Travel Two Ways: Bordeaux or Santa Barbara

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Bordeaux's endless vineyards.

Bordeaux or Santa Barbara

Two culinary cruises for two budgets.

Roam Santa Barbara, aka the “American Riviera.”
On your cruise, stop for tea at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria.

By Susan Hanson
Go with the flow on a gourmet voyage to Spain and France. Or kick back on a vineyard picnic during a sailing to foodie favorites along the West Coast.

Bordeaux – The Splurge
Star Alliance connections promise stellar service
in business class between Chicago and Europe. Fly Lufthansa to Frankfurt and on to Lisbon, then return home from London via United Airlines.

Complement those Bordeaux with Cancale oysters, sweet port wine in its birthplace, and pulpo Gallego (Galician-style octopus). Eleven days exploring France and Spain’s legendary food and wine regions take you from La Rochelle to Cognac country, the Médoc and Saint-Émilion wine regions, and Gijón to sample Asturian cheese. To enhance the experience, Windstar Cruises brings a wine expert and guest chef aboard for daily wine tastings and other themed activities. Relax in a Balcony Suite as the 212-passenger Star Legend sails from Lisbon to London.

One of France’s oldest estates – first mentioned in a deed dating from 1330 – Bordeaux’s Château Giscours opens its doors for an exclusive evening, including a guided tour of its cellars and a cooking demonstration. Luxury wines and a live quartet accompany dinner during this invitation-only event.

Santa Barbara – The Steal
Pick up one of Alaska Airlines’ in-flight entertainment players and watch a hit film while flying economy class from Chicago to Los Angeles. Head home from Vancouver, British Columbia, with a stop in Seattle.

Roam around Santa Barbara, the “American Riviera,” as Princess Cruises explores West Coast culinary hot spots between Los Angeles and Vancouver. Head into the heart of Sonoma during a stop in San Francisco; hit the “ale trail” in Astoria, Oregon; and sit down to high tea at The Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, British Columbia. Spend seven days soaking in the Pacific scenery from a Balcony stateroom aboard the 3,082-passenger Crown Princess, and grab a seat at Vines wine bar, ranked among the top at sea.

Watch Sideways again before venturing into the Santa Ynez Valley for tastings at four wineries and a picnic amid the vineyards on a full-day excursion from Santa Barbara. From $398 per couple. Back on board, join a culinary arts class or winetasting through Princess’ ScholarShip@Sea program.

Originally appeared in Virtuoso Traveler magazine, October 2014.

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Make sure to ship some souvenirs home.