Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Make mine magical Mendocino

Wines, wilderness and wonder await along Inspiration Highway

Patti Pietschmann

courtesy Visit Mendocino
It's been a while since my husband Richard and I drove the 'trail' along the Redwood, aka: Inspiration Highway to magical Mendocino, and we're ready to return.
A curve to the right down Old River Road delivers the sophisticated outpost of Campovida featuring a 10-room farmhouse Inn, wine tasting venue and 50 acres of organic vineyards and gardens filled with herbs, vegetables and fruits.  In town, the sister property at Piazza de Campovida offers lodging and a bustling taverna serving artisan pizzas and a crisp Campo di Stelle Bordeaux blend.
Take a hike- at UC Hopland Research and Extension Center, which on the second Saturday of each month. offers a series of free, docent-led hikes.  The pristine 5,358-acre sanctuary is also home to resident lambs which accompany the family-friendly hikes. Just up Mountain House Road, the 40-acre Terra Sávia you'll find organically grown estate wines, olive oils and wildflower honey.  Tours of the olive milling facility or a picnic on the deck of the rustic cabin round out a lazy afternoon.  

HOPLAND TO UKIAH: Ales and Outback offfers the ultimate GPS - Great Pinot Sipping - starts along the 15-mile stretch between Hopland to Ukiah.  Here, pavement fades to green as vineyards kiss the redwoods and time 
truly slows.  Key stops include the expansive 180-acre Jeriko Estate and John Fetzer's signature Saracina Vineyards featuring a state-of-the-art cave system carved out of solid rock, followed by Jaxon Keys Winery & Distillery.  This is a good time to dive into Mendocino AVA zinfandels including Jaxon Keys' award-winning Mae's Block Zin served in an historic 1880s farmhouse.  Next, Nelson Family Vineyards steps up with 200 vineyard acres growing 12 varietals; the Blanc de Blanc Sparkling Wine is spot on or taste the more offbeat estate Ice Riesling and Orange Muscat wines.  Top off the tour at RIVINO, offering a stunning al fresco tasting venue perched over the vineyards.

Keep on trucking to Ukiah (Haiku backwards) and switch gears to the dark side:  Ales.  Pull up a stool at the nation's first certified organic brewpub, Ukiah Brewing Company and; Restaurant, for a selection of 20+ales and lagers, all brewed with organic barley and hops.  Nearby, California's first post-Prohibition brewery, Mendocino Brewing Company and Ale House, defines the American craft brew renaissance with selections from its signature Red Tail Ale to seasonal pumpkin and black ales. 

Ukiah provides 300 days of annual sunshine, quaint Victorian architecture and a distinctive laid-back vibe.  For a taste of the past, saunter over to the Grace Hudson Museum for a personal tour of the Sun House, a stunning 1911 craftsman bungalow offering an inside look into the lifestyle of artist Grace Carpenter Hudson (free with museum admission). Or, check out the Wild Gardens featuring native plants, exhibits and art spotlighting Pomo Indian life in Mendocino.   

 Head over to  Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve and Orr Hot Springs Resort for a grounding hike through massive virgin redwood groves with trees spanning ten feet in diameter and culminate in a stunning fern forest, resembling a scene from the Jurassic Era.  Next door, dress down for a soak in one of Orr's natural springs - including a large rock pool, private baths and communal springs.  Enjoy a massage and spend the night in one of  23 rustic cabins and yurts.

 Just east of Ukiah lies the tiny town of Talmage.  Enter through the Gate of Three Arches and into another realm - the City of 10,000 Buddhas.  Pass through to peacocks, pagodas, "Vigor" and "Virtue" signposts and the resonance of chanting monks at one of the nation's largest Buddhist monasteries.   Prime time is 10:30 a.m., or 12:30 p.m., when visitors can join the service inside the elaborate Jeweled Hall.  Lining the facility from floor to ceiling are 10,000 golden buddhas in a variety of sizes, said to have been crafted by the Venerable Master himself and etched by hand over a ten-year period.  Pop into the Jyuan Kang Vegetarian Restaurant on site for house-made satay.                 

Make a picnic stop northeast of Talmage at Cow Mountain Recreation Area, offering 120 miles of off-road trails for hikers, bikers and ATV enthusiasts.   Also nearby, Leonard Lake Reserve offers a cool respite. Sources:,,  FYI:   A favorite haunt of Mark Twain, Teddy Roosevelt and Jack London, Vichy Springs Resort and Spa is a 700-acre retreat boasting America's only warm and naturally carbonated Vichy mineral baths (and Olympic-size pool).  Bed down in the historic Blue Cottage (1852) or take a break in the creek side baths like a lime in Perrier.  Day rate (2 hrs.; $35). Click on www.vichysprings.infoThere's plenty more places to see along the way, before 101 ends, so click here where the helpful Mendocino folks can fill in the blanks.

I will tell you that the last stretch of Highway 101 marks the county's final frontier ending in the northern town of Piercy.  This is quintessential California logging turf turned off-grid getaway for fishing, hunting and reconnecting with Mother Earth.  Laytonville is known for its annual rodeo (June) and serves a fine roadside barbecue while Leggett and Piercy step up with some oddities worth seeking out.


Monday, August 28, 2017

From Palm Spings to the sea new hotels hit the California scene

A variety of lodging styles await visitors
Patti Pietschmann

Kimpton Rowan rooftop pool courtesy Kimpton
The California tourism industry is on a roll with new hotel openings along with some major renovations of old properties.
One of the most anticipated Desert arrival is the 153-room,  $400 million Kimpton Rowan Palm Springs which is due to begin business in September in the recently refreshed downtown district. The modern/minimalist-style hotel will sport the town's only rooftop pool.

Courtesy Ingleside Inn
Also in PS, the  iconic Ingleside Inn is having a facelift that will combine its  30 suites and villas into one upscale retreat. I am a big fan of this place where old Hollywood stayed and played (Sinatra, Liz Taylor, Greta Garbo et al) and its Melvyn's restaurant which will be tweaked but maintain its panache.

Heading on the freeways to Hollywood you'll find newcomers Dream Hotel and the Intercontinental. Then in DTLA, a re-imagined Hotel Figueroa and in  Koreatown come November the LINE Hotel.

Welcome to the Hotel Californian
Moving on up to Santa Barbara visitors will be welcome to  is the much awaited 121-room  Hotel Californian smack in the heart of town. The super stylized property is billed as a modern, Moorish seaside property (well it is just a short walk to the beach).

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Americans drinking more wines than ever thanks to state of affairs

Could be sign of the times
Patti Pietschmann

Nectar of the Dogs wine is the labor of love of two women who donate proceeds to animal charities
Let's hear it for wine lovers!  We are hitting the bottle big time lately. Not too surprising considering the state off affairs in the U.S.  I'm sure the liquor market's up too. Well a recently released report from Beverage Information Group's 2017 Wine Handbook says that The U.S. wine market, the largest in the world, continued to show strength in 2016 growing 2.4% to 341.1 million 9-liter cases led by a 6.6% upsurge in the consumption of total sparkling wines .  A strong U.S. economy, employment and wage gains, and larger discretionary incomes all contributed to the category's growth.
That's mean supporting our local wines
Total domestic wines accounted for 76.8% of the wine category, up slightly from last year.  The number of U.S wineries also continued to grow, topping almost 8,300, up 4%.  California, the largest wine producing state, continued to capitalize on the increasing popularity of its premium and super-premium wine segments in 2016.  Wines produced in Oregon and Washington also continued to show promise as consumers are demonstrating their willingness to explore wine beyond the California segment. 
We are also going premium as sales  of wines priced under $10 slip while higher-priced label sales rise. in the $10 to $20 range thriving.  
Table wine grew to 309.4 million 9-liter cases, a 2.2% increase over 2015, according to the 2017 Wine Handbook.  
The champagne and sparkling wine category continues to grow with  22.1 million 9-liter cases, up an impressive 7.8%.  Domestic sparkling wine reached 11.9 million 9-liter cases resulting in a 5.2% increase in volume, continuing an eleven-year growth streak.

The 2017 Wine Handbook, which sells for a whopping $925 in hard cover, is a comprehensive source of information on U.S. wine industry sales trends that includes consumption data and projected sales by category and by market, as well as leading brands and historical information.  Categories include table, fortified and dessert wines, sparkling and champagne, vermouth and wine coolers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Delta takes Tumi to new heights for First Class passengers

Carrier upgrades First Class amenity kit
Patti Pietschmann

Cool kits

If you fly in the  Delta One cabin starting in September you'll find an improved  TUMI amenity kit at your seat. Delta’s TUMI hard-case amenity kit, which is based off of the company’s popular 19 Degree collection, will allow customers to monogram a patch on the front of the case, a first for any airline amenity.
According to Delta senior vice president if in flight servie, Allison Ausband, “Every detail incorporated into our TUMI amenity kit has been thoughtfully selected with our customers’ needs and preferences in mind – no matter how big or small.” “We are excited to offer customers the ability to monogram their amenity kits and create a personalized souvenir to take with them as they jetset across the globe.” 
The kits  combine two premium, high-quality brands – TUMI and Kiehl’s Since 1851 – to create a spa-like experience in the sky, revitalizing skin on Delta’s longest flights. Contents include a hand cleanser, a mouthwash stick, TUMI eyeshades ,  updated striped socks,  Kiehl’s Lip Balm #1 and grapefruit-scented Deluxe Hand and Body Lotion with Aloe Vera and Oatmeal,  Crest toothpaste, tissues, mouthwash and ear plugs.
The kits will be available on all Delta One flights, including coast-to-coast flights between JFK and LAX/SFO, BOS-SFO and DCA-LAX, and will feature hard- and soft-cased TUMI kits. Passengers will score a silver hard-sided amenity kit outbound from the U.S. and a soft-sided black amenity kit inbound to the U.S., allowing them to add variety to their amenity kit collection each way. Complimentary monogramming will be available at any TUMI retail store aside from airport or outlet locations. Customers should bring the patch, which is located inside the kits, to the store to be monogrammed.
In the Delta Premium Select cabin, which debuts on Delta’s first Airbus A350 this fall, here  will  be a soft TUMI blue pouch at seats that include Malin+Goetz vitamin B lotion, a dental kit featuring Colgate toothpaste, an eye mask, socks and ear plugs.
On  international and select long-haul domestic flights, Delta Comfort+ customers receive a Rest and Refresh kit with eye shades, ear plugs and a dental kit featuring Colgate toothpaste, while Main Cabin customers receive kits that include eye shades and ear plugs.
Just another reason why this  Travel Diva recommends always flying First Class if you can.

Read moreof my Delta coverage here:

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Top chefs to strut their stuff at beautiful St. Barths Gourmet Fest

Fourth annual gathering in the fabulous French island
Patti Pietschmann
This is the first thing you see when sailing into Gastavia,  St. Barths (courtesy Richard Pietschmann)
I adore St. Barths for its fabulous French style, food and ambiance.  We have visited many times by air and cruise ship--each one as good as the last. Well now I have a good reason to go back. On Nov. 2 to  5 (my husband's birthday and Guy Fawkes Day, the island will host the fourth annual St. Bart’s Gourmet Festival
Our favorite place to swim, Shell Beach (Richard Pietschmann)

Six of the world’s leading chefs in French gastronomy will be there to showcase their signature styles and celebrate the long-standing tradition of culinary excellence on the island. During the festival, these acclaimed masters will pair with some of St. Bart’s most talented chefs to present one-of-a-kind multicourse tasting menus. Now one of the leading international culinary events, the fourth annual St. Barts’s Gourmet Festival will continue to enhance the reputation of St. Barts as a unique and exclusive destination.

St. Bart’s Gourmet Festival  announced that Chef Eric Frechon, executive chef at the three Michelin star Epicure restaurant at Le Bristol Hotel in Paris and “Meillieur Ouvrier de France,” will serve as patron to the festival. He will speak at the opening of the festival, serving as president of the jury for the St. Bart’s Chefs Challenge, among other duties.

The Chefs’ dinners will be held at local  hotels and restaurants such as Aux Amis at the Le Barthélemy Hotel, On the Rocks at Eden Rock St Barths, Bartholomeo at Le Guanahani, Taïno at Hotel Christopher, Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France and Le Sereno Hotel. On all three evenings, each chef will prepare a four-course menu at a fixed price of 95 euros per person and an eight-course menu at the fixed price of 130 euros per person.

“The Saint Barth Gourmet Festival is a major event that helps confirm the dominant position of the island as a world-class tourist Caribbean destination, while allowing both guests and residents to enjoy the best of French gastronomy in a friendly, festive atmosphere.” states Nils DuFau, president of the Territorial Tourism Committee of St. Barts.

The guest chefs attending the 2017 St. Bart’s Gourmet Festival include:
Chef Pierre Augé
Top Chef Winner, 2014; La Maison de Petit Pierre, Béziers, France
Hosted by Aux Amis- Le Barthélemy Hotel and Executive Chef Guy Martin 

Chef Jérôme FaureOne Michelin Star; Le Champ des Lunes at the Domaine de Fontenille, Lauris, France
Hosted by On the Rocks-Eden Rock St Barths and Chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten

Chef Pierre RigothierOne Michelin Star; La Scène Thélème, Paris, France
Hosted by Bartholomeo-Le Guanahani and Executive Chefs Philippe Masseglia & Chef Nicola De March

Chef Virginie BasselotOne Michelin Star; Le Loti at the La Réserve Hotel in Geneva, Switzerland
Hosted by Taïno-Hotel Christopher and Executive Chef Nicolas Tissier

Chef Christophe BacquiéTwo Michelin Star; Restaurant Christophe Bacquié at the Hôtel du Castellet, Le Castellet, France
Hosted by Le Cheval Blanc St-Barth Isle de France and Executive Chef Yann Vinsot

Chef Andrea BertonOne Michelin Star; Berton al Lago restaurant on Lake Como, Italy
Hosted by Le Sereno Hotel and Chef Alex Simone

In addition to the Chefs’ dinners, the festival will include a Bartender contest held by Cognac Martell at Quarter on Friday, November 3 beginning at 10 p.m., as well as culinary competitions such as the St. Bart’s Chefs Challenge by Champagne Lanson at Bonito, November 5 from 8-10 a.m., and the Amateur Pastry Contest “Petites Toques St Barth” held at the Wall House Museum from 10-12 p.m. Lastly, a new event, the Challenge Joyfood by Badoit, take place on November 4th at 10 a.m, featuring teams of locals and visitors cooking together for the chefs, with the winning team receiving.

Reservations for the festival dinners can be made by directly contacting the festival partner hotels and restaurants. Daytime events do not require a reservation and are open to the public.

The festival is organized by The Territorial Tourism Committee of Saint Barthélemy.  For more information about the St. Bart’s Gourmet Festival, visit well as Saint-Barth Tourism on Facebook

Celebrity Chef Wolfgang Puck to open a new reimagined Spago at Bellagio

Famous Beverly Hills brand replaces Todd English
Patti Pietschmann

Photo of Wolfie at Spago Beverly Hills by Patti Pietschmann

 Wolfgang Puck's  helped  ignite Las Vegas's dining scene into a culinary epicenter 25-years ago and soon will enter a new era at  Bellagio Resort & Casino. In spring 2018 he will present a new dining venue with an open-air patio with prime views of the iconic Fountains of Bellagio. "Just as Spago is credited with beginning the Las Vegas culinary revolution, Bellagio transformed the casino-resort industry when it opened with the first collection of world-famous chefs and restaurants," said  Puck. "My partners and I are thrilled to join the Bellagio family and introduce our new Spago to the thousands of international guests the resort welcomes daily. We reimagined Spago in Beverly Hills more than 20 years ago and look forward to doing the same in Las Vegas."
Bellagio president and COO Randy Morton adds, "Wolfgang Puck is known worldwide for delivering exceptional restaurant hospitality. From cuisine to service and, of course, style, he is intricately involved in all aspects of the business, providing first-class culinary experiences for his guests. Puck's high standards are the same as those to which we hold our resort culinary program, making this an ideal partnership to continue elevating our dining scene."
The menu will include gobally influenced seasonal fare and signature Puck touches, such as his famous designer  gourmet pizzas topped with salmon and caviar. Lunch and dinner menus will be offered both a la carte menu or by a multi-course California Tasting Menu. A special bar menu of Wolfgang Puck favorites also will be available, along with an artisanal cocktail program and extensive international wine list to accompany the chef's culinary masterpieces.
Designed by architects Massimiliano Locatelli and Annamaria Scevola of CLS Architetti, and inspired by Spago's original flagship location in Beverly Hills, the new venue will have a sleek look and feel. Guests will enter the venue from Via Bellagioon the resort's north side, arriving into Spago's chic lounge and bar. Adorned with brass fixtures, rich smoked-oak wood floors, leather chairs and couches, the focal point will be a spectacular bar and wine room lit by a stunning neon light fixture commissioned for the space.
Stunning floor-to-ceiling floating glass windows will surround the space, imparting picturesque views of Bellagio's famed lake. Two exquisite chandeliers will highlight the room's modern art pieces, while bold accents featuring rich hues of black iron, velvet walnut and polished grey will express a contemporary aesthetic.  Spago replaces Todd English's Olives, which will close this winter.
For more information and reservations, visit, call toll free at (888) 987-6667 or  Facebook and Twitter.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It's business as usual for beleaguered Barcelona

PR form sends out press release highlighting special tour passes around the Catalan Capital
Patti Pietschmann

It was surprising to receive a press release today about special tours available in Barcelona so close to the horrific terrorist attack that happened there on Aug. 17. The email told of  nine new experiences introduced this month [August 2017] and said that  the newly-expanded Barcelona Pass is the perfect way to discover Spain's second city. Are their heads buried in the sand or are they optimistic that tourists will continue to go to Barcelona?  

While the chances of more terrorist attacks there are slim, it would seem that many people might consider skipping it for now. Of course that would be a shame, not to mention playing into the hands of the terrorists.  Barcelona is such a wonder.  I have been there any times, several by cruise ships and a couple of times on a land trip.

If you're still planning to visit this Spanish city, read about these special tours with the all-in-one city card which helps save money and time on  sightseeing in the Catalan capital. The Barcelona Pass ( includes more than 20 attractions and tours across the city. Barcelona Pass holders make significant savings compared with the cost of individual tickets to attractions, while enjoying fast track entry at selected popular sites.

The pass is priced from €109 per adult or €69 per child for two days; three-day passes are also available, while an optional travelcard can also be purchased for the duration of each pass.  And the newly-introduced attractions ensure there is plenty for every visitor to enjoy:
Heritage sites for history buffs 
  • Liceu Opera Guided Tour - a 50-minute tour of one of the city's most beautiful and historic buildings, which is among the most important opera houses inEurope.  Normally priced at €16, the guided tour is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • Casa de les Punxes - opened to the public in 2016 after being closed off for more than a century, the Casa is one of Barcelona's most iconic Art Nouveaubuildings.  Normally priced at €12.50, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.
Family-friendly experiences 
  • Barcelona Zoo - see live feedings and discover more than 300 species of wildlife, from giraffes and lions to alligators and Komodo dragons.  Normally priced at €19.90, entry to Barcelona Zoo is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • CosmoCaixa Barcelona - fun, hands-on interactive experiences bring natural science and technology to life at this popular cultural centre.  Normally priced at €4, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • Museu de Cera de Barcelona - famous historical figures and pop culture celebrities stand side-by-side at Barcelona's wax museum.  Normally priced at €15, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • CaixaForum Barcelona - contemporary art museum located in a former textile factory, hosting regular exhibitions, guided tours, film screenings and concerts.  Normally priced at €4, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • Museum of Ancient Egyptian Culture - considered one of Europe's best museums devoted to ancient Egypt, more than 1,000 items including jewellery, statues and sarcophagi are on display.  Normally priced at €11, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • Museum of Modernism - the only museum devoted to Catalan modernism, this houses an impressive collection of works including some by master architect Antoni Gaudí, and is a true hidden gem of the city. Normally priced at €10, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.

  • Museum of Contemporary Art - an outstanding collection of more than 5,800 items, focusing on post-1945 Catalan and Spanish art.  Normally priced at €10, entry is included with the Barcelona Pass.

The new attractions join a Barcelona Pass portfolio which already includes must-do city experiences such as a tour of FC Barcelona's legendary Camp Nou football stadium and entry to Gaudí's masterpiece, UNESCO World Heritage site Casa Batlló, as well as a hop-on/hop-off city bus tour, walking tour and many other experiences. Barcelona Pass holders also benefit from special offers and discounts on various tours, retailers and restaurants across the city, as well as a free guidebook.
The Barcelona Pass is available for purchase at and can be shipped globally or collected on arrival in the city.

Friday, August 18, 2017

Pittance Chamber Music presents music to soothe the soul

A much-needed night of spirit-raising entertainment

A Patti Pietschmann pick

What the world needs now, during this time of stress following the horrific terrorist attacks in Barcelona and the turmoil in the White House, is soothing music. So mark your calendar and get your tickets for the  Pittance Chamber Music's eclectic night of  Mozart, Berg, Brahms and Bernstein, featuring principal players from the LA Opera Orchestra, along with Domingo Colburn Stein Young Artist, soprano Elizabeth Zharoff, on Saturday, September 16 at 3 p.m. in the Eva and Marc Stern Grand Hall, The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, downtown Los Angeles.

Among the most extraordinary musicians in the world are those you seldom see – the musicians of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra. Founder and Artistic Director Lisa Sutton, who is also Assistant Concertmaster of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, formed Pittance Chamber Music in 2013 to shine the spotlight on these remarkable yet invisible artists, bringing them from the pit to the stage to perform in small ensembles, hence the name Pittance.

Pittance Chamber Music
’s roster of artists is drawn from a large pool of talent including members of the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra as well as Los Angeles Opera resident vocalists, resulting in a unique variety of repertoire not often heard together in one program.

Hailed by the Independent (UK) as "a delight from start to finish," Zharoff will sing the lush, romantic "Seven Early Songs" by Alban Berg, as well as a selection of songs by Leonard Bernstein, in honor of the composer's 100th birthday anniversary. In her free time, Zharoff composes and designs game audio from her home studio and has created sound for over a dozen games, across multiple platforms. Also featured on the program is Mozart's exuberant Quintet for Horn and Strings, featuring the LA Opera Orchestra's Principal Horn, Steven Becknell. Principal Clarinetist Stuart Clark, whose performance last season was hailed by Classical Voice as "eloquent virtuoso playing" will perform in Brahms’ sublime Clarinet Quintet.

Tickets cost  $35 for  General Admission; $20 seniors; Student Rush $10 (at the door only), and are available online at or at the venue on the day of the concert, if tickets remain. 

The Music Center’s Dorothy Chandler Pavilion is located at 135 North Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

In 'training' how to explore, absorb and capture more of the world on Instagram

Riding the rails throughout Europe provides time to really connect with nature

Patti Pietsschmann

Take the slow train. Catch the scenery. Record it all on Instagram, Facebook or  other social media. Sit back and relax.  This is not for people in a rush. 
Here are just a few  ‘Instagrammable’ European train journeys from Rail Europe, distributor of European train tickets, passes and tours. Itineraries are available for booking via or by phone at 1-800-438-RAIL.  

SWITZERLAND-Gotthard Panorama Express is a new train designed for those in search of breathtaking landscapes. Start on a boat ride across Lake Lucerne, before seamlessly connecting to Reuss Valley and then travelling through the St. Gotthard mountain range. After passing through the Gotthard Tunnel, travelers arrive in Ticino before winding through quaint Swiss villages on the way to either Bellinzona or Lugano.

GoldenPass --shines as one of the brightest stars in Switzerland’s rail network, the GoldenPass line stretches nearly 150 miles from Lucerne to Lake Geneva. Travelers enjoy unforgettable views of so many of Switzerland’s highlights from Montreux to Zweisimmen as they relax aboard panoramic trains. While these ultra-modern, ultra-comfortable trains will appeal to many Swiss holiday revelers, others undoubtedly will embrace the romantic, luxurious ride provided by GoldenPass Classic Belle Epoque coaches. These beautiful trains boast unique “wine cellar” coaches that serve an assortment of wines and regional specialties.

Glacier Express is famous for its panoramic views of snow-capped mountains, breathtaking rivers, peaceful alpine pastures, magical castles, and charming villages. It’s also famous for its unrivaled pampering of travelers throughout the train journey. The Glacier Express is the ideal way to travel from the eastern to the western Swiss Alps by train. Along the way, venture across steep mountain passes and impressive viaducts. The Glacier Express voyages through 91 tunnels and across 291 bridges while you experience the alpine wonders of Switzerland.

NORWAY where sensational views of high peaks, jagged rock faces and craggy mountain slopes loom into view as you journey around via rail. Travelers often take the train from Oslo to Bergen, one of Norway’s prettiest cities encircled by 7 mountains. Here the train tracks snake along creeks—iced solid in winter—and through the mountains.  From Bergen, head north to Alesund, where you can mix it up with your transport choices and connect from a train to a boat that glides through the fjords. From Alesund, it’s just a short trip to Andalsnes, the departure station of the Rauma line, a scenic train that travels through magnificent alpine landscapes, overlooking fjords and passing by the impressive 5,000-foot high Trollvegen cliffs. 
To book a Scandinavian vacation, visit Rail Europe, here.

GERMANY by the Rhine Valley Line that connects some of the country's  quaintest Rhine villages, where vineyards sit on terraced hillsides below looming medieval structures. There may be more charm packed into this 62 mile stretch than anywhere else in Germany. The Rhine Valley offers romantic German landscapes straight from a fairy tale. Take the Mittelrheinbahn (MRB; Central Rhine Railway service), which follows the left bank between Mainz and Koblenz, stopping at all stations. The best part? Hopping from train to boat or vice versa using the same ticket! 

Black Forest Line--this scenic  route rolls from the small town of Offenburg, through grassy fields to Hornberg, and past deep green pines to Donaueschingen. The train then runs down to Singen where it joins the Upper Rhine Railway to the shores of Lake Constance (Konstanz). Donaueschingen makes a good place for a pit stop, about an hour and a half into the route. Foodies will find plenty of places to tuck into hearty Black Forest dishes such as the Schwarzwalder Shinken (ham) or Kalbsrouladen (veal roulade). 
Both routes are available on a Eurail pass, which can be booked through Rail Europe.