. Mosaics sparkling, whispering tales of Byzantine art’s glory. Lost in its beauty, falling in love with its story. Past the old Roman ruins, the rest of the day exploring the quaint cobbled town at her leisure. Her taste for history not quenched just yet. Sinčić Palace with Baroque archtitecture. A contrast to the shop that lay within. Spending minutes letting art history wash over her, with a cleansing splash. Morning broke, its golden rays yawning into the pale blue skies. Heading to Slovenia’s capital, Ljubljana on day four. Though it was small, it was beautiful. Filled with history and ancient sights that made her heart beat faster. A blend of Baroque Churches and mansions overlooked by a medieval castle. Where Romans conquered and lived. But wait what was here before? Pile houses thousands of years before the Romans built the town of Emona.
It was an artist’s paradise. A harmonious blend of Baroque, Secessionist and modern styles, with the added spice of masterpieces by the architect Plecnik. She felt its history in every corner. In the Three Bridges that spanned the River Ljubljanica. A ribbon of reflective light, and willow-lined walkways. Churches and manions overlooked by a medieval castle in the distance. Even in winter, its beauty was palpable. Robba’s Fountain dominating the town square. Its icy touch like a lover’s hand, a siren’s call leaving traces of winter. A cathedral nearby, she couldn’t remember its name. A colourful open-air market where aromas danced on her inviting tongue. But the Dragon Bridge? Shaped like a dragon’s tail, a blend of lights, water, and fire emmanating from the dragon’s mouth. Sentimental cafes lining the bridge, where she would watch from a distance. Eyes transfixed. Her time in Solvenia was done ( for now), a pretty harbour town wrapping her in its history. Rovinj located on the western coast of Istria. Wandering around the Old Town, one of the most photographed on the coast. Etching its mark on her fractured heart, whispering waves caressing her mind. From the nameless hilltop church, to the cafes and galleries that lined the narrow streets, it felt like home. Intimate retreats, where time would slow down. Seagulls soaring high, wings that painted the skies.
She hadn’t shaken off Porec just yet. A beautiful hill-top village of Vrsar. Commanding views of the poetic coast. Watching the world move around her, imagining Casanova on his travels here. His memoirs coming alive once more. She shook herself out of the daydream, blink and it was day six. The beautiful town of Opatija, guarded by a backdrop of densely-wooded hills. Sitting where the Istrian peninsula joins the Kvarner Riviera. A 14th century Benedictine abbey Opatija Sv. Jakova (Abbey of Saint James) which stood here once before. Now replaced by St. Jakov’s Church. Old ghosts and new, welcoming each other into hallowed grounds. She could imagine them sharing sandwiches under the pale glow of the moon. The skies littered with a constellation of stars. But for now, it was daytime. Strolling along Opatija’s promenade, the Lungomare, where she would stop and pause. Chesnut and laurel trees that she would sit under and eat. Gazing at the islands of Cres and Krk looming in the shimmering blue of Kvarner bay. She focused on the sensations. The rhythm of the waves, a lullaby that soothed her. The sunsets that painted the skies, a contrast to the leftover snow that was melting away. Day slipping into starlight nights, where dreams came true.
She rubbed her eyes, still heavy with sleep. On the journey to Pula, with 3,000 years of history and heritage. Day eight, the last guided day. Day nine would be a slip in time. But for now she was here, gazing at the Triumphal Arch of the Sergi, dating back to the first century B.C. Whispering sweet nothings at Hercules Gate and Twin Gates. Giving her life story at the Temple of Augustus. But the magnificient ampitheatre? A revelation. Used during the rule of Emperor Vespasian, where it once held 23,000 spectators. She imagined the roars, where gladiators fought to the death a bloodthirsty sport. Hastened over that with happier memories. Plays, and music, medieval fairs. She imagined what it would be like in summer. The honeyed perfume of lavender wafting in the air. The blooms wrapped around her fingers, in a calming trace. But now? It was icy cold, the wind whispering secrets in haughty repose. Glistening diamonds of white everywhere she went. Frost tracing patterns on every surface. It was time to say goodbye, but she didn’t know how to say it. So she stayed here a while. Beneath star-scattered skies where winter’s symphony played. Lost in winter embrace, its twirling choregraphy a soltice charm.
Have You Been On Any Luxury Winter Coach Holidays?
Please note this is a collaborative post but all thoughts are my own and are not affected by monetary compensation.