The Second Honeymooners
Search for unique cultural experiences and indulge
discerning tastes in food, wine and historic destinations
By Michelle Chumbley
Nothing says romance like the image of northern Italy's Lake Como, surrounded by dramatic limestone mountains and dotted with handsome, celebrity-owned estates. More than 100 miles of shoreline offer quiet places for serenity and luxury, like CastaDiva Resort and Spa, on the southwest branch of the lake and less than 5 miles from the city of Como.
Many of the resort's uniquely decorated rooms include terraces and private gardens overlooking sparkling waters. Couples also can explore spa treatment suites inspired by the four elements: a red "fire" room heated to balance metabolic functions, a hydrotherapy "water" room with honey-oil massages, a purifying "air" room with a Turkish bath and an "earth" room built in a cave for Dead Sea mud scrubs.
Restful days are spent by the heated outdoor pool that juts out over the lake and evenings on excursions to Milan, about 35 miles south. For on-site dining, try the authentic Italian dishes of L'Orangerie, where homemade pastas and locally sourced ingredients can be enjoyed on a lakefront patio in the warmer months.
Experience European culture on the Danube
Even those unfamiliar with classical music will recognize the airy notes of "The Blue Danube," a waltz immortalizing Europe's second-longest river. Dance along with "Romantic Danube" an eight-day itinerary with Viking River Cruises, which calls on three countries to reveal charming villages, grand cathedrals and breathtaking landscapes.
You'll visit Budapest, Hungary, where this iconic waterway divides the cobblestoned paths and Gothic dwellings on the Buda side of the city from the mansions and museums of the cosmopolitan Pest side. An onboard Viennese coffee and strudel tasting prepares you for your stop in Austria's capital, home to an impressive opera house reconstructed after World War II. In Germany, call on historic Passau, where the Inn, Ilz and Danube rivers meet, and tour Middle Age marvels in Regensburg.
Departures for the cruise, which incorporates musical performances and regional cuisine, are available through December. Prices start at $3,549 per person, without airfare. Tack on a two- or three-night stay in Budapest, Nuremberg or Prague, available through Viking's pre- and post-cruise extension program.
Stimulate your mind at sea
For a luxury ocean voyage with elegant accommodations and one-of-kind travel experiences, look to the six-star ships of Crystal Cruises. The line's innovative enrichment courses and noted lecturers create well-rounded vacations. The onboard Creative Learning Institute covers topics for the mind, body and spirit, like instruction in mental focus and balance by a tai chi master, seminars on heart health with doctors from the Cleveland Clinic and wine-making insights from a sommelier. A 10-night sailing of New England and Canada departing New York on Oct. 4 will offer art, knitting, digital filmmaking and bridge courses aboard the Crystal Symphony, priced from $3,868 per person.
The Crystal Visions program presents seminars by diplomats, politicians, authors, comedians and theater stars. Past guests include political commentators James Carville and Mary Matalin, therapist and media personality Dr. Ruth Westheimer and Jack Hanna, director emeritus of the Columbus Zoo. A July 8 Crystal Symphony expedition between Iceland and England will include guest lecturers Hank Aaron, a baseball Hall of Famer, and Marc Ginsberg, a former U.S. ambassador and presidential adviser. Per-person prices start at $8,435 for 18 nights at sea.
The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in January/February 2015. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 510-4002 for current rates and details.