Greetings Active Gourmet!
The first blooms are appearing on the ancient pohutukawa tree outside the window in Waiheke as I settle in for another hot summer on the island. The New Zealand winter passed me by because I was either experiencing the joys of a European spring and autumn or pinned to my desk as the sou’wester blasted the bay.
Two new escorted tours were added to the escorted tour repertoire this year –
A Cooks’ Tour, in Tuscany and Provence, which included several cooking lessons in exotic locations, and a cycling and food tour in the Pays Basque (France).
Comments from those taking part were so favourable, we are going to repeat these tours next year along with the old favourites in the Loire and Northern Provence (the Vaucluse). The Bordeaux area is available too, so sign up now for 2014.
An interesting addition was an e-bike with battery assistance for helping to conquer any uphill bits. Those who regarded the ebike with some initial derision were quickly into the envious camp as its owner sailed past, his injured knee no longer an issue. Expect to see more of these bikes in NZ and on our tours. See our website for more information.
Our tailormade tours take off!
Tailormade tours continue to increase in popularity as people come to understand life is too short to wrestle with the interminable choices available on the internet. As one satisfied traveller said:
‘We loved the insider knowledge, all the little places no-one would think to go or see, or eat. You make it easy.’
An Active Gourmet on tour, 2013
Gallipoli Anniversary April 25, 2015
The ballot to allocate the 2000 passes available to New Zealanders at the Gallipoli ceremony opened on 15 November and runs till 31 January. Visit gallipoli2015.govt.nz to register.
Rugby in 2015 - you can be there!
The William Web Ellis Trophy has been wrenched from the grasp of Richie McCaw and returned to the IRB.The notable thing is that the trophy habitually gets returned in the second half of the four-year period so there is now less than two years until the big trip to UK and Europe.The New Zealand agents for ticket sales have been appointed and these sales are timed to start in January 2014 – we will keep you posted. Meanwhile, we're putting together a small brochure outlining many of the side trips possible between matches.
The great beauty of being in the UK in autumn is the ready access to so many marvellous places - including the Cotswolds and St Ives (pictured).Many of you have already been in touch about our Escorted Tours around that time, and we are working with several small groups and individuals to tailormake tours to suit particular interests. And we can do just the same for you...
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If you'd like to be included in mailouts to this group, please email me: gail "at" theactivegourmet.com
Progress in Venice - at last!
The prospect of Venice disappearing beneath the waves has been averted by the completion of the huge lagoon barrier called Moses, designed, obviously enough, to hold back the flood waters and high tides.Several times this year, parts of Venice, including St Mark’s Square, have been inundated for long periods of time (aqua alta). Even fashion gumboots and pedestrian planks have not allowed easy access to many parts of the city.
The other good news from Venice is that the notoriously slow-moving city authorities have approved a plan to divert cruise ships away from Venice’s Giudecca Canal and the basin facing Piazza San Marco by 2016. A new canal is planned so that cruise boats will enter the lagoon only from the west instead of passing by St Mark’s Square. The really big cruisers (3500 passengers plus) are going to be banned altogether. Currently up to nine monster boats can be in port at any one time and they completely dwarf the magical buildings of Venice.
L’Étape du Tour de France, 2014
Every year during July’s Tour de France, a day is reserved for amateur cyclists to ride one stage of the famed race. The ‘Étape du Tour’ (French for ‘stage of the Tour’) usually takes place on a rest day on mountain roads in either the Pyrenees or the Alps.
On 20 July 2014, up to 8500 riders from all over the world will follow the route of stage 18, Pau to Hautacam. This includes two of the most legendary climbs in the history of the Tour de France: the Col du Tourmalet (pictured) and the Hautacam. Roads are closed by the police to other traffic, with refreshment stops and medical support provided along the route.
Registration for the 2014 Étape du Tour can only be done online on the ASO Challenges page. If you are interested in taking part in the Etape, or want to follow a few days of Le Tour in a less arduous fashion, do get in touch. For something completely different, the 2014 tour is starting in the UK, in Yorkshire, heading to London via Cambridge.
Enjoy the festive season, especially all the food and wine with the biking, walking and swimming to work it all off – exactly the pattern we use on our travels!
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