Treat yourself to something really special!

Explore your creative talents with our personalised journeys. .

Our unique and personalised creative journeys to some of Europe’s less-travelled destinations take place each year during the months of May and June, or September and October. Our guides who are not only experts on each journey’s topic; they are all professional writers, artists, art historians, and photographers, and are extremely knowledgeable about the regions we visit. Our journeys are based in one comfortable location with no need to continually pack and unpack every two days. We immerse ourselves in the culture and the journey’s main theme, and explore our inner creativity

in various ways, from painting or sketching, to writing and photography. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner are included, as well as accommodation and local ground transportation. We even throw in wine with evening meals. And what makes us different from other trips is that we meet and greet you at the airport, handle your luggage, and take good care of you along the way. When your journey is over, we deliver you safely and on time to your departure point. And to keep things personalised, we limit our groups to a maximum of 8 people.

ITALY

The Spectacular South Tyrol

12-nights based in Soprabolzano,
in Italy’s Dolomite Region.

sudtirol-500X375

.
Italy’s northernmost region is known as Alto Adige or Südtirol (South Tyrol). Its spectacular landscape of emerald-green hills, fields of wildflowers, apple orchards, vineyards, and craggy Dolomitic peaks as backdrop cause many visitors to call it “Little Switzerland”. In fact, it was part of Austria until the end of the First World War, and the local inhabitants adhere to their Germanic roots, music, folklore, and traditional dress to this day.

As part of your trip, we explain the cultural history of this spectacular region. The 500,000 South Tyroleans (of whom two-thirds speak German, one quarter speak Italian, and 4 per cent speak Ladin) did not always live together as peacefully as they do today.

After 1918, the region was annexed to Italy and later, encouraged by Mussolini, tens of thousands of Italians were allowed to populate the region causing problems for its original inhabitants, and much violence. Over decades, the indigenous people of South Tyrol struggled to retain their cultural heritage, eventually achieving the autonomy they have today.

The capital of the region is today called Bolzano, or Bozen, and high on the hillside above this colorful city is the small town of Soprabolzano, or Oberbozen, easily accessible by modern cable car, and by road. The surrounding countryside will take your breath away, and it is here, where the 4,000 foot altitude exudes crisp and clean air, that we hold our 12-day Creative Workshops, and from where we set out on our South Tyrollean day treks. See a map of the area.

Bolzano is also the home of Ötzi, the Iceman, on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology.  Ötzi is a nickname given to the well-preserved natural mummy of a man who lived between 3359 and 3105 BCE. The mummy was found partially buried in ice in September 1991 in the Ötztal Alps, hence the nickname “Ötzi”, near the Similaun mountain and Hauslabjoch on the border between Austria and Italy. He is Europe’s oldest known natural human mummy.

South Tyrol is also the home of the Reinhold Messner, widely regarded as the greatest mountaineer of all time. He made the first ascent of Mount Everest without supplemental oxygen, along with Peter Habeler, and was the first climber to ascend all fourteen peaks over 8,000 metres (26,000 ft) above sea level. He is the author of at least 63 books, many of which have been translated into other languages, and has preserved some of South Tyrol’s ancient castles as museums.

Dates + Prices

GERMANY

The Castles of Ludwig II of Bavaria

5-nights based in Füssen,
Bavaria, Germany.

The Great Castles of Leopold II of Bavaria

.
In 1864 Ludwig II acceded to the throne at the age of 18 without any experience of life or politics, but adored by women. But in 1866, Ludwig II suffered the biggest defeat of his life for the expanding state of Prussia conquered Austria and Bavaria in the “German War”. From then on, Bavaria’s foreign policy was dictated by Prussia and the king was only a “vassal” of his Prussian uncle.

Ludwig II was possessed by the idea of a holy kingdom by the Grace of God. In reality he was a constitutional monarch, a head of state with rights and duties and little freedom of action. For this reason he built a fantasy world around him in which–far removed from reality–he could feel he was a real king. From 1875 on he lived at night and slept during the day.

From the beginning, Ludwig’s fantasy world embraced several different epochs. The “New Castle” (subsequently Neuschwanstein), was based on Christian kingship in the Middle Ages. Seven weeks after the death of King Ludwig II in 1886, Neuschwanstein was opened to the public. The shy king had built the castle in order to withdraw from public life. Today Neuschwanstein is one of the most popular of all the palaces and castles in Europe, and vast numbers of people came to view his private refuge. The setting of Neuschwanstein could not be more idyllic, and it is not far from our 5-night place of residence in the picturesque town of Füssen, known for its violin-making traditions.

In 1873 King Ludwig II of Bavaria acquired the Herreninsel as the location for his Royal Palace of Herrenchiemsee (New Palace). Modelled on Versailles, this palace was built as a “Temple of Fame” for King Louis XIV of France, whom the Bavarian monarch fervently admired. The actual building of this “Bavarian Versailles”, which was begun in 1878 from plans by Georg Dollmann, was preceded by a total of 13 planning stages. When Ludwig II died in 1886 the palace was still incomplete, and sections of it were later demolished.

Linderhof in the Graswangtal, built from 1869, imitates a variety of styles, with the help of the latest technology. Linderhof was developed around the forester’s house belonging to his father Maximilian II, which was located in the open space in front of the present palace and was used by the king when crown prince on hunting expeditions with his father. Linderhof Palace, the eventual result of a long period of building and rebuilding, is the only large palace King Ludwig II lived to see completed.

Dates + Prices

THE NETHERLANDS

In the Steps of  Van Gogh

12-nights based in
Nuenen, the Netherlands.

VanGogh-First-Steps
.
This 12-night cultural journey looks at the very essence of Vincent van Gogh, his unique life, and the enormous impact he had on the history of art. Our base is the pretty village of Nuenen where Van Gogh lived in the earlier part of his artistic career, and where his father was pastor of the local Protestant church. These were some of Vincent’s most important formative years as a draftsman and painter, and led to the production of one of his most famous works, The Potato Eaters.

Our journey is conducted by William J. Havlicek, Ph.D. (Bill), one of the most recognised experts on Vincent, and author of the highly acclaimed book Van Gogh’s Untold Journeybased largely on Vincent ’s astonishing letters of which over 900 exist. This important work—the result of over 15 years of research—provides new insight into the artist’s true character nurtured from his abiding faith, the influence of family, and the tender solicitude he felt for mankind.

Bill provides us with some compelling revelations, among them the role played by Johanna van Gogh-Bonger, his sister-in-law, without whom little of the inimitable Vincent would ever have been known; and the artist’s vicarious relationship with Charles Dickens. Perhaps most revealing is Bill’s discovery of how the inspired words of Victor Hugo, embodied in one of his characters in Les Misérables, gave Van Gogh the idea for one of his most celebrated paintings of all: The Starry Night. This particular revelation has astonished the art world.

This journey also takes us on day trips to the famous Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam, the Kröller Müller Museum in Otterlo, and other regional museums featuring Van Gogh’s work.

Dates + Prices

SPAIN

The Essential Sorolla

5 nights based in
Madrid, Spain

Sorolla
.
This 5-night journey is based in Madrid, in Spain, and involves our participants in the amazing life and work of the celebrated artist Joaquín Sorolla.

Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida (February 27, 1863 – August 10, 1923) was a Spanish painter who was born in Valencia. He excelled in the painting of portraits, landscapes, and monumental works of social and historical themes. His most typical works are characterized by a dexterous representation of the people and landscape under the sunlight of his native land.

At the age of eighteen, he went to Madrid, where he copied paintings by some of the old masters in the Museo del Prado. Four years later, Sorolla won a grant to study painting in Rome, where he developed a distinct ability for depicting the effects of light.

When Sorolla returned to Madrid, his paintings were in great demand. The paintings he exhibited at the 1901 Exposition Universelle in Paris were very well received. Contributing to his international fame, the Hispanic Society of America commissioned him to paint decorative scenes for its library in New York City in 1911.  J. Paul Getty purchased ten of Sorolla’s Impressionist beach scenes at auction in 1933.

Sorolla’s widow left a large collection of his paintings to the people of Spain. The collection is now a museum, the Museo Sorolla, in the artist’s house in Madrid which we visit, and we spend time in the famous Museo del Prado, guided by one of our knowledgeable art historians.

Dates + Prices

What IS included . . .

  • We personally meet and greet you on arrival at the airport. We require that our clients arrive in Munich, Germany, for our German and Italian workshops, Madrid for our Spanish workshops, and Amsterdam for our Netherlands workshops. No credits are given for clients arriving by their own transportation from other airports or points of origin.
  • Ground transportation by road from the airport to our hotel or residence.
  • Accommodation. Prices are for double occupancy (sharing with one other person). Add 20% for single occupancy (a room by yourself).
  • Breakfast and dinner with wine.
  • Return ground transportation by road to your departure airport.
  • All local taxes.

What’s NOT included . . .

  • Airfares are NOT included.
  • Items of a personal nature such as local purchases, gifts, toiletries, etc.
  • Visa fees or customs duties.
  • Tips or other gratuities.
  • Taxi fares or any transportation costs other than specified as included.
  • Alcoholic or soft drinks other than wine provided with evening meals.
  • Trip/travel insurance is NOT included in our pricing. We highly recommend that you obtain travel insurance before you leave to cover most unforeseen eventualities and circumstances. There are many travel insurance companies out there, and we are not affiliated in any way with any of them. We recommend visiting InsureMyTrip.com for a comparison of various plans.