Susan Harrison-Tustain’s exhi­bi­tion: Guild­ed Edge -  A Cel­e­bra­tion of Gold and Colour will be at Design on James in Te Puna, 21st — 22nd Octo­ber, 10am — 5pm. To cel­e­brate, we look back to autumn 2015 and the spec­tac­u­lar Euro­pean hol­i­days that Susan and her wine con­nois­seur Richard, host­ed for guests.

WORDS LIZ FRENCH / PHOTOS RICHARD TUSTAIN

Select the high­lights from pre­vi­ous trav­els and name your Euro­pean excur­sion The Best of the Best and you set your­self up for very high expec­ta­tions. This is exact­ly what Richard and Susan have done. Their track record sug­gests they will deliv­er all they promise and more to those lucky enough to accom­pa­ny them next year.

Luck may just come into it. Susan and Richard’s third adven­ture in 2014 sold out rapid­ly with a wait­ing list long enough for anoth­er tour had they been able to cre­ate one! “The num­ber of repeat guests we attract is tes­ta­ment to the suc­cess of our vision for a unique approach to trav­el,” says Susan, mix­ing her delight with qui­et con­fi­dence that they have the for­mu­la right.

Part of their suc­cess stems from the fact that they are any­thing but for­mu­laic. This cou­ple put a huge amount of time and effort, research and per­son­al expe­ri­ence into cre­at­ing mem­o­rable hol­i­days. They seek out authen­tic expe­ri­ences; elim­i­nate the expect­ed, find the ‘road less trav­elled’. Each takes about five months to fine tune. “We pride our­selves on atten­tion to every detail,” says Susan, an inter­na­tion­al­ly recog­nised artist who read­i­ly shares her skills while host­ing the tours. Richard’s many years as a Euro­pean tour host have stood him in excel­lent stead. He has since worked in the wine indus­try and is an accom­plished pho­tog­ra­pher. While the group is in France he will be offer­ing tast­ings of per­son­al­ly select­ed wines and will always be avail­able to assist his fel­low trav­ellers in hon­ing their pho­tog­ra­phy skills.

Leisurely, pleasurably

While many of the peo­ple who join Richard and Susan may have ‘done’ Europe on their OEs, dashed from place to place on a tour bus, this is the last way they want to expe­ri­ence it now. “An essen­tial ingre­di­ent of our mon­th long itin­er­ary is the leisure­ly pace,” Susan points out. “We have three to four nights in most land based des­ti­na­tions.”

The pool at Muse­um Hotel, Cap­pado­cia

Guests fly into Istan­bul where Susan and Richard will have been for a cou­ple of days, rest­ing and recharg­ing ready to give of their best. The group joins them in their spec­tac­u­lar hotel in the heart of the Sul­tanah­met. After explor­ing this amaz­ing city of friend­ly peo­ple which strad­dles Asian and Euro­pean cul­ture, they all fly to Cap­pado­cia, includ­ed in this Best of the Best for the best of rea­sons. Pre­vi­ous groups have declared the sur­re­al moon­scape, the dawn bal­loon ride, the option to explore on horse­back as civ­i­liza­tions have done for cen­turies, the under­ground city lived in cen­turies ago, are only matched by stay­ing in the bou­tique Muse­um Hotel, award­ed best small hotel Europe, best lux­u­ry his­toric hotel in Turkey in inter­na­tion­al awards; and very best hotel ever by sev­er­al priv­i­leged groups of Kiwis!

A cruise ship is a des­ti­na­tion in itself when you trav­el on the 5 Star Aza­ma­ra Jour­ney for eleven glo­ri­ous days in lux­u­ri­ous bal­cony state­rooms. There are numer­ous shore excur­sions but many will opt to join Richard and Susan in explor­ing their favourite ports of call. The Aza­ma­ra Jour­ney is board­ed in Istan­bul and cruis­es the Turk­ish coast­line (includ­ing the option to vis­it Gal­lipoli, and a com­ple­men­tary sun­set clas­si­cal con­cert in the 2nd Cen­tu­ry AD Roman Odeon the­atre in Eph­esus) before head­ing to the Greek Islands, Paros and San­torini, then along the Croa­t­ian coast via Mon­tene­gro, Dubrovnik and Hvar. Susan remem­bers the last vis­it to San­torini and it wasn’t only the absorbing his­to­ry and the blue domed white washed archi­tec­ture that every­one loved, but float­ing in the crys­tal water off Kamari Beach was also a ‘this is heav­en’ moment.

If you have to dis­em­bark; what bet­ter place than Venice? “One of our favourite cities,” says Susan who promis­es expe­ri­ences far beyond post­card Venice. “Think masked fin­ery, pri­vate water taxis from our hotel’s ‘wet door’, din­ner in a fam­i­ly owned trat­to­ria, sun set­ting over the old city…”

Lauter­brun­nen, Switzer­land

Top of Europe

The group head to Switzer­land via Lake Como where they will be beguiled by ‘bel­la’ Bel­la­gio. Next des­ti­na­tion, Switzer­land, to a beau­ti­ful vil­lage sur­round­ed by the majes­tic Alps. Here their group expe­ri­ences yet anoth­er ‘best’, the Jungfrau­joch which is approached via a ver­tig­i­nous train jour­ney through the Eiger to the high­est train sta­tion in Europe. This is laud­ed as pos­si­bly the best excur­sion in Europe for awe inspir­ing views over Europe’s largest glac­i­er, its val­ley below and as far as the Black Forest in Ger­many on a clear day. There’s time for the adven­tur­ous to go sum­mer ski­ing, tobog­gan­ing or swoop the fly­ing fox.

Anoth­er day, take an aeri­al gon­do­la ride end­ing in a quin­tes­sen­tial alpine Swiss field sur­round­ed by wild flow­ers and the sound of cow­bells. Bring out the inner artist, with a lit­tle help from Susan to guide those who would savour cap­tur­ing majes­tic Swiss Alps in water­colour.

France fol­lows – fly­ing from Geneva to Toulouse and stay­ing in the tiny ham­let of Cuq Toulza, where, in a con­vert­ed monastery, the excep­tion­al hotel Cuq en Ter­rass­es (award­ed ‘The sec­ond best small hotel in France’ by Trip Advi­sor 2015) awaits. Join a cook school by Mas­ter chef, Andon­is (co-own­er with Philippe, both now old friends to Susan and Richard) with time also to vis­it the local Sat­ur­day mar­ket in Rev­el, mean­der coun­try roads, swim in the pool, laze in the gar­den…

Next stop, Bor­deaux and the delight­ful town of Saint Émil­ion with its much pho­tographed vil­lage square, your base for becom­ing acquaint­ed with the home of some of the finest wines in the world. Richard comes into-his-own again here, sourcing wines which may be rev­e­la­tions and giv­ing some insight into styles and how they match our younger ver­sions ‘down under’.

The TGV to Paris marks the end of The Best of the Best, but may­be the start or rekin­dling of a love affair with the French cap­i­tal where most opt to spend a few days before head­ing home or on fur­ther trav­els.

Richard and Susan promise many delights await­ing the group who will hap­pi­ly put them­selves in the safe hands of high­ly expe­ri­enced tour lead­ers to be whisked away for 32 days and nights of fun and fas­ci­na­tion with flex­i­bil­i­ty to savour every planned and unex­pect­ed moment… mak­ing mem­o­ries, mak­ing friends.

Susan Har­rison-Tus­tain and Richard Tus­tain

 

The world renowned artist will be show­ing Guild­ed Edge — A Cel­e­bra­tion of Gold and Colour. It’s fine art, wit a twist, fea­tur­ing works paint­ed in oil on 24 carat gold and pal­la­di­um leaf, on Bel­gian linen, and water­colours.

Where to see it:

Tau­ran­ga, Design on James, 24a James Road, Te Puna

21 — 22 Octo­ber 2017,

10 am — 5 pm