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newsletter january 2015

Greetings from Robbi and Jim

A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter from around the world.

Robbi and I hope that you have had a wonderful festive season and new year celebrations and we wish you peace and prosperity in the year ahead.

We have enjoyed a much needed break and the fellowship of our friends and family and with hearts filled, and batteries recharged, we are now back working hard preparing for this year's Aroma Tours adventures.

Once again we are well on track to achieve our most successful tour season ever and as always we feel blessed to be living our passion and to see our dream of sharing the places, people and experiences that we love continuing to unfold each year.

 Robbi and I hope to have the pleasure of welcoming you in 2015.

For detailed information about our tours please visit our information request page and if you would like to join us please visit our booking request page to reserve your place.

Aroma Travellers Our Thanks

Without doubt, the main reason that we continue to grow and flourish, is the on-going support we receive from our past Aroma Travellers.

Last year we enjoyed an outstanding number of returning Aroma Travellers and new guests who joined us because of direct referrals - over 63% of our guests! A similar result is occurring this year as well.

For Robbi and myself, it is such a great delight to welcome back so many good friends and to see our Aroma Tours continuing to flourish.

We would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your kind words and referrals as you spread news of our tours and retreats amongst your friends.

Robbi and I also greatly appreciate your wonderful words of thanks, it means so much to us to know that we have shared a special time with you during our journey together.

If you have not already done so, please take a peek at our Guest Comments from 2014

Flavours of Spain

This year's adventures begin with our wonderful Flavours of Spain Tour, a delightful gastronomic pilgrimage that explores the world renowned fine cuisine, exceptional wines, rich culture and sweeping beauty of North Eastern Spain.

We will journey from the magnificent city of Barcelona, renowned for its elegance, vibrancy and incredible architecture to Rioja Alavesa, one of the world's premier wine regions, along the legendary pilgrim's path of the Camino de Santiago, to the magnificent coastline of the Bay of Biscay home to the highest concentration of Michelin starred fine restaurants in the world.

You will experience amazing Barcelona, enchanting villages, glorious seaside vistas, rich culture, stunning architecture, lush vineyards, colourful markets, ancient abbeys, lovely art, beautiful countryside and fascinating historical visits.

We have compiled a page of photos of our Flavours of Spain tour for your viewing pleasure and to give you a sense of the wonderful places, experiences, fabulous food and wines that we will enjoying with our guests. ( Barcelona photos will be added later )

There are also more lovely photos of Spain on our Memorable Photos of 2013 #1 page

Flavours of Spain is now one of our most popular tours and Robbi and I hope that you will be able to join us next May.

For more details please visit our information request page and if you would like to share this wonderful adventure with us you can reserve your place via our booking request page

The Story of Pastis

One of the typical scenes to be found throughout Provence is men gathered around the town square playing petanque and drinking the aniseed flavoured liquor, Pastis.

In the 19th and early 20th centuries it was a tradition for wine makers and bartenders to create their own Pastis liqours by combining 45% alcohol distilled from grapes and other fruits with sugar, caramel and combinations of plants, herbs and spices to be sold "under the counter".

Some of the recipes are supposed to contain as many as 72 different ingredients, including Mint, Birch leaves, Maize, Vervain, Sapwood, Licorice, Chamomile, Blackcurrant leaves, Poppy seeds, Thyme, Coriander, Parsley, Cinnamon, Star anise, Fennel, Summer savory, Cumin, Licorice and Aniseed.

The notorious liquor Absinth also called "The Green Fairy" due to it's greenish hue was the favourite tipple of writers and painters like Monet, Oscar Wilde and Vincent Van Gogh. Sadly it was responsible for severe problems as it contained the herb wormwood which is in fact toxic to the nervous system. As a result Absinth and all other liquors containing anise such as Pastis were banned by about 1920.

Fortunately the ban was lifted in 1932 after it was realized that the problem with Absinth was in fact the wormwood and Pastis made a come back through men like Paul Richard, a disgruntled seller of "vin ordinare", who decided that there was a great opportunity to commercialize the production of Pastis and from humble beginnings in his parents back yard he created a huge world wide business; all from the humble Pastis.

Pastis is the perfect aperitif; every time you sit down for a meal in France there is the inevitable question, "un aperitif?". So next time order a Pastis which will come in a short glass with a jug of chilled water. The Pastis is a slightly viscous, pale straw coloured liquid which as you add water turns a milky white due to the oil of mint crystalizing out.

Pastis for me is "Provence in a bottle" and it is clear that sitting in the shade of a linden tree on a hot summer's day sipping a cool glass of Pastis either watching the world go by or contemplating the heavy responsibility of the menu selections is what "savoir vivre" is all about.
 

VIP Tour of Northern Italy

Robbi and I are very excited to announce that starting this year we are adding the new concept of Aroma Tours VIP Adventures exclusively for our past Aroma Travellers.

It is an opportunity for us to share more of the wonderful places, people and experiences that we have discovered during our 20 years of research, combined with ongoing new discoveries, to create unique and delightful new journeys that highlight our Aroma Tours style, foodie fascination and interest in the genuine and offbeat.

We are thrilled to begin this new chapter of Aroma Tours with a spectacular tour exploring the flavours, culture and beauty of north western Italy with many highlights, delights and surprises along the way.

If you have travelled with us before and would like us to send you the details please contact us by email at info@aroma-tours.com

Delights of Bordeaux and Dordogne

Once again this May we will be offering our delightful Flavours of Dordogne Tour which explores the stunning beauty, gastronomic delights and incredible history of the Bordeaux and Dordogne regions in south west France.

Bordeaux is one of the world's most prestigious wine regions and we will enjoy visiting Grand Cru Classé wineries and sampling some of its finest examples during our wine tastings and enhancing our delicious meals.

Dordogne is an unspoilt wonderland, renowned for its stunning landscapes of sweeping river valleys, perched medieval chateaux, colourful markets, magnificent gardens, pre-historic sites, spectacular caves and some of the most beautiful villages in France. It is also renowned as one of France's gastronomic capitals and we will enjoy fabulous meals in beautiful restaurants as well as an exclusive cooking class with our good friend, master chocolatier and patissier Bernard Decaix.

It will be our pleasure to return to Dordogne this May and we are greatly looking forward to sharing many more delightful moments with our guests in this glorious region.

There are many wonderful places and moments and we invite you to take a peek at a few photos of our adventures in Bordeaux and the Dordogne.

For more details please visit our information request page and if you would like to reserve your place please visit our booking request page

Our Current Booking Status

Robbi and I are thrilled to see that we are well on track for another fabulous season of tours with most of our offerings now down to the last few places.

We look forward to sharing many wonderful places, people and experiences with our guests this year and hope that you will be able to join our merry throng as well.

Our booking status at the time of this newsletter is:-

2015 Tour Season
 

For detailed information about any of our tours please visit our information request page and if you would like to join us please visit our booking request page to reserve your place.

It is our pleasure to assist you with any questions you may have and we invite you to get in touch with us either by email at info@aroma-tours.com or by phone on: +613 5331 3254 (afternoon/evening USA time zones, mornings from other countries). 

Please note

  • Our up-to-the-minute booking status is available via our calendar page
  • If the tour you would like to attend becomes fully booked, please let us know if you would like us to add you to that tour's waiting list in case a place becomes available  due to a cancellation or transfer.
  • We will be gradually changing our schedule of tours over the coming years to allow us more time for other projects and activities.

Robbi's Triumph

Robbi on a shopping excursion in ProvenceLast year after saying farewell to our final group of happy aroma travellers, Robbi and I spent several well earned days relaxing with our friends Jack and Sophie, whose family own the largest lavender farm in Provence. We stayed in their traditional "mas" (stone farmhouse), surrounded by sweeping fields of fragrant purple lavender with the Mistral blowing across the plateau.

On Saturday morning Robbi was up early - 'a woman on a mission' to visit one of Provence's most popular markets in the delightful village of Apt. Being one of the most popular and busiest markets, Robbi found it very difficult to find a park and so in true French tradition, gallantly parked her car on the nearest piece of footpath, just like a local.

She plunged into the market stopping only momentarily for a fortifying cafe au lait and to watch the colourful passing parade of characters. The market stalls wind their way through the town which is alive with boisterous merchants, musicians and people carrying baskets filled to the brim with fresh market produce.

Delicious classic French dessert - tarte citronSome hours later, weary but triumphant, Robbi returned to the farm just in time for le dejeuner (lunch) of succulent fresh rascas (red mullet) barbequed Provencale style. As we sat drinking and chatting Robbi leapt out of the car, crispy baguettes and golden loaf of olive bread in hand, carrying her "piece de resistance" - a beautifully packaged white box tied gaily with coloured ribbon, containing a most sumptuous tarte citron (lemon tart). All of our faces lit up in anticipation of the coming lemony delight and Robbi received a rousing round of applause.

As we were eating our lunch looking out across the lavender fields, George, the patriarch of the family said to his son Jack with a hearty laugh, "yesterday it was my 74th birthday, even I forgot". Jack ran over to the house and in the cellar found a fine bottle of champagne so that we could toast the birthday
boy.

Most importantly though, Robbi had inadvertently saved the day by purchasing her tarte citron which turned out to be George's favourite dessert. Not only that, she had bought it from the most prestigious patisserie in Apt. As the love of good eating is central to French culture, this raised Papa's estimation of Robbi's shopping prowess greatly. And oh yes, the tarte citron? It was fantastic!

Memorable Photos

One of the best ways to enjoy the spirit of our Aroma Tours adventures is by taking a peek at a few of the 1000's of photos we have taken during our travels as well as some of beautiful images kindly contributed by our guests during their journeys with us.

With that in mind we have compiled a collection of some of our favourite photos of our adventures in Spain, Dordogne, Provence and Italy for you to enjoy.

We also invite you to visit our Picture Gallery where you can enjoy browsing through dozens of pages of lovely photos.



Robbi and I hope that you will be able to join us this year to create some of your own lovely Photos.

Arranging Your Travel

Once you have reserved your place via our tour booking page, all your need to do is make your travel arrangements to meet us at the tour rendezvous point. You can either ask your travel agent to assist you, or for the more adventurous you can book your flights and connections yourselves. All of our rendezvous are easily achieved and naturally we provide all of the information and assistance that you will need.

Just a reminder that we have a frequently asked questions page to help answer the most common questions including how to book, travel arrangements, group sizes etc.

Previous Newsletters and Stories of Interest

Our past newsletters contain a lot of interesting stories and are well worth a read. You can find them by visiting our newsletter archives

You may also enjoy reading a few of the stories that we have compiled over the years on our stories of interest page

Our Invitation

Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats in the near future and invite you to take a peek at the latest photos of our travels in our photo galleries

For detailed information about any of our tours please visit our information request page and if you would like to join us please visit our booking request page to reserve your place.

As always if you have any questions or if you would like us to assist you personally with advice about your travel arrangements or with any other details please contact us either by email at info@aroma-tours.com or by phone on +61 3 5331 3254 ( afternoon/evening USA time zones, mornings from other countries ).

Please note you need to replace the '+' in our phone number with your country's international dialing prefix: from the USA/Canada it is 011 from most other countries it is 00.

Warmest regards,

Jim and Robbi

For detailed information about any of our tours
please visit our information request page