Greetings from Robbi and Jim

A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours newsletter in more than 30 countries around the world.

Robbi and I are almost ready to begin this year's adventures and are very busy with final preparations for our current tour season.

We feel truly blessed to see our dreams flourishing as we continue to share our passion for our Aroma Tours with wonderful people from around the world.

We invite you to visit our Aroma Tours site to enjoy the new photos in our Picture Galleries and to visit our Information Request Page for details of our current tours.

Aroma Travellers Our Thanks

One of the main reasons that we have continued to grow and flourish, is the on-going support we receive from past Aroma Travellers who consistently make up more than 20% of our bookings each year. In 2007 this tradition continues to grow and we are both excited and grateful to be welcoming back so many good friends.

Robbi and I would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your kind words and referrals and by spreading news of our tours and retreats amongst your friends.

Our Booking Status - 8th April 2007

Most of our tours for 2007 are now fully booked, however, there are still places available for this year's season and if you would like to join us please do get in contact with us very soon at info@aroma-tours.com

Our 2008 season is now well under way and we have already received significant early bookings especially for our Turkish Aromatic Odyssey

2008 Now Open for Bookings - ( more to follow )

If you are planning to join us in 2007 or would like to secure your place for one of our 2008 tours please visit our Tour Booking Page

The Story of Champagne - Part 2

The Story of Champagne continues: Part 1 can be found in our March newsletter.

During Louis XV's reign, all wine was transported ( and taxed ) in wooden casks, however, for champagne this was a disaster, as it would quickly lose all of its effervescence through the porous wood of the casks. As a result, the Champenoise petitioned Louis XV to allow them to transport champagne by the bottle. After lengthy negotiations ( which included standardizing the shape and capacity of the bottles to be used ), Louis agreed to allow champagne - and only champagne - to be transported and taxed by the bottle. As Louis himself acknowledged - "People who like champagne want it to have bubbles".

The increasingly frivolous and arrogant nature of Louis' royal court, while good for champagne consumption and the Champenois, was inevitably leading to more and more resentment and hardships for the French people. Criticism was not tolerated and the combination of a disastrous seven year war with Britain, loss of colonies, increased taxes and food prices added to the misery.

After Louis' death in 1774 from smallpox, the even more frivolous Louis XVI came to the throne, and matters went from bad to worse.

The onset of the American war of independence in 1776 lead to a British blockade of all shipping, which had a dramatic effect on champagne sales and the availability of goods from the colonies. Over the following years, these factors coupled with a series of extremely hot summers and very poor crop yields, stretched France to  breaking point. In 1789, with the price of wheat and bread soaring to their highest levels ever, Queen Mary-Antoinette uttered the famous and fateful "Let them eat cake" and shortly thereafter the French Revolution and "Reign of Terror" began.

After the demise of the Bourbon dynasty, France was plunged into a period of political, social and religious turmoil and in one 18 month period, 50,000 people died at the hands of the new revolutionary council. These were very dangerous times for the Champenoise and they went to extreme lengths to hide their associations with nobles and other persons from the former regime. 

With the founding of the First Republic the privileged status of the Church was abolished and its holdings were sold off to bolster the new nation's shaky finances. In Champagne, most of the best vineyards belonged to the Church and were now being broken down into smaller parcels to be sold to citizen vignerons, many of whom had little or no experience in the cultivation and care of vines. There was however one exception: the monastery of Hautvillers where Dom Perignon had once worked.

Approximately fifteen years earlier, the young Napoleon Bonaparte was sent from the sunny vineyards of his family home in Corsica to Champagne and the Royal Military Academy in Brienne. In the beginning, he hated this new cold land, far from the sun and warmth of the Mediterranean. However, as time passed he increasingly found solace amongst the vines of Champagne which reminded him of the joys of his youth. Eventually, Napoleon settled down and became deeply attached to his new home and later referred to Brienne as "my native land."

It was during this time that Napoleon was introduced to the young Jean-Remy Moet, grandson of Claude Moet, who had popularized sparkling champagne at the royal court in Versailles. As a result of this chance meeting, they formed a life-long friendship which ultimately led to Napoleon becoming a champion of champagne and being responsible for putting it firmly on the international stage.

Before each of his military campaigns Napoleon always made a point of passing through Epernay and visiting Jean-Remy to pick up a supply of champagne. "In victory you deserve it, in defeat you need it." Only once did he fail to follow this ritual: on his way to Waterloo!

With Napoleon's abdication in March 1814, the countries he had once conquered or fought against, instigated crushing fines and requisitions against France. As a result, cellars throughout Champagne were plundered, the worst hit being those of Moet, who saw 600,000 bottles emptied by the occupying Russian army. Before long, however, the leaders of many of these countries were trooping through the cellars of Champagne tasting and buying, including Czar Alexander of Russia, Franz II of Austria, King Frederick William III of Prussia, Price William of Orange and England's Duke of Wellington. 

Jean-Remy Moet now found that he had become "the most famous winemaker in the world", supplying champagne to every court in Europe. As the French proverb says: "Qui a bu, boira" - he who has drunk, will drink again.

During the 1850's and 60's France's Second Republic under Napoleon III was swept up in the Industrial Revolution and underwent an era of unprecedented growth. Trains now provided rapid and reliable transport, Baron Haussmann was transforming slum-ridden Paris into a grand metropolis with wide boulevards and gracious buildings, and French industry grew to become greater than all of the other countries in continental Europe combined.

It was also an era of unprecedented growth for Champagne, with machines taking over many of the repetitive tasks, such as bottle washing and corking and as a result, champagne production was transformed from a cottage industry into big business. Where there had been only ten champagne houses at the turn of the century there were now three hundred and annual sales of champagne skyrocketed from a few hundred thousand bottles, to over twenty five million!

During this same period, Louis Pasteur uncovered the secret of fermentation, Jean-Baptiste Francois invented the sucreoenometre ( to gauge sugar content ), Adolphe Jacquesson developed the wire muzzle to hold down corks and Nicole-Barbe Clicquot-Ponsardin finally resolved the problem of removing cloudiness from champagne without loosing its' effervescence.

Although hardly more than 5 feet tall and widowed at age twenty three with a young child, Nicole-Barbe single-handedly transformed the ruins of her husband's business Clicquot et Fils ( mainly finance and wool broking, with a little champagne production on the side ), into one of the world's most famous and successful champagne houses: Veuve Clicquot-Ponsardin (  Veuve means widow in French ).

Her innovation, known as "remuage" involved storing each bottle in an inverted position, with periodic shaking and turning, so that the sediment ( dead yeast ) would gather in the bottle's neck where it could later be easily removed.

The Champenoise were now "standing on top of golden hours" and as one reviewer put it: champagne is not a wine, it is the wine!".

However, great pain and adversity for Champagne were just around the corner as one war after another was fought amongst their vines and cities.

The next part of The Story of Champagne will continue in our next newsletter.

Clinical Aromatherapy Retreat - repeat

This year will be the last time that we will be offering our Clinical Aromatherapy Retreat with world renowned aromatherapy expert Dr Daniel Penoel.

Due to our ever busier schedule of tours, Dr Penoel's other commitments and the closure of our preferred venue for the retreat later this year, sadly this will definitely be the last opportunity to participate in the intensive study of Clinical Aromatherapy with Dr Penoel.

If you would like to reserve one of the last few places please visit our Tour Booking Page

Please note: Our ever popular Provence Aromatherapy Retreat will continue as always with Dr Penoel continuing to share his skills with us, along with Dr Kurt Schnaubelt and Robbi Zeck.

Balinese Healing Traditions

The Balinese have long utilised aromatic plants as part of their traditional way of life through massage and other time-honoured therapies. Many of these techniques have been passed down through the generations and originated centuries ago in the palaces of central Java where many secrets of health and beauty were created for the benefit of the Javanese royal family.

The techniques used in Balinese massage include percussion, long firm strokes, stretching, skin flicking, acupressure ( especially on the feet ) and the use of essential oils such as ylang ylang, sandalwood, jasmine and vetiver. 

Balinese Boreh

The Balinese Boreh is a traditional herbal scrub used at the end of a hard working day, to relieve muscle aches, increase blood circulation and create relaxation. It is also used as a treatment for headaches, fever and when there is a hint of a chesty cough. Balinese families use the Boreh both as a curative and preventative treatment.

The Boreh paste is applied all over the body, avoiding sensitive areas and then your body is wrapped with cloth to keep the paste in contact with your skin. The sensation is of a deeply penetrating heat that melts away tension and at the same time is invigorating. It is also wonderful for exfoliating and softening the skin. Reflexology and gentle massage may also be used during the treatment.

After 5 or 10 minutes the wrap is removed and your skin is rubbed vigorously to allow the paste to flake away, then a shower is taken to remove the remaining paste - preferably in an outdoor garden shower room. A moisturiser is then applied to the skin, followed by a refreshing cup of herbal tea to rehydrate the body.

The Boreh paste is made from a combination of powdered sandalwood, whole cloves, ginger, cinnamon, coriander seeds, rice powder, turmeric root and nutmeg all ground in a mortar and pestle and combined with water to make a thick paste.

Mandi Lulur

Without a doubt my favourite is the Mandi Lulur or royal wedding treatment, which we make sure to enjoy on every visit to Bali.

The treatment begins with a one hour Balinese massage, ideally in a private garden setting with a lotus pond or other water feature and the haunting sound of Gamelan music in the background.

Next your entire body is smeared with a light brown aromatic granular paste - the Javanese Lulur. The paste is made by grinding together a blend of powdered rice, nuts, turmeric root, ginger, cinnamon and sandalwood powder in a mortar and pestle, then adding a little water and a few drops of jasmine oil.

Once the paste has dried it is gently rubbed off to exfoliate and polish the skin, then the remaining paste is rinsed off with warm water. Next fresh natural yoghurt is lightly rubbed all over your body and rinsed off in warm water to stimulate and soften the skin and to restore the skin's natural acid pH.

The final and most wonderful step now comes as you lie back and relax in a warm bath strewn with jasmine, tuberose, frangipani, gardenia, calendula and ylang ylang flowers sip herb tea and float away on a fragrant cloud of bliss.

We enjoy several traditional Balinese treatments during our Bali Women's Retreat which moves the bliss-o-meter well into the mmmmmmm!

If you haven't already visited our latest Memorable Photos from Bali we invite you to take a peek to help give you a sense of the beauty and richness of experience that await you in Bali.

For more information about  please visit our Information Request Page

Please note: If you would like to join Robbi in Bali and will be flying from Australia to join the Retreat, it is important that you secure your flights soon, because of the strong demand for flights to Bali in September.

Pine Nut Semifreddo

With the start of our Italian adventures Aromas of Tuscany and Flavours of Italy just a few weeks away, I thought it appropriate to get into the mood with this delicious and simple "half-cold" dolce.

Ingredients

1 vanilla pod
4 eggs, separated
4 tablespoons castor sugar
300ml (1/2 pint) whipping cream
1 pinch of salt

Praline:
150g (5oz) pine nuts
200g (7oz) castor sugar
4 tablespoons water

Method

  • Spread out the pine nuts on a baking tray and toast at 180C (350F) for about 8 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow to cool.
  • Put the sugar and water for the praline into a saucepan over medium heat and bring to a gentle boil. Allow the mixture to caramalize with gentle stirring and when golden brown, carefully add the pine nuts.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer until the mixture becomes dark golden brown.
  • Remove from the heat and carefully pour onto a lightly oiled metal baking tray. Allow to cool and set.
  • Break the praline into chunks, then place half of it into a food processor and pulse briefly to create small chunks. Set aside.
  • Place the other half of the praline in the food processor and pulse until finely crushed but not powdery. Set aside.
  • Halve the vanilla pod lengthways and scrape out the tiny black seeds with a teaspoon (
    be sure to take a long whiff of the beautiful aroma)
     and put in a good-sized bowl with the egg yolks and sugar. Whisk until the mixture turns pale.
  • In a separate bowl, whip the cream to soft peaks.
  • In a third bowl whisk the egg whites with a pinch of salt until they form stiff peaks.
  • Fold the cream into the egg yolk mixture, then fold in the egg whites.
  • Fold in the finely crushed praline and pour the mixture into a freezer-proof container and freeze for 3 hours, until firm.

Serve in scoops with a sprinkle of the chunky praline with a nice glass of Moscato or late picked Reisling.

Delivery: White Lists, Address Books and AOL- repeat

Over the years the circulation of our Aroma Tours newsletter has grown to more than 5000 subscribers and in these days of filters and anti-spam software it is becoming increasingly more difficult to be sure that our newsletter will arrive safely in your inbox. This is especially true for public services such as msn, hotmail, yahoo and gmail.

There is of course good reason to have this filtering, however, as a consequence we recommend that you add our email address info@aroma-tours.com to your address book or white list ( if you have one ) to help ensure that our newsletter will continue to be delivered to you successfully.

AOL in particular are extremely pedantic about their rules for allowing newsletter posts through to their members. Jim has been working with the AOL postmaster to solve this problem but our only option at present for AOL subscribers is to send each newsletter by hand; with our 100's of AOL subscribers this takes Jim several hours. Consequently if you have an alternative non-AOL email address it would help us greatly if you could let us know at info@aroma-tours.com

  • If of course for any reason you would prefer to stop receiving our newsletter please don't hesitate to email us at info@aroma-tours.com to unsubscribe.

Arranging Your Travel

To join us on tour all your need to do is make your travel arrangements to meet us at our rendezvous point, either with the help of your travel agent, or for the more adventurous, by booking your flights and connections yourselves. All of our rendezvous are easily achieved and naturally we provide all of the information and assistance that you ( or your agent ) will need.

Just a reminder that we have a Frequently Asked Questions Page to help answer the most common questions including how to book, travel arrangements, group sizes.....

Previous Newsletters

Our past newsletters are well worth a browse and are available in our Newsletter Archives

You may also enjoy reading a few of the stories that Jim has compiled from his writings over the years on our Stories of Interest Page

Thought for the Day

"I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
  ~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Our Invitation

We are very excited about the year ahead and feel truly blessed to be able to share our passion for the places and experiences that we love with so many wonderful people.

Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats and invite you to visit our Aroma Tours website for more information and to take a peek at the latest photos of our travels in our Picture Gallery

Details for all of our tours including our two new offerings Flavours of Italy and Provence Blossoming Heart Retreat  are available via our Information Request Page

As always if you have any questions or if you would like us to assist you personally with advice about your travel arrangements or with any other details please contact us either by email at info@aroma-tours.com or by phone on +61 3 5331 3254 ( afternoon/evening USA time zones, mornings from other countries ).

Warmest regards,

Jim and Robbi


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