Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We had a wonderful time on our September barge trip through Scotland (9/17-23)! Mark in Ellen and Caroline’s office helped us to decide on the Spirit of Scotland, a lovely vessel with comfortable cabins and a spacious upper deck for lounging in the hot tub and viewing the gorgeous landscape. Alas! The weather gods did not smile upon us, and most days were too cold, wet (or both) to do any outdoor lounging, but we enjoyed ourselves immensely nonetheless. Our daily excursions were well-planned and interesting—Culloden battlefield and its museum provided a wealth of information about Scottish history; Cawdor Castle was simply gorgeous, both inside and in the gardens; the raptor demonstration enabled us to examine these beautiful birds at close range (we held owls, a hawk, and an eagle!); and the Dalwhinnie distillery tour combined educational (how Scotch is made) and sensory (a fabulous tasting that paired the spirits with chocolates) components. The barge crew—captain, chef, hosts, deckhand, and cruise director—were all terrific and worked tirelessly to ensure that everyone had the best time possible. Meals were amazing in both quality and quantity, and we especially appreciated the list of menu items (including wines and cheeses) provided at the end of the cruise. A little rain—actually a lot—could not ruin our fabulous vacation!

PANDEMIC TRAVEL  Juanna in Ellen’s office planned a wonderful cruise on the Savoir Vivre barge. She helped steer us through two years of COVID until we were able to travel in June. We picked this barge as it was small and stopped each night for dinner in a local restaurant. This appealed to us and we were not disappointed! The restaurant experiences were all very good. Breakfast and lunch were delivered daily by local providers. All were plentiful and delicious. Richard, our captain, was very welcoming and accommodative as was Axelle his mate. Our daily tours were led by Simon who was very knowledgeable and interesting. The barge is well appointed. We enjoyed walking the tow path ahead of the barge for exercise. Biking is available also. We thoroughly enjoyed our cruise as well as our fellow passengers. We recommend Ellen’s team, and the Savoir Vivre as an enjoyable way to see Southern Burgundy.

The captain was very engaging and the crew of one was efficient knowledgeable and attentive. The guide extraordinary in her knowledge and ability to find answers to questions. I was given the opportunity to pilot the barge and commented that it was like trying to push a rope. Riding a bicycle on the tow path was a good way to get some exercise and pictures of the barge and locks along the way. The captain had electrical shore service every night and that was really appreciated as we did not have to listen to a generator all night.

Ellen and Lori helped our group pick the ideal barge for our group- The Gran Cru. This phenomenal barge is only in its second season, has a fantastic staff that works well together and created a very convivial atmosphere- as well as lots of wonderful food and wine. A Gran Cru wine and 3 cheeses were served at every meal and Chef Joe was outstanding. In addition to cooking our meals, he held a couple of cooking classes for us. Boat manager, guide and wine expert Anna- superb! Without the input of Ellen and Lori we likely would have chosen another barge and not had the same experience.

I also appreciated the heads up from Ellen that because of no rain, we would not be on canals but rather on the Saône. In reality it mattered little as our itinerary remained the same and the scenery remained beautiful. This is our second barge trip through Ellen and I will use her again for future trips.

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