• Corsica at Sunset

    6 of Europe's Best-Kept Secrets

    <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/europe/" target="_blank">Europe</a> is known for having some of the most iconic sites in the world. From the picturesque canals of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/italyfamily/" target="_blank">Venice</a>, the standing stones at <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Stonehenge</a>, to the lavender fields of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence-tours/" target="_blank">Provence</a>. It’s easy to find yourself on a merry-go-round of repeating travels. But you can still find amazing places off the beaten path… the places not known yet to tourists. And with the help of Classic Journeys, you’ll find that Europe is full of them!<br><br>Here you’ll find six of the best-kept secrets in Europe. Which one will you visit first?<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><img alt="Croatia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rP9" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank"><b>Slovenia + Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</b></a><br>Just a generation ago, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/istria-slovenia-walking-tour/" target="_blank">Slovenia and Croatia’s Istrian Peninsula</a> were part of Yugoslavia. Now, they’re two of the great under-the-radar and off-the-chart destinations in all of Europe. These unspoiled next-door lands sit right at the top of the Adriatic Sea just east of Venice. The scenery is so insanely perfect that you don’t want the walks to end. Think vineyards rolling into olive groves sweeping to the Adriatic and mirror calm mountain lakes reflecting snow-capped Alps.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><img alt="Basque" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPE" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank"><b>Basque Pyrenees</b></a><br>A museum sheathed in titanium. Wild horses that eat baguettes. Villages with names in three languages—Basque, French and Spanish. Farmers on tractors yield the right of way to fierce but friendly pelota games in village squares. Garlands of brilliant red pimientos dry in the sunlight… then show up on a dinner plate stuffed with seafood. You’ll be surprised at the richness of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Europe’s oldest culture</a> that few have had the chance to experience.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Corsica" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPJ" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank"><b>Sardinia + Corsica</b></a><br>Travel between the isles of <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia and Corsica</a> and you&#39;ll only venture eight miles...but they&#39;re worlds apart. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Corsica</a>—part of France, but defiantly non-French—is blanketed in fragrant herbs and dotted with quaint villages. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/sardinia/" target="_blank">Sardinia</a> seeks adventure. Travel through the island and see how it&#39;s rustic, mysterious; with a few thousand years of Phoenician, Spanish and Italian blood in its veins. Together, these two gorgeous islands are some of the least-touristed spots in Europe. When you leave behind the yacht-studded harbors for the mountains, pastures and vineyards of the interior, you have the rarest of privileges—to see and experience countryside and culture that seem to have stood still in time.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><img alt="Montenegro" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPO" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank"><b>Montenegro</b></a><br>How will you explain <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/montenegro/" target="_blank">Montenegro</a> to your friends who haven’t been (and that will be 99.9% of them)? Do you start with its Adriatic coast, where golden stone villages nestle on secluded, palm-lined bays? You can’t leave out the wild mountains with their sheer canyons and whisper-quiet lakes. You’ll certainly have stories about the hospitable Montenegrins… the olive growers, grappa-makers, shepherds and artists. You’ll fall in instant love with this compact Balkan land because it’s still so undiscovered, unexpected and unforgettable.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><img alt="Prague" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPT" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank"><b>Prague to Budapest</b></a><br>The journey from <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/prague/" target="_blank">Prague to Vienna to Budapest </a>is one of Europe’s best hidden gems. These one-time capitals of the Habsburg Empire, with its spires and castles, create the continent’s most inspiring skylines. Out in the countryside, the sights are spectacular. Powder-blue cathedrals leap up from the heart of valley towns. Incredibly intact villages are so perfectly preserved that the U.N. recognizes them as World Heritage Sites. Vast farmlands make it feel as though you’ve stepped back into feudal times. This is a rich slice of Europe’s life and history that most travelers never see.<br><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><img alt="Apulia" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y1T000002Ei9Z&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM1T0000015rPY" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></a><br><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank"><b>Apulia</b></a><br>When we ask our Italian guides where they&#39;d most like to take our friends who think they know Italy on a walking tour we get one response: <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/apulia/" target="_blank">Apulia</a>. And then they use their hands. To paint a vista of gnarled olive trees silhouetted against a lapis lazuli sea. To express the amazing sunlight. To sketch the saw-toothed skyline of a village comprised entirely of trulli—the conical stone roofs unique to the region. Best of all, Apulia (pronounced ah-pooh-lya) passes the most important Classic Journeys test—it offers fine leisurely walking, elegant accommodations, and a glimpse into a region and culture that&#39;s not quite like any you&#39;ve encountered before.

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  • Basque Village

    Basque Country: A Feast for the Senses

    <p>One of Europe’s most fascinating, and often most overlooked, qualities is that nationalities often don’t end at the border. This becomes immediately evident in the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Basque Country</a>, whether you find yourself on the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">French or the Spanish side.</a> Almost out of nowhere, road signs appear with words that have strange consonant combinations—think lots of t’s, z’s and x’s in rapid succession. The next thing you notice is the landscape—green, dramatic hills dotted with white houses, all adorned with red tiled roofs. Add in a rugged coastline and a few flocks of sheep here and there, and you’ll be reaching for your camera.</p> <p>Sitting down for dinner is another sign that you’re somewhere a little bit different. First of all, you don’t need to be <i>sitting</i> at all. Just stroll into any of the local bars that are steps away from the Atlantic Ocean on Fermin Calbeton Kalea, the main drag of San Sebastian’s old quarter. Motion to the bartender and suddenly you’ll be tasting a sampler of plates of delicious looking specialties piled on baguette slices. Called <i>pintxos</i>, they’re small bites of food akin to Spain’s famous tapas. The historic city is famous for its <i>pintxos</i> crawl, which begins in the evening and can last through the night, with groups of friends hopping from one bar to another; at each trying the bar’s specialties. There are bars for sardines, bars for mussels, bars for molecular gastronomy, and bars that serve tiny rice dishes, just to name a few. Common to all of them is <i>txakoli</i>, a fizzy, dry, light white wine that magically pairs perfectly with anything you eat along the crawl. If you haven’t yet, on the pintxos crawl you’ll get the feeling that the Basque really know how to live.<br><br><img alt="Basque food" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lR&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002n00" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>In keeping with <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Basque culinary tradition</a>, another great pastime is the tasting menu. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">San Sebastian </a>and the surrounding area are home to more Michelin stars per capita than any other city in the world. Classic Journeys guests enjoy a special degustation menu with a private chef after touring the old fishing town of Hondarribia, which borders France and its Basque country on the Txingudi Bay. Expect creative dishes, the likes of which inspired the modern gastronomy movement in many of Spain’s Michelin-starred restaurants. This time you’ll be seated, and you’ll want to loosen your belt.</p> <p>After so much food, you’re fueled for a different kind of stimulation. You’ll find it in the Basque’s love for aesthetics, intellectualism, and joy for life. <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Spain’s Basque Country</a> is not just a culinary destination. It’s also one of the art capitals of the country. In 1997, the Solomon R. Guggenheim foundation set up shop in Bilbao, along the Nervion River. The resulting Frank Gehry-designed museum is considered a work of art in its own right, with a futuristic exterior layered in titanium tiles that was intended to blend seamlessly into the urban environment. You’ll be forgiven if you see images of fish tails and ship sails—both a nod to the region’s seafaring past. Set in a formerly industrial neighborhood, the Guggenheim’s opening ushered in an age of urban regeneration, and transformed Bilbao from a gritty factory town into a hub of culture and sophistication.<br><br><img alt="Museum in Bilbao" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lR&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002n05" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <p>Within the museum’s walls, can’t-misses include Jeff Koons’ puppy, a living sculpture that’s become a controversial yet adored mascot for <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Bilbao</a>. Beloved Basque sculptor Eduardo Chilida’s Besarkada XI is another favorite. Described as rough and engaging, it’s intended to be a representation of Basque temperament. Another must-see is Richard Serra’s “The Matter of Time”, a permanent steel installation that alters the perception of the viewer depending on where you stand around the structure. As always in the Basque Country, you’re in luck if you get hungry; there’s a Michelin-starred restaurant inside the museum.<br><br>With so many of the world’s “firsts” and “bests”, the Basque country makes the perfect canvas for a handcrafted and expertly curated experience. Classic Journeys’ local guides ensure you’ll live the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Basque Country lifestyle as the locals do</a>: with a zest for life and a glass of <i>txakoli</i> never too far away. A well-known Basque saying is, <i>“Hil arteraino bizi, han arte ez izi”</i>, which in Euskera, the national language of Basque Country, means, “Live until you die. Until then, don’t panic”. Visiting this area is like journeying to a nation within a nation, with no shortage of cultural quirks, life lessons, and fascinating things to experience along the way.<br><br><img alt="Water view in Basque country" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z7lR&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002n0K" style="height: 355px; width: 500px;"></img></p>

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  • Man and Woman Making Pizza in Italy

    Bring Your Appetite

    <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">YOU’LL EAT AND SIP YOUR WAY INTO</a> <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">THE HEART OF LOCAL CULTURE</a></h3> <p>Snacks picked up in the market stalls and bakeshops. A five-course extravaganza in a Michelin-starred restaurant. A home-cooked lunch in a farmhouse kitchen. We love it all and make sure you enjoy the local specialties in a whole range of fine typical settings. Food is a foolproof way into the hearts, homes and history of the places we visit, and we prove it with every meal. If we start telling you about the pique-nique in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/provence/" target="_blank">Provence</a>… the so-sweet taste of a just-caught trout in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/peru/" target="_blank">Peru</a> … the homemade spring rolls on the deck of our junk in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">Halong Bay</a> … we’ll never stop. Suffice it to say that all breakfasts and most dinners are included in the tour price. In many restaurants, chefs make an extra trip to the market to prepare special meals just for us. Lunches are also included on many days. For picnics, we stop at local markets or bakeries for supplies. And we’re proud to include complimentary wine with many dinners. We’ll also get you into the kind of village cafés and small restaurants that are favorite haunts of our local guides. And so what if the menus aren’t in English? Your guide is there to translate, point you to the best specialties and pass on your compliments to cooks whose usual customers are neighbors. And, if you’d like to take it one step further and do some of the cooking yourself.<br><br><img alt="Group eating at table in Tuscany" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8gE&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lY0" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/vietnam/" target="_blank">IN THEIR WORDS A FEW FIELD NOTES ABOUT</a> <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">THREE OF OUR BEST-LOVED LONGTIME GUIDES</a></h3> <p>Nadia and Achilles Perry have traveled with Classic Journeys 11 times from Tuscany to <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/morocco-tours/" target="_blank">Morocco</a>, <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/coasttocoast/" target="_blank">Costa Rica</a> and beyond. Their restaurant Pylos in New York is the city’s highest rated Greek restaurant on Yelp, so these two know more than a thing or two about a great meal.</p> <p>For us, a meal in somebody’s home beats a restaurant meal every time. When we come into contact with local people informally around their tables, we always end up talking about all kinds of things. When we were in Tuscany with Classic Journeys, our guide Lisa took us into the kitchen at her 16th-century house. Her two aunts, who spoke no English, were at our elbows while we rolled pasta dough, stuffed it with spinach and cheese, crimped it, boiled and ate it. Some of our ravioli didn’t look perfect, but the fun and communal spirit of that made it one of our most terrific food experiences.</p> <p>We had a completely different home meal episode in the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/londonstonehengecotswolds/" target="_blank">Cotswolds</a>. Because we were with Classic Journeys, we were invited to dinner at a country manor house. Over our meal in the huge dining room, we mentioned to our host John that we’d just been to the Churchill War Rooms in London. As it turns out, his grandfather was Lord Isley, one of the Prime Minister’s closest aides. After dessert, John took us to see a painting presented to the family by the painter — Churchill himself. The extra familiarity and the flow of conversation that happen at a family table are things we like to experience on every <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/" target="_blank">Classic Journeys trip.</a></p> <p><img alt="Group eating outside in Tuscany" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8gE&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lY5" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img><br> </p> <h3><a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/culinary/" target="_blank">GRAPE ADVENTURES</a></h3> <h4>We love to swirl, sniff and sip our way through a special bottle of local wine. Here are some of our recent favorites.</h4> <p><b> TXAKOLINA</b><br>Say “choco-LEE-na” and sigh with happiness. A <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/basque/" target="_blank">Basque</a> favorite, it has lot of mineral and a little fizz. Essential for prolonged sipping with tapas.</p> <p><b>SASSICAIA</b><br>Watch the <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/tuscany/" target="_blank">Tuscan</a> sun turn ruby through a glass of sassicaia. It’s truly decadent and likely to touch your senses with ripe raspberries, a trace of balsamic and balanced tannins.</p> <p><b>NAPA ORANGE</b><br>No citrus in sight! Just white grapes aged with skins and seeds attached. The color is coppery, the flavor is bold, the match is perfect with foods like curry and kimchi.</p> <p><b>KIWIW SIRAH</b><br>Stop with the sauvignon blanc (or at least pause) in <a href="https://www.classicjourneys.com/new-zealand-north-south-island-tours/" target="_blank">New Zealand</a>. Their syrah is lush, really fruity and very, very glad to pair with those famous tiny lambchops.</p> <p><b>CARMENERE</b><br>Born in France, these grapes are happiest next to the Chilean Andes. How savory is it? Some experts even recommend it for beer drinkers who love IPA.</p> <p><img alt="Toasting glasses of wine near water" src="/servlet/rtaImage?eid=a2Y50000001z8gE&amp;feoid=00N50000008QRzC&amp;refid=0EM500000002lYF" style="height: 375px; width: 500px;"></img></p>

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