Introducing Goway’s Grand European, the latest exclusive Holiday of a Lifetime, offering the “Promise of Something Special.”
What did a “gap year” look like in the 17th to mid-19th centuries? It was a tradition known as the Grand Tour, a way for young, wealthy Europeans to complete their classical education. This meant exposure to the Renaissance, the classics, and other legacies that in the eyes of its gentry, embodied the pinnacle of Europe’s culture and history.
Departing from London, the typical route travelled through France before crossing the Alps of Switzerland to Italy. Here, a few months in Florence brought the Renaissance to life before going on to Rome or Venice. Though the route and budget has diversified over the years, the Grand Tour continues to be a rite of passage for young Globetrotters today.
Of course, Grand Tours are just as rewarding for the young at heart! 2019 will see the first departures of Goway’s Grand European. Beginning in London and ending in Venice, this 20-day exclusive Holiday of a Lifetime trip revives a little of that classic Grand Tour spirit while taking a small group of like-minded travellers through some of Europe’s lesser known delights. Beyond big name destinations like Florence and Venice, the Grand European takes in beautiful regions like the Loire Valley, Lake Maggiore, and the Swiss Alps. It’s ideal for someone who’s done the big capitals like Paris and Rome, and is now ready to dig a little deeper.
20-Day Grand European: Holiday of a Lifetime
London of course needs no introduction. Never ceasing to reward the curious visitor, it’s the ideal place to begin any Europe trip, even if you’ve been once, twice… or twenty times before. A repeat visit is an ideal opportunity to venture out to Stonehenge, and lovely Salisbury, whose cathedral dominates the skyline. If there was ever a town ideal for taking English “cream tea,” it’s this one.
When it comes time to leave England behind and head to Europe, why not go in true British style, by sea? This allows a stop at Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. Its highlight is Mont Orgueil Castle, which has stood guard over Jersey for over 600 years. On this cozy, yet intriguing island, the sea is never more than ten minutes away by car, so there’s a deep sense of community and a unique fusion of French and British culture. Jersey even produces its own wine!
Overlooking the Channel on France’s northwest coast, the port city of Saint-Malo rose to fame as a den of corsairs, French privateers, and pirates. It was also the departure port for Jacques Cartier, credited as the first European to discover Canada. Today, it thrives as one of France’s most charming seaside towns, a stone’s throw from Cancale, famous for its oyster farming. Both have been eclipsed in fame by Mont Saint-Michel. Of course, the latter is unforgettable once you see its walled city rising at the end of a narrow isthmus, peaking at the spire of Mont Saint-Michel Abbey.
Not far from these beautiful coastal towns, France’s Loire Valley is a treasure trove for lovers of French history, particularly its castles. Chambord is considered a standout, being the largest in the region. Chenonceau is another favourite, uniquely straddling the River Cher. One of the Loire’s more unique attractions however is the Cadre Noir at Saumur. French classical riding finds its foundations here, steeped in military tradition.
Burgundy is one of France’s most famous regions, in no small part due to its wine and culinary tradition. Escargots, coq au vin, Dijon mustard, and beef bourguignon all find their roots in Burgundy. While Pinot Noir and Chardonnay dominate, the best local reds are known as the Cotes de Nuits. It makes a tasty final stop in France before crossing into Switzerland, on your exclusive Holiday of a Lifetime. Immortalized in the works of Byron, both Shelleys, and other writers of the period, Geneva has long been a fixture of the European Grand Tour. As the seat of the UNO and headquarters of the Red Cross, its cultural reach remains undiminished to this day.
It’s a cliché to call Switzerland the crossroads of Europe, but there isn’t a country more deserving of the title. German, French, Italian, and the lesser known Romansh are all official languages, and there are significant differences in the culture and architecture of the various cantons that make up the country. Among its cities, the capital, Berne steals the limelight with its Gothic architecture, including the country’s tallest cathedral. Italian Switzerland offers a more leisurely view of the country. If you’ve visited Geneva and Berne, the lakeside city of Lugano will round out your taste of Swiss culture with a hint of Mediterranean style.
20-Day Grand European: Holiday of a Lifetime
Crossing another border, Lake Maggiore is a highlight of Northern Italy’s Lakes District, though some of it remains in Swiss territory. The unique Brissago Islands are a highlight on the Swiss side. Protected from frost year round by the lake’s humidity, the Brissagos nurture a range of exotic plants not typically found in this part of Europe. On the Italian side, the 17th century Palazzo Boromeo rises from the Borromean islands, a spot beloved by the British Royal Family.
Milan is the business and transport hub of Northern Italy, and for many, the world capital of fashion and style. The three big attractions here are La Scala, the famous opera house, da Vinci’s Last Supper, and the magnificent Duomo di Milano. After you’ve seen all three, it’s time to shop, or stand at a local espresso bar and people watch for a while.
Italy is one of those countries you can explore for months while only scratching the surface. By the time you’ve enjoyed a taste of its art, landscapes, and architecture, your trip is a whole experience, not just a string of destinations. This is especially true of Cinque Terre, a collection of five cliff-side villages so enchanting they’re collectively protected as a national park. Of course, there’s also the food. If you’re a bit of a gourmand, Parma will be a favourite stop on this exclusive Holiday of a Lifetime.
That’s not to dismiss Italy’s most popular cities. There’s no greater collection of Renaissance art in the world than in the museums and galleries of Florence. You’ll want to visit the Uffizi, and the Galleria dell’Accademia, along with Florence’s Duomo, and the Palazzo Vecchio. With only one day in Florence, split your sightseeing between art and the city itself. The same can be said of Venice. While the fabled city of canals offers grand highlights like Piazza San Marco, St. Mark’s Basilica, and the Doges Palace, it’s another city where it’s best to balance sightseeing with aimless wandering. Not only will this enhance your experience of ‘authentic’ Venice, it’ll divert you from some of the city’s ever-present tourist crowds.
Like all of Goway’s Holidays of a Lifetime, the Grand European carries the exclusive “Promise of Something Special,” along with a fun theme, emphasizing a particular aspect of the trip. The meal plan balances unique dining experiences that show off each region’s cuisine with the freedom to make your own discoveries. Best of all, this exclusive Holiday of a Lifetime, like all others, is conducted under the eye of an expert Tour Leader, who can take care of the little details like tipping.
The Grand Tour tradition lives on in Goway’s Grand European Holiday of a Lifetime.