A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter in over 30 countries around the world.
Robbi and I are now back home in Provincial Victoria enjoying time to reminisce about the the many delightful places and experiences that we have shared with our Aroma Tours guests during this year's travels.
After 25 wonderful years, as we contemplate throttling back on the number of tours that we will be offering, Robbi and I feel truly blessed to once again be sharing our passion for the fabulous places and experiences that we love, with delightful people from around the world.
We are delighted to see that demand for next year's season is the strongest we have ever seen!
Without doubt, the main reason that we have grown and flourished over the years, is the on-going support we have received from our past Aroma Travellers and we are thrilled to see that they continue to make up almost 65% of our guests!
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.
Robbi and I also greatly appreciate the wonderful words of thanks we have received over the years and have added a new compilation of Guest Comments to our site.
The enthusiasm for our 2020 season is continuing strongly with half of our tours now sold out and the remaining ones down to the last few vacancies:-
|List of Tours for 2020|
|Flavours of Spain||18 - 25 May 2020||2 vacancies|
|Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage||25 May - 1 June 2020||2 vacancies|
|Flavours of France (invite only)||8 - 15 June 2020||SOLD OUT|
|Heart of Provence||22 - 29 June 2020||SOLD OUT|
|Essential Provence||29 June - 6 July 2020||3 vacancies|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|10 - 17 July 2020||1 vacancy|
|Aromas of Tuscany||1 - 8 September 2020||5 vacancies|
|Flavours of Italy||8 - 15 September 2020||4 vacancies|
|Bali Women's Retreat||5 - 12 September 2020||SOLD OUT|
|Bali Women's Retreat||14 - 21 September 2020||SOLD OUT|
Each year our Aroma Tours adventures begin with our delightful and delicious gourmet tours in northern Spain
The first bite is always with the eye and here for your visual feasting are some of the lovely meals ( in many cases Michelin starred ) that we have enjoyed during our Flavours of Spain Tour and Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage
We are now down to the last few places for both of our amazing Michelin star studded experiences in Spain - time for some delicious Carpe Diem.
Whenever possible between our busy schedule of tours, Robbi and I like to take a little time off to relax and catch up with our local friends.
In Provence this year we were absolutely delighted to once again spend a few magical days with our dearest friends in Provence Jack and Sophie on their huge lavender farm, high in the Haute Vaucluse: one of the largest true French lavender farms in the world.
The lavender harvest was in full swing, so everything was a bustle, with harvesters plying their way gracefully along the long rows, creating swathes of aromatic purple blooms that could be seen in various stages of drying ( over 2 or 3 days ), in preparation for their journey to the distillery.
I found myself fascinated by the patterns the machinery left in the dusty soil and the wisps of lavender scattered randomly at the end of the rows. Also, the way the landscape was gradually changing from vibrant purple, to rows of green, set between the swathes of cut blooms.
The distillery with its twin "couldrons" was the heart of operations with deliveries of fragrant lavender constantly arriving by the tonne. Ready for their metamorphosis into this most precious of essential oils: the aromatic "grassy" smell of freshly distilled lavender was everywhere.
At evening meal times it was exciting to share with our friends and the farm workers ( freshly back from cutting, collecting and distilling ) their news of the day's work; weather, equipment breakdowns, essential oil yield and quality...... As always the conversation quickly turned to light-hearted banter as we sat - glass of wine in hand - watching the amazing sight of the sun setting over 80 hectares of lavender fields.
During the daytime, I took to rambling amongst the fields and through the nearby forests which were absolutely bursting with wild lavender - we were after all in the natural home of this amazing plant.
In one spot, I found a veritable carpet of wild lavender and nearby, dozens of hives with their nimbus of bees busily gathering nectar to make lavender flavoured honey.
I can't begin to describe the beauty and incredible joy we felt during those precious few days except to say:-
"To drift off to sleep in the true darkness of night, as the gentle lavender scented breeze outside, dances across the flowering rows of purple - all is bliss, all is bliss...."
If you would like to journey with us to create your own lavender scented memories amongst the purple fields of Provence please visit our tour information page for more details. Lavender fields await you on our make a reservation page.
One of the great pleasures for Robbi and I after each tour season is receiving messages of thanks from our Aroma Travellers. We have compiled a few below from our past adventures and hope that you enjoy reading about their experiences with us.
Glorious leisurely gourmet lunch in a beautiful 2 star Michelin restaurant in Spain - joyful and delicious!
Vincent Van Gogh and Paul Gauguin were first introduced to one another in Paris by Vincent's brother Theo, who was both Vincent's
patron and Gauguin's art agent in Paris.
Gauguin, already a successful painter in his own right, was enthralled when he was introduced to Vincent's vibrant painting of two sunflowers in a vase which revealed to him the artistic genius lurking within Vincent's complex and often gruff character.
Both artists increasingly found the Parisian art scene overwhelming and full of egos and criticism, although they both benefited from the influences of the Impressionists, Pointillists, neo-Impressionists and newly popular Japanese artworks during that time.
As a result of these tensions, Vincent decided to relocate to the south in February 1888, away from the darkness of Paris and into the luminous light of Provence.
It was Vincent's dream to create an artist's community - a "Studio of the South" - to attract other innovative artists in order to share skills and inspiration and influence each another's artistic growth. For this artist's utopia he enigmatically chose a small yellow house in the seedy district of the unremarkable and rather conservative town of Arles on the Rhone river.
On his arrival, Van Gogh was immediately inspired by the beauty of the Provencale countryside and started painting at break-neck speed, experimenting with strong, contrasting colours ( yellow was his favourite ) and creating his own vibrant images of reality.
With Theo's prompting, Gauguin agreed to join Vincent in Arles that October and initially it seemed that Vincent's dream of an artist's commune was coming to fruition.
In the beginning they worked closely together, painting the scenes and people around them, sharing portrait sessions and communing at length. As a result their styles began moving closer together: Gauguin encouraged Vincent to paint more from memory rather than his usual spontaneous "in-the-moment" fashion and Vincent helped Gauguin to explore new colour possibilities and apply his paint with more intensity.
As the weeks passed, Vincent's erratic nature and personal intensity, as well as Gauguin's egoism and reluctance to praise Vincent's work, coupled with their fundamentally different philosophies and constant close proximity, led inevitably to friction and
Gauguin's paintings began to sell and gain celebrity in Paris ( unlike Vincent who considered his work too primitive and undeveloped to exhibit ) and he began to question the wisdom of remaining so far from the action, with a man whose mental unraveling was becoming more pronounced by the day.
Vincent responded to Gauguin's increasing fretfulness by working with fierce intensity, producing 25 pictures during what was to be a very eventful December. He was often drunk and exhausted and constantly fearful that Gauguin was going to abandon him.
On 23 December 1888, frustrated and ill, Van Gogh confronted Gauguin with a cutthroat razor, then afterwards, full of remorse and in panic, he fled to a local brothel where he cut off part of his ear.
Gauguin left Arles on Christmas Day and the two painters never saw each other again.
Vincent continued to deteriorate and spent his time in and out of hospital, eventually being driven out of Arles by the townsfolk and not long afterwards he admitted himself to the mental asylum of St Paul de Mausole where he continued to paint prolifically and produced some of his greatest works.
To walk in Vincent's footsteps and stand in the actual places where he created some of the world's most famous artworks is a very moving experience. One can almost imagine the easel and peasant's chair with Vincent's gaunt form shaded by his painter's straw hat intently capturing the "true reality" around him.
Italy in autumn is a magnificent kaleidoscope of colourful landscapes, beautiful hilltop villages, ripe grape vines, celebration and joy for life.
During our Aromas of Tuscany and Flavours of Italy tours we absorb the passion of the Italian lifestyle and savour the delightful flavours of the land's bounty, along with the rich cultural heritage evident in the art, architecture, historical sites, festivals, fashion, design, craftsmanship and unique approach to living.
Those of us who journey here are all destined to be transformed by the magic of Italy - feeling more joyful by the moment, speaking more enthusiastically, smiling broadly and even indulging in a bit of emphatic arm waving!
This year's Italian tours have just completed and our guests have been treated to many delightful, fascinating and delicious experiences.
Carol and Marina hope that you will be able to join them next year for a wonderful tour exploring the Dolce Vita in Belle Italia.
As well as couples and friends travelling together, we are regularly joined by solo travellers - mostly women, who appreciate being able to journey with liked minded people from around the world, without the need to do all the planning and take on the daunting task of touring by themselves.
Joining one of our small group tours is easy and we have already made all of the arrangements on your behalf to ensure that you have a delightful, stress-free holiday with the focus on having fun.
Having a ready-made group of friends to travel with, and us to take wonderful care of you is the way to go!
We have carefully crafted off-the-beaten-path itineraries that are the perfect balance of structure, experiences, details and free time to enjoy in your own way.
There have been a significant number of guests over the years who and have joined us multiple times, some of whom have become dear friends.
Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats as we continue moving towards our retirement in the next few years.
Jim and Robbi