Archive for the ‘Small group tour’ Category

Let’s Talk “Hootch”!

January 26, 2014

Dutch Schultz Treasure

As you tour Rhinebeck New York, you’ll find an historic little town nestled in the Northern Hudson Valley New York region with majestic views of the Catskill Mountains, the Hudson River, and more. Rhinebeck is a sophisticated four-corner town, proud of its Dutch History, scenic beauty with tree lined streets that beckon you to meander through very unique specialty shops, where you’ll find contemporary and classic, European and Domestic men’s and women’s apparel, jewelry, lingerie, spa and beauty services, and so much more.

Rhinebeck is also a mecca for art and culture: visual, performing and dance, and Independent Film. Featuring fine dining, casual bistros, and a thriving locavore movement, it has been touted as one of America’s best Gourmet towns. From charming B&B’s to exquisite hotels this town has it all!  And … a fabulously lively past.

Since the death of mobster Dutch Schultz in 1935, rumors had proliferated about the whereabouts of his buried treasure up near the craggy ranges of the Catskill Mountains – one of his favorite getaways.

It was in 2010, that a different kind of fortune was unearthed in the town of Pine Plains, New York. Unlike the many other searches made over the previous decades, here lay a find discovered almost eighty years earlier. Less than a mile from the town center stood a 400 acre swath of land known as Harvest Homestead Farm, owned and operated by the Adams family for generations. It was in the heart of this land, beneath a nondescript bunkhouse atop a hill, that the treasure was buried. No, you will not be finding suitcases of gold or cash or even a trove of jewels or stacks of bonds.  It was much more rare and valuable to its beholders who found on this farm the foundations of a sprawling complex – a clandestine distillery, the likes of which had never been seen before – welcome to prohibition!

Financed by Schultz and built by rotating teams of local workers during the last gasps of Prohibition in the spring of 1932, this massive underground distilling operation produced thousands of gallons of moonshine against the idyllic backdrop of rural Pine Plains. Can you just imagine?  Here, a sprawling network of interconnected tunnels, bunkers and false chimneys ensured, for short while at least, that detection by the authorities was avoided. The “hooch” was produced in an elaborate distillery cleverly secluded in an old cow barn, and constructed of steel reinforced concrete, valves, and pipes scattered throughout the property. Spring houses supplied water from underground aquifers, and a swimming pool served as a cooling reservoir. Tunnels spread throughout the farm, serving as secret passageways between the structures for its workers and as a means of speedy exit in case of trouble. An open secret to his own family, co-founder Alex Adams’s grandfather, Charles, worked the farm at the time as a young “potato harvester.”

Despite their best efforts, the production of moonshine in a sleepy country town did not escape detection. After numerous previous failed attempts, just after dusk on Monday, October 17, 1932, Federal agents raided the site. Among the items found were two 2,000 gallon stills in operation, two high pressure boilers, over 15,000 gallons of mash, 10,000 pounds of sugar, two Ford trucks, one Reo truck, and a Lincoln sedan. Two workers were arrested, and two days later, twelve federal agents returned to destroy all of the equipment seized.

Over the next 78 years, the farm would undergo many changes. Its owner, Patrick Ryan, was a retired New York City policeman, which may have played a part in his avoidance of prison for harboring the distillery. After the raid, he quietly reverted the property back to its turkey farm origins until finally, in 1969, it passed to Janet and Charles Adams, the same “potato harvester” who had worked at the distillery over thirty years earlier. For forty more years, the Adams family kept watch over the farm and its buried secrets. Then, in the Spring of 2008, Charles’s grandson Alex Adams and close friend Ariel Schlein learned of the passage of the New York farm distillers’ law and decided it was time to write another chapter in Dutch’s history!

So, after an extensive archaeological survey and review, the site was added to the New York State Archaeological Inventory as a “Bootleg Era Bunker Complex”, while the New York State Historic Preservation Office deemed it eligible for inclusion in the State and National Register of Historic places. Now, almost eighty years later, Dutch’s Spirits is building a new distillery in the footprint of the original bunkhouse site – the foundations of which are still being unearthed.

They are now working to become a self-sustaining farm operation and agritourism destination specializing in artisanal hand-made spirits. You can purchase some of their first products, including Dutch’s Spirits Sugar Wash Moonshine, Dutch’s Spirits Peach Brandy, and Dutch‘s American Era Cocktail Bitters. As they continue to rebuild this historic site, you will be treated to a tour of the historic remnants of the old spring house and boiler room, over the sprawling tunnel complex, and throughout the cavernous bunker, then onto the original bunkhouse site to see the new work in progress.  At the close of this most unique and interesting tour, you will find yourself in their “B&B” (that’s Bitters & Brew), a smaller structure recently completed to test some mash recipes and house the production of their cocktail bitters, Bitters Making Kits and other “soon-to-be-released” items. As visitors, you’ll learn about the bitters-making processes and taste some products, including a few of those test batches. I’ve always been fascinated with “hootch”-  I think the word is even fun to say, and given an opportunity to learn about this wild and wooly time in our history, in the place where it happened, is a wonderful opportunity – not to be missed!

Close out this exciting day with dinner at The Ice House on the Hudson. It is located in a beautiful setting, literally in the shadow of the Mid-Hudson Bridge. The restaurant faces the Hudson, and the interior decor maintains the authentic flavor of the former ice house. With a very nice selection of draft beers, good food and excellent service, plus a fun upbeat atmosphere, you will enjoy the most terrific view of the “Walkway over the Hudson”.  This is just one of several great days on this tour of upstate New York.  Please review the complete itinerary and plan your interlude with “hootch“ and, oh so much more!

Click on the link below for more details on this delightful escorted vacation.

The Hudson Valley Experience (click here for details & departure dates) 4 Days, 3 Nights

Eadie, Interlude Blog Team

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Eating Our Way Through Granada!

June 23, 2013

Picture1

Situated on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, Granada is the oldest colonized city in the Americas, established in 1524. Now the center of tourism in Nicaragua, Granada is known for its storied past, beautiful colonial architecture and dramatic lakeside location near the base of the volcano, Mombacho.

All things considered, there isn’t much that can mask the colonial charm and ambiance that is… Granada. You’ll find the central plaza to be as old-world as Spanish Colonial plazas come, with gazebos and fountains and horse-drawn carriages. The cathedral looming over the plaza is as old and authentic as it looks, and the same with the nearby La Plazuela de los Leones, where Captain Morgan actually mounted 18 cannons just to show how serious he was about plundering the city’s silver cache in the 1600s.

El Parque Central or Parque Colón is the social heart of Granada. This large, cobblestoned main square is dotted with trees, shady benches and fountains. A large, domed gazebo rises in the center and local vendors line the park’s periphery, selling candy, cigarettes and handicrafts. Along the west side of the park is a constant line of horse-drawn carriages, or los coches. A guided carriage tour of Granada’s most famous streets and sights is a great way to get yourself oriented.

Escuela Taller de Granada

Below is a mini-lesson in Nicaraguan Food and Drink:

The food and drink of Nicaragua is representative of the diversity of its residents. Spanish, Creole, Garifuna and Indigenous Nicaraguan cuisines all influence modern Nicaragua food, which most travelers find delicious – and exceptionally inexpensive. But in cosmopolitan Granada, you’ll find fine dining experiences that rival some of the finest restaurants in the States.  If you like the “farm to fork” concept, this is the place for you.  Nicaragua offers grass fed beef, free range chicken and fresh caught fish with the most delectable sauces accompanied by locally grown vegetables and assorted tropical fruits.  Have I whetted your appetite?
Granada Dining

But do sample some of the traditional Nicaragua foods like corn, beans, plantains, yucca and peppers. A characteristic Nicaragua meal might include a meat like chicken, pork or fresh seafood from Nicaragua’s expansive coasts, deep-fried plantains, rice and beans (aka “gallo pinto”) and a cabbage salad.

What can you drink in Nicaraqua? The Nicaragua drink “el macuá”, a blend of light rum, guava juice, lemon juice and sugar was recently voted the official Nicaragua beverage. When it comes to cerveza, the most popular Nicaragua beer brands are Toña and La Victoria. Bufalo is a relatively new Nicaragua beer. Never fear you can easily find International beers like Heineken and Corona as well.

Nicaragua’s bounty of tropical fruits is used in many non-alcoholic beverages, blended with water, milk or yogurt. In Nicaragua, it’s best to err on the safe side if you’re not sure about the water just order your drink sin hielo, or without ice.

Now, what about dessert? Two favorites have been suggested: Cajeta de Coco: Caramelized strings of coconut and yucca – and Tres Leches Cake  (Pasel de Tres Leches): A cake soaked in three kinds of milk, including evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk and cream. Be adventurous and order both. You only live once and I’m all for going for the gusto!

Please review the complete itinerary, and start practicing some basic Spanish phrases – although you will find that English is also widely spoken. Tener un viaje maravilloso y emocionante!  Adiós.

Natural, Notable Nicaragua (click here for details & departure dates)  9 Days, 8 Nights

Eadie, Interlude Blog Team

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Mission – San Antonio

September 15, 2012

In the 18th century, the Spanish empire established five Catholic missions along the San Antonio River, primarily to extend its dominion northward from Mexico, but also to convert the native population. What remains of the largest concentration of missions in North America provides us with an interesting look into Texas’ history. Today’s Mission Trail links four of the missions: San José, Concepción, San Juan and Espada with its nearby aqueduct.

The fifth is the Alamo itself (Mission DeValero)– much modified but still firmly fixed in the minds history buffs as the scene of a battle that helped secure Texas’ independence from Mexico and made legendary heroes of Jim Bowie, Davey Crockett, and William B. Travis.  Who doesn’t recall the immortal words of General Sam Houston “Remember the Alamo”!  The Alamo represents nearly 300 years of history.  You will visit three buildings – the Shrine, the Long Barrack Museum and Gift Museum – all housing exhibits on the Texas Revolution and Texas History.

On this escorted small group excursion you will also visit and delight in the other significant and beautifully historic missions along the famous “trail”.

Mission Concepcion looks just about as it did, more than 200 years ago. Founded in what is now eastern Texas in 1716. It was transferred to its present in 1731. The beautiful stone church was completed in 1755.

Mission San Jose is the largest and best known of the Texas missions. It is seen as the model among the Texas missions. Way back in 1777 it was referred to the structure as the “Queen of the Missions.” Founded in 1720, the mission was named for Saint Joseph and the Marques de San Miguel de Aguayo, the governor of the Province of Coahuila, Mexico and Texas.

Mission San Juan Capistrano made its home along the banks of the San Antonio River in 1731. San Juan was a self-sustaining community that had established a trade network stretching east to Louisiana and south to Coahuila, Mexico.

Mission Espada or San Francisco de la Espada is the southern most of the San Antonio chain of missions, Espada appears as far back in the woods today as it did in the mid-1700s. Founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas, this was the first mission in Texas. In 1731, the mission transferred to the San Antonio River area and renamed Mission San Francisco de la Espada.

If you are a big fan of old building and history you will love the Mission Trail which offers a solid footprint about the settling of Texas and a unique opportunity to visit history up close.

This wonderful escape to Texas offers quite the variety of interesting adventures –the Mission Trail is only one  item in a diverse and exciting menu.  Please check out the complete itinerary and make note of the Corpus Christi Option – it will really satisfy your inner cowboy!! 

Also, new to Interlude,  watch for our Facebook page where I’ll be posting some authentic Tex-Mex recipes and other tidbits about this trip. Pack your boots and head on out on this escorted journey.  Availability will be limited to ensure you savor the true  small group experience.

Festive San Antonio (click here for itinerary)
March 18-22, 2013 San Antonio (5 days, 4 nights)

Eadie – Interlude blog team

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Nicaragua 2012: What our customers are saying.

May 10, 2012

Farewell Dinner – Bistro Estrada

What a congenial group!  Traveling in a small group gave us flexibility and time to get to know our fellow travelers.  Our local guide, Julio, was so informative.  His English is excellent and he is very easy to understand. But the best part was his charm…he has obvious pride and enthusiasm for Nicaragua and he is eager to share its history and natural wonders.  Ruth R.

Hotel Convento, Leon

Who would have expected the food to be so wonderful? What could be better than starting your day with breakfast served ovelooking our lush hotel courtyard?  We had fabulous meals each day with organically grown fresh ingredients. The fresh fruit was abundant, and meal choices ranged from fresh caught fish to grass fed beef and chicken attractively presented.  Sally D.

What photo ops! From natural wonders including volcanoes, birds and rain forests to charming rural scenes of a simple life to historic colonial architecture…bring your camera, you won’t be disappointed.  Karen B.

Poneloya Beach

Basilica Cathedral de Leon Rooftop

Road from Leon to Esteli

The Nicaraguan people are so gracious…and what endearing children we met on our school tour.  This is the only tour I’ve taken that I would do again.  Donna S.

Rey Solomon School Nicaragua

People have asked me if I felt safe.  Never for a moment did I not feel safe.  I found the Nicaraguan people to be very friendly and truly eager to please. We felt free to walk around the colonial cities on our own without concern, and traveling with our U.S. hosts, Dennis and JoAnn, who knew Nicaragua well was also helpful.  Maureen & John H.

Ometepe Ferry

Ziplining down the volcano and over the coffee plantation…what an experience!  Our equipment was excellent, we traversed 15 platforms with our congenial guides…felt like a kid again!  Phil & Diana P.

Mombacho Canopy Tour

Please take a look at the full itinerary by clicking on the link below.  The group size is limited to 18 guests, so sign up soon!

Natural Notable Nicaragua (click here for itinerary)
 (10 days, 9 nights)

Jo Ann Carr
– President, Interlude Tours

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What our customers are saying about Nicaragua…

May 18, 2011

Mombacho Tour with Guide Julio

 
Selva Negra Walk in the Cloud Forest
 The small group tour of Nicaragua in their summer (our cold  2011 February) was outstanding from the start to the all too soon finish! 

The organization, Julio our very knowledgeable guide and Juan our very skilled driver were outstanding and fun.  The local food and lodging gave us a nice flavor of the culture. It was comfortable and “Nicaraguan” without the western “made for Gringos” feel. The varied daily excursions to really “see” the people, land, wildlife etc. were wonderful. 
 
The 10 of us  bonded and got to know each other like old friends, laughing at meals and while we traveled, taking pictures and enjoying the experience so when we got home we would, for a  lifetime,  remember those feelings and experiences. A very happy traveler…Steve Tilden

 

Sandra on the Mombacho Zip Line

 
I wanted a vacation destination that would have my friends saying “you went where?”

Nicaragua had it all….amazing scenery, good food, friendly people, and educational opportunities. As always, I felt safe and secure traveling with Interlude Tours. Our guide and our driver for  this trip were two extraordinary people. I returned to the USA with a new appreciation for all that I have been given as an American.  Thank you for making this trip possible…Sandra Stelle. 

 

 

Granada Cathedral

Enjoyed seeing Nicaragua as it is today.  Excellent variety of activities particularly since I like to see how things are made.  We toured a pottery factory, furniture factory, chocolate factory, hammock factory, tobacco plantation and cigar factory. These ranged from small to large operations. There are many different kinds of artisans here working in all of these factories.

San Juan de oriente Pottery Maker

The countryside is beautiful with the views of the Pacific Ocean, lakes, rivers, mountains and volcanoes.  I saw more wildlife and birds on this trip than when I traveled in Costa Rica a few years ago.  Also enjoyed the art galleries and museums. It was fun to shop in the local markets in the different towns.

Cigar Factory Tour

 

Our local bi-lingual guide made the trip!  We learned history, culture, politics and about everyday life in Nicaragua.  Our guide anticipated our needs and was great with details to keep the days running smoothly…Joyce Rife

 

 

Poneloya Beach

The entire trip my wife & I took to Nicaragua in Feb., 2011, was an exceptional experience.  It was very interesting to see EVERYTHING on the tour. 

Toyota Cruiser

The volcanoes, the Ferry to the island was fun, the Nicaraguan people were very nice, and the towns were fun for shopping, plus the other sights on the tour.  Our Nicaraguan Tour Guide and bus drive were excellent.  The guide spoke very good English.  The food was the best; that is, every meal was great!!!  I loved the fresh fruit they have there.  The hotel rooms were also very nice and clean. 

I also like the prices.  With a dollar exchange rate of 21 to1 in our favor, food, clothes, and everything else was dirt cheap.  You can get a large fabulous meal for 3 to 6 dollars.  Try that in the U.S.  Great Trip!!!  Everyone should go on this tour.  You’ll love it!…Harvey Gunther

Please check out our upcoming tours to Nicaragua. You are guaranteed a meaningful experience and a terrific good time.

Natural, Notable Nicaragua (click here for itinerary)
(10 days, 9 nights)  

Jo Ann, President, Interlude Tours

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Natural, Notable Nicaragua

July 25, 2010

Nicaragua MapYou are invited to tap into the energy and restorative power that IS Nicaragua.  On this inclusive small group immersion into the heart and soul of this rustic, charming country you’ll explore all the wonders and authenticity it offers.  Slow down; feast your eyes, and feed your senses in this land that defies hustle and bustle.  Relax and enjoy the poetic beauty of the music, food, architecture and culture of this Central American jewel.

Spend a night in the beautiful Selva Negra Lodge.  Selva Negra is a sustainable coffee plantation where everything from the food on the table in the lakeside restaurant to the electricity in the quaint half-timbered cabins is produced on site. The Eco Lodge offers you a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the sustainability that makes Selva Negra a model farm.   Here is a fantastic destination in which you can relax and enjoy the intense nature of the rainforest, and have the benefit of all the organic work of the farm as you savor a cup of coffee and a meal entirely raised and produced at the estate.  What an exceptional opportunity awaits you on this escorted vacation.   You will be dining in a charming restaurant located on one of the resort’s lagoons which offers a large deck with a wonderful view of both the mountain and the lagoon. At the restaurant you may choose from a wide variety of both local and international foods, including authentic German cuisine. Full bar services are also available – all the beauties of nature plus the amenities of home without the hassle.

Award Winning

Aside from being a model sustainable farm, Selva Negra is also well recognized for its high quality coffee and excellent cup. Recently they received a national quality award which included them in the Q Auction. They also received the highest bid for their coffee out of all the Nicaragua coffees in the auction.  Be sure to taste a cup of this deliciously hearty brew!

“…if the tourist wants to enjoy a fabulous hideaway amidst pine forests and on the shores of a small alpine lake, there is a well-known resort only 6 miles from downtown [Matagalpa]. The resort, known as “Selva Negra”, or Black Forest, resembles a European inn on the banks of the Rhine River.” La Nica Airlines Magazine

The cloud forest is located 87 miles from Managua, near the city of Matagalpa, at more than 4,000 feet above sea level. Originally a coffee farm called Hammonia from its German settlers, the farm evolved into a protected forest. Many birds live in these woods, including the Quetzal. Sacred to ancient Mesoamerican people, gorgeously plumed quetzals live in the mountains of Central America.   In the cloud forests, there are protected lands that create a preserve habitat for the birds and provide opportunities for ecotourists and eager bird watchers from around the globe. Such admirers continue a long history of admiration for the quetzal. The bird was sacred to the ancient Maya and Aztecs, and royalty and priests wore its feathers during ceremonies.  You won’t get many opportunities to see this unusual and strikingly beautiful bird – so grab your binoculars and your camera and join us.  

Ometepe Island, in addition to its fame as an archaeological and nature sanctuary, is known for its warm and friendly hospitality. Ometepe is developing tourism realizing its importance to the economy of the island. Already, several small hotels accommodate visitors wishing to enjoy the island’s beautiful beaches or fish in the warm offshore waters. The island’s villages are linked by roads which wind through fertile coffee and tobacco plantations.  You can enjoy all the natural bounty as you tour this lovely island, visit a tropical garden, and even take a dip in an absolutely beautiful swimming hole – can a day be spent in any better way?

You know how I love legend, so here is one from this region. The island is a storehouse of myth and legend. The small bay known as Charco Verde (Green Pond) is the entrance to just that sort of enchanted place. On Good Friday, as the story goes, a blonde woman appears at noon combing her hair with a golden comb.  Easter is late in 2011 so you’ll be there before Good Friday, but keep your eyes open for a golden comb!  Ometepe offers exotic vegetation, animal and bird life and colorful blooms, all for your pleasure and enjoyment.

La Gran Francia Hotel GranadaProclaimed Historical Patrimony of the City of Granada, your hotel for many days is the Hotel Colonial.  It is an architectural jewel that exemplifies Nicaraguan colonial architecture.  Photo ops are everywhere!The original construction of the building dates back to the first few years after the founding of the city of Granada, in 1524 – imagine – 1524! This edifice, much more modest than the one that exists today, was a one-story home. The stately home survived a deadly fire in 1856, which was set by orders of the American filibuster, William Walker, and practically destroyed the whole city of Granada. Interestingly, the “casona” owes its name to its most famous inhabitant, the French Duke, Georges Choisseul Praslin, whose dramatic story seems to have been taken straight from the pages of a novel. As the story goes, after murdering his wife, oh my, the Duke of Praslin, helped by King Louis Phillipe of France, feigns his own suicide and moves to Nicaragua, where he lived in the city of Granada, in Hotel Colonial.  Maybe you’ll be visited by his ghost!

In 1995, the arduous restoration of the building began, remaining faithful to the house’s authentic colonial style and returning it to its original glory, which can today be enjoyed by you in its entire splendor.  Hotel Colonial offers air-conditioned rooms with all modern comforts and amenities, a pool, coffee shop, and lounge. At Hotel Colonial our interlude allows you to enjoy the best of Nicaraguan hospitality and all the comforts of modernity while surrounded by the rustic elegance of colonial Granada – how divine.

This incredible tour features so many lovely ways to blast yourself out of the doldrums of winter.  Interlude provides a wonderful chance to explore this gem and become immersed in all its beckoning charm. I am betting that you will be most pleasantly surprised and exhilarated by the experience.

Please take a look at the itinerary for this small group immerson escorted vacation!

Natural Notable Nicaragua (click here for itinerary and departure date)
(10 days, 9 nights)

Eadie
– Interlude blog team

•For immediate service, please call (317) 913-0387 or email us
Share your Interlude stories and photos on this blog
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