By Mara Papatheodorou, Regent Seven Seas Cruises® Tastes & Traditions Expert
Fall in love with the magic of Europe, from the coastal areas and islands of the Mediterranean to breathtaking beauty of Scandinavia. In the south, archaeological ruins, mountain villages, terraced vineyards and cafes create alluring regional tapestries. And to the north, each country and city flaunts wandering waterways, colorful flowerboxes and architectural splendors from modern to ornate.
Enjoy FREE Unlimited Shore Excursions that highlight the Acropolis in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome and Hagia Sophia in Istanbul all of which are some of the most majestic ancient edifices in the world. Other ports like Dubrovnik and Antibes have charming cobblestoned old towns for strolling and shopping.
In Stockholm wander the cobblestoned streets of Gamia Stein (Old Town), see an exhibit at the National museum or visit Djugarden Park and its open-air Skansen Museum. Abundant with forested archipelagos, take a boat tour or island hop. And in Helsinki, shop on the chic boulevard Esplanadl, walk the waterfront or take time to visit the Old Market Hall where specialty foods from crayfish to cloudberries are sold. Have fun at Copenhagen’s famous Tivoli Gardens where the oldest Ferris wheel in the world.
With so much to see and do, I’ve put together a special “double” section of sail, sip and savor tips for you to enjoy:
The Mediterranean. Colorful ceramics hail from each country while olive oil, wine, honey, herbs and spices are delicious culinary mementos. Leather and gold accessories are also popular. Shop for lavender in Croatia and Southern France.
Scandinavia. Classic tabletop items are blue and white porcelain, while modern designs come in glass, silver, cut crystal or blonde wood.
Wine or an Anise Aperitif. Whether Red, Rose or White, most Mediterranean countries make very good wines. And anise is the base for a local licorice flavored drink.
Aquavit, Beer or Vodka. Potato distilled liqueur aquavit originated in the 15th century and is still Scandinavia’s signature drink. Beeris the region’s number one export. A true sipping adventure is a shot of aquavit followed by a beer chaser! Forvodka, sip Finlandia.
Olive Oil & Citrus. Mediterranean dishes are simple but sublime. From seafood to lamb or pork, olive oil and lemon are prominent ingredients. Fresh fruit is the sweet finale.
A Traditional Smorgasbord. This buffet bonanza features smoked fishes, cured meats, cheeses, potatoes and salads. Butter, mustards and lingonberry sauce complement hearty breads. Favorite desserts are jam tarts and butter cookies.
Mara is the Tastes & Traditions Expert for Regent Seven Seas Cruises where she lectures regularly about the history of cuisine and culture and what to sip and savor in various ports. Watch her dining and wine tour videos on our website under multimedia. She next sails on the Seven Seas Navigator from New York to Canada October 12-22, 2014. You can read more about her at www.marapapa.com